Bruschetta Chicken…

Lately I’ve  been trying to reduce my carb consumption and so I’ve been experimenting with recipes that do so. And, if you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time, you know that I am a chicken lover. I could eat chicken seven days a week. So when I came across the idea for this recipe I thought it was a win-win!

This recipe couldn’t be any easier to make and it’s as flavorful as it looks. I am writing this recipe for two people but you can easily double it for a family of four. Serve it with spinach salad and, if you want to add carbs, some crusty bread and you’ll have a delicious meal.

So let’s talk Bruschetta Chicken…

Lesson Learned 1 – mix the marinade first: You’re going to want the chicken to sit in the marinade for at least a few minutes. You can even make the marinade ahead of time and let the chicken marinate for about an hour in the refrigerator. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place it on a surface that has been sprayed with an olive oil cooking spray. Make sure you don’t put any of the marinade liquid on the baking sheet. It will burn if you do so.

Chicken Marinade

Lesson Learned 2 – Once you put the chicken in the oven, assemble the ingredients for the bruschetta topping. That way it will be ready when it’s time to put it on the chicken. The bruschetta mixture will only be in the oven for about 5 minutes, just enough time to warm through the tomatoes. Make sure you finely dice the onions and garlic since they’ll be in the oven for a very short period of time.

Bruschetta Mixture

Not any additional wisdom to share on this one because it’s so easy to make. I have to say I really enjoyed this recipe and will definitely serve it again. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Bruschetta Chicken...

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, about 6 ounces each

4 Tbs. olive oil

4 Tbs. white balsamic vinegar

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp. salt

Shredded mozzarella

Bruschetta Topping:

4 compari tomatoes, halved (you can substitute cherry tomatoes, using about 6-8 of them)

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/2 small red onion, finely minced

1 tsp. white balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. olive oil

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1/2 tsp. salt


You can make the marinade for the chicken ahead of time and let the chicken marinate for an hour in the refrigerator. If you don’t have the time, mix together all of the ingredients for the marinade, place the marinade in a plastic bag along with the chicken. Then start preheating your oven to 375 and allow the chicken to marinate until the oven reaches the desired temperature.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and place the breasts on a high rimmed baking sheet covered with foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Cook the chicken for 25 minutes (the internal temperature should be close to 165).

While the chicken is baking mix together all of the ingredients for the bruschetta topping. Set aside.

Remove the chicken from the oven and top with mozzarella (as much as you want). Pour the bruschetta mixture on top of the mozzarella and place the chicken back in the oven for about 4-5 minutes, until the tomatoes are warmed through.

Serve with desired sides.

Creamy Chicken Tortellini Soup…

When the weather starts to get cold I always think of certain types of comfort food. Who doesn’t crave the smell of a pot roast cooking away in the oven, or some hearty chili with cheese and onions or a tureen of hot soup?

I don’t tend to make soup a lot during the Spring and Summer but once Fall arrives soup becomes one of the main things on my mind. And making home made soup is so much better for you. Have you ever read the ingredients on a can of store bought soup? Next time pay attention to the amount of sodium in canned soup. It’s off the charts! And we all could use a little less salt in our lives to keep ourselves on a healthier track.

The beauty of home made soup is you can throw a myriad of goodies into it like carrots, spinach, peas, potatoes, squash, etc., the sky’s the limit. Soups are also easy to make and very satisfying, especially during the cold weather months.

This soup is so delicious I think you’ll make it several times. Serve it with a salad and warm crusty bread and you’ll have one heck of a great meal.

So lets talk Creamy Chicken Gnocchi Soup…

Lesson Learned 1 –  I love Better Than Bouillon: Many recipes call for adding bouillon cubes or granules to enhance the flavor of a soup. I’ve found that Better Than Bouillon is a great substitute and gives the soup more depth of flavor compared to the cubes or granules. I highly recommend using it but if you don’t have it substitute a couple of cubes or a tablespoon of granules and that will add some additional flavor. But you will definitely notice the difference in flavor if you use Better Than Bouillon.

Lesson Learned 2 – Soups are primo for substitutions: I used spinach in this recipe but you can also use kale. Personally I’m not a big fan of kale but it’ll work well in this soup. If you substitute any of the vegetables make sure they have a uniform cook time. If you add something like butternut squash or potatoes you might have to cut them into very small pieces or else cook them separately until somewhat tender and then add them to the other vegetables. You can also substitute shredded carrots for the carrot coins or you could even add some broccoli or peas. If you add frozen peas add them at the end when you add the browned chicken. That way they’ll cook properly. Have fun and experiment with this soup!

Lesson Learned 3 – For additional depth of flavor use equal parts chicken broth and stock: I found that by using both in equal parts it gives a better flavor to the soup than just by using one or the other. That is not to say you can’t use just one of them, but I noticed a definite difference in the richness of the soup when combining both. If you only want to use one, I would opt for chicken broth. I find chicken stock too strong to use on its own. And keep in mind it may just be my personal taste. But try combining both sometime and see if you don’t notice a difference.

I know you’ll love this soup. Try it and let me know what you think…

Creamy Chicken Tortellini Soup...

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp pepper

4 Tbs. butter, divided

2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4 inch coins

1 medium sized onion, chopped

2 small celery ribs, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 Tbs. flour

2 cups chicken broth

2 cups chicken stock

2 cups water

2 Tbs. Roasted Chicken Better Than Bouillon

1 package (10 oz.) three cheese tortellini

1 cup half and half

2 cups fresh spinach

Chopped fresh parsley for garnish, optional


Season cubed chicken with salt and pepper. In a dutch oven brown the chicken in 2 Tbs. of butter. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.  Add the remaining butter to the pan and sauté the onions, carrots, and celery until crisp tender. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute.

Whisk in the flour and stir to coat the vegetables. Add the chicken broth, stock, bouillon, water and tortellini. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for approximately 8 minutes.

Add the half and half, spinach and cooked chicken. Cook on low heat until the spinach is wilted. Remove from heat, ladle into bowls and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

Serve with a salad and warm crusty bread.




To Meal Kit Or Not To Meal Kit… (Chicken Marsala With Broccoli And Mushrooms)

We are more and more becoming a society of extreme convenience – one click Amazon shopping, car vending machines, online ride booking, online grocery shopping and of course to go along with that the ever popular meal kits. You see meal kits advertised a lot online and now the grocery stores have thrown their hats into ring to grab a corner of that market. Personally I suggest trying one from the grocery store so that you can get a feel for them without being locked in to some sort of package deal and discover at the onset that you are not a fan and have a full month of  meal kits to plow through.

Meal kits have their benefits. For me since my life has been anything but normal these past few months meal kits helped me force myself not to eat fast food or meals loaded with carbs. So when I finally saw one in the grocery store I decided to try it. I realize I normally post recipes but since meal kits give you just about everything you need to prepare a specific meal (things not included are basically salt, pepper, olive oil…) I decided to write a review of a meal kit I tried and the lessons I learned in the process.

So, the other day I bought a meal kit from King Soopers (Colorado’s Kroger) that sounded like something I might enjoy – Chicken Marsala with Broccoli and Mushrooms (although it included peas as well).

You have to admit the picture looks enticing and so I ventured into this current fad of preparing quick but more upscale meals with great anticipation.

Upon first glance you will notice that there is no chopping. Now to some this may be a godsend but to me I find meal prep very relaxing. But that’s just me and so I bit the bullet and let that pleasurable part of cooking  process take a back seat to convenience.

When I opened the meal kit this is what was inside…

This is a meal for two and it included two six ounce boneless skinless chicken breasts, broccoli, enough mushrooms to feed an army (luckily I really like mushrooms) a small package of peas and three one ounce containers of low fat cream cheese and two small packages of something called chicken demi glace concentrate that contains milk and sulfites…

These particular meal kits are designed to be one pan meals where you cook everything in the pan provided. Prep was very minimal, it was recommended to rinse the vegetables and pat them dry before cooking them, then mixing them with some olive oil and salt and pepper. The directions did not state that the mushrooms should not be washed and for any novice cook that could have resulted in overly mushy mushrooms. I think the directions should have specifically stated just to rinse the broccoli. But that’s me.

After you rinse the broccoli, pat it dry and mix the broccoli, mushrooms and peas together with some olive oil and salt and pepper (the instructions said to use one tablespoon of olive oil but I used two as one was not nearly enough to coat all of the vegetables evenly) you pile them onto one side of the pan leaving the other side for the chicken breasts.

The chicken breasts are packed in their own juices and so I patted them dry before putting them in the pan but first the recipe states to open the cream cheese and spread it on the bottom of the side of the pan you intend to place the chicken. Then place the chicken on top…

Then top the chicken with the demi glace…

And spread it on top of the chicken breasts…

Then pop the pan into a 425 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

And that’s it – you have your meal! Or is that really it? Things are not always as simple as they seem so let me share my lessons learned making this dish. I think you’ll find them interesting.

Lesson Learned One – Regardless of what the recipe may say use your own good judgment: I know I’ve said many times in this blog that recipes are designed to be guidelines not gospel and you need to know what works and doesn’t work in your oven. The same applies to meal kits. Although the recipe called for cooking the chicken breasts at 425 for 25-20 minutes I knew that temperature for that amount of time would incinerate those small breasts.

Boneless skinless chicken breast are quite healthy but so many people tend to overcook them. When they are overcooked they are dry and tasteless, like eating cardboard. Look at the picture below and see how wonderfully juicy my chicken breasts turned out.

I cooked the meal at 375 for 25 minutes. I’ve pretty much perfected cooking boneless skinless breasts and I knew 425 degrees was way too high to cook them in my oven. So don’t necessarily follow the directions on these kits to a tee – use your own good judgement when making them.

Lesson Learned 2 – There were far too many vegetables for such a small pan: I had a rather tall pile of vegetables on one side of the pan. From experience I know that piling them up that way has an affect on how they cook. In this case, the mushrooms and the peas turned out fine but the broccoli was hard. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a fan of mushy broccoli. As a matter of fact I like it crisp tender. In this case, the broccoli florets on top of the pile were slightly scorched and the rest of the broccoli stems were rock hard. I think for a better result using one of my sheet pans versus the small pan that was provided would have given a better result. It would allow for the vegetables to be more spread out and cook more evenly.

The broccoli was also chopped into fairly large pieces. Perhaps cutting back some of the large stalks and cutting the florets into smaller sizes may have helped. I think doing that and using a larger pan might have solved the problem.

Lesson Learned 3 – The cream cheese never melted into the sauce pictured on the meal kit container: The cream cheese was still rather firm as you can see from the picture below.

I topped it with some of the “marsala” juices for some additional flavor. It wasn’t horrible but it certainly wasn’t the end result I expected. Perhaps me changing the cooking temperature caused this. But why create a meal kit that will cook some of the ingredients beautifully but annihilate others. If 425 degrees will create a sauce but render a dry tasteless chicken breast then I would err on the side of the chicken breast.

Bottom line – this is how the ingredients looked going into the oven…

And this is how they looked coming out…

I’m not sure what the “demi glace” sauce was, but if you’ve ever had chicken marsala you know this sauce did not have nearly the depth of flavor it should have. Rather it was just a hint of something, and I’m not sure it was marsala. Instead I wish they had prepared some sort of marsala sauce and not a quick substitute. I wanted the sauce to be thicker and richer. Maybe their attempt to make it thicker and richer had something to do with the cream cheese, but it certainly didn’t work.

So, would I try a meal kit again. Yes, I think I would before making any final decisions. It certainly was convenient. I enjoyed the juicy chicken breast with the mushrooms and the peas but the rest was not that great.

You know what – I have an even better idea. Why don’t you try my EASY CHICKEN MARSALA recipe. it was one of the first recipes I posted when I started this blog in 2013. I guarantee you will like it more than this! And when I try another meal kit I will blog about how it turned out. I haven’t completely soured my opinion on this meal convenience yet. And if you have any thoughts or stories about meal kits that you’d like to share, I am all ears!

Cider Braised Chicken With Bacon and Apples…

Finally Fall is in the air. I don’t know what it’s been like where you live, but here in Colorado it was unusually hot all summer long with 90 degree days still happening well into September. But now it’s starting to look like the weather is becoming more Fall-like and I couldn’t be happier.

This is my favorite time of year for a variety of reasons – the leaves begin to change into an array of gorgeous colors, the air is crisp and clean, and it’s finally time to think about Fall comfort food, of which this recipe is an absolutely perfect example.

Not only does this recipe scream comfort food but it’s also extremely easy to make. So let’s talk cider braised chicken with bacon and apples…

Lesson Learned 1 – Remove the fatty parts on the chicken thighs: I used boneless skinless chicken thighs in this recipe but even with that you’ll find pieces of fat are still on the meat. Make sure you use a sharp knife and remove, as much as you can, the fatty pieces. If you leave a little bit that’s fine. That will help flavor the sauce.

