A Recipe From the Archives ~ Hot Chicken Salad

Sometimes an awesome recipe deserves to be re-posted, and since I am in Chicago this week, an archive repost is just what I needed. Trust me when I say that this dish is totally repost-worthy.

I LOVE this casserole. It is my idea of comfort food at its finest. It is not exactly the lowest in fat or calories but I hope to find some good alternatives that won’t compromise the awesome texture or flavor. I make this several times a year, especially during the holidays, and if I have the time it is my go-to potluck dish.

This is a horrible picture. I took this back in December, before Hubby bought his new, awesome Canon. But I promise you will not be disappointed if you make this! Every time I make this lovely casserole the recipe is requested. Every. Time. I am not exaggerating. Now you may have heard of this dish before, possibly even made it using other recipes, but I strongly urge you to make this recipe at least once and see if you aren’t hooked forever :)

Hot Chicken Salad 

6 to 8 cups chopped, cooked chicken (about 4 breasts)

1 cup cooked rice

1  1/2 cups mayo

2 cans cream of chicken soup (or you can use my healthy alternative)

6 oz package of slivered almonds

1 cup sliced celery

2 T. onion flakes

2 cups crushed corn flakes

4 T melted butter

It’s easy to do a quick poach in a large skillet to pre-cook the chicken

Preheat oven to 350*. Lightly grease a 13 X 9 baking dish.

Combine all ingredients except the corn flakes and butter. Mix well to combine and then spread into baking dish.

In another bowl combine 2 cups crushed corn flakes and 4 T. melted butter, and top chicken mixture.

Bake for 45 mins or until heated through. Can cover with foil for first half of baking.

Turkey is a good substitute.

*You can easily prepare this ahead of time and refrigerate overnight. But if you do I strongly recommend allowing the casserole to sit to room temperature or else it will not come out the same AT ALL.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

I’ve seen several cauliflower crust recipes and thought it would be worth trying. I found a simple recipe and tweaked it a little bit. What I ended up with was an amazing smelling (it smelled just like a big cheese puff!) and tasting concoction. I dressed my pizza up margherita-style with a little tomato sauce, fresh basil, and mini mozzarella balls, but you can top your pizza any way you like.

Cauliflower Crust

1 cup cooked, riced cauliflower

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp crushed garlic

1/2 tsp garlic salt

EVOO (optional)

1. To “Rice” the cauliflower, remove stems and leaves and cut florets into chunks. Run through food processor so entire head is pulsed and looks like grain. {Do not puree} Microwave riced cauliflower for about 8 minutes or until cooked through. This should make about 3 cups of riced cauliflower. Reserve the remainder for another use.

2. Preheat oven to 450*

3. Mix together 1 cup riced cauliflower, egg and cheese. Add oregano, garlic, and garlic salt; stir until well combined.

4. Transfer to a cookie sheet, spread and pat mixture out into a 9 inch round. (I used a rectangular baking stone) Brush top with EVOO to help with browning.

5. Bake for 15 minutes.

6. Remove from oven. Add sauce, cheese and toppings. Place under broiler for a few minutes until cheese is melted.

*Toppings should be pre-cooked since the pizza is only broiling for a few minutes.

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

This was awesome! I found the recipe at Sumptuous Spoonfuls blogsite and just had to try it. You can link over to her page to see her recipe, but here I will post the adapted recipe I used. The best part about this sweet bread is that the kids can’t tell there is any zucchini in it AT ALL, so I don’t mind letting them snack on it even for breakfast. Some zucchini breads have very visible strands of zucchini in them, but this one doesn’t. The taste is great and it was an all-around winner in this house.

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

2 squares (1 oz. each) of bakers chocolate, melted

1/4 cup carob baking powder

2 eggs

2 egg whites

1 1/4 cup organic sugar

1/3 cup EVOO

1/3 cup organic vanilla yogurt (about 4 oz)

2 1/2 cups grated zucchini

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 cup flaxseeds

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup chocolate chips, any kind you like (I used 2 kinds: semi-sweet and milk chocolate. I would have loved dark chips if I’d had any in the house, so I highly recommend them if you like dark chocolate!)

1. Preheat oven to 350*

2. Spray 2 loaf pans with cooking spray. *I used one loaf pan and one mini-loaf pan, which made 8 mini loaves.

3. In a large bowl, combine chocolate, carob powder, eggs and whites, sugar, oil, yogurt, zucchini, and vanilla. Beat well.

4. Stir in the flour, baking soda, salt, flaxseeds, and cinnamon.

5. Fold in chocolate chips.

6. Pour batter into prepared pans. Sprinkle the tops with additional raw sugar.

7. Bake full loaf for 50 minutes; mini loaves for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of the center clean.

