Tag Archives: Casserole

Cheesy Peasy Couscous

Today was just one of those days.  One of those days when you feel a headache starting off as soon as you wake up, when class seems to take twice as long as normal, when the erratic driver in front of you on the drive home makes you want to cry rather than laugh, when you come home needing a simple and quick comfort food.

Just one of those days.

I needed the ultimate comfort food–one that contains the dairy trifecta: milk, cheese, and butter.  And because dairy does not equal “unhealthy”, you can use all three of those in some delicious moderation and eat comfort food that can still make you feel good.  ‘Cause on days like these, guilt is the last thing you need on your plate.

Cheesy Peasy Couscous (Printable Recipe Card)

  • 1 T butter
  • 1 1/2 C broth (I used one chicken bouillon cube and 1 1/2 C water)
  • 1 C frozen peas, defrosted and drained
  • 1 1/2 C dry couscous
  • 2 T whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 C skim milk
  • 1/2 C Gruyère cheese (or other cheese)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 t smoked paprika

Preheat the broiler.  Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the peas and the broth (or bouillon and water). 

Bring the whole mixture to a boil and take off the heat.  Pour in the dried couscous and cover with a lid or plate, and let it sit for fifteen minutes until it absorbs all the broth and gets nice and fluffy.  Place the couscous into a casserole dish and get ready for the cheesy magic.

While you are waiting, make the cheese sauce.  In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together the flour, milk, and cheese until a nice, smooth, thick sauce forms–it should only take a few minutes.  Pour the sauce over the couscous mixture and mix it in.

Lookin’ good!  Add a bit of salt and shake the smoked paprika over the top.  Smooth the mixture out, and place under the broiler until a nice golden brown crust forms, about 5-10 minutes.

That’s it!  Salt and pepper your serving to taste and eat right away.  It’s kind of like a cross between mac and cheese and a casserole.  I bet this would be even better with pearled couscous, ’cause it’d be even closer in texture to standard macaroni. 

Fritz walked in as I was taking pictures of the finished product, and he was super excited to see this–he grew up with a lot more casserole-type dishes than I did, and he loves seein’ them come out of the oven.  Spoon it all into a big dish, and let that comfort just roll over ya.

It’s okay if you want to add a little extra smoked paprika.  I’m going to need to join Smoked Paprika Anonymous if things keep heading in this direction.

I also did a little work in the garden a few days ago and harvested a bunch of lavender.  Since it seemed like a waste to hang them up to dry in the closet (far away from my eyes and nose), I put a few stems each into a bunch of glass jars and let them dry as a centerpiece for the table.  They looked beautiful, smelled great, and only took a few days to dry.  Now I just have to figure out what I want to make with them–lavender eye pillows? Lavender salt?  Lavender ice cream? 

So many ideas, so little time!

Have you ever made anything with dried lavender?  Any ideas for me?

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Mexican Quinoa Casserole

Day number two of midterms week, down.  Yes!

On a more sad note, Fritz went off to California today for a dental conference that he’s presenting research in.  Sad for me, happy for him.  It’s going to be very lonely for the next couple of days, so it’s probably a good thing I have a large stack of textbooks to bury my sorrows in.

Actually, that’s never really a good thing, is it?

My mom (who is apparently the recent MVP of this blog) gave me a recipe for this sweet-potato-black-bean-quinoa-casserole this weekend, and I decided to give it a try because it was filled with a lot of healthy ingredients that I had on hand.  My one complaint was that it was a bit dry, so I’d probably add a 1/2 cup of water or so next time I made it (or an extra cup of salsa–even better!).  It was good as a side dish, and even better as a Mexican-style filling for the omelet I just made for dinner! 

