Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Best Chicken Rice Casserole

I've had this recipe in the hopper for a long time.  Last night was the night we finally tried it out.  It took longer than the recipe called for but it was SO worth it! This is the ultimate comfort food.  I originally found this on recipezaar, which is now food.com.  


4 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 carrots, chopped (*1 used 2 carrots)

4 garlic cloves, chopped fine

1 teaspoon seasoning salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon mild chili powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (* or red pepper flakes)

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 1/2 cups chicken stock

3 1/2 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups long-grain rice (*I used one cup long-grain brown rice and 1/2 cup wild rice, since it was what I had on hand)

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed (* I used 3 cups cooked chicken, thawed from the freezer)

2 2/3 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

1 cup green beans

2/3 cup breadcrumbs

2/3 cup cheddar cheese or 2/3 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

2 teaspoons garlic powder


Melt butter in a large dutch oven over medium heat and cook onions, celery and carrots until soft but not brown. Add garlic, seasoned salt, pepper and chile powders and cook until very fragrant. Add flour and mix well. Cook until starting to color.

Slowly whisk milk and stock into vegetable flour mixture, stirring constantly. Turn heat to medium high and continue to whisk as mixture comes to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add rice to sauce and lower heat to medium low. Cook until the rice absorbs most of the liquid and is tender, stirring occasionally. Will take about 20 - 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add chicken to the rice and sauce mixture. Cut green beans into 1 inch lengths and stir into the mixture as well. Cook approximately 4 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink on the outside. Stir in 2 2/3 cups cheddar cheese.

Pour mixture into a greased 9 x 13 inch casserole, or two 8x8 inch casseroles.

Combine bread crumbs, cheese and garlic powder and sprinkle evenly over top of the casserole. Place in hot oven and cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until topping is browned and casserole is bubbling.

You really should cool for 10 minutes before cutting. You could garnish with parsley and lemon wedges. Or not :).


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Banana Chocolate Ice Cream

Ok - so this is NOT real ice cream.  Technically it may be a sorbet? But it is very yummy (provided you like bananas) and really satisfies my ice cream craving without all the calories and sugar.  I've tried a couple different variations of this "banana ice cream" and this one from Always Order Dessert is my favorite. See my modifications below:

3 ripe bananas
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 squirt of chocolate syrup (sugar-free if possible)

Peel and slice the bananas into small chunks. Spread on a tray (*on wax paper) and freeze overnight or for at least 4 hours.

In a food processor or blender, combine the frozen banana pieces, peanut butter, and cocoa. Begin to puree.  Add one quick squirt of chocolate syrup to help the process along. Puree until smooth, pausing to scrape down sides and push down banana chunks as needed.  This may take a few minutes!

 Eat right away (it will have a soft-serve like texture), or refreeze for 2 hours to give it a more scoopable texture.

Store in freezer in an air-tight freezer safe container. Can be made up to 48 hours in advance.

Yield: 3 servings

Easy Cinnamon Roll Muffins

I was looking for a new recipe to bring to my mom's group at church for breakfast. Cinnamon rolls are so yummy, but time-consuming and not the easiest to make in large quantity.  These muffins from Joy the Baker caught my eye.  They taste as good as they look! I think having the yeast in them makes them more authentic.


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 tsp active dry or rapid rise yeast
2/3 cup warm milk (100-110F; low fat is fine)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg

2 tbsp butter, room temperature
2/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground cardamom (optional)

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp milk or cream


In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Dissolve the yeast in a measuring cup filled with the warmed milk, then stir milk mixture, vegetable oil, vanilla extract and egg into the flour mixture. Mix well, until very smooth. Divide evenly between well greased and/or papered muffin tin and let rest for 15 minutes. (*My silicon muffin pans worked well for these as the sugar filling that bubbled out was very sticky on the metal pan but popped right out of the silicon one.) (*Also, these will rise, so do not overfill. Make it come out to an even dozen.)

While the dough rests, mix together butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and cardamom in a small bowl using a fork until all the butter has been incorporated into the sugar and mixture is crumbly.  Sprinkle evenly on top of rested dough and press the mixture down into the dough with your fingertips (or swirl in with a spatula.) (*Be careful not to leave dents in the muffins or they will come out a bit sunken. The ones where I tried to cover back over the sugar with dough came out the prettiest.)

