Let's Dish With Linda Lou

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Broccoli Rice Casserole

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My Broccoli Rice Casserole is a great side dish, wonderful for the holidays, and perfect for family get-togethers.

I’m using a quick-cooking long-grain white (Basmati) rice because it’s my favorite. You could definitely substitute short-grain rice like Arborio which also would be delicious, it’s a personal preference. I’m also using frozen broccoli florets for this dish.

Most Broccoli Rice Casserole recipes call for sour cream, here I’m substituting Mascarpone cheese because whenever I can add Mascarpone to dishes, sweet or savory, I do.

One other option I’ve added to this recipe is to add a light sprinkling of breadcrumbs over the top of this dish, totally up to you. Let’s get started.

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Basmati Rice

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Tuscan Soup (6)

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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Breadcrumbs

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Equipment: 1 (2-quart) casserole dish, 1 (3-quart) saucepot, colander, 1 rimmed baking sheet pan, aluminum foil, medium-size mixing bowl, large mixing bowl, chef’s knife

Note: One bag of rice makes about 2 cups of cooked rice. I made both bags of rice to ensure I’d have 2 cups of cooked rice.

Ingredients:
1 pound (16 ounces) of frozen broccoli florets, thawed, cut into bite-size pieces
2 cups of long-grain white rice, parboiled (Basmati, Success Boil-in-a-bag)
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced (substitute short-grain rice, Arborio rice)
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of butter, unsalted, extra butter for greasing baking dish
1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
2 cups of chicken broth/stock, reduced-sodium or unsalted (substitute vegetarian broth)
2 cups of whole milk (substitute 2%)
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons of sweet paprika
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of dried parsley flakes
2/3 cup of Mascarpone cheese, room temperature (substitute sour cream)
1 cup (8 ounces) of mild Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese mix (substitute sharp cheddar)

Topping: optional
Combine
1/4 cup each of seasoned Italian breadcrumbs and Panko
2 tablespoons of finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley for topping (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Start by buttering the baking dish and placing it onto a rimmed baking sheet pan. Fill a large pot with water. Submerge the 2 bags of quick-cooking rice. Bring up to a boil, add a pinch of salt, cook the rice, according to box directions, only half the time, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a pair of tongs, remove the 2 bags, allow the water to drain, open, and dump the parboiled rice into a medium-size mixing bowl. To the same pot of hot boiling water add the broccoli, stir, for 1 minute, drain into a colander, transfer to a large mixing bowl, set aside.

In the same pot, add the butter, onions, and garlic and sweat them for a few minutes or until translucent (you don’t need to develop any color)n add the flour, stir it all in for a minute then add the milk and stock. Whisk well to get rid of any flour lumps and simmer while stirring the whole time until the mixture thickens.

Add the seasonings, whisk them in to combine really well, then add the 2/3 of the cheese and Mascarpone cheese followed by the partially cooked and drained rice and broccoli.

Give everything a big stir (at this point the mixture is runny and that’s exactly what you want because the rice will soak up the sauce as it cooks) pour into the buttered baking dish, cover with foil. Transfer to the oven and cook for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove the foil, sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese (this would be the time to add the seasoned breadcrumb mixture over the top if desired) place back into the oven, and cook uncovered for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

Let rest for about 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot. There you have it my Broccoli Rice Casserole.

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Arroz con Pollo

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Arroz con Pollo (chicken and rice) is a favorite in our house. I always have to make a big batch because Steve has no problem having this for dinner two nights in a row he loves it so much. I’m going to be using a super large braising pot for this recipe, if you don’t have one, a large Dutch oven works just fine, all you need to do is to brown the chicken off in two batches.

The traditional Cuban dish is made with short-grain white rice like Arborio, I prefer long-grain white rice. Basmati rice is what I’m using today.

