Monday, July 26, 2010

Garden-Fresh Chicken and Rice

To me, chicken and rice is comfort food. I saw this recipe in Cook's Country and decided to try it even though it had so few ingredients. I wondered how good it would really be. The rice is partially cooked in chicken broth in the microwave, while the chicken breasts are sauteed in butter in a skillet. The two are then combined with the vegetables in the pan and it truly is a 30 minute meal. This dish is easy, delicious and is perfect for a busy weeknight meal. It is a very satisfying meal for a family. I've made it twice so far, because I like it and my husband requested it again. So therefore I share it with you. Hope you enjoy! GARDEN - FRESH CHICKEN AND RICE
slightly adapted from Cook's Country

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup long grain white rice
salt and pepper to taste
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, all about the same size (about 1 1/2 pounds)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
1 cup carrots, sliced thin- recipe calls for fresh or frozen corn kernels
3 green onions, sliced thin
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, my addition

1. Combine rice, 1/2-3/4 teaspoon salt and 1 cup chicken broth in a large microwave safe bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 6-8 minutes, until the broth is completely absorbed. While rice is cooking, pat chicken dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken until golden on each side, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate.

2. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in the empty skillet. Cook zucchini and carrots, or corn, until browned, about 3 minutes. Don't overcook the zucchini.. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl. Now add the partially cooked rice and the remaining 1 cup of broth to the pan, along with the thyme if using, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and return the chicken back to the pan with the rice. Cover and simmer until rice is tender and chicken is cooked through, about 12-15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and add the vegetables back to the pan with the rice. Stir into the rice along with the green onions. Plate the rice and vegetables. Thinly slice the chicken breasts and serve atop the rice mixture. Enjoy!

NOTE: The butter is essential in the recipe, in my opinion. The chicken and rice both get much flavor from it, so I don't think it would be a good idea to use oil. Maybe if you included some herbs, it would work. The thyme I added was good, but not really necessary, because the butter is really enough.
Both corn and carrots are good in this dish.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Vegetable Pizza- a Recipe from the 80's

I took this old recipe to a bridal shower over a week ago and forgot to post it. I almost forgot to even take pictures of it, so this is what was left over from the shower. This Vegetable Pizza is not a traditional pizza, but an appetizer made with refrigerated crescent rolls which are baked into a crust and spread with a cream cheese and ranch mixture, and then topped with chopped veggies and shredded cheese. I received this recipe from a friend back in the 80's. I thought that the ladies at the shower would have eaten this before, but no one had ever heard of it. So maybe this will be new to some of you. Several asked for the recipe. Here's how you make it.
You need 2 packages of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls. Unroll them and press into a pan, making sure to press perforations together to seal. Bake until golden. Cool and spread with the the cream cheese mixture. Top with veggies and cheese. I forgot the cheese in this picture and had to add it later. This yummy appetizer is great for any occasion. I was glad I made this as everyone loved it. Just don't serve it in a terrible looking pan like this! Cut into squares and serve it on a pretty platter or tray. If you enjoy ranch dressing and veggies, you should love this Vegetable Pizza. Enjoy!

Ingredients for crust and filling:
2 cans of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
2- 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup mayo or salad dressing
1/2 cup sour cream
1 package dry ranch dressing
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided (I use a little more cheese than this)
Open cans of crescent rolls and spread out on a 11x17 inch baking sheet. Push the dough to the edge of the pan, and make sure to seal all the perforations. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown. Cool completely.
In a bowl, cream together the cream cheese, sour cream, mayo and dry ranch dressing. Add some Cheddar cheese, about 1/4cup or more, is good. Mix well and spread over the cooled crust.
Chop and mix together-
3/4 cup chopped fresh broccoli
3/4 cup chopped fresh cauliflower
3/4 cup small diced carrots, or shredded carrots
3/4 cup diced green bell pepper
3/4 cup seeded, diced tomatoes
3 or 4 sliced green onions
Chop the vegetables and mix together. Sprinkle evenly over the filling and press the vegetables down slightly into the filling . Sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Cover and keep chilled in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Cut into squares and serve on a nice tray.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Blueberry Buckle

