Tag Archives: cheddar cheese

Spicy Chicken Florentine

21 Jan
Spicy Chicken Florentine

Spicy Chicken Florentine

We survived the Snowmaggedon/Snowcapolypse where I live, where over 60 inches of snow has dumped on us in the past month and a half, an event that hasn’t happened here since 1901 according to records.

Snowmaggedon

Snowmaggedon ~ A friend joked this looked like a bunch of pregnant woman got snowed on while sitting around our firepit. Those were empty chairs before the snow.

We had a near tragedy, where a school’s gym roof collapsed entirely, but overnight when thank goodness nobody occupied it. In the morning it is usually teeming with kids waiting for the school bell to ring. It wasn’t discovered until all the kids had boarded buses for school, so all parents were notified to pick up their children immediately at all schools in town. Schools were closed for 8 days after that until all snow was removed from 38 school roofs (9 million square feet) and structures inspected and deemed safe. Whew! Dodged the bullet on that one!

Snow or no snow, we certainly had to eat during this event, and here is one of the recipes I came up with during our snowbound days with what I had on hand. This is a thumbs-up recipe from the hubby, yay! My only regret is not making more sauce, so I’ve adjusted the recipe below for that. I served this over cooked rice. Nummy and warming!

Spicy Chicken Florentine

For the casserole:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Ground black pepper and salt or Mrs. Dash
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained
16-ounces frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
Large pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

For the sauce:
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/8 cup dry good-quality sherry (or chicken broth)
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup grated block cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated block Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the chicken breast thin, and season with the pepper and salt or Mrs. Dash.

Fileted and Seasoned Chicken

Fileted and Seasoned Chicken

In a large skillet over medium high heat, add the oil and half the garlic and sear the chicken filets on each side until browned. Remove and set aside.

Browned Chicken

Browned Chicken

Add the drained tomatoes to the skillet along with rest of the garlic and simmer for a few minutes. Pour the tomatoes and garlic in the bottom of an oil-sprayed two-quart casserole.

Tomatoes and Garlic

Tomatoes and Garlic

To the skillet, add the spinach and the rest of the butter plus a large pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. Stir until butter is melted and spinach is heated through and incorporated. Layer on top of the tomatoes.

Spinach and Tomatoes

Spinach and Tomatoes

Next layer the chicken on top of the spinach.

Chicken Layer

Chicken Layer

For the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour, mustard powder, and white pepper, whisking until a paste forms. Pour in the milk and sherry or chicken broth, whisking constantly. Simmer over gentle heat while stirring until the sauce is to desired consistency. Pour the sauce evenly over the casserole.

Casserole Ready to Bake

Casserole Ready to Bake

Sprinkle the grated cheeses over the dish, then top with the Panko breadcrumbs. Bake for about 20 minutes, until casserole is heated through and top is browned and crispy. Serve over cooked rice or noodles.

Spicy Chicken Florentine

Spicy Chicken Florentine

Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

 

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Holiday Cheese Bites

17 Dec
Holiday Cheese Bites

Holiday Cheese Bites

I saw these fun little crackers posted on Food52, and they seemed easy enough for me to attempt to make. Of course the big warning sign not to make them should have been the words “flour” and “roll the dough.” I can just look at a canister of flour and get it all over my clothes. And with my hand injury? Who was I kidding that I could roll out a hard, frigid piece of clay?

Chilled Cracker Dough

Chilled Cracker Dough

Nonetheless, I attempted to make these little cheese bites, endearingly called “coins” in the recipe. I opted to use some fancy-schmancy mini-cutters, in the hopes that the cute shapes would distract from the final results.

Cheese Bites Ready to Bake

Cheese Bites Ready to Bake

I don’t have a proper food processor, so instead of “slowly adding the milk in a stream with the food processor running,” I kept having to turn off my Ninja, take the top off, add a little milk, whir it again, then repeat. Sketchy at best, huh? Then when it came to rolling the dough out, I found my injured hand and wrist didn’t have enough strength to wrestle the dough into submission, so enlisted the help of my daughter. I ended up with some really uneven thicknesses, which resulted in a: burnt crackers and b: really puffy under-cooked crackers. I had enough of option c: perfectly done crackers to fill a small bowl for your enjoyment.