Lesson Learned 2 – You can choose whether you want to peel your apples or not: I made this recipe with the skins on but you can peel them if you prefer. Some people have a difficult time digesting the skins. The good thing is it doesn’t make any difference whether or not the apples are peeled.

Lesson Learned 3 – Make sure you reduce the sauce by half twice: Once you add the brandy you’ll need to reduce the mixture to half. Then when you add the cider you’ll need to reduce it again by half. This leaves you with a rich, luscious sauce. And if you don’t have apple brandy it’s no big deal. Just add an additional half cup of apple cider instead. Doing it that way will only require you to reduce the liquid once.  You can see by the pictures below that the reduced braising liquid is thicker and the ingredients much more visible.

The non-reduced braising liquid

The reduced braising liquid

Lesson Learned 4 – You don’t have to use a lot of dishes to make this meal: Once the chicken and apples have been cooked just lay them out on a sheet pan, making sure they are separated.  Then when the braising liquid is done put the meat back into the pot first. The apples will be added back a little later. (I recommend using an enamel coated cast iron dutch oven for this recipe). Combine all the ingredients after you simmered the chicken in the sauce for about 5 minutes and you’re basically done. You can also serve this family style in the cast iron dutch oven you used to make everything. That will give serving a nice rustic touch and it’s perfect for a Fall party or family meal. Just make sure you let your family or guests know that the pan will be very hot.

I just love this recipe. It is so flavorful and screams Fall comfort food. Try this one and let me know what you think…

Cider Braised Chicken With Bacon And Apples...

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


2 Tbs. vegetable oil

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs

3 Granny Smith apples cored and peeled (peeling is optional)

5 slices of thick cut bacon sliced into 1/4 inch lardons

1 yellow onion diced thick

1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup apple brandy

2 cups apple cider

2 Tbs. whole grain mustard

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1 Tbs. finely chopped sage

Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste


Put the vegetable oil in a large dutch oven that has warmed over medium heat. Pat the chicken dry and generously season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the pan and cook until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes on each side. Once you’ve placed the chicken in the pan do not move it until it is ready to flip over. Place the chicken on a sheet pan.

Add the apples to the dutch oven and saute, stirring frequently until just softened and caramelized, about 5-7 minutes. Put the apples on the same sheet pan as the chicken, keeping the two separated

Add the bacon and onions to the pan stirring occasionally until the onions are tender and the bacon fat has rendered, but the bacon is not crisp. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Stir in the brandy and reduce the mixture by half. Stir in the apple cider and scrape the bottom of the dutch oven with a wooden spoon the de-glaze the pan. Bring to a boil and continue to cook until the mixture is reduced by half. Add the chicken into the pan, stir and cover. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in the mustard, cream, sauteed apples and sage. Simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Serve in the dutch oven but make sure you family or guests know that the dutch oven will be very hot. Or, divide the braised chicken and apples among 4 plates and serve immediately.


Chicken, Carrot and Fried Onion Casserole

I just love casseroles. During the winter months there’s nothing better than having a casserole baking away in the oven. The smells, the hot and bubbly goodness and the combination of flavors is simply comfort food heaven. And, if you know me, you know I also love chicken. So what can be better than a chicken casserole? Well, there is one thing and that’s a chicken casserole topped with fried onions – yummo!

I really do try to balance what I eat and so I’ll warn you up front this recipe has the potential to be an artery clogger. But I also know that the key to good living is moderation so every once in a while you can walk on the wild side with something like this. Plus this recipe is versatile, especially where adding vegetables is concerned. And making this is a good way to get come of those vegetables into your children – they are beautifully masked in the deliciousness of the casserole and fried onions.

So let’s talk chicken, carrot and fried onion casserole

Sauteed Carrots

Lesson Learned 1: I used carrots but you can be creative where the vegetables in this recipe are concerned: My husband prefers eating carrots, butternut squash, acorn squash and cauliflower – that’s why you’ll see me using a lot of them in my recipes. But you can use a variety of vegetables.

I chose fresh baby carrots and chopped them into 1/4 inch coins. You can add them to this recipe as is, but I chose to saute mine in butter before adding them to the other ingredients as my husband likes his carrots soft. The cooking time for this recipe will not achieve soft carrots (they will be crisp tender) so I had to give the carrots a head start. But if you like your carrots crisp tender just add them to the other ingredients and skip the sauteing part. The key is cutting them small enough so they’re not rock hard when the casserole is done baking.

You can also use frozen vegetables. Using frozen carrots or frozen mixed vegetables would work very well with this recipe in the allotted cook time. So do what your family loves or what you want your family to eat.

Shredded Chicken

Lesson Learned 2: This is a great recipe for using precooked chicken: Whether you’re trying to think about how to use some of your leftover cooked chicken, or buying a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store, using precooked chicken makes this recipe a breeze. My grocery store actually sells portions of precooked white meat chicken and I used that a lot in my recipes. You can either cut up the chicken into bite size pieces or shred it like I did. Either way will work.

For a quick and delicious week night meal you can’t beat this recipe. You can even assemble it the night before or before going to work and pop it in the oven when you get home. If you do that, I would recommend taking the casserole out of the refrigerator asap and letting it sit on the counter for about a half an hour before putting it into the oven. That will remove some of the chill. You’ll have a better chance of cooking the casserole in the allotted time if it’s not ice cold when you put it in the oven.

Ready For The Oven

Enjoy this one. It’s a keeper!

Chicken Carrot And Fried Onion Casserole...

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


4 cups cooked shredded chicken

2 cups sliced carrots (cut into 1/4 inch coins)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise

1 can cream of chicken soup

1-6oz. can of french fried onions

1 Tbs. butter, melted

Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking spray


Preheat oven to 350 (365 high altitude)

In a large skillet melt the butter and saute the carrots for about 10 minutes, flipping them at regular intervals. Remove them from heat and set aside.

While the carrots are sauteing, mix together in a large bowl the cheese, sour cream, chicken soup and mayonnaise. Once the carrots are cooked and slightly cooled fold them into the sour cream mixture along with the chicken until combined. Taste and add any salt and pepper as needed.

Spray a 9 inch square pan with cooking spray. Add the mixture to the pan and bake for 35-45 minutes. Once the casserole is hot and bubbly add the fried onions on top and continue to bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Let the casserole stand for 5 minutes and serve.

The Cooked Casserole

Homemade Chicken Salad…

You may have noticed over the years that I love chicken. I could eat chicken every day of the week and am always looking at either new recipes or how to perfect old ones. This is the latter. I used to make a very basic chicken salad with grapes, green onions, mayo, salt and pepper and although it wasn’t bad it wasn’t the kind that was over the top in flavor. This recipe is, and I am so excited to share it.

It is not unusual for me to have leftover chicken in the house but this time I made it as the main event and not as a way to use leftovers. But either way, these combination of ingredients makes a chicken salad that you’ll make again and again.

So let’s talk homemade chicken salad…

Chicken Salad Ingredients

Lesson Learned 1 – Use this recipe as a base for what the amount of chicken you have: The recipe I am providing produces enough chicken salad to feed 8 people but can be adjusted for use with lesser amounts of leftover chicken. Just reduce the ingredients according to the percentage of chicken you may have on hand. To make the entire recipe I recommend using a 3 – 4 pound rotisserie chicken, cut up. When I made it initially I had about 2 pounds of cooked chicken pieces, so I reduced the ingredients slightly (remember this is not baking and so it’s ok to fiddle with the amounts) and it came out perfectly. You may have to step out of your comfort zone a little if you decide to adjust the ingredients, but frankly I can’t see that you’ll hurt the chicken salad doing whatever you choose as long as you are somewhat mindful of the overall portions in relation to the full recipe.

Lesson Learned 2 – No matter how much you want to eat it immediately, let the chicken salad sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour and, if you can, overnight: Once the chicken salad is made it looks so good you’ll want to eat it on the spot. I remember I tasted it right away and wasn’t all that enamored with it. But I know from experience that recipes like this require the ingredients to get acquainted in order to fully develop their flavors and so I let it sit overnight. The next day I couldn’t believe the difference in the taste. I was mostly struck by the flavor of the dill which I could hardly taste when I first made it but could really taste after the chicken salad rested overnight.

It wasn’t only the dill flavor that was different – the combination of flavors fully developed and complimented one another to the point that I felt I could eat the whole bowl right on the spot. So please, when you make this, give the ingredients a chance to fully develop. You won’t be sorry you did!

Lesson Learned 3 – You can also add slivered almonds to this recipe: Many recipes I researched included thinly sliced almonds as one of the ingredients. You can certainly add them to this recipe. I did not use them because my husband has a hard time with them – but I wanted to let you know that they are certainly an option for you.

Not a lot of lessons learned on this one as you basically combine all the ingredients and let them sit for a period of time. But this is a great recipe and I’m sure if you try it it’ll be your go-to chicken salad recipe…

Homemade Chicken Salad...

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


3 – 4 lb. rotisserie chicken, cut into bite size pieces

3/4 cup seedless red grapes, halved

2 celery ribs, diced

3-4 scallions, chopped (including the green parts)

2 Tbs. fresh dill, chopped

1 Tbs. fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 cup mayonnaise

1 lemon, juiced

1 Tbs. Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste


In a large bowl combine the chicken, grapes, celery, scallions, dill and parsley. In another bowl combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice and mustard. Add the mayo mixture to the chicken mixture and carefully stir until mixed. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerator for minimally an hour and preferably over night. Great for sandwiches and salads.




Creamy Chicken And Cauliflower Casserole…

I love casseroles, especially during the winter time. I find them to be the true definition of comfort food. And this particular recipe is definitely a throw back. It features all of the ingredients your grandma used to make a quick but delicious meal. And this meal is versatile – you can serve it with pasta or as the main feature in a loaded baked potato or even with rice.  Anyway you look at it, if you want something fast and delicious this is the recipe for you!

What I particularly like about this recipe is that it’s quick to throw together and it’s a great way to use leftover chicken, and there always seems to be a lot of that in my refrigerator. As a matter of fact, I bet you already have all of the ingredients in this casserole in your pantry.

So let’s talk Creamy Chicken And Cauliflower Casserole…

Lesson Learned 1: The ingredients in this casserole are not written in stone: Not only is this casserole easy to put together but it can be made with a wide variety of ingredients. Think of the recipe I’m providing as a base for your imagination. But you can certainly add other things.  You can add some sliced mushrooms if you like. You can substitute frozen broccoli for cauliflower or include a little of both. Frozen peas and carrots would be a great addition as well. Wherever your imagination and pantry take you – this will always be a scrumptious comfort food casserole.

Lesson Learned 2 – If using frozen cauliflower (or broccoli) make sure it is slightly (or completely) thawed. You only bake this for 35-45 minutes and you want to make sure your vegetables are warmed all the way through. Smaller frozen vegetables such as pearl onions or peas and carrots can be added frozen. They will cook through within the allotted time. And if you used frozen chopped cauliflower or broccoli you can simply add them as well since the pieces will be smaller.

Lesson Learned 3 – Use more chicken than you think: I will suggest a certain amount in the recipe since I found that after I made mine I wound up adding more chicken to the leftovers. I initially used a pound and a half of cooked chicken pieces that I got at my local grocery store. But I felt the recipe needed more. I am going to recommend getting a rotisserie chicken from your grocery store and shredding the whole chicken for this recipe. You want to be able to see and taste chicken as the main ingredient and when you shred chicken it just seems to be a lot less for some reason.  If you don’t use a rotisserie chicken then I recommend using 3 large chicken breasts.

There are not a lot of lessons learned to impart on this one as this recipe is super easy. And the extra added bonus is the leftovers are equally scrumptious. You can’t go wrong with this one. Enjoy this easy to make winter comfort food!

Creamy Chicken And Cauliflower Casserole...

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Super Easy
  • Print


1 store bought rotisserie chicken, cut up and shredded

2 cans cream of chicken and mushroom soup

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1 cup colby and monterey jack cheese, shredded

1 1/2 cups frozen cauliflower, thawed

1 cup frozen pearl onions

Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix all the ingredients (chicken, soup, mayo, cheeses, cauliflower and onions) together. Add salt and pepper as needed.

Transfer the ingredients to a lightly greased 2-3 quart casserole dish. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the casserole is bubbly.  Serve.

My Kitchen Remodel Saga And My Slow Cooker Favorites…

The saga of the kitchen, dining room, living room and den flooring projects continues and prevents me from posting some new recipes. I’ve lived through this many times before and even recognize the many ebbs and flows of this type of process. We are definitely in the “frustrated” stage of the project. The whole house is in disarray and will be for a few more weeks (the hardwood floor goes down next week) and it’s at this stage that you long for a clean, organized home.

