Rediscovering the Joy of Cooking

August 31, 2009

Chicken “Divine”

Filed under: chicken, freezer, main dish, make ahead, pasta — Emily @ 6:00 am

I got this recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks that I received at a wedding shower—over 5 years ago! Even though I now live in California and grew up in Chicago, I still reminice fondly of our time in Nashville  and feel very connected to some of the Southern heritage and cooking! This is a spin on the classic Southern dish, Chicken Divan. This dish comes together very quick and can be made a day in advance. I saw a Paula Deen show once where she said that chicken divan should be in every wife’s repertoire. I’d never even had it before, so I figure I better get on it!

Chicken “Divine”

4 cups fresh broccoli florets, or 2 packages (10 oz. each) frozen broccoli florets, thawed

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup dry white wine (I usually use 2 buck Chuck chardonnay)

1 jar (16 oz.) Alfredo sauce

2 cups (4 oz.) grated smoked Gouda or Edam cheese

1/2 cup milk

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

4 cups cooked penne, macaroni or orecchiette (about 3 cups dried)

2 cups shredded roast chicken, home cooked or purchased

1/4 cup dry Italian-style bread crumbs

Paprika for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

If using fresh broccoli, cook the florets in a steamer until tender-crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking and drain thoroughly. If using thawed frozen broccoli, squeeze out the excess liquid. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, thyme, kosher salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the wine, increase the heat to high, and cook until the liquid has evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the Alfredo sauce, 1/2 cup of the cheese, the milk, and nutmeg. Then stir in the cooked pasta, broccoli, and chicken and mix thoroughly.

Transfer to an 8 or 9-inch square baking dish. Top with the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheese and the bread crumbs. Sprinkle with paprika, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes more.

Tip: This casserole can be made 1 day in advance and refrigerated. It can also be assembled and then frozen. If the casserole was frozen, thaw in the refrigerator and bake as directed.

Source: Bride & Groom First and Forever

One thing I love about this cookbook is that it has a lot of recipes with only 2-4 servings, so it’s perfect for a married couple or an intimate dinner party.


August 29, 2009

Garlicky Cheese Bites

Filed under: appetizers — Emily @ 3:28 am

These little pieces of garlic, cheesy goodness are so easy and quick to make! They are so tasty. A wonderful appetizer to add to your repertoire. I actually found the recipe in one of those grocery store check-out line recipe books. This one was put out by Pillsbury and was entitled “Holiday Appetizers.” I made them for the first time at the annual Christmas party that we have at my parent’s house in Chicago. They were a big hit—and probably the easiest thing I made the whole night.

Garlicky Cheese Bites

1 can (8 oz.) Pillsbury refrigerated garlic-flavored breadsticks (or you can use regular breadsticks and sprinkle them with garlic powder)

4 sticks mozzarella string cheese

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups marinara sauce, heated

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 24 mini muffin cups with cooking spray. Unroll breadstick dough. Cut dough crosswise into thirds; separate into 24 strips. Cut each cheese stick into 6 equal pieces (24 pieces total).

Place 1 cheese piece on short end of each dough strip; roll up cheese piece in dough. Pinch and seal dough to completely cover cheese. Place rolls, seam side down, in muffin cups. Turn rolls in cups to coat all sides with cooking spray. Lightly sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Remove from pans to serving platter. Serve warm with marinara sauce for dipping.

August 27, 2009

Vidalia Onion Dip

Filed under: appetizers, dips — Emily @ 3:51 am

The ingredients in this dip sound interesting—but I promise, they work amazingly together! This dip is always really popular and could not be any easier to throw together—there are only 3 ingredients. I got this recipe from a family friend who grew up in the South. It definitely seems kind of “Paula Deenish”. I prefer to serve it with Keebler Club crackers, but chips and other crackers work as well.

Vidalia Onion Dip

Equal parts (I usually do 2 cups each for a moderate sized crowd) of:

diced vidalia onion,

shredded fresh parmesan cheese (the kind in the tub, not the bag)


Mix together in a baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20-25 minutes until heated through and slightly browned on top.

