Corned Beef from Scratch

Corned Beef is a favorite in this house.  No two ways about it, Rob, Nik and Aaron would eat it every day.  No exaggeration.  I even have two in the fridge right now.  These pictures are from last summer and a whole batch of recipe pictures I found.  So the next few posts will have a ton of pictures!  Anyways…… like I was saying, they love the stuff.  So I came across this posting last spring a week or two before St Patricks day.   With some of the special ingredients and the fact it has to brine for 10-14 days, I knew it wouldnt be ready before the holiday so I put it aside.  We had our traditional St Patricks Day meal and that was it.. or so I thought.  The idea was stuck in my head.  I was in trouble.  It was stuck in the brain.. no getting away from it now.  So I jumped on to the google to find and buy the hardest to get ingredient.

“Pink curing salt, or sodium nitrite, goes by many names, such as Prague Powder #1 or DQ Curing Salt #1” (this is the quote from the original post, I need to give credit here) was hard to find.  Here is the link to where I got it online, dont take the 4 hours of research to make sure you have the right one, best price, etc.  Just go here or amazon, which will link you back to the site anyway.  I bought the lb package, which is no longer available, and we have made corned beef 5-6 times and hardly dented the bag, so a 4 oz bag should be enough for someone to just start off.  Anyway, this is what makes the corned beef pinky-red.  If you dont care if it is pinky-red or prefer gray corned beef you can forego the specialty item.  We happen to like it and the gray looks funny to me.   There I said it.  I am a corned beef snob.

I will warn you though, while this is totally worth it, it is not a recipe for the impatient.  Though this did teach me how to be patient, corned beef is not something you can whip together on a Sunday and have for dinner that night.. you might be able to have it a couple sundays away but it is something that takes patience and some fridge space to make.  And there are three steps.  BUT it can be prepared in an hour or so and put away in the back of the fridge for 10-14 day (or even longer I am sure but I have only been able to get Rob to wait 11 days.. I am hoping for two weeks on this batch.

First you have the make the spice mix.  We tried to traditional one that was on the original site but have since increased and decreased some ingredients to get the flavors we like.  Here is our spice mix.

Ingredients for the spice mix
Makes enough for 3-4 corned beefs but it stores forever so I wouldnt just make the whole batch.

1 Tbsp whole allspice berries
1 Tbsp whole mustard seeds
1 Tbsp corriander seeds
1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp whole black pepper corns
2 tsp whole cloves
12 cardamon pods
3 inches of cinnamon stick broken into smaller bits
10 bay leaves crunched up
2 tsp ground ginger

Get all your ingredients together and get a medium frying pan.  A square sided pan would be better but i used a sloped sided to get better pictures.  Measure out everything but the ginger.

Put the spices in the pan and brown over medium heat until you can hear the mustard seeds start to pop.

Once toasted and you can smell them getting toasted put into your mortar (or if you dont have one, let them cool a bit and put them into a zip lock bag) and using the the pestle break up into smaller pieces.

You now have your spice mix.  Add the ginger and put aside.

Now for the meat.  What you normally buy for St Patricks Day is corned beef brisket but you dont have to corn just briskets.  In fact, plain brisket can be expensive.  In fact other than I MUCH prefer our homemade ones, making it yourself is more expensive than buying it already made.  I thought that was funny myself.   Anyway.  We have only corned (and this type of preserving and brining meat is called corning it) brisket and eye round.  We really prefer the eye round because it is so lean.   You have to get a thinner eye round, meaning not more than 5 inches in diameter, or you can get a thicker one and just use a meat tenderizer and pound it a bit thinner.   We usually buy brisket if we are serving it to someone else because alot of people like the fattiness of the brisket.  We are currently brining an eye round and another roast we had in the freezer, not really sure what type it is.  It is round and has a string around it. The men in this house aren’t picky, its meat and it is being made into corned beef.  They will eat it.

Making the brine

Ingredients for the brine
The original recipe was for a gallon.  We only make 1/4 gallon and can do 2-3 pieces of meat at a time in a ziploc bag, so this is for only 1/4 gallon but if you need more, just make some extra.  This is what works for the gallon size ziploc.
2 cups water + ice to make 4-4 1/2 cups
1/2 cup canning salt or sea salt (DO NOT use kitchen/table/iodized salt)
2 tsp pink curing salt
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp of brining spice

This is what the salt looks like in the package, like pink granules.  And it has a weird almost wet texture.

