Barley Chicken & Mushroom Casserole

A glass of beer, a loaf of bread, a bowl of cereal, a standard of measurement, a form of currency, a medication – they all began with barley – an ancient grain, possibly even older than rice. Barley’s once exalted status has been redefined. No longer does it serve as a unit of monetary exchange or a unit of measurement. No physician thinks of prescribing it for an ailing patient. Now, barley is largely relegated to being a food or a key ingredient in the making of beer.

We owe much to the desert nomads and the camel caravans who endured sandstorms and unrelenting heat to trade their sacks of barley with distant neighbors, who then traded with other distant neighbors. Our steaming bowl of mushroom barley soup is a hand-me-down recipe with roots that take us back to prehistoric man. In 2005 barley ranked fourth for cereal production. There are many types of barley, many different uses for it and a long history of its importance to mankind.

Barley has a unique family-friendly quality. You can make a batch ahead on a Sunday, and it keeps well for at least three days in the fridge, and up to three months in the freezer. Monday, you can use it as breakfast and Tuesday, put a cup or two in your salad, and on Wednesday, you can add a barley casserole to your meal.

Four ways to cook barley. For each cup of barley, add 2 1/4 cups of water.

-Stove top: bring barley to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 50 minutes.

-Rice cooker: barley will cook in the same amount of time as brown rice — approximately one cycle in a rice cooker.

-Oven: place barley and liquid in a covered casserole dish and cook it in the oven.

-Slow cooker: cook barley in a slow cooker for 3 to 4 hours on low heat.

Barley Chicken & Mushroom Casserole is such a wholesome and comforting meal.

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Barley Chicken & Mushroom Casserole
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Instructions
Chicken Thighs
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the seasonings until well combined. Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towels and place them in the baking dish.
  3. Rub both sides of the chicken with olive oil. Sprinkle the seasoning mixture over the chicken, rubbing it on both sides of the chicken thighs.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven, without moving or turning, until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the chicken reaches at least 165° F. This will take about 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken thighs. During the last 15 minutes, place the cherry tomatoes on baking tray & roast. Remove chicken thighs & tomatoes from oven. Slice thighs in 1/4-inch thick slices. Keep chicken & roasted tomatoes warm.
Barley
  1. In a saucepan, place the water & vegetable broth powder, stir to dissolve. Add barley & bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer & cook barley until tender. Cooking time for pearl barley is around 35 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir the barley, cover the saucepan and let it stand for another 5 to 10 minutes.
Vegetables
  1. In a saucepan, sauté vegetables in 1 Tbsp oil until tender then season to taste. Combine with cooked barley.
Serving
  1. In a casserole serving dish, place the veg/barley mixture. Top with sliced chicken thighs & roasted tomatoes. Garnish with sliced green onion & serve.
Recipe Notes
  • If you find the barley & vegetables seem a bit dry add a bit more vegetable broth.

Boursin French Bread w/ Pork & Shrimp Stuffing

Today, March 21, our family celebrates the birth date of my father. Although he left this earth many years ago, I have so many memories of the wonderful childhood I enjoyed due to the parents I had. As my life unfolds, I realize more each day the impact having had a strong role model has made on my life. The word ‘thank you’ is so inadequate.

In the early 1950’s, my father was able to purchase another piece of land about 4 miles from our home place. Between the two farms it became the equivalent of a ‘section’. Before this time, the cattle had to be moved to a community pasture in the foothills where they would have enough grass to graze on over the summer. At that time to transport them, you had no choice but to herd them down the road allowance for approximately 20-30 miles on foot. To say the least it was a long grueling event for both the cattle and family members.

The ‘other farm’, as we referred to it, had originally been a slaughter house for the town meat market. It consisted of one large building, corals and a few other buildings. There was a slough on the land which dad had converted to a ‘dug out’ where the cattle could go and drink freely. The land was used for grain crops where in turn the cattle could be pastured on.

