Slowly but surely I am getting back into the groove of making a proper dinner. This dish has a pretty quick prep time and you can even put it together earlier in the day and bake it later. It can be a side or your main dish. So even on a busy weeknight you can have dinner together without much fuss. And you can use up any summer squash you might have around!
Once at a pot luck dinner a friend brought this amazing, creamy, cheesy squash casserole. She described the ingredients to me, but I never got the entire recipe. When I saw this squash casserole on Pinterest I had to give it a try because it looked so similar. This casserole is different. Less creamy and cheesy, more focus on the vegetables, which is really nice. It’s flavorful, clean tasting, and delicious. One of the main differences is that this one doesn’t use condensed cream soup, something I really have nothing against, but something that I don’t mind finding a replacement for if I can. The original recipe calls for eggs and sour cream as the binders. I used the eggs, but substituted greek yogurt and it turned out really well.
The feta gives a nice punch to the dish. I mixed in some shredded carrots to add extra veggies and to help with some fridge clean out. This is a really great side dish. I served it with grilled pork tenderloin and bread.
The thyme is a great herb here, you can use fresh or dried. I used a mixture of green and yellow squash, but you can use all of one type of course. And something I think I might try next time is using goat cheese instead of feta because I love me some goat cheese. Enjoy!
Squash and Carrot Casserole with Feta and Parmesan
5-6 squash (mix of zucchini and yellow squash) sliced
3-4 grated carrots
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme (or 2 tsp dried)
1 cup greek yogurt
heaping half cup of crumbled feta
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large saucepan heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium high heat.
Add in the squash and cook for a few minutes. Add in the carrots and garlic and cook, stirring to keep the garlic from burning, until the squash just begins to soften. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
In a medium bowl whisk eggs and yogurt, then stir in the feta and parmesan. Season with a little salt and pepper.
Spray a baking dish with cooking spray and layer half of the squash in the pan. Spread half of the yogurt mixture on top, then layer again with squash and then yogurt. Sprinkle with a little extra feta if you have some!
Bake for 45 minutes until top is golden brown. Serve warm. This reheats well for a light lunch.
St. Patrick’s Day was yesterday. After dropping my son off at school I remembered, having dressed him in nothing green. With blog posts and Instagram feeds full of “pot o’ gold” crafts, kids decked out in green and green or Irish foods, I knew I’d failed as a mom and food blogger. I figured I should make something for dinner that night that was somewhat Irish, even though I’ve never been big on the holiday. The more important thing about March 17 is that it’s my niece’s birthday! Happy 4th birthday, Maren!
I’d seen a few people posting pics of their beautiful Irish soda breads on social media, but I am kind of breaded out at the moment. The next thing that popped into my head was Shepherd’s Pie. A complete meal with meat, veggies and starch all in one pan!
In perusing recipes I found some call this dish Shepherd’s Pie, and others call it Cottage Pie. What’s the difference? Opinions differ as to whether or not there is one. Cottage pie was the term first used for the dish. But over time people began calling it Cottage pie if it contained beef and Shepherd’s pie if it contained lamb. A lot of what I’ve read says you can use either term.
This meal wound up being quite good, a terrific comfort food, and something you can make in advance. Cook the meat filling and the potatoes, store them separately, refrigerate for up to 1 day, then layer in the casserole and bake when you’re ready. You can even assemble this in the morning, refrigerate it and bake it in the evening. I’d recommend adding a little extra milk to the potatoes if you’re going to make it in advance. For some reason I feel like letting mashed potatoes sit in the fridge dries them out. This might not be true, but it just makes me feel better to add a little extra liquid. No one likes dry potatoes. A couple tablespoons should be enough.
I like the combination of carrots, celery, onion and peas in this, but you can leave the peas out if you’re not a fan, or add corn to the mix. If you don’t have fresh thyme, use 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme leaves. Instead of water use leftover beef or chicken broth. It’s not enough to justify opening a new container, but if you have 1 cup that needs to be used, this is a fine time to use it. Instead of sharp white cheddar you can use regular cheddar cheese, or leave it out if you like. Use the combination of 2% milk and cream, or use all whole milk or all 2%. The cream adds a nice richness, but isn’t totally necessary.
