Well Dined

23Feb/160

Slow Cooker Parmesan Tomato Soup

Well Dined | Slow Cooker Parmesan Tomato Soup

I have been really digging the slow cooker lately, I think it's the long dreariness of the middle of winter.  This soup is sure to brighten even the dreariest day, warm you up, and make you smile.  Plus it is easy and mostly hands off.

Tomatoes, onion, celery, and carrots soften for hours with chicken broth, oregano, basil, and bay.  Then you make, essentially, a bechamel and stir it in along with Parmesan to make it thick and creamy an luscious.  This simple but lovely soup was met with rave reviews from the friends I served it to.  I hope you enjoy!

Slow Cooker Parmesan Tomato Soup
adapted from Today's Mama

2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 cup finely diced celery
1 cup finely diced carrots
1 cup finely diced onions
4 cups chicken broth (use vegetable broth to make it vegetarian)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried basil
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup flour (use sweet rice flour to make it gluten free)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup Parmesan cheese
2 cups whole milk
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Add tomatoes, celery, carrots, onions, chicken broth, oregano, basil, and bay leaf to a large slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for 5-7 hours, until flavors are blended and vegetables are soft.

About 30 minutes before serving, melt butter over low heat in a saucepan and add flour.  Cook, stirring, for a few minutes until the floury smell is gone.  Slowly stir in the milk, a little at a time, until the mixture is smooth.

Add to the vegetables along with the Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.  Taste for seasoning and add additional basil and oregano, if needed.

Cover and cook on low for another 30 minutes or so until ready to serve.

One Year Ago - Apple Galette with Salted Bourbon Caramel
Two Years Ago - Daube Provencal (French beef stew with red wine)
Three Years Ago - Spiced Carrot Soup with Crispy Chickpeas and Tahini
Four Years Ago - Roast Beef Sandwiches
Five Years Ago - Aji de Gallina; Kheer

13Nov/150

Sweet Potato and Chard Gratin

Well Dined | Sweet Potato and Swiss Chard Gratin

Are you looking for a new side for your Thanksgiving dinner?  Maybe something a little more grownup and sophisticated?  This gratin with sweet potato, chard, Gruyere, fresh herbs, and lots of garlic may be perfect for you.  You could certainly make it for a non-holiday dinner as well, though it does take quite a bit of time with pre-cooking, layering, and baking.  Luckily, I was with my dear friend Melissa (Smells Like Brownies), who helped with the prep-work.

Well Dined | Sweet Potato and Swiss Chard Gratin

Start with a big sweet potato (or two smaller ones) and a whole lot of chard (seriously - a lot)

Well Dined | Sweet Potato and Swiss Chard Gratin

Peel the sweet potato and slice thinly, then set aside.

Well Dined | Sweet Potato and Swiss Chard Gratin

Remove the stems from the chard, chop, and place in a big pot with some onion that has been sauteing in butter.  Look at those colors!  Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg; and cook until soft.  

9Nov/157

SRC – Pastitsio from Sarah’s Kitchen

Well Dined | Pastitsio

It's Secret Recipe Club time again!  This month I was assigned Sarah's Kitchen - a name that I love, obviously.  Sarahs of the world unite!  Sarah is from England, but now lives in Texas - which is kind of funny because I'm from Texas and once lived in Ireland (which I realize is not the same as England, but is geographically/culturally similar).  Spooky.

Anyway, I was clearly craving a casserole while looking through Sarah's blog because every recipe I was drawn to was one.  Like this Stovetop Beef and Penne Casserole, this Eight Layer Casserole, these two Mexican Casseroles, this Chicken and Dumplings Casserole, and this Turkey Tetrazzini.  They all looked tempting, but as soon as a saw a recipe for Pastitsio, I was done.  This Greek lasagna like casserole is one of my all time favorite dishes.  So let's make it!

Well Dined | Pastitsio

Start by sauteing onions and garlic, then browning beef.  I actually chose to use half beef and half lamb.

Well Dined | Pastitsio

When the beef is browned, stir in tomato paste.

