Tag Archives: cornstarch

Pheasant Breasts—Butter Chicken Style

Of all the dishes I’ve done with pheasant, I don’t think I’ve tried any slow cooker recipes, so here’s my first (and I finally added a Slow Cooker category). It cooks rather quickly, even in a slow cooker, at just 3-5 hours on low; I wouldn’t try it for one of those all-day recipes where you start it in the morning and go to work. I fear the tender little breasts would be tasteless and dry by the end of an entire day.

Thanks, Missy.

There are lots of recipes out there for butter chicken, but just a few elements tie them together:

  • Butter—there is no substitute for this, or you have to call the dish something else
  • Something creamy—yogurt, cream, or coconut milk
  • Tomato—fresh tomatoes, tomato paste, or thick tomato sauce
  • Spices—garam masala, curry powder or paste, ginger, chili powder, cumin

Easy and really tasty.

Pheasant Breasts—Butter Chicken Style

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 2 lbs pheasant breasts, cut in large cubes
  • 1 large or two medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 tablespoons butter; more for serving
  • 2 cups thick tomato sauce (see my roasted tomato sauce here)
  • 1 can coconut milk (I used full fat)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, mixed with a little of the coconut milk
  • Spices:
    • 2 teaspoons garam masala
    • 1 teaspoon red curry powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 4 teaspoons garlic paste or roasted garlic
  • 2 tablespoons ginger paste or 2 inches fresh ginger grated
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • Optional: cilantro, if you like it, for serving or stirred into the sauce
  1. Melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet and saute onions until translucent.
  2. Stir in spices, salt and pepper, garlic, and ginger, cooking until fragrant.
  3. Stir in tomato sauce, coconut milk and cornstarch/coconut milk mixture. Simmer until slightly thickened.
  4. Pour sauce over cubed pheasant in slow cooker. Cook on low for 3-4 hours, but not longer than 5 hours.

Serve with brown basmati rice and warm naan. Place a pat of butter on each serving for a little decadence.

Chocolate Cream Pie with Lactaid® Whole Milk

Lactaid® whole milk is new to me, but I’ve been trying to cook with it, mostly for things only my husband will eat that call for milk. It has more sugars than regular milk, and that can’t be good for me. So, I’ll be using it for chocolate desserts that don’t appeal to me, like this chocolate cream pie. I was concerned about whether it would set like a filling with regular milk. I tried it once, using tapioca starch for the thickening, but it would not set up at all, even though it seemed to thicken in the pan as I was cooking it. So I tried it again with the traditional cornstarch, and it came out fine, as you can see.

The recipe comes from my old Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cook Book (1961), p. 354. It has the option of using unsweetened baking chocolate or cocoa powder. I used the latter. I was out of granulated sugar, so I substituted powdered sugar 1:1, since the milk is sweeter than regular milk. The recipe reflects my choices.

Chocolate Cream Pie with Lactaid® Whole Milk

  • Servings: 1 9-inch pie
  • Difficulty: easy
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I made a pie crust from refrigerated dough and let it cool while I cooked the filling.

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

4 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 cup cocoa

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups Lactaid® whole milk

3 egg yolks, beaten

1 tablespoon butter

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

  1. Mix the powdered sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, and salt in a large saucepan.
  2. Slowly whisk in milk until all the cocoa is dissolved.
  3. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the filling thickens and boils. Boil for 1 minute.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat, and quickly whisk about half of the filling mixture into the egg yolks; then pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan and return to the heat.
  5. Boil the mixture for another minute, whisking constantly.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.
  7. Pour into baked pie shell and cool on counter or in refrigerator.

I hear that it’s very creamy and plenty sweet, even though powdered sugar is usually not a 1:1 substitute for granulated. It looks so good, I almost wish I liked chocolate.

Blueberry Oatmeal Bars

I was wanting a bar cookie with fresh fruit in it, since, after all, this is summer. I kind of knew that I wanted a crumbly top on the fruit, but I didn’t want to go through that mess of one recipe for the bottom crust and another for the filling and yet another for the top. I settled on a recipe for date bars from my old Betty Crocker cookbook, but made a few changes to use fresh blueberries, quite a difference from the thick date paste in the original recipe. I personally love oatmeal date bars, but they seem more like a fall treat to me.

The date bar uses one crumb or streusel mixture for both the top and bottom, pressing it into the dish for the bottom crust, but just sprinkling the rest of the mixture on top of the filling. I didn’t see any reason why I couldn’t do it with blueberries, but I wouldn’t be cooking them first, as you do with the dates. The blueberry version turned out just what I wanted, a sandy brown sugar top and bottom with the extra chew of oatmeal, and a juicy blueberry filling. I think they need to be refrigerated both for handling and because a chilled filling is nice in the summer. They can be eaten out of hand or with a fork.

