Thursday, December 31, 2009

Baked Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

One more new recipe for 2009 before the 2010 New Years' Resolution takes place (doing pretty good aren't I for not even officially starting yet?)

It's cold, sleeting, and I was up way too early for my own good this morning. I had already decided to try this recipe over the Holiday Shutdown both of our companies observe, well today is the day. Around 6am I decided to start cooking the chicken for this recipe. I had some frozen stuff I was wanting to use up, and casserole seemed perfect for that since Hubby is rather picky as to when he will eat previously frozen meats.

The end result was pretty decent, quite similar in taste (although not texture) to several other chicken casseroles in my current repertoire. I think next time I would add mushrooms and maybe a can of diced tomatoes.

Here's the recipe from The Pioneer Woman's website: (with a few alterations by yours truly):

2 cups Cooked Chicken
3 cups Dry Spaghetti, Broken Into Two Inch Pieces
2 cans Cream Of Mushroom Soup
2 cups Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
¼ cups Finely Diced Green Pepper
¼ cups Finely Diced Onion
1 jar (4 Ounce) Diced Pimentos, Drained
2 cups Reserved Chicken Broth From Pot
1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt
⅛ teaspoons (to 1/4 Teaspoon) Cayenne Pepper
Salt And Pepper, to taste
1 cup Additional Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Preparation Instructions
Cook 1 cut up fryer and pick out the meat to make two cups. (I cooked up 2 cups worth of chicken that I had frozen in the freezer.) Cook spaghetti in same chicken broth until al dente (I just mixed one can of chicken broth into the pasta water instead of reusing the liquid from cooking my chicken.) Do not overcook. When spaghetti is cooked, combine with remaining ingredients except additional 1 cup sharp cheddar.

Place mixture in casserole pan and top with remaining sharp cheddar. Cover and freeze up to six months, cover and refrigerate (this is the route I went, although it was only for a few hours) up to two days, or bake immediately: 350 degrees for 45 minutes until bubbly. (If the cheese on top starts to get too cooked, cover with foil).

Serves 8 generously.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Beef Enchiladas

Tonight I decided I would give homemade enchiladas a try. They are one of my favorites, but getting Hubby to go to a Tex-Mex place is not the easiest feat in the world, so something I could make at home seemed like a good prospect.

I decided to try another Pioneer Woman recipe since that always seems to be a good idea =) I used ground beef and pretty much everything else on the list (yes, even olives...big step for Hubby and me, I'll be the first to admit it!)

This definitely took the allotted time of 1 hour and 30 minutes to prepare, probably because I'm just a little slow when it comes to the chopping. The result was super tasty and served with Hubby's choice of side, black beans. I think we may have found a keeper, although until my working ends in February and I figure out how to cook and entertain a small child (who knows how long that'll take!), this may have to be a weekender meal.

Here's the recipe straight from Ree's site (or just follow the link to see the prep with the pretty pictures!):

Simple, Perfect Enchiladas!
(Serves 6-8)


1 Tablespoon Canola Oil
1 Tablespoon All-purpose Flour
1 can (28 Ounce) Enchilada Or Red Sauce
2 cups Chicken Broth
½ teaspoons Salt
½ teaspoons Ground Black Pepper
2 Tablespoons Chopped Cilantro
1-½ pound Ground Beef
1 whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
2 cans (4 Ounce) Diced Green Chilies
½ teaspoons Salt
10 whole (to 14) Corn Tortillas
½ cups Canola Oil
3 cups Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
½ cups Chopped Black Olives
1 cup Chopped Green Onions
½ cups Chopped Cilantro

Preparation Instructions

Step #1 – The Sauce
In a large saucepan over medium heat, add oil and flour and whisk together to make a paste, cooking for one minute. Pour in the red sauce, chicken broth, cilantro, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30-45 minutes.

Step #2 – The Meat
Brown the meat with onions in a skillet. Drain off fat. Stir in 2 cans diced green chilies and seasoned salt. Set aside.

Step #3 – Tortillas
Heat canola oil in a small skillet over medium heat. One by one, using tongs, fry tortillas in oil until soft, not crisp – about 30 seconds per side. Remove to a paper—towel lined plate. Repeat until all tortillas have been fried.

Step #4 – Assembly
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour ½ cup red sauce in bottom of baking pan. Spread to even out. Dip each tortilla into red sauce, then remove to work surface. Spoon meat, a little grated cheese, a little black olives, and green onions in the center of tortilla. Roll up and place, seam down, in baking pan. Repeat until pan is filled. Pour extra red sauce over enchiladas. Top with remaining cheddar cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle cilantro over enchiladas before serving.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Appetizers

This Christmas I was responsible for bringing two appetizers to our family gathering. I decided this could kick-start one of my 2010 New Years' Resolutions and try a few new things. After much Internet research I settled on two recipes to try out: Spinach Balls and Stuffed Mushrooms. Both were able to be made ahead of time and frozen until Christmas.

The Spinach Balls were insanely easy to pull together and were a combination of several recipes from RecipeZaar. These were my mother's favorite.

Spinach Balls

(Makes 5-6 dozen)

20 oz. of frozen chopped spinach
6 oz. Stove Top Stuffing (I used Chicken)
1 c. grated Italian Cheese Blend (I used the Sargento version)
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c. butter, melted
Dash of Nutmeg
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
  • Thaw spinach and drain out as much water as possible.
  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
  • Roll into 1 inch balls.
  • Place onto a cookie sheet and freeze (covered).
  • Once frozen, store in a freezer bag until ready to use.
  • To heat and serve, bake (frozen) at 350ยบ for 10-15 minutes.

The Stuffed Mushrooms were a Pioneer Woman recipe that I had been wanting to try out ever since seeing it on the blog. The only change I made to the recipe was in using a mild Italian sausage. Oh yeah, and I doubled the recipe because I just couldn't resist (the leftovers are making a reappearance for New Years Eve). I made these ahead and froze them until it was time. I went ahead and baked them frozen too and it seemed to do the trick (Hubby and I actually preferred them baked after being frozen to freshly baked...since obviously we had to try some the night I actually made them). The only thing to watch is that baking while still frozen will cause a lot of juice to accumulate in the bottom of your baking sheet/dish so I wouldn't plan on serving them straight out of the dish (learn from my mistakes please!) Just bake and then transfer the hot, yummy goodness to whatever serving platter you plan on using.