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Got Leftovers? Make This Chicken and Rice Casserole with Lemon and Parmesan

More often than not we have one meal a week that I just call Leftovers Night. The night is either a hodgepodge of different things that have been leftover from various meals re-heated separately or, if the ingredients go well together, some type of stir fry, hash or casserole for dinner. When we had some leftover vegetables and a rotisserie chicken in the fridge the other day, it seemed to be crying out to be made into some type of casserole and I had seen this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen for a chicken and rice casserole recently and found this was the perfect opportunity to give it a try.

Chicken and Rice Casserole with Lemon and Parmesan

2 tablespoons butter

2 carrots, peeled and sliced thin

1 onion, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press

1 cup long-grain white rice

2 cups water

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup heavy cream

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded

1/2 bunch asparagus, tough ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch lengths

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)

1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon leaves

25 Ritz crackers, crushed to coarse crumbs (about 1 cup) or crunchy bread crumbs

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat until the foaming subsides. Add the carrots and the onions and cook until the vegetables are lightly browned, about 6 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the rice and stir until the rice is evenly coated. Add the water, chicken stock, heavy cream, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper and bring the mixture to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low, cover the skillet and cook, stirring often, until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid and is just tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Stir in the cooked chicken, the asparagus, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and the tarragon and season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish and sprinkle the Ritz cracker crumbs over the top to coat the top of the casserole. Bake the casserole until the topping is browned, about 10 to 12 minutes. Allow the casserole to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

This recipe makes great use of all kinds of leftovers and comes together nicely to form a one pot dish filled with chicken, rice and vegetables. The chicken stock and heavy cream create a nice sauce that goes throughout the dish and you get a hint of the lemon and the cheese in each bite. I really liked using the Ritz crackers as topping as well and it gave some added buttery flavor and crunch to the dish. This would work well with any type of leftover chicken or turkey and you can put it all together in under 40 minutes, making it great for a weeknight and for easy clean up.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on October 7, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Leftovers, One Pot Meals, Poultry

 

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Save Time and Effort with Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

While the temperature and humidity around here have eased a bit today, it is typical for July around these parts of New York to be very sticky and humid, making it uncomfortable all day long and making you feel like you really do not want to put much effort into dinner. Nights like that for use are usually good for really simple meals that involve little or no cooking at all, which means making things like sandwiches, salads, hot dogs and the like for dinner. Sure you can always get take out or go out if you like, but that gets expensive to do too much and you don’t have control over the ingredients you are eating. You can always compromise somewhere in the middle and buy some pre-cooked items, such as a rotisserie chicken, and make good use of that in a meal for you and your family in a bunch of ways. One thing I recently did was use a rotisserie chicken to make some pulled chicken sandwiches for a meal. You can do this just as easily with leftover chicken and simply shred it yourself and even use your favorite bottled barbecue sauce if you like, but I decided to make my own sauce to get the flavor we really like. The basis of this recipe comes from Ellie Krieger on the Food Network site.

Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
5 tablespoons molasses
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 whole rotisserie chicken, skin removed, meat shredded into thin strips (about 4 to 4 1/2 cups)
6 hamburger rolls
Lettuce leaves, for garnish

Pickle slices, for garnish

Coleslaw, store-bough or homemade, for garnish

Heat the vegetable oil in a large saute pan set over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more until the garlic is fragrant. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, cider vinegar, molasses, pepper and liquid smoke and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the chopped chicken, return the mixture to a simmer, and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Split the hamburger rolls. Place a leaf of lettuce on each roll, then pile on 3/4 cup of the chicken mixture onto the roll and top with pickle slices, coleslaw and additional sauce, if desired.

That’s all there is to it and it tastes great. You get a nice barbecue sauce to simmer the chicken in without a lot of work and the liquid smoke adds great aroma and flavor to the sauce. I used the pickleback slaw recipe I have made before as the coleslaw for a topping and we just had the sandwiches with some chips on the side to keep things simple, though they would go well with some potato salad, macaroni salad or even just a simple side salad. You could even make these as sliders if you wanted to use them for a buffet or party and have them done in minutes.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of you day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on July 10, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Leftovers, Lunch, Poultry, Sandwiches

 

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Too Hot to Cook? Try These Easy Chicken Tostadas

It has been very hot, humid and sticky here the last few days, making it so that the last thing you feel like doing is standing in front of the stove or oven and cooking a detailed meal. It is days just like this that are perfect for a nice rotisserie chicken and doing something different and inventive with it, like this recipe from Marcella Valladolid of the Food Network for easy chicken tostadas. Tostadas are simply deep fried tortillas, so you can make these yourself if you like but I have also seen them available in some stores. You can use tostadas, a rotisserie chicken, a can of refried beans and your favorite store-bought salsa or make your own tomato salsa or try the recipe for a tomatillo avocado salsa included with this recipe.

Chicken Tostadas

8 tostadas

1 cup refried beans, warmed

4 cups cooked chicken, shredded

2 cups finely shredded lettuce

1 red onion, thinly sliced into rings

8 radishes, thinly sliced

1 cup crumbled queso fresco or other mild cheese

Sour cream or Mexican sour cream (crema) for drizzling

Tomatillo-Avocado Salsa:

8 ounces tomatillos, husked, rinsed and coarsely chopped

1 avocado, halved, pitted and peeled

1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves

1 Serrano chile

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the tostadas, spread the tostadas with the refried beans. Top the tostadas with the shredded chicken, shredded lettuce, red onion rings, sliced radishes and the cheese. Drizzle the top of each tostada with some of the sour cream, top each with a dollop of salsa, and serve.

For the tomatillo-avocado salsa, combine the tomatillos, avocado, cilantro leaves, Serrano chile, and the lemon juice together in a blender and puree the mixture until it is smooth. Season the salsa with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the salsa to a serving bowl, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours or until you are ready to use it.

This is a very easy meal that you can put together with mainly leftovers and have it ready in just a few minutes. Use leftover chicken or a rotisserie chicken and you can even just use leftover beans instead of making refried beans if you want to. you canalways include other fresh vegetables on the tostadas if you like as well and the salsa has great flavor of its own and is great for chips or as a side dish to this meal or others. We’ll be making this one again during the summer for sure.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on July 3, 2014 in Beans, Cooking, Dinner, Poultry

 

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