Chicken & Broccoli Appetizer Wreath

Chicken & Broccoli Appetizer Wreath
recipe courtesy of Pampered Chef

1/2 C. red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 C. broccoli, chopped
1/4 C. water chestnuts, drained and chopped
2 T. onion, chopped
6 oz. cooked chicken breast, chopped
2/3 C. cream of chicken soup
1 C. (4 oz) shredded Cheddar cheese
2 (8 oz.) pkg. refrigerated crescent rollsPreheat oven to 350ºF.

Chop pepper, broccoli, water chestnuts, onion and chicken. Combine all ingredients except crescent rolls in medium bowl.

Unroll crescent rolls and arrange triangles in a circle on a 15″ baking stone with the bases overlapping in center and points toward the outside. Scoop filling mixture onto widest portion of each triangle. Fold points of triangle over filling and tuck under base at center. (Filling will not be completely covered.) Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

Smashed potato soup

This soup was made for my Soup & Sandwich Swap event, which you can read about HERE for more recipes and pictures.

Tricia’s smashed potato soup

3-1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

1/2 cup chopped yellow and/or red sweet pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons bottled roasted garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4-1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup whipping cream, half-and-half, or light cream
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
Sliced green onions (optional)

In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine potatoes, sweet pepper, garlic, and black pepper. Pour broth over all.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours.

Mash potatoes slightly with a potato masher. Stir in whipping cream, cheddar cheese, and the 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions. If desired, top individual servings with additional sliced green onions. Makes 8 servings.

German Cheese Fondue

I made the following for my Oktoberfest event. You can read and get other recipes from the event HERE.

Megan & Matt’s German Cheese Fondue
recipe from HERE

1 sack, 10 ounces, 2 1/2 cups, shredded sharp Cheddar, available on dairy aisle
1/4 to 1/3 pound, 4 to 6 ounces, Gruyere, shredded
1 rounded tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup German lager beer
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
A few drops hot sauce
A few drops Worcestershire sauce

For Serving:
1 1/2 pounds cubed or thick sliced and browned wursts: knock, brat or brot,
1 package mini party franks (recommended: Boars Head)
1 head cauliflower, separated into florets
1 small jar mini Gherkin pickles, drained
1 small jar pickled onions, available on vegetable aisle
1 small, round loaf rye, pumpernickel or sour dough bread, cubed

Combine cheeses in a bowl with flour. Add beer to a small pot and bring up to a bubble over medium heat. Reduce the heat to simmer and add cheese in handfuls. Stir constantly, melting the cheese in batches. Stir in a figure-eight pattern with wooden spoon. When the cheese has been incorporated fully, stir in the mustard, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Transfer fondue to warm fondue pot.

In a large skillet, bring 2-inches of water to a boil and blanch the cauliflower for 2 to 3 minutes, drain and arrange around the fondue pot.

In the same pan, bring the cooking water back to a boil and add the mini franks and sliced wursts. Cook, uncovered until all the liquid has evaporated. Add 1 tablespoon butter to the pan to crisp the casings. Pile wursts and dogs near fondue. Complete the dipping selections with dishes of pickles, onions and cubed bread.

Mini Cheese Quiche Bites

I prepared the following recipe for my Book/Movie club. You can read about my event and view other links to recipes I made for it HERE.

I’ll admit I cheated for this next one by not making a pie crust from scratch. But the end result was great! Here’s how I made my Mini Cheese Quiche Bites:

1 ready roll out pie crust dough
3 eggs
4 tablespoons whole milk
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup shredded cheddar

Preheat oven to 400.
Spray the wells of a mini muffin pan.
Fill each well with a piece of pie dough rolled into the size of a small walnut.
Using your fingers of a tart shaper, line each well with the pie dough to create mini pie crusts.
In a bowl, preferably with a spout, whisk eggs, salt, pepper and milk.
Pour a little egg mixture into each mini pie crust
Carefully sprinkle the cheese into each well.
Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, until each quiche puffs up and is lightly browned.
Garnish with chopped flat leaf parsley if desired.

Meatless Meanderings

So thanks to my husband, I have been eating very little meat (pork, beef, poultry) and so I’m finding contentment in meatless meals. One classic is macaroni and cheese. We all have a recipe for it, whether it comes from a blue box, made with a roux or even picked up at the store. Ironically, on Food Network the other night, there was a Macaroni & Cheese competition!

I cracked open one of my America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks and decided to try one of their recipes out. It came out wonderfully, especially with my twist on adding french fried onions! In fact, I’m submitting this to the Thursday Night Smackdown blogging event in July. It’s a great event that encourages folks to use recipes from cookbooks and magazines, rather than those available online. Check it out and submit a recipe too! Here is the recipe for Stove top Macaroni & Cheese, from Here in America’s Test Kitchen, pages 158-160:

What We Wanted: A rich, creamy casserole with plenty of cheese flavor, properly cooked noodles, and a flawlessly smooth sauce.

What We Learned: Don’t use a flour-thickened bechamel or baked custard for this dish. For the best texture and flavor, make macaroni and cheese on the stovetop (not in the oven) and use evaporated milk in the sauce. For some crunch, sprinkle with toasted buttered breadcrumbs just before serving.
Toasted Bread Crumbs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup fresh bread crumbs (I used panko bread crumbs)
pinch of salt
french fried onions

Creamy Macaroni & Cheese
2 large eggs
1 (12oz) can evaporated milk
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard, dissolved in 1 teaspoon water
1/2 lb elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 oz sharp cheddar, American, or Monterey Jack cheeses, grated (about 3 cups)

1. FOR THE BREAD CRUMBS: Heat butter in large skillet over medium heat until foam subsides. Add bread crumbs; cooks, tossing to coat with butter, until crumbs just begin to color., about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt; set aside.

2. FOR THE MACARONI & CHEESE: Mix eggs, 1 cup evaporated milk, pepper sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and mustard mixture in a small bowl; set aside.

3. Meanwhile, bring 2 quarts water to a boil in large heavy bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and macaroni; cook until almost tender but still a little firm to the bite. Drain and return to pan over low heat. Add butter; toss to melt.

4. Pour egg mixture over buttered noodles along with three-quarters of cheese; stir until thoroughly combined and the cheese starts to melt. Gradually add remaining milk and cheese, stirring constantly, until mixture is hot and creamy, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately, topped with toasted breadcrumbs.

VARIATION: “Baked Macaroni & Cheese” – This dish is for those who prefer their macaroni and cheese served out of a baking dish. Smooth and creamy like the stove top version, this version is broiled just long enough to brown the crumb topping and french fried onions.

Follow the recipe for Stove top Macaroni & Cheese, pouring cooked macaroni and cheese into a 9 inch square gratin dish. Spread crumbs and french fried onions evenly over top. Broil until crumbs turn deep brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Let stand to set a bit, about 5 minutes, and serve immediately.

Souper Wednesday

Chicago has been hit by quite a snow storm (yet again!)… so thank goodness for getting out of work early. My once a month cooking efforts paid off too since dinner required nothing more than warming up a bowl of comforting soup. Tonight we had a rich and creamy loaded baked potato soup with a toasty kaiser roll.Here’s my recipe for my loaded baked potato soup (this isn’t for dieters!):

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large baking potatoes, peeled & cubed
1/2 cup diced prosciutto
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 cup sliced button mushrooms
8 cups chicken broth
1 stalk green onion, sliced
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream or half & half
1-2 cups shredded cooked chicken (optional)

In a dutch oven, heat over medium heat & add butter and oil.
When butter/oil is heated, add onions, garlic and prosciutto.
When prosciutto has crisped up, sprinkle in flour.
Stir and cook until the raw flour smell is gone – about 2 mins.
Add mushrooms and cook until softened.
Add chicken broth and potatoes.
Allow potatoes to cook until tender.
Add green onion and slowly stir in cheese until melted.
Add cream/half & half and stir, allowing it to warm through.
Add chicken if using or serve as it with hot toasty bread.

Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cheese & Rice Casserole:

Tonight is focused on my Traditional fare menu and some desserts. Everything is set for the most part… and I approached it as if it were just one of my cooking class events where everything is prepped and ready to assemble. Here are recipes of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes on my menu.

Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cheese & Rice Casserole:

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups half & half
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped cooked chicken
1 lb fresh broccoli, parboiled
1 lb fresh cauliflower, parboiled
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350.
In a sauce pan, melt butter.
Sautee onion and garlic until softened.
Sprinkle flour into pan and stir to form a roux.
Slowly add the half & half until slightly thickened.
Add chicken, broccoli, cauliflower, cheese and rice.
Toss gently to combine.
Place in casserole dish and top with crushed butter crackers.
Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour.