Sunday, October 9, 2011

Chili Pie

This is an excellent appetizer to take to a party or just make to sit and watch football or a movie.  It takes only a few ingredients and takes just minutes to put together.  My mom used to make this all the time for family gatherings and would sometimes have to make 3 so there would be enough.  While this is not the healthiest recipe, it's worth the extra calories.


1 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
1 can of chili
Monterey-Jack cheese, shredded

Here's how you make it:

Spread the softened cream cheese in the bottom of a pie plate or similar size dish.

Pour the chili over the cream cheese and spread around.  I used Hormel Chili no beans, but you can use whatever chili you like.  I'd use about 1 cup or about an 8 oz can.  It's not an exactly science, so if you like more chili, add more chili.

Top with the monterey jack cheese.  You can put as much or as little as you like, but more is always better.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes to melt the cheese and warm it through.

It'll be messy to scoop out, but that's part of the deliciousness.

Serve with tortilla chips.  It's looks like a mess, but it's a yummy mess.  It also reheats really well in the microwave, so don't worry if you have leftovers (though I don't think you will).

The Verdict:

Mr. Picky Pants tried one bite of mine and decided it tasted like super nachos.  Considering that Chili Pie has NONE of the same ingredients as super nachos, I'm not sure how he came to this conclusion.  I think he already had his mind made up that he wasn't going to like this before he tried it.  Needless to say, this is a recipe that most everyone loves (Mr. Picky Pants excluded).  I promise it tastes nothing like super nachos, and it's a fun fall food to make for sitting around watching football on TV.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pot Roast

I grew up eating brisket that my grandmother and mother made for big weekend dinners.  When I started cooking for myself, I wanted something with more flavor so I started making my own version of pot roast.  I developed a rub for the meat and my own method.  This method allows for a moist and delicious roast without a lot of effort.  I usually make this on a weekday when I work from home since it just sits in the oven all day.


1-2 lb. chuck roast
Post Roast Rub (see recipe below)
1 onion, sliced
Carrots, sliced (or baby)
Beef Broth or Beef Bullion + Water

Pot Roast Rub
1/2 cup Paprika
1/3 c. Brown Sugar
3 Tablespoons Garlic Powder
3 Tablespoons Onion Powder
2 Tablespoons Oregano

Combine together and store in an airtight container.

Here's what you do with the rub:

First I take a few Tablespoons of the rub and massage into the chuck roast.  Make sure to get all sides and nooks and crannies to get maximum flavor.

Brown in an dutch oven or other heavy pan in a little vegetable oil on high heat.  Flip to sear both sides and I try to get the sides also using tongs.  This makes sure the outside gets nice and brown and keeps the moisture in the meat.

Next, add the sliced onion and mix around to get coated with the spices in the oil.  Let it soften for a few minutes.

Add enough beef broth or bullion mixed with hot water to come about 3/4 of the way up the roast.  The amount will vary depending on the size of the pan, size of the roast and amount of onions, but I usually use around 2-3 cups.

Add some sliced carrots or baby carrots.  These get nice and soft when cooked at the end and also make the meat super sweet and yummy.

Cover and bake in a 325 degree oven for at least 3 hours.  I check mine hourly to ensure all the liquid has not cooked out.  If you see that the liquid is low, add another cup of broth.

I meant to take a photo of the roast completed, but I forgot.  And this photo of the finished plate really doesn't do it justice.  The meat comes out so tender that you can shred it with a fork.  Serve with mashed potatoes and rolls to sop up the yummy gravy.

I forgot to document how to make the gravy, so here's the recipe without pictures.


Drippings from the roast, strained
2 Tablespoons flour
1/2 cup milk

1. Put the drippings in a pan (I use the same dutch oven I made the roast in) and bring to a low boil.  2. Add the flour to the milk and slowly pour into the heated drippings while whisking vigorously.
3. Bring back to a boil and let cook on a lower heat until it starts to thicken.

Voila!  You have gravy.

The Verdict:

Mr. Picky Pants really enjoys this recipe.  He doesn't really request it that often, but he eats it readily when I make it.  I think his favorite part of the meal is the rolls (thanks Pillsbury!).  I have to limit him on the number he can eat so he doesn't fill up on rolls and not eat any meat.  Mr. Picky Pants has commented on numerous occasions that this is the best roast he's ever had and I'd have to agree.  It's a delicious meal to make when it starts getting chilly and it's really a snap to make.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Chicken Florentine

Last week, Mr. Picky Pants had a special guest for dinner so I made Chicken Florentine.  The original recipe was one I saw when watching Paula Deen on Food Network.  There were a number of things I didn't like about the original recipe, so I changed it quite a bit.  The nice thing about this dish is that it comes together really quickly using ingredients that are in the fridge and tastes awesome.

The Recipe:

1 Rotisserie Chicken
1 10 oz package frozen, chopped spinach
1 10 3/4 oz. condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 cup chicken broth
1-1 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 8 oz box of medium shell pasta, cooked and drained
1 sleeve butter crackers, crumbled

I use a Rotisserie chicken rather than roast my own chicken for this recipe.  Take all the meat off the chicken and discard the skin and bones.  Make sure to shred the chicken and break it into bite size pieces.

Thaw and squeeze all the water out of the spinach.  Add to the chicken.

Combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic powder,  salt and pepper, chicken broth and 1 cup of the cheese in a bowl.

Add to the chicken and spinach mixture.

Add the cooked and drained pasta to the chicken, spinach, and sauce mixture.

Stir it all up to combine it really well (you'll need a BIG bowl for this).

