Chicken Avocado Salad

   Winter, this year, has been strange here in Jersey. We did not get much snow ( I am not complaining about that even a bit!) but we have been getting a lot of  rain and gloomy damp days which is making this winter seem especially depressing, weather wise. I say weather wise because indoors it has been spirited, colorful and giggly as we welcomed our baby girl in November. The four year old has been the best big brother and along with my parents, who have been the ‘cannot-be-put-into-words’ blessing one could hope for during such times, it has been a vibrant winter!

   My Ma’s home cooked meals have kept our bellies full and our souls fuller. We got to enjoy delectable “Bangali ranna” (Bengali food) every day and it refreshed so many memories from when I was growing up. Hearing them talk fondly of the by gone days has made me appreciate life and all that I had and have a bit more. Nostalgia is a good thing.

   Yesterday, I decided to make myself a salad for lunch simply to see if I remembered how to! And I kid you not when I say this because I have not had anything to do with the kitchen (except for baking a couple of cakes and brownies) for these past five months and now that the time has come for my parents to go back to Kolkata, Neel and I will have to fend for ourselves! And salads are going to be my go-to stuff for lunch. So, I made a chicken avocado salad that turned out to be pretty good and I am sharing that with you today. This is a simple salad and I am sure you have had this or a version of this more than once!

Ingredients:

  1. 4 cooked chicken tenders, chopped. (you can use 2 medium chicken breasts, or 1 big too).
  2. 1 ripe avocado, pitted and diced.
  3. 1/2 cup roasted corn (I used from the can).
  4. 1/2 cup of finely cut red peppers.
  5. 1/4 cup finely cut yellow onions (You can use either red or yellow…I did not have the red ones).
  6. 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  7. 1/2 cup olives (pitted)
  8. About 2 cups of spring mix.
  9. 2 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice (you can use lime juice too).
  10. 2 tbsp Olive oil.
  11. A handful of walnuts
  12. 2 tbsp ranch dressing (optional)
  13. Salt and Pepper to taste

 

Putting it together:

I cooked the chicken tenders on stove top in a little bit of vegetable oil (I had marinated the chicken tenders for about 15 minutes with a little bit of salt, 1/2 tsp of paprika, 1/4 tsp of garlic powder, 1 tsp of lemon pepper powder and 1 tsp of olive oil. I sprinkled a bit of flour on the chicken right before cooking…it gives a nice brown coating). And then after it cooled down a bit, I chopped it up and put it along with all the other stuff in my big brown salad bowl and chomped it up while cradling a semi sleeping 3 month old!

Easy- peasy lemon squeezy!

P.S. I had it today with a raspberry vinaigrette dressing instead of ranch and it tasted even better. You can also add chopped walnuts if you want ( I added this to the list of ingredients).

 

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Red Velvet Cake

    By now, my love for baking and my LOVE for all things sweet has been fairly established! And so when the sudden onslaught of all things bright and red hit me while grocery shopping a few days ago as Valentine’s Day was around the corner, I decided to bake the quintessential  red cake- The Red Velvet Cake!  As someone who has never been much of a ‘Valentine’s Day’ person, it was my way of celebrating  the day with my loved ones.

   I have always wanted to have a red velvet cake and it might come as a surprise to many that I have never had one till before last week! Something about the bright red and white has always had my attention and yet I never had the opportunity to have one. As strange as it might sound, it is true as the rich and gooey chocolate cakes have always triumphed over the pretty red one when it came down to choosing one, every single time. And I have always believed I would have it the ‘next time’!

   And so, that ‘next time’ finally presented itself last week and I found this wonderful recipe from https://www.modernhoney.com/red-velvet-cake/ by Melissa Stadler. It was easy to make and just perfect to taste. I am posting the original recipe here and I hope you will enjoy it as much as my whole family did!

 

Servings16
AuthorMelissa Stadler, Modern Honey
Ingredients
  • 3 cups Cake Flour
  • 1 3/4 cups Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 cup Butter cut into cubes
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 cup Buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup Canola Oil
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons Red Food Coloring may do less depending on preference
  • 1 Tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  •  
  • Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 2 – 8- ounce pkgs. Cream Cheese room temperature and softened
  • 12 Tablespoons Butter 3/4 cup, softened
  • 4 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Vanilla Bean or 2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

 

