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Wild Rice & Chicken Casserole

20 Aug

Sometimes when it’s the end of the week and you are left with very few options about dinner, you just have to make a casserole. They are quick, easy and taste good, no matter what you put in them. Whether it be leftovers or just a mishmash of frozen vegetables and rice, they always ALWAYS seem to turn out.

Well, I had one of those days where I had nothing planned for dinner and nothing in my fridge. “Surely…” I thought “there must be something I can make!” I scoured my freezer and pantry and came up with this quick casserole. Lucky for me I had a box of Uncle Ben’s long grain and wild rice and a can of cream of mushroom soup. If you have those two ingredients on hand, you will live to see another day, and your kids will get fed. After you have your basics down, you can change the rest of the recipe how you like. We tend to gravitate towards rice, chicken and broccoli a lot. It’s a pretty common and classic combination. However, this time, there was NO broccoli. (*Side note–I hate frozen broccoli. It is the only vegetable I hate to eat after thawing. It always tastes freezer burnt to me. Am I paranoid or do you guys taste that, too?)
Speaking of frozen vegetables, what a great deal! You get a lot of food for a little price and all those vegetables are typically harvested and frozen within the same day so you know they are fresh. I love having them on hand and throw them into anything and everything when I’m feeling spunky or when I’m in a pinch. Seriously, frozen vegetables are where it’s at.

For this particular recipe, I used my handy dandy frozen peas and carrots. They worked so well and tasted great with all the other ingredients even before it all was baked. But, use what you have on hand! I also topped my casserole with some swiss cheese and toasted almonds for a creamy crunchy bite. After the first bite my husband said “Wow….this is good!” in a surprised tone. He was skeptical at first, but the casserole won him over and he ate the rest for lunch the next day! How do you like that, Gordon? Haha!

I love using the random ingredients I’m left with at the end of the week to make great food my family will eat. It saves money and gives me a sense of accomplishment. So, don’t be afraid to experiment these next few days with the food you think you can’t make anything with. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll come up with! Happy Cooking!

Wild Rice & Chicken Casserole
yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 box Uncle Ben’s Long Grain and Wild Rice
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 cups cooked chicken, cubed (or any other meat)
1 1/2 cups frozen vegetables
1/2 cup cream or milk
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 stalk celery, diced
salt
pepper
5 slices swiss cheese (from the deli; or use about 1 cup grated cheese, any kind you have)
1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds

Directions:
Cook box of rice according to packaged directions. In skillet, melt butter and sautee onion and celery over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Once cooked, spoon rice into large bowl. To the rice, add cream of mushroom soup, chicken, vegetables, cream, cooked onion and celery, and salt and pepper. Spread into a casserole dish. Top with cheese and almonds. Cover with foil and warm thoroughly at 300 degrees for at least 30 minutes (and up to 60). Serve with a side salad.

Mediterranean Chicken & Rice

6 Aug
Here is some interesting information that I need your opinion on: I am thinking of switching URL’s to something easier to remember like “lauren’s lifestyle” or something along those lines. I’m just so indecisive that I can’t decide what to do or when to do it, so tell me what you think of the name, if you like or don’t like it better than golokitchen, etc. etc. It would really help! 
Also, don’t forget to see what I’m up to on twitter (@golokitchen) and make sure you check out the GoLoKitchen facebook fan page!
Now, onto this delicious chicken! I have been meaning to post this recipe for a while now, but I kept forgetting. It wasn’t until today that I found all these photos that I took a few weeks ago for this recipe. So, without further ado, I give you a delicious and healthy dinner that I call simply Mediterranean Chicken & Rice. 
I don’t remember this dish as vividly as other ones because it’s been a while, but my husband certainly does. He scarfed this one down and then took the leftovers to work the next day for lunch. Mediterranean cuisine is very different from our go-to day in and day out meals. We usually go for Southwest and Italian. I wanted a change from the ‘norm’ and this was the ticket! The kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes and lemon juice were just delicious together and made a great addition to the sauce. I like acidity, so I squirted in lots more lemon juice. The fresh parsley was a nice touch to round out the dish. All in all, a fabulous meal that came together in about 30 minutes. A great summer meal and a great way to switch things up! 
*I didn’t have any artichoke hearts on hand to toss in, but they would be a perfect addition. (I actually meant to pick some up from the store and completely overlooked it, even though it was on my list! How crazy am I?)
Mediterranean Chicken & Rice
yield: 4 servings
Ingredients:
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 large chicken breasts (sliced in half or pounded out and cut in two–you want 4 cutlets)
salt
pepper
1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil & herbs, chopped