Holiday Cheese Bites

Holiday Cheese Bites

For those of you who would like the recipe, please head over to Food52 to read it here: Spicy Cheese + Smoked Paprika Coins

p.s. The flavor of these are really good! The dough has smoked paprika, sage, and cayenne pepper along with the cheese. If you are a skilled baker, please try this recipe out and let me know how they turned out!

Grilled Nachos with Chicken and Chunky Guacamole plus Grilled Mexican Tortilla Pizza

15 Jul
Chunky Guacamole Grilled Nachos with Chicken

Chunky Guacamole Grilled Nachos with Chicken

It’s about time I had a new recipe, yes? Since I’m off camping (once again) this weekend, I’m posting mid-week so as not to leave you empty-handed. This time we are going to Clear Lake for an annual reunion to celebrate my uncle’s (dad’s side) birthday. This will be his 88th! Happy Birthday Uncle Joe!

Although we’ve cooled down the past few days, last week it was sweltering hot after we got back from our river camping trip. And when it’s that hot, I always fire up the grill for dinner. I thought some loaded chicken nachos sounded pretty darn good. I was going to grill the chicken, but decided instead to throw it in the crockpot with the seasonings then plug in the appliance outdoors on the deck. And then I shredded the chicken when it was done, mixed up some chunky guacamole made with a serrano pepper from my garden, assembled the nachos then slapped them on the grill! (OK I slid them, not slapped.) ūüėÄ

Serrano Pepper Plant

My Serrano Pepper Plant is Producing Awesomely!

This was a plenty filling dinner out on our deck on the patio table. I had leftover shredded chicken, black beans, and sliced olives so decided to make a Grilled Mexican Tortilla Pizza the next night. Hey you get several recipes this time! Olé!

Crockpot Taco Chicken

Crockpot Taco Chicken

Chunky Guacamole Grilled Nachos with Chicken

For the chicken:

1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 tablespoon taco seasoning mix (recipe here, or store-bought)
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 lime, squeezed

Guacamole Ingredients

Guacamole Ingredients

For the chunky guacamole:

2 medium avocados, peeled, pitted and chopped
1 medium Roma tomato, deseeded and chopped
1 serrano pepper, stem cut and deseeded and finely minced
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon cilantro
Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste

For the nachos:

Tortilla chips
Grated block cheddar cheese (it melts better than pre-shredded)
Shredded chicken
More grated cheese
Canned black beans, rinsed and drained
Sliced black olives, drained
Chunky guacamole (recipe below)
Sour cream
Fire-roasted salsa (recipe here, or store-bought)
Chopped green onion

Shredded Chicken

Shredded Chicken

Add the chicken ingredients to a crockpot and cook on high for 4 hours. Remove chicken and shred, then set aside.

Guacamole Ready to Smash

Guacamole Ready to Smash

Meanwhile, prepare the chunky guacamole. Add all the prepped ingredients to a bowl, then smash up and mix with a fork until desired consistency. Cover with plastic wrap then refrigerate.

Chunky Guacamole

Chunky Guacamole

Preheat the grill to high heat on one side. Line a large baking sheet with foil, then layer tortilla chips in one layer on the foil. Spread with grated cheese, then chicken, then more cheese, black beans, and black olives.

Preparing the Nachos

Preparing the Nachos

Slide the foil sheet onto the heated side of the grill then cover, grilling for about 10 minutes until the bottoms of the chips are crispy. Move the nachos to the unheated side of the grill then cover again, grilling until the cheese has melted.

Grilling the Nachos

Grilling the Nachos

Slide nachos back onto the baking sheet, top with chunky guacamole, sour cream, salsa, and chopped green onion to taste. Enjoy!

Now here is a recipe for what to make with any leftover ingredients you have from the nachos, depending on the size of your family or if your teenage daughter decides she’s going to a friend’s house for dinner instead of eating your excellent nachos. Just a couple of photos with this one and paper plates, it was that kind of night!

