Tag Archives: Casseroles

Savory Vegan Bake

 

Sometimes, you just have no ideas in your head. You open the cupboards and refrigerator and sift through half-bags of random ingredients, cans you forgot you had, and sad wilted veggies. And then inspiration strikes!

This was one of those times.

I had half a bag of barley, as well as half a bag of black eyed peas.  In the fridge, I had a few spears of asparagus, and half a small zucchini. I also had some cooked turkey, which seemed appropriate to add.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup zucchini slices
  • 1 cup diced asparagus
  • 1/2 cup greens (spinach, kale, mustard greens)
  • 1/2 cup diced mushrooms
  • 1 cup black-eyes peas (or other dried bean)
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • Salt, pepper, turmeric
  • 2 1/2 cups water or broth
  • Optional: 1/2 cup cooked turkey

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Step 1: In a pot on the stove, bring the water or broth to a boil. Add in the beans & barley, cover, and simmer for about 35-40 minutes. If they get dry, add more water as needed.

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Step 2: In a pan, add all the diced veggies with a little water or oil, and cook on medium heat, covered, for 10-12 minutes.  (If using ground turkey or beef, add and cook here)

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Step 3: Once the peas & barley are softened, mix with the vegetables in a large baking pan. Add seasonings to your taste, I used garlic salt, black pepper & some turmeric (hence the yellow color). Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until heated through. Serve & enjoy!

 

Savory Vegan Bake

Savory Vegan Bake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup zucchini slices
  • 1 cup diced asparagus
  • 1/2 cup greens (spinach, kale, mustard greens)
  • 1/2 cup diced mushrooms
  • 1 cup black-eyes peas (or other dried bean)
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • Salt, pepper, turmeric
  • 2 1/2 cups water or broth
  • Optional: 1/2 cup cooked turkey

Instructions

  1. In a pot on the stove, bring the water or broth to a boil. Add in the beans & barley, cover, and simmer for about 35-40 minutes. If they get dry, add more water as needed.
  2. In a pan, add all the diced veggies with a little water or oil, and cook on medium heat, covered, for 10-12 minutes. (If using ground turkey or beef, add and cook here)
  3. Once the peas & barley are softened, mix with the vegetables in a large baking pan. Add seasonings to your taste, I used garlic salt, black pepper & some turmeric (hence the yellow color). Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until heated through. Serve & enjoy!
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Ratatouille niçoise

There are several recipes or types of food which I’ve heard of, tried, or seen but have not yet tried to cook myself. One of those is ratatouille. The 2007 Disney movie brought the dish into the main stream consciousness with its adorable main character, Remy, a rat who just wanted to be a great chef. Ever since then it’s been in the back of my mind as a ‘make this someday’ dish.

Ratatouille the dish is traditionally a French dish consisting of stewed vegetables. It originated in the French province of Nice, and comes from the Occitan language “ratatolha” and the French word “touiller” meaning to toss food. There are similar dishes in many other cuisines, including the Catalan samfaina, the Majorcan tombet, the Spanish pisto, the Italian caponata, Greek tourloú, and Filipino pinkabet. French chef Michel Guérard came up with a new version called Confit byaldi for the Disney movie. It can be served as a side dish, or made a whole meal when served over rice.

In my version, I pulled together several variations, and used what I had available in my kitchen. I had planned on a potato leek soup sometime this week, but silly me had only bought one leek, so into the ratatouille it went. While I’m at it, I’ll throw the potato in there too. Oh, and a single turnip I had bought for who knows what reason. Also I had no fresh tomatoes, but my pantry is never without a can of diced tomatoes.



Ingredients:
3 zucchini (I just happened to have three different colors, so at least it’ll look pretty)
1 turnip
1 potato
1 leek
1/2 red onion
3 large bulbs garlic
1 leek
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp butter or margarine
1/4 green bell pepper, sliced

Step 1: Slice the onion into thin strips, dice up the garlic, and slice the leek. Add them and the bell pepper to a frying pan on low with the butter and cover.

Let that cook and caramelize, stirring occasionally, while you preheat the oven to 350 and proceed to the next step. 

Step 2: Slice the zucchini into thin coins. Peel and slice the potato and turnip as well.

 Step 3: Layer the potato, turnip, and zucchini in a casserole pan.

Step 3: To the pan add the can of diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then pour over the vegetables in the casserole dish.

Step 4: Cover in foil and bake at 350 for 45 min to an hour. You’ll know it’s ready when the slices are soft when poked with a fork.

I also took the foil off after 45 minutes and let it bake another 15 minutes to evaporate some of the juices. You can now serve it over rice or couscous, with fresh crusty bread, and/or sprinkle on some mozzarella. Deliciously vegetarian and very low fat and low calorie. Bake up a batch, put on the Ratatouille movie or some classic Julia Child and enjoy!

If you have a favorite French recipe, anecdote of your trip Paris or first year of chef school, or a story of attempting a French recipe that ended unfortunately, please share here!

Butternut squash mac-n-cheese (Bonus snack)

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So I came across a recipe for butternut squash macaroni and cheese, and since it is getting into the fall season (and sounded delicious) I decided to try it. I had most of the ingredients, I just needed to buy the squash and some cheese. Of course, I made it my own as I always do. You can find the full nutrition info here.
 
Ingredients:
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes (Save the seeds for a bonus snack!)
1 1/2 cup skim milk
1 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp brown sugar
Sprinkle black pepper & salt
1/2 pound macaroni of choice (I used elbow)
2/3 pound fresh Cheddar
1/2 cup skim cottage cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
 

Step 1: Get water for pasta boiling. Meanwhile, peel and dice squash. Put squash, stock and milk in a pan, simmer 10-15 minutes until squash is fork-tender. Boil the pasta ~ 8 minutes and drain.

