Welcome To My Gluten Free Website!

Welcome To My Website!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Quinoa-Chicken Enchilada Casserole
With Homemade Sauce

First I have a disclaimer-my computer is trying to die and refuses to format correctly. So I am having to trick it on occasions like tonight. Unfortunately there is a huge open space to the right of this column and up above the recipe title that refuses to be nice and just go away. So please ignore that. It'll be interesting to see what it does tomorrow. Yesterdays post took me about 6 hours to post 45 minutes worth of info. Today is only about  1 &  1/2 hours, but with this ridiculous space problem!

This is a wonderful, light but hearty dish for those cold weather nights. Those protein-packed little seeds are great for soaking up the enchilada sauce, and then there's the part we all love - cheese! And we don't skimp on our cheese in this household. I used sharp cheddar and jack, but you could use whatever kind is your favorite. We love it when it's time to take it out of the oven, the cheese is all bubbly, melted to oozing perfection and has a crispy top to it all. Wow!
My Daughter Chelsea's 24th birthday is today. We will be getting together to celebrate my son's, my husband's, Chelsea's and my birthdays which are all within about 3 1/2 weeks of each other at a fun local place called Farrell's Ice Cream Shop. With all of my  kids, and my younger brothers kids, it's been a very busy last few years. 
There were graduations from Concordia Irvine University for my oldest daughter Candice who finished her teaching credential and is now take administrative role classes while working; along side of her hubby - my son-in-law Jon who on top of working is finishing his teaching credential and of course their daughter Lela my "Lammie" does a remarkable job at being adorable and very, very smart, Chelsea from Chapman University with a Vocal Music Education Degree and is working and teaching vocal lessons, and my new son-in-law Matthew graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York, Chelsea and Matt just got married in October 2013, and both have dynamic new jobs, my oldest niece graduated from Cal State Fullerton with a BA in Fashion Industry, my niece Rachel and her hubby Jared were married August 2012 and she has a dynamic job in fashion, and Jared is working in entertainment, there will be a high school graduation this June for my nephew Brennan, and his sister my niece Rebecca will be graduating college and starting her masters program, Greg and I married July 2011. There are 2 babies on the way in extended families and due to arrive in March 2014.
And then...there are...all of the birthdays! There are 22 birthdays just for our immediate family. Then of course people having branched out have more birthdays from those branches, and weddings, and graduations, birthings...and holidays....whew!
Needless to say that holiday gatherings are huge undertakings for this household and our families. I made the suggestion that perhaps it's time to rent a local aircraft hanger for our gatherings, I actually got a lot of positive comments and reactions!
I made the GF Lemon-Blueberry Donut Holes from The Baking Beauties. Jeanine made these and I had to try them out. They were so very good! I soaked my dried blueberries in the buttermilk to plump them some, and they turned out to be tender and juicy as if I had added fresh ones. You could add fresh ones but the extra natural moisture may cause the hot oil to spit. I used a deep dutch oven and add about 4 inches of grape-seed oil that I keep specifically for deep frying and keep it refrigerated. It lives in a mason jar until I need it.
Tonight after I'm done conversing at you, (I hope to be conversing with you when you leave me some comments, etc.), I've just got to make something with chocolate! I am enjoying a Lindt Excellence Intense Orange Dark Chocolate Bar. Two squares is usually plenty. It's an amazing little treat you can pick up almost anywhere. There are so many companies making chocolate bars now-a-days, and the variety to choose from is fantastic. 
Then of course there's the Trader Joe's brand French Truffles-that are made in France! For less than $4.00!!! For women to reap the most optimal benefits from eating dark chocolate, it's best to place the truffle onto the middle of your tongue, then gently push your tongue upward towards the palate. This keeps the truffle from being chewed and entering the stomach to soon, (yes, sometimes I have to chew just one first.) What you're looking for is a very slow melt which is achieved by holding it up to the palate. This ensures the slow absorption into the blood stream which then has time to "give away" all kinds of essential anti-oxidants, and vitamins, and who cares really when it just tastes sooooo good!
Well, my friends I've just texted with Chelsea and need to go bake chocolate chip cookies and my to-die-for-S'mores bars for her to take to work tomorrow. Actually I'll be delivering them to her. I will be posting the S'mores bars for you tomorrow. You will not believe how easy and how delicious they are.
But for now, here's the GF Quinoa-Chicken Enchilada Casserole with Homemade Sauce!
  • Filling:
    • 4 cups quinoa, cooked
    • 2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded
    • 3 cups enchilada sauce, see below on this page
    • 3 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
    • 1 cup jack cheese, grated
  • Enchilada Sauce
    • 1) 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
    • 1 to 1 & ½ cups water
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1 teaspoon dried cilantro
    • teaspoon kosher salt
    • ¼-½ teaspoon ground black pepper
    • ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
    • 2 Tablespoons California Chili Powder, it's very mild, feel free to kick yours up to the heat you like!
Pre-heat oven to 350°F. 
You will need a 9 inch round or square baking pan.
Have an extra baking pan ready to place your casserole on in case it's going to overflow while cooking.

Make the sauce first:
1. Pour the crushed tomatoes into a medium-large bowl, add the spices, salt and pepper-omitting or adding any others that you like. This is kind of a "free form" casserole so-to-speak.
2. Your sauce will be very thick at this point. Add the water in 1/4 cup increments to thin it to the consistency you like. We like ours fairly thin, almost like tomato soup, so I added the entire 1 1/2 cups.
3. Set aside while you assemble your filling ingredients.

Make the filling:
1. If your quinoa is still hot, pour it out onto a clean baking pan, spread it out to let it cool.
2. Grate your cheeses, set them in bowls to the side.
3. Using your fingers or a couple forks shred the chicken.

1. Ladle about 1 cup of sauce onto the bottom of the casserole dish and spread it around to cover.
2. Take half of the cooled quinoa and sprinkle it over the sauce, spread around evenly and pat it down firmly.
3. Sprinkle all of the chicken shreds over the quinoa, sprinkle half of the cheeses over the chicken, and about 3/4 cup of the sauce. Make a top layer with the remaining quinoa, spread it evenly and pat it down firmly. Sprinkle the remaining cheeses over the top layer of quinoa. Add some of the leftover sauce if there is any around the top side of the casserole, or you could reheat it and serve it along side.

4. Bake at 350°F. for 40-50 minutes. It may take longer if your quinoa is cold from the fridge. Casserole should be bubbly and the cheeses melted and bubbly-crispy!

Serve with a green salad or fresh fruit salad, and something chocolate for dessert!
Feel free to substitute any other vegetables, and cheeses.
Heck, you could even use canned enchilada sauce!