Mexican Quinoa Dinner

A Zesty  One Pot Mexican Quinoa Dinner

Mexican Quinoa Plate2

The holiday is behind us, we have all loosened our belts, or in some cases poked extra holes in our belts with a paring knife (I’m just guessing). With visions of huge turkey dinners and huge leftover sandwiches dancing in our heads, what do we have for dinner now?

For me, I’m ready for something relatively healthy (compared to what I have eaten for the past several days, what isn’t)?

Mexican Quinoa Ingredients

Just a few months ago I never would have seen myself posting a recipe with not only ground turkey, but definitely not with quinoa. Quinoa? I don’t even know what it is, but I have slowly started to acclimate myself to the evil pseudo grain. And you know, it isn’t bad. I guess too many “healthy” restaurants that serve plain quinoa with steamed kale put the fear in me. But like most things, it can be a tasty treat if served in tasty ways.

Sure, I top it with sour cream and pepper jack with corn chips on the side, buy hey, it could be worse.

I was kind of inspired by Spanish Rice and maybe a little by a certain product that is intended to assist hamburger.

Yes, it still has turkey in it, like you have been eating since Wednesday, but it is ground turkey. You just want to wean yourself off the “bird” a little at a time. Once you have the turkey on your back you don’t want to quit cold, um cold what? Well, I guess that is where the name comes from. Anyway this recipe is intended to get you back to normal.

Diced Onion

But, as I usually caution, do not use ground turkey breast, use ground dark turkey. It took me awhile to get used to ground turkey at all, but ground white turkey, I am not sure if I will ever be OK with that.


And I am starting to warm up to quinoa. It is super fast to cook and takes on the flavors of whatever you cook it with, kind of the “tofu theorem”.

To start, in a couple of tablespoons of oil over medium heat, sauté the turkey and onions until the turkey is no longer pink.

Dump in the garlic and continue to sauté for a minute longer.


Now’s the time to introduce a packet of taco seasoning (I always look for one with no MSG) and the quinoa (always make sure to rinse quinoa well before cooking).

Stir and sauté for another minute or so.

Turkey Onion Quinoa

In a measuring cup, pour a can of Ro-Tel (juice and all), or another brand of diced tomatoes with green chiles. Then add enough chicken (or vegetable) broth to make 2 cups.

Add the tomato/broth mixture and stir.

Dump in a can of black beans (drained and rinsed) and a cup of frozen corn (fire roasted corn would probably be nice in this also).

Give the whole kit ‘n’ caboodle a stir and lock the top on the pressure cooker.

Bring to high pressure and set time for 2 minutes.

When time is up, let pressure come down on its own. If pressure is not completely released after 10 minutes, do a quick release.

Let sit another 5 minutes or so to further absorb the liquid.

Serve in bowls or on plates, topped with grated cheese (I like to use pepper-jack), sour cream and chopped cilantro.

Mexican Quinoa Plate

I serve it with corn chips on the side. I usually put them right on top, it provides just the crunch it needs.

Mexican Quinoa Dinner
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6 servings
A quick and easy one-pot quinoa dinner.
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • ½ sweet onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
  • 1 envelope taco seasoning
  • 1 can Ro-Tel (10 oz), juice included (or other brand diced tomatoes with green chiles. If the can is larger than 10 ounces, use only one cup)
  • Chicken Stock (enough to make 2 cups when combined with the tomatoes)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Serve with corn chips
  • Shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped cilantro
  1. Over medium heat, sauté the turkey and onion in 2 tablespoons oil
  2. Toss in the garlic and continue to sauté for another minute
  3. Add the quinoa (make sure that it is rinsed well) and stir together with the turkey mixture
  4. Add in the taco seasoning and sauté for 30 seconds
  5. Pour in the Ro-Tel and chicken stock mixture
  6. Add the black beans and the frozen corn
  7. Give it a stir and lock the top on the pressure cooker
  8. Bring to high pressure for 2 minutes
  9. When time is up, remove from heat (if using electric, make sure it is turned off or unplugged)
  10. Let pressure come down on its own for ten minutes, then do a quick release
  11. Let set for a minute or so, then fluff with a fork
  12. Serve on plates or in bowls with cheese, sour cream and cilantro


