Quinoa casserole: inspired by Betty

To be fair my 1978 edition of Betty Crocker’s Cookbook has no mention of quinoa anywhere in it. Not that quinoa was not known but it was not the superfood in popular cooking at that time. We older people struggled to learn how to pronounce the word.

I was actually looking for a recipe for sausages and rice that did not have tomatoes. We had been eating out at an Italian restaurant weekly and I wanted something differently seasoned. I also wanted something with vegetables. The following meal is inspired by Betty’s Rice and Corn Bake, page 109. That recipe is basically rice, corn, cheese, eggs, and milk. Mine is a little different.

  • 2/3rd pound chicken sausage link cut into 1 inch pieces and sauted. The sausage I had was flavored with spinach.
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables; I thought about using only corn but I like color in my foods.
  • 4 cups cooked quinoa; I had thought about using brown rice; maybe next time.
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 tsp dry mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tomato, sliced

Cook the quinoa as directed by the package. I cooked what I thought was the amount for 4 servings: 1 cup quinoa in 2 cups of water. Cook the sausages in a bit of oil. Heat oven to 350 F.

Now combine. First mix the vegetables, quinoa, and sausages in greased 2 quart casserole or baking pan. Sprinkle cheese on top. Combine eggs, milk, and seasonings. Pour this over the food in the pan. Place slices of tomato on top. Now bake for 40-45 minutes.

This made for a tasty and filling dinner. Hubby and I like to have “dinner in a bowl”. I deliberately arranged the tomato slices to make four servings. This was a lot of food and I wanted to insure two meals.

After thoughts: This is a lot of quinoa. I should have cooked 1/2 the amount. Actually I think brown rice may be a better choice for more appealing texture.

2019 plans: also Coleslaw, Pumpkin Pie, and Hoppin’ John

Happy New Year to all. I hope to write more, play Solitaire less, Facebook even less, and maintain Faith, Hope, and Love for all.

My sister had an idea a few years ago to cook through a cookbook in a year. I never could choose which of my 50+ books to use, but this year I will use Betty Crocker as my go-to book. This does not mean I will cook each and every recipe, nor each recipe exactly, but will use this standard American Cookbook as the first source of inspiration. For example, if I want to make to make pork chops I will peruse this book’s recipes to determine how to fix them. So I did make a breaded pork chop and Betty instructed to bake them on a rack in the baking pan in the oven.  I did and they turned out nicely. I failed to take a picture so you must take my word for it.

Hubby was grilling ribs. Cole slaw is a nice side dish. I bought a package of broccoli slaw to use. I made a combination of Betty’s Coleslaw and her Old-Fashioned Cabbage Salad from page 138, plus ingredients from a variation.

  • 1/2 package broccoli slaw
  • 1 apple cored and diced
  • 1/4 shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • pinch of celery salt
  • a few grinds of black peppercorns

My go-to pumpkin pie is Betty’s. I have made it before https://mykitchenmythoughts.com/2017/03/14/pi-day/. The problem I had this time is that the crust did not seem to bake through on the bottom. The edges were beautiful. What did I do wrong? I have never pre-baked the crust for pumpkin pie.

Hoppin’ John is on page 226. I did not use this recipe because this traditional New Year’s Day meal is made of rice, black-eyed peas, and pork in many different proportions and variations. I used bacon and added onion and spinach. The sprinkling of red pepper flakes was the only real thing I took from Betty.

Stuffed peppers, my version

So, I asked Hubby what should we do with the two green peppers languishing away in our fridge’s produce drawer. Mind you, I have stored these in there in one of those mesh produce bags so they are doing just fine. I forgot to take them camping with us so now I feel they need to be used. Hubby suggested stuffed peppers. I’m thinking I have not made stuffed peppers but once in my life and Betty Crocker had me blanch the peppers before stuffing. What a hassle that was! But I figure I would give it my best shot anyway. I looked up a more modern recipe and found that blanching was not essential. Yay! As I am making these for our dinner one weeknight after work, I begin to add all sorts of ingredients. It becomes another version of Southwestern Quinoa salad that I had just thrown together. There are differences so just bear with me. Thanks!

  • 4 small yellow peppers
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/4 cup ground beef (I confess, I diced up one frozen pre-formed burger pattie.)
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1 can tomatoes with chilies
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa (I again used the boil-in-bag kind.)
  • 2 medium sized green bell peppers
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon jarred minced garlic
  • a few grinds of fresh pepper
  • and don’t forget the cheese: 1/2 cup shredded
  • olive oil for sauteing

Chop and dice the onion and yellow peppers. Saute these in a bit of olive oil until nicely aromatic. Also add the garlic. (I forgot garlic until later, oops!) Brown the ground beef in this concoction and season with cayenne and black pepper. Get that all nicely browned together. Oh, by this time I am remembering to cut the tops off the green peppers and dice the tops and add this to the skillet. Use a large-ish skillet. Add the corn and stir this around for a bit of a saute as well.

