Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ham and Turkey Panini with Pears and Mango Chutney

For Christmas this last year I got a Panini maker. I had wanted one for a long time and was very excited.  Of course Dan didn't think I needed another kitchen item to have to store in my already busting at the seams kitchen. What does he know? He doesn't see a problem when he goes to Home Depot and comes home with new tools that he just HAS to have to do whatever project he happens to be working on at the time.

For the most part I haven't used my new Panini maker for anything too exciting.  Mostly plain Jane grilled cheese sandwiches. Which have been very good, don't get me wrong. Last weekend I tried to get a little more creative. Hope you enjoy!

Ham and Turkey Panini with Pears and Mango Chutney

1  (16 ounce) unsliced loaf Ciabatta bread
1  (9 ounce) jar Major Grey's Mango Chutney
4  ounces Deli Ham
4  ounces Deli Turkey
4  slices Cheese (6 ounces), we used White Cheddar and Swiss
1  Anjou Pear, cored and thinly sliced
1  cup baby Spinach Leaves
2  tablespoons Olive Oil

Preheat your Panini maker. If you don't have a Panini maker you can use a grill pan or a heavy skillet.

Cut the loaf of bread horizontally and open, place cut side up.  Spread both sides of the bread with the Mango Chutney.

Place the cheese on one side of the bread. Top with the ham, turkey, pear and spinach leaves.  Place the other half of the bread on top. Spread both sides of the bread with the olive oil.  Cut the loaf crosswise into 4 sandwiches.

Grill 2 sandwiches at a time on the panini press.  It will take about 6 to 7 minutes.  If you use a skillet or grill pan. Place the panini in the pan and place a heavy object (like a heavy skillet) on top to flatten it slightly. Cook until toasted and then flip and toast the other side.



Linked to the following parties:
Taste and Tell Taste and Tell Thursdays

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

100% Whole Wheat Banana Muffins

I have a pedestal cake plate that has a glass dome that sits on my kitchen counter, and I always try and have something “homemade” under the dome for my family to grab when they are hungry.
 What appears under the dome changes a couple times a week but it generally is a muffin, a scone or some quick bread.  Muffins are just so easy to make and they tend to stay nice and moist.  I am always searching for recipes that use products that fall under the “good for you” category.  I believe these muffins utilize ingredients that I can feel good about for my family to eat like whole wheat flour instead of all purpose, canola oil instead of butter or shortening, and maple syrup or honey instead of refined sugar.   They make me happy knowing the ingredients are better for my family and my family is happy because they like them.

 Believe me, these Whole Wheat Banana Muffins don’t stay under the dome very long!!   Try them for your family – and don’t shy away from the White Whole Wheat Flour – they won’t even know it is whole wheat!!!

100% Whole Wheat Banana Muffins

3 ½ cups White Whole Wheat Flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup canola or olive oil (I usually use canola oil)

2/3 cup pure maple syrup or honey

1/3  cup  brown sugar

4 eggs

2 cups mashed ripe bananas (This is generally 5-7 bananas)

½ cup warm milk

1 cup add-ins if desired (mini chocolate chips, raisins, chopped nuts etc.)

Preheat oven to 325. Stir together dry ingredients in a small bowl.

Beat oil and maple syrup (or honey), brown sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl.  Add bananas and stir to combine.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, alternating with the hot milk and mixing after each addition.  Beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Gently fold in add-ins if desired.

Spoon into 24 greased muffin cups.  Bake for 15 – 17 minutes or until muffins are browned and test done.

Remove when done and cool on rack.



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Shrimp and Corn Remoulade Dip

Before my family moved back to Kansas about 9 years ago we lived in the northern panhandle of Florida.  Dan was on active duty in the Navy and was an instructor pilot.  He flew a lot to air fields down in the south and would eat lunch at some of the best Cajun "dives." Living down in the South our family fell in love with the food and the beaches. We especially enjoyed the fresh seafood that was readily available.  Shrimp Remoulade is a wonderful first course appetizer.  The Remoulade sauce is a mayonaise based sauce that has a nice fresh zing to it and is usually used as a dipping sauce for shrimp, a topping on fresh fish or a crab cake or even used on a Po Boy sandwich.  Think of it as a tartar sauce with an even deeper combination of flavors that are fresh tasting and delicious.