Place pan into a cold oven, then set the oven temperature to 350F.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until bread is lightly browned at the edges and the center of the bread springs back when lightly pressed. Some of the sugar mixture on top may still be bubbling.

Cool for at least 30 minutes before whisking the powdered sugar and milk together to form an icing and drizzling it onto the bread.

Serve warm. Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave.

Yield: 1 dozen muffins

Brownie Biscotti

One of my  kitchen "bucket list" items is homemade biscotti.  This recipe from AllRecipes.com caught my eye and I decided to give it a go.  I think I got about 16 biscotti from this recipe, but I should have gotten more, since I sliced them a bit too thick.  These were a special treat with my coffee and something I will make again and again!

1/3 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose f lour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 egg yolk, beaten
1 tablespoon water

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease baking sheets, or line with
parchment paper. (* or use a Silpat)
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one
at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the f lour, cocoa and baking powder; stir into
the creamed mixture until well blended. Dough will be stiff, so mix in the last bit by
hand. Mix in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
3. Divide dough into two equal parts. Shape into 9x2x1 inch loaves. Place onto baking
sheet 4 inches apart. Brush with mixture of water and yolk.
4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until firm. Cool on baking sheet for
30 minutes.
5. Using a serrated knife, slice the loaves diagonally into 1 inch slices. Return the slices
to the baking sheet, placing them on their sides. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes on each
side, or until dry. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake Scones

I know Mom just posted a strawberry shortcake recipe, which is essentially a yellow cake mix.  That is how the Doug's family has always eaten strawberry shortcake, and I admit that it is super yummy. This is a totally different animal.  Most strawberry shortcake recipes I've tried are either too dry or too biscuit-like, OR they are too sweet and cake-like. This recipe from Let's Dish is very close to a scone recipe, and I think it is perfect. You can shape it into a large round cake and cut into wedges for scones, or shape into individual squares and enjoy with strawberries and cream.  Either way, it's a new favorite. 

2 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 1/2 pounds fresh strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
Whipped cream
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar

* Or just use Cool Whip, like me!
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a food processor, combine flour, butter, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder and salt.  Process until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add the milk and pulse just until moistened, four or five times.  *This is VERY messy! Be sure to take your rings off, as the dough was very sticky when I started to work with it. 

Turn dough onto a floured surface.  With floured hands, gently pat dough into a 4x8 inch rectangle, about 1 inch thick. Sprinkle with remaining sugar.  Using a large knife, dusted with flour, cut the dough into 8 equal squares.  Transfer to a lightly greased baking sheet (or use a Silpat!).  

Bake until golden, about 25 minutes.  Cool on the baking sheet.  

Meanwhile, hull and quarter the strawberries. Toss with 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl.  Let stand until syrupy, at least 20 minutes, or up to one day covered and refrigerated.  

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar and beat until soft peaks return.  Do not over beat. 

Carefully split cooled biscuits with a serrated knife.  Layer bottom half of biscuit with strawberries, then whipped cream.  Replace top half of biscuit and serve.

Serves: 8

Friday, April 01, 2011

I Believe in Fondue too!

Two fondues, both alike in delectable deliciousness,
In fair fondue pot, where we dip our spears...

Classic Fondue
1/2 lb. Swiss Cheese
1/2 lb. Gruyere Cheese (I used a little more Gruyere and a little less Swiss)
2 T. cornstarch
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 c. dry white wine
Dash of nutmeg
Directions: Toss cheeses with cornstarch until coated. Combine all ingredients in fondue pot. Melt and serve.

Silky Chocolate Fondue

8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped or use chips
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
In small (2-qt.) saucepan, bring 1 inch of water to a simmer over low heat. In double boiler, combine chocolate, ice cream topping and cream; mix well. Set double boiler over simmering water in saucepan. Heat chocolate mixture 7-10 minutes or until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, stirring occasionally.
Serve fondue immediately with assorted dippers.
Yield: 1 1/3 cups (10 servings)