Saturday, February 23, 2013

Comfort food for the whole family

Around Christmas, I saw a recipe idea on Pinterest that involved pillsbury crescent rolls, nutella, and I think some cinnamon sugar topping.  I bought the ingredients but it never went from "good idea" to an actual item that we ate.  I used one can of the pillsbury rolls to make a breakfast casserole on New Year's Eve and last week, realized I should use the other can before they expire.  I know that crescent rolls are not super healthy and are filled with some mysterious ingredients but I hate to waste food and I found a way to make dinner that everyone actually liked.

These little chicken bundles were terrific comfort food.  It tasted to me almost like the creamed chicken over biscuits that my mom used to make or a little pot pie but the filling wasn't runny. The recipe isn't exact - take it as a basic idea - and I think it's something your kids will actually eat (mine ate about 1/2 of theirs which is pretty good for them).  We had a salad and broccoli with them and my husband finished up the girls' plates - I think a good serving would be two bundles per adult because with the regular crescent rolls, they end up smallish.

Like it says below, I divided the filling to make 2 kinds (plainer ones for the kids) but you can make it all the same to make it easier.  

Pillsbury Chicken Bundles (makes 4).

1 can pillsbury crescent rolls
1.5 cups cooked chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken)
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 T julienne cut sun dried tomatoes (the kind packed in olive oil)
dried Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a bowl, combine the chicken and cream cheese.  Divide the mixture in half.  Stir the cheddar cheese into half of the mixture and season to taste.  In the other half, add the parmesan, sun dried tomatoes, and season to taste.

Unwrap the pillsbury crescent rolls from the tube and separate them so you have 4 rectangles (instead of 8 triangles).  Press the center seam together to make each rectangle one piece of non-perforated dough.  Put a small scoop of chicken mixture in the center of each rectangle and bring the edges up to the middle.  Pinch together so you have a neat little bundle that won't leak filling all over your oven.

I sprinkled the top with a little ground pepper and additional parmesan cheese.  Put the bundles on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake for 15-25 minutes or until nicely browned.  Serve warm.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Potatoes Anna

The other night I made this for the second time and I really like the simplicity of the recipe (check out that ingredient list) and the crispy potatoes.  It's a versatile side dish for lots of kinds of menus.  We usually have it with grilled salmon or steaks.  The original calls for all white (russet) potatoes which you can certainly use, but I like it with a layer of sweet potatoes in there.  I use my mandolin slicer to get really thin slices.

Middle layer

Top before going into the oven

Potatoes Anna (serves 6-8)
from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food

6 russet potatoes (or 3 sweet potatoes and 3 russets)
6 tablespoons of butter, melted
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Peel potatoes and using a mandolin or sharp knife, thinly slice into rounds (1/4 in. thick or thinner).  Martha says not to put the slices in water - you need the starch to bind the dish together.

Brush the bottom of a 9 or 10 inch cast iron skillet with about a tablespoon of butter.  Place a layer of potatoes, slightly overlapping, in a circular pattern covering the bottom of the skillet.  Brush with another half tablespoon of butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Repeat for two more layers.  I usually put the sweet potatoes as the middle layer.  

Place the skillet over high heat on the stovetop until the butter sizzles (about 2-4 minutes).  This will brown the bottom layer.  Put the skillet in the oven for about an hour or until the potatoes are fork tender and lightly browned on top.  Remove from oven.

Martha says to run a small spatula around the potatoes and invert onto a serving platter.  I've made a huge mess trying this so I serve them from the cast iron skillet.  But, I'm sure if you're more coordinated than me, it's beautiful that way!

Monday, February 11, 2013

S'Mores Bars

I cut out a recipe for baked s'mores months ago and bought a package of Marshmallow stackers - these cool square, flat marshmallows that are easier to bake with.  Then, I lost the recipe, got busy, and forgot about it.  However, the bag of marshmallow stackers in my pantry has been absolutely taunting my girls . . . every couple of weeks, they bring the bag to me and beg for a marshmallow.  I tell them that we're going to bake with them someday but they're not for eating.  

This week, I decided to finally make the bars when we had company for dinner.  A google search didn't yield the original recipe I remembered which had a graham cracker layer, a brownie layer, and a marshmallow layer on top.  However, I was intrigued by one recipe I read that had a dough made with graham cracker crumbs.  This recipe had Hershey's bars for the chocolate layer and marshmallow fluff for the marshmallow layer so I modified it a bit.  The end result was really good - gooey, so sweet it almost hurts your teeth - just like a s'more should be.  I figure with Valentine's Day around the corner, 'tis the season to eat sweets.  

