Yummy Alfredo Chicken Bake

AlfredoThis recipe, hands down, has become my daughter’s favorite to eat and to cook.  We discovered it when we had to go out of town and she was left with friends for the weekend. That was last weekend and she has had it twice since.  Originally posted on About.com, here is the recipe – what I like is you can be creative with it…add peas (her favorite), carrots, broccoli or asparagus.   We also topped with mozzarella/provolone cheese and decrease the amount of milk – ½ cup made it too soupy for us. Enjoy!

Chicken Alfredo Casserole

By Linda Larsen

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: Serves 4-6

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16-ounce) package rigatoni pasta
  • 3 cups cooked diced chicken breast
  • 1 (16-ounce) jar Alfredo sauce
  • 1 (10-ounce) container refrigerated Alfredo sauce
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta 2 minutes less than cooking time on package (the pasta will finish cooking in the casserole).

Meanwhile, in large saucepan, combine both containers of Alfredo sauce with the milk; heat until mixture begins to bubble. When pasta is almost cooked, add to sauce along with chicken and half of the Parmesan cheese.

Spray a 9″ x 13″ baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Pour food into the dish and top with remaining Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover casserole and bake for 15-20 minutes longer or until casserole is bubbly and cheese melts and begins to brown.

You can vary this dish in many ways: add 1 cup sliced frozen carrots, thawed, 2 cups frozen baby peas, thawed, 1 (10-ounce) package frozen asparagus, thawed, 2 cups frozen green beans, thawed. Top the casserole with 1/3 cup bread crumbs mixed with 3 tablespoons melted butter; add that after the casserole is uncovered.

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Babka!!

babka1Babka – traditional Polish bread that is made for holidays.  As Easter nears, even though it stills feels like Christmas here in (insert sarcasm here) balmy Minnesota, it is time to make this delicious “sweet” bread.  It’s is a versatile dough that can be made and altered into many variations.  My favorites are orange sweet rolls, a nut and honey roll or just into plain clover leaf dinner rolls.  I have known people to add citron or raisins to it, make it intbabka2o a poppy-seed roll or just into a bundt cake topped with a sweet glaze or maybe even some rum.  For Easter I’ve seen it braided w/ hard-boiled eggs inserted in it or shaped into a cross.  It is always included in the basket of food that is taken to the church to be blessed on Holy Saturday, another Polish Easter tradition.  Here’s the recipe – please note it is a “sticky” dough, so adding more flour will make it dense and not light and fluffy as it should be.  Wesołego Alleluja!  Enjoy!

Babka

2 cups scalded milk

12 tbsp. butter flavored Crisco

Melt the shortening into the milk and cool.

In a large bowl, mix ½ cup sugar, 4 eggs and 1 tsp. salt.  Mix really well.  Grate in one orange or lemon rind.  Add in the cooled milk mixture.

In 1 cup of very warm water, add 1 tsp. sugar and 3 packets of dry yeast.  Once that foams up and the yeast is activated, fold into the mixture.

Add, one cupful at a time 5 – 6 cups of all-purpose flour.   Mix/knead with hands until the dough freely comes off your hands – probably a good 10 minutes.  This will be your arm workout for the day.  Or if using a stand mixture, have it mix for 7 minutes with paddle attachment.

Place in a large greased bowl in a warm place, covered to rise.  Once it has doubled in size, punch it down and let it rise again.  Once it has risen, use the dough as you wish.  I have it pictured here as clover leaf dinner rolls or a honey-nut roll.

Once you have it in pans, let it rise, brush with an egg wash before baking.  Bake at 350° for 20-30 minutes depending on how you are using it.

Me Want Cookies…

CookiesOk – so I’ve been on a sabbatical, per say, from contributing to my blog.  A sabbatical meaning busier than all get out with a freshman in high school, work, holidays, work, flu invasion, work, flu invasion during the holidays, work, any of the aforementioned.  Well anyways, I’m back.  And I’ve been cooking…just check my bathroom scale.  For some reason, I received a copy of the magazine “Self” in the mail.  Knowing me, you’d be like…wrong address?  That’s what I thought…that or someone is dropping me a hint. Being a glutton for punishment (no pun intended), I decided to flip through it and after so many articles of how to lose inches and tighten this or that, I went right to the back where I know I’d find recipes.  What was I thinking…recipes in a health magazine???? Well low and behold, I did find a recipe for a cookie that looked very tasty and dare I say it…good for me.  Again, knowing me, you’d be saying – Whaaaa??? You hate to bake…you hate to bake so much you pay people to do it for you.  Call it cabin fever, snow blindness or downright boredom, but I made these this weekend and I absolutely love’em.  Hope you do too!

Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies

Reprinted from Self Magazine, December 2012

Makes 20

½ cup whole-wheat flour

¼ cup rolled oats

¼ tsp. baking soda

6 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

6 tbsp. brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

½ cup semi sweet chocolate chips

¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

¼ cup dried cherries (I used dried cranberries)

Heat oven to 375°.  In a bowl, combine flour, oats, baking soda and cinnamon.  In another bowl, cream butter and sugars until fluffy, 3-5 minutes.  Add egg and vanilla; beat until smooth.  Blend flour mixute into butter mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips, walnuts and cherries/cranberries.  Drop 20 dough balls (1 tbsp. each) onto 2 ungreased cookie sheets, 2 inches apart.  Bake until golden brown for 9 minutes.  Remove from oven; let cool on sheets 3 minutes; then transfer to foil to cool fully.

 

The Skinny:  100 calories per cookie, 6g fat (3g saturated), 11g carbs, 1g fiber, 1g protein

Game Day Favorites…

We are well into football season and this year I have hosted several Football Sundays.  I like football; however, I like the yummy food that goes along with it just a little bit more…  I’ve garnered a few new favorites that I’d like to share today and hopefully I will acquire a few more as the season goes on.  These are easy and tasty recipes good for tailgating or hanging out at someone’s home.  They are sure to be crowd pleasers!

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Buffalo Chicken Dip

From my good friend Aimee O!

½ cup hot sauce

½ cup blue cheese dressing

8 oz cream cheese

½ cup crumbled blue cheese

2 cups cooked chicken

Put all together and bake 350 degrees for 20 min or so

Best served with Pita Chips

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“Not” Portillo’s Italian Beef – but close…

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon onion salt

2 tablespoons Cavendar’s All-Purpose Greek Seasoning
3 cups water
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 bay leaf
1 (0.70 ounce) package Italian salad dressing mix
5 lbs rump roast

In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, combine the water, salt, ground black pepper, oregano, basil, onion salt, parsley, garlic powder, bay leaf and salad dressing mix. Stir well and bring just to a boil.

Place roast in a slow cooker and pour mixture over the roast.

Cover and cook on low setting for 10 to 12 hours OR high setting for 4 to 5 hours.

Remove bay leaf and shred meat with a fork. Serve on Italian Rolls with sautéed peppers and onions and provolone cheese. 

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Loaded Bake Potato Salad

3-4 lbs. Yukon Gold Potatoes baked

1 Pint “Top the Tater” onion & chive flavored sour cream (If you do not have this, good ol’ onion dip is a good substitute)

½ cup mayonnaise

6 – 8 slices of bacon cooked and crumbled

4 green onions sliced white and green parts

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or any shredded cheese you may like)

1tbsp. apples cider vinegar

Salt and Pepper to taste

Once potatoes have cooled, peel and dice uniformly

Mix everything together except for bacon

Let sit in refrigerator for a couple hours before serving

When ready to server, taste for seasoning and toss in bacon

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As the season advances, I hope my collection of new yummy game food recipes does too!  And remember, if you have any touchdown recipes – please share!!

Enjoy!

This Will Help You Earn Your Beads…

Mardi Gras…one of my favorite times of year.  Unfortunately, I do not live in the south and do not have the pleasure of partaking in this long extended carnival.  (Maybe that’s a good thing).  However, I did live in Mississippi for a bit and have returned to my favorite city of New Orleans several times. The first couple of times I visited NOLA, I don’t quite remember the culinary scene, but I do remember every type of frozen drink I poured down my gullet.  As I have aged (not matured – lord almighty, no) and have broadened my love for cooking, my trips to NOLA are all about the food and the culinary traditions of the area.  Before I take a trip down there, I fast for about a week or two knowing that I will be getting three wonderful squares a day.

One of the traditional dishes of the New Orleans areas is Jambalaya.  There are probably 1001 ways to make it.  Here’s my take on it.  Enjoy!

Jumpin’ Jambalaya!

1 lb. smoked sausage – andouille, polish, etc. sliced into ½ inch circles

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsps. Butter

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs cubed

Salt and Pepper

1 large onion diced

1 bell pepper diced

2 large ribs of celery diced

3 cloves of garlic chopped

1 tbsp. thyme

2 cups long grain white rice

1 tbsp. Cajun/Creole seasoning – with a little extra to dust on chicken

½ 6 oz. can tomato paste

1 14oz. can diced tomatoes

2 ½ cups chicken stock

1 dried bay leaf

1 bunch green onions sliced green and white parts

Fresh chopped parsley to garnish with

In a large dutch oven or heavy pot, heat the olive oil to medium-high heat.  Toss in sausage and cook until brown.  While sausage is browning, toss the diced chicken with a dusting of the Cajun/Creole seasoning.  When sausage is golden brown, remove from pot and add chicken.  Cook chicken until browned.  Remove from pot.  Add more olive oil if needed and the butter to the pot. Toss in onion, pepper, celery and garlic.  Cook until soft.  Return the sausage and chicken back to the pot.  Add tomato paste, thyme, Cajun/Creole seasoning, bay leaf, rice, diced tomatoes and chicken stock.  Add salt and pepper to taste. When stirring in the remaining ingredients, make sure to scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.   Cook covered for about 20-25 minutes until all liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Remove bay leave and stir in ½ the green onions.  Put into serving bowl and garnish with remaining green onions and parsley.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Booze Makes Everything Better…

…especially when you use it in cooking.  What’s that saying?  “I cook with wine – sometimes I even put it in the food.”  HEY!!!  I resemble that remark!

