Thursday, December 18, 2014

Southern Baked Chicken Casserole

I recommend ALL of the above.

Southern cooking: it invokes a mental image of large women in floral apron working in big old hot kitchen with a screen door for the breeze, lots of chicken and veggies, simple but rich. I could go on, but you get the idea. This is what was going through my mind when I read this recipe. Does it hold up? Let us find out!

An aside before we begin. By completing this recipe, you are inherently a bad person in my book. I like crackers and crushing a whole sleeve is an act of gratuitous violence in my book.

A thing of beauty.
I am a MoNsTeR! I will have nightmares of this day.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1/2 cup finely chopped pimentos, drained (more or less a 4-ounce jar)
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed (4 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 350° (if you have not chopped everything up, preheat in the middle of chopping). In a large saucepan, melt the butter in the oil. Add the onion, bell pepper and celery and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened, about 6-10 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the milk and whisk until combined. Simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes. Season the mixture with salt, pepper, and Tabasco to taste. Remove from the heat and stir in the mayonnaise, chicken and pimentos.

Transfer the chicken mixture to a 2 (ish) quart baking dish. Scatter the crushed crackers on top. Bake for about 30-45 minutes, until the casserole is golden and bubbling. Let rest before serving.

No bubbles: not ready. Or in this case, not cooked at all.

Lots of bubbles = done.

I left the instructions as rotisserie chicken even though I did not use it. I love those chickens. $5 at the grocery or Sam’s gets you a whole chicken cooked to salty perfection.  Hell they are typically cheaper than an uncooked chicken (which confuses me). Drool… point is when I buy one I eat the hell out of it. I see recipes all the time for the leftovers. Does not happen in my world. So I used about 1.5 lbs of diced lightly seasoned chicken breast meat.

Speaking of salt, be careful here. You salt before a salty ingredient. Sure the salty chicken is mixed in but the Ritz are yet to come. Just make sure you balance salt added to the chicken AND Ritz.

I would not sweat the exact vegetables and quantities here. I threw in TWO stalks of celery because I am a wild and crazy guy.

Vegetables are tasty.

Vegetables are even more tasty when drowning in milk and butter and oil.

I used skim milk since it was what was in the fridge. The sauce still thickened quite nicely and tasted relatively rich.

Frank’s was originally tabasco sauce but otherwise this is more or less unmodified from the original. I did not use much. I was convinced I could talk the wifey into trying this one. Did not happen. I wish I used more. Pregnant wifeys: they are trouble, I am telling you. ;)

It was good. Southern enough. I am a life long Northerner, so I am guessing honestly. Anyway I am unsure if I will ever make it again, but I have no regrets.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Baked Apple Butter Brown Sugar Chicken

Let us just get this out of the way: I ROYALLY fucked this up. Forgive the language, but sometimes you have to call a spade a spade. Next time, I will possibly follow the original recipe or remake as I have below. However you, my loyal viewing audience, get what I actually made. Why? Something about honesty or integrity or some other BS like that. Plus the original recipe does not match my pictures.

Not a chicken wing.

Also I just want to point out, I keep my promises. I said I would revisit apple butter after the last recipe was just ok. More integrity! I am an integrity MACHINE!

2-3 pounds chicken breasts cut into 3-4” long, 1-2” wide pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (canola)
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 cup apple butter
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoon Sriracha, or more (much more) to taste, divided

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking dish with foil.

In a medium bowl, mix everything besides the sour cream and half the Sriracha (ie 1 tablespoon DOES get mixed in). Stab the chicken with a fork repeatedly until well punctured and the everything is well mixed.

Place chicken onto prepared baking dish and baste with remaining sauce. Place into oven and bake for 25 minutes, using tongs to turn halfway and basting with apple butter glaze on other side of wings.

To make the dipping sauce, whisk together sour cream and Sriracha to taste.

Upon removing from oven, drizzle sour cream sauce over the chicken and serve.

Ok so this is a Frankenstein monster here. I substituted breast meat for wings. That part was planned. But this recipe was originally a three part sauce: one to mix the chicken in, one to baste, and the sour cream drizzle at the end. Because I cannot follow basic instructions, the chicken sauce and the baste became one. You know what, I was having a good day, I did not let my screw up ruin it. Do not judge me!

This helped.

An additional screw up occurred when I decided to wash the bowl with the remaining sauce before I basted for a second time at the half mark. I am unsure of how much wine I had drank at that point, but we will blame it on the wine.

In regards to the sour cream, I kept adding Sriracha until it tasted good. If I had to guess I would say somewhere in the neighborhood of 2-3 tablespoons. One was just was not enough! Very little heat comes through in the chicken itself. This is the place you want to control the heat.

As an aside, hopefully when you copy and paste my recipes you will not get this crap.
I am unsure how to add nicotine to the recipe.

FABULOUS! I ate the sauce with a spoon after I was done. Seriously, and I say that without shame.

Note the cleanliness of the spoon. I did not even stop at this point. I ate half of what you see here.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pork-and-Cider Stew

When the butter, olive oil, and rendered fat has covered the bottom of the large pot before you added the broth or cream, you know you have a winning stew.

While we are at it, I just want to clarify this is not a stew in my book. This is soup. While there is not black and white definition I know of, I generally go with the liquid to solids ratio. More liquid: soup. More solids: stew. Aside: if you food is in gaseous form, I am pretty sure you screwed up.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 pounds trimmed boneless pork shoulder (see commentary), cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
Kosher salt
10 ounces skinless, meaty slab bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 large onion, thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
(2) 12 ounce bottle dry apple cider (see commentary)
1 quart chicken stock or low-sodium broth
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons grainy mustard
2 teaspoons finely chopped sage leaves

In a large pot (I used a Dutch oven), melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in 1 tablespoon of the oil. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Add one-third of the pork to the casserole and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer the pork to a baking sheet or plate. Repeat in 2 more batches with the remaining butter, oil and pork.

Add the bacon to the pot and cook until golden; add to the pork. Add the onion and garlic to the pot; cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden and softened, 5 minutes. Add the pork with accumulated juices, bacon, cider, stock and bay leaves; bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer gently until the pork is tender, 2½ hours.

Discard the bay leaves.
 In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch with 1/4 cup of water. Add the cornstarch mixture and the cream to the stew and simmer until the liquid is thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the mustard and sage and season with salt and pepper.

The results

This is a more or less unmodified Food & Wine recipe. The only changes I made are those to clarify the parts that confused me. The picture on their website shows potatoes with it. I think that would have been a nice addition.

The mustard flavor did not come through as much as I hoped. This mostly tasted like cream and pork, which is not a bad thing in my book.

I used Angry Orchard Dry for the cider. Now it is story time, I had originally intended to use non-alcoholic sparkling cider because I had it in my head that is what the recipe said. Nothing at the grocery. Nothing at the wine shop. So after running around and doing lots of Googling, I could not find anything dry. Luckily that is the point I realized the recipe does not say anything about alcohol free. So I go to the beer store and there is plenty of hard ciders. The only dry hard cider I knew off the top of my head was Crispin, which of course they did not  have. After staring at the shelves for five minutes and doing two or three Google searches, I noticed the word dry on one package. At that point I grabbed it (and another beer for good measure) and ran. Long story short, plan ahead.

Part of planning ahead: MAKE SURE YOU HAVE EVERYTHING!

Have I told you cornstarch is my nemesis? Well it is. Damn thing never wants to move well. I totally got an oversized bowl so I could whisk the ever living shit out of it this time around. I may be loosing the war, but I won this battle by shear determination.

In regards to the pork shoulder, do not worry much. I trimmed some fat, but not much. Fat does have a bit of an odd texture after simmer for hours, so you might want to be aggressive. Trim more or less based on your taste is the point. I did leave some of the big pieces of fat when cooking but the pork, but took it out before the simmer. And my shoulder did have a bone. I just trimmed around it. No big deal.

