Showing posts with label casserole. Show all posts
Showing posts with label casserole. Show all posts

22 July 2012

Simple Sunday Supper: Enchilada-esque Turkey Things

Sunday, at home all day doing a lot of nothing. Need to make supper, because I feel bad about going out for food when we might be chucking a lot of money at the house soon. (I know The Husband, Mr. Sensible, finds this train of thought annoying -- a couple of suppers out won't effect our ability or inability to pay for house stuff, but the irrational "ohmygodswecannotspendallthemonies" voices in my head say it does and who am I to ignore them? We've had decades more time together, after all).

So, stuff in the kitchen! It must become food! And it did. Pretty good food, actually.

Enchilada-esque Turkey Roll-ups

1 lb lean ground turkey
1 small red onion, minced
2 Tbsp Penzeys Arizona Dreaming seasoning blend
1 14 oz can enchilada sauce
6 flour tortillas
1 oz Cabot 50% Reduced Fat Cheddar, shredded

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease 9x9 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Cook turkey and onion in a nonstick skillet until turkey is thoroughly cooked. Stir in seasoning blend.

Divide turkey among tortillas and roll up. Place seam-side down in baking dish. Top with enchilada sauce. Scatter with cheese.

Cover with foil (coat foil with a little cooking spray to keep cheese from sticking) and bake for about 20 minutes or until everything is bubbly and cheese is melted.

Remove foil. Broil until cheese is golden.

(Feeds 2 for supper with enough leftover for some lucky person's lunch the next day).
I served this topped with a mixture of Green Mountain Gringo's roasted garlic salsa and diced cherry tomatoes from my garden.

18 October 2011

Leftover Chicken? Easy Enchiladas!

I tend to make enchiladas when I have too much leftover turkey or chicken as it's a quick and easy (and tasty!) way to get supper on the table while using up leftovers I'm getting tired of seeing. I first made this version in 2007, but have made it many times now. It's a very rudimentary recipe and open to substitutions based on whatever I have on hand.

Enchilada Filling Ingredients

Preheat oven to 375°F. Warm three ounces light cream cheese until softened. Combine with two cups chopped cooked chicken, half a cup of spicy salsa, half a cup of shredded reduced fat cheese, and a handful of dried cilantro.

Enchiladas Read for the Oven

Spoon a third of a cup of the mixture onto a warmed tortilla, roll up, and place in a baker. Repeat three more times. Top with additional salsa and shredded cheese. Cover and bake 15 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes more.

Brown & Crispy Enchiladas

When I made Monday's enchiladas, I used Bald Mountain Garlic Farm's hot and smokey "Roasted Garlic and Chipotle Salsa" I'd purchased at the Connecticut Garlic Festival and it definitely kicked these enchiladas up a notch! I really wish I'd bought more than one jar.

22 July 2011

Squash Season: Easy, Cheesy Casserole

Earlier this week, I made the cheesiest and most delicious squash casserole I've ever made. Seriously, it was so good, The Husband went back for seconds and he's not all that keen on squash. I modelled my casserole on Pillsbury's recipe for Zucchini 'n Hamburger Casserole, but I used organic 94% lean ground turkey, homegrown crookneck (yellow) squash, salt-free Italian seasoning blend, and organic mozzarella. I also sliced the squash very thin (about as thick as a quarter) as I wanted everything to melt together into delicious squashy-rice-tomato-cheese goodness.

I admit I was a little worried about using a can of soup, because I thought it might make the casserole too salty or runny, but it worked out fine. Yes, the casserole was a little runny when it first came out of the oven, but I let it sit for fifteen minutes before serving it and it set up just fine. As for sodium, 680mg of salt spread across six servings does not make for a salty casserole.

Casserole Straight From the Oven

Doesn't it look good? All cheesy and tomato-y? Like a square squash pizza? Who wouldn't want to eat that? And, if you're poo-pooing it because you think whole fat cheese = death fatz, you could use reduced-fat or fat-free mozzarella but I can't guarantee the cheese will melt properly under the broiler.

The recipe doesn't say to broil the casserole, but I did broil it for about five minutes at the end to make the cheese all golden and bubbly. Frankly, since I got over my fear of broiling, I now stick everything under the broiler if I possibly can!

Delicious Squash Casserole

Oh, yeah, I am making this again. Soon, very soon, my little squashes.

