Stuffed Peppers with Black Beans, Quinoa, Beef, and Chipotle Sauce

Quinoa, Black Bean, and Ground Beef Stuffed Peppers {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

I have two more days in Russia, and although it’s been a good trip, I’m looking forward to going home. Mostly because I miss Trevor. I know, I’m a huge sap, but he’s the best (he had brownies sent up to my hotel room! From 4,000 miles away!) Also, I kind of miss my parents, freezing rain is not my favorite type of weather, so… yeah, I will be happy when we land in Boston. But I promise to enjoy my last two nights.

Quinoa, Black Bean, and Ground Beef Stuffed Peppers {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Since we eat out for every meal here, I try to be especially conscious of the choices I’m making at restaurants and of maintaining a healthy lifestyle in general. I have some things working in my favor – a free gym which I can use without leaving the building, about 8-gillion bottles of water dropped off in my room every day, and limited mindless snacking options. But other things, like the propensity to serve sour cream with everything here, and the temptation to order a glass of wine every night, are working against me. Luckily, many traditional Russian dishes are pretty vegetable heavy. At breakfast, I’ve been having roasted mushrooms and boiled carrots with my eggs every morning, lunch always starts off with a vegetable soup, and there’s plenty of vegetable-centric mains to choose from on most menus – like pumpkin ragu, mushroom pie, and stuffed peppers.

Quinoa, Black Bean, and Ground Beef Stuffed Peppers {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Stuffed peppers, while certainly not unique to Eastern European cuisine, are a particular favorite of mine recently (in fact, I had them for lunch yesterday). This stuffed-pepper phase of mine was kick-started by the Mexican-style peppers that they serve for lunch at Bacco’s, which are filled with quinoa and black beans, and topped with cheese and enchilada sauce. Then, after having the meat-and-rice-stuffed version a few times at our cafeteria in Russia, I wanted to make them myself. I combined the two ideas, but kept a Mexican twist in there – the end result was peppers filled with a deliciously savory beef, quinoa, and black bean mix and topped with a smoky-spicy chipotle sauce and plenty of cheese. This is a meal that I feel good about.

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Quinoa, Black Bean, and Ground Beef Stuffed Peppers {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Stuffed Peppers with Black Beans, Quinoa, Beef, and Chipotle Sauce

Serves 4.

  • 4 large bell peppers, tops cut off, seeds and veins removed
  • 1 c. quinoa
  • 2 c. water
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 5 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp chipotle liquid (from canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce)
  • 1 c. cooked black beans
  • 1 TBS tomato paste
  • 1 1/4 c. canned crushed tomatoes, divided
  • 1/2 c. shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese
  • 1/3 c. crumbled cotija cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and then add the stemmed and seeded peppers. Boil for 3-5 minutes, just to blanch the peppers, then remove with tongs or a slotted spoon and set aside. Once cool, place in a casserole dish.
  2. Rinse the quinoa, drain, then add to a medium pot with the 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, lower heat, cover pot, and cook for 15 minutes, or until “tails” of quinoa have unfurled and the quinoa is tender. Fluff up with a fork and set aside.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the minced onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef and break up with the back of a wooden spoon, and brown thoroughly, which will take about 5-8 minutes. Add the chili powder and chipotle liquid to the pan, and stir to evenly mix. Taste for seasoning, adjusting with more chili powder or chipotle if desired. Add the black beans, tomato paste, and 3/4 c. crushed tomatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken, stir in the quinoa, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Spoon the beef filling into the peppers, filling to the top, and arrange the peppers in the pan. Mix the remaining 1/2 c. of crushed tomatoes with 1/4 c. of water and pour into the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the peppers with the cheddar or monterey jack cheese, then cover the pan with foil. Bake for 40-50 minutes, then remove the foil, and broil the peppers on high for 5 minutes to brown the cheese. Serve with the crumbled cotija cheese.