On Sunday my family's beloved Jayhawks played North Carolina in the Midwest Regional championship game to see who would advance to the Final Four in New Orleans next weekend. For those of you who aren't basketball fans, this is a really big deal for us!  Naturally to provide the team with some positive vibes in their quest to reach the "Big Dance" I figured we needed a dip that combined some of the flavors of the food so loved down in New Orleans.  This dip is best if you assemble it and put in in the fridge for a few hours to let the flavors blend. 

Shrimp and Corn Remoulade Dip
1 (8-Ounce) package Cream Cheese, softened
1/2  cup Mayo
1/4  cup Sour Cream
1/4  cup Creole or Dijon mustard
2  tablespoons ketchup
1  tablespoon pickle relish
1/2 lemon juiced (2 tablespoons)
1  tablespoon minced Italian Parsley
1/2  teaspoon Sweet Paprika
1/4  teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on how much "kick" you want)
2 cups shredded Pepper-Jack cheese (8 ounces)
1  cup shredded Cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
1  bunch green onions, sliced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
2 (15 ounce) cans Corn, drained (or equal amount frozen or fresh)
1 pound Shrimp, cooked, peeled and deveined ~ chopped

In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, mayo, sour cream, mustard, ketchup, pickle relish, lemon juice, parsley, paprika, garlic powder and cayenne pepper.  Mix well until smooth.

Stir in the cheeses, green onions, red bell pepper and corn.

Gently fold in chopped shrimp and mix.

Transfer to your serving dish and place in the fridge for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend.



I've linked this recipe to the Weekend Potuluck hosted by Meet Penny, The Country Cook, Baking Bad and 4 Little Fergusons.

I've linked this to the Recipe Roundup hosted by Gooseberry Patch.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto

This is one of my favorite springtime dinners.  When I see the fresh asparagus hit the grocery store this dish is at the top of my dinner menu. If you're not a big seafood fan this dish is also delicious with sauteed chicken. Just brown about a pound of chicken seasoned with salt and pepper, and cut into bite size pieces to use in place of the Shrimp.

Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto
6 cups Chicken Broth
1  tablespoon olive oil
3  tablespoons butter, divided
1  cup onion, chopped
2  cups Arborio rice
4  cloves garlic, minced
1/2  teaspoon salt
1/4  teaspoon pepper
1  cup dry white wine
1/2  teaspoon dried basil
1/2  teaspoon dried oregano
1/4  teaspoon paprika
1  pound Asparagus, trim tough ends and cut into 2" pieces
1  pound Shrimp, large, peeled and deveined
1/2  lemon, juiced
1/2  cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese, plus more for garnish
2  tablespoons fresh Italian Parsley, minced

Heat the chicken broth in a saucepan and keep warm. In a large heavy pot, I like to use my Dutch Oven, heat olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for about 3 minutes until soft. 

Add the Arborio rice, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir constantly and cook for about 1-2 minutes. Add the white wine, basil, oregano and paprika, simmer until wine is almost absorbed.  

Using a ladle, pour in hot stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly.  Wait until liquid is absorbed before adding more. Adjust the heat accordingly to maintain a gentle simmer.  Continue cooking and stirring rice, adding the hot stock 1/2 cup at a time. This will take about 20-25 minutes.

When you add the last 1/2 cup of broth, add the asparagus and shrimp. Continue cooking another 5-8 minutes until the shrimp is cooked through.

Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, fresh lemon juice and Parmesan cheese. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with minced parsley and more Parmesan cheese if desired.



