Brittany wrote this on 10 May 2016
I have returned from an unexpected, yet much needed hiatus from blogging. It has been several weeks, but if you follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, then you know that I have still been busy in the kitchen.
Whenever I hear the word ‘casserole’ (or ‘hot dish’ if you are like me and grew up in a northern state) I immediately think warm, comforting thoughts. Don’t you? Cozy and hearty and full of flavor? A one dish meal? Absolutely. That is the appeal of a casserole! I know we aren’t supposed to crave these kinds of things now that warmer weather is here, but I can’t help it. If you page through the BP archives you will find more than a few warm weather casseroles. Like this light, summer veggie meal. Simply outstanding with a glass of lemon water on the porch.
This has been added to that list. The list of casseroles I want to eat in summertime. And wintertime. And all the time….
Brown rice and a butt load of veggies make this hearty, but healthy. I try to refrain from going overboard on the cheese, but what ever you do in the privacy of your own home is your business. 🙂 I love to prep the veggies and meat a day ahead of time, making it a cinch to throw together before supper. My family is crazy about the flavors of this dish, so when they smell it in the oven, the drool starts to flow. It also is perfect to make ahead and freeze it, unbaked, for a future meal or a friend in need. Simply put, it is just a familiar combination of flavors in one dish. So feel free to plant that extra zucchini plant this summer. You just might need it for this recipe! Mexican Chicken & Rice Casserole
Try using pepper jack cheese in this. It is stellar!
1 c brown rice
2 c chicken broth or water
Cook rice in liquid until done and liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Cover and set aside.
3 small zucchini, cut into bite sized pieces
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large sweet bell pepper, chunked
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 c frozen corn
3 c cooked chicken (from a rotisserie chicken or 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded)
2 c shredded cheddar/jack, colby jack, or whatever mix you like + 1 extra cup for the topping
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 c good chicken broth
In a large saute pan, cook the onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil or butter until just translucent. Add to a large mixing bowl. in the same pan, quickly saute the zucchini and peppers until just hot, but not cooked. Add to the bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and gently mix well. Taste for seasoning (it may need a bit more salt) and if it seems dry, add 1/2 c of chicken broth. Mix well and pour into a casserole dish. Top with additional cheese if you want, and either freeze for later, or put into a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until hot all the way through and cheese is melted. Enjoy!
Brittany wrote this on 22 March 2016
Memories and the connection food has to them is often the topic of my blog posts.
If you read my site at all, you know that I generally show my love for people by feeding them. I really love to feed people. I need to feed my family and friends. I just want to give all the food to all the people all the time. Maybe I have a bit of Italian grandmother in my heritage….
Life itself needs food to survive and our lives rotate around mealtimes and eating. What better way to show warmth and support and love than to share your table with those you care for most in your life? I have witnessed this unbridled hospitality many times growing up and knew early on that food, while basic in our need for it, can be a powerful thing. Indeed, it has the ability to heal, damage, soothe, and hold us hostage. It can make us crave, ache, and weep with joy. Yes, I could be describing an episode of Downton Abbey, but in this case, I am referring to a really good hamburger. Or a perfectly made apple pie. Or that casserole that only your Mom seems to make juuuuuuuuust right.
Or this wild rice.
Amongst the circle of my family, this rice is rather famous. When you grow up eating something and it becomes part of you and your memories, you assume that everyone will enjoy it as much as you do. How could someone NOT love Aunt Fluffy’s steak and kidney pie? Or Cousin Fred’s lutefisk sandwiches? For example, my husband goes on and ON about how good it is to eat Grape Nuts with coffee instead of milk, and no matter how much he tries to convince me of it, I resist. It never occurs to him that it is weird or strange or, well, icky. It is simply how those in his house ate it and when you love something that much, you want everyone else to love it that much too. Family dishes are as important as our genealogy and as legendary as family lore.
In this case, I learned young that this really IS something everyone loves as much as my family. Relatives, friends, acquaintances, spouses, co-workers, and everyone in-between; they all love this rice. It is most definitely magical.
Why? Because it is simple. Because it has bacon, and it is good. Because it has great texture, and it is good. It is even better leftover and it is very good.
Never had wild rice before? Don’t fret. You cook it just like regular rice. Even though I grew up eating it in Minnesota where it is widely available and a staple in our diet (Ever heard of Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup? Gaaaaaahhhhhhhh) it isn’t all that different from other rice so it transfers well to other regions. It is nutritionally dense and has more protein than any other rice. It is also high in fiber, low in fat, and like all rice, gluten-free.
It is also beautiful, yes? Fluffy and gorgeous, this rice can make your heart beat fast in anticipation! Our favorite way to enjoy it is with anything roasted; duck, turkey, chicken, you name it. It is excellent. It is also perfect with fish of any kind. Piled up on a plate with a veggie makes for an awesome light supper.
