Dreamy's Delights

It's all about the food!

Missing in Action

As I’m sure everyone has noticed, I’ve been missing for awhile now. The Multiple Sclerosis has relapsed and I’ve been doing very little cooking for the last few months. Even Thanksgiving was much smaller this year and I didn’t try any new recipes. When the MS is active I’m extremely fatigued and in a lot of pain. The point of this post isn’t to whine, just to let y’all know why I haven’t been posting.

On a positive note, I’m making lasagna today and will be posting that recipe later today or tomorrow. I’m using some of the tomato sauce I put up last year and one of my favorite types of mushrooms, chanterelles. I actually found them at Costco for $10/lb which is a fabulous price. They run $24/lb at the mushroom growers stall at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. When I go to the store in a little bit I’m going to pick up some crimini and oyster mushrooms to go with the chanterelles.

Chanterelle mushrooms are a nice meaty mushroom that holds up beautifully in a hearty sauce. They also don’t get mushy during the long baking needed for a lasagna. And they’re completely gorgeous.

chanterellemushroom

As you can see, they’re just pretty to look at as well as tasty to eat. I pulled this information from Wikipedia because I thought it really highlights how I feel about these mushrooms.

“Chanterelles as a group are generally described as being rich in flavor, with a distinctive taste and aroma difficult to characterize. Some species have a fruity odor, others a more woody, earthy fragrance, and still others can even be considered spicy. The golden chanterelle is perhaps the most sought-after and flavorful chanterelle, and many chefs consider it on the same short list of gourmet fungi as truffles and morels. It therefore tends to command a high price in both restaurants and specialty stores.[12]

There are many ways to cook chanterelles. Most of the flavorful compounds in chanterelles are fat-soluble, making them good mushrooms to sauté in butter, oil or cream. They also contain smaller amounts of water- and alcohol-soluble flavorings, which lend the mushrooms well to recipes involving wine or other cooking alcohols. Many popular methods of cooking chanterelles include them in sautés, soufflés, cream sauces, and soups. They are not typically eaten raw, as their rich and complex flavor is best released when cooked.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chanterelle

So hopefully my next post will be my lasagna recipe and include a lovely picture. 🙂

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A Recipe in the Works

So what do you do with several pounds of shredded chicken meat, a bunch of veggies and a craving for bechamel sauce? Well, you start creating a recipe.

The idea behind this was to roast the veggies, to remove some of the water but still leave them crisp-ish. Then layer on the chicken and finally top with a nice thick bechamel, seasoned with lemon thyme, dill and lemon zest. It’s a concept that would have worked beautifully if I hadn’t been tired and not thinking clearly.

It’s hot here today which means my brain isn’t firing on all cylinders. I went to roast the veggies, looked at the pan and KNEW it was over-full. I put it in the oven anyway. Which means my veggies didn’t roast, they steamed in their own juices. So the zucchini and yellow squash were smooshy and the mushrooms released so much liquid that everything tasted very strongly of them. Not really a problem but not what I was looking for. So obviously, next time, either use fewer veggies or break them up into two pans worth for the roasting. Duh!

The next part was easy, just layer the chicken meat over the veggies in a baking dish. I had a bag with about two chickens worth of meat from rotisserie chickens I’d bought for making stock with the bones. I’d pulled it out to defrost a couple of days ago. However, it wasn’t COMPLETELY defrosted which meant that the chicken meat added yet another bit of extra liquid to the pan.

The one thing that came out almost exactly the way I envisioned it was the bechamel sauce. The flavor was perfect I just wanted it a bit thicker. I had tempered an egg into it for thickening but I really should have used 2-3 eggs for 2 qts of sauce. However, the taste of the dill, lemon thyme and lemon zest came through beautifully with the rich creaminess of the sauce.

So the final result was… I learned that I shouldn’t try making up new stuff when it’s 90+ degrees outside because my brain doesn’t work as well and I should listen to my inner voice and not be lazy.

I WILL be making this again for a final version to post here as a recipe. The flavors were really good together I just need to work out the kinks.