The first 3 layers in the pan

Before putting it into the oven

Warm and gooey out of the oven

S'mores Bars (makes an 8x8 pan)
Adapted from this blog

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 1/3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 5 large crackers)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Half a bag of Marshmallow stackers (see note below about substituting)

Preheat oven to 350 and grease the bottom of an 8x8 pan.  In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars.  Add the egg and vanilla.  Beat until completely combined.  Next, add the flour, baking powder, and graham cracker crumbs and mix until a dough forms.  

Press half of the dough into an even layer on the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle with semisweet chocolate chips.  Cover chocolate chips with an even layer of marshmallow stackers.  

Put the rest of the dough on top.  This was a little tricky for me.  You can see from the photo above it wasn't perfect and I had decent luck squishing bits of dough into squares with my fingers and carefully setting them on top of the marshmallows.  I also think my bottom layer was thicker than my top layer which turned out okay.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.  Let cool for a few minutes before serving.  These are best served warm (and cut warm) because the marshmallow layer hardens up as it cools.  You can put any leftovers back in a warm oven for a little bit to soften them up before eating.

*If you can't find marshmallow stackers (flat, square marshmallows), you can cut large marshmallows in half (probably 12-15 cut in half will work in an 8x8) or use 1.5 cups marshmallow creme / fluff instead.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Baked Oatmeal

I love hot breakfast or going out for breakfast.  My recent routine on Wednesday mornings is to grade papers at Panera while Little goes to MyGym Breakfast Club (drop off class where they feed the kids breakfast).  While Panera isn't my first choice, I really like their oatmeal and the free wi-fi.  At home, I usually have greek yogurt with Fiber One or granola and the girls usually have cereal.  I've been trying to change our routine a little and make hot breakfast at home for the girls more often - usually pancakes or scrambled eggs.  I've been on a roll lately with making this baked oatmeal.  If you have someone in your family who doesn't like oatmeal because of its texture (mushy), try this one - it's a little crunchy on top, drier than typical oatmeal, and delicious.  

I love the cooked blueberries but you could easily leave them out (today I used dried cranberries instead) or substitute some other fruit.  Adjust the brown sugar (or leave it out) according to your family's tastes.  If you double the recipe, use a a 9x13 pan.  Other easy add-ins are ground flax seed or chia seed, chopped nuts, dried fruit (cranberries or raisins), fresh chopped strawberries, raspberries, fresh cranberries - the recipe is pretty versatile.  If you're cooking GF, double check that you have gluten free rolled oats (TJs or Bob's Red Mill are two I've used).

Celebrate National Hot Breakfast Month and make a pan of baked oatmeal!

Baked Oatmeal (4 servings)

1 eggs
1/4 c. canola oil
2 c. oatmeal (old-fashioned, rolled oats work best)
1 c. chopped apple
1 tsp baking powder
1 c. blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. milk
1/4 cup brown sugar, divided (optional)
1 T cold butter (optional)
Mix eggs and canola oil together. Then stir 2 T of brown sugar and the rest of the ingredients. Spread in greased pan (8x8 or 2 qt) dot with chopped up butter and sprinkle with the remaining 2 T of brown sugar. Bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Serve with warmed milk.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Enchilada Verde Casserole

My favorite kind of enchiladas are the ones my mom makes - chicken verde with a sour cream sauce and lots of cheese.  I used to ask her to make it for my birthday and it's always so good!  The other day I had some leftover ingredients in the refrigerator and as I drove home from a solo trip to Disneyland with the girls (not a great idea when you're 8 months pregnant but we had fun anyways) I came up with the idea to make this green enchilada casserole. The point was not to go to the grocery store (standing in one more line would probably have killed me) and still serve my family dinner.  Mission accomplished!

Enchilada Verde Casserole (serves 4)

1/2 pound ground turkey
1/2 cup canned corn (drained
1/2 of a medium red onion, diced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup cooked brown rice (you can buy it cooked from TJs)
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. paprika
chipotle powder, to taste (or other favorite chile spice)
salt & pepper
olive oil
6-10 corn tortillas, cut in half
2 cups green enchilada sauce (I used about half of a 28oz can)
2-3 cups shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Brown the ground turkey with the red onion; drain off any liquid.  Add a little olive oil, the garlic and corn.  Stir and sauté for a few minutes until heated through.  Add the brown rice and seasonings.  Stir together.  If it seems really dry, you can add a little more olive oil.  Remove from heat.

In a 2 quart pan, cover the bottom by placing 2 or 3 corn tortillas, overlapping to fit.  Sprinkle a fourth of the cheese evenly over the tortillas and then a third of the turkey mixture.  Cover with a thin layer of enchilada sauce and then more tortillas.  Repeat for 2 more layers.  End with tortillas, sauce, and cheese on top.

Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and the casserole is hot in the center.  Let it set for about 5 minutes before cutting into it.