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a standing mixer, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Beat the butter into the flour mixture, one cube at a time. Continue to beat until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, oil, red food coloring, and vanilla.
  5. Add the buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and beat the batter until thoroughly mixed.
  6. Take a spatula and scrape the sides of the bowl.
  7. Spread into two greased 8 or 9-inch cake pans and smooth tops with a spatula.
  8. Bake for 16-22 minutes, depending on the depth of pans. If the cake layers are thin, they will cook for less time than the thicker layers.
  9. Let cakes cool. Run a knife around edge of cake pan and flip over. Frost with cream cheese frosting.
  10. To make frosting:
  11. In a large mixing bowl, cream together softened cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. If using a Kitchenaid mixer, use the whisk attachment.
  12. Add powdered sugar and mix until creamy.
  13. If using a vanilla bean, split vanilla bean in half and use the tip of the knife to scrape the vanilla bean paste from each side of the vanilla bean pod.
  14. If using vanilla extract, add to frosting and stir until combined.
  15. Spread on cooled red velvet cake. Cover tightly.

 

 

Apple Tarts

   Of late, the weather here in New Jersey seems to be a bit of a head-scratcher. It has been bitter cold and we have been getting tired of the number of layers we need to put on when going out and then it rains and brings mugginess and then suddenly a warm 66 degrees in the middle of winter throws wants almost makes it feel like spring! The effects of climate change are being felt more and more all around and I wonder what the consequences of this is going to be on the future generations.

   With small children and older parents at home, we have been having a hard time trying to keep everyone as safe as possible from the snorts and sniffles that seem to be the most common side effect of such extreme fluctuation in temperature. It being winter, my parents who are here for just one more month, have sadly been cooped up at home for the most part. But they don’t complain and are only too happy to be spending time with their grandkids and weaving memories! They have put their lives on hold so that Neel and I can ease into this new phase in ours and my heart swells with love and gratitude for them. Ma makes sure we get to eat all that our hearts desire and Baba makes sure to keep the four year occupied as much as possible with stories and games and silliness so that I can get some ‘me time’ and what can I say about how big a blessing that has been. The six of us look after each other- we cook and eat, smile and have moments of absolute bliss, find happiness in what we have and add to our pocketbook of memories.

   While Ma has been making all her special dishes and we have been gobbling those up, Neel and I (mostly Neel) sometimes take over the kitchen to give her a break and whip up something that she would normally not be able to make in Kolkata. Neel has been surprising them with his kabobs and I have been satisfying Ma’s sweet tooth with the likes of cakes and brownies! Today I made apple tarts in the afternoon and they turned out pretty good. I have made them before but had followed a different recipe, one that I did not remember today. And so, I found another pretty awesome recipe at  https://www.lavenderandlovage.com/2016/03/apple-rose-tarts-mothers-day.html (Lavender and Lovage by Karen Burns-Booth) and I am so glad that I tried this! Thanks Karen!

Please see the original recipe here and I hope you will enjoy it as much as we did.

Apple Tarts

Serves 8 to 10 apple rose tarts
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
Dietary Vegetarian

       Ingredients

  • 2 x 215g ready rolled butter puff pastry
  • 2 to 3 Pink Lady apples (or any red skinned eating apples)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons apricot jam glaze
  • ground cinnamon
  • icing sugar
  • cake release spray

      Directions

Step 1 Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F/Gas mark 6 and spray a 12 x hole muffin or bun tray with the cake release spray.
Step 2 Cut the apples in half, from top to bottom, core the two halves then slice each half very thinly; place the cut slices into a large microwaveable bowl filled with water to cover the apples, and with the lemon juice added.
Step 3 Microwave the apple slices for 4 minutes on high, then drain and pat dry between 2 clean tea towels or with kitchen paper. (If you don’t have a microwave, place the apples, water to cove them and the lemon juice in a pan and heat until boiling for 4 to 5 minutes until JUST soft but NOT cooked)
Step 4 Place the ready rolled pastry onto a lightly floured pastry board, and using a rolling pin, roll it out to add 2″ to 3″ (5cms to 8cms) to the length of the pastry.
Step 5 Cut the two pastry sheets lengthways into 4 to 5 strips, or if the pastry is too long, cut widthways – you need strips long enough to place between 8 to 12 apple slices along the length.
Step 6 Brush the pastry strips with the apricot jam glaze and then sprinkle with ground cinnamon. Place the apple slices (peel size up) along the top third of the pastry strips, overlapping them slightly as you lay them out.
Step 7 Fold the bottom two thirds of the pastry up and over the bottom of the apple slices and then gently roll each strip to make a small “muffin shaped” tart – see photos. Place the apple rose tarts into the prepared muffin or bun tray.
Step 8 Bake the apple tarts in the pre-heated oven on the middle shelf for between 20 to 25 minutes or until the pastry is crisp, golden brown and puffed up and the apples are cooked, but not too dark.
Step 9 Allow them to cool in the tin for 2 to 3 minutes, then gently ease them out of tin and place them on a wire cooling rack.
Step 10 Dust with icing sugar to serve; they are fabulous when served warm with ice cream, cream or crème fraiche.
Step 11 Can be frozen at the pre-baked and baked stage. Allow to defrost before baking or re-heating.

