Baths are my favorite.
In all seriousness, there are few things in life that make me happier than soaking in a hot bath for an extended period of time. I think I’ve always been a pretty high-stress person (tell no one), but a good bubble bath has never failed to relax me. Even as a small child, I had to be physically removed from the bathtub most nights, lest I prune to death, and I actively fought my parents on the switch from baths to showers for as long as possible. If we’re being honest, I’m still not that into showers.
Considering my intense love of bathing, It saddens me to inform you that my bathtub situations as a “grownup” haven’t been the best, and my first post-college abode in Paris had the tiniest bathtub that I have ever seen in my life. This was deeply upsetting, especially given my stressful lack of social life and the horrors that were my first few weeks at Le Cordon Bleu.
However, because I really needed the comfort and familiarity of warm baths, I made the best of my Parisian tub, and I spent many evenings alternately submerging either ¾ of my legs or half of my upper body in approximately 12 inches of tepid water. This was usually done while drinking rosé and watching Arrested Development on my computer, which I propped on a trashcan. Desperate times.
When I eventually moved back to New York, and into Logan’s bachelor pad, I was beyond thrilled to discover that he was in possession of a human-sized bathtub. Since we became roommates in December, which is the best month for baths, I commenced my bathing habit almost immediately. I couldn’t have been happier, but Logan found the ritual somewhat confusing and dangerous.
First of all, I like my bath scalding hot and with enough salts to turn the thing into a miniature Dead Sea. (I read somewhere that Epsom salts reduce bloating and are good for your skin. You know I’m a sucker for promises like that.) I would relax in my salt water, profusely sweating, for at least half an hour until I started to get pruney and/or feel light-headed and sleepy. Post-bath, I would sprawl in front of the fan to cool down and nap a little. Logan hates being hot more than anything in the world, so he found my desire to willingly overheat unfathomable. He was also terrified that I was going to pass out in the bath one day and drown. (That’s legit. I’ve always had that fear.)
In addition to the falling asleep thing, there was another safety issue at hand. I like to be entertained while I bathe, so I obviously used bath time to catch up on my shows. For the first few months of our cohabitation, I would put my computer on the sink, which was 6-inches from the bathtub, and plug it into the wall by the toilet. During that period, Logan came home from work on many occasions, opened the bathroom door to pee, and almost knocked the computer/candles/wine glasses off the sink. It wasn’t an overly large bathroom.
After several near disasters, I was forbidden to keep the machine on the sink because Logan was freakishly concerned about accidentally killing me. In his words, “So, I come home. I casually open the bathroom door. I trip on the cord. Computer falls in the bathtub. BOOM, dead girlfriend!” After that, I had to move my “media station” to the toilet. Better safe than sorry.
Unfortunately, the bathtub in my new apartment kind of sucks. Like, narrow and shallow with poor water retention. Unfortunately, a fancy tub was not a priority when choosing new digs. C’est la vie. I occasionally get in it, but it’s the worst, so I’ve been looking for other sources of coziness and relaxation to get me through the winter months. Chamomile tea isn’t that bad, and there is a lady that gives a pretty badass chair massage at the cheap nail place on my block, but nothing is more soothing than some hearty comfort food. We all know this.
To me comfort food should be simple, warm, and satisfying. I’ve been making a lot of chilis, soups, and one-skillet meals of late, but this week I decided to go more of a casserole route. Since there’s a lot of festive consumption of booze and baked goods going on these days, I wanted to keep things on the healthy side and work in some much needed protein, green vegetables and whole grains. What I ended up with was a delicious Roasted Broccoli, Chicken and Cheddar Quinoa Bake.
Packed with tender roasted broccoli, red onions, shredded chicken, tomatoes and gooey cheddar cheese, this quinoa bake is the epitome of cozy comfort food. It’s incredibly easy to whip up, and the flavor combination is a childhood favorite that’s guaranteed to please food lovers of all ages. This casserole is also packed with fiber, protein, and antioxidants, and it’s very low in fat, so you can feel good about crushing it on the regular this season. And yes, it’s Dude Diet approved!
The true awesomeness of this quinoa bake lies in its versatility. I happened to have leftover roast chicken, so I used that, but you can use store bought rotisserie chicken or whatever protein you happen to have in your fridge (chicken or turkey sausage, beef, pork tenderloin, etc.). Feel free to ditch the meat altogether and add more vegetables if you want to make this recipe vegetarian-friendly or turn it into a fabulous side dish. Conveniently, the whole thing can be fully assembled in advance and then baked just before serving, which is especially exciting during the busy holiday season. It also re-heats beautifully, meaning that you’ll be thrilled to have leftovers. Booyah.
Full disclosure, I’ve eaten this quinoa bake for three meals in the past 36 hours, and it has been glorious. Between that and the four cups of chamomile tea I’ve had, I feel pretty zen. No bath necessary. A shower might be a good idea, though.
Blogger’s Note: My roommate has since come around to the joys of bathing. This bodes well for the future of our relationship, as it’s helpful to date people that share your passions…
3 cups broccoli florets
½ large red onion, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of kosher salt
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1¾ cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 cup shredded chicken breast
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained (roughly 1½ cups tomatoes)
Fresh ground pepper
1¾ cups cheddar cheese, divided (I like sharp, but feel free to use mild if you prefer.)
¼ cup whole-wheat panko bread crumbs (optional)
Preparing your Roasted Broccoli, Chicken and Cheddar Quinoa Bake:
-Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment or foil.
-Start by cooking the quinoa. Place the quinoa and chicken stock in a small pot and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer, cover with a lid, and cook for 15 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed. When cooked, let the quinoa rest, covered, for 10 minutes and then fluff it with a fork.
-While the quinoa is cooking, prepare your vegetables. Place the broccoli florets and chopped red onions on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and add a generous pinch of salt and the red pepper flakes. Toss to coat.
-Roast your vegetables for 15 minutes until just tender and lightly browned.
-Transfer the cooked quinoa to a large bowl.
-Add the shredded chicken, diced tomatoes and 1 cup of the cheddar cheese to the quinoa.
-Use a spatula to combine the ingredients. The cheese should get nice and melt-y.
-Fold in the roasted broccoli and onions. Taste the mixture and season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
-Transfer the quinoa mixture to a medium baking dish (or oven-proof skillet) and lightly smooth the top.
-Sprinkle the remaining ¾ cup cheddar over the quinoa and top with an even layer of panko, if you’re into the whole “crispy topping” thing.
-Bake for 25 minutes until the cheese is melted and the breadcrumbs are lightly browned.
-Serve warm and get cozy!
As always, I’m thrilled to be a part of Food Network’s Fall Fest this week. For more delicious recipes featuring broccoli, check out the amazing blogs below.
The Lemon Bowl: Roasted Broccoli with Hoisin Dipping Sauce
Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Garlicky Cheesy Broccoli Gratin
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Italian Broccoli with Garlic, Chiles and Parmigiano Reggiano
Red or Green: Szechuan Broccoli and Chicken
Virtually Homemade: Roasted Broccoli with Garlic, Parmesan and Lemon
Dishing: Broccoli Soup
Weelicious: Broccoli Salad
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Broccoli and Bell Pepper Soup
The Sensitive Epicure: Pureed Broccoli with Garlic
Dishin & Dishes: Broccoli Garlic Pancetta Quiche
FN Dish: When Broccoli Meets Cheddar