Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Chicken, Broccoli and Curry Casserole

Growing up it seemed we had one casserole after another.  I was not opposed to this as I have never met a  casserole I didn't like but as I have gotten more comfortable in my own kitchen I find myself looking at the Pyrex dish wondering what combination of ingredients I can throw in there for another casserole.

Sometimes thought it is good to stick with what you know!  

This is one of those casseroles that is a combination of old and new.  Chicken and broccoli casseroles are nothing new, some even already have curry in them, but this one goes a step further with the sweet flavors of the wine and shallots combined with the savory flavor of the curry.

Love this combination!!!

Chicken, Broccoli and Curry Casserole
4 crowns broccoli, chopped
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons butter
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp. shallots, minced (onions would work too)
4 Tbsp. flour
1 cup fat free chicken broth
1 cup fat free milk
1/4 cup white wine (or dry sherry)
1 tablespoons curry powder (depending on taste preference you can use as little as a teaspoon)
6 oz. shredded reduced fat swiss cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
Cooking spray

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the broccoli and blanch for about 3 minutes. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Using a grill pan, saute chicken on medium-low heat on both sides until browned, and just about cooked through, about 5 minutes on each side. Remove from heat and transfer chicken to a cutting board. When cooled, slice chicken into bite sized pieces.
Heat a medium skillet on medium heat. 
 Add the butter and oil until melted and then add garlic and shallots (or onions).
 Sprinkle flour and whisk until smooth. 
 Stir in broth, milk, curry and wine (or sherry) and bring to a boil. 
 Remove from heat and stir in half of the swiss cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
 
 
Arrange broccoli in a casserole dish and pour half of the sauce over the broccoli. 
Arrange the chicken on top and cover with remaining sauce. Sprinkle in remaining swiss cheese, grated parmesan cheese and top with bread crumbs. Spray a little oil on top. Bake 30 minutes, serve hot.
 
 
A meal in one dish!  LOVE this!
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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Fettuccine with Tomato Cream Sauce



As many of you know I am always on the hunt for meals that do not require a large grocery list. Keeping it simple when it comes to a mid-week meal is an absolute must in my life.

Since most of my mid-week meals turn into the next day's lunch I am also looking for something that I will eat as a leftover.

We have discussed it before but I am so odd when it comes to leftovers....I can convince myself that anything has gone bad even if it has only been in the fridge for 24 hours.

I will Triscuits and Cheetos stale as a rock but don't give me a piece of chicken that is more than a day old. Just can't do it!

When I came across this recipe on one of my favorite food blogs, So How's It Taste, I thought I had hit the jackpot....not only did it have nothing in it I would worry about the next day for my leftovers but it also has tomatoes and fresh basil in it which I have been craving ever since I put my tomato plants in the ground....I check them every day to see if by some miracle a tomato is already growing but alas I must wait until July!

Fettuccine with Tomato Cream Sauce

8 oz. uncooked fettuccine
4 quarts boiling water
1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. coarsely chopped garlic
1 (28 oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed
3 oz. 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1/4 cup oil-cured olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 cup small fresh basil leaves
1/2 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved or shredded (I have also used cubed fresh mozzarella and it too was delicious!)

Cook pasta in 4 quarts boiling water with 1/4 teaspoon salt for 8 minutes or until noodles are almost al dente. Drain pasta through a sieve over a bowl; reserve 1 1/3 cups pasta cooking water.  My uncle always told us this was the only way to put pasta in a pot of boiling water and now it just makes me smile to see my cousin still doing it!
 
Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes or until very fragrant and tender, stirring occasionally.

Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and tomatoes; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Stir in reserved 1 1/3 cups pasta water (I used 1 cup); bring to a boil. Add cream cheese; stir until smooth.

Add pasta, olives, and red pepper; cook 3 minutes or until pasta is al dente, tossing to coat.
  
Divide pasta mixture among 4 shallow bowls; top each serving with 1 tablespoon basil.
Divide Parmigiano-Reggiano evenly among servings.
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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

French Onion Soup Pasta with Sauteed Chicken


This past Sunday was such a treat for me!  Now that I live somewhere with enough room to have people over for dinner I am itching at every opportunity I can to have Sunday dinner at my house.

