Tag Archives: Comfort Food

Chicken Broccoli Asparagus Quinoa Casserole

Chicken Broccoli Asparagus Quinoa Casserole

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Chicken Broccoli Asparagus Quinoa Casserole
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The other night I tried a Paleo version of an Orange Chicken Stir Fry. Frankly it sucked and I won’t post it because I don’t post dishes that I wouldn’t make again. So I had some leftover broccoli, mushroom, asparagus and chicken. When I make an Asian dish I try to bookend it with some Jill prefers which is comfort, Italian, pastas etc.

I knew that Orange Chicken Stir Fry missed the mark and to hear her make comments like “hmmmm” or “interesting flavors” while she picked through it like a monkey picking ticks of other monkey’s I knew I need to bring a comfort dish the next night. I was thinking of our chicken and rice, chicken divan and chicken spaghetti and thought I would make a hybrid. A while back I tried something similar that used quinoa but mine was a bit dry so I knew I needed to get some moisture on the bottom with some sauce.

Casseroles and myself are not photogenic. So don’t let the pics scare you off. The sauce was terrific and really pulled it all together. For people who are repelled by vegetables this is a great way to get people to eat them because they are masked in cheese and sauce. Learned that from my Mom.

Ingredients:
2 chicken breasts
Half a bunch of diced asparagus
A large crown of broccoli (chopped)
1/2 cup of sliced mushrooms
1 cup of Quinoa
1 cup of chicken broth
2 cups of milk
1/2 cup of flour
4 tbs of butter
Fresh Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Parmesan Cheese (fine grated)
2 tbs of Kosher Salt
1 tbs of Chili Powder
3 tsp of Garlic Powder
3 tsp of Onion Powder
2 tsp of Cayenne Pepper
1 tbs of Black pepper

Directions:
1. In a pot on medium heat pour 1 cup of chicken broth and add your chicken breasts and cook covered. It will take a 10-15 minutes. You can cut your chicken before poaching it to speed it up. I wanted to enrich my broth with the chicken breast so went the longer route.

2. Preheat your oven to 375. Take your casserole dish and add 2 tbs of butter and put it into the oven to melt.

3. Chop your veggies. When chicken is done remove to rest. In another sauce pot make a roux with flour and 2tbs of butter. It’s going to be pretty thick so slowly pour in your chicken broth. Just be careful because the broth is hot and you might make biscuits. Mine was actually lumpy so I put it in a blender. Slowly pour the milk in. Add your spices and mushrooms and stir until it thickens up. Taste and adjust accordingly.

4. At this point you have cut raw veggies, a sauce, a buttered dish and diced chicken. I took the buttered dish out of the oven and pour in the cup of quinoa and moved it around. I poured a little sauce to make sure it was well coated and moist. I combined my veggies and chicken and then poured them into the dish.

5. Then I poured sauce all over to make sure every nook and crannie was saturated. I used my spatula to much everything around well. Sprinkled grated Parmesan cheese and then top with fresh grated cheddar cheese. Covered with foil and cook for 20 minutes. Then remove the foil and cook another 20-30 minutes. Let is rest for a 5-10 minutes Serve and enjoy.
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Frito Chili Pie

Frito Chili Pie

  • Servings: 10+
  • Difficulty: easy
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Frito Chili Pie
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I am loving the change of weather in Texas. When contrasted against our hot and mostly unbearable summers, that first cooling front excites me like a fat kid over cake. Football on Saturdays and Sundays is just hard to beat. Such a great time of the year.

At the State Fair you see these bags of Fritos Corn Chips cut open and chili, cheese and onions added to your liking and given a spork to eat it right out of the bag. We haven’t had chili in a while so I made my a version of my Uncle J’s chili and topped it with fresh shredded cheddar and Fritos The other nice thing about it is that you can freeze the left overs or use it on other dishes (burgers, dogs, enchiladas,) and/or eat it throughout the week.

Ingredients:
Bag of Frito Corn Chips
Fresh block of extra sharp cheddar cheese
Uncle J’s Chili https://whiskeynwry.com/2014/12/29/uncle-js-chili-103/

Directions
1. Follow my recipe for my Uncle J’s Chili or your own favorite chili recipe. I catch grief being from Texas and using beans. Don’t know why it’s a big deal down here but I like what I like. Top it with chips and cheese and enjoy it with your favorite beer.

