Monday, August 31, 2015

On the Wild Side


My family loves wings, and we take them seriously.  My husband likes the burn-your-face-off wings, while I like hot but with my lips and tongue still intact.  Our daughter loves garlic parmesan and our son's favorite is honey barbecue.

So why not put that wing flavor into pasta.  This is probably in my top five favorite things to cook...Buffalo Chicken Chili Mac.  I always make up a big casserole and end up eating the leftovers every day for lunch until it's gone.  I just love it so much!  The rest of my family will eat it the night I serve it and then they're done with it.  But who cares!  I get it all to myself!  And I always add more wing sauce and Ranch to mine.  Just 'cause I can.

What's your favorite wing flavor?

BUFFALO CHICKEN CHILI MAC
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
2 T butter
Olive oil
1 lb penne pasta (or your favorite)
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalk celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T smoked paprika
One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1/2 to 1 C buffalo sauce (depends on how hot you want it)
2 C chicken stock
Salt & pepper, to taste
8 ounces shredded Pepper Jack cheese
Blue cheese crumbles, if desired
Sliced green onions, if desired
Ranch dressing, if desired

Cook pasta according to directions.  

Preheat a large skillet or dutch oven to medium high heat and melt the butter and drizzle in some olive oil.  Cook the onion, carrots, and celery until they are tender.  Add in the chicken and more olive oil, if necessary, and cook the chicken until it's done, about 5-7 minutes.  Add in the tomatoes, garlic, chicken stock, paprika, bay leaf, and buffalo sauce (I use about a cup of buffalo sauce) and season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce the heat slightly.  Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce is thick.  Remove the bay leaf and turn off the heat.

Mix the sauce in with the pasta and put it in a 9 x 13 casserole.  Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top and put it under the broiler for a few minutes to melt and slightly brown the cheese.  Serve the pasta with some blue cheese crumbles, green onions, and Ranch dressing, if desired.

Adapted from Rachael Ray

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Fancy-Pants Tuna



In my search the other day for new things to try (which I am constantly searching), I came across a picture of a Provencal Tuna Salad Sandwich.  I did some research, and it's just a fancier, more gourmet version of tuna salad (if tuna salad can be gourmet) by adding some exciting things to it.  My daughter has picked up my tuna salad habits, which is that I put mayo, mustard, and lots of dill relish in my tuna.  A lot of times it runs off the sandwich, but that's okay.  I like it that way. 

The really fancy-pants name of this sandwich is pan-bagnat, which means wet bread in French.  If I had known that meaning before I tried the sandwich, I probably would have steered clear of "wet bread."  Doesn't sound very good.  

Anywho, this sandwich is really easy to make and tastes amazing.  If you're a tuna salad fan, you'll love it.  Enjoy!

PROVENCAL TUNA SALAD SANDWICH
One 11-ounce pouch of tuna
2 T chopped roasted red peppers (from a jar)
3/4 C mayonnaise 
1-2 T Dijon mustard, to taste
2 boiled eggs, chopped
1 T chopped black olives
Black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
2 T small capers
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 C chopped red onion
Arugula for serving, if desired
Ciabatta sandwich buns (or your bread of choice)

Whisk together the mayo, Dijon, black pepper, vinegar, and garlic powder.  Stir in the remaining ingredients (not the bread or arugula) to combine.  Serve the salad on the buns with some arugula leaves.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Chicken Gyro Salad


If you like chicken gyros, then you'll love this Chicken Gyro Salad with Pita Croutons!  It's a really hearty salad and a great twist on the wraps.  Enjoy!

CHICKEN GYRO SALAD WITH PITA CROUTONS
FOR THE CHICKEN:
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 C plain Greek yogurt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground corianer
1/4 C red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper, to taste
Red chili flakes, to taste

FOR THE DRESSING:
1/2 C plain Greek yogurt
1 C mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon cumin
1 T dried parsley
1/2 of a large cucumber, rough chopped
Salt & pepper, to taste

FOR THE CROUTONS:
4 pitas, cut into bite-size pieces
1 stick butter, melted
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon seasoned salt (like Lawry's)
1 teaspoon dried parsley

FOR THE SALAD:
Chopped romaine lettuce
Grape tomatoes, halved
Black olives
Crumbled feta cheese
Sliced red onion
Cubed cucumber

For the chicken, mix all of the ingredients together (except the chicken).  Add the chicken to the marinade and marinate at least 4 hours and up to overnight.  Bake the chicken on a sheet pan at 350 degrees until a thermometer in the center is at 165 degrees, about 20-40 minutes depending on your oven and the size of the breasts.  