Grilled Mexican Tortilla Pizza

10-inch flour tortillas
Oil spray
Canned black beans, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons olive oil
Fire-roasted salsa (recipe here, or store-bought)
Cooked shredded chicken (use deli rotisserie chicken or leftovers)
Sliced black olives, drained
Thinly sliced onion
Jarred sliced jalape√Īos
Grated Colby Jack cheese

First add the black beans to a blender or food processor, then drizzle in olive oil and process until creamy, scraping down the sides and adding oil as needed. Set aside.

Prepping the Mexican Pizza

Prepping the Mexican Pizza

Preheat the grill to medium to medium-low, and spray the tortilla(s) on one side and grill for about 3 minutes, until crisp and starting to puff up on the top side. Remove to plate, then spray the non-grilled side with oil. Flip over, then spread the creamy beans evenly over the tortilla. Top evenly with salsa, shredded chicken, black olives, onion, jalape√Īos and cheese.

Grilling the Mexican Tortilla Pizza

Grilling the Mexican Tortilla Pizza

Place back on grill, cover, and cook for about 5 more minutes until cheese is melted. You might need to move it to the unheated side if it’s getting too crispy on the bottom and the cheese isn’t melted yet. Add a green salad on the side, and dinner is served!

Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

 

 

Chorizo-Based Carne Guisada

21 Feb
Chorizo-Based Carne Guisada1

Chorizo-Based Carne Guisada

I don’t have any prep photos of this recipe, because I was almost certain we would be ordering pizza after we tasted this. I couldn’t be MORE WRONG! It was simply amazing!! I was so astounded that I did snap a shot of my bowl of it (sans the flour tortilla for dipping, because I was still so non-plussed how great this tasted.) Then for grins I took a shot of my hubby’s interpretation of how this should be eaten.

I was going through the freezer and found a half a tube of Mexican ground chorizo sausage and decided to do something with it.¬† I also had two gallon bags of frozen tomatoes from our last harvest and I had to use at least SOME of them soon. I had made brined pork chops the night before, which were a total failure, I tell you. Hardly anyone touched the pork, so you won’t get any info on that except for my brining shot of it, sigh. I will not make THAT recipe again. Kitchn website, you failed me this time…

Brining Pork

Here I am brining pork, all fanchy schmancy. Little did I know….

I threw caution to the wind, and stuck the frozen chorizo, peeled frozen tomatoes, and almost a pound of the failed pork (cut up) into the crock pot, thinking if I just cook the hell out of something it might be decent. In went some chicken broth, potatoes, onions, spices and such. Just whatever sounded good. Then covered it up and cooked it all day long, hoping it wouldn’t be a last-minute pizza night.

I almost feel like I painted a masterpiece with this. Almost. This was INCREDIBLY delicious! My daughter and I couldn’t stop warming up more tortillas to slop up every last morsel of goodness. We also stirred in some cheddar cheese into the bowls, for garnish. My husband, on the other hand, made rolled up cheese quesadillas/burrito type things, stuck some of the mixture inside, and then slathered them over with more stew and mounds of sour cream. Mounds, I tell you. A little odd, but I let him do it. It’s his mouth.

Rolled Quesadillas with Chorizo Stew

Rolled Quesadillas with Chorizo Stew ~ or something like that. I really don’t know what to call this.

You may adapt however you like, because it’s not like I followed any semblance of a recipe to start with. (p.s. it is the ground chorizo that makes this recipe and sets it apart from my other Carne Guisada recipe, so at least don’t skip that ingredient!)

Hints: Whenever a recipe calls for a small amount of tomato paste or chipotle chiles, I freeze the rest (labeled) for later use. Just nuke for a tad and take what you need and refreeze. Yes, I got mine out of the freezer for this.

Now on to the (sort of) recipe!

Chorizo-Based Carne Guisada

Chorizo-Based Carne Guisada

Chorizo-Based Carne Guisada

1 pound of pork, cooked or uncooked, cut into small pieces
7 ounces ground Mexican pork chorizo, uncooked
2 cups diced tomatoes, frozen, from a can, fresh, whatever
1 medium potato, any kind, unpeeled, washed and diced
1/2 cup chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium, or water
1/2 cup chopped onion, any kind (I used red)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon of sauce from a can of Adobo Chipotle peppers
Juice from 1/2 small lime (maybe a couple of teaspoons?)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon Ancho chile powder (or any other kind)
Large pinch of cumin powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped (plus more for garnish if you want)
Warmed flour tortilla, for slopping up
Grated cheddar cheese, for garnish
Mounds of sour cream, for garnish (or not)

Prep your pork and veggies and such, throw them all in a crock pot, give it a good stir to mix, and cook on low about 8 to 10 hours or high on 4 to 6 hours. Give it another good stir at the end. That’s it! Serve with garnishes. Easy, huh?

Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

 

Creamy Cauliflower and Potato Soup

19 Oct
Creamy Cauliflower and Potato Soup

Creamy Cauliflower and Potato Soup

I love it when I come across a recipe that inspires me to buy the ingredients on my next shopping trip and make it for lunch or dinner. This was such a recipe, and a big shout out to Seana at Cottage Grove House, who makes beautiful, easy-to-make homemade fresh dishes and shares them for people like me! Please go check out her site, if you would, here.

Although it’s been the warmest fall I can remember in the 20 years I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest, October means it is soup-making time. Who cares if I’m still wearing capris and t-shirts?

A 3-quart pot is the largest pot available in this tiny temporary kitchen, so I had to make some quantity adjustments to the original recipe. In addition, the store I went to did not have creme fraiche, so I had to use a homemade substitute for that.

This was a perfect, light supper for another beautiful sunny, fall day. And as luck should have it, my husband fried up some extra bacon when he made a BLT sandwich for lunch today, so I added some extra flavor to the soup by subbing one tablespoon of olive oil for bacon grease, then garnishing the soup with some of the bacon bits. The bacon part is totally optional, so this would be a great meatless meal for any day!

Creamy Cauliflower and Potato Soup
Adapted from Luscious Cauliflower Soup by Cottage Grove House

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced sweet yellow onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 head cauliflower, cored and roughly chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth, preferably homemade or low sodium
1/2 cup half and half
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream whisked with 2 tablespoons sour cream
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (not pre-shredded)
Snipped chives or green onion, for garnish
Chopped cooked bacon, for garnish (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Chopped Onion, Cauliflower, and Potatoes

Chopped Onion, Cauliflower, and Potatoes

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or 1 tablespoon bacon grease and 1 tablespoon olive oil) in a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the diced onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook about 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the cauliflower and potatoes and continue to cook for 5 minutes.

Add the broth and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 more minutes. Remove from heat

Simmering Cauliflower and Potatoes in Broth

Simmering Cauliflower and Potatoes in Broth

In batches, blend about half the soup until desired consistency. Stir in the cheese, half & half and sour cream mixture. Garnish with snipped chives and bacon bits (optional). Pass with salt and pepper and adjust seasoning accordingly, depending on garnishes used. Serve with warm crusty, buttered bread.

Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

 

Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Chicken

14 Dec
Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Chicken

Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Chicken

I am so very proud of my daughter! She cooked us dinner for the very first time last night, and she did a wonderful job of it. She is learning cooking and nutrition skills in her Freshman courses called “Family and Consumer Studies” or some such nonsense. Back in ancient times when I was that age, the class was called Home Economics (Home Ec for short). Nonetheless, the class has taught her that she CAN cook something besides eggs and cookies, both of which she cooks herself on a regular basis.

The original recipe has no chicken in it, but since this was going to be our dinner she wanted to add some. She asked me if I could cook the chicken for her and she would do the rest. How could I complain? I did tell her she could watch me and learn, but alas, that wasn’t part of her plan. So I pan-fried up some chicken, called her down for her part, and started snapping photos. “MOM! I do not want you in the kitchen while I do this. GO! I can do this myself!” You don’t know how hard it was for me to do that. Really. I slunk upstairs to my office space and frittered away the time nervously until I was called to supper.