1/4 cup kalamata olives, halved
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon oregano
lemon juice, to taste
1/2 cup chicken stock or white wine
splash of cream (1/4-1/2 cup)
fresh parsley
more salt and pepper to taste
cooked white rice

Directions:
In large skillet, preheat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Stir salt and pepper into flour. Coat chicken in flour and cook in hot oil until browned but not necessarily cooked. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Pour in remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in same pan and reduce heat to medium. Saute onions, garlic, green pepper and sun dried tomatoes until onions have softened, 5 minutes. Stir in olives, bay leaf, oregano, lemon juice and white wine or stock. Place chicken breasts back in to pan. Cover and cook 5-10 minutes. Reduce heat and stir in cream, parsley and more salt and pepper. Serve over warm rice with lemon slices.

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

11 Jun
Originally, I was going to post a different recipe today but then I made this for dinner last night and changed my mind because it was too good not to share! Caesar Salad is my husband’s favorite salad and I figured as long as I kept the same flavors there, then the pasta salad version would be just as good, plus I wanted to make it more filling and more satisfying as a dinner. Well, everything came together perfectly and we both loved it. The flavor of everything in this complete meal was just awesome! The bacon really took it over the top for me and the extra squirts of lemon juice made the parsley and tomatoes pop as well as adding a little extra zing which I love. Final Results: I loved it and my husband loved it and we are glad there are plenty of leftovers in the fridge! (So excited for lunch!) 
This meal is pretty similar to a Chicken Caesar Salad, except it’s made with pasta and a lot less lettuce. I also added in tomatoes and parsley for extra nutrients and color. This pasta salad would be great without the chicken (if you want) and perfect for a potluck or BBQ. I took a few shortcuts by buying pre grated parmesan cheese and a roasted whole chicken because I was running out of time last night to get dinner on the table. You can roast or grill the chicken yourself to save yourself some money, but I have to say, I love those roasted chickens! They are so convenient! Also, you can also substitute all the pasta for a head of romaine lettuce and once everything is tossed, eat as is or get some tortillas and turn them into chicken caesar salad wraps! TO DIE FOR!  I made my own caesar dressing (recipe below), but you can use your favorite store bought one-just make sure to add in a little lemon juice because it makes a huge difference. AND, in the photo above, you can see that I toasted some french bread and spread it with garlic basil butter! Never done that before but oh my good gravy! So good. That recipe is below as well. Happy Weekend Friends!

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
yield: 6 servings
Ingredients:
3/4 lb. pasta, cooked to al dente (I used farfalle)
2 tomatoes, chopped
8 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
2 cups cubed chicken-roasted or grilled
1 1/2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup good quality caesar dressing + a few squirts lemon juice (or recipe below)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
lemon wedges for an extra zing
salt
pepper
Directions:
Toss all ingredients together in large bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with lemon wedges. 
Recipe TIPS:
-If you are going to make this meal in advance, toss everything together leaving the lettuce out until you are ready to serve. The lettuce will wilt if you toss it with dressing!
Caesar Salad Dressing
Ingredients:
3/4 cup good quality mayonnaise
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 lemon juiced
Directions:
Whisk all ingredients together and toss with pasta salad or caesar salad. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.
Garlic Basil Butter
Ingredients:
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
Directions:
Mix all ingredients together and let sit 10-20 minutes before using. Spread on warm, freshly toasted french bread.

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

27 May

Its been raining here a lot and there seems to be NO END in sight. It will occasionally stop from time to time but then it just picks right back up again. I don’t know why I feel the need to make soup when the weather gets bad, but there you have it. Maybe its something my Mom did OR maybe its engrained in my DNA or something! That would be cool. Either way, I made a huge pot of delicious soup and you lucky people get the recipe!

