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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.

Island Shrimp Lettuce Cups & GIVEAWAY!

11 Aug
I know you all are dying to know about the giveaway, so let me quickly tell you about this recipe. Basically in a nut shell, there’s a cup of butter lettuce full of sweet coconut almond rice, fresh pineapple, jalapenos, cilantro, coconut & cornmeal encrusted shrimp topped with a coconut milk & lime sauce. They are sweet and savory and are sure to please everyone! My 18 month old absolutely adored the sweet rice and my husband had at least 7 of these cups. And, I’m not even joking.

About the shrimp: I marinated them for about an hour in Saucy Mama’s Lime Chipotle Marinade. Man, is that stuff packed full of flavor! After I marinated them, I coated half in a cornmeal coconut mixture and kept half plain. The breaded shrimp took a nice hot bath in some canola oil and the plain shrimp were quickly seared in a hot pan with a little olive oil. Both were tasty, but we preferred the cornmeal coconut ones. Try them both out and see which you prefer!
Overall, this dinner was pretty easy to put together and absolutely perfect for summer! (Side Note: there are a lot of parts to this that you could break up over the course of your day if you’re busy! That’s what I did!)

Island Shrimp Lettuce Cups
yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:
for the shrimp-
1-1 1/4 lbs shrimp (21-25 count), peeled & deveined
1 cup Saucy Mama’s Lime Chipotle Marinade
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
salt
pepper
oil of choice for frying (canola, vegetable, peanut, any light colored oil)

for the rice-
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup long grain white rice
1 1/2 cups good quality chicken stock
1 large bay leaf
salt
pepper
2 heaping tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
1/4 cup toasted sweetened shredded coconut

for the coconut lime sauce-
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon sugar
zest of 1/2 lime

1 head butter lettuce, leaves removed and washed
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1-2 cups diced fresh pineapple
1-2 fresh jalapenos, seeded & chopped
2 limes, cut into wedges

Directions:
In an air tight container, mix shrimp with Saucy Mama’s Lime Chipotle Marinade. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the rice-
Preheat large pot over medium high heat. Melt butter and stir in rice to coat. Stir in salt, pepper, sugar and bay leaf. Pour stock into pot and bring to boil. Cover and reduce heat to low until rice has softened completely, 20-30 minutes. Once cooked, remove from heat, stir in almonds and coconut. Keep rice covered to stay warm until service.

To cook the shrimp without breading-
Preheat large skillet to medium high heat. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. Place shrimp into hot pan in one even layer. Cook about 2-3 minutes per side or until shrimp turn pink and opaque. Remove from heat and keep warm.

To cook shrimp with breading-
Preheat large deep skillet to medium high to high heat with 3/4 inch oil. In shallow dish, combine cornmeal, coconut, salt and pepper together. Dip shrimp into mixture, being sure to coat well. (The marinade acts as a really great glue for the breading so be sure to not wipe any of it off!) Place coated shrimp into hot oil and cook 2-3 minutes per side until shrimp are pink and opaque and breading is golden brown. (*You’re going to want to have the oil hot enough for the shrimp to sizzle when they hit the pan, but not so hot that they burn before they cook. You can test one shrimp at first and adjust your stove accordingly.) Remove shrimp to paper towels, sprinkle with salt and keep warm.

To make the coconut sauce-
Mix coconut milk with sugar and lime zest. That’s it!

For assembly-
Scoop desired amount of rice into bottom of a butter lettuce leaf. Top with pineapple, jalapenos, cilantro, shrimp, sauce and more lime juice if desired.

——————————————————-
GIVEAWAY!

Saucy Mama was nice enough to send me some wonderful products–enough for me AND for my wonderful blogging friends/devoted readers!  So take a look at all these goodies you could win!

One lucky reader will be picked randomly to receive all these products.

Included in this prize pack is: Chipotle Mustard, Champagne Honey Mustard, Cracked Pepper Marinade, Parmesan Garlic Marinade, Raspberry Vinaigrette and Hot Wing Sauce. They all are made with high quality ingredients and are absolutely delicious. Marinades and sauces definitely make my life easier when I can’t think of anything to make for dinner!

HOW TO ENTER:
There are 5 different ways you can enter. For #2-5, be sure to leave a comment saying what you did so you get the correct amount of entries!

(1) Leave a comment
(2) Become a follower of GoLoKitchen through Google (see my sidebar)
(3) Become a fan of GoLoKitchen on Facebook (see my sidebar, or login to your facebook and search golokitchen)
(4) Follow us on Twitter (@golokitchen)
(5) If you have a personal blog, write a post about this giveaway with the link to this site. Be sure to leave the link to your site in your comment so I can check validity if you are chosen!

If you have already become followers or fans previous to this contest, still leave a comment saying you are already fans or followers! I want you all to get as many ballots in as possible!

RULES:
This contest is only open to legal residents of the U.S. AND Canada (assuming the shipment will pass through customs…remind me to tell you a funny story about that later 🙂 ).

Be sure to check back Friday for my second Saucy Mama recipe post. 
No entries past midnight (pacific) FRIDAY! 
The winner will be selected and announced Saturday morning! 
Good luck, everyone! 
And THANK YOU Saucy Mama!

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.

