Chicken Casserole with Tortilla Chips

Cook’s notes: My sweetheart made a huge batch of Mexican-style slow cooker stew with chicken, black beans, corn, red pepper, and cilantro. We had a 4-quart cooking pot full of delicious stew, but there are only two of us in the house. I turned the leftovers into a casserole for a potluck dinner with friends.

Heat oven to 350°F. Coat a 13×9-inch baking dish evenly with cooking spray, then scatter 1.5 cups of crushed tortilla chips evenly on the bottom.

Cook 1 bag frozen brown rice, and spread cooked rice over the tortilla chip pieces.

Spoon leftover chicken and sweet potato stew in a thick layer over the rice.

Sprinkle about 3/4 cup (6 oz.) shredded Mexican cheese over the top.

Bake for 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Adapted from My Favorite Mexican Casserole recipe | Epicurious.com

Review: Chicken with Honey-Beer Sauce

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Not just for husbands

Cook’s notes: I was looking for an easy dinner that uses chicken breasts and a pan sauce. It’s way too hot to grill outside. This recipe fit the bill: the chicken breasts cooked perfectly at 6 minutes per side, and the sauce had a lot of flavor. Use a good-flavored beer, such as white ale, for this recipe.

Served with green beans and brown rice.

Source: Follow the recipe posted to myrecipes, with these changes: 1 Tablespoon dried shallots instead of 3 Tablespoons fresh, 2 teaspoons dried parsley, and omit the salt:

1/2 cup white ale
2 Tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
1 Tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon dried shallots
2 teaspoons dried parsley leaves

 

Review: Roasted Chicken Thighs

IMG_0680Cook’s notes: Boneless skinless chicken thighs were on sale recently. The Kitchn (link) has an excellent article on how to cook these thighs in the oven. It was so easy, although it did take longer than 20 minutes in our oven to get the chicken to the right temperature.

The only change I made was a slight variation on the baking sauce:

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon Italian Herb blend
1/4 teaspoon brown sugar

Review: Pumpkin Chicken Enchiladas

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Perfectly pumpkin enchiladas

Cook’s notes: This excellent recipes uses a full can (15 oz) of plain pumpkin puree. The enchiladas are hearty, and leftovers freeze well.

I omitted the jalapeno and red pepper flakes. We like our Mexican-style food on the mild side, and the 2 Tablespoons of chili powder provided enough heat.

We did not need all 16 corn tortillas, but we used at least 12 of them.

For pumpkin sour cream sauce:

  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup good quality tomato sauce
  • 1 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • salt and pepper to taste

For filling:

  • 2-3 cups shredded chicken breast
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (15 oz) cans of black beans
  • 2 cups good quality tomato sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 16-20 corn tortillas
  • 2-3 cups reduced-fat Mexican or Colby Jack cheese
Instructions: See the Ambitious Kitchen site

Review: Chicken, Asparagus, and Mushroom Skillet

Cook’s notes: This recipe worked out really well for a weeknight dinner. The only change I made was remove the chicken from the skillet in order to cook the asparagus. Cover the chicken to keep it warm, and then return it to the pan when the vegetables are almost cooked. The asparagus had even more flavor than when you oven-roast it.

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The garlic-lemon sauce is wonderful.

Get the details from Allrecipes.

BBQ Soft Tacos

15 oz. can no-salt tomato sauce, less half a cup
1 Tablespoon Mild Chili spice mix
1 cup barbecue sauce without fructose or high fructose corn syrup
1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
3 cups cooked chicken (1 lb.), diced or shredded
15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup corn
4 oz. can mild green chiles
2 scallions, diced
1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar or Mexican blend)

Combine the ingredients from tomato sauce to scallions in a large pan. Heat through. Add cheese and stir to melt.

Serve mixture in warm corn tortillas to make soft tacos.

Variation: Enchiladas; makes 12. Roll up 1/3 cup mixture in a corn tortilla, and place in a pan. Top with reserved 1/2 cup sauce and additional 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Bake at 350F for 15 to 20 minutes).

Recipe Roundup: Tried and Liked Dec 2014

3 ingredient Eggless Nutella Cookies (link):
Another allergy friendly recipe: eggless, no soy, no flour.Vegetarian, but not vegan, due to the yogurt.

My local grocery store didn’t have Nutella, but they did have a chocolate coconut peanut butter by Wild Friend Foods. I used a gluten-free all purpose flour blend (Cup 4 Cup), fat-free plain Greek yogurt, Enjoy Life semi-sweet mini chocolate chips, and the peanut butter. Glorious and gluten free cookies!

