When Your 1960’s Casserole is Calling – Old Fashioned Chicken Noodle Casserole

I haven’t done a whole lot of cooking lately as I get caught up in a few things one is my crafts, whether I am crocheting or doing a variety of arts and crafts and the other is computer gaming. Even at my age I love computer gaming and my current obsession is Farm Together. If you are a computer game lover you understand how it is easy to get sucked down into the proverbial “Rabbit Hole” where hours can just whiz by. So I haven’t made much time for cooking other than fast easy meals. So last week we purchased a rotisserie chicken and from it I made a basic pot of soup with chicken and tortellini and with the remaining chicken I made a chicken noodle casserole my mom used to make. It’s nothing special other than 1960’s comfort food recipe so here it is, it does use what some people refer to as the “dreaded canned soup” but it wouldn’t be mom’s casserole without it. It’s an easy meal for when you want something other than burgers and gets you back to what else you would rather be doing.

My mom’s Chicken Noodle Casserole recipe

Mom’s Chicken Noodle Casserole Recipe

This is the basic recipe I always use. All my measurements are approximate I adjust as I go along, never seem to make it the same way twice.

2 (10 3/4 ounce) can Campbell’s Cream of Chicken and Herb soup (I some times mix and match the cream of chicken soup with cream of celery soup or cream of mushroom – use what ever you either have on hand or you can choose what you like) 

1 soup can of milk 

10 oz pkg frozen peas and and or carrots or mixed vegetables

1 1/2 to 2 Cups leftover cooked chicken

1 pkg (16 oz) medium or wide egg noodles – cooked

Few dashes of Worcestershire sauce to taste (optional)

1 small can of sliced mushrooms, drained (optional)

½ cup dry breadcrumbs 

4 tablespoons butter, melted 

Stir soup, milk, peas & carrots, chicken, Worcestershire sauce and noodles together. Put in a lightly greased 9×13 casserole dish. (You can use Pam spray for this). Mix bread crumbs with melted butter in a cup and sprinkle over chicken mixture

Bake at 350°F for 30-40 minutes, until hot and bread crumbs are golden brown.

Happy Halloween – Bubble Pizza

Even though our children are grown and no longer living at home we enjoy Halloween. We decorate our front yard and look forward to the trick-or-treaters and seeing their costumes. This year however it may end up being a wash out as it has been raining all week and more predicted for today. So we will just roll with it and hope we can hand out most of the treats we have.

So tonight I’ll be making Bubble Pizza. It’s a quick easy version of pizza and can be lots of fun when you add your favorite toppings. Not sure who actually created the recipe but this is the version I adapted for our family. I make it all different ways and you can too. It can be made easily at home, great for a Friday night or family night not just for a holiday, Make several different versions if you have a small gathering or kids sleep-over.

Bubble Pizza

Servings: 8 

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef

1 (14-16 ounce) jar pizza sauce or favorite tomato sauce

Add about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of dry Oregano to the sauce if not using pizza sauce

1 or 2  packages Grands refrigerated buttermilk biscuit dough (depending how large you like your crust. (1 for a thinner crust, 2 for a thicker crust)

* Note – Toppings below are up to you and only suggested in the recipe – the possibilities are endless. You can also use your favorite cheese or cheese mixture.

1/4 pound sliced pepperoni sausage (optional)

1/2 onion, sliced and separated into rings

1 (10 ounce) can sliced black olives

1 (4.5 ounce) can sliced mushrooms

1 thinly sliced green pepper

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish or slightly larger. Place ground beef in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Stir in pepperoni (optional), and cook until browned. Drain excess fat. Stir in the pizza sauce. Remove from heat, and set aside.
  2. Cut biscuits into quarters, and place in the bottom of baking dish. Spread the meat/sauce mixture evenly over the biscuits. Sprinkle top with onion, olives and mushrooms, peppers, what ever you like.
  3. Bake uncovered in preheated oven for 25 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and top with shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until cheese is melted. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Veggie Bubble Pizza
Sausage & Mushroom Bubble Pizza with a thick crust (sort of a Sicilian Style pizza)

Savory Meat & Spinach Pie

“What should I make for dinner?” This usually happens when I know I have made the rounds in recent weeks that seems to cover all the bases. One of my go to recipes when this happens is I like to take any meat I may have leftover and turn it in to a savory meat and spinach pie. This often happens after making a Virginia Ham but you really can use any favorite meat of your choice. This recipe can be easily modified to not only use ham but also ground meat, cooked chicken or sausage instead.

