Monday, February 28, 2011

Creamy Chicken Lasagna

I’ve been holding out on you guys. I’ve made this incredible chicken lasagna at least four times now, but I just haven’t been able to get an appetizing-looking picture of it, so I’ve been putting off sharing the recipe. But I can’t hold out on you any longer. You have to make this. My family absolutely loves it, and I can practically guarantee that yours will too.

The sauce for this lasagna is so unbelievably creamy -- a combination of cream of chicken soup, sour cream, cream cheese, and milk. Italian seasoning adds earthy flavor, and four whole cups of cheese make this incredibly gooey and delicious. You can use reduced-fat everything for the lasagna to make it at least somewhat healthy. I will keep going back to this recipe again and again, especially since it’s one of the few things my two-and-a-half-year-old actually requests for dinner. We love this recipe!

Creamy Chicken Lasagna

adapted from Krista’s Kitchen

1 pound chicken breast, cubed into small pieces
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
2 cans cream chicken soup
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
2 cups sour cream
1 cup milk
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1 box no-boil lasagna noodles
4 cups shredded colby-jack or cheddar-jack cheese blend

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a large frying pan, cook chicken in olive oil and butter until the chicken is no longer pink. Remove chicken and keep warm.

3. Add garlic to pan; cook and stir for 30 seconds. Add cream soup, cream cheese, sour cream, milk, and chicken broth to the pan. Stir until ingredients melt and thicken slightly. Season with Italian seasoning and salt and pepper to taste. Add chicken and continue to stir. Turn heat down and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes.

4. Spread a thin layer of sauce in a greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Layer noodles, then cream sauce with chicken, then cheese. Continue to repeat until your pan is full, ending with cheese on top. Bake at 350 for 40 to 45 minutes or until hot and bubbly.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Weekly Meal Planning, Week of 2.28.11

A quick survey of my fridge and freezer earlier in the week revealed to me that we're pretty well-stocked with food, so it was a light grocery shopping trip yesterday. And even better than that, we're going to be eating really well this week. I'm so excited for all of these meals!

Monday: Creamy pesto chicken casserole

Tuesday: Chipotle bacon burgers, sweet potato fries

Wednesday: Pimiento macaroni and cheese, steamed broccoli

Thursday: Steak fajitas with chimichurri and drunken peppers, cilantro-lime rice

Friday: No cooking

Saturday: Asian meatball subs with hoisin mayonnaise

Sunday: Cheesy stuffed shells with spicy sausage sauce, garlic bread

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

If a post pops up in my Google Reader with the word “enchilada” in the title, it’s pretty much a sure bet that I’ll be starring the recipe to try in the future. When I saw this casserole, then, it was a no-brainer. I knew I’d be trying it, and I knew we’d love it. So I did, and we did.

Although you could definitely use traditional salsa for this recipe if you had it on hand, I strongly recommend the salsa verde. It has a different flavor than red salsa, and I love how that flavor works in this dish. There are a lot of things that I love about this recipe, actually -- the mild spice, the creaminess of the sour cream and refried beans, the melty multitude of cheese, the way it reminds me of a Mexican lasagna with its alternating layers. If you love Mexican food like I do, I think you’ll find that this is your perfect comfort food.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole
slightly adapted from The Picky Apple

3 cups shredded, cooked chicken (a rotisserie chicken works perfectly)
1 packet of taco seasoning
2 cups salsa verde
9 small flour tortillas
1 15.5-ounce can refried beans, warmed
8 ounces sour cream
3 cups shredded colby jack cheese

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix chicken, taco seasoning, 1/2 cup water and salsa verde in a skillet. Simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes.

2. Coat 13 x 9-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Cover bottom of pan with 3 tortillas, overlapping. Pour half of the chicken mixture on the tortillas. Cover with 3 more tortillas. Combine refried beans and sour cream, then spread over the tortillas.