You don’t need to serve this with anything, but pairing it with a crispy green salad is a good way to round out the meal. Enjoy!
4 stalks celery, cut in half lengthwise then chopped
4 carrots, cut into quarters lengthwise then chopped
1/2 onion, diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 cup water or broth
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste
2 large russet potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup 2% milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and drizzle with a little olive or vegetable oil. Add in the beef and cook, breaking up the pieces until it is no longer pink, about 8 minutes.
Line a large plate with paper towels and remove meat from the pan to drain on the paper towels.
Return the pan to the heat and add in onion, celery and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes, until vegetables become tender. Season with a pinch of salt and the thyme.
Add in the flour and tomato paste and stir to combine, cook for 2 minutes.
Add in the water or broth, stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Add in the peas, stir and let cook for 3-5 minutes.
Peel the potatoes and then cut into small chunks.
Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cool water.
Place pan over high heat and cook for about 15 minutes, until potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork,
Drain the water from the potatoes, then return to the pan and begin mashing to release some of the steam, mash for about 1 minute.
Add in the butter and milk along with some salt. Mash it up, then add in the cheese and continue to mash until it reaches a consistency that you like. Add in more milk if the potatoes seem dry, and taste and adjust seasonings.
Mix in egg.
Assemble and Bake
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Spray a casserole dish (a deep 8×8, 9×9 or 11×17) with non-stick spray.
Layer beef mixture on the bottom of the pan, then layer potatoes on top and spread evenly.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until top begins to brown.
If you know me or have searched around on the blog much, then it comes as no surprise that I love macaroni and cheese. I’ve made it more than a couple of times and have tried lots of variations. But I have two basic recipes that are my favorites, this one from Martha and this one from The Pioneer Woman. Both are great jumping off points for creating different types of meals based on what you choose to add in. They are similar, creamy baked pasta dishes but Ree’s uses an egg, less milk and cheese, Martha doesn’t use an egg but uses twice as much milk and more cheese. They have similar cooking processes and both yield tremendously tasty results. Pioneer Woman doesn’t call for bread crumbs, but if I have them around I almost always use them. There is just something about a crunchy topping on a creamy pasta dish that does me in. Heaven.
For this macaroni and cheese I used the Martha recipe as my base and added in cooked crumbled bacon, caramelized shallots and fresh thyme. I made 4 of these individual servings and had plenty left over to fill a 9×13 casserole. If you don’t make any little servings it will still all fit in a 9×13. I sometimes make two smaller casseroles and freeze one for a day when I know I won’t have time to make dinner. If you do freeze it don’t go through with the baking step prior to freezing. Wrap your pan in plastic wrap then foil. Let it thaw in the fridge overnight then bake (with foil only!) for 20 minutes, then uncovered for another 20-30 depending on the size of the pan. This macaroni can be served as a main course, which is what I usually do, paired with a green salad. Or it can be a side dish and is a great addition to a pot luck table.
The thought of making a roux is one that may seem daunting if you haven’t done it before. It does sound like a fancy cooking skill, but it’s really simple and kind of wonderful. I love the way the butter and flour smell together as they’re cooking. This whisk from Pampered Chef is the one I always use when making a roux or sauce. It doesn’t scratch my pan and can get up next to the edges of the pan like a normal whisk cannot. It’s also great at breaking up lumps. But it’s a pain to clean, so soak it right after you’re done with it to avoid stress at dish washing time. In addition to a good whisk, you also need a nice big saucepan and uninterrupted time. You can’t go browse Pinterest or finish that episode of whatever you were watching while you make the roux and cheese sauce. Do that while the macaroni is in the oven. If you don’t whisk it fairly constantly you run the risk of getting a lumpy sauce or even burning it and having to start over. It doesn’t take a terribly long time, but it is active time. The first step of cooking the butter and flour happens especially fast. So just be attentive.
The cheese. It’s an important factor in macaroni and cheese, of course. You can tell if you use really good cheese. But your macaroni won’t be at all bad if you use normal grocery store cheese. I used Target brand sharp white cheddar and a nice little block of real gruyere. Use whatever you want, cheddar, colby, sharp, mild, etc. But don’t use low fat cheese. That’s just plain silly. And remember that changing cheeses changes the final product, so mix cheeses and additions that pair well.
