Tag Archive | easy dinner recipe

White Sauces – Easy (and From Scratch!)

I found a wonderful “comfort food” recipe on Pinterest the other day. It was just perfect to prepare after being out in the cold temperatures – Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole. It dawned on me, as I was making the dish, that the recipe called for cream of (something or other) soup. I've made my own white sauces for many years. It's easy and you can skip all of the preservatives and chemicals that the canned soups contain.

By simply using three simple ingredients and spending about five minutes of your time, you can create a “cream of” soup (white sauce) for your recipe.

Here's how:

For a cup of white sauce (for creamed and scalloped dishes) simply melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan.

 

Blend in 2 tablespoons of flour, cooking over low heat and stirring until the mixture is smooth and bubbly. Remove it from the heat and stir in 1 cup of milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly for one minute. Done! Season as you wish with salt and pepper, etc.

Here's that comfort food recipe: Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

For two servings, I grilled two chicken breasts and sliced them in serving size pieces in the bottom of an 8 x 8 casserole dish. Then chop some deli-sliced ham and sprinkle over the top of the chicken, followed by thin sliced swiss cheese. Prepare your white sauce (recipe above) and when you bring it to its final boil after adding the milk, ADD a good squeeze of fresh lemon, a dollop of dijon mustard, some salt, smoked paprika and white pepper to the sauce. Stir to incorporate. Pour the sauce over your chicken mixture in the baking dish.

Now, as if this recipe doesn't have enough comfort food calories, you finish the dish with a topping. Melt 1/2 stick of butter in a pan, add 1 cup of Panko crumbs, 1/2 teaspoon of Lawrys seasoning salt and a tablespoon of dried parsley. Combine and sprinkle over the chicken dish.

I baked for 30 minutes until the sauce was bubbly and then stuck the dish under the broiler to finish those Panko breadcrumbs into a golden brown.

Wow – is this good! (certainly not a dinner your waistline or arteries could take on a regular basis, but once in a while was sure delicious!)

Enjoy!

 

 

Wild Ricing??

Sometimes you just don't realize what a cool childhood you had. Things that we feel are “normal and every day” are foreign to others. Let me tell you of one of those ah-ha moments.

Last evening we had a neighborhood get-together where everyone brings a crockpot of soup. We share the soup and eat like kings! I made a wild rice/ham soup using the wild rice that my parents had picked in Minnesota.

When I mentioned that it was hand-picked and processed, people were a bit mystified……rice? Did you grow up near a rice pattie? How do you pick it?

Well, “ricing” was an actual season in Minnesota – the same as fishing season and hunting season. The wild rice (which is actually an aquatic grass) grows in shallow water in lakes or slow-flowing streams and rivers. My family would rice in the area lakes and slow-moving waters of the Mississippi River where the plants grew in areas of slow or no current. Ricing season was during the last part of August and first part of September. The Division of Natural Resources controlled the season and you had to purchase a license to be able to rice. You were not allowed to rice with any motorized boat – the vessel had to be propelled by muscle power only. My parents used a canoe and my Dad pushed the canoe through the water with a big pole that had “feet” on the bottom of it. As he pushed, my Mom sat in the middle of the canoe with two 3-foot sticks. She would reach out to the right with one stick pulling the rice stalks over the boat and then would knock the heads off with the second stick. Then she would repeat the process with the same sticks, only working on the left side of the canoe. They worked back and forth, in this way, through the wild rice patch. You certainly ran the risk of losing all of your rice if you tipped the canoe over, so many would unload mid-day just in case!

There were always buyers on the shore to buy your “green” rice, or you could take it in to be processed for your own use. My family always had a burlap bag of processed rice and we ate it often. One of our family favorites was wild rice pancakes where my Mom added cooked wild rice to our pancake batter. (You want to talk about a flapjack that would stick with ya – that was it! Try it!)

 

So, here is the recipe for the Wild Rice Ham Soup that we enjoyed last night. It's hearty and delicious!

Since I was preparing for a lot of people, this recipe will serve 12 and fill a good-sized crockpot. First, bring 2 cups of rice and six cups of water to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 45-60 minutes. Your rice will pop open when it is done – taste it to be sure.

 

Then in a separate pot, melt 3/4 cup of butter and sauté a small diced onion in the butter. After the onion is done, blend in one cup of flour until smooth and then gradually add six cups of chicken broth. Stir this mixture constantly as it thickens until it comes to a boil, then reduce the heat and stir in your cooked wild rice, 1 and 1/2 cups of diced ham, a cup of shredded carrots, 1/4 cup of slivered almonds. Cook for an additional few minutes and then add 2 cups of half and half just before serving.

 

New England Baked Shrimp

When I get a “hankering” for some delicious seafood, my favorite way to prepare it is with the following recipe. Gone are the days in our household where deep fried shrimp is served. THIS recipe is not only delicious, it is quick and easy to prepare and has a low calorie count (190 calories per serving). It works on all kinds of white fish – halibut, cod, and mmmmm – walleye. Give it a try!

New England Baked Shrimp

2 tablespoons of butter

1/2 cup dried bread crumbs

1/2 clove of garlic, crushed

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 pound fresh large shrimp

In a small saucepan, melt your butter and stir in the bread crumbs, garlic and Parmesan cheese. Remove from the burner and cool. Shell and devein your shrimp; cut through lengthwise until almost split. Flatten and place in a single layer in a medium sized baking pan. Spread each shrimp with a scant tablespoon of the crumb mixture. Bake 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees until shrimp are tender.

The shrimp come out of the oven with a wonderful garlic, cheesy flavor with a slight breadcrumb coating and boy, they are good!


A couple of months ago, I read an article about bread crumbs. Yup – not all breadcrumbs are created equal!

I enjoy making my own bread, but there are times when you don't get to the end of loaf fast enough and the bread gets kind of dry. I just pop the slices on a cookie sheet and let them totally dry out, then hit then with a rolling pin to make my own bread crumbs. They are great for this recipe. The article I read on bread crumbs told me that the package you purchase in the store of your favorite bread crumbs is perhaps more than you bargained for. So, last time through the grocery store, I had to see for myself. Here is the list of ingredients on the back of one particular bread crumb container.

I will continue to use my “day old bread” for breadcrumbs. Who knew?