Tag Archives: cheese

Tasty Tuesday – Chicken Broccoli Foil Packets

We’ve had a bit of a change in my house and I’ve been making dinner at midnight or so most nights.  I can’t really spend hours cooking, well actually I guess I could, but I don’t really want to at that time of night, so I’ve been hunting for hearty, quick and easy to prepare meals.  I found a recipe for a Chicken & Broccoli Foil Packet Meal that I loved so much I had to pin it to Pinterest.

This recipe reminded me of a fantastic recipe that my grandmother “created” called Chicken Thing.  It is not the same as Chicken Thing, but it does have the same homey meal feeling that I remember from my childhood.  The foils packets are also much easier to prepare, which is a big plus at 11:30pm.  I gathered all of the ingredients: 1 package Chicken Flavor Stuffing mix, 1 1/4 cup of water, 24 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts, 4 cups of broccoli, 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 4 slices cooked bacon, and 4 tablespoons of Ranch Dressing (I accidentally left this out).

Chicken Broccoli Foil Packets Ingredients

First I cut the foil to size and sprayed each piece with cooking spray.

Prep the Foil

Then I mixed the stuffing and water together.  Once it was combined well, I scooped some stuffing onto each piece of foil.

combine stuffing mix and water start building your food pyramid with stuffing

Next I trimmed the chicken and laid half a boneless skinless breast on each pile of stuffing.

Layer 2 Chicken Breast

After the chicken I added some broccoli.  The original recipe gave actual amounts to use.  I didn’t pay any attention to the measurements.  I went by sight and what my family will eat.

layer 3 broccoli

Then 1 crumbled strip of bacon gets added to each packet along with some shredded cheddar cheese.

Layer 4 Cheese  Layer 5 Crumbled Bacon

This is where I was supposed to add the ranch dressing and forgot all about it.  I blame the omission on the time of day I was making the meal.  Once the stuff was all stacked, I closed the packets (leaving enough room for air to circulate inside each one).  I placed the sealed packets on a jelly roll pan and stuck them in the oven for 30-40 minutes at 400 degrees.

Foil Packets Ready to Bake

They were ridiculously good, and I will totally be making these again, and I may even have to break out the Chicken Thing recipe and give it a whirl.

Chicken & Broccoli Foil Packets


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Tasty Tuesday – “Copy Cat” Broccoli Cheese Soup

It’s amazing!  I actually found this week’s Tasty Tuesday Recipe someplace other than Pinterest!  I found it in an old issue of Food Network Magazine (Jan./Feb. 2010).  What on earth was I doing going through old magazines?  Well, as you know, we just recently moved and I’m in the middle of setting up our new house.  I’m currently working on the Craft Room/Office and that’s where I keep all of my supplies and reference materials.  (I should really look for bookcase ideas on Pinterest…)  Ahh, but I digress, I have a huge pile of old magazines that I’ve been meaning to go through and clip some idea, recipe, or article out of, and now seemed like the right time to actually complete that project.  It was quite successful.  I went from a 4 foot stack of magazines (that’s 4 boxes if anyone’s wondering) to a much more manageable 6 inch pile of clippings.  Next step is to put away the clippings, but that can wait until the rest of the room is set up.  What was I talking about?  Oh, yeah where I found this week’s recipe…  It was in that pile of clippings that Gwen say the recipe and asked me to make it…  So this week I made a homemade version of Panera‘s Broccoli-Cheese Soup!

This recipe did require a bit of shopping, but not much.  I gathered my ingredients: 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, 1 small onion, 1/4 cup flour, 2 cups half-and-half, 3 cups chicken broth, 2 bay leaves ( I left these out), 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (I use a microplane and a whole nut, but you can substitute dried), 4 cups of fresh broccoli florets, a handful of baby carrots, 4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (the recipe only calls for 2 1/2 cups, but I added a bunch more), salt and pepper.