04 March 2011

Super-Cheesy Mac & Cheese Casserole

I've had a package of cocktail kielbasa kicking around in the freezer since Christmas, when I was going to make crescent roll mini weenies. I was getting sick of seeing them so started thinking about ways I could use them up. Eventually, I found a recipe on the Hillshire Farms website for "Lit'l Smokies® Macaroni and Cheese" and thought that, while the recipe showed promise, more cheese would make it better. And it did! Once I was done doctoring it, the macaroni and cheese was so cheesy and creamy I wanted to eat if for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And I did, actually, as The Husband turned out not to like this casserole very much.

While he agreed the mac 'n' cheese was pretty okay, he disliked the cocktail kielbasa. He thought they tasted smokey and cheap and I had to agree with him there. They seemed much saltier, spongier, and more hellocornsyrupsweetness! than I remembered, but then when I ate them as a child they were wrapped in pastry dough and slathered with spicy mustard so who knows what I was actually tasting! I liked them so little now that I ended up picking them out of the leftovers before I reheated the mac 'n' cheese for breakfast and lunch.

So what does that mean? It means that, if I were to make this again, I would omit the cocktail kielbasa. If I were feeling meaty, I might replace kielbasa with ground turkey and a can of crushed fire-roasted tomatoes.

Mac & Mini Sausages

Super-Cheesy Mac & Cheese Casserole
7.25 oz pkg Thick 'n Creamy Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, prepared according to package directions
½ cup 2% milk
1 10¾ oz can condensed cheddar cheese soup
2 Tbsp King Arthur Flour's Vermont Cheddar Cheese Powder
1 generous handful dried parsley
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp paprika
4 oz shredded mozzarella-cheddar cheese blend (leftover from the cheesy blaster adventure)
black pepper, to taste
14 oz pkg. Hillshire Farm® Lit’l Polskas® Cocktail Links (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Drain package of cocktail kielbasa, if using. Combine kielbasa and all other ingredients (except shredded cheese). Pour into a greased casserole and top with cheese. Broil until the cheese is a lovely golden brown and the edges of the casserole bubble.

I can't remember the last time I bought a boxed macaroni and cheese mix! College, certainly. But since then? Twice, maybe. Used to eat it often as a child, drowned in ketchup with a broiled pork chop or leftover meatloaf and green beans.

25 February 2011

Delicious Garlicky Penne

Wednesday, I made a half recipe of "Penne Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomatoes" from Taste of Home Almost Homemade. It was the last recipe I made from this cookbook before returning it to the library and it was an excellent recipe to end on as it was a fine example of the cookbook at its best.

Creamy Penne Chicken

Ingredients: whole grain penne, mushrooms, garlic, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, garlicky Alfredo sauce, cooked chicken, Parmesan.

This recipe was delicious and easy and also nice enough to serve any casual visitors. I did make a few substitutions -- fresh mushrooms for canned (and twice as many!), olive oil instead of butter, and "Italian" flavored ready-to-use cooked chicken strips instead of "Southwestern."   While I felt a bit dirty using ready-to-use cooked chicken strips, I did not have any cooked leftover chicken on hand and the chicken strips turned out to be pretty darn tasty, anyway (I'm guessing it's all the salt and corn syrup solids!).

I'm pretty sure, come next November, I will be making this recipe with leftover Thanksgiving turkey!

26 November 2010

Thanksgiving Leftovers: Poultry Plucker's Pie

While I'd originally planned to make a pot pie with Thanksgiving's bountiful leftovers, I had so much garlic mash left that I decided to make a cottage pie by modifying my "Sheepish Shepherd's Pie" recipe, instead.
Poultry Plucker's Pie

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 small onion, minced
3 cups leftover roast turkey (dark and white meat), cubed small
1 cup leftover garlic braised green beans, cubed small
1 cup leftover julienned carrots in buttery thyme sauce
1 recipe broth-based turkey gravy (see below)
3 cups leftover garlic mashed potatoes
1 egg yolk
Paprika, as desired

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Melt butter in skillet. Sauté onion until translucent. Stir in turkey, gravy, vegetables. Pour into a 11x9-inch baker.

Beat cold potatoes in stand mixer until softened. Beat in egg yolk. Spread over pan. Sprinkle with paprika. Place dish on a baking sheet and bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes or until browned and bubbly.

Let rest about 10 minutes. Nom.
I don't usually use drippings for gravy, but make it from broth because that means I can make the gravy while the meat is still cooking and everything can get to the table that much faster. Also, I simply don't like dealing with drippings ...

