Spinach-Rainbow Chard Lasagna

I’ve become a huge fan of rainbow chard lately, for two very important reasons:

1. It has a nice bitter tang to it, sort of like escarole and rapini,

and

2. The market down the street sells big bags of it already washed and cut up.

Conveniently, I might add.

So when I decided to make this lasagna a few weeks ago, instead of using all spinach, I tuned into my rebel side (stop laughing) and used a bag of chard that I had in the fridge.

And...dun.dun.dun….it was already washed and cut up.

Ready to go.
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Spinach Lasagna – adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 pounds baby spinach (I used a combination of rainbow chard and spinach)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 quart milk
  • 1 packed cup grated Parmesan (3 ounces)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 6 ounces mozzarella, shredded
  • 1/3 packed cup (1 ounce) grated Pecorino Romano
Preheat oven to 375 degrees with rack in middle position.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add onions  and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 3 minutes. Add spinach, a few handfuls at a time, and cook, stirring frequently, until all spinach is wilted, 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a mesh strainer and press against spinach to remove as much liquid as possible.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over high heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until roux is golden brown, 1 minute. Add milk and continue whisking until milk begins to boil and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Cover surface with plastic wrap.
Spread 1 cup bechamel along the bottom of a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Place one-third of noodles over bechamel in a single, overlapping layer. Top with 1 cup bechamel and half of spinach. Repeat with a second layer of noodles, bechamel, and spinach. Top with remaining noodles, remaining bechamel, zucchini, mozzarella, and Pecorino Romano. Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until cheese is golden in places and lasagna is bubbling along the edges, about 15 minutes. Remove lasagna from oven and let stand 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

Shepherd’s Pie

Are you ready for Memorial Day Weekend?

I’m……..not. Well, I mean I’m ready for the weekend, but not ready in terms of what we are doing/eating.

I think what is really throwing my groove off is the fact that my barbecue is out of order. Simply put, it was hooked up to a natural gas line in Vegas, and here in Texas it needs to be hooked up to a propane tank. I contacted the friendly folks at Weber BBQ and they very nicely informed me that I am out-of-luck. You can’t convert the gas line from one to the other.

Which, quite frankly, sucks.

Even though J bought a Big Green Egg (greatest invention ever, by the way), it’s more of a smoker than a grill. And although we share everything, I do believe the Egg is his.

You know how men are with their grills :)

Anyway, I loved the ease and simplicity of being able to go outside and grill just about anything and everything – pizza, ribs, beer can chicken, steaks – even toasting slices of pound cake for dessert.

I may have to buy a George Foreman Grill to get my fix.

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Shepherd’s Pie – adapted from Alton Brown

For the potatoes:

1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
1/2 cup half-and-half (I used buttermilk)
2 ounces unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg yolk


For the meat filling:

2 tbs canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbs all-purpose flour
2 tsp tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth (I used red wine)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp freshly chopped rosemary leaves
1 tsp freshly chopped thyme leaves
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup fresh or frozen English peas

Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with tongs, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Place the half-and-half and butter into a microwave-safe container and heat in the microwave until warmed through, about 35 seconds. Drain the potatoes in a colander and then return to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes and then add the half and half, butter, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth. Stir in the yolk until well combined.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Place the canola oil into a 12-inch saute pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and carrots and saute just until they begin to take on color, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the lamb, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.

Add the corn and peas to the lamb mixture and spread evenly into an 11 by 7-inch glass baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Place on a parchment lined half sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/shepherds-pie-recipe2.print.html?oc=linkback

Chicken Pot Pie with Crumble Topping

You know, I’m reasonably certain that I’ve made (and posted) chicken pot pie before.

I suppose I should have cross-checked that information before I opened my mouth.

Or put it in writing.

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Alas, a quick search of my site has confirmed that I have not, in fact, made or posted a chicken pot pie before now.

strange

Anyway, with this crazy winter-like weather we’ve had over the past few days, I seized the moment (and the fact that we had company) and made this the other night. What goes better on a cold, wretchedly thunderstormy evening than a big bowl of warm, comforting pot pie?

This was more than just good. It seriously was one of the best pot pies I’ve ever had. In fact, I’m waiting for J to come home so we can demolish the leftovers.

I made encouraged the posse eat the leftover chili, just so there is more for us.

I probably shouldn’t have admitted that.

