Cheesy Mushroom and Broccoli Casserole

With Father’s Day around the corner (and hopefully warmer weather too) I want to plan a fun menu that everyone will love but won’t be stressful or complicated for me. And really isn’t keeping mommy happy on Father’s Day the most important thing on everyone’s mind? No? That’s just me? Darn. Anywho, since I’m considering something along the lines of Chili Dogs and Cheese Fries for the main and side, I’m thinking I need some kind of vegetable deal to redeem us a bit. But not too much!

Mushroom Broccoli Casserole 1

I tried this out this weekend and it was a hit so I’m keeping it for the big day. I added breadcrumbs to the top during the last three minutes of baking. The added crunch made all the difference. I left out the cayenne pepper for the kids sake, though I would have loved to add it and I’m sure that it adds a nice punch.

Mushroom Broccoli Casserole 3

Mushroom Broccoli Casserole 4Mushroom Broccoli Casserole 2Mushroom Broccoli Casserole 5Also, I didn’t have any cooked rice on hand, so I used 1 cup of instant rice. It only needs five minutes so I could be sure it would have enough time to cook in the short time the casserole spent in the oven. I also used fresh broccoli instead of frozen and it didn’t seem to cause a problem.

Cheesy Mushroom and Broccoli Casserole
Adapted from Sunny Anderson – Food Network

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter, plus extra for casserole dish
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 pound shiitake or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 (10-ounce) box frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar-Monterey blend
  • 3 cups cooked rice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Special equipment: 1 1/8-quart oval casserole dish
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Butter casserole dish. In a large pot, melt 3 tablespoons butter and flour over medium heat until golden in color to make a quick roux. The roux should resemble the color of peanut butter. Add mushrooms, onion, garlic, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, heavy cream and chicken stock. Add broccoli, 1 cup of the cheese and rice. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour into buttered dish and top with remaining shredded Cheddar. Bake until cheese is melted and golden, about 20 minutes.

During last three minutes, mix a cup of breadcrumbs with 1 to two tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle over casserole. Bake a few minutes until golden.

Broccoli Bite

Vinegar Slaw and Tuna Salad Sandwiches

The past two weeks have flown by and at the same time seemed endless. My husband’s been traveling, work has been insane, the kids forgot how to relax with the warmer weather and we’re planning a move. My energy levels haven’t been this low since the kids went through their newborn months. All this time I was riddled with guilt that I wasn’t keeping up my blog. Hopefully I haven’t completely alienated you.

Slaw

I’ve had this post on my mind almost the entire time I’ve been missing. The cravings started with a visit to Sassy Earl Grey and the hunt for her post on homemade pita bread.

Unfortunately my battle with yeast recipes continues (I’ll share my disastrous Mother’s Day Breakfast Bun recipe with you another time…you know, for your amusement!) so I haven’t tried to make my own pita bread yet. But I will! It might take me a few tries before they actually turn out edible but I’ll do it!

With everything that’s been going on lately, I’d been in the mood for a sandwich. Nothing fancy or complicated. Something I could throw together and to be honest something comforting. I’ve always been obsessed with sandwiches. I was never happier than when I opened my lunch bag to find my mother had packed a sandwich for lunch. Especially a tuna sandwich. To this day, I swear, no one makes a tuna sandwich like my mom) Now you’re probably thinking, “Who cares? It’s just a sandwich.” But to me, it feels like home.

Tuna Sandwich

Vinegar and Oil Coleslaw
Adapted from Rachel Ray 30 Minute Meals – Food Network

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, eyeball it
  • 1 sack, 16 ounces, shredded cabbage mix for slaw salads
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Salt and pepper

Directions
Mix vinegar and sugar. Add oil. Add cabbage to dressing and season with salt and pepper. Toss with fingers to combine. Adjust seasoning. Let stand 20 minutes. Re-toss and serve.

Tuna

Tuna Salad Sandwich

Ingredients

  • 2 cans of olive oil-packed tuna
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, finely diced
  • 4 green onions sliced, whites and light green parts only
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • Boston Lettuce
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pita Bread (or your favourite bun!)

Directions
Combine tuna, cucumber, green onion, mayonnaise in a bowl and mix together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pile half the mixture into each sandwich with a few leaves of Boston lettuce.