For the pita croutons, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Mix together all of the crouton ingredients except the pitas.  Stir the pita pieces in the butter mixture.  Spread the croutons out on a sheet pan and bake them for 10-15 minutes or until they are browned.  Start watching them at 8 minutes and check every 5 until they are done.

For the dressing, put all of the ingredients into a blender and pulse until smooth.  Store it in the fridge until you're ready to use it.

To serve the salad, cut the chicken into cubes and serve it over the chopped romaine with the tomatoes, feta cheese, sliced onion, cucumber, black olives, pita croutons and the dressing.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Back to School


So yesterday was the first day of school for my kids.  I now have two children in high school...my son's first year and my daughter's last year.  It's kind of bittersweet.  It all goes by so fast.  I'm looking forward to not being responsible for them and them being in charge of themselves and alone time with my husband, but I know I will miss them terribly when they move out.

With the hustle and bustle of school starting again, I am on the search for easy weeknight dinners.  I made this Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole last night, and it was a huge hit!  My husband is out of town on business, and both of my kids were actually home last night and sat down and ate dinner with me.  It was a nice evening.

This casserole uses things I don't normally cook with, like cream of mushroom soup and Stove Top Stuffing, but this sounded so good I just had to try it.  The stuffing got a little crunchy on top and that was a good contrast to the filling. And it was really good!  It was really easy to put together too. You could buy a rotisserie chicken and shred it and it could be even easier.  Enjoy!

CHICKEN CORDON BLEU CASSEROLE
1 box Stove Top Stuffing, chicken flavor
2 1/2 C cooked, shredded chicken
One 8-ounce package deli ham, chopped
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 T Dijon mustard
3 C broccoli florets (cut into small florets)
8 Swiss cheese slices
2/3 C milk
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare the stuffing mix according to the package directions.  

Meanwhile, whisk together the cream of chicken soups, Dijon mustard, milk, onion powder and garlic powder.  Stir the chicken, broccoli and ham into the soup mixture.  Spread the chicken mixture into a 9 x 13 pan.  Lay the cheese slices over the chicken mixture (they may overlap a little).  Spread the stuffing all over the cheese.  Bake the casserole 35-40 minutes or until it's browned on top and hot all the way through.

Adapted from Kraft Recipes

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

I Love Sushi


Well, I don't have any exciting stories to tell you today about being electrocuted at work or bad anniversary dinners, but I do have an awesome sushi recipe for you.  Now, some of you may not like sushi or may have never had it, but I think you should give it a chance.  At least try a California Roll. They always taste fresh and have cooked shrimp, rice, cucumber, carrots, green onions, and avocado.  And the nori, or seaweed sheets, really don't have much taste.  And, if you like horseradish, you will like wasabi.  I will eat some of the raw sushi like tuna or salmon, but I haven't ventured out to try anything crazy like eel or yellowtail or whatever other raw fish they serve.  My husband and daughter love sushi as well, but you'll never see my son go anywhere near it.

I wanted to make a dragon roll which is tempura shrimp inside a sushi roll and usually with some spicy mayo on top. But, since I'm from Texas, I wanted to do a Texas Dragon Roll.  Sure, it's probably nowhere near authentic to a real dragon roll, but it's my blog and my kitchen so I can do what I want, right?  My Texas Dragon Roll has yummy tempura fried shrimp inside with some thin sliced green onion strips, cream cheese, and it's topped with avocado, spicy mayo, salsa, and jalapeno slices.  And you know what, it was darn tasty! Enjoy!

TEXAS DRAGON ROLL
FOR THE ROLL:
1 1/2 C sushi rice
2 C water
12 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined (see note)
8 ounces cream cheese, cut into thin long strips
1 green onion, sliced into long thin strips
6 half sheets of nori
1 1/4 C flour
1 egg
1 1/4 C ice water
1 1/2 T cornstarch
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Peanut oil, for frying

FOR THE SPICY MAYO:
1/2 C mayonnaise
2 T Sriracha
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon lime juice

FOR SERVING:
Very thin slices of avocado
Salsa (your favorite brand or homemade)
Wasabi
Soy sauce
Jalapeno slices

NOTES:  I left the tails on some of the shrimp so that I could have two sticking out for the "head" of the dragon and one sticking out for the "tail" of the dragon.  Unless you plan to take pictures, you can just remove the tail for ease of eating. Also, I wrapped my sushi mat in plastic wrap before rolling the sushi and it made the process a whole lot easier and they shaped a lot better.  Also, sushi rice needs to be completely cold before trying to roll.  It will roll smoother and be easier to work with.