Riviera Egg Pie

 

Savory Meat and Spinach Pie

8 servings

Ingredients
3 tablespoons oil
1 large onion, diced (about 2 1/2 cups)
2 (9-inch) refrigerated, unbaked pie crusts (a 15-ounce package) or freshly made pie crusts
3/4 pound of your favorite ham, diced * You may want to substitute 1 lb of ground meat, cooked chicken or Italian sausage (a mix of sweet & hot sausage is great!)
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained well
1 cup grated Parmesan  ** You may want to add another of your favorite cheeses in place of the Parmesan like mozzarella or cheddar, I usually add 11/2-2 cups of shredded cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
4 eggs, plus 1 yolk, slightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1 egg white, lightly beaten
Directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent and just golden, about 8 minutes. *If you are planning to use fresh ground beef or sausage this would be the time to cook that meat as well. Remove from the heat, transfer to a large bowl, draining off any excess oil and allow to cool while preparing crust.

Remove 1 of the prepared pie crusts from the refrigerator, and place in an ungreased, 9-inch pie plate. Shape the crust to fit the form of the pan with about 1/2-inch overlap around the edge.

To the onion mixture, add the ham*, spinach, cheeses**, 4 eggs plus 1 yolk, salt, and pepper, and mix well. Spread mixture into prepared crust. Cover with remaining pie crust; crimp edges and score to vent. Brush with egg white and bake until golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes. Let stand at least 15 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.

Serve with a Tossed Green Salad and you have a wonderful meal.

Rainy Day Comfort Food – Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Mac and Cheese Casserole

Even though the calendar says it’s Spring there still may be a bit of a chill in the air and right now we have hit several weeks of on again off again rain.  So it’s still a bit early for starting to make those lighter warm-weather dishes and my old stand-by comfort foods still have a chance to be made once again. So why not make a dish of my homemade baked macaroni & cheese. I know there are many preferences on how people enjoy their mac & cheese, anywhere from the “blue-box” to a thick creamy sauce stirred with pasta and sometimes baked or served as is. I have made and enjoyed them with my family so you won’t get any arguments from me.

While I was growing up my mother made a baked macaroni and cheese casserole that we loved and I pretty much make it the same way. Over the years I made a slight revision to my mother’s recipe to make it just a bit richer by adding two eggs to the milk so it has a more custard-like consistency. I also on occasion add other cheeses to the shredded cheddar like Mozzarella or Fontina when I have it on hand to vary the taste and creaminess.

classic make and cheese

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

You will need: A deep casserole dish or pan

1 lb Elbow macaroni (sometimes I use shells or Cavatappi)

Block of a good quality Sharp or Mild cheddar cheese (about 4 cups shredded) I have on occasion mixed other cheeses to the cheddar like adding Mozzarella or Fontina when I had some left over.

1 Quart (4 cups) Whole Milk

2 Eggs,  beaten

1 Stick of Butter

Ground Black Pepper (as desired)

Directions:

Boil pasta according to the package in salted water, al dente works perfectly.

Drain.

Butter a deep casserole dish

Add the two beaten eggs to the quart of milk and mix well

Place a layer of macaroni (about 1/3), enough to cover the bottom, of the casserole dish. Dot with some butter.

Add a layer of the shredded cheese covering the macaroni.

Repeat these layers until you are out of pasta – the top layer is cheese. Don’t push down on the macaroni or it will make it too dense.

Slowly pour milk/egg mixture over the casserole until the milk almost reaches the top of the casserole dish.

Dot top layer of cheese with butter and ground pepper

Bake uncovered for about 50-60 minutes in a 350-degree oven depending on how crisp you like the top, just make sure the milk mixture has turned to a custard-like consistency when a knife is inserted into the casserole.

You’ll know it is finished cooking when the milk is no longer liquid and is custard-like.

Serves 6 – Cook time and servings are approximate.

A secret to switching up this recipe: If you want to push this recipe over the top my daughter sometimes adds BBQ pulled pork in between the layers when building the casserole. It’s fantastic!

 

A Chicken in my Sunday Pot and several ways to enjoy it!

