Thursday, July 23, 2015

Zucchini Stuffing

I realized I never published the Zucchini Stuffing Casserole.  During a visit to PA in January of 2013, my sister in law made this for dinner one night with a turkey breast.  She got the recipe from a neighbor.  I wasn’t interesting in eating it at first when she called it a Zucchini Casserole because I know she hadn't tasted it and I'm not a huge fan of zucchini. Since it has a cube of butter I wouldn’t make it for us, I would make it for a potluck.  After all it was very tasty and I had two servings.

ZUCCHINI STUFFING CASSEROLE
1 box of stuffing mix
1 (14.5 oz. or smaller) can cream of mushroom soup
½ C. sour cream
3 C. zucchini, sliced and cubed
½ onion, grated
1 carrot, grated
1 stick butter, melted
-3 Cheese blend, shredded

Slice and cube zucchini, grate onion and carrot.  Melt butter and mix all ingredients  except cheese in a large bowl.  Pour into a greased 9x13” pan.  Bake 350 for 30 minutes.  Top with shredded cheese and let rest 5 minutes until cheese melts.

Variation:  Add cooked chopped chicken of you want a one pot main dish.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Back to my Routine or at least a Semi Routine

Monday started me back to more of my regular routine and I'm loving it.  Having hubby home with me definitely disrupts what I normally do and although it shouldn't have a huge impact it does give me a sense of what his retirement will be and I need to make sure I continue to do my thing.
So on Sunday I planned out weekly meals and on Monday I went grocery shopping, cleaned the fridge, did the food prep and tried a couple new recipes along with some older ones that I had not taken a picture of or made in a long time and this is the results.

I am swayed by the name of a recipe which is why my recipe names are pretty simple and straight forward so when I saw "Tomato Pie" on The Chew using canned tomatoes I had to give it a try.  I make a good tomato pie with fresh tomatoes so I figured this could be one I make all year round and having a good pantry meal makes for an easy dinner when you don't have fresh veggies in the house.
Unfortunately this recipe didn't live up to it's name which is why I've now changed the name to Pizza Stuffing.  It reminded me of another recipe I got from my sister in law in PA last year or so which I also considered a side dish vs a main.  It was Zucchini Stuffing.
The flavors tasted like the red sauce on a  pizza which is where my name came from.  I reduced the mayo and cheddar because it just seemed like too much, too many calories, and added in all of the cornbread mix so I wouldn’t have to toss out that half cup.   I think it a decent side dish but not a good Meatless Monday main dish unless you served it along with a salad or something more. Original recipe came from an audience member on The Chew.
PIZZA STUFFING
2 (14.5 oz.) cans diced tomato
1 box Stove top cornbread stuffing mix, reserve ¼ C.
¼ red onion (½ C.), diced
1 t. dried basil
Topping:
¼ C. reserved stuffing mix
1 C. cheddar cheese, grated
½ C. lite mayonnaise
¼ t. dried basil

In a large bowl, mix tomatoes, stuffing mix (reserving ¼ C. for topping) and diced red onion.  Mix.  Place in lightly greased 8x8” pan.  Mix topping ingredients.  Dollop on top of tomato mixture, bake 25 minutes, smear dollops to coat entire top, bake another 15 minutes till top is golden.

For lunch this day I made a simple Mediterranean Salad with lots of goobers but no lettuce (cucumbers, roma tomatoes, feta, kalamata olives, green onions, basil and a vinaigrette.



Friday, June 12, 2015

VEGETARIAN ENCHILADA QUINOA, this weeks new recipe

I found this on Pinterest and added it to my "Recipes I must try" list and thank goodness I did.  It was quick, easy, very tasty, vegetarian which is a bonus and pretty healthy.  I will make it again and I would even make it for our Football Sunday potlucks at the bar since it only takes 3 hours and I would prep it the night before.  I only made two changes to the original recipe.   I used a can of diced tomatoes undrained and a can of roasted diced green chilies drained.  I didn't use the combo tomato and green chilies because that is not something I keep on hand.  I would always rather use my staples.  Instead of vegetable broth I used vegetable stock, again because it is what I had.  Normally I don't have vegetable stock on hand so I would probably use chicken broth.

