I have another post from Fantastical Food Fight - a monthly blog challenge who's theme this month was Slow Cooker Soups. Yum - so perfect for cold weather! I knew immediately that I wanted to do this Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup that I had made before, but didn't post about. It is so insanely easy and delicious.
All you do is add diced onion, carrots, and celery to a slow cooker, along with wild rice and raw chicken (you don't even have to cut it up).
Add chicken broth and poultry seasoning. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours.
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.
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.
You know that cheesy broccoli and rice casserole that makes it's way to every potluck ever? That is so bad for you, but so yummy, that you eat heaps of it and you tell yourself that it's got broccoli so it's okay? Well here's your chance to pig out, because this version (made with quinoa instead of rice) is a lot better for you.
Of course, to convince my husband to eat it (and because I wanted more protein without having to make a separate dish), I threw some shredded rotisserie chicken in there. You can see in the photo that I just threw big florets of steamed broccoli in there. I ended up wishing that the broccoli was more evenly spread throughout, so I will recommend chopping it first.
This is hearty, and creamy, and just plain awesome. Kids (and big kids) will gobble it up.
Pot roast is a pretty standard American meal. Many folks have their own recipes that they love. But just in case you don't, here's mine! An herb crusted beef roast goes into a pot with potatoes, veggies, red wine, and beef stock until it is super tender - yum.
First step - rub that beef. Combine kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning to make a rub. Sprinkle over and press into the meat.
The you are going to brown those veggies and sear that beef. Heat olive oil in a heavy dutch oven until very hot. Then add an onion and carrots and cook until really browned. Remove the veggies temporarily, add more oil, and sear the beef on all sides. Then take that out, too, because you need to deglaze.
Here's a quick little semi-homemade cold weather meal, perfect for weeknights. I took some store-bought fresh spinach fettuccine and thick sliced roasted turkey from the deli counter, and tossed them with a homemade pumpkin goat cheese alfredo. It's interesting enough to not be boring, but it's easy enough to not cause a headache.
The homemade part is the decadent sauce, which involves butter, garlic, cream, pumpkin, goat cheese, sage, and pumpkin pie spice. I wanted to do something a little different, which is why I went with turkey, but chicken would work just as well. And I like how the spinach pasta brought a little color to the table.
Pumpkin Goat Cheese Alfredo
adapted from Closet Kitchen
8 oz pasta of choice (I used fresh spinach fettuccine from the refrigerated section), cooked
8 oz cooked turkey or chicken, diced or shredded
1 tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
4 oz goat cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
1 tbsp sage, sliced thinly (or dried)
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add the cream, pumpkin puree, goat cheese, Parmesan, sage, and pumpkin pie spice and simmer until the cheese has melted.
Add in the poultry and allow to warm through. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
Toss with pasta and serve immediately.
By now, you guys should have figured out that I love butternut squash and pasta together. I could practically rename my blog "The Butternut Squash Blog". So when I saw someone grate butternut squash so that it dissolves into their velvety carbonara sauce, you know I was all over that. Especially because I had a nasty cold and wanted comfort and didn't care that the pasta wasn't whole wheat.
The original recipe used buccatini, which I love, but I couldn't find any at the store. I did see these gorgeous long fusilli noodles though. I have to say, after having cooked with them twice, I wouldn't actually recommend these. It takes longer to cook than advertised and the inside is still crunchy (not al dente - crunchy), while the outside has gotten soft so that it breaks apart and doesn't stay long and beautiful. Sigh.
Anyway, grate up that squash (just a little chunk, not even a whole one) and toss it into a pan with a little rendered bacon fat, butter, and garlic.
After a bit of a hiatus, Melissa (Smells Like Brownies) and I are getting back to our weekly vegetarian lunches. Last week we tried this amazing soup recipe packed with veggies. It is warm and comforting, with lots of flavor and texture - plus it's really easy to make. It's also both vegan and vegetarian friendly. And gosh, isn't it pretty?
The soup starts out with sliced squash (we used acorn) and tiny cubes of turnip simmered in water until tender. At first I thought that one small squash and one turnip wouldn't be enough, but they turned out to be plenty! So don't go overboard and think that you need to get more/bigger. The cooking water then becomes the base for the broth and miso, tahini, and lemon zest are added to round it out.
You can garnish the soup however you like, but we stuck with the original recipe and used avocado, chives, toasted nori, and toasted sesame seeds.
The soup can be served over a grain, and we choose to try out buckwheat. We are both avoiding white rice for health reasons and thought this grain-like seed would be fun to try. Unfortunately it cooks to a porridge like consistency instead of individual grains. So I would recommend barley or brown rice instead.