Broccoli Cheese Soup Ingredients

Start by making a roue.  To do this melt the butter in your soup pot, then add the onions and soften them.  Next whisk in the flour.  Once that’s combined completely (it looks almost like a paste) gradually whisk in the half-and-half until everything smooths out and it looks silky.

melt the butter  soften the onions  whisk in the flour  now the half-and-half

Once the cream sauce (I think that’s what constitutes a Bechamel sauce) is smooth and well combined, add in the chicken broth, nutmeg, bay leaves, salt & pepper.  Let it come up to temperature and then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 20 minutes or until it’s really thick and creamy.

add the chicken broth  grate in the nutmeg

After the base is ready, it’s time to add the veggies.  While you are letting the soup thicken, cut up the broccoli and carrots, so that they can just go right in the pot when it’s time.  Add them to the pot and let them simmer for about 20 minutes or until they are tender.

add the carrots  now add the broccoli

After the broccoli is nice and soft comes the fun part.  You get to blend the soup.  There are several ways to do this, but I love my immersion blender and look for any reason to use it.  You could also take the soup out of the pot and run it through a food processor or the blender.

liquify the broccoli

Once the broccoli is pretty well smoothed out (no large chunks, just those yummy green floaties), it’s time to melt in the cheese!  (oh, on a side not, next time I’m going to reserve a couple of pieces of the softened broccoli to add back in, so that they are in the finished soup.)  Add in the cheese, whisking to melt it completely over medium heat.  The recipe says you can add up to 3/4 cup of water if it’s too thick, but I didn’t have that issue.

Cheesey Goodness!

Time to serve!  I ladled it into a regular sized soup bowl and had enough for 5 servings.  I also garnished it with some shredded cheese and served it with a crusty baguette on the side.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

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Tasty Tuesday – Crock Pot Loaded Potato Soup

Being of significant Irish heritage (I’m Irish on both sides, even if my dad swore he was Italian through and through his mother’s maiden name was McCulley, I mean come on…), it seems like I’ve always know how to make corned beef and cabbage, the traditional American St. Patrick’s Day meal; however, I no longer eat beef, and Gwen is away, so this year I’m going to forgo the traditional meal.  Despite my no beef meal plan, I’m still going to tip my hat to the Irish by making this awesome Loaded Potato Soup recipe I found on Pinterest.  That’s not an Irish meal, you say?  Maybe, but you don’t get anymore Irish than potatoes…

I found this recipe on one of the coldest days this year, while I was looking for something to warm me up.  I ended up making a pot roast, but I banked this one for another time and this is the perfect opportunity to try it out.  I headed to the kitchen to make sure I had everything I needed: 7 cups of cubed potatoes, 1 cup of diced yellow onion, 3 cloves of minced garlic (I used the already cut up stuff, it’s much easier), 3 cups of chicken stock, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper, 1 cup of heavy cream, 6 pieces of thick cut bacon (any bacon will do, it doesn’t really have to be thick cut), and shredded Monteray Jack cheese (I used cheddar, because that’s not only what I had in the fridge, but I like it better).

Crock Pot Loaded Potatoe Soup Ingredients

Now that I had everything together, I read the recipe directions all the way through.  Man, was I surprised when I found out it wasn’t really a set it and forget it crock pot meal.  First you prep your veggies – cut up the potatoes and onion, mince the garlic (if you don’t cheat like I do).  Then put them all into the crock pot.

7 Cups of Potato   1 cup Yellow Onion   About 3 cloves minced Garlic

Then you add the salt and pepper.  The original recipe gave measurements, but I just went by eye and experience.  I also like my potatoes on the saltier side of life.  After the veggies are seasoned, you add the chicken stock.  This is where the original recipe gets sneaky.  It says to cover the pot and cook it on high for 3 1/2 hours, but if you don’t keep reading to the next direction you won’t end up with that really good cooked in bacon flavor that makes the soup taste loaded.

