Wee Cook Wednesday: Quickie Chickie with Peppers

canned-chicken1Every mom has an “emergency pantry shelf” where she stocks foods that can be pulled together in various combinations to create dinner in a hurry.

Tonight was an “emergency” night, and I had been hankering for Chinese food all day … so I reached in and pulled out a can of chicken, a can of pineapple chunks, and a box of Minute Rice (I recently discovered their instant brown rice, and while I don’t know that the nutritional value of the “quick” stuff is as good as the slow-cooking, I decided to try it). 

In the veggie bin were three green peppers that were about to turn. So I put it all together, tossed in a shot of ginger and soy sauce, and … voila! Quickie Chickie.

Quickie Chickie with Peppers (serves 4)

3 bell peppers (any color), seeded and coarsely chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 can (13 oz) canned chicken, drained
1 can (20 oz) pineapple chunks, drained and juice reserved
1 tsp ginger
1 Tbls soy sauce
1 Tbls corn starch
1 tsp honey (optional)
coarse ground pepper

hot rice

Chop peppers and onions, set aside. In skillet heat 2 tsp oil (olive or canola) and saute veggies 3-4 minutes, so they are still crisp. Add chicken, ginger, soy sauce, and pineapple chunks. Heat through, breaking up chicken with a spoon. Stir corn starch and honey into pineapple juice until dissolved; add to skillet and stir until thickened. Serve over rice.

Wee Cook Wednesday: Homemade Noodle Soup

flour-eggLast week when my parents were here, I stared at a package of chicken breast and wondered aloud what to do with it. My father, busily replacing the shelf brackets under my cookbooks, piped up … “Chicken pot pie!”

“But mom can’t have potatoes… You can’t have pot pie without potatoes!”

He stared at me for a moment. “In POT PIE? There’s no potatoes in pot pie. NOODLES!”

Slowly it dawned on me that we were not talking about the same thing. A few questions later, I got it worked out: He meant the thick, chewy egg noodle “stoop” Grandma Hess used to make. “With noodles, the tougher, the better,” Dad insisted. “Just like dumplings…”

Oh, no. I wasn’t rolling into Dumplingville. Let’s stick with the noodles. (Turns out the Pennsylvania Dutch call it “pot pie” because the whole thing is cooked in one pot. The pastry-topped dish I’d thought of as “pot pie” is actually “meat pie.”)

Long story short, here’s an idea for the next time you’re snowed in or otherwise needing some stick-to-the-ribs comfort food. (Start the noodles in the morning to give them time to dry if you like ’em chewy, like my dad does.)

Homemade Noodle Soup

2 C flour
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
6 Tbls milk (2 half egg shells full)

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts – cubed (raw)
1 large onion, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 large stalks celery, peeled and chopped
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp sage
2 cans chicken broth
1 C white wine or water
1 C frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste

Put flour and salt in bowl, make well in center. Add eggs and milk, and stir together to make a sticky dough. Knead a couple of turns on a floured surface, then roll 1/4 inch thick. Using a pizza cutter, cut dough down the center then into 1/2 – 1 inch wide strips. Cover with a towel and set aside.

Saute onion, celery, and carrots in a little olive oil until onions are browned. Add spices and chicken, cook 10-12 minutes or until chicken is browned. Add chicken broth and simmer 30-40 minutes.

Drop noodles in a handful at a time into the simmering broth, stirring to separate. Add water to cover noodles. Simmer another 30 minutes, until noodles are almost cooked through. Add peas and return to simmer. Adjust seasonings and serve in bowls. Serves 4-6.

Wee Cook Wednesday: Chicken Divan (“Chicken Stuff”)

When I was in junior high, I was into what could best be called “experimental cooking.”  I eschewed cookbooks, preferring to mix and match whatever was in the cupboard to put dinner together. One of my concoctions (the precise ingredient list I’ll spare you here) involved pork chops, curry, apple sauce, and brown rice. Dad took one bite, then turned to me and said, “Someday, my dear, your husband is going to have to thank me for this … Thanks to you, I have a cast iron stomach!”

Eventually — when my father’s caustic commentary finally got through to me — I turned to my mom’s recipe file, and learned to cook some of the tried-and-true dishes that my family loves so much. Kids enjoy helping me with this: pulling apart the chicken, arranging the meat and broccoli in the dish, stirring the sauce, sprinkling the cheese. Add rice and corn bread, and you’ve got a winner!

Chicken Stuff

1 large head of broccoli, trimmed and cut into “trees”
3 chicken breasts, cooked and meat pulled off bones
1 large can cream of chicken soup (or 2 small ones)
1 c mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin (optional)
1 C shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 C Italian bread crumbs
1 Tbls margarine, melted

Steam broccoli for 3 minutes, cool. Arrange in bottom of greased 9×13 pan. Put chicken bits on top of broccoli. Combine soup, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and spices; pour over chicken. Sprinkle with cheese. Combine bread crumbs and margarine in small bowl, sprinkle over cheese. Bake 350 for 30 minutes. Serve over white rice. (You may substitute 2-10 oz packages of broccoli cuts for the fresh broccoli spears, and chicken thighs, deboned, for the chicken breasts.)