Friday, February 27, 2009

Chicken Cordon Bleu Bake

The Mission:
Test out one of the recipes that sounded good from my current Taste of Home: Simple and Delicious Magazine. The ingredients and preparation looked simple enough, and hopefully the result will turn out fantastic. I know that casseroles aren't exactly "gourmet" but I love a simple, hearty meal that's easy to make and tastes good. As soon as my husband found out that mayo was NOT on the ingredient list for this dish, he gave it his approval for a test-run.

The Ingredients:
  • 1 (6 oz.) box chicken stuffing mix
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 4 cups cubed, cooked chicken
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 lb. deli ham, sliced into 1" strips
  • 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese, divided

The Instructions:
Prepare the stuffing mix as directed and set aside. Combine the soup and the milk in a small bowl and set aside. Place the chicken in a greased 9x13" baking dish and sprinkle with the pepper. Layer the chopped ham strips onto the chicken, then sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups of the swiss cheese. Pour the soup mixture over the cheese layer and then top with the stuffing. Sprinkle with remaining cheese, then cover and bake 30 minutes in a 350*F oven. Uncover and bake 15 minutes more until cheese is melty. I like to bake for 25 minutes until the cheese is a little crispy crunchy, but that's just me. Serve with your favorite side dish.

The Result:
It turned out great! The first time I made it I followed the Taste of Home recipe exactly (which called for a mixture of swiss and cheddar cheeses), but decided that using all swiss cheese would taste better to me, so I changed the recipe to suit my taste. The dish set up well in the oven, didn't take long to make, can be prepared the night before, and is definitely going into my "main rotation" of week-day dinners.

The Reviews:
Let me see..... so far I've fed this dish to a number of people and they all seemed to really like it. My husband is thrilled with it, Friend Mark thought it was tasty, and I've received compliments from everyone else as well :) I'm very pleased. This recipe is definitely a winner!

Bisquick Chicken Pot Pie

The Mission:

Make Chicken Pot Pie for dinner since I was craving it. I used the Bisquick recipe since that's what my husband suggested, since he remembered liking it as a child.

The Ingredients:
  • 2 cups frozen veggies, thawed
  • 1 cup cooked chicken, or 1 can chicken
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup bisquick
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten

The Instructions:

Mix the chicken, veggies, and soup in a bowl until well combined. Pour into a greased 8x8 inch pan. In a separate bowl, mix the milk, eggs, and bisquick until dough forms. Drop dough by the spoonful onto the chicken mixture in the pan. Bake in a 400* oven for 30 minutes.

The Results:

In all honesty, I wasn't very thrilled with how it turned out. It tasted rather bland, so I added salt and pepper to my portion. The crust part tasted just fine, but the chicken part seemed too thick. I guess I like "soupier" chicken pot pie. Oh well - next time I'll try a different recipe and see how that goes.

The Reviews:

My husband seemed to really like it, though he did add salt and pepper to his portion as well. Friend Mark had the same thoughts that I did - it was rather bland, and too thick. But at least it was still edible! I will look into finding a more appetizing recipe for chicken pot pie to use in the future.

"Crack Dip"

The Mission:
Make a delicious dip to please the crowd at an impromptu party held at my house. The perfect time to try the famous (or infamous) "Crack Dip." I'd had the dip once before at a friend's house, and she graciously provided me with the recipe. She's awesome :)

The Ingredients:
  • 2 (8 oz each) packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup of Ranch (or Bleu Cheese) salad dressing
  • 2 cups of chicken - finely diced or shredded (you can also use canned chicken)
  • 3/4 cup of Frank's buffalo hot sauce
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

The Instructions:

In an oven safe dish, stir the cream cheese until it's smooth and creamy. Mix in the ranch (or bleu cheese) dressing and hot sauce, stir until smooth. Stir in the chicken and the cheddar cheese. Bake in a 350*F oven for 30 minutes or until dip is hot. Serve with tortilla chips - I found that the scoops or strips were exceptionally awesome with this.

The Results:

mmmmm - very good. I didn't stir the cream cheese until it was completely smooth, figuring that it would melt in the oven and get creamy enough. wrong. So I ended up with some little chunks of cream cheese in the dip - which didn't taste bad at all, it just wans't as smooth as I wanted. I made the dip using Ranch dressing, but I think next time I'll try Bleu Cheese and see how that turns out. I used the Frank's buffalo hot sauce because that is what was recommended to me - I think it's super tasty, but I'm sure that you could substitute your own favorite sauce. I served the dip in a glass bowl that I kept refilling from the bowl I baked it in (I didn't want any burn accidents) - that seemed to work out quite well, since I kept the original dish in the oven to keep the remaining crack dip warm.

