Thursday, August 23, 2007

Thoughts of Vegetables

Today I was thinking about vegetables. They can be the target of so many bad feelings. Rarely does chocolate or ice cream elicit the same strong response as Brussels sprouts or collard greens. But I am lucky - we really don't have vegetable haters in our family. Joshua doesn't eat squash or green beans. But the girls are pretty open to anything. Steve is as well. (Don't try to get Steve to eat fruit, however. He likes fruit as much as Cynthia likes fish!)

Spinach is one of those vegetables most people either love or hate. I love it. I love it raw in salads or freshly steamed or added to just about anything. I'm not a fan of it cooked to a slimy, quivering mass, however. Even my kids like spinach. When Joshua was about four years old, he told me his "dream dinner" would be a big bowl of cooked spinach with butter. Joshua did tell me in Chicago that the Navy's spinach is disgusting - he said he has definitely passed it up. Slimy and quivering is actually how he described it! :^D

So today I will pay homage to the lowly spinach leaf. (Cynthia, this one's for you!)

Chicken Spinach Casserole

This is NOT one of those recipes with precise measurements. Just wing it. It'll be great! I promise!

You need either three 10-oz boxes or two large bags of chopped, frozen spinach. Thaw it out (yes, you can put it in the microwave, but let it cool for a while), then SQUEEZE all the liquid out of it. Really. Wring it as dry as you can. Then pull it apart and lay it in the bottom of a casserole dish. I used my Pampered Chef rectangle stoneware pan.

If you can find it in your supermarket, sprinkle your wrung-out spinach with Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning.

If you can't find it, you are doomed because there is just no substitute. Move to Louisiana, quick! JUST KIDDING. I guess you could use any seasoning salt. It wouldn't be nearly as good, but it just might be tolerable. :^D You can also order some from ol' Tony himself. They sell it in the convenient 7 pound gallon size! I kid you not!

I used to work with Tony Chachere's grandson, John, many years ago. He said he was the only one who didn't work for the company. He knew he'd end up there eventually, so he wanted a few years "out in the world." But I digress. Buy some Tony's. Put it on everything. Use it like salt. It's that good.

Sprinkle the spinach with some garlic powder or a few minced cloves of garlic.

Chop a half of an onion really fine. Put that over the top of your seasoned, garlicky, wrung-out spinach. If you don't want to chop half an onion, use a whole one. Or leave it out. It'll be okay. I promise.

Then top with about 3 or 4 cups of deboned chicken. I picked up a rotisserie one from Wal-Mart, but this is a great recipe for leftover chicken - or even turkey from Thanksgiving. But not last Thanksgiving. That'd be gross!

Sprinkle the chicken with more Tony's. Yes, it's that good!

Pour some cream or half and half (whatever's in your fridge) over the casserole. I used about two cups. You want to be able to see the cream around the edges. But you don't want to flood it, either. Just have the cream covering the bottom of the dish. You could probably also use fat-free evaporated milk. I've never tried it like that, though. What fun would fat-free be? And it won't matter in the end - you'll see!

Add some Parmesan cheese over the top while we're adding stuff. I've used the shredded kind, but you can use whatever kind you like.

Now pop it in a 350° oven for 30-45 minutes or until the cream is really bubbling around the edges and the cheese is nice and melty.

Now add some more cheese - my favorite is Colby and Monterrey jack, but you can use cheddar or mozzarella or whatever. This is NOT a precise dish. But it'll be delicious anyway because it's covered in cheese and cream!

Pop it back in the oven for another 10 minutes or so - this is just to melt the cheese. Then eat it. You can see my family tucked into it before I could get a picture! There was BARELY enough for me to save for my lunch tomorrow. And this was a big pan! My family always loves this dish!

And school was MUCH better today! The timer definitely helped! We got EVERYTHING done! Hurray!


Michele said...

I am definitly putting this on our menu this week! It looks yummy. Plus it will fall under my dh's low carb diet!

Kathy in WA said...

Ginger - first of all I WANT some of that seasoning. Can you post a list of the ingredients? I tried to find it online but couldn't. I don't eat sugar (even trace amounts if I can help it) so I need to know if there's sugar in the Tony's.

Next, I am afraid to try that recipe. It looks too wonderful, too cheesy, too creamy and too good to make. I know that I will fall in love with it and want to eat it once a week. I will become totally addicted and unable to stop and the fat content has GOT to be too high to be any good for me.

What happened that new diet??

Two of my kiddos love spinach. Maybe I could suffer and try the recipe. Just for them. To be kind. :)

Duckabush Blog

Debbie said...

That looks yummy. Not sure I'll be able to find Tony's up here in the northeast, but that recipe sure looks worth trying!

Ginger said...


The ingredients are: salt, red pepper, other spices, garlic.

I don't think sugar qualify for "other spices," huh? Even we Louisianians don't consider sugar an "other spice."

You can order it from I have only used the Original Creole Seasoning - I've never tried the others.

The new diet is still there around the edges. :^D We had moved from Phase 1 (I lost 7#) to Phase II right about the time we had to leave for Chicago. I was pretty good, for the most part. ;^D

I would like to go back to Phase 1 again for two weeks except I do like my old-fashioned oatmeal for breakfast. That's a Phase 2 meal. I can handle Phase 1 the rest of the day, but I really need my oatmeal in the morning.

Now, I probably could tweak this recipe and lower the fat - you can use fat-free half and half or fat-free evaporated milk and not use QUITE so much cheese and use a reduced fat cheese.

Try the recipe. For the sake of the children, you know. :^)

Ginger said...

Debbie and Kathy,

You could probably substitute Lawry's Seasoned Salt. But if you are really wanting some Tony's, email me your address. I could be persuaded to ship. :^D

Emily said...

Oh . . that sounds so good and looks yummy too!

Laura in MO said...

Ginger -
I am Laura in MO from SHS. However, I used to live in Lake Charles and LOVE Tony Chachere's seasoning!!! I can't wait to try this recipe. Luckily, we can get Tony's in our grocery store here, if you can believe it.

Cynthia said...

Thanks! It looks YUMMY! I'm SO glad you didn't put any smelly fish in it!.... bleck......

Romany said...

WOW Ginger! Are you queen of the spinach recipes or what? I was just looking for the TG recipe you posted at SHS and I see this lovely one too.

I'm having a hard time figuring out what seasoned salt is. It's not MSG, is it?

Ginger said...


Perhaps seasoned salt is an American thing? It's not MSG - it is salt with peppers and spices. The one I use is a Cajun blend - Tony's Seasoning. If they don't ship to the UK, perhaps I could be persuaded to send a box of goodies. :^)