Thrifted Find: Corning Ware Petite Pans

Corning Ware’s personal-sized casserole dishes, called Petite Pans, are one of my favorite things to collect. I see them pretty often at the thrift stores I frequent (Goodwill, Savers, Hope Thrift), and I’ve splurged on a couple harder-to-find patterns on eBay. The P-43-B is the best size in my opinion (22 ounces), perfect for pot pies, french onion soup, individual lasagnas and more. I love the variety of patterns, and it’s handy that the pans nest easily and don’t take up much space.

There is also a 12-oz size, the P-41-B, which is really cute (I’ve only ever found it in the Blue Cornflower pattern):

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The Petite Pans can morph from casserole to mini skillet with their own special detachable handle:

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They have glass lids too, but I haven’t managed to get my hands on one yet. There are also plastic lids for fridge/freezer storage — perfect for freezing single-serving leftovers. Which brings me to one of the biggest reasons Corning Ware is so amazing: It can cook on the stove top, in the oven and under the broiler, then go into the freezer, then go straight from freezer to stove/oven again. And the microwave, for that matter. Try that with any other ceramic or glass dish, and you’ll be left with a pile of shards and a big mess!

Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas

It’s surprisingly easy and fast to make red enchilada sauce from scratch, and it tastes so much better than the canned stuff. We typically have all the ingredients already, and I love being able to whip something up out of the pantry. Plus, you can make it as spicy as you want! If I were not feeding a 5-year-old, I would probably double down on the chipotle.

In the spirit of cooking whatever you happen to have on hand, it’s also easy to experiment with the enchilada filling. Sauteed mushrooms, leeks or zucchini would be yummy, or you could throw in some black olives or corn. Ground beef or turkey would also work.

Note: If you don’t have precooked chicken, you can simmer a boneless chicken breast in the sauce until cooked through (about 15-20 minutes), then shred or chop into small pieces.

Serves 6

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Ingredients

1 small yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 14 1/2-oz can low sodium chicken broth
3 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground chipotle
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
8 oz cooked chicken, chopped or shredded (see note above)
1 15 1/2-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp masa harina (see my note about masa here)
cooking spray
12 medium corn tortillas
16 oz shredded cheese (Mexican blend)
3 green onions, chopped

For the sauce: In a small pot, combine 1/2 cup of the chopped onions, garlic, tomato sauce, chicken broth, chili powder, cumin, oregano, chipotle and salt. Pulse with an immersion blender until smooth (or do this in a regular blender). Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes.

For the filling: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute the rest of the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat to low and add chicken, black beans and 1/2 cup of the sauce; stir until everything is coated and hot. Sprinkle in the masa and stir until absorbed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the assembly: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 13×9 pans (or equivalent) lightly with cooking oil. Pour about 1/4 cup of the sauce into each pan and spread to coat the bottom. Heat up the tortillas in the microwave (this helps keep them from tearing).

Spoon the filling into each tortilla in a line down the middle, and add a generous sprinkle of cheese. Roll up gently and place in the pan, seam side down. When the pans are full, pour the rest of the sauce over the tortillas and top with the rest of the cheese.

Bake uncovered until the cheese is melted and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Garnish with chopped green onions.

Pictured: Corning Ware Green Macrame P-332 Roaster, Corning Ware Blue Cornflower P-332 Roaster

Best Pyrex Stacking Ideas

Vintage Pyrex is so pretty, it’s a shame to store it inside a kitchen cabinet. Instead, collectors often arrange their wares on open shelves, carts or hutches using a technique designed to show off each individual piece: stacking.

My own stacking preference is a mix of form and function: I want to be able to see and enjoy the patterns and colors, but I also want easy access so that the items in my collection are actually usable for cooking. So, precarious towers of Pyrex are not my thing. Another consideration: preventing rattles and other noises.

One fun thing about stacking is that it gives you an opportunity to mix and match complementary pieces. Recently I finally acquired enough round mixing bowls to put together my own custom set: (from top to bottom) Spring Blossom (x2), Spring Blossom 2, Verde.

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Since the mixers are nested bowls, you need a little something between each one to lift it up and make the pattern visible (I used folded sheets of bubble wrap). There are lots of ways to do this for different sizes and shapes of Pyrex, so here I have gathered the best ideas I’ve seen on the internet, on social media and in collector groups:

  • packing peanuts
  • bubble wrap
  • Ziplock containers
  • ramekins
  • bags of rice, beans, popcorn, etc.
  • empty packing tape rolls
  • inverted lids
  • glass tumblers
  • cheap plastic bowls
  • Jell-O boxes
  • chunks of lumber
  • slices of pool noodles
  • tuna cans (or similar)
  • berry baskets
  • paper bowls
  • small plastic food containers (e.g., sour cream, margarine, yogurt, deli containers)
  • cut up egg containers
  • squares of non-skid rug protector (for stability)
  • styrofoam blocks
  • floral foam blocks
  • old washclothes
  • canning rings
  • plastic coffee cup lids

Of course, these methods can work for any kind of vintage kitchenware, not just Pyrex. Corning Ware, for example, stacks really easily on inverted lids. Over the weekend we installed some new shelves to house my collection, so stacking all kinds of dishes has been on my mind.

Thrifted Find: Glasbake Casseroles

There’s something about Glasbake — the patterns are so cheery and bright, yet mysterious, as they often don’t have a name. I see it a lot in thrift stores, but only buy the patterns that strike my fancy. These two seem to go by generic descriptions: blue (or teal or turquoise) fruit and yellow daisy (or possibly daisy days). I believe both designs came in other colors too. They were quite the find at Goodwill, near-mint condition with lids.

