This month for the Improv Cooking Challenge, our ingredients were Carrots & Curry. I knew immediately that I wanted to make a soup, so I looked back through my archives and found three soup recipes that I'd previously made. I used these three recipes to help me come up with a new one: Spiced Carrot Soup with Chickpeas and Tahini, Spiced Carrot Soup with Crispy Prosciutto, and Thai Pumpkin Soup.
I started by cooking madras curry and grated ginger in olive oil (though it occurs to me now that I could have used coconut oil), then adding carrots, onion, and garlic. I seasoned with salt and cooked for 15 minutes, until the vegetables started to brown. Then I added chicken broth and coconut milk and simmered covered for 20 minutes. You can use vegetable broth to make this vegetarian/vegan.
If you've been anywhere near Instagram, you know that avocado roses are all the rage. Simple, elegant, beautiful. Melissa (Smells Like Brownies) and I decided to try our hands at making them, and I think they turned out pretty well!
Watch this video to learn how to do it. Melissa is much more coordinated than I am, so those are her hands you are seeing.
Or you can follow these directions: Oil a cutting board and knife with olive oil.
The Secret Recipe Club is coming to an end, you guys. This is both very sad and a huge relief to me, as I have had so much fun exploring other blogs, but also felt a lot of pressure to meet the timeline. There will be one more seasonal post at the end of this month, and one more regular post in November. I was assigned Cheese Curd in Paradise this month, written by Ashley.
I actually couldn't find a bio page on this blog, sorry Ashley! But I could discern that Ashley lives in Wisconsin, has a son, and loves comfort food! I found a ton of yummy looking stuff while scrolling through the archives.
And pasta recipes, like Homemade Beef-a-Roni, Bacon Cheeseburger Gnocchi Skillet, Creamy Chicken Pesto Gnocchi Skillet, BLT Tortellini Skillet, and Ham and Cheese Gnocchi Skillet (loving these skillet meals).
And some special occasion recipes, like Maple and Shallot Spaghetti Squash, Roast Duck with Wild Rice and Sausage Stuffing, Rack of Lamb with Caramelized Shallot and Thyme Crust, and Seared Scallops with Prosecco Herb Beurre Blanc.
I didn't even get to the desserts, y'all!
In the end, I was torn between this Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken Tater Tot Casserole and this Chicken Bacon Ranch Tater Tot Casserole. So I decided to combine them! By which I mean, use ranch seasoning instead of the seasoning mix in the slow cooker casserole.
It is hard to take good photos of casseroles, y'all, especially in the slow cooker. But the slow cooker was what I loved about this. Throw frozen tater tots, raw chicken, cooked bacon, onions, cheese, ranch seasoning, and milk into the insert and forget about it until dinner time. Perfect. I did feel like it was missing a bit of a creamy element, but I don't know how sour cream would do in the slow cooker.
For ease an comfort, this just can't be beat! Enjoy!
Oh my gosh, this cauliflower bowl is so gorgeous, and filling, and satisfying, and yummy, and healthy, and low carb, and all the things. It has a lot of different components, but they come together to make such a lovely whole. Another successful vegetarian lunch with Melissa from Smells Like Brownies.
Start by making your cauliflower "rice" (actually, start by pickling some chard stems, which was done by Melissa before I arrived). Place raw cauliflower into a food processor and pulse until chopped to the size of rice (a few larger pieces are fine) - 1/2 a large head will make 3-4 cups. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave for 2 minutes, just to soften.
Next, heat some coconut oil in a pan and add turmeric, cumin, a pinch of cayenne, and some fresh pressed garlic. Cook for a bit to activate the spices, then add the cauliflower and stir to combine and heat through. But don't leave it on for too long - you want the cauliflower to have texture! Make sure to season with salt and pepper.
It's time for this month's Secret Recipe Club! I was assigned Cookin' Mimi - a blog full of comfort food and home cooking with lots of influences like Southern, Southwestern, and some International. The author is a Southern Californian with a Southern family - which explains the variety of influences! She doesn't remember a time when she wasn't cooking.