Mexican Quinoa Casserole

  • 1 C dry quinoa
  • 3 C black beans (2 cans, or 1 1/3 C dried beans, soaked, rinsed, and cooked)
  • 1 sweet potato, grated (about 2 C)
  • 1 1/2 C salsa
  • 3/4 grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 T cumin
  • 2 eggs or 1 egg/1 flax egg (1 T ground flaxseed in 3 T water)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cook the quinoa according to instructions (I used 2 1/2 C water and simmered until all the water was absorbed–I had both red and white quinoa, and red cooks more slowly than white).

In a casserole dish, combine the quinoa, grated sweet potato, and black beans.

Mix together the remaining ingredients in a bowl, using only half of the grated cheese (eggs/flax egg, cheese, salsa).

Pour over the quinoa mixture, and combine thoroughly.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake, covered, on the middle rack in the oven for 25 minutes.  Uncover for another five minutes and let the cheese on the top brown (you can broil it if you like your cheese crispy).

Slice and serve!

Since mine came out a bit crumbly, I was using it as a filling for other meals, which was perfect.  A great way to eat this would be in a halved bell pepper with some extra salsa–mm! 

Between all the studying that Fritz and I have been doing, it hasn’t been very fun around here.  Luckily, Henry always manages to find some way to amuse himself–he was surfing on pieces of paper in the kitchen, jumping from one to another and sliding all over the floor.  Who knew cats were so hysterical?

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Indian Samosa Casserole

One lovely day, Lauren met Fritz.  Fritz is South African.  South African food is influenced by all sorts of different countries than American food is.  It is delicious.  Fritz taught Lauren about braais, boerewors, samosas, melk tert, rusks, rooibos tea, droerwors, biltong, Mrs. Ball’s chutney, amarula, and lamb roasts.

Lauren married Fritz.  Immediately.

Seriously, though, I may have been born into the wrong country.  My entire family fully embraced all things South African after meeting the Zietsmans–we had a lamb roast at our rehearsal dinner, my mom makes rusks more often than I do, and everyone drinks rooibos tea.  My dad even gave a blessing in Afrikaans at our wedding.

It’s so wonderful when families blend as well as ours did.

So as a tribute to food that Fritz loves, I was ecstatic when I stumbled upon a recipe for an Indian samosa casserole in Vegetarian Times a few days ago.  I love to make things that I know he will be excited to have (on one of our first dates I made him bobotie to surprise him–and perhaps demonstrate my eligibility as a bride), and this proved to be just as successful as I expected.

Fritz ranked this right up there in the list of “vegetarian things I don’t mind not containing meat”.  Now if this did contain, say, ground lamb, I am quite certain he would not object–so feel free to add that if you want a non-vegetarian version.  I also doubled the recipe so that I could bake one for dinner and freeze one for some other day–the recipe says you can freeze it for up to four months!

Indian Samosa Casserole (from Vegetarian Times; makes one casserole)

Crust:

  • 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t curry powder
  • 2 T vegetable oil

Filling:

  • 1/2 T mustard (I used spicy)
  • 1 t curry powder
  • 1/2 T minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 t ground cumin
  • 1/8 t red pepper flakes
  • 5 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped (1 1/4 lbs)
  • 1 t vegetable oil
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 C frozen peas
  • 1 C veggie or chicken broth
  • 2 t sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  To make the crust, whisk together the dry ingredients and add oil–stir until clumps form.  Slowly add 6-10 (I only needed 6) T cold water until the dough sticks together (this is roughly a million times easier if you use your kitchen-aid).  Cover dough with a damp towel and set aside.

Next, boil the potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes.  Roughly mash them (you want some chunks of potato leftover) and set aside.

Side note:  I always misspell potatoes.  I spell it potatos.  Every time.  Tomatoes, too.  Thank goodness for spell check.

Anyway, heat the vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat and sauté the onions, carrots, ginger, and garlic until the carrots are tender (about five minutes).  Push the onion mixture to one side, and add the mustard, curry, cumin, and pepper flakes.  Toast ’em for 30 seconds, then mix it all together.  Stir in the frozen peas.

