Mom’s Zucchini Casserole

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This dish is a staple at Christmas Eve dinner for our family, and for many years, I refused to sacrifice plate space for this casserole. Zucchini? Vegetables? No thank you says my adolescent self.

But as I began expanding my palate and grew older, zucchini became okay. I even began to spiralize it and eat it, so it was time to try this casserole. This zucchini casserole is cheesy, bacon-y goodness. I highly recommend you don’t wait 10+ years to make this like I did.

Mom’s Zucchini Casserole
From Cinnamon Freud’s mom

INGREDIENTS

6 cups thinly sliced zucchini (or other squash)
2 eggs, separated
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2-2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Bring large pot of water to a boil. Boil zucchini slices for 2-3 minutes, until cooked through. Drain and set aside to cool slightly.

In a bowl, combine egg yolks, sour cream, and flour. Stir together and season with salt and pepper. Whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into sour cream mixture.

In a 9 x 13 pan, place half of the zucchini in a single layer. Season zucchini with salt and pepper. Crumble bacon on top. Spread half of the sour cream mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Layer the remaining zucchini and repeat, sprinting cheese on top.

Mix butter and breadcrumbs together. Sprinkle on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Homemade Green Bean Casserole

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Let me preface this whole post by saying I don’t think I have ever had the green bean casserole with the canned green beans and cream of mushroom soup. I have definitely had those french fried onions (#latenightsnacking).

I’ve made homemade green casserole before on the blog, but I was never completely satisfied by it. One of the hardest things when first cooking what how to get sauces to thicken with a roux. I swear that I would follow recipe directly exactly but it would never thicken up as promised (I am looking at you chicken pot pie recipes…).

BUT I was determined. And I wanted to make a casserole completely from scratch to see if I could get those french fried onions to be even better than than those boxed ones.

And finally I feel like I was able to master a homemade version of cream of mushroom! Forgive the darker photo from a winter evening and make this homemade this holiday season!

HOMEMADE GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated & Pioneer Woman

For the Casserole:
1 lb green beans, trimmed and chopped
1 lb cremini mushrooms, chopped
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup half and half

For the onions:
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne
Oil for frying

DIRECTIONS

Cover sliced onions with buttermilk and refrigerate for an hour.

Heat large pan and add green beans. Cook for 2-3 minutes until sizzling. Add water until beans are just covered and cook for 4-5 minutes until crisp-tender. Drain green beans and cool with cold water (or do water bath if you aren’t feeling as lazy as I was when cooking).

Heat large pan and add butter and mushrooms. Season with salta and pepper and cook until mushrooms have released water, about 6-8 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Slowly stir in chicken stock and half and half. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer while stirring. Simmer until thicken for about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer into 8×8 casserole dish (or 9×9 if you want a smaller filling to fried onion ratio.)

Preheat oven to 425°F. Heat oil to 375°F.

In large dish, mix flour, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Working in batches, drain onions and dip into flour mixture, coating to cover. Fry in oil for 1-3 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to paper towels to drain and salt when hot out of the oil. Repeat with remaining batches.

Sprinkle onions on top of casserole. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, until bubbling and onions are golden brown.

Cheddar Broccoli Rice Casserole

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I know it’s been a be quiet round these parts recently.  I have been trying to get back into cooking more, and I have actually been cooking dinner much more often.  But sometimes the recipes are only okay, sometimes the photos are not my favorite, and sometimes I just forget. It’s not you, it’s me.  I am hoping to get back into the swing of things more.  Lots has been going on around here though- I have officially gotten my Masters degree (and thus will now only respond to “Master Karen”), went on a vacation to San Antonio with my boyfriend, and am gearing up.  So lots of school but no cooking- something which I hope to fix very soon.

One way I have tried to inspire myself more is by meal planning (also helps me not waste food).  So one week I was planning out my meals and had a huge craving for some kind of warm casserole.  Knowing that I still had my month’s Secret Recipe Club meal to make, I went searching through   Turnips 2 Tangerines, and I found this lovely casserole.  Creamy, warm, and cheesy- just want the doctor ordered. Warm, comforting, and completely inappropriate for this flipping hot summer.  Perfect.

CHEDDAR BROCCOLI RICE CASSEROLE
Adapted from Turnips 2 Tangerines

INGREDIENTS

1 cup dried jasmati rice
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chicken stock
Celery salt
3-4 heads broccoli, chopped
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Cheddar cheese, shredded

DIRECTIONS

Cook rice according to instructions. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place broccoli on baking sheets in a single layer. Sprinkle olive oil on top and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 10-14 minutes, until broccoli is tender and beginning to brown. Set aside

In a saucepan, melt butter and stir in flour. Whisk in milk and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and reduce heat to simmer. Continue to stir until sauce is thickened. Combine rice, broccoli, and sauce. Prepare a pie pan for baking and spread mixture inside. Top with shredded cheddar cheese.

Bake until cheese is bubbly and melted, 5-10 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve.

