5-Cheese Layered Quinoa Casserole

I needed ideas for supper last night, so I asked the hubby if he had any suggestions. I told him it had to use hamburger since that is what I had thawed and ready. Between the two of us, we came up with this casserole. I am just estimating on the amounts because I really didn’t measure the spices or most of the cheeses! It must have been a success because there are no leftovers!

3/4 c. dry quinoa (I used tri-color quinoa)

1-1/2 c. water

Combine the water and quinoa. Bring water to a boil and cook quinoa for about 15 minutes. While it is cooking, work on the beef mixture.

1-1/2 lbs. ground beef

2-3 mini sweet peppers, diced

1/2 medium onion, diced

Brown the ground beef. Add the peppers and onions to the meat and cook until tender. Drain off fat. Sprinkle the beef mixture with (maybe 1/2 tsp each) salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, basil and chili powder. Stir in well. Add a medium handful of fresh spinach, stir, and cover. Turn off heat and let rest while you make the cheese sauce.

8 oz cream cheese

1/2 c. cottage cheese

2-3 eggs

1 c. ricotta cheese

1/2 c. Parmesan cheese

Add the cheeses and eggs together in a large mixing bowl and mix well. I used my stick blender, but a hand mixer is fine, too.

Lightly grease a 9×9 inch baking pan. Spread half of the meat mixture on the bottom of the pan. Layer half of the quinoa on the meat and then half of the cheese mixture. Repeat layers. Spread grated mozzarella cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Serve with a fresh green salad!

Serves 6-8.  If you make it for 6 servings, there are just 13 carbs per serving. If 8 servings, there are 10 carbs per serving.


Salsa Verde

May 1, 2015! Can you believe it is May already? Or maybe you are thinking that it is finally May! Either way, the year is passing quickly. One week from today my college senior commissions in the AF, and one week from tomorrow he graduates! How is that even possible?  My 3rd child is old enough to graduate from college?? It seems like only yesterday when we dropped him off, a scared knob at a military college. Today he is a confident senior, sure of his calling in life, and ready to do it.

May 1 is the 5th anniversary of The Cookbook Experiment!! We have had almost 17,000 views to the blog (just need 90 more!) and this post is #333!

May 1 is the 9-month mark since the hubby has been eating healthy and exercising. As of this morning, he is down 48 pounds! He has gone from a size 58 suit coat to a 46!! He will be in that uniform for the commissioning next week!!!

And just a bit of fun family trivia…we always made May 1 the birthday of the very first pet to join our family. We knew her birthday was around that date, so that was the date we chose for the vet records. Today is the 16th birthday of the first cat we ever had. Barbi wanted a calico kitten for her birthday that year. By the time we found one and went to get it, the owner had already given it away to another family. But they still had a solid black one which we took home that afternoon. Properly named Blackie, she has been a faithful pet for all these years.

Today’s recipe is a new one for me.  I often make fresh salsa during the summer when tomatoes are in abundance. However, when I realized that the 2 tiny cilantro plants that I put into the garden 2 years ago have become so prolific that I now have over 15 plants, I knew that I had to come up with some new recipes for cilantro! This recipe happened to be in our local paper this week. It is wonderfully easy! And the article written with the recipe gives lots of ideas for additions to the basic recipe as well as ways to serve it. So if you like green salsa, give this recipe a try!

2 cloves garlic

1/4 tsp. salt (the hubby said it needed more)

zest and juice of 2 limes

1 bunch cilantro, large stems removed

5 oz. fresh spinach leaves, stems removed

1/2 c. olive oil (I used less)

Put the garlic, salt, lime zest and juice into a food processor and process until garlic is chopped finely. Add cilantro, spinach leaves and part of the olive oil. Process until smooth, adding more oil as needed.


And that’s all there is to it!  I added a small onion and some peppers in with the garlic. Hubby thought it wasn’t quite hot enough for him, so he added some ground red pepper and some ground white pepper.

Other ideas can be using kale instead of spinach and adding tomatillos, capers, or jalapeno peppers.

This salsa can be served as a dipping sauce for chips or spooned over grilled chicken or fish.