Creamy Chicken-and-Wild Rice Casserole

Let’s get something out of the way:  I am not sharing this recipe because it’s beautiful.  Because let’s be honest, most casseroles are not pretty.  I’m sharing this recipe because not only is it delicious but you can make two casseroles with this one recipe – one for tonight and one for later (or for a friend!).  I made this for dinner a couple of weeks ago and then popped one in the freezer so I could take it to my sister in law and brother.

What I love most about this casserole is the lack of cream of mushroom soup.  Instead you make your own “soup” with milk and mushrooms plus a little bit of flour to thicken up the mixture.  The creaminess comes from the milk as well as the addition of cream cheese.  Instead of onions, leeks are used for a milder flavor.  I adore wild rice and totally think I need to add it into our weekly menu more often – so nutty and hearty.

Like I said, you can make one big casserole or you can split it up – one for now and one for later.  If you’re going to freeze one, stop before you get to the baking step; allow the dish to come to room temperature and then cover tightly and freeze.

wildricechikcasserole

Another great thing about casseroles – leftovers are even better since the ingredients and flavors have time to really meld together.

Do you have any favorite freezer-friendly meals?

Cheesy Sausage, Broccoli, and Quinoa Casserole

Good morning!  First of all, if you haven’t voted: GO!  And that’s all I have to say about that.  I am beyond ready for the commercials to stop – I never say this but bring on the Christmas commercials.

This past weekend was incredibly busy but we saw so many people and it was absolutely wonderful.  On Friday evening we celebrated Big Guy’s grandmothers birthday.  Just to note – we’ve all thought for months she was turning 80 this year.  Turns out she’s only turning 79 today.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GRANNY!

grannysbirthday

We hit the road fairly early on Saturday so that we could make it to Charlotte in time for lunch.  We were surprised to have a special lunch guest:  Haines!  We ate at a restaurant called Kid Cashew.  I have no idea why that is the name and it doesn’t give the restaurant justice.  We all loved our Mediterranean-inpsired meal but the company was the best part.

kidcashewhaines

Saturday afternoon we wrapped up some of the planning for my sister’s shower on Sunday and then we were off to visit my brother and his girlfriend.  Their huge fans of sushi, like us, so a sushi double date seemed like a no-brainer.  We visited for a little while before heading to eeZ, the parent restaurant of CowFish.  We ate so much sushi and it was all incredible.  A definite repeat sushi spot.

eez

Sunday was definitely a full day – beginning with church and then it was all about getting my parents house ready for the shower before the guests arrived at 2pm.  We went with a “sprinkle” theme and it was so fun to see everyone.  Haines was the best hostess ever and Maggie got lots of stuff that will come in handy when baby #3 arrives in a matter of weeks.

sprinkleshower

Maggie looks fantastic and we’re all anxious to see if it’s a boy or girl come the week of Thanksgiving.  And I can’t wait to meet the little one at the beginning of December.  Speaking of babies, another baby is coming in the Bell family.  My sister-in-law is expecting a baby that is due in April.  We find out whether it’s a boy or girl in a few weeks.  So fun!

Sunday ended as all Sundays should end – with pizza!  I played dominoes with my parents and Big Guy settled in for a Christmas movie on the Hallmark channel (he’s anti-games).

Whew.  What a weekend!  By the time we got home yesterday, all I wanted to do was get unpacked and settled for the rest of the week.

Dinner last night took a little prep work but it’s perfect because you get two casseroles:  one to freeze and one to eat.  Instead of freezing one, I’m actually taking it to a friend who just had a baby but I have a feeling I’ll be making a couple of Maggie and Kiersten to keep in their freezer.

quinoacasserole

Cheesy sausage, broccoli and quinoa casserole reminds me of the old-school broccoli and rice casserole.  The quinoa gives the casserole a little nuttiness and it’s much more hearty and filling than the traditional casserole.  The sausage gives lots of flavor to the dish and I loved the crunchy panko-cheese crust on top.  (cheese + carbs = everything)

quinoabroccass

And unfortunately the photo quality has declined due to the change in time on Saturday night…bring on the dark food pics.  (ugh.)

