Rediscovering the Joy of Cooking

July 3, 2010

Chicken and Dressing Casserole

Filed under: chicken, main dish, make ahead — Emily @ 10:44 am

My friend Olivia’s mother made this for us when I was in college and visiting her family in Atlanta. It is very easy to throw together and delicious! Definitely a true Southern meal.

Chicken and Dressing Casserole

4 chicken breasts

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can of milk (fill the soup can with milk)

1 BAG cornbread stuffing (use something better than Stovetop!)

1 stick of butter

Chicken broth, as needed

Boil the chicken in water until cooked through. Shred the chicken and put in 9×13-inch casserole dish. Add can of cream of chicken soup and the milk and mix well. Pour over chicken.

Melt the butter in a medium size bowl and add the stuffing to butter. Add in broth to make moist. Top chicken with stuffing mixture.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Source: my friend Olivia

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October 13, 2009

Sweet-and-Sour Brisket

Filed under: beef, freezer, main dish, make ahead — Emily @ 8:48 am

This brisket is unbelievable. My husband actually said “this is the best meat dish I’ve ever eaten…” and yet, it is very easy to throw together. It is best if you make it a day or two in advance and let it marinate for awhile—it just continues to get better and better. After eating it for a day or two, buy some big, crusty sandwich rolls and enjoy it with a side of jus. Since it’s essentially just slabs of meat, the picture really doesn’t do it justice. But I promise, you will not regret making this dish.

Sweet-and-Sour Brisket

1/2 cup red wine

1 can (14 ounces) low-sodium beef broth

3/4 cup chili sauce, such as Heinz

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 bay leaf

1 brisket (about 5 pounds)

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 medium yellow onions, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the sweet-and-sour sauce:

Combine the wine, broth, chili sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, thyme, and bay leaf in a medium bowl. Set aside.

To prepare the brisket:

Season the brisket on both sides with kosher salt and pepper to taste. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 6-quart pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the brisket, fat-side down, and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Turn the brisket over and cook until browned, 3 to 4 minutes more. Transfer to a plate. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pot. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Place the brisket on top of the onions and cover with the sauce.

Cover the pot, place in the oven, and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board, scrape off the excess fat, and cut across the grain of the meat into 1/8-1/4-inch-thick slices. Return the slices to the pot, overlapping them. Spoon the sauce over the brisket, covering the meat well. Bake until the meat is fork tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours more.

For the best flavor, let the brisket cool, then cover and refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the brisket in a large pot and smother with the sweet-and-sour sauce to enhance the flavor and preserve moistness. Cover and bake for 20 to 30 minutes.

Tip: This brisket freezes beautifully. Because the flavors get better over time, we refrigerate the brisket for a day or two before freezing (if you can resist eating it!) Thaw the brisket before reheating it.

Source: Bride and Groom First and Forever

October 1, 2009

Spaghetti with Beef and Mushroom Sauce

Filed under: beef, freezer, main dish, pasta — Emily @ 9:52 am

This dish was definitely comfort food! It was creamy and delicious–and very easy to throw together quickly.

Spaghetti with Beef and Mushroom Sauce

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1 (10 3/4 oz.) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 (10 3/4 oz.) can condensed tomato soup
  • 1 (4 oz.) can sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 t. dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  • 1/2 t. chili powder
  • 1/4 t. black pepper
  • 12 oz. dried spaghetti
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese

In a large saucepan or a dutch oven cook ground beef and onion until meat is brown and onion is tender. Drain. Stir in msuhroom soup, tomato soup, mushrooms, seasonings. Bring sauce to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer covered, for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain. Serve sauce over hot spaghetti. If desired, sprinkle each serving with Parmesan cheese.

Source: Carrie’s Sweet Life (originally from Better Homes and Gardens)

September 26, 2009

Creamy Salsa Chicken

Filed under: chicken, main dish, mexican — Emily @ 8:03 pm

Earlier this week I was trying to find a dinner that would be quick, easy and satisfying. I posted an inquiry on one of the cooking message boards that I frequent and one of the girls posted this recipe for me to try. It was delicious! I will definitely be adding this into my repertoire of regular meals. The original recipe comes from Rick Bayless–a chef I happen to adore. Not only does he cook one of my favorite cuisines (Mexican), but he is also from Chicago! You are definitely going to want to try out this dish.

Creamy Salsa Chicken

6 large boned, skinless chicken breast halves

1 16-oz. jar of chunky salsa

½ cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro and queso fresco, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Brown in a skillet for 30-45 seconds per side. Brush the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan with a little oil;  place the chicken breasts in one layer in the pan.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the cream and salsa; spoon salsa mixture over the chicken (I cut the chicken into pieces, but you don’t have to do this.)

Bake on the bottom shelf for 30 minutes.

Top with cilantro and crumbled queso fresco, if desired.

Source: Mary Ellen’s Cooking Creations

I served this with some delicious sour cream rice–will share that recipe soon!

September 11, 2009

Polynesian Volcanoes

Filed under: chicken, main dish — Emily @ 8:30 am

This is a really interesting dish. I was a little skeptical when my friend told me about this recipe—but I promise, it is really fantastic! It is a fun meal to make with kids and is relatively inexpensive. You can tailor the ingredients to your liking, but do the chicken broth! I promise it is worth it!