Put mixture in a large dish that has been buttered or sprayed with cooking spray.

Crumble one sleeve of butter crackers and spread over the top.

Add the remaining cheese to the top of the casserole.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is melty and browned and the casserole is bubbly.

The Verdict:

Mr. Picky Pants really loves this dish and his special friend really liked it too.  The flavors all go well together and it's a really comforting dish.  It's also really amazing as leftovers.  This casserole will feed 4 hungry adults easily and can be doubled without much additional effort.  It's great for potlucks or to serve to people that you really don't know what they like to eat.  The hardest part of the whole recipe is remembering to buy the rotisserie chicken and shredding the meat.  This is a super satisfying one-dish dinner that everyone is sure to like.  It's also a great way to get spinach into your picky eater.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Chicken Slop

Sounds appetizing, doesn't it?  The real name is chicken and stuffing casserole, but Mr. Picky Pants started calling it "chicken slop" years ago and it stuck.  Even though this is actually really easy to make, I don't make it that often.  When I do, it's a real treat for Mr. Picky Pants since it's his FAVORITE meal.  Everything else I make is ranked compared to chicken slop. 

The Recipe:

Boneless Chicken Breast (how much is up to you)
Butter or Margarine
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
2/3 cup of milk
Stuffing (any kind you like)

Cut up the chicken into bite size pieces.  You can really use as much or as little chicken as you'd like and this is a great way to stretch chicken to feed a bunch of people.  I can make 1 chicken breast feed both Mr. Picky Pants and I using this recipe. The original recipe calls for whole chicken breasts, but the pieces are much better.

Brown the chicken in butter and sprinkle with seasoning salt or just salt and pepper.

I know this looks disgusting, but this is the slop part of the recipe.  Combine both cans of soup and the milk in a bowl.  The original recipe calls for only 1 can of soup (either mushroom or chicken) and only 1/3 cup of milk, but it always seems to come out too dry so I double the slop portion.

Add the chicken to a baking dish (whatever size you prefer) making sure to include all the buttery goodness in the bottom of the pan.

Add the slop mixture on top.

Make up any kind of stuffing you like.  I use Stove-Top, but my grandmother always made her own homemade.  It's really up to your tastes and preferences.  Just make sure it's totally prepared before adding it to the top of the casserole.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until it's browned on top and bubbly.  Everything is cooked so you're just heating the slop mixture and crisping up the stuffing.

This is a sad picture.  The casserole really isn't much to look at, but it's quite yummy.

The Verdict

As mentioned before, this is Mr. Picky Pants' favorite meal.  Of course it is "Mr. Picky Pants Approved".  The awesome thing about this dish is that you can make a lot of it in a relatively short period of time and it stores well in the fridge.  My mom used to make this for pot-lucks since it's so easy and versatile.

You can add vegetables to this or mushrooms or other seasonings.  Mr. Picky Pants likes it pretty bland, but I think it would be fun to play around with different ideas.  It's a very basic dish that pleases the palettes of even the most picky eaters.  Give it a try tonight! 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Potato Corn Chowder

A couple weeks ago the temperatures in the D.C. area were well in the triple digits and the heat index was between 110 and 120.  So what did I do?  I made soup!  Initially it started out as a potato-cheese soup, but as I started adding more ingredients, it turned into a chowder.  Mr. Picky Pants was also a little under-the-weather so I thought some homemade soup was just what the doctor ordered.
The Recipe:

2 T butter/margarine
1 onion
1-2 stalks of celery
1 small carrot
4 small potatoes
salt and pepper
chicken stock
1 can of corn or frozen corn
1 cup sour cream
bacon and cheese to garnish

Instead of buying a bunch of carrots and celery that I wouldn't use, I went to the salad bar and got some shredded carrots and chopped celery.  I put them in my food chopper to hide them from Mr. Picky Pants.  The smaller the veggies, the harder it is for him to pick them out.  This looks like a lot of veggies, but this makes a lot of soup and they add a lot of substance without adding fat so it's all good.

Brown the veggies in the butter/margarine until they sweat and become soft.  Make sure to not brown the onion, just slowly soften it.

Dice the potatoes and add to the pot.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add enough chicken stock to cover the potatoes and bring to a boil.  Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

Use a potato masher to break down the potatoes.  I don't like chunky soups so this creates a more mushy consistency.  You could use an immersion blender if you want it really smooth.

Add one can of whole kernel corn, drained (or an equal amount of fresh or frozen corn).  Stir to combine.

Add about 1 cup of sour cream (I used what was left in an open container).

Stir the pot to combine all the ingredients and let it warm through.

At this point both I and Mr. Picky Pants tasted it and decided that it didn't need the cheddar cheese I was going to add.  It was rich enough with just the sour cream.  That's where my idea for potato-cheese soup went out the window.

I cook my bacon on a rack in the oven.  It works well and keeps the mess to a minimum.

Serve with crumbled bacon and shredded cheddar cheese on top if desired.

The Verdict

Mr. Picky Pants chose to eat his bacon before he tried the soup so he insisted it was missing something (probably the bacon).  However, Mr. Picky Pants actually really enjoyed this soup, and even ate the rest as leftovers during the week.  This was definitely a home-run and a good way to get veggies into Mr. Picky Pants.

In hindsight, I would have started the soup by browning the bacon in the pot and used the bacon drippings to cook the veggies in.  I think this would have given it that extra flavor that Mr. Picky Pants wanted.  This soup came together really quickly.  The most difficult part was cutting up the veggies.  It's a great meal to have when it gets chilly and the leftovers are even better than the original meal.  I will definitely be making this soup this fall and winter.