Quinoa Fried Rice Recipe

 Crispy Chicken Quinoa Fried Rice has got your takeout cravings covered, but healthier! | themillennialmenu.com

If I’m going to take a few unplanned months away from sharing recipes, I better have a great one to kick off coming back to blogging, and this recipe for Quinoa Fried Rice is it. Who doesn’t love fried rice? It’s salty and buttery all at once, and always satisfies that takeout craving. Sometimes, though, I want to eat healthier (well, slightly healthier) or have a more filling meal, and substituting quinoa for the rice in this recipe gets the job done.

In terms of making this recipe more filling for work lunches, I always add crispy fried chicken, tossed in a bit of extra sesame oil at the end of cooking, to get me through an afternoon of teaching. You can easily do this as vegetarian dish without the chicken, add an extra scrambled egg or two, or add tofu. Or, simply enjoy as is.

One other thing I love about this meal is that it’s a great recipe to make during the same week you try out my Crispy Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce, since you’ve already got over half of what you need to make those once you’ve grocery shopped for this recipe! The flavors are definitely distinctly different, still, so it’s a great way to save money on groceries and using up your ingredients while still varying up what you eat.

Quinoa seems to really multiply and I always end up with a mountain of it - which is exactly what you want when you’re adding awesome flavors like sautéed onions, sesame oil, soy sauce, fresh chopped scallions, and more. This is a great recipe to cook for a crowd and has a relatively inexpensive base in the quinoa. Cheap, tasty, health(ier)…add this to your calendar for dinner next week!



Quinoa Fried Rice

Makes 4-6 servings
Other recipes with these ingredients: Soy sauce: Beef & Broccoli // Chicken, carrots, soy sauce, and quinoa: Crispy Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: Instant Pot: High, 1 minutes NPR 5 minutes plus 15 minutes "frying" the quinoa // Stove top: 30 minutes
Total Time: Depending on cooking method, 30-45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry quinoa

  • 4 tbsp. butter

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced

  • 1 small onion, diced

  • 1/2 cup frozen peas

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • salt & pepper, to taste

  • 2 scallions, chopped

  • 4 Tbsp. soy sauce

  • 4 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil + 2 more if making crispy chicken strips

  • Optional: 2 chicken breast, sliced into thin strips with 2-3 tablespoons olive oil




Dietary Substitutions:
Vegetarian Friendly: Leave out chicken or add tofu.
Dairy-free Friendly
Gluten Free As long as you confirm all of your ingredients are gluten free, this recipe is gluten-free friendly. Double check your soy sauce.
Vegan: Use additional oil as needed rather than butter, and leave out the eggs.

Directions

MAKE THE QUINOA & CHICKEN
1. To make the quinoa:

On the stovetop: turn one burner on high. Add 2 cups of water to the sauce pan. Add in 1 cup dry quinoa. Once the quinoa comes to a boil, turn down the heat, cover, and let the quinoa sit for 15 minutes. Read more about how to cook quinoa 

In the Instant Pot: Add 1 cup dry quinoa and 2 cups water to the Instant Pot and cook on high pressure for 1 minute. Yep, 1 minute. NPR for 10 minutes, then QPR. Read about why you need an Instant Pot in general here. While that's happening...


2. Slice your 2 chicken breasts into thin strips. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to a pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the sliced chicken breast and let cook until browned. Use a spatula to ensure all sides are browned. Cooking should take 5-10 minutes.
3. When the chicken is almost done, add 2 tablespoons sesame oil to the pan and stir to coat to add extra flavor to the strips.

PREP THE MIX-INs
4.
Dice 1 medium onion, 2 medium carrots, and 4 cloves minced garlic and add them to a large frying pan with olive oil over medium heat.
5. Sautè the veggies until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
6. Add 4 tablespoons of butter and stir (yes, I said 4. Don’t ask, just do it)
7. Add some water (less than 1/4 cup) to a microwave-safe bowl, add the 1/2 cup frozen peas and microwave on 30 seconds to soften them. Then, add the peas to the frying pan.

