Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Where You Taste The Love

Broccoli, Chicken, And Rice Casserole

2016-04-20 20.49.53

What a great weeknight meal!  Casseroles are a magical thing. Everything baking together in one dish. Hot and bubbly, with a golden brown cheesy top. What’s not to love about that?  My cheesy chicken, broccoli, and rice casserole will set you on the path to “Comfort Town”.

Not as traditional as most of the chicken, broccoli, and rice casseroles you may have encountered, I like adding mushrooms and a combination of a yellow and English white cheddar to this dish.

Why an English white cheddar you’re wondering? I’ve compared all kinds of white cheddar cheeses in the past, English white cheddar is the best.

I’m fortifying the flavor of my poached chicken for this dish. All that means is I’m using the poaching liquid to enhance the chicken flavor. This is my Broccoli, Chicken, And Rice Casserole.

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Parmesan Cheese

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Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Equipment:  1 (9 x 11 x 2) baking dish

Ingredients:
1 quart of unsalted chicken broth (poaching liquid)
4 boneless- skinless chicken breasts

1 tablespoon of good olive oil
1 cup diced onions
1 pint of cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon of a Fresno chili (approx. 1/2 a Fresno chili, seeded and minced)
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 1/2 cups of cooked white rice (Success, boil-n-bag rice, 2 packets, substitute brown rice)
2 1/2 cups of thawed frozen broccoli florets, roughly chopped
3 cups of cooked diced chicken (4 boneless skinless chicken breasts)

Cheese Sauce:
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons for the topping
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (8-ounces) Philadelphia Whipped original cream cheese, room temperature (or substitute 1 cup sour cream)
2 1/2 cups of whole milk, heated
1 3/4 cups of grated English white cheddar
1/4 cup of grated yellow cheddar
2/3 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese, plus 4 tablespoons

Directions:
Spray a 9 x 11 x 2 baking dish with cooking spray.

Note: Make sure the frozen broccoli florets are completely thawed. Transfer the broccoli florets to a large plate lined with a paper towel and pat dry as much as possible. Transfer the florets to a cutting board and give them a rough chop. Place into a bowl and set aside.

In a large saucepot, over medium heat, add 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (in a single layer), dried thyme, Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Pour 1 quart of unsalted chicken broth, enough to cover the chicken. Once the liquid comes to a boil, turn down the heat to a low simmer and cover. This process should take anywhere from 10-15 minutes.

While the chicken is poaching, start with the boil-in-a-bag rice. Follow the instructions on the box. Once the rice and water are brought to a boil, boil for 8-10 minutes, remove the rice from the bag and transfer to a large bowl, set aside.

The chicken should be opaque in color and have an internal temperature of 165-degrees. Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid and transfer to a plate. Next, dice the chicken into 1-inch cubes. Transfer the diced chicken to a bowl and set aside.

Next, in a large sautè pan on medium heat, add the olive oil. Add the diced onions, cook 3-4 minutes, until soft and translucent. To the onions add the sliced mushrooms, minced Fresno chili, and dried thyme, cook for another 4-6 minutes. Continue sautèeing until all the liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are nice and brown. This is the time to add the Kosher salt to the pan, stir through. Finally, add the broccoli florets and continue to cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Transfer the broccoli, mushroom, and onion mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add to that the cooked rice and diced (cooked) chicken. Toss all the ingredients together and set aside for the time being.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.

Directions For Cheese Sauce:
In a 3-quart saucepan,  over medium heat, melt the butter. Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter. Add 1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt and whisk. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until the mixture turns blonde in color. Start by slowly whisking the hot milk in about 3 tablespoons at a time, until smooth and combined. Continue by slowly adding the remaining hot milk and whisking until the sauce thickens.

Bring to a boil then turn the heat down to low, switch to a wooden spoon and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

First, add the cream cheese, stir until smooth and combined. Next, add the grated Parmesan, white, and yellow cheddar, again stir to combine. Transfer the cheese sauce to the large bowl containing the chicken and vegetables, mix to combine.

Pour into a 9 x 11 x 2 greased baking dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle 4 tablespoon of the grated Parmesan cheese over the top. Dice 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter into tiny cubes. Take the tiny cubes of butter and *DOT the top of the casserole.

Bake for 25 minutes or until completely heated through. Turn broiler to the ON position and cook another 3 to 5 minutes, until the top is golden brown. There you have it my Broccoli, Chicken, And Rice Casserole.

*DOT: a food process involving the placement of small bits (butter) and/or pieces of food to evenly distribute particles over the top that are to be melted or absorbed.

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Sea Scallops Two-Ways, Scallop Ceviche, And Scallop Gratin

2015-12-14 12.50.39

Every now and then I look back at a few of my past recipes and maybe give them a face-lift. I decided to do that here with the beautiful sea scallops.