Bring all your above ingredients to a heat where the sugar and salts have melted .  Add 2-3 cups of ice cubes so that you have a total of 4-4 1/2 cups of brine.   DO NOT add to the meat until it is cold.
Now you have the corning brine.  Put your brisket, etc into a large bowl with a cover and cover the meat with the brine, or into gallon ziploc bags and then divide the brine up making sure you divide up the seasonings as well.  Let it sit for a week to two weeks in the fridge.

Dinner Time!!  You have waited your two weeks (okay atleast a week) and it is time to make your dinner!  Ready for the fun yet?  Take the meat out of the old brine and rinse it off.  No need to get all the old spice bits but you dont want the salty brine anymore.  That can go.
It will have this weird sheen to it.  That is normal.
Make a spice bundle with cheese cloth and 2 Tbsp of your remaining spice mix.
Put in a large pot with water, bring to a boil, turn down to a medium simmer and cook for 3 hours.    I usually have to add a bit more water somewhere in the middle.
After the three hours of a medium simmer, add your veggies.  For us I wash 3 lbs of new potatoes, 3 lbs of washed carrots (Rob LOVES carrots, so you could probably get away with just a lb or two), 2-3 peeled onions, a quartered cabbage and one turnip in large chunks.  Boil until all veggies are tender.  Drain and serve with butter.  And brown bread.  Which I will be posting in a couple days..
I love this.  I mean, yes it is labor intensive. I mean even writing this took a year.  Okay I am exaggerating but it did take forever.. but it is so worth it.  We have it every few months and it is so good.  I would love to make it more often but dont want to ruin the specialness of it! HAHA  Anywho.. If you dont try it, I hope it has struck a cord to try making new things..

Happy Cooking!


Brined Chickens (or Turkey)

Sorry people, no pictures on this one.  It is a recipe but also just a process about cooking poultry.

A few years ago I was watching one of my favorite shows, Good Eats.  Alton Brown is a great entertainer; funny, informative, and well, entertaining.  I love how he mixes science and cooking.  I get all giddy when he has a little demonstration of how flour and fat particles makes the best roux and thickener.  I especially like how he can make it all come together..  ah I am gushing.  Must be the Novocaine.  I had my wisdom teeth out today.  My mind is a muddle so I really can’t do homework right now.  Too much discomfort!  So what a great time to talk about roasting poultry.  Which is where I was heading with my talk of Alton Brown.  HA!

Soooo anyways he was showing how to brine and roast a turkey.  I thought.. ummmmmmmmmmmm soaking it in water, salt and sugar… odd.  So I tried it!  Had every turkey in the last 3 years brined.  Love it! Love it! Love it!  But I had never brined a chicken until this weekend.  May have to do it from now on.  Brining doesn’t just add juiciness, it adds flavor.  We have a brine we use but there is so much you can do with a brine to change it up.  Below is our current recipe that we use for turkey and used this weekend for the chicken(s, we made three to have left overs for chicken and dumplins).  There are hundreds of brining recipes out there but we have worked on this one for a couple of years and really like it.

One other thing we like about this is that we didn’t have to buy any special expensive equipment.  We just used a Home Depot bucket with a lid that we have dubbed the bringing bucket.   we brine the turkeys in it and it is the perfect size for a 15-18 lb bird or three 8 lb chickens!  Just clean it out well after use and let air dry.  Then it goes down into the basement until the next use.  If we had another fridge we would use it for corned beef too but since that has to brine for over a week and it would be too hard to keep that temperature controlled this bucket seems to be only for poultry.  HA

Water about 2 gallons (not an exact science here people)
1 1/2 cup kosher, canning or sea salt (I guess you could use iodized but I have never done so and canning salt isnt that expensive and what I use)
1 cup brown sugar
2 oranges
1 lemon
Bunch of fresh rosemary
Bunch of fresh thyme
Bunch of fresh sage
2 Tbsp Peppercorns
1 large onion cut into eights
1 bulb of garlic

To start off I take 3-4 cups of hot water and put it into a sauce pan and add the sugar and salt. Bring it to a heat to dissolve the salt and sugar.  Turn it off.  Take my pestle and coarse crack the peppercorns just to break them up a bit.  Again not an exact science, just a coarse crack.  Throw that in the hot brine.  Thick slice the oranges and lemons (we have use limes too which is good) and throw them into the hot water.  This helps to release the essential oils.

