Healthy Shrimp and Poblano “Enchilada” Quinoa Bake

Who’s ready for a delicious, healthy one-pan dinner??

This Healthy Shrimp and Poblano "Enchilada" Quinoa Bake is the perfect healthy, one-dish meal!

Meeeeeee!! Let me tell you, I’m all about the quick-and-easy meals these days. By the end of a long workday, all my eight month pregnant body wants to do is kick my feet up, watch TV and get a healthy, tasty meal brought to me in my brand new Pottery Barn Kids recliner. And if anyone wants to deliver this Healthy Shrimp and Poblano “Enchilada” Quinoa Bake to our door on any night of the week, we certainly won’t be complaining 😉

While we’re still working on the whole me not having to cook a thing part, the hubs has been great at at least helping out with dinner prep for the last few weeks. He’s a master at the grill, so we’ve been making most of our protein that way and then supplementing with either an easy salad or some sort of veggie. But every once in a while we crave something just a little fancier, and this quinoa bake is just the answer!

I can’t remember how it came to me, but a few weeks ago I suddenly got the urge to make some sort of Mexican-themed dish pairing shrimp and poblano peppers. I thought about it for a while, and wavered between making ACTUAL enchiladas, nachos or tacos. But then I thought about how NOT to complicate my life and instead make something that was (a) healthy and that (b) I could easily throw together and just pop in the oven. With the extra pop of protein it provides, a quinoa bake seemed like the perfect way to get the flavor combinations I was craving while also having a filling, delicious meal on hand in the refrigerator to heat up at a moment’s notice.

A Healthy Shrimp and Poblano "Enchilada" Quinoa Bake is a great one-pan, weeknight meal.

To be fair, if you count cooking the quinoa and making the cashew cream, this may not be considered a “one-pan dinner.” But, let’s be real, you really should have some cooked quinoa on hand at all times (meal prep Sunday anyone?) and if you haven’t yet tried your hand at cashew cream you are truly missing out on life. I’ve basically started using it in every recipe where I’m craving a creamy sauce and it is soooooo good you don’t even miss the cream. (See these Healthier Chicken Pot Pie Pockets, this Healthy (Vegan) Green Bean Casserole and this Curry Gnocchi with White Lamb Bolognese, for example.)

So here’s the scoop on how to make this life-changing Healthy Shrimp and Poblano “Enchilada” Quinoa Bake: First, make sure you have some cooked quinoa and cashew cream on hand. I recommend cooking the quinoa using vegetable or chicken broth to add an extra punch of flavor, and I’ve included my go-to recipe for cashew cream below for your ease and convenience (save it, make it, memorize it!)

After that, it’s just a matter of tossing all the ingredients together in a bowl, transferring them to a baking dish, topping with some cheese and popping the whole thing in the oven! The greatest thing about this Healthy Shrimp and Poblano “Enchilada” Quinoa Bake? It’s ready to devour in just 15 minutes!! Now that’s the perfect dinner if I ever saw one.

Healthy Shrimp and Poblano "Enchilada" Quinoa Bake ready for the oven!

And, although the hubs and I EASILY polished off at least half of the bake in one sitting, I also love the fact that it reheats beautifully, which means this preggo mama can have a delicious, healthy, protein-packed meal or snack at a moment’s notice.

What do you think? Have I convinced you yet? I double dare you to give it a shot this week. And, as always, be sure to tag @caligirlcooking in any of your creations so I can share them all over social media! Xo

A heaping scoop of this Healthy Shrimp and Poblano "Enchilada" Quinoa Bake is the perfect filling lunch or dinner.

Healthy Shrimp and Poblano "Enchilada" Quinoa Bake
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

A healthier take on enchiladas featuring fresh shrimp and poblano peppers, a cashew cream sauce, cheese topping and plenty of flavor!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the quinoa:
  • 1 1/4 cup dry quinoa
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
For the cashew cream:
  • 1 cup cashews, soaked at least 4 hours or overnight
  • 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup water
For the quinoa bake:
  • 2 poblano (or pascilla) peppers
  • 1/2 teaspoon each cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne and paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • Dash of pepper, plus more to taste
  • 10 ounces peeled and deveined shrimp, tails removed and cut in half (if large)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 of an onion, chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Jack cheese
  • Cilantro and avocado, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Soak cashews in water overnight at least one night before you plan to make the quinoa bake. The next morning, drain the cashews and add them to a blender with the rest of the cashew cream ingredients. Puree until a smooth cream forms and set aside.

