Thursday, April 16, 2015

Luscious Lunchbox Cookies

Luscious Lunchbox Cookies were a favorite childhood snack for me and my siblings. My mom made these often and they were the perfect after school snack, or treat in our lunch boxes. These cookies are full of oats, rice krispy cereal and butterscotch chips. The combination of flavors is amazing and they are always a hit wherever I bring them anywhere.

Luscious Lunchbox Cookies
recipe from Michele Scearbo, originally from a Bon Appetit magazine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups old-fashioned (or quick) oats
  • 2 cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • 1 bag butterscotch chips
In a mixer, cream together the butter and sugars.  Once combined well, add the eggs and vanilla.
Sift together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, and then add to the mixer.
Mix until just combined on low speed.
Fold in the oats.
Fold in the butterscotch chips.
Lastly, fold in the rice krispy cereal.
You are not supposed to do this in the mixer, but I do very slowly.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Make balls of dough on a lined baking sheet using a cookie scoop (12 cookies per pan).
Have your cute little kitchen buddy help you.
Make sure the cookies are not too close together.
Bake for 10-11 minutes until set and slightly brown on the edges.
Cool on a cookie rack.
Enjoy while warm.
Package to share, or store in a container for up to 3 days for best flavor (if they last that long!).


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Chicken and Artichoke Wild Rice Casserole

It is still freezing cold and snowy here in New England, and I don't see winter ending any time soon.  The winter months are great for cooking comfort foods - soups, stews, and casseroles.  I love making this Chicken and Artichoke Wild Rice Casserole because you can make it ahead of time and it makes a ton.  It is also a great meal to make for someone who is sick or needs encouragement.  I tend to avoid most casseroles because they use condensed soup like cream of chicken or cream of mushroom, but this one has a creamy sauce you make yourself with butter, flour, chicken stock and cheddar cheese.  It is sooooo delicious, and everyone loves it in my family.
It is a great way to use up leftover chicken if you have quite a bit, but I usually buy a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store and shred it up for this recipe.  Our local grocery store also sells rotisserie turkey breasts now and I have make this with both, and actually prefer it with the roasted turkey.

Let's get started!
Chicken and Artichoke Wild Rice Casserole

1 box Far East wild rice, prepared according to box directions
3-4 cups cooked shredded chicken or turkey
1 can artichoke hearts, drained well, and chopped
2-3 carrots, cut into thin rounds
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp butter
for the sauce:
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
salt, pepper
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, for top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare rice, set aside.
Drain the artichokes, and squeeze out the excess liquid.
Cut the artichokes into small pieces and set aside.
Cut carrots into small rounds.
Heat a large pan over medium heat and add 1 tbsp butter. Cook the diced carrots for about 5 minutes, until softened.  Add the minced garlic, lower the heat to low, and cook for about an additional minute.  Remove carrots with slotted spoon and set aside.
In the same pan, melt 1 tbsp butter more and add the 2 Tbsp flour and whisk for 1 minute. 
Slowly add chicken broth, whisking continually until thick. 
Cook for 2-3 more minutes and turn off heat. 
Grate the cheddar cheese and set aside 1 cup for the top of the casserole.
Add the remaining 1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese to the sauce and stir until melted.
Shred the chicken or turkey.
In the pan with the sauce, combine the cooked carrots, chicken, and artichoke hearts. 
Add the cooked wild rice and stir together until combined well with the sauce.
Transfer mixture to a baking dish.
Sprinkle remaining cup of cheese over top. 
At this point, you can cover with plastic wrap and save to bake later in the day (or the next day), or even freeze it. Or you can go ahead and bake now.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes until cheese is melted and casserole is warmed through.
Let the casserole cool slightly before serving.
This is one of my favorite casseroles.  Serve with salad and fresh bread for a complete meal.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Comfort Food: Chicken and Dumplings

There is nothing better than comfort food during the cold New England months.

We have had way too much snow this winter and I keep dreaming of green grass and warmer days.  Until then, I'll settle for a bowl of comfort food: Chicken and Dumplings. I love homemade chicken and dumplings. By homemade, I mean made from scratch - not from a can of pre-made biscuits. And honestly, these dumplings are super easy to make, even if you are not an experienced cook. To save time I use a rotisserie chicken, but you can roast your own chicken and shred it for this recipe as well.
This recipe makes a huge pot of chicken and dumplings.  I added veggies to the recipe I found, because I love carrots and celery, and it adds a punch of color and nutrition, but you can leave them out or add other vegetables if you want.
The key to chicken and dumplings is to let the dumplings cook at a high temperature initially, and then to let them simmer for a while to cook out the flour taste.  I actually made this on the stove top and then transferred to a crockpot (slow cooker) for the rest of the afternoon until dinner time.  Just beware that the longer this cooks, the thicker it will get.  I actually had to add a can of chicken broth after it had cooked in the crockpot, just to make thin it out slightly because it had thickened up so much.
Okay, let's get started!

Chicken and Dumplings
recipe from Tasty Kitchen

1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped into small pieces
2-3 carrots, chopped into thin rounds
2-3 stalks of celery, chopped into small pieces
2 cartons (2 quarts) of chicken stock or broth, plus one can to thin out later if needed
salt, pepper
for the dumplings:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 Tablespoons butter
1 scant cup of milk (just slightly less than a full cup)
1 rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed and meat shredded -or- 3 cups of shredded chicken (click here for directions to make your own shredded chicken)

Heat a large soup pan over medium heat.  Add butter and oil.
Add your chopped onion, carrots and celery.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook over medium heat for 4-6 minutes, until the vegetables start to soften and lightly brown.
Now turn the heat to high and add your two quarts of chicken stock or broth.
In a bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder for the dumplings.  Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut in the butter.  You want the butter to be the size of peas throughout the flour mixture.
Next, add the milk to the dumpling mixture and stir until the dough comes together.
On a well floured surface, dump out your dumpling dough and knead to combine for 30 seconds.  
Using a well floured rolling pin, roll out the dumpling dough.  You want it to be THIN.  Like 1/8 to 1/4 inch thin.
Using a pizza cutter, cute the dough into 1 inch squares.  This doesn't have to be perfect, we are going for the rustic look.
Once your pan with the stock is boiling, add the dumplings one by one, stirring after you add a few. You do not need to add ALL the dumplings you cut, I think using about 3/4 of the them is plenty.  You need room still in the pan for the chicken.
Your dumplings should start to puff up slightly.  Cook them for about 10 minutes or so, stirring carefully every couple of minutes.  You don't want to break up the dumplings.
This is what it should look like.  It will smell heavenly.
Now shred up your chicken.  You can add as much or as little as you want.  I use a whole rotisserie chicken and had about 4 cups of shredded chicken total.
Add the chicken to the pan, stirring carefully again to combine.  Now season well with a little salt and a lot of pepper.  Taste to be sure your seasonings are on point.  Now at this point, you could serve and eat, but I like to cook this a little longer to thicken it more and develop the flavors.  You can simmer over low low heat for 30 minutes or so, or you can transfer to a crock pot like I did.
You really don't need this to cook much longer, so I used the slow setting for about 60 minutes and then turned to warm.
Cover and let the flavors merry.  Right before serving, I added another cup of chicken stock because it was so thick.  The flour from the dumplings will do that :)  You can decide how you thick or thin you want this to be before you add more stock.  Just remember this is not a soup, it is more like a stew.
Serve and enjoy.
This was the perfect comfort food for a snowy night.
I can't wait to make it again!  Happy Winter.


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