The milk. 2% is just fine. You can use whole if you’re really going to go for it, but it’s not necessary to achieve a nice creamy sauce. Do not forget the salt! If the sauce tastes a little too salty, that’s ok because you’re mixing it with a pound of non flavorful pasta.
The pasta. I like penne, a little more adult of a pasta than elbow, but elbow is just fine. You can use fussili or farfalle (bowtie) but I personally like the tubular pasta noodles for macaroni and cheese.
The bacon. I used center cut, baked it in the oven then chopped it up. I used 6 slices (sorry I don’t have the ounce amount!) but could’ve easily done 8 and maybe even 10. Leave the bacon out if you’re looking for a meatless dish, or substitute ham or another meat.
The shallots. I love shallots. They’re sweeter than onions are are a wonderful addition to this dish. I used 3 large shallots, sliced them thinly and sauteed them in a little butter and olive oil over medium-low heat until they were nice and evenly browned without burning. If they begin to darken too much, add a tablespoon of water to the hot pan and continue cooking. You can use a yellow onion, the flavor will just be slightly different but still delicious.
This creamy, cheesy and delicious baked pasta dish is real comfort food and something that is sure to please just about everyone. Enjoy!
Bacon and Caramelized Shallot Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Serves 6-8 as a main dish or 10-12 as a side dish
6-8 slices of center cut bacon, cooked and chopped or crumbled
3 large shallots, peeled and sliced thinly
8 tablespoons butter, divided, + 1/2 tablespoon to saute the shallots
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound penne pasta
1/2 cup flour
5 and 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
16 ounces sharp cheddar, grated (1 cup reserved for topping)
6 ounces gruyere cheese, grated (1/2 cup reserved for topping)
1 and 1/2 cups panko crumbs
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Caramelize the shallots: Heat 1/2 tablespoon of butter and 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in a small pan over medium heat, add shallots, stir and cook for a couple minutes until shallots start to gain some color and soften slightly. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are caramel in color and very soft. Do not let them burn. If they are browning too quickly you can lower the heat slightly or add a tablespoon of water and continue to cook. This should take 10 minutes or so. Set shallots aside.
Heat a large pot of water to cook the penne. While it is coming to a boil, make the cheese sauce. Heat 6 tablespoons of butter in a large pan over medium heat, once it is melted add the flour and whisk for a minute. Slowly pour in about 1 cup of the milk and whisk until mixture thickens, being sure to whisk out any lumps. Continue adding the milk, a cup at a time, whisking until slightly thickened until the last addition of milk (this can be 1 1/2 cups). Whisk until slightly thickened.
Remove from the heat and add in salt (at least 1 teaspoon) pepper to taste, thyme, and all the cheese except that reserved for topping. Stir to combine and melt the cheese until mixture is smooth. Taste and season.
Salt boiling water and add the pasta. Cook 2 minutes fewer than the package instructs, then drain and add to the cheese sauce along with the shallots and bacon. Stir well to combine everything. NOTE: You may reserve some of the shallots to sprinkle on top, 2 tablespoon is enough.
Grease ramekins or casserole dish and spoon pasta into the dishes. Top with reserved cheese, then shallots.
Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and toss with the panko crumbs. Spread crumbs evenly over the cheese and bake for 30 minutes. Ramekins can bake for about 20, make sure to place them on a baking sheet to catch drips.
We’re moving in 12 days! I’m starting to wonder why we thought moving 7 weeks before my due date was a good plan! I’m actually very excited, just anxious and stressing a bit. My sweet mom came down and helped me for a few days last week. We didn’t pack the entire kitchen, but that process is beginning. I plan to have the kitchen pretty much packed away by the beginning of next week. That last week I plan to eat easy breakfasts, freezer meals, give Carson a lot of convenience foods (and his weight in strawberries of course) and explore the take-out situation in our neighborhood. I’ve already stocked up on paper plates, plastic utensils and cups. I don’t want to find myself packing plates and silverware at 2 am the night before we move.