One of my fondest memories about the other farm was our picnic lunches. In the summer when dad would be working on the land, instead of my mother just packing a lunch for him that he could take in the morning, she would fix a wonderful ‘picnic lunch’. At about 11:30 in the morning, mom would pack up the lunch she had prepared, complete with plates, silverware, a tablecloth, etc., and we would drive to the ‘other farm’. There was just the right amount of space between two grain buildings to set up a make-shift table and stools. We would put the table cloth down and spread out our little picnic ‘feast’. Dad would be so surprised and we would all enjoy our lunch immensely. Mom always knew how to make the most simple things fun for us.

Lunch was always different from the usual lunch box meal and my mother never seemed to be short on tasty ideas. Today’s stuffed French bread meal is definitely a more elevated version of a picnic meal but it did bring me back to those wonderful cherished memories from childhood.

This meal seems so fitting to have today in honor of my father’s birthday. He loved bread, pork & seafood so I’ve got it covered.

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Boursin French Bread w/ Pork & Shrimp Stuffing
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Instructions
Shrimp Stuffing
  1. In a saucepan, cook rice & barley in vegetable broth until tender. Drain (you can use this broth elsewhere) & transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Sauté celery, onion & mushrooms in 2 Tbsp butter until tender-crisp. Combine sautéed vegetables with rice/barley mixture. Stir in shrimp & seasonings & cook for a few more minutes until shrimp is just cooked. Remove from saucepan & set aside.
Boursin Cheese Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Stir in the spices. Add the milk & adjust heat to steaming -- do not simmer or boil. Add Boursin to the milk mixture, break it up into pieces with the side of a large spoon & stir until Boursin has melted into the mixture. Remove from heat & cool.
Tenderloin
  1. Remove silver skin & butterfly tenderloin. Using a meat mallet, pound out the tenderloin to about 3/4-inch thickness. Heat a griddle & sear meat on both sides. Set aside.
Assembly /Baking
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Cut the French bread in half lengthwise & scoop out the soft insides. Remove only just enough to be able to fit the tenderloin in the cavity. Spread the hollowed out cavity with the Boursin cheese sauce (save some for inside the butterflied tenderloin). Cover bottom & sides completely.
  3. Spread remaining cheese sauce over inside of butterflied tenderloin. Close the tenderloin so you can fit it inside the bread cavity. Once you have it in there, open it as much as possible & fill it with the shrimp stuffing. It will be slightly mounded.
  4. Using a large piece of foil paper, place the bread 'boat' in the center & pull the foil up around it. Lightly cover the top just to keep the stuffing from drying out until the rest is cooked.
  5. Bake for 1 1/2 hours in a baking pan with a wire rack in the bottom to prevent the bottom of the bread from burning.
  6. Remove from oven & allow to sit for about 5 minutes then remove foil & place on cutting board & slice.

Turkey Breast w/ Quinoa Mushroom Stuffing

SEASON’S GREETINGS!

The Christmas season makes us reflect on many different things; to live life a little more grateful, more hopeful and a little more peaceful. It is a time to connect with friends and loved ones to enjoy the traditions we grew up with. 

Today, December 25th, our family celebrates my sister Rita’s birthday as well as Christmas. I have fond memories of her Christmas Eve family birthday ‘parties’. On the eve of Christmas, our family would go to church. After returning home, we were joined by some family friends to have birthday cake and homemade root beer. My parents wanted my sister to always have this special time to honor her birthday apart from the Christmas festivities.

As I write about this memory, something else comes to mind. Our church at that time, was a small, old building. For the choir it had a small loft. As long as I can remember, the same lady played the organ as well as directing the choir members in song. She in turn, had a teenage daughter gifted with an unbelievable voice. One of the highlights of the Christmas service was to hear her sing a solo version of ‘Oh Holy Night’. You could hear a pin drop; it was breathtaking how angelic and beautiful her voice was. I get emotional even now remembering it.

The strange and fascinating story of ‘O Holy Night’ began in France, yet eventually made its way around the world. This seemingly simple song, inspired by a request from a clergyman, would not only become one of the most beloved anthems of all time, it would mark a technological revolution that would forever change the way people were introduced to music.

In 1847, Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure was the commissionaire of wines in a small French town. Known more for his poetry than his church attendance, it probably shocked Placide when his parish priest asked the commissionaire to pen a poem for Christmas mass. Nevertheless, the poet was honored to share his talents with the church.

