Sunday, May 10, 2015

Spanish Rice Casserole-Secret Recipe Club

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day, and now it is time for this month's Secret Recipe Club post.  I cannot even begin to express how thrilled I was when I received this month’s assignment.  Miz Helen's Country Cottage is one of my favorite blogs, and she is one of my blogging heroes.  I have subscribed to her blog for a number of years.  When I saw she was a blogger of a “certain age”, I thought maybe, me at my age,  could be a blogger, too.  She also cooks “down home” comfort food, just the kind I like.  Two great features of her blog are her weekly "What's for Dinner Next Week" post and her "Full Plate Thursday"  link-up.

I have used many of her recipes such as Spicy Cranberry Coffeecake and Slow Cooker Bar B Que Pork Roast.  My printed-out pile of “to try" recipes from her site is at least a half inch high.  It was very difficult to choose a recipe for this post as there were so many I wanted to do.

I finally settled on Spanish Rice Casserole for several reasons.  I like rice a lot, hubby not so much.  He was going to be out of town so I thought that was a chance to make something that only I liked.  We were gifted with a beef quarter for Christmas so I have a lot of good ground beef on hand.  The recipe made a lot so I could stick some of the casserole in the freezer for future use.

I made three slight changes to the recipe.  My ground beef is put up in 1 1/2 lb. packages, so I used that amount instead to the 2 lbs. Miz Helen used.  I don’t care for green peppers so used red peppers instead.  I always have Mexican Blend grated cheese on hand so I used that instead of the cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese called for in the recipe.  I like to put a dollop of sour cream on top of my rice and serve it with corn chips.  Next time I make this, I think I will add a small can of green chilies to replace the green color I lost when omitting the green pepper.  Boy, was this ever good.  I am so glad that I am going to have some of this available in the freezer to take care of my Spanish Rice cravings.  This makes lots so would be a great dish to take to a party or potluck.  Thanks, Miz Helen for sharing one of your great recipes.

Spanish Rice Casserole
Miz Helen's Country Cottage
2 lbs. ground chunk (I used 1 1/2 lbs.)
1 T. olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 green pepper, chopped (I used a red one)
1 1/2 t. cumin
1 1/2 t. chili powder
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
4 c. rice
1 (10 oz.) can tomatoes and green chilies (such as Rotel)
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
4 c. chicken broth
1 c. sharp cheddar, shredded
1 c. pepper jack, shredded (I used shredded Mexican Blend cheese for the two cheeses)

Brown ground beef in a heavy, oven-proof Dutch oven.  Remove ground beef and drain if necessary.  Add olive oil to Dutch oven, heat and add the onion, garlic, and green or red pepper.  Cook until the onion is clear.  Add the cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper.  Stir and cook for about a minute.  Add the rice and cook and stir until the rice is just beginning to turn brown.  Add the tomatoes, tomatoes and green chilies and tomato sauce.  Add the chicken broth, pouring a little of the chicken broth into the tomato sauce can to clean it out before adding to the rice mixture.  Return the ground beef to the Dutch oven.  Bring the mixture to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring several times to keep mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Remove cover and add the cheese to the top of the mixture.  Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the rice is fully cooked.  (Note:  because I was going to freeze the Spanish Rice, I did not add the cheese before baking.  I covered the mixture and will add cheese to the individual servings as I heat them.)  There wasn’t an amount of servings listed, but I am guessing this will serve at least 10-12.

To freeze individual servings of this recipe I put 1  1/2 cups of the casserole into zip-top sandwich bags and flattened them out.  I placed them flat on a jelly-roll pan to freeze so I could stack the bags inside a gallon freezer bag and stack them in the freezer to save space.

To learn how you can join in the Secret Recipe Club fun, visit the membership information page.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Rhubarb Curd-Secret Recipe Club

This month my Secret Recipe Club assignment was Culinary Adventures with Camilla which is the blog written by our group B hostess, Camilla Mann.  What a delightful blog this is.  I especially enjoyed the posts where her boys are cooking.

Camilla started her blog in 2009  so there were many, many recipes to choose from.  There are numerous recipes that I want to try and some I did.  I made the Cabbage Steaks and enjoyed them very much.  Some of the many recipes I have on my list to make are:  Homemade Saltine Crackers, Honey Soy Drumettes, Snickerdoodle Buttermilk Muffins, and Smoldering Pants Brussels Sprouts.  You need to go read the post about that last one.

The recipe I picked to share today is Rhubarb Curd.  There are several reasons that I chose this recipe, number one being that I love rhubarb and can hardly wait until it is ready each spring.  I also love to find and share unique recipes that I believe deserve a wider audience.

Camilla used fresh rhubarb.  Unfortunately, it’s a bit too early where I live to get fresh so I used some of my frozen rhubarb.  This worked out OK, although I am sure fresh would be a bit better.  The only change I would make if I use frozen rhubarb next time will be to reduce the amount of water to 1/4 cup as my curd was not quite as stiff asI think it should be.  Camilla said that her curd did not keep its pink color.  Mine came out a very pale pink so I think that it depends on the variety of rhubarb that you use.  Unfortunately, unless you grow your own, you have no control over the variety of rhubarb that is available for purchase.  If you wanted it more pink, I suppose that you could add some red food color.