Mexican Manicotti

In the tradition of Mexican Wednesdays I have prepared another awesome Mexican meal! (hear the fanfare now)

But seriously, this was really good, and slightly healthified as I like our meals to be as much as possible. I adapted an old recipe I came across in an almost-never-looked-in file in my file cabinet marked Recipes {imagine that} and it was in a collectors addition of some cooking magazine I had long ago torn apart, so I am assuming the magazine was called Quick Cooking, but I can’t be sure. Has anyone ever heard of this?

But I digress….

Mexican Manicotti

1 lb. ground turkey

1 can refried beans*

2  1/2 t. chili powder

1  1/2 t. dried oregano

1 package (8 ounces) manicotti shells**

2  1/2 cups water

1 jar (16 oz.) picante sauce

1 cup sour cream

1 cup shredded cheese (any type/blend)

sliced olives and green onions for garnish

In a bowl, combine meat, beans, chili powder and oregano. *Because I don’t use many canned products, I simply took some Trader Joe’s organic pinto beans and mashed them. Perfect!

Spoon into uncooked manicotti shells. **You’d think now that I’m off the island and living somewhere “bigger” there would be more options close by. And there are for the most part, but apparently not manicotti shells when I really, really need them. However, I had something even better :) Harris Teeter has these awesome freezer lasagna noodles. They are like pasta sheets and can easily be cut into 3 squares per sheet, giving me perfect, all natural, manicotti-like “shells”. Just put the meat in the middle, and roll up.

Keep in mind that if you make this dish using pasta sheets, you will not need the 2  1/2 cups of water as noted above. Nor will you need to refrigerate the dish overnight as noted below.

Arrange meat-filled tubes in a greased 9×13 baking dish.  Mix the picante sauce with the water and pour over the shells. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day, remove from refrigerator and let sit for 30 minutes. This step is necessary for the manicotti shells to absorb the liquid. See, isn’t my way just better? I didn’t have to wait until the next day to eat this meal, which was a good thing because otherwise I had no idea what we were going to have for dinner!

Side note: It definitely pays to read your recipes ahead of time in case refrigeration time is required. Jusayin’…..

Cover the dish with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 350* for 1 hour. Uncover; spoon sour cream over the top; sprinkle the cheese, olives and onions (if desired), and bake an additional 5 – 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

This meat mixture is really, really good, and would be excellent in any number of dishes including some hearty nachos.

Tomato Tart on Cornbread Crust

I still have lots of tomatoes. Most of them have been canned/frozen, but there are still plenty to make this yummy tart.

Tomato Tart on Cornbread Crust

*You can use a boxed cornbread but I made mine from scratch using cornmeal.

Sliced tomatoes

Cheese Mixture: 1/4 sour cream, 2 or 3 T mayo, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1 cup shredded cheese (any kind- I use cheddar), basil (about 2 tsp), salt and pepper.

Bake the cornbread on a sprayed baking sheet at 425* for 12 to 15 minutes. spread out cheese mixture and layer tomato slices on top. Salt and pepper some more and sprinkle over parmesan cheese. Bake an additional 5 minutes until cheese melts and then broil a few minutes longer to brown the parmesan and cook the tomatoes down a little.

You could make additional cheese mixture and spread more on top of the tomatoes as well.

Cut into squares and serve warm or cooled.

If you missed my first post, you can click here to read about all the yummy, fresh summer vegetables we’ve been given :)

Summer Vegetables

I just had to share this :)

We’ve been so blessed by our new neighbors and friends in the way of fresh, summer veggies and fruit. Just today I received a box full of squash, zucchini, cucumbers, corn, and tomatoes. But what I really wanted you to see was this HUGE tomato. I laugh every time I look at it.

I don’t know if this picture really does the tomato justice, but let me assure you, it is the largest tomato I have ever seen. It is bigger than my coffee mug, which isn’t exactly tiny. You can also see it in the picture below in comparison to the other vegetables.

So what to do with all these veggies? And what do you do when you have more than you can eat before they expire? Since we’ve been given so many veggies in the past few weeks, it’s started to get a little boring, eating them every day. But I won’t say no to those who give because there are so many ways so preserve them for later months when fresh summer veggies are no longer available.

I started canning the tomatoes, and then I thought, why am I doing this when freezing them is so much easier? I love the idea of canning veggies for winter, but truthfully I have a lot more available space in my deep freeze than I do cabinet space for jars. Plus it really is easier- exactly one big step easier because I don’t have to boil and seal the jars.

Another space-saving tip is once you load your tomatoes into the storage bags, lay them flat and freeze them this way. They are easy to stack and organize in your freezer and will take up less space.

