Cheesy Chicken Quinoa Bake

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For the homemade cheese sauce:
1 tbsp butter or olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/3 cup cool water
1/3 cup warm milk
1/2 cup low-fat shredded cheddar*
1/2 cup skim shredded mozzarella*
1/4 cup reduced fat grated parmesan

Dissolve the cornstarch in the cool water and set aside. Melt the butter or warm the oil in a skillet on low heat. Add garlic to saute for 1-2 minutes. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the skillet and stir to combine. Pour in the warm milk while stirring or whisking. Continue stirring until it begins to thicken at the low-boil stage. Remove from heat. Stir in the cheeses until well-combined and melty.

*Feel free to substitute any melty cheese of your preference, such as swiss, fontina, muenster, colby jack, etc.
(BONUS tip: Mix this cheese sauce with cooked pasta and crumbled bacon bits for an extra-yummy mac n cheese!)

For the chicken rub:
2 tsp smoked paprika (either sweet or hot)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2-3 large chicken breasts, cut into 2-3 serving pieces each

Combine paprika, salt, and pepper in quart-sized ziploc bag. Add chicken pieces; seal; toss gently until well-coated. (optional – Refrigerate overnight in ziploc bag to allow the flavors to penetrate.)

For the bake:
1/2 cup white quinoa, rinsed
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup red onion, diced small
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups of diced vegetables (carrots, celery, and/or broccoli work well)
2 chicken breasts, prepared as explained above
1 recipe of cheese sauce, prepared as explained above
1/4 cup low-fat shredded cheddar
3-4 fresh basil leaves, chopped small
salt and pepper to taste

In a greased 2.5 qt casserole crockpot, add the ingredients in the following order:
1. Quinoa with water poured on top, then sprinkled with salt and pepper.
2. Onion and garlic sprinkled over quinoa.
3. Vegetables on top of onion/garlic.
4. Seasoned chicken breasts arranged with as little overlap as possible.
5. Cheese sauce poured evenly over the chicken.

Cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours. During last half hour of cooking, top with fresh basil and additional cheddar; turn down to LOW for last half hour of cooking.

Serves 4-6

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One Comment Add yours

  1. mistimaan says:

    Loved your recipe 🙂

    Like

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