Saturday, July 30, 2022

Cheddar and Sour Cream Chicken Pasta

 Looking for a way to spruce up your pasta bakes and solve the issue of having lots of crushed chips, especially after the kids help with carrying the groceries? Voila, enter the dish featured above with an unlikely suspect, Cheddar and Sour Cream Potato Chips.  This was a last minute addition to this dish after wanting another element of texture and surprise to liven up an unfancy, but delicious meal on the fly of a weekday in summer.  Oftentimes, a surplus of crushed chips can be a hassle and tossing out too many can truly be a substantial waste, depending on how 'crummy' the bag is. 
 All my tasters gave their approval and after tasting, had to wipe their smug little smiles off their faces, because they thought I was just grasping at straws, hoping for a hit.  The flavors brought on by the Cheddar and Sour Cream Potato Chips are complimentary to the cream cheese and sharp cheddar base of the homemade cheese sauce, that comes together in a flash. 
 You don't have to spend a ton of money to elevate a dish, even if it's just a little and with chips.   Other than maybe consuing too many on occasion, chips or some sort of crumb topping are a perfect way to jazz up a baked dish and handy to have around; For  one, toppings add a nice dimension of texture variance there's so many varieties and two, many homes have some on tap, if your household is anything like mine, especially with this seemingly ravenous behavior brought on by Summer Break, the 'crumbs' will last much longer than the chips themselves!  
Paired with other staples like different types of pasta, chicken stock, chicken, block cheese, cream cheese, evaporated milk and of course some boneless/skinless chicken breasts, this meal is quick, easy and CRAZY delicious.  Perhaps one of the best parts of this recipe is it's a less meat version, using only about 1 pound of chicken, You never miss a beat because the other ingredients hold their own.  Budget friendly, time savvy and delicious make this one pot meal a chicken dinner winner!             

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into medium cubes
1 lb. penne pasta, cooked according to box, until al dente, about 9 minutes, in salted water, drain and run under cold water until cooking stops
1- 12 oz. can evaporated milk, regular or fat free
1 1/2 pkg. cream cheese, full fat or reduced
1 8 oz. block sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 cups less sodium chicken stock
2 tbsp. butter, salted or unsalted
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
2 tsp. onion powder
                                                            Fresh or Dried Parsley, rough chopped if fresh                                                            1/2 to 1 c. crushed Cheddar and Sour Cream Potato Chips
Olive oil for drizzling
SPST ( Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)

Preheat oven to 375*F.
In a large oven safe saucepan over medium high heat, drizzle olive oil 2 turns of the pan and add butter. 
Once butter is melted and making small bubbles, add cubed chicken.
Cook, moving often after signs of browning evident , then SPST.  Turn pieces often until no longer pink, about 7 minutes.  Add garlic towards end of browning process.  
Remove chicken from pan as not to overcook, until sauce is made.  Set aside and tint with foil, if desired.
Add chicken stock to pan and bring up to a boil. 
Reduce heat to medium and add evaporated milk and bring back up to a rolling simmer.
Add cream cheese.
Stir often and melt cheese,  then stir in grated sharp cheddar, onion powder and parsley.
Stir in pasta and chicken, coating everything well and let simmer for  a couple of minutes to heat through again.    
Once heated through, sprinkle with crushed potato chips and place in oven until top shows signs of browning, about 10 minutes. * .      
Makes 8 to 10 servings.                                                             
*If contents of pan are hot enough, you may just turn on the broiler to high. 
It will brown rather quickly, so  be sure to keep a close eye on it.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Easiest Chicken and Broccoli Lasagna


This post is inspired by a photo posted on one of my longtime friend's feed, one that he had stumbled upon himself.  I happened to be scrolling, the dish caught my eye and I knew preparing it for my family, was in our near future.  It looked delicious.  There was a recipe posted, but I found it to be lacking and vague in some areas.  I decided to write my own.  The dish came out wonderfully and the teens approved, which helped it make the cut of recipes I can enjoy sharing with you. 
Dishes like this one are good for saving money, without compromising on quality and flavors.  With inflation at a 40 year high, making the most of simple ingredients can really save the day.  I hope your crew enjoys this take on Chicken and Broccoli Lasagna as much as my brood and I did!

