Mushroom and Vegetable Casserole

2014-04-24 20.26.28

On a busy weeknight a quick casserole is a healthy, easy, and filling dinner.  I made this dish originally by combining fresh vegetables with sliced chicken and a can of cream of chicken soup.  The result was good, but I felt guilty about using a can of processed cream of chicken soup.  The next time I decided to use some of my homemade chicken broth to make my own creamy soup.  After doing some research I found a few recipes that used corn starch and a lot of butter to thicken and flavor a seasoned broth.  Then I found the good stuff, using vegetables to thicken seasoned broth.  Cauliflower was a popular choice, but I turned to mushrooms to add more flavor depth to the casserole.

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Ingredients for cream of mushroom puree:

-1/2 onion, diced
-1 Tbsp of butter or oil of choice
-3 sprigs of thyme, center stem removed
-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
-1 tsp celery powder
-1 clove of garlic, minced
-1 1/2 cups of sliced mushrooms (I used baby portabella, but you can use any fresh mushroom)
-1/4 cup of chicken stock (I used a homemade version)
-1/4 cup of coconut milk (whole fat from a can).  If you eat dairy, you can use heavy cream.

Ingredients for casserole:

-2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, diced
-1/2 onion, diced
-1 red bell pepper, diced
-1/2 cup of sliced mushrooms
-3 cups of diced zucchini
-1 handful of kale, sliced into manageable pieces
-Fresh thyme to taste, center stem removed
-salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

1. To make the mushroom soup/puree start by browning the diced onion in butter or oil over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and cook until softened.

2. Add thyme, red pepper flakes, garlic, and celery powder.  Stir for 1 minute until fragrant.

3. Add chicken stock and coconut milk, heat through but do not boil.2014-04-24 19.05.14

4. Pour mushroom mixture into the vitamix or another high power blender and blend until smooth.

5. In a casserole pan mix together vegetables, diced chicken, and mushroom puree.  Season with salt and pepper lightly.

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6. Place in oven at 375 for 35-45 minutes until chicken is baked through and browned.

2014-04-24 20.23.446. Serve over brown rice or mashed potatoes.

You can use any vegetables of choice in the casserole such as carrots, celery, cauliflower, potatoes, brussel sprouts, or spinach.  To make this vegetarian, skip the chicken and substitute vegetable broth in the puree.  If you aren’t too into mushrooms, try steamed cauliflower in place of the mushrooms in the puree.

 Enjoy!

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Spinach French Toast with Tomato Topping

2014-03-30 14.08.27

This meal started with a delicious loaf of multi-grain bread that was on it’s last leg, only suitable for stuffing or french toast.  I first planned to make french toast, but wasn’t in the mood for anything sweet.  Instead, I decided to make a savory french toast with a spinach and egg soak.  Using the Vitamix to get the spinach completely pulverized to soak into the bread was a huge help.  The color of this would have been great for St. Patrick’s day, or perhaps for Easter.  With the tomato and red pepper topping, this can be eaten as french toast, cut into smaller pieces and served as a bruschetta appetizer, or used as open face sandwich with a juicy burger (like I made the next day).  My husband was pretty suspicious when I told him I wanted to make spinach french toast, but I am pretty sure he ended up enjoying it more than me.

Ingredients:
1 loaf of day old bread, sliced thick
Fresh basil for garnish

Spinach soak:
4 eggs
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup milk (I used almond milk)
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp black ground pepper
6 leaves of fresh basil
Large handful of spinach

Topping:
1 cup tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup of roasted red peppers, diced
2 Tbsp shallots, diced
1-2 Tbsp Olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

1. Place ingredients for the spinach soak into the Vitamix in the order listed and blend increasing to high until fully blended, up to 45 seconds.

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2. Pour contents of soak into a large bowl.  Dredge the slices of bread into the spinach soak, allowing bread absorb as able.

3. In a heavy skillet on medium heat spray with cooking oil or coat with butter before cooking the soaked bread.  Each piece takes a few minute per side, until browned and cooked through.

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4. To make the topping place diced tomatoes, red peppers, and shallots into a bowl and mix with olive oil and salt/pepper to taste.

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5. Place cooked bread on a plate and pile on the topping as desired.  Garnish with basil and parmesan cheese.

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Eat well!