It’s a Casserole Revival!

I love the idea of a casserole.  It can often be the oven’s version of the 1 pot meal.  A casserole can contain all of the important nutrition a meal requires.  And, casseroles often equal comfort food.  HOWEVER, they often consist of

Check out this deliciousness!

Check out this deliciousness!

lots of cheese or creamy sauces that look more like Elmer’s glue than nutrition.  Don’t get me wrong, I love cheese but I also want pack lots of nutritious ingredients into the meals I make for my family.  Now, this recipe is not vegan but I imagine it could very easily be converted.  Below is Food and Wine’s revived version of a chicken and wild rice casserole.  We ate it with a big salad on the side.  The boys loved it.  Well, Andrew loved it and once I took out all of the mushrooms, Chase said he liked it.  Kind of.  Enjoy!

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole


1/2 pound wild rice (1 1/2 cups)
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
1 large shallot, minced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3 pounds Swiss chard, stems discarded and leaves coarsely chopped
1/4 cup grapeseed or canola oil
1 1/2 pounds cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 small celery rib, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 thyme sprigs
1 1/2 teaspoons minced rosemary
Kosher salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 pounds thinly sliced chicken scaloppine, pounded 1/4 inch thick
1 1/2 cups panko
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Chopped parsley, for serving


  1. MAKE THE WILD RICE In a large saucepan, combine all of the ingredients with a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer over moderate heat until the rice is tender, about 1 hour. Drain well. (OR – Make it in a rice cooker and be done with it.)
  2. MEANWHILE, COOK THE SWISS CHARD Set a rack over a large rimmed baking sheet. In a pot, heat the oil. Add the shallot and garlic and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the Swiss chard in large handfuls, letting each batch wilt slightly before adding more. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all of the chard is wilted, 8 to 10 minutes. Spread the chard out on the rack to drain and let cool completely. Squeeze out any excess water.
  3. MAKE THE MUSHROOM SAUCE In a large, deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add half of the mushrooms and cook over moderately high heat, undisturbed, until browned on the bottom, 5 minutes. Cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are tender and browned all over, 5 minutes longer; transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining oil and mushrooms.
  4. Wipe out the skillet and melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in it. Add the onion, celery, garlic, thyme, rosemary and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just starting to brown, about 8 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring, until incorporated, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the stock and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to moderate and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and no floury taste remains, about 7 minutes. Stir in the cream and season the sauce with salt and pepper.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375°. Arrange half of the chicken in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch or 4-quart baking dish that’s at least 2 inches deep. Scatter half of the Swiss chard over the chicken, followed by half of the wild rice and half of the mushroom cream sauce. Repeat the layering once more with the remaining chicken, greens, rice and sauce.
  6. In a medium bowl, toss the panko with the 3 tablespoons of melted butter and sprinkle evenly over the casserole. Cover with foil and bake for about 35 minutes, until bubbling. Uncover the casserole and turn on the broiler. Broil 6 inches from the heat until the panko is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
    The baked casserole can be cooled down and refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently and crisp the panko under the broiler before serving.
    Pair this dish with a ripe, full-bodied California Chardonnay.


Meatless Monday: All Kale Caesar Salad: Two Options


Photograph by Eva Kolenko from Food and

I know I have posted about Kale Caesars before…here’s the link, Here are a couple of variations to breathe new life into your meal planning.  One option is an actual recipe from Food and Wine and the other is a mommy failure when I was distracted from the kitchen.  Both are delicious and will prove to be a welcome change from the single track all kale caesar.  Enjoy!

Chickpea-Kale Caesar


canola oil

1 15 oz can drained and dried chickpeas



1/2 cup mayonaise

2 Tbsp lemon juice

2 tsp Dijon

1 grated garlic clove

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan

1 1/4 lbs chopped curly kale


1. In a skillet, heat 1/4 inch canola oil. Add chickpeas and fry until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels; season with salt and pepper.

2. In a large bowl, whisk mayonnaise, lemon juice, Dijon, garlic clove, shredded Parmesan. Toss with kale and the chickpeas. Serve.

Apple-Almond All Kale Caesar

Andrew actually created this recipe through my distraction.  One evening while preparing dinner I was distracted from the kitchen for a few minutes and when I returned, I found Andrew singing to himself and adding slice pink lady apples and Marcona almonds to the Caesar salad I had been in the middle of preparing.  I decided to just leave Andrew’s additions in the salad and what a happy accident it turned out to be.  It was delicious!