21May/152

Vegetable Alfredo Pasta

Well Dined | Vegetable Alfredo Pasta

I was looking for a dish to bring over to my friend, Melissa, who just had a baby.  This recipe immediately popped out at me - one dish, easy to transport, easy to reheat, and lot's of veggies (plus cheese and pasta, of course).  There's a reason people are always bringing casseroles!  I also liked that it uses a lot of frozen veggies, making it budget friendly and easy to make year-round.

I also may have used it as an excuse to buy this thing, which I have been wanting for a long time - so cute!

Well Dined | Vegetable Alfredo Pasta

This is actually enough for 2 casseroles - I made one for me, too!

So, we start out with ALL THE VEGETABLES.  Ever.  Just kidding... kind of.  Saute onion and garlic in olive oil, then add frozen broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach.  When those have thawed, add in shredded carrot and zucchini.

Well Dined | Vegetable Alfredo Pasta

I saw this and thought to myself, "not enough vegetables," so I added some frozen peas to the boiling pasta for the last 30 seconds.  You can use whatever shape of pasta you like, I thought bowties would be fun and cute.  I used Barilla protein plus pasta, because it boasts 17g of protein per 3.5oz serving and veggie dishes can always use some extra protein.  I also rinsed the pasta (and peas) in cold water to stop the cooking and get rid of the extra starch (something I only do for pasta salads, and pasta that is going to be cooked again in the oven).

23Jun/142

French Onion Mac and Cheese

Well Dined | French Onion Mac and Cheese

I know it's way too hot out to be making this sort of thing, but I don't care.  It is sooooooo good.  This is a French onion soup inspired macaroni and cheese with caramelized onions, boatloads of cheese, and a buttery breadcrumb topping with thyme.  Yum, yum, yum.  Oh yeah, and a little bit of white wine (shoutout to Broken Dreams - my fave white of the moment).  I made this with Melissa of Smells Like Brownies and it was one of those magical recipes that is so much fun to make and doesn't stress you out during the process (though that may have been the wine taking effect...).

Well Dined | French Onion Mac and Cheese

Step one is to get the onions going, of course.  Can't have French onion soup without onions!  Pop those bad boys into a heavy bottomed pan with olive oil, butter, and thyme.  Is there any better flavor combo than onions and thyme?  I like to start them at medium high heat, then reduce heat to medium low once they are translucent.

Well Dined | French Onion Mac and Cheese

After 15 minutes, they should look kind of like this.  Add a splash of white wine and a sprinkle of salt and keep cooking for another 15-20 minutes.  Remember to take out the thyme stems when they are done.

19Mar/140

Grown Up Tuna Noodle Casserole

Well Dined | Tuna and Spinach Stuffed Shells

Okay, I am not a huge canned tuna fan.  But I saw this recipe for stuffed shells with tuna, spinach, and roasted garlic topped with bechamel and buttery bread crumbs and I had to try it.  I even had a couple of tins of really nice smoked albacore (pretty much the only canned tuna I like).  You guys, this is not your grandmother's casserole.

Well Dined | Tuna and Spinach Stuffed Shells

The first thing that makes this dish special is the roasted garlic, which is super easy to make.  Just chop the top off of a whole head of garlic, place it on a sheet of foil, drizzle it with olive oil, wrap it up, and roast away.  When it's done it becomes creamy and sweet and is delicious spread on bread, but we will be using the whole thing in this recipe.  Just squeeze to pop out all the cloves - I find this to be creepy but fascinating.  All that sweet roasted garlic goes into a creamy bechamel sauce.

Well Dined | Tuna and Spinach Stuffed Shells

The filling is tuna, spinach, and breadcrumbs - simple, but good.  After it is all mixed up, half of the garlic bechamel goes in to make it nice and creamy.

Well Dined | Tuna and Spinach Stuffed Shells

Then that mixture gets stuffed into cooked pasta shells.  I tried to find whole wheat shells, but no luck.  Then you are going to frantically lick the bowl, and the spoon, and your fingers - because this filling is soooooo good.

