Friday, May 6, 2016

Dark Crossing by Royal Bouchor (Zack Sinclair #1)

Deadly CrossingDeadly Crossing by Royal Bouschor

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Jacket Blurb:  America’s relentless search for terrorists coupled with heretofore unknown and covert eavesdropping techniques and other invasions have uncovered a uniquely coded message between Afghanistan and Mexico. The translation, if it is to be believed, is alarming. Arab terrorists are going to smuggle a Russian into the United States.

A retired former special ops CIA agent, Zack Sinclair is brought back in to go undercover in Mexico to find the Russian before he arrives in the United States.

Zack learns that funding and transportation for the Russian are financed by a Guadalajaran banker for a drug cartel that has corrupted the border and politicians, making Sinclair’s task perilous and deadly.

A tenuous relationship evolves with a member of the banking family that controls the critical sale of drugs to finance the movement of the Russian to the United States. Their relationship puts them both in mortal danger as the body count rises.

When the CIA learns the real reason for the Russian’s arrival in the Unites States, Sinclair alone must find him at all costs, or the results will be America’s worst nightmare.

2.5 stars. It was between OK and I Liked It.

First book in a self published suspense-mystery series set in the southwest between Arizona and Mexico.

Zack Sinclair is recruited by a former colleague as part of a highly secret covert ops mission to find out who and what is being smuggled into the states across the Arizona/New Mexico border. Zack witness a drug deal gone wrong, rescues the one survivor, and is sucked into Mexican politics like a thirsty tourist downs a margarita.

The plot was a bit different from the mysteries I've been reading, and I suspect a big part of that is in the location alone. Living along the Mexican/US border brings its own unique issues that most people in the States never even think about. Or if they do, it "that thing" that happens "down there".

Dark Crossings doesn't deal with illegal immigrants, it deals with smuggling drugs and more across the border. With illegals being such a hot topic in the news, I don't know that I would have wanted to have read about a fictional case. So, points for plot.

Where the book faltered was the dialog. It bounced between a stilted and repetitive to almost too casual given some high pressure high government situations. My largest hang-up was the repetitiveness - the characters would repeat themselves two or three times, which would leave me scratching my head and muttering "you just said that...".

I also noted a repeated use names, where in live dialog, people just don't say the other person's name more than once or maybe twice. Once to garner attention, and perhaps again in closing, or, if in a committee setting, to bring a person to the attention of the group or assign matters. In Dark Crossings, lots of name usage.

Speaking of names, the author hit the repetitive first names - "R's". Rob, Rosa, Ricardo, Ruben; "E's - Edwards, Eduardo; "V's" - Victoria and Veronica; which caused a bit of confusion more than once.

Don't expect a lot of description in this book - it's dialog heavy and light on scene establishment. The most one gets is a quick rundown of what a character is wearing and that's about it. You won't get a feel for Guadalajara - you could be in Anywhere, Mexico. I had trouble discerning when Zack was back in states and when and where he was in Mexico.

I was less than enamored with the protagonist claiming adoration for multiple drop-dead gorgeous women that seemed to litter his path. Zach is supposed to be "playing" Rosa, a hardened business woman, but all it came away with was Veronica Rabbit. It's to Veronica, mistress of disguises, that Zach professes a more complete adoration, but I'm perplexed as to when and where he actually got to know her since Zach spent most of his time with Rosa. And, ultimately, in my humble opinion, it all falls under the James Bond trope anyway of over being overdone.

Overall, an okay read for a independently published first book. I'll read the next out of curiosity.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Baby Chicks!

About a month ago, one of our "Priya's" went broody, which simply means a female chicken wants to sit on a clutch of eggs and hatch them.

The Husband decided to go with the flow and see if she could.  She was removed from the main flock and sequestered in her own facility in the man-barn.  Broody hens typically only leave the nest 1x a day to quick drink, eat, and poop.   It was best she was put in her own spot to "do her thing".   The Husband provided her with four eggs and the countdown began.

At the 10 day mark, the Husband candled the eggs to check viability.  Of the three, one was a dud and removed from the nest.  The countdown continued.

Last Tuesday morning, we could hear our first peeps!  By Wednesday evening, she had successfully hatched all three eggs.