12 oz. Oven ready Lasagna Noodles
4 c. fresh, (trimmed and cut in half) or frozen broccoli florets, thawed, rinsed (if fresh, steamed over boiling salted water for 5 minutes, covered, then shocked in cold water and drained)
2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chilled and cut into small cubes or pieces and brined*
4 Tbs. Parmesan, Garlic and Basil Seasoned butter, plus 4 tbs. Butter, Salted or Unsalted ( I used Great Value brand from Walmart)
2/3 c. green onion, thinly sliced, white and green parts
1/3 c. Vidalia onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, grated
1 pinch red pepper flakes, optional
1 pinch nutmeg, optional
2 sprigs dried thyme or 1 tsp. of ground version
1 tsp. onion powder
2 Tbs. fresh parsley, rough chopped
1 c. low sodium chicken stock
1 c. 2 % milk
2/3 c. heavy cream
2 Tbs. AP flour
2/3 c. Ricotta Cheese
4 c. Italian blend shredded cheese or to taste
Olive Oil for drizzling
SPST ( Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)

Preheat oven to 375*. 
In a large medium to large pan over medium high heat, melt butters and add a turn of the pan of olive oil.
Add onions cook, stirring often, until fragrant and translucent, about 6 minutes.
Add chicken, garlic, thyme sprigs and SPST.
Cook until chicken is no longer pink, about 8 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium.
Sprinkle in flour and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove stalks of thyme.
Add chicken stock and bring up to a boil to thicken the stock and begin the base for the sauce, all in one pan.  
Over medium heat, stir in milk, blend well, then add cream and nutmeg.
Simmer for several minutes to marry the flavors, about 5 minutes.
Add parsley, pepper flakes and onion powder, stir.
Stir in Ricotta and fold in broccoli and 1 c. Italian cheese blend.
Turn off heat source.
In a large casserole or baking dish 11x13 or close to it, drizzle with olive oil and coat bottom and sides or cooking spray.
Start with about 1 1/2 cup of filling, spread across bottom of dish to anchor the first set of lasagna noodles.
Sprinkle with a scant amount of cheese and overlap noodles across filling, using 5 to 6.
Add more scant cheese and add about 1/3 of remaining filling.
Spread accordingly and sprinkle light cheese.
Add 5 to 6 more lasagna noodles, overlapping as needed.
Repeat layering again, then ending with filling on top with no noodle covering.
Add remaining cheese and drizzle with olive oil.
Cover tightly with foil and bake until lasagna noodles are tender, about 45 minutes.
Remove covering and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes until golden. 
Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving, now is a good time to throw the store bought garlic bread in the oven!
Makes 10 to 12 servings+
Serve Shaved or grated Parmesan Cheese on the side, (truffle oil is good too)

*I like to brine my chicken before using in recipes, but that is at your personal discretion, it certainly enhances the moisture levels and flavor, plus tenderizes in a wonderful way.
To brine, simply add the cubed chicken to a bowl, fill with enough salt water 3 Tbs. to cover by 2x and let stand for about 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, drain and rinse several times under cold running water, drain, pat dry and it's ready to go.  Don't worry, the chicken won't soak up a lot of saltiness, most is washed and drained away. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Mizumi: Japanese Bistro, Mm Mm Mmm

Tonkatsu Ramen  Bowl, Mizumi

Address:1125 Main St,
Lynchburg, VA 24504

This place is AHmazing.  We can't wait to go back.  Words cannot truly describe the experience, you really have to see for yourself.  We attended the premiere
 of Jurassic Park: Dominion at Regal Cinemas in River Ridge Mall, which was most delightful,  followed by our 'Cherry on Top' dinner at this fabulous bistro, with a wealth of unique and sapid dishes.

