Broccoli, Mushroom, Quinoa Casserole

3 04 2013

One of my favorite side dishes that my mom makes every Easter is her Broccoli Cheese Bake.

Broccoli Cheese Bake

It’s one of those cheesy, creamy, delicious dishes that requires just about everything unhealthy: sour cream, loads of cheese, and condensed cream of mushroom soup. But that’s what makes it taste great, right?


Unfortunately, this year I didn’t go home to enjoy it or any of the other deliciousness that she cooks up :-( Instead I was here in Tampa, just me and the kitties:-) So, I decided to make a recipe my friend Courtney has been telling me about- a Mushroom Quinoa Casserole from The Best Remedy Blog. I made a few swaps with the ingredients I had on hand: broccoli instead of kale, and goat cheese instead of sour cream. When it was all said and done, I had a yummy and healthy casserole- which was hearty enough to be a meal in itself, or a great side dish. The surprising bonus: it ended up tasting similar to my mom’s broccoli cheese bake!  Though it wasn’t oozing with cheese, the flavor was similar and I didn’t feel guilty about loading up on an extra large second helping!


So, if you’re looking for a great side dish for your next family gathering, try this out!

Mushroom Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

Broccoli Mushroom Quinoa Casserole

Adapted from The Best Remedy Blog


1.5 cups of dry quinoa
1 T olive oil
1 T butter
1/2 large onion, roughly chopped
1/2 pound baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1 heaping cup broccoli, cut into tiny florets
3 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 large eggs
1 cup cottage cheese (I used reduced fat)
4 ounces (a small log) goat cheese (allow to soften)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)


How to:

Prepare the quinoa. The ratio is typically 2:1 water to quinoa. So in a pot, combine 3 cups water and 1.5 cups quinoa. Turn on the stove and allow the water to start to boil. When it starts to boil, turn the heat down to low and cover. The quinoa should be ready in about 15 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Spray a baking dish (I used a 9 x 9 square dish) with olive oil or butter spray and set aside.

In a large fry pan over medium heat, heat a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of oil. Then saute the onions until they are translucent.  Add in the mushrooms and allow them to brown a little and release some of their juices.  Stir every minute or so. Add the broccoli, and let it just begin to cook- it should turn brighter green!  Stir in the garlic, cook for another minute until fragrant and remove from heat.

Add the quinoa to the pan and stir until combined.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cottage cheese, goat cheese, red pepper flakes and salt.

Add the quinoa mixture to the cottage cheese mixture and stir until combined. Pour into your greased baking dish.

Sprinkle with 2/3 of the Parmesan cheese, cover with foil and place in oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 20 or 30 minutes more, or until it is hot throughout and golden along the edges. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and serve!

Moroccan Spiced Pizza!

10 10 2012

So the other day I was reading my friend Meghann’s blog, and she wrote a post that I think could win an award for most creative use of leftovers. She made a pizza with brussel sprouts, feta, walnuts, and soup. Yes, I said soup!

Not gonna lie, but my initial thought was one of skepticism- I assumed that the soup would make the dough soggy and the pizza would be gross. But there was no mention of soggy crust, and I pushed my negative thoughts aside. I love all of the ingredients independently, so why not put them together?

Her post was enough to get my creative juices flowing. If soup works as a “sauce,” what else could I use?

Flashback to Mary’s Fourth of July party. One of her friends made a delicious Moroccan carrot dip, and I’ve been dying to make it ever since. I’m a big fan of Moroccan spices- cumin, cinnamon, YUM! and I happened to have a bag of shredded carrots.

The dip’s consistency was a little thicker than a soup, so I figured it would be a great “sauce” for my pizza. I’ve seen red peppers and raisins in other Moroccan dishes, so I decided they’d be two of my toppers, along with some caramelized shallots and pine nuts.

I had no idea what kind of cheese would go well on the pizza. I considered paneer because it is so mild, but then I opted for goat, mostly because I love goat cheese and I had some in the fridge.

Oh, and why not take it up a notch and make the dough extra special?

