Thursday, September 22, 2016

CSA Overload

My parents have been on vacation the past couple of weeks. This means that I am getting the entire CSA share. I am bursting at the seams with fresh vegetables. While this is certainly not a bad thing, some of them were starting to look VERY sad and rather than let them be wasted I came up with this dish to maximize their use. I STILL have a ton left to use but this seemed to  at least make use of the ones that were closest to becoming inedible. It is a mash up of a pot pie and a shepherds pie and the hubs and I both found it to be tasty and filling. I does call for canned soup so if you are against that sort of thing you could certainly whip together a quick sauce with butter, flour and chicken broth. I wasn't feeling like adding any additional work to the dish so I used the can of soup I found in the cupboard.

Chicken Pot Shepherds Pie With Mashed Cauliflower

For the Mashed Cauliflower
2 small heads cauliflower, broken into florets
 2 Tbs butter
 3 small leeks, rinsed and sliced thin
1 Cup chicken broth
1/2 Cup half and half
S&P to taste

For the Pot Pie
3 small heads broccoli, cut into florets
3 carrots, sliced thin
3 stalks celery, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 Tbs olive oil
1 large boneless skinless chicken breast, diced
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can half and half
S&P to taste

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 350F

Prepare the Mashed Cauliflower
Add butter and leeks to a sauce pan over low heat. Stir and let leeks soften a bit. Add cauliflower and chicken broth. Cover pot and let simmer on low heat until cauliflower is soft. Add half and half in increments and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Salt and Pepper to taste. If cauliflower is too thin you can thicken it up a bit with almond flour without affecting the taste. When done remove from heat and set aside.

Prepare Filling
Add oil and chicken to a large saute pan over medium heat and brown. Once browned, remove from heat and set aside. Leave juices in pan. Chicken does not have to be cooked through, it will finish in the oven.
Add vegetables to pan and continue to saute until just beginning to soften. Return chicken to pan and add soup and half and half and stir to incorporate. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer filling mixture to a casserole dish. Sprinkle 1/2 Cup shredded cheddar cheese over the top of the filling. Pour mashed cauliflower over the filling and spread it to cover. Bake for 50 minutes. top casserole with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese for the last 15 minutes of baking. Let stand a few minutes before serving.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Quick Hit

Wednesdays sometimes don't afford me much time for dinner. I am a volunteer on my hometowns Conservation Commission and we meet the second Wednesday of every month at 7PM. While I do enjoy being involved with local decision making, I have to admit that when meeting time rolls around I am never very excited to go. What can I say, once I get home I like to stay there. But since I planned ahead, I had an idea of what to do for dinner in the hour and I half that I had between getting home from work and having to leave for my meeting. I had some prepared veal cutlets that I had defrosted in the refrigerator overnight. I get them from an Italian market in New Haven and they are always excellent. Plus, it saves me the mess of having to bread them myself. YAY! I fried those up like one traditionally does in my cast iron skillet and topped them with what I call, "hot Italian salsa". That was really a jumble of things from my CSA share but I have to admit it was superb. You could pour this concoction over veal, chicken, fish or even eggplant cutlets and it would be delicious.

Hot Italian Salsa

2 Tbs butter
2 leeks, sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced (my cloves were small so I used 4)
1 medium zucchini, diced
2 tomatoes, diced (or a generous Cup of cherry tomatoes, halved)
1/2 C Parmesan cheese
1/4 C balsamic vinegar

In a large frying pan, melt butter over low heat. Add leeks, garlic and zucchini and saute until vegetables begin to soften.
Add tomatoes and continue to saute.
Once tomatoes have release a fair amount of liquid, add cheese and vinegar and let simmer to reduce. Be careful not to scorch the vinegar.
Once veggies are cooked through, remove from heat and serve over cooked cutlets

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

It's the Little Things

Yesterday was CSA share pick up day. In this weeks share we had a reappearance of leeks. I love those things. So many delicious ways to use them. However, hubs mentioned Monday on our way home from camping that, if time permitted today, we would go visit a couple of friends who are in the hospital up in Hartford. One is there to get his foot amputated after a terrible motorcycle accident. The other is there recovering from yet another motorcycle accident. He will hopefully be keeping all of his limbs. With that in mind, I decided that I would use the leeks to make a big batch of chicken noodle soup to share with them both. Hubs didn't seem to think that either of them would want soup. He said they would want pizza and sandwiches. UM, what do you think everybody else is bringing. I am fairly confident nobody else would bother to actually make something. Any shmuck can stop at Subway or Dominoes to pick up some lousy thoughtless food stuffs. In fact, I think they are both right next door to the hospital just for that purpose. I would certainly appreciate the thought and effort put into a homemade offering over shitty take out any day! PLUS, after multiple surgeries and tubes and shit shoved down their throats, I would bet soup would be quite soothing. So, I am bringing them soup. Eat it or Die!