I've linked this recipe to the weekend potluck hosted by Meet PennyThe Country Cook, Baking Bad and 4 Little Fergusons.  Check it out for delicious recipes!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Onion Pie (Zwiebelkuchen)

This is another of my recipes I have tried to replicate from our travels in Germany.  I first ate this on the banks of the Rhine River one fall.  It is typically eaten during the wine festivals in late September or early October.  As you stroll along the villages in the fall, all the small vineyards (and I mean small) have a little area that you can sit and sample their “green” wine.  Green meaning young or new.  While sampling the wine you can also have a taste of their Zwiebelkuchen (Onion Pie).  Germans also enjoy hiking.  Sunday afternoons you can find them hiking trails with their families as entertainment.  While hiking, they usually stop for a little coffee and dessert or light snack.  This onion pie is one of the things you can get for a light snack.

Since strolling between small vineyards or hiking with my family on Sunday afternoons is not a regular occurrence for me here in Kansas, I have adapted this recipe to other times.  I use it sometimes for an appetizer, but mostly I have it for a light evening meal in the summer or a Sunday brunch.  I tend to think of it most when I see the asparagus in the stores.  I make this recipe and serve it with roasted asparagus and some fresh fruit.  My family thinks it can’t be beat.  Of course, use it however you see fit – just enjoy!!
Onion Pie (Zwiebelkuchen)

6 pounds onions, sliced
4 – 6 slices bacon
16 ounces sour cream
4 eggs, slightly beaten
3 Tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon caraway seed

Pie crust for double crust 9” pie – Go here for the recipe I use.

Heat oven to 425.  Line a jelly roll pan with the pie dough.  Make sure the dough comes up the sides of the pan.

Saute the onions in a little butter or olive oil until they are translucent.  Drain and put into a large bowl.  Cook bacon until crisp and then chop into bite size pieces and add to onions.  Mix well.

Stir in sour cream and beaten eggs.  Sprinkle flour and salt over onions and mix well.  Pour the mixture into the pan.  Sprinkle with caraway seeds.

Bake for about an hour or until onions start to turn a golden brown.

Happy Spring,


Monday, March 19, 2012

Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup

I love to eat soup in the winter.  Normally I will have it just about every day for lunch during the cold winter months.  This winter has been unusually warm in Kansas, as it has been for much of the country.  We have already had a few days that my girls have put on swim suits and soaked up some good old vitamin D!  This is a soup I would have made several times by now, but have not made it once this winter.  Last week we were still in a stretch of warm weather, but I decided I had better make it because spring is here.
Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked and shredded
2  tablespoons olive oil
1  small onion chopped
1  small red bell pepper, diced
1   jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced (optional)
4  cloves garlic, minced
2  tablespoons chili powder
1  teaspoon cumin
1  teaspoon oregano
1/2  teaspoon salt
1/4  teaspoon red cayenne pepper
1/4  cup flour
3  cups chicken broth
1  can (15 ounce) diced tomatoes, undrained
1  can (4 ounce) diced green chilies
1  can (15 ounce) sweet corn, drained 
1  can (15 ounce) black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2  cup 1/2 and 1/2

Colby-Jack Cheese
Fresh Cilantro, minced
Green Onions, chopped
Avocado, diced
Lime Wedges
Corn Chips or Corn Tortilla Strips

Heat oil over medium heat in a large Dutch Oven or soup pot.  Add the onion, red bell pepper and jalapeno, if using, and saute for 3-4 minutes until soft.  Add the garlic, Chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and cayenne pepper.  Cook for 1 minute until fragrant.  Add the flour and continue cooking for another minute, stirring constantly. 

Slowly add the chicken broth, tomatoes, green chilies, corn and black beans.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 5 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the cooked chicken and the 1/2 and 1/2.

Ladle into bowls and top with desired toppings.