By Sunday we transferred the little family into the chicken cruiser in the garden.

Enjoy the cuteness! 

This is Sunday in the new nest box and pen. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Recipe Review from 4/28/2016

It's been a bit of a interesting week, so I'm splitting this post into two.  Come back on Wed and see what excitement we had!

Mean while, I will leave you with a beautiful picture of our forsythia and some meals:

The Meal Plan:
Sun (L) leftover brats   (S) leftovers
Mon (Yoga/Bkgrp/Legion)  leftovers
Tues - (Yoga) Hawaiian Fried Rice  (reviewed here)
Wed - Buffalo Chicken Tacos
Thus (Field office/Yoga) - leftovers
Fri -out
Sat (l)  Salmon with couscous   (S)  pasty with peas

Lunches - Tabouli salad with veggies, fruit, luna bars, yogurt.

Tabbouli salad (Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen)  vegetarian, vegan option**
A quick search of my blog and I realized I've never reviewed this dish.  It's been a long standing favorite of mine, perfect for spring and summer, great for lunches, picnics or potlucks.

This comes together in about 30 minutes, but is better when served the next day to allow all the flavors to meld.   Ingredients can be altered to suit tastes and tastebuds - it's that kind of recipe.

I've altered some of the quantities to make this serve between 8 and 10, depending on how much else is being served.  This made enough for seven lunches total.

1 1/2 cup dry bulger wheat
2 1/4 cups boiling water

1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1 - 2 garlic cloves, minced
black pepper, to taste

4 scallions, finely minced (green and white parts)
~ 1 cup packed minced parsely
10-15 fresh mint leaves, minced
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

Optional (but I add them)
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 small zucchini OR cucumber, diced
crumbled feta cheese**   omit for vegans

1.  Combine the bulger and boiling water in a medium-large bowl.  Cover and let stand until bulger is tender, at least 30 minutes, minimum.

2.   Combine salt, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and black pepper, and mix well.  Cover tightly and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

3.  Combine all ingredients, including add-ins and mix well.  Can be served cold or warm.  I like to top with feta cheese, but that is easily omitted. 

Grilled Buffalo Chicken Tacos (Ckng Lght, May 2016)  gluten free
These were darn tasty!  I did move around the directions when compared to the original recipe because the order they had the directions in wasn't logical.  This way, all the toppings and tortillas are ready to go when the chicken is done.

I did omit the 1/2 tsp red pepper for fear that these would be too spicy for us.  They weren't and in fact, I could have left it in or halved it.  For heat sensitive taste buds, omit the red pepper and increase the amount of butter.

These made enough for one meal for two of us, and one leftover meal for one.  Definitely easy and quick enough for a weeknight meal. Recommended!

2 (6 oz)  skinless boneless chicken breasts  (I used turkey tenderloins)
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 tbsp hot sauce (recommended and I used Franks Red Hot)
1 tsp unsalted butter, melted (1 used 1 tbsp)
1/2 tsp ground red pepper
2 tbsp buttermilk
2 tbsp mayo
1 oz blue cheese, crumbled (about 1/4 cup)
2 cups romaine lettuce, shredded
1 small celery stalk, thinly sliced (I skipped)
8 (6") corn tortillas

1. Combine buttermilk, may, and cheese in a bowl, mashing tow a fork to combine.  Add lettuce and celery to bowl; toss to coat.  Set aside.

2. Warm tortillas according to package directions. 

3.  Heat a grill pan over medium high heat.  Cut chicken in half horizontally to form 4 cutlets; sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.  Arrange on  pan coated with cooking spray.  Cook 2-3 minutes on each side or until done.  Remove from pan; thinly slice.

4.  Combine hot sauce, butter, and red pepper; stir with a whisk.  Add chicken to bowl; toss to coat.  Divide chicken mixture evenly among tortillas; top with lettuce.  Serve.

Lemony Salmon with White Wine Couscous  (Ckng Lght, May 2016)
Another one touted at "Superfast" and while, yes, it is quick and easy, it's by no means 20 minutes quick and easy.  It took me nearly 15 minutes alone to 'finely chop' the carrots and I consider myself decent with a knife!