1/2 – 1 whole pink lady apple sliced

1/2 cup Marcona almonds

1 recipe of All Kale Caesar (see above link)


1. In a skillet, heat 1/4 inch canola oil. Add chickpeas and fry until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels; season with salt and pepper.

2. In a large bowl, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Dijon, garlic clove and Parmesan. Toss with curly kale and the chickpeas. Serve.


GMOs The Debate

Have you ever watched CBS Sunday Morning?  It is one of my favorite shows ever and continues to be a source ofUnknown information and inspiration for many of my musings on this blog.  This last Sunday, there was a piece on GMOs.  As a disclaimer, I am in favor of labeling but I also buy products with GMOs.  I’ve never fully understood why people are against them entirely but I understand that there are a lot of people are against companies like Monsanto controlling so much of the food industry.  Below is a quick rundown (with my opinions added in) of what the piece brought to light.

GMO – Genetically Modified Organism

Forms of Genetic Modification: grafting, cross breeding and hybridization (It’s been happening for thousands of years)  Most of the foods we eat have been genetically modified over time.

Are they safe?  Yes.

images-1Do we have the right to know if our food contains GMO ingredients?  I think so.  Do people who do not want to ingest GMOs have the right to not buy food with GMOs? Yes.

Take papayas in Hawaii that were devastated by ringspot.  A local scientist successfully injected DNA from the destructive papaya ring spot into a papaya seed (like a vaccine) and the subsequent papayas became immune to ring spot.  The papayas that now grow on that farm in Hawaii are GMO papayas.  So, are they safe?  Yes.

Many farmers in the US grow GMO crops, including apples, papayas, potatoes, cotton, zucchini squash, corn (have you ever tasted its ancient form?  It’s not like the sweet corn we eat today) and soy beans.  Many are engineered to ward off insects or resist weed killing herbicides, or both.  They can dramatically reduce the amount of insecticides used in their growth. There are also genetic modifications that make plants resistant to flooding and drought.

The most recent high profile food to have the label GMO: salmon.  They are engineered to grow faster.  On the horizon: a peanut without the deadly toxin to which many people are allergic.

There are some disturbing details that could very well get lost in all of this debate: the chronically hungry people in the 3rd world are benefitting from genetically modified rice in the form of yellow rice that is fortified with Vitamin A (which makes the rice yellow) and in the process, saves their lives.  I don’t think the starving people across the world care if their food is organic or gluten free or even fair trade.

There is nothing wrong with the general public being skeptical about a large corporation that says its products are not harmful to humans and the earth, water, and air. (DDT and Tobacco anyone?)  But what are the, if any, adverse health effects that GMO foods have?

There aren’t enough long term studies to determine what the negative effects are.  And right now, most scientists (88% according to a Pew Research Poll) feel they are safe.  However, 57% of American adults feel they are unsafe.  So, why are so many (mainly in obese rich countries) against GMOs?

Next week, I’ll have some answers.

In the meantime, leave any questions in the comments below.

In addition to finding out why some people are against GMOs, I’m going to talk someone who works for Dow Chemical Company and get some information from her.  If you have any questions for her, please leave them in the comments below.



Waiting, Purging and Moving

The holidays have come and gone and the new year is well underway.  As usual, there is a lot going on in theIMG_0024 Frieder household.  After taking the LSAT….TWICE…Yes, TWICE, I finished my application and secured a local friend and attorney to write an additional letter of recommendation and place a call to the admissions office.  So, now I’m waiting….waiting…to see if I’m in or not.  If I didn’t have other things to do in the meantime I think I would drink too much but that isn’t possible because I gave up sugar and alcohol for the month of January (not sure why yet).

Ryan did a mountain bike race over the weekend so I took the opportunity to start packing the house because WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!  We close on the 22nd and I want to be ready to MOVE!!!  In order to start packing, I needed to do some long delayed purging.  It is the usual clothing, toys, random missing pieces to who knows what?, and it IMG_0026feels great!  There are things that I have held onto for no other reason but, I just like x,y,or z.  Though I have gone through boxes of things and repacked them, I may have to have another go at them because I have an unnatural attachment to things like all of the Dave Matthews Band calendars since 1998.  Do I need those? No.  Do I need every Rolling Stone magazine that has an article (since 1995) about DMB? No. Do they do anything for me except take up space? No.  Will Dave and the guys be upset if I don’t keep them?  No. So, why do I keep them?  They sit in a trunk in a closet.  But why can’t I let them go? By the way, if someone can give me a good reason to let them go, I will.  Please leave a comment below.

Hopefully, this house will be our forever home for the next 10 years.  Chase has lived in 6 houses since he was IMG_0025born…6 years ago.  I’d like to be able to stay put in this town and really drop some roots.  I’ve been game for the journey for many years but I’d like to start developing some local relationships and friendships that will be long-term.  Andrew is only 3 and this will be his 4th house.  Oy vey.  Though home is where your loved ones are, I’d like that to be in the same house for awhile.


Meatless Monday: Pumpkin Spiced Oatmeal Muffins

Hello delicious!  If your breakfast is often a smoothie or a cup of coffee on the go, you’re going to love this muffin.  Now, before you say: “no carbs” “gluten free” or “that won’t sustain me past 9:15 am”…make them and then you’ll say: “I love them!”  And, one of the best things about them, there’s not a grain of wheat in them!  The recipe comes from dear Andrea Bemis of Dishing up the Dirt.  Enjoy them as breakfast or a snack…and though I rarely have a meal that doesn’t contain Grass Fed Kerry Gold butter, they don’t need it.

Pumpkin Spiced Oatmeal Muffins (Vegan)IMG_0002


3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
3 TBS sunflower seed butter
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 TBS ground flax seeds
a few walnuts for topping


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Combine all the ingredients for the muffins in a large bowl. Mix well until all the ingredients are well combined.

3. Grease a muffin tin with coconut oil or oil of choice.

4. Scoop the batter into each muffin tin all the way to the top (these puppies wont rise!) top with a few crushed walnuts.
5. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until firm to the touch.



Meatless Monday: Endive Salad with Pears and Pumpkin Seeds

Let the detox begin! With an over indulgent holiday season, a ski trip in Idaho coming up and a wedding in Orange County in February, mama needs a detox!

I’ll be hitting the gym, Barre3 classes and resetting myself over the next couple of weeks. I’ve become spongy in too many places and my jeans are a little tight…I think this recipe from Food and Wine will help do the trick!

Endive Salad with Pears and Pumpkin Seeds.




3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons honey

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

Kosher salt

3 Belgian endives (1 pound), cored and sliced 1 inch thick

1 head of frisée (8 ounces), core and dark green leaves discarded, white and light green leaves chopped into 2-inch pieces (8 cups)     

1 large red d’Anjou pear, cored, quartered and thinly sliced     


MAKE THE VINAIGRETTE In a medium bowl, combine the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard and honey. While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the oil until well emulsified. Season with salt.

MAKE THE SALAD In a small skillet, heat the olive oil. Toast the pumpkin seeds over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to drain; season with salt.

In a large bowl, toss the endives, frisée, pear and scallions with half of the vinaigrette and season with salt. Transfer the salad to plates and top 
with the pumpkin seeds. Serve the remaining vinaigrette on the side.


The vinaigrette can be refrigerated overnight. The toasted pumpkin seeds can be stored in an airtight container overnight.?


Lively, ripe Oregon Pinot Gris.

Meatless Monday: Cauliflower and Gruyere Soufflé 

I’ve eaten soufflés. I’ve heard stories of ruined dinner parties because of “fallen” soufflés. Until recently, I had never attempted to make a soufflé. After making one, I really don’t know what all of the fuss is about.

Now, before you say: “But Quin, you like to cook and are good at it…what about the rest of us?”

First of all, thanks for the compliment! And, really, there is nothing to it!  I did have to buy a soufflé dish, because I didn’t have one and I figured it would be a a good dish to have even if I didn’t see any additional soufflés in my future.  I found the recipe in Food and Wine and it is by Claudine Pépin, daughter of THE Jacque Pépin, a master in the food world. I’ve been eyeing his updated techniques and really want to pull the trigger and buy it.  I think you’ll enjoy the recipe. I loved it. The boys weren’t impressed but I’m sure it would garner some oohs and ash at your next dinner party.

Cauliflower and Gruyere Soufflé 



1/2 pound cauliflower florets, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 stick unsalted butter

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups whole milk

Kosher salt


6 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (2 lightly packed cups)

2 tablespoons finely chopped chives

6 large eggs



1. In a medium saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the cauliflower until very tender, about 7 minutes. Drain well and pat dry. In a medium bowl, puree the cauliflower with a potato masher or fork. Transfer the cauliflower to a colander and let drain until cooled completely.
2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 6-cup soufflé dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter and set it on a rimmed baking sheet. In a medium saucepan, melt the remaining 7 tablespoons of butter. Add the flour and whisk over moderate heat until bubbling, about 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat, whisking, until thickened and no floury taste remains, about 7 minutes. Season the béchamel with salt and pepper. Scrape into a large bowl and let cool, stirring occasionally.

