I’m just back from a short spring break vacation where there were ice storms to home where there are still feet of snow covering everything and the roofs are trying to hang on. We have two leaks, so far, and are waiting for the thaw to see how bad it will really be. One bathroom pipe has tried to freeze up twice, but then came back each time without busting. While visiting the granddaughter, et al., I only cooked twice, both times with a similar theme—meat, gravy, vegetables. Yesterday, out of a lack of innovation or gumption or just because I’m tired from the cold I picked up there, I repeated one of the meals just for us and added a chocolate cake for my husband’s birthday.
I made the ubiquitous chicken and biscuits casserole. You can find variations of this casserole that are all dump-in, usually using canned cream soup and refrigerated biscuit dough, and a few from scratch, like Ina Garten’s that uses homemade biscuits. I did a little of both.
And then I made Martha Stewart’s “Flourless Chocolate Cake,” which is really simple, as long as you follow the directions in the handy video at the top of the directions. I won’t repeat the recipe here, as I didn’t add anything to the original.
It rises to the top…
…then falls and cracks
A little powdered sugar is pretty
Fudgy in the center
Nice with whipped cream
Chicken, Vegetables, and Biscuits Casserole
Preheat oven to 375°
Butter a 13″ x 9″ baking dish
3 cups diced poached chicken from 3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 cups sliced, cooked carrots (4-6)
1 bag frozen baby peas
1 medium onion, diced
2 cups chicken stock (from chicken poaching liquid)
2 cups half and half
8 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Optional: 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 package Pillsbury Grands!® biscuits
- I used my recipe for Poached Chicken Breasts, except poaching them in chicken stock instead of water.
- While the chicken is cooling, simmer the carrots in the stock for about 5 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon, then stir in the frozen peas just to thaw them and take off the chill. You don’t want to dump frozen peas into your hot gravy or it will take much longer to heat in the oven.
- Cube the chicken, or pull into shreds if you prefer that texture, and add to the baking dish with the carrots and peas.
- Heat the butter in a saucepan. Add the diced onions and cook until translucent. Stir in the flour, salt, and pepper, stirring until smooth. Add 2 cups of the poaching stock and 2 cups of half and half, stirring until thickened. You can add 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg if you like that in a white sauce.
- Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables and bake for 15-25 minutes, until bubbling hot. A hot casserole will help bake the undersides of the biscuits.
- Remove the casserole from the oven and arrange the refrigerated biscuit dough on the casserole—two rows of four worked in my dish. I prefer the results when the biscuits are not touching each other.
- Return to oven and bake for another 15-20 minutes until the biscuits are browned on top and seem done through to the bottom.
I serve the biscuits turned upside down on a plate with the chicken-vegetable-gravy spooned over. It won’t make the snow melt, but it’s a comforting warm meal on a cold night.
Includes the recipes for “Deep-fried Breaded Shrimp, Rice with Peas and Parmesan, and Vanilla Ice Cream.”
It’s summer and one daughter and granddaughter are visiting, so there’s that tug between not wanting to do any cooking and doing a little as a treat for guests. I decided to just do it all in one day and let the machines take over. The rest of the week will just be opportunistic eating.
I dragged out the Waring Pro® Deep Fryer (I see the newer ones are digital) and made some breaded shrimp. It couldn’t be easier, except for the three stage flour-egg-bread crumb process and the post eating clean up. In between, the frying is elementary and with no mess. Afterward everything except the heating element goes in the dishwasher after the oil cools, and you really can’t keep oil in which seafood has been fried, even if you strained it in cheesecloth, so disposing of a gallon of canola oil is a kind of a waste.
To go with the shrimp, I let the Black & Decker® rice cooker cook some arborio rice in chicken stock, with peas and Parmesan cheese.
After dinner, I made some vanilla ice cream in the Cuisinart® ice cream maker, with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Minis added as desired by each guest.
Deep-fried Breaded Shrimp, Rice with Peas and Parmesan, and Vanilla Ice Cream
Deep Fried Breaded Shrimp
- 2 lbs large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
- 1 gallon cooking oil, or whatever your device requires
- 1-2 cups all-purpose flour, seasoned to taste with salt & pepper
- 3-4 eggs, whisked with 1/2 to 1 cup water
- 2-3 cups breadcrumbs, seasoned or plain
Add the oil to the fryer and begin heating to 350° Set up the breading ingredients (flour, egg mixture, bread crumbs) in three separate containers for breading the shrimp. I put the flour in a large zippered bag and coated all the shrimp at once. I put about a third of the floured shrimp at a time in the egg mixture, turning them with a large spoon to coat. Then I put in the breadcrumb bowl with a slotted spoon to drain off excess liquid. I used another large spoon to turn the shrimp in the breadcrumbs. Shrimp are small enough that they are one of the few things you can bread without breading all your fingers in the process. I set out the breaded shrimp on paper towels to dry a little while the oil heated.
About ten shrimp in the basket cook in 1-2 minutes, then drain on paper towels while the rest cook.
Rice with Peas and Parmesan
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 2 teaspoons Better Then Bouillon® chicken base
- 2-3 cups water (I use extra water because of the addition of cheese and peas)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 1 cup frozen baby peas
Plan your rice based on your cooking method and type of rice to be ready shortly after all the shrimp are fried. Follow your cooker’s directions. Arborio rice cooks quickly in a rice cooker—about 30 minutes. during the last five minutes of cooking, stir in the cheese and peas. With arborio rice, this is a creamy dish.
Vanilla Ice Cream
Recipe Credit: Cuisinart® Ice Cream Maker
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1-2 teaspoons vanilla
This simple recipe is not one that requires cooking an egg-based custard and comes together quickly. Simply mix the milk and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cream and vanilla. Start the machine and pour in the mixture. Churn for 25-30 minutes. The ice cream will be soft and about the consistency of an extra-thick milkshake. You can eat it or put it in the freezer for an hour or two to firm up. Serve with toppings, like Reese’s® Peanut Butter Cup Minis.
I hope this doesn’t sound like a complicated meal, because it really was simple and stress free. Tomorrow, the zoo and maybe some summer fare at Sara’s and Sally’s on the peninsula.