Chicken Corden Bleu Mac and Cheese

It’s official, our daughter has chosen where she is going to university, deposits paid, and so begins the journey. We’re excited for her but will miss her very much. It’s time though, she’s ready to fly. Now that tax season is over we’ll be going over any gaps in her knowledge with recipes, budgeting, etc. She actually is pretty good with this stuff but she has a list of things she wants to make sure she knows. Trust me, we are not sending our kids out into the world without knowing how to write a check or do laundry.

A big thing as she heads out into the world is knowing how to cook cheap and delicious meals. The kids had mentioned an idea of Chicken Corden Bleu Mac and Cheese that they were playing round with at the other house which would fit the bill. As it is a cool and rainy spring, we’re still in the comfort food season which makes this meal perfect.

Making the Chicken Corden Bleu Mac and Cheese

This can definitely be made on the cheap. Use chicken thighs instead of breast, lemon juice instead of white wine, etc.

Marinate the chicken a few hours beforehand. Whisk the ingredients together and add the chicken. Cover and chill in the fridge.

Grill the chicken until just cooked. It will then be cooked more in a skillet and oven so you don’t want to end up with rubbery chicken. It’s bad enough as a strange toy but awful when eating! I discovered I was out of propane for the grill so inside it was. We use our cast iron griddle constantly. Pity it’s so heavy!

While making the sauce cook up the pasta. Melt the butter and add the onion. Cook until they start to become translucent. Add the garlic and mustard. Bring to a simmer, careful not to let it catch. Add the flour and whisk thoroughly. Cook for a few minutes while whisking, Then add the remaining marinade, wine and milk. Keep stirring until it comes to a boil but don’t boil over! With milk it can happen in a blink which creates quite a mess.

In goes the cheese, chicken (cubed) and ham. Simmer until the cheese has melted and you have a creamy thick mixture.

Pour into the baking pan with the pasta and mix well. Top with panko bread crumbs.

Bake until the top is nice and golden.

It is ready to serve as soon as it is out of the oven. We did carb overload with fresh baked bread my husband made. It’s so good with butter! It went quickly as I found when I went to have some for lunch and it was all gone!

Chicken Corden Bleu Mac and Cheese

Comfort food with a twist.  Grilled chicken with corden bleu flavours.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Chicken Corden Bleu Mac and Cheese
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 8
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

Marinade and Chicken

  • 1 lb chicken breast 16oz/454g
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp brown mustard
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Mac and Cheese

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp brown mustard
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine 4oz
  • 2 cups milk 16oz
  • 2 cups shredded jarlsberg cheese
  • 3-5 slices ham, chopped
  • 1 lb pasta
  • Panko Bread crumbs to cover top

Instructions

Marinade and Chicken

  1. Whisk the ingredients together.  Slice the chicken breasts in half lengthwise.  Coat and cover the chicken with the marinade and chill in the fridge for a few hours. 

  2. When it’s time to make the dish, grill the chicken until just done.  Cube and set aside.

Mac and Cheese

  1. Pre heat the oven to 350F/175C

  2. Cook the pasta

  3. In a saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the onions and cook until translucent.  Add the garlic, mustard and sea salt and pepper.  Cook for a few minutes then add the flour to create the roux.  Cook additional few minutes.  Add the remaining marinade, wine and milk.  Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Add the cheese and stir until melted.  Next add the chicken and ham.  

  4. Add the pasta and sauce to a baking dish.  Top with the panko bread crumbs. 

  5. Bake until the bread crumbs are golden.  Then serve.  

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Cheesy Pasta with Pan Seared Filet of Beef

I’ve been in a definite comfort food mood this week, what with winter settling in and the holiday season having started.  Now that Thanksgiving has passed I’m well into the Christmas mood.  We had the perfect day this past weekend to find our tree.  Just above freezing with gorgeous blue skies.  Our daughter will be heading off to university next year so the traditions are a bit poignant this year. She just got her first notice of acceptance to the University of Manchester and we are very proud.  We just need to hear from all the ones she applied to then we’ll know where she ends up being.  It is an exciting time but it will be good to have it all sorted.

I did a rummage through our freezer and found a filet of beef that was the perfect size for my husband and I.  I’m getting ready for a craft fair this weekend so I needed an easy meal to make.  I came up with a cheesy pasta to go along with the pan seared filet of beef.

Technique for Creamy Pasta and Pan Seared Filet of Beef:

Cooking the Beef:

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.

Melt the butter in a hot skillet.  Season the beef and brown on all sides.

Cook in the oven until it is the desired doneness.  We prefer it medium rare on the rare side.  Cover and let the meat rest.

The Pasta and Sauce:

Prepare the pasta according to instructions.

In the same skillet used for the beef, sauté the onions, mushrooms and garlic.

Once the mushrooms begin to brown add the brandy and the beef stock.  I took a page from Conor Bofin and had reduced my beef stock and created “ice” cubes out of them.  Certainly does save space.  Bring the sauce to a simmer.