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Fried Shrimp Po-Boy Sandwich

Fried Shrimp Po-Boy Sandwich

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Fried Shrimp Po-Boy Sandwich
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We hit up this fish joint occasionally for Po Boys and Fish Ceviche. It’s a total joint with picnic tables and waxed checkered table cloths on the indoor tables. You make your own Red Sauce at bar with all the usual suspects, fresh horseradish, ketchup, lemons, Worcestershire, Tabasco and Tampico.

Jill always gets the shrimp Po Boy and has me make her sauces nice and spicy. Topped with ribbons of thin cut Iceberg lettuce and pillow soft rolls. We sit and linger sipping beer and finishing our fries and saltines slathered with our spicy red sauce.

Jill was having a long and tiring week so I surprised her with my own version of a Shrimp Po Boy. I made a sauce that consisted of Dukes Mayo, Sriracha, Horseradish and Ketchup. I replicated the ribbons of Iceberg lettuce and made a southern style batter for the shrimp that was spiced up with some Slap Ya Mama seasoning. As a side I baked some fries and used my Fry Salt.

Ingredients:
Fresh uncooked, shelled and de-veined Shrimp
Fresh Rolls
Thin cut ribbons of cold Iceberg lettuce
Frozen Fries
My fry Salt

Shrimp Marinade
1/2 cup of milk
2 beaten eggs
2 tbs of Yellow mustard
Slap Ya Mama seasoning

Sauce
1/4 cup of Dukes Mayo
1 tbs of Ketchup
1-2 tbs of Sriracha
Horseradish to taste

Shrimp Breading
1 cup of Corn Meal
1/2 cup of AP Flour
2 tbs of Slap Ya Mama Seasoning
1 tbs of Old Bay Seasoning
1 tbs of black pepper
Pinch of salt.

Directions:
1. The thing that will take the longest is your fries so put them on a sheet tray and season them with my Fry Salt and bake according to the package.

2. In a cast iron skillet or deeper cast iron pot, heat oil on Medium to Med-High until it hits 375 degrees. Shrimp cooks super fast so basically you are cooking the coating more than the shrimp. If you want a darker and crunchier crust on your shrimp, bump up the heat a bit and cook in smaller batches where the shrimp doesn’t touch each other while cooking.

3. Take your shrimp and let them soak in your shrimp marinade to flavor and tenderize them. Before ready to fry, take the shrimp from the wet mixture and bump off extra wetness (oil and wet are not friends). Coat your shrimp in the breading mixture. I added them all slowly until they were all coated to the point they were dry to the touch.

4. Working in small batches, carefully load your shrimp into the hot oil. Be careful and consider using a tool to put the shrimp in the oil. These babies cook in about 3-4 minutes. I move them around during the frying process. Remove them and place them on a paper towel and then transfer to a wire wrack until you are finished cooking everything. IMG_0625

5. Mix up your sauce and cut your lettuce. Slather both sides with the sauce, add the shrimp and lettuce. Add your fries and you are ready to go.
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Italian Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells

Italian Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Italian Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells
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Tonight was pasta night and I was thinking stuffed shells. It eats like a less cheesy and rich lasagna. You can control your cheese, meat, spinach ratio. I have made this several times and don’t really have a recipe for it but rather make it up each time.

Italian sausage is good but sometimes a little over powering. I found a lighter version that was lighter on fat and spice. I wanted to bump up the spinach ratio while lowering the cheese mixture. Jill was held up at work so I had to cook it a little longer than I wanted. I used my biggest cast iron skillet to accommodate all the shells but by doing so I left some shells exposed. Just be careful because you will harden up the exposed noodle part. I like the chew it gives them but you may not.

Really delicious meal that lets the pasta, Italian sausage and spinach shine through with the sauce nicely tying it all together.

Ingredients
3/4 package of Jumbo pasta shells
1 package (1 lbs) of light Italian Sausage (casing removed)
1 jar of Tomato Sauce
Parsley
1 bag of spinach
4 cloves of garlic
handful of fresh cut basil
Parmesan Cheese
Mozzarella cheese
1 container of Ricotta
1 small onion

Directions:
1. Boil your pasta in salted water according to the directions on the box. Drain and rinse with cool water so you can handle them as you stuff them.