Pour all this into your Homer Bucket or what ever you determine to use. Add about 2-3 cups of ice cubes to bring it back to a cold temp.  I then kind of eyeball it and add enough water to bring it up to about 2 gallons of liquid.  I cut the bulb of garlic in half, the whole thing, just cut it across the thickest part horizontally and put the bottom half (the part that is going to stay together due to the root) into the cavity of the bird(s you may have to break it up a bit if doing more than one bird) and break up the top part and throw the half cloves into the brine.  Put half of the onion chunks into the cavity of the bird and break up the rest.

Now this is essential to using fresh herbs in brines or marinades.  You have to bruise or crush the leaves on fresh herbs to get them to release the flavor.  So I take half of my fresh herbs and make them a bundle and just bend, break and generally bruise them but rubbing them in my hands.  Stuff them into the cavity with the onion and garlic. Then I do the same with the rest and throw them into the brine bucket.

Now comes the hard part, put the bird in, breast side down.  Cover with a plate to keep bird submerged and add 2-3 cups of ice cubes. Place cover on top and put in a cool room (or if you have a fridge you can put it in the fridge).  Hard huh!  Now walk away.  Dont touch unless you are adding more ice to keep it cool.  Seriously.  No need to fiddle with it.  Just leave it for atleast 5-6 hours for a chicken or 8-12 for a turkey.  I usually do it for 24 hours for a turkey but as long as you give it the minimum you will see the difference.

Okay, now to cook!!  Take our bird out of the brine and rinse with cold water.  Put in the roaster you are going to use.  Set your oven to 425 degrees.  Trust me.. 425.   We don’t stuff our turkey cause we leave the things in the cavity (onion, garlic and herbs. Also sometimes stuff some of the citrus in as well) but if you wanted to stuff it there are safety precautions to use about making sure the stuffing is up to temperature.  I usually truss the bird up a bit so the wings don’t burn but you dont have to.  Put the roaster uncovered into the oven and set your timer for 20 minutes.  When the timer goes off turn the oven down to 350.  Then roast like you normally would.  I usually put a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the breast about 1 hour into cooking and keep an eye out for correct temperature that way but use whatever technique works for you usually.

Once the bird is done, take it out and cover loosely to let the meat rest for 10 minutes. Then let the family attack the yummy skin.  It is usually a fight between Rob and Aaron, but if Mom is here, it is a free for all!  Then carve it up!  Makes amazing sandwiches the next day, or even better used for chicken/turkey and dumplins the next day.  Take all the meat off and make a stock with the bones. But that is another post……

Happy Roasting!!

Loaf of the Meat

OR as my husband wanted to name this.. Meatloaf Robbie Will Actually Eat!  HAHA  it took me three or four tries to get him to even try it.  But then he was hooked.   Now he asks for it 4-5 times a month.  I dont let him have it that often but that is how often he asks for it.. LOL  Keep them wanting more! 

I found the origins of this recipe in some magazine about 6-7 years ago.  For many years my meatloaf was kind of a big meatball in loaf shape.   So in true Kim form I took a recipe and kicked out what I didnt like and put in what I did.  It has been a very popular recipe among my friends and I am  happy to say is actually pretty low fat.  This recipe makes atleast a 9 x 13 pan (I tripled it and get four bread loaf pans) and it only works out to 5 points on WW for a pretty large serving.  

My mom always looks at me weird when I make this because it is different than the one I was raised on but the added veggies and odd spices make for a flavorful and healthy addition to my menu.  And Robbie will actually eat it.  Nik and Aaron dont eat it, they devour it!!  Sometimes 2-3 helpings.  My favorite way to serve is with my garlic mashed potatoes which i will be posting in a couple days, and with corn!  SOOOOOOO Yummy!

1 9 x 13 pan makes 9 servings  (the pictures are of a tripled recipe)  WW Points~5

1 1/2 lbs ground meat, I do half and half 93% beef and 93% turkey 
1/2 lb (3-4 links)  sweet sausage, optional but it adds depth 
1 1/2 cup bread tore up into small pieces (6-7 slices)
1 egg
1 medium sized onion
3/4 cup carrot** (these are not exact measurements, I just take some carrots)
3/4 cup broccoli ** (again, just enough broccoli to be about 3/4 cup)
1/4 tsp ground mustard
1/8 tsp sage
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1/2 tbsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg (or the equivalent fresh grated)
1 cup ketchup, divided
1 tbsp hot sauce or brown sugar (depends on if you want it hot or sweet)

** I have also used red and green pepper, celery is good too, hell even pea pods would be good, but carrot is always in it.  I cannot eat much celery and Rob doesnt like peppers.

