Get Off The Couch and Cook

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Buffalo Chicken Casserole

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Love buffalo chicken as much as I do?  Well, here’s a healthier way to get that fix!

 


 

 

If you’ve ever perused my recipe index, it’s no secret that I *love* pretty much all things buffalo sauced.  I’m not a fan of oh-my-god-my-tongue-is-melting hot stuff but I do enjoy the sweet tangy kick that comes from this orange nectar of the spicy gods.

Let’s face it, though, even baked wings aren’t the healthiest for you and I’d like to get that fix a bit more often.  So when I saw this buffalo chicken casserole of at Eating Well, I knew it would get made quickly and become part of the rotation.

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Admittedly, Mr. Onion-hater was skeptical when I told him about it.  He thought it would be a vinegary buffalo sauce over chicken and noodles which didn’t appeal to him.  This is more of a creamy casserole with a strong buffalo sauce flavor which he was pleasantly surprised by.  I’m glad people trust me when I cook for them. 🙂

And talk about a bowl of comfort!  It really did give that same satisfaction of buffalo chicken with a side of celery and carrots but had that level of comfort that big bowls of pasta can bring.  And, since this makes A LOT, I had plenty of lunches for the week which was a huge plus.

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The next time I make this, I think I’m going to add mushrooms to it as well.  And/or maybe peas.  Oooh!  Or broccoli!  Actually, I could see adding all sorts of veggies to this depending on what I have on hand or what’s on sale.  I love that about casseroles.

I know this recipe takes a little longer than most I post but the last 30-40 minutes are hands off so I still consider this a quick one suitable for a weeknight.

 

Buffalo Chicken Casserole
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Makes: 8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 13.25 oz box of whole wheat shell noodles
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 5 medium carrots, ⅛" slices
  • 5 medium stalks celery, ¼" slices
  • 2 Tbsp jarred minced garlic
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1" pieces
  • ⅓ c cornstarch
  • 4 c milk (I used skim)
  • ⅓ c Frank's RedHot sauce
  • 4 oz crumbled blue cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Spray a 9" x 13" casserole dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Cook the noodles according to the package directions for 2 minutes less than listed. Drain and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet or Dutch oven over med-high heat. Add the carrots, celery and garlic and stir to coat in oil. Season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes or until the celery is just beginning to soften.
  4. Stir in the chicken with more salt and pepper to taste. Cook the chicken, stirring often, 5-7 minutes or until no longer pink on the outside.
  5. Whisk together the cornstarch and milk and add it to the skillet. Bring to a boil over med-high heat then simmer, stirring frequently until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 4-5 minutes.
  6. Remove from the heat and stir in the hot sauce with more salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Stir in the pasta then spread evenly in the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle with the crumbled blue cheese then bake 25-30 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Let set about 10 minutes before serving.
Notes
Adapted from Eating Well

 

So… tomorrow is my last day at my current job.  It still seems so surreal.  I mean, I do/did a great job but that makes no difference when the position has been eliminated.  I’m still not sure if I will cry tomorrow or not but I guess we’ll find out.  Hopefully one of the interviews I’ve had in the past week will turn into an offer!  🙂

Corn & Bean Flautas

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Beans mashed with corn, tomatoes and green chiles make a wonderful meatless yet filling filling for flautas!


For Christmas, Mr. O got me a couple of cookbooks.  One of which was the Thug Kitchen cookbook.  Have you heard of this?  I hadn’t before I got the cookbook but I absolutely fell in love with it before I even opened it.  I  mean, just check out the cover!

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Yeah, I giggled like a 12-year-old when I read the cover.

For those not familiar, the Thug Kitchen is an irreverent and subversive cookbook filled with vegan recipes.  I know, right?  “Thug” and “vegan” don’t exactly come paired together in my mind, either.  Since it’s a vegan cookbook, I figured I’d at least get a good read out of it but I ended up copying 23 recipes into my to-do list of recipes.  I’m lucky to get 3 recipes out of most cookbooks so 23 was pretty f*cking good.

Mr. O’s general philosophy is that something needs to die for his meals but he’s been willing to have a few meatless meals thrown into the mix.  So I decided to tweak the Sweet Corn & Green Chile Baked Flautas from page 62.  I added some cheese to mine, though, plus a couple other ingredients.

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One of the things I added to mine, besides a bit more spice, was fresh tomato.  I had tasted the filling before… well… filling the flautas and it just missed something.  It needed a bit more acidity but I knew more lime juice wouldn’t be right.  Then I spotted the roma tomatoes sitting there and had that Aha! moment.

The diced tomatoes were exactly what the filling needed.  So the flautas were filled, rolled, baked and nommed up quite happily by both of us.  Without the tomato, I suspect the filling would have dried out when they were baked but that was certainly not the case here.  In fact, these were even good cold for breakfast the next day.

