Category Archives: Recipes

Creamy Quinoa Chicken Broccoli Casserole

So, I have a secret to share….a bit of a confession to make…..

Ready for it???

I am the person who doesn’t let my food touch on my plate.  Whew, there I said it out loud.  **weight lifted off my shoulders**

Yes, I am THAT person.  I separate my food on my plate.  Nothing touches, AND I really don’t like mixing flavors, for example I don’t like sweet and sour, fruit with meat, sweet AND savory. I like my flavors to be separate.

However there is always an exception, right??  Well I do have an exception.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE casseroles!!  Chicken and dumplings, Minnesota hot dish, stews, chicken broccoli and rice, pot pie, shepherd’s pie, now those foods feed my soul y’all……not even joking!  But, they are less than healthy at times.  So I do my best to recreate these super yummy dishes in a more healthy version.

Today I am sharing one with you.  I absolutely adore the Cheesy chicken rice broccoli casserole, but white rice, cream of chicken soup, and lots of cheese is not so friendly to my waistline! So instead I found and tweaked a recipe to make it healthier.  I now want to introduce you to:

Picture used from myutensilcrock.com

Picture used from myutensilcrock.com

Creamy Quinoa Chicken Broccoli Casserole

Ingredients:
2 cups natural chicken broth (I use organic chicken base, and mix with water)
1 cup almond milk (Can use fat free milk instead if no lactose issues)
1 tsp of poultry seasoning
½ cup almond flour (If you don’t have gluten issues, you can use white whole wheat)
2 cups of water, divided
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1 pound of boneless chicken breasts
3 cups of fresh broccoli florets
Sea salt and pepper to taste

(optional: 1/2 cup shredded organic cheese)

Directions:
1) Sauce: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease a 9×13 baking dish. Bring the chicken broth and 1/2 cup of almond milk to a low boil in a saucepan. Whisk the other 1/2 cup almond milk with the poultry seasoning and flour; add the mixture to the boiling liquid and whisk until a smooth creamy sauce forms. Do not add to quickly because it can get quite lumpy.

2) Assembly: In a large bowl, mix the sauce from step one, one cup water, and quinoa, and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Dice the chicken and mix it into the quinoa mixture. Sprinkle with more poultry seasoning if you like. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

3) Broccoli: While the casserole is in the oven, place the broccoli in boiling water for 1 minute until it turns bright green and then run under the cold water to blanch it. Set aside.

4) Bake: Remove the casserole from the oven, check the mixture by stirring it around in the pan, and if needed, bake for an additional 10-15 minutes to get the right consistency. When the quinoa and chicken are cooked and the sauce is thickened, add the broccoli, shredded cheese, and a little bit of water (up to one cup) until the consistency is creamy and smooth and you can stir up easily in the pan. The amount of water will depend on how thick you want the sauce to be.  I don’t always need to add any more water.

This was truly a delightfully yummy dish.  You could change it up to make it vegan by removing chicken and chicken broth, and adding in more veggies, or tofu in place of chicken.

Chicken broth base I used:  (I bought it at Harris Teeter)

chickenbase

Best Carrot Cake Recipe!

So, I love to bake!  And I actually have a culinary bucket list.  I have made some of the things on that list, and need to update it.  Interestingly, carrot cake wasn’t on that list.   I have never made a carrot cake before, and although I do like it, I am more of a chocolate lover.  However, there is just something about cake that makes me ooh and ahh.  Not sure why cake is such a big thing to me, but it really is!  Cake and cupcakes…..I love more than any other sweet thing to eat.

I celebrated an anniversary, (a decade with Karol), on April 24, and while usually I would make a cheesecake, I decided to make a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting instead.  So I searched the internet, and found a few promising ones, but I kept going back to the one on the King Arthur website.  Their recipes have NEVER failed me, so I figured I would give it a shot.  It was AMAZING!!  I did make a few adaptions (I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t), but stuck true to the recipe for the most part.

Kitchen Sink Carrot Cake

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 cup melted coconut oil (original recipe called for vegetable oil, but I don’t use that)
  • 2 cups King Arthur white whole wheat flour ( I very rarely use white flour)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 3 1/2 cups finely grated carrots (1 pound)
  • 3/4 cup diced pecans
  • 1 cup shredded coconut.  (unsweetened referred) If using sweetened cut back to 3/4 cup
  • 1/2 cup diced dried pineapple (you can substitute one 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained and squeezed dry, if preferred)

Frosting

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 (8 ounce) package reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted (The original recipe called for 3 cups!!  I like my frosting more “cream cheesy” and less sugary, so I cut back to 1/2 cup. Start there and ad sugar to taste)
  • 1 tablespoons non fat milk, or enough to make frosting spreadable

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan.

2) Beat the eggs, sugars, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl till smooth, about 2 minutes at medium-high speed.

3) Mix the melted butter with the oil. With the beater running, add the oil mixture in a stream, beating till smooth.

4) In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. Add these dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring to make a smooth batter.

5) Stir in the carrots, nuts, coconut, and pineapple.

6) Spoon the batter into the pan, spreading it to the edges.

7) Bake the cake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the cake is golden brown, and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

8) Remove the cake from the oven, and cool right in the pan.

9) When it’s completely cool, make the frosting.

