October 12, 2009

Mushroom Spinach Lasagna

Posted in Pasta: baked tagged , , , , at 10:26 pm by jenniec00ks

food 005Finally!  The weather in Atlanta is super chilly and I need to use my heater, aka my oven!  So I made this super easy 9″x9″ lasagna that makes ~3 large portions.  It’s currently meat-less because I didn’t have any cooked chicken on hand this week.  I think it would easily feed 4-5 if some shredded chicken meat was added (just buy a rotisserie from the store, shred ~2 cups your favorite parts, I like a combination of white/dark meat.)

This is similar to my garlic alfredo recipe from a while back, but even easier, if you can imagine.  In a nutshell, this is mushrooms, frozen spinach, milk, cheese, and pasta.  But here’s a more exact recipe for those who don’t have much luck tossing arbitrary amounts of food in a pot 😉

Ingredients:

2.5 cups of milk
12 oz. mushrooms, white or cremini, washed & sliced
1 cup of your favorite white cheese shredded (parm, romano, asagio, mozz)
1 box frozen spinach
6 lasagna noodles, I used the wider (~4.5 inches) no-boil kind.  If you only have the traditional kind, go ahead and boil 6-7 according to the time on the box.
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of olive oil or butter, your choice.  I used 1 tbsp of each.
2 tbsp all-purpose white flour
Salt, pepper, nutmeg

1. Cook the spinach in the microwave per the box instructions.  Drain as best you can. Doesn’t have to be bone dry, no worries.

2. Mince the garlic and set aside to have ready.

3. Start heating your choice of fat (olive oil/butter) over medium heat in a saucepan (pot).

4. While your pot is warming up, slice up the mushrooms.  Drop them in after you’ve chopped a few so that they don’t have the chance to turn pink.

5. After all the mushrooms are in, toss the garlic in on top.  Cook for 6-7 minutes, until the mushrooms are softened and there’s quite a bit of liquid in the pot.

6. Add 2 heaping tablespoons of flour to the pot and stir.  It should absorb all of the liquid in the bottom of the pot and make the mushrooms sort of sticky.  Add a dash more if necessary.

7. Turn the heat up to medium high, and pour in the 2.5 cups of milk while stirring gently.

8. Stir until it boils, then turn the heat back down to medium and let simmer until it thickens a bit.  During all this stirring, season with a tsp of salt, pepper to taste, and dash of nutmeg.  Be careful, nutmeg can be overpowering.

9. Add 3/4 cups of cheese to the sauce and turn the heat off once it melts.

10. Put a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of 9″x9″ pan, then 2 lasagna noodles.  If you have the narrower kind that you have to boil first, then you’ll probably need to tear them up to fit 2 in one layer.

11. Add a layer of sauce, then noodles, and repeat 2 more times.

12. Sprinkle the last 1/4 cup of shredded cheese on the top.

13. Bake in a preheated 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 35 minutes or until bubbly and brown.

Y’all enjoyyyyyyy!  ❤ Jennie

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April 13, 2009

Mashed Potato Stuffed Chicken Breasts in Photos

Posted in Misc. Main Dishes tagged , at 8:00 pm by jenniec00ks

I found this recipe for Mashed Potato Stuffed Chicken Breasts in the February 2008 edition of Rachael Ray’s magazine, Everyday with Rachael Ray. I believe the credited author, Silvana Nardone, is her editor. I’ve done it a touch differently here and added a side dish of ricotta-garlic mashed potatoes – because it’s much more economical to buy a 5 or 10 lb. bag of potatoes than 1 lb. out of the bulk bin. I’ll write the full recipe in a pretty PDF you can print soon.

