1 Pan Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Quinoa Casserole <3 Yum!!

I have a very picky mother, who I take care of and lives with my husband and I so for me to find a way to sneak in something… heaven forbid… healthy, is pretty astounding! I adapted this recipe from Eating Well…Living Thin(er), She has a ton of really great recipes over there! But I knew for my family I would have to hide the Quinoa a litttttle bit better then the original recipe. So here is my take on it… and I have yet to tell anyone they ate something healthy and full of quinoa! If you have never tried quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) this would be a perfect starter recipe! Quinoa is a really great grain packed with a ton of protein and a lot less carbs then rice. It can be used in place of rice or couscous and takes on any flavor you give it! It’s also really great in cold salads too!

1 Pan Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

3 good sized boneless skinless chicken breast cut into small cubes

Olive oil

2 garlic cloves

Salt and Pepper

Oregano

Basil

2 cups frozen or fresh broccoli

Soup/Cheese sauce:

One 10 oz can condensed Cream of Broccoli soup preferably low sodium

1/3 cup miracle whip

1/3 cup of light sour cream

2 tablespoons milk

1 1/4 cups of cheese… I used a blend of parmesan, Colby jack and low fat mozzarella

1/2 teaspoon Splenda/Sugar

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Dash freshly grated nutmeg

1 1/2 cups COOKED quinoa (see note)

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
To cook quinoa:

1 cup quinoa

1 3/4 cups water

1/4 teaspoon salt
Rinse quinoa in a fine sieve until water runs clear, this step is very very important because if it is skipped or not rinsed well enough the quinoa will be bitter!  In a medium sized sauce pan combine the rinsed quinoa, water and salt, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for about 20-25 minutes or until you see a white ring around each grain and it’s light and fluffy.

Directions:

While quinoa is cooking, heat a large deep skillet with some olive oil, a tablespoon or two of butter if you choose and garlic, salt and pepper, and herbs (season to your family’s taste), simmer for a minute or two, add chicken and cook for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally, add frozen broccoli, simmer over medium high heat until chicken and broccoli are cooked, about 15 minutes. If you are using fresh broccoli, only throw it in the pan for about 7 minutes at the end or it will get super mushy.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees- I like one pan meals and chose to use my deep large skillet that can go right into the oven, so if you have one of these that would be easiest, but a greased 9X13 will work just as well!

In a large bowl combine the soup, mayonnaise, sour cream, milk, shredded cheeses, sugar, a few grinds of sea salt and pepper, and nutmeg and mix well.

Drain your chicken and broccoli skillet of any excess liquid and add soup and cheese mixture, coat all of the chicken and broccoli and then add in your cooked quinoa, smooth out and top with extra Parmesan and Mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 30-35 minutes uncovered and bubbly on the edges, golden on top!

Serves 6-8

Stuffed Manicotti, not so traditional!

Last night I made my stuffed manicotti, and it turned out really well. My husband and mom both really enjoyed it, and I thought it was one of my better ones too. I am always playing with recipes and making my own twists on things, so I thought I would share this one!

I originally adapted this recipe from The Geometry of Pasta, which is really a fantastic book for anyone who likes know more about how things became part of our lives, and not just food on our plates. The history and recipes are fantastic!! The artwork is very cool too.

Ingredients:

1 pound of ground turkey

Salt, Pepper, Fresh Garlic, Italian Herbs

1 tray of Manicotti (the brand I buy has 7 per tray)

3 cups of fresh spinach

At least 1 1/2 cups of Ricotta, or just a 15 oz container is fine

1/2 bag of Parmesan cheese, you can use an Italian blend too, that works nice as well, we always have cheese in the house so I just use whatever I have

2 large egg yolks

Fresh grated nutmeg, of course if you don’t have a fresh nutmeg the dried spice will work as well, I use about a teaspoon

2 tbs butter – last night I didn’t have real butter so I used margarine and it worked just as well. I only needed to adjust the flour ratio and added a tablespoon more

3 tbs of all purpose flour

3/4 plus 3 tbs of milk

3/4 cups of your favorite red sauce, I think that a sweet red works best in this recipe rather then a salty.. that may be overload!

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425

In a skillet with some olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and Italian herbs brown your ground turkey, cooking it all the way and remove from heat to cool

Boil a large pot of water and add manicotti, I also throw my spinach on top because it floats and I like multitasking, When the spinach has wilted and darkened take it out, rinse with cold water, squeeze excess liquid out and chop finely =) And when the manicotti is al dente, rinse with cold water and set  aside

In a bowl combine Ricotta, Egg Yolks, Spinach, Salt and Pepper to taste, Nutmeg, Garlic, and when the turkey has cooled down a little bit, enough that it won’t start cooking the egg yolks, combine with the rest and mix well, make sure you taste this… if it doesn’t taste good now it won’t later and adjust the salt and pepper and nutmeg to taste

In a 9×13 pan, cover the bottom with your red sauce

Fill a pastry bag with your ricotta mixture and pipe into manicotti shells and place on top of your red sauce, I usually have some left over that I just pipe at the edge of each shell… and give the rest to the dog =)

In your turkey skillet melt butter and add flour and combine till it’s nice and pasty, then slowly add the milk stirring constantly until the sauce is smooth

Pour your white sauce over top of the stuffed manicotti and make sure you smooth it out over the entire shell so the edges don’t get crispy

Top with your cheese and bake for about 25-30 minutes, I usually broil for about 2 minutes right before I take it out

Let it rest for as long as you can stand, about 10-20 minutes and then serve =)

This is definitely a family favorite, and I have fun making it!

Pair it with a great spinach salad and some garlic bread! It is also super delicious the second day!