Chickpea Cookies (link):
I’ve been investigating cookie recipes that are both gluten-free AND vegan, so that I can bake for friends with food allergies. I tried a recipe called “I Dare You” Chickpea cookies and it turned out well. A similar recipe by Texanerin omits the oil (her version was posted first, and has lots of tips for the baker). These are vegan if you use maple syrup or agave syrup as the sweetener. Definitely use the Enjoy Life brand of dark chocolate chips: they are allergy-friendly and delicious. The batter blends up quickly in a food processor.

A 15 oz. can of chickpeas yields 1.75 cups of chickpeas, and the recipe uses only 1.25 cups chickpeas. Save the remaining half-cup of chickpeas for salad or snacks.

Cranberry Romaine Salad Smoothie (quickie recipe below):
We were out of baby spinach one day, so I made the Goldilocks Smoothie with 1 cup plain, fat-free Greek yogurt; 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk; 1/2 cup water; 2 Tablespoons pecan pieces; 2 Tablespoons flax seeds; 1 teaspoon apple pie spice, 90 g (about 3.2 oz.) chopped romaine lettuce, 1/3 cup shredded carrots, 1 cup frozen pineapple chunks without added sugar, and 1/2 cup frozen cranberries without added sugar. Serves two. It makes a pretty, pink smoothie.

Crispy Salmon (link):
Kenji’s technique for salmon in a skillet cooked to 130F (medium) is so easy. We omitted everything else and only followed the salmon steps in the recipe:

  1. Press salmon filets between paper towels to dry surfaces thoroughly. Season on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add salmon filets skin side-down. Immediately reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, pressing gently on back of filets to ensure good contact with skin, until skin is rendered and crisp, about 6 minutes. If skin shows resistance when attempting to lift with a spatula, allow it to continue to cook until it lifts easily.

  2. Flip salmon and cook on second side until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 120°F for medium rare or 130°F for medium, about 1 minute longer. Transfer salmon to a paper towel-lined plate and allow to rest.

Easy Tuna Casserole from Scratch by the Weary Chef (link):
Another winning recipe from The Weary Chef blog with added vegetables and a homemade sauce (no cream of crap soup in a can). It’s definitely the best tuna casserole I’ve ever had. We used tri-color vegetable rotini. The addition of shredded carrots and asparagus pieces was really clever. Leftovers were still delicious the next day.

I bought actual buttermilk for this recipe (instead of clabbering milk with vinegar). The smallest bottle on sale was 1 quart — I used the leftover buttermilk to bake bread.

Gingered Tuna Salad (link):
I thought this was an interesting take on tuna salad, but it was a little too sweet to me. I had tuna in oil, so I omitted the olive oil. I’d like to try this again with even fewer ingredients: tuna in oil, no added mayo, with 1/2 cup chopped apple and 1 teaspoon ginger powder instead of crystallized ginger.

Holy Yum Chicken … (link):
Holy Wow is what we kept saying. This amazing chicken recipe has a fabulous Dijon mustard and maple syrup gravy with rosemary. We used 2 Tablespoons of rice wine vinegar. The author, Julie Wampler, has a ton of tips.

… served with Roasted Broccoli with Garlic (link):
I have a really good roasted broccoli recipe, but I wanted one that could go in the oven at the same temperature as the Holy Yum Chicken. We used a 12-ounce bag of fresh broccoli florets, lots of fresh garlic, and the extra half-cup of chickpeas from the Chickpea Cookies. Roast it at 450F for 20 to 25 minutes.

Paleo Spiced Nuts (link):
Elana’s Pantry shared this recipe for spiced nuts with no added sweeteners: no sugar, no honey, and no syrups. I made a batch for a friend who is on the Whole30 program. Nuts are still considered a “sometimes, not every day” treat under this program. These spicy, savory nuts are quite tasty.

Warm Almond Milk with Spices (link; quickie recipe below):
Similar to a vanilla hot chocolate. This drink was absolutely delicious after a cold night walking to look at Christmas lights. The recipe authors say, “The combination of almond milk and warming digestive spices balances your blood sugar and stabilizes your metabolism. The extra protein boost from the almond butter helps curb hunger pains. Serves 1.” I omitted the cayenne pepper, changed the method, and put the ingredients in order from most to least.

Heat 1 cup vanilla almond milk, unsweetened, in the microwave for one minute. Stir in 1 tablespoon almond butter, 2 teaspoons maple syrup, 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon powder, and 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger powder. Delicious!