Add the rosemary and cream.  Once that is heated through add the grated cheese.

Add the pasta.  Slice the steak and grate a bit more cheese over the dish and serve.

Perfect for when you need a fix of comfort food.  Makes getting snow a lot easier!

 

Cheese Pasta with Pan Seared Filet of Beef

An easy and flavourful comfort food with cheese and filet of beef.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 2
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 8 oz Filet of Beef
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cup pasta, cooked
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp brandy
  • 1/2 cup beef stock 4oz
  • 1/3 cup heavy/double cream 3oz
  • 2 tsp chopped rosemary
  • 1 cup equal part cheddar and jarlsberg
  • pinch sea salt
  • pinch freshly ground pepper

Instructions

Cooking the Beef

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.

    Melt the butter in a skillet.  Season the beef with sea salt and pepper.  Brown all sides of the beef.  Finish cooking in the oven until desired doneness.  Cover and rest before slicing.

Pasta Sauce

  1. In the same skillet you pan seared the beef sauté the mushrooms, onions and garlic.  Once the mushrooms start to brown add the brandy, rosemary and beef stock.  Simmer for a few minutes then add the cream.  Once it is heated through add the cheese.  Add the cooked pasta once the cheese is melted.  Stir well.

Putting it together

  1. Serve the pasta and sauce onto the plate.  Slice the beef and place on top of the pasta and grate fresh cheese over the dish.  

Peach and Jalapeño Grilled Steak

While I’m not a fan of the heat of summer I do love the flavours of summer.  The shops are starting to have peaches and other stone fruits which means light delicious meals and desserts.

It’s been a busy week but I wanted to make a nice meal for my husband and myself last night.  Peaches sparked an idea and jalapeño is one of my husband’s favourite hot peppers.  A match is made!

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I prepped the corn by soaking the ears before grilling and dusted the steak with chili powder and cumin.

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Slice up a quarter red onion.  Begin to sweat them in a hot skillet with olive oil.  Slice the jalapeño.  I removed the seeds because sometimes the pepper can be very hot and I didn’t want to overwhelm the peach.  I also started with half a pepper.

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Sauté the pepper and onion for a few minutes.  I sliced up three small peaches.  You can tell it’s the beginning of the season as the peaches were quite small.  Add the peaches.  Cook for a few minutes.  Fire up the grill to start grilling the corn.  I grill the corn, unshucked, 5 minutes a side.  Season the peach with chili pepper and cumin.  Add a splash of lime juice.  After tasting I added the rest of the pepper as there wasn’t much heat.

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Grill the steak to the desired doneness.  We like ours on the rare side.  Once cooked, rest the steak for a few minutes then slice.  Shuck the corn.  Place the steak on salad greens and spoon the peach over the steak.

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Bring on summer flavours, just not the heat.  Unless it’s in the food.  🙂

 

Cheese and Onion Pie, a Treat for My Husband

“Oooh, I do like a bit of cheese” as Wallace likes to claim.  It’s a sentiment we agree with.  Maybe a bit too much but hey, we all have our vices!  One of my husband’s favourite crisp flavours is cheese and onion so I thought as a treat I would make a cheese and onion pie.  As I thought it was a treat from his childhood I wanted to get this right!

Cheese and onion pie 1 2018

This is not overly difficult but there are a lot of steps to this.  You’ll need a few hours to get this done.  I researched several recipes and decided to use this Foodie with Family recipe as a guide.  I did change a few things.

I had two very large onions which I sliced thinly.  Oh the tears!  In a skillet melt 4 tablespoons of butter to start with.  Add more butter as needed as the onions cook down.

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The onions will mound up in the skillet but after several minutes of slowly cooking the onions will soften and cook down.

As the onions cook, add 1/2 cup of veg bouillon and about 5 teaspoons of coleman’s mustard.  Feel free to add a bit more if you like the heat.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Simmer for a few minutes to reduce the liquid a bit.

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Remove from the heat and let cool.  Grate 1 1/2 pounds/675oz of sharp cheddar cheese.  Yes, it’s a huge amount of cheese!  In a large bowl beat two eggs and add 1/2 cup/4oz double cream.  Add the onions.

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Mix in the cheese completely.

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Set that aside.  Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.

Next prepare the hot water pastry, though in this case it’s hot milk pastry.  In a mixing bowl sift together 3 cups/12 3/4 oz of all purpose flour and 3/4 tsp of kosher salt.  Make a well in the flour.

In a saucepan, melt a cup/1/2 pound of butter, 1/3 cup/2.5oz of whole milk and about 4 teaspoons of coleman’s mustard.

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Simmer but don’t boil.  Pour into the flour well.

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Mix well until the ingredients come together in a ball.

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On a lightly floured surface knead the dough for a couple of minutes to work the gluten.  This is a pastry where you don’t have to worry about overworking which is a nice change.