The other night Hubby grilled burgers and hotdogs (nitrate-free, all beef), and threw some corn on there as well. They were so good. Grilled corn cannot compare to corn prepared any other way. In fact, I am not so much of a corn eater because it’s so starchy with so little nutritional value, but as an accompaniment to a burger, this corn on the cob was wonderful.

For 7 ears of corn I combined 1/8 cup of EVOO and 1 t. sea salt. Using a brush, I coated the ears while on the grill. The flavor was wonderful and the best part was I didn’t have to bother with dressing the corn before eating (you know…butter, salt, pepper, etc) because it was already seasoned. AND way less messy than buttering and salting it yourself.

Stay tuned for post #2 to see what I do with these other veggies ~ Tomato Tart on Cornbread Crust ;)

Gluten Free Pizza

I made my first homemade pizza AND it was Gluten free :)

Why gluten-free, you ask? No, we’re not gluten intolerant for the most part, but I always feel so much better when I eat less wheat, not to mention if I am going to be eating breads then I just feel better about it knowing that it is gluten-free.

This was so easy. I did use a mix as I am not quite so gluten-free savvy just yet, though I would like to start adding more gluten-free recipes to this blog, and our table, in the near future.

I love my local Big Lots because anytime I go in there I am sure to find a ton of Bob’s Red Mill products.

The directions are simple and it doesn’t take a long time to make the crust. It is very sticky though, so as directed on the package, make sure your hands are very wet when spreading out the dough on the pizza pan. I had to wet my hands several times. I also successfully used a rubber spatula to spread out the dough, wetting it frequently, without having to use my hands at all. Either way works fine.

Bake the crust according to package directions, about 8-10 minutes at 425*. Then add your sauce, cheese and toppings. I used turkey pepperoni, a sauce I mixed together using marinara and tomato paste with salt, basil, and oregano, and low-skim shredded mozzarella; place back in oven for an additional 15 minutes or until cheese melts.

For my first attempt at homemade pizza I have to say it was pretty darn good! I will probably use this gluten-free mix many times, but I did find a few other great crust recipes, both wheat and wheat-free, so keep your eyes peeled for future posts.

Poached Egg Cups

These were super easy and yummy. Very much like an Eggs Benedict, though the hollandaise sauce is optional.

Poached Egg Cups

Take 6 slices of turkey bacon and cut in half using kitchen scissors. Place criss-cross in the bottom of an oiled 6-cup muffin tin. Place in oven at 350* to set the bacon.

Crack an egg into each cup over the bacon and cook in oven until egg is set to your desire.  Be sure to keep a close watch if you want a runny yolk as the yolk will set quickly.

Here I used some homemade sourdough bread, sliced and toasted, and set one or two eggs on each slice, then topped with some yummy hollandaise sauce. Salt and pepper to taste.

You can easily double up on all the ingredients to make more servings.

Hollandaise Sauce

3 egg yolk

1 T lemon juice

1/2 cup firm butter

Whisk yolks, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup of butter and stir in small saucepan until melted together. Stirring constantly, melt in the other 1/4 cup of butter. If sauce becomes too thick or starts to curdle, add in 1 t water and whisk. Serve immediately.

Super easy and yummy! Breakfast is ready :)

Awesome Peach Cobbler

I am tooting my own horn a little here….but this cobbler was fantabulous! And it’s so simple to make that you won’t ever avoid using delicious, fresh fruit in this way again. Other than the time it took to peel the fuzzy skin off the peaches, this recipe was super easy.

Peach Cobbler

1 cup 1/2 & 1/2 flour (unbleached all-purpose and whole wheat)

2 cups organic sugar, divided

1 T baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 cup milk

4 cups fresh peaches, sliced (about 6 peaches)

1 T lemon juice

Ground cinnamon (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375*.  Bring 1 cup of sugar, peaches, and lemon juice to a boil over high heat, stirring very often.

2. Melt butter and pour into bottom of a sprayed 13×9 baking dish.

3. Combine flour, 1 cup of sugar, baking powder, and salt; add milk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter over butter but do not stir.

4. Pour peach mixture over the batter; do not stir. Sprinkle cinnamon over top if desired.

5. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or cool.


Parmesan Tomatoes

If you just got here, click back to read about how you and your family can be safer and healthier by using BPA-Free Toothbrushes.

If you have an abundance of tomatoes like I do, here is something simple and tasty that you can do.

Parmesan Tomatoes

Preheat oven to 450*

Cut beefsteak tomato into several thick slices (or just halve each tomato for less juicyness)

Place on pan and top with Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, oregano (to taste)

Drizzle EVOO over the tomatoes.

Bake until tomatoes are tender and cheese is slightly browned.