Taco Quinoa Skillet Meal (Meat Free!)


This is made all in one skillet, ONE PAN!!! Seriously, this made my night SOOO much easier. Mix, simmer, top, serve! Whew! And… gotta say, serve this with chips, and it was really filling! YUM! So, easy, filling, tasty, goes well with chips… winner!


1 cup organic white quinoa (Rinse well, just as you would rice!!!)
1 TB olive oil
1 can black beans (also rinse!)
1 clove garlic – minced
1 cup low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1/2 cup Pace Salsa (Med.)
1/2 cup salsa verde (I used Trader Joes)
1/4 onion diced
dash cayenne pepper
1 tsp chili powder
3 tsp. ground cumin (orig. recipe called for 1/2 tsp… I was putting it in, and a BUNCH fell in… oops! Turned out great though!)
1 cup frozen corn
Zest and Juice of 1 lime
1 avocado (sliced and diced)
2 TB cilantro chopped
salt and pepper to taste

OPTIONAL: I topped mine with a bit of greek yogurt and shredded cheese… just to add a bit of “protein”. 🙂



  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Stir in quinoa, chicken broth, beans, salsas, corn, chili powder and seasonings; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until quinoa is cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  • Remove from  heat when quinoa is close to being clear… no longer specks of white.
  • Stir in avocado, lime juice and cilantro.
  • Serve immediately

So easy, and delicious! We will be having this one again!!

And, for the quote of the day:


Proverbs 14;15



No picture this time, BUT, at least there is a recipe! We LOVE hummus at our house, and we go through a lot! I try to get more protein in my little 5 year old who turns her nose up at most meats… and my 2 year old who likes something one day, and will spit it out and gag the next. SO FRUSTRATING! But, at the moment, hummus has been a hit! So, we’re going with it! I was completely out of hummus, but had a can of garbanzo beans and wanted to make some… so, I checked, and the only ingredient I didn’t have was Tahini… so I made it without. Pretty good! I would say it probably is a bit better with the Tahini (made from sesame seeds), but this was quite good! I even threw in some flaxseed meal to give my kids a bit extra protein. Whatever I can do!


1 can of garbanzo beans
juice of 1 1/2 lemons
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/8 cup (approx) of olive oil
1 tsp flaxseed meal



For the most smooth results, you will want to rinse the canned garbanzo beans in a colander, and then peel. You do not HAVE to peel the garbanzo beans, it just results in a smoother hummus. In a food processor (or magic bullet) you put all of the ingredients and blend until smooth! Done!



Short Ribs – Served 2 Ways… and mighty good either way!!!


Short Ribs, served on top of cheesy grits OR garlic, parmesan mashed potatoes…. You choose!!

I was watching one of my favorite cooking shows the other day, and someone made short ribs. I was thinking… short ribs?! I could do that, right? I have GOT to try that if they make it on a cooking show. They must be amazing!!! So, I found a recipe and adapted it to make it my own. And I have found out…. I LOVE short ribs! They were incredibly easy too!!! You could cook a roast the same way! LOVE! You could even do sirloin tips, etc similarly. Easy and quick recipe!

Ingredients (including grits AND potatoes… you can choose either though)

6-8 individual short ribs (or more depending on the size of your crowd! You want about 1-2 per person)
3-4 TB butter (4 if you want to top the ribs after serving with a bit of butter)
1 TB minced garlic
1/4 onion cut roughly (larger pieces)
1 cup red wine (I used an “Old Vine Zinfandel”) this is optional, you can just use beef broth; OR substitute with a dark beer
1 cup low sodium organic beef broth
4 carrots cut into large pieces
salt & pepper
1 TB Worcestershire sauce
3 TB quick cooking white grits (or yellow grits… your preference)
3/4 cup water (for grits)
5-6 red potatoes
2 TB milk
2 TB parmesan cheese



Place cast iron skillet (or normal skillet) on stove and heat up. Do not put oil in the skillet. While it is heating up, dry the short ribs with a paper towel, and sprinkle sea salt and pepper on all sides of the short ribs. Then, making sure the skillet is hot, sear the short ribs on all sides so they have a nice crust. Only about 30 seconds per side. Then, place into your crock pot. When you remove the short ribs from the pan, DO NOT dump any drippings from the pan. (You can also do this in a dutch oven baking at 350 for 3-4 hours). Put your crock pot on HIGH for cooking for 4-5 hours, put on LOW to cook for 7-8 hours. Add 1/4 cup of the beef broth to the skillet that you just finished searing the meat in. Then add the garlic and the onions to the skillet and stir into the simmering beef broth. Once that’s simmering, add 1/4 cup of the wine and a tsp of the worcestershire sauce and 1 TB of butter. Simmer that until it reduces by half. While that is simmering, add the remaining liquids into the crock pot and place a small amount of the butter onto the top of each of the short ribs. Once the liquid in the skillet has reduced, pour that into the crock pot and place the lid onto the crock pot.

