Thursday, April 23, 2015

"Don't Peek" Chicken and Rice Casserole from Mr. Food

Things are really hectic around my house. I am getting it ready to sell. We have only owned two homes in our lives and we thought that we would be in this one forever. But life throws glitches in the best laid plans. Whoever would have thought that I would be a widow at age 53? After ten years of rambling around in our giant and well loved home, I finally realize that I don't need it and can't afford the upkeep. I would rather be vacationing in the mountains or cruising to Hawaii. I am a slow learner. 
I was thinking of a great one dish meal to fix for dinner that would leave plenty of leftovers for the weekend. Then I remembered one of my favorite recipes from the old Mr. Food kitchen segments that I used to watch during the noon news hour. I found the card and popped it in the oven. It turned out perfect, since I followed the directions and didn't peek. Here it is for you to enjoy - the perfect weeknight dinner - just throw together a salad with those fresh Florida tomatoes and you will be all set.

"Don't Peek" Chicken - a Quick and Easy recipe from Mr. Food

1 cup uncooked long grain rice
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 soup can cold water
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon fresh parsley
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 chicken breasts or 8 thighs and legs - ( I love the thighs and legs)
Paprika for a good sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Coat a 9 X13 pan with cooking spray
In a large bowl, mix together rice, soups, soup mix, water, garlic, parsley, and worcestershire sauce
Pour mixture into prepared pan. Press chicken into the mixture. Sprinkle with paprika, then cover tightly with aluminum foil.
Bake 1 1/4 hours. Do not open cover (not even to peek) during baking.
It is really good-

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"From Scratch" Chocolate Pudding - A Special Treat

Everyone knows that the grandchildren love chocolate pudding. Next time that they visit, make them a batch of "from scratch" pudding. You will be the hit of the household. It is not much more time consuming than the cook 'n serve variety and so much better. Definitely, they will turn their noses up at instant pudding after tasting this delectable dessert.

If you really want to make a statement, splurge and purchase Ghiradelli's premium cocoa for even greater flavor.

You will need a good heavy pot and a fast turning wrist for stirring- but it is only for two minutes.

"From Scratch" Chocolate Pudding

2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
3 tbs cornstarch
2 1/4 cups milk
pinch salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 tsp vanilla

Place sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt in a heavy medium pot. Stir together. Slowly add milk to pot. Bring ingredients to a boil on medium high heat. Boil and stir or whisk  constantly for two minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Cool on stovetop. Pour into 4 serving containers. Chill in refrigerator until serving - at least 4 hours- for flavors to meld. 

How easy is that? Try it tonight!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Shrimp Creole and the Florida Panhandle

As a little girl, living in the Florida panhandle with parents from southwest Georgia, we would eat quite a bit of fresh seafood. On Saturday afternoons, daddy would load us up in the Pontiac and head over to the coastal areas for a fresh seafood shopping day. We would have several coolers filled with ice and momma would have her shopping lists for her seafood favorites. We would always purchase fresh shrimp, quarts of shelled oysters, and usually at least one type of fish. Red Snapper was always a good choice. Either Sopchoppy or Panacea were the destinations of our travels. I always hoped that daddy chose Panacea, as there was a restaurant where I loved to eat. It was named Angelo's Seafood Restaurant and was built on stilts over the water. I would get mounds of fried shrimp with all of the trimmings, and a Shirley Temple to boot. Angelo's is still in business and a great place to continue making memories.
When I married and we moved to Florida, we were lucky enough to have a great seafood market in Placida, Florida, with the freshest seafood daily from the Gulf of Mexico. We have a beach condo on Little Gasparilla Island and always stop for fresh "pink gold" Florida shrimp. The flavor of these delectable bites is salty/sweet, and the texture is firm and appealing. They freeze great and have no loss of flavor or texture
when thawed.

One of my favorite shrimp recipes is Shrimp Creole. These days, it is the rage to serve creole dishes with grits, but I still prefer rice for this recipe.

Shrimp Creole

2 medium size green bell peppers- chopped
1 medium Vidalia or Florida sweet onion - diced
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 bay leaf
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley
about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt and a good sprinkling of pepper
1/8 teaspoon red pepper
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 (16 ounce) cans whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
1 pound medium shrimp, cooked, peeled, and deveined- if you don't have access to good quality fresh shrimp- flash frozen shimp work well - and you can purchase bags that already cleaned, cooked, and deveined.

Easy Preparation

Saute the first 8 ingredients in a Dutch oven until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the canned tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes. Add shrimp; cook over medium heat until well heated. Discard the bay leaf and serve over hot cooked rice. Sprinkle on hot pepper sauce, if desired. We have too many little ones to add hot sauce to the recipe while simmering. 

This recipe was revised from a version that originally was published in a 1980 edition of Southern Living magazine.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

3 Day Coconut Cake and Easter Fun

My favorite cake in the whole world is my mother's recipe for 3 Day Coconut Cake. This moist and delicious cake takes three days to "marinate" in the refrigerator before serving. Some of my family do not love coconut, so I can only serve it for a limited audience, or for my own enjoyment. If you are a lover of coconut, this recipe is for you. It is so very easy and begins with Duncan Hines Golden Butter Recipe Cake Mix.
If you can find BirdsEye Frozen coconut, be sure to use that in the recipe for delicious flavor and consistency. 
I was not with coconut lovers this Easter, so we did not get to have this delicious cake. But it is my special Easter dessert that I usually serve. Through the years I've learned, if they won't eat it, don't make it. These precious children opted for a Publix Easter Egg Cake instead- what we do for the grandkids!

They had so much fun at the Flagler Museum on Palm Beach hunting for eggs.
Then, we had a great Easter lunch after church, with everyone's favorite foods. 

Three Day Coconut Cake 

1 box Duncan Hines Golden Butter Cake Mix and the ingredients on the package
16 ounces sour cream
12 ounces sweetened coconut - frozen if available
1 3/4 cup sugar
8 ounces Cool Whip - no substitutions for this and do not use fat free

The day before I make the cake, I like to mix the sour cream, coconut, and sugar in a medium bowl. I mix it well, cover and refrigerate overnight. 

The next day, I  prep three 9 inch cake pans with Baker's Joy and bake the cake using the directions on the box. 

Cool the cakes in pans for around 10 minutes, and then turn them out onto wire racks to cool. 

When the cakes are completely cool, take half of the coconut mixture and spread it evenly between the three cake layers. Stack the layers as you frost.

Take the other half of the mixture and mix it with the Cool Whip. Cover the top and sides with this mixture.

Cover the cake in a tight cake container, such as Tupperware's cake carrier, and refrigerate for three days - No peeking allowed.

Everyone will want the recipe- except of course, those crazy coconut haters.