I liken these types of projects to giving birth. Once the baby arrives you forget about all the pain and rejoice in the outcome. I am so waiting for that time. Before I go into some of my favorite slow cooker recipes I thought I’d share a few pictures of my kitchen to give you some perspective of what I am currently going through.

The picture below gives you somewhat of an idea of what the kitchen looked like when we moved in. Not bad you might say, but there were definitely some challenges. The gas cook top was not what was originally there. When buying a condo I told my husband I would not even consider one that did not have a gas stove. I’ve been a gas girl all my life and know that most if not all professional chefs cook with gas so there was no room for negotiation there.

We took out the cooktop you see in the picture below to install the gas cooktop in the picture above (the gas cooktop was the one the builder took out and replaced with the electric cooktop when doing the remodel). Our condo had been previously owned but purchased back by the builder and converted to the model for the development. (the development was done in two phases and our condo was in one of the first phase buildings). “Upgraded” appliances were installed as part of the conversion. I say upgraded in parenthesis because the new appliances were actually not very good and my husband and I wound up replacing all of them except the refrigerator. I also found it interesting that the electric cooktop they originally installed looked like Mickey Mouse, my bizarre sense of humor.

The original electric cooktop that was in our kitchen

The original kitchen design called for the cooktop and oven to be separate. You can see a small portion of the original oven on the far right of the very first picture above (note the stainless outline at the bottom far right of the picture). The problem with having the oven located there was the thermostat for our heating and cooling system was on the wall directly opposite the oven. Using the oven had a direct effect on the thermostat and we certainly didn’t want that. So we decided to eliminate the cooktop and separate oven combination and get a stove with an oven (see the picture below), install it in the space where the cooktop was (requiring removing the cabinets underneath) and adding cabinet space where the oven had been. It worked out great.

After that, the final problem we wanted to resolve was the engineered wood flooring (you can see it on the bottom of the first picture above). It really doesn’t look that bad in the picture but it was cheap stuff, scratched easily and was hard to clean. Both my husband and I have had wood floors in our previous kitchens and always wound up replacing them with tile. Tile is more durable and easily stands up to the wear and tear of work done in a kitchen. Just be careful not to drop your wine glasses, though. Tile is not forgiving in that regard.

So at this point the tile is laid and setting for a day before doing the grout. My husband does excellent work and is a perfectionist so the work sometimes is painstakingly slow. In the end I know I will be so pleased but in the interim living in a war zone has its ups and downs.

Where my stove/oven used to be

waiting for grout

The one thing we’ve already noticed is the tile is brightening up the kitchen. With the dark cabinets and the dark floor the kitchen was a pretty dark place. The tile is changing all that and brightening it up considerably.

And so, because of all this, once again I do not have a new recipe to share this week. But the good news is I have so many recipes amassed from the many years of doing this blog that I can share some of my recipes that have not seen the light of day for quite some time.

This week I decided to focus on some of my personal favorite slow cooker recipes. Over the years I’ve learned that slow cookers are actually very versatile. Years ago when I would make something in a slow cooker (or crock pots as we used to call it then) my food would come out bland and overcooked. Now I’ve mastered some techniques that have helped me create some wonderful slow cooker dishes. Those are the ones I want to share with you today.

So let’s talk slow cooker favorites…

I’ve chosen these particular recipes because they are easy, impressive and your guests (or family for that matter) will never think they were made in a slow cooker.

  1. SLOW COOKER GROUND BEEF STEW: I really like this recipe because the end result is a thick and luscious stew. The secret is using a large amount of tomato paste. For a 15 ounce can of tomato sauce I recommend using an entire 6 ounce can of tomato paste. For this recipe you want the sauce to be really thick before the stew starts to cook. If the sauce still looks a little thin after mixing the sauce and paste I recommend adding more tomato paste. Don’t be afraid if you think it’s too thick. The residual fat from the browned ground beef will loosen up the sauce in the cooking process but not to the point of making it runny. The consistency of this stew is similar to a nice thick chili. And the flavor of this stew is fabulous. I assure you, this recipe can easily become a family staple.

2. CREAMY MEATBALL AND TORTELLINI SOUP: Years ago I never would have thought of making soup in a slow cooker. But actually it is a perfect tool for making soup. This was the recipe where I learned I can vary my temperatures during the cooking process versus just cooking a recipe on low or high all the time. I made sausage meatballs for this recipe but if you don’t want to take the time to remove the casings and shape the meatballs you can just cut the sausage up in links and throw it in that way. This is a great dish for a chilly night. Serve with a salad and some crusty bread and you have one heck of a meal that takes virtually no effort at all to make.























3. SLOW COOKER TURKEY AND DUMPLINGS: Remember when you only used to have turkey around the holidays? I happen to love turkey and so I try to find as many ways of serving it all year round. I used turkey tenderloins in this recipe, cooking them whole and then shredding them. The surprise ingredient is refrigerated biscuits that I cut up and used as the dumplings. This is a flavorful and hearty dish and a great way to incorporate turkey more routinely into your meal plans.

4. JAMBALAYA: This was my breakthrough recipe using a slow cooker. From past experience, this was the first time that I made something in the slow cooker that didn’t look or taste like mush. If you are inclined to try any of these recipes, I would start with this one. This is a traditional chop and drop slow cooker recipe. The difference is you don’t add all of the ingredients at once so everything is cooked properly but not overcooked. My husband and I absolutely love this recipe and I am sure you will too.

5. SLOW COOKER COUNTRY STYLE PORK RIBS: I have been making this recipe for years. It is definitely a recipe for someone who is just learning to cook as it is, if you follow the instructions, absolutely foolproof. The sauce is rich and thick and the pork is fall-off-the-bone delicious. You can serve this with rice or potatoes and a vegetable of your choice and have a superb meal. If you want a great recipe that is a complete no brainer, this is the one for you.

And there you have it – the saga of my kitchen remodel coupled with my favorite slow cooker recipes. I’m not sure if I will be able to post a new recipe next week, but I certainly hope to. If not, I will share some of my former recipes that have not surfaced for a long time and probably something sweet versus savory. We’ll just have to see how it goes. Thanks for hanging in there with me. Next stop, doing the grout and the hardwood floor installation in the rest of the condo!













































Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Pasta…

Happy New Year! Here’s to another year of great recipe sharing and the many lessons learned along the road to cooking and baking successes.

More and more I’ve been using my slow cooker and have become increasingly pleased with my results. The slow cooker is such a handy dandy tool and I like some of the things that I’m learning I can do with it.

I love this recipe for a couple of reasons. First, it’s really delicious. Second, it makes a large batch so you can have it as a main dish for a party or freeze a bunch of meals for those nights went you want something good but easy. With a recipe like this, all you need add is a small salad and some crusty bread and you have one heck of a meal.

So let’s talk slow cooker Penne Chicken Parmesan

Lesson Learned 1 – The process for making this meal could not be any easier: The steps to the process are pretty basic.

  1. Prepare the sauce…

Sauce Ingredients

2. Pour a little of the sauce on the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the chicken breasts. Season them with salt and pepper.

Seasoned Chicken Breasts

3. Pour the remaining sauce on top of the chicken breasts and cook on low for 4 hours.

Cook on low for 4 hours

4. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Remove the chicken breasts from the sauce and shred. Add pasta and shredded chicken back to the sauce and cook for an additional 30 minutes.

Shred the chicken

5. Add parmesan and mozzarella and cook for an additional 30 minutes.

Lesson Learned 2 – The dish makes the best leftovers: I took the leftovers and froze them in meal sized packages. When I wanted to make it I thawed a package and put it in a casserole dish. I added some more parmesan and mozzarella on top and and some Italian seasoning and baked it covered with foil for 45 minutes at 375 degrees. I removed the foil and baked for an additional 5-10 minutes or until the cheese started to turn a nice golden brown. The picture below is how I served the leftovers. The leftovers tasted divine and from the look of them you would never have guessed they were leftovers.

This is an easy, versatile meal – perfect for this time of year when you’re busy trying to manage the holidays. You’ll feel pampered without a lot of work, and who doesn’t like that. Try this and let me know what you think!

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Pasta

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 – 28 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes

2 Tbs. tomato paste

1 small onion, diced

4-5 large crimini mushrooms sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbs. dried basil

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried parsley

1 pound penne pasta

1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella

1/4 shredded parmesan cheese

kosher salt and pepper

2 Tbs. fresh italian parsley, chopped for garnish, optional

Cooking spray


In a large bowl, combine the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, mushrooms, basil, oregano, and parsley. Stir to combine.

Spray the inside of a 6 qt. slow cooker with cooking spray. Take one cup of the tomato mixture and spread it on the bottom of the crock. Place chicken breasts on top of the sauce. Salt and pepper the chicken breasts. Cover the chicken breasts with the remaining tomato sauce. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.

Prepare the penne pasta according to package directions. (this step can be done ahead of time and the pasta put into the refrigerator. About 1/2 hour before adding the pasta to the sauce, take it out of the refrigerator to remove the chill – see lessons learned above).

Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and shred using two forks. Add the chicken and pasta back to the slow cooker, cover and cook on low for another half hour. Add the parmesan and mozzarella on top, cover and cook for another 30 minutes.

Serve immediately and garnish with fresh chopped parsley, if desired.














Slow Roasted Chicken And Rice…

My last blog was about my favorite carb “taters”. This blog is about my favorite protein, chicken! I kid you not, I could eat chicken every single night of the week. Nothing tops it in my book. So, as with “taters”, I am always on the lookout for new chicken recipes and the easier the better.

Let me tell you, nothing can be easier than this one. It is pretty much a retro classic and so good to make when you have little time to prepare something. The only glitch is it takes 2 1/2 hours to roast in the oven, but it’s one of those recipes where you prep it and forget it.

This recipe relies on canned soup, cream of chicken and cream of celery, and with a little water, rice, poultry seasoning and carrots you have an entire meal in one pan ready to serve all at the same time. Plus it creates a fabulous aroma in your kitchen. You can’t beat that.

So let’s talk slow roasted chicken and rice…

Lesson Learned 1 – Buy chicken breasts with skin and ribs and debone the chicken yourself: You want to do this for a couple of reasons. First it is much less expensive to buy chicken this way. Second by leaving the skin on it keeps the breast nice and moist during the slow roasting process. Invest in a good boning knife and regularly maintain it with a hand sharpening tool like the one pictured to the left. It is surprisingly inexpensive and will keep your knife nice and sharp for a long time and boning the chicken breasts will be a breeze. These days it’s pretty hard to find boneless breasts with the skin still on so this may be the only way to do it.

Lesson Learned 2 – Use a rice mixture for an extra flavor boost: Go ahead, be adventurous and use a rice mixture instead of just plain white rice. You can use wild rice, basmati rice or the mixture that I use which is a combination of white, brown, wild and red rice and pictured to the right. You’ll be amazed at how it punches up the flavor volume and makes the dish even more interesting.

Lesson Learned 3 – If you use thick carrots cut them in half lengthwise: I found the best way to make sure that the carrots are soft roasted is to cut them in half lengthwise if they are an inch or more thick. If they’re thick and you simply cut them in chunks they will not be as tender. If you like a little more body to your carrots you can certainly roast them without cutting them in half. With this recipe I prefer the carrots soft roasted and found the best way to achieve that is cut any that are overly thick. The decision is totally yours.

There are not a lot of lessons learned to share on this one as it is so darn easy to make. I love this recipe because it is a great blend of convenience and good flavor and cooks in one pan. Try this one and I know it will become a staple in your home…

Slow Roasted Chicken And Rice...

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


1 10 ounce can cream of celery soup

1 10 ounce can cream of chicken soup

5 – 10 ounces of water (the more water the creamier the rice)

3/4 cup of rice

1 Tbs. poultry seasoning

4 small or 2 large boneless chicken breasts with skin on

4-6 carrots sliced lengthwise and cut into chunks

1 tsp. McCormick Perfect Pinch Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sized bowl combine the soups, water, rice and poultry seasoning. Chop carrots into chunks.

Spray a 9  x 13 pan with non-stick cooking spray. Spread the soup mixture across the bottom of the pan. Place chicken breasts on top of soup mixture. Arrange carrots around the chicken breasts. Sprinkle the top of the chicken breasts with the rotisserie chicken seasoning.

Cover with foil and roast in the oven for 2 1/2 hours. Do not remove the foil during the entire roasting process. Remove from the oven and uncover. If using large breasts, cut them in half before serving. Serve immediately.

