Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Hot Chicken Sandwiches

So I roasted one big chicken one night early in the week, then had enough leftover cooked shredded chicken to make a Chicken Pot Pie and these sandwiches. Oh, and I made chicken stock out of the leftover chicken bones and used that in an awesomely spicy (and non-kid friendly) batch of Red Beans with andouille sausage over the weekend. I'd say that chicken was a great deal!

I've never tried anything like these Hot Chicken Sandwiches, but the original version used Cream of Mushroom soup and crushed buttery crackers. Since we are trying to eat less processed food, I tried to make a recipe similiar, but cut down on the processed ingredients.

I made my own buns, which was a treat by itself! My husband and I enjoyed the sandwiches, my oldest ate about half of a sandwich (I'll call that a victory) and my youngest just ate the bread.

Hot Chicken Sandwiches

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
2 cups cooked shredded chicken
1/4 cup crushed saltines

Melt the butter over medium heat, add the flour and stir for about 2 minutes. Add the water and milk and stir constantly until the sauce bubbles and thickens. Add the poultry seasoning, salt, pepper, soy sauce, stir to combine. Taste the sauce and see what else it needs - if the sauce is to your liking, add the chicken and cracker crumbs. Stir gently to combine (don't manhandle your chicken into mush) and heat until the mixture is heated through and bubbles again. Serve over spilt sandwich buns.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Chicken Pot Pie

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive compensation from Amazon if you make a purchase using this link. Thanks for helping to keep food on my family's  table! :)

Chicken Pot Pie
recipe adapted from Pioneer Woman; here's the book it's from and the website recipe

1/4 cup butter
2 celery stalks
1 carrot
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup flour
2 cups chicken broth or water
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt (will probably need more to taste)
1/4 cup sour cream or heavy cream
1 pie crust, recipe follows below

Melt the butter in a large pot. Add the celery, carrot, onion and peas. Saute over medium heat until the veggies are cooked through and the onions are translucent. Add the chicken, then flour and stir to combine and to cook the flour. Pour in chicken stock or water, stirring to keep the sauce smooth until it bubbles evenly. Season with thyme, pepper and salt. Taste it and see what else it needs needs.

Stir in the sour cream or cream until combined, the turn off the heat. You don't want the cream to get too hot at this stage and curdle. Pour into a greased deep dish pie plate (I love my Fiesta one my mother in law gifted me!) and allow the filling to cool while you make the pie crust.

Easy Pie Crust
From Very Best Baking by Nestle
Makes 1 crust

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening or butter (about 2.75 oz total)

2-6 tablespoons ice cold water

Combine flour and salt in bowl. Cut in shortening with pastry blender until crumbly. Sprinkle with water until mixture holds together. Shape dough into ball; place on lightly floured surface. Roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness. 

Top pot pie filling with crust; tuck the hanging over edge under and crimp. Cut holes in the top of the crust to allow the filling to bubble out. Put pie plate on a baking sheet in case it bubbles over. Bake at 400º for 30 minutes. 

Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting into.

Friday, November 7, 2014

At Home Rotissere Style Roasted Chicken

Rotisserie chickens from the store are so darn cheap, and I pick one up almost every time I hit Sam's. This recipe is an option for you if you are keeping away from MSG/who-knows-what-other-chemicals that are in store bought. I also buy whole chickens when they are on sale and freeze them so I always seem to have one on hand.

I've tried this as a slow cooker recipe, but I just didn't like the results. It wasn't the same as the rotisserie chicken from the store. It was a skin texture issue - the oven gets it crispy and crunchy, and the slow cooker skin was limp and rubbery. If you don't care about the skin or if you remove the skin before cooking anyway, try the slow cooker and see how it turns out for you! (Maybe 8 hours on Low would work as a conversion?)

Rotisserie Style Roasted Chicken
recipe adapted from allrecipes.com

4 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 5-6 pound whole chicken

In a small bowl, mix together salt, paprika, onion powder, thyme, black pepper, and garlic powder.

Remove packaging from chicken and discard giblets from chicken. Place in a greased baking pan and sprinkle with spice mixture. Rub spice mixture to coat the whole chicken. Top with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4-6 hours or up to overnight. (I do mine right away in the morning, let it hang out in the frig until about 1:00ish when I put it in the oven.)

Remove chicken from frig and allow it to come up to room temperate - about 30 minutes before baking. Remove plastic wrap, the place chicken in a 250º preheated oven.

Bake uncovered for 5 hours or until chicken internal temperature hits 180º. Let chicken stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The 5 Year Old Homemade Granola Bar Recipe

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive compensation from Amazon if you make a purchase using this link. Thanks for helping to keep food on my family's  table! :)

I've been making this recipe for homemade granola bars for 5 years now. That just doesn't seem right. - where did the time go? I posted the original recipe in 2009! That means I have made many, many batches of these. Some batches turned out great, some fell apart, and these treats have faded in and out of popularity in our house.

