Make-Ahead Simple Chicken ‘Chill’-i Casserole

Simple to make with just a little planning ahead, this cruciferous-veg-packed chicken casserole gives you a calm chill to eat and a feeling of solid fullness.

Ingredients:

Chicken Casserole:

  • 1 pound raw chicken breast tenders
  • 1 cup mild red tomato salsa (I used Mateo’s)
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup frozen cauliflower rice
  • 1 cup frozen sweet potato chunks
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp dried cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh lime juice to taste
  • Optional— shredded fresh napa cabbage to plate
  • Optional— Simple Garlic Avocado Crema

Optional Simple Garlic Avocado Crema:

  • 1 large ripe avocado
  • 2 Tbsp raw garlic cloves
  • Juice from 1 lime

Special equipment:

  • Parchment paper
  • Aluminum foil
  • Whisk
  • Deep medium-sized baking dish (I used 8 x 8 x 3 inch)

Inactive prep time: 6 hours-overnight for marinating, 1 hour for baking
Active prep time: 10-15 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

Preparation:

  1. Combine first three ingredients and marinate 6 hours to overnight in refrigerator, covered in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a medium-sized baking dish with parchment paper.
  3. Heat a large skillet or pan on medium-high heat. Use a fork to remove the chicken tenders and place them on the skillet, reserving the marinade in the bowl. and lightly brown chicken tenders on both sides, about 3 minutes on each side.
  4. While the chicken is browning, whisk the 2 eggs, dried herbs, and dried cumin together with the remaining marinade in its mixing bowl. Spread the cauliflower rice and sweet potato chunks evenly in the prepared baking dish and then pour the egg and marinade mixture directly on top.
  5. Remove the chicken from the pan and lightly shred it apart with a fork. (Note: it should be VERY tender and easy to shred!) Use the same fork to toss the chicken into the baking dish, incorporating it into the egg mixture.
  6. Cover the baking dish with additional parchment paper and aluminum foil on top, then bake for 30 minutes. Remove the top layer of parchment paper and foil and bake for another 30 minutes uncovered, until casserole is completely set and firm.
  7. Remove from oven. Add salt, pepper, and lime juice to taste, optionally plating and pairing with chopped fresh napa cabbage and Simple Garlic Avocado Crema:
    • To make the crema, mash the ripe avocado with a fork; roughly dice the garlic cloves and mix them in with the avocado, stirring in the lime juice until smooth and creamy.
    • Enjoy!

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Yasmine’s notes:
Just a day before making and sharing this recipe with you, I felt low and sad regarding sharing my recipes in general. I had been watching and seeing things I used to love eating being shared all around me: everywhere from travel-abroad videos I simply had on in the background while I worked on Torus Link, to getting food with my family from the grocery store for the day, to friends sharing posts, websites, and videos when I checked upon them. (So, both near AND far; all around me indeed.)

Piles, for example, of deep-fried, hot and ready orange crispy things; meats and oils sauteed with caramelized onions; colorful little rice stackers filled with fish and sugar; toasty pizzas topped with cheese and red sauces; mountains of meat and peppers on fried potatoes; ice-creams and other confections with chocolate inside and outside them and coated in peanuts.

Which, don’t get me wrong, everyone: at this stage? As I literally name these things to you, I experience no appeal in my own mind. That’s even as I think of the kind of colorful diction to tell you of those foods I saw, in a way that you *get* what I mean by it!!! It truly is of the kind of stuff I used to love eating. Now, I just do not feel any sense of interest when instead, I can look at a LOT of that and simply see, “just starch laden with fat (be it from milk, meat, and/or oils combined), salt, sucrose, and maybe a smattering of some kind of cooked fruit or veg thrown in.”

But what I recognize I am NOT so far removed from, at least not at the time of this writing, is the joy I used to share around the thought of that kind of display-

–the kind I see so many others around me share and own too.

(I mean, it’s a PARTY, isn’t it???)


And so, even as I knew rationally that what I’ve been creating and sharing on YP.com is clearly healthier to eat than all of that, enough such that most anyone else would easily agree with me on that much…

… I still felt forlorn that mine doesn’t harken to that popular happy thing anymore that so many of us enjoy. Mine is categorically less popular at this time and so YES less ‘festive’ by default. Parties are shared by their very nature, and as very few around me want to come to this party of mine…

… not when it’s coded with the “boring stuff,” e.g. “Where IS the fried? Where IS the cheese and the sugar and/or all the caramelized meats? Ehh, healthy, I’m not into that…”

Versus when that other party IS there and looks like so… much… fun, with so many tasty things… (and I can’t even blame others for this— I used to go to that party too; I literally know where they’re coming from and why…)

… It’s a genuine hardship I see I have to bear through. But I realized what helps is this: going beyond the obvious ‘healthy’ aspects to my recipes versus those other ones, those other recipes can’t tell you a thing about the calming properties of cooking with water versus purely fire and oil; cooking cauliflower and pairing fresh cabbage with your meat versus e.g. potatoes and queso; ladening your foods with green herbs for flavor, even dried, versus sucrose. They don’t know of it!

In general, such recipes don’t know what happens when you opt to cook in ways such that you’re NOT adding a ton of fat and caramelization. (***Hence, partially steam-baking this casserole by covering it with foil and parchment paper without greasing your pan first; only partially oil-searing your chicken until it’s just barely brown while allowing a sugar-free salsa to do the tenderizing work as a marinade.)

And how when you eat things in this fashion… you can have a nice, steady, mild, comfortably-filling meal when you need lower, calmer energy. Cauliflower, as a cruciferous vegetable, has properties of both water and earth combined… something of a calming and gentle, while simultaneously hardy, solidity. With the equally steamed sweet potatoes offering JUST enough sweet warmth— the entire dish itself being simple enough to make for all the pre-prepped ingredients— this dish can be made in a calm, easy way, while helping you to FEEL calm because of the steady-and-girthy-earthy meets cleansing-watery properties to it. This is the kind of gift and deeper experience to food itself that those other recipes just…
…don’t…
know.

So, I press on and share exactly what I have because this is more of what’s missing, exists, and is needed in the world. This dish in particular is great for when you know you want an easy, calm, and quiet meal to chill and fill up with after a long day; when you want to pause and when you need stillness— especially if, e.g. you’re one of us who gets periods, and you feel tired, weak, aching, and next to NO inclination to move at all. (By the by? I will currently not see a single socially-festive dish around me that recommends anything about that in the food I eat. Juuuuuust sayin’.)


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