It's time for a seasonal post from the Secret Recipe Club! Our theme was Fall Dishes and I was assigned Things I Make (For Dinner). This blog is written by Sarah who, in addition to my name, shares my love of cooking, travel, and sleeping.
Fall means pumpkin for a lot of people, myself included, and I found a Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting that looked yummy. For me, it also means apple; like this Apple Crisp or Apple Fritter Cake. But what about something a little different, like Nutella Ice Cream? Or something savory like Tex-Mex Stuffed Butternut Squash?
In the end, there was one dish that caught my eye the most: Pumpkin Maple Custards.
These custards are made with pumpkin, cream, milk, maple syrup, egg yolks, and spices. Simple and delicious. After the base is made, it is poured into ramekins and baked in a water bath, much like creme brulee.
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!
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
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!
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.
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).
What if I told you that you could make delicious, fresh mozzarella in 30 minutes at home. No, I'm not kidding and yes, it is awesome. You already know how much I love homemade ricotta; now I have another cheese to add to my repertoire!
My friend Melissa and I have been talking about doing this for a while, and I am so glad that we went for it! All you need is a gallon of whole milk, rennet, citric acid, salt, a cheese thermometer (shows lower temp range than a candy thermometer), and cheese cloth. Everything except the milk is available in an awesome kit from New England Cheesemaking Supply Company ($25 and makes 30 batches!). You can also just buy those things individually. The kit comes with a very handy instruction and recipe booklet, but the instructions are also available on the website.
On the subject of milk - butterfat is necessary to make cheese, so please use whole milk. Also, ultra-pasteurized will NOT work (pasteurized is fine). There are instructions on the website for pasteurizing raw milk, if you want to go super fresh. The main ingredient and flavoring comes from the milk, so use the highest quality you can find. I recommend milk from local, grass-fed cows for the best quality (more info on Melissa's post).
We have made mozzarella twice. The first time we were still getting the hang of it and overstretched the mozzarella. It was still yummy, but more like the texture of string cheese. So the second time we handled it much less and it came out beautifully (we used it to make delicious margherita pizza). So don't freak out if it doesn't turn out exactly the way you want it the first time. You may need to do it a few times to get the feel of it. And make sure that you have read through all the instructions a few times first. It's not difficult, but it is a lot of steps.
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 love muesli - real muesli like this, not the kind you find in a cereal box - but it takes a lot of work to put together. When I started seeing overnight oats pop up on Pinterest, I thought it sounded pretty similar - raw oats soaked in yogurt with fruit - but with less work and made in mason jars. Everything is cooler with mason jars, so I decided to check it out. The recipe also involves chia seeds, which are uber-trendy right now, and with good reason! They are similar to flax seeds, but don't have to be ground to be eaten, plus they do this super cool gel thing when soaked.
The base of the recipe is oats, chia seeds, yogurt and milk - places in a jar and shaken. Then you add in whatever flavors and sweeteners you want and let it set up in the fridge overnight (hence the name). For vegans or lactose-intolerant, simply substitute your favorite products here. Coconut milk would be especially delicious, I think. Of course, you don't have to use a mason jar to do this, but it's super cute and easy to transport!
The first flavor I tried was Vanilla Raspberry - made with vanilla extract, raspberry jam, and fresh raspberries. Yum!
Next I tried Mango Almond, with fresh mango, almond extract, and a little agave. This wasn't quite as awesome, mostly because of the almond extract, but still good.
I've also made Pina Colada with coconut extract and pineapple jam. The options are pretty endless. Even if you don't like fruit, you could do peanut butter, nutella, chocolate, or coffee flavors.
Packed with fiber, protein, calcium, vitamins, and minerals - this is a super healthy breakfast or post-workout snack. It is really filling, too. Try it out and tell me what your favorite flavor combo is!
1/4 cup uncooked old fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 1/2 tsp dried chia seeds
I was browsing through blogs and found a series of recipes on Alexandra's Kitchen involving homemade ricotta cheese that looked perfect for the end of summer. The recipes all looked really great but I questioned whether or not making ricotta versus buying it would make that much of a difference. I decided to go ahead and try it since it didn't look all that difficult.