Posts Tagged ‘Chicken’

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 www.campbellskitchen.com 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.
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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.

Pizza Night and Re-purposed Tomatoes

November 6, 2009

Tomatoes fresh IMG_4177I love a good tomato…the firm, sweet, juicy type with the most wonderful texture.  And then there are those mealy things that pose as tomatoes; if you didn’t know what they were supposed to taste like you’d swear you’d never touch another tomato again!

Well, I managed to pick up a batch of the later.  Ick!  They have been sitting on my counter for a couple of days, looking oh-so-beautiful but far from salad worthy.  I determined it was time to put them to use before they headed any further south. 

You can probably tell by now that Pizza is my cure for just about any dinner quandary.  There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that pizza can’t carry off perfectly!  Forget diamonds, pizza and chocolate are this girls best friend (and possibly mashed potatoes, lasagna, spaghetti, avocado, umm…but I digress). 

Now I know there are some chefs out there who would cringe at the thought of using mealy, half-mushy tomatoes for anyting…purists.  Personally, I don’t care how far gone they are, I’m not letting my $2.50 worth of tomatoes go to waste ;-) 

So my three tomatoes became homemade pizza sauce, and I have enough left over to smother a couple of baked chicken breasts or toss with some pasta and fresh basil for a side dish!  The flavor came out wonderfully, and the mealy texture didn’t matter one bit once they were cooked and seasoned!

Another Delicious Chicken Pizza 

(Oh Pizza, how I love thee!  How else can you stretch half of a chicken breast between two and a half people?) 

  1. Take about 10 minutes to mix up your pizza dough (give yourself at least 1 hour before you want to eat so it has time to rise and bake); when it is ready, press out and…
  2. Spread with a thin layer of chunky, homemade tomato sauce mixed with Greek Vinaigrette Dressing
  3. Top with shredded mozzarella, chopped chicken, sliced olives and thinly sliced red onions and green bell pepper.
  4. Enjoy!

    Pizza 2 - cooked

    Chicken Pizza with Mozzarella , Fresh Tomato Sauce, Vinaigrette, and sliced Red Onion

Next time you have a couple of tomatoes that are a little past their prime, or need to make a small batch of sauce quickly, give this a try and let me know what you think!

Fresh, Homemade Tomato Sauce

Prep Time:  5 minutes / Cook Time: 10 min / Yield: about 1.5 cups

  1. Peal tomatoes (using a fork, I held mine over the gas stove burner for about 20 seconds, rotating, and the peals came right off with no trouble)
  2.  Chop or puree until you have a chunky sauce (I use a pair of kitchen choppers for this…not fan of most kitchen gadgets, but love these scissors)

    Tomato Sauce 1 IMG_4197

    Time Savers

  3. Season to taste (oregano, salt, dried onion, olive oil if desired) and simmer in a small saucepan for about 10 minutes until tomatoes are soft and slightly stewed.
  4. Use as sauce for pizza or pasta; leftovers can be frozen in ice cube trays (each cube will be about 1 oz) for easy dinners later on. 

 

Cheating?

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

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.

~ MARINARA CHICKEN WITH PASTA~

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!

20-Minute Fajitas

October 14, 2009

This recipe (or cooking tip you could call it) was born out of necesity…I both needed to use up some leftover steak and also had some bell peppers which were looking far too sad to use in a salad.

First, an admission:  I am steak-challenged.  Leave me alone with a perfectly good steak and a grill, and I can find a way to ruin it, despite my best efforts and a number of resources on the subject.  So, after grilling yet another batch of over-cooked sirloin I was determined to find a way to use the leftover meat and not let it go to waste.  Fajitas!

Made these again tonight for dinner and yummmmm…they always taste so good!  I started everything late this afternoon and left it sitting on the stove while we ran errands; when we got back it took 2 minutes to turn the stove back on to heat it up again, toss the tortillas in the toaster to warm, open a can of corn, and set out the  grated cheese and sour cream.

Here ya go…

DaisyLou’s Skillet Fajitas

Yield:  about 4 large servings (two tortillas each) / Time in the kitchen: 20-30 minutes from start to dinner-on-the table finish depending on whether you use cooked or uncooked meat.

  • Onion, chopped into strips – about 1 large onion, or more to taste
  • Bell Pepper (green or red) – about 1 large pepper, or more to taste
  • Seasoning – Fajita Seasoning, Salt/Pepper/Garlic Powder, and a little Tony Chacheras Creole Seasoning
  • About 1.5 lb chicken and/or beef, already cooked and sliced no thicker than 1/4 inch strips (slice against the grain to make meat more tender)
  • 1 package of Lipton/Knorr Rice Sides– Taco, Mexican Rice or Dirty Rice are my favorite to go with fajitas
Knorr Rice Sides make a fast side to go with your Fajitas

Step 1 - Start Rice

PA130271

Step 3 - Add Meat

Saute Onions and Peppers

Step 2 - Saute Veggies

Start your rice and cook according to package directions.

In a large skillet, saute chopped onion in some oil over med/med-high heat just until it begins to turn opaque; toss in the chopped pepper and continue to saute for a couple minutes more until onions begin to brown slightly and peppers start to soften.

Add in cooked, sliced meat (and a couple pats of butter), sprinkle with seasoning to taste, and continue sauteing until meat is heated through and slightly browned  and veggies are as soft as you would like them.

Serve with warm tortillas, rice and your favorite sides…grated cheese, sour cream, corn, black beans, guacamole.

You’ll just have to imagine what they looked like, all wrapped up in warm tortillas with rice, cheese, sour cream and looking quite delish…they just tasted so good we ate them all before I remembered to take a picture!  Darn, I’ll just have to make them again :-))

Tips:

  1. Adding extra onion and pepper is a great way to stretch your meat and make it go further!
  2. If you don’t have meat already cooked, you can start with raw meat (chicken, steak, stew meat, etc)…slice into thin, 1/8 to 1/4 inch strips, season and cook first in your skillet with a little oil or butter, adding in onion and pepper when meat is almost done.
  3. If you have a counter-top grill (such as a George Foreman) do this…after you start your rice, go ahead and toss your meat on the grill to start cooking; then saute your onions and peppers, and by the time they are ready (about 10 min) your meat will be cooked through and you can slice it up and add it to the onion/pepper mix.
  4. PA130267

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!