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If you don’t mind a lot of cursing, I highly recommend checking out this cookbook.  You definitely don’t need to be vegan to enjoy it.  You’ll also be seeing a few more recipes based of theirs here as well.  🙂

Corn & Bean Flautas
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Makes: 16-20 flautas
 
Ingredients
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 15-oz cans no-salt-added pinto beans, drained, rinsed and drained again
  • 4 oz can mild green chiles, drained
  • 1 Tbsp jarred, minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (less if not using no-salt beans)
  • ½ tsp chipotle chile powder
  • 10 oz can corn, drained
  • 1 roma tomato, ¼" dice
  • 4 oz cheddar, finely grated
  • 16-20 8" flour tortillas
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and coat well with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, add the beans, chiles, garlic, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, salt, and chipotle chile powder. Mash and stir everything together until a lumpy paste forms. I used a potato masher but a large fork would work as well.
  3. Fold in the corn, tomatoes, and cheese.
  4. Spread 2 Tbsp of the filling over the bottom half of 1 tortilla. Roll tightly upward and place seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas and filling, placing them at least ½" apart on the baking sheet.
  5. Spray lightly with the cooking spray and bake for about 10 minutes. Flip the flautas over and bake for 5-7 minutes more.
  6. Serve immediately.
Notes
Adapted slightly from pg. 62, "Thug Kitchen" cookbook

 

I had a job interview on Friday and have another tomorrow so please keep your fingers crossed for me!

 

 

Sweet & Savory Chicken

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A combination of sweet and spices make a quick, delicious meal for any weeknight dinner.


With money especially tight right now, we’ve been eating more chicken throughout the week since I still have a lot of it in the freezer but it’s a challenge to keep boneless, skinless chicken breast from becoming boring.  I came up with the idea of doing a sort of sweet and savory baked chicken but when I asked Mr. O to take chicken out to thaw, I failed to tell him how much so he took out a single breast.  Now, a single chicken breast from Zaycon is typically 16-ounces or more but to cut it in half would make it thinner than I typically want to cook in the oven.

I decided to use the rub I had planned but pan fry it which turned out to be amazingly delicious.  The brown sugar caramelized in a way that was not only tasty but beautiful as well.  So brown and shiny and simply gorgeous.

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See how pretty it is?

When cooking this, though, it almost smelled like it was burning.  It was the sugar, of course, but it wasn’t something I had considered when I started cooking it.  The light crust helped keep it super moist, though!

Just make sure you give your pan a really good coating on nonstick spray because sugar sticks to even nonstick pans.  The More You Know *ding*

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Sweet & Savory Chicken
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Makes: 2-4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp ancho chili powder (optional)
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast (2-4 pieces)
  • Nonstick cooking spray
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, garlic powder, chili powder, salt, pepper and optional ancho chili powder.
  2. Use half of the spice mix to coat one side of each piece of chicken.
  3. Heat a nonstick pan over med heat and spray generously with cooking spray. Place the chicken spiced side down. Coat the tops with the rest of the spice mix.
  4. Cook for 4-5 minutes then flip the chicken. Cook 4-5 minutes more or until the chicken is cooked through.

 

 

 

 

Roasted Cabbage

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Cabbage roasted with the same flavors often paired with Brussels sprouts  is an amazing side dish!

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Hi!  Remember me?  I know I said I was just taking a 2 week break but, well, life happened.  I will get to all that in a bit but first I want to tell you about my Secret Recipe Club assignment!  I was assigned to Bklyn Locavore which belongs to the lovely Melissa who lives in, well Brooklyn and tries “to include as much local produce, local dairy, meat and fish [as] possible”.  I really admire that and loved going through her recipes.

I ultimately decided on her roasted cabbage because, as the title of her post states, “Cabbage is Really Just an Overgrown Brussels Sprout“.   It’s basically true.  I mean, a lot of people view Brussels as mini cabbages so it makes sense to switch the thought.  And since I love me my Brussels, I had to give this a try!

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The cabbage is simply sliced into 1″ pieces and brushed with a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs then sprinkled generously with salt and pepper before being roasted for 20-25 minutes.  You really do need to be generous with the salt, too, so use more than you think you need.

I had to put mine under the broiler for a couple minutes to the get the tops to brown a bit but I have a crappy oven in my apartment… so there’s that.  If you are obsessed with Brussels sprouts, this isn’t quite the same but the essence is very similar and will certainly do when sprouts are out of season and extremely expensive.  🙂

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4.0 from 1 reviews
Roasted Cabbage
By: 
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Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dried herb of your choice (I used thyme)
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. If you prefer, line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. Remove the outer leaves and cut the cabbage in half through the core.
  4. Slice the cabbage into 1" slices, discarding the core. Carefully move them to the baking sheet, keeping the leaves as tight as possible.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice and herb. Brush the mixture over the tops of the cabbage slices. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cabbage is tender and the tops have started to brown.
Notes
Adapted slightly from Bklyn Locavore

 

So… here’s a short recap of the past 6 weeks.

I did not get the new position that is replacing mine.  I qualified for the second level interview but since I do not have an analytical background, I found out on Dec. 8 that I didn’t get it.  I was/am crushed.  On Dec. 11, I moved out of my house and into the apartment.  The move did not go smoothly.  (Do they ever go smoothly?)  I had the movers scheduled for noon but they did not show up until 8:30pm.  Yep.  8:30pm due to a scheduling error.  The whole move took almost 5.5 hours but they only charged me for 3.5 and waived of a few other fees.  If you do the math, our move went late into the night.

Mr. O hurt his back pretty badly during the move, poor thing, but that left the unpacking and move-related errands to me.  Money is also a lot tighter than I was anticipating it to be so my grocer budget is a lot smaller than I want.  Between that,  the job, the move, and the pending end of my marriage, I’m not feeling as happy as I normally do.  I know it will pass and everything will work out but I am definitely stressed.

BUT… I’m back!  🙂

 

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