Kait’s Recipe: Cheesy Chicken & Broccoli Casserole

Autumn is coming, y’all.

Dust off your slow cookers and gravy boats, order your turkeys (can you believe we are only a couple of weeks from Thanksgiving?) and watch for my comfort food recipes here.

While I will miss summer, I sort of love being in bed when it’s raining, blankets around my chin. I love the way my apartment smells when there’s something delicious in the oven, something that has been lovingly coddled all day. Sadly those food adventures are saved for weekends, but I have an arsenal of recipes that are quick and soothing after a long day of work.

This recipe was concocted in the interests of convenience and a general love of anything containing creamy, tender chicken and is perfect for leftovers. Enjoy!

 

Autumn Chicken & Broccoli Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 head broccoli, chopped
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 can low fat cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup 1% milk
  • 3 cups whole wheat Rotini pasta + 2 cups salted water
  • 1 tsp each pepper, salt, oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 cup grated medium cheddar cheese

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook chicken with olive oil, garlic, and onion in a sautee pan over medium heat.

While cooking, mix milk, soup, and seasonings in a small bowl. Add to chicken, and reduce heat to medium-low.

Start your pasta – let boil until pasta just reaches al dente (‘to the teeth’) texture. In the last minute of boiling, add broccoli to the pot and drain both.

Combine pasta and broccoli with your chicken mixture in the sautee pan, stirring well. Add to casserole dish.

Top with grated cheese, then cover dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.

Et voila!

Serve with garlic bread for a comforting meal on a rainy day.

Happy Eating,

kait

Kait’s Recipe: Meat Lovers Cannelloni

I will always love meat.

Don’t get me wrong, readers. I understand the Vegetarian point of view: cute bunny gets dropped by its ears into a pot of stew, as per every evil witch depicted in children’s books. I realize it is more complex than that, but that’s not the reason for this post.

Here’s my view: live & let live. Don’t like meat? Don’t eat it.

And so follows my gift to those who will devour meat with me.

Ingredients:
  • 1 handful spinach leaves, chopped
  • 4 crimini mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium white onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground veal
  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 1 hot Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 1 box oven ready Cannelloni shells (you will have some left over)
  • 1 small can less-sodium tomato sauce
  • 3 cups milk – I use 1%
  • 4 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 4 tbsp light margarine
  • Salt & Pepper, 1tbsp each
  • Oregano, 1 tbsp

Begin by mixing the 3 meats together, and add to a frying pan with garlic and all vegetables. Brown slowly over medium-low heat, stirring often. You do not want the meat to cook unevenly.

ImageWhile your meat is cooking, start your roux.

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Heat margarine over medium-low, then add flour. Whisk thoroughly, and add a bit of milk. Continue whisking. You should develop a thick paste.

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Slowly add balance of milk, stirring constantly. Once you have developed a soup-like consistency, bring the sauce up to just below a boil. At this time you can add your seasonings, and whisk. Turn off heat, and add the can of tomato sauce, reserving 3 tablespoons. Whisk thoroughly, then cover your saucepan and remove from burner. Congratulations, you have now made a Rose Bechamel. This sauce is fine to sit for a few minutes while you assemble your cannelloni.

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I prefer to use oven ready cannelloni noodles because it removes a step from an already involved cooking process. Preheat your oven to 350 and mix some (1/2 cup) of the rose bechamel sauce into your meat mixture, after draining excess fat from pan.

Use your reserved tomato sauce to lightly cover the bottom of your casserole dish. Begin assembling your cannelloni. The best method I have found to pack the meat mixture into the shells is to use my fingers, but you can also try using the end of a spoon.

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You have meat leftover. This is good. Very, very good. Add the balance of your bechamel sauce to your meat mixture and stir.

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Pour it over your cannelloni. Go on, do it. I sprinkle salt and (lots of) pepper over top. Make sure that there are no pasta shells visible, or they will not soften properly.

After 50 minutes, take it out of the oven.

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Beautiful, isn’t it?

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Happy Eating,

kait

Bolognese Sauce – Made With Love

Bolognese Sauce – Made With Love

I am a sucker for Italian inspired sauces, so much so that I spent the weekend researching different regions of Italy and the classic dishes that originated there.

Now, the following recipe does not stick to the traditional crafting of a Bolognese sauce, originating in the 19th century. In my humble opinion, the biggest favor Bolognese sauce did for the world was allow itself to be adaptable.

Mary Beth Clark has gone so far as to say that there are as many variations of Bolognese sauce as there are tomato sauce and pizza. This is my favorite preparation, and such a reward to taste once completed.

Make this dish for friends and family, raise a glass to flavor, and enjoy.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 2 lbs extra lean ground beef
  • 3 hot Italian Sausages, casings removed
  • 1 large red onion, finely diced
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 c skim milk (or whatever milk is on hand)
  • 1 c red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 1/2 c extra virgin olive oil (or enough to cover bottom of saucepan)
  • 1/2 c freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp each – dried oregano, dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp rosemary

Method:

  • Chop onion, grate carrots
  • Combine sausage and beef with hands in bowl, not over mixing, then heat over medium in a large sautee pan
  • While meat cooks, heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat
  • Add grated carrots and onion to the saucepan, stir, and let soften
  • Once the meat is halfway cooked, add it to the saucepan
  • Add crushed tomatoes, once can has been drained of excess liquid
  • Add the red wine, and stir
  • Drink some red wine (what?)
  • Add Worcestershire sauce, milk, and all seasonings, then stir
  • Bring the heat up to just past medium for at least half an hour, stirring occasionally
  • Boil salted water and add your choice of pasta. Tagliatelle is best, but penne, rigatoni, papardelle, and fettuccine would also work.

The longer you allow the sauce to simmer, the more the flavors will intensify. Serve with garlic bread, salad, and red wine.

Happy Eating,

kait