I hope you all have the best Tuesday possible and tomorrow we’ll have a new president…

Mayan Sweet Potato and Polenta Bake

I typically need a hug by the end of Monday. And last night I not only got a hug but this dinner was incredibly comforting and satisfying.

Not to mention the flavors are out of this world.  I never imagined putting together refried beans, polenta and sweet potatoes – but boy did they work together in harmony to create a delicious Mayan Sweet Potato and Polenta Bake.

And there’s cheese.  And the most luscious sauce.

Big Guy compared the flavors and textures to a thick stew.  They reminded me a lot of enchiladas.

In case you’re not familiar with using polenta (in the tube) – here’s the brand I used.  

The recipe instructs you to use a 9 x 9 baking dish but I honestly thing a 13 x 9 dish would have worked better.  I was unable to use all the polenta in fear (yes, fear) that all the other layers wouldn’t fit.

The polenta is broken up in a bowl and then pressed into the bottom of your baking dish.  Top the polenta with half of the refried beans; slices of raw sweet potato; the saute of peppers, onions and garlic; half the shredded cheese and half of the sauce.  Then you layer on the remaining beans; sweet potato slices; sauce and cheese.

The casserole bakes for about an hour and 350 degrees.

I’m going to warn you – it’s not the most photogenic casserole – casseroles are rarely beautiful – but the taste is out of this world.

mayan bake

A sprinkle of cilantro and you’re ready to dig in.

Nutritious and delicious.

And almost as good as a hug.

 

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Good morning and happy Monday to you!  After a glorious weekend with the flamingos, I’m back and ready to tackle the week.

I’ve been spoiled and have seen someone in my family three out of the last four weekends.  And now I don’t really have a date on the calendar to be reunited and I find myself a little homesick.

So last night I was craving comfort food.  You might not know this but tuna noodle casserole is one of my favorite classics from childhood.

It’s warm, cheesy and totally comforting – like a big hug from Mom or Dad.

This version is lightened up from the recipe I grew up eating.  Instead of cream of mushroom soup – a mushroom sauce is made combining milk, chicken stock, onions, flour and lots of mushrooms.

Cheese is added to the sauce so that each and every bite has a little bit of cheese.  Green peas add great texture with little pops of flavor here and there.

Before baking, the casserole is topped with more cheddar and a breadcrumb mixture with parmesan cheese.  A little more cheesiness and a little bit of nuttiness.

Y’all – this turned out way better than I expected and might even be more delicious than what I remember.

Warm.  Comforting.  Cheesy.  And a little crispy around the edges and on top (my favorite bites!).

I opted to go the gluten-free route and used gluten-free brown rice noodles and rice flour.  I also don’t believe in reduced-fat cheese so I used regular sharp cheddar.

If you are in need of a hug, this casserole is for you.

(And if you’re not a fan of tuna – which I know a lot of folks aren’t – you can totally substitute chicken.)

Stacked Chicken Enchiladas

As much as I love cooking new recipes, I hate throwing away food.  Big Guy typically eats leftovers for lunch or on the nights that are busy and we have to fend for ourselves.  But sometimes it’s not about leftovers.  Sometimes a recipe calls for 6 of something but they only come in packages of 18.  I’m not about to throw away 12 of something.

So I try to work my menus around what I have in the fridge that needs to be used.  Enter corn tortillas.

A couple of weeks ago I bought the tortillas for the beef chorizo tacos.  And then I used them again in our crispy avocado tacos.

And I still had leftovers.

So I used My Recipes to search for a recipe utilizing corn tortillas and chicken thighs (I also had those on hand).  One of the first recipes to pop up was Stacked Chicken Enchiladas, a recipe I had actually taken out of my binder at home and put in the “make” pile.  It was meant to be.

This isn’t a 30-minute recipe but it’s totally worth the time.

Instead of using two separate pans to cook the chicken, I used my dutch oven so that I could easily transfer the chicken from the stove-top to the oven.  I also didn’t have any cilantro on hand because what I thought was cilantro was parsley in the fridge.  But I used parsley and the end result was still incredibly delicious.  And I also didn’t want to waste money buying Mexican crema so I simply mixed a little Greek yogurt with lime juice.