A couple of tips that may help in making this recipe:  grease your measuring cup when measuring the honey and separate the eggs while they are cold.  I use an egg separator as I can let the egg sit until all of the white has dripped off.

The curd was delicious.  I added a couple of tablespoons of sugar to reduce the tartness to my taste.  I see so many uses for this.  It can be used as a spread for bread, a topping for cake, ice cream or pudding, and it is good just spooned out of the jar.  Right now I am enjoying it over cream cheese spread on English muffins.  Since I got 3 cups curd when I made this, I am going to put some in the freezer and see how it freezes.  Do make this recipe, you won’t be sorry.

Thanks, Camilla, for a great addition to my recipe collection.  This is going on my list of ideas for gifts to make for Christmas.

Rhubarb Curd
from Camilla’s Culinary Adventures
6 c. rhubarb, fresh or frozen.
1/2 c. water (reduce to 1/4 c. if using frozen rhubarb)
zest from 1 lemon
1/3 c. honey
1/2 c. powdered sugar (a bit more if desired to you taste)
1/2 c. butter
8 egg yolks
juice from the lemon

In a medium saucepan, combine rhubarb, water, lemon zest and honey.  Cook gently over medium heat until rhubarb has softened, stirring often.  Meanwhile, in another saucepan, combine powdered sugar, butter and lemon.  Heat until the butter is melted and bring to a boil.  In a small bowl, beat the eggs very well.  Very slowly add 1/3 of the butter/sugar/juice mixture to the eggs while beating rapidly.  Now slowly add the egg mixture into the butter/sugar/juice mixture, beating rapidly.  Continue beating over medium heat (do not let it boil) until mixture thickens.  Add the rhubarb mixture to the yolk mixture and cook until thickened.  Spoon into clean container and store in the refrigerator.  I got about 3 cups curd.

Check out the links below to see what other group B bloggers made this month.  If you would like to join in the fun, you can find details here.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Crispy Polenta-Crusted Chicken-Secret Recipe Club

For this month’s Secret Recipe Club post, I have the privilege of sharing the UK-based blog Searching for Spice.  Corina is the busy mom of two young children so many of her recipes are quick and easy.

With this blog being a UK blog, most of the recipes use metric measurements which makes conversion to imperial measurements a bit challenging.  I did a Google search for conversion help and found this page on Epicurious which give the math to make the conversion, but I still came out with some strange results.  I really want to make the Sticky Toffee Pudding recipe, but haven’t  yet because of that.  Luckily, some of Corina’s recipes are made with imperial measurements, such as the Microwave Chocolate Mug Cake, which I have made several times.  Both hubby and I have enjoyed this dessert very much.  It is the perfect thing when you want something sweet and chocolaty, and you want it Now!

My post, today, however, is for the Crispy Polenta Crusted Chicken.  We eat a lot of chicken so I am always looking for new ideas for what to do with it.  It also just so happened that there was a recent sale of boneless, skinless chicken breasts so I stocked up.  I also had dry polenta on hand.

I agree with Corina and liked the fact that this chicken recipe produced a nice crisp crust without the messiness of many coated chicken recipes.  The recipe is made up of only four simple ingredients-chicken breasts, buttermilk, dry polenta and a seasoning of your choice.

I ended up sort of guesstimating on the amount of buttermilk and think I needed twice the amount of polenta than in the original recipe to completely coat the amount of chicken that I used.  I did brush the foil-lined baking pan with olive oil and put it in the preheated oven for about 5 minutes while I coated the chicken.  I forgot the drizzle of olive oil over the top of the chicken before baking, but it turned out nice and crispy anyway
The polenta gave the chicken a little undercurrent of corn flavor which I really liked.  This recipe will be going in my regular rotation of chicken recipes.

Be sure to visit Searching for Spice.  There are lovely recipes there.

Crispy Polenta-Crusted Chicken
1 1/4 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch thick chicken fingers
1/2 c. buttermilk (Corina used 100 ml)
1 c. dry polenta (Cornia used 100 g)
1 t. your favorite seasoning (Corina used 1/2 t.) (I used a French Fry Seasoning from Big Lots)
olive oil

Place chicken breast fingers in a zip-top bag.  Add buttermilk and massage bag to coat chicken pieces evenly.  Marinate at least 30 minutes in the fridge, turning bag over after 15 minutes.  Can be marinated longer if desired.  Mix the polenta and seasoning in a shallow pie pan.  Line a jelly-roll or cookie sheet with foil and brush with olive oil.  Place in a 350 degree oven while coating chicken.  Remove chicken pieces from bag, letting excess buttermilk drip off.  Roll chicken in polenta, covering the surface evenly.  Set aside on a sheet of wax paper.  When chicken pieces are all coated, remove heated pan from oven and place chicken on it.  Drizzle olive oil over the chicken.  Return to oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, turning chicken once.  Remove from pan and serve with your favorite dripping sauce if desired.  Makes 2 to 3 servings.

You can read what Secret Recipe Club is all about here.

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