Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Clean Out Continues

I am getting bored and am really wanting to do some serious cooking. However, I have set a goal and I will not allow myself to fail! My freezer and pantry are almost empty, I think by Monday I will be ready to hit the stores to restock!
This week the cupboards did allow me to make two meals that we both enjoyed. The first came from Cook's Country Magazine which I recently received a free trial issue from. Here is the recipe exactly how it is printed in the magazine, I made several adjustments which I will detail, but in case you wanted to make the real deal, here it is.

Cheesy Broccoli & Rice Casserole
Serves 8 to 10

2 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into pieces
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 tbls. unsalted butter, melted; plus 2 tablespoons, chilled
1 garlic clove, minced
2 pounds broccoli, florets cut into 1-inch pieces, stems peeled & chopped
1 onion, chopped fine
1 1/4 cup long grain white rice
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/4 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1. Prepare Topping: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 13x9 baking dish. Pulse bread, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and melted butter in food processor until coarsely ground. Add garlic.
2. Make Filling: Microwave broccoli florets, covered, in large bowl until bright green and tender, set aside. Melt remaining butter in Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook onion and broccoli stems until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until rice is translucent, about 1 minutes. Stir in broth, half-and-half, and salt and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, until rice is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Off heat, stir in cheddar, cayenne, remaining Parmesan, and broccoli florets.
3. Top and Bake: Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and top with bread crumb mixture. Bake until sauce is bubbling around edges and top is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Serve.

So, what did I change? I added chicken. I think I have mentioned this before, but Peter does not believe you are having a meal unless there is some kind of meat. I disagree, however I was trying to make us both happy with this meal. I just cooked up 2 chicken breasts seasoned with salt and pepper. Nothing fancy.

Second, I cut down on a lot of the fat and dairy! I sprayed the dutch oven with PAM cooking spray and only used 1 tbls. of butter to cook the onion. I also left out the bread topping. Not only because I didn't have any bread in the house, but also because it really didn't appeal to me. So I threw the garlic in with the onions. I didn't have the cheddar cheese but I had about a half bag of shredded Mexican blend cheese so I used that and about 1/2 cup of fresh Parmesan. And I used frozen broccoli florets because that is what I had on hand.

We both really loved this dish! It was very comforting and gave the "feeling" of being really bad for you, but was only mildly as the creaminess of the dish came from the starch in the rice and not too much actual cream or dairy. YUM! I am sure I will make this again before winter is over.

The second meal that we like this week was a version of my slow cooker chili.....have I ever blogged about the real version.....I don't think I have....I will do that soon, it is YUM.

Anyhoo, I didn't have everything I needed so I just whipped up what I did have. I had some chunky stew meat, onion, carrots (not in the original recipe), diced tomatoes, Carroll Shelby Chili Seasoning (great stuff, I have been using it for years and always have it on hand), kidney beans, black beans and tomato sauce. I put it all on to cook and headed out to the office for the day.

When I came home we topped it with just a bit of shredded cheese and low-fat (really not as good as full fat) sour cream and enjoyed. We are just about done eating when Peter turns to me and says "Babe, this taste awesome." Me, "Thanks, I am happy you liked it I just threw it together." Peter, "But I have to say, don't get mad, that it kind of looks like Alpo". I about died!!! He was so right, hilarious! So although it wasn't very pleasing to the eye it really was delicious and helped to clean out a large amount of food in the kitchen!

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