Cast of Characters

With a food processor (or this handy little food grinder thingie I got) grind up the veggies. 

Put your meat and veggies in a large bowl and break up the bread into little bits.

Lightly beat the eggs and add to the bowl.

Mix the spices up and sprinkle evenly over the stuff in the bowl.

MMMMMMMMMM doesnt that look tasty!

Since I always use fresh nutmeg I always do this at the end so I can judge how much to put in.

Then add 1/2 cup of ketchup.

And mix.
Plop (and yes it does plop) it into the pans you are using.  You can use 9X13, loaf pans, even deep dish large muffin pans.

Bake at 350 total for about 45-60 minutes for loaf and 9×13, about 25-35 for muffins.  They will release alot of fluid from the veggies and the fat and that grosses me out to have my food sitting in that so once or twice I will drain off the yucky stuff into the meat container or a can or something so that I can discard it later.

When done cooking you take the other 1/2 cup of ketchup and the hot sauce/brown sugar (or both for a sweet hot mix), combine and put on top of the hot meatloaf and broil on high for 4-5 minutes until it is done to your likings!!

Here it is served with garlic mashed potatoes (which I will post in a couple days) and some of the leftover broccoli.  I didnt have any corn in the house.   😦

Meatloaf has always been one of my faves and while I do still love my moms, this is more healthy for you and tastes damn yummy.  I make large batches like this because it freezes so well.  Simply wrap in a double layer of aluminum foil. You take out the night before and put in the fridge.  About 45-50 minutes before serving put it in the oven still in the foil and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.  I do eliminate the glaze/broil part for ones I will be freezing and do that the evening I heat it up!   OR you can just cut off pieces and heat up individually in the microwave.  YUM!

Happy Cooking!!

Recipe Swap! Baked Campanelle with Spinach and Meatballs

This is the second in what I think will be quite a few of these recipe swaps.  On my What Cooking board we have a group of fellow foodies who love cooking and baking and wanted some new recipes! So one of the ladies coordinates these recipe swaps.  She collects the recipes from the participants and then randomly sends them out to their new chef.   This was the one I won!

I did the recipe pretty much as listed except I made my own meatballs, which is back in the blog a couple weeks/month (time is running together) and I used a different pasta.  Here is the original recipe by Jey.

My review….. I liked it, alot.  I will have to tweak it a bit to make it more WW friendly but I loved how creamy it was.  I LOVED the spinach and the basil I added.   The kids loved it.. and ate it up pretty quick!  For them it was like a meatball lasagna!  LOL   Mr Pickypants wasnts as impressed.  He isnt a huge fan of ricotta, so this didnt do much for him.   We will see how well he likes it once I tweak it a bit. 

I didnt put this in WW for point because I was scared too.. so this was a splurge meal for me.  It took about an hour to make including baking time.

1 onion chopped
4-9 cloves of garlic (the recipe called for 4 I used 9 because that is what Rob peeled)
1 14 can diced tomatoes
1 jar of pasta sauce
1 box of pasta cooked aldente.  I used campanelle, they look like trumpets!
1 16 oz bag of spinach
1/4 cup fresh basil
12 oz of ricotta
Pinch of nutmeg or grate fresh
S & P
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
4 oz of fresh mozzarella
25-30 Meatballs

Cast of Characters

Set up your pasta pot and fill w salted water.

Chop the onions

And the garlic

Add them to another dutch oven/ 8 quart pot.  No  need to add oil or anything.

Turn the pot onto medium high, and then drain the tomatoes.

Add the juice to the pot and use that to cook the onions and garlic.  No need to waste the flavor or to add any oil.

Next is to prep your spinach.  In a large bowl tear up the spinach. If using baby spinach then you really dont have to but if you are using regular I tear it up and take out the large center stalk.  I think they are bitter. 

Add the tomatoes once the onions are translucent.

And then the pasta sauce.

And then the meatballs.

