Sunday, January 24, 2010

Don't You Forget About... Chicken Corn Chowder

This? Was delicious. If I do say so myself. Which I just did. And easy, too. So win-win. My only regret is that I didn't make a double batch, because I think it would freeze really well.


One deboned roasted chicken, half-pound of bacon, one cup each onion and celery, three cups of chicken broth, two cans of creamed corn, one bag of frozen corn, two cups of diced potato and one cup of evaporated milk. Ingredients that I added after taking the obligatory ingredient photo: two HEAPING TEASPOONS of Zatarain's, two HEAPING TEASPOONS of cooking sherry, black pepper and parsley flakes to taste.

The definition of a HEAPING TEASPOON is: I couldn't find my tablespoon, so I used a teaspoon, but overflowed it. This is a very scientific operation I have going here. I know. You're welcome.

I deboned my roasted chicken while it was warm, and then kept it in the fridge until I was ready to make the chowder the next day. I used the entire chicken EXCEPT FOR the wings (which I had for lunch the day I was deboning it) and one breast (as seen set aside in the photo below) which I saved for chicken sandwiches tomorrow.

After deboning the chicken, I did cut the larger pieces into chunks.

In your stock pot (or dutch oven or soup pot), start to simmer three cups of chicken broth with your chunked chicken, two cans of creamed corn, one bag of frozen corn and two cups of potatoes. Meanwhile, cook your bacon until crispy. Remove and pat dry to degrease it.

Take your one cup each of onion and celery and cook it in the bacon grease.

... Because everything is better when cooked in bacon grease. It's a fact.

Cook for exactly the length of time it takes to find "Alive and Kicking" by Simple Minds on your iPod, play it, and get your groove on. On the last "ba ba da da da, ba ba da da da, ba ba da oh, ba ba da oh" part, the onion and celery will be done. Kitchen timer, who?

When the onion and celery is tender (see timing method above), remove from the bacon grease with a slotted spoon. Don't dump your veggies with grease into the chowder pot. A little bacon grease goes a long way. Take your cooked bacon and crumble it into the pot as well.

Bring to a boil, then simmer until potatoes are tender about 15-20 minutes, or the length of time it takes to go to Google and find out whatever happened to Jim Kerr, from Simple Minds (goodbye Crissie Hynde, hello Patsy Kensit!), and to friend him on Facebook (oh yes, I did). When your potatoes are tender, crank your heat back up from a simmer to about medium, and stir in one cup of evaporated milk, two overflowing teaspoons of cooking sherry and two heaping teaspoons of Zatarain's. Stir it all in, and then reduce back to a simmer.

Add black pepper and parsley flakes to taste. I used 20 twists of the pepper mill, which covered the top of the pot, and then about an equal amount of parsley. Stir it in.

And voila, you're done. I served my chowder with butter croissants. Tim and I had this for lunch and we're having it again for dinner. I also sent two servings home with a friend to get opinions from her and her hubby. I'll let you know what they say. Assuming they love it. Otherwise, I'll pretend like they never got back to me.

Tim - Delicious. I'm giving it a 9.5.
Carlie - This is the most boring house ever and I hate everyone. Okay, the I hate everyone part she only said with her eyes. But the *most boring house ever* part was verbal. And she did not eat lunch. Because it was, like, too boring, I guess.
Shana - This was really delicious. This recipe will be a *keeper* and next time I will try a double batch for freezing.

Hey, make some chowder and send me a picture!

UPDATE: I offered Carlie a bowl of chowder (again) for a late lunch.
Shana: Hello, preteen years, we've missed you.

UPDATE 2: Simple Minds? Most under-appreciated band of my youth.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas with Sassy Sauce

Who doesn't love *homemade* enchiladas? Wherein *homemade* = I even made the damn sauce, oh yes, I did. Heh.

I'll be honest. The sauce was easy to make. And it was tasty. BUT - the meal overall would probably have been equally as good and definitely as well-received by my family if I had used a can of enchilada sauce. I'm sorry, we just do not have very refined pallets over here.

That said, this is basically a combination of two recipes, one for the sauce and one for the filling. This filling is ABSOLUTELY PERFECT in every way and, honestly, you're going to want to use it for enchiladas, nachos, burritos, tacos... I am even thinking I could stuff this into manicotti. This filling? Divine. If I do say so myself.

So without further ado, I present to you: Chicken Enchies with Sassy Sauce

The ingredients:

For the Sauce: 1/4 cup veggie oil, 2 tablespoons of flour, 1/8-1/4 cup California chili powder, 8 ounce can of tomato sauce, one cup of chicken broth, 1 teaspoon each of cumin and garlic. Salt to taste.

