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.
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.
- 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
- Rinse 1 cup quinoa with water. Combine quinoa and chicken broth in medium saucepan.
- Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 10 to 15 minutes until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender.
- Remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes.
- 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.
- Pour some olive oil in a pan and heat to medium-high
- Cook the beef all the way through, a few minutes on each side.
- One the quinoa is cooked, add to the tomato mixture.
- Slice carne asada and serve over quinoa
- Top with sliced or diced avocado
- Garnish with additional cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice
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.