Soup Mixture Ingredients

Arrange The Ingredients In A Prepared Pan

Cover With Foil And Roast

Serving Suggestion

Slow Cooker Turkey and Dumplings…

We are still in the midst of a major kitchen renovation and although I have a brand new stove sometimes it’s just easier to throw things into a slow cooker and let it do all the work. And that’s what I did the other night.

I am particularly proud of this recipe for a variety of reasons but mainly because this was the first time I actually experimented with a process in a slow cooker and it turned out great. In the past I had been the type of slow cooker girl that would never open the slow cooker during the cooking process. But I found that you can and still achieve great results, probably even better results if you are not afraid to walk on the wild side.

By itself, this recipe is pretty traditional using canned soup for the liquid that braises the meat. But by thickening the soup with some flour and water it made the juices turn into a thick creamy gravy. The other trick I used was taking store bought biscuits in a can and using them for the dumplings. I just cut them up and put them in the slow cooker for the last hour. They cooked to a perfect dumpling consistency much to my surprise.

So let’s talk slow cooker turkey with dumplings…

Lesson Learned 1 – Use flour and water to thicken your sauce: At the 4 hour mark I took out the turkey tenderloins to shred them. I noticed that the liquid in the slow cooker was very thin. Right before I added the meat back in I mixed together about 2 tablespoons of flour with about 1/8 cup water and stirred it into the liquid. Then I added back the shredded meat and the biscuits, stirred the mixture, covered the slow cooker and cooked the turkey and dumplings for another hour. The result was fabulous. I guarantee you I would not have gotten such a thick sauce had I not added the flour and water.

Slow Cooker Turkey And Dumplings

One clarifying point – it is extremely important that you mix the flour and water together thoroughly before adding it to the juices. I normally mix flour and water in a glass measuring cup. Once I think I’ve gotten the mixture correct I put my finger in and scrape it along the bottom of the glass. If I can feel any clumps of flour at all I continue mixing until they are all gone. That is very important. You don’t want to wind up with a clump of flour in your gravy.

Lesson Learned 2 – Adding whole garlic cloves to the slow cooker: I discovered that if you add whole garlic cloves at the beginning of the slow cooking process you infuse garlic into your ingredients. And, since slow cooking on average takes 4-6 hours, the garlic literally breaks down into the food so there is no worry of biting into a garlic clove. And if by chance a clove survives, it would be nice and tender, just as if you had roasted it. It’s a great trick to use in a slow cooker.

The VeggiesLesson Learned 3 – Cut large slices of your veggies: Whenever I slow cook I always cut my veggies on the larger side. I find that after cooking for 4-8 hours I’m left with veggies that still have texture and flavor versus veggies that have been completely broken down by the long cooking process.

Lesson Learned 4 – Using refrigerated biscuits for your dumplings: What a great surprise this was. I took butter flavored refrigerator biscuits, flattened them out with the palm of my hand and cut them into slices. I added them during the last hour of cooking and voila, I wound up with dumplings. This is a great trick. Try it!

Refrigerated Biscuits Cut Into Strips

I am really excited about this recipe on a variety of levels. First, it tasted great. Second, it looked great (remember you eat with your eyes first). Third, I experimented with some new techniques and they worked out fabulously. You’ve got to try this one. You will love it!


  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


1 large onion, cut into quarters and separated

4 carrots, cut diagonally in 2 inch slices

2 large garlic cloves, whole

2 large turkey tenderloins

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can cream of celery soup

1 Tbs. flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 Tbs. poultry seasoning

2 cups chicken stock

1 cup frozen peas

1 can refrigerated biscuits, separated, flattened and cut into slices

2 Tbs. flour

1/8 cup water

Salt and pepper, to taste

Flat leaf parsley for garnish, optional


Line the bottom of the slow cooker with the onion slices, carrots and garlic. Place the turkey tenderloins on top of the vegetables. Salt and pepper the ingredients.

In a small bowl, combine thoroughly the soups, parsley and poultry season. Spread over the tenderloins. Pour the stock over the top of the tenderloins. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours.

At the 4 hour mark, remove the tenderloins and cover the slow cooker. Shred the tenderloins using two forks. Open the refrigerated biscuits. Flatten each one with the palm of your hand and cut them into slices. (depending on the length of each slice you can also cut the slices once again in half). Mix together thoroughly the flour and water.

Uncover the slow cooker. Pour in the flour/water mixture and stir until combined in the liquid. Add back the shredded turkey and sliced biscuits. Gently stir to break up the biscuits. Cook for another hour on high, adding the frozen peas during the last 15 minutes of the cooking process.

Turkey Tenderloins

Turkey Tenderloins

Gravy Mixture

Gravy Mixture

Cover With Soup Mixture

Cover With Soup Mixture

Slow Cooker Turkey With Dumplings

Slow Cooker Turkey And Dumplings

Serving Suggestion

Serving Suggestion

Crock Pot Turkey And Dumplings


Slow Cooker Chicken Stew…

It’s rainy, damp and dreary. The high temperature today will only be in the upper 60’s. Fall is definitely in the air. And when Fall rolls around, my thoughts turn to slow cooker and oven meals. Nothing beats the smell of a great meal permeating the house on a cool, crisp Fall day. So out came the slow cooker and this delicious recipe.

I’m not one for adding canned soup to a slow cooker recipe but I have to admit I was in a hurry so the can of cream of chicken soup was a life saver. There is nothing earth shattering about this recipe. It is basic, simple but very flavorful and it definitely hits the spot on a cool Fall day. And if you’re a novice cook looking to make an impression in the kitchen, this recipe if full proof. The slow cooker does all the work for you. Serve this creamy delight with a side salad and some crusty bread or fresh baked dinner rolls and you’ll have a fabulous meal.

So let’s talk slow cooker chicken stew…

Slow Cooker Chicken StesLesson Learned 1 – Do not overcook this one: So many slow cooker recipes call for 4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. And with that rule of thumb, quite often you get bland, overcooked dried out food. Only cook this recipe for a maximum of 6 hours on low. I recommend 5 hours. I cooked mine for 4 1/2 hours on low and the last half hour on high (I will explain why in my next lessons learned).

Get to know your slow cooker and its default temperature settings. Some slow cookers have higher default settings than others. The last thing you want to do is the have this stew boiling for 5 hours. This recipe can be done in as little as 4 hours on low. It depends on how big you cut up your chicken. I cut mine up into 1 1/2 inch cubes and they turned out great in the 5 hour timeframe. If you have smaller pieces, 4 hours will be just fine. Don’t be afraid of that.

Stew SauceLesson Learned 2 – Don’t put all of your vegetables in the slow cooker at the beginning: Get to know your veggies. Some veggies will get annihilated if you put them in at the beginning and cook them for 5 hours. I always put in my carrots (and I cut them chunky) potatoes, onions and celery first. With less hearty vegetables I add them during the last half hour. This time I chose to add green beans, but you can do asparagus or zucchini squash or any vegetable that you want to turn out crisp tender. My green beans turned out a perfect crisp tender which is exactly how I like them. And I only added them during the last half hour of cooking. The key was I turned the slow cooker to high for the last half hour and that did the trick. (NOTE: Put frozen vegetables in during the last half hour as well).img_2623

This recipe admittedly is very basic but can be a show stopper for the novice cook, and after all that is cook I am trying to help. But even if you’re not a novice, this recipe is a great one to have in your back pocket when you need an easy but great tasting meal. Enjoy!


  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Slow Cooker Chicken StewINGREDIENTS:

2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into large bite sized pieces

1 Tbs. butter, melted

1 large onion cut into large cubes

8-10 small yukon gold potatoes, halved

4 thick carrots peeled and cut into 2 inch logs

1/2 cup diced celery

1 cup fresh string beans, cleaned and trimmed

1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of chicken soup

1/2 cup of milk

1/2 cup sour cream

1 packet ranch dressing mix

Salt and pepper to taste

Flat leaf parsley for garnish, optional


Coat onion, potatoes, celery and carrots with melted butter and place in the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the chicken. Salt and pepper the meat and vegetables.

Mix together the soup, milk, sour cream and ranch dressing mix. Spread evenly on top of the meat and vegetables. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 4 1/2 hours. Remove the top of the slow cooker and quickly stir the stew. Add the green beans, cover and cook on high for and additional 1/2 hour.

Serve in a bowl or over fresh baked dinner rolls and with a side salad.

Slow Cooker Chicken Stew

 Slow Cooker Chicken Stew

Chicken, Cauliflower and Mushroom Casserole…

Casseroles can be deceptive. On the outside what you see is a one dish meal – couldn’t be easier right? But upon closer inspection you see a wide variety of ingredients that have to be “bake-off” ready in order to assemble the casserole. And if you don’t have those ingredients on hand, there’s a lot of work involved in putting a casserole together.  Just be aware of that, especially if you are prepping ingredients from scratch. Let’s face it, casseroles are basically designed to help you use your leftovers – sort of a “fooled you, you ate this the other night for dinner and here it is again, just dressed up differently!” But whether you are using leftovers or preparing ingredients from scratch there is nothing as comforting as a casserole. And besides, I’d rather be relaxing an hour before the meal than scrambling right up to the last minute before you put the meal on the table. For me, that is the beauty of a casserole.

Casseroles also feed my love of prepping things. So I’ll admit I made this the other day without using any leftovers. This was a from scratch casserole. But if you’re a prep nut like me who gets satisfaction out of chopping, mincing, dicing and slicing than it really is no big deal.

So let’s talk about making a chicken, cauliflower and mushroom casserole…

Casserole IngredientsLesson Learned 1 – Get all the individual ingredients prepped first: This is pretty much a rule of thumb for almost any recipe, but since there are so many different types of ingredients in a casserole I’ve found the best thing to do is to get everything “assembly ready” first. That way you’re much more organized and the casserole assembly process is a breeze. That means have the chicken cut up or shredded, slightly steam the cauliflower, sauté the mushrooms, either use leftover rice or cook your rice, and shred all of your cheeses.

And by the way, it is always better to shred your own cheese. Packaged pre shredded cheese has an “ingredient” in it, cellulose, designed to keep the shreds of cheese from sticking together. And guess what – cellulose is made from wood pulp. So unless you want to have a regular amount of wood pulp in your diet, I’d recommend shredding your cheese by hand. It’s not that hard and obviously healthier for you.

Lesson Learned 2 – A chicken casserole’s best friend – store bought rotisserie chicken: You can always roast the chicken you need ahead of time in your own oven, but it’s so much simpler just to buy store bought rotisserie chicken and use that. I bought a small chicken, removed and discarded the skin and shredded the meat. It saved a lot of time and believe me, no one knew the difference.

Lesson Learned 3 – Use any melting cheese you have on hand: I had gruyere and havarti on hand so I just combined those two for this casserole. To top the casserole I found a specialty cheese called buffalo wing artisan cheddar cheese. That cheese was great because it had a nice kick to it and added a unique flavor to the top of the casserole. Really, you can be inventive with your cheeses. You just want to make sure that whatever cheese(s) you use it is good melting cheese.

Lesson Learned 4 – Just slightly steam the cauliflower: I steamed mine for about 5 minutes. Really all you want is for them to just show the first signs of cooking. Remove them from the heat. No need to shock them. Just don’t feel that you have to steam them for a long time. All you really need to do is give them a little nudge.

Lesson Learned 5 – Once everything thing is prepped, assembly is a snap: Here is what the assembly looks like in pictures.

Line the bottom of a pan treated with non stick cooking spray with rice

Line the bottom of a pan treated with non stick cooking spray with rice

Put the cauliflower florets on top of the rice

Put the cauliflower florets on top of the rice

Spread the chicken mixture on top of the rice and cauliflower

Spread the chicken mixture on top of the rice and cauliflower

Spread chicken mixture over the rice and cauliflower

Top with cheese

Top with cheese and pop into the oven

And there you have it. Forty-five minutes to an hour later you will be in casserole heaven. So try this one, play with the ingredients and as always let me know what you think…


  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


1  Four pound rotisserie chicken, skin removed, cubed or shredded

1 small head of cauliflower cut into florets and slightly steamed (4 cups of florets)

8 large cremini mushrooms, sliced and sautéed in 1 Tbs. of  butter

1 1/2 cups cooked rice (cooked in low sodium chicken broth for additional flavor)

1 ten ounce can of condensed cream of mushroom soup

1 cup of sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

2 1/2 cups shredded melting cheese (I used a combination of havarti and gruyere)

1 – 1 1/2 cups shredded buffalo wing artisan cheddar cheese (for the top)

Salt and pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 6 quart casserole dish with butter or spray it with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the dish with the cooked rice. Arrange the cauliflower florets on top of the rice.

In a large bowl combine the chicken, sautéed mushrooms, mushroom soup, havarti and gruyere cheeses, sour cream, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste.

Spread the chicken mixture on top of the rice and cauliflower. Cover the casserole with the buffalo wing cheddar cheese.

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. If need be, cook up to an additional 15 minutes longer. Casserole is done when the cheese on top is melted and the casserole is bubbly. Remove the casserole from the oven and let it stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Chicken, cauliflower mushroom casserole

Chicken, cauliflower and mushroom casserole

Chicken, cauliflower and mushroom casserole

Chicken, Cauliflower and Mushroom Casserole



Chicken Shepherds Pie…

After having made a delightful roast chicken (check out my roast chicken in a cast iron skillet recipe) I was faced with how to use the leftovers. Quite often I make a simple chicken salad consisting of cut up chicken, scallions, grapes, mayo and seasonings, but this time I wanted to do something different.

I’ve always liked the concept of shepherds pie. You basically take your leftover meat and mashed potatoes and create a pie that is oh so good – the true definition of comfort food. Most recipes I’ve seen suggest using frozen vegetables and if you’re in a hurry that will certainly work. But I like to use fresh vegetables whenever I can so I decided to do that instead. I also did not have any left over mashed potatoes so I just whipped up a batch. I’ve tried shepherds pies with store bought pre-prepared mashed potatoes or with instant mashed potatoes but I didn’t think the consistency was as good as when you use homemade mashed potatoes. But you can still use them if you want to.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is the beauty of this recipe is you can make it as simple or as intricate as you like. I still think taking the time to use fresh ingredients and home made mashed potatoes produces the best results. But the choice is yours.

So let’s talk chicken shepherds pie…

Sauteed vegetablesLesson Learned 1 – Use whatever vegetables you want or have on hand: This time I used the “trinity”, onions, celery and carrots along with some frozen peas. But really you can use anything you have. You just have to make sure that you sauté the vegetables to crisp tender before putting them into the pie dish. Next time I’m going to try using some broccoli and cauliflower heads chopped on the smaller side along with onions and carrots. I may even try adding pearl onions instead of chopped onions. It is important to cut the carrots small as they will take the longest to soften. I halved my carrots lengthwise and then halved them again before chopping them. That way they softened right along with the celery and onions. And if you’re using frozen peas (which I did) don’t add them until the very end. They thaw very quickly.

Lesson Learned 2 – Add the chicken at the very end: The chicken you use in this recipe is already cooked so your goal is to warm it through and not cook it to the point that you dry it out. All you really need to do is mix the chicken with the vegetables and then put the mixture into the dish(es) you will be using. The time the pie spends in the oven will be more than enough to warm the chicken through. You might want to take the chicken out of the refrigerator about a half hour before using it in the recipe. That way you will get the chill off of it and it will warm nicely in the oven.

Shepherds Pie FillingLesson Learned 3 – You can use individual pie pans or one 9 inch pie pan: I prefer giving everyone there own little pie but you can certainly bake this as one big pie as well and spoon out individual servings. Either way will work.

Lesson Learned 4 – Put the pie(s) on a foil lined baking sheet before placing them in the oven: I guarantee you, the pie filling WILL LEAK OUT of the pie dish. In order to avoid the filling dripping all over the bottom of your oven make sure the pans are resting on a foiled lined rimmed baking sheet. That way you’ll save yourself a lot of mess and clean up time.

Lesson Learned 5 – Use russet potatoes when making mashed potatoes: Russet potatoes have a lot more starch in them and hold up better in the baking process than other types of potatoes (at least that’s my opinion). Use russet potatoes and don’t make them too runny. Although I will write out some ingredients for making the potatoes use common sense when making them. If they already appear very soft after you mash them add very little liquid to them. If they are stiff, add a little bit of liquid at a time and see how they turn out when you mix them. Remember you can always add more of an ingredient if you need to. I think you get the best results when the potatoes have a slightly firmer consistency. If they’re too soft they will get even runnier in the oven, and you don’t want that.

Also another trick I learned is to add an egg yolk at the end of the mashing process. That gives the potatoes a richer color and more depth of flavor. Just make sure your potatoes are not hot to the point that they scramble the egg yolk. Chances are that will not be the case.

Also if you want to be fancy you can use a pastry bag and pipe the potatoes on the top of the pie. I chose not to. I used a frosting knife and after I dolloped some potatoes on top smoothed them over the vegetables. Try to create some peaks with your potatoes. The peaks are what will brown in the oven and give the eye pleasing look as seen in the second picture below.

Ready To Go Into The Oven

Ready To Go Into The Oven

Fresh Out Of The Oven

Fresh Out Of The Oven

This recipe is the epitome of comfort food. Try it and tell me what you think… Enjoy!


  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
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2 large russet potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 medium onion chopped

2 stalks of celery, chopped

1 cup of carrots, chopped small

4 cloves of garlic, divided: 2 whole and 2 minced

4 Tbs. unsalted butter, divided

3 Tbs. flour

1 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock

1 1/2 cups roasted chicken, cubed or shredded

1/3 cup frozen peas

1 1/2 cups loosely packed emmenthaler cheese (a good melting swiss)

1 large egg yolk

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 tsps. dried oregano

Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put the potatoes and two peeled cloves of garlic in a large pot and cover them with cold water (the water should be about an inch over the potatoes. Add a generous pinch of salt and bring the potatoes to a boil. Cook until tender about 20-25 minutes (the cooking time will vary depending on how large or small your cut the potatoes). The potatoes are done when they are fork tender.

Meanwhile in a large skillet melt 3 Tbs. of butter. Add the onion, celery and carrots. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook until crisp tender, approximately 5 minutes. Add the remaining 2 cloves of minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the flour and stir for about a minute to remove any “floury” taste. Add the chicken stock and continue to cook until the liquid thickens about 10 minutes. Add the cheese and oregano and stir until the cheese is melted. Taste the mixture and add any additional salt and pepper as needed. Add the chicken and peas. Stir to combine. Turn off the heat and let stand.

Drain the potatoes and put them back into the pot. Add 1 Tbs. of butter and cover for a few minutes until the butter is melted. Using a hand masher or electric hand mixer, mash the potatoes until most of the lumps are gone. Add the heavy cream (you may want to add it incrementally instead of all at once so that the potatoes don’t wind up to runny) and finish mashing. Separate an egg and put only the yolk into the mashed potatoes. Stir until completely combined. Add any additional salt as needed.

Place the vegetables mixture into the pan(s). Top with the mash potatoes. Smooth the potatoes over the top of the vegetables until they are completely covered. Place the pan(s) on a foil lined rimmed backing sheet. Bake until the potatoes are lightly browned and the vegetable mixture is warm and bubbly, approximately 20-30 minutes.

Chicken Shepherds Pie

Chicken Shepherds Pie

Balsamic Chicken and Vegetables…

Once again, another chicken recipe. What can I say, I love chicken. I like this recipe because it is quick, colorful and ever so delicious. Just one half hour and you’re putting a great meal on the table.

So let’s talk balsamic chicken and vegetables…

The ingredients.

The ingredients.

Lesson Learned 1 – Preparation is the key to success in this recipe: This recipe cooks relatively quickly. It is important to have everything prepped ahead of time so that you can move seamlessly through the steps.

I got everything ready and had the ingredients in prep bowls so that I could add things systematically. Because this recipe cooks so quickly it would be difficult, if not impossible to prep things as you went along.

Lesson Learned 2 – Cooking with shredded carrots: Boy, did I learn my lesson on this one. When carrots are cut that thinly they cook very quickly. I added them in with the asparagus and tomatoes and they overcooked. If you decide to add shredded carrots to this recipe add them at the end when you put the chicken back in the pan.  That gives them only a couple of minutes to get warm which is what you want. As you notice in my final pictures you don’t see the carrots. They got so overdone that I just tossed them. True lesson learned.  (you see, even cooks that have a lot of successes can have failures too – it’s all part of the process).

Lesson Learned 3 – Use cherry tomatoes and keep them whole: You can use any kind of tomato in this recipe, but I found that if you use cherry tomatoes and keep them whole they cook in the same amount of time as the asparagus. The cherry tomatoes were just starting to burst at the time the asparagus became crisp tender.

Chicken TenderloinsLesson Learned 4 – Use chicken tenderloins for this recipe: You can buy prepackaged chicken tenderloins or you can cut your own from boneless skinless chicken breasts. Chicken tenderloins are slightly thicker than chicken cutlets (about a quarter of an inch or so) and they cook very quickly, I found cooking them for 3 minutes on each side and then adding them back to the pan at the end for a couple of minutes was more than enough time. The tenderloins were cooked and still juicy.

Lesson Learned 5 – Be careful how much oil you use: I cooked this in a well seasoned cast iron skillet so I only used about a tablespoon of garlic infused olive oil. You can use two tablespoons of oil or a combination of one tablespoon oil and one tablespoon butter but if you do, measure it and don’t eyeball it. You don’t want the end result to be greasy and if you’re not careful that’s what will happen. Less is more where the oil is concerned in this recipe.

This is a great recipe for a quick meal that tastes special. Try it and let me know what you think!


  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


Balsamic Chicken and Vegetables1 Packet Italian Dressing Mix (make according to directions on the packet)

3 Tbsp. good balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 Tbs. honey

1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes, optional

1 – 2 Tbs. olive oil (no more than 2)

1/4 cup shallots, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

6-8 chicken tenderloins

1 pound asparagus, trimmed

1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, left whole

1 cup shredded carrots, optional (see lessons learned above)

Salt and pepper to taste


In a large prepare the salad dressing mix according to the instructions on the packet. Add the balsamic vinegar, honey and red pepper flakes. Set aside.

Heat oil in (preferably) a large cast iron skillet. Pat chicken tenderloins dry with a paper towel. Season one side with salt and pepper. Place the tenderloins seasoned side down in the heated oil. Season the other side of the tenderloins. Cook for three to four minutes on each side. Remove the tenderloins from the pan and cover them with foil to keep them warm.

Add the shallots and garlic to the pan. Cook for only a minute. Add half the salad dressing mixture to the pan. Add the asparagus and tomatoes. Cook for about 3 minutes or just until you see slightly cracking on the skins of the tomatoes.

Remove the veggies from the pan and cover them to keep them warm. Add the remaining salad dressing mix and cook stirring constantly until the liquid begins to reduce and thicken. Turn down the heat and the chicken and veggies back into the skillet. Cook for another two minutes. Serve immediately.

Balsamic Chicken and Vegetables

Serving Suggestion: Balsamic Chicken And Vegetables With And Individual Sweet Potato Casserole

Serving Suggestion: Balsamic Chicken And Vegetables With An Individual Sweet Potato Casserole

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken…

I think I have a love/hate relationship with slow cookers. The concept of the slow cooker is undeniably fabulous – put something in the pot when you leave the house in the morning and voila, when you come home from work, you have a meal ready to go. The challenge is to find or create slow cooker recipes that in the end not only produce a meal but a flavorful one, one that is not cooked to the Peter Principal of bland. I’ve tried many variations of slow cooker recipes and have only a few that I think I’ve perfected. This is one of them.

What I’ve found with a slow cooker is if you vary what you are slow cooking with either other ingredients not in the slow cooker or ingredients that you put in the slow cooker near the end of the cooking process you’ll get a much better outcome. So is the case with this recipe.

So let’s talk slow cooker honey garlic chicken…

Browned Chicken ThighsLesson Learned 1 – The best type of chicken to use and how to prepare it: For this recipe and for most slow cooker recipes involving chicken, I use chicken thighs. I recommend using bone in, skin on chicken thighs for this particular recipe. Slow cooking tends to take the moisture out of chicken and by using these types of chicken thighs you protect yourself against getting dried out, bland chicken. I recommend searing the thighs briefly over a very hot heat, preferably in a cast iron skillet, before putting them into the slow cooker. Then after the meal is prepared, I recommend putting the chicken under the broiler just briefly the crisp up the exterior skin a little. As I mentioned earlier, I think the process of slow cooking is merely a part of the cooking process and not the entire thing. By searing and then briefly putting the chicken under the broiler at the end, you’ll wind up with a juicier, more flavorful outcome.

all-clad-6.5-qt.-slow-cookerLesson Learned 2 – Get to know how your slow cooker cooks: All slow cookers are not created equal. Some have higher default temperature settings than others. I have an All-Clad slow cooker and I love it, but I’ve learned over time that I can lessen the cooking time on my chicken recipes and they turn out better. Many of the recipes I read from which I based this one called for the cooking time to be 7-8 hours on low. In my experience and with my slow cooker I know I can cook chicken for 6 hours on low and I wind up with chicken that is cooked through but doesn’t taste like chalk. Especially with this recipe where you open the slow cooker twice during the cooking process to baste and to add the haricot vert. So be aware, you may have a few disappointments before perfecting recipes in your slow cooker. But there is nothing like the convenience of a slow cooker and once you find your groove with yours, you will love it!