In a dusty coach traveling down a bumpy road to France’s capital city, Placide Cappeau considered the priest’s request. Using the gospel of Luke as his guide, Cappeau imagined witnessing the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Thoughts of being present on the blessed night inspired him. By the time he arrived in Paris, ‘Cantique de Noel’ had been completed.

Moved by his own work, Cappeau decided that his ‘Cantique de Noel’ was not just a poem, but a song in need of a master musician’s hand. Not musically inclined himself, the poet turned to one of his friends, Adolphe Charles Adams, for help.


The son of a well-known classical musician, Adolphe had studied in the Paris conservatoire. His talent and fame brought requests to write works for orchestras and ballets all over the world. Yet the lyrics that his friend Cappeau gave him must have challenged the composer in a fashion unlike anything he received from London, Berlin, or St. Petersburg.

As a man of Jewish ancestry, for Adolphe the words of ‘Cantique de Noel’ represented a day he didn’t celebrate and a man he did not view as the son of God. Nevertheless, Adams quickly went to work, attempting to marry an original score to Cappeau’s beautiful words. Adams’ finished work pleased both poet and priest. The song was performed just three weeks later at a Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

Since that first rendition at a small Christmas mass in 1847, ‘O Holy Night’ has been sung millions of times in churches in every corner of the world. And since the moment a handful of people first heard it played over the radio, the carol has gone on to become one of the entertainment industry’s most recorded and played spiritual songs. This incredible work has become one of the most beautiful, inspired pieces of music ever created.

For our turkey stuffing today, I decided to go with something a bit different. The quinoa-mushroom stuffing can be made to stuff the bird or served as a standalone side-dish.

BIRTHDAY WISHES WITH LOVE TO YOU RITA. HOPE YOU, RICK & AMBER HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY!

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Turkey Breast w/ Quinoa Mushroom Stuffing
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Quinoa Mushroom Stuffing
Turkey
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Quinoa Mushroom Stuffing
Turkey
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Instructions
Stuffing
  1. Cook & mash potatoes. Prepare gravy mix as directed on pkg. Set aside.
  2. Cook the quinoa in a small pot by bringing the quinoa & water to a boil. Cover & reduce heat to very low & cook for about 20 minutes. Remove lid & set aside.
  3. Heat a saucepan, add the onions & sauté for 2-3 minutes, adding just a Tbsp of water at a time if the onions stick, stirring frequently. Add celery, mushrooms, onion & garlic powder, poultry seasoning & dried basil. Sauté for 5 minutes.
  4. Add about 1/4 cup water, fresh herbs, chard & cranberries. Cook about 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
  5. In a large bowl, mix cooked quinoa with mashed potatoes, vegetable/spice mix & gravy to make a moist stuffing consistency. Set aside while you prepare turkey breast.
Turkey Breast
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Lay turkey breast on a clean work surface so that it lies open & flat. Cover with plastic wrap, then pound lightly with a meat mallet to flatten into an even thickness all over. Discard plastic wrap.
  3. On one half of the turkey breast spread a thick layer of stuffing. Fold the adjoining half of the turkey breast over all. Fasten with metal skewers if you wish to help keep the stuffing enclosed.
  4. Place a wire rack in a roasting pan & lay stuffed turkey roast on it. Combine herb butter ingredients & brush over turkey breast. Roast uncovered, until turkey reaches an internal temperature of 180 F. about 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Cover loosely with foil if top browns too quickly.
  5. Place any extra stuffing in a buttered casserole & bake for about 30 minutes.
  6. Remove turkey breast from oven, tent with foil & allow to rest for about 5-10 minutes. Remove skewers & slice. Serve with cranberry sauce.

Turkey, Bacon & Apricot Pie

HAPPY THANKSGIVING DAY!

For the last 66 years, Canada has celebrated Thanksgiving Day on the second Monday in October. It’s one of those holidays that tend to bring families together, both physically and emotionally. Unfortunately, though, in this highly technological age, it seems as if we have become more connected digitally than emotionally.

We have now entered into our Autumn season with all its breathtaking fall foliage. Part of Canada’s appeal is it’s four seasons that offer changing landscapes and temperatures. Fall also represents a time of change. As nature bursts with its fabulous fall foliage, it gives us a little bit of extra time to make the most of what we have left in this year before the grand finale.

