Saturday, March 14, 2015

Spicy & Delicious White Chicken Chili


White Chicken Chili
Chili with chicken, half and half, chicken broth, and plenty of flavor
from chili powder, cumin, taco seasoning, poultry seasoning


I had been wanting to make a great white chili for a while. 

I had eaten white chili a couple times at my office’s annual chili cook-off.  I learned that the key is to make it with plenty of flavor.  I spent a few hours searching for a good recipe, and found this one from BigOven.com.  It called for 6 chicken breasts and 6 cans of beans, which I thought would be a huge amount, especially if I was disappointed in my result.  I revised the recipe, cutting it in half, and started my prep on Monday before my intended meal on Wednesday. 

The original recipe called for canned Great Northern beans.  I opted for dried beans, and soaked my beans Monday afternoon and cooked them in the crockpot overnight.  On Tuesday afternoon, I sautéed the onions and pepper, and cooked my chicken and chopped it.  I put the diced chicken, onion, pepper, and cooled beans in a large bowl with half of the chicken broth and half and half.  I added all the spices, and refrigerated overnight. 

On Wednesday morning, I transferred my mixture to a Dutch oven, added the remaining ingredients, and began heating my chili.  Once it was relatively warm, I tasted it.  It was crazy spicy, on the hot side for my taste.  Admittedly, I am a lightweight when it comes to heat in food.  The original recipe called for 3 jalapenos, and I used ½ a poblano, and opted to omit the Frank’s Red Hot in the original recipe.  I can’t imagine the poblano generated that much heat, nor the chili powder, which leaves the white pepper.  I used 2 teaspoons, and have revised my recipe below to show 1 teaspoon. 

Ultimately I doubled my chicken broth and half and half.  In effect my revised recipe cut the chicken and spices in half, but kept the liquid at the full level.  The result was an extremely flavorful white chili, with a mild to moderate heat level.  This was a big hit.  I will definitely make it again.  And again. 



Ingredients

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
½ package taco seasoning
1 Tbsp poultry seasoning
2-3 Tbsp coconut oil
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
½ poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp cumin
1 lb bag Great Northern beans
7 cups chicken broth, divided
6 cups half and half
1 ½ Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp white pepper
2 1/2 cups shredded Colby Jack or Pepper Jack cheese


Directions

1- Prep beans a day ahead.  Soak about 8 hours, and cook overnight in crockpot in 4 cups of chicken broth. 

2- Prep chicken a day ahead.  Dredge in taco seasoning and poultry seasoning.  Bake 45 minutes at 375°, turning once about half way through cook time. 



3- Cool chicken, then chop or shred. 



4- Prep onion and pepper a day ahead by sautéing chopped onion and poblano pepper in coconut oil.  Set aside to cool. 



5- Transfer beans and liquid, chopped chicken, onions and pepper to a large storage bowl. 

6- Pour 1 cup chicken broth and 3 cups half and half to mixture. 

7- Add chili powder, cumin, white pepper, and Worcestershire sauce to mixture. 

8- Refrigerate chili mixture overnight. 

9- About an hour before you plan to serve your chili, transfer mixture to a Dutch oven pot. 

10- Add remaining 2 cups broth and 3 cups half and half. 

11- Begin heating on medium heat.  Dissolve flour in a small amount of water, and slowly pour into chili mixture.  Stir frequently. 

12- Taste and adjust spices to taste.  Add salt if desired. 

13- Continue heating on medium for 20-30 minutes, being careful not to boil. 

14- Gradually stir in 2 cups of cheese while stirring constantly. 

15- Serve in soup bowls or mugs.  Garnish with cheese if desired. 




Saturday, November 30, 2013

Squash Casserole with Sour Cream and Stuffing Mix


 

Squash Casserole
Personal Photo
 

There are many squash casserole recipes out there similar to this one.  Most of them call for a can of cream soup, such as cream of mushroom, cream of celery, or cream of chicken, as well as either sour cream or mayonnaise.  Some call for stuffing mix, while others use crushed Ritz crackers.  This one is similar to what my Aunt Totsie used to make. 