3. Sprinkle half the cheese over the beans and sour cream, and cover with the remaining 3 tortillas. Top with remaining chicken mixture, followed by remaining cheese. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, until bubbly.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cuban Sandwiches

I mentioned in this week’s meal plan that I’ve been craving these Cuban sandwiches for a long time now -- but week after week, I never end up making them for one reason or another. I was determined to actually make them this week, and I’m so glad I finally did, because they turned out to be one of those “OMG so delicious I have to share it with you right now” sorts of meals. Which is why we ate them for dinner last night, and I’m skipping way ahead in my list of recipes to share to write about them today.

The star of the sandwiches is definitely the juicy, flavorful, succulent pork roast (which I found by way of my friend Jessie). It’s marinated overnight in vinegar and oil and tons of garlic, which makes it incredibly tender and gives it so much flavor. For these sandwiches, it’s paired with sliced ham, Swiss cheese, and crunchy pickles and pressed until oozy and delicious. The hands-on time for these is about 15 minutes, so they're easy in addition to being absolutely delicious.

Traditional Cubans are made with yellow mustard, but the hubs it not a fan, so I made a little spread with honey mustard and mayonnaise, and I thought that worked perfectly for these. I liked the hint of sweetness from the honey mustard. Joe took one bite, looked at me, and said, “Whoa.”

I think that about sums it up. Try them!

Cuban Sandwiches
Pernil adapted from Tasty Kitchen

For the pernil:

1 2-pound pork shoulder or butt
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon oregano or marjoram
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons salt

For the sandwiches:

Sliced Swiss cheese
Sliced ham
Sliced pickles
Rolls (hoagie rolls or something oblong work best)
Honey mustard

1. For the pernil: Combine garlic, pepper, oregano or marjoram, olive oil, vinegar and salt. Rub pork with garlic mixture and refrigerate overnight. Cook in a Crock pot on low for 8 hours.

2. To assemble the sandwiches, mix together equal parts mayonnaise and honey mustard. Spread sauce on both sides of a roll. Layer cheese, ham, pickles, pernil, and another slice of cheese on the bottom of a roll; top with other half of roll.

3. Press sandwiches in a panini press or skillet until bread is crispy and cheese is melted.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weekly Meal Planning, Week of 2.21.11

I really didn't intend to take a mini-vacation from blogging last week, but apparently I did. This is my busy season at work, and I've been dealing with some minor health issues with my younger son, so it was just hard to find time to blog last week. Hopefully this week I'll be better at posting, because I really do have some delicious things to share with you!

: Cuban sandwiches (made with this pernil), sweet potato fries. This is probably the meal I've been craving the most, but I never end up making it for one reason or another. That changes tomorrow.

Tuesday: Chicken bacon avocado quesadillas, taco rice

Wednesday: Chicken with pesto mushroom cream sauce, salad

Thursday: Mini taco meatloaves, Mexican sour cream rice

Friday: No cooking

Saturday: Chicken cordon bleu soup

Sunday: Bacon pierogi bake

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Weekly Meal Planning, Week of 2.14.11

Well, after all my big talk about sticking to the meal plan last week, I completely didn't follow through. My husband recently started a new job that requires him to work some evenings, and on those nights, it's hard for me to get motivated to make a big dinner for just the boys and me -- especially when they're happy with something simple, like chicken nuggets or spaghettios. So I slacked. But no matter what nights he has to work this week, I really want to make sure I have some kind of healthy-ish dinner prepared to keep us from eating junk all the time.

: Open-faced hamburger cheesesteaks. We really know how to have a romantic Valentine's Day, huh?

: Creamy chicken and wild rice soup, rolls

: Garlic spaghetti, garlic bread

: Pulled chicken suiza sandwiches

: No cooking

: Cuban sandwiches (made with this pernil, sweet potato fries

Sunday: Creamy pesto chicken casserole

Friday, February 11, 2011

Burger and Fries Friday: Marsala Burgers

It’s way past time that I shared my new favorite burger with you. I know I say that about a lot of the burgers that I share -- that this one or that one is my favorite -- but I honestly believe that this one is going to be very hard to top. It’s a little bit fancier than your typical cheeseburger, but it’s so easy and quick to prepare, so it just may be the perfect Valentine’s Day dinner for the sweetie in your life.