Fresh Ground Pepper   Salt the Potatoes   3 cups of Chicken Stock   Cover and cook for 3.5 hours

Once I had the crock pot set on high, I head over to the stove and cooked the bacon.  When It was nice and crispy, but not crunchy and burnt, I removed it from the frying pan and set it aside to cool it’s heels until the potatoes were ready to be garnished.  Then I took the bacon grease (what an amazing smell!) and added it to the crock pot of simmering potatoes.  When the bacon grease is in the pot, you can take a walk until the remaining cook time elapses.

cooking bacon   add the bacon grease

Ok, so now the 3 1/2 hours have gone by, and you’re really hungry a1nd anticipating just scooping out a nice helping of creamy soup.  Umm, no.  We never added the cream.  That’s because you now have to remove half of the cut up potatoes and puree them with the cup of heavy cream.  The recipe say to do it in a blender, but I used and immersion blender instead (it’s much easier to wash a bowl and the head of the stick blender than try and get my fingers into the blades of the regular blender).  Once that’s all cream and smooth, it has to go back into the pot and mingle with the remaining potatoes and stuff for an additional 30 minutes.

1 cup cream   1/2 the cooked potatoes   blend the heck out of it   put it back in the crock pot

30 agonizing minutes later, the soup is finally done!  I hate to say it, but it was totally worth the wait and the non-traditional slow cooker style preparations.  I dished up a bowl, garnished it with the chopped up bacon from earlier and some shredded cheese.

Loaded Potato Soup

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Tasty Tuesday – Grilled Flank Steak with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

We had a bit of a dinner party this week in honor of Valentine’s Day, and needed something on the fancier side of life, that we could serve as individual plates (instead of family style).  I had found a recipe a while back when I was surfing, you guessed it, Pinterest that I thought would work well.  It was for Grilled Flank Steak with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce.

It was a great recipe and worked really well within the prep time I had available for the dinner.  (It only took 30 minutes to put together, including plating.)  First thing I had to do was make sure I had all the ingredients.  I gathered the 1 1/2 pound flank steak, 1 tbsp of butter, 1 cup heavy cream (we used 1/2 cup cream & 1/2 cup of milk), 1 minced shallot, 1/4 pound of gorgonzola (blue) cheese, salt & pepper.  I also pulled out some fresh baby spinach to use on top, and we made cauliflower “mashed” potatoes to complement the meal.

gorgonzola cream sauce ingredients

I took out my grill pan and set it up on the stove to preheat.  I brought it up to medium high heat to get a nice sear on the steak.  I seasoned the steak with salt & pepper on both sides and put it on the grill.  It works best if you jut set it down and leave it be for about 8 minutes, and then flip it over and leave it for another 8 minutes on the other side.  (It comes out nicely cooked – in the medium to medium rare range.)

grilling flank steak - side 1  grilling flank steak side 2

While that was working away, I made the cream sauce.  First I melted the butter, while sauteing the shallots.

working the butter and shallots

Then I added the milk and cream mixture and reduced the liquid by half.

add the cream

Once that was reduced, I added the Gorgonzola cheese and melted that into the mixture.  (Sorry for the bad picture, but it was a timing issue at this point.)

add the cheese

As the cheese was melting, I removed the steak from the heat and set it aside (covered) to rest.  Once the sauce was finished, I sliced the steak, grabbed some baby spinach and the mashed cauliflower.  It was time to make the plates pretty!  First I took a scoop of cauliflower and put it in the middle of the plate.  Next I took 3 slices of steak and stacked them on top of the cauliflower, then I added some spinach.  When all that was piled up prettily, I covered it with a good spoonful of the Gorgonzola cream sauce.

grilled flank steak with gorgonzola cream sauce

I was a ridiculously decadent sauce!  And it wasn’t too expensive to make, now the steak on the other hand was a bit ridiculous.  What’s with the price of meat these days?  What do you like to serve for a fancy dinner?

