THE Chili

chili

2 pounds ground beef

1 pound breakfast sausage (in a large roll)

2 pounds bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces

1 onion, diced

¼ cup brown sugar

½ cup tequila

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 Tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 Tablespoon cumin

1 Tablespoon seasoned salt

1 15 oz can tomato sauce

1 cup tomato paste

1 28 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups water

In a large dutch oven or pot, brown bacon until almost crisp and remove.  Saute the onion in the grease until soft, then remove from pot. Drain all but a few tablespoons of the fat and brown the ground beef and sausage in the remaining bacon grease, breaking up as it cooks.  Sprinkle the brown sugar in and cook the meat over medium high until it’s very brown, almost caramelized; then add tequila and cook for 3-4 minutes, allowing alcohol to cook out.  Add onions and garlic back to pot along with the remaining ingredients, stirring well.  Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cover.  Simmer for at least an hour if not two.  This is one dish that will taste even better the next day.

Top with sour cream, cheddar cheese, corn chips, chopped green onions, sliced jalapenos, or whatever else sounds good to you!

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Chicken Fajitas

 

 

chicken fajitas

 

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced thin

1 each green and red bell pepper, cored and sliced thin

1 brown onion,  sliced thin

1 tbls chili powder

1 tsp cumin

salt and pepper to taste

canola or vegetable oil

Juice of one lemon

Corn tortillas

 

Put the chicken slices in a ziploc bag and pour a small amount of oil into the bag.  Add the lemon juice and spices, including the salt and pepper.  Close bag and mix together. Let marinate for at least 15 minutes, or up to 2 hours.

Heat a large skillet and pour a small amount of oil into it, then add peppers and onions.  Stir frequently until the onions are slightly golden on the edges.  Remove vegetables from skillet to a plate.  Place the chicken into the hot skillet, trying not to get too much of the marinade as you don’t want it to “steam” the chicken.  As the chicken cooks, if there is too much liquid in the bottom of the skillet, drain some out with a large spoon.  Cook the chicken on high heat so that it cooks quickly;  it should take about 10 minutes.  Return the vegetables back to the skillet along with the chicken to reheat.  Keep warm.

 

In a much smaller skillet, and working two tortillas at a time with tongs, pour the tiniest amount of oil into the heated skillet.  Place one tortilla down, quickly turn it so the other side gets oil on it then put the other tortilla on the bottom of the skillet so that THAT tortilla soaks up oil (placing the first tortilla on top of the second one). The idea is to just barely heat the tortillas, softening them using as little oil as possible.  When the first two tortillas are pliable, remove them to a paper towel on a plate and repeat with 6 more tortillas.  Make tacos out of the chicken mixture and top with sour cream, cheese and pico de gallo.

 

 

 

 

Easy Chicken Noodle Soup

There are so many chicken noodle soup recipes out there but I’ve pretty much perfected the art of making one that’s quick yet still “homemade” tasting. I use cheesecloth to strain the soup as it catches all the little bits that you don’t really want in your broth. You can find it in the baking section of your grocery store.

chick-noodle-soup-pic

1 rotisserie chicken (from grocery store)

1 onion, peeled and halved

4 stalks celery, including leaves

3 carrots, cut in half

8 cups chicken broth

2 cups frozen peas and carrots

1-2 cups frozen pearl onions

1 package frozen Grandma’s Homestyle Noodles, thaw as directed

salt and pepper to taste

Put the chicken broth in a large stock pot and add the whole chicken, onion, celery, and carrots.  Add salt and pepper. Bring to boil, then lower heat to a simmer.  Simmer for at least an hour, or up to two hours.  Using a large piece of cheesecloth laid over a colander, strain the soup into another large stock pot. Discard vegetables.  Let the chicken cool while you add the peas and carrots, pearl onions and thawed noodles to the pot.  Cook until noodles are done.  Pick the chicken off the bone and add the meat to the soup.  Season with more salt and pepper if necessary.

 

 

 

Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs might just be the ultimate comfort food.  Growing up with an Italian grandparent I was used to meatballs as a staple, but I always loved when they were served with this creamy gravy as an alternative. Serve them over rice or egg noodles.

swedish-meatballs

Meatballs:

2 slices white bread, crusts removed and torn into tiny pieces

1/4 cup milk

1 pound ground beef

1 pound ground pork

1 small onion, grated

1 egg, beaten

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp dried parsley

1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
Sauce:

6 Tbls butter, divided

2 cups beef broth

2 Tbls flour

1 Tbls Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup heavy cream

salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl soak the bread in the milk until soft.  In a larger bowl, combine all the meatball ingredients, then add the soaked bread.  Mix well with your hands.  Shape into approximately 20-24 meatballs.