Aside from using a blueberry filling, the only change I made to the crust was to use all butter, instead of a combination of butter and vegetable shortening.

Blueberry Oatmeal Bars

  • Servings: makes 24 2 inch squares
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from the “Date Bars” recipe in the Betty Crocker New Picture Cook Book (1961), p. 197.

Preheat oven to 400°; reduce to 375° after 10 minutes baking.

Butter a 9″ x 13″ baking dish.

Streusel crust:

3/4 cup butter at room temperature

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups rolled oats (not quick cooking)

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and brown sugar until blended.
  2. Add the dry ingredients, except oats, mixing until combined.
  3. Stir in oats. This will be a crumbly and what I would call a sandy mixture. Just make sure that the butter is evenly distributed.


2 pints fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried, stems removed

1/2 cup white sugar

1 generous tablespoon cornstarch

  1. Combine sugar and cornstarch.
  2. Stir in blueberries to coat.

Put it all together:

  1. Press half the streusel into the bottom of the buttered dish.
  2. Top with the sugared blueberries.
  3. Sprinkle the rest of the streusel over the blueberries.
  4. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 375° and continue baking for about 20 more minutes. The streusel should be browned and you should see some of the filling bubbling around the edges. I was concerned about using the baking recommendation of 400° for a full 30 minutes. In the original date bar recipe, the filling is cooked to a thick paste first and then cooled. In this recipe, you are cooking the filling in the bars. I was concerned that the streusel could brown too much before the filling was cooked. It’s possible that you could use the lower temperature for the entire time or for a longer time.

Cool on rack, then in refrigerator for about 10 minutes, before cutting.

What other fruits would you try in these bars? I think cherries would be good, if you could Tom Sawyer someone into doing the pitting.


Chicken and Creamy Avocado Pasta

No, it’s the dead of winter and not peak avocado time, but I picked up some ready-made guacamole for last weekend’s fish tacos, and only used one of the packages. It’s only 14° F outside today, so a bowl of warm creamy pasta seems like the right dish to curl up with for dinner. Even though the guacamole contains some traditional Mexican seasonings, like garlic and jalapeno peppers, it’s labeled as mild and will not turn the pasta into a Mexican pasta dish, if there is such a thing. Sour cream, another typical accompaniment to guacamole, some chopped tomatoes, and queso fresco will round out the pasta, which, in the end, is just a creamy warm past that no one would suspect has some Mexican connections.

I’m also, for a different texture in the final dish, deep frying the chicken cubes in a cornstarch coating.

Chicken and Creamy Avocado Pasta

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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This dish goes together quickly, and would be even easier if you already have some cooked chicken to add to the sauce.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cubed

1/3-1/2 cup of cornstarch, for coating chicken

salt & pepper to taste

canola oil, or your favorite oil for frying

1 cup prepared, mild guacamole—if using fresh avocado, you might want to season with garlic and other seasonings

1/2 cup sour cream

1 cup chicken stock

1 15oz can diced tomatoes, drained and rinsed or 1/2 cup fresh diced tomatoes

queso fresco cheese, crumbled

1/2 lb whole wheat farfalle pasta

Preparing the chicken:

  1. If frying the chicken, coat the cubes well with cornstarch and set aside. When ready to fry, add more cornstarch, if needed. The chicken should be well coated and dry.
  2. Fry in about 2 inches of oil at 350° for about 2-3 minutes or until golden brown, but not overcooked. Fry in batches, letting the oil come back to temperature between batches. I think I had about four batches.
  3. Set chicken aside to drain on paper towels, until ready to add to pasta.

Preparing the pasta and sauce:

  1. Boil the pasta of your choice as directed on package. I used a whole wheat pasta because we like the nutty taste, and because it has a lower glycemic index.
  2. In a large saute pan, combine guacamole, sour cream, and chicken stock. There is no need to thicken this sauce! Heat over low heat until it begins to bubble.
  3. Toss in pasta, fried chicken cubes, and diced tomatoes. Stir to combine and heat through for 1-2 minutes. Notice that I not only drained, but rinsed my canned tomatoes, because I didn’t want a pink sauce, or maybe red and green would make a brown sauce–yuk.
  4. Serve in bowls, garnished with crumbled cheese.

Frying the chicken was a nice choice that added an interesting texture and flavor to the dish. It would be interesting with some shredded, poached chicken as well.