With the rising cost of groceries these day chicken still seems to be a good bargain and when preparing a whole chicken you can get the most for your money.

So on a Sunday I sometimes will put up a pot of chicken soup to start. If the chicken is plump enough I can get two or three nice size meals depending what I make.

basic chicken stock

Basic Chicken Stock Recipe

1 Large chicken (about 4 lbs)
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped into quarters
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 medium stalks of celery, chopped into 1 inch pieces
8 sprigs parsley
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
4 1/2 quarts cold water

Rinse chicken under cold water and add the chicken to a large heavy stockpot. Add cold water to cover chicken. Bring the water slowly to a boil then reduce to a bare simmer. There should be very few gentle bubbles bursting on the surface of the water. Skim the surface of the stock to get rid of the impurities (foam).

Add the onions, carrots, celery, parsley, peppercorns to the pot. Continue to simmer the stock for 3 hours, skimming occasionally.

Carefully remove the whole chicken. Strain the stock through a paper towel or cheesecloth lined colander into a large bowl. Carefully discard the hot solids. Let cool. Place in refrigerator for 12 hours to allow fat to rise to the top. Skim fat off and discard. Divide between freezer safe containers. Freeze for up to 3 months if it lasts that long!

Yields 2 quarts

Once you have make the chicken stock there are lots of meal options that can be made: Once the chicken has cooled remove the chicken from the bones and divide. Separate and shred the breast and wing meat into two portions. Then remove the leg thigh meat making a third portion of chicken. Each portion should yield about 2 cups of meat enough for three meals. After a long day at work it’s nice to have one of these meals easy to prepare.

What to make now? Here are a few ideas.

Chicken Soup – your choice, you have two quarts of broth you can add vegetables, rice or noodles and one portion of the chicken or follow your favorite recipe.

chicken & biscuit dumplings

Chicken Pot Pie with 2 Crusts or Biscuits

This is old-fashioned, from scratch, comfort food. This has been a family favorite for years.

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
2 cups cut up cooked chicken
1 (10 ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables
2 prepared pie crusts (1 top crust and 1 bottom crust)

Heat butter over low heat until melted.

Blend in flour, onion, salt and pepper.

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth and bubbly.

Remove from heat.

Stir in broth and milk.

Heat to boiling; stirring constantly. Boil and stir one minute.

Stir in chicken and veggies. (Add in 1 – 2 diced cooked potatoes if you like!).

Reserve.

Line pie plate with prepared bottom crust.

Pour in filling.

Top with top crust. Cut slits in center to vent. Flute edges.

Cook uncovered in 425°F oven until crust is brown; approximately 30-35 minutes.

Note: If you don’t have any pie crust available add the filling to a greased 9″ x 13″ casserole and top with your favorite biscuits and bake for 20 minutes.

 

chicken ala king

Chicken ala King

This old fashion meal is total comfort food on a cold winter evening and when you have two cups of chicken available it’s so easy to prepare. Have you ever read about the history of Chicken ala King? Seems there are at least 5 different possibilities of where the recipe originated going as far back as the late 1800’s and it was served in some very prestigious restaurants and hotels. Who would have thought, right?

 Ingredients

1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped celery

1/3 cup butter, cubed

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup milk

2 cups cubed or shredded cooked chicken

2 tablespoons diced pimientos or small diced red cherry pepper

Directions

In a large skillet, sauté the mushrooms, onion and celery in butter until crisp-tender. Stir in flour and salt until blended. Gradually stir in broth and milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

Add chicken and pimientos; heat through. Serve over toast points, or biscuits or in puff pastry patty shells if you want something fancier.

Chicken Tetrazzini

Named after a famous Italian singer, Tetrazzini is an American dish made with diced poultry or seafood and mushroom in a butter/cream and Parmesan sauce flavored with wine or sherry. It is served hot over linguine, spaghetti, or some similarly thin pasta, garnished with parsley, and sometimes topped with  Parmesan cheese. Tetrazzini can be prepared as a baked noodle casserole, sometimes with steps taken to give it a browned crust.

chicken tetrazzini1

Ingredients:

1 (16 ounce) package uncooked thin spaghetti (not Angel Hair) or pasta of choice

1/2 cup butter & 2 Tb

2 TB Olive Oil

Add any of these items to taste – I have no exact measurements

Onions

Garlic

Mushrooms

1 10 oz. box of Frozen Peas or Peas & Carrots (optional)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3 cups chicken broth & 2 cups milk

1 2/3 cups grated Parmesan cheese

4 cups chopped cooked chicken

Handful of chopped parsley

Season to taste, herbs etc.