Chicken Pot Pie with Crumble Topping – adapted from Cooks Illustrated

Filling
1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped fine
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 1 cup)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
10 oz cremini mushrooms, stems removed, caps thinly sliced
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons minced parsley, divided
3/4 cup frozen baby peas

Crumble Topping
2 cups (10 oz) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 oz Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 1/2 cup)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream (I used buttermilk)

To cook the chicken: Add chicken and broth to a Dutch oven and set over medium heat. Cover and bring to a simmer, then continue cooking for about 8-10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through (an instant-read thermometer will register 160-165 F). Remove the chicken and place in a large bowl. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a large heatproof measuring cup and set aside for later. Set the Dutch oven back on the stove top (no need to wash).

Preheat oven to 450 F, with a rack in the upper third. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

To make the topping: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Add the butter, and using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal – the largest pieces of butter should be no bigger than peas. Mix in the Parmesan cheese, then add the heavy cream and stir until the dry ingredients are moistened. Crumble the mixture into 1/2 to 3/4-inch pieces onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the topping just begins to brown. Remove the baking sheet to a wire rack and set aside. (Maintain the oven temperature.)

To make the filling: Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the Dutch oven you used earlier. Set over medium-high heat, and when the oil shimmers, add the onion, carrot, and pepper. Cooking, stirring a few times, until the vegetables are just barely tender, about 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile, shred the chicken into bite-size pieces and return to a large bowl. When the vegetables are ready, transfer them to the bowl with the chicken.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the same Dutch oven and place over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the mushrooms. Cover the pot and cook, stirring a few times, for about 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms have released their liquid. Take the cover off the pan and mix in the tomato paste. Increase the heat to medium-high, and continue cooking (uncovered) for another 4-5 minutes, or until the mushrooms have browned and their liquid has evaporated. Transfer the mushrooms to the bowl with the chicken and veggies.

Add the butter to the same Dutch oven you’ve been using. Allow to melt, then add the flour. Cook, stirring almost constantly, for 1 minute. Gradually add the chicken broth you reserved earlier as well as the milk, whisking constantly. Bring the mixture to a simmer – while you do, scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits. Continue simmering for about 1-2 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Season with a pinch each of salt and pepper, then remove the pot from the heat, and mix in the lemon juice and two tablespoons of the parsley.

Add the chicken and veggies as well as the peas to the sauce in the Dutch oven, and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to a 13×9-inch baking dish. Distribute the crumble topping evenly over the filling, then bake for about 12-14 minutes, or until the filling bubbles and the topping browns. Garnish the dish with the remaining tablespoon of parsley then serve.

Some really great dinner recipes…and two desserts

If you remember (and I’m quite sure your memory is much better than mine these days), a few weeks ago I mentioned that I have been cooking and baking every.single.night, but also have been seriously lax in procuring photographs of the finished product.

And I just realized, seriously, that we have not eaten out in three weeks. I even asked the posse for verification.

They verified.

Astounding.

Well, I finally got my act together and made my list.

I even checked it twice :)

Vegetable Strata – gourmet magazine via epicurious

  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped scallion (I used shallots)
  • 3/4 pound mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into thin strips (about 2 cups)
  • 2 green bell peppers, cut into thin strips (about 2 cups)
  • enough Italian bread cut into 1-inch cubes to measure 9 cups (about 1 1/2 loaves)
  • 2 1/2 cups coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar (about 10 ounces)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 12 large eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
  • Tabasco to taste

In a large skillet cook the onion, the scallion, and the mushrooms in the oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until the onion is softened, add the bell peppers pepper to taste, and cook the mixture over moderate heat, stirring, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until all the liquid the mushrooms give off is evaporated and the peppers are tender. Arrange half the bread cubes in a buttered large shallow (4 1/2-quart) baking dish, spread half the vegetable mixture over them, and sprinkle half the Cheddar and half the Parmesan over the vegetables. Arrange the remaining bread cubes over the cheeses, top them with the remaining vegetables, and sprinkle the remaining cheeses over the top. In a bowl whisk together the eggs, the milk, the mustard, the Tabasco, and salt and pepper to taste, pour the egg mixture evenly over the strata, and chill the strata, covered, overnight. Let the strata stand at room temperature for 15 minutes and bake it in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until it is puffed and golden and cooked throug

Sesame Noodles with Chile Oil and Scallions – Bon Appetit

  • 4 scallions, whites and greens separated, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbs. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp Sichuan pepper, coarsely chopped (I used regular black peppercorns)
  • 12 ounces spaghettini
  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 tbs. reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar

Cook scallion whites, vegetable oil, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and pepper in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until oil is sizzling and scallions are golden brown, 12-15 minutes; let chili oil cool in saucepan.