 Step 2: Put squash into blender (or mash) to make it smooth. Add salt, pepper, sugar.

 Step 3: Put macaroni into a greased pan, pour squash over top. Add cheeses and mix well. Cover with foil & bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Step 4: Uncover, sprinkle bread crumbs and parmesan on top. Bake uncovered for another 20-30 minutes, until golden and crispy on top.

 Step 5: Let cool, scoop out a helping and enjoy!


Bonus snack!
While peeling and dicing the squash, save the seeds. Rinse thoroughly to get rid of slimy part. Sprinkle sea salt over top. Toast the seeds in the oven at 350 for ~20 minutes, stirring at least once. The seeds are light and smoky, and taste like fall! I could eat bushels of these things!



Shepherd’s Pie my way

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As you can see in a post prior to this, I had recently made a large amount of mashed potatoes & cauliflower. I had quite a bit left over, so I was browsing some of my favorite recipe web sites for ideas. I wanted to make pierogi (I am slovak & polish you know) but I was out of eggs (used my last one in my breakfast BELT recipe!) so I couldn’t make the dough.
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Then I stumbled across this recipe for “Italian Irishman’s pie” on Allrecipes.com. It used sausage instead of beef in shepherd’s pie. Since I had a pack of Johnsonville Cheddarwurst Brats in the freezer, I figured this could work. So with what I had on hand, I pared it down to serve two (since a large amount of food almost always goes to waste) and gave it a try. It came out pretty tasty!
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Ingredients:
2 brats, sliced thin (reserve the drippings)
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup cream or milk
Salt & pepper
1/2 zucchini, diced
1/2 yellow squash, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 – 2 cups mashed potatoes
Optional: 2 slices cheese, or 1/2 cup shredded cheese
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Step 1: Cook the brats until they’re done, put into a loaf pan.

Step 2: To drippings, add flour & brown for 2 minutes. Add water, cream, salt & pepper to taste, whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil, cook until thickened. Pour the gravy over the brats.

Step 3: In the same pan, add diced vegetable. Cook until tender, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add the zucchini, squash and onion to the loaf pan.

Step 4: Layer the mashed potatoes on top of everything. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Now you have layered your sausage, gravy, veggies and potatoes. You can brush the top with some melted butter or margarine if you like.

Step 5: Bake in the oven set to 350 for 20 minutes.

Step 6: The gravy and potatoes should be bubbly. I added 2 slices of colby cheese on top and put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes to melt.

Step 7: Spoon a big helping onto a plate and enjoy! You can top with extra shredded cheese and salt/pepper if you like.

Delicious, filling and not as bad for you as you might think, assuming you used the potatoes/cauliflower mixture!

Easy Slow Cooker Chicken & Rice Casserole

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Slow cookers are amazing, because you just put dinner in, go off to work or class, and come home to a fresh hot meal. I had a busy day planned, so I decided to use up some freezer food and make dinner a snap: I would make chicken casserole in the Crock Pot.
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Ingredients:
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 bag frozen vegetables
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Seasonings (Nature’s, black pepper and garlic)
Step 1: Put the chicken on the bottom of the sprayed pot.
Step 2: Mix rice & water, pour in.
Step 3: Cover with cream of chicken soup.
Step 4: Add the frozen veggies.
Then just cover tightly and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Make sure the chicken is cooked all the way through before serving. Makes about 4 servings. Simple, cheap, quick. Enjoy!

Planned leftovers and getting creative

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One of the best techniques I know to save money and time on food is to plan your leftovers and get creative. There are so many dishes which are perfect for using up extra food, like casseroles, tacos, stir fry and pasta dishes.

If you have the time to plan a whole week of meals, I recommend it because that way you can make a whole chicken one day, then use it later in the week for soup, sandwiches, salads, and many other dishes. This saves you money by using one item in several meals.

For example, after Easter ham goes on sale becuase stores want to get rid of all the hams that didn’t sell. So I bought a 9-pound ham and cooked it in my crockpot with some brown sugar and pineapple juice. I had sliced ham and mashed potatoes and green beans the first day, and I also saved some cubes and slices in zip-loc bags and the bone and some slices went into the freezer.
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I ate the cubes as a snack, and made ham sandwiches later in the week. The frozen ham bone went into ham and barley soup several weeks later, and the slices I made into ham and scalloped potatoes last night. It is always a good idea to have grains and potatoes around because they are so versatile.
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Depending upon how many people you plan to feed with it, your ingredient amounts will vary. I planned to serve 3 from this.
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Leftover ham and scalloped potatoes:
6 medium potatoes
1 cup flour
2 cups diced ham
1 cup milk
1 cup cheese
Step 1: Thinly slice 6 medium potatoes with skins on and spread in the bottom of a sprayed 9×13 pan.

Step 2: Sprinkle about 1/2 cup to a cup of flour over top, and add about 2 cups diced ham. I added 1 cup of cheddar cheese on top becuase cheese makes everything better! Then pour in 1 cup milk and cover with tin foil.

I also sprinkled some salt and pepper over top before baking, it’s to your own taste preference.

Step 3: Bake at 375 for about 1 hour, or until potatoes are soft but not falling apart.

Assuming you buy a 5-lb bag of potatoes for about $3, and had the ham on hand, the whole meal costs maybe $5 total.3 of us had 2 helpings each, with a small amount left over for someone’s lunch later! Feel free to doctor it up with different cheeses, adding some kind of vegetables, using chicken broth instead of milk… get creative and have fun with the process.