Comforting Creamy Rice and Chicken Bake

If you have leftover chicken or turkey, this is a perfect use for it; you can get creative by using up small amounts of vegetables, leftover rice and even a store prepared gravy if you don’t want to make your own. This is the perfect dinner for a chilly night.

Rice

3 C cooked rice – white, brown, wild or a blend (or 7oz. boxed rice blend, such as Lundberg)

Filling

1 T unsalted butter

1 C onion, diced

1 C celery, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 lb. chicken breast, cut into small cubes (or 2 C leftover cooked chicken or turkey, cubed)

2 t Italian seasoning

½ C parsley, chopped fine

1 C Panko or regular breadcrumbs

Other vegetable add-ins (optional) – choose two or three

1 C mushrooms, sliced or minced

½ C fennel, diced

½ C leeks, thinly sliced

½ C zucchini, grated

½ C carrots, grated

½ C artichoke hearts, diced

½ C celery root (celeriac), diced small

½ C parsnips, peeled and diced small

Creamy gravy

3 T unsalted butter

1 medium shallot, minced

3 T flour

1 ½ C chicken or vegetable broth, warm

½ C half-and-half, warm (or substitute non-dairy creamer such as oat milk creamer)

¼ t nutmeg

Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the rice: If using a rice blend box mix, cook the rice according to directions on the box. Remove rice from heat when it’s almost cooked through but still slightly hard to the bite (“al dente”). If using leftover rice, bring to room temperature.

Make the filling: While the rice is cooking, prepare the vegetable and chicken filling: melt the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat, add the onions, celery and garlic. Cover with a lid and sauté until vegetables have lightly softened, 2 minutes, uncover and add any additional recommended vegetables you desire. Add the chicken, cover and cook another 3 minutes, until the chicken no is no longer raw but not thoroughly cooked. (Note: if using leftover cooked chicken or turkey, add it after the vegetables have been lightly sautéed.) Set vegetables and chicken aside while you prepare the creamy gravy.

Make the creamy gravy: In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter and add the minced shallot. Sauté the shallot briefly to soften, then add the flour, whisking thoroughly and cook, whisking constantly, until the roux loses its glossy sheen, about 3 minutes. Warm the broth and the half and half (or oat creamer) in the microwave for one minute. Add the broth ½ cup at a time to the roux, whisking constantly between each addition. Add the warm half and half and whisk well. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Transfer the rice into a 9×9 baking dish, add the vegetable chicken filling and gravy, mixing carefully to incorporate the gravy throughout. Add the chopped parsley and mix thoroughly. Cover with the breadcrumbs and bake, uncovered, 30-40 minutes, until golden brown. Serves 4.


Corn Chowder Salad

Crispy bacon and hearty potatoes bring the flavors of the classic summer soup to create a side dish perfect with grilled vegetable, fish, chicken or steak.

3 small red potatoes (about 2 cups), diced

3 strips thick-cut bacon

2 ears corn, kernels removed from the cobs (about 2 cups)

1/3 cup sour cream

2 scallions, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons apple-cider vinegar

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves or ½ teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Wash and cut the potatoes into ½-inch dice and put them into a small pot of boiling water. Cook 8-10 minutes, until tender when pierced with a knife. Drain into a colander and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon, until crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate. When cool, crumble and set aside. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan. Add the corn and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the kernels are bright yellow and crisp, about 3-5 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix together the sour cream, sliced scallions, vinegar, thyme, paprika, salt and pepper. Add the potatoes, parsley, and bacon to the corn, and toss with the dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with parsley. Serve at room temperature. Serves 4-6.


Homestyle Chunky Tomato Sauce

Makes 1½ cups

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ large sweet onion or 1 small yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)

2 large garlic cloves, minced

3 large tomatoes, seeded and diced (about 3 cups diced, OR substitute 1-28oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes)

¼ cup fresh basil leaves, minced OR 1 tablespoon dried

¼ cup fresh oregano, minced OR 1 tablespoon dried

¼ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (about 6) – optional

½ teaspoon sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)

In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Stir in the diced tomatoes and increase heat to high-medium to bring to a low boil. When the mixture boils, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 15 minutes, uncovered, until most of the water cooks off. Watch closely, reducing heat if necessary and stirring often. Add sun-dried tomatoes (if using) into a food processor along with a ladle of the tomato sauce. Process until mostly smooth. Stir this mixture back into the tomato sauce in the pot. Stir in the minced basil, oregano, salt, and pepper, and optional red pepper flakes to taste. Continue cooking until thickened to your liking and then remove from heat. Serve sauce over a bed of cooked pasta noodles, zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash noodles or diced butternut squash.


Harvest Ratatouille with Bacon

Nothing says Mediterranean more than the classic ratatouille. This spin on an old favorite, amped up with chunks of crispy thick bacon, make it a robust meal.

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1 medium-sized eggplant (about 1½ lbs)

2 T olive oil

3-4 medium zucchini (or yellow squash or both, about 1½lbs), thickly sliced

1½ lbs. tomatoes, skin removed and roughly chopped

1 medium sweet bell pepper, largely diced

1 large sweet onion, such as Vidalia, chopped

12oz. thick cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 T Herbs de Provence

Sea salt and pepper to taste

 

Preheat the oven to 425. Peel strips of the eggplant skin from top to bottom, leaving about an inch between each peel. Cut eggplant into large chunks . (If you prefer to leave the peel on, that’s fine, and likewise, removing it entirely is fine). Transfer the eggplant on to a cookie sheet, salt lightly and drizzle with olive oil. Cover tightly with foil, and bake for 20 minutes.

 

While the eggplant is cooking, heat a Dutch oven (or a large deep skillet) and sauté the bacon until fairly crisp. Transfer pieces to a bowl. If there is more than 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings left in the pan, pour off the excess. Add the onion, garlic and peppers into the Dutch oven. Cook until lightly softened, add the zucchini and Herbs de Provence. Cook the zucchini until it begins to soften, about 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil, drop in the tomatoes to release the skin. Rinse immediately in cold water and peel the skin from the tomatoes. Coarsely chop the tomatoes, transfer them to the Dutch oven and cook for about 5 minutes.

 

Remove the eggplant from the oven, add it to the Dutch oven; add the bacon pieces. Let the ratatouille cook together another 20 minutes; adjust the seasoning for salt and pepper. At this point the ratatouille can sit in the Dutch oven off the heat for several hours, allowing the flavors to meld. Serves 6-8.

 

 


Caramelized Onion Tart “Tatin”

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For best results, bake this in a well-seasoned cast-iron pan. Let it cool slightly before flipping the pan over and easing out the tatin. Serve as a first course or as a main course with salad and cheese for a vegetarian meal. Adrienne made this in a class at Brookside Gardens in May 2016.

2 T butter
1 T olive oil
1.5# boiler onions, peeled and slice in half around the middle
2 T brown sugar
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 C crumbled goat cheese
1 (8 oz.) sheet puff pastry

Preheat oven to 400°. In a 10-inch cast-iron or other oven-proof pan, melt butter with olive oil. Place onion cut-side down in hot fat and cook until onions are soft and turning brown, about 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine sugar and balsamic, stir to incorporate. Add to onions and let sizzle until they caramelize, about one to two minutes. Remove from heat and let the pan and onions cool about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle 3/4 of the cheese over the onions. Roll out the pastry dough gently and press over the cheese. Prick lightly with a fork. Bake 25 minutes, or until pastry is golden and filling bubbles up around the edge. Set aside for a few minutes, then invert on a plate and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Serve warm or at room temperature.