Book Club: Vegetarian Everyday // Quinoa, Cauliflower & Ramp Cakes, Flour-Free Banana & Coconut Pancakes

Flourless Banana, Coconut, and Blueberry Pancakes - A Gluten-Free Breakfast from Vegetarian Everyday {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

The blogger cookbook I’ve most looked forward to this spring is easily Vegetarian Everyday, the first book from David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl, the talented couple behind the blog Green Kitchen Stories. Green Kitchen Stories is a beautiful space. I love their photographic aesthetic – brightly saturated food on dusky blue-gray backgrounds, just a little bit of organized mess in each photo. And their recipes? Really healthy. Not healthy like when I say it – I usually mean something along the lines of “I didn’t put any cheese on this! It’s so healthy!” No, their recipes are packed with things that are good for you – and only things that are good for you. Yet somehow, they still manage to read as modern, flavorful and appealing, not boring, earthy-crunchy and flavorless.

I was so happy to see that both their high-quality recipes and beautiful photography are still present in their book. Add to this the clean, open layout and the thick, matte paper and it really is a beautiful book. It reminds me a lot of Heidi Swanson’s two recent books – Super Natural Cooking and Super Natural Everyday. They have similar aesthetics and employ similar cooking styles and flavor combinations. Since Heidi’s books were extremely popular, I think this probably bodes well for Vegetarian Everyday.

Quinoa and Cauliflower Cakes with Ramps and Feta {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

The recipes included in this book are suitable for people of all dietary persuasions (well, I suppose not for ravenous carnivores) – a surprising number of them are both vegan and gluten-free, and they’re clearly marked as such with little “V” and “GF” buttons. I usually shy away from vegan and gluten-free recipes because, well, I love cheese and bread, but many of those included here are quite appealing to me – the Roasted Tomato and Chickpea Soup, the Baked Herb and Pistachio Falafels, and the Chocolate and Blackberry Milkshake, all vegan and gluten-free, will all be finding their way onto my table in the near future. For someone just transitioning to a healthier eating routine – whether that’s vegetarian, vegan, or gluten free – this book would be a good one to pick up. Not only are the recipes easy to make, and for the most part pretty quick, the first 30 pages of the book is full of useful information on building a whole foods pantry and basic cooking techinques – cooking fresh beans, sprouting grains, making homemade nut butters, etc.

Flourless Banana, Coconut, and Blueberry Pancakes - A Gluten-Free Breakfast from Vegetarian Everyday {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

So far I have tried two recipes from this book – the Flour-Free Banana and Coconut Pancakes, and the Quinoa and Cauliflower Cakes with Ramps. The pancakes, I’ll admit, did not completely meet my definition of pancakes. I was really excited about making them, thinking how great it would be to be able to eat pancakes every day, guilt free! But… I was expecting to eat pancakes, and these, while tasty and filling and quick to make on a work morning, were not quite pancakes. Close, but the texture wasn’t there for me. Still, I really like the idea, and I have a few thoughts for how I might tinker with them to satisfy my own tastes. The quinoa/cauliflower/ramp/feta cakes however, were super delicious. I loved feeling like I was eating something decadent but knowing that I was getting lots of veggies and proteins in. And again, they were really filling.

The bottom line: Vegetarian Everyday, from the talented couple behind the blog Green Kitchen Stories, is a beautiful book full of truly healthy recipes. Many of the recipes are not only vegetarian, but also gluten free and vegan, yet they are still appealing and flavorful. This book would be an excellent choice for someone just transitioning to a healthier lifestyle, as the recipes are simple and easy to make, and the beginning of the book provides a good introduction to wholesome pantry items and basic vegetarian/vegan cooking methods.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of Vegetarian Everyday free of charge from Rizzoli, but I was not otherwise compensated and all opinions are my own.

Flourless Banana, Coconut, and Blueberry Pancakes - A Gluten-Free Breakfast from Vegetarian Everyday {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Flour-Free Banana and Coconut Pancakes

Recipe from Vegetarian Everyday. Serves 3-4.

