It’s a Cass Blaster Blitzkrieg*: Chicken and mushroom casserole.

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It’s hardly uncommon knowledge that I loathe the cold. What can I say? I grew up in California, and ten years in New York has done NOTHING to thicken my blood. I hate not being able to feel my fingers. I hate the fact that the MTA pretty much shuts down when the slightest flurry occurs. I hate that I cannot wear cute shoes and/or skirts out in the world between November and May.

I do, however, love cold-weather food. You know what I mean–the heavy, creamy, dreamy foods of winter, resplendent in cheese and bacon and all manner of things bad for your cardiovascular system. Comfort foods, designed to take your mind off the fact that half your band is still stranded in Las Vegas (not that I’d know about that *ahem*) and that you stopped receiving messages from your toes about three days ago: Pastas. Fondue. Casserole.

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Oh, casserole. I was so late to your party, and I’d like to apologize now. I love you even more now that I’ve determined that you don’t actually have to be a crazy cholesterol bomb to be both hearty and satisfying. I credit Heidi over at 101 Cookbooks for showing me the light–I stumbled across her recipe for mushroom casserole, and it was like a shot of adrenaline straight to the brain. Heidi’s exquisite site is all about healthy and delicious, so I knew that if SHE was exhibiting it, it had to be both amazing and extremely unlikely to strike you dead. Plus, it’s easy and versatile–it was no trouble to satisfy my inner semivore and toss in some cooked chicken (from a bird I’d roasted earlier), or to swap out the rice in favor of kamut (a variety of whole wheat) instead of rice (which I certainly recommend trying–it’s chewy and unlike anything else). I also found myself without cottage cheese or sour cream, so I substituted in some plain yogurt (my new favorite ingredient). Basically, it’s a good, basic recipe that stands up beautifully to whatever you wish to throw at it. Frankly, I suspect it would rule with a mushroom medley and a little blue cheese, or perhaps something involving bacon. I will let you know if i try this.

So! If you’re looking for something to eat this winter that is hearty and healthy, I say give this recipe a go–but feel free not to follow it too carefully!

And, my darlings, this is probably my last post before the holidays; as you can see, I did not get it together to make any cookies or find any holiday spirit, but I hope you had better luck with that than I. I also hope that wherever you are, you are warm, you are safe, and you are with the people you love.

Happy holidays, y’all.

Chicken and mushroom casserole
Adapted from the always awesome 101 cookbooks.

2 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
2 tbsp fresh thyme
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium-sized onion, diced
8-10 oz mushrooms, finely diced
2 large eggs
1c lowfat yogurt
2c prepared rice or grain of your choosing
1/2 c + 2 tbsp parmesan cheese
1/2c breadcrumbs
Optional: 1c cooked chicken, cut into small chunks

  1. Prepare your grain; set aside in a nice, big mixing bowl.
  2. In a large saute pan, heat a glug of olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. Saute the mushrooms until they’re brown and juicy; then, add the onions. Once the onions start to get translucent, add the garlic and saute for a couple more minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat, add the herbs.
  4. Meanwhile, add the eggs to the yogurt, blending well.
  5. Add the egg-yogurt mix (or rather, as much of it is needed to bind the other ingredients–you don’t want this thing too wet), mushroom-onion mix, 1/2 c parmesan cheese, and chicken to the rice; mix well and then turn it out into a lightly buttered casserole dish.
  6. Preheat your oven to 350. Then, mix the breadcrumbs and the remaining parmesan cheese (and some more herbs, if you’re feeling festive) together; sprinkle this mixture liberally atop the casserole.
  7. Bake covered for 20 minutes, then uncovered for 20.

* The first person to identify that quote gets a special prize (besides my undying respect and devotion, that is)! Leave your guess in the comments.

In casserole, mushrooms, winter

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