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Blackened Chicken and Quinoa Salad – quinoa topped with blackened chicken, avocado, mango, bell peppers, corn, blueberries, feta, and a lime vinaigrette!

Blackened Chicken and Quinoa Salad - quinoa topped with blackened chicken, avocado, mango, bell peppers, corn, blueberries, feta, and a lime vinaigrette!

We are officially two days away from one of the biggest grilling holidays. How excited are you? Hopefully as excited as I am.

We’ve already talked about how much I love the 4th of July but what I haven’t told you is that I’m approaching the holiday with a game plan. Because I have s’mores on my brain and I cannot even wait to roast a million marshmallows over the grill and then smush them in between graham crackers with all sorts of chocolate.

The best.

Click for the full recipe

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Veggie Tortilla Soup - the best soup for a chilly day! Lots of veggies and a little spice!

I promised you another meatless recipe this week and here it is!

I’ve been having a weird craving for lots of veggies. I say weird because lately the only veggies I’ve been into have been my bizarre burger salads that I have every morning for breakfast.

Yeah, I totally put bread and butter pickles and ketchup on top of spinach.

I told you, bizarre.

So, of course I start craving Veggie Tortilla Soup as soon as the weather gets warm. This soup is so delicious though and I’m totally willing to eat hot soup in warm weather if it tastes this good!

It’s like your typical chicken tortilla soup except I hate chicken right now so I used beans and quinoa as the protein. And then it’s got the veggies I’d been craving, mostly carrots and zucchini. So yummy, especially if you top it with lots of stuff! Tortilla strips, avocado, and cilantro are my choices but you can do cheese, sour cream, whatever you like!

I ate this for lunch all week and I’d make it again today if I wasn’t desperately trying not to buy any groceries right now.

Aaaaaand, it took about 30 minutes to make! *high five*

Veggie Tortilla Soup - the best soup for a chilly day! Lots of veggies and a little spice!

Click for the full recipe

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Quinoa is something that I’m just now learning to love. For years I’ve told you guys that I hated it and refused to even go near it. Mostly because I kind of think it looks like some kind of creature hatching out of an egg when it’s cooked.

*gag*

I’m really into it lately though. I find that the more stuff I put on it, the more I like it. So you know I loved this recipe. It’s got asparagus, red onion, kalamata olives, and feta mixed in – and three of those four are on my top 10 list of favorite foods. Plus it’s topped with a tart, lemony dressing, fresh basil, and pine nuts!

I’m kind of obsessed with this salad right now and I am officially out of leftovers so it’s a sad situation. It’s so good. I had it for lunch and dinner the past two days and could seriously keep going.

Two years ago: Easter Bread
Three years ago: Baked Chocolate Doughnuts with Buttermilk Glaze
Four years ago: Broccoli Salad

Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Feta, and Pine Nuts
adapted from Style at Home
Ingredients
For the salad:
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 large bunch baby asparagus stalks cut off and cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives chopped
  • 1 red onion finely chopped
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese + more for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts for garnish
For the dressing:
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Place the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly with cool water for at least 2 minutes; drain.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the drained quinoa and cook, stirring, for 1 minute to toast the grains and evaporate any remaining water.
  3. Stir in the water and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting, cover and cook for 15 minutes.Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and set aside.
  4. Steam the asparagus for 2 minutes, or until tender-crisp. Transfer the asparagus to a colander and rinse under ice-cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain thoroughly and set aside.
  5. When cool, combine the quinoa, asparagus, olives, onion and feta cheese in a large bowl.
  6. Whisk together the garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, oregano and basil in a small bowl. Add sea salt and pepper.
  7. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine. Top with the additional crumbled feta cheese and toasted pine nuts and serve immediately.

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We’re almost to the end of January! I hope that if you made any healthy eating or exercising goals, you stuck with it. I did… for the most part. I’m so bad about getting busy and then just grabbing whatever’s easy instead of what’s best for me. You know, leftover Chinese food, the rest of an ice cream container. You guys. I’ve got to stop.

