Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Krysta's Shrimp and Wild Rice Casserole

My daughter, Krysta requested that we prepare this delicious casserole together and wanted me to blog it onto my new cooking website, I gladly agreed and we had lots of fun doing this cooking project together. Here is the line up: one, 8 ounce package of wild rice mix, we used Rice-A-Roni, one pound of medium shrimp, deveined and peeled, 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, 1/2 sweet green pepper, seeded and chopped, 1/2 small onion, chopped, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, or any other type of cream soup of your choice, 2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, salt and pepper to taste. This bakes at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, serves 6-8 servings.
This is my lovely daughter Krysta, who is a newlywed who is enjoying learning how to cook, she is a quick learner and very excited about this wonderful dish that she has prepared a couple of time, once for my dad's 80th birthday party where everyone really loved it. We were at her and Brian's apartment this evening and I did all the photography while she cooked.

Prepare one, 8 ounce package of wild rice, according to the instructions on the box, except decrease water by 1/4 cup, we used Rice-A-Roni brand wild rice mix, with the seasoning package, it was a little cheaper in cost and the finished product was every bit as good. Any way we can save you a few pennies we will, we are all in the same boat of high grocery prices sailing to the Gulf of I'm broke land.

Chop 1/2 green pepper into small pieces, at this time if you want onion, cut up about 1/2 small onion into small pieces also, getting them ready to saute. Look at my daughter's cute apron she got for Christmas from her sister, isn't it quite retro?

In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of water and 1/2 tablespoon of salt to a gentle boil before adding shrimp. Then, stand over the steam of the pan, close your eyes and think of the Gulf of Mexico and imagine you feel the sand between your toes and the roar of the waves hitting the beach and the cute lifeguard.......... oh, sorry carry on.

Put the 1 pound of peeled and and deveined shrimp into the gently boiling water for about 1 minute, don't let them go longer or you will have very tough, flavorless shrimpys and people tend to complain about things like that.

After cooking the shrimp, take over to the sink and drain, or if you want to you could drain them into the toilet, of course that sounds gross and taking a hot pot top the bathroom sounds dangerous, so let's stay safety smart and drain into the sink. Allow to cool.

Melt 2 tablespoons of margarine or butter in a small skillet or saute pan, we actually used the same skillet we had cooked the shrimp in, why wash a pan if you don't have to? Put your 1/2 cup green pepper and 1/2 onion in to saute on medium to low heat for about 5 minutes. We didn't use onion, mainly because Krysta does not like onion, and we didn't have any.

Slightly spray with cooking spray or grease a 9x13 baking dish for the casserole we are working on like crazy women.

After you have cooked your wild rice mixture, per box directions, let it drain and cool before mixing it all together

Add one can of cream of mushroom soup, if you don't like mushrooms, there is no reason you couldn't use cream of chicken, cream of broccoli, cream of shrimp, wait do they make a cream of shrimp? Well, you get the idea, as long as it is the cream of anything it will probably work.

Add the sauteed green peppers to the bowl-o-goodness, for goodness sake!

Add 1 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar cheese to the mixture, it's looking pretty good right now, but no wait it will get even better.

Mix all the ingredients together well, the soup, shrimp, rice, peppers, cheese. Again, Speedy Gonzales was mixing too fast for my new camera and the dummy behind it who didn't set the f-stop.

Add salt and pepper to taste, a few shakes of both will do, don't overdo on the salt as the shrimp was cooked in salt water and the soup has a high sodium content, mix well.

The mixed casserole is dumped into a greased 9x13 size baking dish and with a spoon or spatula, smooth it equally, then take the remaining 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar cheese and sprinkle on top. Put this in a pre-heated 325 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly. My daughter was so fast at the cheese spreading her hand is a blur :)

I don't know anyone who wouldn't want to dig into this hot, cheesy and gloriously good casserole. It is easy, probably 20 minute prep time and 30 minute bake time, and wouldn't this be the envy of the lunch bunch when you reheat this tomorrow at noon. If you had an issue with shrimp, like my poor husband, you could easily replace the shrimp with chicken. Try my daughters' tasty dish, comment on it and make her a happy girl. Love to you all!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bacon Cheddar Chicken