Meanwhile cook your quinoa as directed on the package. Drain or fluff when appropriate. Add the can of tomatoes and the can of drained black beans. Taste for additional seasoning. Add the quinoa and stir all together. This in itself would make a nice meal. But I’ve got these two bell peppers with the tops cut off and the membranes removed sitting like wobbly cups on my cutting board, so let the stuffing begin.

I have semi pre-heated my oven to 350 degrees F. I’m taking a big chance here and hoping this won’t undo the nice cooler house temperature that the cooler weather has brought us over the past two days. My kitchen is not air-conditioned. The small unit in the dining room does not reach it well so we close it off so the dog can stay cool enough at night to breathe. But I digress.

Find a suitably sized baking or casserole dish (this one is 1 1/2 quarts). Spoon the filling into the two peppers. Then spoon the remaining filling all around. Now top each pepper with cheese. Truth be told the only shredded cheese we had was a “pizza blend”, but cheese is cheese! Cover the casserole dish with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Then uncover the dish and bake another 15 minutes. The peppers will be al dente but that is the way we like them.

Enjoy! The leftover filling will make a good take-to-work lunch.

Quick Rice Pilaf

A friend of mine showed me an article in the NYTimes about Procrastibaking. Good article; you should read it. I don’t work from home but I do have urges to bake in order to avoid things like…deep housecleaning, another load of laundry, clearing out the sewing room, sorting books from the shelves to give away to the library. I love books. I love having several books piled askew on the coffee table, bedside stand, etc. It is very hard to give away books.

I read the article; I baked brownies. I may bake blondies as well. Depends on what else I want to put off doing…

But this is not about books. Well, I do write about recipes from my 50+ cookbooks. (These are not being sorted through to give away. Not yet.) I find that I have been cooking less from recipe books. I throw things together and may look something up for an idea of a flavoring or additional ingredient. So for supper I wanted to make rice along with the vegetables and I made a pilaf, AKA rice with peas and carrots. 🙂

  • bag of instant brown rice (Success is the brand, 10 minutes in boiling water and its done)
  • 1-2 cups frozen peas and carrots
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • a few colorful peppers, chopped, I used 3 red mini-peppers and 1 yellow mini-pepper
  • olive oil for the pan
  • a few shakes of soy sauce

Cook the rice. Put oil in a skillet and saute the onion and peppers. Stir these a bit. When they have a few nicely browned bits, add the peas and carrots. Stir and add the soy sauce. Mix with the hot rice. Voila!

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Chicken Cutlets with Herbes de Provence & Apple Compote

This is another recipe from Eating Well Magazine Winter 2003. I had all these ingredients and it is supposedly a meal made in 30 minutes. Well, it took me 40 minutes, and an additional 8-10 for the sides.

  • 2 apples, peeled and slice thin
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided (These are what the recipe calls for. My amounts were approximations because I do not take the time to measure out oil for adding to skillets for sauteing and the like.)
  • 3 teaspoons butter, divided (see above note)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Herbs de Provence
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste (see note above for salt and pepper as well)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast; I had thawed four for this recipe and have no idea how much they actually weighed. Be sure to thaw the chicken!)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel

First make the apple compote: Take two apples, peel them, and slice thin. Put in a bowl and mix with the  lemon juice and cinnamon. I cooked this in a little oil and butter in my cast iron skillet. That took about 5 minutes to cook. Set aside and keep the compote warm. Add 5-7 minutes for peeling the apple and squeezing and zesting the lemon. And another 2 minutes for cleaning the skillet and finding a bowl to hold the compote.

Mix 1 teaspoon of herbs with the salt and pepper. This does not look like enough seasoning but it is. Place chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound with mallet until 1/2-inch thick. This went rather smoothly. I got to use the meat mallet Hubby had found that is all of one piece. It just won’t do to be pounding meat and have the head of the mallet go flying across the kitchen! Anyway, sprinkle both sides of the flattened chicken with the seasoning mixture.

Heat the remaining butter and oil in the skillet. Heat over high heat. Add half the chicken and cook until no longer pink 2-3 minutes per side. Remove to platter and repeat with the other half of the chicken. Here is when I begin to get the idea that perhaps this recipe was made for 6 chicken breasts…did say it served six. Too bad, for Hubby and me I have the four. When chicken is done, remove to platter to keep warm.

Add broth, lemon zest, and remaining herbs de Provence to the skillet. Cook stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Bring to boil and cook for about 3 minutes until slightly reduced. I kept cooking a few more minutes because it did not look reduced to me. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve with the apple compote.

 

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IMG_0714The magazine suggested serving this with orzo and green beans. I served it with leftover sweet potato mash and cooked mixed vegetables from frozen. If one were to make the orzo and beans this meal would take longer. The entire time I was focused on the cooking the chicken and compote. Next time around, I won’t have to keep referring to the recipe and that may shave 5 minutes or so from the prep and cook time.

