New Faves, Old Faves – Chicken Casserole

I’m on a dinner roll this week (get it? dinner… roll…? i should not be allowed to tell jokes)! Shrimp & Grits on Tuesday was a new fave, today’s recipe is an old, old fave.


This recipe is from a cookbook put out by the teachers and administrators at my elementary school. Yep, my elementary school… in the 80’s.

But my mom tried it one night, probably almost 20 years ago, and it has been a family staple ever since. I used to request it for my birthday every year, and I never understood why when friends came over for a birthday dinner they never got as excited about Chicken Casserole as they did about Pepperoni Pizza.


That’s right, I’m talking about casserole. I know that in today’s world the word “casserole” strikes a bit of fear into our hearts. We think of a leftover tuna casserole in our grandmother’s fridge… right next to the green ambrosia. You know what I’m talking about. Americans used to thrive on casserole, now we’re terrified.

I’d rename it something with less baggage, but maybe I can reclaim the world and turn it back into something positive… take it back to when it meant making a quick and easy dinner and only having to dirty one pan. One pan!

This dish makes enough for leftovers on a busy night. What I love most is the hint of white wine that comes through. Don’t overbake it, or you’ll be left with sad, dry chicken.


Bringing Sexy Chicken Casserole Back
adapted from Joan George

6 boneless chicken breasts, halved longways
salt and pepper to taste
8 slices Swiss cheese (low-fat works)
3/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup melted butter (unsalted)
1 1/2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cups Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix

Preheat oven to 300F. Place halved chicken breasts in a 9×13 baking dish and top with Swiss slices. In a medium bowl, thin the soup with the white wine and mix until smooth. Pour mixture over chicken and Swiss. Rinse bowl, and combine stuffing mix and melted butter. Stir, moistening stuffing, and sprinkle over top of the dish. Season with salt and pepper.

Bake at 300F for 1-1/2 hours. Can be made ahead.

Note – I added a handful of green beans to my latest batch, just to introduce some veggies in there. I didn’t feel it added anything tremendous flavor-wise, so I might suggest making your veggies as a side rather than adding them to the dish.

easy, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free…

Time to check in on yesterday’s experiment – easy, gluten free, vegan, dairy free, sugar free banana ice cream!

frozen bananas

I took two bananas, broke them in half, and froze the four pieces in a ziploc bag overnight.

Today I took the bananas out of the freezer and popped them in the food processor. The first few seconds of this experience was a little terrifying – the food processor was not excited about mashing up only four pieces of banana, and I had to hold it tightly so that it didn’t fly off the counter.

pureed bananas

After pulsing for a few minutes, the consistency sort of resembled Dippin’ Dots.

At this point I tasted it, and it was just as creamy and rich tasting as the article I found claimed it to be. Success!

banana ice cream

I didn’t love the Dippin’ Dots look, so I spooned it into a bowl, covered it with Saran Wrap and popped it back in the freezer. I’ll check back in a few hours to see if it’s a little more “formed.” Stay tuned!

Light, White Meat Fish Fillets

The other week I went fishing with my dad. He’d been hounding me to go with him for, well, a few years, and I’d been dragging my feet. It’s an all day commitment and I seem to never have a lot of spare days, but also the last few times I went we never caught anything. Fishing can be a lot of fun, or it can be extremely uneventful.


Thankfully this trip was a lot of fun! We did have some good activity, but most of it we had to throw back – 3 rays, 1 small flounder, 1 blue fish that I let get away as I brought it up to the boat, 2 cobia who eyed the bait but just wouldn’t bite, and, luckily, one small/medium size blue fish that I did successfully get into to boat and we kept!


My dad was determined to catch me enough fish for my husband and I to have dinner, so the next day he went back out by himself and caught a few speckled trout and croaker.


The result was an excellent dinner. Earlier in the week before the fishing trip I bought a flounder fillet at the grocery store for dinner. The difference between fresh fish and store bought fish is amazing.

Good fish doesn’t take long to prep or cook. This recipe will work well for any small to medium size white meat fish.


Light, White Meat Fish Fillets

1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
1 teaspoon Chesapeake Bay Seafood Seasoning
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
5 turns of salt
12 turns of black pepper
1 egg
5-6 small fillets

Heat a grill pan on medium high heat. Combine all ingredients except fish and egg and make a thin layer of the spice/bread crumb mixture on a plate. Crack open an egg and whisk it in a small bowl.

