I love pasta, mushrooms and Parmesan cheese, individually and all together. I especially love these things when mixed in a creamy sauce with leftover turkey, chicken, ham or even canned tuna fish. It isn't the most beautiful dish you will cook, but I believe it is one of the tastiest and most satisfying you will eat. This casserole can be put together and baked for a quick dinner or prepared just up to the point of baking and refrigerated until half an hour before serving when you pop in into a 375 degree F. oven to heat through to bubbling. I got this particular recipe from an old friend many years ago and I just rescued it from the well-worn, folded paper covered with spots of butter and burns on the edges from sitting too close to the burner as I cooked it time and again. While Parmigiano-Reggiano is more expensive per pound than other forms of Parmesan cheese, the flavor is more intense, so a little goes a long way. To get the best results, you should grate Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese just before you use it. A microplane makes easy work of that and the fine shreds it produces melt effortlessly into the sauce. If you want to make this a one dish meal, you can add cooked broccoli florets to the mixture before the final heating.
8 ounces of spaghetti or spaghettini.
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup dry white wine or sherry or vermouth
1 cup (~ a 4 ounce chunk) shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3/4 pound sliced button mushrooms
3 cups diced chicken, turkey or ham or 2 7-ounce cans of tuna, drained
Salt and pepper
Toasted sliced almonds or parsley leaves for garnish (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil for garnish (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cook the pasta according to package directions until it is tender, but not mushy (al dente). Drain, saving 1/2 cup of the cooking water in case the final mixture seems dry.
While the pasta is cooking, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet and sauté the mushrooms, adding salt and pepper to taste. When the mushrooms stop releasing liquid, push them to one side of the pan, melt the rest of the butter in the empty side, add the flour to the melted butter and cook while stirring the flour and butter together for a couple of minutes, coating all of the flour with butter. This will stop the flour from having a raw, pasty taste in the final dish. Gradually stir the milk and wine into the butter-flour mixture and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese until it is melted into the sauce. Stir in the protein you have chosen (chicken, turkey, ham, tuna, etc.) and the cooked pasta. If the mixture seems dry, use the reserved cooking water to make it moister as needed.
Pour the mixture into a 2 quart shallow casserole dish and bake for 15-20 minutes until bubbling. If you have prepared the casserole ahead of time and refrigerated it, bake for 25-30 minutes.
When you serve this, you can garnish the top with toasted sliced almonds, parsley leaves, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
I love Mexican-inspired dishes and this one is easy to make. When I bring it to potlucks, I am always asked for the recipe. It is also good for a home cooked meal, and can be mild or spicy to your taste depending on the canned sauce you purchase. All of the quantities are approximate as exact measurements are not critical. You can make this tasty dish out of roasted chicken or turkey leftovers (or planned-overs at our house) or a deli rotisserie chicken makes fast work of it too. I like to dice up the meat from a rotisserie chicken from Costco and that makes the dish especially easy because those chickens are well-seasoned. Since all of the ingredients have already been salted, you should not have to add any salt to the mixture. I haven’t tried it with canned chicken, but I don’t see a reason that wouldn’t work also. You can use shredded Cheddar cheese, a mixture of Cheddar and Jack cheeses or the packaged Mexican blend cheese available in supermarkets and Costco, which is what I used. I like Las Palmas Green Chile Enchilada Sauce, but other brands should work too. Recently, I discovered that this sauce is available in 28 ounce cans in mild, medium, and picante (or hot) levels of spiciness. My preference is the picante one, but I also recommend the medium one. We found the mild one to make a casserole that was a little bland. Instead of preparing the dish from fresh tortillas and having to fry them, I use packaged tortilla chips or strips to save time and effort and it makes a dish with good texture.
5 cups of cooked, diced or shredded chicken or turkey (One rotisserie chicken from Costco gives you about 5 cups of meat.)
2 cups Cheddar, Cheddar and Jack cheeses, or Mexican blend shredded cheese
4 cups coarsely crushed tortilla chips or strips (measure after crushing)
1 28 ounce can of Green Chile Enchilada Sauce (Las Palmas picante or medium sauce is good.)
