Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!

"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

For old quotes, look here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Heart stopping stuff.

I'm in the mood for love. Or cooking. And since it's dinner time...

Now, this isn't exactly gourmet stuff, here. If you want classy cuisine, go over to: http://thepioneerwomancooks.com/ and prepare to have your socks knocked off, your waistline expanded, and your wonderful self adored for serving the people you cook for her fantastic recipes. I may have mentioned in another blog that I have a teensy blogger crush on her, but that has nothing to do with my plugging her site here. Nope. Not a bit.

Where was I? Oh, right, cooking. A little white trash, middle class, casserole style cooking. Mmm.
For Xmas, I learned a couple of new tricks. I already told y'all about the cinnamon rolls here: http://kyddryn.blogspot.com/2008/01/cinnamon-rolls-long-reprint-with.html so tonight I'll just write about the casserole recipe I found on the Internet and completely ignored in favor of winging it. See, I had two potlucks in one day and I needed something to bring to both of them that involved a vegetable. One of the events specified that I was to make broccoli happen. Hmm. I always like the broccoli rice casserole at Folks restaurant (a Southern style place that make my favorite peach muffins. I know, I'm easy.) I figured I could add that new trick to my culinary repertoire AND manage to make two dishes in one go. After much researching the Internet, reading, and gnashing of teeth, I decided to wing it because nothing looked quite right for my needs. So here's my own recipe for something everyone else probably already knew how to make, Broccoli Rice Casserole (the meal in a baking dish version).

First, the culprits:

Some butter.

1/4 to 1/2 a large onion. I used a white one. You use whichever kind you like best. You want about a cup, chopped kinda small.

A couple of ribs? stalks? pieces! of celery, chopped to the same size as the onion, also about a cup.
Some garlic, chopped, or garlic powder. We've been over this, but just to make the non-fresh-using folks feel better, I used powder this time. OK, that's not really why. Really, I forgot to chop my garlic and I didn't have time, so I used powder, but I didn't want our non-fresh-ingredient friends to feel left out.

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I used Springer Mountain farms, because they're organic and local, and I really don't want my son developing breasts (not that I'm making any kind of social commentary on men with breasts and if he decides he wants them I will support him in his choice, but he's five and a little young to make that decision, and it's a recipe for heaven's sake!). You understand. How many? I have no idea...let me check. The package said 1.12 lbs, and it had three boobs in it. Happy? Cut 'em up into bite sized pieces. You don't have to use the chicken if you want this as a side dish.

A one pound bag of broccoli cuts. not florets, this is a casserole and you don't need it pretty.

A can of condensed broccoli-cheese soup. Use the name brand stuff, for the love of Pete. You'll thank me!

Some milk. I use organic, because you know...son with growths...yuck...

Some white wine (optional). If you don't use it to cook with, you can always drink it later. Win-win.

Salt and pepper. I use grinders with sea salt and peppercorns, because someone loves me and got me grinders for Xmas and I could.

Enough shredded cheddar cheese to choke a goat. Please don't ask me how much that is, I really don't know. I just sort of tossed it in there.

Cooked rice - I used one cup uncooked, only I cooked it up. I don't know how much that is all made up. Read the box or bag or whatever.

A largish pot.

A baking dish, greased. I used a 9 x 13.

Right, ready to fly? Here we go!

Preheat your oven to 350 or so.

Heat the largish pot over mediumish heat. Toss some butter in there. How much? What is it with you and measurements? Don't you know how much SOME is? More than a little, less than all of it! Oh, ah, sorry...I realize that not everyone speaks kitchenish. About a tablespoon or so. Feel better?

Let the butter melt and get all sizzly. Sizzle, sizzle! Reduce the heat just a touch.

Dump the onion and celery in. I mentioned you need the onion and celery chopped, right? If you didn't notice that up there, pay attention! You need about a cup of each. I didn't measure, but I think my pretty cobalt blue ramekins are a cup, so...yeah. Stir them up and get them all buttery and happy, then let them cook a bit. Not to brown, but to translucent. If you're using fresh garlic, add it a minute or two after you dump the onion and garlic in. Burned garlic can just ruin your day.

When the onion and celery are as transparent as my kid looking for a treat (uh, mommy, I love you...), toss in the chicken chunks. Stir 'em up in there so they're mingling like it's a party and everyone wants a date. Salt and pepper to your heart's content. If you're using garlic powder, shake it on. Shake it on good. Yeah.

Cover it and let it be, stirring from time to time, until the chicken is just cooked through. How long this takes depends on how big your bites are. Mine looked a little dry and tense, so I poured a tot of white wine in to help it along. It was happy and relaxed in the steam bath. You can do the same if you want, or don't worry about it. Machs nichts to me.

Once the chicken is just cooked, dump the still-frozen broccoli in the now getting crowded largish pot and give it a stir. Cover again and let it steam a bit. Umm...a couple of minutes or so, just enough to let the broccoli thaw a bit, but not enough to cook it entirely.

Add the broccoli cheese soup and give it a stir.

Now it gets complicated. You need to add enough milk to thin it out a bit, but not so much that it's all runny and stuff. I think I put in about the equivalent of 3/4 of a can in there. The chicken and broccoli were mostly covered, anyway. Let it bubble for a bit. Not too long...just enough to enjoy the hot-tub treatment.

Add the cheese. Reserve a handful for later, or just have some on hand to grate. I used everything I had - it was pre-grated stuff, about two cups or so. Yep, enough to choke a goat.

Stir, baby, stir! When it's all thick and yellowy and integrated, dump the cooked rice into it and stir it up again.

Easy, there, folks, we're on the home stretch. Dump as much of this stuff as will fit into your baking dish, but leave a little room at the top for something truly wonderful to happen later. If you have extra, container it and freeze it for another day. I did.

Cover it up and slide it into the oven. Now go give yourself a pedicure or something. Something that takes half an hour or so. Now remove the bubbling mess from the oven (using mitts, for heaven's sake!!). Take away the foil. It looks nice, huh? Not nice enough!! I grated cheese right over the top of mine, about a quarter of a stick of Cracker Barrel sharp cheddar, melting into ooey-gooey heart stopping goodness. Mmm.

Slide this back into the oven, uncovered until the cheese has become a bubbly, golden blanket of dairy love. Ten or fifteen minutes oughta do it. It should look a little like this:

Oh yeah, baby!

Look closer - that is cheese nirvana!

Now serve that puppy while it's still lava temperature. Mmm. White trash, middle class dining at its finest!

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