Easy Farmhouse Chicken Casserole

I know, again with the chicken! But there are just so many delicious ways to cook chicken and here’s another one. Easy and quick to make with pre-cooked chicken, this casserole covers all the bases with protein, starch and vegetables all in one mouth-watering package. So if you have some chicken (thighs, drums, breasts whatever) or leftover rotisserie chicken, this is a great way to use it up that your family will enjoy.

Make sure your oven rack is in the upper half of the oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 9×13 casserole (or spray with non-stick spray). Over medium high heat, heat a medium sized Dutch oven and add:

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 slices of bacon, diced

Cook bacon until it’s crisp. If you don’t want to eat the bacon fat, drain it before adding:

1 tablespoon olive oil (3 tablespoons if you drained the bacon fat off)

1 medium onion, diced

3-4 celery stalks, diced

1 cup thinly sliced carrots (or shredded)

1 cup frozen peas

Reduce heat to medium and cook until vegetables are softened. Stir into the vegetables:

1/4 cup gluten-free, all-purpose flour (I had to use 1/3 cup to absorb all the oil)

3 cups chicken stock

1 cup non-dairy milk (anything EXCEPT soy)*

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried sage

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Stir, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to get all those wonderful drippings from the bacon. Cook, stirring frequently until sauce is thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Add:

3 cups diced or shredded chicken

3 cups diced and cooked potatoes (I used a mix of sweet and Russet potatoes)

Turn off heat. Pour (or ladle like I had to) the chicken mixture into the prepared casserole dish. In a medium bowl combine:

1 cup gluten-free bread crumbs

2 tablespoons avocado oil

Using a fork, mix thoroughly so that the bread crumbs are combined with the oil. Add:

1 cup gluten-free French-fried onions (or forget the bread crumbs and just use onions, oh so tasty!)

Spread the bread crumb mixture evenly over the casserole and bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool slightly before serving. Serves 6-8 generously.

*The original recipe called for cream. Silk now makes a non-dairy cream which you could use in place of the non-dairy milk for a richer sauce. The Silk cream is coconut based.

Lemon Chicken Soup with Vegetables

Chicken is one of my staple proteins. I had some chicken breasts in my fridge that needed to be used but I didn’t have time today to do a lot with it. Chicken soup I thought! Quick, easy, not too much work. Then I thought about the lemon beurre blanc sauce I made a few nights ago to go with some fish and thought I love chicken and lemon. It won’t be too hard to put them together. This soup is the outcome of that thought process. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

First, heat a small Dutch oven over medium high heat. When it gets hot, add:

1 tablespoon olive oil

When the oil is shimmering add:

1 small onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1/2 cup shredded carrots

3-4 ounces sliced mushrooms (any kind you like)

Stir to combine and let cook reducing heat to medium until the vegetables begin to soften. Add:

6-8 ounces white meat chicken, cut into bite size pieces

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Stir so the chicken goes to the bottom of the pot, or as much as possible. When chicken is browned, add:

2 teaspoons minced garlic

approximately 1 tablespoon lemon zest (zest of one large lemon)

3 cups chicken stock

8 ounces of small pasta like elbows (I used green lentil safari)

8 ounces whole chickpeas

Stir to combine, cover, reduce heat to medium low so that the stock is on a low boil to cook the chicken and pasta, about 12-15 minutes. While it’s cooking combine in a small bowl (2 cups):

1/4 cup lemon juice (juice from one large lemon)

1/2 cup oat milk

2-3 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour

Whisk to combine the flour. When the pasta and chicken are cooked, add:

1/2 to 1 cup frozen peas

Cook for 3-5 minutes longer to cook the peas before adding the milk mixture. If necessary pour the milk mixture through a small sieve to keep any flour lumps out of the soup. Stir the soup to mix in the flour and continue stirring for 2-3 minutes while the stock thickens and the flour cooks. Stir in:

2 tablespoons honey

Salt and pepper to taste

Serves 4.

Of course you can add any vegetables your family likes. Asparagus would work very well in this soup as it goes great with lemon. And rice would work as well as pasta depending on taste.