This is a dish where you want everything in place before you start because things move quickly once food hits the pan.    I also did some changes to simplify:  I grilled the salmon outside and I cooked the couscous with the veggies. 

photo from Scifi with Paprika blog
2 tbsp 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
2 tbsp chopped fresh chives
2 tbsp olive oil. divided
4 tsp lemon juice, divided
4 (6oz) salmon filets
1 1/8 tsp kosher salt, divided
1/2 tsp black pepper, divided
1/2 tsp finely chopped carrots
1/4 cup minced shallots
2 tsp minced garlic
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 cup water **
1 cup hot cooked couscous  (I used Israeli**  adjust water to package directions)

1) Preheat grill to 350*   (If using oven, preheat to 450*)

2) Heat a medium sauce pan over medium high heat.   Add 1 tsp oil to pan.  Add carrots, shallots, and garlic to pan.  Saute 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.   Add couscous to pan, stir and cook 1 minute.   Combine 1 tbsp lemon juice, 5/8 tsp salt (or to taste), 1/4 tsp pepper, and wine in a small bowl,  add to carrot mixture and stir.  Add 1 cup water to pan, bring to a boil, and simmer about 5 minutes.   When water is nearly gone, cover, remove from heat and set aside. 

3) Combine yogurt, chives, 2 tsp oil and 1 tbsp juice;  stir with a whisk.  Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper to taste.  Rub with 2 tbsp yogurt mixture.    [If using oven, heat a skillet over medium high heat, add 1 tsp oil to pan.  Add fish, skin side down; cook 2 minutes.  Transfer to oven and bake at 450* for 5 minutes turning once.]    Oil grill, place salmon fish side down and grill for 5 minutes, turning once.    Note - or cook until salmon is done because not all filets are equal.

4) Serve fish over couscous with extra yogurt/chive mix on the side. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Dark Intelligence by Neal Asher (Transformation #1)

Dark Intelligence (Transformation, #1)Dark Intelligence by Neal Asher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jacket Blurb: One man will transcend death to seek vengeance. One woman will transform herself to gain power. And no one will emerge unscathed....

Thorvald Spear wakes in a hospital to find he's been brought back from the dead. What's more, he died in a human vs. alien war that ended a century ago. Spear had been trapped on a world surrounded by hostile Prador forces, but Penny Royal, the AI inside the rescue ship sent to provide backup, turned rogue, annihilating friendly forces in a frenzy of destruction and killing Spear. One hundred years later the AI is still on the loose, and Spear vows for revenge at any cost.

Isobel Satomi ran a successful crime syndicate, but after competitors attacked she needed power and protection. Negotiating with Penny Royal, she got more than she bargained for: Turning part-AI herself gave Isobel frightening power, but the upgrades hid a horrifying secret, and the dark AI triggered a transformation that has been turning her into something far from human….

Spear hires Isobel to track Penny Royal across worlds to its last known whereabouts. But he cheats her in the process and quickly finds himself in her crosshairs. As Isobel continues to evolve into a monstrous predator, it's clear her rage will eventually win out over reason. Will Spear finish his hunt before he himself becomes the hunted?

Dark Intelligence is the explosive first novel in a brand new trilogy from military SF master Neal Asher and a new chapter in his epic Polity universe.

Read for April book group.

Space crabs. Rouge AI's. Out of work assassin drones. Human's being transformed into hooders. Crabs being transformed into humans. War drones turned Planetary Warden's. A human who may not necessarily be who he thinks he is. Scifi doesn't get much better than this. Seriously good reading.

The main plot is that of revenge and retribution.

The subplots add the complexity. Thorvold Spear, resurrected after 100 years is bent on revenging Penny Royal for destroying an entire planet he was on during the Prador War. Isobel Santomi, merchant of cored humans and thralls for the Prador, made a deal with Penny Royal to be even more than what she is - she wanted to be a predator. Sverl, Prador, asked a similar request of Penny Royal and now finds himself protecting that which he thought he loathed. Penny Royal's purpose is woven through all three, and has its own justifications for what is going to happen.

This was just...brilliant. Asher's books start out methodical, with carefully laid plot work, then BAM! You can't put the book down and you don't know where or when exactly that happened.

Scifi doesn't get much better than this. Seriously good reading. So why are you reading this review?! Go read the book!