Eating restaurant food is probably going to get old after a few days. I like cooking and knowing what goes into our meals. So I want to cook a lot in the coming week. The problem with that is how unprepared I have been recently when it comes to groceries. And if I’ve forgotten something, I have little to no desire to take Carson to the store for one item. One night last week I made dinner with what we had around, which was an adventure. And a pretty tasty adventure. So tasty, in fact, that I typed this recipe up right after we ate so that I wouldn’t forget it. The picture doesn’t do it justice, but casseroles in general are just plain unattractive.
I made fried chicken earlier in the week. Since 2 people can’t (and shouldn’t) eat an entire chicken we had quite a bit left over. My thought for dinner began with that chicken. I knew we had rice, but I couldn’t think of what else I was going to throw in my chicken and rice dinner. So began the scavenging. Squash from Farmhouse. A shallot. Green onions. A half bag of spinach. The remains of a box of chicken broth. The rest of a carton of sour cream. Leftover white cheddar cheese. And a packet of Lipton chicken noodle soup mix. This was going to be dinner. The biggest gamble was the squash. I roasted it and figured if I didn’t end up using it in the casserole I could snack on it and give some to Carson. It ended up being really great and something I would definitely repeat.
Chicken and Rice Casserole with Roasted Squash and Spinach
2-3 cups 1/2 inch cubed squash (I used patty pan and butternut)
1 shallot, chopped
6 green onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4-6 ounces fresh spinach
1 cup white medium grain rice
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 package Lipton chicken noodle soup mix
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1/4-1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese (optional but delicious)
Roast Squash: Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss seeded and cubed squash with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 20-30 minutes, tossing about halfway through. Set aside.
Heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon of butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Once hot, add in shallot and cook for 2 minutes, add in green onion and cook 2 minutes, then add in garlic, stir and cook for about 1 minute.
Stir in the rice, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add in the spinach and cook until slightly wilted. Turn off the heat and mix in the chicken and roasted squash.
Pour in the chicken broth, soup mix, sour cream and milk. Stir until well combined.
Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Pour into a greased 9×13 pan and sprinkle with the cheese, if using.
Cover tightly with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 more minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.
With baby countdown at 2 weeks and 1 day I felt it necessary to make some freezer meals for those days (of which I’m sure there will be many) that I don’t have time to cook a real meal. I searched quite a few websites for recipes that would freeze and reheat well. I cannot attest to their post-freezer goodness , but I did some taste testing along the way and I was pleased with the flavors and a little upset that I wasn’t going to be able to enjoy the food for dinner that night.
I didn’t want to make typical freezer meals. Lasagna, chili and casseroles that use cans of cream of whatever soup were just not the kind of meals I was looking for. Yes, I like to make things difficult for myself. Yes, I am a bit of a food snob. Ask me a year from now, and I think my love of convenience foods will have grown. But since I have the time now, why not make something extra good?
Here is what I ended up with in my freezer. Click on the meal for a link to the recipe. The pastitsio and shepherd’s pie include freezing instructions. I added my own for the chicken pasta.
Pastitsio – a layered Greek noodle dish with ground beef, tomatoes and bechamel sauce. The beef layer is spiced with olives, oregano, cinnamon and oregano.
Shepherd’s Pie – Turkey, tomato, peas, corn and mushrooms topped with mashed carrots and potatoes.
These are not the quickest meals to get prepped for the freezer. But the time you spend now will be time you save in a few weeks or a couple months when you go to enjoy the results of your hard work. I made the pastitsio the other afternooon, I think it took me about an hour and a half to cook and clean up. I made the chicken pasta and shepherd’s pie Saturday morning, and I think my total chopping, cooking, boiling, packaging and cleaning time was 3 hours. Here’s my kitchen during its worst moment on Saturday.
I know some of you have now decided that I am crazy to have spent that much of my Saturday morning on this project, but it’s something I’d planned to do…and so I had to do it. I also kind of like spending that time in the kitchen and having something to show for it. It makes me feel productive, and it’s a lot more fun that organizing the stacks of paper on the desk in the office. And look at my fully stocked freezer! Two 9×13 pans and two 8×8 pans of food waiting patiently to be eaten. Why does this kind of thing make me happy?
Here are a few quick notes and changes on these recipes. Some changes were made because of personal preferences, others because I forgot to or chose not to buy an ingredient. I am becoming more and more comfortable with improvising in the kitchen. It makes life so much easier, and it saves money too. A jar of sun-dried tomatoes was going to set me back $5.99…so I used some sun-dried tomato pesto that I already had. It makes me feel so resourceful when I can do things like that.