Linked to the following parties:
Gooseberry Patch Soup and Stews Round Up
Chocolate, Chocolate and More Chocolate Thursdays Treasures
Miz Helen's Country Cottage Full Plate Thursday
Walking on Sunshine Foodie Friends Friday
Six Sisters' Stuff Strut Your Stuff Saturday Link Party

Friday, March 16, 2012

Cheddar and Bacon Meatball Sliders

We have a favorite meatloaf in our family that you make and then lay strips of bacon over the top so that when it bakes that wonderful bacon flavor will work its way into the meatloaf.  My Swedish Meatballs recipe has bacon that is cooked and added to the meat mixture.  That got me to thinking about different ingredients that would make a yummy meatball. This is your basic meatball taken up a notch with the addition of cheese and bacon. I think that some finely diced jalapeno would be a terrific addition as well.  We made them into sliders but they would be delicious as an appetizer or you could serve them with mashed potatoes.  This one is sure to become a family favorite!
Cheddar and Bacon Meatball Sliders
1  tablespoon olive oil
8  slices bacon, finely diced
1  medium red onion, finely diced
2  cloves garlic, minced (1 teaspoon)
2  slices bread, crusts removed and torn into small pieces
1/2  cup milk
1  teaspoon salt
1/2  teaspoon pepper
2  eggs, beaten
1   cup cheddar cheese, (4 ounces)
2  pounds ground round

Slider Buns, toasted under the broiler until light brown (I like to remove a little of the bread so the meatballs sit down in a little well in the bun.)
Your favorite BBQ sauce or go here for my  recipe for easy BBQ Sauce
French Fried Onions, I used Durkee Brand but the Pioneer Woman's Onion Straws would be fabulous!
Lettuce Leaves
Tomato Slices
Anything else you would like on your slider!

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the diced bacon and onion and cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a minute until fragrant. Remove bacon, onion and garlic with a slotted spoon and set aside for a few minutes to cool.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together the bread and milk.  Add the salt and pepper and let the bread crumbs soak for 5 minutes.

To the bowl with the bread crumbs, mix in the egg and cheese.  Add the ground beef and the bacon mixture and mix, making sure it is thoroughly combined.  I've found my hands are the best tools for this job. I just wear a pair of food service gloves so my hands aren't so messy.

Roll mixture into meatballs, I use a 1 ounce cookie scoop so mine are uniform.  It is about 2 tablespoons of the mixture. I like to cook the meatballs on a broiler pan.  They will brown evenly and the fat will drain away.  Line the bottom of the pan with foil to make cleanup easier. You could also use a cooling rack set into a cookie sheet.

Bake the meatballs at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until cooked through. The recipe will yield about 24 to 26 meatballs.

On your toasted bun place 2 meatballs and add any desired toppings.



Linked to the following parties:
Gooseberry Patch Goodies for Game Day

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Edamame Hummus

In anticipation of short and swimsuit season I have been trying to lighten up my families meals during the week.  We relax a little on the weekend because let's face it, there are too many foods and recipes out there I want to eat! 

As I've told you before we love hummus at our house, this version combines the garbanzo beans in traditional hummus with edamame.  If you're not familiar with edamame they are soybeans, and they are high in protein and fiber.  They are in a shell, similar to peas in a pod, you steam them and then you pinch them out of the shell into your mouth.  You can find them already shelled in the freezer section of the grocery store, which is what I use.

This has been a favorite lunch and afternoon snack.  Usually we eat it with pita chips and fresh veggies. The younger girls have been a little slow to warm up to it, but you have to start somewhere.  I spread some on Flatout flatbread and piled it high with a little turkey, spinach, red peppers, tomatoes and green onions.  It was delish!

Edamame Hummus
1  (16-ounce) bag frozen shelled edamame, thawed and drained  
1  (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2  cloves garlic, peeled
1  lemon, juiced (3 tablespoons)
3  tablespoon tahani  (Sesame seed paste)
1/2  teaspoon cumin
1  teaspoon kosher salt
1/4  teaspoon black pepper
1/4  cup olive oil

Combine all of the ingredients except for the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor. Process until combined.  With the food processor running pour the oil through the chute and continue processing until combined.  If the hummus is not creamy enough add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until desired consistency is reached. Taste and add more seasonings as desired.