Today, I am offering up my Penne with Spicy Vodka Tomato Cream Sauce recipe.  It’s not too spicy – a small amount of red pepper flakes give it a kick.  But if you like spicy, feel free to add more.

I stumbled across this dish in several restaurants – each one had their own unique take on the dish.  However, I like the most simplest of them all.  This can be whipped up for a cozy supper or a meal to entertain with.  So, toss a salad, toast some bread and pour a glass of wine!  Sit back and enjoy this meal.  I’m sure you will make it again and again.

Penne with Spicy Vodka Tomato Cream Sauce

1 lb. uncooked penne pasta

3 links sweet Italian sausage

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

4 cloves of garlic minced

½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1 (28 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes

¾ tsp salt

¼ cup vodka

½ cup heavy whipping cream

chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook 8-10 minutes until al dente; drain.

In a large skillet, heat oil over moderate heat.  Remove casing from sausage and add to skillet. Break apart sausage and cook until brown.  Add garlic, red pepper and stir.  Be careful and add the vodka. Pour in crushed tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes.  Add the heavy whipping cream, bring to a boil again then reduce heat to low for about 5 minutes.  Add sauce and parsley to pasta and mix together.  Top with parmesan cheese and serve.

Enjoy!

Baby Gotz Back – Baby Back Ribs, that is!

I sho do luvz me some baby back ribs!  I make them often – my daughter being the motivation to do so.  Ribs have been her favorite food since she was 7 months old.  That’s when she got her first teeth. Instead of cutting a first tooth, she got five all at once.  It was New Year’s Eve and we went to a rib joint for dinner.  Irritable with the teething (her, not me), I gave her a rib bone to gnaw on.  From that point forward – she’s coo coo for BBQ!

A simple dry rub of brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, onion power, dry mustard, salt and pepper makes the base flavor of these ribs outstanding.  I am not a fan of grilling ribs from a raw state.  However, I have found that if you cook them slow and low in the oven first, it is a fool-proof way of getting a “fall-off- the-bone” result every time.

Want to switch it up from these simple flavors? Heat it up with by adding cayenne.  Powdered chipotle gives it a nice smokiness with a kick.  Southwestern is easy – add chili powder and cumin.  Leaning towards an Asian flare – ground ginger is your solution for that.   Almost anything goes – if you like it, then use it.

In my humble opinion, rubs make the ribs – the sauce is an added sumtin, sumtin…

Basic Rub for Two Full Racks of Baby Back Ribs

Mix together:

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 tbsp. Paprika

1 tbsp. Garlic powder

1 tbsp. Onion Powder

1 tbsp. Dry mustard

Salt

Pepper

The first step to make great pork ribs is to prepare the rack. Rinse off in cold water and remove the membrane from the back if you want. If you don’t, it ain’t no big thang.  Pat the ribs dry w/ a paper towel.

Lay out two sheets of heavy duty, extra-wide aluminum foil. Place a rack on each. 

Sprinkle both sides with the rub mix and rub in.  Wrap each rack tightly w/ the foil, place in fridge and refrigerate 6 hours to overnight.

When you are ready to cook, take the ribs out of the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Put rib packets on a cookie sheet and place on middle rack of the oven.  Cook 2 ½ – 3 hours.

Remove from oven.  At this point, let them rest for at least 30 minutes. 

When you are ready, pre-heat your grill bringing it up to a medium temp.  Unwrap the rib packets and at this point, cut the racks in half for easier handling.  Place the ribs, bone side down, cover and grill until a nice golden char is on the bone side.  Flip and grill the same way meat side down.  Brush the bone side with the sauce of your choice.  You will flip once more when you notice the meat shrinking up from the bone and there is a nice char on the meat w/o being burnt.  Brush the meat side w/ sauce, cover for just a bit more and remove from grill. 

I usually serve with:

Two Minute Coleslaw

1 bag of coleslaw mix

Bacos®

Crumbled Feta Cheese

Coleslaw dressing i.e. Rudolph’s®, Jimmie’s® or Marzetti’s®

Mix all ingredients and serve.

I hope you find that it is really simple to make ribs and not intimidating at all.  It’s  perfect for a lazy day when you ain’t got nuttin’ to do but sip on a cold beverage and anticipate a great meal. 

Enjoy!