Btw, the veggies were yellow squash, zucchini, carrots, celery, onion and mushrooms. I just remembered that I’d wanted to add broccoli too. I KNEW I was missing something when I was putting it together lol. I just thought it was the mushrooms! I even made a special trip to the store to get them. *facepalm*

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Roasting Veggies for Other Uses

This isn’t really a recipe per se but more of a way to help eliminate a problem in certain recipes.

Those of you who have tried my chicken and broccoli recipe are aware that the broccoli leaves a watery residue in the bottom of the pan. It’s not icky, I just find it annoying and it waters down that luscious cheese sauce.

Last week I decided to put together a simple casserole using some leftover ham, rice, eggs, milk, cheese, broccoli and mushrooms. I knew the broccoli and mushrooms would leave liquid behind as they cooked so I decided to try and circumvent the problem.

Admittedly, this dirties some extra pans but I’ve never been shy about making a mess of the kitchen lol. Jene is blessedly patient with me and just sighs and cleans up after me.

So… I preheated the oven to 500F. I put about 12 ounces of frozen broccoli on a cookie sheet and lightly drizzled it with olive oil. I could have just tossed the sliced mushrooms on the sheet at this point and called it good. However, I wanted the mushrooms to have some extra flavor so I took another step with them.

Mushrooms went into a saute pan with a tablespoon of butter, a 1/4 cup of freeze dried shallots and a splash of white wine. When they had released most of their water, but not all. I added them to the sheet pan and spread them evenly among the broccoli.

Then I put the whole thing in the oven and roasted them for about 10 minutes (maybe 15, I wasn’t watching the clock). I pulled them out when the broccoli was still firm and bright green but starting the caramelize. At this point, the moisture had been cooked off and the mushrooms had released the last of their moisture.

The results were excellent. There was no wateriness in the casserole at all. It came out with tender veggies and not the least soggy. In addition, the roasting process added another layer of flavor. I will be doing this roasting process again when I make Chicken and Broccoli later this weekend.

And just because some people might wonder… here’s a rough recipe for the casserole I made. I didn’t measure anything so please forgive me for it being a big vague.

Ham, Veggie and Rice Casserole Stuff

5 cups diced ham (this was leftover from a ham I’d baked earlier that week)

5-6 cups cooked rice

6 eggs (i think)

1/2 – 1 cup milk

2-3 cups grated cheese (I used colby jack but cheddar would work well too)

10-12 ounces sliced mushrooms

12 ounces frozen broccoli

1/4 cup freeze dried shallots (or 2 fresh shallots finely minced)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13 pan. Prepare the broccoli and mushrooms as described above. Mix everything except the eggs, milk and cheese together in a large bowl. Whisk the eggs, milk and cheese together in a separate bowl, then mix into the rest of the ingredients. If your rice is freshly cooked and still hot, mix fast so that the eggs don’t curdle. Mix in some black pepper or other spices as you choose. I used Penzeys Mural of Flavor for seasoning. It doesn’t really need salt because of the ham.

Spread the mixture into the baking dish and bake for about 30 minutes or until everything is bubbly and it starts to brown on top. I didn’t actually look at a clock to see for sure how long this was.

For someone who’s supposed to be sharing recipes, I’m not very good at writing them down!

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Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas with Verde Sauce

This is one of those “take a bunch of already made stuff and put it together” recipe. I don’t make anything from scratch in this recipe but it’s one I never get tired of. It’s also pretty easy to toss together on a weeknight. It takes about 20 minutes of prep time and a half hour of baking.

Recipe

1 rotisserie chicken, peeled and bones saved to make stock

12 6″ corn tortillas (I prefer the white corn)

1 – 1 1/4 lbs of shredded monterey jack (or colby jack) cheese

1 large can of green enchilada sauce (verde sauce, i prefer La Victoria brand)

oil

Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray.

Heat the oil in a skillet until water sizzles. Then put one tortilla in the oil, frying for 8-10 seconds per side, just until the tortilla is soft. You do NOT want it crispy! The purpose of the heated oil is to cook the corn just a tiny bit and soften the tortilla so it  rolls instead of breaking.

Do this to all the tortillas and drain on paper towel.