Let simmer for 20 minutes while you finish the rest of the dish, stirring often.  I love the smell of sauce cooking.  The warm richness of the tomato and the onion and the spices!  I love alot of basil in my pasta which is why I added basil rather than parsley (like the original recipe used).  One of my favorite things to eat is a caprese salad.  Tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella drizzled with balsamic vinegar!  HEAVEN….  Oh and extra salt!    Okay back to this recipe….. haha   cut up your fresh basil into ribbons.

Add to the bowl with the spinach.  I like the barely cooked/slightly crisp aspect of the spinach and the sharp bite of the basil is a nice contrast to the creamy sweetness of the ricotta.

Grate the nutmeg into the bowl with the spinach/basil.

Then the salt and pepper.  You wont need too much salt since you salted the pasta water.

Check on the pasta frequently, you do not want it too cooked or else it will turn to mush in the oven. 

About this time your meatballs and sauce should be ready.. Just turn it off because you dont want it too thick.   MMMMMMMM I love the smell of sauce and meatballs cooking.  I just want to dig in and eat like 3-4 of these on a piece of garlic bread! 

Add the ricotta to the spinach reserving 3/4 a cup or so for the top, and combine.

Drain the pasta when it is al dente.

Then add quickly to the spinach.

Add the meatballs and most of the sauce leaving some in the bottom….

Then mix to incorporate. 

Dump back into the dutch oven..

Dot with the remaining ricotta, and the parmesan and fresh mozzarella.  Bake for 10-15 minutes  covered in a 350 oven.  Remove the cover and bake until the desired browning melting has occurred..

Then plate up with your favorite veggies.

This was a melty yummy fresh tasting wonderful mix of flavors.  I adore ricotta so this worked for me.  I would cut back to about 1/2 a container next time to make it more palatable for Rob but for the most part, this was a success with the recipe swap..

Happy Cooking and Swapping!

Worlds Best Eggs

Okay maybe not the worlds best, but certainly my favorite and best eggs ever.  I was playing around last weekend and made one for myself and had to wake Aaron up so I could make him one!!  I had a hard time coming up with the name since it has mexican, canadian and french influences in it.. so I said its the best of both worlds.. and  now they are the worlds best eggs. 

I adore breakfast.    I think that it is the funnest meal of the day,  and I especially love Sunday breakfast.  I love making it in my pjs and eating in my slippers with my family.   It is one of the few meals lately where I actually get to sit and not have to worry about rushing off to get something done because I try very hard to make sure that Sunday mornings I get atleast one hour of relax time.

So without further ado..   Worlds Best Eggs (well my worlds anyway, hehe)

Yield one “omelet”  if made with 2 eggs 7 WW points
2 tbsp chopped red or vidalia onion (yellow is fine too just not as sweet)
2 tbsp salsa (see note below)
1 oz of canadian bacon
2 eggs
1/2 oz of chevre or other herbed goat cheese

Cast of Characters

In a small frying pan on medium heat add your chopped onion and using a knife or in my case, your kitchen scissors, chop up the ham into little pieces.

Saute them up until they are slighly browned. 

A word about salsa.  I make my own.  I love my salsa.  That is all.. Oh wait..  One more thing.  I love chunky salsa, Rob doesnt.  So there is always a jar of my salsa that he has pulsed in the food processor so it is smooth and chunk free.  I find this to be sacrilege but he likes it so I try not to let it bother me.  I wanted the salsa throughout the eggs for this recipe so I did the unthinkable and used his pulsed up salsa.. I feel dirty. 

Stir it around and cook for a minute or two until the fluid is gone.

Move the “stuff” off to one side and spray with a bit more pam or oil, then do the same with the other side.   Eggs are a pure protein and as such release no natural lubricant of their own.  They have no fat or “fluid” so they will stick without good lubrication!

Spread the stuff back out and drop your eggs on top.  I use two usually but this picture has three eggs in it, Aaron is a growing boy!

Scramble the egg around a bit so you dont have giant pockets of yolks.   Flip and plate.   Give the kid a taste of just the yummy eggs..

Then crumble the goat cheese over the top.  It will melt slightly and soften.  Serve with toast and coffee, or juice, or a mimosa!  No mimosa for the child though.

