Archive for the ‘Chicken’ Category

Chicken and Rice Casserole

December 3, 2009

Casseroles are wonderful things, one-pot-wonders which can feed an army of hungry stomachs a complete meal out of one pot.  While there are as many variations of the Chicken Casserole as there are American women cooking them, this one has become my all-time favorite…it’s simplicity is simply unmatched!

This is my old, faithful standby!  Anytime we’ve had one of “those” days and the last think I want to do is think about dinner, let alone have to wash up the kitchen afterwards, this is where I turn.

Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole

Prep Time:  10 min / Cook Time:  50 min

(original recipe came from but I found it to be too bland; I’ve added spices, veggies, and doubled the rice and liquid)

Easiest Ever Chicken and Rice Casserole

  1. In the bottom of a 9×13 glass baking dish mix 2 cans cream of anything soup (mushroom or celery work best) and 2.5 cups water
  2. Stir in 1.5 cups uncooked regular rice (not instant), 1 small bag of frozen mixed veggies (I prefer to use half the bag and then add in a can of sweet corn), 3/4 tsp salt, and pepper, dried onion, celery salt, garlic powder to taste.
  3. Top with 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (I recomend sprinkling chicken with seasoning first else it will be pretty bland…chicken seasoning, salad dressing, or your favorite spice blend)
  4. Cover with foil and bake at 375°F for 45 minutes, or until rice is tender and chicken is cooked through. 
  5. Uncover and sprinkle liberally with grated cheese (cheddar or colby-jack work well); return to hot oven and bake uncovered for another 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breast

November 13, 2009

I always laugh when I see estimated times given on “quick” recipes, and I think to myself that if I had a full kitchen prep staff to do all my chopping/dicing/grinding/pre-measuring and then set my ingredients out in nice little bowls (reference any cooking show on Food Network) I, too, could manage a four course dinner (made completely from scratch) in under 15 minutes!

Mama's Little Helper Part 2 IMG_4350

Kitchen Staff

Meet my own personal “Kitchen Prep Staff”…he is excellent at systematically unloading each and every kitchen cabinet while I work on dinner!  Anyone with a toddler will understand if I say I cook in the “Stork Pose”

Stork Pose 001a

Stork Pose

(defined as the pose used by a toddler mom who’s hands are busy with cooking/pouring laundry soap into the washer/trying to put on makeup; it involves balancing on one food while using the other to keep a child out of a cabinet/the toilet/the dog food bowl/etc.)   If you laugh at my sad attempt to illustrate this, you will then need to email me something better which I can post instead ;-)

That being said, if I can manage prep for this delish recipe in under 30 minutes with a hungry and ADHD toddler running amuck in my kitchen, I think it is worthy of a “Supper Quick” post!  

While this is not technically a quick recipe…it’s also not nearly as involved as it sounds, and for just a little extra effort turns out the most divine chicken!  This is what I call “Mother-in-law Chicken”, meaning it’s the perfect recipe to pull out when you are in a hurry but need a main course with which to wow your mother-in-law with your culinary prowess ;-)

Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Prep Time: 20 minutes / Cook Time: 20 minutes / Yield: 2 large breasts (feeds 3-4)

  1. Brine chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
  2. In a skillet, saute 1/3 cup chopped onion in olive oil until it begins to turn translucent; add 1 cup chopped spinach (or slightly less), 1/3 cup chopped mushrooms1/4+ tsp salt, and a pat of butter and saute until spinach is wilted.  Set aside in a small bowl to cool; when cool, mix in 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella and a sprinkling of feta.  Keep your skillet out as you will need it again (no need to wash it!) 
    Spinach Stuffed Chicken Part 1a

    Spinach Filling


  3. Butterfly chicken breasts and flatten to 1/4 inch

    Butterfly Chicken

    Butterfly Chicken Breasts

  4. Coat chicken with Italian Dressing, both inside and outside; sprinkle liberally with mixture of seasoned breadcrumbs, basil and parmesan cheese (or you can use plain breadcrumbs and add Italian Seasoning)
  5. Fill chicken breasts with spinach mixture, fold over and secure with twine or toothpicks.