3. Stir the cauliflower puree into the béchamel, then fold in the cheese and chives. In 
a medium bowl, beat the eggs until frothy, then gently fold them into the cauliflower béchamel. Scrape the soufflé base into the prepared dish and bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, until puffed and browned; serve right away.


Fluffy soufflés are fantastic with dry, frothy sparkling wines. Serve this one with a juicy cava, like the NV Castelroig Brut or the NV Avinyó Brut Reserva.


Meatless Monday: Roasted Carrots

It seems so simple, almost embarrassingly so; but, roasted carrots are delicious!  They are colorful and feel very indulgent.  The boys can’t get enough of them.  If you have a bag of carrots in your refrigerator and you’re at a loss for a side dish, make this tonight.

Roasted CarrotsIMG_2736


1.5 lbs carrots, peeled and cut in half and into 3″ segments


Salt and Pepper


1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

2. Prepare carrots as directed above and toss them in a bowl with EVOO (or if you’re feeling indulgent, melted butter), salt and pepper.

3. Bake in oven for 35 minutes turning half way through cooking time.

4. Enjoy!


Meatless Monday: Crunchy Baked Fennel

I love holiday recipes.  I love Fennel.  Most of the time I shave it thin and add it to a salad with dried cherries and toasted nuts.  It is one of my favorite salad combinations.  When I first saw this recipe I wasn’t excited about it but then…warm crunch breadcrumbs and the softly scented anise of fennel started calling my name.  I found it in Food and Wine.









I was not disappointed.  I could not get enough of the lovely contrasts among the ingredients.  The night I made it, it was a meatless meal, but I think it would go well with lamb.  Make the recipe and leave a comment below telling me what your pairing was.


10 medium fennel bulbs—halved, cored and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, minced
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup dry white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc and then drank the rest of the bottle)


1. Preheat the oven to 375°. On 2 large rimmed baking sheets, drizzle the fennel with 1/2 cup of the olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Bake for 45 minutes, until softened. Let cool for 30 minutes.
In a skillet, toast the panko over moderate heat until golden, 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; stir in the cheese and flour.
2. In the same skillet, melt the butter. Add the garlic, shallots and thyme and cook over moderate heat until the garlic is softened, 5 minutes; add to the panko. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of oil and the parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Preheat the oven to 400°. Spread half of the fennel in a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Pour the wine over the fennel, then sprinkle half of the panko on top. Repeat with the remaining fennel and panko. Cover and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes longer, until the topping is browned and crisp. Serve hot.
The unbaked gratin can be wrapped in foil and frozen for up to a week. Bake the foil-wrapped dish straight from the freezer for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes longer.


Meatless Monday

Are you familiar with persimmons?  Until  

 two days ago The only thing I knew about them was that I knew very little about them! I knew they were beautiful and kind of reminded me of tomatoes. I also knew that I was sure that Pottery Barn had named a color of throw blanket or towel: perfectly persimmon.

I knew nothing about fragrance, texture or flavor. I’m sure I have read something about them in reference to a Shakespearean play…but, alas, I cannot be sure.

When Chase, Andrew and I went to Lee Lee International Market here in town to find Lychees to make eyeballs for my Halloween Dark and Stormy Death Punch, I dragged them through the entire 20,000 square foot store that holds items from all over the world. I was hoping they would have some fresh lychees but we didn’t find any. On a brighter note, we found fresh persimmons and jack fruit, which are divine. 

This is the recipe I found for an ultra simple but delicious fruit crisp. I hope you enjoy it!

If you have any inspiring persimmon recipes, please leave a link to them in comments section below. I’d love to explore some more!

Coastal Kitchen’s twist on the traditional fruit crisp!


  • 3 peeled and sliced persimmons
  •  2 cups blueberries 
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar 
  •  1/2 cup flour
  •  1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup butter (chilled and cut into pea sized cubes) 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg 

Optional add-ons:
• vanilla bean ice cream


  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. 
  2. Grease the bottom of a 24cm pie dish with butter. 
  3. Arrange the sliced persimmons on the bottom of the pan, then cover with blueberries. 
  4. Mix the dry ingredients with a fork or wisk. 
  5. Toss the chilled butter cubes into the the dry ingredients and mix gently with a fork. 
  6. Cover the fruit with the dry crumble mix and bake for 30 minutes. 

* Stick a fork in the persimmons to make sure they are soft after 30 minutes.

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