There’s a finally chill in the air and the always-hungry mouths in my house are hinting around that it’s time to whip up some soul-satisfying, stick-with-you, hibernation-worthy recipes. Cold sandwiches and salads just aren’t going to be met with applause and “oh-you-shouldn’t-have” – these guys of mine want manly meals that have been simmering all day and yet are ready to serve when they walk in the door. So, three cheers for my slow cooker, that trusty, no-fail sidekick of fall and winter meal management — although truth be told, I use mine year ‘round. There are so many amazing and easy slow cooker recipes that you can find at Beef Loving Texan’s Recipe Central, but today I’m sharing one of my own creations — Southwestern Beef and Quinoa Bowls. It’s hearty yet healthy and makes enough to feed a small army — or my family with three teenage boys! Plus, the dish reminds me of the yummy bowls of Tex-Mex that you can order at your local neighborhood burrito joint — the ones brimming with beans, rice, corn relish, tomatoes, peppers, onions and such. I’ve used stew meat chopped at the butcher’s counter in the recipe, but you can also cut up your own sirloin or round roast, depending on preference.
In addition to beef, the other main ingredient of this slow cooker recipe is quinoa. Quinoa has been all the craze for the last several years, although it’s been around for thousands of years. This tiny, kinda-crunchy whole grain (well, actually it’s a seed), is no longer “just” a side dish for sun-salutation-loving, super food-obsessed home chefs. Quinoa has been making mainstream appearances in all sorts of healthy recipes and purchased products from protein bars and breakfast bowls, to cookies, main dish casseroles and even as a binder in my beef meatballs. Actually, when quinoa and beef are served together, you get a pumped up punch of protein and other essential nutrients that not only helps to optimize health, but also a food budget! While I show this recipe for Southwestern Beef and Quinoa in bowls, you can also wrap up a couple scoops in a taco or burrito — or even use leftovers in beef stock to make a nourishing soup.