I've linked this recipe to the Fit and Fabulous Friday link party over at Amee's Savory Dish.  Check it out for more healthy recipes.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pesto Chicken Shells

I am really excited to share this recipe with you.  I have been trying to perfect this one for awhile and I've finally gotten the stamp of approval from my family. My oldest daughter told me this tasted better than anything from an Italian restaurant. Trust me that made my night! This is the perfect recipe if you're having company or need to take a meal to someone. You can make it early in the day and bake it when you are ready to eat.  It also freezes well.
Pesto Chicken Shells
1 box (12 ounce) Jumbo Pasta Shells

For the Sauce:
1/4  cup unsalted butter
2  cloves garlic, minced (1 teaspoon)
1/4  cup flour
3  cups whole milk or 1/2 and 1/2
1/2  teaspoon Frank's hot sauce
1  cup grated Parmesan cheese

For the Filling:
1  tablespoon olive oil
1/2  cup red pepper, finely diced
1/2  cup onion, finely diced
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked and diced
2  cups (8 ounces) shredded Italian Cheese Blend Cheeses,divided
1 container (7 ounces) Basil Pesto
1/2  teaspoon dried Oregano

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente.  Drain and set aside.

For the sauce: While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the garlic and saute for a minute or two until fragrant.  Blend in the flour and continue cooking over medium heat for about 2 minutes until bubbly.  Slowly add the whole milk or 1/2 and 1/2 along with the Frank's hot sauce.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the grated Parmesan Cheese.

For the filling: Heat olive oil in a medium sized skillet, add red pepper and onion and saute for about 3 minutes until soft.  Mix sauteed vegetables with the chicken, 1 1/2 cups Italian Blend Cheese, basil pesto and oregano.

In a lightly greased casserole dish place about 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the dish.  Fill the pasta shells with the filling and place in the dish. Spoon the Parmesan cheese sauce over the shells, cover the shells as much as possible with the sauce so they don't dry out when cooking.  Sprinkle with remaining Italian Blend Cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle with freshly minced Italian parsley if desired.



Linked to the following parties:
Gooseberry Patch Chicken Recipe Round Up
Jam Hands Recipe Sharing Monday
Inside BruCrew Life Trick or Treat Tuesday
Love Bakes Good Cakes All My Bloggy Friends
Feeding Big In and Out of the Kitchen
Buns in My Oven What's Cookin Wednesday
White Lights on Wednesday Wednesday Whatsits

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Creamy Corn Bake

Back during the holidays in my post for our updated version of Green Bean Casserole, which by the way is a great side for your Easter dinner, I wrote about the corn dish I always take when my family attends pot luck dinners.  My kids love this dish and I make it frequently.  I have had several people ask me for the recipe so I thought I would share it on the blog.  Every time you turn around you will see a version of this recipe, it is simple and yummy and very popular.  This recipe comes from Dan's mom, she made this when they were growing up.  The cheese is my addition, because everything is better with a handful of cheese.  If you like spicy foods thrown in a can or handful of diced jalapenos. 
Creamy Corn Bake
1 stick butter
1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
1 can (14.75 ounce) Creamed Corn
1 can (15.25 ounce) Whole Kernel Corn, drained
1 egg
1 cup sour cream (you can use light)
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheese

Melt butter in a large glass or microwaveable bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.  Pour into a greased casserole dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 - 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.



Monday, March 12, 2012

Fresh Roasted Asparagus

I was excited to see fresh asparagus in the grocery store last week.  I love the flavor of roasted asparagus. I just pour on a little olive oil and some lemon juice, give it a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and finish it off with freshly grated Parmesan. Delicious!

