February 24, 2015

Chicken-Veggie Quinoa Bake (Gluten Free)

Most of the time, my family prefers simple, plant-based foods. We like beans and vegetables and whole grains, accented by a small something rich, like cheese or meat or homemade bone broth. We appreciate simplicity and humbleness from our meals. Most of the time. Like, 80% of the time.

The other 20% of the time, we want, well, something exactly like this. It's not humble. It's not stylish. It's not a culinary adventure. It's a big, creamy, chicken-y, heartland casserole. (Who am I kidding calling it a "bake." We all know it's a casserole, in all it's 1960's glory.) Give it to us.

And you should try it, too, because it's delicious. And because, despite its indulgent nature, its seemingly impossibly coziness, this creamy casserole dishes out a happy array of whole foods you want in your family's belly: cruciferous veggies (two of 'em!), carrots, celery, onions, full-fat dairy (why?), and 100% whole grains.

This quinoa bake (please let me try to be cool) is so very rich, I always serve it with some crunchy, raw, salad-type thing on the side. My son can't get enough balsamic vinegar, so a little bowl of cucumbers and bell peppers in vinaigrette is just the thing.

Then it's time to dig in...



Chicken-Veggie Quinoa Bake
Serves 4

2 cups cooked quinoa
1 + 1/2 cups cooked chicken, diced
1/2 a large sweet onion
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2-3 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup broccoli florets, chopped small
1 cup cauliflower florets, chopped small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar (we shred fresh from a block)
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup stock or water
1 cup whole wheat or gluten-free bread crumbs (We make our own from oven-dried Ezekial bread--do try!)
roughly-chopped fresh parsley, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 375.

In a large, deep-sided pan over medium heat, saute celery, onion, and carrots in a swirl of EVOO until they begin to soften, about 7-10 minutes.

Add the garlic, broccoli, and cauliflower to the pan, and cook until the crucifers soften, another five minutes or so.

Stir in the quinoa, chicken, dried herbs, and salt, and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the cheese, sour cream, and stock or water. Whisk, then pour the mixture over the quinoa, stirring well to combine everything.

Spoon the casserole into a baking dish (For one big casserole, try a 9 x 13 dish. I usually make several "personal" casseroles.)

Sprinkle breadcrumbs across the top and bake for 20-30 minutes, until the casserole is bubbling and the breadcrumbs are toasted.

Scatter with parsley and serve immediately.

February 16, 2015

Fruit-Sweetened Granola Gorp

“Gorp for dinner, gorp for lunch, gorp for breakfast, gorp for brunch. Gorp for every single meal, why can’t we have some GROP!” Darwin laughs each time we sing him this nonsensical riff on Misfits lyrics. He accuses us of singing it wrong at the end: “No, it’s GORP!”

Truthfully, I don’t think he’d complain if we served him this toasty, whole grain, energy-dense snack at every meal.

As the holidays approached, I went on a hunt for a truly healthy, delicious granola that I could gift in mason jars to friends and family. I tried a batch of Mark Bittman’s “Good Morning Gorp,” but it didn’t excite me. I still love you, Mark. But I wanted more flavor and richness from my gorp. I added virgin coconut oil, extra nuts and seeds, more flaked coconut, vanilla, and a pinch of cinnamon. Then I threw the whole mess into the oven to toast and set those flavors, and bingo: a brilliantly filling, protein-rich, whole-grain, fruit-sweetened cereal that tastes wonderful on top of whole plain yogurt or in a bowl all by itself.

This recipe has thrived beyond its origins as a holiday gift. The gorp jar is a permanent fixture in our own fridge now, replacing store-bought muesli. And since gorp-making is all about scooping and dumping and stirring and ingredient-munching, it’s great fun to include little ones in replenishing the family's supply.



Fruit-Sweetened Granola Gorp
Fills 1 quart jar

1.5 cups dry rolled oats
1 cup nuts (raw or dry-roasted peanuts, almonds, pecans, walnuts, etc.)
⅓ cup raw pepitas or sunflower seeds
½ cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1 cup dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, cherries, chopped dates, chopped apricots, etc.)
¼ cup virgin coconut oil, warmed to liquid
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch cinnamon
sprinkle of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large mixing bowl, toss oats, nuts, seeds, and coconut.

In a separate, small bowl, stir together oil and vanilla.

Drizzle oil and vanilla mixture over oat mixture and toss to combine.

Sprinkle the oat mixture with cinnamon, and spread thinly on a cookie sheet. (I use an aluminum cookie sheet lined with a silicone mat.)

Bake for 5 minutes. Toss the mixture around a bit, then bake for 3-4 minutes more.

Transfer oats back to the mixing bowl and stir in dried fruit. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Cool and eat; refrigerate the leftovers.