 

A simple chocolate cake

   My love for all things sweet knows no bounds and while that is not necessarily a good thing, I can’t help drooling at them, especially all things chocolaty! And while everyday can be ‘baking -something- sweet’ day, special occasions provide a ‘justifiable’ reason to do so and make me feel less guilty when I eat the lion’s share (well…almost!) of that chocolaty delight. While I am always on the lookout for such delectable desserts, every year, come November, my search intensifies for recipes of yummy cakes and cookies that I can bake during the ‘holiday season’ that also features my good man’s birthday! I try to bake a different chocolate cake every year for his birthday and while he prefers the simplest chocolate cake, I like the ones that are richer and generally involve some sort of a frosting. Last couple of years, we did the cake his way but this year, I baked him a very simple but at the same time a moist and rich chocolate cake with a delightful frosting on top and in between the layers and I have Rachel from https://thestayathomechef.com/the-most-amazing-chocolate-cake/ to thank! I was looking for something that did not require a lot of preparation and unique ingredients as I knew I would not have a lot of time for shopping, prepping and baking with a new born to take care of along with a soon-to-be four-year-old. This recipe is just that…something that you whip up with stuff from your pantry and under 40 mins…and when you are done, you will have a delectable cake and a very satisfied tummy:)

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(Please excuse the poor quality of this picture…there was a crying baby, an over eager older brother, a candle situation involving  wax that was dangerously close to ruining the cake and a bit overworked parents trying to get the house ready for  guests who were coming over soon!)

 

Here goes the recipe (from https://thestayathomechef.com/the-most-amazing-chocolate-cake/) for a truly wonderful and easy chocolate cake that I hope many of you will enjoy!

Servings: 16 Servings or 1 3 Layer Cake

Ingredients

The Most Amazing Chocolate Cake

  • butter and flour for coating and dusting the cake pan
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups butter softened
  • 8 oz cream cheese softened
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 7-8 cups powdered sugar
  • about 1/4 cup milk as needed

Instructions

The Most Amazing Chocolate Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 9-inch cake rounds. Dust with flour and tap out the excess.
  • Mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a stand mixer using a low speed until combined.
  • Add eggs, buttermilk, warm water, oil, and vanilla. Beat on a medium speed until smooth. This should take just a couple of minutes.
  • Divide batter among the three pans. I found that it took just over 3 cups of the batter to divide it evenly.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Cool on wire racks for 15 minutes and then turn out the cakes onto the racks and allow to cool completely.
  • Frost with your favorite frosting and enjoy!

Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

  • In a large bowl, beat together butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Use a hand mixer or stand mixer for best results
  • Add in cocoa powder and vanilla extract. Beat until combined.
  • Beat in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Add milk as necessary to make a spreadable consistency. The frosting should be very thick and will thicken even more if refrigerated.

 

Melt in your mouth bites of perfection

 Cakes, cupcakes, muffins, cookies, brownies- chunks of chocolate heaven is what these are to me, or at least what I like these to be when I bake them! So I try to search ‘high and low’ (a term my little boy has recently started using when looking for something seriously) when hunting for recipes for these choco-delights and recently came across fudge brownies from “cafedelites.com” which are melt-in-your-mouth-bites-of-perfection. Since coming across this recipe, I have already made a couple of batches and these have surely been a hit with my little guy and even my parents who are visiting us for a few months. With the sweet sunshine outside, the rustling of gold and rust leaves and temperature dipping to the 40s, these brownies are a happy addition to this season.

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(Not a good picture by any means…since I remembered to take one only after we had eaten a few bites!)

 

   Here is the prefect recipe from https://cafedelites.com/worlds-best-fudgiest-brownies/… go ahead and try these. Thanks Karina for these flawless brownies:)

Ingredients (Serving size 16)
  • 1 cup 8oz/240g butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 cups (9oz/260g) white sugar
  • 1 cup (7oz/200g) packed light brown sugar
  • 4 (2oz/57g each) large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (3.5oz/130g) all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (3.5oz/100g) good quality, unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 7 oz (200g) roughly chopped chocolate or large chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 175°C | 350°F.
  2. Lightly grease an 8×12-inch square baking pan* with cooking oil spray. Line with parchment paper (or baking paper); set aside.
  3. Combine melted butter, oil and sugars together in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk well to combine. Add the eggs and vanilla; beat until lighter in colour (another minute).

