mexican black bean and quinoa cups

I promised I’d be back soon with a new recipe, and here I am! Thank you all for your outpouring of support during this rough time. You guys are the best. :)

For the past few months, I’ve been trapped in a bipolar cooking cycle. Thanks to the nearly non-existent winter evening light, I’ve been cooking and photographing all my recipes for the week on the weekends. Which means that every Saturday and Sunday, since October, has been crazypants. I’ll be testing and tasting in the kitchen from 7am to 7pm each day and absolutely exhausted by the time the weekend is through.

Wait, what? Weekends are supposed to be relaxing, you say? Lies. Trust me, I am counting the seconds until Daylight Savings Time kicks in and I can have my weekends back.

The bipolar part of this story comes during the week. Since I use up all my cooking energy on the weekend, I have to be dragged into the kitchen during the week. More often than not, Babyface fixes us grilled cheeses or breakfast for dinner or I take five minutes and throw together some leftovers from the weekend. If we’re really lucky, I’ve planned ahead enough to throw something into the slow cooker, but even that doesn’t happen too often. Our weeknight dinners are pretty sad.

That’s why it was particularly surprising when one of my random weeknight leftover dinners turned into a pretty rockin’ new recipe. We had some leftover cooked millet in the fridge and I decided to throw in some goat cheese, spices and eggs and bake them in our mini muffin tin. The end result was a heck of a lot more delicious than I expected! And it sparked a bunch of ideas of other kinds of grain/egg cups. This recipe using Mexican flavors was the one the bubbled to the top. It uses quinoa, a delicious grain that also happens to be a complete protein and packs in a ton of flavor thanks to fresh jalapeno, salsa and fresh cilantro.

These little guys work beautifully as a healthy, flavorful appetizer, a well-balanced snack or even as a main dish for dinner. I love how versatile they are! After eating a handful or two of them, we quickly put the rest into freezer bags and have them safely stored in our deep freeze. We can pull out a few and nuke them for lunch, or take a whole bag to our next potluck.

Each serving (about four mini cups) is only 140 calories and packs in 8 grams of protein and 4 grams of dietary fiber. Those are some pretty great stats! Especially for an appetizer than can help replace the deep-fried, cheesy, creamy standards you find on the buffet table.

Mexican Black Bean and Quinoa Cups

by Cassie Johnston

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Makes: 48 mini cups


  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed under cool water
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1-15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup skim milk


  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Spray the cups of a mini muffin tin liberally with cooking spray, or insert liners and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium sauce pan over high heat, add quinoa and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until quinoa has absorbed all water. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine cooked quinoa, black beans, salsa, jalapeno, cilantro, cumin, cheddar, salt and pepper until well mixed.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Add egg mixture to quinoa mixture and stir until combined.
  5. Spoon about a tablespoon of the mixture into each muffin cup. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until cups are solid and tops are slightly browned.
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What are your go-to weeknight dinners?


  1. Aimee M says

    These look delicious and I’ll be making them tonight! Do you have to let the quiona cool before combining it with the other ingredients or can you do it immediately after it’s done cooking?

  2. says

    How cute are those little cups? I bet they taste just as good as they look! I’m a huge fan of Mexican flavors, period.
    For the last few weeks, I’ve been planning out the next week’s meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) by the weekend, and sticking to them. It has made life SO much easier, and forces me to try out recipes that I’ve been wanting to make, but just haven’t. I make sure to buy all of the ingredients for everything over the weekend, so that I will be organized and ready to go each weeknight. Such a simple concept, but it has really, really helped (and also made me more accountable with my eating in general!)

    • Cassie says

      I love meal planning! I try to plan, too (and I actually even put “leftovers” and “grilled cheese” on my plan). It definitely helps keep me healthy.

  3. says

    Yes, for me #4 was true :-) I don’t read comments on any news articles anymore for that same reason. It drives me mad!! Love the shoes! Good luck on your Avon walk training!

  4. says

    This is a weird question – but what’s the texture like? For example, is it all crumbly and does it fall apart, or does it stick together well so you can just pick it up and eat it? Such a creative idea – can’t wait to try it!

  5. Faith says

    Aloha Cassie! These look amazing! Can I use regular muffin cups? Bake time same? LMK

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