It takes around 1 hour to get all the ingredients prepped and cooked. The hardest part is chopping and waiting. And, to keep the calories low, I used fat free half and half, but who am I to tell you to use the fat free stuff. If you need a little pick me up, then use the good stuff OR the even better stuff: cream! You’ll have to take a few things up with your hiney, but its well worth the confrontation.
Also, this recipe calls for a specific kind of wild rice: Uncle Ben’s Long Grain & Wild Rice Original Flavor (6 oz. box that is skinny and orange) It is very important that you use that kind because it comes with a special spice packet that flavors the soup. Well, I don’t want to force you to buy this, but in my opinion you need it to get the same result that I did. It was only $2 or so. That plus chicken stock, carrots, celery and onions doesn’t end up being all that expensive. Splurging on a little rice never hurt anyone! Plus this particular rice in this soup is amazing! After taking his first bite, my husband said “wow….this is delicious!” So, there you have it folks! Get cooking!
Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
yield: 6
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
4 ribs celery, chopped
4 large carrots, peeled and cubed
6 cups good quality chicken broth
3/4 lbs. chicken breasts, cubed
1-6 oz. box Uncle Ben’s Long Grain & Wild Rice
1 1/2 cups half and half (I used fat free)
1/3 cup all purpose flour
plenty of salt and pepper
Directions:
In large pot, heat butter and olive oil. Sautee onions, celery and carrots on medium low heat for 10 minutes to soften. Season vegetables with salt and pepper. Pour in chicken broth and cubed raw chicken. Raise temperature to medium high heat to poach chicken in cooking liquid. Once chicken has cooked and become opaque, pour in rice and seasoning packet that came with the rice. Cover and reduce heat to simmer lightly for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. In small bowl, whisk cold half and half with flour until smooth. Pour into soup pot and reduce heat completely to low. Cook 10 minutes or until rice is softened completely and soup has thickened slightly. Taste and season accordingly. Serve hot.

Jalapeno Popper Pizza

13 Apr
This is one of the BEST original recipes I have ever made. I LOVE it so much…..so much so that I submitted it to a Philadelphia Cream Cheese and Paula Deen contest, hence the video! I was so nervous filming it and I’m still trying to figure out how to edit my 3 videos together (I’m still learning!) but here is the first one that actually shows you how to make it! Tell me what you think and definitely make this pizza right now! Its so ridiculously good. Over the top delicious!! PROMISE!
Jalapeno Popper Pizza
Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients:
1 lb. pizza dough
1 cup prepared alfredo sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large onion, sliced
1 large jalapeno, seeded and sliced
1 1/2 cups cubed prepared breaded chicken (store bought or home made)
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 oz. philadelphia cream cheese
1/2 lb. grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 lb. grated cheddar cheese
Directions:
WATCH THE VIDEO! SUPER SIMPLE!
PS- do you like the video idea? Should I make more?!

An Oldie but a Goodie!

10 Apr
Ok, guys! I’ve been busy packing up my apartment, running miles and miles, testing recipes, packing some more, spending time with the in laws, etc. etc. BECAUSE…..


GORDON GRADUATED! Hooray! So, we’re packing up and moving a few states over to Oregon for some employment! Its pretty exciting. This all means that we’ve been a little busy these days…..

SO, here is one of my first recipes I ever posted on my food blog that made it to the finals in the Pillsbury monthly bake-off late last year. Its one of my family’s favorite recipes and its honestly SO easy! I have a few brand new recipes I’ll be posting some time next week! (pie and pizza recipes!) Something to look forward to! Until then, here’s my SOUTHWEST CHICKEN FLAT PIE recipe! Enjoy! Talk with you all soon!

(Image courtesy of pillsbury.com)

Not only is this a delicious meal, it comes together in a snap and its a great way to get rid of some leftover chicken in your fridge. When I made this, the feedback from my family was ‘you didn’t make enough!’. So, be sure to make 2 if you have some hungry people to feed! And, this recipe is one I entered into the Pillsbury Monthly Bake-off for October, and its now being voted on in the finals, so you know its going to be good! You can check it out HERE.


