Carne Asada Quinoa Bowl

Carne Asada Quinoa Bowl

Dinnertime (ok, most meals) with a toddler can be a crap shoot, hence the introduction of toddler tapas. The meal they devoured this week might be thrown on the floor when it’s offered again two weeks later. And of course some meals are better than others depending on how other meals went during the day, how active we were before dinner, how many snacks were eaten, etc.

And let’s not forget that getting dinner ready with a toddler presents its own unique challenges. If we’re cooking dinner during the week, it better take less than 30 minutes to cook and it most likely includes an ingredient Monica will usually eat (pasta, chicken, salmon, rice, quinoa). Preparations and seasonings will vary, but we can at least point out the familiar ingredient. And yes, sometimes we add extra cheese. And yes, sometimes we sneak in a few veggies. Fruit is usually a no-brainer success, so we save that towards the end of the meal to help round out dinner.

Carne Asada Bowl

One meal that has been a surprising hit is this carne asada quinoa bowl. This dish was created to get us out of a pasta rut and I’ve cooked it a slightly different way and with a few different ingredients each time. It uses premarinated carne asada beef from Trader Joe’s (this recipe also sounds tasty if you don’t have a TJ’s nearby). And the quinoa is usually ready to go in 15 minutes. So while the quinoa is cooking, you can cook the beef and chop up the other ingredients.

Yes, the quinoa can be a bit messy, but it’s totally worth it considering it’s a complete protein. That also means this dish is vegetarian-friendly if you serve the beef separately and use water or vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock.


Vegetarian Mexican Quinoa Bowl

Carne Asada Quinoa Bowls
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1.5 cups chicken broth or water
  • 1 tomato
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ¼ onion (red, yellow, or white)
  • Handful of cilantro
  • Salt and pepper
  • Juice of 1 or 2 limes
  • Olive oil
  • 1 package of Trader Joe's carne asada beef (approx. 1 - 1.5 pounds)
  • 1 avocado
  • Extra chopped cilantro to garnish
  1. Rinse 1 cup quinoa with water. Combine quinoa and chicken broth in medium saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 10 to 15 minutes until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender.
  3. Remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes.
  4. While quinoa is cooking, chop tomato, garlic, onion, and cilantro. Put in bowl, mix, and season with salt and pepper. Squeeze in the lime juice, mix, and refrigerate.
  5. Pour some olive oil in a pan and heat to medium-high
  6. Cook the beef all the way through, a few minutes on each side.
  7. One the quinoa is cooked, add to the tomato mixture.
  8. Slice carne asada and serve over quinoa
  9. Top with sliced or diced avocado
  10. Garnish with additional cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice
The raw garlic contributes some heat, but feel free to add chopped jalepeno or serrano peppers if you prefer something spicier.
If you want to sneak in some extra veggies, I once used kale in place of the cilantro. Nobody could tell the difference!
The dish can be made vegetarian-friendly by cooking the quinoa with water or vegetable stock.

Carne Asada Quinoa Bowl Collage

Toddler Tapas

toddler tapas birthday dinner 2

Eleven summers ago, I studied abroad in Madrid, Spain. One thing I brought back with me is an appreciation of sangria and tapas. Every so often we’ll have dinner at a Spanish restaurant or, even less often, make paella for dinner.

And lately, we’ve been trying to be better about only buying the groceries we need, eating the food we have, and minimizing the food we throw out. So in the attempt to mix up meals and elevate random leftovers, we’ll have “toddler tapas” for lunch on the weekends.

The idea came together after I read about this dinner trick from Ben and Birdy (via Dinner: A Love Story):

Use the bread board the way fashion people might use a nice, big belt: to pull the disparate elements of your refrigerator together into a dinner-type outfit.

Odds and ends of good cheese and bread, crackers, fresh or dried fruit, a sprig of some or other fresh herb, a dollop or marmalade or honey, pickles or mustard, a nice piece of salami for the meat-eaters, maybe a salad on the side.

toddler tapas dinner

For Monica’s birthday dinner, we made a fancy version of toddler tapas: prosciutto, two kinds of cheese, apple slices, raspberries, edamame, snow peas, and French bread. John enjoyed some wine, while Monica and I drank milk.

Except for the proscuitto, which we bought specifically for this dinner, everything was leftovers:

  • Cheddar cheese and smoked Gouda were cheeses that didn’t get served at Monica’s birthday party
  • Apple slices – we always have fruit on hand
  • Raspberries – these were extras that didn’t get used in Monica’s birthday cupcakes
  • Edamame – we now keep a bag of frozen shelled edamame in our freezer for snacks
  • Snow peas – extras not used in a stir fry
  • French bread – to be used in sandwiches during the week

toddler tapas lunch

Not only is it fun to nibble a little of this and a little of that for dinner, but toddlers love options! Monica doesn’t eat some of everything every time, but I feel pretty good if I at least offer something from every food group. And I’d like to think that if we include some artfully arranged veggies (with a dip) among the cheese and crackers, there might be a greater chance she’ll eat one.

Do you have a creative way to use up leftovers or sneak in a few extra veggies?

Maternity Stitch Fix Review #1

maternity stitch fix review

Hi friends! I just wrapped up my first maternity Stitch Fix (affiliate link!) and thought you might want to see how everything worked out. I received a Stitch Fix gift card from John’s sisters as a birthday present. This was shortly after Stitch Fix announced they now carry maternity clothes, so I was beyond excited to give it a try. As you all know, I’ve had a little trouble finding maternity clothes, so I was more than willing to let somebody else do the shopping for me :)

How Stitch Fix Works

Stitch Fix is an online personal stylist for women. They carry “regular”, petite, and maternity clothes and accessories. To get started, you fill out an extensive style, fit, and lifestyle profile (they also recommend sharing a Pinterest board showing your style preferences), including your budget. When scheduling your “Fix,” you can also include a note for your stylist about any upcoming events or items you’d like to include or exclude from your Fix.

A personal stylist will then select 5 items for you. At this point, you’re charged a $20 styling fee and this is applied to any items purchased from your Fix. Your Fix is shipped directly to you (yay for convenience!) with a note from your stylist and a styling card showing examples of how to wear the pieces.

You have three days to decide whether you’ll keep or return any of those 5 items. The $20 styling fee will be applied as credit towards any items you purchase. If you buy all five items, you get 25% off the entire purchase! Return shipping is free, so you can easily send back whatever you don’t want by placing everything in the big return envelope that comes with every Fix.

When you check out, you have an opportunity to share style, fit, and price feedback on the individual pieces your stylist chose for you, as well as on the whole process. This gives them an idea of how to make future Fixes even better for you. You can also schedule your next Fix, which I’ve already done :)

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