In a large skillet, melt 2 Tbls butter.  Add meatballs and turn continuously until brown on all sides and cooked through (about 10 minutes).  Remove to plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

Add 4 Tbls butter to the skillet and when melted whisk flour in, stirring until it turns brown.  Slowly stir in the beef broth and Worcestershire sauce and simmer a few minutes to thicken.  Stir in cream and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add Meatballs back to the skillet and simmer another 3-5 minutes to make sure they are heated through.

Classic Coq au Vin

The sauce for this chicken dish is so good that my one daughter found the leftovers in the fridge one day and, not seeing the chicken at the bottom, scooped up the sauce and heated it up as a soup!  And I don’t blame her.  It’s rich and creamy.  And I use boneless chicken thighs, so they turn out so tender you don’t need a knife to eat your meal.  All-in-all, this is a great dish.

coq-au-vin

4 oz. bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 cup flour mixed with 1 Tbls Cocoa powder

10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

6 pearl onions, peeled and halved

2 carrots, diced

1/2 pound crimini (brown) mushrooms, stemmed and sliced

2 tsp chopped garlic

5 sprigs fresh thyme, minced

2 oz red wine

6 cups chicken  broth

4 Tbls butter

5 Tbls chopped parsley

5 Tbls chopped Marjoram

 

In a large pot with a lid, render the bacon until crispy, about 6-8 minutes, then remove from pot to drain on paper towels and set aside.  Season the flour with salt and pepper.  Dredge the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour, coating each side completely.  Reserve remaining flour.  Cook chicken, a few pieces at a time so as not to crowd the pot, only a few minutes on each side on med high heat.  You only want to brown the chicken at this point.  Hold browned pieces on a plate and set aside. Add butter to melt, the add onions  and carrots to the pot and saute for 2-3 minutes.  Add mushrooms and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper and saute for 2-3 minutes more.  Add the thyme and red wine, and cook for a minute to allow alcohol to cook out of wine.  Sprinkle about a half cup of the reserved flour into the mix and stir well.  Slowly add the chicken stock and simmer a few minutes to allow it to thicken a bit.  Add the chicken and bacon, and cover.  Simmer over med-low for 30 minutes. Stir parsley and marjoram in at the end.  Serve over rice.

Chicken Marsala

chicken-marsala

 

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast

All purpose flour, seasoned with salt and pepper, for dredging

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

8 oz white mushrooms, stemmed and sliced

1/2 cup Marsala wine

1/2 cup chicken stock

2 tbls butter

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

 

Place the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and, using a meat mallet, pound them until they are about 1/4 inch thick.  Place them in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess.

Heat the oil over med-high in a large skillet.  Fry the chicken pieces 5 minutes on each side, browning them before removing to a plate.  Lower heat a bit and add the mushrooms, stirring until softened and  browned.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the Marsala wine and cook a minute to remove the alcohol.  Be sure to have scraped the bottom of the pan to get the bits of chicken, etc up.  Add the chicken stock and simmer for about 5 minutes to reduce the sauce slightly.  Stir the butter into the sauce and add the chicken.  Cook for another 5-7 mins to heat through.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir parsley in before serving.  Serve with rice, noodles or mashed potatoes.

Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

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1 pound linguini, broken in half

4 Tbls butter

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound button mushrooms, stemmed and sliced

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup flour (I use Wondra for this)

4 cups chicken broth

1 8oz block cream cheese, softened

3 cups cooked chicken (rotisserie from grocery store works well)

1 cup frozen peas

1 cup bread crumbs

Cook pasta until not quite done (a few minutes less than package directions call for). Drain and set aside.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and saute for a few minutes, then add mushrooms and salt and saute a few minutes more.  Pour the wine in and cook several minutes,  until the liquid reduces by half.

Sprinkle the flour in and stir to incorporate.  Cook a few minutes more, then slowly add the chicken broth, being careful to stir well.  Cook a few minutes more until the mixture thickens.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add cream cheese in small blocks, stirring well.  Don’t be alarmed if the cream cheese doesn’t completely melt at this point, it will eventually.  Add the chicken and the peas and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the  cooked spaghetti and stir to combine.  Pour into a greased (or sprayed) large baking dish.  Mix breadcrumbs with 2 tablespoons melted butter and spread over casserole.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until casserole bubbles.

