>So what do you get when you take cooked Lasagna noodles and spread them with a mixture of:
1 large grilled b/s chicken breast, shredded
1 cup broccoli stems (cooked) chopped fine
1/2 block of cream cheese
3 BIG fresh basil leaves
(blended together in the food processor)
and then roll the noodles up around the filling:
And then bake covered in a simple cheddar cheese sauce at 350 for 45 minutes, covered?
You get stuffed shell perfection, without the hassle of actually stuffing the shells! (and if you are me, you get The Hub to eat the part of the broccoli he usually won’t touch!)
BTW – I was running around Sunday afternoon and evening, and The Hub actually got this out of the fridge at the appointed time, then turned on the oven and baked these all by himself – I arrived home to a piping hot dinner just coming out of the oven! Sah-weet!
Oh look, Keri is eating liquid cheese. The sun probably also came up this morning too, eh?
Ok, but I have a reason this time. The Hub decided to stay around the house for last night’s Saints game instead of meeting the gang at the local watering hole, so I wanted to have something of the “bar food snacky” persuasion. (Thinking in the same vein as that old country song about the lady who hires a wino to decorate their home to make her hub feel comfy.)
I was so lazy about this go around, I must confess. I browned up some ground chicken with a generous palmful of Chili Powder:
in to which I mixed a can of Campbell’s Fiesta Nacho Cheese soup (Which I scored stacking a sale with an awesome coupon and got for practically nothing – hooray for cheap liquid cheese,) and 1/4 cup of diced jalapenos, and 1/2 of the soup can of milk:
Mmmmmm.. cheesey. I added diced onions to mine, and a few shakes of extra spicy hot sauce all around.
Oh Campbell’s, is there anything you can’t do?
>I’ve had a few ladies who attended ask me how I made the crock-pot cheese dip that I brought to the cookie exchange. It is almost as sadly simple as the cookies I took, and not from a dip recipe or anything. I knew I wanted to do something different than the (always delicious, btw) Ro*tel/cheese type dip with tortilla chips (mostly because I thought it would be done by others, and it was.. it was actually a very cheesy CE, much to my extreme delight!)
So I whipped up a double batch of this cheese sauce and poured it into the crock pot. Then I added:
-1 bunch scallions, white and green sections, diced
-2 diced Roma tomatoes
-1 Tablespoon of prepared refrigerated horseradish
I stirred it all up and let it stay nice and warm in the crock pot, and served with Triscuts. My inspiration was all those delicious cheese balls and spreads you find around the holidays, with port or horseradish or other wonderful things mixed in – they always call for a hearty cracker, and they ALWAYS call for Keri to have another shmear on said crackers.
Anyway, the dip turned out well, and held really well in the crock pot for the hours of the party.
The recipe for this chicken came from Real Simple Magazine. I doctored it a little bit, but I am sure it would be fabulous if the recipe was followed exactly as well.
So I laid the prosciutto out on the cutting board and sprinkled with dried Oregano, as the recipe said (ok, so I didn’t really measure – you know me):
And I wrapped it around a b/s chicken breast:
I heated the oil in the pan, but went ahead had just used pre-minced garlic, being careful not to let it burn in the oil:
Everybody in to the pool:
and flipped as soon as bottom got some color:
Again, I differ from the recipe in all the usual places – I just browned each side of the chicken and then put it on a sprayed broiler pan and finished at 400 degrees (about 15 minutes). I almost always finish things off in the oven:
Meanwhile, back at the pan, something familiar was happening with Olivio added to the pan drippings:
and and equal amount of flour (if you don’t know where I am going with this by now, I don’t know what to say – I am getting very predictable lately):
EXCEPT, check this out – I am adding 1/3 cup Vermouth to that Roux and stirring like heck to blend!
And THEN I added 3/4 cup milk and made with the stirring again, over high heat, until it thickened:
and finally, off the heat I added in 1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese (my favorite!) and stirred it until it melted in:
Then I packed all of that up along with a bag of Chard (stems removed, torn into pieces) and some roasted baby Yukon Gold Potatoes, and away I went for a field trip version of the No Boys Allowed Supper Club (NBASC) – seen here with Harper (hanging on the table), her mommy Terresa, and the lovely hostess Kristin:
The Chard got sauteed in a hot skillet with a clove of minced garlic until it wilted (like 5 minutes) and everything got warmed through and then, Tah-daa! On to the plate so we could dig in – as seen at the top of the post. Yum!