Roasted Asparagus

1 bunch of Asparagus, washed and ends trimmed
olive oil
fresh squeezed lemon juice
kosher salt
black pepper
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Place Asparagus on large baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.  Sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper.  Place in a 350 degree oven and roast for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with freshly ground Parmesan cheese.  Return to the oven and roast for 5 more minutes until tender.



Friday, March 9, 2012

Rice Krispie Treat Sprinkle Cupcakes

I have a filing cabinet full of recipes that I have collected along the almost 19 years that I've been married. Some were torn out of magazines, some are from old community cookbooks I collect and then there are those that have been passed to me by my family or friends.  This cabinet  is in "my room" down in the basement and it is organized into different recipe categories. We lovingly refer to my room as "the abyss."  It is a catch-all for my stuff.  In my room I have a treadmill (which I don't use enough), wrapping paper, empty boxes, home decor projects, craft items (which I don't use), items we use in our business and of course TONS of cookbooks.  Whenever one of my kids goes in there for something I always tell them I love them, and that we will send in a search party if they aren't back in 10 minutes.  About a month ago I decided to get this room in order, which is no small task.  I thought I would begin with the huge stack of recipes that I have stacked up waiting to be filed. I uncovered this recipe during my cleaning expedition. I now have piles and folders all over the room, but am slowly getting them filed away.  (As I write this there is a stack of about 30 magazines waiting for me to go through them, and this will just make my piles grow!) I think it might be a battle I won't win.

Those of you who have been regular readers of this blog know that I am not much of a baker.  So I know you probably won't be surprised to hear that I am not very crafty as well. This recipe is adapted from Paula Deen.  I knew when I saw them that my kids would love them. They are a combination of the classic rice krispie treats, peanut butter and chocolate. I added the green and white sprinkles for St. Paddy's Day, that is seriously as crafty as I get.  When I finished making these I had chocolate and sprinkles all over my kitchen. My kids were very excited when they got home from school and loved them, so I guess it is worth all the sprinkles I will continue to find for weeks to come.

Rice Krispie Treat Sprinkle Cupcakes
3  tablespoons unsalted butter
1  (10 ounce) packages miniature marshmallows
1/4  cup creamy Peanut Butter
2  teaspoons vanilla
6  cups Rice Krispie Cereal 
2  (2 ounce) bottles colored sprinkles, divided
1/2  (16 ounce) package chocolate flavored candy coating
2  tablespoons vegetable shortening (Crisco)

Lightly grease 12 muffin cups.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Pour in the marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter and vanilla.  Add the cereal and 1 1/2 bottles of the sprinkles. With greased hands, press into prepared muffin pans, mounding the mixture into a cupcake shape.  Cool for 1 hour and then remove from the pans.

In a medium bowl, combine the candy coating and vegetable shortening.  Microwave on high in 30 second intervals, stirring in between each interval until chocolate is melted.  Will take about 2 minutes total.

Dip tops of cupcakes in melted chocolate.  Immediately sprinkle with remaining sprinkles.

Cook's Notes:
I made this recipe in my large Dutch Oven.
Work quickly after you add the Rice Krispies, it will be quite stiff.  I found my wooden spoon was the best tool.
I used a pat of butter to keep greasing my hands as I was forming the cupcakes. 
I also had enough of the mixture to make a few little muffins in my mini muffin pan.



Recipe adapted from Paula Deen.