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Recipe Review from 4/18/2016

Not much in the way of news from last week.   It was nice outside, then not nice.  Bit of yard work.  Bit of house work.  Chickens continue to do chicken things.  By this time next week I should have a baby chick update. 

Until then, the Meal Plan:

Sun (L) Leftovers  (S)  Shrimp LoMein
Mon (Yoga/Block)  leftover lomein
Tues (Yoga)  Pea, Bacon and bowtie pasta
Wed - Hawaiian Fried Rice
Thurs (Yoga/St. Cloud)  leftovers
Friday - leftovers
Sat (L) leftovers

Lunches - Husband = sandwiches
                Me = butternut squash soup with apple/pecan relish

Butternut Squash Soup with Apple Pecan Relish (Source unknown...)  vegetarian, gluten free
This was the winning soup at our "SOUP"-er Bowl cook-off back in February.  

This is a loosey goosey kind of soup recipe.  You can make your own chicken stock, or used store bought.  You can make this on the stove top or in the slow cooker.  I opted for the slow cooker so I could get outside and work in the yard.  To say this can be very hands off would be an understatement.

DON'T skip the relish!   This is what really pulls everything together.  Do use a tart sweet apple.

Also noted - this would be better when all the ingredients are in season.  There was a definite difference between my soup flavor and the original, and I'll chalk that up to older squash.   Ditto for the apple.

Apple-Pecan Relish:
·         Equal parts toasted, crushed pecans and chopped apples with peels left on
·         Cinnamon and lightly salted to taste
·         Pure maple syrup to taste

Butternut Squash Soup:
·         Sauté about 2-3 tablespoons butter and 1 medium onion in pot
·         Cube a medium 2-3 pound butternut squash and add to pot
·         4-5 cups chicken broth or stock 
·         1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
·         ¼ teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
·         1 teaspoon salt
·         ½ teaspoon crushed black pepper

Sauté about 2-3 tablespoons butter and 1 medium onion in pot 

Bring all soup ingredients to boil, then simmer for 20-30 minutes or until all the squash is soft enough to blend.   Combine all ingredients except relish and cream cheese in a slow cooker.  Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 4 hours, or until squash is soft enough to blend.  

Then add 1 8oz package of cream cheese. Let it melt in the soup then either use a blender or immersion blender to make into creamy consistency. 

You can also add some maple syrup to the soup at this time.

Ready to serve, just spoon the relish on top.

Shrimp Lo Mein  (Ckng Lght, May 2016)  gluten free option
This comes together very quickly, so make sure you have everything mise en place.

Overall, tasty, fresh, and a bit on the bland side.  I did serve with siracha sauce for a little added heat.   You could also add some red pepper flakes for some background zing!.   Or, conversely, omit if serving to little or sensitive tastebuds. 

1/2 lb multi-grain spaghetti
1 1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp lower-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp dark sesame oil
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 black pepper
2 tsp canola oil
2 cups small broccoli florets
3/4 cup thinly sliced carrot
3/4 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
1 lb peeled and deveined extra-large shrimp
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
1 tbsp rice vinegar

1) Cook pasta according to package directions; omitting salt and fat, and removing from heat 2 minutes earlier than recommended for al dente texture.  Drain.

2) Combine chicken stock, soy sauce, cornstarch, sesame oil, sugar, and black pepper, stirring well.

3) Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat.  Add canola oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add broccoli, carrot and red bell pepper, saute 5 minutes or until veggies soften.   Add 1/4 cup stock mixture; saute 2 minutes.  Add shrimp, garlic, ginger, and 1/4 cup stock mixture; saute 3 minutes or until shrimp are about done. 

4)  Add pasta and remaining stock mixture.  Cook over medium heat 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, stir in vinegar.

Mini Bow Ties with Bacon and Peas  (Ckng Lght, May 2016)  gluten free option
Another fairly fast turnover between prep and table.  I did have a couple alterations to simplify and well, flavor boost.

1) Seriously?  Three slices for a dish that serves four?  Not enough bacon.  I up'd the bacon to 6 slices for a more flavorful dish.  Do drain out the extra bacon fat though, reserving about a tablespooon to cook the onion in. 