My family humored me and agreed but the part that made it even better was that after lunch everyone came on over, spent the afternoon on the back deck sitting in the sun while watching my nephew play in the backyard.

My mom, who spoils me like crazy, took over the cooking duties so that I could relax on the deck with friends and family.

For years we have said that when she cooks the chicken for certain dishes we should just stop there because the chicken is so delicious and all she has done is bread it a little bit and saute it in butter with a little salt and pepper.

When I came across a recipe for french onion soup pasta on Pinterest my first thought was that we should just add Mom's chicken and call it a well-rounded meal!  So that is what we did!

What a treat it was!  Everyone went back for seconds, including my two year old nephew!  That is what I call a success!

French Onion Soup Pasta with Sauteed Chicken
2 cups of uncooked penne pasta
1 package thinly sliced chicken breasts
1 to 1.5 cup of chicken stock
1 packet of Lipton's Onion Soup mix
1 shallot, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
1/2 cup of marsala wine
4 tablespoons of light cream
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon of flour
1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon of EVOO

Cook pasta according to directions, set aside and keep warm.  
In a large skillet, add a little extra virgin olive oil and butter.  Flour each chicken breast with flour, salt and pepper.
Remove from the and set aside.  Cover to keep warm.
In the same saucepan, heat the EVOO. Add the scallions and garlic, stir continually until soft and fragrant.  Add the marsala wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any stuck on pieces of onion.  
Add the mustard, stock and soup mix packets, allow to cook on low for about 20 minutes.  Stir in flour, whisking continually until well incorporated and thickened.  Add the light cream, mix well.  
Add the chicken and pasta to the sauce, stir well.  
Pour into an oven safe dish. Top with the mozzarella cheese.  
Set it under the broiler until the cheese gets a little crispy.
 And then there is the beauty of eating with a two year old....those little hand prints bring me so much happiness! 

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Scalloped Potatoes with Parmesan, Garlic and Rosemary


I truly think that if there was one food item out there that I simply cannot give up no matter what diet I try would be the potato...I realize some of you might have originally thought butter or cheese but NAY I say!  

It is the potato!

Any way you want to give it to me...I feel like Bubba from Forrest Gump.  

I will take them mashed, fried, sauteed, roasted....seriously I don't think I have ever met a potato I didn't absolutely love.

That passion followed me to Christmas dinner this year.  My aunt, who is a phenominal cook, brought these delicious scalloped potatoes presented in a way I had never seen before.

Instead of layering the potatoes like you would in a normal scalloped potato dish, she simply sliced them, laid them neatly in a dish and poured the sauce over top....GENIUS!!!  

Scalloped Potatoes with Parmesan, Garlic and Rosemary

5 lbs small russet or yukon gold potatoes (I prefer yukon gold), peeled and uniformly sliced thin
1 pint heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken broth (See note below)
1-1 1/2 cups shredded parmesan cheese
2 OR 3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice the potatoes into a large pan of cold water and let sit for a while to rinse off the starch.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Assemble other ingredients in a large sauce pan.
Drain and rinse potatoes.  Combine all other ingredients directly into large mixing bowl with potatoes, saving about 1/4 cup of shredded parmesan to sprinkle on later.  Butter a small or large baking dish and slightly tilt one end up on a cutting board or something.  Start fishing out stacks of potato slices and stand them on edge in rows (like playing cards) to fill the casserole dish.
Pour remaining ingredients in the bowl uniformly over all.  
Dust with paprika or cajun spice for color.  Top with cheese.
Cook covered for 1 hour then reduce heat to 350, 
uncover and continue baking for 30-40 minutes (until golden brown).
Note from Sissy:  This dish is great with grilled or roasted meats.  You can experiment with herbs, spices and cheese to suit your taste.  If you like your scalloped potatoes with more sauce, add to your heavy cream, 1/2 cup chicken broth (for smaller casserole) or 1 cup (for larger casserole).  Additional condiments: sour cream, crumbled bacon, sauteed onions, green onions, blue cheese or goat cheese.
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Monday, April 15, 2013

The Southern's Bleu Cheese Biscuits


I have had many a long conversations with people about the true art it is to make a good southern style biscuit.  Sure, you can gather the flour and shortening and go about it like the instructions say to on the back of the flour but they are never going to be as delicious as say the Biscuit Lady's at Loveless Cafe.

I have tried several different recipes and all have been good but alas I feel as if the true secret to these delightful treasures has evaded me.

During this long process of trial and error one thing I have found is that if I add something else to the dough it only makes them better!

My personal favorites are the herbed biscuits with all my favorite savory flavors incorporated into the dough.

That was, of course, until I found this recipe!

A friend of mine flattered me terribly by sending me this link to a local cooking competition which she insisted I enter, so I did.  As I was looking through the email I noticed that the restaurant who was putting on said competition had, as incentive to participate, included two of their house favorites.

As I knew we would be smoking a lamb leg the following weekend I quickly printed the recipe and added it to the list of things we would be making for our cookout!  

We were not disappointed....even heated up the following Sunday for dinner they were delicious!

The Southern's Bleu Cheese Biscuits

3 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons Sugar
2 Tablespoons Baking Powder
½ Tablespoon Salt
½ pound butter (2 sticks), cubed
1 Cup Buttermilk
1 Cup Bleu Cheese, crumbled

Combine first 4 ingredients, slowly add butter and then add buttermilk, mixing just enough until dough is formed.

Knead dough with more flour as needed until formed. Roll dough on floured surface.
Book fold bleu cheese crumbles into dough 3 times.

Roll to ½ inch thickness, cut with biscuit cutter.  

Bake on parchment line sheet pan for 11 minutes at 350 degrees.
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Friday, April 12, 2013

Georgia Caviar


There are many variations of this delicious appetizer but my favorite has been of the Georgia variety.  Perhaps it is the bulldog in me whose blood runs red and black, perhaps it is my love of black eyed peas or just maybe it is that I have impecable taste!

Call it what you will, this recipe is stellar!

I was recently in Atlanta hanging out with my brother's in-laws and as soon as Julie put this down in front of me I started shoveling....so ferociously in fact that I think I might have scared the people around me.

It was so delicious that before I even knew what was going on I had inhaled half the bowl and sauce was dripping down my arm.  Pretty picture, right?

Aside from being super yummy, this falls into the category of easy to prepare, can be made ahead of time, doesn't need to be heated up before a party....pretty much all of the necessities for a good party dish!

Georgia Caviar

1 can Ro-Tel, do not drain
8 oz. Zesty Italian Dressing
1 can shoepeg corn
1 can beans (black beans or black eyed peas)
3 cloves garlic, Minced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped, green and white parts
1 chopped red bell pepper
1 chopped green bell pepper
1 chopped jalapeno
Combine ingredients several hours before serving and allow to sit in the refrigerator. 
Serve with tortilla chips.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Grilled Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Shallots


Who was it who originally gave Brussels sprouts a bad name?

Seriously, these little nuggets of deliciousness have really been given a bad wrap!

For the longest time I just avoided them, followed the crowd, took other peoples opinion as truth, but in reality I find them delicious!  They are mini little cabbages and I love cabbage.  

Recently at family dinner my mom, sister-in-law and I were talking about brussel sprouts and all three mentioned that we really liked them at which point my mom asked "well then why don't we ever have them"....fair question!

We never have them because I just assumed no one else liked them....and you know what happens when you assume.....

Since we had another gathering on the books already for a cookout the following weekend (shocker!) we decided to give them a try....add a little bacon, some shallots and seriously who wouldn't love them?

As we suspected/hoped they were a hit and spark an interest to try many more recipes with the same leading role....maybe next time we will roast them in the oven but while the weather is nice it looks like they are grill bound for the next few months!

Grilled Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Shallots
1/3 lb thick cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 1/2 lbs Brussels sprouts
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add in 1 tablespoon of salt followed by burssels sprouts and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Add bacon into a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat and cook until fat render and bacon crisps. 

Remove bacon to a large bowl and remove all bacon fat expect 1 tablespoon. Add shallots into pan and cook until lightly browned. 

Remove to bowl with bacon.

Place brussels sprouts in a large bowl and toss with reserved bacon fat and salt and pepper to taste. Place on the grill and cook until lightly charred on each side, about 4 to 5 minutes per side.
Type of fire: Direct
Grill heat: high
Emory was cheering on his momma as she manned the grill!