Hibachi Steak and Vegetables, Mizumi

Chicken Karaage Curry, Mizumi Japanese Bistro

Gyoza Dumplings, Mizumi Japanese Bistro

Pork Belly Buns, Mizumi Japanese Bistro

Amber Mango Milk Teas, Mizumi Japanese Bistro

Chicken Karaage Curry, Mizumi Japanese Bistro

 Gyoza Dumplings, Mizumi Japanese Bistro

 The staff is cordial and inviting. Shoutout to some great service and proficient kitchen staff.

Experience the bright, rich, fresh and charmingly complex flavor profiles of Mizumi Japanese Bistro, you will certainly be blown away and endrenched with WOW! 

Casserole Cassanova: Easy Cheesy Turkey and Stuffing Bake

Cheesy Turkey and Stuffing Bake

I appreciate finding ways to save a buck or two and this recipe is one that can deliver.  I came up with this on a basic night, where I didn't have a plan and let the available ingredients lead.  I ran across some ground turkey in the supemarket's frozen section for only $2 per l lb. roll.  With some other on hand ingredients, this dish became a quick hit and scored two thumbs up from my crew. 
Prep is easy and the reward of satisfied tummies puts my mind at ease and leaves more money for all the other skyrocketing prices.  Everyone, no matter what walk of life, likes to save money and this recipe fits the bill.  Check out your local grocers' frozen meats department sometime, you may be surprised what deals lie in wait.  
I recently gifted myself with another induction tool, equipped with a steamer and even a partial pressure cooker mode, serving the purposes including Wok, steamer, deep fry, light pressure, boil, decoction, hotpot, stir fry, the whole nine yards, it's put out by a company called Tiborang and comes in some pretty cool colors!  It has become a star in my kitchen already.  In case you were wondering, Decoction is the process of extracting essence, flavor and nutrients from herbs and such, usually by means of boiling and has been around for thousands of years in Chinese Culture.  You can check out the official website by scanning the QR code below, Love is definitely in the air with this welcome addition to your kitchen accessories lineup!

The following recipe is along the Southern Comforts line and I actually used this awesome pan for baking as well.  I would highly recommend covering the handle with foil to prevent any overt heat damage to its gorgeous paint job, by way of blistering or discoloration.  Additionally, the handle can be easily removed to eliminate that issue completely, especially if you use dual methods of cooking in one meal.


2 lb. ground turkey breakfast sausage
1 medium onion, small diced
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
3 oz. sliced pepperoni, julienned
3 c. herb stuffing
1 14 oz. can sliced carrots, drained
1 tsp. Mushroom Soy Sauce or to taste
1 pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
1/4 c. fresh parsley, rough chopped
1 1/2 c. chicken stock
2 c. shredded Colby and Monterey Jack cheese blend
Olive Oil for drizzling
SPST ( Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)

Preheat oven to 375*F.
Starting with the pepperoni, render and brown over medium high heat, about 5 minutes.
Add the onion and garlic and cook until onions are transluecent and softened, about 7 minutes.
Add the turkey sausage and brown, about 8 minutes.
Once the turkey is browned and cooked through, drain of excess oil.
Once back in the pan, add chicken broth and bring up to a boil for several minutes.
Add mushroom soy and red pepper flakes and stir.
Add half of the herb stuffing and bring back up to a boil. 
Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook for about 5 minutes.
Fold in carrots and parsley and stir until evenly distributed.
The mixture will appear almost soupy, but this is fine, the stuffing will absorb the remaining moisture during baking.
Remove from heat and sprinkle the top of turkey mixture with the remaining stuffing cubes and then the cheese blend.
Bake in oven covered for about 20 to 25 minutes, give or take, until cheese is melted.
Remove top or covering from cooking vessel.
Turn on broiler to high and brown top for a fabulous finish.  
Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Makes about 10 servings.