Friday, January 22, 2016

Quinoa Chili

Welcome to my first post for Freezer Meal Friday! A few years ago my friend, April, told me that she had a group of friends who had started getting together once a month to make freezer meals. When my son was 2 months old, they invited me to come too, which was especially nice of them because they've all known each other since high school and I was the newbie. The Freezer Cooking Club was born and it is awesome! 5 or 6 of us get together at my friend April's house, (because she has the biggest and most convenient kitchen), and cook together. We each choose 2 meals and share the recipes on our Facebook group. We each take turns doing the shopping, which is a huge feat. Think about it: we usually make 10 meals times 5, so like 50 meals, in about 2-3 hours. So naturally, pushing the shopping cart is like trying to navigate a cruise ship while herding cats, because we've all got little people who come shopping with us. Pretty darn impressive.

I've taken the past, well, almost a year off, to figure out my life a bit, but last week I got back together with the ladies and we cooked away. I'd forgotten how much I loved the social part of the whole deal! We've made prep lists before, assigning every person a specific job and scheduling when to start cooking what. But sometimes it works best when we just jump in and go to work. We talk, and joke, and make a huge mess. I mean, a huge mess. Poor April's beautiful kitchen. And carpet (luckily she has a carpet cleaner). And brand new stove. But, we leave her with a clean kitchen, so I hope that makes up for it! And, more importantly, (maybe equally so to April), we leave with about 10 family-friendly, delicious freezer meals. 

We've figured quite a few things out- what freezes well, what doesn't. What we can do to cut costs, what is worth the money. There have been a few recipe flops- like that recipe for ricotta spinach puffs I chose once- which were downright nasty! But, we've hit on more than a few winners, so every Friday, I'll share one with you. Today's recipe is Quinoa Chili and I love it.

This is a vegetarian chili, but it is loaded with protein because of the beans and quinoa. If you haven't joined the quinoa bandwagon, that's ok, but I really do like it in chili. It gives a meatless chili a little more substance, and I like the nutty texture. While this chili is great to just make and eat, it does really well as a freezer meal. Granted, it will be a bit thicker because the quinoa will absorb some of the tomato juice. But, that is no loss to me because I prefer a thicker chili. I mean, if my dinner is being served in a bowl, it better not be brothy!

Can I tell you one more great thing about our Freezer Cooking Club, and this chili? With both, it is totally ok to improvise. The original recipe calls for an array of spices including cumin and chili powder. We were running out of cumin, so I just used 1-2 tablespoons of taco seasoning and it was delicious! Use what you've got, my friends! One final bonus about this recipe is that it is soft so I can eat it this week despite the fact that my braces just got horribly, horribly tightened. 

Quinoa Chili

Gratefully adapted from Damn Delicious

  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (4.5 oz) can diced green chiles
  • 1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 1/2 tbs chili powder*
  • 2 tsp cumin*
  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika*
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper*
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • *Or, used 2 tbs taco seasoning instead of starred spices
  • Optional Toppings: cheese, sour cream, avocado, cilantro
Directions for Freezer Meal:
  1. Combine all ingredients in gallon-sized freezer safe Ziploc bag. Seal tightly and freeze.
Directions to Cook Freezer Meal:
  1. Defrost frozen chili in fridge overnight, or until mostly thawed.
  2. OR, defrost slightly in microwave, enough to break up icy, chili chunks. (My usual method)
  3. Spray crockpot with non-stick cooking spray. Put chili in crockpot. If still frozen, cook on high for 6-8 hours, stirring once or twice. If not frozen, cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8.
Directions for Crockpot Cooking:
  1. Put all ingredients in crockpot and simmer for 4 hours on high, or 8 hours on low.

Bake the bread. Share the slices. 


  1. Wow, looks so delicious, thanks for your recipe, can't wait to try this :)


  2. Great! It'll be worth it! Thanks for checking it out!

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