Monthly Archives: December 2011

Creamy, easy rice casserole

Sometimes, there are just recipes that immediately make you think of home, fond childhood memories, and that warm, fuzzy feeling you got from warm food on a cold night. For me, one of those recipes is chicken divan, and I can’t even begin to tell you why.

I am not, unfortunately, making chicken divan for this recipe. Collective sigh… Tonight, I’m just hungry. Chicken divan takes about an hour to prepare, counting the cooking and shredding of chicken, and another forty-five minutes to bake. I didn’t have that kind of patience tonight, mostly because I worked all day and didn’t take a lunch. It does end up cramping my cooking style… This morning, however, I did have the foresight to take out some chicken thighs. But, when I got home, I knew above all else, I wanted something creamy, hot, and chicken divan-esque…so, I threw this recipe together. And good gracious, it was fantastic. Not chicken divan, but everything short of it.

This is cooked rice combined with condensed mushroom soup and some chopped veggies that creates a most luscious taste in your mouth…rice that melts in your mouth like a dream, surrounded by the creamy soup base that cooks up almost like a pudding. The vegetables studded throughout make it easy to eat and wonderful to look at. This is a great meal for kids, too, because the mild flavors work wonders with them. I only used carrots and onion in mine, but I can definitely see how chopped broccoli, cauliflower, peas, lima beans or even finely-chopped kale would be wolfed down in an instant by even a picky eater.

Pheasant’s Creamy Rice and Mushroom Casserole

1/2 c uncooked white rice

1 c water

1 10-oz can condensed cream of mushroom soup

chopped vegetables

garlic powder and cayenne to taste

Set your oven to 350°F (171°C.)

In a small sauce pot, combine the rice and water. Bring it to a boil, then lower to the barest simmer and allow it to cook. Once it’s finished, do not remove the lid. Simply remove the rice from the burner and set it aside; the steaming part is essential to separate grains and to avoid nasty, gluey rice.

While the rice is cooking, line a loaf pan (or double the recipe and use an 8×8 brownie pan) with tin foil. Spray the foil with Pam. Chop the vegetables into approximately uniform pieces and spread them in the pan. You don’t have to be pretty with it…they’ll get all mixed up anyway. Empty the entire can of soup mix into the baking pan and mix it with the vegetables. Empty the entire pan of rice into the baking pan and mix everything all together well, adding spices, tasting and correcting as you go.

Once it’s all mixed, pop that puppy in the oven for 30 minutes. Once finished, take it out and do your best not to eat it until somewhat more cooled. Serve up with your favorite protein, and enjoy!

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Filed under Pastas, grains and oatmeal

Mushroom soup!

Now, isn't that pretty?

I really hate heavy meals sometimes. There are just some times where a heavy meal packed with butter and calories isn’t going to cut it. That’s why I invented this delightful(ly light!) yet filling mushroom soup: for those nights when something light and beautiful is called for.

When I realized that I needed something light, yet filling and delicious, I couldn’t help but reach for mushrooms. They’re meaty and tender, yet light and airy. With a few tweaks to the usually butter- and cream-laden creamy mushroom soup recipes littering the internet, I came up with a creamy yet not cream-filled recipe for mushroom soup. It goes absolutely stunningly with some baguette slices topped with broiled Parmesan, or a little swirl of cream to fill out the flavors.

Pheasant’s Creamy Mushroom Soup

6 medium-large Crimini mushrooms OR 2 medium Portobellos, diced

6 button mushrooms, diced

1 rib of celery, sliced thinly

1/4 boiled, peeled potato (optional), diced

1/4 small yellow onion, diced finely

3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

4 large walnut halves, minced

3 tbsp soy sauce (Aloha brand highly suggested)

4 1/2 c hot (near boiling) beef broth

 

In a small soup pot, saute the celery, potato if you’re using it, onion, garlic and walnut together. When the onion and celery are beginning to brown, move everything to a food processor. In the same pot, add all the mushrooms and saute until golden and wilted. Add those as well to the food processor. Start the food processor on low and process the entire mass until smooth and thick. While the processor is running, add the soy sauce.

Transfer the final, smooth blend to the original soup pot. Set the burner to medium and add in the beef broth slowly, stirring to combine. Taste and adjust for spices.

M liked this soup…granted, she preferred it once I’d added at least a half cup of cream and a tablespoon or so of butter to her bowl. She really likes her creamy goodness. For the rest of us, though, a nice swirl of heavy cream on top after the soup is dished up will do just fine. And, ah, a few drops of truffle oil never hurt it, either…enjoy!

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Filed under Autumn, Seasonal, Soup

Pumpkin-oat Breakfast Brûlée (ramekins, part III)

Last night was full of nice things, pheasants, but it was also full of Thai food. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Thai food. I love it a little too much, if you know what I mean. And after nights of indulging like that, I enjoy nothing more than waking up and preparing a breakfast that is filling, light in calories, and simple, both in flavor and preparation.

With that in mind, I woke up and stared at the surplus of baked pumpkin we have sitting around and decided to whip up some pumpkin oat cakes, with a little touch of brûlée. It’s tasty, good for you, and fun to make! Little kids will love this recipe, I’m sure, topped with a little maple syrup and cream. Served as a dessert with some of my special hot cocoa (recipe to come) it would also make for a great dessert!

Pheasant’s Pumpkin-Oat Breakfast Brûlée

1 c pumpkin puree

4 tbsp oats, divided

butter to coat

1/2 tsp sugar

In a food processor or spice grinder, grind the dried oats until they form a flour. Lightly butter two ramekins and, using about 1/4 of the oat flour, dust them to coat. Move the remaining flour to a bowl and mix in the pumpkin puree. Divide the mixture bewteen the ramekins to bake, at 350°F (177°C) for 10 minutes.

Once the cakes are done, sprinkle sugar over the cakes and, using a brûlée torch or your broiler, melt the sugar until a thin crust forms. Let cool, and enjoy!

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Filed under Autumn, Baking, Pastas, grains and oatmeal, Seasonal