Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Monday, January 28, 2008

Chicken Florentine

I was inspired to try a recipe like this because of those frozen Bertolli meals Ms. Huis was talking about. The Chicken Florentine one is good- but has lots of sodium and I kept thinking "it can't be too hard to make this!" And it's not. Here is the basic recipe (adapted from one I found on - it's very forgiving though and you can really make it up as you go along. See notes at the bottom.

Chicken Florentine Casserole
4 skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
2-3 slices of bacon, chopped into bits
1-2 Tbs butter (or olive oil, or blend)
1/4 C. white wine
3 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbs Italian Seasoning (or your preferred mix of basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary & thyme)
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/2 C. half-and-half (0r milk)
1/2 C. grated Parmesan cheese
2 C. shredded Mozzarella cheese
4 to 6 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 to 2 bags of fresh baby spinach

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
1. Melt 1 Tbs butter (or oil) in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Lightly saute spinach and mushrooms. Place in the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish.
2. In the sauce pan, cook 3 slices of bacon (you can skip this step if you microwave, but the bacon adds some flavor to the chicken) until done. Remove bacon, chop to bits and set aside.
3. Add chicken to the pan along with the garlic, saute until no longer pink. Add white wine to deglaze the pan. Stirring constantly, mix in the cream of mushroom soup, Italian seasoning, half-and-half, and Parmesan cheese.
4. Spoon the chicken and sauce mixture over the arranged spinach in the casserole dish. Sprinkle with bacon bits, and top with mozzarella cheese.
5. Bake 20 to 25 minutes at 400 degrees, until bubbly and lightly browned. Serve as is, or over rice, farfalle pasta or egg noodles.

  • The original recipe called for canned spinach (yech!) but it's much better with fresh. I've also used frozen, just be sure to drain well.
  • Skim or 1% milk is fine in place of the half and half.
  • The amounts are very much just suggested. If you really like mushrooms, use more. Don't like them, leave them out.
  • The original recipe also called for 1 Tbs of lemon juice in the sauce, but it seemed useless to me. *shrug*
  • You could also add breadcrumbs or something on top if you are so inclined.
  • I've also made this with the pasta baked in. Add 2 cups of cooked bowtie noodles on top of the spinach layer- cover with the chicken sauce and continue as above. I haven't tried baking the rice yet, but I bet you could do that too- maybe just add a little more milk to the sauce so it has some moisture.
  • I haven't tried it yet, (the next time I make it, I am making 2) but I bet this will freeze well.

Friday, January 25, 2008


This recipe is slightly adapted from Emeril on I thought his version could use more of the warm spices and less cilantro. (Of course, I'm not a big cilantro fan, so maybe I'm wrong about that. :-)) Anyway, it smells lovely, makes good winter comfort food, and has lots of good-for-you ingredients. I'll definitely be making it again. (It also makes quite a lot and I suspect it would freeze pretty well!)

Harira (Morroccan Chicken, Chickpea, and Lentil Stew)

1/4 pound dried chickpeas
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup diced onions
1/2 cup diced celery
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
1 Tablespoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes (including juice)
6 cups chicken stock
1/4 pound dried green lentils
1/2 cup brown rice
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Cilantro sprigs, for garnishing

Pick over the chickpeas, cover with cold water, and soak overnight at room temperature. Drain chickpeas and rinse well with cold running water. Drain and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a medium stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add the chicken in batches, and cook until well browned, about 4 minutes per batch. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside. Add the onions and celery and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the ginger, turmeric, pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Return the chicken to the pan and add the tomatoes and their juices, stirring well. Stir in the chicken stock, lentils, and chickpeas and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook at a gentle simmer for 1 hour.

Add the rice and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and return the soup to a simmer. Cook covered for 45 minutes. Remove the lid, add the cilantro, parsley, and lemon juice and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Ladle into warmed soup bowls and garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Freezer Recipes Galore

I found these - post if you try them!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wednesday Fun #17 - CSA

So we just signed up to join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) for this year and we're excited to be getting some yummy veggies. We're still planning on creating a garden here (actually, probably two - a vegetable one and an herb one). However, this will take some of the pressure off said garden-to-be.

You'll notice the poll over to the right is about your possible experience with CSAs - and feel free to add any CSA-related commentary here, too - but my question for the week is this...

What's your favorite vegetable that you could potentially grow in a garden of your own?

P.S. Don't forget to post any "Freezer Keeper" recipes soon!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Doc Holiday's Passion

I love the name of this recipe almost as much as I find it delicious. I got it from my mom, but don't know where she got it or the origin of the name. It's a bit time-consuming, but if you double it, you can freeze half and you'll thank yourself later when you pull it out of the freezer! Serve with egg noodles.