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Tasty Tuesday – Baked Mozzarella Chicken Rolls

This week’s kitchen adventure is a recipe I found on Pinterest (as usual) for Baked Mozzarella Chicken Rolls.  I chose them, because they resembled Chicken Rollatini.

The directions were pretty straight forward.  First I gathered the ingredients:  chicken cutlets, ricotta cheese, parmigiano cheese, fresh mozzarella, marinara sauce, spinach, egg, olive oil, garlic and bread crumbs.

baked mozzarella chicken ingredients

Next I chopped the spinach and sauteed it with garlic and olive oil.

chopped spinach  saute with garlic and olive oil

When it is just wilted and smelling super yummy, take it off the heat and mix it in a bowl with a cup of ricotta, 4 tbsp. of parmigiano cheese and an egg.

sauteed spinach  ricotta cheese

egg  parmigiano cheese  filling mixed well

Once it is combined well, take a scoop of the mixture and put it on each piece of chicken and roll it closed.

stuffing the chicken

When each roll was stuffed I put it in an egg wash and then rolled it in breadcrumbs to coat it.

coat with egg wash  coat with bread crumbs

When everything was covered, they went into a baking dish.  I made sure the edges weren’t touching so that they would cook all the way through.  When the dish was full I put it into the oven at 450 degrees for 25 minutes.

ready to bake

While it was baking, I cut up the fresh mozzarella and heated up some leftover spaghetti sauce from Sunday’s lasagna.

sliced fresh mozzarella

After 25 minutes I pulled the cooked chicken from the oven and covered it with the pasta sauce and the fresh mozzarella.  Then it went back in for 3 minutes to melt the cheese.

baked chicken  ready to melt the cheese

Even though I didn’t follow the directions exactly, the finished product was really mouth watering!

Baked Mozzarella Chicken Rolls

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Tasty Tuesday – Taco Pockets

So this week we decided to true something a bit different for dinner…  We only had appetizers.  We each picked one recipe and made enough for everyone to share for dinner.  My choice was Chicken Taco Melts.  They came from a recipe I found on Pinterest, where else?

image (15)

The recipe was pretty straight forward, but I’m in the middle of moving and didn’t really have a chance to find the sheet I printed (and I’m sure I could come up with 4 or 5 other excuses as to why I didn’t follow the recipe) so I improvised.

First I gathered my ingredients…

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (about 1 pound)

Sour Cream (for dipping)

Shredded Cheese

Pillsbury Grands Biscuits

Sriracha (for an extra spicy kick)

2-3 tablespoons Taco Seasoning (I use my own homemade Taco Seasoning Mix)

Water & Olive Oil

Once I had everything together, I cubed the chicken and sauteed it in a skillet with a bit of olive oil (just so it wouldn’t stick to the bottom of the pan).  Once it was cooked through, I added my Taco Seasoning and some water (about a half cup).  Once I had it looking like Taco Filling I added a bit of Sriracha Chili Sauce to kick the heat up a few notches.

cutting up chicken

cutting up chicken

cook it all the way through

cook it all the way through

add the seasoning

add the seasoning

now turn up the heat

now turn up the heat

When I had the filling ready I moved on to prepping the pockets (or shells).  I opened a package of Pillsbury Grands Biscuits and separated the rounds onto a cookie sheet.  Then I cut them in half and stretched the dough out so that I could fold it over once the filling was in the middle.  Then I added the filling (meat and cheese) and closed them up.  I just folded the edge of the dough over the filling and pinched the sides closed like with a calzone or pie crust.  Then it was into the oven at 350 degrees for 14-16 minutes.

these work best - it's the butter like substance in the dough

these work best – it’s the butter like substance in the dough

not an exact science

not an exact science

don't over stuff then they ooze out the sides

don’t over stuff then they ooze out the sides

oven ready

oven ready

Boy were they yummy.  We are going to try buffalo chicken ones next time, because we all kinda like the spicy stuff.

they sure didn't last long

they sure didn’t last long

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