Chicken and Vegetable Cobbler

 
I adapted this recipe from a new favorite cookbook, The Back in the Day Cookbook by Cheryl Day and Griffith Day.  It’s a wonderful book full of old fashioned recipes based on their customers’ favorites from their Southern bakery in Savannah, Georgia.  It’s also packed with their baking know-how tips and gorgeous photos.  I’m currently reading it cover to cover and enjoying every page.
I’ve made many a chicken pot pie in my day and while this recipe goes by a different name, that’s what I still consider it.  It doesn’t have a bottom crust, and I’m ok with that.  It still has chicken and vegetables and gravy.  Where this recipe differs is that every single person at our dinner table loved it.  That just doesn’t happen often at our house, folks.  I will be making it often.
 Chicken and Vegetable Cobbler
                                                                                   
 
                                                                    Chicken and Vegetable Cobbler
 
Filling:
1 ½ sticks butter, at room temperature
1 cup finely diced yellow or brown onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 cups chicken broth
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 celery ribs, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 ½ cups heavy cream
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
5 cups store-bought rotisserie chicken, shredded into bite-sized pieces
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon ground sage
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
 
The Topping:
Buttermilk Bicones (recipe below)
 
 
Preheat oven to 450 ͦ Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with non-stick spray (I like butter flavor for this).
      Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large pot over medium heat; add the onion and garlic and sauté until tender (about 5-8 minutes).  Add the carrots, celery, salt and pepper and sauté 2-3 minutes more before adding the chicken broth.  Bring all to a simmer and lower heat to med-low, partially cover pot and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
      Stir in the cream, raise the heat again to medium, and cook, uncovered, until all vegetables are tender, about another 12-15 minutes.
      Meanwhile, melt the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter and stir the flour into it to make a smooth paste.   
    When the vegetables are tender, lower the heat and whisk the flour paste a little bit at a time into the broth until combined.  Add the roasted chicken, peas, corn, thyme, sage and cayenne.  Cover the pot and let the filling simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.
    Pour into the prepared baking dish.  Arrange the unbaked biscones over the filling, leaving about ¼ inch between them.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
 
 
Buttermilk Biscones   
 
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups cake flour (not self-rising)
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cardamom
2 sticks cold butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
1 ½ cups buttermilk (more or less, as needed)
 
Preheat oven to 375 ͦ.   Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
     In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cardamom and whisk until completely incorporated.  Cut the butter in with a pastry blender, or do this in a food processor using quick pulses. You should end up with various-sized pieces of butter, from sandy patches, to pea-sized and larger ones as well.  Gradually pour in the buttermilk and fold the ingredients until you have a soft dough and there are no bits of flour at the bottom of the bowl.  If this happens before you’ve used all of the buttermilk, don’t use the entire 1 ½ cups or it’ll end up to sticky.  If you’ve used it all up but it’s still too dry, use a little more buttermilk.
     Gently pat the dough in the bowl until it resembles a loaf of bread.  Dust the top of it lightly with flour.  Using a large ice cream scoop, scoop mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheet so that they are 1 inch apart.  Lightly tap the tops down. 
     Brush lightly with extra buttermilk before baking.
 

Chicken Rice Casserole

 
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File this under “Comfort food” as this is one recipe my kids will ask for whenever they come home.  It’s easy to throw together, easier still if you use chicken meat from a grocery roasted chicken, and great to make in the morning and pop it in the oven in the evening.  Serve with a salad and bread and you’ve got your meal. 
 
 
Chicken Rice Casserole
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
 
1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
2 cups chicken broth
4  half chicken breast, roasted or boiled , then diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup diced celery
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1 can cream of chicken soup
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 cup Ritz crackers, crushed
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup butter, melted
 
 
Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a medium sized saucepan and add rice; reduce to a simmer and cover.  Cook for 15-20 minutes, until all the broth is absorbed.  Set aside.
 
Combine the chicken, celery, onion, cream of chicken soup, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and curry powder  in a large bowl and mix well.  Mix the rice into the chicken mixture and turn into a large baking dish that has been sprayed with a non-stick spray.   Combine the Ritz cracker crumbs, almonds and butter and sprinkle over the top of the casserole.
 
Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes until golden brown. 

Skillet Pasta and Sausage

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This dish is a good one to make when you’re short on time because it’s all done in one pan, and yet it’s still a crowd pleaser. It’s also an easy dish to add to, so feel free to go through your fridge and toss in some bell peppers, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, or anything else you find in there that sounds good at the moment. 
 
                                            Skillet Pasta and Sausage
 
2 tablespoons garlic flavored olive oil
1 14-oz link of smoke kielbasa sausage, sliced
1 small brown onion, diced
2 cups chicken broth
1 10-oz can Ro-Tel Tomatoes and Chilies
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz uncooked penne pasta
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 cups shredded cheddar and jack cheese
 
Heat olive oil in large oven-proof skillet; add onion and kielbasa and cook until onion is soft (about 5-7 minutes).  Add the broth, Ro-Tel, cream and salt and pepper; stir until blended well.  Stir in the pasta, bring to a boil and cover; reduce the heat and continue to simmer about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
When the pasta tests tender, turn heat off and stir in 1 1/2 cups cheese. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and place pan under the broiler for just a few minutes to
melt the cheese. 
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