Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Easy Chicken and Dumplings

There is no greater comfort food than Chicken and Dumplings. It doesn't have to be an all-day-in-the-kitchen event (unless you just want to spend the day in there.. which I sometimes do). Here's a quick and easy recipe:

1 T canola oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1-2 carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 14oz cans of chicken broth
1 can Campbell's Cream of Chicken
2 12 oz cans chicken breast with juice
black pepper to taste
parsley to taste
rubbed sage to taste
1/2 package Mary B's frozen dumplings, broken into thirds

Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven. Sauté onion, carrots and celery about 5 minutes to soften. In a small bowl, mix soup with one can of warm water and whisk until smooth. Add to veggies. Add broth and chicken breast with juice. Season with black pepper, parsley and sage. Simmer about 20 minutes. Bring heat up to medium, to a slight boil; add dumplings, a few at a time, stirring so they don't stick together. Reduce heat to low and simmer 35-40 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn off heat and let them cool for a few minutes before serving. Serves 4 plus leftovers. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

Cold weather calls for a big pot of soup at my house :) Whip up a few grilled cheese sandwiches to go with it and you've got a meal.. Yum! Of course, the soup is a meal in itself with the chicken, rice and vegetables. This recipe is a combination of several that I've tried over the years.

2 T butter
2 T olive oil
2 handfuls baby carrots, sliced
1/2 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
1 can Campbell's Cream of Chicken
1 1/2 cans water
1 14oz can chicken broth
1 12oz can chicken breast with juice
1 box Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild Rice Original
1 c half & half
2 T flour

Sauté carrots, onion and celery in butter and olive oil, about 10 minutes, to soften. Season veggies with salt & pepper. In a medium bowl, combine Cream of Chicken soup with 1 1/2 cans warm water and whisk until smooth. Add to veggies. Stir in broth and chicken breast with juices, breaking chicken into smaller chunks. Bring to a simmer. Stir in Wild Rice and seasoning packet. Reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, whisk the flour into the half & half and set aside. After the 20 minutes, stir the half & half into the soup and cook an additional 10-15 minutes, stirring often. Serves 4. Enjoy!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Monte Cristo Sandwiches

I met my friend Brooke at Cheddar's today for lunch and seriously eyed the Monte Cristo Sandwich. I decided on something else.. but I thought about that sandwich the rest of the day! If you've never had one, you really should give it a try. The combination of sweet and salty seems odd but it just all melts together so well. They're very rich but VERY tasty. Tonight, I was trying to decide what to cook for dinner and I realized that I had the ingredients to make Monte Cristo Sandwiches at home.. Come to Mama!

There are a ton of Monte Cristo recipes and techniques online but I chose to make them with a "french toast" method to avoid two things: #1 dragging out the deep fryer and #2 uncooked egg in the middle layer of bread. They went together easily and were cooked perfectly.

6 slices bread
6 thin slices of ham
6 thin slices of turkey
2 slices American cheese (I use the kind from the deli instead of Kraft singles)
2 slices Swiss cheese
2 T butter
2 eggs
1/4 c milk (eyeball it like you would for french toast)
powdered sugar (for dusting)
warm raspberry jam (for dipping)

Whisk the eggs with the milk in a shallow dish and set aside. Lay out your meats and cheeses on a cutting board to bring them up to room temp (that way they'll heat up well on the sandwich). I made 4 piles (3 slices ham topped with American cheese ((twice)) and 3 slices turkey topped with Swiss cheese ((twice)) does that make sense?) Heat a large skillet or griddle to medium and butter well. Dip the 6 slices of bread in the egg mixture on both sides and let the excess drip off. (If your griddle isn't large enough you'll have to make one sandwich at a time so don't dip until you're ready to cook). Cook the bread slices a couple of minutes on one side and flip. Once you flip all six slices, place the piles of meat and cheese on four of the slices. Cook a minute or two to make sure the egg is cooked through. Then assemble the sandwich with one layer ham and American, one layer turkey and Swiss and a final piece of french toast on the top! Press down slightly, cut into fourths, sprinkle with powdered sugar and DEVOUR. I like to warm up the raspberry jam a little to make it dippable. Makes two sandwiches. Enjoy!

Brett enjoyed his Monte Cristo too!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Shrimp Jambalaya

Shrimp has always been one of my favorite foods. Add it to rice and sauteed vegetables? Heavenly! We love Cajun food and I try to make Jambalaya and/or Gumbo at least once a month.

1 lb large shrimp
Olive oil
1/2 lb andouille sausage (or other smoked sausage), cut into bites
1 green pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
kosher salt & pepper to taste
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 c long grain rice
1 bay leaf
1/2 t dried thyme
2-3 scallions, chopped for garnish

First, prep your shrimp by peeling and deveining, reserving the shells. You will use the shells to make shrimp stock. Put shells into a medium saucepan, cover with about 2 1/2 cups of water and bring to boil. Turn off heat and let sit about 30 minutes. Strain the shells and discard, keeping the liquid.