2. Make your stuffing. Brown your pork sausage and remove the rendered fat. Add your onion, spinach and two cloves of minced garlic. The spinach has a lot of water so when everything is soft and wilted, remove as much of it as you can. Pour into a bowl and let it cool. IMG_0028

3. When the meat spinach mixture is warm add 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese and your ricotta cheese. Mix well and taste. Adjust seasoning accordingly. You shouldn’t need extra salt with the sausage and parm but taste it to make certain.

4. I used the same cast iron skillet after I removed the meat mixture. I added a jar of marinara sauce. To that sauce I added 2 cloves of minced garlic and tomato paste and crushed red peppers. Brought it to a simmer and then added my basil. I turned it to low while I stuffed my shells.

5. Stuff your shells and put them into the sauce face up. I liked to add a some mozzarella or parm on the top and finish them in an oven around 375 degrees until the cheese melts. Like I mentioned above mine when a little longer because Jill was running late. IMG_0025IMG_0026
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6. Serve in a bowl with some sauce added.
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“California” Ground Beef Tacos

California Beef Tacos

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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California Ground Beef Tacos
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Growing up, taco night right up there with the rare mythical pizza night. Back then, it was the simple hard shell ground beef taco topped with cheddar cheese. Today my taco aperture is fully widened. To adapt a JBJ lyric … “I’ve seen a million tacos and I’ve rocked them all” or something close.

A few decades ago on a visit to the the mother in law, she made us some “California” tacos. At this stage in my game, I had soft and hard shells but not oiled ones. It’s the same basic taco set up but she would take the corn tortillas and softened them in a heated and oiled skillet. Kind of what you might do to an enchilada in sauce.

Between us, I am not sure that single act of hot oil made them “Californian.” My hunch is someone, not from California, made them for her whilst she was living out there in her post college days. To me the California taco is a proper fish taco or some street barbacoa or carne asada tacos. The only reason I point that out is out to calm down any Californian who might read this and feel the need to educate me. I get it. The name is more about my MIL vs the state.

For my beef filling I like to really concentrate and reduce the sauce to a deep, spicy, rich salty mixture. I also like a fine cut of my ground beef while adding beans too. For the flavor, I will play around with my mixture by adding, beer, tomato sauce, green sauce or salsa etc.. This batch I went heavier on the tomato sauce but will use the typical amount in my base recipe.

Ingredients:
1 lbs ground beef (chopped further before browning)
corn tortillas
1 onion
8 oz of tomato sauce
8 oz of beer
4 oz of beef stock
Shredded cheddar for topping
1 green pepper (seeded and spined)
1 jalapeno (seeded and spined)
1 can of jalapeno pinto beans (rinsed)

Spices
2 tbs chili powder
2 tbs ancho chili powder
2 tbs of Penzey’s taco seasoning
1 tbs of cumin
1 tbs of paprika
1 tsp of coriander
1 tsp of cayenne

Directions:
1. Take your ground beef and chop it on a cutting board. Add to a medium heated skillet to brown. Drain some of the fat.

2. Mince your onion, jalapeno, green pepper and add to the mixture and cook for about 5-6 minutes. Now add your spices and let them bloom for 5 minutes more.

3. Add the wet ingredients and simmer until it is really reduced and tight. You can cheat with cornstarch if you are in a hurry. Just put a 1tbs in a little water and then add and stir. IMG_9850IMG_9860

4. I add my beans towards the end and kind of mash it up a bit.

5. For the tortillas I take about a tablespoon of peanut or vegetable oil in a non-stick pan and heat it up. I use my hand so be careful of burning your self. Tongs tend to rip them. Since I cooked 4 tacos I put all 4 tortillas in the skillet. I flip all four and then take the top two, flip them and then flip all four. The point is each one needs to have contact with oil and heat. This is a one to two minute ordeal. Pull from heat and let them rest on a paper towel to soak up some of the oil.

6. Fill the tortillas with beef, cheese and anything else you want. I also made a simple salad and used avocado, lime juice and oil and blended it until smooth. I smashed a few chips to top.
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Spinach Mushroom Creamy Chicken Casserole

Spinach Mushroom Creamy Chicken Casserole

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Spinach Mushroom Creamy Chicken Casserole
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Lately I have been playing around with chicken recipes. If you have followed the last few weeks, I made shish tawook, chicken and rice and then that “yum” chicken recipe. So I had some left over rice pilaf from my shish tawook and also some extra chicken. I thought I would add some veggies and landed on spinach, mushroom and caramelized onions.