Remove brussels sprout from grill into bowl with bacon and shallots, toss to combine. 
Pour out onto a serving dish and serve immediately.

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Shrimp Pasta in White Wine Sauce with Kalamata Olives


I recently had dinner with my brother and came across a menu item that looked like it was planned just for me!

Pasta, well I think we all know I am pretty much sold there, olives, yep those are pretty much my other fave, and shrimp, love these little crustaceans!

As I have recently begun doing, I asked the server if she could tell me what all was in the sauce.  With the list of ingredients I felt certain I would be able to come close to what I had devoured for dinner!

With some of my best guinea pigs assembled I started cooking, adding in ingredients that I thought would compliment those that I knew were already in the dish I had tasted several nights before.

It is always a great surprise when I am trying to duplicate something I have tasted in a restaurant and it turns out even better than I had anticipated!!

I will definitely be making this often as the combinations of the salty olives, the sweet gulf shrimp and the white wine cream sauce all combined create absolute magic....or at least I think so!

Shrimp Pasta in White Wine Sauce with Kalamata Olives
1 lb. angel hair pasta
1/2 cup butter
1 cup dry white wine
1 onion, diced
3 cloved garlic, minced
1/4 chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 jar pitted kalamata olives, drained
2 heaping tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons sliced sun-dried tomatoes
2 lbs. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
Fresh parsley for garnish
freshly grated parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to the directions on the package.
In a large skillet melt butter and saute onions over medium high heat until transparent.  Add the garlic and continue to saute for 1 minute.  

Add the wine, reduce heat to medium low.  Add parsley and season with salt and pepper.  

Add the olives, capers and tomatoes and allow the sauce to reduce and simmer over low heat for about 5-10 minutes.  

Turn the heat to medium bringing the sauce to a soft boil.   Add the shrimp and cook until pink.  DO not overcook!  It only takes a few minutes so keep an eye on the shrimp.

Drain the pasta and mix with the shrimp and sauce.  
Garnish with parsley and cheese.  Serve immediately!

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Friday, April 5, 2013

Shire Gate Farm Sirloin Tip Roast


Recently I have found myself becoming more and more interested in knowing where my meat and produce are raised and grown.  I know I need to be better about it with so many studies coming out about the effects of hormones and pesticides on long term health and I promise....I am working on it but some conveniences are hard to abandon.

Not just that but sometimes buying organic is expensive!  Even still, I know that I need to eliminate processed foods from my diet and we all need to be more aware of what we are putting in my body....though giving up butter would be a huge stretch for me....baby steps....no large leaps yet!

With this in mind, I was thrilled when my sister-in-law called and said that they had been given a sirloin tip roast from their former neighbor and former Tennessee Titan, Will Witherpoon, which had come from his farm Shire Gate Farm in Owensville, MO.  Grass-fed cattle allowed to roam free in lush pastures devoid of antibiotics is pretty much exactly what I am looking for in the meats I purchase!

Not really knowing how to cook this particular Maggie went on a search for a recipe we could use and found this!  It was simple to put together, easy to prepare and the outcome was superb!  The combination of basic spices and organically grown beef....there was no greater combination, aside from maybe the company who shared in this meal!

Sirloin Tip Roast
1 1/4 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (3 pound) sirloin tip roast

In a small bowl, mix the paprika, kosher salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, and thyme. Stir in the olive oil, and allow the mixture to sit about 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Place the roast on the prepared baking sheet, and cover on all sides with the spice mixture.
Roast 1 hour in the preheated oven, or to a minimum internal temperature of 
145 degrees F (63 degrees C). 
Let sit 15 minutes before slicing.

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Matt and Jason's Kale Salad


It is no secret that I love anything having to do with kale.  It can be raw or cooked down for hours with salt, pepper and bacon drippings...I don't care!  I just love this super food!

Another love I hold close to my heart is my friends.  I have the amazing blessing to have friends I have had since I was still in a cradle and friends I have only known for a short while though it feels like we have known each other forever.

It is a true gift in life to be surrounded by so much love and I remind myself daily not to take it for granted!

