Herb’s Chicken Casserole

Here we are again. I hope everyone is doing well. I’m coming off a rough three weeks at work. Another manager was on vacation, so I had to cover some extra shifts. I don’t mind, I like the over time, but man was I tired. I’m still tired. >sigh< I’m getting old. I remember when I could work 100 hour work week and still party it up every night. Not so much now. Needless to say, it’s been take out food for the past few weeks.

It’s comfort food night. What’s more comforting than a good ole casserole? Chicken casserole was one of the first things I remember seeing my stepdad make. This was before he and my mom were married. I guess I was in seventh or eighth grade. He had invited us to dinner at his townhouse he shared with his sister Liz. I can’t remember what all there was to eat that night. It was card night, and there was a lot of other food to be distracted by. Other than my grandpa, Herb was the first man I ever saw cook. I was so used to seeing my mom or my grandma’s cooking. Never the men. How times have changed.

For this recipe I take a little help from the store. Herb’s recipe, he actually stewed or roasted the chicken his self. This is also the way I usually make it, but not today. It’s too hot and humid for that long sweat inducing process. Today I used a store bought rotisserie chicken from the Kroger deli.  We are barely half way through June and it’s too hot to have the blinds open. His recipe also required you to cut the cheese, if you will, by hand. Again this is the way I usually do it, but the sliced Velveeta cheese was on sale, and you know I like a good sale.

Herb’s Chicken Casserole

3 boxes Stove Top Chicken Flavored Stuffing Mix

1 Family Sized can Cream of Mushroom Soup

15 slices Velveeta Cheese

1 whole store bought rotisserie chicken, shredded

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare the stuffing mix according to the package instructions; set aside for 5 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Once cooled, spoon half of the stuffing in to a 9″ x 13″ pan. Use your clean hands and light press it together to form a loose crust. Add the shredded chicken to the top of the stuffing, distribute evenly. Spread the cream of mushroom soup evenly over the chicken. Place 6 slices of cheese, 3 on each side of the pan, on top of the soup. Top the casserole with the remaining stuffing, and place remaining cheese of top. You will need to tear a few slices in half for the best cheesy coverage. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until cheese is melted and hot all the way through.

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In Memoriam

You know I usually talk about the women in my family, but not today. Today, I want to talk about my stepdad Herb. Herb and my mom were married my freshman year of high school. Until that point I didn’t have a constant male role model in my life. He filled the role treating me like I was his own. He taught me how to fish, and to drive and how to take care of a car. Come to think about it, he sold me my first two cars. He introduced to me to gardening and lawn care. He also taught me a few of his recipes. To this day, his chocolate pie is by far my favorite.

Last night he passed away with my mom by his side. These are his recipes. I will remember him, and the life lessons he taught me every time I make them.

“Almost” Skyline Chili

2 lbs. ground beef

1 qt + 1 c. tomato juice                                     OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

1 Tsp cinnamon, ground

1 Tsp cumin, ground

1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1 Tsp allspice, ground

4 Tsp chili powder

1 Tsp black pepper, ground

1 Tsp salt

1 Tsp + 1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

5 whole bay leaves

1 1/2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips, about 30 chips depending on the size of the chips

1 onion, peeled and left whole

Place ground beef and tomato juice in a large, high sided pot. Using clean hands, break the ground beef up into small crumbles. Add all the spices to the meat/juice mixture; stir to combine. Add the whole onion, press toward the bottom of the pot. Simmer over medium heat for 2 hours.

After the two hours has past, you have a choice to make. You can:

  • Cool slightly and skim off the grease that has floated to the top. Serve immediately. You can use this chili on just about anything, but sticking with tradition you should serve it over spaghetti with various toppings. Each topping add is considered to be a  “Way.” Adding cheese to the chili and pasta is called a 3- Way. The most common toppings are: cheddar cheese, oyster crackers, minced onions, diced tomatoes, and jalapeno peppers. There is no limit or restricts to what you can add to it.
  • Cool the chili over night. Skim off any grease that has settled on the top. Divide into freezer containers and freeze.

You can easily double or triple this recipe to have it both ways.

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(You can see the original post here.)

Herb’s Chocolate Pies

¾ c. all purpose flour

6 egg yolks (save the whites)

½ c. cocoa powder

1 c. sugar

1 Tbsp. vanilla

1 stick butter or margarine, softened

4 c. whole milk or half & half

Mix all dry ingredients together. Mix wet ingredients together, add to dry ingredients. Place all ingredients in top of double boiler, cook until thick*. Pour into 2 baked 9” pie shells. (Do not use deep dish shells.)

