Say Cheese

My mom has been begging me for mac and cheese for weeks now. She pauses in front of the blue box and sighs at the grocery store... But we can do better than that, right?

I agree, the blue box and it's equivalents (i.e. Annie's brand) are delicious and really nothing can substitute for that weird yellow cheese sauce. But there's no way you eat two servings of that business and feel good about yourself.

This recipe idea has been floating around on pinterest for weeks and Kristin of Iowa Girl Eats "covered" it, for lack of a better term, a few months ago. The original recipe comes from Monica Nelson.  I modified the recipe for maximum flavorful-ness. But I'm not going to call it mac and cheese, cause that's a little misleading...

Cheesy Quinoa Bake
8 hearty servings

2 tsp EVOO
1 shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium leek, trimmed, sliced in half, then sliced into half moons
1 1/2 c. quinoa
3 c. chicken stock
1/2 tsp. seasoning blend (I use TJ's Everyday Seasoning)
1/4 tsp. seasoning salt
1 1/2 c. 1% milk
2 large eggs
1 1/2 c. shredded light sharp cheddar
1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar mozzarella blend
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. red chili flakes
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 c. panko bread crumbs
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350F.
In a pot, heat EVOO. 
Add garlic, shallot, and leek.

Saute for 4 minutes, or until softened.

Add in quinoa.

Stir constantly for 3 minutes, or until quinoa is starting to toast and is well coated.

Add chicken stock, seasoning salt, and seasoning.

 Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover for 17 minutes. Once liquid is all absorbed, remove from heat and let cool for 5-10 minutes uncovered.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together eggs and milk.

Add in cayenne, chili flakes, white pepper, and onion powder.

Stir in quinoa and shredded cheese, reserving 1/3 c. of each cheese for the topping. I found a light celtic cheddar at TJ's - amazing!

Spray a 9x13 casserole with cooking spray. Pour in quinoa mixture, and then top with panko breadcrumbs and remaining cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes uncovered. You can broil for an addition 2 minutes if you want an extra crispy topping, but the oven does a great job as is.

Serve with hot sauce!

Definitely ate this with an egg on top for breakfast today. Stop judging me.


  1. OMG I am making this ASAP!!! This is totally WW friendly right?! ;)

    1. It's not so bad! Just make sure to use a light cheese, and you can sub egg whites instead of eggs to cut 100+ calories on the recipe!