    Spinach Stuffed Chicken Part 1

    Fill with Spinach Mixture

  6. Transfer chicken to skillet and sear in melted butter for just a couple minutes on each side until outside is golden.

    Spinach Stuffed Chicken Part 2

    Sear stuffed breasts before baking

  7. Transfer to oven proof baking dish and top with grated cheddar and mozzarella; bake covered at 350°F for 20 minutes, removing cover for the last 5 minutes to let cheese brown.  

    Spinach Stuffed Chicken Part 3

    Bake and Enjoy!

  8. Enjoy!  Serve with baked Butternut Squash, angel hair pasta, and warm dinner rolls.


November 4, 2009
Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad with Cheddar Toast and warm Tomato Soup

So perhaps this is cheating, but who says every dinner has to be hot out of the oven and dirty at least one pot?  There are those days when the thought of having to cook anything, no matter how quick, just seems tiresome!

It was warm and sunny today and I just couldn’t bring myself into the kitchen for any length of time, so chicken salad seemed perfect for dinner!  There are so many variations of chicken salad and you can season depending on your mood. 

Tonight I made a light and sweet salad (my favorite recipe below) and paired it with  Tomato Basil Soup (Progresso is my all time favorite) and cheddar cheese toast, served with a small green salad.  And just like that, you have a healthy and filling dinner in about 10-15 minutes…and best of all, no pots or pans to wash. 

Chicken Salad Dinner

  1. Mix chopped chicken (canned or leftover from another meal) with chopped celery, apples, and craisins; add in light mayo, honey mustard, and raspberry vinaigrette until desired consistency. 
  2. Serve with a salad greens, soup, sliced cheese and bread (pita pockets, dinner rolls, toast, crescent rolls)

Chicken Salad Variations:

Try spicing up your standard chicken (or Tuna) salad with different herbs, fruits, and veggies.  Here are some ideas for add-ins to get you started…for example: Dill and Cucumber or Basil and Diced Tomatoes

  • Dill, Rosemary, Oregano and Thyme, Basil
  • Apples, Grapes, Craisins, Oranges
  • Celery, Cucumber, Tomatoes
  • Chopped Pecans or Walnuts
  • Light Mayo or Miracle Whip, Honey Mustard, Spicy Mustard, Raspberry Vinaigrette, Italian or Greek Dressing

Brining Chicken

October 26, 2009

Ever heard of brining chicken?  Ever tried it?

I recently ran across this tip and it quickly became standard practice in my kitchen.  Brining chicken breasts before you cook them helps them stay tender and moist; this is by far the best way to ensure mouth-watering, juicy chicken and has helped me cut down on the butter and oil I use when seasoning them.   You can also try brining your turkey and pork! 

Although there are a number of variations for brine solutions and recommended marinating times, they all start with about the same basic recipe:  Dissolve 1/4 cup salt and 1/4 cup sugar in 4 cups water

Some tips…

  • The type of salt you use makes a difference in taste; Kosher salt is recommended, and from experience I can tell you it does taste better than iodised table salt.  If you do use table salt, measure slightly less (because table salt crystals are so much finer than Kosher salt you will end up with a salter brine when using the same amount of table salt).
  • Although I’ve not tried it yet, I’ve seen recommendations for using brown sugar rather than whiteComing soon…I plan to try doing that with boneless pork chops before pan-frying with an orange marmalade sauce.  I’ll let you know how it turns out ;-)
  • Brining Time Table:  for boneless chicken breasts, 15 minutes at room temp or up to 2 hours in the fridge.
  • Go ahead and add seasoning to your brine mixture; bay leaves, fresh sprigs of herbs, lemon wedges, onions, etc.

So next time you are going to cook up a batch of chicken breasts and have just a few extra minutes, try brining them first and let me know what you think! 

The Step-by-Step:

  1. Trim chicken, flatten (if desired), and place in glass baking dish
  2. Cover with brine solution and let marinate for 15 minutes (or up to 2 hours in the fridge)
  3. Pour brine solution off chicken and pat dry (you can rinse if you wish, but I haven’t found this necessary)
  4. Season as desired and cook as usual for moist and mouth-watering chicken breasts!

Marinara Chicken with Pasta

October 22, 2009

Dinner plans began tonight (as they do many nights) by digging through the fridge in search of bits and left overs needing to be used up.  Tonight I found a about 4 ounces of leftover stewed tomatoes  from our meatloaf a couple nights back, and some Little Caesars Crazy Bread from last nights pizza picnic at the lake.  Sound like something Italian to me…Marinara Smothered Chicken with Parmesan Pasta, Side Salad and Bread Sticks.  And for dessert, fresh tapioca pudding with strawberries.

