Chicken Divan – Chef Mollie’s favorite food

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mmmm
This is probably my favorite meal of all time. I grew up with my mom making this at least once a month.

A century or two from now when I’m on my death bed (because I figure I’ll live an unusually long time), this will be requested as my last meal.

And for those who see the tags and say “Hey! It’s got chicken. Why the hell did you tag it as ‘vegetarian’?” Well, technically you are correct. Technically. This time. But on many occasions I’ve wanted to eat this dish, had no chicken in the frig, and I was too lazy to drive and get some. Then you can make this dish vegetarian.

I have also made a vegan version of this. It’s edible but just not the same. I’m not pleased enough with it at this time to pass it on. I’ll work on perfecting it.

Chicken Divan Casserole:
- 2 medium broccoli crowns
- 3 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
- 1 can of condensed cream of chicken soup
- 1/2 cup of mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup of sour cream
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
- 4 oz shredded cheddar cheese (about half a stick of Cracker Barrel sharp cheddar)
- 1/2 cup to 1 cup of bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon of melted butter (optional)
- cooked rice (optional)

ingredients

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cut broccoli into florets. Steam the broccoli until a bright green, about 5 minutes. I use a metal steamer tray put into a small sauce pan with a little water in the bottom. Arrange cooked broccoli in the bottom of a casserole dish.
  • Place bite size chicken pieces on a plate and microwave for 3-4 minutes until chicken is cooked through. There should be no more pink color. Arrange chicken on top of the broccoli.

4

  • Now it’s time to mix the most delicious sauce ever. The combination of these ingredients sounds odd, but I swear it’s good. I end up licking the bowl clean. Combine the whole can of cream of chicken soup, sour cream, mayo, lemon juice, and curry powder in a bowl. Stir well.

3

  • Spread the sauce over top of the chicken and broccoli in the casserole dish. The sauce will seep down and get to the broccoli so don’t worry about stirring. Now use your finger, scoop up any remaining sauce, and eat.
  • Sprinkle the shredded cheddar on top of the casserole.
  • If using butter with the breadcrumbs (which I don’t do but the original recipe says to), melt it and stir with the breadcrumbs. Top the casserole with the breadcrumbs.

6

  • Bake the casserole for 25 to 30 minutes until cheese is melted and breadcrumbs are slightly browned.

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  • If you’d like something extra, this dish is great served over rice.

    Vegetarian Version:
    When I’ve been too lazy to buy chicken, I’ve made this recipe with either extra broccoli or a combination of broccoli and cauliflower (both steamed). You can use just about any vegetable. Everything is good in this sauce. Also substitute cream of mushroom soup, cream of asparagus, etc. for the cream of chicken.

    So vegetarian or otherwise, enjoy this recipe. It’s truly one of my favorites.

    Enjoy!

  • Bread Salad (Panzanella)

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    bread salad

    I’d like to apologize to my few (but fantastic!) blog followers for not posting any new recipes in the past month. I got a little busy at work and home. And I was off on vacation, getting engaged to my sweet boyfriend. But I’m back and I have some good recipes to come.

    So here is a good quick one that makes a great side dish.

    I never thought I’d be putting bread in a salad, other than little overly crunchy, teeth breaking croutons. But my wonderful friend, Buck, introduced me to the idea a couple years ago. And the additional great thing about this recipe is you can use just about any bread and vegetables you have around.

    Here is my basic recipe.

    Bread Salad:
    - half a baguette cut into 1 inch cubes (or this time I used slices of bagel)
    - 1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
    - 1 small onion, sliced
    - 1 small tomato, diced
    - 1 carrot, slivered or diced
    - 1 small green pepper, diced
    - basil, chiffonade

    Vinaigrette:
    - 1-3 cloves of garlic, minced
    - 2 tsp. dijon mustard
    - 1/2 c. red wine vinegar
    - 1/2 c. olive oil
    - salt and pepper

    • Preheat oven to about 350 degrees.

    bread

    • Cube the bread. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil. Toast in the oven till crispy and slightly brown. Turn cubes at least once during cooking.

    ingredients

    • Combine vinaigrette ingredients in the bottom of a large bowl. Whisk well.
    • Add the vegetables (except tomato) to the vinaigrette and stir.
    • Once the bread is toasted, let cool. Then add to the vegetables and vinaigrette. Make sure bread gets a good coating of the vinaigrette. If you have bread that is dry, mix up additional vinaigrette in a side bowl, or if you’re a big fan of vinegar like me, drizzle with extra vinegar.
    • Put bread salad into serving bowls. Top with tomato and basil.

    salad

    Enjoy!