For the sushi rice, cook it according to the package directions (your measurements may be different than mine.  Just use whatever your package says).  The rice then needs to be completely cold before rolling the rolls.

For the spicy mayo, whisk all of the ingredients together and keep in the fridge until you're ready to use it.  

For the shrimp, mix together the flour, egg, ice water, cornstarch, garlic powder, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  I cut each shrimp in half so they would fit better in the rolls.  Preheat some peanut oil in a large skillet to medium high heat.  Dip the shrimp into the flour mixture and shake off the excess.  Fry the shrimp until they are golden brown on both sides, about 3-5 minutes per side.  Keep them warm in a 200 degree oven until they are all cooked (if you have to cook in batches). 

When the shrimp is ready, it's time to assemble your rolls. Have a bowl of water ready for your hands to spread the rice. Take one nori sheet and spread rice, wetting your hands as necessary, all over the nori sheet.  Turn the sheet over so that the rice will be on the outside.  Next put a slice of cream cheese down longways on the nori.  Add in a couple of slices of green onion and a row of shrimp.  Use the mat to roll up the roll tightly.  Next, line thin slices of avocado down the top of the roll.  Use a piece of plastic wrap to shape the avocado slices down around the roll.  Cut the roll into half-inch pieces. Repeat with the other nori sheets.  Serve the rolls with salsa, spicy mayo, and jalapeno slices and wasabi and soy sauce, if desired.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Shockwaves



So I got electrocuted at work today.  Kind of a horrific event, but I am able to joke about it now.  We have a small deep fryer at work that I use to fry corn tortillas cut into strips for one of our salads and into small chips for Chicken Tortilla Soup that we have every Friday.  There I was, minding my own business, waiting on my chips.  I grabbed the metal handle on the basket in an attempt to shake the chips around when I suddenly felt zzz zzz zzz.  I thought someone had grabbed me by the shoulders and was violently shaking me. And again zzz zzz zzz.  I tried to form the word "stop" but couldn't speak.  Then again zzz zzz zzz.  It was then I realized it was the deep fryer zapping me.  I somehow managed to let go and then screamed.

My boss and a coworker came over to find out what happened.  Apparently I was sort of convulsing and shaking my hands.  I told them I was electrocuted.  Then I got really lightheaded and dizzy.  I really thought I was going to faint. They brought me a chair to sit down.  It was crazy!  I felt the electricity in my arms for a couple of hours.  About a half hour later, I developed a headache.  Then I started panicking.  I thought, what if I have brain damage?  Will I be able to make these orders?  Am I having trouble thinking?  I told my boss about those thoughts later in the day and we both had a good laugh about it.  I also told him I will never touch that deep fryer again.  Luckily my brave coworker said he would fry the chips from now on.  Good times.

Now that I've given you a traumatizing story, I'll give you a recipe.  Risotto is an Italian dish, but why can't we make a Tex-Mex version.  Sure we can!  This is my Shrimp, Poblano & Corn Risotto.  It's darn tasty!  

SHRIMP, POBLANO & CORN RISOTTO
12 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 T butter
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 C arborio rice
3 ears fresh corn
2 poblano peppers
3/4 C crumbled Cotija cheese (divided)
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 onion, chopped
2 teaspoons lime juice (divided)
2 teaspoons cumin
6-8 C chicken stock
Salt & pepper, to taste

NOTE:  Risotto takes a little time to make, so expect at least 20-25 minutes to get it done.  The process is to keep adding ladles of stock to the rice, stirring it frequently, cooking the stock out, adding more stock.  But it produces a very creamy and delicious meal.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Put the poblanos on a sheet pan and into the oven.  Roast them, turning occasionally, until they are charred and black on all sides. When they are cool enough to handle, peel as much of the skin off as you can.  Remove the stem and seeds and chop them.