Polynesian Volcanoes

Chicken grilled with teriyaki sauce

White rice

Diced pineapple

Chow Mein noodles

Diced green onions

Toasted coconut flakes

Sliced almonds

Shredded cheddar cheese

Pile all the toppings together like this:

Then, take the heated chicken broth and pour over the top–which will melt the cheese.

Very tasty and quick!

Source: my friend Autumn

September 10, 2009

Lobster Pot Pie

Filed under: main dish, seafood — Emily @ 10:00 am

My family has a tradition of making lobster for Christmas Eve dinner. Pretty non-traditional, but it’s a nice change from the meat and potatoes Christmas dinner that we eat the next day. We turned to this recipe one year after having some lobster leftovers. This recipe is decadent–and totally to die for! It is SO unbelievable good. Excuse this picture—it’s not the best, I had to take it quickly with my crappy camera.

Lobster Pot Pie

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (1 large onion)
  • 3/4 cup chopped fennel (1 fennel bulb)
  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups fish stock or clam juice
  • 1 tablespoon Pernod
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 3/4 pound cooked fresh lobster meat
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas (not “baby” peas)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen small whole onions
  • 1/2 cup minced flat-leaf parsley

Pastry:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 8 tablespoons cold fresh lard, diced (1/4 pound)
  • 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup ice water
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water or heavy cream, for egg wash

Directions

Saute the onions and fennel with the butter in a large saute pan on medium heat until the onions are translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the flour and cook on low heat for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Slowly add the stock, Pernod, salt, and pepper and simmer for 5 more minutes. Add the heavy cream.

Cut the lobster meat into medium-sized cubes. Place the lobster, frozen peas, frozen onions, and parsley in a bowl (there is no need to defrost the vegetables). Pour the sauce over the mixture and check the seasonings. Set aside.

For the crust, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the lard and butter and pulse 10 times, until the fat is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water; process only enough to moisten the dough and have it just come together. Dump the dough out on a floured surface and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Divide the dough in half and roll out each half to fit a 9 or 9 1/2-inch round by 2-inch high ovenproof glass or ceramic baking dish. Place 1 crust in the dish, fill with the lobster mixture, and top with the second crust. Crimp the crusts together and brush with the egg wash. Make 4 or 5 slashes in the top crust and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.

Source: Ina Garten

September 7, 2009

Basic Risotto

Filed under: main dish, side dish, vegetarian — Emily @ 8:35 am

A few months ago I had the privilege of seeing Giada De Laurentiis speak at UCLA at the L.A Times Festival of Books. She was just as cute and bubbly in person as she is on TV! She brought her daughter and husband up on stage as well—what a cute family! I went home and opened up her cookbook that had been sitting on my shelf for a long time. I decided to try this risotto recipe and this led to a week-long kick of making tons of different types of risotto! While risotto does require you to be attentive and stand by the stove for awhile, it is very easy and really versatile. You can add just about anything to it! This is a basic risotto recipe which serves as a building block. I added thawed frozen peas and dried shiitake mushrooms.

Basic Risotto

Serves 6 (as a side dish)

4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

3 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup finely chopped onion (from 1 onion)

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer. Cover the broth and keep hot over low heat.

In a large, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until tender but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter. Add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes total. Remove from the heat. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, the remaining tablespoon of butter, and the salt and pepper. Transfer the risotto to a serving bowl and serve immediately.

Add-in Ideas:

prosciutto, vegetables such as peas, seafood such as shrimp, or herbs and other seasonings such as saffron. Don’t cook these items with the rice or they will overcook with the long cooking time. Instead, cook them separately and add them in at the end.

Source: Giada De Laurentiis

And here are a few pictures of Giada at her talk. She even walked past me and said hello before she went on stage. The moderator for the event was Barbara Fairchild, who is the editor of Bon Appetit Magazine—and was also a friend of Julia Childs.

September 2, 2009

Easy Sole Meuniere

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

After seeing the movie Julie & Julia, I was really inspired to cook! In her book, My Life in France (which I also promptly read after seeing the movie), Julia Child’s talks about the first meal she had after arriving in France. On the road to Paris from the boat docks, she and her husband, Paul, stopped at a restaurant where Julia ordered sole meuniere. It was this meal that forever changed her outlook on food and life and inspired her to pursue French cooking. She referred to this meal as “the greatest meal of my life.” I felt it was appropriate to make this meal after seeing the movie! While I have purchased her Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I decided to make Ina Garten’s recipe which is a pretty simple one. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say this was the “best meal of my life” (I was a little overzealous on the lemon)—it was definitely tasty!

Easy Sole Meuniere

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 fresh sole fillets, 3 to 4 ounces each

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Have 2 heat-proof dinner plates ready.

Combine the flour, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a large shallow plate. Pat the sole fillets dry with paper towels and sprinkle one side with salt.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium heat until it starts to brown. Dredge 2 sole fillets in the seasoned flour on both sides and place them in the hot butter. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 2 minutes. Turn carefully with a metal spatula and cook for 2 minutes on the other side. While the second side cooks, add 1/2 teaspoon of the lemon zest and 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice to the pan. Carefully put the fish fillets on the ovenproof plates and pour the sauce over them. Keep the cooked fillets warm in the oven while you repeat the process with the reamining 2 fillets. When they’re done, add the cooked fillets to the plates in the oven. Sprinkle with the parsley, salt, and pepper and serve immediately.

Source: Ina Garten

Stay tuned! Tomorrow I will share the side dish recipes that I served along with this sole meuniere to make it an incredibly delicious and authentic French meal!

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 19, 2009

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.

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