Lesson Learned 3 – Ingredients to add at the end of the cooking process: In this recipe you add the haricot vert (green beans) during the last half hour of cooking. At the time I added them, I also scooped some of the sauce over the chicken just to add a little more moisture to it. (I also basted the chicken with the sauce about half way through the cooking process). By adding the green beans at the end they turned out crisp tender and were delightful. Put in only the amount you intend to have for that meal. If you have leftovers, cook a fresh bunch of beans at that time.

Also, if you want crisp tender onions you can add frozen pearl onions in with the haricot vert during the last thirty minutes.

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic ChickenCertain ingredients only take a short amount of time in the slow cooker (like beans, shrimp, frozen okra) but others take the full cooking time (like carrots, potatoes and onions). The ones you cook the entire time should always be cut into large chunks so they don’t fall apart at the end. The ones you put in for a short time can go in as is.

I think you’ll like this recipe. It definitely is easy and with a few simple tricks you can achieve great flavor as well. Try it and tell me what you think!

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken…

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
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8 bone in, skin on chicken thighs

baby new potatoes (or red potatoes quartered)

baby carrots (or 4-5 large carrots cut into chunks)

1 large sweet onion, quartered (or frozen pearl onions)

haricot vert (thin green beans), enough for your initial serving

1 Tbs. butter

1 Tbs. garlic infused olive oil (you can use plain olive oil)

1 1/2 cups low sodium soy sauce

1 1/2 cups clover honey

3/4 cup ketchup

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (you can add more if you want it spicier)

Salt and pepper


In a cast iron skillet, heat the butter and olive oil until the butter is melted. Pat dry the chicken thighs and season them with salt and pepper. Place them skin side down into the hot pan. Sear them until light golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove the chicken thighs from the pan and set aside.

Whisk together the soy sauce, honey, ketchup, garlic, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes. Place the potatoes, carrots and onions (if using frozen pearl onions, add them during the last 30 minutes of cooking time) in the slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken thighs on top of the vegetables. Pour the soy sauce mixture over the chicken and vegetables. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours (this time depends on your slow cooker and its default temperatures). Half way through the cooking process baste the chicken with the soy sauce mixture.

One half hour before serving add the green beans and baste the chicken again (add the frozen pearl onions at this time). If desired, before serving, place the chicken thighs on a baking sheet and put them under the broiler for approximately three minutes. Serve immediately.

Ingredients ready for slow cooking

Ingredients ready for slow cooking


Grilled Honey Mustard Chicken…

I love the taste of honey mustard. Whether it be a salad dressing, a marinade or a dipping sauce, to me the flavor of honey and mustard combined is simply fabulous. So the other day when faced with grilling chicken for dinner, I decided to kick the flavor up a notch, marinate the chicken in a home made honey mustard sauce, baste the the chicken with the sauce while it was grilling and finally adding a drizzle of it on top right before serving. It was death by honey mustard sauce, but boy was it ever delicious.

So let’s talk grilled honey mustard chicken…

Honey Mustard SauceLesson Learned 1 – Honey mustard sauce/marinade comes in all different shapes and sizes: I’ve tried various ways of making a honey mustard sauce. What I like about this version is it contains sour cream which, I think, adds to creaminess and tang of the sauce. You certainly can use plain yogurt or even chicken stock when making a honey mustard sauce. But so far, I like this sauce recipe the best.

The other thing I recommend is using a mixture of whole grain and dijon mustards to make the sauce. I think using whole grain mustard not only adds to the depth of  the sauce’s flavor but also gives great texture and eye appeal. Remember you eat first with your eyes. By using whole grain mustard there is no doubt what’s in the sauce.

Marinate chicken in a sealable bagMy last recommendation where the sauce is concerned is to marinate the chicken for at least 4 hours, with overnight being preferable. Once you’ve put the chicken in a bag with the marinade, remember to turn it over every once in a while to make sure every inch in soaking in the tasty marinade. Also once you’ve made the marinade and before you pour it in the bag save about a quarter of  a cup to baste the chicken with during grilling and to drizzle over the chicken right before you serve. All I can say is YUMMO!

Lesson Learned 2 – Should you use skin-on or skinless chicken breasts: As you can see from the pictures, I chose to grill skin-on boneless chicken breasts. In many instances I find the fat from the skin permeates the meat during the cooking process and adds additional moistness to the meat. But you have to consider the fact that the sauce contains honey, and I found the skin tended to stick to the grill because of the honey.

Marinated Chicken Breasts

Marinated Chicken Breasts

After a point I wound up just peeling the skin off and cooking the breasts without it. The sticking factor was much less, I still got great grill marks and the breasts were moist. Just make sure you flip them every 5-6 minutes. I cooked mine for about 30 minutes total. Your cooking time will depend upon the thickness of your chicken breasts and the temperature of your grill. If you’re not sure if they’re done, stick a meat thermometer into the center of the meat. If it reads 160 degrees, you’re good to go. Just make sure to turn them over regularly.

Chicken On The Grill

If you’ve been following this blog you know I am a big fan of chicken. I eat it a lot and so I’m always experimenting with ways to prepare it. If you have any favorite chicken recipes you want me to try, just let me know. But I guarantee this recipe is definitely a winner. Enjoy!

Grilled Honey Mustard Chicken…

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Four 6-8 ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/2 cup mustard (half dijon half whole grain) – you can make it a generous half cup

1/3 cup clover honey

1/3 cup sour cream

2 TBS steak sauce

chives for garnish


Mix together the mustards, honey, sour cream and steak sauce. Take a quarter cup of the marinade and put it in a separate container in the refrigrator. Place the chicken is a sealable plastic bag and pour the remaining marinade into the bag. Seal the bag and massage the contents until the marinade is evenly distributed over the chicken.

Place the chicken in the refrigerator and marinate it for at least 4 hours, overnight is preferable but not necessary. Turn the bag over every once in a while to make sure the chicken gets regularly coated with the marinade.

Prepare your grill (we have a gas grill and I heated it to 400 degrees). Remove the chicken from the marinade and toss the bag with the marinade into the trash. Cook the chicken on the grill for 30 – 40 minutes, (feedback from a reader below said their cooking time was only 10 minutes) remembering to turn it over every 5-6 minutes and basting the breasts every time you turn them over with the marinade you initially set aside in the refrigerator.  The chicken is done when the internal temperature at the center of the thickest part of the meat is 160 degrees. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Per the feedback below, the main thing is to keep an eye on your chicken breasts while making this recipe. For my grill it takes about 30 minutes for 8 ounce breasts. As you can see from the comment below, on their grill it took only ten minutes, which would indicate that their chicken breasts may have been slightly smaller than mine or their grill slightly hotter than mine. That was great feedback, and definitely something to keep in mind when grilling chicken breasts.)

Before serving, drizzle the breasts with some of the remaining marinade and garnish with chopped chives.

Grilled Honey Mustard Chicken...

Serving suggestion: Grilled Honey Mustard Chicken, Baked Potato and Simple Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Serving Suggestion: grilled honey mustard chicken, baked potato with fresh chopped chives and simple oven roasted tomatoes

Chicken Parmesan For Two…

Once again this young girl’s fancy turns to a chicken recipe, and this time with an Italian flair. What can you say about chicken parmesan that doesn’t scream delicious. Breaded chicken, marinara sauce, fresh basil leaves, provolone and parmesan cheeses. Sounds like a killer combo to me. And I like my little twist on this recipe, incorporating whole basil leaves under the provolone. This one got a two thumbs up from my husband, so you know it’s got to be good.

Lesson Learned 1 – You need to be organized for this recipe: This recipe has several different steps that can either work like a charm or throw you for a loop. Make sure you prep everything ahead and the process will be a breeze. Preheat the oven, set up the dredging station, grate the parmesan, lay out the basil leaves and provolone slices, have pans ready for the excess marinara and frying the breasts and so on. The key to success here is not only in the ingredients but also in the preparation.

Lesson Learned 2 – Grate fresh parmesan and don’t use the canned stuff: There is a difference. Grated fresh parmesan has a fuller, more robust flavor. It also melts better and tastes less salty. And it’s not that hard to do. I cut small pieces off a brick and put them in my mini food processor. I pulse the processor a few times just to get it started and once it appears the pieces have been broken down I just let the processor go. I guarantee you it’s worth the effort.







Lesson Learned 3 – Use less marinara sauce than you think: You want to make sure the chicken doesn’t get too soggy. Use only a little bit of marinara in the bottom of the pan and spoon only about a tablespoon on top of it before adding the basil and provolone. Keep the leftover sauce warm on the stove and you can add more to the chicken when you serve it if you like. Or you can do what I did and use it to top a side of spaghetti.


Lesson Learned 4 – Use fresh basil leaves if at all possible: The fresh basil leaves provide great flavor to the chicken. You can sprinkle the chicken with dried basil if that’s all you have, but fresh is so much better. Top the basil with a slice of provolone and you’re ready to go.



Lesson Learned 5 – You can use just one chicken breast for this recipe: I only used one large chicken breast for this recipe. I buy breasts whole with the bone and ribs attached and bone them myself. I halved one of the breasts and it left me with two perfect portions that were 1/2 inch thick. If you have thicker breast meat you’ll need to pound it down to 1/2 inch thick in order for the chicken to cook in the allotted time. Many people shy away from boneless skinless breasts because they think they’re too dry when in actuality they overcook them. Boneless chicken breasts can be very tender and juicy if cooked properly. Follow the allotted time in the recipe and you’ll have great results.


While I was making this my husband said, “Wow, that’s a lot of work.” For someone who enjoys the prep part of preparing a meal, I didn’t find that to be the case. But as I mentioned earlier, you definitely have to be organized when you make this recipe. Get everything ready up front so that all you’ll have to do is move seamlessly between each step of the process.

I’ve written this recipe for two people but it can be easily adaptable to 4 or more. You’ve got to try this and let me know what you think. It’s definitely worth it!

Chicken Parmesan For Two…

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print


1 large boneless chicken breast, halved and pounded to 1/2 inch thick (if needed)

1 cup of flour

1 cup of bread crumbs, plain or seasoned

1 Tbs. italian seasoning

1 Tbs. garlic powder

1 cup of grated parmesan, halved

1 egg

Splash of milk

1 small jar of marinara sauce

4 large basil leaves

2 slices of thinly sliced provolone

Canola oil


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Set up a dredging station for the chicken with 3 separate dishes (I use paper plates for two of them and that works just fine). Combine the flour, garlic powder and italian seasoning on one plate. In a rimmed dish, beat the egg and milk together. Combine the bread crumbs and half the grated parmesan on another plate.

Dredge both sides of a chicken breast in the flour. Dip the breast into the egg mixture coating both sides. Dredge the breast in the bread crumb mixture and set aside. Follow the same process with the second chicken breast.

In a large skillet heat the canola oil until it looks shimmery. Use enough canola oil so that when the chicken is added it sizzles around the chicken. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 3 minutes on each side. Once done on both sides, place the chicken breasts on paper towels to absorb the excess oil.

Lightly coat the bottom of a baking dish with marinara sauce. Arrange the chicken on top of the sauce. Put a tablespoon of marinara over the each breast. Sprinkle the remaining grated parmesan on top of both breasts. Top each breast with two large basil leaves and place a provolone slice over the basil.

Bake the chicken for 15-20 minutes. Serve.



Serving Suggestion: chicken parmesan with garlic roasted asparagus and spaghetti



Lemon Chicken With Garlic And Capers…

If you happen to glance at my recipe page and notice a plethora of chicken recipes there’s a reason for that. I simply love chicken, no two ways about it. A lot of people blog a wide variety of recipes. I simply blog recipes that I like. If my recipes don’t fit the bill for you, no worries. There are so many websites to choose from these days so I’m sure you’ll find what you’re looking for if it’s not here.

Not only do I blog recipes that I like, but also ones that are simple but can challenge you in some regard to move yourself out of your comfort zone. My goal is to be your test kitchen by doing the work up front and giving you insights on how to be successful. I wished for a long time that I had someone who would do that for me. It can get frustrating when you fail to get things right time after time. So hopefully I can demystify a few things for you, and I hope I can learn some things from you as well.