Chicken Cacciatore

There are probably as many recipes for chicken cacciatore on the internet as there are recipe sites. But here’s another one that’s easy to prepare and tastes oh so good! The chicken stays fairly moist (because it’s browned before stewing), the portobellos add some depth to the dish and the sauce is rich and succulent. Using boneless, skinless chicken thighs cuts down on the cooking time so this can be ready in about 40 minutes for a fairly quick midweek supper.

Trim fat and dry with paper towels:

6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Salt and pepper lightly. Over medium heat begin heating a Dutch oven and add:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Add the chicken thighs and cook, about 4-5 minutes before turning and browning on the other side. If the chicken sticks to the bottom of the pan when trying to turn it, it’s not ready to turn so brown a little longer. Once browned on both sides, remove to a plate and add to the pan:

1 medium onion, diced

5-6 stalks celery, chopped

3 large or 5 medium portobello mushroom caps, cleaned and chopped

3/4 cup diced carrots

Lightly salt and saute until the onion is translucent and the celery and mushrooms are softened. Add:

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 1/2 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour

Mix to combine and cook out the flour over medium low heat for a minute before adding:

2 cups chicken stock (or 1 cup white wine and 1 cup chicken stock, or 1 cup chicken stock and 1 cup mushroom stock)

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried sage

14-15 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

Stir to combine and then place the chicken thighs into the stock, pushing down to cover. Be sure to add any juices that have accumulated on the plate as well. Cover the pot and reduce heat to low simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes until chicken reaches 175 degrees internally. It will start falling apart when completely stewed so don’t worry if you don’t have a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature. Add:

2 tablespoons tomato paste

Stir to combine. Serve over rice, pasta, or potatoes. I’ve discovered at my local Whole Foods Market, a heart of palm pasta (365 brand) that is very low in carbs and very tasty so I added a bag of it (drained and rinsed) about 10 minutes before the cacciatore was done. Serve with parmesan cheese if desired. Serves 4.

Chicken and Vegetables in Plum Sauce

Had a little of the soy substitute sauce left over from the recipe a couple of days ago so thought I’d make some choy mein. But there wasn’t quite enough sauce for that and I’d gotten a jar of plum jam out of the freezer and added some of that and oh my goodness, how mouth-watering is this! Like adding a little pear or apple to a pork or chicken gravy, adding a little plum to this Chinese sauce turned out luscious. Don’t have any plum jam around the house? Stew up 2 plums (skin too if organic) along with about 2 tablespoons of date syrup and then puree it and you’ve got plum jam!

Just like with most Chinese recipes, the first step is always to cut everything up!

Peel:

1 small to medium onion, slice in half thin slices

1 large o 2 smaller carrots, slice on the diagonal

2 garlic cloves, minced

Trim:

2 whole stalks or 4 stalks from the celery heart (about a cup altogether), slice diagonally

6 ounces of shitake mushrooms, sliced

Put the vegetables in a bowl and set aside until ready to cook. Trim the fat and slice:

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts*

Place the slices in a food storage bag and add:

2 tablespoons soy sauce substitute (see recipe under sauces)

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot

1/4 to 1/3 cup plum jam

Seal and refrigerate 15-30 minutes until ready to cook. When ready to cook, heat over medium heat in a 12″ skillet:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Add the vegetables and cook, stirring frequently, for 1-2 minutes. Cover and lower heat to medium low and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring often, until carrots are tender. Remove the vegetables to their bowl, turn the heat back to medium and add to the skillet:

the marinated chicken and marinade

Cook stirring constantly until the chicken is cooked through, about 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add the vegetables back to the skillet along with:

1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

Stir to combine and continue stirring until sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Serve with brown rice or rice noodles.

*Want a vegan entrée? Substitute firm tofu or your favorite plant-based protein.