  2. You can also prepare the quinoa one day (or more) in advance of making the dish. Simply add the quinoa and vegetable stock to a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed by the quinoa.

  3. Once you have the cashew cream and quinoa prepped, the rest of the meal will come together in a flash. Using a gas grill or stovetop, hold each pepper with a pair of metal tongs and place over a medium flame until the skin is nicely charred. Remove from heat and destem and chop into bite-size pieces once cool enough to touch. Set aside.

  4. In a small bowl, mix together the cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne, paprika, ¼ teaspoon salt and dash of pepper. 

  5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and get out a 3-quart baking dish.

  6. In a large mixing bowl, toss the shrimp with the prepared seasoning blend, then add the cooked quinoa, charred peppers, garlic, onion and tomatoes. Finally, add the entire batch of cashew cream you prepared in advance. Stir to combine. 

  7. Transfer quinoa mixture to the 3-quart baking dish and top with shredded Jack cheese. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes.

  8. Garnish with fresh cilantro and sliced avocado and enjoy!

Healthy Shrimp and Poblano "Enchilada" Quinoa Bake | CaliGirlCooking.com

Cherry Salsa

A fun take on everyone’s favorite Mexican condiment, this salsa uses the season’s best fresh cherries in lieu of tomatoes – a delicious twist!

A bowl of delicious Cherry Salsa just waiting to be eaten with your favorite tortilla chips!

My cherry obsession is still going strong…I honestly can’t get enough! Do you ever obsess about a certain produce item coming into season so much that your list of what to do with it is about a mile long? Hi, yea, looking at me right here. This Cherry Salsa is just another in the long list of recipe ideas I’ve been dreaming about since cherries went out of season last year, and I’m so excited about the way it turned out!

I know I’ve been inundating you with the cherry recipes lately, so I can only hope that you’re enjoying these Cherry Bourbon Breezes and this Herbed Cherry and Ricotta Crostini as much as I am. If so, I’m confident that you’ll be totally digging on this Cherry Salsa as well.

It’s an easy recipe, with no cooking involved, that can easily be served up on its own as an appetizer or snack, or as a topping for your favorite barbecued meat (I have some juicy grilled pork chops in mind.) Might I also mention it would be the perfect addition to your Father’s Day menu this weekend?

This Cherry Salsa is the perfect appetizer or snack for any barbecue or family get-together you're having this weekend!

Speaking of, what are your plans for celebrating Dad on Sunday? We’re so lucky that both of our dads live relatively close to each other, so we’re heading up to the Bay Area to spend some quality time with them, and of course to make them some delicious food!

I think some Cherry Salsa might definitely need to make an appearance alongside the tri tip, chicken and sausages we’re already planning on serving. Still need to think of some more sides and dessert though. Any fun suggestions?

As I mentioned above, this Cherry Salsa is a breeze to make, and you can have it ready to serve in under 20 minutes. It involves basically all of the same ingredients as a regular pico de gallo salsa, but subs in fresh, pitted cherries instead of  tomatoes. That’s it! So easy, right?

Fresh cherries, rinsed and ready to be made into delicious Cherry Salsa!

And if you’re looking for another, more traditional salsa to serve alongside (or instead) of this one, be sure to check out my Spicy Homemade Salsa. You could even go with a fancy selection and add this Mango Salsa to the mix! Clearly I’m a salsa-lover and I’m not ashamed to show it.

Even if you have no plans for Father’s Day, this Cherry Salsa needs to make an appearance in your household in the next week. Cherries are at the top of their game right now and you wouldn’t want to miss out on another great opportunity to use them.

An overhead shot of a big bowl of delicious Cherry Salsa.

Happy Monday and I hope your week is made even better with this delicious recipe!

Cherry Salsa

A fun take on everyone's favorite Mexican condiment, this salsa uses the season's best fresh cherries in lieu of tomatoes - a delicious twist!

Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Servings: 6 people
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 16 ounces fresh red cherries, pitted and diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a medium bowl and stir to combine. Refrigerate for a half hour or so for best results. Serve with tortilla chips!

Cherry Salsa | CaliGirlCooking.com

Frozen Watermelon Peach Margaritas

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Frozen Watermelon Peach Margarita | CaliGirlCooking.com

Or as those of you who love cocktails as much as I do may call it, Cinco de Drinko! I am beyond stoked to bring you today’s cocktail because (a) it is only the second frozen cocktail I’ve ever posted on the blog (second only to this delicious Frozen Cantaloupe White Wine Sangria, which would also be perfectly fitting for this occasion) and (b) it is the ultimate spring-summer hybrid, so perfect for this time of year! Yes, this Frozen Watermelon Peach Margarita I’m sharing with you today is so refreshing and tasty, you’re going to have to seriously pace yourself because you’re just going to want to be drinking these non-stop today and all through the weekend.

Unfortunately, seeing as I’m busy learning and hobnobbing with the big names at the Everything Food Conference in SLC today, I won’t be able to enjoy any of these for this festive holiday, but I’m sure I’ll be able to find some way to celebrate, and there will be plenty of time to enjoy a Frozen Watermelon Peach Margarita down the road as the weather gets even warmer in sunny California!

And since I won’t be making my normal rounds to all of the Mexican restaurants/bars with the hubs and his work crew this year, I’m dying to live vicariously through all of you. Tell me, what fun things are you up to today to celebrate? I’ll probably even be jealous if your plans amount to no more than making huge vats of Kimchi Bacon Guacamole and Spicy Homemade Salsa (and maybe some Frozen Watermelon Peach Margaritas?) and enjoying them in front of the TV in the comfort of your own home. Ain’t no shame in that game and you’ll probably find me doing the same once I’m done with the conference for the day.

Frozen Watermelon Peach Margarita | CaliGirlCooking.com

So, about this Frozen Watermelon Peach Margarita, there’s really nothing genius about it, just a whole lot of really fantastic flavor. Now, I’m not one for frozen drinks that are made “frozen” by a heavy scoop of ice, as I find this just makes them incredibly watered down as they melt. Instead, I prefer to freeze my fruit (or any other solid ingredients you’ll be using) so it both makes the cocktail icy but also imparts a whole lot of flavor whether you drink it all right away or want to nurse it a bit (which is always a good idea with tequila!) That being said, I froze both the watermelon (seedless, mind you) and peaches before adding them to the blender with all of the other ingredients.

And speaking of “all the other ingredients,” we’re talking the classics that you see in just about every margarita recipe. So tequila, Cointreau and lime juice. Like I said, nothing fancy! I want to keep this as easy as possible for you so you have no excuse to whip some of these up because they are sooooooo tasty.

Frozen Watermelon Peach Margarita | CaliGirlCooking.com

Throw all of the ingredients in a blender and pour into frosty margarita glasses. Maybe garnish with a lime wheel and/or give those glasses a salt rim if you’re feeling fancy (or need some sodium in your life…haha!) No judgment here. These recipes are for YOU.

Speaking of, I’m working on my summer content calendar right now and would love to hear from you regarding what you’d like to see more (or less of) on the blog in the coming months, anything you’ve really enjoyed that I posted, any other topics you’d like me to cover more of (traveling, eating out, or working out, for example,) etc.  After all, this blog would be nothing if it weren’t for all of you lovely readers out there 😉

I hope you have a fun, fabulous and safe Cinco de Mayo, filled with plenty of Frozen Watermelon Peach Margaritas!! Xo

Frozen Watermelon Peach Margarita | CaliGirlCooking.com

Frozen Watermelon Peach Margarita
Prep Time
5 mins
 

This fun frozen cocktail is the perfect spring-summer hybrid, with both watermelon and peach amping up your everyday margarita flavors.

Course: Drinks
Servings: 2 cocktails
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces frozen peach slices
  • 8 ounces frozen seedless watermelon chunks
  • 4 ounces tequila
  • 2 ounces Cointreau q
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
Instructions
  1. If you like your margaritas with salt, rim two chilled margarita glasses with lime juice and salt before preparing the cocktails. Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour into two chilled margarita glasses, whether with salt or without. Garnish with a lime wheel, if desired.