Cook as directed above until the meat is about falling off of the bone…. And… if you want some gravy, just take about 1 cup of the drippings, place into a sauce pan, add a TB or a bit more of flour… Simmer and WHISK vigorously until thickened!

When it’s about time to serve the short ribs, you’ll want to make your sides. The wilted spinach in the above picture, all I did was sautee it in some of the “au jus” from the crock pot for about 2-3 min. Done. The carrots I also sauteed in the au jus, just for about 5-10 min until starting to soften.

The mashed potatoes was a version of a previous recipe of mine: https://dancinandcookininthekitchen.com/2014/06/08/crispy-coconut-encrusted-chicken-with-mashed-potatoes/

The grits, I just followed the instructions on the package for quick cooking grits. Once they were done, I removed from the heat and stirred in about 2 TB of shredded cheddar cheese. That’s it!

Serve up, and ENJOY!!! My hubby said “I’d order this in a restaurant, develop a craving for it, and then have to keep going back just to order it!”. So, I’d say it was a major success!!!

And, for the quote of the day:


Taco Salad with a Creamy Dressing


What’s for lunch??? Can’t figure it out? Have a bunch of left over hodge podge foods in your fridge and freezer??? I did! So, I made Taco Salad!!!

First, I made the dressing:

Dressing Ingredients:

3 TB FF Greek Yogurt PLAIN
3 TB restaurant style salsa
1 tsp chopped dill
1 TB chopped cilantro
1/8 tsp fresh minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Stir up all of the above ingredients for the dressing in a 2 cup glass liquid measuring cup, and set aside.



1/2 cucumber cut up
grape tomatoes
1/2 an avocado
1 TB cheese
Leftover taco meat (that had corn and black beans in it)
Butter Lettuce


Cut up all of the salad ingredients. Place into bowl, and top with taco meat. Then, drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with cheese. For a little extra, add some crushed tortilla chips (like me, I used all those chip crumbs from the bottom of a chip bag that was still for some reason in our pantry still…).



And, the quote of the day:

quotes-about-life (1)

Chicken and Veggie Curry with Fresh Herbs Over Coconut Cilantro Rice


So, it’s been a long day… and I needed something to go with zucchini… yeah… so somehow I ended up making curry! 🙂 It was delicious though!

I am NOT a spicy fan. I prefer mild curry. I want the taste without the fiery burn making my eyes water. Due to that, if you prefer a slow BURN when you eat curry, making you need to drink milk while you eat it, spice it up. If you like MILD, then leave it as is!!!

Here goes:

Coconut Cilantro Lime Rice:

1 cup bismati rice
1 can light coconut milk (I use Trader Joes organic)
2 TB chopped cilantro
juice of 1/2 a lime
salt and pepper to taste


Put the 1 cup of rice into a mesh strainer and rinse until the water runs clear. Then, put into a rice cooker (or pot). Then add the coconut milk and salt and pepper. If in rice cooker, just hit cook. It will pop up when done. If in pot, stir and bring to boil, then put on low and put lid on. Let simmer for 20 minutes…. don’t remove the lid!


Chicken and Veggie Curry:

6 boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins, diced
1/2 onion diced fine
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tablespoons coconut oil (or similar)
1 tsp thai red curry paste (orig. recipe called for 3 tablespoons… if you like it spicy… go ahead!)
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 can light organic coconut milk
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
6 leaves fresh basil, chopped
1 carrot
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
fresh naan , for serving
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Once hot, add the diced chicken and onions and saute the chicken until browned all over and cooked through, about 5-10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the skillet and place on a plate.
  2. Add another tablespoon coconut oil to the skillet. Add the red peppers, garlic, carrot and corn, saute 3-4 minutes and then toss in the zucchini, ginger and garlic. Saute the veggies another 5 minutes or until they just begin to soften. Add the chicken back to the skillet and toss everything together.
  3. To the skillet add the curry powder and curry paste and give everything another good toss. Cook 1 minute and then add the coconut milk and soy sauce. Stir to combine, bring the mixture to a boil, cook 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil and cilantro.
  4. Serve the curry over the rice. Add a spoonful of the mangos and a sprinkle of feta cheese. Eat with Naan!