For the enchies: Two cups of diced roasted chicken, one box of frozen spinach that has been thawed and drained, a 4 ounce can of diced green chilies, one small onion (chopped), one bunch of green onions (chopped), one can of Rotel tomatoes, two tablespoons of veggie or olive oil, one bag of shredded cheese (I used the Mex Blend) and corn tortillas. Did you hear me? I said CORN, people, not flour.

Flour tortillas are MUCH easier to work with, but they turn your enchiladas into gooey burritos. Use the corn. Trust me. USE THE CORN.

I used half of a medium onion. Keep in mind, I am cooking for an 11-year-old who does not eat anything onion-ish, onion-like or onion-related. You could use an entire medium onion, diced, if you are not cooking for Carlie.

To make the sauce, you are basically making a roux base. But with oil instead of butter. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Use a skillet NOT A POT. Stir in the flour and chili powder incrementally, stirring constantly, until you have a paste. Stir stir stir stir stir stir stir.

When it is thick and pasty, gradually stir in the tomato sauce and cup of chicken broth. Add in the cumin and garlic powder. Stir stir stir until smooth. If you end up with too thick of a sauce, add a little water. Add salt to taste.

Keep your sauce on low heat while you prepare your filling, stirring occasionally.

Now for the filling. In another skillet or pan, heat two tablespoons of oil and brown the chopped onion and green onion. Cook until soft and then add in the diced chilies (drained) and the Rotel tomatoes (partially drained, but allow in a little bit of the liquid). Continue to cook. Add in two cups of shredded chicken and two cups of spinach. MAKE SURE YOU DRAIN THE BEJESSUS OUT OF YOUR SPINACH. I was literally wringing mine with my hands. After the box of frozen spinach was thawed and drained, I did not measure it, but I had about one handful of spinach.

Add the chicken and spinach to the onion and tomato combination, and stir in about 1/4 cup of your Sassy Sauce. Continue to cook until the spinach is warmed throughly. Since the onions and green onions were already cooked until soft, you are basically just getting everything warmed through to the same temperature now, because everything is already cooked (and therein lies the magic of the store-bought roasted chicken).

Your filling should be kind of dry-ish, not very liquidy, and should look like this:
And now we put it all together...

Use about 1/4 cup of your Sassy Sauce to coat your casserole dish. It's just a nice coating to keep the tortillas from sticking to the dish. It doesn't have to be pretty.

Coat your corn tortillas in Sassy Sauce before rolling. I made my sauce in a skillet, so to coat the tortillas I just dipped each one into the skillet, dipping each side, and then laid it in the casserole dish. This step was kind of messy. Be not afraid of Sassy Sauce on your hands. It will wash off. Just do it. The dipping in the warmed sauce makes the corn tortillas more pliable and less likely to crack when you roll up the enchies. I did have a little bit of cracking along the edges of a few of mine, but not the ridiculous falling apart and breaking in half that I have had in the past, before I knew about the dip-in-warm-sauce trick. You're welcome.

Put a generous scoop of filling on the tortilla and then top with cheese. One of the mistakes I tend to make here is to put TOO MUCH filling and cheese, creating a big, fat, unrollable mess of deliciousness. So keep in mind that you will be rolling this into an enchilada when you put your filling on.
So at this point, I got distracted by a phone call, and while I continued to cook, I did not continue to photograph. Oops. But after topping the tortilla with filling and cheese, roll it up and place it seam-side down in the casserole dish. And repeat with your next tortilla. Until you have a pan full of deliciousness.

Top the rolled enchies with your remaining Sassy Sauce and remaining cheese. I did this. And then I stuck it in the oven. And after a few minutes I remembered that I wanted a picture, so I pulled it out of the oven and took this picture, which is why my cheese is already a little bit melty.


At this point, I got distracted by another phone call. I know. So there are no photos of the finished enchiladas being served on a plate with black beans and a salad. Also, I did not make any black beans or a salad. We were late for Carlie's dance class. So we ate enchiladas, just enchiladas, no side dishes. I know, I am the most awesome food blogger ever, right?

ISSUES WITH THIS RECIPE: I ended up with about double the amount of filling and half the amount of sauce, on a filling to sauce ratio. I used up all of the sauce, but had a bucket of filling leftover. So the next night, we had chicken nachos. And again? YUM.

Carlie - "These enchiladas have too much vegetables." That said, she went back for seconds and did not *pick* anything out, either time. The next night, when we had nachos, "This is much better on nachos, without all the vegetables." It was the same filling, with the same amount of "vegetables" in it. Also noteworthy, she did not comment on the spinach or the onion, which speaks volumes about how good this chicken filling was. Because if she caught a hint of spinach or onion, she would have been out of here.

Tim - "Excellent, 8.7 on a scale of 1-10. But not better than mine." For the record, Tim made enchiladas once, in 1997, with sauce from a can. I can't remember if they were good or not, because? 1997. Whatever, Tim.