Meanwhile, cut the corn kernels off of the cob and set them aside.  Put the stock into a pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer there.  Melt the butter in a large skillet or dutch oven and drizzle in some olive oil.  Cook the shrimp on medium high heat until they are done, about 5-6 minutes.  Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of lime juice in with the shrimp and lightly season them with salt and pepper. Remove the shrimp to a plate and keep them warm.  Add the onion to the same skillet or pot.  Cook the onions until they are tender.  

Turn the heat down to medium low.  Add the rice, garlic, and cumin to the pot and stir it around.  Add in a ladle full of stock.  Cook and stir frequently until most of that stock is absorbed.  Continue the process of adding a ladle full of stock, etc., until the rice is soft.  You will need to taste it to make sure.  Before you add the last bit of stock, add in the corn kernels, chopped poblanos, cilantro, 1 teaspoon lime juice, and 1/2 C Cotija cheese.  Taste for salt and pepper and add some, if necessary.  Stir the shrimp in and serve the risotto with a little more Cotija on top.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Anniversaries


So my husband and I recently had an anniversary, so we went out to dinner.  He picked the restaurant, made a reservation, and told me what time to be ready.  It was a restaurant that I had heard about but we hadn't been to, so I was pretty excited, especially since we really don't eat out very often at all.  It was a steakhouse and I've heard around that they were good.

So I got all gussied up and off we went.  What I didn't know about this restaurant is that it was attached to a country club in a very elite neighborhood.  Okay, I'm good with that. When we got there and sat down, we got a few looks from other diners that made us feel that maybe a few of them thought we didn't belong there.  But we didn't mind.  The waiter came by and listed off the specials.  We both ordered the surf and turf special that came with Kobe beef and a lobster tail.  We also ordered beef carpaccio for the appetizer, which neither of us have ever had.  We ordered drinks and then I went to the ladies' room.  

Apparently while I was in there the waiter came back to inform my husband of the price of our meal, and my husband said okay and thought, well, I guess he thinks we can't afford it.  So the carpaccio comes out, and it was fantastic!  Then the salads came out, and they were mediocre.  Then comes the star of the show!  They brought the steaks and lobster tails out on a sizzling plate.  Now here comes the problems. 

First, the steaks were swimming in a pond of greasy truffle butter, which they didn't tell us would be there AND they charged us $7 apiece for the grease slick.  Then came the true test.  The steaks.  Oh, I couldn't wait.  And then...overcooked.  And apparently the chef lost the salt shaker because they were very bland too.  And the lobster? Sadly, it was overcooked as well.  But they did bring us some very yummy truffled mashed potatoes.  It was quite the letdown.  Our meal was VERY expensive.  Now, we aren't rich, but we are okay with a splurge meal like that once a year.  But, after paying the price we paid, we should have walked away thinking, dang, that was the best meal I ever had!  But, alas, it wasn't.

Oh, and by the way, my husband cooked some cheap flank steaks on the grill after that that tasted way better than what we served.  But we enjoyed being out with each other and chalked it up as another year down.  Funny but not so funny story.  On our very first anniversary, we ate at a steakhouse and my husband got food poisoning about an hour after eating and was violently ill the rest of the night.  We look back on that now and laugh.

None of this has anything to do with the recipe I have for you today.  I just thought I'd share it with you.  Now I'll share my recipe for Bacon Beer Cheese Fondue, which as you can see from the picture I dropped the fondue pot before I got the fondue in it and broke off one of the handles.  Life...lol. Enjoy!


BACON BEER CHEESE FONDUE
1 lb shredded Cheddar cheese
1 T cornstarch
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 C beer
1/2 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 T lemon juice
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
Black pepper, to taste

NOTES:  The lemon juice may sound like a strange addition, but it actually helps stabilize the emulsion of beer and cheese, making for a smoother fondue.  Also, you really must take your time adding the cheese in over very low heat or else your fondue will break and the cheese will lump up or become stringy.  Lastly, I made my fondue on the stove and then put it into the fondue pot.  You can make it directly in the fondue pot if your fondue pot has a temperature control.