I was worried that the tangy taste of the goat cheese would mask the sweetness of the onions or the gentle mild spice of the salsa but they meshed so well together, that I can honestly say this is my favorite way to have eggs.   I actually had them today without the canadian bacon and they were fantastic too.  I usually dont buy alot of goat cheese because it is expensive and the kids will eat a whole log in about 10 seconds, but this recipe might just make me have to keep some in the fridge. 

Happy Breakfasting!!

Braised Pork with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Rob doesnt like pork.  Well he likes ham, sausage and bacon, but not pork loin, or chops or a roast.  Then last week,  he randomly asks for pork chops.  Which he has not done in like 2 years.  Literally.  So when he asked I got some pork chops at the next grocery visit.  

I had seen a couple of recipes that I wanted to combine and make into something new.  One was on some show on Food Network.  I cannot for the life of me remember which show cause I was one day post op from my surgery and I was pretty much feeling no pain on Vicoden.  The other was an article about braising meat in tomato sauce and how the acid in the tomato was great for tough meat.   Then Pioneer Woman posted her braised short ribs recipe and it was incredibly similar.  That kind of was three strikes you were out and I knew what I wanted to do!  So this is an combination of all those elements.

I have to say one thing.  I am a strong lover of low and slow but there is a fine line for me.  I am not one who can handle crock pot meat or things that have been cooked for 15 hours cause it tends to get too overcooked.  That being said I have had bbq that was cooked forever but wasnt icky but not too often.  So this recipe was a test to see what was the best time and the best temp so that the meat was tender but not too over cooked for me. 

I am happy to say that I did a good job, Rob loved it and the kids, well they are not a good indicator, I have seen Nik eat a hotdog off the ground outside.  And not when he was a kid either, this was last summer.    Even I ate a whole pork chop!  I usually dont get through a whole plate of food.  LOL

Total prep and cook time: 4 hours
3 pounds pork country short ribs thicker cut
1 large onion
4-5 cloves garlic
14 oz can of petite diced tomatoes
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp chili powder
S & P

Cast of Characters (notice the onion and garlic are missing.. I always forget something.

Start off my adding some oil to a large dutch oven or in my case my Pampered Chef wok.  Preheat the oven to 275.

Trim all the fat you can off the pork ribs.  Rob hates fatty meat.  I have seen him throw away half of what I give him because it has a molecule of fat on it.  So I always look for the leanest of any meat possible and cut off more if I can.

Rob loves to take pics of me while I am cooking and I usually delete them but this one isnt too bad, its only bad, not too bad.  HAHA  I am so glad I am working on my double chins!  And please ignore the attire and hair.  I am only 4 days out from surgery at this point and I am cold, tired and still on pain killers.. I should be happy I didnt burn the house down. 

Back to the recipe.  I mean it is why I am here, right?   Salt and pepper your ribs.

Layer your ribs in a blistering hot pan so they are not crowded and brown them to a nice golden brown.  This may take only doing half at a time.

Turn on all sides to get browned evenly.

While they are browning, chop up your onions and garlic.

Once the ribs are done set aside on a plate, turn your pan down to medium and add the onions.

Once the onions are translucent add your garlic.  If you add the garlic too soon it can burn.  I have found that I personally like the taste of the garlic better when it has been almost steamed by the fluid released from the other veggies. 

Once the garlic has cooked for a minute or two add the diced tomatoes.

Then your spices and salt and pepper to taste.

Add the crushed tomatoes and stir to combine.

Bury your ribs into the sauce.

Then any juices lost on the plate.

Throw on the cover and get it into the oven.  For 3 1/2 hours.  Do NOT peek.   Do not try and take a test bite while it is in the bubbling sauce and burn your tongue during the cooking process.  Just dont do it.  Trust me.   When it is done take it out and behold your big pot of yumminess.

There will be some wells of fat, skim them off.  Or you can do what Ree of Pioneer Woman does and make it the night before and chill it to get the fat chunks out but for me, I prefer it the night it is cooked, so I just skimmed.  And then plated it up with some pasta and veggies.

I love meals like this.  They are warm and filling and the house smells fantastic.  This whole meal with egg noodles and veggies cost about $15 to make and it served me three meals, Rob one and the boys the equivalent of two each cause they eat almost two full servings that night.  I am sure this would work well with other forms of pork and certainly beef as well.  Chicken and slow cooking are not something that I really enjoy since I use primarily breasts.    Maybe I should try it with thighs.. wait Rob doesnt like dark meat.  Oh well.

Happy Cooking!!