Make sure to check out what everyone else made this month!

Homemade Green Bean Casserole

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It is that time of the year to start eating big, warm, gooey casseroles. The cold wind is blowing outside, and I am refusing to leave the warmth of indoor heating.  However, sticking my hands and head in the oven to get out a warm, bubbly casserole is a lovely way to get warm. I have some understanding on Sylvia Plath in the winter months.

So it’s the time for casseroles: with lots of cheese and carbs- and maybe a few vegetables if we are trying to get on Santa’s nice list. One good old favorite casserole for the holiday season is the classic green bean casserole.

Every one seems to love a good green bean casserole- even botany.  And while there is nothing wrong with making green been casserole from mushroom soup and using the canned fried onions, if you love to cook, green bean casserole from scratch is absolutely delicious- and not really that much more difficult. This is perfect for any upcoming holiday celebration- and even better, all the components can be made ahead of time with just a quick bake before serving.

Santa, I am possibly interested in a stocking full of fried onions.  Let’s talk.

HOMEMADE GREEN BEEN CASSEROLE
From Cinnamon Freud

INGREDIENTS

4-5 shallots, thinly sliced
Flour, for dredging
Oil, for deep frying
1 – 1 1/2 pounds hairicot verts
4 tablespoons butter, divided
2 pounds mushrooms, chopped
Salt and pepper
2 leeks, thinly sliced
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 teaspoons dried marjoram

DIRECTIONS

In a small saucepan, fill oil about 2 inches high.  Heat to 375°F. Dredge shallots in flour.  Shake off excess.  Fry for about 1-2 minutes, until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.  Repeat with remaining shallots. Set aside.  You can make the shallots the night before- just keep stored in layers on paper towels in an air tight container.

Prepare your hairicot verts (or normal green beans).  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Fill a large bowl with ice water.  Working in batches, boil the green beans for about 1-3 minutes.  Immediately transfer to ice water.  Remove from ice water.  Set aside.

Heat a large saucepan over medium high heat.  Melt 3 tablespoons of butter and cook mushrooms until tender, seasoning with salt and pepper (you may need to do this in batches depending how large of a pan you have).  Combine in a bowl with green beans.

In a saucepan, melt remaining 1 tablespoon of butter.  Add leeks and cook until tender, seasoning with salt and pepper, about 5-8 minutes.  Stir in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Slow whisk in milk and chicken/vegetable stock.  Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened about 5-8 minutes.  Stir in marjoram and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Pour sauce over green beans and mushrooms.  Stir together and put in casserole dish.  This can also be stored overnight covered in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 350 °F.  Sprinkle fried shallots on top of casserole.  Bake until warm and bubbly, about 10-18 minutes.

Primavera Enchilada Pie

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Do you ever get into a rut?

I feel sometimes like I need some constant form of stimulation, or else I am bored.

I was feeling a little blah this week.  Feeling blah for me equates to a lot of sitting around watching television.  This week meant rewatching all of Dawson’s Creek on Netflix (no shame).  I watched this show off and on when I was a young, bratty preteen, and I have a secret to admit: back then I liked Dawson better than Pacey.

I can only blame this on my love for overly emotional, good boys back then.  I was blinded to the fact of how annoying Dawson was.  Blah, blah, I want to make movies, Joey why don’t you love me, wahhh.   And let’s not get started on little Joey who could never make up her mind  and acted superior to the world.

But I love this show still: sooo dramatic.  My favorite moment is tied between everyone jumping into the pool (with their clothes on, those crazy kids!!) after a long study session or Dawson’s dramatic walk out of the PSATs to show solidarity with Pacey.  Or maybe Dawson’s awful cry face when he tells Joey to go be with Pacey.  Too many great moments to choose from.

I have now watched almost every episode with those four whiny kids from Capeside*, and I gave myself a Cher-snap-out-of-it moment.    It was time to get up off the couch.  Rut time over.

Thank you to those of you who put up with a Dawson’s Creek rant that is about 10 years late.  Now on to the food,  I promise.

One of my first steps for getting out of my rut was making a new dinner with some spring veggies since spring finally seems to be here to stay since there is no snow forecasted in the next ten days.   Take some asparagus  peas, leeks, and any other veggies you love, sauté them, and coat them in a goat cheese sauce.

That would be a good enough, but it doesn’t end there.  Next you put the veggies between two tortillas and bake it.  This way the top tortilla gets crispy and the bottom one is soft.  It is a perfect mix of enchilada and tostada textures.

Here is my resolution: keep making delicious dinners like this and to get out more.

Also, rewatching Dawson’s Creek on Netflix with a completely different them song almost defeats the entire purpose of the show.

*For full disclosure, I do not judge Dawson’s Creek viewers- I too love it, just for what it is: melodramatic teens.  And also, this rewatching was over a few weeks.

