Skinny Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

Skinny Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole  |  Lemon & Mocha

Skinny Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole, my heart you have stole! Your greatness rivals a crispy egg roll. When eating you for dinner I lose self control! Sadly, after the last bite I was hard to console. Sorry for that, but I’m so excited about this dish that the only way I could express myself was through song. That’s normal right?

Skinny Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole  |  Lemon & Mocha

I first made this Skinny Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole just last week and Matt and I were hooked after one bite. It’s creamy, cheesy and full of comforting flavors. Plus, this healthy dinner dish is guilt-free! I swapped all the rice for a combination of half brown rice and half riced cauliflower. This half and half mix is great because you still get the hearty and chewy texture of the rice, while adding more vegetables and lightness with the tender riced cauliflower. You could always do all cauliflower rice or all brown rice if you prefer.

Skinny Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole  |  Lemon & Mocha

The broccoli has been doubled, which is perfect since Matt and I love broccoli. Each serving gives you a full cup of broccoli meaning you get some tender broccoli bits in every cheesy bite. The dish has also been lightened with nonfat milk and low-fat sour cream, although you can use Greek yogurt instead of the sour cream if you would like.

Skinny Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole  |  Lemon & Mocha

Every night Matt kept questioning if I was making up that it was a healthier dish since it’s so creamy and delicious! It’s incredible how cheesy it tastes, even though there’s only 1/4 cup of cheddar per serving.

Skinny Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’m sure this freezes well, although we never got around to trying it since we gobbled it all up! I did, however, sauté the chicken pieces ahead of time then freeze them so when I knew I wanted to make this dish I put the cooked chicken pieces in the fridge overnight to thaw and they were ready to pop into the casserole. I can imagine kids loving this dish so I’m sure this will be a family favorite for years and years to come. Enjoy!

Skinny Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole  |  Lemon & Mocha

Skinny Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole
 
Yield: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup brown jasmine rice
  • 2 heads broccoli florets, about 8 cups
  • 16 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
  • 3 cups riced cauliflower
  • 2 cups nonfat milk
  • 1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese, about 2 cups
  • ⅓ cup light sour cream
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • Cooking spray
Directions
  1. If you have a rice cooker with a steamer basket, see note. Otherwise, bring broth to a boil in a large pot (big enough to fit all the broccoli eventually). Add the rice, cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 30-35 minutes or until rice is tender. When the rice is 5 minutes away from being done, put the broccoli in the pot and cover to steam. Try not to let too much steam out while you’re doing this or the broccoli will need to stay in there longer. Once the broccoli is tender, remove pot from the heat and add the contents to a large mixing bowl. Rinse and wipe the pot.
  2. Spray a skillet with cooking spray then heat over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5-7 minutes, turning and flipping occasionally. When they’ve reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, add the chicken to the large mixing bowl and wipe the skillet. Lightly spray the skillet with cooking spray again and cook the cauliflower rice until tender. It should only take a couple minutes; if you are using frozen riced cauliflower it usually says to sauté until there’s no more liquid. Remove from the skillet and add to the large mixing bowl.
  3. Heat the milk in the pot from the rice over medium heat until warm then whisk in the flour. Continue to whisk occasionally until thick, about 7-10 minutes, then remove from the heat. Add ¾ of the shredded cheese (about 1½ cups) and whisk until melted. Add the sour cream, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ¼ teaspoon garlic seasoning and whisk until smooth. Pour into the large mixing bowl. Add the chopped scallions to the mixing bowl then stir until well combined.
  4. Lightly spray a 9x13” pan with cooking spray. Add the contents of the mixing bowl and spread to an even layer. Sprinkle the remaining cheese (about ½ cup) on top. Broil until the cheese is melted; watch carefully because it melts very quickly. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.
Notes
Substitutions: You can use any fat percentage of milk you prefer. You can substitute plain nonfat or low-fat Greek yogurt for the sour cream.
Rice and Broccoli: I made it the way specified above for testing purposes since not everyone has a rice cooker, but for all future times I make this I will just use my Breville Risotto Plus to cook the rice and steam the broccoli at the same time since it’s quicker and the rice comes out perfect every time.

Recipe adapted from Iowa Girl Eats.

Healthy Spinach, Goat Cheese and Quinoa Egg Muffins

Healthy Spinach, Goat Cheese and Quinoa Egg Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

Welcome to another healthy breakfast Friday! You may have noticed that a lot of the meals this month can either be partially or completely made ahead. Well, I’ve been posting some of our favorite go-to meals and in addition to liking healthy dishes, we’re also big fans of meals that can be made ahead. When hunger suddenly strikes we have no patience so make-ahead is key! Does anyone else have this issue?!

