Remember when I thought that the fall SRC post was my last one? Well, I had completely forgotten that I still had one more regular Secret Recipe Club post. Oops! Luckily I did remember in time and was able to look through my assigned blog - Making Miracles.
Rebekah is a mother of two who traveled extensively as a child, including living in Africa - wow! Most of her meals are "quick, easy, and family friendly", but sometimes she has time for something more complicated. She has also been a surrogate for many years resulting in 4 baby girls, 2 of whom are twins! What an amazing gift! I can't imagine how challenging and rewarding that must be.
On Rebekah's blog I saw lots of casseroles, and you KNOW I love casseroles. I was particularly interested in this Crockpot Turkey and Rice Casserole, this Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole, this Creamy Wild Rice and Chicken Casserole, this Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole with Doritos, and this Thanksgiving Leftover Casserole.
I let my husband look through all of my top choices (so generous of me *wink*). He picked out these classic Stuffed Shells, and I was happy to oblige! But then I ran into a problem - the store didn't have any jumbo pasta shells! I thought I remembered having a box at home, so I bought the rest of the stuff and went back to check. It turns out that what I had was actually large shells, not jumbo. I was out of time and had already bought the other ingredients, so I decided to improvise.
If you are in need of festive dishes, look no further! I have collected my most relevant recipes onto one page for you.
Black and Orange
More like green and orange, but you get the idea.
Butternut Squash and Kale Mac and Cheese
Sweet Potato and Chard Gratin
Butternut Squash and Kale Pizza with Smoked Mozzarella and Bacon
Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna with Homemade Spinach Whole Wheat Noodles
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!
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.
I actually made this Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie back in March for Pi Day with Melissa from Smells Like Brownies. We made it with Irish Stout beer so that it would also be appropriate for St Patrick's Day. But I was in the middle of moving, and so never actually posted about it. The weather right now is making me crave warm comfort food, and I thought that this dish would be appreciated. So here I am!
One of the tricks to this recipe is to use grated tofu, which is accomplished by freezing the tofu, then thawing slightly so that it will be the right firmness. So make sure to freeze your tofu at least a day ahead of when you want to cook.
Next, saute an onion, and add toasted walnuts and the shredded tofu. Add soy sauce and lemon juice, and cook until the liquid is gone.
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.
Start with a big sweet potato (or two smaller ones) and a whole lot of chard (seriously - a lot)
Peel the sweet potato and slice thinly, then set aside.
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.
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!
Start by sauteing onions and garlic, then browning beef. I actually chose to use half beef and half lamb.
When the beef is browned, stir in tomato paste.
It's time for another Secret Recipe Club post! This month, my assignment was The Tasty Cheapskate. Food was not a big focus for Jean growing up, neither eating it nor cooking it, which is pretty much the opposite of my childhood. Luckily all that changed for her as an adult. Now she focuses on whole foods and budget friendly family meals. She even did a challenge where she fed her 6 person family on $6 a day! Incredible!
Looking through her blog, I found a lot of yummy baked goods. Like a bunch of different pull-apart breads, but especially this coconut and lime one. Also zucchini bread with lemon or with coconut. And self frosting nutella pumpkin muffins - shut the front door! But despite all those yummy delights, what I really wanted was a nice healthy meal - so my eyes lit up when I saw this Broccoli Barley Casserole. And I was even more excited when I saw that the original recipe used farro, which I have been meaning to start using for a long time, and that it could be made in one pot.
Start by sauteing onions and garlic in a Dutch oven. Then add the farro and allow to toast a bit.
Add in frozen spinach, water, and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the liquid is almost all gone and the farro is tender but still chewy, about 20 minutes.
I could tell immediately from the dialogue that this was a play adaptation, and I was right. The movie portrays the funeral of the patriarch of an extremely dysfunctional family, set in the desolate plains of Oklahoma. The cast (including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Juliette Lewis) acted the crap out of some very dark and intense material - addiction, depression, suicide, abuse, and incest. This is not a feel good movie (you know it's bad when incest is the best scenario), but it is very good and it will make you think.
As for the food inspiration - there was a ton! Many of the most tortured scenes revolved around food, including the horrible funeral dinner and the infamous "eat the fish!" scene. The moment that I was drawn to was Meryl Streep's character talking about her last interaction with her husband over biscuits and gravy. She must have said the phrase "biscuits and gravy" ten times. I'm not even that big a fan of biscuits and gravy, but that was what I wanted to make.
I wanted to make something special, not basic, so I went to Pinterest thinking I would find an herbed biscuit recipe or something. But what came up were a ton of recipes for biscuits and gravy casseroles. I had never heard of that before and it sounded awesome! Some were just biscuits, gravy, and cheese; but I liked the look of one that included eggs (kind of like a strata).
If you are starting to panic because Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) is closing in and you don't have a dinner plan yet, fear not - I have you covered! I have a round-up of all of my holiday recipes, from protein to sides to dessert, and even breakfast! So please enjoy and Happy Holidays!