Hacks from my Happy Place – XIII

I’m focusing this post on all things chicken. I once saw a book called 1001 Recipes for Chicken, and although I neither bought it or even leafed through it, I already know some very versatile ways to create entrees using this poultry meat.

I have two favorite casserole recipes for chicken (though I think I could probably create some new ones if I put my mind to it). Ironically, many of the items in each can be interchanged with the other, creating more variety. The common components in both are cooked, cubed chicken and Campbell’s cheddar cheese soup. For what my mom called “Chicken Devan”, you spray an oblong pan with non-stick spray and place frozen broccoli (I prefer florets but you can use the full ones with stems) on the bottom. Place a nice layer of the cubed chicken on top. Mix the cheddar cheese soup with a can of milk, as directed, in a separate bowl. Pour the mixture over the top of the chicken. Cover with foil and bake at 350(F) for 20 minutes. Remove foil and return to the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes, until the top begins to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and let the casserole rest at least 5 minutes, then dig in and serve!

For my recipe, which I call Chicken and Stuffing, you use a sprayed oblong pan. In a large bowl, mix one can cheddar cheese soup with one 8-oz container of sour cream until thoroughly mixed (do not add any milk). Add cubed chicken pieces to the mix and stir until blended. Place this entire mix in the bottom of the casserole dish. Meanwhile, use one box of stuffing mix (any brand) in chicken flavor and make according to directions. Spread the finished stuffing mix over top of the chicken mixture. Again, cover with foil and bake at 350(F) for 20 minutes. Remove foil and return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes, until the stuffing has just a little bit of crust on it. Remove from oven and let the casserole rest at least 5 minutes, then dig in and serve!

One time, I wanted to make this recipe and didn’t have any stuffing mix on hand. So I improvised and melted a stick of butter/margarine and crushed up about 1-1/2 stacks of Ritz crackers into pieces, stirred them into the melted butter, and spread that over the top instead. A slightly different taste, but still good!

Of course, you can add broccoli to the Chicken and Stuffing casserole, or use the cheddar cheese and sour cream mixture in the Chicken Devan. Experiment!!!

I always look for boneless chicken breasts when they are on sale, then buy a lot of them, boil them in water until they are cooked, rinse them well and let them cool until I can handle them. Then I cut all of it into cubes and freeze portions separately in my freezer so I have some on hand. In addition to these casseroles, I use them for PA Dutch pot pie and my cabbage soup.

I could easily eat chicken 5 days a week as long as I have various ways to eat it. So, if you’ve got a really good (and preferably, easy) recipe for chicken, please share it with us here!

Meanwhile… if you’ve got a lot of turkey left over from your holiday feast, simply de-bone and dice it up and use it in place of the chicken! This might save you from having the turkey doldrums!

Goin’ to a Bar-Be-Que!

I have the opportunity to watch a bar-be-que competition this weekend, in which my friends, Steve and Christin (DiFranco) Caputo, representing Sasquatch BBQ, will be taking part. My mouth has always watered when looking at the various photos of their offerings to the judges, via Facebook, and I’m excited to sample these wares!

When the word barbeque is said, the first thing that comes to my mind is ribs, followed by chicken. A little research online led me in various directions on the history of barbeque, and from watching plenty of food and travel shows on TV, the mere definition of the word “barbeque” varies, largely by region. Some are all about the dry rub and some are about wet sauces slathered over the meat while it cooks. Some of the sauces are very different as well – sweet, smoky, even spicy.

Smoked meats – cooked low and slow for hours – are also considered to be barbeque, though I don’t know that I agree with that. I love smoked turkey, but it’s called smoked turkey, not turkey barbeque. Smoked beef brisket isn’t called barbequed beef brisket. Nonetheless, they all have their place in these competitions.

My friends will be turning in sausage, chicken, pork ribs, pork and brisket throughout the competition. (My mouth just watered again!). I will be there to sample each and every delight from what is left after the judges’ entrees are made. I’m most looking forward to the pork ribs, as it’s one of my favorite when it’s fall-off-the-bone delicious.

It will be nice to surprise Christin and Steve (they don’t know I’m planning on being there) and hang out with my friends, the DiFrancos to visit a little. I wanted to visit with them when I went to Strasburg two weeks ago, but the sinus issue made that impossible.

My natural inquisitiveness has me thinking about all of the questions I want to ask. From their passion for these competitions to which spices, rubs and sauces they use as well, to how to select a good cut of meat and how to trim a cut of meat. However, I don’t want to distract them from their objective. They have yet to win a competition, but they’ve placed well. Maybe I’ll bring them a little luck?

Sasquatch BBQ barbequed chicken offering
Sasquatch BBQ brisket offering

If not, I know my taste buds are in for a treat! It will be nice to see the platters of samplings in real life instead of just looking at photos! I also want to tour their new barbeque truck in real life instead of through video!

And the weather is supposed to be very accommodating!

Do I sound excited????