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
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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.

The Best Sausage And Onion Quiche…

I only started making home made quiches recently. Normally I would just pick one up at the grocery store and heat it for either breakfast or dinner. But I found that not only could I control what goes into the quiche, but also the texture and flavor of the quiche is so much better when I make it.  And it really isn’t all that hard if you know a simple few tricks which I will share.

The best thing about quiche is it can be a great dumping ground for leftovers. And there isn’t just one way to make one or only certain ingredients you can use. Making quiche is like painting on a blank canvas – create what you want and it will all be good.

This recipe is about as basic as you can make it. But even with that, my husband said that my homemade quiche is so much better than the fancier ones I’ve been buying at the store. So, I think it’s pretty much home made quiche from now on. But that doesn’t bother me because it really is so simple to make.  So let’s talk easy sausage and onion quiche…

Lesson Learned 1 – Frozen pie crust shells work perfectly for this recipe: Now I’m not saying that you can’t make crust from scratch but why go through all that work when the frozen shells work equally as well. But you definitely have the choice. You can make your crust from scratch, or use the packaged pie crust rounds or get the pie crust shells that are pre-made and frozen. All will work.

Lesson Learned 2 – Cook the breakfast sausage until you see only a little light pink: Remember the quiche is going to bake for an hour so the sausage will continue to cook during that time. I like to cook my sausage first, mix it with the cream cheese and let it sit a little before I put it in the pie crust. I normally use that time to put the egg mixture together.

An 8 oz. tube of breakfast sausage is more than enough. You can go a little lighter on the sausage and only use 4 ounces at a time. We like a lot of sausage in our quiche so I prepare the whole tube and use the leftovers to put in my scrambled eggs for breakfast during the week. But just a warning, if you cook all 8 ounces there will be leftovers.

Also, make sure you drain the sausage on paper towels to get all the grease out before adding it to the quiche. It’s important that the sausage is as dry as possible.

Lesson Learned 3 – Beat the eggs really well: I found if you want the fluffiest quiche you need to beat the egg mixture until it foams. This may take a couple of minutes but it is definitely worth it. When the eggs are that light and airy, so is the quiche.

Lesson Learned 4 – Use a good melting cheese: You can use a wide variety of melting cheeses in a quiche. I like this particular recipe because it pairs a little cream cheese with another melting cheese. I used muenster in this recipe but you can also use cheddar, gruyere, swiss, or mozzarella. That’s the beauty of making a quiche. The choice is yours!

Lesson Learned 5 – I used pearl onions for an extra pop of flavor: You can definitely chop and saute some onions and add it to the quiche. I prefer using frozen pearl onions. You can drop them in frozen and they give a noticeable pop of flavor when you bit into one. Pearl onions are quick and easy.

Lesson Learned 6 – Let the quiche stand for 10 minutes when it comes out of the oven: For ease of cutting you need the quiche to set before you serve. Once you take the quiche out of the oven cover it with foil and let it sit for 10 minutes. The consistency will be perfect and cutting the quiche will be a breeze!

And that’s it. Pretty simple actually – simple but oh so good! Try it and let me know what you think.

The Best Sausage & Onion Quiche

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
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1 9 inch frozen pie crust

1 – 8 oz. tube of breakfast sausage (I used Jimmy Dean)

1/2 cup frozen pearl onions

4 oz. of cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup shredded melting cheese (I used muenster), divided

4 eggs

1 cup heavy cream

2 Tbs. sour cream


Preheat the oven to 350. In a skillet, cook the sausage until only slightly pink breaking up the sausage as you cook it. Drain the sausage thoroughly. Combine the sausage and cream cheese. Set aside.

In a medium size bowl beat the eggs, sour cream and heavy cream thoroughly (at least a minute).

Place the sausage and pearl onions in the bottom of the pie plate. Cover with 1/2 of the cheese. Pour the egg mixture over the sausage, onions and cheese. Add the remaining cheese on top.

Bake for 1 hour. Check the quiche about half way through to make sure the cheese on top is not getting too brown. If it is, loosely cover the quiche in foil for the remainder of the cooking process.

IMPORTANT: Allow the quiche to rest covered in foil for 10 minutes before serving.



Brandy Chicken With Mushrooms and Pearl Onions…

After my post last week that featured one of my favorite go-to recipes, chicken roll ups, I thought I would be off of the chicken bandwagon for awhile. But lo and behold the very next day I got my copy of Cooking Light in the mail and what was this months feature but “12 ways for perfect chicken!” On the cover was an enticing picture of chicken smothered in mushrooms and pearl onions and I thought, I just gotta make this one. And so I did, last night.

I am always on the look out for a good chicken recipe and this issue features an abundance of them, but I was drawn to the recipe pictured on the cover. I’d never cooked with Brandy before and was a little fearful and skeptical. I looked online to see if there was a viable substitute for brandy, as I don’t drink it and would use it only for cooking, but the information I found stated there really was no substitute. Wine was mentioned as an alternative but it would not provide the same flavor. So off to the liquor store I went. I actually found a small bottle of Korbel brandy for $10 and so I figured I could live with that. Other than fresh thyme and pearl onions, all the other ingredients I already had in the house so this seemed like a no-brainer. So here is my rating and lessons I learned making the dish for the first time.

