Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Day 47: Creamy Vegetable Casserole

I am finding some really great side dishes lately. Usually side dishes are hard to come up with. Maybe it is because I am actually looking for them, but they seem to be popping up all over the place. A side dish can really make a meal. They just seem to show that the entire meal is important and special, where a bag of frozen veggies says "I was too lazy to do anything else". But that has never happened at my house. Yeah right! I can tell that you really believe that! I found this recipe in a Quick Cooking magazine. Usually I have to adapt their recipes to the way I cook. I really try to stay away from convenience meals. Not because they aren't healthy (which they aren't), but because everything tastes better from scratch! This recipe was surprisingly good just the way it was. Next time I will make one tiny change, but I will get to that in a minute.
Creamy Vegetable Casserole
10" dutch oven
1 16 oz. pkg. frozen broccoli, cauliflower and carrots
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 8 oz. carton spreadable garden vegetable cream cheese
1/2-1 cup seasoned croutons
Prepare vegetables according to package directions; drain and place in a large bowl, or drain and put back in you DO. Stir in soup and cream cheese. I stirred these together before I put them in with the veggies. Top with croutons. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes or until bubbly. I used 6 coals on the bottom and 14 on top. Serves 6.
The Finished Product

What I Learned
I have done several dishes that have a milk or dairy base to them. For the most part the results have been good, but the milk has separated and gone sort of lumpy. It still tastes okay, but doesn't look so nice. The problem is the heat. Not necessarily how much, but I think it is the coal distribution. So for this dish, I used the standard number of coals (20), but I put 6 on the bottom and 14 on top. Just a small adjustment like that seemed to make a difference, because this one turned out smooth and creamy. Just a theory for now... we will see how it pans out.
The Review
This was awesome. I have never used the garden veggie cream cheese for anything but a dip. I'll tell you, it really added a "je ne sais quoi" to this one. (Are you impressed with my french? Those 4 years in high school are really paying off!) The flavor is subtle, but noticeable. The croutons added a nice crunch and some nice flavor. There is one adjustment I will make next time, and that is to add more veggies. It was a little too creamy for my taste. I want more veggies. It would be an easy adjustment to make, and it would make a difference in the texture. If you like it super creamy then don't change a thing. I would serve this to company--it was that good. Easy A.


  1. I agree! I think things taste better from scratch. Mostly, I look at scratch cooking as part of the learning challenge. Can I learn how to make it from the beginning. I've also found that it means that I can adjust things and make it enhance the flavors that I want to.

    A thought on the dairy: It's not so much a question of the heat. Milk, cream, cheese, and things like that need something to bond to, or they'll clump and "break". Flour is the key. In this case, there was probably plenty in the cream of mushroom soup, since that's how they make the cream sauce in the first place.

    I set my name in this comment up as a link to my blog post when my bro-in-law taught me how to make a roux and use it to make a cream sauce. Good stuff!

  2. I read your chicken cordon bleu post, and it is great! I never thought of adding the roux to the liquid instead of the other way around. I'm going to do some experimenting and try it out. Thanks for all your help--you have some great ideas!


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