I, for one, have always loved the changing seasons. That’s not to say that I like freezing cold and slippery roads but that I have come to understand the important role each one plays in the ‘big picture’. When Brion and I initially landscaped our property, careful consideration was given to what plants were planted. Over the years it has developed into a beautiful tapestry of color through our growing season.

Growing up on the farm, Fall was an especially busy time with the grain crops being harvested, garden vegetables being canned, frozen or just stored for use over the coming months. So much needed to be done before winter would set in. As a teenager it all just seemed like a lot of work. Even as hard as my parents worked at making a living from farming, I think they felt a real sense of satisfaction in what they were able to achieve. I realize now that even without being aware of it the visual beauty of the farmland at harvest was imprinted on me forever.

Most of us here in Canada, have far more things to be grateful for than not. I have fond memories of my wonderful parents, carefree childhood days with my siblings, having enjoyed a successful career, a loving husband, our home, the many wonderful world travels we have been able to enjoy together, but above all we are both in relatively good health. It is so important to just take the time and appreciate the blessings in our lives and make every day count.

For our Thanksgiving meal I am preparing a turkey, bacon & apricot pie. Should be good!

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Turkey, Bacon & Apricot Pie
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Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the bacon & cook until slightly crispy. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon to paper towel & set aside.
  2. Add the onion to skillet & sauté over a low heat until soft but not colored. Add the mushrooms & cook until soft & any liquid has evaporated, add thyme; set aside.
  3. Melt butter in skillet, then add the flour & stir over heat for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, gradually add the milk a little at a time, stirring well. Return to heat & bring to a boil; add turkey broth & stir. Simmer for 2-3 minutes; add seasonings.
  4. Add bacon, turkey, apricots & mushroom mixture to the sauce. Stir well.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  6. Roll 1 sheet of puff pastry to fit a DEEP 9-inch pie dish. From the second sheet of puff pastry cut pastry designs of your choice for top crust.
  7. Spoon filling into pie dish & top with pastry designs. Brush pastry with egg wash & place in oven.
  8. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until pastry is golden brown & filling is piping hot. Remove from oven & allow to cool slightly before serving.
Recipe Notes
  • Don't hesitate to use your own spice combination in place of the coriander & cumin.
  • Spiced cranberries make an extra special condiment for this meal.

Smoky Beef Stew

To say beef is a versatile food is an understatement. There are at least 46 countries that enjoy eating beef with Canada being one of them. It can be prepared in many ways including grilled, fried, baked, roasted, slow-cooked and there are a lot of different cuts to choose from.

Beef is so versatile it can be the star of fancy dinners, quick lunches, simple stews, and more. No matter how beef is eaten, it can easily showcase worldwide flavors and culinary creativity.

When making roast beef cubes, tougher cuts that include chuck, brisket and round, where the high amount of collagen breaks down during a lengthy cooking process and transforms into gelatin, result in supple, succulent meat, lending a velvety richness to the braising liquid. I recommend chuck because it has a big, beefy flavor and good fat content, but brisket and round are also suitable.

In this recipe the beef is cubed instead of cooked whole, so each beef cube is coated in seasoning for an incredible flavor. The vegetables are cooked in beef broth then added to the smoky beef gravy along with the roasted beef cubes to make an amazing ‘beef stew’… true comfort food!

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Smoky Beef Stew
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword smoky beef stew
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword smoky beef stew
Servings
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Rating: 5
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Instructions
Meat
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Cut beef into bite sized pieces. Place in a plastic bag & add oil & Montreal Steak Spice. Shake to coat cubes evenly. Thread cubes onto skewers & place over a foil lined roasting pan.
  3. Roast meat for about 55 minutes or until cooked. Remove from oven & take meat off skewers. Set aside.
Veggies/Gravy
  1. In a saucepan, cook carrots & potatoes in some of the beef broth until Just tender. Pour into a bowl & set aside.
  2. In the saucepan, add 1 Tbsp oil & sauté leeks, garlic & mushrooms until tender. Place in bowl with carrots & potatoes.
  3. In the saucepan, melt butter & add flour stirring constantly to make a roux. Add remaining broth, whisking to make a smooth gravy (add broth from veggies if necessary). Add 2 tsp liquid smoke, whisk to combine.
  4. Once the gravy is cooked & smooth, add beef cubes & all the broth/veggies. Gently fold to combine.
  5. Nice to serve with focaccia bread.
Recipe Notes
  • The liquid smoke gives this stew such an unbelievable flavor!