This recipe can be modified to use any kind of broth or whatever seasonings you prefer. I often make this gravy with low-sodium chicken broth, 1% milk, thyme, and rosemary.
Gobble-less Gravy

1 14.25oz can turkey broth
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp Bell's Seasoning (or thyme or rosemary to taste)
1½ cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp. corn starch
Dried parsley, as desired
Ground black pepper, as desired

Bring broth, butter, and seasoning to boil. Whisk together cream and corn starch. Slowly add to broth mixture, whisking constantly while gravy thickens. Whisk in parsley and pepper, if desired. Remove from heat.

19 October 2010

Oh, The Delicious Burning

Monday, I made Taste of Home's "Black Bean Nacho Bake" from The Busy Family Cookbook for supper with salad. It really was a quick and easy weeknight recipe -- with only seven ingredients and minimal steps, it was on the table in under an hour. The Husband liked it enough to eat the leftovers for lunch, which is itself a great compliment. Mind you, he wimped out and ate the leftovers sans Fiery Topping of Tongue Death ...

The recipe calls for nacho "cheese" soup, but I couldn't find any at so I simply doctored a can of condensed "cheddar" soup with a tablespoon of Penzeys Bold Taco seasoning. I also added in a can of diced Muir Glen tomatoes with the black beans, because I thought the casserole might be a bit bland without them. Then I topped the dish with a layer of crushed unsalted tortilla chips and Cabot's Hot Habanero cheddar. What was I thinking?? Oh, I know what I was thinking. Cabot 50% reduced-fat cheddar I was thinking "this casserole sounds a bit bland. I should spice it up a bit."

And so created The Fiery Topping of Tongue Death.

You see, the Cabot people aren't joking when they call it "Hot Habanero." The wee bits of pepper were hot and the instant they touched our tongues, they fried our taste buds. We gasped and wheezed and wept our way through supper. Ohmygodtheburning! The delicious, delicious burning!

When I to make this casserole again, I'll use a can of Muir Glen's fire roasted diced tomatoes with green chilies (the fire roasted adobo-seasoned diced tomatoes would be better, but it doesn't look like those exist anymore) and Cabot's Chipotle cheddar for a less painful, but equally delicious, taste experience.

01 October 2010

Deja Vu Slow Cooker

I was looking for a recipe that would let me use up some of the many leftover corn tortillas still lurking in our refrigerator when I stumbled upon a recipe for "Beefy Tortilla Casserole" in Pillsbury's Slow Cooker Recipes. While the recipe sounded quite promising, I didn't have quite the right ingredients. Rather than nip out to the grocery store, I went ahead and cludged together my own version of the recipe:
Mexican Moussaka

1 lb lean ground turkey
14½ oz. can Muir Glen fire roasted crushed tomatoes, undrained
10¾ oz. can low-fat low-sodium condensed cream of mushroom soup
4 Tbsp. Penzeys Bold Taco seasoning
¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth
6 small corn tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch strips
1 cup Greek yoghurt
1 cup Feta crumbles
3 green onions, sliced (green & white parts)

Cook turkey and taco seasoning in skillet until turkey is browned and cooked through.

Combine turkey, tomatoes, soup, broth, and tortilla strips in your slow cooker. Stir gently to combine. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 to 8 hours.

Shut off slow cooker. Remove lid. Spread yoghurt over top of casserole. Sprinkle with feta and green onions. Cover and let sit for about 5 minutes or until the feta has gone all melty.
When the feta and yoghurt melted together, they formed a thick creamy topping which reminded The Husband of moussaka -- hence my new name for this dish. We both liked this dish a lot and I will certainly make it again.

(Amusingly, it turns out that I had made a variation of Pillsbury's "Beefy Tortilla Casserole" before -- back in January 2009 -- and for the same reason!)

05 May 2009

Not-So-Mexican Turkey Chicken Bake

So I managed to start the week right -- made Doc Thelma's "Mexican Turkey Bake" (using Sunday's chicken) for Monday's supper and it was pretty good considering I forgot to buy enchilada sauce. Yes, five ingredients in this simple recipe and I forgot one! And I didn't realize I had forgotten it until I had already dumped the rest of the ingredients into a big mixing bowl. I couldn't back out at that point, but what could I substitute for enchilada sauce? It was ten-thirty in the evening and I was too darn tired to put my shoes on and go shopping.

What could I do? In a fit of desperation, I grabbed a can of condensed tomato bisque and a jar of chili powder. After all, I reasoned to myself, commercially canned enchilada sauce is just water, tomato purée, and spices ... if I added two teaspoons of chili powder to the soup, would that be close enough to avert disaster?

To my great relief, that combination worked! Oh, I'm sure my casserole tasted quite different from the original, but it was still pretty good. Tomato-y with just a hint of heat.

Of course, one of these days, I will have to try it with enchilada sauce ...

24 April 2009

Chicken Turkey Bake

Sticking with my menu plan, I made a cheesy turkey casserole for Friday's dinner. Because I had worked two long days in a row and was just plain tired, I modified this recipe a lot to streamline assembly and use up what I had on hand ... the casserole still came out very well and I can imagine making many variations of it in the future.

Cheesy Turkey Casserole

Cheesy Chicken Turkey Casserole
  • 15 oz. jar Classico Four Cheese Alfredo sauce
  • 1¼ cups low-fat milk
  • 1 cup light Greek yoghurt
  • 3 cups uncooked Barilla Piccolini Mini Farfalle pasta
  • 12 ounces finely diced cooked turkey meat
  • 1 cup leftover cooked sweet corn
  • 1½ cups quartered grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup shredded Cabot Special Stock cheddar
  • Generous shake of McCormick Salt Free Garlic & Herb Seasoning
  • Handful of dried parsley
Combine all ingredients; mix well. Place in a 13x9 baking dish, cover, and refrigerate overnight hours.

The next day, preheat oven to 350°F. Bake casserole, covered, for 55 minutes. Remove from oven, stir, and let sit for about 10 minutes. Serves 4-6.
You might think that one cup of cheese isn't enough to label this casserole "cheesy" and you would be wrong. I promise you, a little Cabot Special Stock Cheddar goes a loooong way.

17 April 2009

An Amalgamation of Shepherds

Wednesday's shepherd's pie did not go quite according to recipe and was riddled with convenience items, but was still quite delicious. The English Among Us had seconds and that is always high praise.
Sheepish Shepherd's Pie

1 Tbsp. butter, unsalted
1 small onion, minced
3 cups leftover roast lamb, trimmed of all fat and cubed small
2 cups leftover cooked peas
12 ounce jar Heinz Homestyle Rich Mushroom Gravy
McCormick Salt Free Garlic & Herb Seasoning, as desired
1 package Shedd Spread Country Crock Garlic Mashed Potatoes
1 egg yolk
Paprika, as desired

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Melt butter in skillet. Sauté onion until translucent. Stir in lamb, gravy, peas. Sprinkle with salt-free seasoning. Pour into a 11x9-inch baker.

Beat cold potatoes in stand mixer until softened. Beat in egg yolk. Spread over meat. Sprinkle with paprika. Place dish on a baking sheet and bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes or until browned and bubbly.

Let rest about 10 minutes. Nom.

06 April 2009

Healthified(ish) Cheddar Chicken Elbows

Monday's supper can, at best, be called a close cousin of "Cheddar Chicken Spirals" from Taste of Home's The Busy Family Cookbook (Reiman Media, 2007) for, in using what was on hand, my ingredient list deviated from the official one pretty broadly. For example, I substituted a stir-fry blend for the mixed vegetables and elbow noodles for the rotini. I also healthified the recipe by halving the amount of cheese and using lighter dairy.

Healthified(ish) Cheddar Chicken Elbows

How did it taste? Pretty darn yummy! Much more so than I thought when I saw that the sauce was made of mayonnaise -- a mayonnaise-based sauce in something other than salad just seemed a bit weird. Happily, while the finished dish had a rich creamy taste, the mayonnaise doesn't stand out from the rest of the ingredients and you would never know it was in there.
Cheddar Chicken Elbows

8 oz (half box) Barilla elbows
8 oz (half bag) Birds Eye Sugar Snap Stir-Fry blend, thawed
1½ cups bits of leftover roasted chicken
1± cup (shredded) Cabot Hunter's Sharp Cheddar
½ cup light mayonnaise
1/3 cup 1% milk
1 teaspoon McCormick Salt Free Garlic & Herb Seasoning

Make the pasta as directed. Meanwhile, whisk mayonnaise, milk, and salt-free seasoning together. Mix in most of the shredded cheddar, drained stir-fry mix, and chicken. When pasta is ready, drain and stir into mayonnaise-chicken mixture. Pour into a greased 8x8-inch square baker, top with the remaining cheese, cover and microwave for about five minutes. Let rest for about five minutes. Eat.