Salsa, sour cream, guacamole and sprigs of cilantro for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a 9x13 inch baking dish (Pyrex works well.) spread the diced meat. Cover evenly with 2 cups of the cheese. Cover with the 4 cups of coarsely crushed tortilla chips or strips. Stir the ingredients together carefully to make an even mix. Pour the can of enchilada sauce over and stir again to moisten all of the ingredients. Press lightly into an even layer in the pan. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the dish is heated through. You can sprinkle another 1/2 cup of shredded cheese on the top and melt it under the broiler if you like that look. Let cool for about 5 minutes and serve with salsa, sour cream, guacamole and cilantro if you like.
These pockets turn leftover turkey or chicken, mashed potatoes and perhaps even leftover vegetables into a meal you would enjoy even if you had to start from scratch. The curried potato mixture is similar to what you might find in an Indian samosa, but these are baked in a pastry pocket instead of being fried. You can make your own pastry or use the packaged ones you find in the refrigerator case in the supermarket. You can store the unbaked pockets in the freezer for up to 2 months by placing them on a baking sheet and freezing them until they are firm enough to transfer to a freezer-weight plastic bag. Bake the frozen pies at 375°F for 30 to 45 minutes.
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup onion, diced or chopped finely
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 cups mashed potatoes
1 cup frozen peas
1 1/2 cups diced roasted turkey or chicken
3 refrigerated rolled pie crusts
1 egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees °F. Line a baking sheet with a non-stick silicone sheet such as Silpat or parchment paper. Heat the butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, curry powder, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is golden brown and softened. Take off the heat. Add the mashed potatoes, peas and turkey.
Unroll the pie crusts and cut each into 4 quarters. Divide the potato/pea/turkey mixture into 12 portions and place them on the dough, covering one half of each piece of dough. Fold the dough over the filling. Use a fork to press the edges to seal them and leave a decorative edge. Put the pies on the baking sheet. Brush with the beaten egg and bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
All you need to know about defrosting and roasting the perfect turkey for Thanksgiving.
Salt and Pepper
The star participant in most American Thanksgiving dinners is the turkey. For me, there were two key discoveries that I made over the years that made Thanksgiving preparations much easier.
The first discovery was what to do with the huge (18-25 pound) frozen turkeys I usually choose when refrigerator space is at a premium. For many, many years I have been purchasing a large frozen turkey four days before I need to cook it. I double-wrap it in store plastic bags. I double-wrap that in store paper bags. This is my first line of defense to keep the turkey insulated. I put it in a large well-insulated plastic cooler and leave it until marathon cooking day. I usually turn it over by the third day, ensure it is still cold enough in the cooler and if it seems like the thawing is getting close to done, I add gel ice packs to keep it under 40 degrees when the top of the cooler is closed. When I am ready to cook the turkey, it is defrosted enough to handle and there is still ice in the bird’s cavity. We have never had a problem with over-temperature birds and all my guests have survived without issues. Before putting the cooler back in storage, we wash it out well with chlorine bleach and water or antiseptic wipes.
The second discovery was the process of spatchcocking a turkey. What was that you say? Spatchcocking, sometimes called butterflying. It is simply the process of cutting out the backbone of the turkey with a pair of poultry shears and the help of a heavy, sharp knife. The turkey is then put on a sheet pan skin side up, and pressure is applied to the breastbones to crack them and flatten the turkey. One Thanksgiving, I was having trouble getting enough leverage to crack the breastbones of a very large turkey. I placed the turkey pan on the floor and got down on my knees to lean on the breast with more of my weight. At that point my sister came into the kitchen, looked at me poised over the turkey with my hands pressing on the breastbone and deadpanned with a doleful look, “I think it’s too late.” Your turkey will not need CPR! If you like, you can remove the wing tips at this point. Season with salt and pepper, brush with oil and bake at 450 degrees F until the turkey thigh reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. A 12 pound turkey will be done in a little over an hour. An 18 pound turkey will probably be done in an hour and forty five minutes. Check for doneness earlier than you think possible! The turkey will be golden brown and both the dark meat and the breast meat will be perfectly cooked in record time. It is magic that you can get moist breast meat and cooked dark meat all at once while freeing up extra oven space for sides because the turkey is not as tall as it would be with a traditional roasting method. Do not attempt to carve the turkey until it has set for at least 15 minutes to allow the juices to distribute through the meat. Carving before the turkey has had a chance to set will cause the juices to end up on your carving board, not in the turkey.