I've linked this recipe to the Weekend Potluck hosted by 4 Little FergusonsBaking Bad,Meet Penny and The Country Cook.  Every week foodies post some fantastic recipes.  Check it out!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Chicken Fried Rice

Last week I cooked too much rice for the Supper Club.  Not just a little extra, but about 20 cups extra!  That is a lot of rice.  I wish I had a really funny story as to why I did this, but basically I was on brain overload and it just happened.  Not one to waste extra food, and not wanting my family eating white rice like they are contestants on Survivor, I needed to come up with some ideas for this rice. Is rice still what they eat on that show? I haven't watched Survivor in years.  
My kids love the Chinese Food from the local grocery store.  They mainly eat the Chicken Fried Rice, the Lo Mein and Sticky Sesame Chicken.  I remembered reading in a cookbook that it is best to make fried rice with cold rice, so immediately I knew that is what I would do with part of the rice. I think that fresh cooked rice has a lot of moisture in it and by cooling it and refrigerating it overnight the rice dries out. I may never get fried rice from the store again!  Homemade is so much fresher and I like that I can control what I put in it.  I'd love to add some mushrooms, broccoli and red pepper, but didn't because I was trying to recreate the rice from the store for my kids.  
We've done Chicken Fried Rice twice, I've made 2 chicken and rice casseroles that I put in the freezer, and I still have a little left!  We'll see what I can come up with.  I'll keep you posted!

Chicken Fried Rice
2  tablespoons Sesame Oil, divided
8  ounces boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
1/4  teaspoon kosher salt
1/4  teaspoon black pepper
2  eggs, beaten
1/2  cup onion, diced
1  cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed
2  cloves garlic, minced (1 teaspoon)
4  cups cooked white or brown rice, cooled and chilled, overnight is best
1/3  cup low-sodium soy sauce

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large non-stick skillet (the largest you have) over medium high heat.  Season the chicken pieces with the salt and pepper and add to the skillet.  Cook for about 5 minutes or until cooked through, be sure and turn over so both sides will brown. When finished cooking, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Add the eggs, stir constantly and cook until scrambled.  Remove the egg and set aside with the chicken.

Add the other tablespoon of oil to the skillet, add the onion, peas and carrots.  Stir fry about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and stir fry for another minute.  Add the cold rice and the soy sauce and stir fry for about 5 more minutes. Return the cooked chicken, along with any accumulated juices, and the egg to the skillet.  Continue cooking until heated through.  



Linked to the following great parties:
Walking on Sunshine Foodie Friends Friday
The Mandatory Mooch Tasty Thursdays

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Chicken and Noodle Casserole

Give this Chicken and Noodle bake a try, I think it will become a family favorite.  This is a great basic recipe with chunks of chicken, veggies and egg noodles in a creamy sauce.  This old fashioned recipe reminds me of eating dinner when I was younger and casseroles were really popular.  I've updated it and left out the canned soups which I think gives it a fresher taste. It can be made ahead, just don't put the topping on until right before you bake it.  

Chicken and Noodle Casserole
For the casserole:
6  tablespoons butter, divided
1/2  cup onion, diced
1/2  cup celery, diced
1/2  cup  carrot, diced
1  clove garlic, minced (1/2 teaspoon)
1 (8 ounce) package sliced mushrooms
1/2  teaspoon kosher salt
1/2  teaspoon black pepper
1/4  cup flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth, low sodium
2  cups whole milk
3  tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese
12 ounces wide egg noodles, cooked and drained
3  cups cooked and shredded chicken
1  cup frozen peas, thawed
2  cups (8 ounces) shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

For the Topping:
2  tablespoons of reserved butter, melted
1  cup crushed Ritz Crackers, (about 20)
1  small can Durkee Onions, crushed

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the chopped onion, celery and carrot.  Saute for 4-5 minutes until soft.  Add the garlic, mushrooms, salt and pepper. Saute until the mushrooms are soft and their liquid has evaporated, about 5-7 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour in the skillet and continue cooking for about 2 minutes.  Slowly add the chicken broth and milk, bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for a couple of minutes until thickened.  Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese, cooked egg noodles, shredded chicken and peas.

Pour 1/2 of the noodle mixture into a lightly greased 9 x 13 inch casserole dish.  Sprinkle with 1/2 of the cheese.  Cover with the rest of the noodle mixture and top with the remaining cheese.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and mix with the crushed crackers and Durkee onions. Sprinkle on top of the casserole.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes.



