Monthly Archives: March 2014

Quinoa Pudding: How A Super Food Makes A Super Dessert


Our new foodie hobby is eating at diners. In all seriousness, is there anything that rivals a food joint that serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and homemade desserts all day long? Diners are the Baskin Robbins of restaurants—there is an option and flavor for every type of eater.

A few weeks ago, while eating at one of our regular diners, the one I cook for ordered homemade rice pudding. It was absolutely divine. I knew recreating this sweet, old-fashioned dessert was inevitable, yet I wanted to experiment with the traditional form and make my rice pudding as healthy as possible. With a full pack of quinoa in my pantry, I figured why not incorporate this super food in place of the rice? The rest of the ingredients are fairly standard—milk, sugar, vanilla—and difficult to substitute with healthier alternatives without completely changing the overall taste and feel of the pudding.

So how does the quinoa pudding rival that of rice pudding? While the quinoa pudding may not taste exactly like rice pudding, it still tastes incredibly delicious—almost comparable to a dessert oatmeal, especially with the hints of cinnamon. Another plus about this dessert is that it has a versatile taste, meaning you can decorate it with almost any kind of topping(s) you can think of, however, the pudding is still very tasty and satisfying on its own. By far, the best part about my quinoa pudding is its health benefits. When you break the pudding down, it’s really not all that bad for you, making this dessert a new regular in my kitchen. I think it’s important to note that the quinoa pudding could also make a great breakfast alternative that is off the regular beaten path of standard oatmeals and cereals.

Quinoa Pudding



-1 cup of quinoa

-1 cup + 1 tbsp sugar, divided

-1.5 cups of 2% milk

-1/2 cup of fat-free half and half

-1 tsp of cinnamon (optional)

-1 tsp of vanilla extract

-1/2 tsp of salt

Topping Suggestions:

-Pistachios and dried cranberries

-Banana and honey

-Brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg


-First, you need to soak the quinoa. In a large bowl, combine one cup of quinoa, four cups of water, and 1 tbsp of sugar.  Let the quinoa soak for about a half hour, but make sure you stir the contents periodically. This is an important step because you want to try to eliminate the earthy smell and taste of the quinoa. With a spoon, remove any of the floating pieces of quinoa.

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-In a medium to large pot, combine one cup of sugar, milk, half and half, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and the salt. Bring to a boil, but DO NOT turn the burner above the medium setting of heat. Burnt milk does not a good pudding make. Stir occasionally until the contents come to a boil.


-Once the milk mixture comes to a boil, add in the quinoa. Let the contents come to a boil.


-Once the quinoa mixture has come to a boil, lower the heat to low and let the contents simmer for approximately 30 minutes (or until the contents resemble that of pudding), stirring occasionally.

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-The quinoa pudding can be served both cold and warm. I topped the pudding with some of our favorite toppings, but the quinoa pudding is also very tasty on its own.

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-Last and most certainly not least, enjoy without guilt!


Four Different Recipes Using Chipotle’s Copycat Barbacoa

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If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then I am about to prove how much I adore Chipotle. When we lived in Charlotte, we ate Chipotle at least once a week, sometimes two, and we never tired of it. We now find ourselves in a region where the closest Chipotle restaurant is over an hour away. Insert extremely sad emoticon. When the Chipotle withdrawal symptoms became too much to bear, I decided it was time to take on the copycat Chipotle barbacoa recipe that I’ve seen all over the internet. Thankfully for us, the outcome exceeded our expectations and we may end up surviving this Chipotle drought of ours.

This particular copycat recipe makes quite a bit of meat and we are just two people. I’m not one to throw food away, so we put the leftover barbacoa to good use. We first used the barbacoa in a Chipotle style rice bowl and it was incredible. Next, we made barbacoa tacos that were absolutely divine. At the idea of the one I cook for, we concocted barbacoa sliders, which were quite the success. And lastly, we used what was left of the barbacoa and made delectable quesadillas.

The barbacoa itself is the closest thing I’ve ever tasted to Chipotle’s version—in other words, it’s absolutely delicious. The meat can be easily utilized in many different recipes (not just the ones previously mentioned), and there is something extremely satisfying knowing that you can use the leftover meat time and time again (literally).

(Note, this is not a plug for Chipotle.)

Ingredients – Chipotle’s Copycat Barbacoa (Adapted from


-4 teaspoons garlic, minced

-4 teaspoons cumin

-2 teaspoons oregano

-1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

-1 teaspoon salt

-1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

-2 tablespoons sesame oil (you can also use extra virgin olive oil or canola oil)

-1 cup chicken broth

-3 bay leaves

-3 tablespoons lime juice

-3 -4 chipotle adobo chiles

– Between 4 -5 lbs chuck roast

Directions – Barbacoa

-To create the adobo sauce, combine vinegar, lime juice, chipotles, garlic, cumin, oregano, black pepper, salt and cloves in a food processor/blender and mix until the contents are very smooth and blended. Set aside.

-Cut the fat from the roast and then cut the roast into equal pieces – about five pieces.

-Sear both sides of the pieces of roast on medium to high heat in your choice of oil. Sear until the roast browns.


-Put the meat in the slow cooker and then pour the adobo sauce as evenly as possible over the pieces of beef.


-Pour in the chicken broth and add the bay leaves.