August 26, 2009

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

Filed under: appetizers, beef — Emily @ 3:50 am

These stuffed mushrooms with sausage are absolutely to die for! They are amazing. The sausage adds just a fabulous flavor. Whenever I’ve made these for a party, they are usually snatched up in a few minutes. And these are so easy to make that you simply must try them! It makes a lot of filling, so depending on how big your mushroom caps are, you may need more than the amount recommended in this recipe.

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

3 Italian sausages (casings removed)

1 1/2 tsp dried oregano

1 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp. Worchestershire sauce

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

8 oz. cream cheese (at room temp)

Salt and pepper

1 large egg yolk

olive oil

24-30 large mushroom caps

1/3 c. dry white wine

Saute the sausage with oregano and white wine. Transfer to a bowl and cool.

Mix in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese to the sausage. Add Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder and cream cheese. Season mixture with salt and pepper. Mix in egg yolk.

Brush baking pan and inside of mushrooms caps with olive oil.

Fill each mushroom cap with the sausage mixture and top with remaining Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20-25 minutes (until heated through).

August 22, 2009

Ramekined Eggs

Filed under: eggs — Emily @ 2:23 am

Ramekined Eggs

2 tablespoons butter (plus more for greasing ramekins)
2 shallots, thinly sliced (or 1/2 cup chopped onion)
handful of spinach leaves (I omitted this time)

A few pieces of cooked bacon, shredded
2 cups sliced mushrooms
8 eggs
about 1 cup grated Gruyere, Parmesan or other hearty, nutty cheese (I used Gruyere)

Preheat oven to 350. Butter 4 ovenproof individual ramekins. In a medium saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons butter and saute the shallots until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the spinach and saute to wilt. Add the mushrooms and saute about 6 minutes (at first the mushrooms will look dry, then they will give up liquid and look pretty moist. Continue to cook until this moisture has cooked away, and mushrooms are soft). Add cooked bacon into mixture. Season vegetable mixture with salt and pepper and divide between the ramekins. Beat the eggs together and divide between the ramekins. Top each with cheese and bake until eggs are set and cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Serve with a green salad and crusty bread.

August 19, 2009

Giant Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Filed under: cookies, dessert — Emily @ 2:25 am

I got this recipe from one of my best friends, Elise, who lives in Nashville. I think it is originally from Martha Stewart. They are excellent–and very easy. The ingredients consist of things that most people would have in their pantry. An extra special treat—make sandwiches with two cookies and a scoop of premium ice cream….yum!

Giant Chocolate Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened, high quality Dutch)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter (unsalted, soft)

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter—yep, another one

1 large egg

1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

Put 1 stick of butter and sugar into a mixing bowl with paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high until pale and fluffy. Mix in the second stick of butter. Add egg and vanilla and mix until creamy. Reduce speed to low. Add flour and mix until just combined.

Use 2 1/2-inch ice cream or cookie scoop and drop batter onto cookie sheet.

Bake 18-20 minutes.

Poppy seed Chicken Casserole

Filed under: chicken, main dish, restaurant review — Emily @ 1:57 am

Poppyseed chicken casserole is a staple in the South. I first had this delicious dish at a friend’s house when we were living in Nashville, Tennessee. It is really easy and so tasty. It doesn’t really photograph well, so I didn’t take a picture—but it is definitely worth a try!

If anyone is ever looking for an authentic Southern cooking restaurant while visiting the Nashville area, I highly recommend Dumplin’s in Franklin, TN—get the poppyseed chicken casserole, the cloverlead rolls with honey butter and a glass of fruit tea. And if you’re feeling ambitious—a slice of the chocolate majesty for dessert—definitely get some to go if you don’t have room!