Sauteing the Chicken

Sauteing the Chicken

After I snapped some shots of the finished soup in the pot and took my requisite bowl of soup photos and started eating it, she shouted “Hot Sauce! You can add hot sauce if you want!” I found the Sriracha sauce in the fridge, and she splattered quite a bit over her soup. I tentatively added a few drops over mine and stirred it in, took one bite, and thought “Wow! What a great addition to the taste!” Splurt, splurt, splurt, on went more. Sadly I did not take any photos of this momentous event, but trust me, Sriracha tastes great with this soup. Without further adieu, here is the recipe:

Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Chicken

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
Mrs. Dash Table Blend, or salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups half and half (or whole milk)
2 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium
1-2 pounds fresh broccoli florets
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Sriracha sauce (optional, for serving)

Season the chopped chicken with Mrs. Dash (or salt) and pepper to taste. I used a lot of it. Heat a large skillet to medium high, add the oil, then sauté the chicken for several minutes on each side until browned and cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside.

Chopping the Onion

Chopping the Onion

Heat the butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and saut√© 3 to 5 minutes, until softened. Sprinkle the flour evenly over the onions and whisk continuously until there are no lumps left. Add the half and half and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick or burn.

Add the broccoli and cook 15 to 20 minutes more until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a fork. Add the salt, pepper, chicken, and cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted. Serve with Sriracha sauce, or any other hot sauce, and thick slices of crusty bread.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Chicken

Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Chicken

Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

Cheshire Cat Halloween Cheese Ball

30 Oct
Cheshire Cat Halloween Cheese Ball

Cheshire Cat Halloween Cheese Ball

UPDATE! I won first place at my work’s Spooky Halloween Food Contest for this! I was a close contender with some Scary Awesome Teeth Cookies, but won by two votes (and yes one of those was mine.) I now have two movie tickets to go enjoy a night out with my hubby. Yeah!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We are having our annual Halloween potluck at work tomorrow, and I decided to create this spooky Cheshire Cat Cheese Ball for it. It’s not that hard to to make (although my apple carving skills need work), so if you are looking for a last minute Halloween food idea, this might be just what you need!

Cheshire Cat Halloween Cheese Ball
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

3 cups finely shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 8-ounce packages Neufchatel or regular cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons milk
2 large green onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
2 teaspoons minced garlic
Several dashes of hot sauce (I used Sriracha)

For the assembly:

1 cup crushed blue tortilla chips
2 triangular blue tortilla chips
2 triangular white or yellow tortilla chips
1 square wheat cracker, split into a triangle
3 pieces dried spaghetti, snapped in half
10 to 15 whole almonds
1 green apple

Bring the cheese and butter to room temperature. Reserve about two tablespoons of the cream cheese and set aside. Add the cheeses, milk, green onion, Worcestershire, garlic, and hot pepper sauce to a large food processor and blend until combined

Shape the mixture into a ball then roll it in the crushed tortilla chips. Press the tortilla chips in at the top for ears and the wheat cracker in for the nose. Stick in the spaghetti for whiskers. Press in the almonds in a semi-circle for the teeth. For the eyes, make two indentions and put balls of the reserved cream cheese in them. Slice out two wedges of the green apple, then peel away the skin except for vertical sliver. As you can see my cat’s eyes are kind of funky. Press the apple slices into the cream cheese balls. Voila! Refrigerate until ready to serve. Remove from refrigerator for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.

Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

Harvest Grains and Pork Stuffed Red Bell Peppers

18 Sep
Harvest Grains and Pork Stuffed Red Bell Peppers

Harvest Grains and Pork Stuffed Red Bell Peppers

Hey, I finally caught a salmon on my line! (And… he got away, boo hiss.) But it was fun and exciting, nonetheless. So you may have noticed I didn’t do a weekend post, because, well, I was gone fishin’! But the night before we left I made these crazy-good stuffed bell peppers, and I think we’ve found our new-favorite vegetable stuffing. I was perusing through Trader Joe’s last week and noticed this package of Harvest Grains. It sounded so delicious, with couscous, quinoa, orzo pasta, and teeny garbanzo beans. Wow! What a bunch of cool grains and stuff all in one package! And the flavors were just wonderful. So much better than plain old white rice.