Look at all that meat.

Do not be afraid to salt this soup. This one requires a fair bit of salt.


Really good, but not amazing. It made for really filling lunches for four days.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Velveeta Burrito Meat

Mystery contents

I try not to waste food. You know saving money, children in Africa, and what not. I had half a block of Velveeta left over from Buffalo Chicken Soup and I did not have the ingredients for another batch of soup. I also had an old freezer burned pound of ground beef and left over cilantro. So burritos became a plan.

The challenge with things like this, in my mind at least, is finding something that does not require buying lots more things thus defeating the saving money angle (but still doing nothing for the children in Africa because I am a bad person or something). In this case I bought a thing of shredded lettuce and some wraps. I think that put me back roughly $3 and fed me for three meals.

So to get to the point today is not a recipe I am endorsing so much as an idea: throw a bunch of stuff in a slow cooker. It is a great money savings and relatively fool proof cooking-wise. 

1 lb ground beef
8 oz Velveeta
1/2 cup salsa
1 packet taco seasoning
1 onion, diced

Put all ingredients in a slow cooker. Set to low.
In the first couple hours, stir every 30-45 minutes until cheese is mixed in and the beef is broken up. 
Cook for a total of 8 hours.

So I make some some Chipotle rice because it is awesome and to get rid of the old cilantro that was lying around. I rounded it out with some pickled jalapenos and shredded lettuce

Lettuce not pictured, duh.
I layered the ingredients originally. I did this because they just do not really mix well until partially cooked. 

Ugly old beef

Fake cheese.

Seriously onion is the only decent looking ingredient.

Bought wraps and lettuce to use up Velveeta, cilantro, and old beef. I am pretty sure I came out ahead on this one.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Soup

One of the greatest soups in the world is pictured here.
I love, love, love all things Buffalo sauce. Buffalo wings? Obviously. Buffalo chicken dip? Or course. Buffalo chicken mac 'n cheese? A personal favorite! Licking the plate clean after any of these? Well I do not want to waste food... So yeah, I love Buffalo chicken soup.

I should also point out I am a bit of an elitist on the subject. Ranch with your wings? Screw you, you heretic. Get off my blog and do not ever come back. Buffalo wings with the word BBQ anywhere near it are NOT Buffalo wings. They are chicken wings. Real Buffalo sauce has two main ingredients (cayenne pepper sauce and butter) with a few acceptable additives (garlic being the only really worth while one). I could go one, but I will not. 

I tell you these things not to offend, but to establish the emotional level I have when it comes to this type of recipe. When you get to my rant about flavor in the commentary, I hope you will take me seriously.

1/4 cup butter
2 bunches green onions, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup milk (I used 2%)
3/4 cup chicken broth
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1/4-1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot Original (do NOT use wing sauce - see commentary)
4 ounces Velveeta cheese (cut into a few pieces)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1 clove garlic, finely minced

Sau the onions and celery in butter until as tender as you want (using medium heat).
Stir in flour until smooth.
Add milk and broth a little at a time. Stir until completely mixed before adding more.
Once all the liquids are thoroughly mixed in, add remaining ingredients. Reduce heat, simmer, stirring occasionally, until cheese has completely melted.

As noted I have strong options about all things Buffalo sauce, so please hear me out. Frank's Red Hot Original (or similar cayenne pepper hot sauce) is the best flavor for this recipe. I strongly suggest against using a "wing sauce". Cayenne pepper sauce is an ingredient and primary flavor of most wing sauces, but they tend to be "creamier" than Frank's. They might not have actual butter mixed in, but they taste like they do. The problem is this recipe has lots of creamy (milk, butter, Velveeta) mixed in. By doubling down on creamy flavor can really cut back on that main flavors: cayenne and vinegar which is key to true "Buffalo" flavor. If you think Frank's is too spicy, I beg you just to use less, not a wing sauce. 