Sweet and Sour Chicken Salad

I often buy a rotisserie chicken, it’s a quick and easy meal. I’m careful of course, all rotisserie chickens are not equal. I read the ingredients until I found one that had no soy, canola, or corn oil. But since I live alone, this chicken always has lots of meat left over. I do so love chicken salad but even that can get boring when always made the same. I’ve added curry powder and made curried chicken salad which is delicious but I recently tried using a sweet and sour dressing, much like one used for coleslaw. Delicious, very easy and tasty at the end of summer when we’re getting tired of the same old salads.

I like to pulse my cooked chicken in my food processor to produce a slightly chunky chicken. Don’t take it to the extent of puree, just a fairly rough chop, almost like cooked ground chicken meat. For 4 servings, dice or pulse:

2 cooked chicken breasts, of medium size

Remove from food processor or cutting board into a bowl. Dice or pulse:

4-5 stalks celery, cleaned and quartered

4-5 scallions, cleaned and quartered

1/2 cup shredded carrots (or diced carrots)

Add to the chicken meat. I also add:

1/2 cup cooked baby peas

Mix these ingredients together. In a separate smaller bowl make the dressing using:

1 cup vegan mayonnaise

1 good dash hot sauce (optional)

2 tablespoons vinegar

2 tablespoons honey, agave nectar or date syrup

2 tablespoons dill pickle relish (or minced dill pickle)

Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk the dressing to combine and then add to the meat mixture. Mix well, chill and serve over a bed of mixed greens. Tomatoes and avocado on the side are a nice addition to this meal. I’ll often also garnish my chicken salad with pumpkin seeds or mix into the salad sesame or poppy seeds.

Salmon Pasta Salad Revisited

Every July 4th my mother would make what she called simply, salmon salad. It was a mayonnaise based pasta salad with canned salmon, crab and baby shrimp. I made one and put it on this site last year or the year before with a vinaigrette base. So now that I’ve found a vegan mayonnaise I can eat that doesn’t contain eggs or soybean oil, I decided this year to update this salad because it’s one of my very favorites. My mother always served blueberry muffins with it but I figure who needs all those added carbs! so I just serve the salad with the addition of more vegetables than just the onion and celery my mom used. Hope you enjoy this as much as I do. By the way, feel free to use a 16 ounce can of salmon, cleaned if you don’t have access to the fresh!

Bring an 8 quart pot of water to the boil, salt the water generously and add:

4 ounces gluten-free shells (you can use elbows or any other shape but my mom always used shells)*

When the pasta is about 2 minutes from being cooked add:

1-2 cups frozen peas (unless you have wonderful fresh peas!)

When the pasta is cooked, drain into a large colander and rinse with cold water until cool. I will often fill the pot I cooked the pasta in with cold water (it takes several times before the pot cools off) and then place the colander in it after I’ve sprayed the heck out of the pasta with cold water. I leave it in there for only about 5 minutes before it’s cool enough to add to the mixing bowl. While the pasta boils (or the water), heat an 8″ skillet over medium high heat with:

1 teaspoon olive oil

Add skin side down:

8 ounce (or so) salmon filet

Cook the salmon for 3-5 minutes on the skin side and then turn. Note, if it doesn’t come right off the skillet, it’s not ready to turn. Cook on the meat side for 2-3 minutes and then flip again to the skin side. Cover and reduce heat to medium low and continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes depending on the thickness of your salmon steak. Remove from heat, uncover and move the salmon to a plate to cool. When cool, flake with a fork and add to the vegetable mixture.

In a large mixing bowl (I actually use a 2 gallon plastic container), combine:

3-5 scallions, sliced on the diagonal

5-6 stalks of celery diced

1 medium, peeled and diced (and I also seed mine) cucumber

8 ounces of crab meat

8 ounces of baby shrimp (if you can eat them, I can’t so I leave them out)

In a smaller bowl combine:

1 1/2 cups vegan mayonnaise

2 tablespoons dill pickle relish

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1 tablespoon lemon juice

NOTE: I had a half bag of snow peas left over from the Moo Goo Guy Pan so I destringed them, cut them in half (or thirds if really long) and added them with the peas to the boil – delicious! Some diced jicama or water chestnuts would also go very nicely in this salad.