Mix the cheese with the cornstarch and set it aside.  In either a pot or a fondue pot, put the beer, dry mustard, and the minced garlic in and bring it to a boil.  Boil the beer for 1 minute and then reduce the heat to the lowest setting.  Whisk the cheese in by small handfuls at a time.  Whisk until smooth each time before adding in more cheese.  When all the cheese is smooth, whisk in the lemon juice and black pepper to taste.  If you made the fondue on the stove, transfer it to a fondue pot or a crockpot preheated on low. Serve the fondue with cubed French bread, roasted vegetables, grilled shrimp or chicken, sliced steak, pretzels, crackers, etc.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Dinner for One


My husband travels for work a lot, so I'm at home with the kids without him, except my daughter works until 10:30 at night and my son rarely comes out of his room.  So a lot of nights it's just me and the boy for dinner, and half of that time he doesn't eat what I cook since he's a little picky.  

So last night I decided I wanted a salad with steak in it.  My son won't eat salads unless there's fried chicken strips, bacon, boiled eggs, and Cheddar cheese (which this salad definitely does not have), so it was just me for dinner.  I made this very yummy Steak & Spinach Salad.  I used boneless ribeye steaks (indulgent, I know), made a creamy Italian dressing, homemade buttery croutons, and added in lots of veggies. Doesn't it look pretty! 

Now, since I am used to cooking for four people, I don't know how to cook for one.  This salad was enough for four people. It's okay, though.  I took the leftovers to work and it got gobbled up there.  The people I work with are so funny.  They sometimes fight over the leftovers I bring them.  But luckily they eat my leftovers, otherwise I would have to throw them away.  I cook so many nights of the week to bring you yummy recipes, so we don't get to all the leftovers.  

Anywho, I hope you enjoy this salad.  It's darn tasty!

STEAK & SPINACH SALAD
FOR THE STEAK:
1 lb boneless ribeye steaks (mine were actually 1.38 lbs)
2 T butter
Salt & pepper

FOR THE CROUTONS:
1/2 loaf French bread, cut into cubes
1 stick butter, melted
2-3 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1-2 teaspoons seasoned salt (like Lawry's)
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 T dried parsley

FOR THE DRESSING:
1 packet Italian dressing mix (I like Good Seasons Zesty Italian)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 C mayonnaise
3 T red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 C milk

FOR THE SALAD:
One 10-ounce bag fresh baby spinach
Black olives
Pepperoncini peppers
Grape tomatoes, halved
Sliced red onion
Shaved Parmesan cheese
Sliced cucumber
Sliced radishes

NOTES:  This salad will easily feed four people.  I like the Zesty Italian dressing packet since it's not sweet like some other Italian dressing packets.  I didn't give measurements for most of the salad ingredients, so use as much or as little as you like.  

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Stir together the butter and the seasonings for the croutons and toss the bread cubes in the butter mixture.  Spread them out on a sheet pan in an even layer.  Bake the croutons until they are browned and crispy which can take anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes, depending on your oven.  After 15 minutes, keep checking them every 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, put all of the dressing ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.  Put it into the fridge until you are ready to use it.

For the steaks, melt the butter in an extremely hot pan over high heat (preferably a cast iron pan).  Season the side of the steak going onto the surface of the pan first generously with salt and pepper.  Cook the steaks for 3-5 minutes (3 for rare, 5 for more done).  Generously salt and pepper the top side and flip the steaks.  Continue to cook the steaks for 3-5 minutes or until your desired doneness.  Put the steaks on a plate and cover them with foil.  Let them rest about 5-8 minutes before slicing them thin. 

Pile up some spinach on a plate and top with the sliced steaks, the veggies, cheese, and croutons and serve with the dressing. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Long or Short


Before I started blogging and writing my own recipes, I cooked but I had to follow a recipe and couldn't make up my own.  But I started learning and researching, and now I can write my own recipes.  Some of my recipes are totally all me, and some of my recipes are things that I've adapted from somewhere else.  This recipe is something that I've made for many years, but I've adapted it and changed it so that it's totally from scratch.  This is Cheddar Bay Chicken Casserole.

What's Cheddar Bay, you ask?  Well, if you've been to Red Lobster, you've had these biscuits.  They are tender and garlicky and darn tasty.  When I've made this recipe in the past, I used shortcuts like cream of chicken soup and Bisquick.  I don't really use a lot of those kind of products anymore, so I've adapted it to use all from-scratch ingredients.  However, I will include the shortcuts.  I know that time is valuable and sometimes shortcuts are necessary, so I'll give it to you both ways.  This casserole is truly wonderful, and I just know you're going to love it!