Black Bean Salad With Chipotle-Lime Dressing

Black Bean and Corn Salad With A Spicy Chipotle Dressing

Salad Plate2

After a few slightly cooler days, and even some (gasp!) rain, we seem to be back in salad mode, at least for a couple more days. So once again I am limited to cooking in the wee hours. And once again I am a bit behind on my post. Between the heat and my broken foot, I am still trying to get back to the proper schedule. I start physical therapy next week, so I am at least on the road to normality, but for now I am still clomping around the kitchen like Frankenstein (yes, I know technically like Frankenstein’s monster, Frankenstein being the doctor, but everyone always calls the monster Frankenstein, so I will too).

This week I have another salad post. This time it is a Black Bean Corn Salad with a Chipotle-Lime Vinaigrette.

Black Bean Salad Ingredients

The Mexican/Southwest flavors give this dish a kick, and the cooling tomatoes and avocado make it perfect for warmer days. It can be served as a side with a meat dish, or just add some tortilla chips and make it a meal in itself.

I like to get the beans and corn ready in the morning and assemble the salad when it’s time to eat.

Corn On Foil

I have always found the beans turn out much more uniform when soaked overnight. I know some prefer not to soak, but that will mess up the timing for this recipe, so soaking it is.

Black Beans In Pot

The two items that need to be cooked in the pressure cooker (beans and corn) can be done together, saving some time.

Put the black beans in the pressure cooker pot with 3 cups of water and add 2 teaspoons of salt and 2 bay leaves. Add a splash of oil to help reduce foaming.

Corn Foil Trivet

The corn should be wrapped in foil and somehow suspended above the beans, out of the water. I used a trivet from one of my cookers and laid the corn packet across it. You could also use a daisy style steam tray, or kludge something together using a heavy aluminum pie plate or anything you can come up with, as long as it is food-safe. Unfortunately this is one occasion where duct tape should probably not be your first choice.

Black Beans Corn Colander

I did this in my Instant Pot, 12 minutes at high pressure. When time is up let pressure come down on its own for 10 minutes, then do a quick release. Immediately transfer both corn and beans to a colander and rinse with cold water until they are cool. Depending on the freshness of your beans, time can vary a little. Taste your beans first and put under pressure for another minute or two if needed before rinsing.

You can put this in the refrigerator if you are doing this ahead. Otherwise, set beans and corn aside for now.

Chopped Veggies


To assemble the salad, add beans and corn to a large bowl. Add in a jar of fire-roasted red pepper, chopped. Of course you can make your own roasted red peppers if you like. One large one should do. Add 1/2 of a chopped red onion and 8-10 ounces of Roma style tomatoes. I used a bag of mini Marzano tomatoes that I have been seeing at the store lately. Cut them in a rough dice.

Salad Not Tossed

In a blender or food processor, mix together all of the dressing ingredients and pulse a few times until smooth.

Pour the dressing into the salad and give it a toss. Finally, add the avocado and gently mix. I add the avocado last to keep it reasonably intact.

Add some salt and pepper to taste.

Salad Assembled

You can serve as a side, but I like to eat it as a main course with some tortilla chips.

