Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Broccoli Quinoa and Honey Nut Chicken

I happen to like a good many of the Broccoli Cheese and Rice casseroles out there. Personally, I don't know what's not to like. You've got the cheesey, salty, carby goodness, with some healthy broccoli thrown in there for good measure. My husband on the other hand, thinks broccoli cheese casserole is disgusting. Oh, sure he'll politely take a portion when it's served at potlucks, and eat it so as to not hurt anyone's feelings.  But secretly, he HATES it.

So when I told him I was making this Broccoli Quinoa Hotdish from Eating Well...Living Thin, he gave me the stink eye.  I was not expecting him to like it at all.  I had never had quinoa, so I didn't even know if I was going to like it either.  In the effort of being a good parent, and not limiting our daughter's palate by our own likes and dislikes, we even worked out a secret code to let the other one know if we thought the dish was total rubbish. 
Surprises of all surprises, the dish was fantastic.  Even Mrblocko LIKED it.  Not just tolerated it, he cleaned his plate and said I could make it again, any time I wanted.  Whoohoo!  Blockette liked it too, although she said she liked the broccoli part better than the quinoa.   She likes the veggie part better than the grain part? Yeah, I'll take that as a victory.

I have a few theories as to why Mrblocko liked this casseroles, and not the others.  First, I only used the shrubby part of the broccoli.  No stems.  Cause cooked stems are like chewing on a stick.  Bleck.  I also used fresh,  not frozen broccoli.  I'm sure that it would taste just fine with the frozen stuff, but then the broccoli would be mushy.  I only par boiled the broccoli before I cooked the casserole, so the veggies were crisp and had a bit of bite to them.  It was a nice mix of textures with the crunch of the broccoli, mushiness of the quinoa and the ooey gooeyness of the cheese.

I also made Rachael Ray's Honey Nut Chicken for dinner that night.  I used to make this all the time before Blockette was born.  Ahem.  Well, actually, I would have Mrblocko would make it.  I couldn't cook to save my life before Blockette came along.   I don't know what I was scared about back then, because this is a really easy chicken recipe. 
I cannot for the life of me remember the last time I had this chicken.  I think it's one of the side effects of having a blog and constantly trying out new recipes, you forget about the really good favorite stand by recipes.  Blockette certainly didn't remember ever eating this chicken before, and she has a memory like a steel trap.

I'm fairly certain that the last time I made it I did not have the nice food processor that I do now.  In the past, the nutty breading was always really chunky.  My nice Cuisinart just pulverized the nuts.  I missed having the larger peanut chunks.  I'm going to have to remember that this machine actually chops things and pulse the nuts for a shorter time.

Broccoli Quinoa Casserole from Eating well...Living thin
One 10 oz can condensed Cream of Broccoli soup (or mushroom) (I used cream of chicken)
1/3 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/4 cups reduced fat shredded cheese (cheddar, colby-jack, etc)
1/2 teaspoon Splenda/sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Dash freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups cooked broccoli (I just par boiled mine until they were bright green)
1 1/2 cups COOKED quinoa (see note)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

To cook quinoa:
3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt

Rinse quinoa in a fine sieve until water runs clear. In a small saucepan combine the quinoa, water, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 18-20 minutes, or until fluffy and the white ring/tail is visible. Fluff with a fork.

Preheat oven to 350F and coat a shallow (8×8 in or 5-6 cups) casserole dish with vegetable cooking spray. (I forgot that part but it didn't stick or burn.  YAY!)In a large bowl combine the soup, mayonnaise, milk, shredded cheese, Splenda, pepper, and nutmeg until well mixed. Stir in the quinoa and broccoli.Spoon mixture into prepared casserole. Sprinkle on a couple tablespoons of Parmesan and bake for 35-40 minutes

Honey Nut Chicken from Rachael Ray
2/3 c honey roasted peanuts (Smoked or honey roasted almonds are great too)
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1 tablespoon grill seasoning 
2 eggs
A splash of milk
2 teaspoons hot sauce, several drops
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 (6 to 8-ounce) pieces of chicken breast, pounded to an even thickness

Preheat oven to 350 F. Put nuts, bread crumbs and grill seasoning in food processor and pulse grind to combine the nuts into bread crumbs. Pour nutty-breading onto a plate.

Beat eggs and half-and-half or milk with hot sauce in a shallow dish.

Pour flour out on a plastic board or plate.

Dust both sides of the chicken with flour. Dip the chicken into the egg mixture and then coat with the nutty-breading.

Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add vegetable oil to coat the bottom of the pan with a thin layer. Brown chicken pieces 2 min on each side in hot oil til evenly light golden in color. Transfer to a baking sheet (I have a skillet with an oven safe handle so I just stuck the whole thing in the oven in the pan.) Cook in oven until juices run clear and breasts are cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes

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