Ingredients:
1 Pillsbury® refrigerated pie crust (from 15-oz box)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1/2 cup salsa
2 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup canned black beans, drained, rinsed
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (4 oz)
1 egg, beaten

Toppings:
Avocado slices
Chopped tomato
Shredded lettuce
Shredded Cheddar cheese
Chopped fresh cilantro
Sliced limes
Sour cream

DIRECTIONS
1. Heat oven to 425┬░F. Remove pie crust from refrigerator. Unroll and place flat on ungreased cookie sheet.
2. In large bowl, toss together chicken, salsa, onions, cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Spoon chicken mixture onto center of crust spreading to within 1 1/2 inches of edge. Top chicken mixture with beans and 1 cup cheese.
3. Fold crust edge over filling to form 1 1/2 -inch border, pleating crust as necessary. Brush crust edge with beaten egg.
4. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until crust is golden brown. If necessary, during last 10 minutes of baking cover crust edge with strips of foil to prevent excessive browning. Let stand 5 minutes. To serve, top with avocado slices, tomato, lettuce, cheese, cilantro, limes or sour cream then cut into wedges. Or, cut into wedges and top each individual serving as desired.

Chicken Paprikash

11 Mar

To me, this is heaven on a plate. Chicken Paprikash is a Hungarian dish that my mom made a lot when I was a kid. I am part Hungarian, part German and part Romanian, so we ate a lot of ethnic food in my house….probably because it was better for us and it was a heck of a lot cheaper than eating out! I come from a large family and we usually only ate out maybe twice a year if we were lucky. Let me tell you why this is amazing to me: we practically ate home cooked meals every day-meaning my Mom cooked dinner every evening! Nothing processed, nothing pre-done. Incredible! And she had 6 kids no less! I have 1 and its tough!

Anyways, this dish is like a Hungarian version of chicken cacciatore……sort of. Its a tangy tomato sauce with onions, peppers, mushrooms and chicken overtop rice, pasta or nookedly–small homemade dumplings. I used bone-in chicken thighs and removed the skin and any excess fat to make it a little more figure friendly. Thats how my mom did it, so thats how I do it. Thats probably the hardest and most time consuming part of the recipe…..and skinning chicken really isn’t difficult AT ALL. You’ll have to chop some veggies and do some stirring, but other then that its easy breezy! I like to use a pretty deep skillet (like this) but a pot will work well, too! Try something new and interesting today!
Chicken Paprikash
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons paprika (not smoked, not spicy…just the plain stuff)
1-1 1/2 lbs chicken thighs, skinned (4-6 pieces)
1-14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes (I used organic)
1/4 cup water
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup fresh diced tomatoes (preferably sweet ones–I used cherry tomatoes)
3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
lots of salt
pepper
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup sour cream (I used light)
Directions:
1. In deep skillet, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add in onion and sautee 2 minutes.
2. Stir in paprika and cook 2 more minutes ensuring it doesn’t burn! Careful!
3. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken pieces into pan to brown each side (about 3 minutes per side)
4. Add in fresh and canned tomatoes, green peppers, salt and pepper. Lightly simmer (covered) over medium-low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour stirring and turning chicken occasionally.
5. In the last 15 minutes of cooking add in mushrooms.
6. In small bowl, stir sour cream and flour together until smooth. In the last 5-10 minutes of cooking, remove chicken and stir in sour cream mixture to thicken sauce. Stir chicken back in to reheat. Once thoroughly heated through, serve hot over rice, pasta or nookedly.
Recipe TIPS
-Once you add your paprika into the cooking onions, watch it carefully! It can burn easily!
-If you don’t have canned tomatoes but you have fresh (or vice versa) you can easily substitute them for each other.
– This recipe needs lots of salt. Keep salting as you go, little by little. Before you serve it, do a taste test just to make sure its still good. After the sour cream is added, it tends to need a little more salt and pepper.