If you simply can't do without meat, however I would suggest you at least try it first without because it wasn't missed but you could add cooked ground beef, turkey or chicken or frankly your favorite meat.

I forgot to take a picture this time but you can see how pretty it is here.  The original recipe came from Cooking Classy.  http://www.cookingclassy.com/2014/12/slow-cooker-enchilada-quinoa-bake/

VEGETARIAN ENCHILADA QUINOA
Drizzle of EVOO or canola
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 C. dry quinoa
2 1/4 C. vegetable stock
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
4 oz. can diced fire roasted green chilies, drained
8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 T. chili powder
1 1/2 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. Kosher salt
1/4 t. coarse black pepper
14.5 oz. can black beans, drained, rinsed
14.5 oz. can pinto beans, drained
1 1/2 C. frozen corn
1 1/2 C. cheddar, Jack or Mexican blend cheese
Toppings: Diced avocado, tomatoes, chopped cilantro, green onions, lime wedge

Chop onion, bell pepper and mince garlic. Saute onion and bell pepper for 3 minutes, add garlic and saute another minute. Add to slow cooker. Top with quinoa, stock, tomatoes, chilies, tomato sauce, and spices. Stir. Cover and cook on high for about 2 hours, check to make sure it hasn't dried out and if OK continue to cook another 45 minutes. If it is dry add a little but more broth to moisten but not enough so that it is soupy.

Add frozen corn, drained beans, stir. Sprinkle cheese on top, cover and cook an additional 10-15 minutes or till cheese is melted.

Note: Original recipe said 2 hr. 45 min-3 hr. 15 minutes but after the 2 hr 45 min all the liquid was absorbed and verging on dry so keep an eye out because slow cookers vary, which is why I now say check after 2 hours. I also didn't rinse the pinto beans so that gave it a bit more moisture and if I rince next time it would be another reason to keep an eye on it. Since it was dry I added a splash more stock when I added the corn and beans since it had to cook an additional 10-15 minutes.

Variations:
  • Add cooked ground meat, turkey, beef or chicken.
  • Add a diced jalapeno or pablano for a bit more spice.
  • Use enchilada sauce vs tomato sauce.
  • UPDATEI tried another version but unfortunately I was swayed by the  name of "fajitas" which it was not.  It turned out to be VERY similar to this recipe but this flavor profile is better because the fajita seasoning has a lime flavor which in the "stew" or "casserole" it didn't work.  That recipe is called Crockpot Quinoa, Sweet Potato & Chicken Fajitas.  There wasn't enough chicken in this recipe for the fajita name but as a Quinoa taco topped with chicken, maybe. 

    Monday, May 25, 2015

    Souper Tuesday's Slow Cooker Barley Sausage Soup made on a Monday

    It's been awhile since I did a post and I need to get back in the habit so I'm starting off this Monday with a recipe I found in the Contra Costa Times  newspaper "Souper Tuesday's Slow Cooker Barley Sausage Soup" on a Monday.  It was easy, could do with less sausage if I was watching my waist today but it had a rich, beef like broth.  You do have to brown the sausages, onions and carrots so it isn't a total crock pot meal but as Carla would say "there is flavor in the brown".

    It wasn't Memorial day food but it was easy and tasty.  The broth was beef like even though it was my homemade chicken oregano stock (4 C.) and a can of chicken broth.  I used 9 sausage which was over kill, it doesn't need that much.  I've reduced it here to 8 but it could be even less.  Cooking the onions at the same time I browned the sausages blackened them too much.  Next time I'll cook the onions first, remove them then brown up the sausages.

    This was the first time I've cooked with barley and maybe the first time I have eaten it.  It holds up well in a soup and especially in the crock pot where a noodle can become mushy.

    I will make this soup again, the only bad thing I can say about it was that the chicken apple sausages loose the apple taste since they cook for so long but maybe it gave the soup additional flavor.

    The original recipe came from last weeks, Contra Costa Times newspaper.  The only major flavor change I made was to omit the 2 t. of fennel seeds because I am not a fan of that flavor.