CHEDDAR BAY CHICKEN CASSEROLE
(LONG VERSION)
2 T butter
Olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 C diced carrots
1 C diced onions
1/2 C diced celery
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
2 1/2 C chicken stock
1/4 C flour
1 C sour cream
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt & pepper, to taste

FOR THE BISCUITS:
2 C flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 T cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 C shredded Cheddar cheese (plus a little more for the top)
3/4 C buttermilk
2 T melted butter
1 teaspoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons garlic powder, divided

NOTE:  I cooked this casserole in a smaller round pan, so all of my biscuits didn't fit.  I put them on a sheet pan and cooked them about 15 minutes and served them separately. I think that, if you cook this in a 9 x 13 pan, all of the biscuits will fit.

Boil the chicken in water seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.  Let it cool enough to handle and then shred it.  

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  While the chicken is cooking, melt the 2 T butter in a large skillet and drizzle in some olive oil.  Cook the carrots, celery, and onions until they are almost tender.  Add in the mushrooms and the garlic and cook until the mushrooms are soft.  Whisk in the flour.  Whisk in the chicken stock, sour cream, Worcestershire sauce, and season with salt and pepper.  Stir in the shredded chicken. Cook the sauce until it's thickened and bubbly.  Pour this mixture into a casserole pan.

For the biscuits, the best method is to use your hands. Put the flour, baking soda, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and cold butter in a bowl and squeeze them together and mash it around to combine.  Add in the cheese and buttermilk and use your hands to fully mix it and combine it.  Roll the dough into little balls.  Put the balls on top of the chicken mixture, being sure to leave a little bit of room in between each one so they can grow.  

Bake the casserole about 40 to 45 minutes or until the biscuits are golden and done through.  During the last five minutes, brush the melted butter over the top and sprinkle on the other teaspoon of garlic powder and the dried parsley and a little bit of cheddar cheese and return to the oven for the last five minutes.

(SHORT VERSION)
2 1/2 C cooked, shredded chicken
One 10-ounce bag of frozen vegetables (see note)
One 10.5 ounce can cream of chicken soup
1 C sour cream
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 C chicken stock
Salt & pepper, to taste

FOR THE BISCUITS:
2 C flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 T cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 C shredded Cheddar cheese (plus a little more for the top)
3/4 C buttermilk
2 T melted butter
1 teaspoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons garlic powder, divided

NOTE:  The vegetable blend needs to at least include carrots, onion, celery and mushrooms.  Other veggies like broccoli or peas would be a great addition here.  Also, a rotisserie chicken is a great shortcut for cooked, shredded chicken.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Microwave the veggies according to package directions.  Whisk together the sour cream, chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, cream of chicken soup, and salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in the shredded chicken and veggies.  Put the chicken mixture into a casserole pan (see note under long version about size of pan).  

For the biscuits, the best method is to use your hands. Put the flour, baking soda, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and cold butter in a bowl and squeeze them together and mash it around to combine.  Add in the cheese and buttermilk and use your hands to fully mix it and combine it.  Roll the dough into little balls.  Put the balls on top of the chicken mixture, being sure to leave a little bit of room in between each one so they can grow.

Bake the casserole about 40 to 45 minutes or until the biscuits are golden and done through.  During the last five minutes, brush the melted butter over the top and sprinkle on the other teaspoon of garlic powder and the dried parsley and a little bit of cheddar cheese and return to the oven for the last five minutes.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sandwiches for Dinner


Some nights when we are rushed or tired or just want a quick bite to eat, there's nothing better than a sandwich.  One of my favorite sandwiches is a Reuben.  Hot corned beef, sauerkraut and melty Swiss cheese.  Yummy!  I wanted to do a little twist on the Reuben, so I made these Reuben Rolls.  I thawed a sheet of puff pastry, wrapped all the goodies up inside, and baked it.  They were delicious!  And very easy too.  Even the Thousand Island dressing is easy to whip up. Enjoy!

REUBEN ROLLS
1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
1 lb thin sliced corned beef
8 slices Swiss cheese
1 C sauerkraut
1 egg

FOR THE THOUSAND ISLAND:
1/2 C mayonnaise
2 T pickle relish
1 T sugar
1/4 C chili sauce
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
Salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Roll the puff pastry out to about an 11 by 14 rectangle.  Cut the puff pastry into four equal rectangles.  Place one slice of cheese, 1/4 of the corned beef, 1/4 of the sauerkraut, and one more slice of cheese on each rectangle.  Fold the ends over and roll them up, being sure no filling shows through.  Place them seam-side down on the sheet pan.  Whisk the egg with a little water and brush the tops of the rolls.  Bake the rolls for 35-40 minutes or until the puff pastry is done through and golden brown. 