Whisk to combine and then pour over the vegetables after adding the pasta, peas, and fish in the mixing bowl. Stir to combine and then cool in the refrigerator for about an hour to let all the flavors meld. I like to serve it over some lettuce or as I did now, pea shoots. Serves 4-6.

*Whole Foods makes wonderful organic chickpea shells. Only 37 grams of carbs per serving which is quite good for pasta, along with 21 grams of protein. And note, we only use 2 servings instead of 4 so it cuts down on the total carbs per serving even more.

Stuffed Turkey Rolls

I found some turkey breast filets at the store the other day and wondered how to cook them without drying them out. Turkey breast filets can be either too thick or too thin; these were very thin. I used to make a turkey “napoleon” for my husband and I wondered if it would work as a roll. It not only worked, but they turned out delicious. The stuffing can be made ahead and is enough to stuff 6-8 turkey filets depending on their size. Of course, any stuffing recipe will work but I made my sausage and mushroom stuffing, adding half a pear for a little sweetness and it turned out succulent. The stuffing is the most time consuming part of this process.

Serves 3-4.

To make the stuffing, over medium a 10″ skillet, heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

When hot, add:

1/2 medium onion, finely diced

2 small stalks celery, finely diced

1/2 medium pear, minced

3 ounces mushrooms, finely diced

Stir and reduce heat to medium low. Cover the vegetables for about 5 minutes until they are tender. While they cook, break up 2 slices of bread (I used the quick oat bread recipe on this blog). If using a different bread, be sure to crumble into small pieces. When the vegetables are soft, add them along with the oil to the bread crumbs, mix thoroughly. To the skillet add:

4 ounces sausage, any kind your family likes

Cook thoroughly, breaking it up as it cooks into a “minced” meat consistency (like hamburger). This should only take a couple of minutes. Add to the stuffing mix along with:

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 to 1 teaspoon of ground sage

If your turkey filets are square, you’ve hit the jackpot! Mine were triangular. Add about 1/3 cup of the stuffing on the longer side of the filet and pull the smaller side over it. I used bacon to wrap and hold the roll but I would suggest using porchetta instead because the bacon had too strong a flavor and almost overpowered the turkey roll.

Once rolled and wrapped, secured with toothpicks if necessary, place in a 10″ skillet with a little oil so that the bacon doesn’t stick. Cook over medium heat for approximately 2-3 minutes per side, getting all four sides.

While the turkey rolls are cooking, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in another 10″ skillet. When hot add:

3 ounces of mushrooms

1/2 medium pear, minced

Cook for a 2-4 minutes, salt and pepper to taste and add:

2 tablespoons all purpose gluten-free flour

Stir to combine so that all the oil is floured and cook over medium low heat for 1-2 minutes to cook the flour. Add:

1 1/2 to 2 cups turkey (or chicken) stock

Stir to combine and stir constantly until thickened into a gravy.

Serve the turkey rolls over mashed potatoes (or rice), adding gravy to each of the servings. Enjoy!

Turkey Hash

Hash is a favorite of mine. It’s so tasty and so versatile. Any meat, any vegetables can be used in hash. It’s not just corned beef hash anymore! After I made the roasted turkey breast the other day, I had over half the breast left (since there’s only one of me and the recipe served 4). I’d already cooked plenty of sweet potatoes (but there’s nothing wrong with cooking more!) and had some rainbow carrots in the freezer. Hash is so easy to make, hope you’ll give it a try.

I served this with the leftover turkey pear gravy! Oh so delicious

In a large skillet (12″), heat over medium heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

When shimmering add:

1 medium onion diced

3-5 celery stalks, diced

When the onion is becoming translucent, add:

2 cups diced cooked sweet potato (or white if you prefer)

1 cup cooked rainbow carrots, sliced or diced

2 not quite ripe pears, peeled and diced

1-2 teaspoons minced garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix to combine and continue cooking until sweet potatoes start to brown. Stir in:

2-3 cups cooked turkey, diced

Lower heat to medium low and cover. Cook for approximately 2-3 minutes until turkey is hot. Remove lid, stir. At this point, if eggs are allowed in your diet, crack 4 eggs on top of the hash, cover and cook until eggs are ready. Serves 4.