Seafood Bread

French bread doesn’t get enough recognition for its worth. Fresh, soft crusty bread can be so much more than a simple side to a big family meal. You can base an entire meal around a loaf of French Bread!

Stuffed with salmon, scallops, shrimp, and mushrooms, this seafood bread can be served as an appetizer or sliced into larger pieces as an entree with a salad. The recipe itself is quite versatile. This stuffed French bread reminds me of the edible bread bowls of the past, but all stuffed inside a wonderful loaf of French bread. 

Edible bread bowls were a huge hit in the 80’s and 90’s, but the idea fizzled at the start of the 21st century. Bread has always been a main stay of any meal, from toast at breakfast to sandwiches at lunch and rolls for supper. Many restaurants used the bread bowl idea as a way to justify charging more for soup. They are an extremely versatile way to hold thick, creamy soups, spicy chili or stews as well as dips and warm melted cheese.

Bread bowls will always hold a special memory for Brion and I. Over the years we have made many trips to the California coast. We always stayed in the Carmel/Monterey area and walked the coastline with our destination being Fisherman’s Wharf. It was a special treat having clam chowder in a sourdough bowl at a wharf restaurant.

This seafood bread combines many ingredients that enhance its delicious and creamy flavor, perfect for a late summer meal.

It has a soft and velvety textured inside with the French bread giving texture to the combination with its crustiness. Lots of seafood, cheesy, and super savory, this stuffed French bread is your fast track to home-cooked comfort. So good!!

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Seafood Bread
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Cuisine American
Keyword seafood bread
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Instructions
  1. In a skillet, sauté mushrooms & 2 green onions in olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add shrimp, scallops & salmon with a bit of the seasonings & sauté for another 5 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid & set aside.
  2. In a bowl, whisk mushroom soup, eggs, mustard & remaining seasoning together. Don’t overmix, keep the mixture a little lumpy.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  4. Slice into the bread, but not all the way through. You need to cut deep enough into the bread to open out the loaf and fill between the “slices, while leaving the loaf connected at the base. You can either cut bread into thick slices or slice from both directions. Place the bread on a sheet of parchment paper.
  5. Into each slot in the bread, place a slice of potato, followed by some of the seafood/mushroom mixture.
  6. Spoon some of the soup/egg mixture into each slot, so that the bread absorbs as much as possible.
  7. Finally insert the slices of cheese. Enclose the loaf fully in the baking paper and then wrap it in foil to make a tight parcel.
  8. Put the wrapped bread into the preheated oven and bake for 60 minutes, then remove the tray and open the foil and parchment paper. Return to the oven for about 30 minutes, until the top of the bread and its filling is golden brown. Remove, garnish with green onion, & serve!
Recipe Notes
  • Any combination of seafood you prefer will work.

Stuffed Smoked Turkey/Chicken Sausages

Who doesn’t love a good, old-fashioned hot dog or smoked sausage? They’re tasty, fun, simple to cook, and inexpensive. These stuffed, turkey/chicken sausages tick all those boxes, and they add a touch of elegance at the same time.

I’m always looking for simple ways to add new life to old classics. Splitting the sausage and stuffing them, adds so much more texture and flavor.

These smoked turkey/chicken sausages go beyond the typical pork or beef sausage and with the addition of some bacon, veggies and then topped with cheese puts a new spin on a way to enjoy sausages.

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Stuffed Smoked Turkey/Chicken Sausages
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Place sausages in a medium sized baking dish & cut through the center without cutting all the way through.
  3. Add 1 1/2 cups water to a small saucepan & heat on high with peeled diced potatoes. Boil for 10 minutes. Drain water & mash. You can add 3 Tbsp milk & 1 tsp of butter if you prefer, then mash.
  4. Heat oil in frying pan & add onion, garlic, mushrooms & diced bacon. Gently fry until browned.
  5. Squeeze a strip of BBQ sauce along the center of each sausage & top with a bit of cheese & the onion mix. Spoon or pipe mash potatoes on top & bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven & top with remaining cheese then return to oven for about 5 minutes to melt & brown. Serve.