Whisk the Thousand Island ingredients together and chill until the rolls are ready.  Serve the rolls with the Thousand Island.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Perfection


My absolute favorite cut of beef is the prime rib.  I absolutely adore it.  When my husband texted me the other day and said he wanted to grill a prime rib, I told him, okay, but that's going to take a long time.  So he went to the store and picked out a prime rib.  When I got home from work, he said, "Well, there's $100 worth of meat in the fridge."  I was really expecting to see a lot of stuff in there.  But, to my surprise, he bought a 7-lb prime rib!  It was $97!  Yes, it was beautiful, but I really wasn't expecting that.  If you know me or have read a lot of my posts, you will know that I absolutely SHOULD have expected him to go all extreme on me.  He has a habit of coming home occasionally with extravagant purchases of seafood or steaks.  But he's a great man and I love him, so it's all good.

When he did his research on cooking the prime rib, he found out that grilling it isn't all that practical.  So we set about finding the perfect roasting method.  I have done them in the past where you cook them on 500 degrees for 30 minutes, then turn the oven off and leave it in there two hours, and then cook it an additional 30 or so minutes at 350.  We saw methods where you cook it low and slow for a long time and then cook it really hot to get the crust just right.  We saw where you cook it at 500 for 5 minutes per pound, then turn the oven off and leave it there for two hours, and it's ready. In the past, I've used olive oil to get the herb crust to stick.  We decided to cut two steaks off of the rib roast before cooking it so we could have ribeye steaks another time.  We ended up with about a 6-lb roast.  Also, it is ideal to buy a bone-in roast, but the store we bought it from only carries bone-in for the holidays.

But what we found is what we'd like to think is the perfect recipe.  As you can see from the picture, our prime rib is a perfect medium rare.  We used real butter to get the herb crust to stick.  Chef Robert Irvine says that you should use twice as much salt as you think you need, since the salt is only on the surface.  You definitely need an ovenproof thermometer for this recipe, and my instructions are for a medium rare prime rib.  If you want it more done, you will need to cook it longer.  But this prime rib was truly the best we've ever made and we were all jumping up and down and so excited about how awesome it was.  Enjoy!

PERFECT PRIME RIB
6 lb standing rib roast (or prime rib)
1 C real butter, softened
1 T herbs de provence
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 T garlic powder
1 T onion powder
A generous amount of salt

FOR HORSERADISH CREAM:
1 T prepared horseradish
1 t lemon juice
1 1/2 C sour cream
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt

FOR THE AU JUS:
2 C beef stock
1 C water
1 1/2 T flour

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  Mix the softened butter, herbs de provence, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper (to taste) together.  Smear the butter mixture all around and over all sides of the roast.  Generously (seriously, don't skimp) salt the roast on all sides.  Put the roast fat side up in a dutch oven or deep casserole dish. Place the roast in the oven and cook for 30 minutes.  Turn the oven off and DON'T OPEN THE DOOR.  Leave it there for 2 hours.  

Meanwhile, whisk together the horseradish cream ingredients together and store it in the fridge until you're ready to use it.

After two hours, put an ovenproof thermometer in the center of the roast.  At this point, you can cook the roast at 350 degrees until it reaches 127 degrees internally.  Then remove it and keep it covered until it reaches around 132 to 135 degrees.  Another option, which is what we did, is we left the roast out of the oven for awhile so that we could cook popovers and roast some veggies.  We then put it back into the oven at 350 and cooked it to 127 degrees, removed it, covered it, and let it rise to about 135 degrees.  

For the au jus, take the roast out of the pan while it's resting and cover the roast.  Drain off all but about 2 T of the drippings from the roast.  Put the pan on the stovetop over medium high heat and whisk in the flour.  Whisk in the stock and water and bring to a boil.  Boil it for about five minutes, whisking constantly, to slightly thicken the au jus.  If you want more of a gravy, add a little more flour than is called for and cook it to your desired consistency.  Serve the roast with the au jus and horseradish cream.