The chicken stays moist due to the sauce which is a creamy Parmesan cheese bechamel. The veggies add an earthiness on top of the savory sauce and finally the balsamic caramelized onions introduce a pop of sweetness. I added a touch of Slap ya Mama seasoning to my flour for a touch of heat.

Ingredients:
4 organic free range chicken breasts (sliced into larger than bite sized pieces)
2 onions (diced)
1 package of mushrooms (sliced)
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
2 bags of baby spinach (8 cups uncooked)
1/3 cup of heavy cream
1/4 cup of whole milk
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup seasoned flour (w/Slap Ya Mama)
1 tbs of balsamic vinegar
Olive Oil
Kosher salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:
1. I started by cooking my chicken. I trimmed the breasts and then cut them in to cutlet size. I dusted with some seasoned flour and then in a medium heated skillet I put a little crust on them. Once browned set them aside. I had some rice pilaf so put it into a baking dish and placed the chicken on top. IMG_9782

2. Start the veggies by dicing the onions and adding them to a medium heated pan with a some oil. Cook for about 10 minutes until they are browning and then add your tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Into the pan goes the mushrooms and garlic. Cook for about 3-4 minutes. Now add your spinach. It looks like a lot but will wilt dramatically. Turn it on low heat. IMG_9788

3. In a smaller sauce pan add a small amount of flour and butter to make a small blond roux. Add the milk, cream and Parmesan cheese with a little pepper. See below (not a great picture) IMG_9786

4. Now add half the sauce to the cooked veggies and coat them well. The remaining sauce pour over the chicken and rice pilaf. Then add your saucy veggies. Top with a little more parm and put into a 375 degree oven. Everything is cooked so you are just going to let it all meld together and for the cheese to brown.
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Best Chicken Rice Casserole

Best Chicken Rice Casserole

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Best Chicken Rice Casserole
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When Jill and I were newly married we would “house sit” for extra money. Often times “house sitting” came along with kids. Jill worked in an affluent part of town. So we had so much fun staying the weekend in these mansions and seeing how “the one percenters” lived. We were broke but happy as clams. A weekend of free food while making money felt like we were scamming them. Most of the families were fabulous and given Jill was a teacher we could sign up for the better behaved kids. Only a couple times we regretted the assignment and we would have gladly passed on the cash.

So on one gig, we luckily scored a delightful house of happy kids. So one evening we entered the house full of fragrant food smells. A simple glass dish tightly wrapped in foil sat on the stove top. The kids were delighted and raved about chicken rice night. We unwrapped the foil and saw a pretty simple looking dish. However, following my first spoonful of that rice blew my mind. What the heck is this? How is this rice so full of flavor?

You basically lay down some bacon, put uncooked rice and chicken on top and then pour the wet ingredients so that covers the chicken and rice. The rendered bacon fat infuses into that rice and transforms it into something magical. The chicken comes along for the ride but the black pepper and oregano make it special with a nice heat. What’s crazy is that for the most part you don’t eat the bacon. Maybe the meaty bits but the fatty parts you chunk. You could partially cook it and then add it but I don’t dare dabble in voodoo because it would be tragic to jeopardize that rice. IMG_9766

You really should try this one. You can adjust the spice according to your tastes.

Ingredients:
2 trimmed chicken breasts and two thighs
1 can Cream of Chicken
1 cup of water
1 cup of uncooked long grain rice
3-4 strips of bacon
1-2 tsp of black pepper
pinch of Slap Ya Mama (cayenne)
1-2 tsp of Oregano
1 tsp of Garlic Powder

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 300. Take a glass baking dish (2qt) or 9×9 or 8×11. Lay the raw bacon on the bottom of the dish. Arrange it so that it is touching but not overlapped. Cut it to fit.

Sprinkle your cup of rice over the top of bacon and then nestle your chicken atop the rice. Mix your wet ingredients and spices together and pour that mixture over the chicken/rice/bacon. Move it around to make sure everything it coated. Pepper your chicken and top it with Paprika for some color.
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Double wrap this dish tightly with foil and cook it for 1 hour and then open the foil to allow the liquid to reduce until gone. I also made a simple spinach by sauteing some onions and garlic and then added spinach with a few splashes of red wine vinegar.
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