The turkey pictured here was moved from the roasting sheet pan to this aluminum foil lined pan for photos and so I could work on gravy using the lovely pan juices and browned bits while it set. The position you see it in is the position your unroasted turkey will sit in as you put it in the oven.
When the turkey had set, I carved it by taking the breast portions off the bones with my fingers and a small knife and cutting them crosswise into slices. The drumsticks and wing portions were left whole. The thigh meat was sliced.
This lasagna comes together quickly using commercial pasta sauce. You could take the time to make your own sauce, but the results are very good using a bottled sauce that you like. We find that Prego sauce with mushrooms works for us. I like to use freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano because a small amount adds big taste. A microplane grater gives very even results easily. Once you have cooked the pasta and the sausage and grated the Parmesan cheese, it is just a matter of assembly, heating the casserole and browning the top. Serve this with a green vegetable and you can have dinner on the table in a little over an hour including baking and setting time.
15 lasagna noodles (from a 1 pound box…there will be some leftover)
1 20 ounce package of turkey sweet Italian sausages
2 cups or 1 15 ounce container of part-skim ricotta cheese
Approximately 6 1/2 cups of your favorite pasta sauce (We like Prego mushroom sauce)
1/2 cup of lightly packed, freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Boil the lasagna noodles in salted water for about 2 minutes less than the package directs to achieve a firm al dente texture. Rinse with cold water and drain.
While the water is heating and the pasta is cooking, remove the sausage meat from the casings and break it into small pieces. Sauté the sausage in a skillet on medium heat for a few minutes until it is cooked through. Do not discard any liquid that may accumulate.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put a thin layer of pasta sauce in a 9x13 non-reactive baking dish. Make a layer of pasta using 4 noodles the long way in the dish and one in the other direction to fill the surface of the pan. Distribute half of the cooked turkey sausage over the pasta. Evenly dot the surface with rounded teaspoonfuls of one cup of the ricotta cheese. Distribute 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese evenly over the layer. Sprinkle the cheeses with 1 teaspoon of the Italian seasoning. If there is liquid left in the sauté pan from the sausage, pour it over the first layer of ingredients. Pour about 2 1/2 cups of the sauce over the meat and cheeses and spread it evenly to cover. Repeat the layers as described above. Top with a third layer of pasta noodles. Use the last cup to cup and a half of sauce to cover the surface of the pasta. Bake until the casserole is heated through and bubbly, about 25 minutes. Sprinkle the top with the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and return to the over to brown the cheese. You can use the broiler to speed up the browning, but watch it carefully to avoid burning it. When the top is golden, remove from the oven and allow the dish to sit for 15 minutes before cutting to help the layers retain their shape.
My family loves this salad. It is a great dish for taking to potlucks as you can feed a lot of people without spending a lot of money. I have doubled and even tripled the recipe for parties and it always seems to disappear. Cabbage is one of the superfoods that should have a bigger role in our diets. It is low in calories, high in fiber, and a good source of vitamins and minerals. It is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family which is associated with a reduced incidence of a number of cancers. You can buy coleslaw mix, but cutting your own cabbage will give you a fresher salad and save you money. If you are concerned about nut allergies, toasted sunflower seeds make a substitute for the almonds. If you are serving vegetarians, you can use Top Ramen brand Oriental flavor, which contains no animal products. To turn this into a full meal, add shredded roasted chicken or sautéed tofu cubes (dredge in corn starch to get them to brown well) to the salad. This makes 4 generous servings as an entrée.
1 head of cabbage, grated or sliced thinly* You can use a mixture of green and red cabbage for variety. (2 - 2 1/2 lb. cabbage = ~9 cups)
4 whole green onions (scallions), sliced into thin rings
1 3-ounce package ramen noodles with chicken flavor seasoning packet
1/4 - 1/2 cup of slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup salad oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vinegar (I use cider vinegar, but white vinegar is fine too.)