Left out the red wine
Used green olives instead of Kalamata
Used only 4 tablespoons of butter, 1 cup of milk and 1 egg in the pasta mixture
Use a LARGE and DEEP pan, I did not have room in a regular 9×13 to fit all the sauce. It broke my heart to pour that creamy bechamel down the drain.
Chicken Florentine Artichoke Pasta
Cooked 2 chicken breasts in a skillet and chopped it up to make 2 cups
Used a 12 ounce package of pasta instead of 8 ounce
Used 2 tablespoons of sun dried tomato pesto instead of the chopped sun dried tomatoes
Freezer Instructions: Bake without bread crumbs for 15 minutes, then with bread crumbs for 5 minutes. Let cool completely, then cover with plastic wrap and a couple layers of foil. When ready to bake, let it thaw in the fridge overnight, then bake @ 350 F covered with foil for 20 minutes and without foil for 15-20 minutes or until nicely brown on top.
Used 6 carrots and 4 large baking potatoes which was enough to top 2 8-inch pans
Made one of my pans with cheese, and one without
Used 1 1/2 cups mushrooms, 1 1/2 cups peas and 1 cup corn in addition to the meat and tomatoes
When Ben and I get around to eating these over the next couple months I will give some feedback about how the thawing and re-heating goes. If you try them in the meantime and bake them right away, please let me know how they turn out!
Breakfast. The most important meal of the day. It also happens to be the most boring meal of the day for me most of the time. I am not organized enough, and I don’t get up early enough to fix anything more exciting than a bowl of cereal and some fruit. Every now and then I have enough time to scramble a few eggs, but that is rare. So, when I have an opportunity to make something good for breakfast I make the most of it.
This weekend our great friends Carrie and Jason came up to visit. We had such a nice and relaxing time together. Sunday morning we had French toast casserole and migas for breakfast. It was quite a delicious feast and something I plan to make again when we have guests.
The French toast is prepared the night before and allowed to sit in the fridge overnight to let the bread soak up the sugar, butter, eggs and milk. I was pretty exhausted the night I was supposed to make the French toast and I almost felt like skipping it and just going to bed, but it took me less than 15 minutes to put it all together and pop it in the fridge so don’t let time be your excuse not to make this.
This breakfast is so very simple and easy. In the bottom of a 9×13 pan goes a mixture of butter, brown sugar and corn syrup that has been melted together on the stove. The thick slices of French bread are placed atop this sugary sticky goodness, and the mixture of eggs, milk and vanilla is poured on top of everything. Cover this in foil and go to bed. When you wake up bake the dish for 45 minutes and voilà. Breakfast.
The tops of the bread slices are golden brown as they come out of the oven. The inside of each slice is creamy and delicious. The bottom of each slice is covered in the rich buttery sugar sauce that has caramelized and become something very special thanks to its time in the oven. So delicious. Next time I will add some ground cinnamon and nutmeg to the milk mixture. I served it with butter and syrup, and my husband had the ingenious idea of putting the sliced strawberries we had at the table on his slice. Any kind of fruit or berry would be a good complement to this sweet, rich and crazy good French toast. Make this some Saturday morning and make your breakfast guests very, very happy.
Overnight French Toast
Courtesy of allrecipes.com
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 (1 pound) loaf French bread, sliced
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Combine the corn syrup , butter, and brown sugar in a small saucepan and simmer until the sugar has melted. Pour this mixture over the bottom of a greased 9×13 inch casserole dish.
Place the bread slices over the sugar-butter mixture in the dish. In a bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, vanilla, and salt; pour this mixture over the bread. Cover the dish and let it stand in the refrigerator overnight.
The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Uncover the pan and bake for 45 minutes. Serve while hot or warm or the French toast will harden in the pan. It can be reheated.
This obsession I have with macaroni and cheese may never end. It is just too good. How can you not love it?
My most recent mac and cheese adventure was a BLT version with bacon, leeks, tomatoes, colby jack cheese, and a toasted bread crumb topping. While this did not quite live up to the deliciousness of other macs, it was still very tasty. I liked the subtle flavor of the leeks, juicy tomatoes, salty bacon and creamy cheese.