I was in crunch mode when I chose a recipe, on the search for an easy dinner. Mimi is a big fan of casseroles, like me, so I looked at this Cheesy Broccoli Chicken and Rice Casserole and this traditional Chicken and Rice Casserole, but decided on this Cheesy Green Chile Chicken and Rice Casserole.
But back to the casserole! It is really straightforward and simple - combine chicken, green chiles, rice, and a sour cream sauce; top with cheese; bake; the end. But something in the recipe jumped out at me as unfamiliar - it called for par-boiled or converted rice. What the heck is that? I turned to the internet and found out that by par-boiling the rice, the nutrients of the outer parts are forced into the grain before they are removed - making it something in between brown and white rice. In fact, it supposedly has most of the nutrients of brown rice, an even lower glycemic index, and the soft texture of white rice, without getting as mushy. How had I never heard of this before?! It is perfect to use in casseroles and slow cookers because the texture holds up. It's awesome!
But, there is a downside - unless you are ordering it from Asia, most brands are grown in the Southern US and have high levels of inorganic arsenic, which is toxic. So, you know, don't eat a ton of it all the time.
Shrimp and Strawberry? Do you think I sound crazy right now? Trust, young padawans, and learn the ways of combining sweet and savory. Rice noodles, pickled veg (and mango!), basil, mint, scallions, shrimp, and strawberries are combined in a rice wrapper for the ultimate summer freshness. Served with a delicious peanut sauce for dipping - get in my face!
I had seen a blog photo ages ago that I loved on this site, but I was scared to try it because I had never made summer rolls before and it seemed finicky. Then I was over at a friend's house for dinner and that is what we made! It was a bit tricky, but not as scary as I had imagined. She was a pro, so I asked her to help me make my shrimp and strawberry rolls. Then I looked at the recipe for the photo I loved, and wasn't a big fan of the ingredients. I wanted noodles instead of cabbage, and mango instead of bell pepper. So I switched some things around.
Then we got to work! She was skeptical of my flavor combo, but ended up loving it. You can see the progression here from back to front where I put the ingredients on in the wrong order so the pretty parts didn't show, then exploded one, then finally got some decent rolls. The good news is - it doesn't matter if you don't get the best looking rolls, they still taste amazing!
A month ago, Melissa (Smells Like Brownies) asked for my help coming up with toppings for these gorgeous beet, quinoa, and black bean burgers. How could I refuse?! Before I tell you what we decided on, let me tell you about the burgers themselves.
The are firm, full of flavor, have great texture, and are a little bit smoky. Everyone always says this, but they do taste very meaty. I swear.
Veggie burgers rely on many ingredients to make a good product. They can be notoriously mushy and fall apart. This recipe seems to hit all the right notes to make a great burger. Mushrooms, onions, and beets give moisture and flavor; quinoa gives texture; and black beans and ground nuts hold it all together.
I have recently joined a group called Improv Cooking Challenge (see my first post here), where we are assigned 2 ingredients to incorporate into a dish each month. This month, the challenge was garlic and rosemary - perfection!
I chose to make a simple pasta with shredded rotisserie chicken, garlic, and rosemary; tossed together with starchy pasta water and Parmesan to make a light sauce. Five ingredients, 30 minutes, easy and delicious. You're welcome, world!
When I was assigned Melissa's blog last month for SRC, I was reminded of all the recipes of hers that I had been wanting to make. And I couldn't get my mind off of this warm potato salad with roasted broccoli and an egg vinaigrette. That vinaigrette is called "sauce gribiche", which I had never heard of before. Melissa says, "It’s an eggy French vinaigrette, apparently friends with mayonnaise, that is made from hardboiled eggs, oil, vinegar, capers, and fresh herbs." Sign me up!
First step - roast the potatoes and the broccoli. Why do I only have a photo of the potatoes? I don't know. Melissa used purple potatoes, which looked gorgeous. I couldn't find any, though, so I used red.
Meanwhile, boil the eggs. Hello, lovelies!