Cilantro leaves (optional)
I love almonds, so I use the larger quantity. Toast the almonds in the oven, microwave, or while stirring in a small heavy pan on the stovetop, but watch them carefully as they can burn easily. If you are using a 350 degree oven, it will take about 8 minutes and you can reduce the chance of the nuts burning by placing them on a silicone sheet such as Silpat. Set aside to cool.
Crush the ramen noodles while they are in their original bag. A small mallet, hammer, or meat pounder used gently does a good job. It helps to put the ramen noodle bag in a larger plastic bag to avoid getting noodles all over the place if the bag breaks.
For the dressing, dissolve the sugar and the chicken seasoning packet from the ramen noodles in the vinegar in a small jar. Add the salad oil and black pepper to taste and shake to mix.
The cabbage and onions can be prepared the day before, mixed together and refrigerated in the serving bowl or a plastic bag. The almonds and noodles can be prepared the day before and mixed together and stored in a plastic bag at room temperature. The dressing can be made the day before and refrigerated in a small jar.
Mix all the ingredients together shortly before serving. If you like cilantro, don’t forget to add it now. This salad will still taste good on the second day, but the cabbage and noodles will soften after storage with the dressing on them.
*To slice cabbage, cut it in half through its core. Put the flat side down and cut in half once again through the core. Holding one of the quarters vertically, slice the tough core part out down the length of each quarter. Put one of the flat sides of the cabbage quarter on your cutting board, and make very thin slices across the wedge. Start making slices at the pointy end and continue making slices until you finish at the core end. Now you can use your knife to slice the pile three or four times across all the slices to make smaller pieces.
This baked chicken resembles pan-fried chicken and gets its crunch from Japanese panko bread crumbs or fresh crumbs made by pulsing bread in a food processor. It has a hint of sweetness from the honey and balsamic vinegar. When pounding chicken breasts to an even thickness, I prefer using a Ziploc bag rather than plastic wrap. The heavier plastic of the bag protects the chicken better, doesn’t move around or stick to the meat pounder like plastic wrap sometimes does, and you always know which is the clean side and which is the chicken side of the bag.
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 5 to 6 oz each)
3 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups panko (or fresh bread crumbs)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9×13 baking dish with aluminum foil. Spread the oil over the bottom and sides of the aluminum foil-lined pan.
In a shallow bowl that will fit a chicken breast, mix the honey and vinegar together with a fork, scraping the bottom of the bowl to ensure all of the honey is dissolved. Put the panko or bread crumbs in a second bowl or flat plate.
Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper. If the chicken breasts are of different thicknesses, put each breast in a Ziploc bag and pound with the flat side of a meat pounder to even the thickness. For children, you can cut the breasts across into strips to make nugget sized pieces. Working one at a time and using tongs, dip each chicken piece in the honey mixture to cover both sides and allow any excess to drip off. Place it in the crumbs and cover the whole surface with bread crumbs, pressing them lightly in place. Put the chicken in the oiled, foil-lined pan and continue until all pieces are coated.
Bake in a 375-degree oven for about 35-40 minutes turning halfway through to brown both sides, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer or until the chicken is no longer pink inside. The surface of the chicken should be golden brown. If some of the crumbs aren’t brown enough, you can put the dish under the broiler briefly to finish browning them.
This is a very easy recipe for a hot meal in a bowl that turns out looking like it took a lot more effort than it did. It is a good recipe to share with children because it is so simple, but keep in mind that the tomatoes with jalapeños give it a little zing that some small children might object to. The soup ingredients might very well be sitting in your pantry right now. Whether this becomes a last-minute meal or a campout treat cooked on a propane stove, you can feed a hungry group quickly. The can sizes are not critical and you can make this recipe your own by adding more or less of any of the ingredients. If you have leftover shredded, roasted chicken in the house, that can replace the canned chicken. The tortilla strips give the soup a pleasant crunch, and if you are pressed for time you can use tortilla chips out of a bag. You might want to crush them a bit if they are large. I like to start the tortilla strips baking while I prepare the soup. You can make this meal fancier with condiments. In my house, we especially like to use diced avocado and shredded cheese.