Erika's Chicken Noodle Soup
4 bone in chicken breasts (or a whole chicken if that is what you have - cut up or not - it doesn't matter)
2 Tbs olive oil
2 leeks (can sub with onions), cleaned and chopped
6 stalks celery, rinsed and chopped
8-10 carrots, cleaned and chopped (peel if you want but it isn't mandatory)
1-2 cups small pasta
1 large can chicken broth
2 Tbs fresh dill chopped
1/2 Tbs Bells poultry seasoning (optional)
3 TBS chicken base
salt to taste

Place chicken breasts is a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Continue cooking until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken to cool and RESERVE COOKING LIQUID! You can strain it if there is a bunch of icky shit floating in it. When cool enough to handle, shred/chop chicken meat.
In a second large pot, heat olive oil until shimmering. Add vegetables and saute for a few minutes. Add dill and continue to stir. Add chicken broth, chicken base and reserved chicken cooking liquid. Bring everything to a simmer.
Add cooked chicken.
In the pot that you cooked the chicken in, cook pasta until al dente (no sense dirtying another dish). You can add the pasta right to the soup to cook but you will lose practically all of your soup liquid so just cook it separately. When cooked, add it to the soup along with the Bells seasoning. Add salt to taste. Let cool a bit before you try to eat it. Trust me, it's too hot.

Friday, September 2, 2016

For the Love of DOG!

So, one of the blogs I follow just announced that their dog has an inoperable brain tumor. Just hearing that makes me burst into tears. I am not even kidding when I say I like dogs better than I like most people. I lost my Daisy doggy four years ago and I still miss her so very much. Even though I have my two little monsters keeping me busy these days, once a dog is in your heart they stay there forever. Nothing compares to the love of a dog. Their trust and loyalty can't be found anywhere else.
 My Daisy Doggie. Forever in my heart.

 Max (a.k.a. Thing 1, asshole)
 Sophie (a.k.a. Thing 2, Ms. Thang)
 Twin Terrors Trying to Look Sweet and Innocent

Love My Doggies

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Taking it Easy

Yesterday was one of those days where I just didn't feel like messing around when it came to dinner. I had defrosted some ground chicken because I needed the space in my freezer but I had no clue what to do with it. So, while at work i pondered what to do with it.....and pondered, and pondered. I did a quick internet search and found my inspiration. I had broccoli from the CSA so I decided to make things easy on myself and go for a casserole. We have been eating pasta quite a bit lately so this time around I would use rice. During my lunch break I headed to the grocery store and there was also chicken breast on sale - cheap. So I grabbed some of that and a can of cheddar cheese soup and I had all I needed for a nice easy dinner - Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, and Rice Casserole was born! The end result was quite good but I thought it could have used a little more salt. I didn't add any because I usually find canned soups to be pretty salty. Next time I will add a little but not much.

Erika's Easy, Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, and Rice Casserole

1 pound ground chicken (can sub 1 chicken beast diced)
1 boneless skinless chicken breast, diced
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 bunch Broccoli, trimmed and cut into pieces
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1/2 soup can half and half
3 Cups water
1 1/2 cups rice (I used Carolina white)
1 Cup Shredded cheddar Cheese
1 Sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed

Preheat over to 350F
In a medium sized saucepan, bring water to a boil. When boiling, add rice, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer.
In a large frying pan saute ground chicken, chicken breast and garlic until meat is cooked through.
Add broccoli and continue to saute until beginning to soften.
Add soup and half and half, stir to combine

Once soup and half and half is incorporated and heated through, add rice and any remaining water in the sauce pan - just dump it in. It should be 80% cooked and that is ok. It will finish cooking in the oven. Stir to combine.
Salt to taste
Pour chicken, broccoli, and rice mixture into a casserole dish. Top with crushed crackers and cheddar cheese
Bake for about 30 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes before serving.