23 February 2009

Red, White, and Yum!

This was my second attempt at "Red and White Tortellini" from I had made it once a year or so ago and must have liked the recipe well enough, because I didn't weed it from my recipe box, but I don't really remember. When I made it for Sunday's supper, I hoped it would be a bit like "Do-Ahead Ravioli-Sausage Lasagna" from the Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook but cheesier.

Easy Cheesy Ravioli Casserole

And it was so.

Gooey, cheesy, creamy, tomato-y deliciousness. Not exactly healthy, but so cheesy-good that (cholesterol be damned) we couldn't say no to seconds. Quite simply, comfort food with knobs on.

And, considering all my ingredients were bought on sale, pretty darn thrifty.

I had to make some alterations to the original recipe as I didn't have ingredients in the exact quantities called for, but I'm pretty sure this is a recipe which would be hard to foul up. And, if you did, adding more cheese would probably fix it!
Tweaked Red & White Casserole
  •  2 (13 oz.) pkgs. Mama Rosie's frozen mini square cheese ravioli, not thawed
  • 25 oz. jar Prego Heart Smart Traditional Italian Sauce
  • 1½ cup water
  • 16 oz jar Classico Four Cheese Alfredo
  • 2 cups Kraft Natural Shredded Mozzarella
Preheat oven to 350°F. In baker, mix ravioli, tomato sauce, and water until pasta is thoroughly coated. Top with an even layer of cheese sauce. Sprinkled, evenly, with shredded mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Uncover and bake 10 minutes longer, until pasta is tender.

Original recipe says it serves eight, but I'd reckon six.

22 February 2009

You Say Cass-oo-lay, I Say Cass-oh-let

Made a quasi-cassoulet for Saturday's supper. I had been wanting something meaty and bean-y and tomato-y and what's a cassoulet if not those things? However, I didn't want to faff about with soaking beans overnight or simmering pots for three hours. I wanted the convenience food equivalent of cassoulet. Lazy American cassoulet, if you will.

So what shows up in Google Reader? "Quick Sausage Cassoulet" by Land O'Lakes. It was sign, I tell you.

Quick Sausage Cassoulet

I started prepping this recipe at 5:15 and by 6:30 we were supping. All I had to do was sauté diced carrots and onions with garlic in a bit of butter (you could use olive oil, of course) until everything was fragrant and the onions were translucent. Then I stirred in a small can of tomato sauce, thyme, and sliced up Hillshire Farm Beef Polska Kielbasa¹ and dumped it all in a greased casserole. Put the lid on and baked the dish about 35 minutes. Sprinkled the bubbly cassoulet with fresh parsley and served it up with salad.

The carrots were a bit on the firm side so I might bake this cassoulet for 45 minutes, next time, as I like firm veggies but The Husband (O, woe!) prefers squishier ones. Also, I would double or triple the amount of garlic and might substitute crushed tomatoes for the sauce to give the cassoulet a stronger, richer tomato flavor.

Obviously, chopping the veggies and draining the beans ahead of time would bring this cassoulet to the table even faster -- and that was my original plan, but I was too lazy to implement it.

¹ Annoyed to discover that these sausage now contain corn syrup and MSG. Gah. "Now More Flavorful," indeed.

12 February 2009

Two Misses

Twice this week I have made food which was just Not Good. Twice.

The first time was, thankfully, fixable. I had made a batch of corn chowder in my slow cooker using Frontier Soup's "Illinois Prairie Corn Chowder Mix." I had made this soup back in October with faceplant-worthy results and had looked forward to a similarly tasty experience this time around.

Ah, but this time I used a slow cooker instead of preparing the chowder on the stove top. Liquids don't cook off in a slow cooker. Ergo, chowder does not thicken. I ended up with corn soup. A weirdly bland watery corn soup. Attacking the soup with a potato masher to pulverize the potatoes and then cooking the soup, uncovered, on high for about an hour helped somewhat. As did dumping in a whole bunch of salt, pepper, and salt-free chicken bouillon. While more edible, the chowder still wasn't great and I ended up tossing out the last few cups worth.

Last time, I would have licked out the pot.

