Happy Monday! How are you? Like a big chunk of the Midwest, we’re coming off a gorgeous, 60 degree weekend here in central Iowa. Ben even busted out the skateboard Saturday morning for Lincoln’s first lesson! Just kidding, that won’t be happening for another, well, that will never be happening. #futuregolfer #nosportsrequiringhelmets ?
After a quick zip across the driveway we drove downtown to soak up the beautiful day along the riverfront. The sky was blue, the sun was hot, and I didn’t even care when I dropped iced coffee all over my shoes (Scenic Route’s too – the best!) Vitamin D does wonders, my friends! ☀️
Later that afternoon Lincoln and I put together a playroom in our upstairs loft. Prior to this weekend it was where I took photos for the blog but since we don’t have a finished basement, and he (aka we!) needed somewhere else to put some toys besides the living room, I moved my photography station into the office and we created a dedicated space for our little dude!
We went from this disaster in the beginning, to a fun little play area he can grow into. (Where to find: Toy bins (we also have these in our downstairs and they hold a TON of toys,) and train table (train to go on said table this week!) I’m going to hang this rad poster on the left hand side and plan to mount this paper holder + paper roll on the wall behind the train table. I just need to think of something to put behind it so a rogue squiggly line doesn’t go off the paper and onto the wall. Any ideas?
This weekend’s sunshine had us contemplating digging out the patio furniture cushions and firing up the grill for a couple days but I’m glad we didn’t because Sunday turned out to be cool and damp. So I satisfied our grilled burger cravings with these Mini Bacon Cheeseburger Quinoa Bites instead. It is uncanny how much these 2-bite gluten-free delights taste like a big and juicy bacon cheeseburger!
If you’ve been reading IGE for a few years then you know I LOVE my mini quinoa bites. Past versions include Ham & Cheese Quinoa Bites, Pizza Quinoa Bites, Mushroom & Swiss Quinoa Bites, and BLT Bites. Not only are these little bites easy to make then reheat for any meal of the day, but they’re quinoa-based so they’re full of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Plus they freeze beautifully!
Since we’re a gluten-free family we eat a lot of bunless burgers, breadless sandwiches, and taco shell-less tacos (I’m painting a really delicious picture here, aren’t I?) That said, these Mini Bacon Cheeseburger Quinoa Bites tastes EXACTLY like a shrunken down bacon cheeseburger WITH a bun! The quinoa lends a bread-y flavor but is naturally gluten-free. Add melty cheese, salty bacon, and tangy pickles (got to have them!) and I’m telling you – dead ringer for the real thing.
This recipe is a great way to use up cooked ground beef you might have leftover from a meal earlier in the week, and calls for 100% fridge and pantry staples – I didn’t have to buy a thing. The mini size makes them perfect for little hands but the big flavor will satisfy the biggest of appetites. These will be a staple in my house long after the grill is back open for business!
Start by cooking 1/2 cup quinoa in a scant cup chicken broth. Quinoa is coated in a naturally bitter substance, so just add it to a fine mesh sieve then run under cold water to remove. Once the quinoa is cooked, fluff it with a fork then set aside to cool for a bit.
Meanwhile crisp 2 slices bacon (I cut mine in half,) in a skillet over medium heat then brown 1/2lb lean ground beef in the bacon grease (hello, flavor!) seasoning with salt and pepper before draining and returning to the skillet. Stir in 1 Tablespoon worcestershire sauce the let the ground beef cool slightly.
In a large bowl add the cooked beef and quinoa then crumble in the bacon. Next stir in 3 Tablespoons ketchup, 1 – 2 Tablespoons mustard (optional but I think it totally makes the bites!) 1/4 cup chopped pickles, 4oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese, salt, pepper and 2 whole eggs whisked with 2 egg whites.
Spray two, 12-cup mini muffin tins VERY WELL with nonstick spray then scoop the mixture to the tops of each cup. By the way, I try and use plain extra virgin olive oil spray any chance I get, but this is the time and place to bust out the grapeseed or canola oil spray to ensure the cups don’t stick! Place the tins onto a baking sheet then bake for 15-20 minutes or until deep golden brown on top.
Let the cups cool in the tins for a couple minutes then run a knife along the outside edge and pop out of the cups!
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Mini Bacon Cheeseburger Quinoa Bites
Mini Bacon Cheeseburger Quinoa Bites are bite-sized, gluten-free bacon cheeseburgers with a boost of extra protein!
- 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
- scant 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 slices bacon
- 1/2lb lean ground beef
- salt and pepper
- 1 Tablespoon worcestershire sauce
- 4oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1/4 cup chopped pickles
- 3 Tablespoons ketchup
- 1 - 2 Tablespoons mustard (optional)
- 2 eggs + 2 egg whites
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees then place 2 mini muffin tins (24 mini cups total) on top of a baking sheet and set aside. Whisk eggs and egg whites together in a small bowl then set aside.
- Combine quinoa and chicken broth in a small saucepan then bring to a boil. Place a lid on top then lower heat and simmer until quinoa has absorbed all the broth and is tender, 10 minutes or so. Fluff then set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile add bacon to a medium-sized skillet over medium heat then cook until crisp. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain then chop or crumble when cool enough to handle. Turn heat up to medium-high then add beef to bacon grease, season with salt and pepper, and saute until cooked through. Drain beef then return to skillet and stir in worcestershire sauce. Set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl combine slightly cooled quinoa, beef, bacon, cheese, pickles, ketchup, mustard, eggs, salt, and pepper then stir until well combined. Spray mini muffin tins VERY well with nonstick spray then scoop mixture to the top of each mini cup. Place back on top of baking sheet then bake for 15-20 minutes or until tops are golden brown. Let bites cool in the muffin tins for 5 minutes before running a knife around the outside edges and popping out.
- To freeze: Place baked bites on a baking sheet then freeze until solid, and then transfer to a freezer bag. Microwave for 20-40 seconds on high to reheat.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.
I was going for a “burger and fries” scene for this shoot but could only find these carrot + potato fries I’d bought for Lincoln in the freezer vs plain white potato fries. HOLY COW they are so good! Almost battered-crispy on the outside and really fluffy on the inside. Will totally be buying again.
Whatever you serve your Mini Bacon Cheeseburger Quinoa Cups with – enjoy!