Best recipe: Vertical Roasted Chicken with Rosemary Rub (Bundt Pan Chicken)

Bundt pan chicken

Bundt pan chicken

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Cook’s notes: I wanted to make the whole chicken in a crockpot, but had run out of time for that day. We don’t own a roasting pan, so I went looking for alternative ways to roast a chicken. This recipe, which is adapted from Iowa Girl Eats, is a winner. You could also add chunks of yellow onion to the potatoes. The chicken has a delicious flavor, and this recipe is easy enough for weeknight cooking.

About 2 lbs. sweet potato, chopped into bite-sized pieces
4 organic whole carrots, peeled and chopped
6 garlic cloves
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1 whole chicken (about 3.5 to 4 lbs.)
1 lemon, cut in half
2 Tablespoons melted butter
1 Tablespoon Rosemary Rub (recipe below)

Rosemary Rub
4 teaspoons dried rosemary powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 425F degrees. Move the oven rack to the lowest position. Lightly coat a Bundt pan with non-stick spray and place it on a baking sheet.

Combine potato pieces, carrots, and 6 garlic cloves in a large bowl. Drizzle with just enough olive oil to coat them lightly, toss to combine, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer vegetables to prepared Bundt pan.

Remove any giblets or plastic from the chicken, and pat it dry with a paper towel. Insert the lemon halves into the cavity. Invert chicken over the center post of the Bundt pan. Stir the Rosemary Rub into the melted butter; brush the outsides of the chicken with the butter mixture. Gently pull the legs forward so the chicken is in a tripod position on the bed of vegetables.

Place Bundt pan on the baking sheet inside. Roast for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 160F degrees. Remove the chicken from the Bundt pan, and set it aside on a cutting board. Remove the lemon halves from inside the chicken.

Turn oven up to 450F degrees.  Return the Bundt pan to the oven and continue roasting vegetables for 10 minutes while the chicken rests. Carve the chicken and serve with the potatoes.

Honey-Paprika Chicken Thighs

A colorful plate with lots of fruit and vegetables.

A colorful plate with lots of fruit and vegetables.

Cook’s notes: Another winning recipe from J.M. Hirsch. I totally forgot to add the 1 cup of olives, and this dish still turned out fantastic. Leftovers are tasty even if the chicken is cold.

Menu:

  • Honey-Paprika Chicken Thighs
  • Sweet potato (steam in microwave)
  • Roasted broccoli and cherry tomatoes 
  • Fruit salad without added sugar (recipe from Hold the Sugar): pineapple, pitted fresh cherries, black seedless grapes, orange sections, and blueberries

 

HONEY-PAPRIKA CHICKEN WITH ROASTED ORANGES
Start to finish: 40 minutes (15 minutes active)
Servings: 8

4 navel oranges
1/4 cup smoked sweet paprika
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground dry ginger
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons chicken broth, white wine, orange juice or water
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 cup mixed marinated olives, sliced

Heat the oven to 400 F. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

Slice off and discard the ends of each orange. Cut each orange crosswise into 4 thick slices. Arrange the slices in a single layer over the baking sheet.

In a small bowl, mix together the paprika, garlic powder, chili powder, salt, cumin and ginger. Stir in the honey and broth to form a thick paste. Rub the paste thickly and completely over each chicken thigh, then set the thighs in an even layer over the orange slices. Scatter the olives over the chicken.

Roast for 25 minutes, or until the chicken reaches 165 F.

To serve, divide the chicken thighs and olives between 8 servings plates. Use tongs to squeeze 1 or 2 orange slices over each serving.

Source: J.M. Hirschhttp://www.lunchboxblues.com 

What to pack for lunch: BBQ chicken with quinoa and beans

This idea comes from J.M. Hirsch, author of Beating the Lunch Box Blues. I got the book from the library and flagged so many pages as good ideas that I bought a copy. He has many wonderful suggestions that don’t require a recipe, such as salad made with strawberries, mint leaves, and balsamic vinegar.

The chicken, barbecue sauce, beans, and quinoa are a fantastic combination.

Menu:

  • Leftover diced chicken, mixed with barbecue sauce
  • Quinoa and beans (1/2 cup quinoa and 1/2 cup drained and rinsed navy beans)
  • Lemon coleslaw with no mayo (recipe here: we used a bag of pre-shredded coleslaw mix)
  • Apple slices with cashew butter