These marsala burgers have such awesome, rich flavor. The mushrooms add a great earthy quality, and the marsala deepens the flavor incredibly. The burgers are dunked in the marsala pan sauce, making them irresistibly juicy, and then they’re topped with creamy, decadent smoked gouda cheese. With a huge pile of roasted asparagus on the side, these burgers are gorgeous. Simply gorgeous.

Marsala Burgers
adapted from elly says opa!

1.25 pounds ground beef
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
3/4 cup marsala
1/2 cup beef broth
4 slices smoked gouda
Butter-grilled hamburger buns for serving

1. Lightly mix together the ground sirloin and Worcestershire. Form the mixture into four patties. Season on both sides with salt and fresh pepper.

2. Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add a little olive oil and when it shimmers, add the burgers. Cook the burgers until they are just undercooked to your liking (so if you like your burgers medium, cook until medium rare). Remove from the pan and set aside.

3. Add the butter to the pan, and then add the onion, garlic, and mushrooms. Saute until tender and the mushrooms have lost all their juices. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the marsala. Scrape up any browned bits from the pan and reduce the liquid by half. Add the broth and reduce again by half. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Add the burgers back into the pan and continue cooking another minute or so. Top with the cheese and melt. Serve the burgers on butter-grilled buns and top with the mushroom mixture.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Recipe Rewind: Chicken Noodle Casserole

When I got in my car this morning, my rearview mirror thermostat told me it was -3 degrees outside. MINUS THREE. I know in other parts of the country that’s pretty typical for this time of year, but here? Not so much. Brr.

And of course, because Ohio is crazy, it’s supposed to be nearly 50 degrees by next week. But in the meantime, what I want is comfort food -- something heavy and delicious to warm me up and fill me up on these frigid days. This chicken noodle casserole, which has been a favorite in our family for many years now, fits the bill perfectly.

I posed about this a few years ago in the early days of my blog, but it’s something that I make so much and that we love so much that I just had to feature it again with a (somewhat) better photo. To me, this casserole is the ultimate comfort food. It has such a wonderful homey flavor to it that I just absolutely love. It’s loaded with condensed soups and Velveeta, so it’s certainly not healthy…but swimsuit weather is a few months off, right? This is the perfect indulgence for a cold winter night.

Chicken Noodle Casserole

8 ounces egg noodles
1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces Velveeta cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 pound cooked shredded chicken (a rotisserie chicken works perfectly for this)
2 cups crushed butter crackers
2 tablespoons butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook egg noodles in boiling salted water (or chicken broth, to add even more flavor) until cooked through; drain.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, sauté onion and peppers until onions are translucent. Add garlic and season with salt and pepper; cook and stir for 30 seconds.

3. Mix in Velveeta and soups. When cheese is melted, stir in the chicken, and combine the sauce with the noodles. Pour into a greased 13 x 9-inch casserole dish. Combine crushed butter crackers and melted butter; sprinkle evenly on top of the casserole.

4. Bake for 1 hour.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chicken Bacon Avocado Quesadillas

Well well well, do I have a delicious recipe to share with you today. Even though I knew these were going to be good (I mean, duh: Look at that ingredient list!), I was completely unprepared for just how much I was going to love them.

See, here’s what happens: You have crispy bacon, gooey cheese, tender chunks of chicken, and buttery slices of avocado. You put all of those things together between a couple of tortillas and BAM! It’s an explosion of flavors and textures.

I know I’m not fully conveying how delicious these are. Just TRY THEM, please. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Chicken Bacon Avocado Quesadillas
adapted from One Day At A Time – From My Kitchen To Yours

8 medium-sized flour tortillas

1 pound chicken breasts
Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
8 strips of bacon, chopped
1 avocado, sliced
Lime juice
Shredded Monterey jack cheese

1. Fry bacon in a skillet over medium heat. Set bacon aside to drain on paper towels. Drain all but 1/2 tablespoon of drippings from the pan.

2. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder and add the chicken to the bacon drippings. Cook until chicken is golden brown and cooked through. Let chicken rest for 3 to 5 minutes, then dice very finely or shred. (You can always dice the chicken before you cook it, but I think it’s much more tender if I wait to chop it until after it’s cooked.)

3. Slice avocado and sprinkle with lime juice to preserve color. Top four tortillas with cheese, chicken, bacon, and avocado. Sprinkle with more cheese and top with other four tortillas. Cook each quesadilla until browned and crispy.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Weekly Meal Planning, Week of 2.7.11

I've done an okay job sticking with my meal plans so far this year, but I could definitely be doing better. The goal this week is to stick to the plan exactly -- no take-out and no laziness. I'm still fighting off a cold (and failing), so this should be a little bit challenging. Thankfully most of the meals I've planned are pretty low-maintenance, which should make sticking with it much easier.

: Creamy chicken and wild rice soup, rolls

Tuesday: Garlic spaghetti, garlic bread. I saw Melissa D'Arabian make this spaghetti on a recent episode of her show, and I'm so excited to try it.

Wednesday: Crescent sausage and egg bake (carry-over from last week)

Thursday: Pizza macaroni and cheese -- a hopefully delicious experiment.

Friday: No cooking

Saturday: Crock pot ham and beans with corn muffins. I've had a serious craving for my mom's ham and beans lately, and this recipe sounds pretty close to hers.

Sunday: Crescent roll lasagna
(carry-over from a couple of weeks ago)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Nutella Fudge Brownies for World Nutella Day

Did you know today is World Nutella Day? If there's a more delicious holiday out there, I don't know what it is. I just couldn't let today pass without taking advantage of a perfect excuse to use one of my favorite ingredients!

I've come down with a yucky cold, as have both of my sons, so it hasn't been the most productive weekend so far. That means that I needed a simple recipe -- one that wouldn't take too much of my time or energy. These Nutella fudge brownies were absolutely perfect. With only three ingredients (I left out the hazelnuts), these couldn't be simpler -- and I was shocked at how delicious they actually were! They're so fudgy and rich, and the Nutella is definitely the star. Next time I'll add the hazelnuts, and maybe some mini chocolate chips for an additional textural element, but these brownies don't really need either of those things. They're pretty perfect just the way they are!

Be sure to check out these other delicious recipes featuring Nutella:

Triple chocolate scotcheroos

Nutella mousse tartlets

Nutella chocolate chip cookies
Nutella hot chocolate

Nutella Fudge Brownies

seen on Taste and Tell and tons of other places too

1/2 cup Nutella
1 large egg
5 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup mini muffin pan with paper or foil liners.

2. Put the Nutella and egg in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth and well blended. Add the flour and whisk until blended.

3. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins (about 3/4 full) and sprinkle with the chopped hazelnuts.

4. Bake until a pick comes out with wet, gooey crumbs, 11-12 minutes. Set on a rack to cool completely. Serve immediately or cover and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.

P.S. Someone was feeling well enough to stake a claim to one of the brownies. He waited patiently until I finished taking the picture, and I commend him for that. I could barely wait until they were out of the pan to stuff one in my mouth. :)


Friday, February 4, 2011

Cheesy Beer Dip

I’ve saved the best Super Bowl snack recipe for last. Especially if you happen to be rooting for the Packers this year, I’d venture to say that this cheesy beer dip is The Ultimate Super Bowl Dip for you. Use Wisconsin cheddar and beer brewed right in Milwaukee. It couldn’t be more perfect.

However, no matter who you’re rooting for this weekend or where you live, I think you should definitely make this soon. It’s so incredibly good! The cream cheese and cheddar make it creamy and gooey, and the beer adds such a wonderful yeasty, tangy flavor to the dip without being overpowering.