    Vegan Indian Rice Pudding

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    I was inspired by some fellow bloggers who posted recipes for rice pudding.

    I was never a huge fan until the wonderful folks at the Indian American Cafe in Harrisonburg, VA gave me a bowl of it for my birthday, a lit birthday candle attached to the side. It was delicious! Though to their credit, everything they make is delicious. It was soft, creamy, sweet, with a great Indian spice taste.

    So I did a little research online and found Alton Brown’s Indian Rice Pudding recipe from Good Eats. It sounded like it had the flavor I was going for and was going to be simple enough to make vegan.

    Here is my vegan version. I also doubled his recipe to make about 5 ramekins worth of pudding.

    Vegan Indian Rice Pudding:
    - 2 cups of cooked rice (1 cup of rice and 2 cups of water, cook it until soft and the water is absorbed. I use either long grain white rice or basmati)
    - 1+1/4 cups soy milk
    - 1/2 cup soy milk in a separate cup
    - 2 tsp tapioca starch or corn starch
    - 1 – 13-14oz can of coconut milk
    - 1/2 cup sugar
    - 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

    Optional toppings:
    - raisins
    - chopped pistachios

    • In a large saute pan (I use a 10″ pan with straight sides and this recipe fits perfectly) combine the rice and 1+1/4 cups of soy milk. Bring to a boil.

    • Once it boils, reduce the heat and simmer for about 4 minutes until you can stir the mixture and see the bottom of the pan.

    • Take the remaining 1/2 cup of soy milk and whisk in the tapioca or corn starch. Combining the more watery soy milk and the thickener is my way to compensate for heavy cream.
    • Open the can of coconut milk and put in a bowl. Whisk well to ensure there are no lumps. You can use regular coconut milk or lite.
    • Add the starch mixture, sugar, coconut milk, and cardamom to the rice and stir well.

    • Cook for about 10 minutes, whisking often to make sure everything is well mixed and doesn’t stick to the pan. Cook until it starts to visibly thicken. It will also thicken more as it cools.
    • If you choose to add the optional toppings, you can mix them in now or sprinkle on top later.
    • Let the mixture cool in the pan, but off the heat, for a of couple minutes. Then transfer the pudding to a large bowl, several small bowls or ramekins. I’ve found you can fill 4 – 10oz ramekins all the way to the top or 5 about half way (which makes a good serving size).

    • You can serve at any temperature, really depends on your preference. At Indian American Cafe they serve it warm, Alton Brown suggests room temperature or chilled, my boyfriend likes it cold and a day old. Personal preference.

    Enjoy!

    French Onion Soup (Vegan)

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    Onion Soup

    I have had the pleasure of having French onion soup in some of the best French restaurants. L’Auberge Chez Fracois in Great Falls, VA has one of the best. I also had Anthony Bourdain’s French Onion Soup at his former restaurant Les Halles in New York City.

    But of course neither are vegan. Traditional French Onion Soup is made with beef or chicken broth.

    I know Anthony Bourdain would be appalled that I took attributes of his recipe as well as others I found online to make a vegan version, but it turned out to be fantastic. You can’t say no to something that’s delicious.

    Vegan French Onion Soup:
    - 1 tbs vegan butter
    - 1 tbs olive oil
    - 5-6 onions depending on size, cut into thin strips (I recommend yellow, vidalia, or sweet onions. A local farmer here grows candy onions which are great)
    - 3 garlic cloves, minced
    - 1/2 tsp salt
    - 2 tbs flour
    - ground pepper
    - 6 cups of vegetable broth
    - 3/4 cup of red wine (I use whatever I’m drinking at the time. I’ve learned not to cook with wine that I won’t drink)
    - 2 tsp dijon mustard
    - 1 tbs red wine vinegar
    - 1 tbs fresh thyme, chopped

    Optional:
    - baguette
    - shredded gruyere, swiss, or vegan mozzarella cheese

    • Heat the butter and oil in a deep pot. Add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds.
    • Add the onions and 1/2 tsp salt. It will fill the pot, but don’t worry, it cooks down a lot. Cook till soft, about 5 minutes.

    • Reduce the heat to very low. Simmer the onions for about 40 minutes. Cook till they are all soft.

    • Combine about 1/2 a cup of the broth with the 2 tbs of flour in a small bowl. Whisk well. Add this to the onions. Heat for about 4 minutes.
    • Add the rest of the broth, mustard, and red wine. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.

    • Stir in vinegar, ground pepper, and thyme. Heat for a couple of minutes.
    • Soup is now ready to serve.