    SLOW COOKER SAUSAGE BARLEY SOUP

    Drizzle of EVOO

    1 onion, chopped

    8 chicken apple sausages, sliced in rounds (2 pkgs.)
    2 C. baby carrots, cut in thirds
    2 cloves garlic, chopped
    6 C. chicken broth
    2 (15 oz.) cans white beans, rinsed, drained
    ¾ C. barley, rinsed
    8 oz. jar (¾ C.) roasted red bell pepper, drained, chopped
    2 T. amino acids
    1 T. chopped fresh oregano (3-8"springs)
    ½ t. Kosher salt
    ½ t. coarse black pepper
    Topping: Fresh basil, rolled and sliced into slivers

    In a large 2" deep fry pan over medium heat cook onion till golden and soft, 5 minutes. Remove and place in slow cooker. To same skillet add sausage and cook slices for 8 minutes or till brown. Chop carrots and mince garlic. Add to skillet and saute another 5 minutes. Add to slow cooker along with remaining ingredients. Cook on low for 4-5 hours. Serve with a sprinkle of basil on top.





    Tuesday, April 7, 2015

    Happy Easter Everyone! Here are two recipes I tried from Pinterest

    I love Pinterest but it is a bit addicting and if you're like me you end up in what I call "Pinterest Hell" where you just can't get out and waste a big part of your day.  On a slow day it is not so bad but when you have things to do you wish you just wouldn't have went there.

    So with this trip down Pinterest lane I started looking at Champagne Punches and then segued into Easter since I was doing the punch for Easter Brunch and then I headed into party ideas before I was finally able to surface again.

    What I ended up making was the Pretzel Flowers.  They were adorable but way more time consuming than I thought, you need to relax, don't rush and breath.  I cursed a few time when I started the process.  The 50 second microwave method didn't work at all.  The white candy disk did not melt enough so that the candies would adhere, so I did another minute, still not enough, then more time until I figured that the pretzels texture was being compromised.  Then I tried melting a few of the chips in a bowl and using it as a paint to stick the candies to each other but this was even more painful and the flowers didn't sit flat (you can kinda see that in the close up pix of the purple flower.  Then I put them in the oven, 6 pretzels at a time for 5 minutes on 200°F.  This was perfect.  You can do more than 6 unless you have help otherwise the white candy begins to harden and the colored candies (In case you don't know, they are M&M's) don't stick.  Also be sure to put the M on the M&M's down so it is a cleaner looking flower.  You will have leftover pretzels and chocolate candy disks unless you want to buy more M&M's but frankly I had had enough so doing more didn't sound fun at all.  The tray here was what one bag of M&M's made, minus a few casualties and a few tastes.  Give it a try as is or change up the colors and do them for another holiday, birthday or shower.  They may look large in the photos but M&M's are small so the flowers are too.


    CHOCOLATE PRETZEL FLOWERS
    16 oz. bag Snider Butter Snaps (square waffle pretzels)
    12 oz. bag white candy melt disks
    9.9 oz. bag pastel M&M's

    Preheat oven to 200°F.  On a small baking sheet add 6 pretzels, top each pretzel with a white chocolate baking disk.  Place in oven for 5 minutes.  Remove pretzels from baking sheet and lightly place one M&M in center, M side down, and 6 M&M's around center one to make a flower.  Gently press all M&M's so they flatten slightly and press into the melted chocolate but not too hard or the chocolate will ooze out the pretzel.  Makes about 50 flowers with 350 M&M's.

    Note:  If you press them all into the chocolate at the same time they will create a more uniform flower. 

    The other thing I tried was Peep Pops, another winner and much much easier.  You can make them more uniform by cutting off the sides and squaring them up or by using a pan with straight sides.  I didn't want to eat the extra pieces so I kept them whole so the shape is the shape of my meatloaf pan.  I also could have cut off less and put the stick in the short side so the stripes would go vertically vs. horizontally.  Next time I'll separate the blue and the green, they were too close in color.  To get brighter colors you could add food coloring.

    Easter Peep Pops:  Instead of marshmallows use 10 Peeps (2-3 oz. trays) and 1 T. butter, melt in microwave for 45 seconds.  Add 1 C. rice cereal for each color layer.  Layer in a loaf pan, let cool. Slice and make lollipops.