As you may or may not know one of my favorite things to do is to eat. Since Big Mama has a tendency to shun ingredient assembly as a matter of principal I do most of the cooking in our humble abode, and most times I enjoy it. I like to do some experimenting, sometimes with success, sometimes without, but always with at least interesting results. My favorite thing to do is to get about ten different recipes for the same thing from someplace like Allrecipes.com, and combine the parts that I think will work well together. It's a fairly Frankenstein-y approach to culinary art but my monsters rarely maul anyone.
I usually have a Tivo'ed episode of Good Eats playing on the little kitchen tube while I assemble some epicurean delight just in case I want to brine a turkey at the last minute or have an urgent need to understand the molecular structure of BBQ sauce. That is, I have on the tube either Alton Brown or my other hero, Norm Abram, depending on whether or not a table saw is required for a particular dish I'm making.
I have collected and perfected a few core dishes as part of my personal edible aggregate, all of which have been tested and approved by objective and picky as hell eaters.
I thought it might be nice to share a few of these recipes. The one I'm starting with here is one I made for the first time last night, mostly by just throwing together random stuff that I could find in the house. It turned out remarkably yummy. Millie nearly ate it all gone and Big Mama said it was the first successful casserole dish I've ever made. (She started out fifteen years ago being forced to endure what I called Bachelor Slop - cheap boxed mac&cheese mixed with anything at all I could find, so she has a uniquely qualified opinion)
So this is what we had for dinner...
Tasty Chicken & Rice Casserole
click here to download recipe
2 Large boneless chicken breasts, boil until just cooked through with a pinch of kosher salt and approx1/2 tsp poultry seasoning. Drain and cool. Shred.
(For convienience, cook large quantities ahead of time and separate into 1lb portions – freeze)
1 1/2c. quick cooking brown rice (or long cooking if you like to wait)
2c. chicken broth or (stock strained and frozen after boiling all that chicken previously)
1/2 ea. green pepper, red pepper, onion diced
2 med carrots diced
1 stalk celery diced
3/4c. peas (frozen is fine)
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tblsp olive oil
1 1/2c. shredded cheddar cheese (or whatever cheese is in the house)
1c. Parmesan cheese
approx 2 tsp McCormick Garlic & Herb seasoning
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 wad of fresh chopped parsley (if you happen to have some)
1 tsp dried parsley
1 can of Cream of Mushroom soup
approx 1/2c milk
Cook rice in chicken stock and a pinch of kosher salt according to proportions or instructions on bag or box. While that’s going…
In a big skillet or chicken fryer sauté in olive oil w/ approx 1tsp of Garlic & Herb seasoning & a good pinch of kosher salt –
Peppers, onion, carrot, celery, & garlic. Feel free to leave out what veggies you don’t like and add in ones you do. Cook until carrots and celery are somewhat soft. Add in frozen peas.
Add in cooked chicken and poultry seasoning. Stir and heat through.
Rice should be done by now.
Preheat oven to 350
Add rice to veg and chicken mixture. Add another tsp or so of Garlic & Herb seasoning, parsley, mushroom soup/milk and 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Mix thoroughly. Try to keep it from spilling all over the stove.
Once mixed, spoon into 9x11 casserole dish. Spread evenly. Sprinkle approx 1cup (or as much as you like) shredded cheese on top. Sprinkle 1cup (or again, as much as you like) Parmesan cheese on top of that.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or so.
It was suggested that some crunchiness may help this recipe. If you like, add Durkee onions to the mixture and sprinkle some on top before baking.
Or do this Rachael Ray trick…
Mix 2 cups of stuffing bread crumbs (she recommends Pepperidge Farms) with 4 tblsp of meted butter and the cheese. Spread all that on top before baking.
Serves anywhere from one guy to a family of six. (I ate half of this myself) Yum.