Monday, January 17, 2011

Three more to review...

It's time for another one of those "let's get a few of those darn recipes wrapped up and posted before you forget about them!" Honestly? I have an ever-growing list that sits next to me, mumbling every so often that I'm not paying attention to it, of 26 recipes (as of today) that we've prepared in the past, say, three months. Days have just been passing by so quickly as of late that before I know it, the sky has darkened, my eyes are droopy and the ambition I had to check another recipe off that list has vanished like the food that was just on my plate.

Soon enough I'm sure this will change, and until then, we'll just do our best to do what we can! I think we'll start off with a hearty casserole we dived into just before Jeff had his surgery. I do want to say I don't think this Buffalo Chicken Casserole will be for everyone and you may want to tweak it for your liking.

We stayed close to the recipe, though we added a bit more cheese and ended up having to use crumbled goat cheese. Blue cheese is what was called for and would definitely add that pungent bite one expects with buffalo chicken - however, when I asked Jeff to grab it at the market, he snagged goat cheese "by mistake" (or so he says... he just doesn't like to believe he enjoys blue cheese. I call sabotage!). I didn't know this until it was too late - the cheese we ended up using turned out fine as its own tang worked well, but you could tell it seemed a bit out of place.

As for other adjustments to think about, I have some ideas to share. Using the amount of pasta called for, the dish was pretty tight and very noodle-y in proportion to the rest of the ingredients. Neither of us minded that, but you may want to bump that down to 10 or even 8 ounces for a more creamy casserole. We used all chicken breasts for the protein, but for a more meaty richness, swap half of the amount for chicken thighs. Finally, five tablespoons of hot sauce (and of course, we are a slave to Frank's RedHot - I'd definitely recommend it for this) seemed skimpy for an entire pan of this, which thankfully we thought of beforehand and tossed in an extra three tablespoons for good measure.

Before we got involved in all the holiday baking, Jeff asked if I could find a snack-y type of cake to make. Some variety of moist banana cake came to mind first, but after searching through the freezer to find we had no ripe bananas already stashed away. With no patience to wait for the green-tinged bananas on the the counter to ripen, I had to go in another direction and went with this lighter Sour Cream Coffee Cake.

Calling for all pantry-staple ingredients for us, this choice was a no-brainer... mainly because I really didn't feel like going to the market. Moist, with a slight residual tang from the cupful of sour cream, this cake takes a healthier route by cutting some of the all-purpose white flour with whole-wheat pastry flour and toasted oats that we ground to a floury texture. We used a food processor for this, but a blender may work ok - I'd also use a spice grinder, cleaned by blitzing with either rice or a bit of bread for no lingering impurities left behind.

Once the batter slides into the pan (springform for easy removal), the top of the golden mixture is sprinkled with a sweet smashed concoction of toasted oats, brown sugar, toasted walnuts, cinnamon and a bit of butter. We had this first while it was still radiating warmth and found it moist and tender, with a delicate crumb that's still soft after including the diverse grains. We took off wedges for a good two and a half days until there was nary a crumb left on the cake stand - it was surprisingly just as good as that first slice, if a touch drier, by the time we finished it!

We'll follow up the above chicken recipe with, you guessed it, another chicken dish we had the week before - this Cashew Chicken!

Chopped into bite-sized chunks, the chicken was given a snazzy bath in a combination of dry sherry, fresh ginger and a sprinkling of cornstarch. Given a good thirty minute rest, the chicken cooks in two batches to give each nugget time and room to attain a deeply caramelized color on the outside. With both batches done and scooped out, a drizzle of oil heats up to take the rawness out of a few garlic cloves and lofty handful of cashews (plus the whites of a scallion if you have them - more on that later).

The sauce, made from broth, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and a scoop more cornstarch to thicken, joined the garlic-y mix, along with the golden chicken cubes. The sauces thickens in a flash, clinging to the chicken well with a slick coating. We served this over a bed of brown basmati rice, cooked using the no-fuss method we've come to use every time we need it. Jeff did mention he'd like a sprinkling of crushed red pepper after his first forkful - I obliged for his portion, but I was content with how it was. I did think a few extra vegetables would have been nice to round this out - maybe chopped broccoli or sugar snap peas? If you go that route, I'd probably make one and a half times the sauce to allow for enough coverage. We didn't have the scallions called for (they were very wimpy and slick in the market, so we passed) - however, I left them in the recipe text and would recommend using them.


  1. Joe, you never cease to amaze me. I'm adding these all to this weeks menu! However, with the Cashew Chicken, we don't drink, so we never have any alcohol on premises. Do you know a swap? I know it cooks out, but it would just be a annoying ingredient that would rarely get used. KWIM?


  2. Yum--I love everything about that coffee cake!
    We got a little puppy (mini Aussie), and he won't eat hardly a thing. Only one kind of canned puppy food. No dry. I'm looking for a good homemade biscuit or something and remembered you'd posted a few. Any specific suggestions?

  3. this casserole looks great! like mac and cheese and chicken in one. so perfect!

  4. I clipped all three to try - these look wonderful! But no sour cream cake for me for another week or two, I'm still trying to break a persistent cookie habit picked up over the holidays.

  5. wow. i can't decide... all these recipes look great, which do i print first? which do i try first?

    ZOMG, people! what to do in this delicious situation?

    thanks for posting :)
    this is a great dilemma to have as a foodie

  6. Marybeth - Hmm... for dry sherry that is a good question. Perhaps apple cider or a light juice? I'll see if I can find anything else.

    Katrina - We have lots of homemade biscuits posted and I bet any of them would work. Gus has never turned his nose up at them - look under "Treats for the Dogs" in the baked goods recipe section.

    Netflixandnutella - Thanks!

    MeBeth - Fantastic! Let us know what you think.

    Meaghan - Close your eyes and pick one!

  7. Thanks, Joe. I made the cheddar ones the other day and he's eating them! He won't eat ANY training treats at all or any dry dog food and I'm happy that he's eating the cheddar biscuits! Thanks. He even ate them as treats at training class the other night. yay.

  8. OMG I'm so excited - no blueberries in Psris but yes there is blue cheese which means I can make the casserole!!!! Yum!

  9. Katrina - Good choice! I'm going to be making the BBQ biscuits for Gus this week.

    Jen - Good choice!

  10. Great review. I think I would love them all. It would be nice if you score the recipes out of 10. You are my inspiration for new recipes and that would help me decide what to try next. Lot's of the recipes that I took here are now favorites at home.

  11. Helene - Thanks! Tastes are so subjective though, I'm not sure how I would fit in a rating.

  12. Joe, maybe if a recipe really stand out do a special mention. :)

    Have a great week-end!