Coat fish fillets one at a time in the egg and then dredge in spice/bread crumb mixture. Add coated fillets to grill pan and cook small fillets for approximately 3 minutes on each side, watching carefully to be sure you don’t overcook. Fish should be opaque when done; use a small fork to test that fish just starts to flake when touched.

Serve with whole wheat couscous and asparagus.

English Muffin Pizzas

Today we’ll be having a different kind of culinary adventure – how about an adventure for people who are moving in under a week, have packed up pretty much all of their belongings, whose lower back and legs are killing them from packing and cleaning things up and who are left with a lot items that might not naturally go together?


Yeah, that’s probably a little too specific, huh? I won’t start whining about how exhausted I am, but I will admit that I may have just fallen asleep in the closet…

So today I bring you english muffin pizzas! They’re not the fanciest or most sophisticated dinner or lunch, but you shouldn’t knock them until you try them. It’s summer, and they’re light, easy and really tasty.


You know how there’s always that person in the group who can’t have cheese? Or someone doesn’t like meat? Another person doesn’t like a lot of sauce on their pizza? Remarkably, everyone can get exactly what they want with english muffin pizzas. Set up an assembly line of ingredients for kids and/or adults and have everyone decorate their own – there’s no messy, sticky pizza dough to roll out, and there’s no grease like with take out. Make as many or as few as you like.

english muffin pizzas

English Muffin Pizzas

whole wheat english muffins
fresh shredded mozzarella
Ghost Baker’s mom’s marinara
fresh basil, torn into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350F. Toast english muffins first by themselves for a crispier crust. Add ingredients above as desired and add to a baking sheet. Cook until mozzarella melts.

Jeff's Chicken Adobo

Happy Monday, DinnerCakes readers. I hope you had a good weekend! If you read Saturday’s post, then you know that I kept pretty busy! The joint cook-out went very well and, as expected, we had entirely too much food. Just as a party should be!

raw chicken

After all that cooking, I can safely say that the last thing I felt like doing the next day was making dinner. My husband, Morgan, and I worked together to make this dish; one of our friend Jeff‘s favorites – Chicken “Adobo.”


Adobo style is Latin American and typically involves preparation with red chili peppers and/or tomato sauce. That’s why this recipe from Jeff perplexes me a little (and why I put it in quotation marks above), because it has no chili peppers or even red pepper. I apologize for the name confusion, but it’s a very flavorful and delicious dinner just the same!

I’m not a huge fan of ginger, but I actually enjoyed it in this dish. The bay leaves also add some great flavor. Next time we make it I’ll probably add cayenne and chili powder because I love a little heat (and it would be more aptly named). That’s just a personal preference, though. This dish doesn’t necessarily need heat – so enjoy!

chicken adobo

Jeff’s Chicken Adobo

olive oil (just enough to coat the bottom of the pan)
1 lb. boneless chicken breast, cut in 3/4″ chunks
soy sauce
1-2 inches of ginger root, grated
6-8 garlic cloves, grated or finely chopped
4-6 whole dried bay leaves
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups dry rice (basmati works great)
pinch of salt

Place chicken into a container to marinate. Cover with a mixture of equal parts soy sauce, vinegar and water. If you prefer a stronger flavor, you can cut back on the water. Marinate for at least five minutes (chicken may be marinated longer or even overnight for stronger flavor).

Add ginger, garlic, bay leaves and black pepper. In a large pan, heat the olive oil. Once the oil has heated, add chicken (saving the marinade).

Saute the chicken on medium-high heat until it is done or mostly done. Add the marinade and reduce the heat to medium. Continue cooking until sauce reduces to desired thickness. Serve over rice.

Rinse rice in a pot 4-5 times and drain. Cook in a rice cooker, or according to package instructions.

Crisp and Juicy Curry Chicken

We hope you all enjoyed Rainbow Week! It was a lot of fun for us to do. If you have suggestions about other themes you’d like to see, please let us know!


And now a confession – this is my new favorite dinner recipe. I can’t believe that there was actually was a time when I didn’t really like cumin or curry; now they’re some of my staple spices.

This dinner is so easy and delicious. I like having a bit of crispiness to my chicken, but of course without all the fat that comes with frying and using oil. I coat the chicken with a variety of Indian-style spices and a little bit of plain bread crumbs – it locks in the juiciness of the chicken and provides for some excellent flavors.

I like to serve it with couscous, but it would also go well with steamed rice. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!