The Reviews:

Let's see..... Everyone except my husband tried the dip. He's not a fan of cream cheese, or ranch, so he passed. But everyone kept telling him that he was seriously missing out. I had one friend who must have told me a dozen times "This is really good." haha. The dip went over extremely well. I had saved a little bit on the side to share with my favorite coworker and my parents - good thing, too, since the party-goers scraped the bowl clean! My coworker LOVED it, and so did my parents. This is definitely a recipe I'll make over and over again!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Valentine's Day Waffles

The Mission: Make my husband's favorite breakfast to serve him on Valentine's Day! I use my Mom's recipe, so these are the waffles I grew up eating. My husband loves them, and I wanted to make him something special. We don't usually make 'fancy' breakfasts, so it was a treat!

The Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp baking powder - sifted
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce (can substitute oil if desired)

The Instructions:

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until well blended - making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl. Follow the instructions on your waffle iron, since waffle irons tend to differ greatly. Serve waffles hot with butter and syrup, or your own personal favorite topping!

The Result:

These got RAVE reviews from my husband, even though he seemed a bit perturbed that I woke him up to eat them. It was noon, and I was hungry! I've never used my waffle iron before so it took me a little bit to get the proper amount of batter in the iron to make a perfectly sized waffle. All in all - I adore my waffle iron. It's actually my Gramma's Pizzelle maker/Waffle iron. She got it as a Christmas present in 1976. Yes. My waffle iron is older than I am! haha. But it is in perfect working condition, and I love it.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Amazing White Trash Puff Balls

The Mission: Ingredient Challenge #4 - CREAM CHEESE!

I wanted to try something new that involved cream cheese in addition to falling back on my reliable favorite. So I used to find something fun. And an recipe that includes "white trash" in the title, I knew I had to click on it. Hooray that it sounded delicious.

The Ingredients:
  • 1 (8 oz) package of sliced pepperoni
  • 1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, softened
  • 2 packages refridgerated crescent dinner rolls

The Instructions:
Dice the pepperoni into teeny tiny pieces. Combine with the softened cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl until blended thoroughly. Set aside. Unroll the crescent roll triangles. Take each triangle and cut into thirds so you have three small triangles. Using your fingers (I found it easier than a rolling pin) flatten out each triangle until it's half as thick as originally. Plop about 1 to 2 Tbsp of the cream cheese/pepperoni mixture onto the flattened triangle. Pinch the sides of the dough up around the cheese mixture and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Continue this process until all the crescent roll dough is used up. Bake puffs in a preheated oven at the temperature and time that's specified on the crescent roll package. (Every brand seems to vary). Remove from oven and let cool a little bit before eating - a burned tongue is no fun!

The Results:
The thinner the dough is, the better. I attempted using a rolling pin, but it was kind of a pain, so I went back to smushing the dough flatter with my fingers. I was also having some issues with my crescent roll dough being weird. Next time I guess I won't buy generic. It seemed to fall apart a lot when trying to unroll it. I had a bit of filling left over (probably because I wasn't putting enough in the balls - but I was afraid of spillage, so I was skimpy. Next time I will not skimp!

The Reviews:
My husband does not like cream cheese, so he didn't care for them. But he did try, which is all I ask. Friend Mark loved them, as did my parents. Dad agreed with me that the thinner the dough, the better. Mom thinks that I should try making them with mozarella cheese instead of the cream cheese next time. I might take her up on that suggestion. All in all, it's a good recipe, easy to make, and received good reviews.

Beef Stir-Fry

The Mission:

Make Beef Stir-Fry. Because it's yummy and healthy and I like it. I wasn't sure if my husband would eat this or not, since it involves a lot of veggies, but he surprised me and completely loves it. It's a common meal in our house since he requests it frequently.

The Ingredients:
  • 1 lb thinly sliced beef
  • 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 3 medium zucchinis, sliced
  • 1 bag matchstick carrots
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 lb mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (optional)
  • additional teriyaki sauce

The Instructions:

I usually buy the beef when it's on sale and thinly slice it then wrap it up in freezer paper and freeze. When it's time to make stir-fry, I pull the frozen package out, remove the beef from the paper and dump it in a glass bowl (one with a lid). Then I'll pour some teriyaki sauce on it, and sprinkle in a couple of tsps of ground ginger. I prefer to let it thaw/marinate for a few days before making to allow for maximum flavor impact. I also cut up all the veggies before I start the stir-fry. So once everything is chopped, diced, marinated, or whatever - I begin the process. First I heat up approx 2 Tbsp of canola oil in a large heavey skillet or wok. Sometimes I add a tsp or so of sesame oil because I like the flavor. Then I add the beef and garlic and stir-fry until the beef is almost done. Broccoli, carrots, and zucchini come next. Stirfry those for a few minutes before adding the mushrooms. Continue to stirfry until all the veggies are crisp-tender. It usually takes about 5-10 minutes, depending on how big a batch you're making. If the mixture is looking too dry, or starting to stick, pour in some more teriyaki sauce. It's a very "add what you want, and do what looks good" meal. I usually serve it with rice.

The Result:

I didn't like the carrots in this one as well - you can tell from the pictures that I had to use sliced regular carrot, since I usually use the matchstick carrots. But since the store was out of them, I took what I could get. I added a bit more ginger to this batch than normal and that was very nice. I tried a box rice that my husband picked up - I don't even remember which one - and it was okay. I prefer white rice.