PRIMAVERA ENCHILADA PIE
From Cinnamon Freud

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon of butter, divided
1/4 cup sliced leeks
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped asparagus
1 1/2 cup frozen peas
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons flour
1 once goat cheese
8 corn tortillas

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1/2 tablespoon of butter and leeks.  Season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender, 5-7 minutes.  Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.  Stir in asparagus  peas, and remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter.  Cook until tender, 4-6 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in milk.  Heat until simmering and whisk in flour.  Cook, stirring occasionally  until thickened, about 3-5 minutes.  Stir in goat cheese until melted.

Place four tortillas on a greased baking sheet.  Divide filling between the tortillas.  Top with remaining four tortillas.  Top with additional filling if desired.  Bake for 13-17 minutes, until golden brown.

Serves 4.

Mushroom and Wild Rice Casserole

 

Dinner for a food blogger is often a race against time.  I start cooking feeling very calm and serene, confident that I can finish everything according to plan, with everything timed to finish together.  But then something always happens, and I begin to realize that once again I severely underestimated the time it would take.  Taking too long means I loose the natural light and will eat late if I don’t starve before (I grew up eating dinner at 5:00 people, I can’t make it too late into the night without food).  Then I begin to rush and inevitably forgot an ingredient, drop food on the floor, become super messy, or all of the above.  My new nightly routine is rushing around the kitchen like with a chicken with its head cut off,quickly try to snap a semi-decent photo.

Casseroles are one of the foods that are notoriously hard to photograph, and this mushroom and wild rice casserole is no exception.  This picture is my fourth or fifth attempt to capture a decent photo.  This casserole may not be as cute as a cupcake, but I promise this casserole delivers.  It’s deliciously cheesy, eggy, and mushroom-y (I like to add a y to the end of words to describe food if you can’t tell).

Casseroles have a bad rap and are often not the favorite dinner item on the menu.  For years my family have talked about the horror when our mom dared to serve us what we deemed a “healthy casserole”.  It had noodles, chicken, and…vegetables.  How dare she. In hindsight, the casserole she served back then is pretty similar to dinners I make for myself now (but don’t tell her that, we still love to joke about that casserole).

Every family needs a casserole to talk about.  Make this casserole your family’s healthy casserole.

On a side note, this week is only a 4 day week for me (!!!) since I am going back to Houston Friday for a friend’s wedding.  Why is the week so much better when you have one less day (and get to go to Trader Joe’s over the weekend)?

MUSHROOM AND WHILE RICE CASSEROLE
Slightly Adapted from Annie’s Eats
 
INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups wild rice mix
1 tablespoon olive oil
20 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/3 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1 ounce Romano cheese, grated
2 scallions, sliced

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Prepare rice according to instructions. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Coat pan in olive oil and heat for 1 minute. Add onion. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes. Add Worcestershire and cook until mushrooms and onions are cooked through and all cooking liquid has evaporated. Refrigerate until ready to use.

In a large bowl, whisk cottage cheese, sour cream, eggs, and nutmeg together. Season with a generous pinch of salt and freshly cracked pepper. Fold in rice, mushrooms, and onions (make sure these ingredients have cooled). Fold in 3/4 of the Romano cheese, reserving the rest for topping.

Grease a large baking dish. Pour casserole mixture into pan. Top with remaining cheese. Cover with aluminium foil and bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown on top. Top with green onions and serve immediately.

Serves 4 as a main dish, 6-8 as a side dish.

Mom’s Cheesy Potatoes



Food is a powerful memory trigger.  Every time I get a waft of these potatoes roasting in the oven and take that first bite of cheesy goodness, I am transported back to a time when my mom made dinner for me every night.  Whenever I saw mom making these potatoes, I knew it’d be a good dinner (and lunch the following day).  Luckily, my mom has passed on to me her culinary secrets, and now I am passing them on to you!  This dish is pure potato magic.

Also, happy birthday week to my mom & dad!  Thank you for all those nights of making me dinner (and all that other stuff you did on the side raising me and all).  Soon, I’ll show what dessert I made for our at home celebration.

MOM’S CHEESY POTATOES
Adapted from Saltgrass Steakhouse via The Houston Chronicle
INGREDIENTS

2 pounds red potatoes
8 tablespoons butter
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Monterrey jack cheese
1/4 cup shredded Romano, divided
1/2 cup milk
3 green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

DIRECTIONS

The Day Before: Put potatoes in a large pot.  Barely cover with water and bring to a boil.  Cook until fork tender.  Drain, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cut the potatoes into quarters and transfer to 9×13 inch casserole dish.  In a small saucepan, combine butter and garlic over medium heat.  Cook until butter is melted, then pour over potatoes.  Add cheddar cheese, Monterrey jack, 3 tablespoons Romano, milk, green onions, salt, paprika, black pepper, and white pepper.  Mix the ingredients together with your hands.  Do not overmix (there should still be large chunks of potatoes throughout).  Sprinkle remaining Romano cheese on top.  Bake for 35 minutes.  Serve immediately