As much as I love Bdub's (and I seriously do), this is not the time or place for their sauce.
Make sure you really give the Velveeta lots of time to melt. I would say at least 5-10 minutes after you do not see any chunks left. The smaller chunks are hard to distinguish from chicken, so even if you cannot see any they are probably still there. Just make sure you do not have the heat high enough that you are going to burn anything.

Speaking of it, I feel a little sick to the stomach every time I buy Velveeta. I do not know why, just something about a "cheese product" in a box a weirds me out. That said it is worth it for this glorious soup.

This is an easily customized recipe. The butter, flour, milk, broth, and Velveeta should not be significantly altered, but go nuts elsewhere. Want it vegetarian? Leave out the chicken. Love (or hate) the crunch of celery? Add or reduce as desired. I used a little bit less green onions in this batch just because they looked terrible at the local grocer. You can add all kinds of fun things to this recipe and it will be good.

What I felt like adding today.

This makes about two large meal sized bowls. It freezes very well so I have been known to made double and quadruple batches and eat it for the next week or two.

I will make again and again and again and again. Great for the winter since it is a thick, hot, spicy soup.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Apple Butter Barbecued Chicken


The wifey and I went to the pumpkin patch yesterday. It was a good time. We took a hay ride out to a field with a lot of pumpkins lying around and a corn maze. It was nice, family friendly, wholesome, yadda, yadda, yadda. Then they take you back and there is a farmer's market. That is when shit got real.

True statement.
Despite really wanting to come home with mountains of meat, cheese, peanut brittle, and fudge, I came home with a large jar of apple butter and some cider. So I immediately Googled "apple butter chicken" and found this. Aside: I have no idea why that was the first thing I thought of but it was. While I intend to revisit apple butter chicken in the near future, this was a nice start.

So much apple butter... with such strange pricing.
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (~1.5 lbs)
1/3 cup apple butter
2 tablespoons salsa
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 drops Worcestershire sauce
2 drops Liquid Smoke, optional


Place chicken in a foil lined backing dish.
Combine remaining ingredients; pour over chicken. 
Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 25 minutes or until cooked through.

As usual,  breast halves where roided-out chicken breast halves sliced along the thickness. I try to list weight so we are all on the same page.

I only made half the recipe because I felt like it. Half of 1/3 of a cup is 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons by the way. Look, I just saved you a Google search. You are welcome.

Speaking of halving, two drops is kind of hard to pull off (especially since my liquid smoke is an open neck bottle). So I poured a bit into the smallest spoon I could readily find and dripped from the spoon.

This is about as simple as cooking gets (disregarding pre-made stuff). Mix ingredients in bowl, dump on chicken, bake, and eat (although if I have to tell you that last part, this blog might be too advanced for you).

Dump and bake.

This is good stuff, but nothing to write home about. It was not as sweet as I wanted (the salsa and ketchup really knocked down the sweetness of the apple butter), but it was enjoyable and super easy. Would make again.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings

A Hearty Return to the World of Blogging

So I have been sitting on this one. I could not really give the context until now: the wifey is prego! <cue ominous music> 

I mean as in knocked up, not the spaghetti sauce. I mean a person cannot BE Prego. After Citizens United a corporation can be a person but I do not think it works the other way around. Besides Wikipedia tells me Prego is a "trade mark brand name pasta sauce" of Campbell Soup Company (NYSE: CPB). Certainly a person cannot be a brand name of a corporation... I think. Long story short my wife and unborn child are not affiliated with the Campbell Soup Company and we wish them the success in the future as long as their interests don't conflict with our interests. Thank you.

Anyway, we have been winging meals a lot more lately instead of planning them hence my absence. The other day though she was trying to find food that sounded good and she forwarded me this recipe. Mind you she does not love stews typically. Sure you could call this more of a pot pie than a stew, but I did not ask questions. I just make it before she changed her mind.