2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 12.5 ounce can chunk chicken, drained
1 15 ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes with jalapeños
1 15 ounce can whole kernel corn, rinsed and drained
6 small corn tortillas or packaged tortilla strips or chips
2 avocados, diced
Mexican toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
Shredded Jack or Cheddar cheese
Diced onion (green onion, white or red onion)
Sprigs of cilantro
To prepare the soup, open the cans of chicken broth, diced tomatoes, chicken, black beans, and corn. Drain the chicken. Rinse the black beans and the corn and drain off the water. Pour everything into a medium-sized saucepan. Warm on medium heat until all the ingredients are heated through. Serve in soup bowls with the condiments you choose.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. To prepare crispy tortilla strips, brush both sides of each tortilla with vegetable oil. Stack the tortillas and starting at one edge, cut through all the tortillas making 1/4 inch slices across the whole tortilla. Cut the middle strips that are very long in half. Spread the slices on a cookie sheet or shallow pan lined with aluminum foil or a non-stick silicone liner such as Silpat, making sure that the slices are not stuck to each other. Bake until the strips are golden brown.
Serve the soup in bowls with whichever condiments appeal to you.
Recipe type: Beef, Chicken, Tofu, Entree, Vegetarian, Dinner Party
When I started work at my very first “real” job, I met a wonderful woman of Japanese descent who came from Hawaii. She was a great cook who was happy to share her expertise with friends, including me when I was a newly married young woman transplanted from the east coast to the west. This dish is the version of sukiyaki that Eiko taught me to make to wow dinner party guests. The ingredients can be arranged attractively on a tray or platter and cooked at the table in an electric skillet in front of your guests. It is actually very easy to prepare. A rice cooker can steam rice while you are preparing the dinner. Serve the sukiyaki with steamed rice (white or brown), a salad (with Asian-style dressing from a bottle or homemade), and a pickled vegetable such as Asian-style pickled cucumbers with sesame seeds. The sukiyaki can be made vegetarian by using only tofu as the protein component. You can eliminate the step with the meat and increase the amount of tofu used later or cut the additional extra firm tofu into cubes, dry them on a dish towel or paper towels, dredge them in cornstarch (pat off the excess) and sauté them in hot oil in a non-stick pan until they are golden brown on all sides. Continue with the recipe with the sautéed tofu in place of the meat.
2 lbs tenderloin or rib eye beef, sliced thin or 3 chicken breasts sliced thin
Oil for sautéing the meat
1 can of bamboo shoots (approximately 8 ounces)
1 can of water chestnuts (approximately 8 ounces)
1 bunch of green onions (tops included), cut in 1 inch slices
1/2 pound button mushrooms, sliced
3 bundles of dry rice noodles (~ 6 ounces total)
1 pound of bean sprouts
1 pound Extra firm tofu, cut into cubes
Several large handfuls of fresh spinach leaves
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce (low sodium or “light” soy is fine)
3 tablespoons dry white wine or mirin
Mix the sugar, soy sauce, and wine in a small cup, pitcher, or bowl. Set aside.
Heat the electric skillet or large pan and add some vegetable oil to film the bottom of the pan. Add enough meat to fill half the pan. Sauté quickly until the meat no longer looks raw. Add the sauce and bring to a boil. Move the meat to one side of the pan and add the vegetables, tofu, and noodles, ensuring the noodles are in the liquid to soften them. Cook for 10 minutes or until done.
Serve with rice, a green salad and a pickled vegetable for a complete meal. Serve tea at the end of the meal.
The easiest way to slice the meat thin is to freeze it for a while first so that it doesn’t move with the knife strokes. If you have a food processor, that is effective for slicing the slightly frozen blocks quickly. Just make sure that you cut the meat against the grain so that it will be tender. You can also buy the meat already sliced at Asian grocery stores or have your butcher do it, but it tends to be very expensive that way.
You can use any vegetables that appeal to you and except for including the sauce, most ingredients are optional and to your taste. Spinach leaves wilt down to almost nothing very quickly, so don’t worry about putting in a lot even if you have to do it little by little because of the size of your pan.
The rice noodles come in small bundles of about 2 ounces. They are the white crinkly ones you see fried in some Chinese dishes. In this recipe, they turn soft and glassy.