Then, because one failure wasn't enough, the stupid "Cheddar, Corn, and Tortilla Casserole" from Weight Watchers All-Time Favorites (Wiley, 2008) came out so badly that we would not eat it. The disturbingly sweet mess of scrambled egg, vegetables, and mushy tortillas was simply inedible.

Maybe, if the vegetables were minced rather than sliced or the egg filling was more like a quiche and less like scrambled egg run through a sieve ... Maybe, it would have created a cohesive dish which was, at least, edible.

Unfortunately, this was the first recipe I had made using Weight Watchers All-Time Favorites (Wiley, 2008) and the casserole's failure throws suspicion on all the other recipes. Will "Country Chicken with Mushrooms and Leeks" be just as awful? Dare I find out? Or ought I donate the cookbook to the library and be done with it?

15 January 2009

Slow Cooker, Revisited

Aside from a few soups, I've largely ignored my slow cooker since we moved into this house. Surprising, because I had believed that I'd be using my slow cooker all the time once we moved. You know, once I didn't have to troll the internets for 12+ hour recipes ...

No, indeed! I would use all my happyhappy slow cooker cookbooks and make fabulous meals with not much effort!

Alas, that yet to come to pass.

Until this week! I dragged the slow cooker out, dusted it off, and made two recipes this week. I am just all kinds of awesome!

"Beefy Tortilla Casserole" from Pillsbury Doughboy Slow Cooker Recipes (Clarkson Potter, 2003)

I was looking for a recipe that would let me use up some of the leftover corn tortillas in our refrigerator when I found this recipe. Aside from the condensed cream of onion soup, I already owned all the ingredients (or some variation thereof). The cream of onion soup proved impossible to find so I subbed in low-fat low-sodium cream of chicken as I was using ground turkey (from our freezer) instead of beef (I also used my own yoghurt instead of sour cream). Overall, this was an easy recipe to prepare. The night before, I browned the chicken and cut the tortillas into strips. In the morning, I chucked everything into the slow cooker and let it go on Low for eight hours. Just before serving, I add the sour cream, cheese, and green onions. While the cheese melted, I tossed a salad together and microwaved some green beans.

McCormick's "Easy Slow Cooker Tuscan Beef Stew"

This recipe showed up in my inbox last week and the photograph made my mouth water. Delicious as it looked, I was intially a little leery of preparing the recipe as pickling spice seemed like a weird ingredient to put in beef stew. Weird it may be, but it made for a delicious stew. Defintely the best beef stew to ever come out of my slow cooker! The tomatoes, red wine, juices, and spices created a rich tangy broth which made me want to lick out my bowl. The meat was meltingly tender, but the carrots still had a bit of body -- no mushiness or chewiness here. Simply put, this recipe is my new standard for beef stew.

08 March 2008

Greco-Midwestern Casserole

I don't know where this recipe came from -- I just found it scribbled (untitled) on a piece of notepaper in my Giant File of Random Pieces of Paper I Don't Know What to do With and Dare Not Throw Out for Fear They Are Important. It turned out to be quite a nice little casserole -- very easy to throw together and pretty tasty. It seems like the type of recipe which would easily accommodate additions like chopped zucchini, julienned carrots, or whathaveyou.
Greco-Midwestern Casserole

12 oz dried whole wheat or multigrain rotini
15 oz can low sodium tomato sauce
10 ¾ oz can condensed low sodium tomato soup
15 oz no salt added garbanzo beans (chick peas), rinsed and drained
8 oz crumbled fat free feta
1 cup coarsely chopped black olives
½ cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 T butter, melted
2 T grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package and drain. In a big bowl, combine pasta, sauce, and soup; toss to coat. Stir in beans, feta, and olives. Spoon into a lightly greased 3 quart casserole or baker.

In another bowl, mix butter, crumbs, and Parmesan together. Sprinkle over pasta.

Bake uncovered 375°F for 20 - 25 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
(I made this recipe using a thawed 18 oz bag of pasta sauce I had put up last autumn and it worked out quite well).

26 February 2008

If It Ain't Broke ...

Last week, I made "Rice and Onion Chicken Casserole" from Betty Crocker's Good and Easy Cookbook (Macmillan, 1996). It's basically uncooked white rice mixed with condensed cream of mushroom soup, tinned sliced mushrooms, milk, onion soup mix, and boneless skinless chicken breasts. I used low fat/sodium ingredients and it came out pretty tasty (even if still not amazingly nutritious).

