Amanda, mom of 3 super cute boys, picked this week’s Thirsty Thursday theme for us… Mother’s Day! And just like that it reminded me that Mother’s Day is this upcoming Sunday. It’s like Easter in that it moves around, so I loose track of it.
There has been so much going on lately. I love being busy but it typically means that something slips. Most often it is what we eat or laundry. oh well. But Kemper is keeping us busy with nice nights out playing around and some design reports that Price and I are working on for our city for some downtown redevelopment. Very different things but both enjoyable and fulfilling.
Since we have been so busy I have been relying on some super simple meals or take out to keep our nights moving along. One of the cookbooks that I have been turning to is The Ultimate Casseroles Book: More than 400 Heartwarming Dishes from Dips to Desserts. I love the idea of assembling a casserole leaving it be to bake and then having leftovers for another meal. Among the over 400 recipes (oh my!) the Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole jumped out to me one night so I whipped it up and we loved it so much. So, so much.
This took about 30 minutes for assemble and then another 35 to bake up. I cooked up some chicken breasts but you can easily shredded some rotisserie chicken instead. The dish is so flavorful and so cheesy. I can’t not love a cheesy dish. It’s really hearty so it can be stretched from 4 servings to 6 with a side of veggies or a side salad.
I only made one change to the original Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole recipe from The Ultimate Casseroles Book: More than 400 Heartwarming Dishes from Dips to Desserts. The original recipe called for Cream of Chicken Soup but 1) I didn’t have it 2) it sounds really gross, which would be why I didn’t have it. So instead I used Campbell’s Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom Soup since it didn’t have ‘mechanically separated chicken’ or ‘chicken fat’ in it. If you happen to make your own Cream of Chicken or Mushroom soup instead of using canned, then I suggest you do that. It’s sure to only make this wonderful casserole even better.
Dig in. You know you want to.
Makes 4 hearty servings
I will be the first to admit that I really hated tomatoes as a kid. I did not like the taste or texture and when my older brother announced he hated them I knew I would hate them too. Logical, no? I do distinctly remember once pulling off a cherry tomato from my uncle’s garden and eating it on a dare. I think the dare part hyped it all up and I made a big deal about it further.
But things started to change as I got older and I realized that tomatoes were not Satan’s trick on a large berry. I began to accept it in salsa and then bruschetta. Little pieces of heavily seasoned tomato… okay! Things really changed when I started to date Price. He made a big to do about not liking fish (umm communist!) and I liked to make fun of him for it. But not being able to be a hypocrite, I had to give a little back and start to eat tomatoes. Guess what… I discovered there amazing, intense, tangy taste and how I loved it.
I can still be picky about tomatoes, but it mostly is a texture thing and I have a lot of issues with textures so that is not surprising. Moving on… I have happily gotten to the point there I can slice tomatoes, sprinkle them with salt and eat them just like that. Taking a bite into a firm, sweet tomato melts everything else away. I can be busy in the kitchen making dinner, struggling to keep up with the timing of things, and if I just take a tiny moment to have a wedge of tomato sprinkled with salt, I start to center again and continue with dinner.
I think that Insalata Caprese, salad in the style from Capri, is a simple dish that makes for a great appetizer, or entree when you are too hot to cook. Because this dish it so simple it requires the best ingredients you can get your hands on. You can’t build a base with a watery tomato, or you can’t top a great tomato slice with a store brand plastic coated mozzarella log. Now is this time to skip and use a run of the mill olive oil. You really need an oil that is so golden that it is almost green. Go ahead, treat yourself… you deserve it!
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Basil Pesto is one of those things that take me under 5 minutes to get together but it does not taste 5 minutes simple. I’ve had some good and bad years with herbs, luckily this year was good! Eventhough I had 3 successful basil plants this year I always have the opportunity to go to Haymarket on Fridays and Saturdays. I can’t pass up the chance to get a HUGE bundle of basil for $1-$2. Plus haggling for a box of strawberries or tomatoes is always fun, plus the rabbits enjoy it.
So I take out my Magic Bullet to blend the pesto. A food processor or blender works well to whip up a batch quickly. It’s fast and easy to clean- just throw it in the dishwasher! Enjoy with pasta or with bread.
2 cups of fresh basil
1 tablespoon of chopped garlic
2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese
1/8 cup of toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup of extra virgin oil olive
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
Salt and Pepper
Toast pine nuts in a dry pan. Be careful not to burn them! Combine all ingredients in a food processor. If pesto is very thick add more oil or some water- if making pasta add in reserved pasta water.
I used my basil the last time I made pesto and I perfer to add the pine nuts to the pesto after it has been processed, I like the difference in texture.