    • Optional – you can top the soup with pieces of bread. Then top with cheese. Cook under a broiler for a couple of minutes until cheese is melted and slightly toasted.

    Enjoy!

    Veggie Chili

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    I’ve seen many people post “my chili is the best in the world!” “best chili ever!” and so on.

    Well here is my turn to say the same. And at least to my boyfriend, it’s true.

    Mine is easy, quick, and vegan. It has a ton of flavor and makes a great hearty meal.

    Veggie Chili:
    - 1 bag of vegan crumbles, take out of freezer at least 15 minutes before using (I prefer the Boca brand. Carnivores can add 1 lb of ground meat instead)
    - 1 small onion, diced
    - 1 pepper, diced (I prefer red, yellow, or orange)
    - 2 medium sized carrots, chopped small
    - 1- 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
    - 1- 15.5oz can black beans (preferably low sodium)
    - 1- 15.5oz can of kidney beans (again preferably low sodium)
    - 1 can of corn
    - 2 cups of water
    - 1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced (depending how much you like garlic. You can also leave it out)
    - 2 tsp cumin
    - 1/2 tsp chili powder
    - 1 tbs fresh chopped cilantro (or 1 tsp dry)
    - 1 tbs fresh chopped oregano (or 1 tsp dry)
    - 1 to 3 chipotle chilis in adobo sauce finely minced, plus 2 tsp of the sauce (add more chilis for more heat)
    - salt and pepper

    Optional:
    - 1 habanero instead of several chipotles. Will be a more intense heat
    - 1 tbs or so of tomato paste for extra tomato flavor
    - Vegan or regular sour cream
    - Vegan or regular shredded cheddar cheese
    - Cooked rice
    - Fresh crusty bread

    • Heat a little oil in a large pot. Add the onion, garlic, red pepper, and carrot. Cover and cook until soft, stirring occasionally. Will take about 5 minutes. Be careful not to burn them.
    • Add the cumin, chili powder, and cilantro. Stir well. Cook 1 minute.
    • Add the meat and cook on high. If using vegan crumbles, cook until all thawed out and soft. If using real meat, cook till browned.
    • Stir in the tomatoes, water, chipotles (or habaneros), adobo sauce, and oregano. Add the tomato paste as well if you choose to use it.
    • Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low. Cook partially covered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Make sure the vegetables and meat don’t stick to the bottom. And be careful of splatter. The tomato sauce will boil and pop. I like to use the lid as a shield when I stir. I also don’t recommend wearing any nice light colored clothing while cooking this.

    • Drain any water from the cans of beans. Add the beans to the pot. Cook chili another 15 minutes.
    • Drain the water out of the corn can. Add the corn to the pot as well. Cook until the corn is heated, just a couple of minutes.
    • Season chili with a teaspoon of salt and fresh crushed black pepper.
    • If you choose, top the chili with some shredded cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream. You can service over rice. You can also serve with lightly toasted bread.

    So this is my recipe for “the world’s best chili.”
    Enjoy!

    Vegan Italian Butter Cookies

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    Coffee and Butter Cookies

    Some days you just want a good, sweet, soft, dipping cookie to go with your coffee. You don’t want one with a bunch of weird flavors. You don’t want one that breaks your teeth. Just a little sweetness.

    I adapted this recipe from one I found on foodnetwork.com.

    They turned out so delicious, my non-vegan friends didn’t even realize these were vegan. And they are incredibly simple to make, as well as fun!

    Italian Butter Cookies:
    - 2 sticks of vegan butter, room temperature but not melted
    - 1 cup of powdered sugar
    - 1+1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    - 1+3/4 to 2 cups of flour
    - 1/8 tsp salt
    - Pastry bag with a fun tip
    - large cookie sheet
    - piece of parchment paper

    • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
    • Put the butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a bowl. You can either use a mixer with a whisk attachment or I’m kinda lazy so I use a regular whisk and a knife. Cream together those ingredients until the mixture is smooth and even. If you use a regular whisk like I do, periodically scrap the butter out of it.

    butter/sugar/vanilla

    • With a spatula fold the flour into the butter mixture.

    add the flour

    • At first it will look like it won’t mix all together. Don’t worry, as you work it the butter melts a little and it will moisten the flour. Just keep folding and mixing. It will end up like this:

    cookie dough

    • Fold over the end of the pastry bag and use a bowl to stabilize it. Fill it with the cookie dough. Put the parchment paper on the cookie sheet.

    pastry bag holder

    • Now is the fun part! Push the dough to the tip of the pastry bag and have fun making shapes. Traditionally these cookies are circles. I had fun making stars, flowers, squigglies, even names.

    pipingcookies ready for the oven

  • Bake the cookies for about 15-20 minutes depending how soft/crispy you’d like them. They will harden slightly when cooling after the oven.
  • Cool on the parchment paper on a cooling rack.