Healthy Spinach, Goat Cheese and Quinoa Egg Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

One of my favorite make-ahead breakfasts is egg muffins or mini quiches. My Mini Broccoli, Ham and Cheddar Quiches are the best breakfast for busy weekdays or mornings with house guests, but I wanted to make a lightened up version.

Healthy Spinach, Goat Cheese and Quinoa Egg Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

The original mini quiches use flour and are loaded with cheese and ham so instead we’re keeping them vegetarian and using cooked quinoa, a small amount of goat cheese and plenty of spinach. Between the eggs, quinoa and goat cheese, there’s plenty of protein in these little muffins to keep you full.

Healthy Spinach, Goat Cheese and Quinoa Egg Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

My favorite part about these egg muffins is that just like the mini quiches, all you have to do is bake them in a muffin pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. When they’re warm out of the oven, the goat cheese is gooey and the quinoa provides a great texture throughout the egg muffin.

Healthy Spinach, Goat Cheese and Quinoa Egg Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

Matt and I have to get going early tomorrow morning and these Healthy Spinach, Goat Cheese and Quinoa Egg Muffins are the perfect quick breakfast. We’re headed to New York City with Matt’s family to see Wicked and celebrate my mother-in-law’s, Theresa’s, birthday! I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

Healthy Spinach, Goat Cheese and Quinoa Egg Muffins  |  Lemon & Mocha

Healthy Spinach, Goat Cheese and Quinoa Egg Muffins
 
Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 6 eggs
  • ½ cup nonfat milk
  • 10 ounces spinach, steamed, strained and water squeezed out
  • 3 ounces goat cheese
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Cooking spray
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk until frothy. Add all the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Divide the egg mixture between the 12 muffin cups. There might be a little leftover - do not overfill. Then bake for 24-27 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the eggs are cooked through.

 

Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan

Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan  |  Lemon & Mocha

Two years ago, Matt and I went to California for our one year wedding anniversary. Our first stop was Los Angeles to visit Hollywood, tour movie studios, and, most importantly, eat all the food. On our last night in LA, we went to this Italian restaurant near our hotel called Jon & Vinny’s. Thankfully I had called ahead because when we got to the restaurant there was huge line, but they sat us right at the counter where we could watch all the chefs make the homemade pastas and pizzas. Watching the food be made had us drooling and we ate our way through fresh burrata, incredible pastas and a warm baked bread pudding. We also had our only celebrity sighting of the trip eating dinner there – Gillian Jacobs!

Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan  |  Lemon & Mocha

The next morning we both woke up thinking about Jon & Vinny’s. We couldn’t stop thinking about firstly, how delicious it was, and secondly, how much we regretted not ordering a pizza since they looked so good the night before. I finally went to their website and saw that not only were they open for brunch (on a weekday – that’s LA for you), but they also had pizza on their brunch menu! Matt and I headed straight to Jon & Vinny’s and gorged ourselves on bomboloni (Italian filled doughnuts), Nutella and olive oil toast and of course, homemade pizza. Ever since our back-to-back meals, Matt and I joke about heading to LA for the weekend just to eat at Jon & Vinny’s and we probably will do it one of these days.

Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan  |  Lemon & Mocha

In the meantime, I was so excited to discover the recipe for their fusilli alla vodka with basil and Parmesan on Bon Appetit’s website! I decided I wanted to be able to enjoy the meal at home more regularly instead of just once in a while as a treat so I made a few changes to turn the dish into a skinny version. This Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan has all the flavors of the classic dish complete with plenty of cheese on top, but I’ve made a few swaps.

Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan  |  Lemon & Mocha

The biggest is that cauliflower puree is being substituted for the heavy cream. As I learned with the sun-dried tomato sauce from the Chicken Schnitzel and Pesto Spaetzle dish, cauliflower puree is a creamy, flavorful and incredibly healthy substitute for heavy cream.

Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan  |  Lemon & Mocha

I also reduced the amount of pasta and replaced it with some chicken and spinach. The end result is so delicious that I think Matt and I could eat it for every meal… at least until we get back to LA to eat our weight in the authentic version!

Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan  |  Lemon & Mocha

Skinny Chicken Fusilli Alla Vodka with Basil, Spinach and Parmesan
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • ⅔ cup chicken broth, vegetable broth or water
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets, about 7-8 medium-large florets
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ shallot, minced
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely minced
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons vodka
  • 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 8 ounces fusilli
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 ounce fresh grated Parmesan, about ¼ cup, plus more for serving
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cooking spray
Directions
  1. Make the cauliflower puree. Bring the chicken broth, vegetable broth or water to a boil. Add the cauliflower florets, cover and reduce heat to low. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer the cauliflower and liquid to a high-speed blender and puree until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray then heat over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chicken pieces in a single layer and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the internal temperature reads 165 degrees F, turning and stirring the chicken in the pan as needed. Remove from the pan and carefully wipe the pan.
  3. Heat the olive oil in the same pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato paste and cook until the paste starts to caramelize, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the vodka and stir constantly until the liquid is mostly evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add the pureed cauliflower, spinach leaves and the red pepper flakes. Stir to combine and let the spinach wilt. Remove the pan from the heat, but leave everything in the pan.
  4. Cook the pasta until al dente, drain and reserve 1 cup of the pasta liquid.
  5. Place the skillet back over medium low heat and add the pasta, ½ cup of the pasta liquid, 1 tablespoon butter and the cooked chicken. Cook and stir until the butter has melted and it has formed a thick sauce. If it is too thick, add some more pasta water. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide between 4 bowls and top with the basil and more Parmesan.
Notes
The vodka sauce can be made 5 days in advance. Cover and store in the fridge.
Use any type of pasta you prefer. We used pasta with added protein.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.

Turkey Veggie Mushroom Burgers with Goat Cheese and Sautéed Shiitakes

Turkey Veggie Mushroom Burgers with Goat Cheese and Sautéed Shiitakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Remember how last week I was writing about how excited I was to finally share some family favorite healthy recipes this month? These Turkey Veggie Mushroom Burgers with Goat Cheese and Sautéed Shiitakes are definitely one of those recipes!

Turkey Veggie Mushroom Burgers with Goat Cheese and Sautéed Shiitakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

I first made these burgers this past summer after being inspired by a Food52 article about half-veggie half-meat burgers. I like to occasionally reduce the amount of meat at meals for environmental and cost reasons so I made burger patties using ground turkey, sautéed mushrooms, brown rice and quinoa before topping them with goat cheese, sautéed shiitakes and balsamic glaze.

Turkey Veggie Mushroom Burgers with Goat Cheese and Sautéed Shiitakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

We were so obsessed with these burgers after one bite that I posted my dark dinner photo of them on my Instagram feed, missing bun and all since I had forgotten them at the store! I think I can fairly say that these are the most moist burgers I’ve ever made, thanks to the mushrooms and grains, which usually is not something said about turkey burgers. They are also one of the most flavor-packed burgers and you could definitely skip the bun if you wanted to since they taste great either way.

Turkey Veggie Mushroom Burgers with Goat Cheese and Sautéed Shiitakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Part of what makes the flavor so good is that I use a Seeds of Change brown rice and quinoa with garlic packet. This isn’t sponsored, but as I mentioned in my Sheet Pan Chicken Fajita Bowls post, the brown rice and quinoa is fluffy and tastes awesome. Mix that together with the ground turkey, some sautéed cremini mushrooms, shallot and garlic and you have a winning burger.

Turkey Veggie Mushroom Burgers with Goat Cheese and Sautéed Shiitakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

When I make these I like to make a few extras and freeze the uncooked patties for future dinners. I always defrost them before grilling, but you might be able to cook them straight from frozen. I will be sure to try it out next time I freeze some of the patties. I hope you all enjoy these for (almost) Meatless Monday!

Turkey Veggie Mushroom Burgers with Goat Cheese and Sautéed Shiitakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Turkey Veggie Mushroom Burgers with Goat Cheese and Sautéed Shiitakes
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 10 ounces whole cremini mushrooms, stems removed and finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 8 ounces ground turkey
  • 1 cup Seeds of Change Quinoa and Brown Rice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 5 ounces sliced shiitakes
  • 4 burger buns, optional
  • Goat cheese, for topping
  • Balsamic glaze, for topping
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped cremini mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 4 minutes. Add the shallot and garlic, continue to cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat, put in a medium mixing bowl and let cool.
  2. Place a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper on a dinner sized plate. Once the mushroom mixture has cooled slightly, add the ground turkey, quinoa and brown rice and dijon mustard. Use your hands to combine the mixture, but do not over-mix. Form the mixture into 4 patties and place each patty on the prepared dinner plate. Put the patties in the fridge to firm up for about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Heat your grill or grill pan, being sure to lightly grease the grill pan. Once hot, cook the patties for 7-8 minutes per side, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
  4. While the burgers are cooking, sauté the shiitake mushrooms. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season with salt and pepper and sauté the mushrooms for 6-8 minutes.
  5. When the burgers are done, place on the buns, if using, then top with the sautéed shiitakes, goat cheese and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