Meanwhile, cook noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente; drain. Rinse under cold water and drain well.

Whisk tahini, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and 2-3 tablespoons chili oil (depending on desired heat) in a large bowl; season with salt. Add noodles and toss to coat. Top with scallion greens and drizzle with more chili oil.

Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja – serious eats

  • 2 pounds flank steak
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large red pepper, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup sliced, pimento-stuffed Spanish olives
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive brine

Season meat generously with pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add the meat in a single layer (working in batches if necessary) and cook until well browned, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook until second side is well browned, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer meat to slow cooker.Add broth, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, red pepper, garlic, and cumin to slow cooker. Season with pepper and stir to combine. Cook on low until tender, about 8 hours. Shred meat using two forks. Add olives and olive brine and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with pinto beans and rice.

Mario Batali’s Chicken Saltimbocca – Food and Wine

  • Eight 3-ounce chicken cutlets, pounded 1/8-inch thick
  • Ground pepper
  • 16 sage leaves
  • 8 slices of prosciutto
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup vin santo (I used white wine)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 tbs. butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Season the cutlets with pepper and place 2 sage leaves on each cutlet. Wrap each cutlet in a slice of prosciutto, pressing to adhere. Spread the flour in a shallow dish. Dredge the chicken in flour, dusting off the excess; transfer to a baking sheet.
Set a rack over a baking sheet. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add half of the chicken and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden and just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer the chicken to the rack. Repeat with the remaining olive oil and chicken.
Add the vin santo, stock and lemon juice to the skillet and boil over moderately high heat until the liquid is reduced by half, 4 minutes. Whisk in the butter. Pour half of the sauce into a bowl. Add half of the chicken to the skillet and cook over moderate heat until hot, 2 minutes. Season with pepper; stir in half of the parsley. Transfer the chicken to plates and pour the sauce on top. Repeat with the remaining sauce, chicken, and parsley.

Dark Chocolate Brownies – Pioneer Woman
  • 1 cup butter
  • 5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tbs. vanilla
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1-1/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium-large saucepan, melt the butter with the unsweetened chocolate over low heat, whisking occasionally until smooth and melted. Sprinkle in cocoa powder and whisk to combine. Remove the pan from heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.

Stir in sugar and vanilla until just combined. One at a time, stir in the eggs. Gently stir in the flour until halfway incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and stir just until combined. Pour batter into a greased 8 x 8 or 9 x 13 baking pan. (Square pan will result in thicker brownies.) Spread to even out the top and place in the oven.

Bake for 40 minutes, then check the brownies with a toothpick. If it is overly gooey/messy, return to the oven for 5 to 10 more minutes.Allow to cool completely, then sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into small squares.

 

Lemon Buttermilk Bundt Cake – adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for pan
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 8 lemons (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour Bundt pan; set aside. Whisk baking powder and 3 cups flour in a medium bowl. Combine sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl; using your fingertips, rub together until lemon sugar is well blended.
Add 1 cup butter to lemon sugar. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions and occasionally scraping down sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula, until mixture is light and very fluffy, about 4 minutes longer.
Reduce speed to low. Add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Scrape batter into prepared pan; smooth top.
Bake cake until golden brown and beginning to pull away from sides of pan, 60-70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes. Invert cake onto rack; remove pan and let cool completely.

Chicken Tamale Casserole

I have mixed feelings about this casserole.

Wait…let me explain.

I enjoyed it.

The posse and J? Not so much.

I believe the cornbread base was the issue – because the pan I used was not 9 x 13, therefore it was much thicker than it should have been. So the moral to the story here is to:

A. Use the correct pan size

or

B. Bake the base longer.

Oh, and definitely make the cornbread base from scratch – because I found it to be too sweet using a boxed mix.

