Bored Cook In The Kitchen

Tried and true recipes, new twists on old favorites, and new dishes to expand my family's palate.

Tag Archives: comfort foods

Slow Cooker Chicken With Broccoli

I found this recipe in one of my cookbooks and realized as I was making it that it was no longer going to really resemble the original recipe at all.  I think the original recipe was a good foundation for this dish, but it needed more.  A lot more. 

All three of my children have always loved broccoli.  Over the past year my 8-year-old decided he hated it and his 4-year-old sister decided to agree.  My oldest still eats it.  My husband will not even look at broccoli let alone eat it, so I was hesitant to add it to this dish in fear that nobody would touch it.

I ended up being pleasantly surprised.  My husband didn’t come near it, which was no surprise, but my youngest son liked it and my daughter ate two helpings of it, asking for more broccoli than chicken.  Go figure.

The original recipe called for frozen broccoli, but I opted to use fresh instead and I think I made the right choice.

I would definitely make this again, but it needs some serious color.  The lack of color from the sauce, pasta and chicken, with only with the green of the broccoli doesn’t make it aesthetically pleasing to look at.  Tastes good, but it needs a little color.  The next time I make this I plan on adding a small jar of drained and chopped pimento.  I have a feeling that will fit in perfectly here!

SLOW COOKER CHICKEN WITH BROCCOLI

  • 4 Large Boneless Chicken Breasts
  • 1 Packet Good Seasons DRY Italian Dressing Mix
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium white or yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup Low Fat Sour Cream
  • 1 8 0z. Brick of Cream Cheese (I used Neuchâtel for a lower fat content)
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. Paprika
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. Mrs. Dash Original Salt Free Blend
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 Small Jar Chopped Pimento, drained. (I didn’t add this to this version I made but plan to in the next one) *optional
  • 2 Cups Fresh Broccoli Florets
  • 1 Cup Chicken Broth (low sodium)
  • 1 Can Campbells Health Request Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1 Pound Penne Pasta
  • 1 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter

Add the chicken, olive oil, italian dressing mix and the Mrs. Dash and set to high.

In a skillet set to medium, add the butter.  Once hot, add the onions and sauté until soft.  

Once the onions are soft, add the can of soup, sour cream, cream cheese, chicken broth, nutmeg, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper and stir well with a whisk.  Allow the mixture to come to a low simmer.  Once this is achieved, pour the sauce over the chicken in the slow cooker and stir well to combine.  Cover and allow to cook on high for one hour.

After one hour, turn the slow cooker to low and allow to continue cooking for another two hours.  At the end of the two hours, add in the broccoli florets and the drained pimento, if using.  Stir again to combine, cover and allow to cook on low for an additional hour.

Just before done, cook the pasta in a large pot of well salted water.  Once aldente, drain and add to a large bowl.  Pour the sauce over the pasta and mix well.  Serve immediately with some additional grated parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

 

 

Chicken and Dumplings

I have never once made Chicken and Dumplings.  Growing up all my life in New York, this was never a common dish to see on a menu, nor was it something my family served.

Years ago I tried it for the first time while we stopped overnight in Georgia on our way to Florida.  An extremely long trip in the car with two young boys.  So long of a trip in fact that by the time we reached Maryland I was contemplating ditching my family at a rest stop and heading to the nearest airport to fly myself home.  But that’s a whole other story.

The reason behind this story was because it was the first time I had ever eaten Chicken and Dumplings and I fell in love at first bite.  The restaurant we stopped at was nothing to write home about.  It was pretty much a little dive down the street from the hotel we were staying at.  There was a little round southern woman with the most adorable southern drawl who was not only the cook, but the woman who came to your table to welcome you to her kitchen and tell you what was on the menu that evening. 

When she mentioned Chicken and Dumplings I asked her what it was and she laughed and asked me where I came from.  When I told her New York she said, “Honey, you are in for a treat.” 

And she was so right.  She brought me out a huge bowl of this decadent comfort dish and after the first bite I fell in love with those little dumplings.  I’ve had it several times since, and now that I know of it, I have actually found it on a few restaurant menus in our area.  But nothing has ever compared to the bowl I had from that little dive of a restaurant we stopped at that night.

Despite that it is July, and 98 degrees out with 210% humidity, I got into my head the other day that I wanted this dish.  I had never made it, and I had found a couple of recipes, but all were different.  I decided I needed to find out how to make this from a true “Southern Chick”, so I went to the source and asked some fellow bloggers on Twitter to send me what they had.

I received two recipes from two different women from down South and decided to go with the first one I received.  I’ve told you about Lana before and her blog Never Enough Thyme.  She makes those awesome Overnight Sweet Rolls I’ve become so desperately addicted to!  Well, here is her recipe for Chicken and Dumplings which I followed to perfection.

I made this dish over a period of two days.  On day one I made the chicken broth and then did as her recipe instructed and refrigerated it overnight.  The reason for that trick is because it’s easier to skim off the chicken fat after it’s gotten nice and cold, and you use that glorious fat in the making of the dumplings. Genius!

The next day I made the dumplings, heated up the broth and the chicken on the stove, and dropped those little dough pillows into the softly boiling broth.  What happens next is watching those little pillows puff right up. 

I knew before I served this dish there was no way my husband was going to be thrilled with it.  He’s a weird one who doesn’t get into all the comfort dishes I love.  Creamy, heavy bowls of macaroni and cheese and the like are just not his thing.  But I really could care less, since I was craving this, I was cooking and it was what we were eating for dinner!

My children took one look at it and said, “What are these things.”

In my best southern accent I said, “Dumplings, y’all.”

I got a few weird looks so I switched back to my NY voice and said, “Just eat it and shut your traps before I knock you upside your head with a wooden spoon!”

Not really, but I did give them a look that conveyed the same message.

The result was that my husband ate some leftover ribs from the night before, and my children ate what was on their plates along with stealing the rest of the dumplings out of the remaining broth that was sitting on the stove. 

The other recipe I received was this from Our Life In the Kitchen.  This will be the second version I try, and from the looks of it, I may fall in love with that one as well!

Thanks, Lana.  Your little pillowey dumplings were the perfect antidote to my craving for this comforting dish.  Once again one of your recipes did not disappoint!

Chicken Strips & Chipotle Dipping Sauce

I rarely deep fry things.  Rarely as in if I deep fry something more than two timers per year that is a lot.  I get turned off by many deep-fried foods, not to mention the smell in the kitchen they leave behind.

But Spring has sprung, the windows are open and there is a gentle breeze in the air.  The perfect weather to deep fry something without suffering the stifling smell indoors for the next two days.

One of my children requested chicken strips for dinner.  I really hate the frozen version of these because they are kind of like eating breaded cardboard.  So I promised to make them and to actually deep fry them. 

Two of my children will eat plain ketchup with their chicken strips, but my husband and I, along with our oldest son, tend to like something more substantial to dip our strips in.  I was craving something spicy, and had a half a can of Chipotle Chilies in Adobo Sauce left over.  Using a mini food chopper, I mixed them up with some sour cream and mayonnaise and it turned out to be just the creamy yet spicy kick we were looking for. 

This recipe is so adaptable.  You can pretty much make the flour mixture you dip the strips into either savory, sweet, spicy, or mild, but using pretty much anything you have in your spice cabinet.  This is the version I used today and it came out very good.

Chicken Strips & Chipotle Dipping Sauce:

Makes approximately 25 to 30 strips

For the chicken strips:

  • 3 – 4 Large Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 tsp. Seasoned Salt (I used Lawry’s)
  • 1 tsp. Paprika
  • 1 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. White Ground Pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • Canola Oil for frying
  • 2 Cups Buttermilk

For the dipping sauce:

  • 5 Chipotle Chilis in Adobo Sauce (more or less depending on your own personal taste, and seeded or not seeded depending on the amount of heat you want)
  • 1/2 Cup Sour Cream
  • 1/2 Cup Mayonnaise

Begin by setting up your work station.  In a large bowl place the flour and all the dry ingredients and mix well.  In another large bowl, pour in 2  cups of buttermilk.

Take your chicken breasts and filet them.  Then cut each filet in half and then in strips.  Place the strips into the buttermilk.  Allow them to sit in the buttermilk for around 10 minutes or so. 

Begin dipping each chicken strip into the flour mixture and coating well.  For a thicker crust, after dipping in the flour, dip again into the buttermilk and then again in the flour, getting a full and even coating.  Lay them flat on a large plate and set them to the side.

On another large platter, place several pieces of paper towels out.  Use this to lean the fried strips on to help drain off the excess oil.

In a large cast iron skillet, pour in about 1 1/2 – 2 inches of canola oil.  Turn heat to medium and allow oil to heat up.  I don’t use a thermometer to check the temperature.  I just do a test of adding some flour and seeing if it rapidly begins to fry.  When it does, I know the oil is hot enough.

Once the oil is ready, begin gently placing 5 chicken strips in at a time.  Allow them to brown to a golden color on one side, and then flip them over to achieve the same on the other side.  This should take about 4 minutes total.  Once the chicken is browned and fully cooked through, remove the strips to the paper towel covered plate, and add in the next batch of chicken strips. 

When done, place them on a cookie sheet in a preheated 300 degree oven to keep warm and crisp until ready to serve.

To make the dipping sauce I added the mayonnaise and sour cream to my mini food processor.  I removed the seeds and veins from 5 chipotle chilis and added them along with a teaspoon or so of the chipotle sauce to the processor and pulsed until smooth.    This was enough to give the sauce a nice little tang and a bit of a burn, but nothing so hot I couldn’t stand to eat it.

Serve up some dipping sauce with each chicken strip and chow down.  There was not one chicken strip left over, so I’m going with this being a success.  The next time I make these I may include either a little honey in the sauce or some honey on the chicken before dipping in the flour.

Enjoy!

Creamy Crunchy Mac And Cheese

 

There is nothing better on a cold and wintery day than a classic comfort dish like Baked Mac and Cheese! 

To compensate for hubby’s unemployed (temporary) status, I took on some extra hours at work.  Normally I work the overnight shift, which I am still doing.  But I took on some extra evening hours from 3pm to 11:30 pm.  So for the next month that is going to drastically cut into my cooking time. 

Packed with that knowledge, this week I’ve planned a few make ahead meals I can throw together during the day and hubby can just heat up later.  Now my husband can cook.  No doubt about it!  But I know what it’s like trying to cook dinner during the “witching hour” of getting kids home from school, helping with homework, getting dinner on the table, baths, showers, bedtime stories, and into bed.  Not fun folks.  So I figured I would make life a little easier on him and try to have a few things he can just throw in the oven to re-heat, along with allowing for plenty of leftovers. 

Now I’m going to tell you something else.  My middle son HATES this macaroni and cheese.  He doesn’t just hate it, but he refuses to eat it.  And it’s not this recipe in particular…it’s ANY homemade Mac and Cheese.  See he’s freaky that way.  If it doesn’t come out of a blue box with an orange powdered cheese pouch, he won’t eat it.  The rest of us, however, devour it!

I was talking to a woman at work who said she adds potato chips to the top of her macaroni and cheese because she likes the crunch factor it adds.  The idea appealed to me and I told myself the next time I made this I was going to try it.  So of course, the day I decided to make this we had no potato chips in the house.  But…we did have…corn flakes.  I figured they were the next best thing.   I’m never making my Mac and Cheese without corn flakes again.  Unless I have potato chips in the house which I will use instead. 

Since I was unsure how much to add, I ended up adding a 1/2 cup of crushed corn flakes to the dish.  I’m upping it next time to 3/4 of a cup because I definitely wanted more crunch!

CRUNCHY CREAMY MAC AND CHEESE:

Serves 6 – 8

  • 1 Lb. Elbow Macaroni
  • 5 Cups Shredded Cheese (I used Cheddar this time) **See Note
  • 1 Teaspoon Seasoned Salt (I used Lawry’s)
  • 1/2 Stick Butter
  • 1/2 Teaspoon White Ground Pepper
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Dry Mustard
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 3 Tbsp. Flour
  • 2 Cups Warmed Milk (Whole or 2%)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 Cup Crushed Corn Flakes

Set oven to 400 degrees.

Spray a 13″ x 9″ baking dish with butter flavored non-stick cooking spray.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add some salt.  Just before the water starts to boil, begin making your cheese sauce in a separate pot.

In a Pyrex measuring cup, measure out 2 cups of milk and put in microwave on high.  Heat for four and a half minutes.  You want the milk warm and steamy but not boiling hot.

In the separate pot, throw in the butter and melt, watching the heat so it doesn’t burn.  Once melted, add in the 3 Tablespoons of flour and whisk together quickly.  You want to do this quickly so you end up with a nice smooth consistency, not lumpy and grainy.  As soon as the milk is heated, pour it into your butter and flour mixture and whisk until smooth.  Add in four cups of the shredded cheese and stir well until smooth.  Remove from heat and set to the side. 

Dump the macaroni into the boiling water and cook through until just “almost” done.  Mine took less than 6 minutes to reach this stage. Once done, strain the macaroni and add it to a large mixing bowl.  Immediately dump in all the dry ingredients EXCEPT the corn flakes, into the macaroni, and stir well.  Add the cheese sauce mix and stir until fully combined.

Pour this into your baking dish and top with the crushed cornflakes, followed by the reserved cup of shredded cheese.  Place into your hot oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until bubbly and the top has achieved a golden crust.

NOTE:  I buy and shred my cheese for this because I think it makes for a creamier sauce.  This time I used regular sharp cheddar, but in the past I have mixed it up using half cheddar and half Colby, or Monterey Jack.

Sausage and Potatoes

 

Growing up, my parents made this dish often.  As a kid, I never appreciated it.  In fact I would roll my eyes when I asked what was for dinner and the response was “Sausage and Potatoes”.  As an adult, I appreciate this dish for what it truly is; delicious. 

Now I make this and my children roll their eyes when I tell them what’s for dinner.  See, it’s not a cheeseburger and fries so they can’t appreciate it.  I tell them, “Hey, there are people starving all over the world.  We are in a recession.  You are lucky you got the sausage in this dish!”

Then I have to continue with the infamous, ” Back in Grandma and Grandpa’s day, they had to walk twenty miles through the snow just to buy one sausage link.  Then they brought it home and had to split it between eighteen other people, while they took off their shoes with the holes in the soles…”

By now I’ve lost them and they are no longer listening.   It’s fun to do this though.  Don’t you remember your parents telling you when you were kids,

“You kids today don’t know how lucky you have it!”

So true, Dad.  So very, very true.

My mother told me her mother made this when she was growing up as an easy way to stretch a meal.  Times were tough, meat was expensive and not easy to fit into your budget.  You had to make the most with what you had.  Who knew that so many years later many of those money-saving-meals mothers made to stretch their meat, and their dollar, would turn out to be completely delicious comfort foods.

It’s simple, it’s flavorful, and it’s an entire meal in one big dish. 

SAUSAGE AND POTATOES:

  • 8 – 10 Sweet (or Hot) Italian Sausage Links
  • 4 Large Russet Potatoes
  • 1 Large Onion
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning Blend (Salt Free)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash potatoes and leave the skins on.  Cut into large, equal sized chunks, and place them in a large mixing bowl.  Slice the onion thickly, separate and place them in the bowl as well. 

Add all of your dry ingredients, along with the olive oil, and give it a good mixing to evenly distribute everything together.

Cut each sausage link into thirds and place in the bowl with the potatoes and onions.  From here, I mix this all together with my hands.  (Please make sure they are clean first, cause if they aren’t that would be really gross!)  Gently mix the sausage into the potatoe and onion mixture trying not to break apart the sausage as you do this.

Dump this all into a 13 x 9 baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. 

Place in the oven and allow this to cook for a minimum of one hour.  After an hour turn the oven up to 400 degrees, remove the foil and place back in the oven until the sausage is nicely brown, stirring every few minutes so all the sausage gets some equal browning space.   Make sure you watch this closely after returning to the oven so your potatoes and sausage don’t burn.

This is perfect:

I serve this with either a vegetable or tossed salad on the side.  It’s a complete meal in itself and super easy to make on a busy day.

The potatoes come out soft and they absorb all that delicious flavor from the sausage and the onions they simmered away with.  And the sausage.  Nice and browned and full of flavor.  Try this!

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