Saturday, 27 June 2009

Southwestern Chicken and Rice Casserole

I made this last week and thought it was definitely worth sharing the recipe. It was simple and easy and turned out delicious ! It can be assembled right before you bake it, or you can build it ahead of time, cover the casserole dish, pop it in the refrigerator and have it ready to go into the oven to bake for dinner.

(Source: EMC newsletter)

1 (10.75 oz.) can cream of chicken soup (you can Campbell's Healthy Request Cream of Chicken Soup)
1 c. water
1 c. thick and chunky salsa
3/4 c. uncooked long grain white rice
1/2 tsp. onion powder (I left this out)
1 c. frozen whole kernel corn, thawed (I used 1 (11 oz.) can Mexicorn, drained)
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed (my addition)
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 c. shredded Mexican cheese blend (I used cheddar cheese)

Spray a 12x8 inch shallow baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Drain the black beans and mix with the corn. Add to the baking dish. Next, add the chicken breasts on top of that.(these can be whole or cut into strips, I will do strips the next time) Then stir soup, water, salsa, rice, onion powder together and pour on top of chicken breasts.

Cover and bake @ 375 degrees for 45-60 minutes or until chicken and rice are done. Sprinkle with cheese (I returned the dish to the oven for about 5 minutes to let the cheese melt).

Serves 4.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Vacherin Fribourgeois

My husband and I are cheese lovers. So, over the weekend we tried a new cheese. Well, not a "new" cheese but, new to us. It's called Vacherin Fribourgeois. It's a Swiss mountain cheese made in the canton of Valais using milk from local village dairies. It says it's made using traditional mountain methods and the origin of the cheese dates back to 1448. It's made from unpasturized cows milk.

It's a semi-soft cheese with a nutty, creamy taste. There is a hint of strength at the end for lack of a better way to describe it. It's addictive. You take a piece and a cracker and you think okay that's enough for me. Then the next thing you know you're cutting off another piece. It's that kinda cheese. The kind you just want to keep on eating. So if you see it give it a try. It definitely gets a thumbs up from us.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Pasta Salad with Fennel

2 cups dried farfalle pasta,(bowtie) cook according to directions and drain
1 red bell pepper chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
½ cup fennel, grated
2 ribs celery, peeled and chopped
½ cup garden peas, (I used frozen)
5 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp rice vinegar or red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Fennel fronds to decorate

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate. It’s actually better the next day. The fennel just gives it a subtle sweetness. You can add any amount of vegetables you want depending on how many you need to feed OR you can half this recipe (which is what I should have done). Other things that would be good are canned or frozen corn, onions, boiled eggs, broccoli florets.

Note: I don’t know if everyone knows this or not but if you don’t like the “stringy bits” from the celery, peel it with your potato peeler and it will remove those easily. Also before I grated my fennel I cut off the end piece and removed the outer few “leaves” for lack of knowing what else to call them. They are usually tough.

Special Note: Thanks to hubby for getting the pictures for me. I couldn’t do this without all your help!

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Chicken Pie with Herbs

This was the first chicken pie I had ever tried and I had never really used puff pastry before. I am sold on that stuff. It turned out good and we enjoyed it.
1 1/2 cups diced potatoes
1 cup diced carrots
1/2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups boneless chicken breast halves, cubed
1 cup diced celery
1 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon snipped chives, plus more for topping (I left this out)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried leaf marjoram or thyme (I used thyme)
1/2 - 1 cup frozen peas, thawed, I used fresh
salt and pepper to taste
1 sheet puff pastry or refrigerated pie crust or 1 recipe homemade pie crust
1 egg whisked with 1 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 350 F
Grease a shallow 2 1/2 to 3 quart baking dish. (I used the spray sunflower oil)

Put potatoes and carrots in a med saucepan, cover with water and add 1/2 tsp of salt. Cover the pan and bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce to low and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or just until tender. Drain and set aside.

In a saute pan or skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute chicken with celery, onion and cajun seasoning, stirring, until chicken is cooked through. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

In the same saute pan or skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add flour and cook, stirring, until well blended and bubbly, about 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth and continue cooking, stirring, until it begins to thicken. Add the potatoes, carrots and chicken mixture, along with chives, parsley, marjoram and peas. Stir gently to blend. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Roll out pastry to fit your baking dish. Spoon chicken and vegetables into the prepared dish and fit the pastry over the filling. Brush gently with the egg mixture and cut several 1-2 inch slits over the top to let steam escape. Snip more chives over the top of the crust.

Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, or until golden brown and filling is bubbly.
Serves 6
Adapted from a recipe at About dot com/Southern Food
Notes: I halved this recipe and it did just fine for us.

Tomberries . . . a tasty, tiny tomato

I was at the grocery store yesterday to pick up some charcoal and there they were. The teeniest, tiniest little tomatoes I have ever seen. I just had to come back and show them to you. They are called Tomberries and they are just adorable. They compare in size to a gooseberry. The ones I got came from Holland. And they taste good and look very attractive in a salad. I had to make a picture of one beside a regular beefsteak tomato just for comparison. Can't you just see these on a veggie tray they would look wonderful. We've been eating them like candy around here. The container is half empty already. Give them a try you will love these little beauties.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Easy Vegetable Soup with ground beef

I make this soup often especially when there are leftovers to be used up. I try not to waste any food if I can help it. So as for the vegetables in this soup you can add as many or as few of any kind that you like or have on hand. I wanted to add corn but I ran out of space in my pot. We ate this stuff for three different meals it was so good. Last night's dinner finished it off with a piece of crusty bread.
* Just a note I used Emeril's SW Essence which is mostly chilipowder, cumin, coriander and sweet paprika, so if you don't have it you might try a combination or one of those ingredients or nothing it doesn't require it.

1 rib celery
* 2 tsp Emeril's SW Essence - optional
1 tsp rock salt
3/4 c black beans precooked
1 tsp smokehouse ground black pepper (any black pepper will do)
1 pound ground beef or ground mince
2 shallots chopped
2 cans chopped tomatoes
3 large potatoes, chopped and pre-cooked
3 carrots, chopped and pre-cooked
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cabbage pre-cooked
1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke - optional but recommended
1/2 c green garden peas
Oil for browning the meat (I use ground nut oil aka sunflower oil)
Parsley chopped, optional for garnish

Brown the ground beef in a little oil, when it's mostly done add in the shallots and celery and continue to brown until the shallots are caramelized a little. Set aside.
In large pot add tomatoes,chicken stock, Emeril's essence, beef mixture,Liquid Smoke and rock salt. Let this all simmer for about 10 minutes. Add in remaining vegetables except garden peas and turn down to the lowest simmer you have, put a lid on it and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Take lie off and remove from heat and stir in garden peas. Put lid back on and let it sit for about 15 minutes before you serve. Enjoy !

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Chicken stuffed with red pepper, blue cheese and mushroom

No pictures of this one but it was delicious. We eat a lot of chicken and I am always looking for new ways to serve it. We were so hungry I just couldn't be bothered to make a picture. Yum !
Serves 2

2 chicken breasts, bash them out flat
2 – 3 tbsp nut oil ( I used peanut , use what you like)
2 - 3 large shallots, chopped fine
3 tbsp chopped mushrooms (I used canned sliced mushrooms)
Blue cheese
2 whole roasted red peppers
½ tsp dried Thyme, crushed
Smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup white wine or broth or water

Sauté shallots in oil until just beginning to caramelize, you know that nice smell onions and shallots take on when cooked in oil, then add the mushrooms to the pan. Sauté for about 1 minute and remove from heat to cool. (Don’t drain as what little oil is left will help to “oil” the chicken when it’s baked.

Once cooled the rest is just an assembly job. Split the shallots and mushroom mixture between the two chicken breasts and spread out thinly. Top that with pieces of the blue cheese. I didn’t specify how much but be generous. Sprinkle over with the thyme but roll it between your fingers to crush it to release the natural oils. It’s kind of like a jump start for the thyme. Take the roasted red peppers and split them in half so they lay out flat and lay that over the cheese.

Starting at the ends roll up and then lay in the roasting dish so where it meets that side down. If you have trouble just hold it pretty tight and start over. Then sprinkle over with smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Add to dish with wine, cover with aluminium foil and bake at approximately 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 25 minutes. Allow to rest at least 10 minutes.

I served this with new potatoes, tossed salad and a nice glass of dry white wine.