The inspiration for this dish came while I was perusing recipes and found a BLT pizza that used arugala as the “lettuce” in the BLT. I thought it could be changed a bit to make mac and cheese. I searched BLT mac and cheese and found quite a few recipes, the top result being one from Rachel Ray. It sounds pretty tasty, and I will probably try it sometime and see how it compares to this one. She uses cream cheese in her recipe, and does not make a roux at all. I like making the cheese sauce with the roux, milk and cheese, but maybe she’s on to something with the cream cheese. I’ll let you know once I try it out.
All the recipes I found had a few basics in common. All used bacon and tomatoes, of course, most used leeks, and arugala was the lettuce in most recipes that I found. I could not find arugala at the grocery store, so my leeks became the “L” in this BLT.
Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain and place cooked pasta in a large bowl; set aside.
Cook bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat 8-10 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon from skillet, leaving drippings in the pan, to paper towel-lined plate to drain and cool. Chop bacon into ½ inch pieces then place in the large bowl.
Slice leek in half lengthwise, then submerge halves in cold water to rinse out any dirt. Remove from water, pat dry and slice into ½ inch pieces. Saute the leeks in the skillet with bacon drippings over medium heat. Cook, uncovered, just until it softens up and place in the large bowl.
Cut tomatoes into ¼ inch slices.
In a sauce pan, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Once it’s completely melted, add the flour and whisk to create a roux. Allow to just come to a boil and then slowly stir in the milk, then the garlic. Allow the milk to come to a simmer and thicken, whisking frequently to avoid clumps. Once it thickens up to coat the back of the spoon, turn off the heat. Carefully stir in the cheeses until melted. Add the garlic powder and salt & pepper to taste.
Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and other ingredients in the large bowl and mix well to combine.
Spread half the pasta mixture into a pan, then layer half the tomato slices on top. Cover with the rest of the pasta, then the rest of the tomatoes.
In a small skillet, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter over medium high heat. Add the bread crumbs and stir until the crumbs are slightly golden brown. Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top of the casserole.
Bake for 20 minutes until bubbly and the top has browned slightly. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Macaroni and cheese has become one of my favorite things to cook and something that I can count on Ben being happy about having for dinner almost 100% of the time. I love that there are endless options when it comes to this dish. You can go plain and simple with traditional elbow macaroni and cheddar cheese. You can mix things up and add chicken or ham for a meaty version. This one with chicken was great. Vegetables are another great addition. This green chile mac and cheese was incredible. I would like to try a mac and cheese with cauliflower or broccoli sometime.
This recipe pays tribute to the amazing French ham and cheese sandwich of the same name. I’ve made croque monsieurs and madames and they are both delicious sandwiches, so there was no possible way that this could be anything less than incredible! It was more than incredible. It was life altering and something I will definitely make again, but not regularly since gruyere cheese is not exactly cheap. I think it was something like $13.99 per pound at my grocery store, but can apparently set you back even more if you order it from this artisanal cheese site. Yikes. You could use Swiss cheese and it would be just as good.
It can be a meat lovers delight, a vegetarians dream, or you can combine your meat and veggies and create an omnivores dilemma! Get it? Anyway…I know Sarah does.
It can be made with a red pasta sauce, a creamy white bechamel, or a fresh basil pesto sauce, and others.
It can be prepared in advance, frozen and baked later.
It can feed a crowd, or it can feed a couple for days and days!
It can be enjoyed warm with oozing cheese, or cold from the fridge.
I love lasagna. This lasagna is a delicious veggie combination of mushrooms and artichokes in a rich bechamel sauce. Ben and I really enjoyed it, and brought a plate to our neighbor who also was pretty complimentary of the dish. The only criticism he gave was that it should have had a garnish of cilantro instead of parsley. He puts cilantro on everything. I think he might eat it on his cereal…
My iPhone is incredible. Epicurious has an app that I just love. I am able to search for a recipe while at the grocery store, get a shopping list, email the recipe to myself and have it waiting for me when I get home to cook. Modern technology is one of my best friends. That is how I found this recipe. Here is the link. I made a few changes to the recipe based on the time I had to make this meal and what I had at home. I used canned artichoke hearts instead of frozen since I did not have time to let them thaw. I also used regular lasagna noodles because I had some in the pantry. I used shredded mozzarella instead of sliced. I substituted vermouth with dry white wine that I had left over from another recipe. Despite the substitutions this lasagna was delicious and we enjoyed it for a few days. It was great reheated, and cold as well. This is something I would make again and serve at a dinner party or bring to a pot-luck.