2 lbs. boneless beef round steak, 1" thick
salt & pepper
1/4 c. flour
approx. 4 Tbl. butter
12 oz - 1 lb. mushrooms
10 oz. beef broth (canned or made from bouillon)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 shallot, minced
1 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. brandy

chopped fresh parsley
egg noodles

Cut round steak into 1/4" strips 2-3" long. Roll in flour and salt and pepper. Working in 2 or 3 batches, melt some butter in a large pan over fairly high heat, then brown the beef in it quickly. Set the beef aside and keep warm.

To the pan, add mushrooms and saute in pan juices, plus butter and/or olive oil as desired. (I always have to add butter and/or oil.)

Add beef broth, garlic, shallot, cream and brandy. When that mixture is heated through, return the meat to the pan and simmer 30-45 minutes.

Serve over egg noodles, sprinkled with chopped parsley.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pasta Sauce

This one's easy!

Take 2 large (15 oz.) cans of tomato sauce and heat in a large saucepan. Add whatever excites you - spinach, herbs from your garden (or your spice rack), garlic, onion, vegetables, meat.

Some herbs that are nice with this:
Rosemary (my fave!)

Or you can experiment with smaller batches and try:
Mustard Seed

Allow the sauce to simmer at least half an hour - the longer the better. I then pack it in my Ball Freezer containers (available at the grocery store by the canning stuff) and freeze them. Thaw one or two prior to dinner. One is perfect for two people, two is just right for 4.

And no more wasted sauce because you didn't eat the whole jar.

Wednesday Fun #16 - Freezer Keepers

Based on last week's question and poll, I'd say there might be some desire out there for homemade recipes to keep in the freezer. So this week, I'm going with a two-parter - a challenge and a question.

If you've got any good recipes that can be made ahead and frozen, or that double easily so you can freeze half, or can be made through a certain stage and then frozen until later, could you please try to post one sometime in the next month?

And the question is - what SORT of recipe would you like to have for freezer keepers? I know I've got a couple of lasagna-type recipes and some soups that are easy to double, but a sore lack of anything freezable and ethnic, which would be nice for variety.

(Oh, and I put in the tag "Freezer Keeper" to use for things like this that can be made or almost completely made ahead of time and then stored in the freezer, so go ahead and label them (new or existing recipes) as such so they'll be easy to find. Thanks!)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Minas Tirith

Ok- not really a recipe, but it is food-related. And I really thought you should see this.
It's a candy model of Minas Tirith during the Battle of Pelennor Fields. Sort of the ultimate geek gingerbread house. (though I believe they used icing covered cardboard for walls, rather than gingerbread-but that doesn't make it any less cool). They've obviously upped their game from last year's Helm's Deep model. Here's the link for more photos:
Minas Tirith

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Wednesday Fun #15 - Frozen Favorites

If you look below, you'll see my post where I reviewed a busy-day-backup frozen meal. Then AllKnowingJen mentioned another in the comments. That made me wonder...

What frozen foods to do have on hand and/or recommend as good busy-day-backup options?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Review - Bertolli frozen meals

We picked up a couple different kinds of Bertolli frozen meals for easy suppers when we were moving and I was pleasantly surprised enough to want to let you all know that these are actually pretty tasty. We've had the Italian Sausage & Rigatoni (which is the one I've liked best so far), the Roasted Chicken & Linguini, and Chicken Parmigiana & Penne.

These are only 10 -15 minutes in the pan and they're done. No water to boil, no oven to preheat - just open the bag, throw it in a pan on the stove and stir a bit half-way through. Easy-peasy, and tasty besides!

Portion size is not overly generous; the bag says it serves two, but Mr. Kluges could polish it off himself if he was feeling hungry. Also, not especially healthy, especially with the fat and salt content!

But, if you want something tasty and easy and you're not going to rely on it very often, it's a handy thing to have in the freezer!

Here's an old article/review about them that I found on-line, too.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Wednesday Fun #14 - Food Resolutions?

It's now the New Year & I'm sure I'm not the only one with New Year's Resolutions. Do you have any food-related resolutions this year? Maybe to do more home-cooking? Cook with your child/ren? Eat less fast food? Eat more fruits and veg? Eat less junk food? Going to go organic as much as possible? Eat more healthily to help with weight loss? No caffeine? (Ok, that last one's totally not me, but, hey, it might be you...) Or are you celebrating some success with a food-related resolution from last year? Talk to us about your food-related resolutions, past or present!