Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hot and Cheesy Chicken Casserole

Yuuummm.. quick, easy, full of flavor and leftovers heat easily! This would be a great way to use rotisserie chicken.

Hot and Cheesy Chicken Casserole3 cups chopped cooked chicken

3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 (14-oz.) pkg. frozen broccoli florets
2 cups cooked rice*
1-1/2 cups frozen peas
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can condensed fiesta nacho cheese soup
1 can diced tomatoes and green chilies (Rotel tomatoes)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (2 oz.)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (2 oz.)
1 cup crushed Ritz crackers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place chicken in bottom of a 13x9x2-inch baking dish or 3-quart rectangular casserole. In large bowl combine broccoli, rice, and peas. Spread mixture over the chicken. In medium bowl combine cream of chicken soup, nacho cheese soup, diced tomatoes, milk, and crushed red pepper. Stir in 1/4 cup of the cheddar cheese and 1/4 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Pour mixture over broccoli mixture in baking dish. Sprinkle crushed crackers evenly over all. Top with remaining cheddar and mozzarella cheeses.
Bake, uncovered, 35 to 40 minutes or until topping is golden. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
* If you do not have leftover rice, cook 2/3 cup long grain white rice or brown rice in 1-1/3 cups boiling water for 15 minutes (40 minutes for brown rice) or until water is absorbed.

Monday, September 26, 2011

German Apple Cake

This is one of my very favorite apple recipes! If you have a food processor, you're in business. If not, then use a pastry blender to make the cake part, slice the apples as thinly as possible and mix the topping with a whisk.. where there's a will, there's a way!

The cake layer is gooey and dense, the apples beautiful and thinly sliced and the topping finishes it off with a light cinnamon layer of flavor! What more could you ask for? Maybe a scoop of vanilla ice cream??? This is delicious for breakfast, too. (Ok, without the ice cream for breakfast!)

German Apple Cake

1 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
4 large apples, peeled, cored and quartered

3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place cake ingredients (except for apple) in large bowl of food processor fitted with metal blade. Process until mixture resembles cornmeal. Press mixture into bottom of well-buttered 9-inch spring form pan. (Or deep cake pan)

Insert slicing disc in food processor. Stand apple quarters upright in feed tube. Thinly slice apples,using moderate pressure on the pusher. Arrange apple slices in layers on top of cake layer ( I arrange in a sunburst design with slices overlapping.) Bake for 45 minutes.

While cake bakes, add sugar, butter, cinnamon and egg to bowl of food processor fitted with metal blade. (You don’t have to wash it between making the cake and the topping.) Process mixture until smooth and sugar dissolves. Spoon mixture over apples and return to oven for another 25 to 30 minutes or until top is firm.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Chicken and Gnocchi with Squash

My daughter, Kelley, has started back to work after being at home for 10 months with her first baby. She requested quick and easy "new" dishes to prepare for supper. Emmie, now 1 yr old, can eat most anything, so I've set out to find recipes that she can make in around 30 minutes and will satisfy both little people as well as parents. This looked good to me, thanks to Better Homes and Gardens.

Chicken and Gnocchi with Squash

1 1-lb. pkg. shelf-stable potato gnocchi (look in your pasta section of grocery store for gnocchi)
1 small acorn squash, halved and seeded
14 to 16 oz. chicken breast tenderloins
¾ cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage (find them packaged in produce section of grocery store)
2 Tbsp. milk
Tiny whole sage leaves
Grated nutmeg (optional)

Prepare gnocchi according to package directions. Drain. Cover and keep warm.

Meanwhile, place squash, cut sides down; in a microwave-safe baking dish with 2 tablespoons water. Microcook, covered, on high (100 percent power) 7 to 10 minutes; rearrange once. Let stand, covered, 5 minutes.

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. In large skillet cook chicken in 1 tablespoon hot oil over medium heat 6 to 8 minutes, until no longer pink. Remove; cover, keep warm.

Scrape flesh from squash; mash. Transfer to hot skillet; stir in broth and chopped sage. Bring to boiling; simmer 1 minute. Stir in milk. Spoon into bowls. Top with chicken and gnocchi; sprinkle sage and nutmeg. Serves 4.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Chewy Bar Cookies

Sometimes, we just "NEED" a little something sweet to go with a cup of coffee. My husband is one that thinks it's the end of the world if there is nothing in the cookie jar! So, with those 2 thoughts in mind, I whipped up a batch of these bar cookies after supper. They are as quick and easy as brownies and made from ingredients you probably have on hand.

Chewy Bar Cookies
1/2 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar ( or 2 cups of either!)
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs, beating well. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture. Stir in vanilla and pecans. Spread in greased 9x13-inch baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.

Helen's Notes: Omit pecans, add chocolate chips or coconut.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Apple Goody

Fall is in the air and the fresh apples are ready! We stopped at Merceir's in Blue Ridge today on the way back from ATL. The apples there literally come off the trees and fight into the bags in the store. This is one of our favorite fall recipes!

This is so good that I usually double the apple filling and bake it in a 9x13-inch pan. This makes a lot of crumbles on top if you bake it in a 9x9-inch pan! You might want to make just half of the topping for a smaller pan.

5 cups diced peeled apples
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup water
¾ cup quick cooking oatmeal (NOT instant)
¾ cup self-rising flour
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
½ cup finely chopped pecans, optional
Vanilla Ice Cream, optional (Not really "optional"! Go ahead and add a big scoop; it is soooo good on it!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine apples, sugar, flour and cinnamon in 9x9-inch baking pan. Pour water over mixture. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Stir with a fork until mixture becomes crumbly. Sprinkle over apples. Bake 45 minutes or until topping is brown and crunchy. Serve warm with ice cream.

