We had some pretty amazing meals over the holidays and now my refrigerator is bursting with leftovers. What do I do when I have too many leftovers in my refrigerator and I can't seem drum up enough excitement to eat them? I turn them into something else so they don't look like leftovers anymore. In this case, I had leftover herbed basmati rice and leftover dry rubbed grilled chicken breasts. I turned to a chicken casserole recipe that I was passed down to me from my mom. It's an oldie but goody.
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
2 cups diced celery 1 can cream of chicken soup
1 Tablespoon minced onion 4-6 Tablespoons butter
1 cup mayonnaise 1 ½ cups crushed cornflakes
1 ½ cups cooked rice ½ cup slice almonds
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Bake 45 minutes at 350.
Once again I forgot to snap a picture of the casserole before we ate - sooner or later I'll get the hang of this food blogging thing. Anyway - my daughter had 3 servings of chicken casserole - obviously it was a big hit. The casserole was delicious and it's a great way to use up leftovers. Your family doesn't even have to know that they're eating leftovers.
It is no big secret that I am a major chocoholic. (As much as I hate to admit it - I'm even a Ghiradelli facebook fan.) Last December I found a recipe for Ghiradelli chocolate truffles that were so good - I wanted to make them again this year. Since I worked out the kinks during my first truffle attempt last year, they were much easier to make this year. These truffles are so good - I have to hide them from myself so I don't eat them all at once.
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups double chocolate chips
6 Tablespoons butter
In skillet, bring 1/2” water to a slow simmer. Set saucepan in skillet and stir mixture until chocolate melts.
Dip melon baler into warm water and scrape across top of chocolate to form a 1” ball.
Roll ball in coating and transfer to waxed paper. Gloves help keep the heat from your hands from melting the chocolate.
Roll each truffle in the topping of your choice. I used cocoa powder, pecan pieces, crushed peppermint and I left some plain.
Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months. (I bet they won't last that long.)
I don't buy truffles any more - they're easy to make and even better than store bought.
Last month, I professed my love of cranberries on my blog. They have such a beautiful, vibrant red color that I decided to incorporate them into my Christmas menu as well. I found this recipe for Cranberry Swirl Bread in a Taste of Home Holiday Baking magazine. This was my first attempt at this recipe but I can tell already that it's going to be a keeper.
Cranberry Swirl Loaf
3 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, cubed
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoon flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons butter
For filling, combine cranberries, brown sugar and water in a saucepan.
I served this swirl loaf to my family on Christmas morning. It was a really nice addition to my brunch menu. It was even better lightly toasted. If you are looking for a delicious and beautiful bread to serve at your next brunch - give this one a try.
Dry rubs can add excitement and fun to almost any type of meat - chicken, pork or beef. There is no exact formula that I use to create my dry rub but I start with a basic recipe and let my creativity flow. The key is remembering to write down my rub formula so that I can recreate it again and again.
Basic Dry Rub
1 Tablespoon black pepper
1 Tablespoon white pepper
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon oregano
4 Tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 Tablespoon celery salt
1 Tablespoon salt
Last week I put my dry rub on some split chicken breasts and put them in the refrigerator for about 8 hours.
I took them out of the refrigerator and put them on the Big Green Egg to cook.
I like to cook chicken with the skin on. In my very unscientific opinion, I believe it seals in the juices while the chicken cooks. It's also a great way to protect the meat from getting too charred - I pull off the skin and no one ever has to know that I over browned the chicken.
I use this basic rub on all different kinds of meat. Putting the rub on the meat well in advance and allowing the flavors to absorb into the meat in the refrigerator in crucial.
If you are looking for a great way to eat healthier in 2012 - start with grilled chicken. It's easy to make and the rub makes it extra flavorful and delicious. Cook extra chicken and save some for lunches. I like to put chicken in my wraps, salads, sandwiches and soups for a little extra protein power.
I've said it before but it bears repeating, I'm a big believer in the importance of traditions. I think that they bind a family together and strengthen the bonds between family members. I was blessed to grow up in a family that valued tradition and was committed to making tradition a part of our family. Our family had a lot of traditions and most of them centered around food. One of my most favorite traditions happened every Christmas Eve when the whole family gathered at my grandparent's house. My grandmother would prepare a feast of seven fishes that was unlike any other meal that we ate during the year. When I was young, I had no idea why we ate fish on Christmas Even but it truly was a spectacular feast. I found this quick explanation of the Feast of Seven Fishes on Simply Recipes.
Ever heard of the Feast of the Seven Fishes? Hank explains:
Growing up in New Jersey among so many Italians, I thought every Italian family celebrated Christmas Eve with the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a tidal wave of seafood dishes each featuring a different fish or shellfish. But as I grew up and met more Italians from other parts of the Old Country, I learned that the Feast is a very Southern Italian tradition. Regional or no, I love the idea of feasting on the ocean's bounty as a warm up to the heavy roasts of Christmas Day.
Every family has its own menu, but there are a few dishes that almost always appear: Smoked eel was a big one when I lived on Long Island, as was stewed or fried baccala, salt cod. Calamari or octopus was a constant, and crab or lobster was common as well. Some families served huge piles of fried smelt, others pasta with anchovies. West Coast Italians served up cioppino, a seafood stew that can often have seven fishes in one bowl.
Why seven? No one really knows. Some say it is for the Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church, others say it symbolizes the church's Seven Virtues: faith, hope, charity, temperance, prudence, fortitude and justice.
After Ben and I got married, we left our families in Ohio and moved to Texas. Moving across the country within our first year of marriage was a huge adjustment. (We were 24 years old and hopelessly in love.) Like most young married couples, we struggled to merge the traditions from two families together and to create some of our own. One tradition that we have never changed is the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve.
Some of my menu remains the same year after year - calamari, shrimp, and crab are staples. I tend to change the rest of the fish menu based on what is available and fresh. Don't get me wrong - working seven different kinds of fish into one meal is no easy task. I have been known to pull out a can of tuna or a bottle of Cesar dressing with anchovy paste in a desperate attempt to reach the lucky number seven.
This year we are heading to the Dekalb Farmer's market in search of some fresh fish for our seven fishes feast. I am really excited to see what the market has to offer. I did however, make some Roasted Red Pepper Crab Soup to serve with my fish feast this year. (That's one fish down - six to go.)
Roasted Red Pepper and Crab Soup
6 red bell peppers, halved and seeded ½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 potato, peeled and cubed ½ teaspoon basil
32 ounces chicken broth ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 quart ½ and ½ 1 pound lump crabmeat
1 pint heavy cream 1 teaspoon salt
Add crab and heat through.
Ladle into bowl just before serving.
Don't be fooled by the vegetables in this soup - it's not all that healthy. It is really good though and worth every calorie.
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