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 c. shredded dried coconut, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 c. fresh blueberries, plus extra for serving
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp coconut oil, for frying [butter is fine too]
  • 2 TBS maple syrup or plain yogurt, for topping [I used leftover lilac-blackberry syrup]
  1. Mash the bananas with a fork in a medium sized bowl. Add the eggs and coconut and stir to blend evenly. Stir in the blueberries and cinnamon, and set aside.
  2. Heat the coconut oil or butter in a large skillet or on a griddle over medium heat. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of batter per pancake into the hot pan. The batter is fairly thin, so using an actual tablespoon to do these helps keep it from spreading too much. Cook for about 2-3 minutes per side, flipping carefully (they’re a little fragile). Serve hot with extra blueberries and maple syrup.

Quinoa and Cauliflower Cakes with Ramps and Feta {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Quinoa & Cauliflower Cakes with Ramps

Recipe from Vegetarian Everyday. Makes 12 cakes.

  • 1 c. white quinoa
  • 1 2/3 c. cauliflower florets, from one medium head of cauliflower
  • 6-8 ramps, cleaned and coarsely chopped
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 c. crumbled feta cheese
  • 3/4 c. rolled oats
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 TBS Ghee, coconut oil, or olive oil for frying
  1. Combine 2 1/4 c. water, the quinoa, and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, then cook for 15-20 minutes, until quinoa tails have unfurled. Drain and set aside.
  2. Pulse the cauliflower in a food processor until it has a rice-like texture. Scrape into a bowl and add the cooked quinoa, ramps, eggs, feta, oats, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until evenly combined. Cover and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour, to firm the mixture.
  3. Form the mixture into small patties with your hands, squeezing out any excess liquid. Heat the Ghee or oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, then add the patties a few at a time and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel. Serve warm or cold.

Greatist Collaboration: Quinoa Breakfast Bake

Quinoa Breakfast Bake {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

As I try to keep up with the healthy habits I was starting to establish during my cleanse (no thanks to the likes of these chocolate-hazelnut mousse cakes I made for Lake Champlain Chocolates!), I’ve come to realize that if I don’t get started on the right foot in the morning, my whole day is thrown off. Making sure that I have a healthy breakfast doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll stick to the plan through dinner, but starting the day off with something bad usually means I can’t recover and end up indulging all day. This is good knowledge to be armed with, but it’s still something I struggle to execute on. I like mornings, so that’s not the problem – it’s more that I’m the sort of person who’s perpetually five minutes late to everything because I try to cram too many things into one time slot. So when 8:05 rolls around and I’m still in bed writing emails and catching up on my reader, and I suddenly realize I have exactly 7 minutes to get dressed, make breakfast, clean up from breakfast, brush my teeth, make my lunch, do my hair, and leave, breakfast frequently falls by the wayside. And I’m still 10 minutes late to work.

Enter pre-made breakfasts: I’ve found that having something already made in the fridge makes it about 90% more likely that I’ll eat something nutritious before leaving for work. If it’s something I’m excited about eating, I’ll even go grab a plateful at 7:30 and then return to bed with it. Last week I did really well with a batch of whole wheat fruit and nut pancakes that I made on Sunday and ate throughout the week. This week, I whipped up this breakfast quinoa bake and have really been enjoying it. A quinoa bake was kind of a logical next step when breakfast quinoa is already a staple meal of mine, and overnight oats have inundated the internet. So I threw some ingredients together that I thought might work, and it turned out even better than I hoped – it’s sweet, mild, and fruity, with a consistency similar to rice pudding. Definitely worth getting out of bed for. You can find the recipe over at Greatist – if you try it, let me know what variations you make!

Cleanse Breakfasts: Raspberry-Maple Quinoa, Broccoli & Mushroom Scramble

Raspberry-Maple Breakfast Quinoa {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

OK, last pre-cleanse post! Just wanted to get these two breakfast recipes up here so they’re included for the big round-up tomorrow. The first recipe is a favorite of mine, and a frequent breakfast staple, inspired by Heidi a few years back. I use frozen raspberries and stir most of them in at the beginning, so that the whole thing turns pink and has a lovely raspberry flavor. Then I add a few whole ones back in at the end, for that tangy bite. The second recipe is for a roasted broccoli and mushroom scramble – not really a recipe you need, but posted here for convenience of anyone following the cleanse. Both of these recipes are the sort that are infinitely variable, and you can change according to your taste – this is just the way I like them!

I’ll be back tomorrow.

