Sunday, December 28, 2014

Creative Leftovers

Greetings! I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas! If I was a good, diligent blogger I would have done a Christmas post, but I forgot to set up an automatic post for Christmas and just didn't want to when I remembered on Christmas day! ;) So, Merry Christmas 3 days late. And now we move on to the New Year...

Which is kinda what inspired today's post about leftovers. I've gotten very focused with my finances over the past few months and have been observing areas in which I can improve. One HUGE area that I have struggled with since I've been married is spending too much on groceries... and then forgetting about certain things in the refrigerator until they've turned into a smelly-make-me-gag-science- experiment-gone-wrong. That frequently happened because I cooked way more food than any 2 normal people could eat in a week, yet I'd be back at the grocery store again at the start of the next week! Soooo, one of my plans for 2015 is to be more responsible with my grocery budget and more aware of what we already have in the fridge/freezer/pantry. I've already gone ahead and started on doing that and am blown away by how much our grocery bill has gone down and how creative we can get with leftovers to make sure they don't go to waste!

Recently I made a copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup for supper. While I'm not the biggest fan of anything broccoli related, I did want to try it and my husband was really excited about it! ;) It ended up okay, but seriously lacking in cheese and very broccoli-ish. (blah!) So we ate it that night and then it sat in the fridge for 3 days. It wasn't that good, but I was determined not to let it go to waste!! So, I decided to add some Orzo I had in the pantry. Then I decided to cook it in a casserole dish and add a few breadcrumbs in addition to the Orzo to make it thicker.

 Then I came across some leftover ham from a Christmas dinner and threw it in there.

 Finally, I decided to make the top more appealing by browning some Panko breadcrumbs in butter and olive oil and sprinkling them over top.

  The finished product was a broccoli-orzo casserole that didn't taste half-bad! And, I was able to use up the leftover soup rather than tossing it. Yay! Just a few simple ingredients that I already had on hand and the 'meh' soup was rescued from the deep, dark, cold dungeons of the fridge. Success!

What do you have in your pantry that you would have used to give this leftover some pizzazz? Leave your answer in the comments below!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Chicken Biscuit Cobbler

Y'all are going to love this recipe.  It's got a little of this...

And a little of that...

Convinced yet? ;)  Anything with both bacon and butter is bound to be mouth-watering.

I found this recipe in a magazine I was browsing through recently (and for the life of me, I cannot remember the name of the magazine - it wasn't one I'm familiar with).  Anyway, I wrote it down because the photo of it looked so. so. SO. fabulous.  I was practically drooling over it.  Seriously.  One glance at the list of ingredients and the steps for making it and I knew this was a recipe I would truly love cooking up!  Just think about it - Chicken. Biscuit. Cobbler.  And then you find out, it's got bacon and butter in it too!  I'd be a fool to pass this one up.  

Truly, I enjoyed this recipe so much.  We live in a world of instant meals and shortcuts to everything.  And while that's great at times (I have a day job and know how convenient it can be to have a meal ready in 20 minutes or less at the end of the day!), I feel like as with many things, we lose a lot by making it as quick as possible.  Waiting patiently can be so rewarding.  Taking the time to cook a detailed meal is incredibly satisfying.  If I had to describe this recipe with two words I would say 'hearty' and 'warm'.  The smell that fills the kitchen while you cook this just warms you from the inside out.  Gradually adding in vegetables to saute and then making the sauce really makes you appreciate each step of the process.  This really is one of those recipes that feels... nurturing... if that makes sense. ;)

So without further ado...

Chop/slice all of your veggies.  Can I tell you a little secret?  This was my very first time ever cooking with mushrooms!  I strongly dislike mushrooms but decided to go ahead and keep them in the recipe because my husband loves them.  And it turns out, once they're cooked and mixed in with other ingredients, they're not bad.  Well, not too bad anyway. :)

Saute them so they're all a little soft.(I have no clue why I sliced the carrots that way, no clue at all.  They'd be better sliced the normal way in little rounds.)  

Then, you'll add the wine, flour, and broth (separately). 

Next comes some cream and seasonings - I love the color that the chives and parsley add!

After that you stir in the chicken.

Which by the way, was well chopped with my favorite little Pampered Chef tool - the Salad Chopper.  It makes chopping/shredding chicken sooo easy and quick.

When you're finished with that, mix the ingredients for the biscuit topping.  This is where the crispy, salty, oh-so-delicious bacon crumbles in.  (Ignore the background mess.)

Top with biscuit topping and pop in the oven!

It came out really messy because the only casserole dish I had close to the size called for was a tad to small.  But I don't care.  It did not take away from the yumminess at all!

Once you have gotten a delicious big whiff of the hot-out-of-the-oven chicken biscuit cobbler, scoop some into a bowl and enjoy.  It will make you feel so warm and cozy and full.  Perfect for a cold winter night. :)

Chicken & Biscuit Cobbler

3 tbsp. butter
1 c. sliced carrots
1 medium onion, chopped
2 packages fresh mushrooms, quartered (8 oz.)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 dry white wine
1/3 c. all-purpose flour
3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cups whipping cream
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
3 tbsp. sliced chives
3 tbsp. chopped parsley
2 tsp. chopped rosemary
2 tsp. chopped thyme leaves
8 cups shredded cooked chicken (I just did 4 chicken breasts)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 1/4 cups chilled buttermilk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped cooked bacon (5 thick bacon slices)
Garnishes of chopped fresh chives & parsley

1. Preheat oven to 400.  Melt 3 tbsp. of butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add carrots and onion, and saute 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms; saute 5 minutes or until tender.  Stir in garlic; saute 2 minutes.  Add wine; cook 2 minutes.  Sprinkle with 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or until thickened.  Stir in cream and next 5 ingredients.  Stir in chicken, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cover and remove from heat.

2. Whisk together 2 1/2 cups self-rising flour and 1/2 tsp. sugar in a medium bowl.  Stir together buttermilk and 1/2 cup melted butter in a small bowl.  Stir buttermilk mixture and bacon into flour mixture until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. 

3. Return chicken mixture to medium-high heat; cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or until bubbly and hot.  Spoon mixture into buttered 3 qt. ceramic or glass baking dish.  Drop biscuit dough by level 1/4 cupfuls, 1/2 inch apart, onto chicken mixture.

4. Bake at 400 for 30 - 35 minutes or until browned and bubbly.

*Makes 8 servings*