Creamy Chicken Stew with Asparagus

This is a hearty dish that will warm you through and through on those colder days. Perhaps that’s what made me think of it this past week here in Minnesota – after a wonderful few weeks in the 50s and 60s, it suddenly fell back into the 30s! Not difficult to make and so delicious to eat. Feel free to change up the vegetables to ones your family prefers.

Cut vegetables:

1 medium onion, diced

3 stalks of celery, diced

2 medium to large carrots sliced

1 large parsnip (or 2-3 smaller ones), sliced and/or diced depending on size

1 medium purple top turnip, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 tablespoon pre-minced garlic)*

In a medium Dutch oven, heat:

2 tablespoons oil

Add the diced onions and celery and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables along with:

3 cups chicken stock

Simmer over medium low heat until the vegetables are cooked through. Add:

2 cups cooked and diced chicken

1 pound asparagus, cut into 1-2 inch pieces**

1 cup frozen green peas

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried marjoram

Simmer until chicken is heated through and the peas are cooked, 5-6 minutes, then increase heat to medium and add slurry made with:

3 tablespoons gluten-free all purpose flour

1 cup non-dairy milk (any milk EXCEPT soy)

Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Serve over pasta, mashed potatoes, or rice or even as a filling for a chicken pot pie. Makes 6 servings.

*This stew can be “summerized” by using zucchini, yellow squash, green beans, mushrooms instead of the winter root vegetables.

**If preferred, the asparagus can be cooked whole in a skillet until tender and served alongside the stew. If the stalks are quite thick, peal the asparagus before cutting into pieces.

Stuffed Tomatoes

Sorry I haven’t blogged in a couple of days. The other main activity in my life is learning the craft of screenwriting and I’ve been at a virtual screenwriting summit all weekend. Just ending today so I have a little time to put up an old recipe of mine that I learned from a friend who was a caterer. Very easy to do and can be used as an appetizer or an entrée. Stuffed tomatoes can be stuffed with any kind of salad you like, egg, chicken, ham, etc. Tip from my caterer friend, use your food processor to process the meat into a well grated product so that it’s easier to stuff into the tomato, especially if you’re using very small tomatoes. It can also be put into a piping bag to fill the tomatoes. Use any size of tomato you like. I prefer to use Campari tomatoes, large for smaller tomatoes and large enough for 2 bites, a good size for an appetizer. If I’m making this as an entrée, a larger tomato is of course needed, like a Big Boy.

If you want the tomatoes to sit neatly on the plate, you can cut a very small amount from the bottom. Just be careful not to cut through the meat of the tomato.

Begin by making the salad. Put into the bowl of a food processor:

1 pound of ham, 1 large chicken breast, 8-10 hard boiled eggs, etc., cut into large chunks

1 large celery stalk, cut into large chunks

2 tablespoons dill relish (this is a sugar free relish; for a sweeter salad, add a little sweetener rather than use a sweet relish which contains sugar)

1-2 scallions, cut into large pieces

Blend until the meat is in small pieces. Add:

1/2 to 2/3 cup vegan mayonnaise

Blend until well mixed, be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl before finishing processing. Remove the completed salad to either a piping bag or a medium bowl.

For the tomatoes:

16-20 Campari tomatoes

36-48 grape tomatoes

or 2-4 large tomatoes

Begin by washing the tomatoes.* Then cut off the very top of the stem end of the tomatoes. Then, using a small sharp knife, cut around the inside of the tomato next to the meat and use a sharp ended spoon to scoop out the seeds and veins of the tomato.

Set the tomatoes on a paper towel, upside down so that some of the moisture drains out. Leave for about 5 minutes before filling. Place on a plate, garnish with scallions, chives, or thin slices of dill pickle.

*I hope all my followers know that you should NEVER store tomatoes in the refrigerator! Take this from a girl who grew up on a farm. Refrigerating them steals their flavor and also toughens the skins. Also when buying tomatoes, smell them. If they don’t smell like a tomato, they won’t taste like a tomato. Same with most fruit that has a distinct odor like strawberries.