Thursday, May 27, 2010

Italian Chicken with Orzo

First, my apologies for neglecting my blog! I've been sleeping better, so instead of being awake at 3 am. and writing, my head is on the pillow and I'm in dreamland. That's always good.

There are two things that I get every year for Christmas/birthday no matter what. Cooks Country magazine (yes, just like the tv show on PBS) and Southern Living. I could not live without either. THANKS MOM! Between those two and Food Network, I would not be the cook that I am. When I first started watching Food Network, I will admit that I really did start with How to Boil Water. (Cooking 101, as I dubbed it.)

Today's recipe came from the Cook's Country magazine, April/May 2010 issue. It's very yummy and there were no leftovers. I even used the fresh basil that my sweet hubby is growing on our front porch!

So, here we go!

Italian Chicken with Orzo

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
1 c. orzo (tiny pasta shaped like rice)
2 Tbsp. EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14.5 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
1 1/2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
3 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil

1. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and rub all over with oregano, pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.

2. Toast orzo in large nonstick skillet over medium high heat until golden brown, 3-5 minutes; transfer to bowl. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in empty skillet until shimmering. Cook chicken until lightly browned, about 3 minutes per side; transfer to plate.

3. Add garlic and remaining oil to empty skillet and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, broth, and toasted orzo and bring to boil. Return chicken, along with any accumulated juices, to skillet and cook, covered, over medium0low heat until chicken is cooked through and orzo is tender, 10-12 minutes. Sprinkle with basil. Serve.

Notes: Petite diced tomatoes are the way to go. If you can't find them, take regular diced tomatoes and pulse them in the food processor or blender until finely chopped.

If you don't know how to chop basil, it's an artform. You stack the leaves and roll it up like a big, fat cigar, then finely slice it. It's like basil confetti! (Credit to Emeril and Rachael Ray for teaching me this one.)

I didn't do it this time, just because I was in a hurry and forgot my brain, but serve with lots of freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Best Chocolate Milkshake Ever

Ok, I so had the best chocolate milkshake ever. I didn't even make it myself. I don't even know the recipe for it. This evening was spent at Corner of Time, an antique shop and soda fountain in downtown Bryan (TX). My oldest son was peddling his Boy Scout chocolate, and we are friends with the owners (hence why he got to sell there tonight). It made for a nice Mother's Day weekend date to sit there at the table with my first born having chocolate milkshakes together. (At least it wasn't beer yet.)

If anyone reading this is in Bryan, or will be visiting, I highly suggest you go see Buck and Christine at Corner of Time and have one of their Death by Chocolate milkshakes. Tell them I sent you.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Chicken Tacos and then Some

Ok, tonight's dinner is chicken tacos. The meat for this is so dang versatile it isn't even funny. While I was shredding the chicken, I thought about all of the things that I have or could do with it. We have done tacos, burritos (think Freebirds at home!), enchiladas, and topping for a salad. Tomorrow morning, I'm tempted to try it as omlet filling, since I love taco omlets. To me, omlets with the leftovers are by far the best reason to have tacos for dinner. This is why I make a triple batch. I might even make another triple batch tomorrow night just to do something else with it.

This also gets an A+ in the freezer department. It's also so easy that my 7 year old practically did it by himself. My 2 year old could probably at least help with it. I cannot claim this recipe as original. I got it from my friend Rosalie who got it from our friend Melaina.

Chicken Tacos

1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can rotel
1 envelope taco seasoning mix
3/4 c. water
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts

Stir everything but the chicken in crockpot. Add in chicken, making sure to submerge the chicken. Cook on low 8 hours. The meat will practically fall apart.


Tamale Casserole Take 2

Ok, I made the recipe from the other night (see previous post for recipe) only substituting a pound of ground beef browned with a sprinkling of ground coriander, onion powder, and garlic powder for the chicken. YUMMO!!! I liked this version better than the chicken version! It probably wasn't as healthy though. I also put the correct amount of cheese in the "crust".

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tamales in a Hurry

No time for homemade tamales? Don't want to spend the money to go out to get some at the Mexican restaurant of your choice? Here's your fix. Chicken Tamale Casserole. Now, I have had homemade tamales before. A friend's grandmother was making them when we were in high school. Those were the best ever. No restaurant has ever come close. Therefore, I am a tamale snob. Now this recipe isn't quite as good as JR's grandma's tamales, but it's close. It was so good that I might have to try it again with a pound of ground beef. This was also extremely quick! 15 minutes in the oven, then top, then basically heat the chicken and melt the cheese. Done. This is one of those that I would be tempted to violate my self-imposed ban on cooking on activity nights for. It's that quick. Serve it up with some Spanish rice and refried beans (both under 20 minutes and incredibly cheap) and you're good to go!

If you don't have cooked shredded chicken in the house, then I recommend starting this project over the weekend by purchasing a whole chicken. Boil the chicken and make stock. Debone chicken, separating white and dark meat. Use the dark meat and stock for soup, white meat for this recipe. See previous post for instructions on making the soup and stock.

So......without further adieu.......

Chicken Tamale Casserole

1 c. (4 oz.) preshredded Mexican blend cheese
1/3 c. fat free milk (I used 2%)
1/4 c. egg substitute (I used 1 egg)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. ground red pepper
1 (14 3/4 oz) can cream style corn
1 (8.5 oz) package of corn muffin mix
1 4 oz. can chopped green chiles, drained (I couldn't figure out how to drain them)
Cooking spray
1 can enchilada sauce
2 c. shredded cooked chicken breast (I used turkey since it's what I had)
1/2 c. fat free sour cream (I skipped this altogether since most of us don't like sour cream)

Preheat oven to 400. Combine 1/4 c. cheese and next 7 ingredients, stirring just until moist. Pour mixture into a 9x13 baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Bake at 400 for 15 minutes or until set. Poke liberally with a fork and pour enchilada sauce over the top. Top with chicken and cheese. Bake another 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces and serve with a Tbsp. of sour cream on top.

Recipe from Cooking Light magazine, Nov. 2008 edition.

Now, I was stupid. Yes, I will admit it. I didn't read the recipe all the way through before starting. I saw 1 cup of cheese and dumped it all in the bowl and starting adding ingredients. It wasn't until it was in the oven that I realized that I had screwed up. It wasn't a problem this time. :D