Now… about the cheese. As you might be aware, I like cheese. I really, REALLY like cheese. These enchiladas have LOTS of cheese. So, feel free to cut back a bit if you like.

Take a tortilla and put a fingersfull of cheese in a line down the center. Put some chicken meat on top of that and then spoon about a tablespoon of verde sauce over that, roll the tortilla around the filling and place seam side down in the baking pan. You can fit 12 enchiladas in a 9×13 pan. 8 going along the pan, side to side and then four more across the tops in sets of two. enchiladalayout

          It’s not a pretty picture but you can get the idea of what I’m talking about.

You should have some chicken meat left over since the tortillas are pretty small. Don’t worry, it gets used!

Once all the tortillas are filled and in the pan, pour the remaining verde sauce over top. Try to make sure you get as many of the edges as possible. Sprinkle with the remaining chicken meat and then with more cheese. Don’t be shy with the cheese unless you don’t like cheese for some weird reason. Of course if you don’t like cheese you’re probably not going to make these.

I made two pans of these earlier this week and I used a 2.5 lb bag of cheese. 

After you have everything sufficiently cheesy, put the pan in the oven and bake for about half an hour. You want it to be hot, melty and bubbly with the cheese just starting to brown. 

I like to serve mine with sour cream but feel free to add whatever embellishments delight you. 🙂       

 

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Ham and Egg Bake with Broccoli

Last week I got a nice big ham and slow roasted it in the oven. While I was sitting around trying to figure out what to cook for dinner I had an idea to use some of the ham up and create a tasty low carb meal. This is basically a crustless quiche and easy to make.

Recipe

2 cups diced ham

8 oz shredded cheddar cheese

16 oz frozen broccoli (steamed to thaw and then pressed between paper towels to remove extra water)

6 oz sliced mushrooms

1/4 cup finely minced onion

7 eggs

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish.

Mix together the mushrooms, onions and ham. Spread this mixture in the bottom of the baking dish. Spread the broccoli evenly over the ham mixture. Sprinkle with the cheddar cheese.

Mix the eggs, cream and parmesan cheese in a bowl and pour evenly over the broccoli and ham. It will NOT cover the mixture entirely.

Bake for about 45 minutes until the eggs puff up and set.

This turned out really good. I didn’t add any salt because the ham is salty enough but I did grind a little extra black pepper over it. Otherwise, I didn’t add any extra seasoning. 🙂

hamandeggbake

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Greek Style Beef & Pepper Casserole

So this recipe is what happens when I’m running low on ingredients and start putting random stuff together. I had some ground beef that was thawed enough to crumble and brown but not thawed enough to make burgers (if that makes sense). I also had the gorgeous peppers I wanted to roast. I originally thought of stuffing the peppers with the beef but realized the meat of the peppers was too thin to hold up to that. For some reason, I thought of a Greek dish called Moussaka.

Moussaka is a casserole style dish with a layer of egg plant, topped by seasoned ground beef and a thick cream sauce. I didn’t have any eggplant but I had those beautiful peppers from the farmer’s market, ground beef, onions, seasonings and feta cheese. It was easy enough to whip up some cream sauce 🙂 Instead of putting the peppers on the bottom, I put them on top of the beef because they were so thin and delicate. I will mention that moussaka doesn’t have feta cheese in it but I love feta lol.

To see a picture of what moussaka looks like click on the link to the Cooking with Anne webiste.

Recipe

2 lbs mixed sweet peppers – roasted, peeled, seeded and opened down the side

2 lbs ground beef

1 medium onion – chopped

dried oregano to taste

salt & pepper to taste

lemon juice/lemon peel (enough to add flavor but not drown the beef)

2 cups crumbled feta cheese

2 cups cream sauce (see the Chicken Pot Pie recipe)

panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13 baking dish.

Brown the beef and onion in a skillet, adding the oregano, salt, pepper, lemon juice and lemon peel. I also added some dried minced garlic. That’s personal preference. The lemon and oregano are what give it the greek flavor. Once the meat is browned, set it aside to cool. When it’s cool enough to handle, mix in the feta cheese. Spread this mixture in the bottom of the baking dish. Layer the opened up sweet peppers over the top, kind of like a crust. These peppers were long, thin peppers and covered the meat in two thin layers. Spread the cream sauce over top, sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake for about 30 minutes until the sauce is bubbly and the bread crumbs are golden.