Crisp and Juicy Curry Chicken

For couscous:
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 cup peas
1-2 cloves garlic
dash salt
whole wheat couscous

For chicken:
1 lb chicken breast, sliced in half lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
1 teaspoon coriander, ground
1/4 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon red curry powder
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
3 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces

Preheat oven to 400F. Combine spices for chicken in a small bowl and stir with a fork. Add chicken halves to a gallon Ziploc bag with a tablespoon of water. Add spices to bag and toss gently to coat the chicken (you could dredge the chicken to coat it, but I’ve found I get a much better coating when I use the Ziploc).

Bake chicken for 20 minutes until cooked through. While chicken is baking, saute onions in a small pan for 5 minutes until transcluscent. Cook couscous according to package instructions, toss lightly and add onions, peas, garlic and salt. Cover and keep warm until chicken is ready.

I really really (really) love this time of year. Not only do I hate the cold, but there is so much more to do in the warmth. Hiking, climbing, swimming, the list goes on. Edwin was not meant to be contained indoors! The only issue I have with the summer is the shift towards colder meals. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good salad, but otherwise I prefer my dinners hot.

Chopped English Cucumber

Of course, I try to keep an open mind so I thought I’d give a cold soup a shot. English cucumber is a seedless variety of cucumber that has an edible skin and is often considered less bitter than most. It’s also friggin’ long; several feet. It’s the most common ingredient in a cold cucmber soup, today’s dish. The major ingredients are the cucumber (duh), dill and yogurt. I decided to add corn and tomato because, well, I like a soup with substance and a pureed soup makes me feel like I’m eating water.

Dill Fronds

This is definitely not the most appealing-looking soup I’ve made, but appearances can be deceiving. It’s got a light flavor and the cucumber and yogurt combine surprisingly well. On top of that, this is one of the few soups that calls for little to no salt. Oh, and did I mention it’s by far the easiest soup I’ve ever made? Give it a shot and let us know what you think.

Chilled Cucumber Soup

Chilled Cucumber Soup
Feel free to substitute the shallot with garlic, onion or scallions.

1 english cucumber; chopped
1 small or medium scallion; minced
1 handful dill fronds
2 cups yogurt (regular works fine, but consider greek if you’d like a thicker consistency)
1 cup corn kernels
1 plum tomato; diced
Salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients except the corn and tomato into a blender. Blend until smooth. Serve with the corn and tomato on the side as a “garnish.” Enjoy.

Twice Baked

Twice baked potatoes are probably my favorite way to eat potatoes. I think I was first introduced to them by my father-in-law several years ago. If you’ve never had them before, twice baked potatoes are made by cooking a Russet potato, cutting it in half longways, scooping out the insides and mixing them with delicious things, and then spooning it all back the potato and cooking them just a few minutes longer.


Back in March I shared a recipe for mashed potatoes and rutabaga that several of you seemed interested in. I also enjoyed that one a lot, so I decided to work with rutabaga again – this time combining the mashed rutabaga into twice baked potatoes.

scoopingTwice baked

I know rutabagas are mostly a winter vegetable; I guess I’m having trouble letting go? I think I may even miss rutabagas during the summer! Please keep in mind for this recipe that I tend not to load up my potatoes with hefty amounts of sour cream, butter and cheese, so if you think you might want more of something feel free to add it!

Twice baked potato and rutabaga

Twice Baked Potatoes with Rutabaga
makes 4 twice baked potatoes

1 medium rutabaga
2 Russet potatoes
1/4 cup sour cream (I used fat free)
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, softened
1/4 – 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese (plus a little more to sprinkle at the end)
salt and pepper, to taste
paprika and chives for garnish

To bake the potato, preheat oven to 400°F. Wash potatoes and poke holes in each with a fork (to prevent exploding!). Lightly brush with a little bit of olive oil and place in the oven for about one hour, or until you can insert a fork into the potato without much pressure.

Alternately, you can cook the potatoes in a microwave for about 10 minutes on high. Remember to still poke holes and brush with olive oil.

While the potatoes are cooking you can cook the rutabaga. Wash and peel the rutabaga and cut into one inch pieces. I’ve cooked rutabaga either by boiling for approximately 30 minutes (again until you can insert a fork into them without much pressure) or steaming them. Feel free to use whatever works best for you.

When Russet potatoes are done, slightly cool and then cut in half longways. Scoop out the inside and mash using a potato masher in a medium sized bowl. When rutabaga is cooked, add to the bowl and mash with the Russet potato. Stir in sour cream, milk, butter, cheese and salt and pepper. Mash and stir until you reach your desired consistency.