Mushroom and Artichoke Lasagna
Bon Appetit, February 2002
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans of artichoke hearts, drained, coarsely chopped
1 package lasagna noodles, prepared according to package directions to al dente
1 pound (4 cups) part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and garlic; sauté until mushrooms release juices and begin to brown, about 7 minutes. Add artichokes and wine. Cook until liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
For béchamel sauce:
Melt butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour; stir 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until sauce thickens and lightly coats spoon, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 cups Parmesan. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and ground nutmeg.
Spread 2/3 cup béchamel sauce over bottom of 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Top with enough noodles to cover bottom of dish. Spread 1/4 of artichoke mixture over. Spoon 2/3 cup béchamel sauce over. Top béchamel with 1/4 of mozzarella.
Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons Parmesan. Top with enough noodles to cover. Repeat layering 3 more times, finishing with a layer of noodles, then remaining béchamel. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover with foil and refrigerate.)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake lasagna covered with foil 1 hour (or 1 hour 15 minutes if chilled). Remove foil. Increase temperature to 450°F. Bake lasagna until golden on top, about 10 minutes longer.
Pioneer Woman is a blog I’ve been following for a few years. Ree Drummond has exploded in popularity, written a cookbook and has thousands and thousands of followers. I love the food part of her blog the best. I am incredibly jealous of her photography. And I am amazed that she has the time to home school her kiddos.
Anyway, this recipe for chicken spaghetti comes from her. I changed a few things; omitted the pimientos, added red bell pepper, more onion, more green bell pepper, less cheese and added the Panko bread crumbs for a nice crunchy topping.
Ben and I both really enjoyed this. Ben said it “tasted healthy” and I think he meant that in a good way! While it is not terrible for you, you could make it healthier by using fat-free, reduced sodium cream of mushroom soup, using even less cheese, whole wheat spaghetti noodles, skip the cheese on top and instead top with whole wheat bread crumbs mixed with a teensy bit of butter.
This casserole seems like it would be pretty kid-friendly, but I have not tried it out on any kids so don’t take my word for it! I did not freeze this dish, but baked it right away. Pioneer Woman gives instructions for freezing, which would make this such a great meal to freeze and have on hand for a busy weeknight. If you’re like me and only feeding a household of 2, then this meal could be split between two smaller dishes; one to eat that night and the other to freeze and eat later. I like having stuff like that to use when I have a crazy week.
Courtesy of The Pioneer Woman
3 – 4 chicken breasts (about 1 ½ pounds)
3 cups Dry Spaghetti, Broken Into Two Inch Pieces
2 cans Cream Of Mushroom Soup
1 ½ cups Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
½ cup Finely Diced Green Pepper
½ cup Finely Diced Red Pepper
½ cup Finely Diced Onion
1 ½ – 2 cups Reserved Chicken Broth From Pot
1 teaspoon Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
⅛ teaspoons (to 1/4 Teaspoon) Cayenne Pepper
Salt And Pepper, to taste
1 cup Additional Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
½ cup Panko Bread Crumbs
Bring a pot of water to a boil along with some whole peppercorns& kosher salt. If you have some carrot, celery, and onion, add them to the pot as well to make a more flavorful broth.
Add in chicken breasts and cook for 20 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from water and transfer to a plate to cool.
If you added veggies to your broth, strain the broth, and add the broth back to the pot and heat to a boil.
Cook spaghetti in same chicken broth until al dente. Do not overcook.
Shred or chop the chicken into small pieces.
When spaghetti is cooked, combine with remaining ingredients except additional 1 cup sharp cheddar.
Place mixture in casserole pan and top with remaining sharp cheddar and Panko crumbs.
Cover and freeze up to six months, cover and refrigerate up to two days, or bake immediately: 350 degrees for 45 minutes until bubbly. (If the cheese on top starts to get too cooked, cover with foil).