casserole

Week 7: Cottage Pie with Spinach Potatoes & Jalapeño Popper Chicken Sandwiches/Rice Bowls

Yesterday I wrote up this lovely post, with two recipes, and it was so gorgeous, guys. There were bulleted ingredient lists and underlined words and everything. Then I pressed “Publish,” and it disappeared into the void of the Internet and apparently no longer exists.

This one time in grad school, I went to the library to work on a huge paper. I always worked on huge papers at the library because then there were no distracting cats to pet or episodes of Judge Judy to watch. I wrote my paper, which was at least 10 pages, and got up to stretch, and in the five minutes I was away from my computer, my paper had gotten erased from existence forever and ever. I cried. In the library. Loudly. Ironically, I was in school to become a librarian so I knew how obnoxious I was being. You bet your bippy that I became a CTRL+S junkie for the rest of grad school. Every sentence: CTRL+S.

So I guess I didn’t learn my lesson six years ago. That’s the point. Well, the point was really that I was SUPER PISSED about my recipes, which actually take a while to type up, going away with a tiny *bloop* sound. The saddest bloop.

But you’re here for recipes, yes? Yes. These two were sure winners. I made up the first one. I’ve made cottage pie a billion times, but never with such success or such fancy potatoes. The jalapeño popper chicken sandwiches were awesome, and yes, they have about a million elements to them, like most sandwiches, but make them anyway because they are so good. We used some of the leftover chicken for burrito bowls last night, and that worked out super well.

Cottage Pie with Spinach Potatoes

  • 1lb. ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cubes beef bouillon (or 2T beef stock concentrate)
  • 1C water
  • 2T tomato paste
  • a dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • a handful of frozen peas
  • 1 Russet potato, chopped (and peeled if you feel fancy)
  • 3 smallish red potatoes, chopped (there’s really no need to peel these)
  • 1/2C-1C cauliflower, chopped
  • 1/2C frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • heavy cream
  • butter
  • salt and pepper

You can make this in advance and then just warm it up later. If you’re making it all at once, preheat your oven to 375F. Brown beef with onions and garlic in a largeish pot. Pour into a colander in the sink and let it hang out there while you get the rest of the filling ready.

Add the bouillon, water, tomato paste, and Worcestershire into the pot you used for the beef. Stir to mix, then add parsnips and carrots. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the parsnips are almost tender. (Parsnips take longer to cook than carrots.) Add the peas, stir, then add the beef and onions back in. Stir, and heat through.

While all of that’s going on, cook the potatoes in heavily salted water until they’re very tender. Cook the cauliflower (I used the microwave) and blend it up in the food processor until it’s totally smooth. Add potatoes and pulse until almost smooth. Add heavy cream, butter, salt, pepper, and spinach, and pulse a few times.

Pour the filling into a large casserole dish and spread the potato mixture on top, sealing the edges. Spray the top with cooking spray and bake for 20 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and the potatoes are browned. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Jalapeño Popper Chicken Sandwiches/Rice Bowls

Adapted from Food Fanatic

For chicken

  • 2.5lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 28oz. can of Rotel (I used two 14oz. cans of diced tomatoes plus two little cans of Hatch chiles)
  • 2T chili powder
  • 1T cumin
  • 2 cubes chicken bouillon (or 2T chicken stock concentrate)

Place all in crockpot on low for 6-8 hours. I plopped my chicken in there frozen and it only took about 7 hours.

For breadcrumb topping

  • 1C panko crumbs (or other breadcrumbs, preferably coarse)
  • 2T butter

Melt butter in a small pan. Brown breadcrumbs in butter until crispy. Take off heat.

For cheese sauce

  • 1/2C heavy cream
  • 2oz. cream cheese
  • 4oz. Cheddar cheese, shredded (I used Cheddar slices that I tore up)

Heat cream in a saucepan. Add cream cheese and whisk to melt. Add Cheddar and whisk to melt. Keep on very low heat until you’re ready to serve.

For jalapeños

  • chopped, seeded jalapeño (I think I got a couple of dud jalapeños, because they weren’t spicy AT ALL. Next time I might get the pickled kind.)

Assembly

Using a slotted spoon, place chicken on buns, then top with cheese sauce, jalapeños, and panko crumbs. Alternately, you could skip the buns and put everything into a bowl of cooked hot rice. That was surprisingly good.

Also, do not skip the breadcrumbs! I thought they seemed kind of unnecessary, but they add crunch to something that is otherwise very squishy.

This makes a stupid amount of chicken, so freeze some leftovers, or use the extra to make burrito bowls.

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