Trader Joe's Harvest Grains Red Bell Peppers and Tomatoes

Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains, Red Bell Peppers, and Tomatoes

I decided I would make my roasted bell pepper recipe using this instead of rice, and yowza, what a hit with the family! Seconds for everyone. I thought I had some ground turkey in the freezer, and I was going to be really healthy using that instead of ground beef, but alas, it turned out to be a package of ground pork (plain, not breakfast-type.) Well, what the heck, I used that instead. I also used some of my tomatoes from our hanging tomato plant experiment, which are coming in fast and strong. Now if I can only ward off the frost until I get most of them harvested, as it’s cooling down quick in my neck of the woods. I hope you enjoy this, and if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s in your area, you can substitute rice, but I would simmer it longer and use more liquid.

Simmering Bell Pepper Stuffing

Simmering Bell Pepper Stuffing

Harvest Grains and Pork Stuffed Red Bell Peppers

2 large red bell peppers (or 3 or 4 if you want all the stuffing inside)
1 pound ground  fresh pork (or turkey or beef)
1/2 cup onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3/4 cup Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains (or rice)
3/4 cup homemade or low-sodium chicken broth (or water)
2 cups diced fresh tomatoes and liquid, or 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Dash of cayenne pepper
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Cut 1/2 inch tops off of the bell peppers, and dice the tops up except for the stems. Clean and rinse the inside of the peppers and place with small amount of water in covered microwavable dish. Microwave for five minutes and let rest until ready to stuff.

Stuffed Bell Pepper Ready for Oven

Stuffed Bell Pepper Ready for Oven

In a very large frying pan, sauté the ground pork (or turkey or beef) along with chopped pepper tops, onion and garlic until your meat is browned. Drain. Add the rest of ingredients except cheese and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer until the Harvest Grains are done, about 15 minutes. (Longer if using rice.) Stir in half the cheese.

Stuff the peppers with mixture and place in a lightly oil-sprayed casserole dish, and spoon the extra stuffing around the peppers. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over top and bake 5 minutes longer. Dinner is served!

Hash Brown, Ham, and Cheese Spinach Casserole ~ Light Version!

6 Mar
Hash Brown, Ham, and Spinach Casserole, Plated and Ready to Eat!

Hash Brown, Ham, and Spinach Casserole, Plated and Ready to Eat!

Now this is a yummy comfort food dish that doesn’t have to be laden with a gazillion calories if you don’t let it. This is probably one of the most common dishes brought to a potluck in the South. Most likely a funeral or some kind of “event.” I don’t say that in a bad way,¬† either. It’s just a dish you can bring, no matter the occasion. I’ve had so many variations of this over my lifetime, (and usually just potatoes, ham, and cheese) and to me it’s all goooood! This lightened up version is fairly easy to make aside from a little chopping and a rather abundant use of bowls. The hardest part was trying to make this flavorful without all the fat. I spent more time scouring Pinterest and the internet looking for a hash brown and ham casserole that didn’t have a “cream of” soup in it or too much¬† butter and cheese than I did actually preparing it. I finally settled on mashing the best parts together of several recipes, and this is what I came up with. The result? Both daughter and husband went back for huge second helpings, leaving me with a very small portion to take to work for lunch the next day. It was so small I had to make a snack run to the store later for some rice cakes to help fill in before dinner. Of course, you can double this recipe and make plenty, but I only had a half a bag of hash browns in the freezer to start. This recipe would feed four if the fam wasn’t so starving. Or perhaps they really liked it,¬† huh?

Hash Brown, Ham, and Spinach Casserole

Hash Brown, Ham, and Spinach Casserole ~¬†¬† This is my mom’s vintage bakeware, don’t you just love it??