Black Bean Salad With Chipotle-Lime Dressing
Recipe type: Entree Salad
Cuisine: Southwest
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4 servings
Zesty Latin and Southwest Flavors and cooling avocado combine to make a zesty warm weather meal
For The Dressing
  • ½ Cup Olive Oil
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 3 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey
  • 1-2 Canned Chipotle Chiles, chopped
  • 2 Teaspoons of the Chipotle Sauce
  • 1 Teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
For the Salad
  • 2 cups dried black beans, soaked overnight
  • 1-1/2 cups frozen corn
  • ½ 12 oz. jar roasted red peppers, chopped
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • 8-10 ounces fresh Roma Tomatoes, diced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Salt and Pepper
For The Dressing
  1. Combine all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use
For The Salad
  1. Put soaked beans in pressure cooker with 3 cups of water
  2. Add 2 teaspoons salt and a couple bay leaves
  3. Add a splash of oil to reduce foaming
  4. Wrap frozen corn tightly in foil and put on a rack above the beans. I used a trivet stand, but it you don't have one that will work, you could use a standard daisy type steam tray or fashion something out of a sturdy foil pie pan
  5. Lock top on the pressure cooker and set for 12 minutes at high pressure
  6. When time is up, let pressure come down on its own
  7. Remove beans (test for doneness first) and corn to a colander and rinse immediately with cold water
  8. You can make this early and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the salad
  9. Add beans and corn to a large bowl
  10. Add the onions, peppers, and tomatoes
  11. Pour the dressing over vegetables and toss until well mixed
  12. Add avocado last and toss lightly to keep avocado intact.
  13. Add salt and pepper to taste


Pressure Cooker Black Bean Barley Salad

A Healthy, Warm Weather Meal

Black Bean Barley Salad Plated

Man, I really had to switch gears on this week’s recipe. My plans were to post a recipe for chowder, until the last several days saw the mercury climbing ever higher (yeah, I know that no thermometers use mercury any more, but I really like the sound of it). It was pushing 80 F by the time I unstuck myself from the sheets this morning (no air conditioning in the apartment). Even in the morning, while it was slightly cooler, I could not imagine myself eating chowder later in the day.

So, I decided that I must figure out how to use the pressure cooker to make a salad. After many hours of head-scratching and brow-furrowing I decided to make a salad with grains and beans, which of course, can be made in the pressure cooker.

Black Bean Barley Salad Ingredients

Cooking the barley and beans together, I was able to cut down on the time spent using appliances. And, using the Instant Pot it does not increase the temperature in the kitchen by any detectable amount.

Even so, it is probably a good idea to get the cooking part out of the way early while it is still relatively cool, then let it cool for awhile before you add in the other ingredients.

First, let’s just worry about getting the beans and barley ready. Yes, I know these days that there doesn’t seem to be any other grain besides quinoa, but I decided on barley. Beer is made from barley, and I like beer, so obviously barley is better than quinoa.

Barley Rinsing

I wasn’t able to try this a couple times before posting it, but fortunately it turned out pretty well.

Put 4 cups of water, 1 cup of beans and 1 cup of pearl barley in the pressure cooker along with 1/2 teaspoon of cumin and a bay leaf. For most dishes I would soak the beans overnight, but for this, I recommend just rinsing. For this, we want the beans to remain firm, not to break down like you would want for soup.

Chopped Veggies

Bring to high pressure and cook for 20 minutes.

When time is up, remove from heat, wait 10 minutes then do a quick release.

Let it cool while you go somewhere air-conditioned to have breakfast (at least, that’s what I did).

When you get back, chop and slice and whatnot the various vegetables, cheese and meat. Mix it in with the beans and barley.

Cheese Cubes

Now, let’s get to the dressing. In a blender or food processor, mix together the juice of 2 limes, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons honey (if making a vegan version, you can sub agave nectar), 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro, 1/2 teaspoon salt and some black pepper. Go ahead and blenderize (yes, blenderize!) that mixture and when it is smooth pour over the salad and mix together.

It is best to let the flavors blend, so pop it in the fridge and go to the local pub for a brewski while the flavors meld.

Black Bean Barley Salad Plated2

When you get home, remove the whole deal from the fridge, mix it up again, and serve it up.

Enjoy, and make sure you have some ice cream on hand for dessert!