And, for the “Quote of the Day”:
from the Hymn Abide With Me, words by Henry Lyte


Spicy Shrimp Tostado with Refried Black Beans and Guacamole


These tostados were on my list since I saw them. I changed a few things, so now, the recipe is mine!! 🙂 I needed something pretty quick, but realized I was out of refried beans…. so, I made some out of canned black beans!!!

Recipe for Refried Black Beans:

1 can Organic Black Beans
1/2 cup organic low sodium vegetable broth
1 TB canola oil
3 TB finely diced onion
1 tsp. cumin
1 TB butter
1/8 tsp minced garlic

Refried Black Beans Directions:
Put oil and onion and cumin into sauce pan and stir and simmer until onions start to become translucent. In the mean time, rinse the can of black beans until all of the liquid that it is canned in is gone. I usually do this in a colander. Then, take the black beans and the vegetable broth, and put into a blender, or like me, the nutribullet. Blend until smooth. Then, add into the sauce pan with the onion and oil blend. Stir, and add the butter and garlic. Let simmer until cooked down and thick and able to “pull” from the bottom of the pan.



8-10 shrimp
2-3 TB olive oil (or similar oil)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic salt
ground black pepper
Place shrimp into a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Then sprinkle on the spices and toss. Place onto tin-foil lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. (This is for medium sized shrimp, you want to cook until no longer translucent).

Tostada Ingredients:

Shrimp (as cooked above)
Heated up frozen corn(about 2 TB per tostada)
Guacamole (about 2 TB per tostada)
diced tomatoes (as much as you’d like!)
Refried Black Beans (as cooked about) about 2-3 TB, as you’d like

I bought the corn tostadas. Place on a plate. Refried beans first, then guacamole, then the corn, tomatoes, then shrimp. ENJOY!!!!!!


Summer Fruit Salad with a Honey, Lime, Cilantro Dressing!


Salad Ingredients:

-1 Avocado sliced and cut into 1-2 inch pieces
-about 15-20 strawberries washed and sliced
-3/4 of a pint of blueberries washed and tossed into bowl
-handfull of spinach chopped roughly



  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 3 tbsp. canola oil (or other light oil)
  • 2 large TB. honey
  • juice of 1/2 of a lime
  • dash of dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp minced garlic
  • about 1/4 tsp Mrs. Dash or similar

Whir in a magic bullet, food processor or blender for about 10 seconds

Pour dressing over salad and toss. ENJOY!!!!!



Creamy Tomato Pesto Pasta with Garlic & Chicken


Tomato and pesto… and 1/2&1/2 ….  could this go wrong???? I don’t think so!!! Not with those ingredients!!!


Basically my favorites all rolled into one. Except, no veggies except in the pasta, but this turned out great! I paired it with a salad (with BUTTER LETTUCE!!!)



1/2 tsp minced garlic, olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, lemon zest and 2 TB of spaghetti sauce, oregano, 6 leaves of basil chopped up, salt and pepper
Cover the chicken with the above marinade, and let sit for 30 min at LEAST in the fridge (if not overnight)
1/4 cup Pesto (homemade… I’ve put the recipe on a previous post)
5-6 chicken tenderloins
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup(s) chicken broth
8 ounce pasta of choice (I used Vegetable Radiatore)
8 ounce(s) Roasted Garlic Spaghetti Sauce
1/4 cup(s) half-and-half
2 tablespoon(s) parmesan (sprinkled on top after served)
2 tablespoon(s) Olive Oil


Place chicken into bowl, cover with marinade, cover with plastic wrap (or similar) and place in fridge.

Boil water and start on noodles.  Pour entire batch of chicken, (with all juices from marinade) into skillet and cook chicken fully (the marinade will evaporate/cook down) for about 7-8 minutes per side. Remove the chicken, and put onto a plate off to the side. Add chicken broth and heat and thicken sauce, add tomato sauce and garlic. Place chicken back into sauce. Simmer in chicken broth until half has cooked down.  Reduce heat to LOW until barely simmering. Then add milk. Simmer for 5 minutes.  Toss pasta in. Add flour if it needs to be thickened.  Place chicken on top and serve. Drizzle with pesto over the top of the dish, and parmesan cheese.