Helen’s Notes: If you don’t have self-rising flour, substitute 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Chewy Granola Bars

More beach food! I made this today for our beach trip (wanna' go with us??). I used old fashion oatmeal. It has bigger oats and makes the bars more chewy. Quick cooking will work just fine. DO NOT use instant!!! Spray a glass measuring cup with Pam before measuring the honey. It will slide right out. I used a bag of mixed dried fruit with whole pieces of apple, apricot, pear etc. I put it all in the food processor and chopped it in large pieces. Use whatever you like... nuts, cranberries, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, etc just use 2 cups of whatever combination. I used my meat pounder to smash the dough into the pan before cooking and after it came out of the oven. This will help it to stick together and not be as crumbly. You can use a measuring cup to do the same smashing/pressing. Really, do not try to get these out of the pan until they are COLD. (Yes, I tried and it does not work!)
Chewy Granola Bars

4 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups miniature semisweet chocolate chips or 2 cups dried fruit, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease 9x13 inch pan.

In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, flour, baking soda, vanilla, butter or margarine, honey and brown sugar. Stir in the 2 cups assorted chocolate chips, raisins, nuts etc.
Press mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and press down again. Let cool for 10 minutes then cut into bars. Let bars cool completely in pan before removing.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Quick Crispy Chicken

Looking for a quick chicken recipe? Try this one dredged in herbs, cheese and breadcrumbs then baked to perfection - crispy on the outside, moist and tender inside.
Don't you love a recipe that gives you options? You can make this in a George Foreman, bake it in the oven or cook it stovetop - whichever fits your schedule best.
If you need to substitute herbs, use your imagination and be creative. This is a good basic recipe that begs for some easy side dishes for a weeknight meal.
Quick Crispy Chicken
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried minced chives or minced onion or ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 cup purchased dry fine bread crumbs ( the kind in a paper can- ex. Progresso)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 egg, beaten

Preheat two sided grill (aka George Foreman).

In shallow pan, combine the herbs, bread crumbs, grated cheese, and salt and pepper. Drizzle the olive oil over this mixture, working it into crumbs gently until crumbs are coated.

Place chicken breasts between two sheets of waxed paper. Using a meat mallet or rolling pin, lightly pound the breasts until they are about 1/2" thick.

Dip chicken breasts into beaten egg, and then firmly press each coated breast into bread crumb mixture. Cook the chicken breasts on two sided dual contact indoor grill (aka George Foreman) for 4 to 6 minutes until thoroughly cooked and until juices run clear.

OR you can place the chicken on a greased pan and bake in a preheated 400 degrees oven for 19-24 minutes until thoroughly cooked.

OR you can cook the chicken in an ordinary skillet on the stove, over medium heat, for 10 to 12 minutes, turning once, until thoroughly cooked and crisp.

4 servings

Friday, September 2, 2011

Pimento Cheese Spread

Most of us true Southern girls grew up eating pimento cheese sandwiches on white bread. Mama cut off the crusts, spread the sandwiches, then cut them into "fingers" (getting 3 finger sandwiches from each) and served them at teas. These afternoon teas were usually in honor of brides-to-be and included open face cucumber sandwiches, chicken salad sandwiches, mints, toasted pecans and decorated cake squares served with punch. The ladies all wore white gloves. The gifts were sent out from the local jewelry store in advance and displayed for everyone to see. Mothers and daughters attended together and came and went between the appointed hours. And yes, the Help, washed the dishes in the kitchen during the tea!

This recipe is from Southern Living and is a favorite of my daughter, Kelley. Mama never used a recipe, but this one is as close to hers as you can come except for the addition of toasted pecans. (They were always left in halves, toasted in butter, salted and served in a silver bowl on the tea table.)

We're going to the beach and I'll make this recipe to take along with us. It's time Emmie learned about the finer things in life!

Pimento Cheese Spread

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise (use good mayo like Duke’s – and no low fat stuff!!)
1 (4-oz.) jar diced pimento, drained
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon finely grated onion
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 cup chopped pecans (sometimes I include them, sometimes I don’t)
1 (8-oz.) block extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
1 (8-oz.) block sharp Cheddar cheese

In a large bowl, stir together mayonnaise, diced pimento, Worcestershire sauce, grated onion, and ground red pepper until blended. ( I add a little garlic salt - about 1/4 teaspoon.)

Toast the pecans. Toasting brings out the rich flavor of the nuts. Preheat your oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. (Stirring helps to ensure even browning.)

Shred the cheese. Trust me--texture matters. ( I use my cuisinart to grate the extra sharp Cheddar. Then I use the blade to shred the cheese even more. It almost looks like cornmeal. Then I put the grater back on and grate the sharp Cheddar.) Freshly grated cheese really makes a difference! DO NOT use the pregrated packaged stuff - double yuck!

Add pecans and shredded cheeses to mayo mixture, stirring until blended. Store in the refrigerator up to 1 week. Serve with celery sticks and assorted crackers or make a grilled tomato and pimiento cheese sandwich - double yummm!

Testing Panel

McCormick Consumer Testing Panel
One day, when I was really bored, I signed up to be on the McCormick (spices, flavoring,etc)testing panel. So far, I've received a set of spices in the mail, made the recipe included and answered some surveys online. If you're interested in this sort of thing, here is the link to sign up. They also enter you name in a drawing for a gift card which, of course, I'll never win! It is, hbowever, fun to see new products, have some consumer input and be "in the know" about what the big companies are coming out with next. OK, we ALL know I'm easily entertained.

If you'd like to sign up.. here's the link! Have fun! Maybe you'll win something!