Chicken Casserole

Chicken Casserole

Chicken Casserole reminds me again of childhood and this is my take on my Mom’s classic. It’s another one of those ultimate comfort foods! It’s also very versatile. Throw in what you like, bake and about 40 minutes later you’ve got a hearty meal! How comforting is that?

What You’ll Need For The Topping:
2 cups of cornmeal
1/2 cup of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 eggs
1 1/2 – 2 cups of buttermilk (You may need more or less depending on humidity. You are looking for batter consistency.)

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Mix all ingredients and put into a baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Let cook and then break into crumbles and set aside.

Chicken Casserole

What You’ll Need For the Chicken Casserole:
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 a large onion, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
4-6 cups of crumbled corn bread (See recipe above)
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of thyme
1 teaspoon of rosemary
1 teaspoon of sage
1/2-1 cup of chicken broth (Notes: You are using this to moisten the topping. See the notes below in the recipe itself.)
2-3 cups of cooked chicken breast, chopped (Notes: Use 2 if you use extra mushrooms, 3 if you choose not to)
2 cups of mushrooms sliced
2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup of fat free half and half

Saute celery and onion until just tender. In a large bowl mix cornbread, celery, onion, broth, a pinch of sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper, thyme, rosemary and sage until mixture is moist. Use more or less broth depending on consistency. (Note: You are looking for the constancy of stuffing or dressing.) Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Spray a 13 X 9 inch dish with non-stick spray and set aside.

In a large bowl mix together chicken, mushrooms, cream of chicken soup, half and half, a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Once mixed spread mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Top with stuffing mixture and spread out to cover the chicken mixture entirely.

Bake for 30-45 minute, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Notes: I sometimes add sage and/or thyme into the topping for a bit of a twist.

Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs

My parents are visiting us from Tennessee and my dad requested that I make dinner. Things have been a bit busy with us flitting here and there, so I hadn’t cooked dinner since their arrival as we had been out and about. Last night however we slowed down long enough to actually be at home and I got to cook a home cooked meal, which as you know I adore and prefer to eating out any day.

As a child this was another of my Mom’s special occasion meals. Serve the meatballs and rice along with a few vegetables and/or a salad and you’ve got a great meal! The next time I make them I’m going to try to make them with Gimme Lean Ground Beef Style meat substitute and make them meatless, but that’s a little “daring” for my Dad! For last night’s dinner we just stuck to the basics. That’s the way he likes things! 😉

What You’ll Need:
1 small onion, shredded
1 large or 3 small carrots, shredded
1 medium to large potato, shredded
2 pounds of ground beef
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
Extra virgin olive oil
2 cans of cream of mushrooms soup, plus 1 cup of milk or 4-6 cups of a homemade cream of mushroom soup
2 cups of uncooked rice, cooked according to package directions or cooked egg noodles

Mix shredded veggies, ground beef, salt, pepper and eggs until completely incorporated. (Tip: Much like meatloaf it’s easier if you just dig in with your hands and mix it that way.) Once the meat/veggie mixture is mixed form into meatballs about the size of a cherry tomato.

Preheat a large skillet.

Also preheat oven to 375 F.

Add a thin layer (about 1/8 of an inch) of olive oil to your preheated skillet and brown meatballs on each side and place into a 13 X9 inch baking dish. Cover browned meatballs with soup.

Bake for 40-50 minutes until meatballs are done through. (Note: I tend to like ground beef when I eat it to be between medium well to well done. If you prefer a different amount of doneness then adjust cooking times accordingly.)

Serve meatballs over rice or noodles.

Swedish Meatballs

Pineapple “Pudding” Cake

Pineapple "Pudding" Cake

This cake was one my mom made often when my sister and I were children and I loved it! She took it to a lot of church pot lucks and things of that nature. I never really understood why it had pudding in the title since there is no actual pudding in the cake, thus the quotes. This is my take on yet another of my Mom’s classics. It’s moist, fruity and delicious!

What You’ll Need For The Cake:
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 3/4 cup organic cane sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 – 20 oz. can crushed pineapple packed in juice, undrained (If you don’t have crushed pineapple or tidbits, you can take a 20 ounce can of chunk pineapple and process it in your food processor.)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In large bowl mix flour, sugar, baking soda and salt until incorporated. Dump in remaining ingredients and stir until just mixed. Pour into a 13 X 9 inch baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

What You’ll Need For The “Icing”:
1 cup organic cane sugar
1/2 cup of butter
1 cup of heavy cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla

While the cake is baking add sugar, butter and cream to a sauce pot. Melt butter and then bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Let sit until cake comes out of the oven.