So back to this chicken recipe. It’s relatively simple. What takes the most time is the prep. But I love to prep. Chopping, mincing, dicing, slicing – it’s therapeutic for me. Don’t let the prep make you shy away from making this. So much can be done ahead and then once it’s time to cook, everything goes relatively quickly. I made this with a brussels sprouts, pancetta and sun-dried tomato side and it was a little tricky balancing the steps between both. But it was all worth it when my husband kept saying, “This dinner is really good.” Enjoy this recipe and my lessons learned…

IMG_2614Lesson Learned 1 – Cooking with lemon slices: First you need to slice the lemon into even-sized thin rounds. The best way to do this is with a mandolin slicer. In a past recipe I spent quite a bit of time talking about how great a mandolin slicer can be and also how dangerous it can be to use. Just be careful when you use one. But as you can see from the picture, the mandolin will give you even-sized thin rounds.

IMG_2625In the recipe you actually sauté the lemon rounds. It gives the chicken and sauce a delightful flavor and also serves as a garnish for the chicken when you serve it. The trick is to cook them quickly, no longer than about 45 seconds. Once you notice the lemons starting to turn brown, as you can see in the picture to the right, remove them from the pan. You want them to be slightly browned but you don’t want them to loose their shape or too much of their sections.

Lesson Learned 2 – Make sure the chicken breasts are no thicker than 3/4 inch: The thin breasts cook quickly, about 4 minutes per side. I took regular chicken breasts and with a sharp knife cut them in half. That gave me 3/4 inch pieces. You can also take a breast and pound it out to that thickness and then cut it into portion size pieces. Whatever is easier.

10-piece-2.25-10.25-glass-bowl-setLesson Learned 3 – Be organized when making this recipe: I like this recipe not only because it’s flavorful, and believe me it is, but because once you’re done with the prep, the rest is a breeze and goes quite quickly. But the trick is to be organized and have everything prepped up front. I systematically go through the list of ingredients and see what needs to be done with each. Then I put each ingredient into little prep bowls and set them aside until it’s time to use them. Just be careful, you don’t want to prep some things too far ahead. Something like flat leaf parsley that you use for a garnish is best prepped right before you want to use it. If I’m not sure about something I prep it, cover it with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator until it’s time to start cooking. I am not suggesting doing your prep hours in advance. I normally start, depending upon the requirements of the recipe, about an hour before I plan on cooking it. The key is to have everything chopped, diced, sliced, etc., before you start. You will have no time to do this work once you start the cooking process.

Now that I come to think of it, this really applies to any recipe. It is so important to understand it and stick to the process, especially when you’re learning to maneuver your way around a kitchen. Ready recipes thoroughly (at least twice all the way through), understand the terminology, prep ahead and go through the process as designed. This will help to ensure your success with any recipe.

I really like this recipe and will definitely make it often. I hope you try it and let me know what you think.

Lemon Chicken With Garlic And Capers

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
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2 small lemons cut into thin rounds

1 1/2 tsp. of sugar

4 cloves of garlic, halved

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts 3/4 of an inch thick

2-3  Tbs. olive oil (I used garlic infused olive oil)

2 Tbs. butter

2 tsp. grated shallot

1/2 tsp. grated garlic

1/2 tsp. dried oregano (use can use 1 fresh spring as well)

1 fresh thyme sprig (you can use dried – I preferred to have at least one herb fresh)

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 cup unsalted chicken stock

1 tsp. flour

1 Tbs. capers, drained and rinsed

flat leaf parsley for garnish, optional

Salt and pepper to taste


Slice the lemons and combine in a bowl with the sugar and garlic. Set aside. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium high heat add the oil. Swirl to coat the pan. Add the chicken to the pan and cook about 4 minutes each side. Remove the chicken front the pan, put on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

If needed, add some oil to the pan and add the lemon mixture. Cook stirring occasionally until the lemons start to turn a light brown. Remove the mixture from the pan and set aside.

Add 1 1/2 tsp. butter to the pan and once melted add the grated shallots, grated garlic and herbs. Cook for about a minute. Add the wine and deglaze the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until the wine is almost completely evaporated. Season with salt and pepper. Add the flour and stir for about a minute, just to remove any floury taste. Add the chicken stock and whisk while bringing the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and continue to whisk until the liquid has thickened and reduced by a third. Remove herb sprig(s) from pan. Add a remaining butter and capers. Stir until the sauce gets shiny. Add the chicken and lemons back into the pan. Cover the chicken with the sauce, cover the pan and cook for and additional 2-3 minutes. Serve garnished with flat leaf parsley.





To Die For Honey Mustard Chicken…

For those of you who have read my blog you know that chicken is my favorite. I cannot think of any way you can make chicken that I wouldn’t like. And since my husband is eating less and less red meat these days, my new recipes tend to center around chicken, turkey, fish, pasta and ground beef. You won’t hear me complain.

So I am always on the lookout for new chicken recipes and I found one on, yes you know, Pinterest and thought I’d try it. I’ve experimented with various honey mustard chicken recipes in the past but I liked this one because it suggested doing a honey mustard rub on the chicken as well as baking it in a honey mustard sauce. Needless to say, when my husband says “this one’s a keeper” I know this has been the best recipe yet.

Recipe Rating – A++ – this recipe is so flavorful and the sauce is just divine, great for crusty bread dipping. It isn’t difficult to make and is now one of my all time favorite ways of making chicken.

Lesson Learned 1 – Chicken thighs or breasts: The original recipe called for using chicken thighs. My husband is not a big fan of chicken thighs (I know, he’s probably the only one in the world). So I decided to make this with boneless breasts. It turned out perfectly. Most people shy away from cooking with chicken breasts. They think they are too dry. But the problem really is that most people cook chicken breasts far too long. I cooked mine at 375 for 25 minutes and they were moist and tender (I also kept the skin on the breasts). Chicken breasts lend themselves well to this recipe as the sauce gives them tremendous flavor. So don’t shy away from using chicken breasts – just be careful not to over cook them.

IMG_1123Lesson Learned 2: Buy chicken breasts with the rib meat attached and bone them yourself: I’ve found that I can save money buy purchasing chicken breasts with the ribs attached and bone them myself. It is a little bit of work but I think it’s worth it. Plus it’s getting harder and harder to find boneless chicken breasts with the skin still on them. I like to cook them with the skin on as I think that adds moistness and flavor. You don’t have to eat the skin, but I think it’s a great flavor enhancer in the cooking process. Just be careful when boning the breast. You want to finish with all of your fingers. The main thing is to use a very sharp boning knife. If you don’t have one then don’t do this. You’ll wind up either cutting yourself of getting frustrated because the process is taking to long. Sections of the ribs lie very close to the meat and you need to have a knife that can easily slice between the marrow and meat. Believe me, the only way to do this is with a high quality, very sharp boning knife.

IMG_1137Lesson Learned 3 – Let the meat marinate with the mustard rub on it for at least an hour: The skin and breast meet will be slippery so the rub will slide around on you. Get as much as you can on both sides and then cover it with plastic wrap and let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour. As soon as you brown the meat the rub will come off. Don’t worry, it’s just more flavoring for the sauce.

Lesson Learned 4: The best sauce ever: I’ve made different versions of honey mustard sauces but I have to say I prefer this one. I like it because it has a nice balance of mustard and honey and also uses a little chicken stock. The stock tempers the sauce thickening process.  A sauce made with IMG_1131honey that is not diluted in this manner can stick to the pan and cause a baked-on mess. This sauce is so good that you’ll want to eat it with a spoon or dunk your bread in it. I also recommend using a seasoned cast iron pan when making this for a variety of reasons. First, cast iron is one of the best conductors of even heat. It takes cast iron a little longer to heat up but it holds heat well and it provides even heat. Second, a well seasoned cast iron pan is even better than a non-stick pan and that’s a plus when cooking with a honey based sauce. Third, cast iron moves seamlessly from stove to oven and I really like that. Some people treasure their cast iron pans so much they hand them down through generations. Yes, the pans are heavy, but they are relatively inexpensive (unless you invest in enameled cast iron like Le Creuset) and are oh so worth it!

I know I will be making this recipe often, it’s that good. This time I served it with rice and a steamed vegetable medley, but this would also be great with a baked potato and a vegetable of your choice. I can’t wait to make this again. I really hope you try it!

To Die For Honey Mustard Chicken

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


2 boneless chicken breasts, skin on preferred (you can use chicken thighs)

3 Tbs. Dijon mustard

3 Tbs. whole grain mustard

3 Tbs. honey or more to taste

3 Tbs. chicken stock

1 Tbs. olive oil

2-3 rosemary sprigs


1 Tbs. olive oil

1 Tbs. whole grain mustard

salt and pepper to taste


Mix together ingredients for the rub. Rub both side of the chicken breast with the mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl whisk together the mustards, honey and chicken stock. Add additional chicken stock to taste and until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. Set aside.

Heat a cast iron pan. Add oil and sear both sides of the chicken breast until golden brown, approximately 2-3 minutes per side. Add mustard sauce, sprinkle with rosemary. Place in oven and roast until the chicken is cooked through – approximately 25 – 30 minutes.

Spoon sauce over chicken when serving.

Ready To Go Into The Oven...

Ready To Go Into The Oven…

Fresh Out Of The Oven...

Fresh Out Of The Oven…

Succulent Chicken Breast With Honey Mustard Sauce...

Succulent Chicken Breast With Honey Mustard Sauce…

Serving Suggestion" With Rice and Steamed Vegetables...

Serving Suggestion” With Rice and Steamed Vegetables…


Chicken Cutlets with Thyme Mustard Sauce…

I’m always looking for a quick and easy dinner recipe and I’m always on the hunt for new ways with chicken. This particular recipe definitely fits the bill in both areas. I like this recipe for a variety of reasons but mostly because it’s so easy and so flavorful. If you’re a chicken fan like I am, this recipe will become one of your favorites.

Recipe Rating – A+: This recipe is so good and easy to prepare that even I was a little amazed. My husband, who normally just gives me either a thumbs up or thumbs down on a new dish, felt compelled to comment. He must have said at least three times, “this chicken is really good.” That in itself is super validation for this particular recipe.

IMG_0548Lessons Learned 1 – Never underestimated the power of having a glass of wine while preparing a new recipe: I just had to put this in here. Usually I am a little nervous when trying out a new dish. Those few sips while I’m cooking away make the experience pleasurable. Add a little music to the mix and I begin to feel like Julia Child’s got nothing on me. I know I’m being slightly tongue and cheek here, but the idea is to do whatever you can to make the experience a good one. Anything that helps you enjoy the process is worth it. Have fun in the kitchen. I know I do.

Lesson Learned 2 – Prepping ahead always makes it easier: A couple of years ago my husband got me a Christmas gift of some cooking classes. One of the things that really stuck with me from those classes was the importance of prepping all of your ingredients first. Cooking time should be cooking time and not prepping time. So mince your shallots, slice your mushrooms, chop your garlic and thyme, measure out any ingredients that you don’t feel comfortable eyeballing, such as the sour cream, wine and mustard, and have everything set and ready to go before you start the cooking process. You’ll find it will help keep your kitchen cleaner and more organized and that will also make the experience better.

IMG_0544Lesson Learned 3: Don’t be afraid to substitute herbs: I used thyme in this recipe because I have it growing in my garden, but fresh tarragon would also work very well. My only caution would be not to substitute dried herbs for fresh ones. I think using fresh thyme provided more depth of flavor, especially with the short cooking time in this recipe.

Lesson Learned 4 – Cooking with chicken cutlets can be tricky: By chicken cutlets I mean boneless skinless breasts that either have been cut or pounded to about 1/4 inch thick. I actually found them at my local grocery store so that made it even easier. Chicken cutlets take no time to cook at all and you can easily make them taste like leather if your overcook them. I cooked mine for 3 minutes on each side before taking them out of the pan and preparing the sauce. I kept them on the plate covered with foil which resulted in some minimal carry over cooking. Once the sauce was made I put them back in the pan and let them simmer in the sauce for no more than two minutes. They came out juicy and tender.


This is a great recipe for the burgeoning chef. The only area I would caution you on is to make sure not to overcook the cutlets. Because they are so thin they cook in no time flat. There is not a lot to prep for this recipe and within 20 minutes, including prep, this chicken is ready to plate. I served it with roasted butternut squash and balsamic roasted potato wedges and it was a big hit. Try this one. I know you will like it.


Chicken Cutlets with Thyme-Mustard Sauce…

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


2 TBS. extra virgin olive oil

1 pound chicken cutlets, 3-4 pieces

6 ounces baby bella mushrooms, optional

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper

1 medium size shallot

I clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. flour (for the sauce – additional needed to dust cutlets)

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup sour cream, light preferred

1 TBS. dijon mustard

2 TBS. chopped fresh thyme leaves


Do all prep work first. Chop the shallots, mince the garlic, chop the thyme and measure out any remaining ingredients that you do not feel comfortable eyeballing.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Dust cutlets lightly with some flour. Sprinkle cutlets on both sides with salt and pepper. Add oil to the pan. Place the cutlets in the oil and cook for 3 minutes on each side. Remove cutlets from pan to a plate and cover with foil.