But I always seem to return to this recipe when I'm looking for a treat that I know what the ingredients are (not processed, not weird fake chocolate) or if I want to make something to add to lunches when I've already spent all the grocery money that week.

These are not peanut free so they don't work for school peanut-free zones. My 1st grader has to have a peanut-free snack, so he can't take these, but we include them in his lunch.

I've revised the recipe a bit to include some tips and switched the ingredient order around to show how I really whip these bad boys up. I also included ounce weight measurements for the honey and peanut butter - I really hate trying to scrape honey and peanut butter out of a measuring cup, so I set the bowl on my handy-dandy kitchen scale and squirt/dump the ingredients.

The honey or corn syrup choice is totally up to you. Corn syrup is much cheaper than honey, and the finished bars seem to stay together better with corn syrup. I prefer to use honey because it's a cleaner/simpler food, but it's OK whatever you choose.

Chewy Granola Bars
18- 20 bars, depending on how the bars are cut

1/2 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup (5 oz) honey or light corn syrup
1/4 cup (2 oz) creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups old fashioned oats 
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease on 9 x 13 pan. Melt the butter in a small bowl in the microwave.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the melted butter, brown sugar, honey or corn syrup, peanut butter, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Add the oats, flour and baking soda to the bowl. Stir to combine or until the flour is incorporated and the oats are coated in the butter mixture. Now add in the mini chocolate chips and stir until evenly distributed.

Press into pan (a potato masher works great - this compaction keeps the finished bars from crumbling) and bake for 18-22 minutes. Let cool for at least ten minutes or until almost room temperature.

OK! Now we are at the hardest part of the whole recipe. You want the pan to be cooled down enough to be warm to the touch - too warm and the bars kind of crumble and fall apart, too cool and those suckers are a PAIN to chisel out. Go around the edges of the big granola bar mixture with a butter knife or spatula to loosen it from the pan. Maybe lift the edges a little to separate it from baking pan. Place a big cutting board or cookie sheet on the top of the baking pan. Now FLIP!

Ahhhhh, so it broke! No biggie! Just slide it back together!

Stick the whole cutting board or cookie sheet in the frig or freezer at this point to harden up the chocolate and cool the bars down. These can be quite a mess to cut if the chocolate is still soft.

After the bars have cooled off and the chocolate is hard, cut off the broken pieces. Serve those to two little boys who like to help in kitchen...or you eat them, I won't tell! If yours didn't break, then cut into granola bar sizes!

My preferred option for wrapping is to put them individually into snack size bags. Sometimes I don't have them, so I use sandwich size bags. Sometimes I don't have anything else better to do and I wrap them with plastic wrap. I have found that my boys seem to have problems getting them out of the plastic wrap, so bags work best for us right now.

I store them in the frig, in the "Lunch/Snack" drawer. My boys really enjoy them!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Easy Freezer Lasagna

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I don't make lasagna often...if I do, it's the Slow Cooker Lasagna. But lots of extended family are coming to stay with us for Thanksgiving this year so I am prepping and freezing any meals for while they are here.

This is the lasagna recipe I use when I make a traditional lasagna and it's called "Easy" because it's not a complicated, all day event. Anyone who has a traditional Italian grandmother will probably hate this recipe, but hey, it's better than Stouffer's!

Easy Freezer Lasagna

1 lb ground beef or italian sausage
1/3 cup chopped onion
28 oz jar marinara or spaghetti sauce (we like Trader Joe's Marinara)
10-12 uncooked lasagna noodles (the # needed will depend on how they fit in your pan)
22 oz cottage cheese
16 oz shredded mozzarella cheese, shredded (one of the only cases where I buy cheese pre-shredded!)
Sprinkle of dried parsley
1/2 cup water

Brown the ground beef with the onion until cooked through. Drain. Return to the sauce pan and add the marinara sauce. Stir to combine, then set aside to cool.

In a greased 9 x 13" pan, spread a big spoonful of the sauce in the bottom of the pan. Next layer half the noodles, breaking them if needed to fit into the pan. Next spread half the sauce, half of the cottage cheese, and half of the shredded cheese. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle the top with dried parsley (this step is just for looks!)
Pour the water around the outer edges of pan. Cover with foil. (If you are freezing the lasagna, stop at this point*) Bake covered for 1 hour at 375 degrees. Uncover and let stand 10-15 minutes before cutting

*Freezer cooking directions:
Remove from freezer and let thaw before baking. This usually takes over 24 hours in the frig.