Chicken and Stuffing Bake

I appear to be on a streak of nostalgia led cooking. I remember having a dish like this on a retreat in my late teens. Simple food, prepared well, with a lot of flavor.

Every recipe I found online for “chicken and stuffing bake” put the chicken on the bottom, added condensed soup on top of the chicken and then piled the store bought stuffing on top of that. That did not match my memory or desire so I made it up as I went. Not bad for a first pass though I missed a couple of things which I’ve corrected in the recipe.

This recipe has several components so I’ve written each component in its own section with a final set of directions at the end of combining everything together.

Chicken and Stuffing Bake
Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 2 hours

Stuffing Ingredients:

  • 12-16 cups bread cubes (I used a mix of sourdough and multi-grain bread)
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, finely diced
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp. fresh sage
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried tarragon
  • 1 tsp. rosemary powder
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (chicken broth is OK too)
  • kosher salt and black pepper

Stuffing Directions

  • Preheat oven to 250°F. Distribute bread cubes in a single layer across 2 rimmed baking pans. Bake for 20 minutes, swapping the position of the pans halfway through.
  • While the bread cubes dry out heat the olive oil in a 12″ skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the carrots, celery and onions, sprinkle with salt and stir to coat with oil. Cook for ~10 minutes until carrots begin to soften and onions are translucent.
  • Add the butter, herbs, and broth. Bring to a simmer, stir so the butter is spread throughout the vegetables and taste. Add salt and pepper to your liking. Set aside.
  • When the bread cubes are done transfer them to the bottom of a large casserole dish. Add the veggie mixture and toss combine. Spread evenly across the bottom of the dish and set aside.

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 8 oz. baby portobello mushrooms, sliced and roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup milk (anything but skim)
  • kosher salt and black pepper

Sauce Directions

  • Put the mushrooms in a microwave safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 5 minutes on high. Drain liquid from the cooked mushrooms and set aside. Careful, that bowl will be hot.
  • Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and add the shallots. Sprinkle with salt. Cook for 5 minutes until the shallots have softened and are beginning to brown.
  • Add the butter to the pan. When it is melted add the mushrooms and cook for another 5-10 minutes until they are browned. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms, stir until all the flour is moistened. Cook for about 1 minute to drive off the raw flour taste.
  • Add the broth to the pan and stir until combined. Add the milk and combine. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. The sauce will be slightly thickened. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking. Set aside.

Final Ingredients:

  • 8 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
  • kosher salt and black pepper

Final Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Trim the chicken breasts of excess fat and cut in half across the middle of the breast.
  3. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. Distribute the chicken pieces over the stuffing.
  4. Give the sauce a stir to reincorporate any “skin” that has formed on top. Pour the sauce over the chicken pieces. Use a spatula to smear sauce over to top of the pieces.
  5. Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake for 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking.
  6. Remove the foil and continue cooking for another 10 minutes to lightly brown the top of the chicken. Check the chicken temperature; they should reach 160°F when fully cooked.
  7. If possible, allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Serve directly from the baking dish and enjoy.

Notes:
My estimates for total time here assume you don’t mind having multiple pans on the stove at one time. If you’d rather do everything in a serial fashion (make the stuffing, then make the sauce, then assemble and bake) add an extra 30 minutes.

Skillet Chicken, Veggies and Rice

[Chicken, veggies and rice]I wanted something simple for dinner and had chicken thighs thawing in the fridge. A trip to the grocery store yield mushrooms and a bit of inspiration from the canned soup aisle.

I have a fond memory for a baked chicken and rice dish that involved condensed cream of something soup. The strongest memory I have of it is from a youth retreat program from my late teens that had a strong influence on me. In the intervening years I’ve learned more than I want about how not-great-for-me condensed soup is and so I decided to try to make something similar with just chicken broth and water. The result was pretty good without the I’m eating what self-shame.

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Cauliflower Green Olive Salad

Last month I made a dish and this recipe appeared on the next page of the cookbook. I dismissed it until my husband said he thought it sounded interesting. I’ll give anything a try once so even though it seemed like an odd combination I gave it a try.

The result was garlicky, crunchy and colorful. Give it a try sometime.

Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes (plus resting time)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4″ x 2″ strips
  • 1 cup 1/4″ bias-cut celery
  • 1 cup pitted green olives, quartered
  • kosher salt and black pepper

Directions:

  1. Fill a large pot with 6 quarts of water and set it over high heat. While it heats you can make the dressing by combining the first 4 ingredients with a pinch of salt and 10 grinds of black pepper. Set the dressing aside and prep the other ingredients.
  2. When the water has reached a boil add 1 1/2 tablespoons of kosher salt. Allow it to return to steady boil and add the cauliflower. Cook for 5-6 minutes, until a piece is just tender to the bite. Add the pepper strips and cook for 1 more minute. Drain or use a sieve to capture all of the cauliflower and peppers. Transfer to a paper towel lined bowl and allow to drain for a couple of minutes.
  3. Remove the paper towel, add the celery and olives, and stir until well mixed. Drizzle the dressing over the vegetables and toss until well coated. Allow to sit for at least 20 minutes or up to an hour. Serve at room temperature; toss a couple of times before serving to redistribute any dressing that accumulated at the bottom of the bowl.

Notes:
The original recipe, from Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates, included raw red onion, which I find too sharp so I left them out. Next time I might try giving the onion a quick soak in ice water; it is reported to mellow the sharp flavor I don’t like.

Vegetable Soup

Cooler weather lends itself to warm soup. Below is a basic vegetable soup recipe that I’ve turned to over the years. It is easy to extend with additional vegetables and while it is vegetarian there’s no reason it can’t become the base for some meated creation.

Vegetable Soup
Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled, 1/4″ dice
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil (divided)
  • kosher salt & cracked black pepper
  • 1 lb. carrots, 1/4″ dice
  • 1 bunch celery hearts, 1/4″ dice
  • 1.5 lbs. red onions, 1/4″ dice
  • 5 qt. vegetable broth
  • 1 qt. water
  • 1 16 oz. box bow tie pasta

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss sweet potato cubes, 1 Tbsp. oil, a healthy pinch of salt & 1/2 tsp. black pepper together until sweet potatoes are evenly covered with oil and seasonings. Spread on a rimmed baking pan and bake until just tender (~30 minutes). Set aside.
  2. In a large soup pot saute the carrots, celery and onion in the remaining oil until the onions become translucent. Add the broth and water; bring to a boil. Drop to a simmer and cook for ~30 minutes.
  3. About 20 minutes before eating turn the heat back up to high. Once at a boil add the pasta and cook per the instructions on the box. When the pasta is done to your likeness add the added the roasted sweet potatoes to the soup. Reheat potatoes if necessary and serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Notes:
We had some vegetable broth in the freezer so I used that for this recipe. That said I often use Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base. Just add a tablespoon of the concentrate to a quart of hot water and you’re ready to roll.