2)  Buy an onion and chop it yourself.  Cheaper, fresher, less bacteria.

3)  This was a no-brainer and I'm surprised Ckng Lght didn't do it, especially since they advocate for pre-chopped onion.  Skip chopping your own carrot and buy a package of frozen peas and carrots.  Use two cups instead of just one for peas.   You won't regret this. 

8 ounces uncooked mini farfalle (bow tie pasta)
3 center-cut bacon slices, chopped (I used 6 slices of thick cut)
photo from
1/2 cup prechopped onion
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup unsalted chicken stock
2 cups frozen green peas and carrot mix
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (I used 1 tsp dried)
5/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid; set aside.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon; cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon.  [Remove all but 1 tbsp of bacon fat]. 

3. Add onion and carrot to drippings in pan; cook 5 minutes. [Add dried thyme here if using.] Add stock; bring to a boil. Add peas [and carrots]; cook 2 minutes.

4. Remove pan from heat; stir in reserved 1/4 cup cooking liquid, bacon, thyme, salt, pepper, and cream cheese. Add pasta to pan; toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Private: Games by James Patterson and

Private Games (Private, #4)Private Games by James Patterson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jacket Blurb:  Private, the world's most renowned investigation firm, has been commissioned to provide security for the 2012 Olympic games in London. Its agents are the smartest, fastest, and most technologically advanced in the world, and 400 of them have been transferred to London to protect over 10,000 competitors who represent more than 200 countries.

The opening ceremony is still hours away when Private investigator and single father of twins, Nigel Steele, is called to the scene of a ruthless murder. A high-ranking member of the games' organizing committee and his mistress have been killed. It's clear that it wasn't a crime of passion, but one of precise calculation and execution.

Newspaper reporter Karen Pope receives a letter from a person who calls himself Cronus, claiming responsibility for the murders. He also proclaims that he will restore the Olympics to their ancient glory and will destroy all who have corrupted the games with lies, cheating, and greed. Karen immediately hires Private to examine the letter, and she and Nigel uncover a criminal genius who won't stop until he's ended the games for good.

Read as an audiobook.

Private: Games revolves around Peter Knight, now head of Private: London and the start of the London Olympic Games. Peter is still reeling from the loss of three Private: London's personnel in a tragic plane crash, when the killer known as Chronos starts to methodically target members of the Olympic committee and the athletes themselves. First down is Peter's Mother's fiance, followed by two attacks on other committee members, an athlete during opening games, and more follow. On top of all the pressure to find his mother's fiance's murder and the security of the games, Peter's nanny quits. As the body count and pressure rise, things become rather interesting.

Mixed thoughts on this selection. I have noted before I'm not a fan of knowing the movement, actions, and thoughts of the antagonist. This book was no exception and after the opening chapter I found myself skipping over most chapters with the killer. Was I missing anything? A bit, yes, but nothing I couldn't figure out which makes me happier anyway. I did catch a few chapters from the point of view of Chronos's Furies, which I liked better than Chronos.

Point of contention: Peter's kids are reported to be three years old. They did not necessarily behave like three year olds, which always bugs me with kids in books. Personally, I think writing about kids would be extremely difficult, because the years and behaviors rather meld together in sleep-deprived nostalgia about the wee ones. Unfortunately, this manifests itself in books with kids behaving out of age and thus out of character.

What I do like about the Private series so far is the intense punch these books pack into a rather small space of time. The authors heap (mostly) believable calamity upon calamity on the protagonists and through this trial by fire the hero has to either rise, or be consumed. How the authors pull together all the plot threads is what really intrigues me and what I enjoy the most.

Note, I say I had mixed thoughts on this one - I liked the action. I didn't like knowing Chronos's thoughts and actions. I liked the idea of Chronos and the Furies. I didn't like the kids. I liked the Olympic setting. I didn't like the loose ends floating around.

The big one: I didn't like the ending. Cheesiest ending ever - seriously, I was laughing out loud and that's not a good thing. Without giving any spoilers, possibly the corniest climatic confrontation I have ever read in addition to feeling rushed. It was as if the authors needed to keep the book under a certain word count, had 1000 words to wrap things up, and didn't want to cut something from the body of the book.