Hash Brown, Ham, and Spinach Casserole

12 ounces of frozen, shredded  hash browns
2 tablespoons butter, or substitute
Ground black pepper, to taste
Mrs. Dash Table Blend or salt, to taste
1/2 cup lowfat milk (I used 1%)
1/2 cup lowfat sour cream
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 cups chopped, diced ham
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
1 6-ounce bag spinach
Squeeze of lemon juice
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs mixed with 1 tablespoon melted butter, or substitute
Chopped green onion parts, for garnish

Ham, Red Pepper, Cheese, and Hash Browns

Ham, Red Pepper, Cheese, Onions, and Hash Browns all ready for mixin’

Bowls! You need lots of bowls for this dish, sorry. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and chop all your veggies and shred your cheese. Once that’s done, add the hash browns to a large bowl with the butter. Microwave for a minute or two until the hash browns are somewhat thawed and the butter is melted. Grind a bunch of black pepper over it and sprinkle Mrs. Dash or salt on to taste and mix again. In a bowl or glass measuring cup, add the milk, sour cream, and mustard and whisk to combine then stir into the hash browns. Now add all the chopped ham, veggies and cheese and combine.¬† Last, add the chopped spinach to another bowl, sprinkle with a little water and lemon¬† juice, then microwave for one to two minutes until wilted. Stir that in with the potato mixture. Now spray a small casserole dish (or large one if you doubled!) with some oil, spread the mixture evenly into the dish, then pop in oven for 45 minutes. Pull it out, sprinkle the buttered Panko bread crumbs over the casserole and put back in and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until the breadcrumbs start to brown. Take out and let rest until it stops bubbling. Serve on plates with chopped green onion for garnish. This will be hot, creamy, and oh so good for your belly.

Hash Brown, Ham and Spinach Casserole 3

I just had to show you one more picture of my mother’s vintage casserole dish. I don’t cook in it that often but it’s the perfect size for this scaled-down version of the casserole. It’s probably 7 by 5 or so? Never measured it!

Ooey Gooey au Gratin Potatoes

20 Nov
Ooey Gooey au Gratin Potatoes Dish

Ooey Gooey au Gratin Potatoes Dish

I was totally craving some comfort food last night, something creamy, something cheesy, something with potatoes. I headed to my good ole’ Better Homes and Garden’s cook book again for inspiration, then spotted the Au Gratin Potatoes recipe. Well it was actually Potatoes and Eggs au Gratin with tomato wedges and parsley, and the picture of it looked soooo 70s! Not that my photography is any better. However the base recipe sounded good enough, so adapted it with some additions, such as garlic, cayenne pepper, and Parmesan cheese. I left out the¬† boiled eggs and tomatoes, because that did not sound appealing at all. I just wanted a big mess of ooey gooey creamy cheesy artery-clogging potatoes, and I think I accomplished that! Mind you I don’t splurge on eating this much cheese and dairy that often all at once, but sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind and indulge.

Ooey Gooey au Gratin Potatoes

1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled
1/2 tablespoon butter or substitue
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon garlic
2 1/2 tablespoons butter or substitute
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cups milk (I used 2%)
1/2 cup sour cream (you can use low-fat, I didn’t have any)
Mrs. Dash Table Blend, or salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Black pepper to taste
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping

Au Gratin Potatoes Served

Au Gratin Potatoes Served

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Boil the whole potatoes for about 15-20 minutes¬†‚ÄĒ just long enough to slice through easily but you don’t want them mushy. Meanwhile place the butter, chopped onion, and garlic in a small glass bowl, cover, and microwave for one minute. Let that rest to cool off while the potatoes finish cooking. When the potatoes are done, drain and wash under cold water until cool enough to handle. Spray a 2-quart casserole dish with oil. Slice the potatoes thinly and layer in the dish and set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt the remaining butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and combine to make a paste. Then add the milk all at once and whisk until it starts to thicken. Add the cayenne pepper, then season to taste with Mrs. Dash and black pepper. Then add the onions and garlic, and then the sour cream. Lastly, add the cheddar and Parmesan cheeses. Stir well until all combined, then pour over the the potatoes. Pop that baby in the oven for about 45 minutes until bubbly. Carefully sprinkle some additional cheddar and Parmesan cheese on top, then broil for about 5 minutes until the top cheese is nice and brown. Remove from oven and let sit about 10 minutes, if you can wait that long! We had this with crock pot boneless beef ribs and asparagus. Great side dish for any meal when you crave some comfort food.

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