2 tablespoons butter
1 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of chicken soup
1 onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces frozen vegetable medley
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (~1.5-2 lbs)
5-10 ounces reduced sodium chicken broth / stock (depends on the size of your slow cooker and the density of the other ingredients)
1 (14.5 ounce) packages refrigerated biscuit dough, torn into small pieces

Place the place butter, cream of chicken soup, onion, spices, and vegetables in a slow cooker. Mix well, top with chicken and fill with enough broth / stock to cover the chicken.

Cover, and cook for 4 to 5 hours on High. Remove and shred the chicken, return to cooker, and mix. Place the torn biscuit dough on top of the other ingredients in the the slow cooker. Cook until the dough is no longer raw in the center (about another 1 hour for a total of 5 to 6).

"This is my pot pie recipe. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My pot pie recipe is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life." Sorry. Tangent.

Anyway here is a pictorial guide to the oh so complicated steps of "throw it a pot and cook".


Post-mixing plus chicken.
Broth added.
Post cooking / shredding.
Plus raw dough: not to be eaten.
Cooked dough: ok to proceed with eating.
The center dough was eaten for testing purposes.
Be jealous of my super cool old school Crock-Pot! So retro! I am pretending like I spent lots of money on this at an antique store instead of it being a hand me down from my mom.

This is originally an recipe. I have mixed feelings about that website. They have some good stuff, but it tends to come up in Google searches all the time... even when not really relevant. On top of that the recipes tend to be super basic and dull. This one was. Luckily the comments had some good suggestions. Long story short: is the spices and frozen vegetables were a total shot in the dark. It worked for me. If you are sensative to salty or spicy, you can tone down on corresponding spices. It you want more or less vegetables, etc, etc.

The original recipe says 30 minutes for the dough. That did not seem like enough, but it was hard to tell. You bake a biscuit in the oven and you take them out when they get golden. The slow cooker does not produce that color, so I went with the toothpick method (put a toothpick in the middle of the dough, if it comes out clean it is done) plus a few minutes. I was not really worried about over cooking so, 60 minutes seemed safe.

This is a big delicious meal. It is warm and doughy and felt like a hug in my stomach.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Adobo Chicken and Rice

It is not pretty, but damn is it ever convenient.

So most of what I have posted to date has been recipes I have either loved or found unique. This is neither of those. This is easy, like your mom. BURN! It is filing. It resents the four "classic" food groups. The wifey likes it. It makes for great left overs. I could go on. Point is this is a quick easy type thing not a gourmet kind of thing.

1 container (8 oz.) yellow rice
1 tablespoons oil (roughly)

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
2 teaspoons Adobo All-Purpose Seasoning without pepper

1/4 medium green bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Over medium heat, bring 2 cups water to boil. Add contents of yellow rice mix; return water to boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Cook, covered, until water is absorbed and rice is tender, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers and onions to skillet. Cook for a minute or two. Add chicken and Adobo. Mix well. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are soft and chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.
Stir in cooked chicken and veggies into the rice until combined. Mix in cheese a handful at a time, stirring until melted. Serve warm.

Make sure you pan is big enough for everything, ie if it is nearly full with just the rice it is not big enough. Or you can do it the opposite route and add the rice to the chicken, whatever is easier.

We've tried a couple different brands of yellow rice, but this one is our preferred.

By "our" I mean the wifey's as I cannot tell the difference between this and the other Vigo Yellow Rice.
I usually mix up the cheese. We usually use half shredded cheddar and shredded half reduced fat Mexican blend. Why those two? Those are the two cheeses we always have in the house.

Although pretty easy, this does require a fair bit of slicing an dicing.

I cheated and used pre-shredded cheese.

I frequently make this in double batches. One batch is just about right (or maybe a bit much) for the two of us. A double batch allows for a couple meals of leftovers as well.

So we make this a fair bit and I decided to buy the bulk Adobo seasoning. The lid did not like me. :(

Oh what a nice lid you have. The better for measuring spoons.

Oh look, it is even conveniently labeled which one is the spoon side. How nice.


Happy wifey! Leftovers galore! Minimal effort and cleanup! What is not to love?