I don’t know why, but the last time we had this I added a few Ms. Vicky’s Salt and Vinegar chips and some of the coleslaw into my sandwich. The added crunch was great!

Bite

Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

There’s something about the smell of a chicken roasting in the oven. I just can’t resist it. I love the way the skin gets all golden and crispy. I place my chicken on a raised roasting rack above a bed of potatoes and carrots. As the chicken roasts they get basted with all the goodness from above until they’re crispy on the outside and fluffy and tender on the inside.Roasted Chicken

My husband is so careful. He always chooses the breast meat and peels the skin of his piece. Fine by me, since I’m more that happy to eat the thigh, leg and the golden skin he doesn’t want. Mind you, these days my boys have figured out how great chicken legs are so I haven’t had them in a while, but it’s worth the sacrifice.

Now if only I could get them to eat the roasted vegetables…

Note: When I purchase a smaller chicken, I quarter the lemon to get it to fit inside the cavity. Also, in the original recipe, she indicates 1-1/2 hours cooking time but I’ve always had to leave mine in about 2-1/2 to 3 hours. Oven temperatures vary a little, so make sure the juices run clear when you pierce the chicken.

Rosted Chicken and Vegetables
Adapted from Ina Garten – Food Network

Ingredients

  • 1 roasting chicken
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
  • 1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
  • 4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
  • Olive oil
  • 1 Beer bottle or Chicken Stock, for basting

Directions
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic.

Brush the outside of the chicken with the olive oil and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions and carrots in a roasting pan. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.

Once the chicken has been in the oven about 30 minutes, baste the chicken and vegetables with a bit of beer (or chicken stock). Move the vegetables around a little, just to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Repeat this process every 20-30 minutes. Once your chicken reaches the desired golden colour tent with foil and continue roasting until cooked through.

Roast the chicken for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.

Onion and Tomato Casserole with Whole Roasted Garlic

Have you every been in the mood for a thick, luscious tomato sauce? Something that’s been simmering on the stove for hours and hours, filling the house with aromas that call your entire family to the table? Well, this will get you those wonderful flavours in a fraction of the time.Onion and Tomato

Sliced onions and tomatoes baked in the oven until they break down into a gorgeous golden and cherry red mess. But don’t let the appearance fool you. They taste rich and satisfying especially when piled onto a thick slice of crusty Italian bread.

Just to bump it up a notch, I like to roast whole heads of garlic in the oven to spread over the bread.

Onion and Tomato Casserole
Adapted from Martha Stewart – Everyday Food, May 2011
Ingredients
  • 4 large tomatoes (about 2 pounds), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices (or I sometimes use cherry tomatoes)
  • 1 large or 2 medium yellow onions (about 1 pound), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, arrange tomatoes and onions in rows, overlapping slightly. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until tomatoes are lightly browned and onions are tender, about 45 minutes.
Combine breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and olive oil and sprinkle the topping over the casserole. Bake for another five minutes or until topping is golden.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Whole Roasted Garlic

Garlic Source The Food Network, 2006, Ellie Krieger

Ingredients

  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Cut the top third of the garlic head off so that the tops of the cloves are exposed. Place the garlic head, unpeeled, into a small ovenproof dish and drizzle with the oil, salt and pepper.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 30 to 40 minutes more, until garlic is soft and golden brown.
Serve with toasted Italian bread.

Leek and Broccoli Soup

I came across this recipe on Lattes and Leggings. The photo grabbed me and with a snowstorm bearing down on the city, it seemed like the perfect night for a warm and hearty soup. The addition of cannellini beans hidden inside the soup made it all the more fulfilling. Topped with fresh shavings of Parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts, this soup is one of the most satisfying I’ve ever had.Leek and Broccolli Soup 1

Even my two year old liked it. I smashed the beans down with a fork for him and left out the pine nuts. He gobbled it up.

I switched out the yellow onion from the original recipe to leeks. They’re in season, I had a craving for them and it worked really well. To make things easier, you can find bags of pre-sliced leeks in the grocery store, which is what I used.

I stored a few one-cup portions into freezer bags (not including the Parmesan and pine nuts) for a quick dinner another night.

