Mexican Chicken Quinoa Bake

I love being able to add extra veggies into my meal by finding main dishes that incorporate them.   A friend of mine sent me a link to this meal and I was immediately drawn to all the colorful veggies baked right in.   It ended up being a real crowd pleaser and even my 2 year old daughter gobbled it up.

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The recipe also makes an enormous amount.  We had enough for dinner, lunch the next day and some to freeze for later.  That is my kind of meal!

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Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole (adapted from Never Skip Dessert)

Ingredients:

2 organic, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and cooked according to package directions with chicken broth
1 medium yellow onion
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, cut into one inch pieces
1 cup organic frozen corn, thawed
1 (10 oz) package frozen spinach, thawed (squeeze out as much water as possible)
1 (15 oz) can black beans
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup organic chicken broth
1 cup of your favorite salsa
1 cup shredded cheddar

Sour cream and cilantro for garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cut the chicken breasts into small pieces.  Saute in grapeseed oil, turning often, until browned on each side.  Add onion and saute until softened, about five minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the bell pepper, corn and frozen spinach and combine well. Add tomato paste, cumin and salt and pepper and mix. Add the quinoa and black beans. Mix well. (If this gets too big for your skillet, you can transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add everything in that).  Stir in chicken broth and salsa.  Pour mixture into a greased 9×13 baking dish. Sprinkle the cheese over the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Serve warm with sour cream and cilantro.

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Cilantro Lime Chicken with Southwestern Quinoa

Last week it was absolutely roasting in the Midwest.  Our relatively mild summer was slammed with a 90 degree finale.  I was meal planning for the week and trying to come up with ideas that required little indoor cooking.  I had made this chicken and quinoa salad earlier in the summer and my mom has been bothering me to remake it ever since.   Since the recipe requires almost no indoor cooking, it was the perfect dish to make in the oppressive heat.

The chicken portion of this dish is marinated in a mixture of fresh cilantro, lime and various spices, and because it is cut in small pieces and grilled as a kabob, every bite is packed with flavor.  The quinoa salad is the perfect accompaniment to the chicken and has a fresh bright flavor from tomatoes, green onions and fresh cilantro and an added creaminess from black beans.  A winning combination if you ask me!

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I should also note that I made zero changes to this recipe.  This almost never happens to me.  My friends laugh at me because I usually look at a recipe and think of things I can add or substitute to make the recipe better.  The flavors of this recipe, however, are so well balanced that they speak for themselves.

Start by blending cilantro, spices, oil and lime juice for the marinade.  Chop 2 pounds of chicken breast into bite size pieces and pour the marinade over chicken.  Allow to marinade for  at least four hours.  I did this step in the morning and let the chicken marinade all day.

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Cook the quinoa according to the package directions.   Let it cool slightly and then mix in chopped tomatoes, green onions, cilantro and black beans.  Whisk together lime juice, olive oil and several spices to create a dressing for the salad.  Pour over the quinoa while still slightly warm and toss everything together.  This salad can be served at room temperature or cold.

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Before serving, place several pieces of chicken on each skewer.  Grill the kabobs for 15 minutes on medium high until cooked through.  Serve warm over the quinoa.

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Cilantro Lime Chicken with Southwestern Quinoa (from My Life as a Mrs)

Ingredients:

For the Cilantro Lime Chicken:
2 pounds (about) boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed into 1 1/2″ cubes
1 cup loosely packed cilantro
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 limes juices (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup extra light olive oil (or other mild flavored oil)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

For the Southwestern Quinoa Salad:
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well in a mesh strainer
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/4 cup extra light olive oil
2 limes, juiced (about 1/4 cup)
1 small clove garlic, grated
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
4 green onions (scallions), finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Directions: 
  Cube the chicken and place in a gallon size ziplock bag.  Blend together the garlic, cilantro, oil, salt and pepper together until smooth.  Pour over the chicken and marinate for at least four hours.
  Cook the quinoa according to the package directions, using chicken broth instead of water.  Whisk together the lime juice, oil, garlic, cumin, cayenne and salt.  Set aside.   Add the tomatoes, green onions, black beans and cilantro to the quinoa. Pour the dressing over the quinoa and mix all ingredients together.  Serve room temperature or cold.
  Place 4-5 pieces of chicken on each kabob.  Grill for about 7 minutes per side or until cooked through.  Serve on top of the quinoa.