 

Ingredients

1 ½ lbs yellow squash

1 medium sweet onion

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 grated carrot

8 oz sour cream

1 c grated cheddar cheese

1 small pkg Pepperidge Farm dressing mix

½ stick butter

Salt and pepper to taste

 
 

1- Scrub squash, cut off ends, and cut into chunks. 

2- Peel and dice onion. 

3- Add squash and onion to a pan.  Cover with water and cook at a low boil until tender. 

4- Drain and mash squash and onion. 

 

Squash and onions
Personal Photo
 
 

5- Add remaining ingredients except butter and ½ pkg of dressing mix. 

 
 


 

Personal Photos
 

6- Pour into greased casserole dish.  Top with remaining dressing mix.  Cut butter into small cubes and distribute over the top. 

7- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. 



Finished and out of the oven
Personal Photo 

How to Fry Squash- Fried Yellow Crookneck Squash


 

Fried Yellow Crookneck Squash
Personal Photo
 

Fried squash is a classic Southern treat.  When I was growing up, someone in the family always had a garden.  We had plenty of fresh squash every summer.  And as Southerners, we fry just about anything.  Fried squash was always a favorite. 

 

You will need: 

4-6 yellow crookneck squash

Flour

Salt

Cooking oil

 

 1- Pour cooking oil in frying pan to cover the bottom of the pan, at least ¼” deep.  Heat oil on medium high. 

2- Scrub squash.  Cut off ends.  Slice squash lengthwise into ¼” to 3/8” thick slices. 

3- Lightly salt squash. 

4- Place damp squash pieces into flour to coat.  I prefer just flour, but you can use a mixture with about 1 part cornmeal and 2 parts flour. 

 

 Coat squash in flour
Personal Photo

 

5- When oil is hot, place squash slices into pan. 

6- Fry on medium high until squash is golden brown and tender, a couple minutes on each side. 

 

 Fry squash in hot oil
Personal Photo

 

7- Repeat until all of the squash are fried. 

8- Place cooked squash on plate on top of paper towel.  Place a layer of towel on top of squash for additional layers, as well as on top of the final layer, to absorb excess oil. 

 

Drain squash on paper towel
Personal Photo 

 

You can also fry zucchini or eggplant.  Compared to squash, eggplant seems to soak up a lot of oil when cooking.  Whereas I would slice both yellow and green squash lengthwise, I could go either way with eggplant, lengthwise or crosswise. 


Friday, November 29, 2013

My Potato Salad

My Potato Salad
Personal Photo


My potato salad has at least a few die-hard fans who proclaim it to be the best they ever had.  It evolved from the potato salad that the mother of one of my high school friends made.  She put green olives in it!  I don’t typically eat green olives, but they really add something to potato salad. 

Another key ingredient is Dukes mayonnaise.  Dukes was originated by Eugenia Duke in Greenville, South Carolina, and subsequently produced and distributed by the Sauer company in Richmond, Virginia.  In my early years in the Air Force, I carried Dukes back with me whenever I came home for a visit.  It’s more widely distributed now.  I can buy it at my local HEB in Texas.  I also add some Greek yogurt to my potato salad.  It gives the potato salad a nice texture, and helps keep the texture after refrigeration. 

It’s really important to hand chop the pickles and onions.  If you use a food processor or slap chopper, you lose the great texture.  It’s also crucial in my book to use Claussen’s kosher dill pickles, for taste and texture.  They are never cooked, and found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. 

I don’t have an exact recipe.  Making potato salad requires lots of tasting.  I’m sharing with you my absolute best guess to get you started.  Then enjoy tasting! 



Potato Salad Ingredients

3 lbs of potatoes
4 large Claussen’s kosher dill pickles
2/3 cup green olives
1 medium-large sweet onion
4 boiled eggs
1 cup Dukes mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons Dijonnaise mustard
½ cup Greek yogurt
¼ cup pickle juice
1/8 cup olive juice


Instructions

1- Peel potatoes, and cut into approximately 1-inch cubes.  I like red potatoes.  My mom always said they were sweeter and moister.  Boil in a large pan in salty water until tender, breaking apart easily with a fork. 