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Chicken Tamale Casserole - adapted from Taste and Tell

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/3 cup milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground chili powder
1 (14 3/4 ounce) can cream style corn
1 (8.5 ounce) box corn muffin mix
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies
1 (10 ounce) can red enchilada sauce
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup sour cream (optional)
cilantro (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a 13×9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Combine 1/4 cup cheese and milk, eggs, cumin, chili powder, corn, corn muffin mix and green chiles in a large bowl, stirring just until moist. Pour mixture into the prepared dish. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until set. Pierce entire surface liberally with a fork; pour enchilada sauce over top. Top with chicken; sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Continue to bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces; top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream and cilantro, if desired.

 

Spinach Cheese Casserole

On the off-chance that I haven’t mentioned this before (or mentioned it several dozen times before), I am a certified cheese addict.

I am also certified as part-time lunatic, but I generally try and keep that under wraps.

ahem

So anytime I come across a recipe that involves copious amounts of cheese, I make it as soon as possible. In this case, it was the same day I found the recipe.

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And this did not disappoint us at all! Sabrina and I loved it because it was full of cheese and low-carb, Alexander and my mother loved it because of all the spinach, and my dad loved it because it was a casserole.

He also loved it because it was tongue-scorchingly hot, but that’s another story.

Spinach Cheese Casserole – original source unknown

  • 4 eggs
  • 24 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 8 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I use a combination of pepper jack and cheddar)
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 tbs. all purpose flour
  • handful fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a medium size casserole dish and set aside.

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, then pour into the casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes or until the center is set and the top is golden brown.

Chili Mac

I have good news for you. Really, really good news.

Not only have I not dropped off the planet, I have actually been cooking and baking quite a bit. That, as well as coercing Sabrina into helping me decorate the house because Christmas is in, oh, less than three weeks.

She’s got bells, that jingle jangle jingle…..

No, I didn’t spike my coffee this morning, although it probably would have helped ward off the wind chill here – the weather literally turned overnight and we are expecting a low tonight of 28, along with 20-30 mph winds.

Lovely.

So my problem is that I didn’t (read: wasn’t able) to take any food photos. However, I plan on remaking many of those delectable delights this coming weekend (and hopefully getting our tree!), so I’ll be able to get back into my blogging groove.

My exercise groove is another story……

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One year ago: Monterey Chicken and Mexican Corn Salad

Chili Mac - adapted from someone’s in the kitchen

8 oz. uncooked elbow macaroni (or any short pasta of your liking – I used rigatoni)
3 tbs.  vegetable oil
1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
2 medium onions, chopped medium
1 red bell pepper, chopped medium
6 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 tbs. chili powder
1 tbs. ground cumin
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (28 oz) can tomato puree
1 tbs. brown sugar
8 oz. Colby Jack cheese, shredded

Cook pasta in 4 qts. boiling water ~ about 5 minutes (or half of recommended cooking time). Drain pasta and set aside.
Wipe pan dry.  Add 2 tbs. oil and heat over med-high.  Add beef and cook till no longer pink.  Drain beef in colander.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Back to the pan — add rest of oil, heat over med-high.  Add onion, pepper, garlic, chili powder, and cumin.  Cook, stirring occasionally until veggies are beginning to brown ~ 7 min.  Add the diced tomatoes, tomato puree, brown sugar, and beef to the pan.  Bring to a simmer.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes until flavors have melded and sauce is slightly thickened.
Add pasta to pan.  Pour into a 13 x 9 or other 3 qt. dish.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Bake until brown and bubbly ~ 15 min.  Let cool 5 min.  Enjoy!

Fancy Pants King Ranch Chicken Casserole

After my last completely unfocused, and poorly written post (which had a few individuals a bit concerned about me), I figured it was time to get my head out of the clouds, come back to reality and get back in focus.

Which I’ve had a bit of trouble with lately, to say the least. But (and you knew there was a but) the cause of my scatterbrained-ness is because of something (read: someone) wonderful and positive in my life. I’m as happy as a little clam on the beach, and I’ve decided (thanks to my father’s sage advice) that I’m simply going to ignore anyone that tries to put negative energy my way.

Make no mistake, though. I’m the same me. I’ll always be me. My core being will never change. And I like who I am, and who I’ve become.

Don’t worry, I won’t break my arm patting myself on the back………sheeesh……

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So let’s talk about this chicken casserole. It received an extremely positive review from the posse – although given the fact that Alexander had just come home from 4 hours of wrestling practice, I’m quite confident that he would have eaten almost anything.

As long as it didn’t contain zucchini or mushrooms, that is. 