Some of the friends I have recently become close with in the last year are my darling Matt and Jason.  Two of the kindest souls I have ever encountered full of life and love.  These two gentlemen truly know what it means to embrace life with humor and loyalty, to honor themselves and those around them and to make every day matter with a sincerity of devotion.
I truly am blessed to have these two men in my life. 

Their love and support of not just me and my blog but my friends and family as well has truly warmed my heart.  To say I love these guys is a true understatement.

Recently, over dinner and a few glasses (ahem, bottles) of wine it was decided that seeing each other with so much time in between visits was simply unacceptable so we planned for a cook out just days away which was a treat to get on the calendar as it seems getting these peeps together can feel like herding cats at times!

They offered to bring their favorite kale salad which thrilled be beyond belief....any twist on a kale salad I welcome with open arms!

It was simply to die for!  Wonderfully different from the one I make all the time which is perfect because if I can have a kale salad with every meal I will be a happy lady!

Here is their recipe.....

Matt and Jason's Kale Salad

1/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries, chopped (or whole golden raisins or currants)
1/3 cup pine nuts (can substitute slivered almonds)
1 pound fresh Lacinato kale (also called Tuscan kale or dinosaur kale), about 2-3 bunches, rinsed and patted dry
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, packed

Heat a small skilled on medium high heat. Spread the pine nuts in an even layer on the bottom of the pan, cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Then remove to a bowl to allow to cool. Hint when toasting nuts: do not take your eyes off of them! Nuts can go from browned to burned very quickly.

Use a sharp knife to cut out the tough midrib of each kale leaf, and discard or compost. Slice the leaves crosswise into thin, 1/4 inch wide, slices. The easiest way to do this is to work with a small bunch of leaves at a time, stack the leaves and roll them into a loose cigar shape. Then using a sharp knife, work from one end of the "cigar" to the other, slicing a 1/4 inch off from the end. Place the kale slices into a large bowl.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, rice vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper.
 A half hour to an hour before serving, toss the kale together with the toasted pine nuts, the dried cranberries, and the dressing, allowing the kale to marinate a bit. 
  
 Right before serving, stir in the grated Parmesan cheese.
Thank you Matt and Jason for your constant support of my humble Food Gospel and for all the love you exude every time I think of you bright faces!
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Monday, April 1, 2013

Bacon and Cream Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms


What is it about Easter dinner that seems to be the calling of all things pork?  I feel like besides the basic ham that we always have I kept adding more pork dishes to the menu.  Whether it was the sausage dip that became a favorite years ago or these delicious stuffed mushrooms I just couldn't get enough evidently.

I saw these on Pinterest recently and the comment that accompanied the pin stated that this was a favorite requested by guests often so I thought it would be something my family would like as well.  Then as I looked at the list of ingredients I realized there was really nothing NOT to like!  Cheese, bacon, onions and garlic?  Seriously?  Delicious!

The pinner of this recipe did not lie or disappoint!  A friend of mine who joined us for Easter dinner said she had to separate herself from them as she had eaten 5 before she even knew what had happened!

Enjoy!

Bacon and Cream Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
original recipe from Mountain Mama Cooks

8 oz bacon
1/2 cup finely minced sweet onion
1 clove garlic, minced
16 oz white button mushrooms
4 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Using scissors or a sharp knife, cut raw bacon into small pieces. In a large saute pan, over medium heat, cook bacon until nice and crispy. 

While bacon is cooking, remove mushroom stems from caps and chop stems into small pieces. When bacon is done, remove from pan and set aside; reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon grease and pour the rest from pan. Saute onion until soft about 5 minutes, scraping up any brown bits on bottom of pan. 
Add chopped mushrooms stems and garlic and cook a few minutes longer. Reduce heat to low. 
Add cream cheese and parmesan cheese and stir until cheeses are melted. Add reserved chopped bacon and season to taste with salt and pepper. (Mixture can be made, cooled, and stored, covered, in the fridge for up to two days.) 
Remove mixture from heat and stuff each mushroom cap generously with mixture. 
Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes or until mushrooms are soft and filling is nice and hot.
Here are some of the adorable puppies who stayed with me this weekend and kept me company in the kitchen while I cooked! Love Lucy and TJ!!
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