Broccoli Cheese Casserole

I adapted my casserole from this recipe in Fix it and Forget it a crock pot recipe cookbook. If you like your crock pot as much as I do, you’ll love this book. Although, it has a lot of recipes that involve cracking open cans or boxes and mixing it all together in the pot. But they are usually pretty easily adapted to a more whole foods approach.

  • 10 oz pkg frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 10 3/4 oz can cream of chicken soup
  • 4 oz jar cheese sauce
  • 4 oz can mushrooms, optional
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Mix together all ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on low 1 1/2 hours or until heated through.

As for me, I used our own frozen broccoli, I used brown rice, and since I don’t have any local celery, I didn’t add any. Instead of the soup I used homemade chicken broth. Instead of jarred cheese sauce I made my own with shredded cheddar and milk. I used fresh mushrooms instead of canned and fresh garlic instead of powdered. It was easy and turned out well.

Sicilian sweet and sour pumpkin with mint

Sicilian sweet and sour pumpkin with mint can be served as antipasto and is especially good in the warmer weather. If you like pumpkin and enjoy the sweet and sour taste, or ‘agrodolce’, you will love this. The only problem I can see is in cutting up the pumpkin. I just make a small batch and leave the skin on. Cook it a few hours ahead to allow time for the flavours to mingle. Serve it at room temperature with rustic Italian bread.

Sicilian sweet and sour pumpkin

You may find it helpful to lightly dust the pumpkin slices with flour before frying.

Serves 6

500g pumpkin, any type peeled or not
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tbsp sugar or to taste
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp red or white wine vinegar or to taste
a small bunch of mint
sea salt and chilli flakes or freshly ground black pepper

Cut the pumpkin into about 5mm thick slices. Press down on the garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife to break them. There is no need to chop it, just remove the skin.

To fry the pumpkin, heat a wide pan over medium heat with half the olive oil. Add the garlic cloves and pumpkin slices in one layer. Remove and discard the garlic when it becomes golden. Fry the pumpkin slices on each side until golden and tender. Lift out of the pan and set aside while you cook the next batch. To speed this up you could have two pans on the go at the same time.

Arrange pumpkin slices in a shallow dish and scatter torn or shredded mint leaves between them. To make the dressing, stir the sugar, vinegar, cinnamon, salt and chilli flakes or black pepper into the frying pan or into a small saucepan and cook for about a minute. Taste and adjust to your liking. Pour the hot dressing over the pumpkin slices and leave to marinate for an hour or two. Serve at room temperature garnished with fresh mint sprigs and leaves.

Variations

The pumpkin slices can also be char-grilled though the end taste will be different.

To make a larger amount, cut the pumpkin into 1cm slices, toss with olive oil and roast in the oven. Heat the dressing ingredients and the garlic in a small saucepan and pour over the roasted pumpkin and mint.

In a recipe from an American Gourmet magazine from the 1970s the pumpkin slices (1cm) were dusted with flour and deep-fried. A teaspoon of minced thyme and rosemary were used instead of the mint. It was dressed as in the roasted variation above.

Healthy Slow Cooker Dal Makhani

Some one turned a bit more wiser today, yep , that would be me. I am 30 years old today. For the last few days I have been trying really hard to feel anxious or depressed about turning 30. I have seen so many of my friends behave like 30 is the end of life that I found my own personal experience quite different.

May be its got to do with this little guy, keeps me on my toes all the time. No wonder I feel my birthday came and went like a breeze :)

Whatever it is, I am embracing 30! All I expect for all this positive attitude is that life conveniently throws a good job in front of me, Neil starts sleeping better, I magically lose all the excess weight and I think that will be all. No qualms, really ;)

Moving on,

somethings are mum’s absolute best friend like coffee, white noise machine, baby monitor and slow cooker to name a few among other things. I mean really slow cooker is one of the best invention ever. Throw together ingredients and you have dinner waiting for you after an exhausting day of baby care. I have been scouring the internet for good slow cooker Indian recipes and disappointed to find very few of them. So I picked the few available online and try them with a few modifications obviously.

This first recipe I tried is Daal Makhani literally meaning lentils in a buttery sauce and when I mean butter I mean a couple of sticks of butter. No Good. My version is healthy (only 1.5 tbsp of butter), can be veganized (add earth balance instead of real butter) and so hearty.

 

Slow Cooker Dal Makhani

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup black lentils dry (Black whole urad) Urad is a type of lentil easily available online. If not found, you can substitue with brown lentils too.
  • 1/3 cup kidney beans dry
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 Thai chilly or jalapeno
  • 1 can of diced tomato.
  • 1.5 tbsp butter
  • 4 cups of vegetable stock/water
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder.
  • 1 tsp ground coriander  You can also use about 1.5 tbsp of mild curry powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 cup milk (I used 2%, to makes this vegan you can use almond milk or coconut milk)
  • 1 tbsp honey (sugar can be used too)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cilantro fro garnishing.

Directions:

Soak dry urad dal (lentils) and kidney beans overnight or at least for 6 hours.

After soaking, thoroughly wash them.

Assemble the crockpot and spray a bit of cooking spray before you begin (makes clean up much easier,since food does not stick much)

Add, lentils and beans, onion, chilly, spices, bay leaf and cinnamon.

Add the vegetable stock. Don’t add the salt and tomato at this point. 

 

Let sit on low for about 8 hours.

After about 8 hours, when the lentils are cooked through, crank it up to high and add the tomato, butter and let it go for another 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes add, salt and finally the milk and honey

Garnish with cilantro!

I served mine with quinoa.

Let me know if you try this recipe!

Do you have any favorite slow cooker recipes? I’d love to hear about them!