Overall, aspects of this were engaging, parts were skip worthy, and the ending fell flat. Recommended with reservations.

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Recipe Review from 4/11/2016

Spring has sprung, complete with crocus's blooming, a bit of yard clean-up, a bit of container gardening, and a bit of big-garden clean-up.   Not bad for mid-April in Duluth. 

I'm trying something new-to-me this year with growing my herbs on the porch.  Years past I've planted my herbs in the garden, 'cause that's what you do, right?  Except, when I'm making dinner and I realize I need parsley/oregano/marjoram/that herb and now I need to run out to the garden or send the husband and it becomes A Big Deal.  Plus, my herbs will double as my porch greenery and I don't have to go buy flowers.  Win-win!


I'm also giving homemade kombucha a try.  A co-worker gave me a SCOBY  (symbiotic 'colony' of bacteria and yeast) with a starter liquid so all I had to do was make the sweet tea.  So I did.  First tasting should be ready next Sunday. 

And I made a couple new dishes:

Sun (L)  Turkey Qunioa Taco Skillet  via pinterest (S)  Roast chicken and mashed potatoes (or pork?)
Mon (yoga)  leftovers
Tues (Block) leftovers
Wed (Park Rapids all day) leftovers
Thurs (yoga)   take n bake pizza
Fri (Block/Rocket) leftovers
Sat (Block)(L) Leftover soup   (S) Tortellini soup pkg

Lunches (Husband) sandwiches
               (Me) Slow cooked Taco Chili 

Slow Cooked Black Bean Taco Chili (Baked by Rachel via Pinterest)  gluten free
The photo grabbed my attention on this recipe, and once I saw this was basically chop and plop  assembly, it was on the meal plan.

Just a couple of alterations - I used turkey tenderloins, frozen corn instead of canned (and more of it), and fire roasted tomatoes instead of just plain diced. 

This is not a thick chili, but comes out more like a soup. 

  • 1 1/2lb chicken breast, trimmed of fat  (I used turkey tenderloins)
  • 15oz corn, drained  (I used 12oz frozen)
  • 15oz black beans, drained and rinsed well
    photo from
  • 15oz petite diced tomatoes, drained  (I used 14.5 oz fire roasted)
  • 1C yellow onion, chopped
  • 1C green red bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeño, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/8 - 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 1/2 - 3C chicken broth
  • Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • Tortilla chips
  • Sour cream
  1. To the bowl of a 5-6 quart slow cooker, add raw chicken breasts, beans, vegetables, spices and chicken broth. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8. Remove chicken breasts to shred, then return to slow cooker.
  2. Serve with shredded cheese, tortilla chips and optional sour cream.

Turkey Taco Quinoa Skillet (Spoonful of Flavor via Pinterest)  gluten free
This comes together very quickly, with time to wash cans, dishes, and counter tops while the dish simmers.  I had one small substitution - I had some leftover and frozen mild breakfast sausage so I used that instead of buying ground turkey.

This was delicious!   I served it over some spinach, but it could be served in soft or hard shell tacos, over lettuce of choice, or on it's own.  I think this will make enough for about three meals, or close to it.  

Photo from Spoonful of Flavor blog.
  • 1/2 pound lean ground turkey (I used leftover mild italian sausage)
  • 1/2 of a yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 ounce can diced green chiles
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 14.5 ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup jarred salsa
  • 1/2 cup rinsed quinoa
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Cilantro for garnish (optional)
  1. Spray a large skillet generously with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat.
  2. When the skillet is hot add in the diced onion and cook for about 2 minutes until it starts to soften.
  3. Add in the ground turkey and minced garlic and cook until the meat is almost cooked through, breaking it up into crumbles with a spoon as it cooks.
  4. Stir in all the spices and the diced green chiles, cooking for another minute.
  5. Add in the black beans, corn, fire roasted tomatoes, salsa and quinoa, stirring until everything is combined.
  6. When the mixture starts to bubble add in the water, cover the skillet with a lid and lower the heat to medium-low.
  7. Simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until the quinoa is cooked, it should still have a slight bite to it, but not be hard and crunchy.
  8. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top and cover with the lid cooking until the cheese is melted.
  9. Serve as is, in tortillas for tacos, or on top of your favorite greens.