Frozen Watermelon Peach Margarita | CaliGirlCooking.com

Spicy Homemade Salsa

Hey, hey, hey friends!

Spicy Homemade Salsa | CaliGirlCooking.com

I am so excited for today’s post because I’ve partnered up with some of my favorite event and wedding planning babes, A Savvy Lifestyle, to bring you the most delicious Spicy Homemade Salsa you’ve ever tasted. I’m serious here. If you like spicy, you’re going to LOVE this. You probably won’t even be able to put down the chips. It’s a good thing the recipe makes a huge batch so you just might be willing to share some with your friends for your Cinco de Mayo get-together!

I have to tell you a little story about the Savvy group because they really are a special bunch. When my husband and I first got engaged, one of the first people I told was my good friend Brittany who also happens to be a wedding planner. Now, I used to be an event planner but I am definitely no expert in weddings, so I needed all of the help I could get! Brittany just so happens to work for A Savvy Lifestyle’s parent company, A Savvy Event, so I knew I would be in good hands with her.

Seeing as we wanted her to be able to actually ENJOY our wedding (and not have to work for once!) she quickly connected us with one of her amazing coworkers, Jamie, to be our actual planner leading up to and the day of the event. All spare you all of the lovey-dovey, romantic details of our wedding planning process, but let’s just say it was so special to work so closely with such an amazingly friendly group of talented ladies! So when they asked me to contribute a festive Cinco de Mayo recipe for their lifestyle brand, I jumped at the chance.

Spicy Homemade Salsa | CaliGirlCooking.com

Coincidentally, this recipe is one that my husband has had in his arsenal since his good ol’ Isla Vista college days, so we’re putting our marriage to work to bring you this Spicy Homemade Salsa! We whip up a batch whenever we’re having a barbecue, family get-together or pretty much any other large gathering of people, and it’s always a hit, especially with our spice-lovers!

Seriously though, the spice-level on this recipe (as written) is not for the faint of heart. But there is some great news that goes along with that so as not to totally scare you away:

  1. When I say the salsa is “spicy,” think of it as a slow, gradual buildup. It doesn’t hit you all at once, and it certainly doesn’t burn off all of your taste buds with the first bite. I’d say if you normally buy “medium” salsa at the store, you’ll easily be able to tolerate at least small doses of this recipe as is.
  2. If you’re REALLY averse/sensitive to heat, you can easily just cut down the amount of habaneros used, or even use seeded jalapenos instead. Once you take the seeds out, peppers really just add flavor and hardly any spice at all.

The most recent evolution of this recipe, which you can find here in the A Savvy Lifestyle post, is our addition of some chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Seriously, do not skip this step if you can at all help it. The smokiness of the peppers adds such a fantastic flavor to the salsa, it truly makes the dish three-dimensional and out of this world.

Spicy Homemade Salsa | CaliGirlCooking.com

CLICK HERE FOR THE SPICY HOMEMADE SALSA RECIPE!

So what are your plans for Cinco de Mayo? I for one am headed out to Salt Lake City tonight through Sunday for the Everything Food Conference, so no big Cinco celebration for me this year, but I am beyond excited. This will be the first full-on “food blogging” conference that I’ve attended and I’ve already got so many brands and people on my list to meet I just know it’s going to be a blast and go by way too fast. If for any reason you’re headed that way as well, be sure to drop me a line so we can connect!

So since I’ll be too busy mingling with my fellow bloggers and living it up in the SLC, do me a favor and enjoy some Spicy Homemade Salsa for me, will ya? And maybe a margarita or two?

Spicy Homemade Salsa | CaliGirlCooking.com

And be sure to check out A Savvy Lifestyle for the recipe and tons of other great posts about events, wine country and so much more!!

Greek Nachos

Figures I would come back from Italy just to share a Greek recipe with you…

Greek Nachos | CaliGirlCooking.com

I guess you could actually call these absolutely to-die-for Greek Nachos a Greek-Mexican hybrid recipe though, since we’re taking one of my favorite Mexican food dishes and giving it a Mediterranean twist. I’m really not sure why the Greek Nacho path hasn’t been traveled down more often, because when you basically sub in Greek-inspired ingredients for your typical nacho fixin’s, the result is show stopping. You may never want to eat regular nachos ever again.