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Cornbread

With Thanksgiving around the corner, I’ve been thinking about cornbread — and more specifically, cornbread stuffing. Cook’s Illustrated has a great cornbread stuffing recipe that I tried a few years ago, and this time around I’m curious about making a whole wheat version. My first step: testing out a whole wheat cornbread recipe.

The whole wheat flour gives this cornbread an earthiness that’s especially tasty topped with good local honey. I’ll definitely be making it again for cornbread stuffing next month.

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated‘s Golden Cornbread for Stuffing (The New Best Recipe, America’s Test Kitchen 2004)

Ingredients

3 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
4 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 13×9 baking dish (or equivalent — I used two 8-inch square dishes).

Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk eggs, buttermilk and milk in a separate bowl. Pour the egg/milk mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in melted butter.

Pour the batter into the baking dish and bake until the top is cracked and golden and edges are pulling away from the sides, about 30-40 minutes.

Place the baking dish on a wire rack to cool for at least 1 hour before serving.

Pictured: Corning Ware Floral Bouquet Third Edition A-2-B Casserole (x2), Corning Ware Spice O’ Life P-81-B Menuette Saucepan, Pyrex 532 Measuring Cup, Pyrex Butterfly Gold 404 Round Mixing Bowl

Fool-Proof Beef Pot Roast with Bacon and Mushrooms

This is the moistest, tenderest, most flavorful pot roast I’ve ever made. It’s a little bit time-consuming, but well worth it for the end result! There are a few things I think make this recipe work so well: 1) Bacon provides smoke, salt and richness that really enhance the dish. 2) Dried mushrooms pack an intense punch for even more flavor. 3) Using two small roasts instead of one big one, and trussing them — this is something Cook’s Illustrated recommends, because it promotes even cooking. 4) Patience — don’t try to rush the cooking time.

I call this fool-proof because I messed up a lot of things along the way and it still came out great. First off, I chose a pot that was too small, because I was determined to use my Corning Ware, so I had to scoop out a bunch of the cooking liquid and cram the meat in sideways. Also I’m terrible at trussing, so it was starting to fall apart at the end. Most pot roast recipes recommend searing the roasts before cooking, but I didn’t bother, because they’re unwieldy and I always end up splashing myself with oil and I hate that step. And I miscalculated my prep time, so by the time I got the whole thing in the oven, dinnertime would have been pushed back to 9 p.m. (way too late for my 5-year-old). My husband whipped up some barbecued chicken as a plan B, and I stewed about not being able to eat the dish I’d been slaving over. Thankfully, pot roast tastes even better reheated the next day (more on that in the recipe below), so after it finished cooking, I let it cool a bit and then put it in the refrigerator and went to bed.

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated‘s Italian-Style Pot Roast.

Serves 8

Ingredients

8 oz bacon, snipped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium onions, chopped
4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
6 garlic cloves, sliced
1 1/2 cups red wine
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 14 1/2-oz cans diced tomatoes, drained
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 oz dried mushrooms (porcini and/or others)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp dried oregano leaves
2 bay leaves
2 3-lb boneless beef chuck roasts
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a large (at least 6-quart size) oven-safe pot, saute bacon over medium heat until fat has rendered and edges are starting to brown. Spoon out excess grease, reserving about 1 tbsp. Add onions, carrots and celery and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 1 minute.

Add wine, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, mushrooms, red pepper flakes, oregano and bay leaves. Combine broths in a separate bowl.

Truss each roast tightly with kitchen twine. It doesn’t have to be pretty — you just want each roast to hold together in a roughly uniform shape while cooking. Season the roasts with salt and pepper, then nestle in the pot and pour in enough broth so that the meat is partially submerged. Bring to a boil.

Cover and bake for 3 1/2-4 hours, turning the meat at the halfway point. The roasts should be fork tender and falling apart. Remove the meat from the cooking liquid and let rest, covered with foil, for about 20 minutes.

(At this point you can return the meat to the pot and refrigerate overnight, if desired. This actually makes the next step a lot easier — skimming off the fat. In the fridge, the fat solidifies in a layer on top, which can be chipped away with a spoon. Then you can reheat the roast on the stove top.)

Set the (hot or reheated) meat aside. After skimming the fat from the surface, bring the cooking liquid to a boil and simmer to reduce a little into a sauce, about 30 minutes. You can use it as is or blend it with an immersion blender for a thick, rich sauce.

Slice the meat across the grain and pour a liberal amount of sauce on top. You might want more sauce in a gravy boat at the table. I actually ate spoonfuls of sauce by itself, it was so good!

Pictured: Corning Ware Spice O’ Life A-5-B Saucepot; Corning Ware Blue Cornflower P-332 Roaster; Pyrex Spring Blossom 2 403 Round Mixing Bowl; Pyrex Town and Country 501 Refrigerator Dish

Roasted Broccoli Stems with Lemon and Parmesan

Broccoli stems often get overlooked — even I’ve been guilty of throwing them away when prepping florets for roasting or steaming. But they are delicious! The outer edges can be very woody, so be sure to peel thoroughly.

Recipe adapted from NY Times Cooking‘s Roasted Broccolini and Lemon with Parmesan.

Serves 4

Ingredients

stems from two bunches of broccoli, peeled and sliced thin lengthwise (about 1/8 inch thick), plus a few sliced florets
half of 1 lemon, sliced thin (seeds removed)
4 garlic cloves, sliced
4 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss broccoli, lemon and garlic in olive oil until well coated. Spread the mixture out on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Roast until broccoli is tender and browned on the edges, about 25 minutes.

Pictured: Corning Ware Green Macrame P-332 Roaster