French Onion Chicken Casserole

Last week on the Nest cooking board; Whats Cooking, there was a post for a a recipe swap.. for chicken.  Just ask Aarons girlfriend Corrie, we eat alot of chicken in this house.  The poor girl came over last summer alot and 8 meals in a row, had chicken.  So a chance to spice up and try a new chicken recipe was right up my alley.  So I sent my recipe for Parchment Chicken and hoped that the person had access to an olive bar.

I was so excited when I saw the highlighted email sitting in my inbox all shiny and darker than the others.  It was something new and I get so happy with new recipes to try!!!  Before I met Rob, this was a bit easier because Nik and Aaron will eat anything.  And I am not exaggerating.  Really I am not.  Once I dropped a batch of Butternut shells on the floor while taking it out of the oven, they scooped it up and ate it.  I was so upset I had ruined dinner, I let them.  Mother Of The Year here let me tell you!   Nik had mopped the floor that day, that is my reasoning and I am sticking to it!

But then there is Rob.  He is learning to try new things and that is wicked exciting but damn he can be picky.  I was worried when I saw what the recipe was.  It has alot of onions in it.  I mean alot and the bacon wouldnt be uber crispy after being in a gravy.  So it was with some concern I read the recipe.  Then I put on my bright and perky cheerleader voice and with the real excitement I was feeling for the recipe, I read the ingredients off to Rob.   I waited with bated breath as he mused it over!  I could see the battle of the old Rob who ate like 5 things, with the new Rob who has tried more things in the last year than he probably had in the 15 prior.  I am surprised he didnt look at me funny when I let out my breath explosively as he said.. “Sounds good!”

So here is my slightly changed version of French Onion Chicken Casserole.  Thanks Kylee, fellow Nestie, USA Kiwi!!  I loved it.  The kid loved it (Aaron was out tonight) and Rob picked out the bacon, and gave it to me, which made me like it better.  Then said the chicken was too juicy (there is no such thing) and ate the rest. LOL  I had to double the recipe since it was to feed 5 people so the original is slightly different.

recipe by: USA Kiwi, aka Kylee!  
Made 10 servings  5 oz of meat and 1/3 cup gravy     WW points  6
3 1/2 lbs of chicken breast, trimmed
1/4 cup flour
2 packets of onion soup mix
3 slices of bacon (the original this would be 6 slices but that is huge points wise with WW!)
1 large onion
2 1/2 cups water
S & P
(the original called for adding sour cream which Rob cant have, or plain yogurt, as you can see I was going to add greek, but forgot, next time will add the 4 tbsp of greek yogurt, I promise)

Cast of Characters

Trim the chicken and cut into 5-6 oz servings (about 10 sections).  Pound the thicker portions with a meat tenderizer to make them all the same thickness.
Put the flour and the soup packets in a shaker bag.

Chop up your onion.

Spray the heck out of a large 12 inch frying pan, heat it to medium high and shake the chicken one piece at a time, placing in the frying pan as you go.  Save the remaining flour and soup mix.

Try to not have them touch too much. 

“Fry” on each side until browned, about 3 minutes.
Lay in a casserole dish, in a single layer if possible, which unfortunately it was not for me.  LOL  Too many mouths to feed. 

Turn the frying pan down from medium high to medium and cut up the bacon into pieces with kitchen shears.

And add the onion…

And saute until the onion and bacon are both done.  The onion should be tender and the bacon should be slightly crispy.

Take the remaining flour and soup mix and add it to the water.

Pour over the onions and bacon and stir to incorporate.  Will thicken into a sauce. 

Add salt and pepper.

Pour over the chicken, cover and bake for 35-50 minutes or until the gravy is bubbly.  (If you remember the greek yogurt, you would take the chicken out and add to the gravy, and then put the chicken back in, but it is yummy without).

Plate up with noodles, rice, or potatoes.  Add your veggies and serve. 

I have to say, I liked it.   Nik loved it!! He ate two pieces in about 3 minutes.  Rob kept picking on the wobbly bacon and the amount of onions but he ate it.  Normally if something isnt palatable to him, he will push it aside and have PB&J.  He ate it, and said it was good but a bit too juicy for him!   I will be making this again.  I think I might add a couple spices but I have not decided which yet!  I am very happy I got this recipe and look forward to trying more recipe swaps!! 

Happy Cooking!!

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