  4. Sift in flour, cocoa powder and salt. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until JUST combined (do NOT over beat as doing so well affect the texture of your brownies).
  5. Fold in 3/4 of the chocolate pieces.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top out evenly, and top with remaining chocolate pieces.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the centre of the brownies in the pan no longer jiggles and is just set to the touch (the brownies will keep baking in the hot pan out of the oven). If testing with a toothpick, the toothpick should come out dirty for fudge-textured brownies.
  8. After 10 minutes, carefully remove them out of the pan and allow to cool to room temperature before slicing into 16 brownies.

Recipe Notes (Author’s)

*For thicker brownies, bake in a 7×11-inch pan for 40-45 minutes. For thinner brownies, bake in a 9×13-inch pan for 18-20 minutes.

PLEASE NOTE: An 8×12-inch pan bakes the most perfect brownies — thickness and texture.

TIPS AND TRICKS: (Author’s)

  1. Do NOT over beat your batter once the flour and cocoa powder are added. That creates air pockets in the batter which will give you cake-like textured brownies.
  2. Please try not to over bake them. Set a timer if you need too. I like mine at exactly 23 minutes in an 8×12-inch pan. You can go a little bit over if you like them set a bit more, but I don’t recommend it if you’re looking for the fudgiest brownies in the world. Remember, they will continue to bake slightly in the hot pan once pulled out of the oven,
  3. I bake my brownies on the top shelf in the oven. I find the middle shelf cooks them a lot faster, slightly burns them on the top and dries them out.

 

When your tummy wants what it wants…Spicy Baked Chicken

   We all have heard stories of cravings and have had many ourselves! They range from rainy day cravings to a bad hair day cravings, from lazing -on-the- couch -mesmerized -by- the -snowfall -outside cravings to just-like-that cravings, from pregnancy related cravings to you-are-far-away-from-your-mother’s- kitchen-but-you-want-something-that-reminds-you-of -her- cooking craving…cravings have reigned supreme in all of our lives at some point in time! And we have done our best to satisfy or ignore that depending on a hundred variables at play at that particular moment:)

   Living in New Jersey we see a lot of rain, sometimes more than we can take and that along with grumpiness also gives rise to these cravings more often than I would ideally like! And given the fact that we are expecting a baby in less than two months now, I find myself craving for very specific food that surprises even me at times:) When I was pregnant with our son, I never had ‘pregnancy cravings’ and this time around too I was doing fine till about a month back! And then it hit me one day and has been making surprise visits often. As someone trying to tackle gestational diabetes, let me tell you it is not a whole lot of fun when you cannot indulge in those cravings that somehow take total over the mind, heart and tummy for a few unsettling hours:( Anyways, I have found my tummy rumbling for some spicy chicken of late and after some reasonable exploration of the recipes online, I stumbled upon this really lip smacking recipe from fifteenspatulas.com (Crispy Spice Rubbed Chicken Thighs) that totally hit the sweet spot and I went to bed with a satisfied tummy. So if you craving some spicy (and it is SPICY) chicken that does not take up a lot of your busy night, go ahead and give this a try and keep a glass of cold lemonade handy, just in case 😉

I am posting the original recipe below with my minor additions and alterations (according to my taste) in red. You can try both and I hope you like them!

Ingredients

  • 2 or 3 lb package skin-on bone-in chicken thighs (about 5 pieces) (I did not have this so I used skinless and boneless)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground chipotle pepper
  • 2 tsp yellow curry powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (I used freshly grated garlic…it is one of my favorite marinade ingredients)
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves (I did not use this)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1.5 tsp sea salt (I used regular salt)
  •  olive oil

In addition to the above ingredients, I added these extra ones too:

  • 1 tsp of chipotle mustard
  • 1/2 tsp lemon pepper powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp of Mayonnaise (I generally add this when baking chicken taking a friend’s suggestion..it keeps the chicken very moist)

Direction

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Stir to combine the ginger, chipotle pepper, curry powder, paprika, garlic powder, coriander, cardamom, cloves, cayenne, cumin, and salt.
  3. Trim the excess fat from the chicken thighs (any part that overhangs the main piece). Rub the chicken thighs all over with the spice rub.
  4. Heat an ovenproof skillet over medium heat and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan (about 2 tbsp). Cook the chicken thighs skin side down (in a single layer) for 10 minutes, until the skin gets crispy (and if the skin isn’t golden brown and crispy after 10 minutes, cook it for a few minutes longer). Flip the chicken and cook for another 5 minutes, then transfer the skillet to the oven to cook for additional 10-15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and has reached an internal temperature of 180 degrees F. Serve and enjoy!