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Let’s start with the potatoes – I really only ever use the Red and Russet varieties because they are common and therefore inexpensive. The Red ones are great, and my #1 choice, because the skin is so thin you can eat it in every preparation (read: no peeling required!) The Russet potato is only good for baking and those long cooking recipes that need a potato to hold it’s shape. I had about half of a 5lb bag of Russet Idaho potatoes left over from making beef stew this past weekend (that’s another entry), but feel free to use any amount you have on hand – it’ll just determine how much side dish you’ll get. First I peeled & washed the 7 potatoes, cut off any dark black spots, then began to cut them into ~1″ pieces. The smaller you chop, the faster they’ll cook – and we’re going to mash these up anyway so might as well save some time!

mashedpotchkn-008I toss the chopped potatoes in a pot, covered them with about an inch of water, cranked the heat under it, and gave ’em a stir every few minutes to ensure even cooking. If you’re slow at cutting up the potatoes, keep the ones you’re not using in water so that they don’t discolor. Once the water came to a boil, it took about 5 minutes to get fork-tender. If you’re not sure they’re done, just pull a piece and pierce it with a fork – it should go through fairly easily (hence the “fork-tender”). For reference, I used a 6 qt. stockpot and it was about half full.

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Next up, the garlic to be sautéed in butter for the garlic-ricotta mashed potatoes. About six medium cloves, diced up as fine as you can handle biting into. **By the way, these potatoes will definitely have a bite to them, if they sound too pungent for you, use the roasted garlic suggestion I make later. I melted 3 pats of butter (~1.5 tbsp?) in my frying pan over medium-low heat and tossed the garlic in for a few minutes until they were wonderfully fragrant. By the time I took the garlic off the heat, the potatoes were ready to be drained.

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mashedpotchkn-016I used a colander to strain the potatoes, then tossed them into a bowl suitable for my stainless steel masher (I’m pretty sure I can’t use metal utensils on that stockpot because of the non-stick finish; you probably shouldn’t either). A stainless steel pot/bowl or a glass bowl should work fine.  Add about 1/3 cup of milk, another tbsp of butter.  Oh, also salt and pepper to taste – then it’s time to mash away.  There’s no real rule after that – mash a little if you like it chunky, msah it a lot and a little more milk if you like it creamy.  When you’re pleased with the texture, scoop out about 1 cup into a separate bowl to be stuffed in the chicken breasts.

mashedpotchkn-0171Then I used a microplane (a fine grater) to zest a lemon and mixed it into the mashed potatoes (the zest is only the thin yellow layer, if you get any white pith it’ll be bitter).  You can pick up any kind of fine grater at your favorite kitchen store for between $10-$15.  It’s a pretty good investment, even for the casual cook – good for zesting lemons/limes/oranges, cheeses (think parmesan toppings and emmental fondues), fresh nutmeg and even garlic when you don’t want to bite into chunks of it.

Alright – time to load up the chicken and get it in the oven.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Rules to remember: make sure you keep raw meat away from everything else, wash your hands after handling it, and always wash your chicken!!!

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We start by separating the skin on two bone-in skin-on chicken breasts (~1 lb each).  You can trim off any excess fat if you’d like as well.

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Stuff the lemon mashed potatoes under the skin as evenly as possible.  I pretty much coat the top of the chicken breast – even if the skin doesn’t cover it all the way.

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Then I dress up the skin with dried thyme, salt/pepper, and garlic powder.

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Finally, I rub the seasonings in with about a tablespoon of olive oil per breast.  Also, if you want your side dish to have a mellow garlic flavor, here’s where you can toss some garlic cloves (whole, still in their paper) with some olive oil and roast them on a separate baking sheet/piece of foil.  I’d recommend 5-7 cloves for the amount of potatoes I did, depending on how much you ❤ garlic.  When the oven’s preheated, put the chicken in the oven for 40 minutes (the garlic cloves only 30 for the cloves, or until soft to the touch).

mashedpotchkn-019Time to finish up the side dish.  If you’re going the roasted garlic route: when they’re cool enough to handle, you should be able to squeeze them out of their paper casing and mash them with a fork.  Anyway, garlic and about a 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese get mixed well into the poatoes and you’re done.  I used ricotta because I had recently made a Ricotta-Spinach pasta; whatever cheese you like and have on hand will do!  Be creative!  The chicken juices should run clear and the skin will be fantastically golden brown after 40 minutes in the oven.  Make sure you drizzle any delicious juices left on the pan over the chicken when serving.

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Just what you've been waiting for!