In making this dish I learned something new. Namely, that long grain white rice I use contains no fiber. None. This was obvious when I stopped and thought about it -- with white rice the hull and bran has been removed -- but had never occurred to me before. Obviously, using brown rice instead of white would add fiber to this dish and make it moderately more healthful. Of course, I don't usually use brown rice (though I will be now) and am not sure if it would cook the same way in the casserole.

Because we liked this casserole, I had to go and try my own version of it this week. I used uncooked white rice mixed with condensed cream of asparagus soup, 1" pieces of uncooked leftover asparagus, milk, McCormick Salt Free Garlic & Herb Seasoning, and boneless skinless chicken breasts. It was ... okay. Not nearly as good as the original. I think I should have used leek soup mix instead of the salt free seasoning and cut the asparagus stems into half inch pieces. My version wasn't terrible, but we didn't eat the leftovers and that's always a sure sign of failure.

On a happier note, I also made up a creamy penne and vegetable casserole which came out well enough I will share the recipe with you:
Creamy Penne & Vegetable Casserole

8 oz dried penne

1 red bell pepper, diced small
2 celery ribs, diced small
½ onion, diced small
½ tsp dried thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T butter
1 can condensed low fat/sodium cream of mushroom (tomato might work, too)
½ c fat free Greek yoghurt
½ c 1% milk

Cook penne as directed on package. Cook pepper, celery, onion, thyme, and garlic in butter over medium until tender. Remove from heat. Stir in soup, sour cream, and milk. Stir in cooked penne. Pour into a 1 ½ quart casserole and bake, covered, about 30 minutes.

15 February 2008

Back on the Wagon: Cookery Catch-Up

So, yes, I was ill earlier this week and fell behind in the whole three-suppers-shtick. Yes, managed to bake cookies and a cake, but couldn’t make supper because I was too sick. Trust me; it made sense at the time.

This week, I'm back on the wagon. I've made three suppers, but we've only eaten two as the last one was made ahead for Saturday. The first two have been tolerably good, so I don't expect anyone will die from Saturday's.

Cheeseburger Casserole

I've made a number of recipes from this site and they're generally pretty good. This casserole was no exception. While it was more like a turkey loaf than a casserole and did need a little something to boost the flavor, it still tasted pretty good and I'm always pleased to find non-tabbouleh bulgur recipes

Anyway, I readily admit that I tweaked the recipe a bit and any lack of flavor is probably my own fault. When I made this casserole, I omitted the powdered beef bouillon and used low sodium tomato sauce in order to reduce the amount of sodium in the finished dish. To compensate, I cooked the bulgur in (low sodium) vegetable broth to add more "taste" back in, but should probably have added some McCormick Salt Free Garlic & Herb Seasoning or Tabasco in, as well.

The serving sizes are pretty generous (4 servings from an 8-inch square baking dish) or realistic, depending on how you want to call it.

Tonight, I made "Parmesan Topped Salmon" and "One-pot Vegetable and Grain Medley" from The American Heart Association's No-Fad Diet (Clarkson Potter, 2005). I figured, if I'm going to go all low sodium and reduced fat with recipes then they might as well be that way to start with. I was surprisingly pleased with how both recipes turned out. Prior experience has shown AHA recipes to be hit-or-miss in the seasoning department, yet these two dishes came out quite tastily.

The salmon recipe reminded me of the "Magically Moist Salmon" recipe sometimes found on the back of the Hellmann's mayonnaise bottle. A recipe I had never tried, because slathering mayonnaise allover perfectly nice salmon seemed like an act of barbarism. And yet, here I was today, brushing my salmon with a mixture of light mayo, Parmesan, garlic, and white pepper. All because the AHA said I could. And I was only using 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon mayonnaise (vs ¼ cup called for in the Hellmann's recipe). Anyway, it tasted quite nice -- the top of the mayonnaise/Parmesan firmed up and browned quite nicely in the oven while leaving its under layer all moist and gooey atop the tender pink salmon. While I still prefer my usual method of salmon cookery, this made a nice change.

I made the barley to go with the salmon as it also had a little Parmesan in it which I thought would link the two dishes together flavor-wise while the acidity of the tomatoes would complement the creaminess of the fish. Also, I wanted to cook some barley. Overall, I was pleased with this dish. I did end up cooking it twenty minutes longer than directed, but that was my own choice. When I selected the recipe, I neglected to note that it was supposed to be served by in bowls as a stew or some such thing. By cooking it covered for forty minutes and then leaving it uncovered on the stove for another twenty (while the salmon baked), most of the liquid cooked away. When I stirred the grated Parmesan in, the barley took on a risotto like consistency which was very pleasing. The red bell pepper, onion, Parmesan, and Muir Glen fire-roasted diced tomatoes all blended together with the barley and gave it a creamy tangy-ness that went really well with the salmon. The Husband quite liked it and took seconds, which alone makes this recipe worth repeating.