The way I did it since it was boneless and skinless

I preheated the oven to 350 degrees F and lined a baking sheet with parchment paper. And then arranged the chicken pieces and put them into the oven for about 20 minutes and voila!! it was done:) I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

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Thank you fifteenspatulas.com!

Comfort food is spelled L-O-V-E: Chicken&Quinoa Casserole

   Who doesn’t like comfort food and we surely have our favorites when it comes to this! Different cultures and even different regions of the same country have their own notion of comfort food and as we know they bring back memories from growing up, memories of someone who made it with all the love in the whole world:)

   Where I come from in India (Kolkata), I think we have a couple of things that check the ‘comfort food’ box- ‘Khichuri‘ (or as it is known in other parts of India – ‘Khichdi‘) and the good old ‘Shedhdho Bhaat‘! Khichuri or Khichdi is made from rice and lentils, vegetables are often added to it and it is seasoned with butter or ghee (clarified butter). It tastes good everyday, but is blissful on a rainy day! Sheddho Bhaat is basically good old white rice, with some boiled lentils, mashed potatoes, some ghee and often a hard boiled egg! For the no so faint hearted, a side of the green chilli  adds a much loved kick to the whole dish:) We often make these here in our home, especially on days that either of us are too tired to cook or we feel festive (Khichudi is a staple of most festivals for where we come from!) or just want to feel good.

   However, Neel and I both love to try out food from all around the world and comfort food has been no exception! From pot pies to miso soup, quesadillas to haleems, casseroles to ramens, chilis to puddings…we like to eat anything that makes our hearts and tummies happy! And these are all the more satisfying during the cold winter months, which are a good five months on the East Coast:(

   Casseroles and ramens are my personal favorite. Both can be prepared with so many or just a handful of ingredients and you can almost never go wrong! Recently, I stumbled upon this casserole recipe which is my current favorite. Many recipes (all of which are awesome!) call for the ingredients to be cooked separately before being thrown in together into the oven but when you feel lazy or are tired and don’t have time for that extra preparation, it is good to have a recipe that doesn’t require a lot of your time or energy! This quinoa and chicken casserole recipe from pinchofyum.com is one such recipe that is sure to make your heart and tummy happy:) And when I saw the author, Lindsay was from a place so close to my heart- Minnesota, I knew I had to give this a try and I am so glad I did! I hope you will be too.

   I am posting the original recipe here for you to try. I have made it this way and also with some minor alterations (which are in red) and they have tasted good every time:)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cups water, divided
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup cooked, crumbled bacon (optional… sort of)
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts (I marinated the chicken breasts for about 20-30 mins with some salt, lemon pepper, garlic, smoked paprika, a bit of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon Mayonnaise…it adds a wonderful flavor to the chicken)
  • 2 teaspoons seasoning (like Emeril’s Essence or any basic blend you like)
  • 1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (any kind will work) (I have used Mexican blend or Pepper Jack or simply good old Cheddar)
  • 3 cups fresh broccoli florets (Instead of Broccoli, I have used sliced red peppers about 1 cup and 1 cup sliced mushrooms and 1 cup sliced onions and it has tasted wonderful!)

Instructions:

  1. Sauce: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and generously grease a 9×13 baking dish (seriously, be generous because it really really sticks to the sides). Bring the chicken broth and 1/2 cup milk to a low boil in a saucepan. Whisk the other 1/2 cup milk with the poultry seasoning and flour; add the mixture to the boiling liquid and whisk until a smooth creamy sauce forms.
  2. Assembly: In a large bowl, mix the sauce from step one, one cup water, quinoa, and bacon and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Slice the chicken breasts into thin strips and lay the chicken breasts strips over the top of the quinoa mixture. Sprinkle with the seasoning. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. (If you are not using broccoli and are going with the red peppers, onions and mushrooms instead, add all of these now. It makes the dish very flavorful but not an over-the-top types. You can then skip  step 3 and part of step 4 where you would have needed to add the broccoli))
  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 cold water. 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 and a little bit of water (up to one cup) until the consistency is creamy and smooth and you can stir it up easily in the pan. Top with the cheese and bake for 5 minutes, or just long enough to melt the cheese.

You will not be disappointed any which way you try the dish. I am so happy that I stumbled upon this recipe:) I wish I had this during our freezing Minnesota nights!

Thank you Lindsay!