Tag Archives: main dish

Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole

Am I the only cook on the planet who hasn’t heard of Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole?  Apparently, when it comes to church food Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole has been a hit for a long, long time!  My friend, Lila, made this casserole for a Community Bible Study fellowship lunch this spring.  At first, I thought I must have just been really, really, hungry because I couldn’t get enough of this creamy, crunchy, tasty casserole.  Other members of our class seemed equally hungry, because I noticed most of us had second helpings!

I couldn’t figure out all the ingredients my first time around, but by the second helping, I discovered a layer of Rice A Roni that seemed a lot more flavorful than I ever remembered for Rice A Roni.

If you are not familiar with Rice A Roni it is a pilaf-like boxed food mix that consists of rice, vermicelli pasta, and seasonings. To prepare, the rice and pasta are browned in butter, then water and seasonings are added and simmered until the water is absorbed.

“I’ve had this recipe for years,” Lila told our group as we ooh’d and aah’d quite appropriately!

Although lately, she has had trouble finding the exact rice called for in the recipe which is Rice-A-Roni Fried Rice with Almonds.  I couldn’t find that exact flavor and so I used a mixture of one box chicken and garlic and one box chicken and broccoli. Whew!  I highly recommend the chicken and garlic. The garlic creates a flavor layer that really adds to the overall taste of the casserole. The broccoli gave me that false sense that I was eating healthy! 😜

The Rice A Roni is made according to box directions and then becomes the bottom layer in a 9″x13″ baking dish.

I always start any chicken casserole with gently boiled chicken breast, trimmed to remove any fat or stringy pieces.  Then I shred it and the resulting chicken is so white, fresh, and ready for my casserole. (For speed and ease, canned chicken breast will work well in this recipe also.)

Mix the cooked chicken with soup and sour cream for the next layer.  Crushed Ritz crackers and poppy seeds top the chicken layer.  Lila’s recipe calls for a cup of melted butter mixed with the crushed crackers.  I omitted the butter and sprinkled the top with slivered almonds.  Oh my goodness!  Can you just taste it now?  

I know our vegetable should be about twice the amount of the main dish, but I promise, you can start with a smaller amount of casserole but you will be back for more before the broccoli cools off!

Thank you, Lila, for the outstanding recipe!  Keep ’em coming!

Blessings and Happy Cooking!
~Catherine

P.S.  Can you taste poppy seeds? My Chief Casserole Eater husband says he couldn’t taste the poppy seeds.  I don’t think they are meant to be tasted as much as they add texture and color.  What do you think?

Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole
 
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Love it! Packed with flavor, very versatile and especially easy to make.
Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish, Casserole
Serves: 12 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 to 2 lb. chicken breast, cooked, chopped or shredded
  • 16 oz. light sour cream
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 3 cups Ritz crackers, crumbled
  • 1 cup butter, melted *Optional
  • 2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 2 boxes Rice-A-Roni (Fried Rice with Almonds or any favorite flavor)
  • Slivered Almonds *Optional
Instructions
  1. Cook rice according to the package directions.
  2. Heat oven to 350⁰. Spray bottom of 9 x 13 pan.
  3. Spread rice in bottom of 9"x13" baking dish.
  4. Combine chicken, sour cream, and soup. Spread on top of rice mixture.
  5. Mix melted butter and crushed Ritz crackers. Layer over chicken.
  6. Top with poppy seeds and slivered almonds.
  7. Bake for 45 - 60 minutes, uncovered.
Notes
1 lb. of chicken works fine, originally recipe calls for 2 lbs.
Any flavor of Rice A Roni will work well.
May use canned or fresh chicken breast.
Poppy seeds and almonds optional.
Melted butter mixed with the crushed crackers optional.

 

 

 

Spiessbraten, Idar-Oberstein Style!

When you are in Manhattan the choices for a 5-star meal exists around nearly every corner.  But when my Chief Travel Mate and I were reminiscing with friends, Catherine and Russ about Russ’s awesome 4-ingredient Spiessbraten … well, it didn’t make sense to go anywhere except to the market to buy a pork tenderloin!  Russ quickly agreed to make Sunday dinner.

Spiessbraten is a well-known dish from Idar-Oberstein, Germany that truly needs only 4 ingredients and a pork tenderloin!   When Russ was in the army and stationed in Baumholder, he would go to Idar-Oberstein to eat Spiessbraten.  Now these many years later,  his memory floods with the fragrance of the sweet onion and garlic combination and the juicy tenderness of this famous dish.

The first time Russ made this famous dish for us we were lounging on their beautiful deck in Brentwood, Tennessee.  Fast forward to another life and they are serving as Christian missionaries in NYC, we once again gather to enjoy this beautifully prepared meal and a God-given friendship.

Russ didn’t need to go searching for the recipe card.  He quickly assembled the dish as we talked and laughed about the meal to come.  Here is what you will need to get the same 5-star meal we did:    24 hours, pork loin, salt, pepper, onion, garlic. 

Chop onion and garlic chunky, then the pork loin is placed in a shallow dish, and covered with a good dosing of salt and pepper.  Then the chopped onion and garlic are tucked all around the pork tenderloin including on the bottom of the dish.

I was the “helper”.  My job was to make the coleslaw and cheer on Russ!  I love being the cook’s helper!

The meat was tightly wrapped in plastic and placed in the refrigerator for 24 to 30 hours.