Spoon back into potato skins and return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes. Garnish with paprika, chives and cheese.

Creamy Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli and Vermont Cheddar

If you caught the cover of the February/March 2009 Food Network Magazine, then you saw a gorgeous Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli Rabe Pesto. I couldn’t wait to make it.


Except I didn’t know much about broccoli rabe – which turns out to be nothing at all like broccoli. So I decided to go with what I know and see if this recipe works with regular broccoli. I also replaced the parmigiano-reggiano cheese with a sharper, more pungent cheese to give it a bit of zip.

broccoli mixture

Without the bright green contrasting colors this dish may not look as lovely the Food Network Magazine cover, but I really enjoyed it. The orecchiette pasta is a lot like shells, hiding little salty pistashio nuggets in every other bite. It’s like a grown-up macaroni and cheese, with broccoli and pistachio being the more dominant tastes than the cheese.

If you’re in the mood for something a little different, this is for you!

orecchiette pasta

Orecchiette with Broccoli and Vermont Cheddar
Adapted from Food Network

2 1/2 cups broccoli, chopped
1/2 cup pistachios, toasted
1 cup Vermont Cheddar, shredded
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 pound orecchiette pasta

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Meanwhile, puree broccoli in bowl of a food processor. Add toasted pistachios, followed by Vermont Cheddar. Finally add ricotta and pulse until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add broccoli mixture to a large skillet and add 1 cup of the pasta water. When pasta is cooked, drain and add to the skillet with the broccoli mixture. Stir vigorously to combine and cook until the sauce is creamy and hot. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with shredded Vermont Cheddar.

Happy Valentine’s Day… almost!

mini chocolate cakes

My husband, Morgan, and I have never been big on Valentine’s Day. I generally don’t care for holidays with a lot of expectation involved because they make me nervous! Morgan and I have a great time just going to a low-key restaurant/brewery or sitting in pajamas and watching a movie. But you want me to go somewhere fancy… and dress up… and have it be the most romantic day of the year? Well, I’ll take a rain check!

But wait, that doesn’t mean I don’t want a box of chocolate! And you can keep all the gourmet chocolates and truffles; I just want some good old Russell Stover.

And maybe it’s because I don’t like all the expectation associated with V-Day, but as of right now I don’t intend to bake anything on Saturday (it’s Russell Stover or bust!). But if you’d like to tempt your honey, I highly recommend this melt-in-your mouth, warm and chocolatey little cake.

mini chocolate cake

I found this recipe in an old Kraft foods magazine. It was described as easy to prepare and, “under 200 calories, wonderful chocolate taste without being overly sweet.” Though I’ve heard people use the phrase “overly sweet,” I can’t say I understand the concept. My mantra is closer to, “bring on the sweets!” so I made a few small changes by adding about 1 cup of peanut butter chips along with 1/2 cup of bittersweet chocolate chips. It’s likely that these are no longer under 200 calories as advertised… whoops!

This recipe is also listed on the Kraft website, and I noticed in the comments that a lot of people complained that the cake completely fell in the middle just a few minutes after taking it out of the oven. I had this problem as well, probably because these cakes are flourless so the structure just isn’t the same, but a simple dollop of Cool-Whip disguises that instantly. And because you’re serving it warm out of the oven, they’re really not sitting around long enough for anyone to notice.

These little cakes are very easy to whip up, so you don’t have to worry about spending a lot of time in the kitchen instead of with your significant other. And because they’re individual serving sizes you get instant portion control! These sweet little cakes are truly heavenly.

mini chocolate cake cut open

Flourless Triple Chocolate Fudge Cups with Peanut Butter Chips
adapted from Kraft

3 squares semi-sweet baking chocolate (I used Baker’s brand)
1 tablespoon oil (I used Smart Balance)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
4 egg whites
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons thawed Cool Whip Lite Whipped Topping

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a microwave safe bowl, microwave semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate and oil for 20 second intervals, stirring between each interval until melted. Stir in cocoa powder and set aside.

Beat egg whites and sugar on high for approximately 3 minutes. Reduce speed and blend in melted chocolate. Stir in peanut butter chips.

Spoon batter into 6 paper muffin cups (I decided not to use paper cups when I made them, but I think it would be easier if you did… as I’ll describe in a minute).

Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until center is puffed and set. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes. The tops will fall in as they cool. Gently slide out of the muffin pan when cool. Because the tops have fallen, it will be a little difficult to get them out without breaking the top more. Do the best you can, and plop Cool Whip on the rest to serve!

Makes 8 little cakes.