Gnocchi w/ Chicken & Bacon

The classic Italian potato dumplings or gnocchi as their called, make for a hearty meal no matter how you serve them: baked with creamy cheeses, sautéed with veggies, dressed in a tangy tomato sauce… you name it. The most common way to serve them in Italy is with a light butter sauce and fresh sage.

Gnocchi go back to Roman times when they were made of semolina dough mixed with eggs, but they have evolved into many different variations since then. At first, they existed with different ingredients such as squash and breadcrumbs, made of ordinary wheat flour or cornmeal. Then came the cheese and potatoes. But they didn’t become the potato dumplings we know today until the 16th century when potatoes were introduced to Europe. The potato gnocchi originated in Northern Italy, where the cooler climate was better suited for growing potatoes rather than grain. These potatoes are starchier and make the light, airy dough which produces the soft, pillowy texture and more ‘potatoey’ flavor of the gnocchi.

Being a dumpling lover, I absolutely love gnocchi any way they are served. This recipe boasts all the winning attributes of a well-balanced meal. The creamy sauce softens and flavors the pillowy potato gnocchi – a perfect base for the tender seasoned chicken breast.

From their humble beginnings, the gnocchi are now a world cuisine.

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Gnocchi w/ Chicken & Veggies
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Instructions
  1. In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook bacon until crisp, 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon & set aside.
  2. Season chicken breast with salt, pepper & 1 tsp of the Italian seasoning. Add the chicken to the skillet & cook 5-7 minutes per side. Remove chicken from the pan & set aside.
  3. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic & mushrooms; cook until fragrant. Add the milk, gnocchi, cheese, bacon & remaining Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil, reduce heat & cook, stirring frequently, until the milk has reduced slightly & started to thicken, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Stir in peas. Add the cooked chicken & simmer until peas are cooked & sauce thickens a bit more. Place in a serving dish & sprinkle with extra parmesan if you wish.

Asiago Shrimp Risotto

Risotto is one of those dishes that’s purely Italian in nature. Most traditionally made with Parmesan cheese, which is stirred in right at the very end of cooking to not only boost the rice’s creaminess but also lend its signature salty, nutty flavor to the dish. Don’t get caught up in tradition though, because risotto is one of the most flexible meals you can make.

While there is nothing wrong with Parmesan, the cheese possibilities for risotto are nearly endless and you quickly discover that the world of this comfort-food staple really has no boundaries.

Risotto is one of those gourmet meals that is really not difficult to make, and it doesn’t take long either. You can have it on the table in 30 minutes or less. It takes some work stirring — not the kind of stirring where you must stand at the stove and stir constantly. You can step away for brief moments, but you do want to do lots and lots of stirring. It’s the stirring that breaks up the starches in the rice and makes the risotto so incredibly wonderfully amazingly creamy.

This rich and creamy risotto with tender shrimp, uses Asiago over Parmesan cheese for a semisweet touch, plus tarragon and flat leaf parsley to give the dish some freshness.

Asiago is a whole milk cheese that originated in Northern Italy, around the Po River Valley where Italy borders Austria. Coming from the mountains, Asiago is similar to other mountain cheeses, such as Switzerland’s Gruyere or France’s Beaufort. Asiago is made in large wheels designed for long-term aging to get through tough winters. Dense and flavorful, Asiago’s flavor profile changes as time polishes the wheels over the course of several months or years. Taken from the milk of cows grazing on the grasses and wildflowers of the mountains, Asiago can have a fresh, fruity flavor or a savory, zesty taste on the palate.