Coat the bottom of a large pot or dutch oven with olive oil and saute the sausage over medium high heat about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the green pepper and onion to the pan, season with salt & pepper and cook until tender, about 7 to 8 minutes. Toss in the garlic and cook another 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes (with juices) and cayenne pepper then stir in the rice.

Add 2 cups of shrimp stock, bay leaves and thyme. Season with more salt & pepper to taste. Cover and cook over medium low for 25 minutes. Fold in the shrimp and cook about 5 minutes or until the shrimp are pink. Garnish with chopped scallions. Serves 2 as an entree or 4 as a side dish. Enjoy!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cilantro-Garlic Baby Back Ribs

I'm a big fan of smoked meat and was always under the impression that good ribs couldn't be cooked "indoors" until I tried a slow-roasting method. I have several different rubs and marinades that I like to use for pork ribs but this one is quickly becoming a favorite!

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup Asian sweet chili sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 rack pork back ribs, cut into 2 bone portions

In a blender or food processor combine garlic, cilantro, and sugar; blend or process until ingredients form a paste. Add soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, and vegetable oil. Pulse until well combined. Pour the mixture over the ribs in a large baggie, turning ribs to coat well. Cover and refrigerate overnight (I've marinated them for two nights and they tasted great!)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Transfer ribs to a 9×13 baking dish and pour sauce over ribs. Cover tightly with foil and bake 3 hours. Pre-heat grill. Shake excess juices off ribs and grill about 3-4 on both sides to char them a little (carefully, because they should be fall-apart tender at this point). Serves 2. Enjoy!

This recipe was in Better Homes & Gardens Magazine. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Nothing smells more like "Autumn" than roasted vegetables with brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg! Sweet potatoes are a healthy alternative to regular potatoes and roasting brings out all of the natural sweetness.

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1" chunks
1 T olive oil
1 T butter, melted
1 T brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
dash of ground ginger
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x9 baking pan with non-stick spray.  Combine all ingredients except potatoes. Toss potatoes with oil and mixture and scatter in baking pan in one layer. Roast 1 hour, tossing every 20 minutes. Serves 2, plus leftovers. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Stuffed Salmon with Sriracha Cream Sauce

I found this recipe on Pinterest (thanks to www.theboogieblog.net for posting) and knew it would be a quick favorite at our house! There are a few steps in the sauce-making process but don't worry.. it's easy!

Teriyaki Marinade:

**You can completely skip this step if you have a favorite bottled teriyaki sauce. It needs to be thick, not just the Kikkoman liquid stuff. There are several to choose from at most grocery stores. I will probably try a bottled one next time to save a few steps.

1 T cornstarch
1/4 c cold water
1/4 c soy sauce
1 c water
5 T brown sugar
1/2 t ground ginger
1/4 t garlic powder
2 T honey

Combine cornstarch and 1/4 c cold water to make a slurry and set aside. This will be used to thicken the marinade. Combine soy sauce, 1 c water, ginger, garlic powder, brown sugar and honey and simmer until sugar dissolves. Whisk in cornstarch slurry and simmer until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.. not too thick! Set aside to cool. 

Sriracha Cream Sauce:

1/2 c mayo (not Miracle Whip)
1 T Sriracha (a hot sauce made in Thailand and found at most grocery stores in the Asian section. It has a rooster on the bottle). Use more Sriracha in the sauce if you like it spicy!

Combine mayo and Sriracha and spoon into a baggie. Keep refrigerated. When it's time to drizzle the salmon with sauce you can snip a small corner off the baggie (easy).

Stuffed Salmon:

2 fresh salmon filets (6-8 oz) skin removed (ask the butcher to do this)
teriyaki marinade
2-3 T cream cheese, softened
olive oil
toasted sesame seeds
sliced green onions
Sriracha cream sauce

Marinate salmon filets in teriyaki sauce for several hours in refrigerator. When you're ready to cook, heat oven to 400 degrees and line a 9x9 or similar sized baking pan with foil. Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of the pan. Remove salmon from marinade and cut a small pocket into the side of each filet, careful not to cut all the way through. Stuff filets with cream cheese and secure with toothpicks to help keep the pocket closed. Place stuffed salmon in baking pan and spoon a little marinade over top, along with a generous sprinkling of sesame seeds. Cover pan with foil and bake 20 minutes. I removed the foil and turned the broiler on for a few minutes to crisp up the top a little. Remove filets to plates and top with Sriracha cream sauce and sliced green onion. I served the salmon with steamed Jasmine rice and roasted asparagus. Serves two. Enjoy!