Letcho

20 Mar
So, I’m writing this post en route to Boise! How cool is that? Technology is awesome. Where would we be without laptops, cell phones and internet? I don’t want to think about it……..Anyways……….



This dinner probably doesn’t look like much, but when my Mom told us we were having Letcho for dinner, we went crazy for it. For me to say that my siblings and I LOVE this stuff would be an understatement. It brings us back to being kids and trading our vegetables at the dinner table.


“I’ll trade my mushrooms for your green peppers”

OR

“I’ll trade your 2 pieces of meat for the rest of my rice”


etc. etc.


Surprisingly, my parents didn’t care too much that we did this. In retrospect, I guess it’s not that big of a deal. Speaking of my parents, this meal has a lot of significance for them. Maybe not a whole lot of significance, but significance none the less. This is the meal that my Opa (thats Grandpa in german) made for my Dad the first time my Mom brought him home to meet the parents back in the day when they were dating! Funny part of this story is that my Opa purposely used the spiciest sausage he could find to ‘see how much of a man’ my Dad was. It apparently didn’t scare him off because soon after they were engaged! 30+ years and 6 kids later, we all still eat and crave letcho. Its just plain ol’ good, simple Hungarian food.


This whole meal doesn’t take a lot of prep work, just some chopping of the vegetables and meat. Then after that, you sauté it all, add the rice and cook it in tomato or vegetable juice. *Side note: My Mom always made this with tomato juice, but I have found that if you make it with some vegetable juice (like V8) it adds more nutrition and tastes exactly the same. So really, its up to you. Also, if you wanted to try brown rice, go for it! I’ve never tried making this with brown rice, but it should work just fine–it just might take a little longer to cook. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this post for the recipe tips! They will help you not burn your food or have to scrub your pot! Enjoy and you’re welcome.




Letcho

yield: 6 servings


Ingredients:


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 cup mushrooms, washed and sliced

2 pre cooked sausages, slices (I used pepperoni, but you can use your favorite kind of sausage)

2 cups long grain rice

4 1/2 cups vegetable juice or tomato juice

salt

pepper



Directions:

1. Preheat olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Pretend there’s a photo of that here.


2. Take your chopped onions and peppers and throw them into the pot. Saute 5-ish minutes.


3. Cut your mushrooms and sausage up and throw those into the pot too.


It’ll look something like this.


4. Add in the rice and stir it around until its moist.


5. Add in the vegetable juice, salt and pepper and stir.


Make sure you cover it up! This is the brand of pots and pans I have and I love love love them. Look here and here for these pots and pans! Reduce heat to medium and lightly simmer for 30-45 minutes until the juice has been absorbed and the rice is soft. Look below for a great tip!

This is what it should look like once its all done!



Recipe TIPS:

-You should stir the rice every 5-10 minutes to prevent sticking and burning! It also helps things cook evenly.

-Also, in the last 10 minutes of cooking, stir the pot and turn the burner off leaving the lid on. This will loosen up any stuck rice on the bottom of the pot as well as finish cooking the rice completely.

Rice Pudding–Risotto Style

19 Feb

My daughter really hates milk. Like completely refuses to drink the stuff. So, in an attempt to get some dairy and a few extra calories into her little one year old body, I made rice pudding.

Now, this isn’t your typical rice pudding! Its made with arborio rice and whole milk and you just go through the motions of making risotto, except it ends up being sweet. My mom taught me the whole arborio rice trick and man, is it a great one! That mother of mine has serious culinary tricks up her sleeve.
Anyways, the arborio rice puffs up into these chewy, soft grains that are swimming in this creamy, cinnamony deliciousness. And, I realize that last sentence had some made up words in it.
I don’t know what it is about eating something warm with cinnamon that makes me relax and forget about my cares. At least thats what happened yesterday when I made this….and then 5 minutes later realized my daughter was playing in the toilet. But, thats another story.
Arborio rice is pretty common now a days and I found mine in the bulk food section where it was really cheap! I also used whole milk for the entire recipe, but feel free to substitute half and half or cream for some (or all if you’re feeling dangerous) of the milk! Sometimes using the cream is the right thing to do. It takes about 35-40 minutes start to finish and needs a little babysitting, but its so worth it. Try it this weekend! Its comfort food at its finest!
Rice Pudding – Risotto Style
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup arborio rice
3 1/2 cups whole milk (give or take 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions:
In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Pour in rice and stir until all grains have been coated with butter. Pour in enough milk to cover rice by about 1/4 inch. Stir continuously until rice has soaked up the majority of the milk. Continue this process of adding milk and stirring until rice has softened completely. (About 5 rounds of pouring and stirring for me!) For the last 5-10 minutes of cooking, stir in brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Take off heat and stir in vanilla. Serve warm.
Recipe TIPS:
-If you run out of milk and your rice is still a little chewy, add in more milk until its completely soft. Also, if your rice has stopped soaking in the milk, then odds are its soft and your rice pudding is done!
-Once the brown sugar is added, the rice pudding may seem a little watery, but no fear! The rice will soak it up!
-If you’re not wanting to spend the time stirring, add all ingredients except vanilla to a large pot and simmer it for 30 minutes. Stir and try the rice. If its still chewy, it needs to cook longer. If there isn’t enough ‘sauce’ add in more milk. Stir in vanilla once the rice is completely soft.