Leek and Broccoli Soup
adapted from Lattes and Leggings  – adapted from Molto Batali

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oilLeek and Broccolli Soup 2
  • 3-4 leeks, sliced (about 3-4 cups)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bunch broccoli, bottom stems trimmed and cut into florets (about 8 cups)
  • kosher salt
  • 4 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 parmesan rind
  • 1 (15oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, for serving (see note below)

Directions

Leek and Broccolli Soup 3 In a large stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the leek and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally until softened. Add the red pepper flakes and garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the broccoli and season with salt. Cook for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. The broccoli will turn bright green. Add the broth and parmesan rind. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Some of the parmesan rind will slowly melt into the soup.

Remove and discard the parmesan rind. Transfer the soup to a food processor. Puree the soup in batches. Return the pureed soup to the pot and add the beans. Simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes until warmed through. Season with salt to taste.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and pine nuts. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes if so desired. Serve.

Note: To toast the pine nuts, heat a small pan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts, spreading them evenly in the pan. Stir occasionally until they are slightly golden 3 to 5 minutes.

Halibut – Braised with Carrots, Onions and Celery

Fish night, one of the most dreaded nights of the week in my house. Well, okay, lets say of the month. Fish is a hard sell over here.

Halibut

The salmon I make is too fishy, the cod is fishy and too dry, and the trout is “okay”. Sigh. The word everyone wants to hear after a long day of work, picking up the kids and sweating over the stove while trying to stop my two boys from ripping the house to shreds. Or even better, “It’s good I guess, but I wouldn’t make it again.”

But there’s hope. I found an easy to prepare recipe that my family finally loves. If you have finicky fish people in your family, hopefully you’ll have as much luck with this recipe as I did.

Just as a note, I sometimes reduce the amount of fish to 4 fillets as 6 is too much for us. Both my husband and I have a strict “no microwaving fish” policy where we work. Leftovers would sometimes end up going to waste, so I started to make a smaller portion to begin with.

Halibut – Braised with Carrots, Onions and Celery
Adapted from Robin Miller, Food Network

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 (6-ounce) halibut fillets
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 lemon, cut in to wedges

Directions

Heat oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season halibut with salt and pepper. Add halibut to hot pan and cook 2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Remove halibut from pan and set aside. Be careful flipping over and removing the halibut as it’s very tender and flakes easily.

To the same pan, add carrots, onions, celery, and garlic. Add a bit more olive oil if necessary. Sauté 3 minutes, until soft. Return halibut to pan and add wine. Simmer 1 minute. Add bay leaves and broth and simmer 10 minutes, until fish is fork tender. Remove from heat.

I like to serve the halibut on a bed of rice with some of the broth ladled over top. Serve with a wedge of lemon, the juice brightens up the halibut nicely.

French Fries

Okay, I tricked you, these fries are oven-baked. And maybe there’s some sweet potato…but there’s russet potatoes and onions too! Ooh, and the sugar from the sweet potatoes baking in the oven gives them a caramelized sweetness that’s to-die-for.

I got you back with caramelized didn’t I. CARAMALIZED!! Sorry, I’m focused, I swear.Fries

My mom made this for us a few months ago and now I’m sharing it with you. You’ll thank me later! The great thing about this recipe is that it’s not really a recipe. You can make as much or as little as you like, in whatever proportions you like. Personally I like to do equal parts of each because as with everything else in my life I can’t decide which one I like more.

French Fries – Baked, With Sweet Potatoes and Onions

Ingredients

  • 4 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into thin strips
  • 4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into thin strips
  • 4 yellow onions, sliced into thin wedges
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Olive oil

Breadcrumb topping

  • ½ cup Breadcrumbs
  • 1-2 tablespoons Olive oil
  • Cajun seasoning mix (optional if you want a little heat, to taste)
  • Grated parmesan cheese (to taste)

Preheat the oven to 375°

Mix the breadcrumbs, olive oil, and Cajun seasoning (if using) and mix together until the breadcrumbs absorb the oil. Set aside to use later.

Toss the potatoes, onions, salt, pepper and olive oil in a large bowl, evenly coating everything. Spread the mixture onto a parchment lines baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, Keep an eye on them though, they’ll bake pretty quickly since they’re sliced thin. Toss occasionally until they’re cooked through.

When you have about 5 minutes left add the breadcrumb mixture and sprinkle a bit of parmesan cheese over the top and bake until slightly golden and the sweet potatoes get a little charred. This isn’t a thick coating.

The sweet potatoes will look a little black around the edges but that’s just the sugar caramelizing. Trust me, those are the best bits!