-Cook on the low level for at least 8 hours (in all honesty, the slower the cook time and the lower the heat level, the better the outcome).

-Once the cooking time has elapsed, shred the meat in the slow cooker with two forks. Keep on warm until you are ready to serve the barbacoa.


Ingredients – Barbacoa Rice Bowls:


-Your desired amount of barbacoa for your rice bowl – about a half cup or so.

-1 bag of dry black beans (this makes a decent amount, so adjust the ingredients if need be). If you prefer, you can use two cans of black beans, but they won’t taste the same.

-Approximately 5 cups of water (for the beans)

-3 cloves of garlic, minced (for the beans)

-1 small white onion, chopped (for the beans)

-Approximately 1 tbsp of fresh cilantro (for the beans)

-2 to 3 bay leaves (for the beans)

-2 tsp salt (for the beans)

-1 1/3 cups of rice (brown or white)

-2 tsp butter (for the rice)

-1 tsp sugar (for the rice)

-1 tsp salt (for the rice)

-1 tbsp cilantro (for the rice)

-1 tbsp + and extra squeeze fresh lemon juice (for the rice)

-Enough water to cover the rice

-1 medium red onion, sliced (for fajita vegetables)

-1 green pepper (for the fajita vegetables)

-1 tbsp sesame oil (for the fajita vegetables)

-Approximately 1 tbsp fajita spice mix (for the fajita vegetables)

-Approximately ½ cup water (for the fajita vegetables)

-Approximately 2 cups of cooked corn

-1 to 2 tbsp fresh cilantro (for the corn)

-Salt and pepper to taste (for the corn)

-A couple dollops of guacamole (if desired)

-A couple dollops of salsa (if desired)

-A dollop of sour cream, (if desired)

Directions – Barbacoa Rice Bowls:

-Rinse the beans. Place the beans, cilantro, garlic, onions, and s+p in a large pot. Cover with the five cups of water and bring the contents to a boil. Once the contents come to a boil, add in the three bay leaves. Cook on low to medium—there should be a constant low boil—for about an hour. Make sure to stir occasionally. Since the beans are going to absorb some of the water, you may need to add extra water to the pot. You will be able to tell because you want the beans to be covered with the water, even when they are fully cooked. The beans are ready when they are soft to the bite. DO NOT forget to take out the bay leaves once the beans are finished cooking. If you’re using canned beans, add all the ingredients associated with the beans (only a few cups of water though), and cook the contents on medium for about 20 minutes.


-While the black beans come to a boil, combine the rice, butter, sugar, salt, cilantro, and limejuice in a pot or rice maker. Cover the rice with water—enough that the rice is fully submerged—and cook in the rice cooker or on the stovetop until the rice is tender.

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-While the beans and rice cook, it’s time to cook the pepper and onion. On medium heat cook the pepper in the oil for about two minutes. Stir in the onions and cook for an additional minute. Add the fajita spice and stir until the ingredients are well incorporated. Next, pour in the water and mix well. Cook the onion and pepper for about 8 minutes, or until the vegetables are at your level of tenderness.

-Next, take the cooked corn (I just used a bag of frozen corn that steams in the microwave) and put in a medium sized bowl. Mix in the s+p and cilantro and stir until the ingredients are well incorporated.


-Once all the ingredients are ready, it’s time to assemble your rice bowl. There is no wrong way to do this. Lastly, enjoy!

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Ingredients – Barbacoa Tacos:


-About ¼ cup of barbacoa per taco.

-Flour tortillas

-1/4 of a red onion

-Your desired kind of shredded cheese



-Sour cream

-Shredded lettuce (optional)

-Fresh cilantro (optional)

Directions – Barbacoa Tacos:

*Note that there is no wrong way to outfit and eat a taco, so just consider this an optional template.

-Zap your tortilla in the microwave for a few seconds.

-Pile on the barbacoa – about ¼ cup meet per taco.

-Add on your toppings in your desired order.

-Top with some freshly chopped cilantro.

-Most importantly, enjoy!

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Ingredients – Barbacoa Sliders:


-Barbacoa – about ¼ cup per slider

-Slider rolls

-Shredded cheddar cheese – about 1/8 -1/2 cup of cheese per slider

-Guacamole (optional)

Directions – Barbacoa Sliders:

*As with the tacos, there is no wrong way to dress your barbacoa slider.

-Spread the guacamole (or sour cream, etc.) on the top of the roll.

-Sprinkle half of the cheese onto the bottom of the roll.

-Scoop the barbacoa onto the roll.

-Top the barbacoa with some more of the cheese.

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Ingredients – Barbacoa Quesadilla:


-2 flour tortillas

-1/4 cup to ½ cup of the barbacoa meat (per quesadilla)

-1/2 to 1/3 cup of cheddar cheese (or whatever cheese you prefer)

-Butter or oil for the pan

Directions – Barbacoa Quesadilla:

-Coat the bottom of a pan large enough for the tortilla with butter or oil.

-Place the pan on a burner on medium heat.

-Place the tortilla on the pan and add half of the cheese as evenly as possible.

-Spread the barbacoa over the cheese.

-Top the barbacoa with the remaining cheese, place the second tortilla over the meat and cheese and cook – about 3 minutes each side. I always use a plate and press down lightly on the quesadilla while it cooks.

-Let the quesadilla cool before cutting it.

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