I used to think that a buckle was the same thing as a cobbler, but it's really not. A cobbler has fruit in the bottom of the pan and topped with either a pie crust like topping, or more of a drop biscuit topping. And the fruit bubbles and thickens, but it stays separate from the topping. However, a buckle is more cake like. The fruit, blueberries in this case, are mixed into the batter, topped with a struessel topping and baked. It's like a coffee cake, dense and moist with berries. It may get it's name because the top of the cake "buckles" as it cools. And it's very delicious! I did change the spices in this recipe because I love cinnamon best in the topping. I've made this wonderful Blueberry Buckle several times and my husband and I can't get enough of it! The cake is tender but dense, and packed with blueberries, for an incredible addition to your morning coffee, or a sweet indulgence any time of day. Enjoy!
Adapted from Alton Brown
For the cake-
2 cups of cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) of unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk- I've used whole and 2%, both with good results
3 cups of fresh blueberries
For the topping-
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter, chilled- 2 ounces
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9x9 inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and ground nutmeg. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the softened butter and the sugar together until creamy and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and 1/3 of the milk, and beat until incorporated. Repeat until the ingredients are combined. Gently stir in the blueberries and pour cake mixture into the prepared pan.
For the topping:
In a small bowl combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Add the cold butter in chunks, and mix with a fork or pastry blender until there is a crumb-like mixture. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the cake. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for about 35 minutes, or until golden. I tested with a tooth pick and my cake took about 45 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving. It's delicious warm or cold. Give it a try!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Gone to Heaven Chocolate Pie

This pie is rich, really rich, and so creamy and decadent, that it is not for the faint of heart. It's not for those who don't like intense chocolate. It's not a pie to serve after a heavy or rich meal. But, it is for those among us who crave a bit of rich, creamy chocolate at times. It's luscious with a cup of coffee or a glass of iced tea. I made this chocolate pie last week for a church pot luck and it was gone in a flash. So quickly was it gone that we had nary a sliver. So I made it again this week so we could try it. If you're needing a serious chocolate fix, give this pie a try!

slightly adapted from Hershey's Kitchens

1 9 inch pie shell

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch- original recipe calls for 1/3 cup

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 egg yolks

3 cups whole milk, divided

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened - recipe calls for 2 T.

1 tablespoon vanilla- yep, you read that right!

2 cups (12 ounce pkg.) Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Chips

whipped cream
1. Bake the pie shell; either your own recipe or the refrigerated pie crust from your grocer. Cool.
In a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan, mix 2 3/4 cups of the milk with the sugar.
2. In a small bowl, combine the 1/4 cup of milk with the cornstarch. Whisk in the egg yolks until thoroughly combined.
3. Heat the sugar and milk mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the milk is scalded, but not boiling. To temper the egg yolk mixture, take about 1/4 cup of hot milk and quickly whisk into the yolks. Then add some more hot milk, a little at a time, whisking quickly with each addition., until the yolks are very warm. Now, slowly pour the yolks mixture into the milk, and again keep whisking so that the egg doesn't get clumpy. Bring the pudding to a boil, stirring constantly. Let cook about 2 minutes.
4. Remove pudding from heat and stir in the butter, the vanilla and 1 3/4 cup chocolate chips until incorporated. Pour the pudding into the cooled pie shell. Place plastic wrap over the pudding to seal. This will ensure that the pudding does not form a skin. Cool. Refrigerate for several hours, or until cold and firm. Remove the plastic wrap and top with whipped cream and remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips. I used some mini chocolate chips for topping instead. Enjoy!
Keep refrigerated. Supposed to serve 8, but it's so rich that I cut into 10 servings.

NOTE: By tempering the yolks this way, the pudding was smooth and creamy with no lumps.