Poppy seed Chicken Casserole

1 package chicken tenderloins (or breast steaks will work fine)

16 oz. sour cream (I use low fat)

2 cans cream of chicken soup

Poppy seeds

1/2-1 stick butter (I try to stick with 1/2)

1 1/2 packages (sleeves) of Ritz crackers

Boil chicken for severl minutes until tender. Mix sour cream, soup and poppy seeds (just until it looks like there are a good amount of poppy seeds throughout). Mix in chicken. Put in a casserole dish. Top with crumbled Ritz crackers and pour melted butter on top. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes, covered (remove foil after 20 minutes).

Serve over rice.

August 18, 2009

Spicy Shredded Pork Tacos

Filed under: pork — Emily @ 2:24 am

Another great recipe from one of my favorite food blogs, Annie’s Eats. This was definitely delicious and very easy to throw together—just takes a few hours to cook. I’m sure you could do this in a crock pot as well, if you desired.

Spicy Shredded Pork Tacos


4-7 lb. pork shoulder

1 onion, quartered

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. ground cumin

¼ cup brown sugar

3-4 garlic cloves

1-2 tbsp. salt


1-2 tbsp. olive oil

2-3 tbsp. white wine vinegar

2 cups water


Rinse and pat dry the pork shoulder.

Combine the onion, spices, brown sugar, garlic, salt and pepper to taste in the bowl of a food processor. Add the olive oil and white wine vinegar. Blend mixture until totally combined. Pour over the pork shoulder. Rub over the whole surface of the pork, being sure to cover any folds or crevices.

Place the pork in a Dutch oven or roasting pan and add water to the pan. Cover tightly and roast at 300° for several hours, turning once every hour. When it is fork tender turn the heat up to 425°, remove the lid, and roast skin-side up for 15-20 more minutes until crispy. Let rest 15 minutes.

Shred the pork shoulder using two forks. Pour some of the juice from cooking over the shredded meat to keep it moist. Serve with warm tortillas, lime wedges, sour cream and pico de gallo.

Source: Annie’s Eats

August 17, 2009

Black Bottom Cupcakes

Filed under: cupcakes, dessert, Uncategorized — Emily @ 2:20 am

This is a recipe that my mom always used to make for us as kids for after school snacks. I have such fond memories of these cupcakes—they are so delicious! And very easy to make. I use cupcake mix to make it a little quicker, but you could certainly do everything from scratch.

Black Bottom Cupcakes

1 box chocolate cake mix–plus whatever ingredients necessary to make cupcakes from box (eggs, oil, water, etc…)

8 oz. cream cheese

1/3 cup sugar

dash of salt

1 egg

1 cup chocolate chips

Mix cupcakes as directed on box until time to fill cups.

Mix together cream cheese, sugar, salt, egg, and chocolate chips.

Fill cupcake tins half full. Add 1 spoonful of cream cheese mix into cups.

Bake as directed on box.

August 16, 2009

Grilled Mahimahi with Mild Red Thai Curry Sauce

Filed under: fish, main dish, seafood — Emily @ 8:00 am

This was absolutely delicious! I served it on a bed of sauteed corn and shiitake mushrooms and it was perfect. You can also use this sauce for grilled chicken, shrimp or whatever else sounds good to you.

Grilled Mahimahi with Mild Red Thai Curry Sauce

Serves: 4

3 tablespoons peanut oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger

2 teaspoons curry powder

2 teaspoons Thai red curry sauce

2 teaspoons paprika

3/4 teaspoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons tomato puree

2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk

4 mahimahi filets (8 ounces each)

Olive oil, for grilling

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prepare the grill. Measure all the ingredients and have them ready by the stove. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low, and add the curry powder, curry paste, paprika, and cumin. Stir and cook for 2 minutes.

Raise the heat back to medium, and add the soy sauce, tomato puree, brown sugar, and coconut milk, whisking well after each addition. When small bubbles form around the edge of the saucepan, simmer very gently for 10 minutes, whisking frequently. Do not allow it to boil.

Brush the mahimahi with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill until cooked through. Serve immediately with the sauce.

Source: At Blanchard’s Table

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