Butter bread crumbs to top the casserole if you like.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a medium baking dish.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain, and place in the prepared baking dish.

Melt 2 Tablespoons butter and olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

At this point I sauté the onion, garlic, mushrooms. Remove from pan and set on the side.

Melt 1/2 cup butter in same pan over medium heat.

Stir in flour, pan cook so flour cooks but is not brown

Mix in chicken broth and milk. Cook and stir until the mixture comes to a boil. Stir in about 1 1/3 cups Parmesan cheese, and remove from heat.

Add onion, garlic mushroom mix to the sauce and fold in. Add chopped chicken, parsley or any frozen vegetable you are using

Mix chicken sauce mixture with cooked spaghetti and put into a greased 9 x 13 casserole.

chicken croquettes my

Chicken Croquettes

Easy-to-make chicken croquettes. These croquettes freeze well. This one needs a bit of pre-planning as the croquette mixture needs time to chill in the refrigerator.

Cone shape is traditional for croquettes, but I have made patty shaped ones that are just as wonderful. Try adding some chopped mushrooms too

Ingredients

2 cups roasted chicken, shredded

1 (10 1/2 ounce) cans condensed cream of chicken soup or cream of celery

1/4 cup milk

1 (6 ounce) box chicken stuffing mix

1 large egg, slightly beaten

½ of a small onion, chopped fine

1 stalk of celery, chopped fine

breadcrumbs, for dredging

1/4 cup vegetable oil, for frying (may need more or less)

Sauce

1 (10 1/2 ounce) cans condensed cream of chicken soup

1 cup milk

Directions

Mix well the chicken, soup, stuffing mix, egg, onion, and celery. Refrigerate for 3 hours minimum.

Create a ‘log’ shape from about 3/4 cup of mixture. Gently drop onto the counter to flatten the bottom to form a traditional ‘cone’ shape. (about 3″ high, 2″ in diameter), or form patties for a simpler method.

Roll croquettes in bread crumbs. (At this point, you can freeze them for up to two months or cover them and place them in the fridge overnight to serve the following day. Just bring them to room temperature when ready to use if frying them).

Fry in about 1/4″ of oil in skillet over medium heat turning occasionally till golden brown on all sides and bottom, about 10-15 minutes. For a healthier version, they can be baked at 350F for about 25-30 min (from the freezer, bake 45-50 minutes).

MAKE THE SAUCE: In a small saucepan, stir the remaining can of soup with milk, stirring until warmed and creamy.

Still a chill in the air – Baked Ziti

Hopefully Spring will be around the corner. Mother’s nature is taking her sweet old time about it though. I figured I might as well get in one of my last cold weather meals this past week. I haven’t made Baked Ziti in quite a while. Baked Ziti isn’t a difficult dish to make and for a long time I just didn’t think the way I was making it was anything special. So some years back I had belonged to a recipe newsgroup (I’m dating myself here for those who remember those days of CompuServe and GEnie) Someone had shared a recipes that came from a New York City Italian restaurant. So I gave it a try and was really happy with it and have been using this recipes ever since.

IMG_1186

Restaurant Style Baked Ziti

Ingredients:

1 pound ziti
16 ounces ricotta cheese
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 cups marinara, (or meat sauce) homemade or jarred
16 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook ziti in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm, 10 to 12 minutes.
Drain well.
In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, eggs, 1/2 cup Parmesan or Romano
cheese, salt, pepper, and parsley.
Mix to blend well.
Toss cooked ziti with 2 cups sauce.
(At this point I also add sliced cooked sausage and/or meatballs
cut into pieces)

Place half the pasta in an deep 9″ x 13″baking dish or foil lasagna pan.
Top with the ricotta mixture and half the mozzarella cubes.
Top with remaining ziti, remaining 1 cup sauce, mozzarella cubes , and Parmesan or Romano cheese.
Bake until casserole is heated through and cheese is
bubbly and lightly browned on top, approx. 35 to 40 minutes.