Linked to the following parties:
Six Sisters' Stuff Strut Your Stuff Saturday Link Party

Friday, March 2, 2012

Chili Cheese Dog Pot Pies

Driving by Sonic a couple of weeks ago my son told me he wanted me to make my Hot Dog Chili Sauce.  I actually hadn't made it for a long time because a few years back I ran the concession stands for a couple of groups that my kids were involved in, the Cub Scouts and YMCA Swim Team.  When I would make this, it was by the bucket full!  Needless to say, my family kind of got tired of it. We used it for Chili Dogs, Frito Pies, a topper for baked potatoes, as well as just eating it plain.  My kids also used it to make Frito Chili Cheese Wraps, an idea they ripped off from Sonic, which wasn't bad by the way. It can be used in a lot of tasty ways.
I had found these ramekin dishes at Target for a really great price.  I loved the red and had to have them. They had several other great colors by the way.  When Jack requested I make the Chili Sauce I had an idea.  I wanted to use my new dishes and decided to change up my Chili Sauce a little by adding the hot dogs to the sauce and turning them into a "pot pie."  What kids don't love a little individual dish just for them!  I know a few big kids that like it as well!

Chili Cheese Dog Pot Pies
For the Chili Sauce:
1  pound Beef Hot Dogs, sliced
1  pound lean ground beef
1  medium onion chopped, 1 cup
3  cloves garlic minced, 1 1/2  teaspoons
1  tablespoon (heaping) Chili Powder
1  teaspoon salt
1/2  teaspoon pepper
2 1/4  cup water
1  cup ketchup
4  teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
1   teaspoon white vinegar
1   teaspoon Frank's Hot Sauce
1/2   teaspoon dry mustard

For the Cornbread Topping:
1  cup flour 
1  cup corn meal
1/2 cup white sugar
1  teaspoon salt
3 1/2  teaspoons baking powder
1  egg
1  cup milk
1/3  cup vegetable oil
1  cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, plus extra if desired for topping Chili Sauce

For Garnish:
Chopped Green Onions 
Sour Cream
Jalapeno Slices

For the Chili Sauce:
In a large skillet over medium heat brown the hot dog slices about 5-8 minutes until lightly browned. Remove the hot dogs from the skillet and set aside.  Add the ground beef, onion and garlic to the skillet and cook until the beef is browned and cooked through.

Add the Chili Powder, salt and pepper.  Cook for 3-5 minutes. Don't skip this step, it allows the spices to bloom and maximize their flavor.  It will make a difference in the flavor of your finished dish.

Stir in the water, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, Frank's and the dry mustard.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, for 45 minutes or until most of the liquid is evaporated.
Return the hot dogs to the skillet after the sauce has simmered for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes while you make the cornbread topping.  

For the Cornbread Topping:
Combine the flour, corn meal, sugar, salt and baking powder. Stir to combine ingredients. Add the egg, milk and vegetable oil, and stir to combine.  Stir in the shredded Cheddar cheese.

For the pot pies: 
Place about 3/4 - 1 cup Chili Cheese Dog Sauce in an individual ramekin or soup crock. Feel free to add extra cheese if desired. Spread about 1/2 cup of the cornbread batter on top of the pie.  I used my ice cream scoop so they would be uniform. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until the cornbread is brown.  

Cooks Notes:
-Feel free to use a couple of  boxs of your favorite Corn Muffin Mix if you are short on time.
-If you want a straight meat sauce:  Use 2 pounds of ground beef and omit the hot dogs.  The amounts of the other ingredients will remain the same.  
-This sauce freezes really well.
-You can also make this dish in a 9 x 13 casserole dish.  Just assemble the same way and bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.



I've linked this recipe to the "Weekend Potluck" host by The Country CookMeet Penny4 Little Fergusons and Baking Bad.
Everyday Mom's Meals Church Supper
Gooseberry Patch Headed to the Fair
Walking on Sunshine Foodie Friends Friday