 

Here’s a picture of the pretty peppers roasting on the grill. The next picture is what the beef and feta cheese look like mixed together. Finally, the last picture is the finished product. I could have let it brown a little longer but I was hungry and it smelled SO good! And yes, it tasted really good too 😀

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Chichen Pot Pie

My friend Cat suggested that I make the Chicken Pot Pie recipe in the Joy of Cooking. So I broke out my edition from 1997 to make the recipe. It’s on pages 604-605. The first step is to make the Creamed Chicken recipe, then the pie.

Recipe – Creamed Chicken

The recipe calls for cooking chicken. I bought two rotisserie chickens at Costco today, let Jene eat what he wanted and used the rest for this. So about 2 lb of shredded chicken meat.

4 TB unsalted butter, melted in a large sauce pan over medium-low heat.

Whisk in 1/2 cup all-purpose flour until smooth. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, for another minute. Remove the pan from the heat.

Slowly whisk in 2 cups of chicken broth until smooth.

Then whisk in 1 1/2 cups heavy cream.

Increase the heat to medium and bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking constantly. (I did not whisk constantly, as long as you whisk it every 60-90 seconds or so, you should be fine.) Make sure there aren’t any lumps or stuck bits on the bottom of your pan and stir in the shredded chicken meat. I added a splash of white wine (the recipe calls for 2-3 TB of sherry). Cook for 1 more minute.

Remove from heat and season to taste with a few drops of lemon juice, ground black or white pepper and fresh grated or ground nutmeg. I used some of each.

Recipe – Chicken Pot Pie

This recipe only has a top crust which makes it really easy to make. I used pre-made puff pastry dough. Cat says she used phyllo dough. I was going to use phyllo but the store didn’t have any lol.

So once you have your creamed chicken made, position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 400F. Grease a 9×13 baking dish.

Heat 2 TB of unsalted butter in a large skillet over medium high heat until the foam begins to subside.

Add and cook, stirring often until just barely tender, about 5 minutes:

1 medium onion, chopped

3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick (I used baby carrots because they’re the perfect size)

2 small celery stalks, cut 1/4 inch thick (I used 3 stalks)

I also cooked these until they started to caramelize because it deepens the flavor. Then I deglazed the pan with a bit of lemon juice and white wine and added that to the mix. Mix the veggies in with the creamed chicken.

The original recipe calls for adding 3/4 cup of frozen peas, thawed and 3 TB of fresh minced parsley. I left both of these out because I don’t like peas and didn’t have parsley.

Once everything is mixed together, taste for seasoning. I added a bit more black pepper and salt.

Now you can put it all in the baking dish. Lay the pastry dough over the top and tuck the edges down into sides of the pan. If you want a really pretty crust, brush it with some beaten egg. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

 

 

 

And here it is in all it’s golden glory. I immediately dished some up and started eating it before finishing this post lol. VERY good and I think this will be a standard in our house, especially once it gets colder.

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Chinese Hamburger

This casserole is pure mid-western dining lol. It was one my mom made a lot when I was growing up. I haven’t made it in a long time because we try to eat low-carb. So I don’t have any pictures for you this time. However, it’s easy to make and good for feeding a crowd.

Recipe

1 lb ground beef

1 onion – chopped

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 can cream of celery soup

1 1/2 cups water

3/4 cup rice

2 T soy sauce

1 package chow mien noodles

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a skillet brown the beef and onions. Mix in the soups, soy sauce, rice and water. Put ingredients in a 9×13 baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove the foil, sprinkle the chow mien noodles across the top and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Check the rice to make sure it’s done. If not, bake for 10 additional minutes, being careful not to burn the noodles on top.

Serve

I’ll be the first to admit that I frequently tweak recipes to try and improve them. This is one that I’ve never messed with. Maybe it’s the childhood memories or maybe it’s just that good lol. Give it a try and let me know if you make changes, I’d be very interested to hear what you do with it!

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