Catherine and Russ McCulllum, Directors Hephzibah House, NYC

Even at the end of a busy day, this meal goes together fast and easy!

24 hours later the meat is removed from the marinade and the grill is heated to 350 degrees F.  The meat cooks pretty fast in 30 to 40 minutes depending on the thickness of the loin.  My job was simply to photo-bomb Russ’ fine grilling!

Under Russ’ watchful eye and direction, I did the slicing!

The problem with the internet is that you can’t smell or taste this incredibly moist and flavorful meat.  Ah!  But with 4 ingredients and a pork loin, you too can eat a 5-star Idar-Oberstein style Spiessbraten!  (It is also quite fun to say Spiessss-BRATEN!  I like to add a touch of Sgt. Schultz from my Hogan’s Heroes memories!)

We added coleslaw, oven roasted potatoes, and a green salad.  It was 5-Star all the way!  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Happy Cooking!
~Catherine

SPIESSBRATEN, IDAR-OBERSTEIN STYLE
 
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A perfect adaption of the famous Spiessbraten from Idar-Oberstein, Germany. This is the dish you can make for family dinner or a special dinner party! Rave reviews are sure to follow!
Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: German
Serves: 2-3 servings per pound
Ingredients
  • 1 lb pork tenderloin
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 pinches salt (or to taste)
  • 4 pinches black pepper (or to taste)
Instructions
  1. Mix the 4 ingredient spices with your hands, squeezing the onions until they get juicy.
  2. Place some of the spice mixture in a dish, place the meat on top and cover with the rest of the mixture.
  3. Cover the dish and marinate for 24 hours or up to 30 hours.
  4. Fire up the grill and when it has its cooking temperature of 350 F, remove the marinade from the meat and grill to desired doneness, 30 to 40 minutes.
  5. Depending on the thickness of the pork tenderloin, make sure you don't overcook the meat. Take it off the grill when it is still flexible when you press on it with your finger. Place it in an oven dish, cover it and let it rest in the oven at about 200 degrees for 10 minutes. This gives the juices a chance to settle and the meat will be soooo tender.
  6. Slice and enjoy!
Notes
1 lb will feed 2 to 3 people. Normally you will make 3 to 4 lbs. at a time.

 

 

Tortellini and Shrimp

As soon as Thanksgiving dinner is in our review mirror and before we start eating leftovers (or turkey noodle soup or turkey and rice casserole) I am ready for pasta, shrimp, beef, anything quick and easy.

Enter … Shrimp Tortellini!

This incredible recipe meets my criteria – simple, fast, and unbelievably delicious!  Starting with fresh store-bought tortellini this main dish goes together quickly.

Earlier this fall I spent time with some of the Godliest women I know.  Besides having sweet prayer time, lots of laughs, and wonderful conversation – we also ate great food!

When our meal planner and fearless leader Susan ended up busy just before dinner Leslie and Bethany took this recipe and got right to it!

Bethany and Leslie

After just one bite I knew this recipe would be coming home with me!


We added a big fresh green salad and the meal was complete. Well, except for the awesome ice cream sundae bar!

Susan is setting up the Sundae Bar and I just had to add this picture of my funny friend Caryle opening a jar of maraschino cherries!

Bottom line: print off this recipe, get the ingredients and make your family very happy soon!

Happy Cooking!
Catherine

Tortellini and Shrimp
 
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Six ingredients, less than an hour and dinners on the table! Yum!
Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. shrimp (peel and devein)
  • 1 (9-ounce) package fresh tortellini, with cheese filling uncooked
  • ⅓ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese*
Instructions
  1. Peel and devein shrimp and set aside
  2. Cook the tortellini by following the package directions; drain and set aside.
  3. In a big skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter.
  4. Add the shrimp, shallot, and basil.
  5. Saute' for about 5 minutes.
  6. Add cooked tortellini and Parmesan cheese, toss; season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve immediately with large green salad and garlic bread!
Notes
* Original recipe calls for ½ cup Parmesan cheese but I use 1 cup and it is just perfect.

 

 

When The Student Surpasses The Teacher & Blue Apron Sumac-Spiced Salmon

Sumac-Spiced Salmon
Sumac-Spiced Salmon

Last February my son, Cory, and his wife, Ann, began using Blue Apron, a meal delivery service.   Both Cory and Ann work outside the home and so they share the meal preparation. But Cory enjoys cooking much more than Ann does and so he is the primary cook (and she does the clean-up!)

Cory blue apron boxBlue Apron is a nationwide delivery service (for the most part) that sends a box of pre-packaged meal ingredients, farm to table fresh, with the recipes and complete step-by-step “how to” instructions. For a price of $59.99 Blue Apron delivers three meals serving two people each. So, for less than the price of a meal out, a really nice gourmet-type meal is prepared at home. Like so many 30-something’s, my kids are very busy between their work schedules and the school and activity schedules of two growing boys!

Blue Apron Recipe Cards
Blue Apron Recipe Cards

There are several different companies that are now delivering this type of pre-portioned, ready to cook meals. Cory chose this one because of its reputation for high quality, fresh ingredients and good reviews from those who are using the service.  The day we arrived their Blue Apron box was sitting at the front door.  The box is packed with ice and everything comes out very cold and fresh.  I took some pictures as Cory unpacked the box. But wait there’s more! Click to continue reading