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.
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!
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 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!
It's Secret Recipe Club time! And this month I was assigned the blog I've been waiting for - Smells Like Brownies by my best friend, Melissa! Yay! You may recognize the name, because we cook lunch together every week, and I often blog about it. Melissa is a stay-at-home mommy to a very active little boy, and a precious baby girl. She is devoted to her family and God in a way that is truly inspirational, as well as being a phenomenal baker and photographer. She's just the best and I am so excited to share her blog with you!
Eliminating SRC posts and dishes that we made together narrowed down the field quite a bit, but I still had no trouble finding a ton of things I wanted to make. I actually intended to make several dishes and blog about each of them, but I kept getting sick and injured this month and had to narrow it down to the number one thing I wanted make - this gorgeous Golden Nectarine Cake. Which is kind of hilarious because Melissa hates fruit, so I doubt she even got to try this cake.
The rest of my top "to-try" dishes (which are all vegetarian, because Melissa is a vegetarian) are Debby's famous Mac and Cauliflower with Ritz Crust (because I've heard her talk about it so many times), this Broccoli and Purple Potato Gribiche (that I've been drooling over since she posted it), Monster Green Pea Burgers, Lemongrass Coconut Noodles, and Couscous-Stuffed Eggplant with Tahini Sauce.
Let's get back to that cake! I loved this recipe because it was easy for a non-baker like me to follow. Start with two nectarines and slice them into wedges. Is there anything more summery than stone fruit?
May has five Mondays this year, which means - themed Secret Recipe Club post! Falling on Memorial Day, the theme for this reveal is Picnic/BBQ and my assigned blog was A Day in the Life on the Farm. Wendy and her husband are former police officers who moved out to the country and became farmers. They treat their animals humanely, are part of an organic CSA, trade with other farmers, and live sustainably as much as possible - I am so jealous! I dream of being a radical homemaker, but don't have the commitment. I was on a specific mission this month, but I look forward to perusing the blog more thoroughly.
I actually made three recipes from Wendy's blog this weekend, in order to have a full meal for the holiday. She had tons of recipes that are appropriate for the challenge, and I chose BBQ Beef Sandwiches, BLT Pasta Salad, and Black Forest Trifle. Each of these was easy to make with the help of store-bought ingredients, so that I didn't have to spend a full day in the kitchen. And each of them was a big hit!
It's time for April's Secret Recipe Club reveal! I was assigned Morsels of Life. The author is an engineer, and brings her desire for efficiency to her blog. She doesn't like to use any crazy complex methods, and is loose with measurements. She writes, "Generally, if you like something, use more; if you dislike something, use less, substitute something else, or just eliminate it altogether. You’ll probably be fine." I love that. Often when I'm writing recipes, and have to try and figure out how much of something I used, I just want to write - use your best judgement. She also has pretty extensive privacy and disclosure information on her blog, which I think is admirable.
CJ's blog has a lot of Asian influence, and I really like the look of this Pork Meatball Ramen, as well as this Cha Shao Chinese BBQ Pork. For sweets, I was drawn to Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cakes, and Spiced Date Ice Cream (made with cashew milk!). But I ended up running out of time before leaving on a last-minute trip; so when I saw this Seared Salmon with Lemon Herb Butter and Pasta, and realized that I already had all the ingredients for it - I knew that's what I needed to make!
This was incredibly easy to make - just toss hot pasta with lemon herb compound butter, spinach, and Parmesan, then top with seared salmon and more compound butter. I used frozen Alaskan salmon, frozen spinach, and store-bought garlic butter spread (I added lemon juice and zest to it) - so this was really quick and easy. Plus (with the salmon, spinach, and protein-plus pasta), it was really healthy!
For this month's Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned Oh! You Cook! (Which is such a cute name.) In addition to writing the blog, Dena has also authored The Everything Kosher Slow Cooker Cookbook - how cool is that?! As you can imagine, her recipes are kosher, but that doesn't mean that you have to be in order to enjoy them!
I was, of course, very interested in the Challah Bread Pudding, and a couple of other desserts including Blueberry Pudding Pie, Raspberry Custard Pie, and Almond Rice Pudding. But I really wanted to make something savory. I loved that she had several recipes that used pomegranate molasses, and ingredient that I love and am always looking for uses for. And the Picadillo Meat Loaf and Honey Mustard Chicken looked very weeknight friendly.
But in the end, I chose the Orecchiette with Veal, Capers, and White Wine. It looked so good (and easy) that I couldn't pass it up.
Start by sauteing onion and garlic, browning the veal, then adding the white wine and allowing it to cook out.