*If you don’t have a true double boiler, use a glass or stainless steel bowl over boiling water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Keep in mind the bowl will be hot, so use a pot holder to remove it from the top of the pan. The thickness should coat the back of a spoon and should stay apart if u run your finger down the spoon. A little looser than cake batter.

For the meringue:

6 reserved egg whites

1 tsp. Vanilla

2 Tbsp.  sugar

1/8 tsp. cream of tarter

Mix all ingredients, whip whites to hard peaks. To test for hard peaks turn off the mixer, push the beaters into the center and pull up. If they do not fall back on themselves and hold a up right slightly curled form they are ready.Spread on top of pies.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or until browned. Cool completely on a wire rack. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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(You can see the original post here.)

Charcutiere Sauce

Hey friends!  Welcome back. It’s a warm 88 here in the city with a nice little breeze blowing. It’s nice enough outside that there’s a few sun bathers by the pool. Why they are out there is beyond me. Our community pool isn’t open yet, and they can’t get in it. I guess early tanning is the new trend. When I was young, without a care in the world, I would be out there with them getting all golden before the summer heat wave comes.

I’m breaking out the big guns for this post. Pork Chops with Charcutiere Sauce. Fancy, huh? Yes? No? How about if I explain what that is before we decide for sure. Let me start by saying, this is going to sound complex even though it’s not, and I’m sorry. The literal translation of charcutiere sauce is ‘sauce of the pig butcher’. In French cuisine there’s five mother sauces: hollandaise, veloute, sauce tomat, bechamel, and espagnole (brown sauce). Espagnole is the main base for charcutiere sauce. Are you with me so far? Here’s where I may lose you. The mother sauces are the bases for all the sauces in French cuisine. Once you have the completed base, or mother sauce, what you add to it changing it to a secondary sauce. In a nut shell, what we have with charcutiere sauce is a brown sauce reduction with French pickles and wine. For my version of this classic sauce, I reduced the steps and made it a little more home cook friendly.  I pared my sauce with bone in, rib cut pork chops. If you aren’t a pork chop person, no worries. You can use this sauce for just about any cut of pork.

Charcutiere Sauce

4 Tsp unsalted butter

2 c. diced yellow onion

1 c. diced celery

1 c. diced carrots

2 Tsp tomato paste

2 Tsp flour

2/3 c. dry white wine, such as a Sauvignon Blanc

4 c. pork stock, see chef’s note for substitution.

1 bay leaf

4 sprigs fresh thyme

12 cornichon pickles, sliced then roughly chopped

salt and ground white pepper

Melt the butter in a large sauce pan over medium to medium heat. When butter is hot and the foaming has stopped, slowly brown the onions, carrots, and celery, stir often to avoid over browning. Once the vegetables are browned, add the tomato paste. Stir and allow the tomato paste to brown to a brick color. Add the flour and allow it to brown. Add wine to deglaze the pan, stir to loosen any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Allow the wine to cook while stirring for 2 minutes. Add stock, bay leaf, and thyme; stir well. Bring sauce to a boil, reduce to simmer, do not cover. Simmer sauce for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring often. Check the thickness of your sauce by dipping a spoon into it, and running your clean finger through it. If the sauce stays separated it’s good to go. If too thick add a little more stock and simmer a few more minutes, and test again. If too thin, simmer a little longer. When sauce is perfect, strain the sauce in to a heat proof bowl. Make to press the vegetables to extract all the sauce and flavor. Return sauce to the pan over low heat, and add the cornichon pickles. Let pickles heat through, about 3 to 4 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

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Pork Chop Charcutiere with Mashed Potatoes, and Sauteed Kale with Lemon and Garlic

***Chef’s Note: If you don’t have, or can’t find pork stock use 1 1/2 c. beef stock and 2 1/2 c. chicken stock. The two flavors combined together is fairly close in taste to pork stock.

 

 

From the Vault: Osso Bucco

Hey, Y’all. Happy Tuesday. I’m a mere eight more work hours away from my weekend. I’m so ready for it. I have already nailed down dinner #1. I will be sharing that recipe as soon I prepare it. The meal, not the recipe. I wrote the recipe awhile ago.

Today, I thought I would dip back into the vault to see what I could find. I wrote this recipe for osso bucco back in February. I meant to post this back then. I really wanted to make it with veal though. As I have said before, my grocery stores have stopped carrying veal and many other meats. Beef shanks to the rescue. Think of this recipe as a faux osso bucco.

Osso Bucco 

2 qt. beef stock

1 c. Cabernet, or your favorite red wine

5 beef shanks

5 c. diced yellow onion

2 1/2 c. diced carrots

2 1/2 c. diced celery

tomato paste

5 bay leaves

5 sprigs rosemary

6 sprigs thyme

5 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole

1 c. vegetable oil

salt and white pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 325. Heat the vegetable oil in a Dutch oven. Pat the shanks dry with paper towels. Tightly tie the shanks with kitchen twine; season both sides with salt and pepper. When oil is hot, brown the shanks on both sides. Transfer the browned shanks to a roasting pan. Remove from heat. Discard the oil reserving 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan.  Surround the shanks with the diced vegetables, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, and rosemary. Pour wine and enough stock to almost cover the meat. For my pan, which was a large turkey roaster, I used 2 quarts of stock. Cover with foil, and braise for 2 hours.  Heat the Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the tomato paste and allow to toast while stirring for 2 minutes Transfer the shanks to a plate. Tent the plate with the foil to keep warm. Remove the herbs and bay leaves from the vegetables. Carefully pour a little of the braising liquid in to the pan. Stir well, making sure to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Add the rest of the braising liquid and the vegetables. Stir to combine, and turn off the heat. Using a hand blender, puree until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings. If the sauce is a little thin, thicken it with a slurry of equal parts of water and corn starch. To serve, pass the shanks through the sauce and plate as desired. Spoon extra sauce over the shank, and serve.

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From the Vault: Ceviche

Whatttt! Two recipes in a week! I thought since I was already typing I would dig up a little gem for you. If you are a seafood or sushi lover you have probably had ceviche before. If not, you’re missing out. No, it’s not raw fish. Go ahead and get that out of your head. Ceviche uses citrus juice to cook the fish. With the temperature rising, I thought this would be perfect. No heat needed so it’s perfect for summer. I say summer cause we usually skip spring here in Georgia.

You can pretty much use any type of seafood for this. I’ve never tried it with fresh water fish, so if you do and it’s awful, it’s not my fault. Play around with it try a mixture of shell fish, tuna, or sea bass.

Ceviche

8 oz. filet of salmon, small diced

8 oz. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined; tail off, small diced

3 Tsp. fresh cilantro, chopped

3 green onions, thinly sliced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed; finely diced

1/3 c. cucumber, seeded; finely diced

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 dashes hot sauce

6-8 limes, juiced (you need enough to cover the fish)

bib or leaf lettuce for plating

Place salmon and shrimp in a medium size glass bowl. Pour lime juice over the fish, making sure it is completely covered. Stir very well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, stirring often. When fish/shrimp mixture is ready when the shrimp is no longer translucent and the salmon is a richer pink. Pour off the lime juice leaving enough to keep the fish moist. Add remaining ingredients except lettuce; stir until well mixed. Recover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 45 minutes more; stirring often. Taste and adjust seasoning before serving. To serve: line a serving bowl, or individual serving bowls, with lettuce. Spoon the ceviche on top. Garnish with minced fresh cilantro or thinly sliced lime or lemon twists.

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Chicken Chasseur

Five months. I was away for FIVE months!! I’m sorry. I’m such a bad host. My life has been upside down since Christmas. I’m still working the late, late shift at my day job which keeps me tired and out of my kitchen. I tried to start a Youtube channel, but it didn’t pan out. The video quality was good, but the lighting and sound were bad. I don’t know if you have ever priced that kind of stuff, but it ain’t cheap. So that idea is on hold until I can afford it. I have been steadily working on my cookbook though. I add a few recipes here and there as time allows. I got sick, and had to change my diet a little. Which was good because I lost some weight. We lost two of our fur babies, which is always hard. That’s all I’ve been doing. Five months of chaos.

I decided to cook dinner tonight instead of our normal pizza or Chinese delivery. Sheridan hasn’t been into beef lately unless it’s ground. I’ve been limited to seafood, pork, and chicken. Chicken which is always the  cheaper choice almost always wins. Anymore it seems like every time I go to the store it’s on sale. The only thing bad about have chicken all the time is I get tired of my normal preparations of it. I admit I am a creature of habit. I buy chicken. I fry the chicken. I eat the chicken. Eat and repeat. Tonight I broke the pattern, and made a dish I learned while in school. Chicken Chasseur. In a nutshell it’s chicken with wine, mushrooms, onions, and tomato sauce. For this recipe, I modernized the original recipe I learned while at school. I left out the roux and crushed tomatoes that the original called for. I chose to replace both with tomato paste. The tomato paste acts as a thickener when the liquid reduces. Then there’s the lack of crushed tomatoes….tomato for tomato. By doing this I also reduced the cost of the dish. Tomato paste is way cheaper then the crushed, and it gives a richer, deeper tomato flavor. Depending on the store, tomato pate is as low as $0.19 for store brand and $1.99 for crushed tomatoes. I’ll take those saving all day long.

In the recipe it calls for a whole roasting chicken cut into quarters. I always break down my own proteins when I can. When I do so, I follow the guidelines set by the ACF. You can watch the video here, or ask your local butcher to do it for you. In the video, when he does the French boning on the wing, this will give you the airline quarter for the recipe.

Chicken Chasseur

4 strips apple wood smoked bacon, cut into thin lardons

1 (4 1/2 to 5 lb.) whole roasting chicken, cut in to quarters: 2 leg/thigh quarters and 2                                      airline breast quarters

1 large yellow onion, small diced

8 oz. sliced crimini mushrooms

1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste

1 c. dry white wine

3 c. chicken stock

1 large fresh bay leaf

2 sprig fresh thyme

1 sprig fresh rosemary

vegetable oil for shallow frying

Salt and Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350. In a Dutch oven over medium low heat, cook the bacon until the fat is rendered, but the bacon isn’t crisp. Remove bacon from the pan; set aside. Turn the heat up to medium high. While the oil and bacon drippings come to temperature, pat dry and season the chicken with salt and freshly cracked black pepper on both sides. Once oil is hot, brown the chicken leg quarters on both sides. Turn often to avoid dark spots. Remove from pan, and place on baking sheet. Chicken should be half cooked, so do not taste it. Repeat the process with the breast quarter. Remember the breast is boneless except for the wing drum, so it will cook faster. You may need to adjust your heat or move the chicken to a cooler area of the pan. Once browned, add the breasts to the baking sheet. Bake the chicken quarters until the juices are clear and the internal temperature is 160. Chicken will not fully cooked. While chicken is baking, make the sauce in the same pan that you browned the chicken in. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the oil, return to heat. Add onions and mushrooms to the pan; season with salt and black pepper. Stir and cook 3 minutes or until mushrooms start to softens slightly. Add thyme, bay leaf, and rosemary; cook 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste, cook and allow to brown slightly to a rich brick color. Make a well in the center, and add the wine to deglaze the pan. Stir well making sure to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Allow the wine to reduce a couple of minutes, and add the stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. At this time the chicken should be at the desired temperature of 160; remove from oven. Carefully place the chicken into the sauce. Cover and simmer until the internal temperature is 165. Remove the sprigs of thyme, rosemary and bay leaf before serving.

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Chicken Chasseur with Parmesan and Herb Polenta and Seared Green Beans

I’ll Be Home For Christmas….If Only In My Dreams

Three years ago I started a new Christmas tradition, the annual Christmas post. For some reason they are always the hardest for me to write. I tend to get sentimental this time of year, and long for the Christmases of my youth. Back when families gathered together and shared a meal without posting it on Instagram or Facebook for the masses to judge. Back when people talked to each other while they passed the peas. Wait a minute, I’m wrong. We never passed the peas. There was so many of us back then our meal was set up buffet style. Come to think about it, I guess there was twenty or more of us in my Aunt Willie’s house. We all seemed to be able to make it home for the holidays back then.

One of my favorite Christmas memories dates all the way back to elementary school. I want to say I was in third or forth grade. I remember my mom standing in the kitchen of our Cherokee Terrace apartment listening to WIVK on the radio and making candy. My mom made all sorts of confections: peanut brittle, mounds candy bars, peanut butter balls, and potato candy. There was hard cinnamon candy that made the whole apartment smell good. My favorite was her fudge. Delicious, mouth watering fudge. She made three kinds; chocolate, chocolate with walnuts, and peanut butter. I keep this tradition when I make it myself. Back then it wasn’t Christmas if she didn’t make candy. Don’t think that we feasted on candy dinners until it was gone. A lot of it was sent else where as gifts. Oh, those lucky people.

This is the first year in a long time that I have made Mama’s fudge. It just seemed like the right time, ya know.

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Fudge

5 1/2 c. sugar

1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk

1 stick margarine

1/4 c. white corn syrup

1 (7 oz.) container marshmallow fluff

1 Tsp. vanilla

1 (12 oz.) bag chocolate chips**

1 c. chopped nuts, optional

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13″ pan; set aside. In a heavy bottomed pot, combine the first four ingredients over medium heat. Stirring constantly bring mixture to a boil. Boil for 8 minutes, and remove from heat. Quickly add remaining ingredients, and stir very well. Pour into prepared pan, and cool completely. Once cooled, cut into small squares. Store in the refrigerator in an air tight container.

**You can use peanut butter chips, dark/milk/ semi-sweet chocolate chips. Any flavor chip would work, BUT I would not use anything with caramel in it.

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