Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Broccoli and Chicken Casserole

I had made a broccoli cheese mixture to go on top of some baked potatoes earlier in the week. I saved the almost broccoli-cheese soup mixture because I knew it would make a great casserole later in the week. This is the casserole that I came up with.

Broccoli-cheese mixture:
1 small onion
2 tablespoons butter
2 table spoons of olive oil
3 tablespoons flour
1 box of frozen chopped broccoli
2 1/2 to 3 cubs of milk (I used skim, but whatever you have)
3 big hand fulls of shredded Mexican cheese mixture
1 cub shredded Parmesan cheese

Breaded Chicken:
3 chicken breasts, boneless/skinless
about 2 1/2 cups of Italian bread crumbs
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of flour
2 tablespoons of oil, enough to lightly cover pan and sear the chicken

What I did:
I started the broccoli mixture by melting the butter in some olive oil. I then grated in about half the small onion into the bubbling butter and oil (this smells awesome by the way!).
After that cooked for about 2 to 3 minutes, I sprinkled in the flour and stirred together. I let that cook until it formed a nice light rue, and the white flour was not visible, about 2 minutes.
Then I added the milk and broccoli and let cook, stirring with a whisk to break up any lumps, for about 10 minutes.
The mixture starts to get up to a boil, and then I add the cheese and start to make figure 8 motions to mix the cheese into the now thickening mixture. I also add salt and pepper to taste.
I let this cook for about 10 more minutes to get everything really nice, hot and fully thickened. Last thing I shredded some Parmesan cheese on top and mixed that in as well. (Like I've said before, everything tastes better with Parmesan cheese!)

So that is the broccoli mixture, now for the chicken.

First I washed the chicken breasts and then dredged them lightly in flour. Then I dunked them in a mixture of 2 eggs mixed with a little water, making sure to shake off the extra egg. Then I dredged them in Italian bread crumbs.

I took the lightly breaded chicken and laid them in a pre-heated skillet with olive oil to about medium to medium high heat. I cooked until a nice golden brown on either side, then placed all three chicken breasts in a deep pie plate. Then I poured the broccoli mixture over top of the chicken and stuck the dish in a pre-heated 400 degree oven.

I cooked the chicken for about half an hour or until a meat thermometer read 160 (must get chicken to this temperature for it to be safe to eat).
Right before it was done, I sprinkled on a mixture of Italian bread crumbs and melted butter that I brought together with a fork. This makes a nice crunchy topping. I sprinkled this on top of the casserole along with some shredded cheese and stuck back in the oven until golden brown and delicious.

I hope you try this really easy recipe; it really tasted comforting.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lobster and Shrimp Bisque

I bought a lobster tail at Publix because they were on sale. I wanted to make sure I cooked it before it went bad, and this is what I ended up with.
I searched different recipes for a lobster bisque and then looked at what was in my fridge. I didn't have celery like most seafood bisques start with, so I used carrot instead. I didn't have old bay or Creole seasoning, so I used a combination of my favorite spices that I thought would work: salt, pepper, bay leaf, paprika, thyme, Cayenne pepper, and fresh parsley.
So here is the recipe that I came up with.

1 small onion, minced
1 large elephant garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 cup carrot minced (I used carrot strips you get for salad and whizzed in the food processor)
4 tablespoons of butter
1/3 cub all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken stock
2 cubs milk
3 lobster tails, steamed and meat cut into pieces (I only had one tail this time around)
1/2 pound of shrimp, steamed and meat cut into pieces
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon of paprika
1 teaspoon of Cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
parsley for garnish, and to make the flavors pop
Also, Parmesan cheese for topping (everything tastes better with a little cheese)

What I did:

Start by steaming the shrimp and lobster tail until pink and done. Before close lid on steamer make sure to salt and pepper them, and squeeze some lemon juice on top; I also threw the half lemon wedge into the boiling water of my steamer to infuse some more lemon flavor. I used frozen shrimp; you can take them right out of the bag and steam them.
Once steamed just cut the seafood into chunks and set aside.

Start a large pot on stove over medium heat. Melt the butter. Add the garlic, onion, and carrot and cook for 5 minutes. Then add the flour and cook for 2 more minutes. This will make the rue that will thicken the bisque.
Add the chicken stock and bay leaf and whisk everything together to get the lumps out and let cook for 10 minutes. The bisque will thicken considerably; should coat the spoon after cooking.

Then add the seafood, milk, and all the seasonings. Let cook for another 10 minutes.
If soup starts to boil some after you add the milk and other ingredients just turn down the heat and get to a nice simmer; don't want to kill the bisque.

It took a couple of pinches of salt to get the blandness out, and once I added the thyme into the mix this soup tasted really good. I wish I had bought more lobster tails to put into the soup. I would definitely recommend 3 lobster tails, because they shrink when steamed.

Once the soup is done I chopped some fresh parsley and added to the bisque. I ladled some in my bowl and topped with a little shredded Parmesan cheese. I also had a sweet biscuit left over from when my grandma came down from Kentucky last week; she made her famous biscuits for breakfast that Sunday and it was fantastic. The sweet biscuit with the hot seafood bisque was really good together.

All in all, this nights supper wasn't too bad; and note to self: buy a better camera so you can see the food the way I see it.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

RedNeck Wedding Cake

These are pictures of a cake my Grandma from Kentucky decorated. Someone requested a redneck wedding cake with a fishing scene on top.
This is what she ended up with; it is so great!
I can't wait to see what my Grandma decorates next!