Saturday, November 27, 2010

In a casserole kind of mood?

I felt the need to fire up my Crock-Pot a while back and went hunting for recipes. The good folks at Campbell’s captured my attention with a dish that called for slow-cooked chicken breasts, shredded and baked with tortillas and tons of cheese.

In this case, I don’t think the slow cooking was necessary. You can probably get the same results, but faster, by either baking the chicken breasts or using leftovers. I tweaked the recipe by scaling back the cheese, using enchilada sauce (they called for taco seasoning) and adding corn and olives. Try this dish the next time you’re craving a gooey casserole.

Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Bake
Adapted from Campbell’s
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 ½ cups red enchilada sauce
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cans reduced fat condensed cream of chicken soup
1 ½ cups corn kernels (I used frozen corn)
1 can large olives, drained and loosely chopped
Fajita-size flour tortillas, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend

Place the chicken into a 3 1/2-quart slow cooker. Top with ½ cup enchilada sauce and 3 ½ cups of the broth. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove and shred the chicken — a fork and knife will work for this.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine remaining broth and enchilada sauce with condensed soup, corn and olives in saucepan. Cook at medium heat until everything is warm and stir in chicken.
Layer half of the chicken mixture with tortillas and cheese in a 9-by-13 glass dish. Repeat the layer and bake for 30 minutes, until everything is hot and bubbly.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Giving French lentils a go

My favorite bargain grocery store has an amazing bulk-food selection, and I love buying all kinds of herbs, rice, beans and other goodies for next to nothing. Imagine my delight when, during a recent visit, I stumbled upon French lentils for little over a dollar a pound. I’ve encountered a couple recipes involving French lentils in the past but never seemed to find them in the store. These guys seem smaller than regular lentils, but also seemed to hold their shape better when cooked.

French Lentils with Smoky Sausage
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
1 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 14-ounce smoked sausage, diced
1 ¼ cups French lentils
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning

Heat oil in soup pot over moderately high heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté for a couple minutes before adding carrots and celery and sautéing for about five more minutes. Stir in sausage, tomatoes, lentils, Creole seasoning and broth and bring to a boil. Drop down to medium heat and let pot simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes, and serve in bowls.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A hearty soup fit for fall

Fall in Sacramento is a bit screwy. Although October showed signs of change in the form of a couple gray, rainy days, we’ve had highs in the 70-on-up range this week. But hey, the leaves are changing colors, the sycamore’s starting to make a mess of the front yard, and there’s still a nip in the air when you walk out to your car in the morning. Squirrel away this recipe for a rainy day, or just bust it out the next time you’re craving some hearty soup and a big slice of French bread.

Sausage, potato and kale soup
1 pound sweet turkey Italian sausage, casings removed
1 white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and diced small
10 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 bunch kale, washed, leaves sliced thin
Salt and pepper, to taste
Grated Parmesan (optional)

Brown sausage in a soup pot, remove and set aside. Add garlic and onions to pot, stirring occasionally over medium heat, for a couple minutes so the pot is nice and fragrant. Add oregano and stir for another minute or so before adding broth and potatoes. Bring pot to a boil and then drop heat to a medium flame, cooking potatoes until they’re soft. Use potato masher if you want smaller potato chunks. Add kale to pot -- it should only take two or three minutes to cook. Add sausage to pot, stir, and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle soup with Parmesan, if desired, and serve with French bread.