When you remove the cake from the oven pour “icing” mixture over cake immediately.

You can serve this cake warm or cooled. It’s delicious either way!

Pineapple "Pudding" Cake

Mushroom Lobster Risotto

Mushroom Lobster Risotto

While surfing the food blogs the other day I came across this Lobster Risotto recipe and I was immediately intrigued! My brain immediately started working and I came up with my own little twist of the recipe! It’s warm, satisfying and oh so good!

What You’ll Need:
2 large lobster tails
Extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
4 large button mushrooms, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 – 16 ounce package of Arborio rice
1 1/2 cups of warm water or broth, plus more as you cook the risotto (we’ll discuss this in the recipe itself)
1 1/2 cups of frozen peas
5 ounces of Parmesan cheese

Steam lobster tails until done and cool. Remove shells and chop meat into bite sized pieces.

In a large pot over medium heat saute onion, mushroom and garlic with sea salt and black pepper in olive oil until tender. Stir in risotto and let cook for 5 minutes or so to toast the grains. Pour in 1 1/2 cups of warm water or broth and cook stirring occasionally until liquid evaporates. Add another cup of water or broth and repeat. Keep doing this until the rice is almost tender (about 35-40 minutes).

Stir in peas and lobster and cook for 5 minutes or until rice is completely tender. Stir in Parmesan cheese and parsley and let sit for about 3 minutes. Serve immediately.

Notes: The original recipe called for beer, but I didn’t have any on hand and forgot to pick some up while I was out. You could also do this with the broth of your choice for the 1 1/2 cups of initial liquid and add water there after. You could also add in shrimp or any other seafood along with the lobster or in place of the lobster.

Hot Fudge Cake

Hot Fudge Cake

Most people will agree that an ooey, gooey chocolate dessert is exactly where the money is! Growing up my mom was somewhat famous amongst friends and family for her Hot Fudge Cake, which is an ooey, gooey, warm chocolate sensation. Several of my friends would specially request that she make her Hot Fudge Cake whenever they came over! My mom, being the wonderful person that she is, usually obliged.

My mom always used a chocolate cake mix, though sometimes the ice cream was homemade and sometimes it wasn’t. The hot fudge sauce was always made from scratch to bubbling perfection! But regardless of the make up it was delicious!

The olive oil, yogurt and chocolate make this chocolate cake moist, spongy and oh so chocolatey, while the hot fudge sauce gives it an even bigger chocolate punch. These two chocolate elements, paired with the vanilla ice cream, meld together to make the perfect chocolate delight and any chocolate lovers dream!

As I’ve gotten older I’ve moved away from box mixes, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop making something all together. This is my take on my Mom’s classic. It’s oh so good and oh so sinful! After all isn’t that exactly what you’re looking for in a dessert? 😉

What You’ll Need For The Ice Cream:
1/2 a quart of half and half
1 small carton of light cream
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup of sugar
2-4 teaspoons of vanilla (Note: More if you like it really vanilla, less if you don’t)

Note: This recipe is designed to fill this ice cream maker, but you could easily double or triple it to fill a larger model.

Mix together and pour into ice cream freezer and freeze according to your model’s directions. For harder ice cream after making it put in an air tight container and store in the freezer until completely firm.

What You’ll Need For The Chocolate Cake:
3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup of unsweetened cocoa (Note: I recommend Ghirardelli or Green and Black’s)
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 cup of sugar
1 1/2 cups of plain yogurt
2 eggs
1/2 cup of light olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Sift together flour through baking powder in a large bowl. Add sugar, yogurt eggs and olive oil and stir until mixed and pour into a 13 X 9 inch baking pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 30-35 minutes until cake sticks done.

What You’ll Need For The Hot Fudge Sauce:
2 tablespoons of butter
2 squares of baker’s chocolate (Note: Again I recommend Ghirardelli or Green and Black’s)
2/3 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of half and half or heavy cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Over medium heat melt butter and chocolate with sugar and half and half. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes stirring to keep from sticking. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

To Assemble Hot Fudge Cake:

Cut cake into squares. For each person take a piece of cake and top with a scoop of ice cream. Top ice cream with a ladle of hot chocolate sauce and serve.

ote: If you’re a chocolate lover than you could easily make this Hot Fudge Cake with chocolate ice cream for a triple chocolate punch! You could even use chocolate yogurt in place of the plain in the cake if you were just really feeling chocolatey! ;o) This cake doesn’t really need it, but you could add whipped cream and some strawberries or cherries if you wanted. You could even go crazy and add a little chocolate whipped cream! 😉