Seriously, though, this is really, really good, simple to make, and they (the posse) requested that it become part of our regular dinner rotation.

Which means that I must make it for my father sometime soon. Nothing he likes more than a good old fashioned casserole.

Aside from a really good meatloaf. 

One year ago: Chicken Tortilla Soup and Garlic Knots

Fancy Pants King Ranch Chicken Casserole - adapted from Homesick Texan

3 cups shredded cooked chicken

4 tablespoons of butter
1/2 an onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes and a 4 oz. can of diced green chiles
4 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons of flour
1/2 cup of cilantro, chopped
3 cups of grated pepper jack and cheddar
10 corn tortillas
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium, and add the onions, red bell pepper and poblano pepper. Cook for 10 minutes.
Add the garlic, flour, cumin, cayenne pepper and chile powder, and cook for 1 minute.
Add the milk and cook on low until mixture is thickened, a few minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and chiles, and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Ladle 1/2 cup of the sauce onto the bottom of an 11 x 7 inch baking pan. Layer half the tortillas along the bottom of the pan (on top of the sauce). To make sure entire pan is evenly covered, you can rip some of the tortillas into strips to fill any gaps. Add half the chicken, half the remaining sauce, half the remaining cilantro and 1 1/2 cups of grated cheese. Repeat the layering, leaving the cheese layer on top.
Cook uncovered for 30 minutes or until brown and bubbling. Serves 6.

Baked Spaghetti Squash Gratin

Happy November 1! Can you believe it? As of today, the holiday season is officially under way, and before you know it, 2013 will be over.

I am very excited about that. The holiday season, that is.

really……..I am….don’t look at me like that…..

This truly is my favorite time of year. Decorating the house, baking, cooking, family, friends…….lots of things to be thankful for.

Especially the food part. 

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One year ago: Homemade Biscoff Cookies

Baked Spaghetti Squash Gratin – adapted from the kitchen is my playground

  • 1 (4) lb. spaghetti squash
  • 1 large jar marinara sauce
Gratin:

  • 1 (15 oz.) container part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
For the Squash:
Pierce squash several times with a fork and place on a baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours, or until tender.  Cool. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds.  Use a fork to scrape the inside flesh of the squash into spaghetti-like strands.  You should end up with about 6 cups of strands.
For the Gratin Topping:
Place all gratin topping ingredients in a mixing bowl; stir to combine.
For Assembly and Baking:
Place spaghetti squash ‘noodles’ in a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.  Pour sauce evenly over squash.  Place cheese mixture on top of sauce and spread it with the back of a spoon to evenly cover the sauce.

Bake at 400 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes, or until heated through, bubbly, and lightly browned.

Zucchini Parmesan

Last night, sometime between my dinner of leftover Zucchini Parmesan, updating myself of the latest happenings on TMZ, and browsing Pinterest pages, I realized that the house had become unusually………quiet.

Very quiet.

Strange……. especially since the television was still blaring Spongebob Squarepants (you know, high quality programming at its finest).

I turned around to investigate…. and found this:

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My newly minted 9th grader – satiated after his dinner of Tandoori Chicken and Strawberry Crunch Cake – out cold.

I almost felt bad making noise by cleaning up the kitchen.

Almost.

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One Year Ago: The Chocolate Cake that started it all….

Zucchini Parmesan – adapted from Food Network

4 medium-to-large zucchini
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, grated
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup olive oil, for frying
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2/3 cup ricotta cheese
1 large jar marinara sauce
Prepare the zucchini: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Trim the zucchini and halve crosswise, then slice lengthwise into 4 strips. Put the flour in a shallow dish. Whisk the eggs and milk in another dish. In a third dish, combine the breadcrumbs, panko, parmesan, parsley, garlic, and pepper to taste. Working in batches, dredge the zucchini in the flour and shake off the excess. Dip in the egg mixture, turning to coat; let the excess drip off, then dredge in the panko mixture, pressing to help it stick. Set aside on a wire rack.Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the zucchini in a single layer and fry until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Lay 6 pieces fried zucchini a few inches apart on top of the sauce. Spread a thin layer of ricotta on top of each zucchini slice. Top each with a few tablespoons of the tomato sauce. Repeat the layering (zucchini, ricotta, sauce) then top with the remaining zucchini. Top with a little more sauce, sprinkle with mozzarella. Bake until heated through, about 15 minutes. Serve with the remaining sauce.