2- Drain potatoes and return to pan.  I don’t use a potato masher.  I just break them apart by stirring, because I like some chunks.  Don’t worry that there are still lots of chunks, because there will be plenty more stirring. 

3- Put eggs on to boil.  When done, after 10-15 minutes of boiling, drain and put in cool water. 

4- Add mayo, mustard, and yogurt.  Stir to combine. 

5- Chop pickles into small cubes.  I slice vertically through the pickles about 3-4 slices, then another 3-4 slices across, like a checkerboard.  Then slice horizontally across the pickle. 

6- Chop olives.  I slice each olive lengthwise into quarters, then cut across. 

7- Chop onions into ¼-inch or larger cubes. 

8- Add pickles, olives, and onions to potatoes. 

9- Add pickle and olive juice.  Stir thoroughly to combine. 

10- Peel and mash eggs.  I don’t like large hunks of egg white, so I thoroughly mash the eggs.  I recently started using my food processor for this.  Add eggs to potato salad and stir to combine. 

11- Taste potato salad.  Add additional mayo, pickle or olive juice, &/or yogurt as needed for a moist but not soupy texture.  Add additional pickles, onions, &/or olives if needed. 

Granny’s Cucumber Salad

Christmas leftovers:  Cucumber Salad over green beans, 
Personal Photo



When I was a child, my paternal grandmother made Cucumber Salad to serve over green beans.  It is a very simple dish, but really enhances green beans.  My grandmother’s version was very potent, with undiluted vinegar.  I add water to my version, and even my dad prefers my modification. 

Ingredients
4 medium-sized pickling cucumbers
½ cup Duke’s mayonnaise
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup water
1 tsp salt

Instructions
1.  Blend mayo, vinegar, and water until smooth. 
2.  Peel and dice cucumbers and toss with salt. 
3.  Pour mayo mixture over cucumbers. 
4.  Refrigerate for 1 hour. 

Cook up a big batch of green beans with cubed potatoes.  Spoon a liberal portion of Cucumber Salad with juice, over green beans and enjoy! 


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Southern-Style Homemade Baked Macaroni & Cheese


My homemade macaroni and cheese, fresh out of the oven

As a Carolina girl, I grew up with homemade macaroni and cheese.  I have a large extended family on my mother’s side.  When we had family dinners, there were always multiple macaroni and cheese casseroles, or what many of my relatives call “cheese pies”.  All of my aunts made baked mac & cheese, but I don’t think any of them used a recipe!  One year I decided to change that.  When I made my mac & cheese that year for Thanksgiving, I decided to measure everything and write it down.  Depending on how good it was, I could refine my recipe.  Mission accomplished!  I have been using my recipe ever since. 

Those of us who know real macaroni and cheese, as opposed to mac & cheese out of a box, know that the homemade baked version is an exquisite treat.  I especially love the soufflé-like texture when it’s fresh out of the oven. 


Macaroni & Cheese Ingredients

2 cups cooked macaroni
1 can evaporated milk

2 eggs, beaten

8 oz cheese

1/3 stick butter


Instructions

1- Preheat oven to 350°. 

2- Grease 2 quart baking dish.  Add butter and place in oven to soften.  Add cooked macaroni and stir to combine with butter. 

3- Add milk and beaten eggs.  Stir to distribute. 

4- Add shredded or cubed cheese.  I use 4 oz Cracker Barrel sharp cheddar, and 4 oz medium cheddar or Colby.  Stir to combine. 

5- Bake 30 minutes at 350°.  Remove from oven and stir thoroughly.  Increase oven temperature to 400°.  Return to oven for 20 minutes. 


Variations

For large holiday meals, I triple this recipe, except the eggs.  I use 4 large eggs with 3 cans of milk, 1 stick of butter, 6 cups of cooked macaroni, 12 oz sharp cheddar and 12 oz medium cheddar.  Cook 40 minutes at 350°, and 40 minutes at 400°. 

