Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Yummy Casserole!

March 6, 2018

It never hurts to have a few quick and easy casserole recipes at your disposal (or prepared and in your freezer) for those times when you just need a quick and easy meal. Here’s one with wild rice that you can make with chicken (regular or Cajun-spiced) or shrimp.  Enjoy!

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

Ingredients
1 package (2-1/4-ounce) of sliced almonds
2 boxes (6.2-ounce each) of fast-cooking long-grain and wild rice
1/4 cup of butter
4 celery ribs, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
5 cups of cooked chicken, diced
2 cans (10-3/4-ounce each) of cream of mushroom soup
2 cans (8-ounce each) chopped water chestnuts (drained)
1 container (8-ounce) sour cream
1 cup of milk
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
4 cups (16-ounces) of shredded cheddar cheese, divided
2 cups of breadcrumbs

Directions
1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Bake the almonds in a single layer in a shallow pan for 4-6 minutes or until toasted and fragrant (stir occasionally).

2.  Prepare your rice according to the directions on the package.

3.  While rice is cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add the celery and onions and saute for 10 minutes (or until tender).  Stir in the chicken and the next six ingredients, the rice, and 3 cups of the cheese.  Spoon this mixture into a lightly greased 15×10 baking dish and top with the breadcrumbs.

4.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.  Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and top with the toasted almonds before returning to the oven for an additional five minutes.

To Make Ahead
Follow steps 2 and 3 above then cover with aluminum foil and freeze for up to one month.  Remove from freezer and allow to stand at room temperature for one hour.  Toast your almonds as directed in step 1, then bake your casserole (covered) at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Uncover and continue baking for 55-75 minutes (or until thoroughly heated.  Sprinkle with 1 cup (4-ounces) of shredded cheddar cheese and toasted almonds and bake an additional 5 minutes.

Or you can try these tasty variation:

Shrimp and Wild Rice Casserole
Substitute 2 pounds of peeled and deveined , medium-sized raw shrimp (41/50 count) for the chicken; 2 cups (8-ounces) of shredded Monterrey Jack cheese and 2 cups (8-ounces) of grated Parmesan cheese for the cheddar cheese; and 1 cup of dry white wine for the milk.

Cajun Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole
Omit the salt and the pepper.  Reduce the chicken to 2-1/2 cups.  Prepare as directed, sauteing 1 pound of chopped andouille sausage, 1 diced green bell pepper, with the celery in step 3.   Stir in 1 can (15-ounce) of black-eyed peas (drained) and 1 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning into the rice mixture.

 

Advertisements

Cheesecake of the Month – February 2018!

February 15, 2018

One of my non-U.S. friends (thank you Martha) has forwarded me yet another intriguing cheesecake recipe to add to my files.  Add it does not require baking!  I will definitely be trying this one soon!  I’ll have to break out my metric conversion charts for this one.

Salted Caramel and Popcorn Cheesecake

Crust
250 grams of crushed ginger nut biscuits
90 grams of butter, melted

Batter/Filling
3 cartons (180 grams each) of cream cheese, softened
200 ml of whipping cream
5 Tablespoons of sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Salted Caramel
300 gram container of caramel spread
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt flakes

Garnish
30 grams of salted caramel popcorn
30 grams of toasted pecans

Directions
1. Line the bottom and sides of a 9″ springform pan with parchment paper.

2. Mix the biscuit crumbs and butter together and press on to the bottom and sides of your springform pan.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes or so to firm up.

3. To make the cheesecake mixture, put the cream cheese into a bowl with the cream, sugar, and vanilla and beat until smooth with an electric hand-held mixer.

4. To make the salted caramel, beat the salt into the caramel until smooth.  Remove the springform pan from the fridge and spread 2/3 of the caramel onto the crust.

5. Add the cheesecake mixture and spread over the top of the caramel mixture.  Refrigerate for at least two hours to set.

6. Once set, remove from the refrigerator and scatter the popcorn and pecans on top before drizzling with the remaining salted caramel.

Cheese Makes Everything Tastier!

February 6, 2018

I don’t often find new recipes for preparing vegetables that strike my interest (perhaps this is because I am not looking too strenuously for them), but I ran across this recipe the other day that sounds positively delicious!

Roasted Parmesan Crusted Cauliflower

Ingredients
1 large head of cauliflower (firm)
2-1/2 Tablespoons of olive oil
Black pepper
Oil spray (olive oil)
Finely chopped parsley
Crust
1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup of panko bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano or thyme
1/2 teaspoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 390 degrees.

2. Mix crust ingredients in a small bowl.

3. Break the cauliflower into large florets.  Cut the very large florets into 1/2″ thick slices, and the medium florets in half.  You will want a large flat area on each piece of cauliflower for the crust mixture to adhere to.

4. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

5. Drizzle the tray with olive oil.  Use one of the cauliflower pieces to spread the oil over the entire paper.

6. Sprinkle the crust mixture all over the tray, as evenly as possible.  Don’t touch it once it is scattered.

7. Place the cauliflower down on the crust mixture (pressing down lightly).  Don’t jam the cauliflower pieces right up against each other (this may cause them to steam and go soggy), keep a tiny bit of space between each piece.

8. Spray the cauliflower generously with oil and sprinkle with a bit of black pepper.

9. Bake for 20 minutes or until the crust is a deep golden brown.

10. Use tongs to turn the cauliflower so the crust side is up and bake for an additional five minutes.

11. Serve immediately sprinkled with finely chopped parsley (or other herb) if desired.

Fun Fact Friday, Number Sixty!

January 26, 2018

Today’s real facts (courtesy of http://www.snapple.com) are all about peanuts.  Did you know that . . .

  • “arachibutlphobia” is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth.? (Real Fact #362)
  • one acre of peanuts will make about 30,000 peanut butter sandwiches.? (Real Fact #430)
  • peanuts are not actually nuts but legumes? (Real Fact #1261)

Source: http://www.snapple.com/real-facts

Cheesecake of the Month – January 2018!

January 14, 2018

This month’s recipe features a southern favorite: pralines (a simple confection containing sugar, nuts, and cream).  Enjoy!

Praline-Crusted Cheesecake

Ingredients
2 cups of shortbread cookies, crushed
3 Tablespoons of butter, melted
4 Pralines, coarsely crushed
5 packages (8-ounce each) of cream cheese, softened
1-3/4 cup of sugar
2 Tablespoons of flour
1-1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
4 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup of whipping cream
1 teaspoon of grated lemon rind
2 containers (8-ounce each) of sour cream
1/3 cup of sugar
Garnish: crumbled Pralines

Directions
1. Combine the cookie crumbs and butter and press onto the bottom and up the sides of a lightly greased 10″ springform pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.  Sprinkle coarsely crumbled Pralines over the crust.

2. Beat the cream cheese on medium speed until creamy. gradually add the sugar, flour, and vanilla beating until smooth.  Add eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, beating just until the yellow disappears.  Stir in the whipping cream and the lemon rind and pour into your crust.  Place your pan on a foil-lined baking sheet.

3. Bake at 350 degrees on your lower oven rack for 10 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees and continue baking for an addition 1 hour and 20 minutes (or until almost set).  Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour.

4. Stir together the sour cream and sugar and spread over the top of the cheesecake and bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes more.  Cool on a wire rack then cover and chill for 8 hours.  Remove the sides of the pan and garnish before serving.

Pralines

Ingredients
3/4 cup of brown sugar
3/4 cup of sugar
3/4 cup of half-and-half
3 Tablespoons of butter
1-1/4 cup of coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Directions
1. Butter the bottom of a heavy 3-quart saucepan.  Cook the borwn sugar and the next three ingredients in the saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until the sugars dissolve; stir in the pecans.  Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes, or until a candy thermometer registers 238 degrees (soft ball stage). Remove from the heat.

2. Stir in the vanilla and let stand for 3 minutes.  Beat with a wooden spoon for 3 more minutes or until  the mixture begins to thicken.  Working rapidly, drop by Tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper.  Let stand until firm.

Fun Fact Friday, Number Fifty-Eight!

January 12, 2018

Today’s real facts (courtesy of http://www.snapple.com) are all about potatoes.  Did you know that . . .

  • potatoes have more chromosomes than humans? (Real Fact #734)
  • the first TV toy commercial aired in 1946 for Mr. Potato Head? (Real Fact #903)
  • the potato became the first vegetable grown in space? (Real Fact #1283)

Source: http://www.snapple.com/real-facts

Cordon Bleu, the Easy Way!

January 6, 2018

I recently found a recipe for preparing Chicken Cordon Bleu that seems to easy to believe.  There is no pounding of the chicken breasts (unless you cannot find the cutlets) to a certain thinness before adding the ham and cheese and rolling, breading, and cooking . . . rather, it is all done in a skillet!  How east is that?

Skillet Chicken Cordon Bleu

Ingredients
4 thin boneless, skinless cutlets (4 ounces each)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of flour
1/2 teaspoon of butter
1-1/2 teaspoons of olive oil
2/3 cup of chicken broth
1 Tablespoon of lemon juice
1/2 Tablespoon of Dijon mustard
4 slices (thin) of deli ham
4 slices Swiss cheese
Chopped parsley (for garnish)

Directions
1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper (to taste).

2. Place the flour in a shallow dish.  Coat your chicken in the flour (on both sides) and shake off the excess.

3. In a snall bowl combine the chicken roth, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and 1 teaspoon of flour and whisk until smooth.

4. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Melt the butter and add 1 teaspoon of olive oil plus half of the chicken.

5. Cook for 2 minutes on each side (until slightly golden) and transfer to another dish.

6. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and the remaining chicken and cook for two minutes on each side.

7. Set aside with the previously cooked chicken.

8. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the chicken broth mixture.  Whisk and scrape up any bit stuck to the pan and simmer for two minutes (to reduce slightly).

9. Return the chicken to the skillet, top each piece with a slice of ham and a slice of the Swiss cheese, cover the skillet, and simmer on medium-low for 3-4 minutes (until the cheese melts).

10. To serve, use a spatula to transfer the chicken to the plate and spoon the remaining sauce over each piece.

Serve with either roasted vegetables or a rice pilaf.

Fun Fact Friday, Number Fifty-Six!

December 29, 2017

Thank goodness for the might cacao bean!  According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the cacao bean is the “seed of a tree native to tropical America, Theobroma cacao (family Sterculiaceae), from which cocoa and chocolate are prepared.”  Did you know that . . .

  • the original recipe for chocolate contained chili powder instead of sugar? (Real Fact #259).
  • vanilla is used to make chocolate? (Real Fact #842).
  • National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day is in six days [January 3rd]?  (Real Fact #1298).
  • chocolate bars and blue denim both originated in Guatemala? (Real Fact #1310).

Source: http://www.snapple.com/real-facts

Cheesecake of the Month – December 2017!

December 16, 2017

Happy Saturday!  This month I will be sharing a traditional holiday cheesecake (pumpkin) with a slight variation . . . and if you like ginger, this one is sure to please!

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Ginger Cream Topping

Ingredients
3/4 cup of sugar, divided
3/4 cup of packed brown sugar, divided
3/4 cup of graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup of finely ground pecans
1/4 cup of butter, melted
1 Tablespoon of flour
1-1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon  of ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 can pumpkin (16-ounce)
3 packages (8-ounces each) cream cheese, softened
3 large eggs
Ginger Cream Topping (recipe below)
Garnish (pecan halves)

Directions
1. Combine 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, graham cracker crumbs, 1/2 cup of ground pecans, and butter.  Press this mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9″ lightly greased springform pan.  Cover and chill for an hour.

2. Combine the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, 12 cup of brown sugar, flour, and the next six ingredients and set aside.

3. Beat the cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.  Add the pumpkin mixture and beat well.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Pour the mixture into your prepared crust and bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

4. Spoon the ginger cream topping over the top, cover, and chill for at least eight (8) hours.  To serve, remove the sides of the pan and garnish (if desired).

Ginger Cream Topping

1 cup of whipping cream
1 container (8-ounce) of sour cream)
2 Tablespoons of sugar
1/4 cup of minced crystallized ginger
3 Tablespoons of dark rum
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Combine the first three ingredients in a bowl; beat on high speed with a mixer until soft peaks form.  fold in the ginger, rum, and vanilla.

Chicken . . . with a Hint of Lemon!

December 6, 2017

Here is a recipe for a Chicken Francaise with a twist . . . of lemon!  Positively delicious!

Creamy Lemon Chicken Francaise

Ingredients:
2 large boneless chicken breasts (cut in half horizontally)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons of lemon juice
1/4 cup of flour
2 Tablespoons of butter
4 Tablespoons of olive oil
6-8 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 cup of dry white wine
3/4 cup of chicken broth
1 cup of half-and-half (or heavy cream)
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of fresh parsley, chopped
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
2 teaspoons  of parsley, chopped (for the garnish)

Directions:
1.  Pound each chicken fillet to 1/2-inch thick

2.  Beat egss, Parmesan cheese, 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and some black pepper in a shallow bowl.

3.  To another shallow bowl, add the flour, season with salt and pepper, and mix together.

4.  Heat the oil and butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.  When the oil/butter is hot enough for frying, dredge the fillets in the flour (coat completely), then coat them in the egg wash.  Allow any excess egg to drip off before frying the fillets in the oil for about four minutes on each side until they are a nice and golden brown.  Remove the fillets to a paper-towel-lined plate.

5.  To the same frying pan, add the crushed garlic, and cook for one minute (until they are fragrant).  Add in the white wine, the chicken broth, and the parsley.  Allow this to cook for about five minutes on high heat to “reduce down” the mixture (be sure to swirl the pan occasionally).  Reduce the heat and add the cream.  Simmer on low heat until the mixture is slightly thickened.

6.  Stir in the juice from half a lemon and return the chicken to the sauce to heat through on low heat for about two minutes.

7.  Serve the chicken and the sauce together over rice or pasta.  Garnish with extra parsley, if desired.