Broccoli Rice Casserole

 

img_8204img_8201Broccoli Rice Casserole

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces broccoli florets, steamed until tender
  • 3 cups cooked rice (yield from 1 cup dry)
  • 4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup half and half

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a medium sized casserole dish with nonstick spray (or grease dish with butter).

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until just soft. Add remaining ingredients and stir until cheese is melted. Put mixture in casserole dish and bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

 

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Greek Tortellini Pasta Salad

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Greek Tortellini Pasta Salad
slightly adapted from Creme de la Crumb

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 lb. cheese tortellini pasta, fresh or dried, cooked per package instructions
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 (14-oz. can) quartered artichoke hearts, drained, roughly chopped
  • 4 oz. sliced kalamata olives
  • 4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Greek Dressing

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced or grated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Method

Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar, cover and shake well.

In a large bowl combine tortellini, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, artichoke hearts, olives, feta cheese, and basil. Pour dressing over the top, then toss to combine.

Serve or refrigerate immediately. Best fresh but can stay good 4 to 5 days.

NOTES

I cannot. stop. making this. Best pasta salad I’ve ever made. Awesome contribution to a potluck, sure, but I keep making it over and over for lunches and dinners just for myself – and probably will keep doing so for years to come. SO GOOD.

Creamed Spinach

Creamed Spinach
courtesy of Food.com

Ingredients

White Sauce

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups half-and-half

Spinach

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 small sweet onion, finely diced
  • 2-1/2 lbs. (40 oz.) fresh spinach, steamed, drained, and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Method

In a saucepan melt 6 tablespoons butter over medium low heat until sizzling. Add garlic, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg; saute for about 1 minute, but do not brown the garlic. Whisk in the flour and salt until creamed together and smooth. Stir in the half and half a little at a time and constantly whisk until the mixture becomes thick and smooth. Remove from heat; set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium heat; add the minced onion and cook until transparent. Add spinach to pan, lower the heat, and saute for another minute. Add the pepper, prepared white sauce, sour cream, and parmesan cheese. Stir well, and simmer until completely blended. Season with more salt and pepper, as needed.

NOTES

This was the best creamed spinach in the history of creamed spinach. It really does taste just like the Boston Market stuff, which is what made me fall in love with creamed spinach in the first place. So so so good, I could almost eat a big bowl for dinner on its own.

Pro tip: can easily be doubled without changing any ratios. Comes out just the same.

Spanish Rice

img_3461Spanish Rice

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
  • 1/8 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 cups water or chicken stock
  • 1/2 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce

Method

Heat the oil in pan over medium heat. Add the rice and onion; stir to coat. Saute until rice is starting to brown. Add the spices, water/stock, and tomato sauce. Stir and bcover plan. Let simmer for 20-25 minutes, until rice is cooked. Remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes, still covered, then fluff rice with a fork. Serve.

NOTES

For some reason, since moving back to Texas in 2011, I have had major Spanish rice problems. I made it fine for years in California but could not get it to work here. Most of the time, it came out undercooked and on the rare occasions when I didn’t, it was a big pan of soft mush.

But recently, through a lot of trial and error, weighing my ingredients, deleting another ingredient, and paying close attention to the browning process, I finally – FINALLY – have a Spanish rice recipe that works consistently again. I seriously cannot express how happy this makes me. A years-long kitchen fail and I conquered it. Yeah baby.

Corn and Zucchini Sauté


Corn and Zucchini Sauté
barely adapted from Belly Full

Ingredients

  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 2 small zucchini, diced
  • 4 ears yellow or white corn, husks and silks removed, kernels cut off cob
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Method

Sauté bacon in a large skillet until some of the fat has rendered, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the butter and onion; sauté for 5 minutes until softened and translucent. Add zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, 5 minutes. Add in corn kernels, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until corn is tender, about 3 minutes. Serve immediately.

NOTES

Buttery, bacony, summer vegetable goodness. Not often a side dish blows us away like this. And zucchini is even one of Steve – and MY – least favorite vegetables. But we both said we could eat the whole pan ourselves; it’s that good. Go make it. Immediately.

Scalloped Potatoes

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Scalloped Potatoes 

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lb yukon gold potatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds by hand or with a mandoline slicer
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 dash cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (plus more for topping)
  • Smoked paprika

Method

In a small sauce pan, melt butter and blend in flour. Let sit for a minute. Add all of cold milk, stirring with a whisk. Season with salt and cayenne. Cook sauce on low until smooth and boiling, stirring occasionally with a whisk. Reduce heat and stir in cheese. (Note: if the mixture is too thick, add a tablespoon of water at a time until you reach desired consistency.)

Place a layer of sliced potatoes in a lightly greased quart casserole dish. Pour cheese sauce over potatoes. Repeat with second and third layer of potatoes and cheese sauce.

Sprinkle additional cheese on top as desired. Top with smoked paprika for color.

Bake uncovered for about 1 hour at 350°F. Serve immediately.

NOTES

Note to self: need much less ugly lead photo. Make again when there is natural light to be had. Ahem.

Anyway! These aren’t the prettiest of things, but hot damn, they sure are good. I have never been a fan of scalloped potatoes, having never had them homemade. But it seemed like such an obvious choice of side for our multiple Smoked Wild Pig Ham dinners this year that I figured I would give them a go. I never knew what I was missing! Cheesy, savory, potato-y goodness. What’s not to love?

Balela

Balela

Ingredients

2 (15 ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup (packed) chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup (packed) chopped fresh parsley
1/2 large red onion, diced
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved (or 4 roma tomatoes, chopped)

Dressing:
1 large jalapeno, minced
2 large cloves garlic, grated
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

In a large salad bowl, lightly mix together the chickpeas, black beans, mint, parsley, onion, and tomatoes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the jalapeno pepper, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar. Pour over the salad and toss to combine.

Sprinkle with salt and black pepper to serve.

NOTES

I am always on the lookout for new, easy, delicious ways to satisfy the afternoon hungries. First, there was tabbouleh. Then, there was cumin-lime chickpea salad. Now, there is balela. My goodness is this ever fantastic. Tangy, spicy, zingy, but also creamy from the combination of the two types of beans. This is definitely my new obsession.

Portion size note: The recipe as is would probably serve 8 people as a lunch or dinner side dish. For afternoon snacks, I cut this recipe right in half and split it into five portions and thought it was perfect.