Sunday, April 26, 2020

Chicken Ham and Cheese Casserole

























Cooking for me is therapeutic. There are days that I am a little down or sometimes overwhelmed and I know exactly where to go. Standing in front of my pantry is like waiting in a therapist’s office. I don’t need to talk. I need to create and feel a sense of accomplishment.  I need to focus on the project and not the problems.   

There are days that I go in with no idea what I am going to make.  It may be one of my Mom’s old favorites or something completely made up as I go along.  Sometimes, it’s a spin off one of my Mom’s recipes that updates it to a totally different recipe.  That is what I did with this recipe last night. I took her recipe for Chicken and Stuffing and changed the entire recipe to something out of this world delicious!  As a matter of fact, as I write this, I don’t even have a name for it yet. It will come to me once I finish taking pictures.   

 



























Chicken Ham and Cheese Casserole

2 packs of chicken tenders
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
8 slices deli ham
12 slices Swiss or Mozzarella cheese
1 box Stove Top Stuffing
1 stick butter, melted
¼ cup Dijon mustard
1 cup uncooked long grain rice

Sauce

2½ cups chicken broth
1½ cups half and half or whole milk
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt

Combine chicken broth and ½ cup milk in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. 
























 

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the flour and seasonings together. Pour in remaining milk. Whisk until smooth and no lumps remain. (Mixture will be thick.) Pour the flour/milk mixture into the saucepan with the broth mixture. Whisk and stir constantly as mixture simmers. Continue to let simmer until mixture is smooth and thick. Around 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover the bottom of a 13 x 9" baking dish with a layer of the sauce. Add uncooked rice and stir well.
























Line the chicken tenders on top of the sauce and rice so they are packed in tight. You want no room between the tenders. Line the bottom and along the sides.  Next brush the tenders with Dijon mustard making sure to cover them with a light coating.

 

























Lay slices of cheese on top of the tenders, making sure to completely cover the chicken. 





























Then lay a double slices of ham on top of the cheese.   



























Spoon your sauce on top of ham slices completely covering. Then add one more layer of cheese on top of the sauce. 





























Sprinkle entire box of dry stuffing as you final layer, completely covering the top. Then pour melted butter all over the stuffing trying to moisten all of it.  Cover and bake for one hour or until chicken is done and casserole is hot and bubbly.


























NOTE:

No time to make sauce?  Use Cream of Chicken Soup

1 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme minced
Omit salt if using soup

In a small mixing bowl, combine cream of chicken soup, milk, parsley, thyme, garlic powder, salt, and pepper until smooth, thick and creamy.  Use in place of the homemade sauce above.











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Eggs in a Hole Pancakes

























So this morning I was in the mood for pancakes.  But I heard sunny side up eggs calling my name too, so the only thing to do was to make Eggs in a Hole Pancakes. Takes a little bit of practice but after a couple of tries I got it right. I even drizzled syrup over the top!   Yum.

Eggs in a Hole Pancakes

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon cooking oil
3 cups Pancake mix, prepared as directed
4 eggs
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon maple syrup

Crack one egg into a small bowl and set aside.

Preheat a large skillet  over medium heat and add oil and butter. Add about -1/2 cup of the batter to the pan.  I like to make these one at a time but you can do more if you want.
 



























When bubbles begin to form on top, carefully flip the pancake over and cook for less than a minute on the other side…until lightly golden but not done.

 



























Immediately after flipping, use a glass or a cookie cutter or a knife to cut a circle out of the center of the pancake.   Carefully pour the egg from the bowl into the hole and season with salt and pepper.
 




























Cover skillet for 1 to 2 minutes, until the whites have set. Slide onto a plate, egg side up, and serve with maple syrup.

 
  
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Thursday, April 9, 2020

Roasted Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

























It just doesn't get any easier than this; oh my gosh this dish is so addicting!  I made it the first time as a side dish for Easter about 8 years ago and since then I make it whenever I make asparagus.  It’s that good!  Just two ingredients and less than 10 minutes.  How easy does it get? 
  • Roasted Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus, washed and trimmed
    1 package of prosciutto
    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Snap off woody ends of Asparagus to make them all about the same length. Wrap each asparagus spear with a slice of prosciutto. Line them side by side on baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes or until asparagus is faintly charred and tender.  No need to salt because the prosciutto is salty enough.










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Ambrosia (AKA "The Pink Stuff")

























Remember this pink stuff?  That's what we called it when we were kids. My brother and I used to pick out the marshmallows and cherries and leave the rest. My Mom never made Ambrosia but it was always on our holiday table.  A friend would bring it for Easter dinner. A coworker would bring it to the company picnic. The in-laws would bring it for Christmas and Thanksgiving an the neighbors would bring it to potluck. It used to just show up at every gathering. It still does!   But the Ambrosia I make today is very different from the old recipes that used mayonnaise or Miracle Whip. This is the modern day pink stuff!





















 


Ambrosia (AKA "The Pink Stuff")

1 (8 oz.) tub of whipped topping, thawed
1 cup sour cream
1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple
1 (15 oz.) can mandarin orange segments
1 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
1 (10 oz.) jar of maraschino cherry halves
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
1 cup red or green seedless grapes, sliced in half (optional)

The most important step in making Ambrosia is to drain your fruit. I don't mean just put your hand over the can and allow some juices to run through. I mean dump it all out in a colander and let it drain in the sink for at least 3-4 hours. There is nothing worse than wet and soggy Ambrosia.

 In a medium bowl, combine whipped topping and sour cream. Add in coconut flakes and marshmallows. Then gently fold in the crushed pineapple, mandarin oranges, maraschino cherries and grapes and nuts, if using. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour before serving.























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The Perfect Carrot Cake
























What makes the perfect Carrot Cake?  Well it has to be moist...that's the first rule. You can never have a dry cake. And it has to be dense...but not too heavy. It has to melt in your mouth without being mushy. It has to be full of flavor with just a hint of sweet spice. It has to have carrots, but not so many that you can taste them.  And the frosting has to be rich and creamy and it can't have that fake taste like you get on those cheap cakes at a grocery store. It has to have that perfect combination of sweet and tangy.  And the cake has to get better each day as the flavors all meld together.  And this is it my friends....this is the perfect Carrot Cake.

The Perfect Carrot Cake
Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3 cups carrots, finely grated
2 cups pecans, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour 3 (9-inch) round pans; Line bottom of the pans with parchment paper.
























In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add eggs and vegetable oil. Using a hand mixer, blend until combined. Add carrots and 1 1/2 cups pecans, if using.

Pour into pans. Bake for approximately 40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Remove from pans, place on waxed paper and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Frosting
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, cut into cubes, at room temperature
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup heavy cream, cold
Using a mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter  until smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down the side as necessary, Add the confectioners' sugar, vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon salt; gradually increase the mixer speed to medium-high, and beat until the sugar is incorporated and the frosting is fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes. 























 
With the mixer on medium-high, add the cream a few drops at time until it's all incorporated. Continue beating for 1 more minute until the frosting is slightly lighter in color and creamy.


To Assemble

Place one of the cake layers on a serving plate, and spread 1 cup of the frosting over the top. Top with the other layer, and use the remaining frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake.  Top with more pecans if desired.
























 
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