FRY IT!
6. Once the quinoa is ready, add the cooked quinoa to the pan with all the veggies and stir.
7. Add 4 tablespoons soy sauce and 4 tablespoons sesame oil to the pan and stir. These amounts are flexible and dependent on personal preferences! Add more or less if you like.
8. Add your cooked chicken strips to the pan. Continue to stir, adding more butter, sesame oil, or soy sauce as desired.
9. Meanwhile, quickly scramble two eggs in separate pan. I’ve found scrambling it all together makes the quinoa weird and congealed. Definitely scramble your eggs separately. Add these to the quinoa pan and mix to incorporate.
9. Add salt & pepper and chopped scallions to taste.

Yum.

quinoa-fried-rice-close-up

Storing & Extra Ingredients

STORING - Store in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

LUNCH TOMORROW - I’ve done this for meal prep for lunches for the week and it lasts very well! Be sure to eat within 5 days if you do add chicken.

EXTRA INGREDIENTS - If you have extra carrots, chicken, soy sauce, and quinoa, you’re halfway to my Crispy Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce! Work on that bottle of soy sauce with my Beef & Broccoli recipe. Use up the rest of that bag of frozen peas in my favorite comfort meal: Chicken Pot Pie.


Grilled Mexican Street Corn Soup Recipe

 This grilled mexican street corn soup recipe, inspired by the mexican street food elotes, is the perfect way to welcome summer. | themillennialmenu.com

I'm super excited to share this Grilled Mexican Street Corn Soup recipe! It's a fun take on the classic Mexican street food, elotes. I love ordering this dish as one of the many delicious tapas at Toro, a great Boston restaurant that first introduced us to the wonders of Spanish tapas before our trip to Barcelona (no Mexican street food in Barca, though). While I definitely envision corn on the cob as the ultimate summer food, May counts as basically summer, right? This soup doesn't get too far ahead of itself, though, and will still keep you cozy on these still-chilly spring nights.

Elotes features a creamy coating on fire roasted corn, finished with bright flavors like chile powder, cotija cheese, and lime juice. There are so many layers of flavor when you take your first (very messy) bite that I wondered how I could ever re-create that in soup form. I'd been inspired seeing different elotes soup recipes on the internet, but the flavors just weren't the same when I tried to make it the first few times. UNTIL NOW.  It's all thanks to a few secret ingredients...courtesy of one of my favorite places on this planet, Trader Joe's. 

This soup wouldn't be the same without that charred, deep roasted corn flavor that comes from a fiery grilling. Thankfully, Trader Joe's freezer section has got you covered on this one: you'll need one bag of Trader Joe's Mexican Style Roasted Corn with Cotija Cheese and one bag of Trader Joe's Roasted Corn. Both bags have roasted corn, which will add that depth of flavor. I like the Mexican Style because there is some creamy sauce included in the bag, which acts as a nice base for the soup by adding that extra burst of flavor for you to build onto. I went with a more "plain" second bag because my recipe adds my own seasonings and flavorings, but this is really flexible -  Note: If you can only find one of these kinds of corn at TJ's, it is not a huge deal at all - just make sure you have two bags of corn total. You can also make this with regular frozen corn as well as canned corn - while the roasted flavor won't be as intense, the bright, flavorful toppings like the cotija cheese and lime juice will still guarantee this dish is a hit.


Grilled Mexican Street Corn Soup

Makes approximately 4 servings
Other recipes with these ingredients: Cilantro: all my recipes here, including my Chicken Enchiladas Recipe // Sour Cream: add it atop Turkey Chili or my Five Minute Fish Taco Bowls.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients
 




Dietary Substitutions:
Vegetarian Friendly
Gluten Free Friendly
Dairy-free or Vegan: Top with dairy free cheese, skip sour cream

Directions


1. Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium head. Add 1 small yellow onion, diced, to the pot and stir 2-3 minutes, until transluscent. 
2. Add the two bags of corn and stir for 3-4 minutes, until starting to defrost. IMPORTANT: Set aside 1 cup of the corn mixture, for topping the soup later.
3. Add 4 cups vegetable broth and 1/2 cup sour cream to the soup and let simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Slowly and carefully, in batches if needed, transfer the majority of the soup into a blender and blend until desired texture.
5. Transfer back into your soup pot and add salt, pepper, and chili powder to taste. Let simmer on medium-low heat while you finish preparing the topping.
6. Meanwhile, while the soup is simmering, chop about 1/4 cup cilantro and toss it with the corn mixture that you said aside earlier in step 2.
7. Plate the soup and top with the corn and cilantro mixture, cotjia cheese and a squeeze of the lime wedges and enjoy!

