Friday, January 18, 2013

Cooking with Rachel

Robin and Larry are out of town this week, so instead of Robin cooking most of our dinners it's been up to me all week. I wanted to take the opportunity to try some of the yummy-looking recipes I've been pinning, so I picked out a few recipes and got all the ingredients at the beginning of the week.

I also bought a whole chicken and stuck in in the crock pot one night with some onions, carrots, celery, salt, and pepper. In the morning it was falling off the bones so completely that I couldn't even lift the whole thing out of the pot! I just deboned it and shredded all up, and I had chicken to add to my dinners all week! Woohoo!

I made a lot of new meals this week (Crockpot Turkey Soup [for which I used chicken and didn't cook in the crock pot. It was much better left over], Vegetable Strudel [wasn't bad, but it would be much better with feta cheese and more Parmesan. MORE CHEESE! And it looked more like a lump than a strudel.], some really really ridiculously salty lo mein, French Onion Soup [needed more salt and sugar. I used Provolone cheese instead of Gruyere]...), but these are the REALLY GOOD recipes.  I thought it'd be fun to share!

This recipe was SO yummy! It's definitely a crowd-pleaser, so I'll be pulling this one out when I bring meals to people and such.  It does make a lot of dishes to wash, but I thought it was worth it.  Note: mix in the cheese sauce. 

Cheesy Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 stalks celery, finely diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 Tablespoons fresh minced garlic
2 Cups shredded, cooked chicken breast
2 Cups steamed white rice
16 oz prepared wild rice (I get mine at Trader Joes, LOVE it)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
______
Cheese Sauce
4 Tablespoons butter
1/4 Cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 Cups chicken broth
2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese
Top with 1 1/2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Heat oil into a medium dutch oven or pot over medium heat.  Saute onion, celery and carrots until softened, about 10 minutes.  Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Stir in chicken, both rices, salt, pepper and garlic salt.  Reduce heat to low.
2.  To prepare cheese sauce melt butter into a medium saucepan over medium high heat.  Whisk in flour, salt and pepper then slowly pour in chicken broth whisking continuously.  Whisk until thick and nearly boiling then stir in cheese until melted.  Pour cheese sauce into rice mixture then transfer to a 9×13 inch baking dish. Top with additional cheddar cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted through.  Serve.
8-10 servings


I was excited to try this and I wasn't disappointed! This pita bread was very easy to make, fun to watch puff up in the oven, and delicious!!  I'm excited to make it again!

Pita Bread
1 tablespoon yeast
1 ¼ cup warm water

1 teaspoon salt
3- 3 ½ cups flour

Dissolve yeast in water for about 5 minutes in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add salt and 1 ½ cups flour and with the dough hook, beat to make a batter. Add additional flour until a rough, shaggy mass is formed. 

Knead 8 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour if it is too sticky.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into six pieces for large pitas or ten for smaller. I make all sorts of sizes to suit different snacks and meals. Form dough into balls, then flatten with a rolling pin into ¼ inch thick discs. Try and keep an even thickness as this is what helps them ‘puff’.

Let rest on the floured surface 30-40 minutes until slightly puffed.

Preheat oven to 425F.

With a large spatula, flip the rounds of dough upside down on to a b
aking sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes until light golden. Stick around for the first five minutes of baking when the pitas perform their magic and puff up from flat pancakes to proud, four inch high pitas.

These store for up to two days well wrapped or frozen for three weeks.

To go IN the pitas, I made this. I don't always like Mediterranean  food because of the strong flavors, but this was so good!  It was easy to make (gotta love a slow cooker recipe) and was well seasoned. The only things I did differently were to put the red peppers in half way through the cooking time because I don't like them raw, and we also drizzled some of the sauce that was left in the pot over top of our assembled pitas to make them even more moist and flavorful.

Slow Cooker Greek Chicken Pita
1 medium onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
teaspoons lemon pepper
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
4 pita pocket breads
½ cup plain yogurt
1 tomato, sliced
½ cup chopped cucumber
1 medium red bell pepper, sliced in thin strips

1. In slow-cooker, combine onion, garlic, chicken, lemon pepper, oregano, and allspice; mix to coat chicken with seasoning.
2. Cover and cook onLOWfor 4–6 hours.
3. Heat pita bread as directed on package. Meanwhile, remove chicken from slow-cooker; place on cutting board. Using two forks, shred chicken.
4. To serve, stir yogurt into onion mixture in slow-cooker. Spoon chicken onto warm pita bread. With slotted spoon, transfer onion mixture onto chicken; top with tomato, cucumber, and red pepper strips.
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