Making two completely different dishes using this one ingredient. If you remember, my original Sea Scallop Gratin was made as an entrée. As delicious as that dish was, I wanted to tweak it slightly. This time both of my scallop dishes are appetizers, Sea Scallops Two Ways, Scallop Ceviche, And scallop Gratin.

They’re delicious, great for entertaining, and simple to make. The Ceviche is a gluten-free dish. If you choose to use a gluten-free Panko, the gratin can be too. The specific change I wanted to make is in how I used the topping for this gratin. In my original recipe, the topping totally covered the top of the scallops. Even though the topping is an essential part of this dish, I wanted the scallops to peek through a bit more, allowing them to caramelize on the top. It’s really about the balance between the topping and the scallops themselves.

Anyway, let’s talk about my fresh mango and cucumber ceviche. I’m putting my spin on a Peruvian style Ceviche. They have these large popcorn kernels in Peru that you just can’t seem to get here. I just bought some corn nuts! You’ve seen those salty large corn kernels they sell in convenience stores. I just sprinkle of few on top of each serving. This gives the Ceviche great texture and crunch.

For more of my recipe videos, search Always Home Cooked on YouTube.

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When you’re ready to work with sea scallops,  there is a side-muscle on each scallop that needs to be removed. You don’t want to eat it. The pictures above help to illustrate what I mean. You also want to always pat the scallops dry using a paper towel to remove any excess moisture before continuing on with your recipes.

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Olive Oil

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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Breadcrumbs

shallots

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Red Onion

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Frezno Chili

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Hot House Cucumber

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Mangos

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Limes

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Corn Nuts

Cilantro

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Marinating seafood in citrus is very common in Latin cuisine and a great way to experience fresh scallops. If you decide to make these two appetizers, start with the Ceviche. You need to get the scallops cleaned and quartered, and submerged, into the citrus marinade.

My Scallop Gratin is just as easy to make. I’ve made some slight changes from my original recipe. I found less to be more in the final presentation of the Scallop Gratin.

It doesn’t matter if you’re making them as a main course, using larger gratin dishes, or as an appetizer using smaller ones. The method is still the same. This time I’m not completely covering the scallops with the topping. I’m letting the scallops peek through the topping allowing them to caramelize. The balance between the two works.

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Scallop Gratin:
Prep Time: 10 to 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 to 13 minutes
Total Time: 28 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: 2 rimmed baking sheets pans, 6 small grain dishes

Note: Finely diced red onion or a finely diced shallot, either work perfectly in my Sea Scallop Gratin recipe.

Ingredients:
1 pound of cleaned, dried, and quartered sea scallops
6 tablespoons of dry white wine
6 large garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, finely minced (substitute 1/2 red onion, finely minced)
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, optional
2 tablespoons of fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
3 tablespoons of basil leaves, finely chopped
2 lemons, 1 lemon zested, 1 lemon cut into 6 wedges
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons of Pernod (anise-flavored liqueur)
2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 heaping cups of Panko (or gluten-free Panko) bread crumbs
6 tablespoons of olive oil

Direction s:
Preheat oven
to 425-degrees F.
Take 6 small gratin dishes, place on two baking sheets. Equally divided a pound of the cleaned, dried, and quartered scallops into each dish. Next, add one tablespoon of dry white wine to each of the dishes.

In a large bowl, add one stick of softened unsalted butter. To the softened butter add minced garlic, finely minced red onion (or minced shallots), red pepper flakes (optional), fresh finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped basil, lemon zest, fresh lemon juice, Pernod (anise-flavored liqueur), Kosher salt, black pepper, Panko (or gluten-free Panko) breadcrumbs, and olive oil. Mix all these ingredients together to make the topping.

Using a spoon, equally, divide the topping between the six gratin dishes. Do not completely cover the scallops. This will allow the scallops to caramelize on top.

Cook for 10 to 13 minutes. As soon as they come out of the oven, squeeze a wedge of fresh lemon juice over each one of the Scallop Gratins and serve immediately.

Scallop Ceviche:
Yields: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 3 1/2 to 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes

Ingredients:
1/2 pound of Sea Scallops, quartered
5 limes, juiced
1/2 a red onion, finely diced
1 Fresno chili, seeded and diced (substitute jalapeno)
1/2 an English (hothouse) cucumber, diced and seeded
2 fresh mangos, diced
2 avocados, sliced
1/2 cup of red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 cup of yellow bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 cup of orange bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 to 4 fresh cilantro leaves per glass
Corn nuts to garnish. 4 to 5 corn nuts per glass

Directions:
First, place the quartered scallops in a bowl (that has a lid to fit). Add the diced bell peppers, onions, jalapeno, Kosher salt, olive oil, and fresh lime juice to the bowl. Stir all the ingredients together. Make sure all the ingredients are submerged in the lime juice. Place the lid on and refrigerate for 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Every half hour goes in a stir the ingredients. Then press all the ingredients down into the lime juice so they’re completely submerged.  When the scallops are completely opaque in color, they are ready.