Add some additional olive oil to the pan. Saute mushroom until lightly brown. Add shallots and cook for about 1 minute. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute. Sprinkle flour over shallots and mushrooms and cook for an additional minute stirring constantly. Add wine and bring liquid to a boil. Stir with a spoon to loosen all the brown bits in the pan.

Lower heat. Add mustard, sour cream and thyme. Stir until combined. Add chicken back to the mixture and let simmer for a couple of minutes. Add some additional thyme as garnish when serving.




Serving Suggestion: Chicken with Roasted Butternut Squash and Balsamic Roasted Potato Wedges

Serving Suggestion: Chicken with Roasted Butternut Squash and Balsamic Roasted Potato Wedges

Chicken Cutlets with Peppers, Mushrooms, Onions and Tomatoes For Two…

Recipe Ingredients...

Recipe Ingredients…

You’ve probably figured out by now that I am a chicken girl. Anyway you make it, I love chicken and I love trying out new chicken recipes. Yesterday I was looking for something different and also something quick. I just got back from a consulting job and was still on east coast time so I was still pretty tired. I wanted to fulfill my goal of one new recipe a week but did not have a lot of energy to put into it. I found just what I was looking for in the most recent “Cooking Light” magazine entitled the “fast” issue. It was labeled as a fast chicken scaloppine with peperonata (don’t you just love it when they give these fancy words for sautéed vegetables?) and it looked intriguing and quick so I decided to try it. So here is my rating and lessons learned…

Recipe rating: A – this one is quick cooking and has great flavor. I’m not so sure it holds up to it’s 25 minute meal guarantee and I will address that in my lessons learned.

Pepper Mixture...

Pepper Mixture…

Lesson Learned 1: This recipe takes longer than 25 minutes if you add the prep time. I’m not sure they factored that in, but it definitely took me a good 15 minutes or more to mince the garlic and slice the peppers, onions, tomatoes (of course I added some baby bella mushrooms so I won’t fault them for that). It also takes some time, not a lot, to halve the chicken breast and pound them to 1/3 inch thickness and dredge them in flour. When you factor all the prep time, all in all for the everyday cook like myself this recipe takes about 45 minutes from start to finish. No worries, one of my favorite parts of any recipe is the chopping, slicing and dicing – I find it cathartic – but recognize this recipe is more time consuming than the magazine would lead you to believe.

Lesson Learned 2: I halved the recipe since I was only making it for two. That worked out very well. The only thing I would change is to use even less than half the balsamic vinegar than the recipe stipulated. You only need a little to give the flavor. If you add more I think it darkens the vegetables too much, which I thought was the case with mine when I made it. Next time I make it I’ll only add a little, probably 1/8 of a teaspoon or less.

Lesson Learned 3: You will need to make this in two frying pans – one for the veggies and one for the chicken. I think it best to try to time them so they both finish together. The veggies can get cold very quickly and you don’t want that to happen. Err on the side of less time for the veggies instead of more. I started them 15 minutes before I planned to serve and I could have done 10-12. I like crisp tender veggies and 15 minutes put them on the borderline of being overcooked. Definitely cook the peppers first as they will need the full amount of time. But after sautéing them for 3 minutes, add everything else (except the tomatoes and garlic) and they will cook down nicely all together.

Lesson Learned 4: I used a basil paste in the recipe as my grocery store did not have any fresh basil on hand. You can use this, but again use only a small amount. I find the paste to be much more concentrated and a little goes a long way. Use a 1/4 teaspoon at the most.

Lesson Learned 5: The recipe called for adding the garlic when you add the onion. That would mean the garlic would be cooking for about 7 minutes. Garlic burns when cooked for a long time. I added the garlic when I added the tomatoes (and that cooked for about a minute and was done right before serving). That way the garlic cooked, was fragrant and it did not burn.

Lesson Learned 6: The original recipe calls for prepping the chicken once you’ve started the pepper mixture on the stove. I would not do that as you will probably wind up cooking your vegetable mixture for too long of a period of time. Prep the chicken first and put it aside. It can sit for a few minutes without any harmful effects and I found that slightly taking the chill out of it makes for a truer cooking time. I also added some garlic powder to the dredging mixture to give some additional depth of flavor.

Cook the chicken breasts until golden and done. Be careful not to overcook...

Cook the chicken breasts until golden and done. Be careful not to overcook…

Lesson Learned 7: It is tricky to cook a chicken cutlet and have it come out juicy. The original recipe called for it took cook for two minutes on each side or until golden and done. Boy, that gives you a lot of specifics doesn’t it. I cooked mine for 4 minutes on one side and 3 1/2 minutes on the second I could have cooked it a little less. Next time it will be 3 minutes on each side and I think that will be perfect. You get so used to cooking much thicker chicken breasts that sometimes it’s hard to imagine that the cutlets can get done so quickly. But they can and don’t be afraid of that. If you cook them too long they will dry out quickly. You don’t want that to happen.

I liked the recipe but felt I needed to make some adjustments to it based on past experience and in order to make it for two. Here is my version of the recipe.

Chicken Cutlets With Peppers, Mushrooms, Onions and Tomatoes For Two

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


2 TBS olive oil

1/2 red bell pepper sliced in strips

1/2 yellow bell pepper sliced in strips

1/2 large yellow onion sliced in strips

4 ounces (1/2 package) baby bella mushrooms sliced

1 large clove of garlic minced

8 grape tomatoes halved

1 TBS fresh chopped basil or 1/4 tsp. basil paste

1/8 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1 boneless skinless chicken breast cut in half horizontally and pounded to 1/3 inch thickness

1/4 tsp. garlic powder for dredging mixture

2 TBS butter

Flour for dredging (about 1/3 cup)

Salt and Pepper to taste


Cut the chicken breast in half horizontally. Place between two pieces of wax paper and pound until the breast is approximately 1/3 of an inch thick. Place your mallet at the center of the breast and pound outward. Take a paper towel and pat the breast halves dry. Mix flour with garlic powder and some freshly cracked black pepper. Dredge cutlets in the flour mixture and shake off any excess flour. Place on a plate to rest for a couple of minutes.

Heat a large skillet and add the olive oil. Swirl the olive oil to completely coat the bottom of the pan. Add the peppers and sauté for approximately three minutes. Add the onions and mushrooms. Salt and pepper to taste. Continue to sauté for another 5-6 minutes.

After you add the mushrooms and onions to the vegetable mixture, in another frying pan over medium high heat, melt the butter. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 3 minutes on each side.

During the last minute of overall cooking time, add the garlic and tomatoes to the pepper mixture. Cook until tomatoes begin to wilt. Add the basil and balsamic vinegar at the very end of the cooking time.

Immediately serve the chicken with pepper mixture.

Chicken Cutlets with Peppers, Mushrooms, Onions and Tomatoes

Chicken Cutlets with Peppers, Mushrooms, Onions and Tomatoes

All in all this is a simple and flavorful recipe. If you want to adhere to the 25 minutes or less time frame that the original recipe touts, I would do all of the prep work the night before. That way it actually will be a very quick and very good meal. Enjoy this one!

Chicken, Broccoli, Mushroom, Cheese and Rice Casserole…

Casserole Ingredients

Casserole Ingredients

Right out of the gate I will tell you that I had a love-hate relationship with this recipe. I loved the way it tasted and I will definitely make it again. My husband gave it a two thumbs up so I know it’s a keeper. What I hated was how the recipe was written and that is always a big sticking point with me. I try to be empathetic toward recipe authors as I understand I live in high altitude and that changes the rules somewhat. But even with that, I find it hard to believe this recipe (I amended it for you in this blog) as originally written would even work at sea level. So for my non-intuitive cooking friends out there, beware. I suggest you do the recipe the way I’ve written it and I think you will be successful on the first try.

This recipe came from the website From what I can tell, it appears that people submit recipes and they are published on this site. This particular recipe was intriguing to me as I had all of the ingredients already and I was looking to try something different. My goal is to try one new recipe a week and blog about it. So this recipe helped me on both fronts. So here is my rating and lessons learned along with my version of the recipe. You can always search for the original recipe on the key ingredients website.

RATING: A: for flavor and ease of preparation, F: for how the recipe was written. With a few simple adjustments this recipe could easily get an “A” on both counts. But in my estimation it was not well written.

Saute the Mushroom and Onions First

Saute the Mushroom and Onions First

LESSON LEARNED 1: The original recipe called for either 3 cups of cooked rice or 1 cup of uncooked rice, with no differentiation in cooking time for either one. Even I know that there has to be some sort of a difference, right? You can’t expect uncooked rice to turn out the same as cooked rice without some adjustment to the cooking time. So adjust I did, and even with that the rice still turned out slightly crunchy. The original recipe called for a cooking time of 350 for 30 minutes. So for me, in high altitude, that normally means I set my oven to 365. But I just had a feeling that 30 minutes would not cut it, so I planned on a 45 minute timeframe. After 45 minutes I looked at the casserole and it still did not seem as hot and bubbly as I would like it so I cranked the temperature up to 375 and cooked it for another 15 minutes. And even with all that time, the rice was still not fluffy and in some instances slightly crunchy. Lesson learned for me: the next time I make this I will cook it at 375 for 1 hour using cooked rice. I will cover the casserole with foil for the first 45 minutes and leave it uncovered for the last 15 to get some good browning on top of it.  If you choose to use uncooked rice remember to adjust your time. What that time might be I cannot tell you as I have no clue. All I can tell you is that after an hour it was not completely cooked through for me.

LESSON LEARNED 2: This is also a big bug-a-boo of mine. In a recipe be clear about whether a dish should be covered or uncovered in the oven. Don’t assume I know. This recipe calls for cheddar to be put in the sauce as well as sprinkled on top and did not indicate anything regarding whether the dish should be covered or not. In my experience, cheddar cheese left uncovered on casseroles for a long time tends to look burnt. I covered the casserole with foil for the first 45 minutes and then left it uncovered for the last 15. It worked out beautifully.

Blend the cheddar cheese with soup mixture until completely melted

Blend the cheddar cheese with soup mixture until completely melted

LESSON LEARNED 3: The orignal recipe calls for sautéing the onions in margarine. Why margarine instead of butter? Butter is a much purer ingredient. I used butter instead.

LESSON LEARNED 4: I was surprised how long it took for the cheddar cheese to melt in the soup mixture. It took about 5 minutes and required constant stirring. So be patient, it will melt but it does take time. (This was probably the most labor intensive part of the process).

LESSON LEARNED 5: The original recipe called for 2 cups of frozen broccoli. Although frozen vegetables are of much higher quality than they used to be, why not use fresh? I used fresh broccoli chopped into bite size pieces. The broccoli turned out perfectly, crisp tender. So use fresh broccoli if you can. I think frozen broccoli might turn out mushy in this recipe.

The first layer of rice, broccoli and 1/3 of the soup mixture.

The first layer of rice, broccoli and 1/3 of the soup mixture.

Don’t get me wrong, I really liked this recipe. It would have been tremendous if the rice was cooked properly. So give this one a try and try it the way I am writing it. I think you will be much more successful that way.

Chicken Broccoli Mushroom Cheese and Rice Casserole

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


3 cups cooked rice

3 cups cooked chicken (rotisserie chicken or any other type of precooked chicken, drained)

2 cups broccoli (fresh or frozen – no need to thaw) chopped into bite size pieces

1 can cream of chicken soup (low sodium preferred)

1 can cream of mushroom soup (low sodium preferred)

3 TBS. butter

1/2 cup chopped onion (more if desired)

1 clove garlic, minced (more if desired)

1 cup sliced portobello mushrooms

8 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese


Preheat the oven to 375. Cook 1 1/2 cups of rice (this should yield 3 cups of cooked rice) according to package directions. (Minute rice is not advised for this recipe). Cut chicken and broccoli into bite sized pieces. Slice mushrooms, chop the onion and mince the garlic clove. Melt butter and sauté the mushrooms for a couple of minutes. Add the onions and cook until slightly translucent. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add both cans of soup and stir until combined and hot. Add 6 ounces of the cheddar cheese and stir until melted (this could take about 5 minutes before the cheese is completely melted).

Grease or spray a 3 quart casserole dish. Spread rice evenly on the bottom. Put broccoli on top of rice. Pour about 1/3 of the soup mixture over the broccoli and rice. Add chicken and top with remaining sauce. Top with remaining two ounces of cheese.

Cover with with foil and cooked covered for the first 45 minutes. Remove foil and return to oven for an additional 15 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.


Ready to pop in the oven...

Ready to pop in the oven…


Fresh Out Of The Oven...

Fresh Out Of The Oven…