The original recipe says that this should be served cold. I say that’s madness. I served it warm with a huge pile of pretzels, and we seriously could not get enough of this. YUM.

Cheesy Beer Dip
adapted from Taste of Home

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup beer
1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Pretzels for serving

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together cream cheese, beer, and ranch dressing mix. Continue to stir until smooth and bubbly, then add cheddar cheese until melted.

3. Pour into a greased oven-safe dish. Bake 20 minutes or until mixture is hot and bubbly. Serve with pretzels.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mexican Biscuit Pizzas

This is (yet another) of those “Why didn’t I think of that?” sorts of recipes. It never occurred to me before to roll out a biscuit and use it as the crust for an individual-sized pizza. But now that I have this method in my repertoire, I can guarantee you I’ll be using it a lot. Andrew’s daycare lunches are about to get much more exciting!

In this particular version, swiped from the trustworthy Pioneer Woman, the “flatbread” base is topped with refried beans, salsa, seasoned ground beef and tons of cheese to make a pizza that tastes just like a taco. Unfortunately I didn’t have all of the ingredients for pico de gallo immediately on hand, or I would have put some of that on top of these too. But as it was, we thought salsa, sour cream, and hot corn dip were the perfect toppers for these delicious, simple little pizzas.

I think this is a great recipe for a gameday spread because it’s so adaptable. You could make a ton of the biscuit crusts and sit out assorted toppings to make a fun and easy pizza bar for your guests. But be sure you present this version as one of the options, because I guarantee you that your guests will love it!

(Oh, and one other item of note: These hold up surprisingly well as leftovers. We had them again for lunch the next day.)

Mexican Biscuit Pizzas
adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks!

1 can large biscuits (not flaky!) (8 biscuits per can)
1 14.5-ounce can refried beans
3 tablespoons salsa
1 pound cooked, taco-seasoned ground beef or turkey
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
Lettuce, pico de gallo, salsa, sour cream, or cilantro for serving

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Flour work surface and roll out each biscuit until very flat. Brush very lightly with olive oil. Bake for 8 minutes, or until starting to turn golden. Remove from oven and set aside.

2. Mix refried beans with salsa. Heat on stovetop.

3. To assemble, spread refried beans over each flattened biscuit. Top with plenty of beef. Sprinkle shredded cheddar over the top. Return to oven for 3 minutes, or until melted and bubbly. Top with desired toppings and serve.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hot Corn Dip

Most of the country is being pounded with a massive winter storm right now, and Ohio is no exception. We woke up to ice, ice, and more ice -- and some sleet and freezing rain thrown in for good measure. The drive to work was harrowing, to say the least. And the snow moves in tonight, so I’m sure tomorrow’s going to be even worse.

I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but here, when a massive winter weather system is predicted, people go absolutely crazy. Last night Joe went to the store to get some essentials --bottled water, diapers, and ice cream, of course -- and they were completely out of milk...all types and sizes of milk, including almond, rice and soy (he checked). I’m glad we have little ones and we’re never short of milk!

Anyway, if you weren’t able to make it to the store before the Snowpocalypse hit, this is definitely a snack you can still make for yourself while the weather rages outside. Its ingredients are pantry staples (at least for me), and best of all, it’s so incredibly delicious. This was great with tortilla chips, but it was equally as delicious on top of the Mexican biscuit pizzas I served it with (recipe coming tomorrow). The only thing I’d do differently next time would be to use half pepper-jack cheese or add a dash of hot sauce to give this just a little bit more of a kick. Some cilantro would be nice in here too.

Hot Corn Dip
adapted from Mommy’s Kitchen, originally from Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood

2 11-ounce cans corn with red and green peppers, drained
2 4-ounce can chopped green chilies, drained
2 cups grated Monterey jack cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a casserole dish.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together the corn, chilies, cheeses, mayonnaise, sour cream, and salt and pepper. Spread the mixture in the prepared casserole dish.

3. Bake, uncovered, 30 to 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly.