Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Chicken Taco Pie

Okay, I know that's not the greatest photo, but it's all you're getting. Because when I made this dish, I was hungry. I couldn't take time to be bothered with details when I was busy shoving this in as quickly as possible! :)

Despite it's disguise as a boring cheese-topped casserole, this stuff is awesome! My mom made this for us all the time as kids. It goes over wonderfully with picky eaters (I'm sorry, mom. I've changed, I promise) and even normal people too! Tasty, easy, and pleasing. What more could you ask for?

2 c. cooked, shredded chicken (this was about 7-8 breast tenders for me)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 c. sour cream
1 t. dried onion
2 t. taco seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 small corn tortillas
jack or cheddar cheese

Mix seasonings, soup, and sour cream in a small saucepan. Heat until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Add chicken. Spray 2-quart baking dish, then cover the bottom with torn-up pieces of tortilla. Spread the chicken mixture over this. Sprinkle with cheese and bake at 350 until hot and bubbly (about 20 minutes). Sprinkle crushed corn chips on top of individual servings, or use whole corn chips to scoop it up.

My mom likes to serve it on a bed of shredded lettuce to add some veggies, but I will have my salad on the side, thank you. :) This recipe is also adapted to my small family. My mom will usually triple the recipe and put it in a 9x13, making several layers of torn tortillas and the chicken stuff. Great for a crowd!

Also, for those of you still waiting for the summer veggie meal, just know that it had to be postponed. I was out of town the Saturday before it was supposed to happen and didn't make it to the farmer's market. And now I'm moving to a new apartment, so it will be further postponed. But don't worry, we'll get it up here eventually!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wilda's English Trifle

Oh mercy. This is what I’ve waited all summer for.

I called Southridge Farms the other day and was delighted to learn that they have some early peaches in. My son and I made a quick trek down to Santaquin to pick up a bag. You can’t beat fresh, farm-grown peaches. Grocery store peaches just do not compare. They are peach sacrilege! (By the way, while at the barn, we sampled their fresh-squeezed apple juice, and it took every ounce of will I have within me to resist buying a huge jug. I just came for peaches this time. But I’ll be back!)

In our family, fresh peaches mean that it’s time to make this lovely dessert. The recipe comes straight from a sweet little cookbook that my grandma made for all of her granddaughters a few Christmases ago. It's one of my treasures. Not only does it feature many of her culinary masterpieces, but it's just such a reflection on her personality—done scrapbook style with little tidbits of advice and lots of family photos. Plus it gives me hope that someday I can cook like her!

Also, I just want to state, for the record, that I make no promises as to it’s British authenticity. All I know is, Grandma calls it English Trifle. So no uppity Englishmen out there are allowed to tell me that’s not how their grandmother makes trifle, okay? :)

1 angel food cake
2-3 bananas (I'm not a banana fan, so I leave these out)
about 1 c. each of raspberries and blueberries
3-4 peaches, sliced
1 c. heavy whipping cream
1 small package vanilla pudding
1 package raspberry Danish Dessert

Prepare the Danish Dessert according to the "Fruit Sauce" instructions on the back (though half a package seems to be plenty for me). Fold in the raspberries and let it cool in the fridge. Whip the cream, adding a few tablespoons of sugar. Prepare the pudding as well.

Break 1/3 of the cake into small pieces and layer bottom of a trifle bowl (before I invested in one of these, I just used a regular large bowl. It's not as pretty, but it works). Cover with a layer of pudding, then a layer of the raspberry mixture. Slice bananas (if using) and place a layer of those, followed by peaches and blueberries. Lastly, put on a layer of whipped cream. Repeat layers.

Oh, and don't be too OCD about the layers. They don't have to cover the entire bowl; I mostly just do a glob here and a glob there. You really can't go wrong with this dessert. My grandma even uses frozen fruit sometimes, but in my opinion, the fresh peaches absolutely make this dish! Try it, you won't be disappointed!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Zuppa Toscana

Okay, all you fellow Olive Garden fans, here it is! Zuppa Toscana, brought to you by our famous in-house Italian chef.

Okay, so he's short, making a cheesy face, and doesn't have a drop of Italian blood in him. But he is a good helper in the kitchen. He loves to stir and gets very upset if I try to take his spoon away from him. "Stay out of my cucina, mamma mia!" (And don't worry, I watch him like a hawk when he's anywhere near a hot surface).

There are lots of different versions of copycat recipes for this soup online, and mine is yet another—sort of a conglomeration of several. I can't guarantee that it is exactly like Olive Garden's original recipe, but it is close and definitely delicious.

Although many of the online recipes call for the more authentic Italian pork sausage in a casing, I prefer bulk sausage (which is more like ground beef instead of long links, if you don't know what I'm talking about). And from what I've seen of the few times I've had this soup at the restaurant, they use the bulk kind as well. I assume that Jimmy Dean Italian would work really well, but the first time I made this soup last fall, they didn't have any at the store. I ended up buying the hot kind instead, and we love it! The extra spice is great for our family, but if you don't necessarily want your sinuses fully cleared out, stick with the milder stuff. :)

Also, I think OG uses pieces of crumbled bacon in theirs, which I have not tried yet. I'm sure it would be wonderful; you can't really go wrong with bacon, right?

Here is the basic recipe to get you started, but feel free to mess around with it. That's one thing I love about cooking, you can kind of make it up as you go and still get delightful results!

1 lb. sausage
3 c. chicken broth
1/4 c. heavy cream
1/4 t. salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 t. red pepper (flakes or ground)
1 large Russet potato
2-3 large pieces of kale

Cook sausage, breaking up into bite-size pieces, and drain off the grease. Meanwhile, combine broth, cream, salt, garlic, and red pepper in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage. Slice the potato (do not peel) and then quarter the slices and add them to the pot. Chop the kale (should be about 2 cups chopped) and add it as well. Reduce heat, and let the soup simmer for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked. Buón appetito!

One note: do not be afraid of the kale! I had never tried it before making this recipe, and I kept cringing as I added this strange lettuce-y looking plant, hoping it wouldn't taste too weird. The truth is, it has a very mild flavor and a texture that is barely noticeable. It does add color to the soup and is a tasty way to get your greens! So I repeat, do not be afraid of the kale!

I hope you enjoy the soup! Let me know how it turns out for you.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Broccoli Cheese Chowder

The first of the requested recipes! How funny that even though it's not quite "soup weather" yet, the only two soups I'm making this month are what you wanted! The Olive Garden Toscana Soup will be up later this week, but for now, let's make some chowder!

My recipe is based on the one from The Essential Mormon Cookbook by Julie Badger Jensen, which is one of my favorite cookbooks. I love that the foods in it are organized by season. It makes me feel like I'm making a "holiday" recipe no matter what time of year it is. :) The only things that I do different are halve it (because we're a small family), add more cheese, and use this faithful friend:

Don't hate me because I love dehydrated onion. It's just so easy! To be fair, I did try the recipe with real onions sautéed in butter once. And we really just didn't like it as much. The tiny pieces of chopped dried onion work better, because they don't interrupt the velvety texture of this dish. That's my humble opinion, at least.

On to the recipe!

1 bunch fresh broccoli, chopped
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. flour
2 c. milk
1/2 c. chicken broth
3/4 t. salt
1 T dried onion
1 generous c. grated cheddar cheese

Cook broccoli until tender—I prefer to steam it. In a medium pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour, and let the resulting roux cook for about a minute, stirring constantly. This will result in a less "floury" taste to the final product. Gradually stir in milk, chicken broth, salt, and dried onion. Stir frequently until it begins to boil and thicken. Whisk in the cheddar until fully incorporated. Don't skimp on the cheese; it's what makes this dish great! Finally, mix in the broccoli. Serve in bread bowls or with dinner rolls. (The roll recipe I use can be found here).

This is one of our family favorites. My husband especially loves it, surprisingly, since he's not generally a soup fanatic like me. But this is one of the few recipes that he's given a 10. He proclaims his undying love for me whenever I announce that I'm going to make it. Give it a try and see if you get the same result. :)