Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Classic: Tuna Noodle Casserole

In my 30+ years on this planet, I have never had Tuna Noodle Casserole. I'm not sure why - although it was never a staple 'comfort food' in my house growing up. Honestly, the thought of it repulsed me a bit. My good friend, Rachel, had brought some for me to try and I really liked it. The recipe below is courtesy of Rachel P. with my changes in blue. I had only made changes due to the ingredients I had on hand. I also doubled the recipe to fit into a 9x13 pan.

Tuna Noodle Casserole by Rachel P. (Mrs. Peeps)
6 oz. egg noodles (wide or extra wide) partially cooked (about 6 minutes)
1 small can of tuna, drained and flaked with a fork
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
1 cup frozen peas, cooked
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup (or more) fresh grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup fresh bread crumbs cooked in 1 T. butter until slightly crisp (I used Italian Seasoned bread crumbs)
**fresh grated parmesan cheese***

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. In a large bowl, stir together first six ingredients until well combined.

3. Spread into a small greased 8x8 casserole dish then sprinkle bread crumbs and parmesan cheese evenly over the top.

4. Bake uncovered in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes and serve warm

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vitenamese Pho (with Pork)

If you've ever had Pho, you know how good it is and how you crave it at the worst possible time! If you haven't - well, try this recipe! You'll see that this soup is simple and quick. The secret is in the condiments, served on the side, and added to the pho to taste. It's all about the condiments! Next time, I think I'll find a stalk of lemongrass to simmer in the broth.

3 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
2 scallions (green onions)
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon fish sauce
pork tenderloin, cut into thin slices
1 teaspoon red chili paste
Egg noodles (superfine - Asian type)
Rice noodles (rice stick)

Lime wedges
fresh cilantro
fresh thai basil
bean sprouts
fish sauce
soy sauce

In a large stock pot, add the chicken broth, water, scallions, garlic, and fish sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add the sliced pork. Simmer another 15 minutes or until pork is fully cooked.

In a separate pot, cook the noodles and set aside.

Serve the soup with the noodles and add in the condiments to taste.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

After perusing many recipes online for the perfect cream of mushroom soup, I had enough ideas in my head to come up with my own version. Co-worker tested and approved by 4 out of 4 co-workers!

1 container of button mushrooms
1 container of baby portabello mushrooms
1 large "hen of the woods" muishroom*
3 cups of chicken broth/stock
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sherry wine
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 small white onion, diced
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
olive oil

Coarsely chop the mushrooms.

Heat a skillet and add approximately 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil**. Add the diced onion to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Sautee the onions until clear, about 5 minutes. Add the diced mushrooms. Sautee the mushrooms until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a stock pot, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk until smooth to form the roux. Allow to cook on low heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken broth and stir until the roux is incorporated. Allow to simmer 5 minutes. Add the thyme and sherry wine.

Add the mushrooms/onions to the pot. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the heavy cream. Simmer another 5 minutes. Remove approximately 2 cups of the soup and puree in a blender or food processor. Place the pureed soup back into the pot. This step allows the soup to become thicker while allowing some chunks of mushrooms in the soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer 20 minutes and serve.

* You can use any mushrooms you can get your hands on...mix it up!

** I had leftover bacon grease from breakfast so I used it to sautee the onions and mushrooms.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A quickie - Thai Simmer Chicken

So my quickie pantry-raid dinner was pretty darn good.

I wanted to make some chicken that would complement the yellow saffron rice I wad making. I didn't feel like grilling it or baking it...a simmer sauce sounded good. So here's what I did....

Butterfly two skinless, boneless chicken breasts. Season with salt and pepper. Place a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and brown the chicken on both sides.

Add to the pan:
1 cup (give or take) chicken broth
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons red chili paste
2-3 tablespoons Vidalia onion salad dressing
1 scallion, chopped
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce

Simmer (covered) for about 20 minutes. Serve over rice and top with simmer sauce.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken

There is a Caribbean restaurant east of Pittsburgh and they have authentic Caribbean food - including Jerk Chicken. They also have something called Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken. The chicken is stewed in veggies and spices and is tender and juicy and loaded with flavor. I have recreated this recipe and served it with a coconut curry rice. Yum!

Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken
1 whole chicken (about 3lb)
A splash of lime juice
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
1 onion
3 stalks of scallion
1 hot pepper (ideally scotch bonnet)
1 sweet pepper
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 inch of ginger
3 tomatoes
Oil for frying

3 tablespoons of flour, stirred in to 1/4 cup of water
3 sprigs of fresh thyme (or 3 teaspoons of dried thyme)
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of kitchen bouquet browning sauce
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 teaspoons of creole sesasoning (more if you want it spicy!)
2 cups of water

Wash the chicken with a splash of lime juice. Chop the chicken in to small pieces. Chop the onion, scallion, hot pepper, sweet pepper, garlic and tomatoes in to small pieces, grate the ginger and mix the flour in 1/4 cup of water. Season the chicken by rubbing in salt, pepper, thyme, onion, scallion, hot pepper, sweet pepper, garlic, ginger and tomato. Leave to marinate for one hour.

Scrape the seasoning off the chicken and fry in the oil until the chicken is sealed (about 5 minutes). Remove the chicken and drain off the oil. Melt the butter in the saucepan and fry the onion, scallion, hot pepper, sweet pepper, garlic, tomatoes and thyme for three minutes Add the water, soy sauce and browning and simmer for five minutes. Stir the flour/water mixture in to the stew then add the chicken. Simmer for five minutes, occasionally stirring gently.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Watergate Salad...or one of my favorite desserts

I had thought the name for Watergate salad came from the obvious Watergate scandal in the 70's - and maybe it did - but there doesn't seem to be any proof of that. This dessert actually came out in 1975 when Kraft first made the Pistachio instant pudding mix. Another name for this dessert is Hawaiian Surprise. I think I like that name better, although, there isn't much about it that's Hawaiian except that it does have pineapple in it.

I was hoping this dessert was made back in the 50's or 60's as the color and consistency of this dessert really looks like something out of the Atomic Age. Either way, it's retro....and fabulous!

1 16oz tub of Cool Whip

2 boxes of Pistachio instant pudding mix
1/3 bag of multi-colored (fruit-flavored) mini marshmallows

1/2 can of pineapple tidbits, drained
1/2 jar of maraschino cherries, drained and cut in halves.
1/2 cup chopped pecans

In a large bowl, fold the pudding mix into the Cool Whip until the pudding mix has been incorporated. Fold in the remaining ingredients. Chill and serve.

You can really alter the ingredients and add whatever you like or have on hand...but this is the classic.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Seared Salmon with Apricot and Sweet Chili Sauce

I am wanting to eat more fish, but can't always go out for it. Cooking fish, now, is a different story...for me anyway. I was brave and bought myself a salmon filet. Here's what I did with it, and I must say, it was delicious!

1 Salmon Filet
Lemon-infused olive oil

For the glaze:
2 tablespoons apricot preserves
1 tablespoon sweet red chili sauce
1/2 cup of pinot grigio (or other dry/semi-dry white wine)

In a skillet, heat the olive oil. Sprinkle the filet with salt and pepper. When the skillet is hot, place the filet into the skillet and sear on both sides and then allow filet to cook through. About 4 minutes per side.

In a small saucepan, add the wine, apricot preserves, and chili sauce. Whisk together and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

Serve glaze on top of the salmon filet.