Leftover “Crustless Pot Pie”

Wasn’t even sure what to call this… It started out as me trying to use up leftovers and extra veggies unused in my refrigerator before I go grocery shopping again. Then, as I sat down to eat it… it tasted like pot pie filling… but no crust… and the pieces of chicken were still full tenderloins. Hmmm…. Well? Why not!?


(This will make 3 servings or 4 small servings)


1/2 bag of fingerling potatoes
1 lg carrot
3 chicken tenderloins
1 cup low sodium free range chicken broth
1 TB olive oil
1/4 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp Mrs. Dash
salt&pepper to taste
1/2 onion chopped
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 cob of corn (I used leftover) with kernels removed from cob
1/2 of a zucchini
Grated Parmesan Cheese (sprinkled on top at the end)

Start out by putting the potatoes in a skillet w/the olive oil and carrots chopped. Stir, and add onions and garlic. After about 5 min add the chicken broth, lemon zest and juice, and seasonings. Drop in the chicken. (Mine was still frozen, but yours can be frozen or thawed). Simmer with lid on for about 15-20 minutes until chicken is cooked through and potatoes are soft and easily cut through with a fork. Sprinkle in the zucchini and corn, stir and put lid back on pan, and remove from heat. Let sit for 5 min. Remove lid, sprinkle with cheese and stir. Add any salt&pepper to taste.



I also made a quick little dessert. I used cherries, brown sugar, raw organic sugar, lemon juice, oatmeal, flax meal and butter. Stirred it all together and baked covered w/tin foil for 30 min. Voila! 🙂

DSC_0622(before baking)


Date Night!!!! (At home date night… like a staycation.. but a stay…date)

So, my husband and I are kind of “foodies” per say. I LOVE to cook (obviously) and we LOVE to eat!! For our anniversary, we always spend it in Asheville because my parents send us to a marriage retreat up there every year. So, we save $$ to specifically go to a new and FANCY restaurant. Our dates… we love new and nice restaurants. Now, don’t get me wrong, my husband has a strange obsession with Taco Bell, so it’s not like we never eat less expensive food, but we REALLY enjoy eating out where it’s farm to table, or all natural ingredients, and there’s a lot of thought and freshness put into the meal. In Charlotte we went to a restaurant called the Dandelion Market. New and fun things… new flavors. Inspiring for me too!

One of our most favorite dish, that is usually too expensive, is lamb. Last time we ordered it was probably on an anniversary a few years ago. So… I was needing a date night, and $$ was a bit tight due to saving for a couple of upcoming trips… so I made a fancy dinner here at home!!!! And, compared to an approximate $100 tab at an upscale restaurant (including tip and wine), this meal cost around $25. Pretty good huh?! So, here’s the recipe in case you want an at home date evening!!

Rack of Lamb with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Roasted Asparagus and Quinoa Tabbouleh


Rack of Lamb Ingredients:

1 half (or full) rack of lamb
8-10 leaves of fresh mint chopped
1 tsp of minced garlic
2 small branches fresh rosemary… remove and mince the leaves.
3-4 TB olive oil
1 tsp sea salt

The rack of lamb needs to be “frenched”. Basically exposing the bones on each rib. You can have the butcher do this. I purchased one that was already done. I then marinated the lamb. I mix the chopped mint, rosemary, garlic, salt and olive oil together with a fork, and then cover the entire half rack of lamb with it. (Most of it on the “fattier” side that is left up. I then put it in a bowl, cover with foil, and put in the fridge for 4 hours.

When done marinating, heat up the cast iron grill pan. (Or grill) Salt the grill pan with sea salt. When hot, place the entire rack fatty side down onto the grill pan to sear. After 6 minutes, flip, and put into the oven and broil for 10 minutes with fatty side up. Take out of the oven , wrap in foil and let sit for 5 minutes. After, remove from foil and cut apart each separate rib. Most people leave it here because people like it on the “rare” side of medium. Since I don’t, I like it on the well side of medium, I put the cast iron pan back onto the stove top, heated it up and seared each side of the meat of each individual lab pieces. About 1 min per side. Then… served!! DELICIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Fingerling Potatoes:

Toss the potatoes in olive oil, sea salt, and rosemary and roast in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. DONE! 🙂



Roast in oven w/a light amount of olive oil, and salt. 12 min at 350.


Tabbouleh: This I threw in because I discovered a fresh cucumber in my garden!! I figured, lamb, asparagus… why not stick with the Mediterranean vibe and make this!! The recipe here is from a previous post: https://dancinandcookininthekitchen.com/2014/06/02/quinoa-tabbouleh/