Baked Ziti w/ Beef & Green Beans

For Saturday, I made "Baked Ziti with Beef & Green Beans" which is also from the American Heart Association's No-Fad Diet (Clarkson Potter, 2005). I substituted Hodgson Mill Organic Whole Wheat Penne with Milled Flax Seed for the ziti, because that's what I had on hand. Otherwise, I made this recipe exactly as directed. It looks pretty okay and was very easy to throw together, but it also seems a bit ... weirdly fussy. I don't know why as the casserole is just repeated layers of cooked pasta, sauce, green beans, and cheese in an 8x8 inch casserole and there's nothing to it that really sounds fussy. It's just ... why layer it? Why not mix the pasta, sauce, and beans together and then top them with cheese? Why be fussy? Especially with the pasta and sauce -- isn't the sauce just going to ooze down and mix with the pasta, anyway?

We shall see.

What do I think of the American Heart Association's No-Fad Diet (Clarkson Potter, 2005) now that I've made three recipes from it? Well, everything I've eaten has certainly tasted good, but the directions leave a little bit to be desired. The weird fussiness of the green bean casserole irks me a little, but not as much as the constant call for "½ medium x, chopped." How much is half a medium onion or two shallots when chopped? Why can I not have measurements in cups or ounces? And the barley recipe didn't even tell me how to prep the bell pepper! It just said "2 medium bell peppers (orange and green preferred)." I decided to chop one and a half red bell peppers (they were on the "large" side, but none of the peppers at the grocery store looked "medium," anyway) into small pieces, because I reckoned the chopped pepper should be the same shape and approximate size as the other ingredients.

I don't know if I'd buy this cookbook for myself and I recommend it with reservations, but that won't stop me copying down the recipes I've made and trying them again next month.

05 February 2008

Cooking as a Coping Mechanism

I'm not sure if baking three dozen cookies, one cake, and a casserole count as "taking it easy" when one is out sick from work, but that's what I've been doing the past two days.

Either I cook and keep my mind off whatever is wrong with me or "rest" and totally freak out. I mean, chest pains? Heart palpitations? Pain in jaw and neck? What do you think that sounds like to you? Well, it isn't. And that makes it worse. Because I don't know. And the doctors don't know. Yet. So ... I cook.

Morningstar Farms Humble Crumble PueBaked up a deliciously sweet and fiery gingerbread cake using the King Arthur Gingerbread Cookie & Cake Mix which came in one of my "Mix ’n' Magic Baking Club" boxes (December, I think, but it could as easily have been November). I added in a whole cup of crystallized ginger flakes to the batter, because gingerbread cannot be too gingery, and it turned out marvelously -- moist and fluffy and gingery as all get out. Smells wonderful, too.

The mix made one eight inch square cake which, I guesstimate, divides into sixteen quite nicely.

I also made three dozen cookies using the King Arthur Raspberry-Lemon Sparklers Premium Cookie Kit which also came in one of my "Mix ’n' Magic Baking Club" boxes. There's not bad -- buttery and raspberry with a nice lemon zing -- but not exceptional, either. I might buy a box of these readymade if the Girl Scouts were schilling them, but I don't think I'd bother baking them again. Mind you, I don't think I could. I can't find it on the King Arthur Flour site, anymore. Key Lime Sparklers, yes. Raspberry-lemon, no.

Because we ought to have something savoury with all these sweets, I also made a vegetarian shepherd's pie using the "Humble Crumble Pie" on the Morningstar Farms site (I freely admit to using Boca brand soy crumbles, rather than the Morningstar brand). I made the mashed potatoes for the topping from scratch, sadly overestimated the amount of potato I needed, and now have a bucket of extra mashed potatoes in my fridge. Amusing, as shepherd's pie is supposed to use up leftovers not make more.

We thought the pie was pretty good, but agreed that adding a can of crushed tomatoes might have made it even better. I will certainly make this again as there are lots of soy crumbles in the basement freezer and it is both the right time of year and the right kind of weather for a shepherd's pie.