First, a most fabulous super quick recipe for marinara!  (My handy-dandy Betty Crocker was mum on this subject, so this my own version…which turned out oh-so-wonderfully if I do say so myself!)

  • In a food processor or blender mix together any sort of tomatoes (I used stewed, but fresh or canned diced would work just as well I’m sure) with some Basil (fresh really adds something special if you have it on hand) and Oregano; add enough white wine to get the consistency of a spaghetti sauce.  We usually have a bottle of white wine open in the fridge, but if you don’t have any on hand try using olive oil instead which will make for a delicious “red pesto”.
  • I found starting with about 4 oz of stewed tomatoes I ended up with just the perfect amount of sauce to smother two huge chicken breasts.


Time in Kitchen:  about 20 minutes / Total prep+cook time: 30-40 minutes depending on thickness of your chicken breasts

  1. Set a pot of water on to boil for your pasta…add some salt and it will boil faster.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F
  3. Mix up marinara sauce in a food processor or blender.
  4. Pound chicken breasts thin and place in baking dish; drizzle with olive oil and slide them around a little to coat each side.  Sprinkle each side with a mixture of bread crumbs and grated parmesan cheese.  Smother with homemade marinara sauce and top with grated mozzarella.
  5. This should have taken about 10 minutes and your water is now boiling :-)
  6. Toss pasta in to boil and slide chicken into the oven, uncovered.
  7. While chicken and pasta are cooking, this is a great time to make a side salad or veggie dish, warm up bread or make toast, and make up a quick desert (pudding, sliced fruit or toss a pan of brownies into the oven since it’s already at the right temp!)
  8. Pasta and chicken will be done roughly at the same time; pasta will need between 12-20 min and chicken will need between 20-30 minutes depending on thickness of your chicken breasts.
  9. Drain pasta and toss with a little butter and grated parmesan
  10. Plate everything up and enjoy!

Garlic and Olive Oil Vermicelli with Chicken and Fresh Basil

October 6, 2009
Galic and Olive Oil Vermicelli with Chicken

Galic and Olive Oil Vermicelli with Chicken

I was out for a bike ride with my family this evening about 5:30 when we decided we wanted to go to the gym and then run some errands afterwards…I hadn’t planed anything for dinner yet, but no trouble!  We needed to leave within an hour, which meant I had exactly 30 minutes to get supper on the table.  Plenty of time! 

On the menu tonight…

Garlic and Olive Oil Vermicelli with Baked Chicken and Fresh Basil, served with Salad and Parmesan Toast:  20 min

  1. Leftover baked chicken from Sunday dinner (always make double when cooking meat so you will have leftovers) – a couple minutes in the microwave and it’s ready to go.   Use whatever meat you have ready; pre-sliced and ready cooked ham and turkey are great to have on hand for just such occasions.  Warm a couple of slices per serving. 
  2. Pasta Roni Garlic and Olive Oil Vermicelli – cook on stove top according to package directions; ready in about 12-15 min from start to finish.
  3. Salad/Side– While pasta is cooking, prep your side dish – I threw together a quick salad of fresh spinach, feta cheese and grape tomatoes, drizzled with Greek Vinaigrette.  Use what you have on hand!  Any salad makings will do, or a pack of frozen brocoli florets or a can of  green beans thrown in the microwave with a little butter and seasoning. 
  4. Bread– if you happen to have frozen dinner rolls on hand, this would be perfect ( a friend turned me on to Sister Schubert’s and I love them!), otherwise use sandwich bread!  Brush sliced sandwich bread with a little olive oil or butter and toss in the toaster until golden; sprinkle with parmesan cheese and italian seasoning.
  5. Plate it all up and you are ready to go!  I happed to have fresh basil on hand, which is the perfect garnish for the chicken and really adds flavor to the dish.  It’s not a requirement though!  You could use crushed, dried herbs, thinly sliced sweet pepper, or just leave the chicken “naked”. 

This took me 20 minutes from walking into the kitchen to plated dinner ready to eat on the table, and almost no clean up in the kitchen.  The Key:  leftovers and quick (boxed) sides!