Shana - I am in love with this filling, and will definitely use it again. And next time, I'll double the sauce recipe. If I had had more sauce, I could have made two pans of enchies and had one to put in the freezer.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Savory Chicken Biscuits

Welcome to my first repurposed chicken recipe! My plan is to create a recipe using a store-bought roasted or rotisserie chicken in its entirety, not just the leftovers. But because I ended up with two chickens in two days, I had a lot of leftovers. So this dish was prepared with leftovers consisting of three legs, three thighs and a large portion of one breast.

The other part of my plan is to prepare a tasty meal for my family, but tonight I needed to prepare a movie watching snack for a movie night with girlfriends. We *finally* watched The Hangover and, OMG, hilarious. Plus? Bradley Cooper? Come to momma.

But I digress...

I present to you: The Savory Chicken Biscuit. A finger food that would work as an entree for a light supper with a salad, or a heavy appetizer. This recipe produced eight biscuits. If you are preparing this as a family meal for four or more, I'd say double it.

The ingredients: leftover chicken, celery, cream cheese, lemon juice, sunflower kernels, thyme, basil, salt, sun dried tomatoes, one roll of crescent rolls.

Debone and dice your chicken. I combined white and dark meat. This is a one-cup measuring cup, filled past the one-cup line. So maybe a cup and a half of chicken? I'm trying to be good about measuring as I go along, but bear with me. I don't usually measure in the kitchen.

Four ounces of cream cheese = 1/2 the eight ounce container. In case you were wondering.

In a bowl, combine cream cheese with two teaspoons of lemon juice, two teaspoons of sunflower kernels, two teaspoons of finely chopped sun dried tomatoes, one teaspoon of thyme and one teaspoon of basil. Add salt -- which I didn't measure, but using my salt grinder it was about 10 twists. Blend with a spatula until smooth.

When it is smooth and thoroughly blended, add in your chicken and one cup of diced celery. The filling, with celery and chicken added, should be about the consistency of chicken salad.

Unroll your crescent dough into the eight precut triangles that it comes in.

This is what happens to the crescent roll dough if you leave it out on the counter while you dice chicken and celery (and possibly leave the kitchen for 10-15 minutes to rotate laundry and check in on Facebook). NOT A GOOD IDEA. It was too soft and smushy. Good thing I wasn't going for crescent shapes.

Place one scoop of filling on each triangle of dough. I used an ice cream scoop and it was the perfect size.

Fold up the three corners of the dough over the top of the filling, and then pinch the seams closed with your fingers to form a ball.

At this point, I realized I had spilled a little bit of thyme on my cutting board, and it was sticking to the dough, which made it look like I had dropped my chicken balls on the floor. So to give it that "I meant to do that" look, I sprinkled the completed balls with a little bit of Dean & Deluca Fine Herbs mix. If you don't have an herb mix, make your own; a little bit of thyme, basil, tarragon and chervil should do the trick.

The formed balls, sprinkled with herbs, ready to go into the oven. Bake @ 375 degrees for 12 minutes, or until browned and firm, not doughy.

And, voila, the finished product. They were actually quite lovely.

I served these to two girlfriends, with a bottle of Prosecco, an assortment of cheeses, warm brie with marmalade, grapes and baguette. It was thoroughly delightful. I'll definitely be making these again, though I may add a little more seasoning to the filling in the future, to make it more savory and less chicken salady.

Lisa - The combination of the chicken, the breadiness in the biscuit and the crunchy celery reminds me of chicken with stuffing.
Sue - These are really good.
Shana - A little nosh, a little wine, good friends and Bradley Cooper... who could ask for anything more?

BONUS RECIPE: warm brie with marmalade. Plug in your Little Dipper Crock Pot. If you don't have a Little Dipper Crock Pot? Go get one. Right now. You won't regret it. Put in a wheel of brie. Dump on top of the brie about a quarter of a jar of pepper jelly and about a quarter of a jar of your favorite marmalade. Heat until gooey, then spread on sliced baguettes. TRY THIS. Seriously. You'll thank me.

PS: If you try any of my recipes, please send me a picture or email and let me know how it turned out! ShanaOB at msn dot com.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sometimes? A chicken is just a chicken

If you read my introductory post about this blog, then you know that I was *inspired* to start my *food blog* in the middle of dinner. A dinner which I prepared during the normal course of my normal everyday life and had not painstakingly documented and photographed. Also? Wherein *inspired* = My husband: "OMG NOT ANOTHER ONE OF YOUR BLOG IDEAS" and *food blog* = a possible insult to Ree and Nie Nie and any other number of legitimate food bloggers who, like, always have fresh produce on-hand and do not use already cooked ingredients as the mainstay of their recipes.