Okay, this is my first serious recipe for this blog site. I call this cheddar bacon chicken and I just realized I left the cheddar cheese out of the above photo, oh well, I will include it in your ingredient list. This moist and yummy chicken is quick to fix and makes for a great next day lunch to pack and carry. There is nothing weird in this recipe so you husband and kids should like it. I will try harder next time to not forget something or miss a step, this is harder than it looks. Ok, ready for the line up: About 4 whole chicken breast or I used 8 chicken tenders, skinless and boneless, 1/2 pound of bacon, cut slices in half, 1/2 lemon, juiced, 8 ounce package of shredded cheddar cheese, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup of mustard, any style, 1/2 cup honey or I used light corn syrup.
Fry up about 1/2 pound of bacon in a skillet, this doesn't need to get real crispy, because it will be going into a hot oven and it will crisp up real fast there. After the bacon is done, save some of the grease to fry your chicken in.

Add 1/2 cup mustard into a large mixing bowl, you can use yellow mustard or even a fancy grey poupon or coarse grind mustard if you want to, be creative, I say use what you have and don't worry about it. My good old French's worked just fine.

Add 1/2 cup of light corn syrup, the original recipe called for honey, but since I didn't have any, I decided to try the light syrup, which I think worked out well, but either one would do.

Add a 1/2 teaspoon of paprika and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the mixture and whisk together.

Squeeze a half of lemon into your marinade and whisk together, after this is mixed well, you will put your chicken breasts that you are going to flatten in the next step. into this bowl. I think maybe I missed a step, oh what the heck I am new at this.

Place each rinsed and patted dry chicken breast between a piece of wax paper and pound out into a thin cutlet, now is the time to take out your aggressions, but not too much, we still want something to cook.

Take each chicken breast form the marinade and place in the skillet you fried your bacon in. Leave only about 1/4 cup of bacon grease in skillet to fry the breasts. When you cook them, you are just putting a sear on each side, just cook for a couple of minutes per side, they will not be completely cooked, but will finish in the oven.

Lift each piece of chicken from the skillet with tongs and placed on a lightly greased sheet pan. After getting them all on the pan, place in a 400 degree pre-heated oven for 10 minutes.

When your ten minutes are up, pull the pan from the oven and add the bacon and cheese to each chicken breast, put them back into the oven for 5 more minutes to make the cheese all melty and gooey.

All finished and plated with a lovely bouquet of steamed broccoli, misted with butter. The cheddar bacon chicken is topped with a few chopped green onions, which I love, but do not have to be included. This makes an excellent quick supper and make extra to pack for lunch tomorrow, add a nice bun or roll with maybe tomato and a dash of mayo for a great sandwich idea. This was a hit with both of the guys at my house, probably because of the bacon and cheese.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Caramel Layer Krispie Treats

The line up includes: 8 cups of krisp rice cereal, 1 bag miniature marshmallows, 1 stick margarine or butter if you are feeling frisky, 1 carton of caramel apple dip from the produce section of your favorite store.
Melt one stick of margarine in a large microwave safe bowl. You could use an aluminum foil bowl if you wanted to light up your life and destroy your kitchen, but I wouldn't recommend that.

Mix the miniature marshmallows into the melted margarine, zap in microwave for 1 minute.

Grease up a 12x17 sheet pan, if you don't have one of these, use whatever you have, size will not matter, do not worry over this, we much bigger things to fuss over.

I melted these at about 1 minute in the microwave, give them a good stir, if those little suckers are still lumpy, give them another 30 second zap to finish them off.

Add 8 cups of krispie rice cereal to the lovely melted marshmallow and margarine mixture.

Using clean, buttered paws or hands, press warm cereal mixture into buttered pan. Aah glorious melted fat.

The warm krispie and marshmallow mixture in pressed into a buttered pan, and please allow it to cool or rest for about 15 minutes before dumping it out. You can now lick your gooey fingers.

Cut the big rectangle into two even sides, you could use a ruler if you are OCD or just eyeball it, you can make it match up by squishing it a little, this is also the time to smooth that beautiful brown caramel onto one side of the layer. You do not have to heat the caramel, just use it at room temperature and it will work great.

Flop the un-carameled side onto the carameled side, gently press together, and allow them to form a bond that can never be divided.

Lovely and gooey squares of caramely goodness. Loaded with lots of satisfying calories that your friends at work will love and call you evil, you will chuckle as you realize that you totally wrecked their New Year's resolution today.