I picked up some Tyson Grilled & Ready products at Walmart last week so that I can change my ways and have good protein at my fingertips at all times. I heard about the Tyson Grilled & Ready line a couple years ago when my mom went to visit my aunt and said that my then 11 or 12 year old cousin made himself salads with Seasoned Beef Strips and I was all “Whaaat? That’s a thing?!” If you go through my instagram from that time period, I had a salad every single day after that with those beef strips. I was obsessed. And quite fit. But that’s beside the point.

I used the Grilled & Ready Chicken Strips for this amazingly easy and delicious Greek Quinoa and Grilled Chicken Salad. It really couldn’t be easier to whip up a healthy lunch or dinner with the Grilled & Ready products. It took 15 minutes to cook the quinoa and then I just had to toss the rest of the ingredients together. So much easier than having to cook chicken yourself! And that makes it a million times more likely that I’ll choose a healthy meal like this over whatever else we have in the fridge.

The flavors in dish are outstanding! My husband hates kalamata olives but he ate over half of this salad and then raved about it for days. And my disdain for quinoa is well documented on this blog but I’m really starting to enjoy it. I find that the more textures you add to it, the better it is.

Tyson has Super Fridges in over 1000 Walmart stores across the country that are stocked full of Grilled & Ready products so make sure you look out for those next time you are grocery shopping! Walmart also has the Grilled & Ready products on Rollback for just $5.87! You should also check out the Just Add This Facebook app – it delivers daily tips and recipes through the end of the month and awards weekly prizes through March! For more recipes featuring the Grilled & Ready items, check out the Pinterest page!

Easy Greek Quinoa and Grilled Chicken Salad
Ingredients
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 cup diced cucumber
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives chopped
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
For the dressing:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove minced or grated
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Combine quinoa and chicken broth in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and lower to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed and quinoa is nice and fluffy.
  2. Transfer quinoa to a mixing bowl. Add cherry tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, kalamata olives, feta cheese, fresh mint, and fresh parsley.
  3. In a separate small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pepper. Pour over quinoa mixture and toss to combine.
  4. Serve warm or refrigerate and serve cold. It's delicious either way!

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I have been trying to get on a Monday – Thursday posting schedule for months now but it seems like every week something happens that just messes everything up.

My blog went down Monday – my apologies if you were in dire need of a muffin recipe or something and couldn’t reach it – and I didn’t really think anything of it. Technical issues with the blog are one of the only things in life that I’m pretty laidback about. My host usually knows of an issue before I do and I figure they can fix things faster if they aren’t having to respond to my emails every 5 minutes. But anyway, on Tuesday morning it was still down and since I had a few “wtf” tweets and emails I decided to contact them. The guy emails me and says “There are no files in that database. That’s why nothing’s there.” And I’m all “Good joke but no really, where’s my 5 years of blog posts?”

He eventually got all my posts up but I had to go searching for my header and such and since I’m on my third computer this year, I didn’t have it saved. So I had to go digging through my external hard drive and once I pull that thing out, I’m done. Because why would I fix my blog and get a post up when I can go through every single photo I took in 2006?

And then I took the fat baby swimming for the first time.

So that’s my incredibly long story for why I won’t have 4 blog posts up this week. Stay tuned for next week’s excuse.

These quinoa bites are the new favorite side dish around here. Even my husband loves them and he’s anti anything weird like quinoa. They’re really easy to adapt to fit your needs too – like maybe add some diced ham to make a portable lunch!

One year ago: Everything Bread
Two years ago: Chocolate Chip Scones
Three years ago: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Blondies

Cheesy Quinoa Bites
Ingredients
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa cooked in low-sodium chicken broth, preferably
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 2 stalks green onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Mix together quinoa, carrot, egg, green onion, garlic, basil, cheese, flour, seasoned salt and pepper.
  3. Distribute mixture into a greased mini muffin tin, filling each cup to the top.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until bites are firm to the touch.
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