Pressure Cooker Black Bean Barley Salad
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Latin
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6 servings
For Salad
  • I cup Black Beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup Pearl Barley, rinsed
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
  • ½ Red Onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 Radishes, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces sliced Spanish Chorizo or Salami, slices cut into quarters (omit for vegan or vegetarian option)
  • 6 ounces smoked gouda, cubed (omit for vegan option)
For Dressing
  • ½ cup Extra Virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • Black Pepper to taste
For Salad
  1. Put beans and barley in pressure cooker pot
  2. Add 4 cups water, ½ teaspoon cumin and bay leaf
  3. Put top on pressure cooker and set for high pressure
  4. When high pressure is reached, set timer for 20 minutes
  5. When time is up, remove pressure cooker from heat
  6. Let pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then do a quick release
  7. With slotted spoon or spider, remove beans and barley to bowl and let cool
  8. When mixture has cooled, add bell pepper, onion, radishes, cilantro, chorizo and cheese
  9. Mix everything together
For Dressing
  1. In blender or food processor, mix the olive oil, lime juice, vinegar, honey (substitute agave nectar if making a vegan version), cilantro, salt and pepper
  2. Blend until smooth
  3. Pour over salad, then mix everything together
  4. Refrigerate for an hour or so to let flavors meld


Pressure Cooker Fake-joada (Feijoada)

A Brazilian-Inspired Black Bean and Meat Stew

In usual fashion, my internet search on what to do with some black beans led me to a dish that not only had I never eaten, but hadn’t previously heard of.

Feijoada (Fay-Zhwada) (Wikipedia Definition) is a dish that seems to have as many variations as there are Brazilians. Many of the versions contain such items as pig tails, feet, ears and snouts. I decided to make a “lighter” version (and I have to admit, not just for the health aspect). I know it might sound odd that I call this a lighter version, when it still contains five types of meat, but I replaced a lot of the pork with chicken and turkey. Also, I decided to make this recipe snout-free.

There’s a good chance that someone from Brazil might not even recognize this dish, but it came out quite flavorful. I came across recipes that contained tomatoes and some that do not. I opted to include the tomatoes.

Most of the recipes didn’t really contain any herbs or spices besides bay leaf (and the spices in the meats), but I added a little cumin and ancho chile (again, not traditional). Depending on what meats you are using, you may not need to add much salt at all.

I wrote this recipe based on the meats that I used, but you can easily use your own combination if you like, though I think it works out best using a combination of smoked and fresh meats along with sausages (I used only the fully-cooked type of sausages).

I served this with collard greens, which is traditional, though the version I made was probably influenced by an area a bit less south than Brazil. It is often served with rice, but since I am trying to at least make a little effort to mostly avoid refined grains (we’ll see how long that lasts), I opted to not make any.

It is also usually served with hot sauce, though I am guessing probably not the Texas Pete’s that I put on the table.

As always, your input is appreciated. Let me know which combination of meats you tried it with!

Pressure Cooker Fake-joada (Feijoada)
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Brazilian
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6-8
A lighter version of the classic Brazilian bean and meat stew.
  • 1 pound black turtle beans soaked
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into strips
  • 1 large pork chop, cut into strips
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic chopped
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 12 ounce package hot Italian chicken sausage cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 12 ounce package portuguese sausage cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 smoked turkey drumstick meat removed from bone
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 3 bay leafs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Soak the beans overnight, if possible. I bought the beans the same day I was planning on making them, so I just soaked them for about five hours and it worked fine.
  2. Brown chicken and pork chop in olive oil in pressure cooker over medium-high heat.
  3. Remove meat to plate.
  4. If there is a lot of fat left in the pressure cooker, drain all except a couple of tablespoons.
  5. Sauté onions for around two minutes, then add garlic and sauté for another minute.
  6. Pour in white wine, being sure to scrape up any bits of meat on the bottom of the pot.
  7. Add the tomatoes
  8. Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer.
  9. Add the chicken, pork chop, sausage and smoked turkey.
  10. Add black beans.
  11. Add water to pot.
  12. Add the bay leaf, cumin and ancho chili powder.
  13. Add pepper, wait to end to add salt
  14. Put top on the pressure cooker and bring to high pressure.
  15. When high pressure is reached, lower heat to maintain high pressure and set timer for 30 minutes.
  16. When timer sounds, remove from heat and let pressure come down naturally.
  17. When pressure is neutralized, remove lid from pressure cooker and stir for a minute or so.
  18. Add salt to taste. Depending on what meats were used you may not need to add much.
  19. Serve with collard greens and rice.