Aside from these nachos, I don’t have too much other stuff to share with you today. More due to the fact that I’m a bit jetlagged (read: brain dead) from our trip and we’re driving back to Santa Barbara from the Bay Area today. Tomorrow, back to reality but at least we only have a few more days until the weekend! I fully intend on writing at least one (if not multiple) Travel Diary posts about my trip once I’ve had time to recover and soak it all in, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, let me tell you a little bit about these Greek Nachos. Because, yes, you want to know allllll about them.

Greek Nachos | CaliGirlCooking.com

We start in the most obvious of places: with the chips! We’re kicking off the Greek theme by replacing the typical tortilla chips with crispy plain pita chips, which in fact almost work better than tortilla because they tend to be thicker and sturdier – which means they can easily hold up to all of the tasty toppings we’re going to add!

Greek Nachos | CaliGirlCooking.com

The first matter of business in getting together said toppings is whipping up some healthy and tangy tzatziki sauce. I used a base of nonfat plain Greek yogurt and added lots of garlic, dill and cucumber. Make this the day before if you want, the flavors just get better as they sit.

We’ll also want to saute some eggplant as well as ground lamb with more garlic, olive oil, and some fresh lemon juice. And I’m going to take this moment right here to let you know that if you have never cooked with ground lamb before, you’ve REALLY been missing out. I love how it tastes so different than beef..It seems to give a whole new dimension to a dish (I’m also a huge fan of lamb burgers if you’re looking for more suggestions.)

Aside from putting together the tzatziki and cooking the eggplant and lamb, there’s very little involved in the preparation of our Greek Nachos. You’re going to need the requisite Greek ingredients (like tomatoes, garbanzo beans, red onion and fresh oregano) and you’re also going to track down some legit Greek cheese. I used a mix of feta and shredded Kasseri, which could also be replaced by halloumi or any other Greek cheese you’re able to find (I had the best luck at Whole Foods.)

To prep the actual nacho dish, you’re going to want to bring out your best cast iron skillet. Load up the bottom of the skillet with the pita chips, then pile on all of the prepared toppings that can stand up to a little more heat. We’re talking the lamb, beans, onions, tomatoes, and of course, cheese!

Greek Nachos | CaliGirlCooking.com

Pop all of that into the oven for about 15 minutes, top with the rest of the ingredients (like more fresh oregano and the tzatziki) and your Greek Nachos will be on the table in no time! Now how’s that for an easy Wednesday night dinner?

Greek Nachos | CaliGirlCooking.com

Greek Nachos
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

All of your favorite Mediterranean ingredients are piled high atop crispy pita chips. The perfect quick and easy dinner for any night of the week!

Course: Main Course
Servings: 5 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the tzatziki:
  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 Persian cucumber, grated
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of pepper
For the eggplant:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or more as needed if dry)
  • 1/2 of a medium eggplant, peeled and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
For the lamb:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound ground lamb
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
All other ingredients:
  • 4-5 cups plain pita chips
  • 1 cup garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 6 ounces shredded Kasseri cheese
  • 2 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 of a red onion, thinly sliced
  • Additional fresh oregano for garnish
Instructions
  1. First, make the tzatziki. Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and stir until well-incorporated. If you have time, cover and chill the mixture for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight.

  2. To make the eggplant, heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Add eggplant and garlic and stir to combine. Cook until eggplant is tender, adding more olive oil as needed, then season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Remove from pan and set aside.

  3. To make the lamb, heat another 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat (using the same saute pan.) Add the lamb, garlic and fresh oregano and cook until lamb is browned. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Turn off heat and set aside.

  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the pita chips evenly over the bottom of a medium cast iron skillet. Sprinkle the eggplant, lamb, garbanzo beans, cheese, cherry tomatoes and red onion evenly over the top. Place in the oven for approximately 12 minutes, and then turn the broiler on high for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until the cheese on top is starting to brown. 

  5. Remove the cast iron skillet from the oven, being careful to use potholders, and drizzle on tzatziki (you don’t have to use it all, just use however much you want.) Sprinkle with more fresh oregano before serving straight out of the pan!

Greek Nachos | CaliGirlCooking.com