I never have fresh produce "on-hand," just waiting around to be prepared. If I buy something on a whim in the store, thinking, ooooh, this will be so good in whatever, it ends up going bad. And I hate nothing more than throwing out produce that was allowed to rot by my lazy and disorganized self. So I tend to buy what I need, when I need it, and then use it. Which means I go to the grocery store multiple times in the week, unlike those of you who are all organized and such and go once a week and "stock up." I never have stock. It's how I roll.

My "need it, buy it, use it" approach is awesome if I would actually, you know, *make menu plans* and then *implement* said menu plans. Which, in theory, sounds like a fabulous way to live your life but which, in reality, is always too much of a pain in the ass for me.

But, I digress...

I decided to start my chicken odyssey in the middle of eating an unphotographed chicken dinner. So I went back to the grocery store and purchased another $5 ($5!) chicken and prepared yet another chicken dinner today.

And though it was not a very auspicious start to the process of repurposing the store-bought roasted chicken, it was quite tasty. And it will serve as our benchmark chicken dinner by which all future chicken creations will be judged. The deciding factor of whether or not a repurposed chicken recipe was a success will be, "Was it better than just having a plain, old chicken dinner?"

So, you see, this chicken dinner has meaning. It's not a lazy start to this blog. It was planned.

And now, behold, the goodness of WEEK ONE:

Roasted chicken ($5!), mashed potatoes and beet salad.

The ingredients:
One store-bought roasted chicken, one bag of frozen Ore Ida diced potatoes, sun dried tomatoes, sour cream, cream cheese, blue cheese, three Cutie mandarin oranges, one jar of beets, sunflower kernels. And butter. I forgot the butter. But here it is.
Chicken - Cut up, reheated and served as is. Reheating tip: microwave at HALF power x 2-3 minutes, versus full power, keeps it from drying. We said a fond farewell to this tasty chicken as it traveled down our gullets, knowing that next time we shall meet with our feathered friend, he will be wearing a new recipe.

Beet Salad - this is a white trash/mom in a hurry variation, when you (a) don't have fresh beets in your bin and (b) don't have time to roast them, even if you had 'em! Combine one can of beets, three "Cutie" oranges (or a can of mandarin oranges), sprinkle with crumbled blue cheese (or feta, or goat, or any of the *stinky* cheeses) and sprinkle with sunflower seeds (cheese and seeds to taste).

Mashed Potatoes - You can boil up your own russet potatoes, but today I didn't have any potatoes, but I did have a bag of frozen "steamable" Ore Ida potatoes. These are THE BEST. There's nothing in the bag but potatoes. They're just already cut up and boiled. Seriously simple. Take your bowl of diced, cooked potatoes (however you get there), and start to mash them with the hand masher. Add in 2 tablespoons sour cream, 2 tablespoons cream cheese and 2 tablespoons of butter. Salt and pepper to taste. Mash to desired consistency. For a creamier mash, mix in a little milk. Final step to give your mashed 'tots a kick in the pants: dice and stir in a scant bit of sun dried tomatoes. Note, I did not dice and stir in my scant bit of sun dried tomatoes because Carlie hates tomatoes. So mine are added on a per-plate basis.
The verdict:
Tim - I give this meal an overall 4.5.
Carlie - I hate beets. And we had chicken last night. Can I have a Top Ramen?
Shana - Quick, easy and tasty = my dinner trifecta. And, really, can you ever go wrong with beets and potatoes?
Tune in again next week for chicken enchiladas, featuring homemade enchie sauce.

What's with all the chicken?

Originally posted on my blog, So Not Zen, January 8, 2009.

Inspiration hit at the dinner table tonight. The dinner table, where I sat with my family, eating a delicious dinner that took about five minutes to prepare, was relatively healthy and was equally enjoyed by the adults and the child.

I picked up a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store for $5 ($5!) and served it with a lovely garden salad and corn. Quick. Easy. Affordable.

I am a big fan of the store-cooked rotisserie chicken. And though we had it in its intended form tonight, I've repurposed them many times for chicken andouille gumbo, chicken noodle soup, enchiladas and so on.

And that's when the inspiration hit. I'm starting another blog! A food blog! About repurposing rotisserie chickens! Exciting, right? I know! And I promise! To use! Lots of unnecessary exclamation points! On that blog too! Yay!

I'm setting it up now, and launching it this weekend. I'll be posting a weekly recipe for repurposing a store-bought rotisserie chicken. Can you even stand the excitement?That's 52 ways to create a tasty meal using a prepared grocery store chicken. I'll be experimenting with new recipes, so some weeks could be hit or miss. But still! 52 new recipes! I am going to rock the chicken in 2010!

So stay tuned... the big launch will be announced as soon as the site is ready. Prepare yourself, because...

PS: Is that not the sickest blog name ever? And by sick I mean phat. And by phat I mean wicked, cool, bad ass.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Coming soon!

Store bought rotisserie chicken. Repurposed. Every week.