    They are delicious with coffee, for dessert, or just anytime.
    Enjoy!

  • Fancied up Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

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    Soup and Sandwich

    I don’t have time to make a fabulous homemade meal every night. Some nights I have to take store made products but make them look fancy. If you know how, it’s easy to make bland, store bought products taste restaurant made.

    I know. Most people hear “grilled cheese and tomato soup” and instantly think of the processed cheese slice toasted on white bread and bland, reddish, canned soup. Here are my recipes for improved vegan/vegetarian grilled cheese and tomato soup.

    Ingredients

    Grilled Cheese:
    - Good bread
    (I love a round rosemary and olive oil loaf (pictured), or french bread, ciabatta, focaccia, etc. Not white bread.)
    - Cheese of choice
    (I used a combination of vegan mozzarella, vegan cheddar, and vegan parmesan for the vegan grilled cheese and six cheese italian blend, sharp cheddar, and parmesan for the vegetarian.)
    - Oil or Butter (I used some homemade garlic infused olive oil)
    - Basil, chiffonade

    • Oil or butter one side of two pieces of bread. Lay the oiled/buttered sides together and put on counter.
    • Lay with chosen cheeses.
    • Sprinkle some basil on the cheese.

    • Lay the cheese coated piece of bread onto a griddle or oiled pan, oiled side down. Place the other piece of bread on top. Push sandwich down a little with a spatula.
    • Grill till cheese is gooey and bread is slightly brown.

    Vegan Grilled Cheese

    Creamy Tomato Soup:
    - 2 cans of Campbell’s tomato soup
    - 1-2 cloves of garlic
    - 1 tsp rosemary, chopped
    - 1 tsp oregano, chopped
    - 1 tsp basil (I actually suggest dried in cooking and sprinkle fresh on at the end)
    - crushed black pepper
    - sea salt
    - 2/3 cup soy milk

    • Combine the two cans of tomato soup in a sauce pan. Use the empty can and put one can of water in the soup.
    • Stir in the garlic.
    • Bring to a simmer.
    • Stir in the herbs (except any fresh basil) and salt and pepper.
    • Simmer till you’re about ready to eat. Add the soy milk and cook a couple minutes until thick.
    • Serve with fresh basil on top.Tomato Soup

    Even store bought products can turn into a delicious homemade meal.
    Enjoy!

    Tofu Benedict

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    Tofu Benedict

    My boyfriend loves breakfast for dinner night. Usually we have waffles, fake bacon, and grits. I felt like fancying it up on New Years. I came across a recipe for a vegan eggs Benedict. With some slight alterations, we end up with this recipe.

    Tofu “Eggs” Benedict:

    Vegan Hollandaise:
    - 2 tbs vegan butter
    - 2 tsp egg replacer with 4 tbs water
    - 3/4 cup soy milk
    - 1/4 tsp tumeric
    - 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    - 1 tsp lemon juice
    - dash of cayenne
    - 1 tsp salt and pepper

    Tofu “Eggs”:
    - 1 pack of firm tofu
    - small bowl filled with equal parts cornmeal and flour, and a dash of salt and pepper

    Garlic Spinach:
    - 1 bag of fresh spinach (about 7-8oz.)
    - 2 cloves of garlic, minced

    Also need:
    - 1 pack of fake bacon (Lightlife makes Smart Bacon which is good, or I used a tempeh bacon)
    - 1 pack of English muffins or a baguette

    Tempeh Bacon

    Instructions for Tofu:

  • Begin by taking the tofu out of the package and press it to drain the water. I wrap the tofu in paper towels, place it on a plate, then place another plate on top. I put something heavy on top to press the tofu.
  • tofu press

    • Once a good amount of water is pressed out of the tofu, cut into 5 strips and then each strip into two cubes. It will give you 10 cubes.
    • Heat a couple of inches of oil in a pan or a deep fryer. Heat until at least 350 degrees.
    • Coat each cube of tofu in the cornmeal/flour/salt/pepper dredge. Fry them, a couple at a time, in the oil until golden brown, about 4 minutes.
    • Drain on a paper towel.

      Instructions for Hollandaise:
    • Melt the butter in a sauce pan.
    • In a separate bowl combine the egg replacer powder and water. Whisk into melted butter. It will form a paste.
    • Add the soy milk, turmeric, garlic powder, cayenne, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
    • Stir well and keep on very low heat until ready to use. Add a little more soy milk if the mixture gets too thick.