10) Combine the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and salt in a medium-sized bowl, and beat together until light and fluffy.

11) Add the sugar gradually, beating well.

12) Add the milk a little at a time, until the frosting is a spreadable consistency.

13) Spread frosting over the cake.

Yield: 9″ x 13″ sheet cake, about 24 servings.

Mix sugars, eggs and vanilla

Mix sugars, eggs and vanilla

This is melted and mixed with melted utter, then poured into egg mixture

Coconut oil instead of veggie oil

Coconut oil instead of veggie oil

Flour and spices are mixed and added into batter.

white whole wheat flour

white whole wheat flour

Mix carrots into batter…..that was A LOT of shredding…..(couldn’t find the shredder adapter to my food processor)

carrotcake4

Then add in nuts, coconut and pineapple

carrotcake5

Mix together.

carrotcake7

Spread into greased 9×13 pan and bake for 45 minutes at 350.

carrotcake8

Then make frosting.  Mix butter and cream cheese in mixer.

carrotcake9

Mix until creamy, then add in sugar 1/2 cup at a time until it tastes teh way you want it to.

carrotcake11

Spread on cake….then EAT IT!!!!!

carrotcake12

carotcake13

So moist and delicious!!

So moist and delicious!!

Enjoy!! This is truly the Best Carrot Cake Recipe Ever!

 

Stone Soup Recipe

As I have talked about before, my lovely Karol really enjoys cabbage.  So to please her I made Deconstructed Cabbage Rolls a few weeks ago when the boys were visiting their dad because the Universe knows, there is no way they would eat food with cabbage in it….sigh…..

When I made the cabbage rolls recipe, I only used half of the head of cabbage so I told her I would make some cabbage soup.  I was intrigued by some soup I had when I visited my mother during Thanksgiving, and hers had cabbage in it.  I enjoyed it and thought Karol would too.  As I looked over the recipe my mother gave me, I thought, “hmmmm, I bet I could change this up some.” I like to experiment in the kitchen, and really I think just taking stuff out of the refrigerator and throwing it together in a somewhat coherent fashion to make something yummy is fun, and challenging to boot.

Have I ever mentioned that in my youth I dreamed of being a chef?? For some reason my father dissuaded me.  He said it would be difficult for me because chefs had to lift really big heavy pots….hmmmmmm.  Somehow I think he just didn’t want me to be a chef….

So I decided to look through my refrigerator and make some soup ala “Chopped” style by just using what I had on hand…

And I ended up making what I am calling “Stone Soup”.  The name comes from the folk tale of a traveler who used a little trickery to create a lovely meal for an entire village:

Once upon a time, somewhere in post-war Eastern Europe, there was a great famine in which people jealously hoarded whatever food they could find, hiding it even from their friends and neighbors. One day a wandering soldier came into a village and began asking questions as if he planned to stay for the night.

“There’s not a bite to eat in the whole province,” he was told. “Better keep moving on.”

“Oh, I have everything I need,” he said. “In fact, I was thinking of making some stone soup to share with all of you.” He pulled an iron cauldron from his wagon, filled it with water, and built a fire under it. Then, with great ceremony, he drew an ordinary-looking stone from a velvet bag and dropped it into the water.

By now, hearing the rumor of food, most of the villagers had come to the square or watched from their windows. As the soldier sniffed the “broth” and licked his lips in anticipation, hunger began to overcome their skepticism.

“Ahh,” the soldier said to himself rather loudly, “I do like a tasty stone soup. Of course, stone soup with cabbage — that’s hard to beat.”

Soon a villager approached hesitantly, holding a cabbage he’d retrieved from its hiding place, and added it to the pot. “Capital!” cried the soldier. “You know, I once had stone soup with cabbage and a bit of salt beef as well, and it was fit for a king.”

The village butcher managed to find some salt beef . . . and so it went, through potatoes, onions, carrots, mushrooms, and so on, until there was indeed a delicious meal for all. The villagers offered the soldier a great deal of money for the magic stone, but he refused to sell and traveled on the next day. The moral is that by working together, with everyone contributing what they can, a greater good is achieved.

So this is my:

STONE SOUP

1 tbsp olive oil

½ cup chopped onion

2 tsp minced garlic

4 chopped carrots

2 stalks chopped celery

1 package turkey kielbasa

2 to 3 potatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces

1 can beans (I used great northern, but kidney would be nice also)

8 cups chicken stock

salt and pepper to taste

Put olive oil in Dutch oven or large pot. Cook onion until translucent. Then add carrots, celery, potatoes, and kielbasa and cook until veggies are softened and meat is browned. Add chicken stock. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Season to taste.

To me, the most important part is cooking all the veggies and meat together until you get those little browned bits in your pan. Then when you put the stock in, scrape up the brown bits, they will add a LOT of flavor. I did not add ANY seasoning to this soup, as the kielbasa and veggies flavored it enough. It was really quite delicious.

I shared some with the NewYorican, and she loved it so much she made it for her family the next day!  I am making it for dinner this week also.  It is perfect with a little baguette for sopping up the lovely flavors!

Enjoy!!

all the veggies and meat browning up and "shaking hands".  Getting yummy!!!

all the veggies and meat browning up and “shaking hands”. Getting yummy!!!

 

Finished product.  Hearty and delicious!!

Finished product. Hearty and delicious!!