Thursday, January 17, 2013

Slow Cooked Spinach Casserole

My boyfriend Greg's family bought me a slow cooker for Christmas. I've never owned a slow cooker or even a crock pot before, though my mother had one growing up that she'd occasionally use to make tasty things like barbecued mini chicken wings that would just fall off the bone. Mmm... Now there's a thought for a later blog post!

But that is not what I started with. Just as Akane did in Like Water For Ranma, I began with boiling water. I actually read the instruction manual this time, and after washing the removable stoneware liner (which was explained pages later, which is stupid; I hate page flipping, just give me the stupid instructions in number order thank-you-very-much), I was instructed to cook 2 cups of water on high for 30 minutes. Okay... When that was done, I had to unplug the slow cooker and let the water cool for 30 minutes. I started to think that this might just take all day, and the dish I had planned on preparing would get finished about the same time I got home at midnight from work.

Once the slow cooker was all prepped and ready to go, I looked at my recipe, which is contained in a book that Greg lent me called "Fix-It and Forget-It" to get me started with my present. Since this is me, I obviously didn't follow it very well. 

First, the 2 packages of frozen spinach were still half frozen, not thawed and in need of draining as the recipe said. But whatever. I was also supposed to mix everything together in the cooker, but I decided a mixing bowl would be a better idea since I'd never used the cooker before. I also wasn't sure I needed to, but I sprayed canola oil spray into the cooker as well. 

So I pulled out my largest mixing bowl and dumped in the 2 bags of spinach, scooping a 16oz container of cottage cheese on top. I didn't have any butter, so I skipped the step that told me to cube 1/4 cup of butter and add it to the mix. The next step called for 1 1/4 cups of cubed American cheese. Cubed cheese, eh? Sounds like cheese curds to me. And these cheese curds came to me straight from Wisconsin, and Wisconsin is in America. Cheese curds were substituted for the ill-named American cheese. Add 2 mostly beaten eggs and a generous sprinkling of garlic salt, and the mixture was all set!

I scooped the entirety of the bowl into the stoneware liner, popped on the lid, plugged in the cooker and set it to high for 1 hour. I also set my egg timer for 1 hour because I didn't notice the cooker beeping when I was cooking the water. Then I sat on the couch and watched an episode and then some of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. (I've forgotten my first Doctor, but I will never forget my first Captain. <3 Sisko <3)

When the hour was up, I stirred up the mixture, giving the cheese a chance to blend in with the rest, then set the slow cooker to low and set the timer for 5 hours. This means it would finish cooking a little before halfway through my work shift. My roommate Kimmy was going to be home, and she said she'd make sure nothing caught on fire. (I may be paraphrasing.)

While at work, I was a little cheered by the thought of coming home to warm food freshly cooked rather than something from Tupperware a day or more old reheated in the microwave. I was definitely warming to the possibilities of this slow cooking, and when I arrived home, I was not disappointed. The edges were a bit done, but seeing as this was spinach, it wasn't really what I'd call crunchy. There was a lot of excess water, however, so I probably should have finished thawing the spinach in the microwave and draining it before embarking on the rest. Whatever, it was still tasty.

Strangely, this spinach and cheese casserole strongly reminded me of a crustless quiche (wow, does that take me back). It is obviously largely comprised of spinach, but there is a little egg in there, and some cheese, so basically the same ingredients as my spinach and cheese quiche, just in different amounts. 

I am really excited to use my new slow cooker for new recipes! Also, I am very pleased to have a vegetable dish that I can put into Tupperware and bring with me to work, though I'm not sure if I have full microwave access. I don't mind eating cold quiche, though, so maybe cold casserole won't be so bad?

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