Raspberry-Maple Breakfast Quinoa

Serves 2

  • 1/2 c. quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 c. skim milk
  • 1 1/3 c. raspberries
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. pecans
  • 2 TBS maple syrup

Add the quinoa, milk, and 1 cup of the raspberries to a small saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Let simmer, uncovered, and stirring frequently, until quinoa’s “tails” have unfurled, about 15 minutes. Keep a close eye on it, as simmering milk frequently froths up and can make a big mess. Once quinoa is done, stir in cinnamon, pecans, maple syrup, and remaining whole raspberries. Enjoy warm, refrigerate any leftovers.

Roast Broccoli and Mushroom Scramble

Serves 1

  • 1/2 TBS olive oil
  • 5 large button mushrooms, sliced
  • sea salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 c. roasted broccoli (roasted with olive oil for 20 minutes at 375°F)

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a saute pan. Add mushrooms and cook until browned, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt. Beat together egg and egg white, then pour over mushrooms. Add roasted broccoli and cook scramble, stirring with a spatula, until eggs have reached desired doneness.

Greatist Collaboration: Quinoa Salad with Broccoli and Avocado Pesto

Trevor gets mad when I post this sort of recipe.  “Haven’t you already posted a variation of that, like, 20 times?” he asks.  And he would be right on that front.  But I never get tired of eating my favorite green things blended up with cheese in various combinations, and it’s my blog, so I’m sharing another non-traditional pesto dish.  Because it’s easy, healthy, and I love it. Also, I was really needing to get some green in me.

As some of you may know, I ran my second-ever half-marathon this past Sunday.  I was kind of dreading it.  In September, I ran my first half-marathon with Trevor in Chicago.  I had only trained for 6 weeks, and I showed up at the start line excited and pumped full of adrenaline, with no idea what to expect.  The first seven miles passed in a blur, with the two of us keeping a lively pace of 9:15.  Then Trevor pulled ahead and the last 6 miles felt like I was slowly dying.  You know that feeling of pure exhaustion, when you’re just barely holding off defeat, but not out of any rational part of your brain?  That feeling as you push yourself through the last 1/2 mile of a really competitive 5k, lungs burning, brain protesting with every stride?  That’s what the last 6 miles of that first race felt like.  I started crying tears of relief when I crossed the finish line.

This time around, with the memory of that last, painful finish burned into my mind, I was not looking forward to running.  Despite my increased training, and the fact that I now knew I was capable of finishing, I didn’t want to do it again.  I sometimes fantasized about tripping during my long runs, and I was mildly excited when I felt feverish the day before the race.  But I woke up Sunday morning feeling refreshed, focused, and energetic.  I called my mom (my running-mate this time around) and told her I wasn’t wimping out after all.

My goal in training between the two races was to find a way to feel strong for the last few miles.  I put myself into situations where I felt shitty and still had to run 2-3 miles before calling it quits, and I upped my distance runs to 11+ miles.  And I’m happy to say… it worked!  It was a beautiful fall afternoon in Newburyport, the air was crisp and the views of rolling farmland, frolicking horses, and sparkling lakes were peaceful.  The course had just enough small hills to keep me awake, and although I kept prepping myself for feeling bad and allowing myself to take a break at mile 8, mile 9, mile 10, I entered mile 12 feeling about as good as I had at mile 5!  I finished in 2:05, 2 minutes slower than in Chicago (and 3 minutes slower than my mom – you go momma! I hope I’m as fast and awesome as you are when I’m 50), but feeling infinitely better and stronger than I had at the finish in Chicago.  So maybe I won’t be giving up on half marathons like I thought…

Still, running that kind of race takes it’s toll on you.  Sunday night I popped a few ibuprofen to appease my complaining muscles and fell asleep at 9.  Monday, I was still totally exhausted, and I came home craving something green and filling and easy – which is where this recipe came into play.  With only a few minutes of prep, this meal managed to satisfy all my cravings at once – rich avocado, starchy quinoa, salty cheese, and nutritious broccoli.  I think I must have really needed all those nutrients!  If you’re inspired, head on over to Greatist for the full recipe.