Chicken Vegetable Lasagna

December 8, 2011

I have a recipe for this from the January issue of Paula Deen’s Magazine for chicken vegetable lasagna and I’ve been meaning to try it. My freezer has been looking kind of bare lately, so it’s definitely time to make and freeze some meals so I can just defrost on busy nights (of which there seem to be more and more lately). I made this but changed it up a bit to suit the ingredients I had in the house and to make it a bit easier. I found Paula’s instructions to be too complicated, so I simplified it. Here’s my modified recipe:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small zucchini, thinly sliced

12 baby carrots, chopped

1 8-ounce package of mushrooms, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 package frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry

1 tsp basil

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

15 ounces cottage cheese

2 cups grated Parmesan-Romano mix (this is now sold in my store in a pre-shredded package)

2 eggs

1 1/2 jars spaghetti sauce (24 ounce jars)

9 lasagna noodles

24 ounces mozzarella cheese

2 grilled chicken breasts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 and spray a 4 1/2 quart baking dish. Soak the noodles in hot water while you prepare the veggies. They will soften and you don’t need to boil them (thank you Ina Garten!).

Cook veggies in the oil until softened. Add salt, pepper, and basil.

Mix cottage cheese with eggs and Parmesan/romano cheese.

Mix chicken with half the mozzarella.

PLace 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce in the bottom of the pan and top with 3 noodles. Layer sauce, veggies, cottage cheese, chicken, and mozzarella. Repeat for next two layers.

Bake for 45-60 minutes until bubbly. Allow to stand for about 10 minutes before slicing.

TeenMartha even liked this and said she was really surprised she did (she doesn’t like zucchini, mushrooms, or spinach). It was a big hit. And now I’ve got several meals worth in the freezer from the leftovers. I really liked this – traditional lasagna flavors, but with chicken and lots of veggies!


Recipe Workshop: Chicken Chesapeake

January 25, 2011

I need your help. I recently made Chicken Chesapeake, which is from Paula Deen’s magazine. Here’s the recipe

8 oz lump crabmeat
6 boneless chicken breasts
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup butter
8 oz sliced Baby Bella mushrooms
1/2 cup minced green onion
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup cream
8 oz cream cheese
Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 13×9 dish. Sprinkle crab in bottom.
Season chicken with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper then cook in 2 tbsp melted butter in a skillet 4-5 min per side. Remove and place on top of crab.
Melt remaining butter, add mushrooms and green onions. Cook for 6 min until mushrooms are tender. Add wine and cook 6 min until reduced by half. Add cream and broth, cook for 10 min until slightly thickened. Stir in cream cheese. Add remaining salt and pepper. Pour over chicken and bake for 25-30 minutes.

It sounded SOOOOO good. But it wasn’t. It actually was pretty awful. I did use a refrigerated can of pasteurized crabmeat and I cut the recipe in half. Other than that, I followed it exactly. It was horrible. The sauce tasted delicious when I was cooking it, but over the chicken it was tasteless. The crab tasted not so great. Nothing about this was good and I was so disappointed. I don’t cook with crab a lot and am wondering if I expected too much? I tried squeezing some lemon over it on my plate and that didn’t help much. Any suggestions for making this recipe work?

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Martha and Me…and Paula

August 21, 2009

A few summers ago we went to Hilton Head (a bit disastrous due to jellyfish stings and the seemingly unavailability of fresh local seafood in stores – unless you buy it out of the back of a pickup truck). While we were there, we spent some time in Savannah, which is a beautiful city filled with graceful homes and garden squares that take your breath away. It’s also home to Paula Deen’s The Lady and Sons. This may not be Martha’s type of restaurant since it has a buffet and is filled with tourists, but it was a memorable meal for us and I think Martha would approve of the excellent authentic Southern food. Once a year or so, I make a Paula meal, based on the terrific food we enjoyed there. I usually come back from our vacations with a few signature dishes of the area we visited that I experiment with, trying to replicate them.  For Cape Cod, it was clam chowder. For Hawaii it was passion fruit sauces to go on fish. I have yet to attempt scones based on our trip to England, but that’s on my list.

lemonadeSo let’s get to the dinner. I started with Paula’s lemonade. The secret is to make a sugar syrup. Most people just dump water, sugar and lemon juice in a pitcher and stir. You need to mix all of the sugar with some hot water to dissolve it completely, then add the lemon juice and water. Here are the amounts: 3 c sugar, 2 c fresh squeezed lemon juice and water to fill a gallon jug – use about a cup or two of hot water to dissolve the sugar, then add cold water and ice. Paula’s lemonade is very sweet, but my family likes it that way. You can cut back the sugar if you like yours tarter.

Next up is the fried chicken – who can have a Southern meal without fried chicken? The summer we went to Paula’s restaurant, I made fried chicken over and over until I finally figured out how to do it. My recipe is based on Paula’s recipe, but is slightly different. I only use split chicken breasts since my family prefers white meat. I soak them in buttermilk, salt and pepper for 2-4 hours.

Next I mix three 3 eggs with 1/3 cup water. I mix 2 cups self-rising flour with salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder.

paula chickenI use peanut oil in my fryer and get it to 360 degrees. I pat the chicken dry, dredge in egg, then flour, then egg, then flour again.  I found that once was not enough and it needed to be double dipped. I fry one breast at a time (that’s all that fits in my fryer) and it takes about 15-20 minutes for it to cook.  When done, I set the breasts on a rack and stick them in the oven on warm. I find the chicken tastes best if it is allowed to sit for a while after being fried. This chicken is also excellent cold for the next several days.

hoecakesThe last piece of our Southern meal is hoecakes.  We had them for the first time at Paula’s restaurant and loved them.  The key to these is self-rising flour and self-rising cornmeal. I use 1/2 cup of each, 1 egg, 1/2 tbsp sugar, 1/2 plus 1/8 cup buttermilk, 1/8 cup vegetable oil, and half of a 1/3 of a cup of water.  I fry them on a griddle with butter. The batch in the photo is not up to my standards – I find the griddle needs to get nice and hot and then the hoecakes turn a lovely golden brown and get crunchy around the edges. Our dinner was thrown together around a hastily arranged urgent care visit (everyone’s ok) so I wasn’t able to fry these myself and had some help.

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