This is a tasty chicken dish. I will make this again. I may leave out the apple compote and make a savory lemon sauce/gravy to pour over, or maybe an orange sauce! I think orange would complement the Herbs de Provence very nicely.

 

 

 

 

Spinach, Sausages, and Potatoes

I have collected various cooking/food magazines over the years. While looking for my cookie recipes I found some Eating Well magazines from 2002 and 2003. I have a memory of the time reading these and thinking the recipes were too exotic or different. But when glancing through them now I find the recipes intriguing and simple enough. They are different from the usual Midwestern fare of my upbringing, but now in my cooking that is a good thing. Back then I read the articles for the health and wellness; now I will try out some of the recipes.

This recipe was touted as a warm salad along with other recipes for adding greens to one’s diet. It describes a variety of winter greens and how to cook them. This one was named Warm Salad of Greens, Italian Sausage & Potatoes. And it’s not like I had all these ingredients sitting around my kitchen. But as many of you do, I read the recipe for the idea and the way the ingredients are combined and cooked and put together. And as I was reading this one I thought about frozen spinach (always in my freezer), the venison sausage from my son-in-law’s first buck, and the white potatoes in the pantry. Voila, a recipe is born!

The original recipe calls for kale. I have never cooked kale, nor eaten it to my knowledge. I have heard, who knows where, that it is bitter and tough if not cooked right. Here’s what I used:

  • 4 links of venison sausage, most likely a pound or more
  • 3 medium sized potatoes, washed and diced
  • 1 or 2 cups frozen spinach (I just poured from the bag)
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic from a jar
  • pinch of salt
  • fresh ground pepper

First put the potatoes in a pot of water and bring to boil. While waiting for this, remove skins from sausages. First actually I boiled the sausages for 10 minutes in a pot of water like my son-in-law instructed. So I am removing the skins from these cooked sausages.

Put the fennel seeds in a skillet and cook with the sausages. I had to improvise here because my sausages were already cooked. I added an additional tablespoon of oil to this skillet and sauteed the sausage with the fennel seeds. The seeds did indeed stick to the sausages as reported in the original recipe. When done, I cut the sausages into 1/2 inch thick slices.

When the potato pot comes to a boil, add the spinach and cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and add to the skillet with the sausages. Whisk the oil, vinegar, garlic, and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour over the sausage-potato mixture and toss to blend. Dinner is served.

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The beauty of this recipe is that it also make a fabulous base for soup for the leftovers. Venison has a rich taste so a little goes a long way. To make soup I sauteed a diced onion and 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables in a tablespoon of oil in the dutch oven. After about 5 minutes I added a can of diced tomatoes and two tablespoons of pesto. The pesto was in place of sauteing garlic with the onion. I had one last square of homemade pesto in my freezer. Now add 3 cups of broth. I used chicken or turkey broth that also was homemade in my freezer. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and add the leftover sausage-potato mixture and a can of cannellini beans, drained. Simmer until heated through.

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This is a nice rich soup/stew. We had some for supper, and I have leftovers to bring to work for my lunches.

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken with Lemons and Olives

I like the idea of Mediterranean cooking. I have a variety of cookbooks that are published in the UK. I go through and mark my cookbooks for the recipes I want to try. I know I have done a lemon chicken with garlic before but this is a bit different. The only garlic in this one is the garlic infused chicken broth I used.

I had not been inspired by any recipes in particular lately. We have been eating plain food: cheeseburgers on toast, frozen filet of fish, chicken pot pie, chili, grilled Italian sausages, scrambled eggs. Baking has been put off due to stomach issues and wanting to lose a bit of weight. What am I supposed to do in my kitchen?

So I wanted to put together a nice dinner. And although I had planned to make a shepherd pie I found I did not have ground meat, but did have chicken. So I looked through my Mediterranean cookbook and found this one. The combination of spices sounded so tasty. I really wanted to use the crockpot and not have to do all the cooking when I came home from work. So I got out the crockpot and just threw it all in there. Well, I made the recipe my own. Here is what I did.

  • 2 large boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup garlic-infused chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • a bit of salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped fine
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1/2 lemon, cut in wedges
  • 1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives

I wanted to throw everything in the crockpot and do nothing else. But I decided to briefly saute the onion with the ginger in a bit of olive oil. I then placed this in the bottom of the crockpot. I mixed the dry ingredients together and rubbed this on the chicken before placing them on top of the onion in the pot. I drizzled the honey on top and then added the broth. I set the pot on low and left it from 7:00 AM until 4:00 PM. At four I turned it down to the keep warm setting and added the lemon and olives. We ate dinner at 6:00 PM.

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I served this with a salad and couscous. I skillet toasted some walnuts and added them to the couscous along with a sprinkling of dried parsley and crumbled feta cheese. Dinner was a hit and there are leftovers for tomorrow night’s supper. Yea!