      Instructions for Garlic Spinach, Bacon, and Bread:
    • Fry the bacon in a pan or on a griddle with a little oil until crispy, about 5 minutes or so.
    • Cut English muffins in half or cut 1/2 inch slices of baguette. Toast them in a toaster oven.
    • Heat 2 tsp. of oil in a pan. Add the minced garlic and saute till fragrant (be sure it doesn’t burn).
    • Add the spinach to the garlic and oil, and cook until slightly wilted but not mushy.

      Assemble:
      Put the toasted muffin or bread on the plate. Top with crisped bacon, then sauted garlic spinach. Put the fried tofu on that, then drizzle the hollandaise over everything.
      Enjoy!
      tofu eggs benedict

    Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

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    Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

    I’ve always loved lemon poppy seed muffins and wanted to try making them. Most recipes I found contained buttermilk (which you can’t feed to a vegan) or almond extract (and my boyfriend is allergic to most nuts).

    So after some research and some modifications, I was able to come up with a good recipe for soft, light, fluffy vegan lemon poppy seed muffins.

    Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins:
    (makes about 12-13 muffins)
    - 1+3/4 cups flour plus 1 tbs
    - 3/4 cup sugar
    - 2 tsp baking powder
    - 1/4 tsp baking soda
    - 1/4 tsp salt
    - 2+1/2 tsp egg replacer plus 2 tbs warm water
    - 2/3 cup soy milk
    - 1 tbs vegan sour cream
    - 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
    - 1 stick (1/2 cup) vegan butter, melted
    - 1 tbs poppy seeds
    - 1 tsp lemon zest
    - 2 tsp vanilla extract

      • Preheat oven to 350 degress. Grease or oil muffin tin.
      • Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
      • In another bowl mix soy milk and sour cream. Should make about 3/4 cup of fluid. Then add prepared egg replacer, lemon juice, and melted butter.
      • Make a well in the center of the flour and add the milk mixture. Mix until until all dry ingredients are wet and batter is still slightly lumpy.
      • With a spatula, fold in poppy seeds, vanilla extract, and zest.
      • Spoon batter into muffin tin. Bake about 30 min. or until a toothpick comes out clean.

    Muffin

    Enjoy!

    Vegan Hot and Sour Noodle Soup

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    Vegan Hot and Sour Soup

    I’ve always been a fan of hot and sour soup at Chinese restaurants. But most of the time they are made with chicken or beef broth and sometimes have strips of┬ápork. And I don’t find them to be spicy enough. :)

    I decided to make a vegan version of hot and sour soup and add some noodles to make it a more substantial meal.

    Vegan Hot and Sour Noodle Soup:

    • 9-10 cups of vegetable stock (check previous post for a good recipe)
    • A couple of ounces of mushrooms (I chose baby portabellas, but you could use shiitakes, oyster, tree etc.)
    • 1 small can of bamboo shoots
    • 4-5 tbs. minced ginger
    • 2 tbs. minced garlic
    • 1 tsp. hot sauce of choice (I used my homemade ghost pepper hot sauce, but you can use sriracha or crushed red pepper flakes). Use as much as you feel comfortable with.
    • 2 tbs. rice wine vinegar
    • 1/4 cup lime juice
    • 3 tbs. cornstarch
    • 4 tbs. soy sauce (I prefer low sodium)
    • 1 package of firm or extra firm tofu (1 lb), cut into bite size pieces and most of the water pressed out
    • 1/2 package (7 oz) of rice noodles
    • A little oil for sauteing
    • Thinly sliced scallions or leeks
    • Toasted sesame seeds
    • Sesame oil, additional hot sauce when serving

      - Prepare the rice noodles based on the package. I had to soak mine for 30 minutes in cold water before boiling for 5 minutes. I tossed with a little sesame oil after I took them out of the water to keep them from sticking too much.- In a medium sized pot, heat the oil. Add the ginger and garlic (and red pepper flakes if you use them) and saute for a couple of minutes until fragrant.

      - Add the vegetable stock, bamboo shoots, and rice wine vinegar (and hot sauce if you didn’t use the red pepper flakes). Simmer for 20 minutes.

      - Add the tofu and mushrooms and cook another 10 minutes.

      - In a separate bowl, whisk together the lime juice and cornstarch. Add to the pot and stir well.

      - Bring the pot to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Add the soy sauce.

      - Put rice noodles in the bottom of the bowl. Ladle the soup over noodles. Drizzle sesame oil and sprinkle some of the chopped scallions and sesame seeds on top.

      Enjoy!

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