Next, add the broth and sugar and stir, making sure to scrape up all the spices from the bottom of the pan.  Add this onion mixture to the mashed potatoes, and stir it all up, adding salt and pepper to taste–if you want.  That’s your filling!

Spoon into a 9-inch pie plate (or two, if you doubled this recipe like I did).

Set aside, and take out the dough.  On a slightly floured surface, roll the dough out into an 11-inch circle (if you doubled the recipe, make two circles…duh).  Cover the filling with the dough, pressing down to make sure there are no air pockets. Fold the overhanging crust under, and crimp the edges.  Cut an “X” into the middle (to release steam while cooking), and brush the top of the pie with milk.  If you are freezing one, leave out the milk step for that one–do it right before you bake it.

For the pie you aren’t baking, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and place in a ziplock bag.  It’s okay if you squish the beautifully crimped crust a little–Fritz won’t even notice.  Then freeze it!  To bake it later, preheat the oven to 375 degrees,  place on a baking sheet, and bake 75-90 minutes.

For the casserole we are eating tonight, place it on a baking sheet (there’s boil-over potential here, so be kind to yourself), and bake for about 40-50 minutes until the top is golden-brown and you see the filling bubbling up around the edges.

Let stand for five minutes before serving.

Enjoy! 

Fritz and I really enjoyed this–for a more decadent casserole, you could try using another crust recipe.  This one was good (and very healthy) but you could tell it wasn’t a flaky, buttery, pastry crust.  You could also try phyllo dough on top.  That said, neither Fritz nor I had any complaints as is–the curry powder in the crust was a nice, tasty addition.

I also just ate leftovers as dinner tonight, and after a minute in the microwave it was just as good the second day.

With all that said–it’s back to studying.  Have a beautiful night!

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Chicken, Quinoa, and Summer Squash Casserole

Every once in a while, something incredibly obnoxious happens.

And it’s not that my heat breaks.  ‘Cause that happens too, and I wake up and it’s freezing cold in the house and the temperature keeps dropping, until I am forced to lay next to the space heater wrapped in a blanket crying little frozen tears (or something like that).

But that’s not what I’m talking about.  The other obnoxious thing is when I decide to make a quick dinner and don’t bother to take pictures because I don’t think it’s worth it.  And then it turns out beautiful, delicious, and nutritious.  Luckily I managed to snag a picture of this casserole before Fritz dove in–so that’s something.

Chicken, Quinoa, and Summer Squash Casserole  (inspired by Cooking Light)

  • 1 large chicken breast
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1-2 summer squash (you can also use zucchini–I had some leftover from the other day)
  • 1 C uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 C chicken broth
  • 1 T rosemary, ground
  • 2 T whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 C skim milk
  • 1/4 C cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Since there’s no pictures, I’ll make this a quick summary. 

Pre-heat the oven to 350.  Rinse the quinoa until the water runs clear, and then cook in two cups chicken broth (you can use bouillon).  Set aside (it’s okay if there is extra broth after they uncurl).

On medium-high heat, saute the onions in the olive oil until they are starting to brown.  Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and cook thoroughly.  Next, add the summer squash (cut lengthwise and then sliced into thin half-moons) and rosemary, and cook until soft. Transfer to a casserole dish, and add the quinoa and salt and pepper to taste.  Spread evenly in the pan.

Put the flour in a saucepan over medium heat.  Slowly add the milk, stirring to prevent any lumps.  Stir in the cheese and heat until the sauce starts to thicken.  Pour over the casserole and bake for about 20 minutes until the edges and top are browned (I switched to a broil for the last few minutes because I love browned cheese).

So there you have it!  It sounds kind of complex, but Fritz and I were starving after class and it only took about 45 minutes to get it on the table–and it was so filling.  Plus, it is so full of good stuff!

Here’s another recipe that occurred under the same circumstances:

Turkey Chili in a Bell Pepper Bowl

This one’s pretty easy–I think you’ll be able to figure it out on your own.

Enjoy!

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