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.
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
It's my first Secret Recipe Club post!!! I had been wanting to join the SRC for a while, but wasn't sure that I met the posting requirements, because I don't always post every week. I also didn't have a recipe index for a long time, so that is something that I have been working on. I finally felt like the time was right and asked to join, and here I am with my first post! Yay!
My assigned blog was Renee's Kitchen Adventures, and I had such a great time looking through it. Renee is a stay-at-home mom and former nurse (labor and delivery - what a special unit!), and her story reminded me a lot of my mother. She talks about trying to be healthy and lose weight, and posts healthy recipes based on Weight Watchers points. I, too, am trying to be healthy and lose weight, so I loved that about this blog. Even though our ideas of what constitute healthy food are a bit different (I think fat is healthy), I think this blog will be a great resource and inspiration for me. I also love how accessible and family friendly Renee's recipes are. I think I tend to only post about the really complicated stuff, which maybe isn't so great.
As I was reading through Renee's most recent recipes, I saw a lot that I wanted to try. I love that she has a lot of s'mores recipes, and especially that she made s'mores krispy treats - because I did the same thing! I also really liked the sound of this Almond Joy Poke Cake made with coconut oil, coconut oil is the best! She writes that she isn't ashamed to use boxed cake mix as a shortcut, and I feel the same way! I don't post about them much, but I love to make poke cakes or dress up cake mix in other ways (pro tip: use 1 extra egg, milk instead of water, melted butter instead of oil).
I've been baking way more than usual lately, though, and what jumped out at me the most was this Creamy Lemon and Fresh Basil Chicken Salad. It has been super hot and humid lately, so this is exactly the kind of thing I want to be eating right now.
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.
So I got this combination of ingredients into my head and couldn't stop thinking about all the ways I could use them. Pasta, pizza, tarts - the list goes on. I decided to caramelize a big batch of onions, roast a big squash, and use them all week in a few different dishes.
First off, I peeled and cut up a large (4 lb) butternut squash and laid the cubes out on a baking sheet. I drizzled them with olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, and a little nutmeg. Then I roasted them at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. I used some right away, and stored the rest in an airtight container in the fridge.
For the onions, I bought one of those bags that has about 5 onions in it, sliced them all, and threw them in a large pan with olive oil. After they turned translucent and soft, I turned the heat down from med-hi to med-lo and let them caramelize. This will take anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes. About halfway through, I added a few sprigs of thyme. Once they were really brown, I added a splash of sherry to de-glaze the pan and removed the thyme stems. Again, I used some right away, and stored the rest in an airtight container in the fridge.
Oh my gosh, you guys. This might be my favorite butternut squash pasta since the life-saving mac and cheese.
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.
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.
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.
So I actually made this a year ago and didn't manage to post it before it was way past butternut squash season, doh! I figured I would just hold off and post about it the next Fall, which is what I am doing now. The problem is, my photography has improved leaps and bounds since then so these photos look really awful. I am so sorry in advance, but the mac and cheese is really good. I promise.
I saw this recipe on an episode of The Chew, and the idea was that it was orange and black for Halloween. Orange from the squash, black from the kale. Except that kale is green, even when it's wilted... Whatever - it uses Fall produce and it's delicious, so let's pretend it works.
Cook up some bacon (I used pancetta because stuff and things), add some butter, sweat some onions and garlic, wilt some kale - awesome. So here's where the original recipe gets weird (The Chew website is notoriously bad at reviewing their recipes) - it says to have 1 butternut squash, peeled and diced, and to saute the squash in the pan. Then later it says to add in the butternut squash puree. What butternut squash puree? There is no butternut squash puree in the ingredient list. Huh? Also - sauteed squash? Meh. So here's what I did (as you can see in the previous picture) - tossed that cubed squash with olive, salt, pepper, and nutmeg; then roasted it. Yummy. Then I took half the roasted squash and mashed it. Ah-ha! Now there is butternut squash puree, sort of.
This rustic beauty came about by accident. I had intended to make a cherry pie, but my plans for obtaining cherries fell through. So I ended up with some pie dough and nothing else. I went to the store to see what fruit was available and found some Turkish figs. "This could definitely work," I thought. Then I thought of a creamy smear of mascarpone underneath, and oh! What if I added in some goat cheese, too?
So I dumped a container each of goat cheese and mascarpone cheese into bowl with some honey and mixed them together. Then I got to thinking, "What about some cardamom in here?" So in it went.
I rolled out my pie dough and spread the cheese mixture over it. I only ended up using half of it, but it made a great dip for crackers and fruit so that was fine. I arranged the quartered figs over the spread and then had another thought. "You know what goes great with cardamom? Coconut!" So I dug out some sweetened coconut flakes from the pantry to sprinkle over the top. A brush of cold water and sprinkling of turbinado sugar later, and my masterpiece was ready to bake.
I threw a lot of ingredients into here, but they ended up blending perfectly. The spread sort of merged with the flaky crust to make a creamy base for the figs; and the coconut came out perfectly toasted. Bonus? My husband was out of town and I got to eat the whole thing myself! This recipe may have been an accident, but I will definitely be making it again.
I have been dying to make this pie ever since I discovered the recipe last summer, sadly too late for strawberry season. I love the combination of sour cream and fruit - really, REALLY love it. One of my favorite pies ever is this creme fraiche and peach pie that you know I will be making as soon as peaches are in season.
The filling is so easy it's almost silly, but before we get to that I want to talk about this crust. This crust! First of all, can we acknowledge that that is the prettiest crust I have ever made? She's improving, ladies and gentlemen! Part of that is due to how easy this crust is to work with. I had thought I discovered the secret to good crust two years ago with Martha Stewart's half butter, half shortening pate brisee - BUT, then I discovered this recipe with butter and lard. Lard, folks, is the bomb. Why have I never used it before?! After all, shortening is just pretending to be lard - so why not go with the real stuff? The texture, the taste, the ease of rolling it out even when it's cold - *sigh*. Please tell me you will make this. Seriously, go make it right now.