Cheesy Quinoa, Chicken, and Broccoli Casserole


Cheesy Quinoa, Chicken, and Broccoli Casserole

Wow, another snow day today! That makes three this week.  I need to keep everyone focused and moving forward because changes of schedule in our house can be difficult.  They start to sleep in later, which causes them to stay up later, so they sleep in later….  Until their days and nights are flipped.  So, I am trying to keep that from happening.

Snow Day (2)

One of the things I have my children do is help cook dinner.  I read a story the other day of a 17 year-old boy whose mother asked him to get the colander.  He didn’t know what it was.  I don’t want that to happen to my children.  I want them to know how to cook, do laundry, sew on buttons, make hems, handle a checkbook and budget by the time they leave for college.

Snow Day (1)

Believe it or not my son enjoys cooking.  He will usually be the first to offer his critique at the table of each dish.  But, we got him past the stage of eating only beige foods by having him help us prepare meals.  He was only 6 but his food couldn’t touch, he wanted chicken and potatoes or rice.  Nothing more.  Our doctor and his therapist were adamant that we not give in to him and it was difficult.  Meal times were not always fun but he has really learned about nutrition and food preparation along the way.

Yesterday, my daughter took out the meat from the freezer. She chose a beef roast and chicken cutlets.  I started to think of what we had on hand and I remembered the broccoli I bought a few days ago that needed to used before it went bad.  A chicken and broccoli casserole.

But, of course this couldn’t be any ordinary chicken and broccoli casserole.  My daughter doesn’t like rice and I don’t have much pasta on hand and don’t want to buy anymore groceries this month.  Quinoa!  I bought quinoa in December and never used it.  I wasn’t sure how the quinoa would go over but I had my daughter cook it so she could see it, read the box and see it was not rice.

Cheesy Quinoa, Chicken and Broccoli Casserole (plated)

Verdict:

Everyone liked this dish.  Even my rice hating daughter ate it and said it was pretty good.  For a casserole that is high praise from her.  It was cheesy, creamy and flavorful.  There was enough left for two lunch servings.

This was a great gluten-free dish for my mostly gluten-free son.

I served this with a spinach side salad.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets and finely chopped
  • 1/2 sleeve crushed butter crackers, crushed
  • 3 boneless, skinless thin-sliced chicken breasts (to make this vegetarian leave out the chicken)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon powdered garlic
  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups fat-free half and half
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/3 cup sour cream

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a 9 x 13 pan with non-stick spray.
  2. In a large saucepan of 2 cups water, cook quinoa according to package instructions. Within the last 5 minutes of cooking time, add broccoli on top and steam until cooked through.  Remove pan from heat after broccoli is steamed.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the  skillet and cook thoroughly. Let cool slightly before dicing into bite-size pieces.
  4. Melt 3 TBSP butter in the skillet over medium heat scraping up all the browned bits from the chicken. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk, and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 4 minutes. Stir in quinoa, broccoli, chicken, 1 cup cheese, garlic powder and sour cream.  Taste and adjust spices as necessary.
  5. Spread broccoli mixture into the prepared baking dish; sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  6. Melt last tablespoon of butter in a microwave safe bowl.  Stir in crushed crackers until well coated.  Sprinkle cracker crumbs over the top of the casserole.
  7. Place into oven and bake until cheese has melted and dish is warm and bubbly – approximately 10-15 minutes.

 

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