>Oh look, Keri breaded stuff to put in the oven again – what a huge shock. NOT! Anyway, I did indeed bread up some chicken breast tenders so that The Hub could indulge in some Chicken Fingers and we could have a quick and easy dinner. I did it using the same breading method I did here except I just used plain milk for the wet dip, and I seasoned the crumbs with a generous amount of Cayenne pepper, a bit of Garlic Powder and Salt and nothing else. Then on to the roasting rack they went and into the 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes: (actually it was more like 17 minutes, just to be exact.)
Meanwhile, I had some leftover chopped Cauliflower, and to it I added some Broccoli florets (The Hub only likes the “tree looking” part. Serious.)
Into a microwave-safe covered dish these all went, along with a teaspoon of water. After I finished making the cheese sauce and about 5 minutes before I was ready to serve dinner, they got microwaved for 3 minutes, stirred, and microwaved another minute – then I just kept them closed so the steam kept at ’em until I was ready to put them on the plate.
And because The Hub isn’t hugely keen on veggies in large amounts, and (let’s be honest here) because I can
, I whipped up a quick little sauce for the veggies. I melted two teaspoons of “won’t hurt your Hub’s cholesterol” Olivio Spread in a sauce pan:
And added two heaping teaspoons of flour to the melted spread, whisking it together:
except that I am so money at making a Roux now that I don’t need a fancy whisk – I just used a fork, yo:
Then in went a cup of skim milk that had been warmed in the microwave for a minute and it cooked over high heat while I kept up with the fork/whisking until it reached “nape” consistency – it’s French, so you pronounce that last “e” – meaning it will coat the back of a spoon and not slide off, and when you draw a line through it, that line won’t close back up, like this:
Then off the heat I added in 3/4 cup shredded 2% cheddar cheese:
… and stirred it :
.. until it was smooth liquid cheese perfection:
This really takes no time at all now people.. It is almost a crime how easily it comes to me, considering how I struggled with it in school… Poor 19 year old Keri with her broke-ass Roux… and underage, so she couldn’t even drink away her failures. At least not in public. BUT I DIGRESS!
So the Chicken is done, crispy and yummy out of the oven after 17 minutes:
Nothing left to do now but get it all on a plate while it is good and hot, complete a cheesy drizzle of deliciousness for those perfectly steamed veggies, as seen on my plate at the beginning of the post.
>Here is the recipe as printed in the book:
7oz pasta shells or elbow pasta
1 tablespoon margarine or spread
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard (dry)
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup fat free milk
1 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese (4oz)
2 tablespoons sliced green onions
2 tablespoons chopped red pepper
Cook and drain pasta as directed on pasta package.
Melt margarine in large pot and add flour – whisk over low heat to combine.
Add salt, mustard, and pepper and combine. remove from heat and stir in milk gradually.
Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Stir in cheese, remove from heat, add pasta.
Some thoughts from Keri’s Kitchen:
1st of all – using half the amount of margarine for the roux does NOT work – it results in a clumpy mess that does not combine with the milk – so just use equal parts (2 tablespoons) flour and “spread”. I used Olivo for the heart healthy olive oil it is made with.
Also keep in mind – thickening with a roux is much easier and produces much better results if you are adding a HOT liquid, so heat the milk before adding it to the roux.
If all goes well you get this thick liquid that will coat the back of a spoon like this:
(I also like to throw 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg into cream sauces, that is the brown flecks in the sauce)
Then you can add the cheese and whisk it in:
I will say this is a little thicker or tougher feeling on the whisk than normal cheese sauce – perhaps because it takes a bit more to get low-fat cheese to melt into the sauce:
I omitted the veggies since we were having a yummy green salad with red peppers and roasted acorn squash:
and I reserved a couple tablespoons of the shredded cheese to sprinkle over the top after spreading the mac and cheese into a cooking spray coated square baking dish (since The Hub is a fan of baked mac and cheese)
The Hub says he thinks this is as good as The Barefoot Contessa Mac and Cheese that I have so proudly mastered, and given his Cholesterol situation, and desire to have cheesy macaroni mixtures as often as possible, I have a feeling this is the new house recipe of choice.