Yum.


Storing & Extra Ingredients

STORING - Store in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container. I love making a big batch of soup and keeping it in the fridge for a quick meal. I wouldn't recommend freezing this due to the added dairy (sour cream) but if you leave that out it would be very freezer friendly - just top with cheese once defrosted!

LUNCH TOMORROW - Keep the toppings separate and add once you've heated up your soup. It will help it tasting just as fresh as the night you made it! Especially the lime - squeezing a fresh lime wedge over the top while sitting at your desk will make those desk lunches slightly less sad.

EXTRA INGREDIENTS - You'll likely have extra cilantro, which is also a favorite garnish in my Easy Chicken Enchiladas recipe. Check out all my cilantro recipes here by scrolling down the page). Use any extra sour cream atop a cozy bowl of Turkey Chili with some of that cilantro as well.

 This mexican street food-style corn soup, inspired by elote, is topped with a delicious mix of bright flavors like charred corn, cilantro, and lime juice. The best summer souP! | themillennialmenu.com

Easy & Quick Super Bowl Snacks

superbowl_snacks

Football is big in my family. My dad played through college and my younger brother currently plays in college. Shockingly, this doesn't mean I understand the game. What I do understand, however, is the importance of Super Bowl Sunday.  Every year growing up we would go to my neighbor's house for a different theme...build your own tacos, loaded baked potato bar, etc. I associate Super Bowl Sunday with good food, good friends & family, good commercials, and good football (at least I think good football). 

Last year, we did a bunch of appetizers on Super Bowl Sunday and I love that it's an excuse to make things loaded with melty cheese. This year we're doing the same (and I'm excited to test out a few new recipes you all might be seeing on the blog soon) and wanted to highlight two of my favorite, easiest, and quickest appetizers: Warm Cheddar Ale Dip and my Three Ingredient Baked Brie.

The Warm Cheddar Ale Dip is more famously known as simply "beer cheese" among our friends, because these are the 2 key ingredients. With a nice loaf of fresh bread, it's an indulgent treat. My Three-Ingredient Baked Brie is as simple as it sounds, and the flaky, buttery crust of the phyllo dough makes the perfect crunching noise as you cut into the gooey cheese beneath. Both of these are extremely simple to make and big crowd-pleasers. They take minimal prep and can be done before everyone arrives and kept warm, so you can focus on the game (or the commercials). 

Looking for the recipes?

Click each photo below to take you to the recipe page for each dish!


Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes

 Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes is the easiest Thanksgiving recipe on your to-do list this year! Just one pot and only 12 minutes to cook these potatoes. Milk, butter, cream cheese....delicious! | themillennialmenu.com

Thanksgiving is my favorite meal of the year, and one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is the side dishes. I think I would be okay if there was no turkey, but I couldn't live without the mashed potatoes or stuffing (or my super easy homemade cranberry sauce recipe!). My mom's homemade mashed potatoes are almost exclusively served on holidays, so I knew I needed to honor her when making my own Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes for Friendsgiving this year. 

Enter: my beloved Instant Pot. I have adjusted to using my Instant Pot for so many staple things in my kitchen over the past year or two, from steel cut oats to hard boiled eggs to risotto to mac and cheese. I knew it could stand the test of mashed potatoes, and I was right.

The best thing about this recipe is it's all in one pot for easy cleanup. I steamed the potatoes in the pot (in ONLY 12 minutes!), mashed them back in there, and added all of the extras (um, hello butter) to stir together. The Instant Pot even keeps them warm for me until ready to serve - another perk of the all-in-one-pot method is the Instant Pot will keep your mashed potatoes at a consistent temperature, so you can make them early in the morning and have one less thing to worry about once the big day prep really gets into full swing.

There is one thing you need to know before making this recipe - you can't try to make mashed potatoes healthy. You just can't. They're best with A LOT of butter, with milk (or hey - even heavy cream), a good amount of salt, and finally, my mom's secret ingredient - cream cheese. It adds just the right of smooth, creamy tang to the potatoes. Thanksgiving is not the day to cut back on any of this goodness.

The other thing you need to know is your options for the mashing step. You have three options: a potato ricer, a potato masher, or your biceps + a wooden spoon. Here's how they differ:

1. A potato ricer is my mashed potato method of choice. I own this mostly for making homemade gnocchi (yum) but it also results in the absolute fluffiest mashed potatoes ever - with very little effort. The potatoes go into the ricer and it's super easy to squeeze them through the ricer easily. This method will lead to the smoothest mashed potatoes.

2. A potato masher is probably the most traditional method that most people use. This result is probably medium difficulty to achieve - the masher makes it easier than using a spoon and your arm, but isn't quite as easy as the potato ricer. This method will lead to potatoes that are slightly lumpy but still overall smooth.

3. Your biceps and a spoon - for the toughest among us. If you've got a sturdy spoon and some muscle power, you can make mashed potatoes by hand. This step requires the most effort and will lead to the most lumpy mashed potatoes - but some people absolutely love this texture, and if you're willing to put in the work, the taste is phenomenal with any method.

If you don't have an Instant Pot yetThe Instant Pot is always one of the best (and most popular) Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals - so if you're feeling like you absolutely need one of these in your life (you're right, you do) - keep your eye out for those deals coming up soon! In the meantime, you can boil your potatoes on the stove (which will take longer) and follow the same recipe. Keep them warm in a crock pot or in an oven-safe dish on low in the oven.

 



Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes

Makes about 10-15 servings
Other recipes with these ingredients: Cream cheese: Tortellini Soup with Spinach & Mushroom
Prep time: 15 minutes (10 minutes before, 5 minutes after)
Cook time: 20 minutes (12 in the Instant Pot + coming to pressure)
Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs Russet potatoes
  • 1/2 block cream cheese, cubed
  • 1 stick butter (yes, you read that right)
  • 1-2 cups milk, to taste
  • Salt, to taste




Dietary Substitutions:
Gluten Free
Vegetarian Friendly
Dairy-free/Vegan: Substitute dairy-free milk or use chicken broth instead.

Directions

PEEL & BOIL THE POTATOES
1. Peel 5 lbs. of russet potatoes and add them to the Instant Pot. 
2. Add 8 cups water on top of the potatoes in the Instant Pot and cook for 10 minutes on the "Steam" function.
3. When the potatoes are done, release the steam immediately and drain the water from the pot. 

MAKE THEM MASHED!
4. Time to mash the potatoes! Your options for this are a potato masher, a potato ricer (my personal choice) or a wooden spoon + a really strong arm. See descriptions of each method above.
5. Add 1 stick's worth of butter tabs, 1-2 cups milk (depending on your preference), 1/2 cup cream cheese cubes, and salt to taste.
6. Stir well to incorporate. Add any extra of the above ingredients - you can't ever have too much, and it's all about what your taste is! If making ahead of time, keep warm in the Instant Pot using the "warming" feature.


Storing & Extra Ingredients

STORING - The best thing about mashed potatoes is that they're the perfect thing to make ahead early in the morning and leave in your Instant Pot (or crock pot) all day to keep warm before dinner. Leftovers will last up to a week in an airtight container in the fridge. I've also read about freezing mashed potatoes - which I've never done but I trust it and think you should try it and let me know! 

EXTRA INGREDIENTS - This recipe will leave you with extra milk and cream cheese, which I'm sure you can find something to do with - if you need ideas, use up that cream cheese by making my Tortellini Soup with Spinach & Mushroom (it's the secret ingredient!).



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Butternut Squash & Apple Soup Recipe

 This Butternut Squash & Apple Soup takes just 15 minutes of prep time and then your slow cooker or instant pot does all the work! Happy Fall! | themillennialmenu.com

The best part about living in New England might be the fall, and therefore, the opportunity to make homemade soups with farm fresh harvest ingredients, like this Butternut Squash & Apple Soup recipe. Not only is this hearty vegetarian soup a delicious way to celebrate the season, it's also shockingly easy to make. I spent about 15 minutes total actually making the soup, and my Instant Pot did all the rest. This recipe is the ideal pressure cooker or slow cooker recipe for a cool fall day.

If you can chop and press a button or two, you can make this soup. It's full of butternut squash, apples, potatoes, and onions that simmer down into a delicious soup in your slow cooker or pressure cooker while you're out enjoying the cooler weather. One of my favorite parts about this soup is that it freezes so well - I made a double batch and now I know I have some last minute dinners or lunches on hand for when things get busy this October. 