I followed Ashley’s recipe for pumpkin garlic knots (which I also made for a pumpkin themed Eating Club almost two years ago!)

Topped with fresh cilantro after the pizza comes out of the oven, this baby knocked my socks off.

Yeah baby. Not gonna lie, I ate almost half the pie in one sitting. It was THAT. GOOD.

I definitely learned a lesson in creativity in the kitchen, and it paid off! Thanks for the inspiration Meghann!

Moroccan Spiced Pizza


Pumpkin Pizza Dough
Moroccan Carrot Dip (I halved the recipe and left out the olives)
1 red pepper, cut into strips,  ~1/8 or 1/4 inch thick
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 cup raisins, rehydrated slightly
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 oz goat cheese (leave out for a vegan pizza)
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro

Note: my measurements for the raisins, pine nuts, goat cheese, and cilantro are approximate. I was just topping the pizza with what I liked. It’s your pizza, put what you want on it!

How to:

Start by making the dough. While it is rising, you can make the carrot dip and start to caramelize the shallots. When the shallots are done, saute the peppers so they are warmed through.

When you’re ready to make your pizza (aka the dough has finished rising, you’ve got the sauce made, and your shallots have caramelized), preheat the oven to 425°F.

Top your pizza with the sauce, the peppers, the shallots, the raisins, the pine nuts, and the goat cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the crust is starting to brown. The cheese will start to brown too.

Take it out of the oven, and top with freshly chopped cilantro.


Lazy Weeknight Meal

11 04 2012

Shortly after I moved to Tampa, Courtney invited me to come swim with her and a few others a few nights a week. I’ve finally started to settle into a routine, and have been regularly swimming twice a week since about the middle of February. Man, it feels good to be back in the water.

I miss these ladies :-(

On Monday night, I swam with Felipe and Jess (Courtney and Chuck, we missed you!!), and boy, did that practice kick my butt! After a 600 warm up, and an 8 x 100 pull set, we got down to business and did 4 x 300. Each 300 was 100 FAST, 100 settle, 100 FAST. That set certainly got my heart pumpin’. And if that wasn’t enough, we did 5 x 100 on the 2:00–> Lots of rest = GO HARD. That was more fast swimming then I had done in awhile, and it hurt so good!

It was also one of those practices where you get home and say, “I really don’t feel like cooking dinner.” I had eaten out for lunch, and didn’t want to eat out again, so I opted to see what I could whip up with what I had on hand. I had some veggies in the fridge, and some leftover pasta sauce that I had doctored up with some garlic and wine. So I threw together some easy Polenta with veggies, topped with a fried egg for some extra protein.

Ok, so it might not look THAT appetizing, but it certainly hit the spot! And, it was ready in less than 15 minutes! Perfect post-swim dinner. :-)

Italian Polenta with Veggies (for one)


1/3 cup water
1/3 cup milk
Salt (to taste)
Romano or Parmesean cheese, grated (use as much as you like)
1 clove garlic
Cornmeal (about 1/3 cup)
Pasta Sauce (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup)
a handful of spinach
a handful of mushrooms
1 egg

How to:

Pour the milk and water together in a small saucepan with a clove of garlic. Bring it to a light boil. (I do half milk and half water, but you can do all milk or all water if you prefer). While that comes to a boil, saute the mushrooms in a little bit of olive oil. Throw in the spinach when the mushrooms are just about done, so it wilts. Then, mix the tomato sauce in with the veggies and heat through. (If you don’t want to dirty another pan, you can wait until the polenta is done, pour the polenta into your serving dish, and then use that saucepan to heat the sauce. There may be a few polena remnants, but that’s not a big deal!)

When the milk is lightly boiling, take out the garlic clove, and then pour in the cornmeal a little at a time and whisk well. It will thicken quickly if you pour too fast! When you get to the desired consistency, stir in some romano cheese, then add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

In a fying pan, fry your egg the way you like it.

In a bowl, layer the polenta, the veggies, top with an egg and sprinkle on some more cheese. Dig in!

Easy peasy!

Question of the day: What’s your easy go-to dinner?


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