I realize that since you have no direct emotional family connection to this dish, it will more than likely not make you weep with joy. However, I DO hope that you will make it for your own legendary family table. For like most food, it tastes better when you share it with family and friends. Murphy’s Wild Rice
This rice is called Murphy’s because that is my Dad’s name, and he is the one that makes it. Until now, as far as I know, he is the only one that makes it. I was given his blessing when I asked to post it here. It is actually more for my benefit that anything else. I don’t live in the same timezone as my parents and I want to be able to recreate it when the mood strikes. This is even better on day two and it is outrageously good when mixed with scrambled eggs.
1 c wild rice, long grain and still with the outer hull
1/4 lb, 4 slices or so, good smokey bacon, diced small (1/4 inch)
1 small onion, diced small
1 stalk celery, diced small
1/4 c diced mushrooms, fresh or canned
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
cayenne to taste
Cook the wild rice in plenty of boiling water (just like you would pasta) until popped. The rice will split and curl beautifully when it is cooked. This will take 30-40 minutes. Drain well. In the meantime, sauté the bacon until cooked, but not crispy. Add the remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper, going light on the salt due to the bacon. Cook over medium-medium low heat until veggies are translucent. You don’t want to fry everything, just sauté. Set aside. When rice is done, mix everything together in a bowl and taste for seasoning. Rice should be peppery and well seasoned, but not garlicky. This can be made a day ahead of time, simply cool and cover. When ready to serve, just microwave with a large pat of butter, stir, and enjoy!
Brittany wrote this on 7 March 2016
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #EasterSweets #CollectiveBiasSometimes, you just can’t help but try something new.
This has been the case for me lately when I see anything in an M&M’s bag. Trying the new seasonal flavors has been a secret joy of mine and this spring, as expected, they didn’t dissapoint! Exclusively at Target and only for a limited time, you can find M&M’s White Strawberry Shortcake candies. Just when you thought Easter candy couldn’t get any better, MARS takes it to the next level!
Pssst! Click here for a special coupon to save on the MARS Easter Collection and a variety of Wrigley products!
Lately, my family has been mildly obsessed with anything having to do with the flavors of s’mores. If there are marshmallows and graham crackers involved, then we are IN! When I began to plan our Easter baskets for this spring, I wanted to incorporate those same flavors into a homemade treat to make the day extra special.
Everything I needed was at Target! I picked up several bags of jellybeans, making sure to include the Starburst Sweet and Sour Jellybeans and Starburst Tropical Jellybeans, as well as the original flavor. Starburst Eggs were perfect to tuck in the baskets too. I couldn’t forget chocolate! The gorgeous display of DOVE chocolate made it a breeze to grab the favorites of my friends and family. DOVE Milk Chocolate Bunnies are an Easter standard for me, but when I saw the DOVE Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Eggs, I was pretty stoked. All of these and SO many other varieties of M&M’s, DOVE, Starburst, and Skittles were easy to find on end caps in the seasonal section of my local Target. Perfect for one stop shopping!
So. These s’more treats. Anything peanut butter is a hit with our family and we have even been using chocolate peanut butter cups in our classic campfire s’mores instead of the traditional chocolate bar. That, my friends, is how this recipe was born. Marshmallow? Check. Graham crackers? Double check. Favorite M&M’s and DOVE Chocolates? Ready to go! Add all this together in an Easter basket and we have a pretty spectacular treat!
One more scrumptious detail! Be sure to mark your calendars for March 20th! Super Targets will be hosting a sampling even that day, making it the perfect time to hop to it and stock up on all you need to play the Easter bunny for your family! You can follow along on social media by clicking here, making sure you won’t miss a single thing!
Easy Mini Easter Tarts
The amount of ingredients you need solely depends on how may of these adorable treats you are going to make! Just be sure to store them on a flat surface in an airtight container.
homemade or purchased mini graham cracker pie crusts/tartlette shells
M&M’s White Strawberry Shortcake candies
DOVE Milk Chocolate & Peanut Butter Eggs
food coloring, optional
If desired, in a medium bowl, combine marshmallow creme with green (or other Easter color of your choice) food coloring to achieve the color you want. These look just as adorable if you leave the marshmallow creme white! Using a large spoon, add a scoop of marshmallow to as many tarts as you plan to make. Creme will level and flatten out on its own so don’t mess with it! 🙂 Place M&M’s on the tarts in desired designs, getting creative and trying different patterns! In addition, unwrap the DOVE Eggs and nestle a few in the ‘nest’ of graham and marshmallow! These look great just displayed on a platter, but they look extra special if you slide them gently into a cellophane snack bag, tie it off with a spring ribbon, and snuggle them into the Easter basket of someone you love! Enjoy!