At this point, slice the avocado spritzing them with a little lime juice so they stay bright green. Next, dice the mango and cucumber. Have 4 glasses or whatever you choose to serve your ceviche in ready.  Take the Ceviche out of the frig. Using a spoon, place an equal amount of the scallops with the diced bell peppers, jalapenos, and onions in each glass.

Add to each one equally, the diced mango, and cucumber. Garnish with avocado, cilantro leaves, and corn nuts. Place the glasses on a sheet tray and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Pappardelle With Chicken Sausage Meatballs

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Thanks to my mom and grandmother, I’ve learned so much about the art of making great meatballs. The one important thing that they both told me was not to overwork the meat when adding in the flavorings. Well, keeping that in mind, I went one better. I came to the conclusion, that if you mix all the wet ingredients along with the spices first, then add in the meat, there was less likelihood of over mixing. This is my Pappardelle With Chicken Sausage Meatballs. 

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fresh basil

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Prep Time: 30 minutes (time includes making the meatballs and dicing the onions and garlic for the sauce)
Cook Time For Meatballs: 25 minutes
Cook Time For Tomato Sauce: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Yields: 22 golf-size meatballs
Equipment: 2 rimmed baking sheet pans lined with parchment paper, large 6-quart Dutch oven,6-quart saucepot,  2 large mixing bowls, colander, cookie-dough scoop, olive oil cooking spray

Ingredients For Meatballs:
olive oil cooking spray
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 pound of ground chicken
1/4 cup of fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup of fresh store-bought basil pesto (store-bought fresh pesto can be found in the refrigerated section where you find the fresh pasta and sauces)
1/4 cup of  Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of plain Panko bread crumbs
1/2 a cup of seasoned Italian bread crumbs
3 cloves of garlic, freshly grated
2 large eggs, beaten
5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup of Ricotta cheese, room temperature
1 cup of half-and-half (start with 3/4 cup until you get the consistency of wet sand)

Ingredients For Tomato Sauce:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 diced onion
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of light brown sugar
1 cup of unsalted chicken broth
1 (28-ounce) can of San Marzano whole tomatoes
1 (28-ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
1 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated for the pasta (reserve some for garnish)
1/4 cup of fresh basil, julienned

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
Start in a large mixing bowl, by adding all the ingredients that will flavor the meat, mix to combine. The mixture needs to have the consistency of wet sand as shown in the above picture.

In another large mixing bowl, containing the ground chicken (a mixture of dark and white meat) and sweet Italian sausage add the flavoring mixture. Use a fork to evenly distribute the flavoring mixture throughout the meat. It does take a minute, but it will ensure there’s no chance the meat will become compacted compared to if you were to use your hands to combine the ingredients.

To ensure the meatballs are the same size use a large cookie-dough scoop as seen in the above picture. This yielded about 22 golf-size ball meatballs. On two rimmed baking sheet pans lined with parchment paper lightly spray olive oil cooking spray. Scoop out the meatball mixture and roll them into golf-size meatballs. Arrange the meatballs at least 1 1/2 inches apart. Spray the tops of the meatballs with a little of the olive oil cooking spray to ensure they brown nicely. Bake for 25 minutes.

Tip: Use the cooking spray, (a light spritz) to lubricate the cookie-dough scoop every so often. This will ensure the easy release of the meat mixture.

In the meantime in a large saucepot over medium heat, add olive oil and diced onions. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions become translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.  To the onions, add the minced garlic, tomato paste, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Continue stirring, cook for another 1 to 2 minutes

Next, add the chicken broth. Let that come up to a bubble and simmer for a couple of minutes before adding the crushed and whole tomatoes. Using the back of a wooden spoon break up the whole tomatoes. Next, add brown sugar, stir to combine. Bring the sauce up to a bubble, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally.

Once the meatballs come out of the oven, transfer them to the sauce and let everything simmer together on medium-low heat for another 45 minutes. Remove from the heat add the fresh julienned basil, gently stir to combine. Cover to keep warm. After 45 minutes, start cooking the pasta.

In a large saucepot of boiling salted water drop the pasta.

I love to use Pappardelle for this dish. The wide ribbons of pasta have so much more surface area for the sauce to adhere to. Follow the cooking instructions. Drain the pasta really well.  Add a cup of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese into the bottom of a large mixing bowl tossing the cheese through the pasta, very gently, so all those ribbons get coated really well. Then add a couple of ladles full of the tomato sauce, using a pair of tongs toss to combine. What you are witnessing is the cheese sticking to the pasta and the sauce sticks to the cheese. Win-Win!

Finally, I finish with ladling the meatballs on top with a bit more sauce, and a little more cheese. Serve with some crusty cheese bread and garnish with fresh basil. This is my Pappardelle With Chicken Sausage Meatballs.

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