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Asiago Shrimp Risotto
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
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Instructions
Risotto
  1. Heat 1 tsp oil in a LARGE POT or DEEP SKILLET over high heat. Add bacon & cook until fairly crisp. Blot on paper towel & crumble. Transfer to a small microwave-proof bowl. Leave about 1 Tbsp bacon drippings in pot & discard the rest. Add mushrooms & cook until browned. Remove to a dish, set aside.
  2. Turn heat down to medium & return pot to the stove. Add butter & melt; then add garlic & onion. Sauté for 3 minutes or until softened. Turn up heat, add rice & stir until grains become partially translucent, about 1 minute (do NOT overcook).
  3. Add wine & cook, scraping the bottom of the pot to get any brown bits, about 2 minutes. Turn down heat to medium-low; add about 3 cups of chicken stock. Leave, uncovered, stirring just once or twice, until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  4. Check firmness of rice & add 1/2 cup of broth at a time, stirring in between until absorbed & rice is cooked to YOUR taste.
Spicy Shrimp
  1. While the risotto is cooking, combine spice mix in a plastic bag. Add shrimp & shake to coat well. In a skillet, heat butter & olive oil; add shrimp & sauté for 2-3 minutes, just until cooked. Keep warm.
  2. Add the mushrooms back into the risotto towards the end, just to heat through. Right at the end when the risotto is ready, add a 'splash' more chicken broth to make the risotto slightly soupy, then take it off the stove.
  3. Add butter & Asiago cheese, then stir vigorously (this will activate the starch & make it super creamy). Add shrimp & gently stir to incorporate them into the risotto.
  4. Serve immediately. Garnish with reheated bacon & extra Asiago if you wish.

Timbale of Zucchini & Sausage

Timbale is derived from the French word for ‘kettledrum’, also known as timballo, can refer to either a kind of pan used for baking, or the food that is cooked inside such a pan. The crust can be sheet pastry, slices of bread, rice, even slices of vegetable.

This dish is much hardier than soufflé, and is often likened to a crustless quiche, because it is less likely to fall after being removed from the oven. A timbale is different from souffle in several ways; to begin with, the eggs are not separated, but beaten together. Timbale also incorporates breadcrumbs for body, and frequently uses milk rather than cream. It is made with a variety of cheeses.

Common ingredients in timbale include ham or other meats, along with vegetables. It can make a hearty meal or an excellent accompanying side dish, and is also delicious when served cold. Timbale is usually cooked in a tray of water, because the steam helps the custard to set.

Timbale dishes are made from a variety of materials, including enameled metal and ceramic. They are designed to be partially submerged in water during cooking, and are usually capable of standing up to extreme temperatures, since they are used in the oven. They come in a wide variety of shapes, although round dishes are most common. Timbale is often prepared in individual ramekins. Most are attractive enough to be brought directly to the table for service, although many timbales are unmolded and plated so that they can be dressed with a creamy sauce.

For our timbale, I decided to make it without eggs & make a nice cheesy sauce instead. To make it a full meal deal, I added some ground pork but stayed with the original concept of layering everything. It not only tastes great but makes a nice plate presentation.

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Timbale of Zucchini & Sausage
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Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Béchamel Sauce
  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté garlic & mushrooms for 2 minutes. Add flour & cook 1 minute, stirring to combine. Remove from heat & gradually add the milk, stirring constantly, then return to the heat & cook, stirring until thickened.
  2. Add Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, Dijon mustard & 3/4 cup of the combined parmesan & smoked cheddar cheese (reserving 1/4 cup), stirring until the cheese melts. Remove from the heat & stir in the parsley.
Sausage & Veggies
  1. In a saucepan, scramble fry ground pork until cooked. Drain on paper towels. Sauté mushrooms until moisture evaporates.
  2. Slice zucchini thinly & lay on paper towel. Sprinkle with salt to help draw the moisture out; pat dry. Slice potato thinly, leaving skin on.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line 2 – 5-inch round pans with removable bottoms with foil paper to prevent leaking.
  4. DIVIDE veggies, sausage & sauce BETWEEN THE 2 BAKING PANS. In the bottom of each pan place a layer of potato slices, overlapping slightly. Next layer some leeks & mushrooms, top with a bit of sauce then layer sausage (sprinkle sausage with smoked paprika) & zucchini. Spoon a bit more sauce over all & repeat with a second layer.
  5. Cover with foil & bake for 45 minutes, then remove the foil & bake for a further 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle with reserved 1/4 cup grated cheese. Allow the timbale to stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve with remaining 1/4 of sauce on the side.