Enchiladas can sometimes be a pain – messy and frustrating – because of dipping the tortillas and rolling.  This recipe isn’t as painful.  The enchiladas are made by layering what’s typically inside the enchilada and the corn tortillas.

I’m not going to lie – my favorite part of this recipe was the crispy tortilla edges on top with the melted cheese.

I’m such a carb and cheese gal.

But this recipe has all the flavor of your beloved enchiladas without the guilt.

 

 

Tamale Potpie

I grew up loving chicken pot pie.  I loved the crust.  I loved the veggies (veg-all, what what!).  I loved it all.  Creamy and dreamy – it always hit the spot.

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Tamale Potpie is a Mexican spin on the original while still being loaded with veggies (no veg-all, though) and a cheesy cornmeal crust.

The potpie part of this dish is sauteed onions, ground turkey, diced zucchini, corn, diced tomatoes with green chiles and tomato sauce.  Everything is topped with a cornmeal mixture that includes lots of sharp cheddar cheese.

I ended up making the potpie in one casserole dish instead of the individual dishes but I honestly would recommend you cooking them individually, if possible.  You’ll get a much better presentation.

Instead of creamy and dreamy, it was savory, with a bit of a kick from the green chiles.  And instead of a cream of chicken base, tomato sauce is used to loosen up the filling.

I thought that the end product tasted amazing (though it wasn’t the prettiest dish to come out of my kitchen).

I love Mexican food but this was totally different than any Mexican dish I’ve prepared in the past.

Like I said, don’t judge the photo – it’s totally awful.

tamale

And the best part about this recipe – the leftovers are even better.  While the crust was creamy and comforting the first time around, the flavor of the cornmeal really came out the second time around.

This dinner is perfect for families with children because everyone in the family will love this dish.  And if you want it spicier, add some pickled jalapenos to the mix.  Or red pepper flakes.  If you want the dish to be really mild, with no spice at all, use diced tomatoes without the green chiles.

I’ve been all about the comfort food lately and this is Mexican comfort food.

All that’s missing is a margarita on the rocks.

Mom’s Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

If you grew up in the South, I’m sure you’ve eaten a chicken casserole.  A deliciously creamy baked dish with cream of mushroom soup, broccoli, chicken, perhaps rice and always cheese on top.  Perhaps it’s your Momma’s recipe and I would never tell you that this casserole is better.  But this casserole is healthier.  And quite delicious.  The best part, there’s no “funky” ingredients (there’s no telling what is in cream of mushroom soup).

The best part of this twist on a classic, it takes a lot less time to cook.  Most of the cooking is done on the stove top and the only thing you need your oven for is broiling to get the cheese melted

The base of the casserole (or skillet dinner) is mushrooms and onions.  Lots of mushrooms.  The use of mushrooms adds so much flavor and a real heartiness to the dish.  And because we’re not using cream of mushroom soup, we need creaminess.  The use of milk (I used almond milk), Greek yogurt and a smidge of mayo makes it just as creamy as the orgininal.  The recipe calls for flour to thicken the sauce, but I used 1 tablespoon of cornstarch instead to make it gluten-free.

Instead of having to cut and blanch broccoli, steam-in-the-bag broccoli is used which is not only a time saver but saves you a lot of washing of dishes.  Another time saver?  Rotisserie chicken from Harris Teeter.  I did all my grocery shopping on Saturday.  Once I got home from the store, I went ahead and prepped the chicken – removing the skin and bones and shredding – so that it was ready for me when I needed it.  Might I had that the rotisserie chicken cost me $7 and I will get a total of 6 individual meals from that chicken (2 plates last night, 2 lunches of leftovers for Big Guy and 2 salads tonight).  Totally worth the $7.

On top, a mix of cheddar cheese (I used sharp white cheddar) and Parmesan.  Both of these cheeses are packed with flavor so a little goes a long way.

Might I add that Big Guy wanted to lick the bowl?

It’s that good.