For a super quick cooking version, I use an 11” X 13” pan, and cook about 30 minutes.  My version produced somewhere between ½” and 1” thickness of mac and cheese.  You can have fun with this one by adding a square for a special take on a cheeseburger or grilled cheese. 

 Mac & Cheese Burger (personal photo)


White Mac & Cheese

I’ve made a gorgonzola version that was a completely different take for me on macaroni and cheese.  There are endless possibilities. 

2 cups cooked macaroni
1/3 stick butter

2 eggs
1 can milk

3 oz gorgonzola cheese
4 oz mozzarella

Bake as above. 

Serving of Gorgonzola Mac & Cheese



Dunbar Macaroni

One of my favorite meals from my elementary school cafeteria was Dunbar Macaroni.  I use leftover mac and cheese and make my own version.  I used to have enough mac & cheese left over from when I made the huge portion for Thanksgiving for my Texas friends’ gathering.  Over the period of a couple years however, my mac & cheese has gained a reputation, and there are no longer any leftovers.  Now I buy extra cheese and stuff, and just make a small portion (with 2 cups macaroni) just for Dunbar. 

Brown 1 ½ lbs of ground beef.  Add 1 can of diced tomatoes and 1 can of spaghetti sauce.  Simmer for about an hour, until meat softens.  Add in chunks of leftover macaroni and cheese.  Break it apart as it softens. 

Add chunks of mac & cheese to tomato and meat sauce, and
break apart as it softens

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Aunt Lynette’s Chicken Patties


 


This is my Aunt Lynette’s Chicken Patties recipe.  Chicken patties are similar to salmon patties, a Southern staple.  Isn’t food twice as good when great memories are attached?  Aunt Lynette is one of the sweetest people you could ever meet, the epitome of the genteel Southerner.  She made chicken patties for our family potluck dinners, which are fairly big affairs.  My mom is from a family of eight children, so dinners are a pretty big deal with lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins. 

Chicken patties were always a colossal hit at dinners, and everyone looked forward to them.  She made at huge batch, with silver dollar sized patties.  I always made a quick pass of the tables, to get a couple chicken patties, and one of my Aunt Totsie’s Glorified Brownies.  Once those favorites were on my plate, I’d go back for the rest of my food. 

 
Chicken Patties Ingredients

When you look at the ingredients, the chicken patties have relatively few components, yet they are uncommonly delicious. 

1/3 cup butter
½ cup flour

1 ¾ cups milk
2 cups finely chopped cooked chicken

½ cup crushed saltine crackers
½ tsp onion salt

Dash of pepper
1 egg

1 cup fine bread crumbs such as Progresso
Cooking oil

 
Chicken Patties Instructions

1- In a small saucepan prepare cream sauce by whisking flour into milk.  Add butter.  Heat on medium, stirring constantly until sauce is thickened.  Set aside to cool. 
 

2- In a bowl, combine chopped chicken, cracker crumbs, onion salt, pepper, and egg.   

 
3- Add one cup of the cream sauce. 

 

4- Chill mixture, then shape into 8 patties. 

 

5- Roll patties in bread crumbs. 

 

6- Fry patties in hot oil, about 375°, until golden brown. 

 

Serve with cheese sauce, below. 


Cheese Sauce

Cream sauce from above
½ cup milk

8 oz cheese

 
1- Blend ½ cup milk with remaining cream sauce.  Heat, but do not boil. 

2- Add cheese into hot cream sauce, stirring until melted. 

3- Spoon cheese sauce over chicken patties. 

 
Special Notes on Chicken Patties

I’ve only had the cheese sauce one time, and for me it just distracted from the marvelous taste of the chicken patties.  Aunt Lynette never made it for the family dinner chicken patties either. 

I doubled the recipe for the chicken patties and used all the cream sauce in making the patties.  That means keeping the butter, milk, and flour the same, and doubling everything else.  My patties were a little “wet”, so I wound up adding a few more cracker crumbs.  Next time I will measure the sauce, use two cups, and throw any excess away.