6Jan/140

Butternut Squash, Apple, and Sausage Lasagna Rolls

Well Dined | Butternut Squash, Apple, and Sausage Lasagna

Oh my gosh, you guys.  This might be my favorite butternut squash pasta since the life-saving mac and cheese.

Well Dined | Butternut Squash, Apple, and Sausage Lasagna

Sheets of homemade pasta filled with roasted butternut squash, apple, onion, sausage, and three cheeses; topped with a creamy sage bechamel.  It's totally swoon worthy.

Well Dined | Butternut Squash, Apple, and Sausage Lasagna

The filling is a little complicated, but totally worth it.  While your butternut squash is roasting in the oven, mix up and brown your sausage mixture.  Did I mention that you are creating your own sausage, so you can adjust the spices to your liking?  And you can be sure that there are no weird preservatives or sugar?  Awesome.  Anyway, next you saute some onions, garlic, and apple.  Plus a little white wine - aww, yeah.

Well Dined | Butternut Squash, Apple, and Sausage Lasagna

Oh my gosh this filling.  It's insane.  You may want to make extra to use in other ways.  I'll talk about that later.

20Nov/130

Best Ever Lasagna Revisted

Well Dined | Best Ever Lasagna

I've written about my favorite lasagna recipe before, but it was years ago and I think it needs to be revisited - especially now that my neighbors confirm it is the best lasagna they have ever had.

Well Dined | Best Ever Lasagna

The cast of characters is pretty simple, but I think what makes this lasagna stand out is the use of veal and white wine.  It's a bit different from the standard, but that's what makes it special.

Well Dined | Best Ever Lasagna

I really like for my veg to be finely diced for this ragu, so that there aren't any big chunks.  But I did not make those perfect cuts on my own - I use a veggie chopper.  It's fast and it makes everything uniform.

Well Dined | Best Ever Lasagna

The other thing that makes this ragu great is that it is simmered for up to 5 hours.  That low and slow cooking brings out all the flavor.  I highly recommend using San Marzano tomatoes in this, they are just the best.

Well Dined | Best Ever Lasagna

Americans might be used to the type of lasagna with ricotta and mozzarella, which is fine but not very authentic.  This version has a creamy bechamel (aka my favorite food) and tons of Parmesan, and it is just so dreamy.

Well Dined | Best Ever Lasagna

I really went all out for this batch and made my own lasagna noodles for the first time.  It is certainly not necessary to do that, but I do think it took it up one final step to perfection.  I did have several issues while doing this, though.  The learning curve is pretty steep.  Don't try to be clever when you roll out your own pasta and leave the sheets really long - trust me, it makes them almost impossible to cook.  Now I know why the store-bought ones are short.  I'm also going to edit the pasta dough recipe in the original post because it was awful and really soft and hard to work with.

Anyway, go make the best lasagna of your life.  You will thank me.  Recipe here.

6Feb/130

Fall Pasta Dishes

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I've been playing with combining squash and pasta for comforting Fall/Winter dishes.  Like last weeks White Lasagna or the Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells from the beginning of the month.  And now I have a few more, starting with this Butternut Squash and Leek Pasta Sauce.

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This is simple and delicious - pureed squash, leeks, garlic, butter, sage, and Parmesan form a rich and creamy sauce to perfectly coat spaghetti.

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Next up is Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese with Amaretti Crumbles.

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Roasted pumpkin combined with noodles, cheesy bechamel, and sage.

SAM_2908'Then topped with delicious almond cookies and baked.  Yum!  So comforting in cold weather.

4Jan/130

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells

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Spiced butternut squash puree?  Creamy bechamel?  Gooey cheese?  Yes please!  This dish is so comforting and delicious - just perfect for fall.

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Roast  some butternut squash with olive oil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Mash it up with mascarpone, Parmesan, brown butter, garlic, and shallots.

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Stuff the filling into large pasta shells - I used whole wheat to add a semblance of health.  I found one box of shells to be too many, actually - so I filled the others with cheese and tomato sauce.