Rating: A- for the recipe B- for the instructions. As I’ve mentioned several times I am not an intuitive cook so I need for the directions to be explicit and correct. I tend to take things literally, but more and more I am beginning to trust my instincts. I enjoyed this recipe, would definitely make it again and maybe even experiment using wine instead of brandy. I’ll explain all that in my lessons learned.

Lightly Dust With Flour and Cook In Olive Oil Until Almost Done

Lightly Dust With Flour and Cook In Olive Oil Until Almost Done

Lesson Learned 1: The time of this recipe was overestimated in my opinion. The recipe calls for halving boneless skinless chicken breasts, thus making a “cutlet”. So how do you define cutlet? I’m thinking about a quarter of an inch thick, right? When I halved a breast I wound up with 2 pieces that were a half inch thick. I decided to use that thickness instead of pounding them out based on the cooking time for the recipe, 43 minutes (how they came up with 43 versus 42 or 44 gives me a chuckle), taking into consideration I was not making as many “cutlets” as called for in the recipe so I was cooking a lesser amount of meat but at a greater thickness. My pieces of chicken were probably double the size of what I assume a cutlet should be (and that’s another thing that aggravated me, the recipe never defined the thickness of the cutlet – you just can’t assume every knows). I found that using that time as a guide for the rest of my meal wound up giving me slightly overdone chicken. I think one of the common errors most cooks make is overdone boneless skinless chicken breasts. Next time I make this I’ll reduce the cooking time by 7-10 minutes. Because I planned the rest of my meal around that 43 minute timeframe, I wound up keeping the dish on a very low simmer until everything else was ready and I think that lent to having slightly overdone chicken breasts. Mind you, they were not bad, but I do know the difference between a chicken breast that is juicy and tender and one that is overdone. (OK, I’ll get off of my soap box now).

Lesson Learned 2: Cooking with brandy did not wow me. I’m not sure what I expected the flavor to be, but it really did not supply the depth of flavor I thought it would. The recipe calls for cooking the brandy down until it’s almost evaporated (which I did) but the chicken stock that I added next seemed to overpower it. Next time I might leave a little more brandy in the pan or try this with either red or white wine. Most of the information I looked at regarding a substitute for brandy recommended using white wine, but I think red wine (like a good merlot) could also make this recipe interesting.

Lesson Learned 3: You also have to be careful cooking with brandy as it can produce a large amount of flame coming out of your pan. The recipe states that you should take the pan off the heat add the brandy and then put it back on the heat. I would highlight something like that in a recipe and even do a warning that if you don’t you could produce a large flame and injure yourself. Again, not everyone is a seasoned chef and I think a pointed warning would be helpful.

Cook Mushrooms Until Browned and Onions are Slightly Caramelized

Cook Mushrooms Until Browned and Onions are Slightly Caramelized

Lesson Learned 4: This recipe called for button mushrooms. I never use button mushrooms anymore now that baby portobello mushrooms are so easy to get. I think button mushrooms are virtually flavorless and baby bellas stand up to the cooking process better and have a much better texture. So I substituted baby portobello mushrooms for button mushrooms and I highly recommend it.

Lesson Learned 5: The original recipe cooked 8 cutlets and called for 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves. One teaspoon was not enough even for my recipe for two people. I would recommend two teaspoons of fresh time for four servings. With one teaspoon I could barely see the thyme much less taste any flavor from it.

Lesson Learned 6: Adding the butter at the end gives a nice silkiness and shine to the sauce. Don’t skip that part.

Even with some of the issues, this recipe is a keeper and one I will continue to play with. What I also like about this recipe is the progressive cooking process allows you to do your clean up in stages, so by the time I served dinner the only prep dish that needed to be washed was the skillet. I liked that aspect a lot. So here is my version of that recipe:

Brandy Chicken With Mushrooms and Pearl Onions

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Medium
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2 boneless skinless chicken breasts halved (ideally 1/2 inch thick)

1 jar of pearl onions or 1 box of frozen pearl onions (thawed and drained)

6 – 8 ounces of baby portobello mushrooms sliced

2/3 cup of brandy

1 cup of chicken stock

2 tsps. cornstarch

1 TBS butter

2 teaspoons of fresh thyme

1/4  cup all purpose flour

Olive oil

salt and pepper


Halve the chicken breasts horizontally. Pat dry and season with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken breasts in flour and shake off the excess.

Heat skillet with just enough olive oil to lightly coat it. Cook chicken breast for 4 minutes on each side until almost cooked through. Remove them from the skillet and wrap them in foil to keep them warm.

Add some additional oil in the pan. Add mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes and then add the onions. Continue to cook until mushrooms are nicely browned and onions begin to caramelize. Remove from the pan and set aside.

TAKE THE PAN OFF THE HEAT AND ADD THE BRANDY (this is important so as not to produce a flame). Put the pan back on the heat and cook down the brandy by half. Whisk together the chicken stock and cornstarch until smooth and add it to the skillet. Continue to whisk the mixture for a couple of minutes until smooth and mixture begins to bubble.

Return chicken, mushrooms and onion to the pan, reduce heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Add salt, butter and thyme. Serve once the butter has melted.

Brandy Chicken with Mushrooms and Pearl Onions

Brandy Chicken with Mushrooms and Pearl Onions