Speaking of busy, that word has defined my past few months. After a non-stop summer, I transitioned into a amazing but crazy new job as a high school history teacher and also moved apartments. While we kept eating good food (most of the time), I struggled to find the time to post about it. I usually found time to snap a picture before digging in, so I'm looking forward to sharing some new recipes with you this season. As I settle into a rhythm of things after some big changes, I look forward to posting more regularly and hopefully sitting down to get that Rome travel guide done.

Even though I've been getting my life in order, it's been so exciting to see the blog really take off over the summer. I love hearing from new readers - who aren't my mom! - when they've made a recipe. I am also honored to have earned some recognition from Feedspot as one of the Top 100 Millennial Blogs - coming in at #50. Thank you! As I start my new job and get settled in my new apartment, I'm excited for new beginnings and milestones with not just my life, but also this blog. Please continue to share with me when you make my recipes - it makes me so happy - and continue to reach out about travel recommendations, questions about cooking and grocery shopping, and more. And stay tuned for more recipes coming at you soon!



Butternut Squash & Apple Soup

Makes 6 servings
Other recipes with these ingredients: Butternut Squash: Butternut Squash and Sage Tortellini  //  Potatoes, carrots, and/or onions: Chicken Pot Pie
Prep time: 5 minutes + 10 minutes at the end
Cook time: 30 minutes (Instant Pot) or 5-8 hours (Slow Cooker)
Total Time: Depends on cooking method - but minimal "hands on" time!

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds butternut squash, diced (See the Grocery Guide for tips on what/how to buy)
  • 2 apples, diced 
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red potato, diced
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (chicken would work too, for non-vegetarians)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 cup milk
  • Salt, pepper




Dietary Substitutions:
Gluten Free & Vegetarian Friendly
Dairy-free & Vegan: Substitute dairy-free milk (coconut milk would be good) or omit the milk.

Directions

PREP WORK
1.  Dice the butternut squash, apples, onion, potato, and carrots.
2. Add the vegetables to your pot (whether Instant Pot or slow cooker) with 4 cloves minced garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper, a pinch of cinnamon, and 2 cups vegetable broth. 
3. Turn the Instant Pot on high pressure for 30 minutes, or turn your slow cooker on low for 7-8 hours or high for 5-6 hours. Walk away!

LAST STEPS AFTER COOKING
4.  Once the soup is done cooking, you need to puree it. The best way to do this is with a blender. I hate immersion blenders, or I'm just really bad at using them, it's unclear, so I pour my soup into my beloved Vitamix and be really, really careful not to burn myself. Do the soup in two batches, pouring the pureed soup into a new pot (because you can't mix it with the un-pureed soup, obviously) and starting over adding new soup to the blender. This sounds complicated but I promise it's not. It's just pouring liquid back and forth. You can do it!
5. Once the soup is pureed, stir about a cup of milk into the soup. You might need to heat the new pot up on the stove for a bit if the milk brings down the temperature, but my soup was so hot that the milk brought it to a perfect serving temp.
6. Add any additional salt & pepper to taste. Serve with fresh bread and enjoy!

Yum.


Storing & Extra Ingredients

STORING - Store in the fridge for up to 5 days, or a few months in the freezer. I LOVE popping single-serving bags of soup into the freezer (freeze them flat first for quicker thawing later, then stand them up to save space once they're frozen). I store my soups in freezer quart bags and label them clearly with a Sharpie before freezing. Enjoying "soup in a bag" (that has since been defrosted) is now a culinary delight in our apartment.

LUNCH TOMORROW - There's nothing like a hearty bowl of soup to warm up your day at work. Pack with a slice of crusty bread to scoop up the last spoonful.

EXTRA INGREDIENTS - Since this soup freezes so well, I would just use your ingredients to make an extra-big batch and keep portions in the freezer for quick weeknight meals or last minute lunches. If you do have extra ingredients, like butternut squash, the sauce from my Butternut Squash and Sage Tortellini recipe is delicious on any and all types of pasta. Potatoes, carrots, and onions are extremely versatile ingredients and they're a great base for my favorite hearty Chicken Pot Pie recipe.