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Sweet and Savory Breakfast Sweet Potato Toasts

Sweet and Savory Breakfast Sweet Potato Toasts  |  Lemon & Mocha

It’s our second healthy breakfast Friday! Last Friday’s breakfast was all sweet, but today we’re all about the sweet and savory combo breakfast. Do you have a preference of sweet breakfasts or savory breakfasts? I can never decide since I love them both so I love doing these combos, especially with toast. I’m not sure if you’ve seen them on Instagram over the last year, but there’s a new toast in town: sweet potato toast!

Sweet and Savory Breakfast Sweet Potato Toasts  |  Lemon & Mocha

Slice a sweet potato into 1/3-inch thick slices before baking them until cooked and crispy. Then you’re ready to top them with whatever you want! One of the reasons these toasts are so great is that you can make a bunch of them ahead of time and then when you’re ready to eat them for breakfast you just reheat the sweet potato toasts in your toaster oven or toaster like regular toast. Genius!

Sweet and Savory Breakfast Sweet Potato Toasts  |  Lemon & Mocha

I already knew I liked sweet potatoes for breakfast, but I love having them as toasts because it’s way more fun and there’s so much room for toppings. The savory sweet potato toast is topped with some spinach, a soft boiled egg and Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel seasoning. The yolk in the soft boiled egg is the perfect jammy texture and the seasoning adds just the right amount of salt and flavor.

Sweet and Savory Breakfast Sweet Potato Toasts  |  Lemon & Mocha

I had never made soft boiled eggs before starting to make them for sweet potato toasts and now I’m hooked! If you’ve never made them before they’re actually very easy and similar to hard boiled eggs. You bring a pot of water to a boil then add the eggs in their shell for six and a half minutes. Carefully place them into an ice water bath for two minutes then peel and eat. Even better, you can make them up to three days ahead of time and just reheat them before eating; more details are in the notes section of the recipe.

Sweet and Savory Breakfast Sweet Potato Toasts  |  Lemon & Mocha

Okay, on to the sweet toast! Have you ever had almond butter or peanut butter with sweet potato? If not, you are seriously missing out! Spread on some nut butter then top with strawberries, or your berry of choice. Yum! You can eat these toasts with a fork, but mine were crispy enough to pick them up, toppings and all, and eat them like a regular piece of toast. Enjoy and happy Friday, everyone!

Sweet and Savory Breakfast Sweet Potato Toasts  |  Lemon & Mocha

Sweet and Savory Breakfast Sweet Potato Toasts
 
Yield: 1 serving
Ingredients
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 egg
  • Everything but the bagel seasoning, for topping
  • ⅓ cup spinach or greens
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 3 strawberries, stems removed and cut in half
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with nonstick aluminum foil and set aside.
  2. Cut off the ends of the sweet potato so that you can stand it up steadily. Carefully cut the sweet potato into ⅓-inch thick slices, which should get you roughly 6 “toasts.” Place on the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, flipping them halfway through.
  3. To make the soft boiled egg, bring a small saucepan with enough water to cover an egg to a boil. Once boiling, add the egg in its shell and cook for 6 minutes and 30 seconds. While the egg is boiling, fill a medium bowl with ice and cold water. When the time is up on the egg, carefully remove it from the saucepan and place in the ice water for 2 minutes. After the 2 minutes, remove from the ice water, dry, gently peel and carefully cut in half. Sprinkle everything but the bagel seasoning over top.
  4. When the toasts are out of the oven, place 4 of them on a plate. Save the other 2 for later (or eat all 6 now if you’re extra hungry!). Top 2 of them with the spinach and then place 1 half of the soft boiled egg on each spinach toast. For the other 2, divide the peanut butter between them and spread on top. Top with the halved strawberries.
Notes
Sweet potato toasts can be made ahead and then reheated in the toaster or toaster oven.
Soft boiled eggs will keep unpeeled in the fridge for 3 days. When ready to eat, reheat in boiling water for 1 minute then peel or peel then microwave for 15-20 seconds.