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White Wine And Unsalted Chicken Broth

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Bay Leaves

Saffron

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Yields: 4 to 6 servings
Equipment: 1 (10-quart) large braising pot, tongs, dry measuring cups, paring knife, 1 rimmed baking sheet pan

Ingredients:
10 bone-in chicken thighs, skins removed
1/2 cup of good olive oil
2 cup of frozen peas thawed
2 (8-ounce) bags of mini sweet peppers, tops removed, seeded, and sliced into rings
1 (15-ounce) bag of frozen peas, thawed
1 large Spanish onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of dry white wine, room temperature (Chardonnay)
1 small pinch of saffron
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons of ground Tumeric
1 1/2 teaspoons of sweet paprika
1 1/2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups of long-grain white rice, Basmati rice (rinsed really well, see my notes)
1 1/2 quarts of chicken stock, unsalted
1/4 cup of Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Directions:
Begin by prepping the garlic, onions, and peppers, set aside.
Next, remove the skin from the chicken thighs and any extra fat, transfer to a rimmed baking sheet pan, set aside.

Add 1 cup of room temperature dry white wine to a measuring cup along with a pinch of saffron, give a whisk to combine, and set aside.

Season both sides of the chicken with Tumeric, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper.

In a large heavy-bottom pot, add olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, arrange the chicken thighs in the pot smooth side down first. Do not touch or move the thighs for at least 4 to 5 minutes. You’ll know it’s time to flip them when they easily release, from the pot, on their own leaving no chicken stuck to the bottom. Flip the thighs and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes.

While the second side is browning, add the dried oregano into the palm of your hand, rub your palms together as you add the oregano evenly over the chicken. This process allows the oregano to release its oils and become fragrant. Don’t worry if the chicken is not completely cooked, they will finish cooking during the braising process. Go ahead and the browned chicken thighs back to the baking sheet pan, set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the diced onions, sweet peppers, and garlic, season with Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Stirring frequently, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour in the wine/saffron mixture. Using a wooden spoon, scrape all the bits of the bottom of the pot until clean. Continue stirring, cook until the wine is almost completely evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes.

Return the chicken thighs back to the pot. Sprinkle the sweet paprika evenly over the top of all the chicken. Add the bay leaves, rice, and remaining chicken stock, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer (reduce heat to medium-low), cover, and cook for about 30 minutes, rice is cooked through and the chicken (internal temperature reads 165-degrees F.) is fall-off-the-bone tender.

Uncover, add the peas and garnish with finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley.

To Serve: Spoon in the rice mixture, first, into the bottom of a porcelain serving bowl, top with two chicken thighs, finish with a little more Italian parsley. Serve hot.

.Notes: Fill a large mixing bowl with cold water. Add the rice. Stirring occasionally, allow any starch from the rice to release into the water. Rinse a second time or until the water remains clear. This will ensure the rice won’t get clumpy in the finished dish.

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Chicken Fajita Quesadillas

Chicken Quesadillas (2)

My Chicken Fajita Quesadillas are a combination of two delicious Tex-Mex favorites. I love Fajitas, and Quesadillas so why not combine the two. I’m also going to be doing the quesadillas two ways, one, using a grill-press and two, without the grill-press.

Rice also is one of my favorite side dishes and goes really well with this dish. I’m taking a little help from the grocery store on this one, I’m using a quick-cooking Basmati rice along with a few other bold and flavorful ingredients that will make my Tex-Mex Rice super delicious.

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Fajita Spice Blend

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Chicken Broth

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Frezno Chili

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Cast Iron Grill Press

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Prep Time: 10 minutes, (prep can be done while the chicken is poaching)
Cook Time: 45 to 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yields: 6 Quesadillas
Equipment: 1 (12-inch) sauté pan, cast iron grill press, 1 (4-quart) saucepan with lid, plastic cutting board, 2 bowls, large mixing bowl, 2 rimmed baking sheet pans

Ingredients For Fajita Spice Blend:
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Directions For Fajita Spice Blend:
In a mixing bowl combine all the ingredients together. Store in an air-tight container in a cool dry place.

Note: If you prefer the tortillas just warmed up and not pressed, you can warm the tortillas up in the microwave. On a microwave-safe plate, wrap up 2 tortillas in a couple of sheets of damp paper towels. Heat anywhere between 30 to 60 seconds.

Ingredients For Poached Chicken:
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1-quart unsalted chicken broth
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 sprigs of fresh thyme

Ingredients For Chicken Quesadillas:
2 tablespoons of Canola oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (if making vegetarian, substitute mushrooms)
1 large onion, sliced into thin half-moons
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 green bell pepper, julienned
1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Fresno chili, seeded and minced
4 green onions, sliced thin (reserve green tops for garnish and sliced thinly on the bias)
1/4 cup of Fajita Seasoning blend
1 lime, juiced
1/2 cup of chicken broth, unsalted (if making vegetarian, substitute water or vegetable broth)
1/4 cup of fresh Pico de Gallo, medium (reserve more for garnish)
2 (8-ounce) packages of shredded Mexican cheese (substitute grated Monterey Jack and/or Queso Freso)
1 bunch of fresh cilantro, finely chopped, (reserve some for garnish and 2 tablespoons for the Mexican-style rice)
lime wedges for garnish, optional
1 (20-ounce) package of 10″ large flour tortillas, (8-count)
Non-stick cooking spray

Ingredients For Mexican-Style Rice:
3 cups of cooked Basmati rice, (Success, Boil-in-Bag)
1 (14.5-ounce) can of fire-roasted tomatoes, drained
1 (10-ounce) can of Steam Crisp Southwest-Style corn, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons of Pico de Gallo
2 limes, zested
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, (1 juicy lime)
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of cilantro, chopped
Green onion tops for garnish

Directions For Poaching Chicken:
Place the chicken in a single layer, thyme, smashed garlic, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper into the saucepot. Pour 1-quart of unsalted chicken broth to cover the chicken by an inch. Turn the heat to medium-high, bring to a boil. You’ll see some white scummy foam collecting on the surface as the water comes to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer, cover, cook. As soon as the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and let the chicken simmer. Begin checking the chicken after 8 minutes. It’s done when opaque through the middle and an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the meat registers 165-degrees F. Chicken will typically finish cooking in 10 to 15 minutes depending on the thickness of the meat.

While the chicken is poaching, cook the rice 8 to 10 minutes then drain really well. Slice onions into half-moon slivers, julienne the peppers, mince the garlic, seed and mince the Fresno chili, and slice the green onions reserving the tops.

In a large mixing bowl add the cooked Basmati rice, drained corn medley (Southwest-style), drained fire-roasted tomatoes, Pico de Gallo, green onion tops, Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, chopped cilantro, and lime juice. Mix to combine.

Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid to a plate discarding the poaching liquid. On a plastic cutting board, using two forks, shred all the chicken and transfer to a large plate.

Directions For Quesadillas:
In a large sauté pan heat the Canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, and minced chili to the pan. Sauté for 2 minutes just until hot. Next, add the sliced green onion (the white parts) and minced garlic cook for 1 minute more.

Add the cooked shredded chicken into the pan, the fajita seasoning blend, and unsalted chicken broth, stir to combine. Turn the heat to medium, add the Pico de Gallo and fresh lime juice, simmer and stir for another 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the fajita filling into two bowls, equally divided. Each bowl of fajita filling will make 4 quesadillas.

Note: If you don’t want to make all eight at one time, transfer the fajita filling in an airtight container and store in the frig up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 200-degrees F.

Spray one side of a tortilla with non-stick cooking spray. Place the tortilla, sprayed side down into the same sauté pan set on medium-low heat, sprinkle an even layer of the shredded cheese onto the whole tortilla then top half of the tortilla with the cooked chicken fajita mixture. Fold the other half of the tortilla over placing the grill press on top. Cook, flipping once, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Repeat the process using all the remaining fajita filling.

Note: Place the finished quesadillas, on a sheet pan, in the oven to keep warm while you’re making the remaining ones.

Slice the Chicken Fajita Quesadillas into wedges. Top with shredded cheese, Pico de Gallo, and finely chopped cilantro. Serve with a side of the Mexican-style rice and garnish with some cilantro and lime wedges.

For Vegetarian Quesadillas: Follow the recipe leaving out the chicken substituting mushrooms or Tofu. The only other change would be to substitute water or vegetable broth for the chicken broth.

Tex-Mex Rice

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