Line a 10″/25cm springform pan with parchment paper.  Divide the dough into two balls, roughly in a 60/40 ratio.  Now this dough is very fiddly!  There were some words spoken as I rolled it out and tried to get it into the pan.  Forget having it done in one piece!  Use your knuckles to press it into the pan and up the sides.

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Fill the pastry with the cheese and onion mixture.  Top with the remaining pastry.  As best you can pinch the seam of the top and bottom together.  Use a knife to cut vents in the top.  Beat an egg and add a tablespoon of the whole milk.  Brush this over the top of the pie.

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Bake 60-75 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.

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Let it cool and allow the cheese to set a bit before serving.  I found I prefer it served cold but it’s good warm or cold.

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My husband loved this.  Turns out this was the first ever cheese and onion pie he had!  So instead of an old tradition it’s become a new one.  🙂

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Making a Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Mac and Cheese 

We’ve all done it.  Opened the door, peered in, shut it again.  Left to wonder what exactly is in that freezer.  Despite best laid plans it’s easy to lose the plot.  Our freezer is nearly 6 feet tall so it’s really not a good idea to lose the plot!  It got to the point where we couldn’t fit anything in and I was wondering how much money we were wasting by not using what we had.  

Off I went to get clear containers to organise the meats, leaving the baskets for all our fruits and veg we had harvested.  I did have to get rid of some things but overall getting it organised and knowing what the heck was in there was a success.  

One of my finds was a vacuumed bag of leftover Thanksgiving turkey.  So this post is either well overdue or too early for Thanksgiving.  😄.  Even though we seem to be stuck back in with the sticky heat of summer we did enjoy autumn weather for a few weeks.  It was wonderful and perfect for some comfort food.  Mac and cheese would do the trick.


Would you believe this onion was supposed to be a scallion?  We planted half a raised bed of bunching onions so you imagine our surprise to find proper onions growing.

While making the cheese sauce for this dish, cook up the pasta.  Preheat the oven to 375F/200C. In a separate saucepan heat up a couple of tablespoons of butter.   Coarsely chop half of a large onion and add it to the butter.


Sauté on low until the onions soften.  Then add a couple of cloves of garlic, finely chopped.  Cook for a couple of minutes then add about a cup and a half of chopped turkey.  Season with a couple of teaspoons of fresh thyme and sage.  If you don’t have fresh sage use about a teaspoon of ground sage.  Continue to season with sea salt and pepper.  Then add a half cup/4oz of dry white wine.


To make it a roux add 2 tablespoons of flour.


Stir continuously until the flour is incorporated and cooked, about three minutes.


Next add 1 1/4 cup of milk and heat through.  Don’t boil!  Once the cheese is warm enough to melt cheese add a cup of grated cheddar and half a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Stir until the cheese has melted,


Put the cooked pasta into a baking dish and add the cheese sauce.  Mix well. Top with more grated cheese.


Cover and bake for 20 minutes.  Uncover and brown the top of the dish.


Serve while hot.  Now we try to eat small portions in our house but with this dish we all had seconds and there weren’t any leftovers!  Guess we needed a break from salads.  😊

Catching Up With a Dublin Coddle

This a long over due post!  I cooked this meal for St Patrick’s Day weekend.  So yes, I’m behind in my posts.  Tax season is over once more and I’ve been doing a lot of catching up and getting things organised.  It was so nice to have time to be outside and see sunlight.  My office is windowless and joyless.

Since I last posted we’ve been enjoying hosting our exchange student from Denmark.  Who isn’t a fan of Danish food.  What are the chances!?  She loves Italian food but is willing to have me cook some Danish food here and there.  She also fits in at our house very well.  Very smart and a great sense of humour.  It’s turning out to be a fabulous experience for all of us.

Our student arrived on St Patrick’s Day weekend and I wanted share some of our traditions.  But I also needed something that was easy to put together because I was working 6 days a week.  The Dublin Coddle fit the bill.

Dublin coddle 1 2017

Of course I changed the way to do it a bit.  Mainly to make this even easier and quicker to make.  If you are inclined you can cook the bacon prior to assembling but it also works if you don’t.

Preheat the oven to 425F/220C.

In an oven proof dish begin layering potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic, all thinly sliced.

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Then layer thinly sliced sausages and bacon.  I chose chorizo sausage for a bit of heat.  Sprinkle with fresh parsley.

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Repeat the layers.  Add beef or vegetable broth.  At this point you can have it more stew like or not.  I wanted it to have a more soup consistency so I added about 4 cups/32 oz of vegetable broth.

Dublin coddle 4 2017

Cover and bake until the vegetables soften.  Remove from the oven and grate fresh cheddar cheese over the dish.  Leave the cover off and bake until the top browns.Dublin coddle 5 2017

Of course I completely forgot to bake the soda bread to go with this.  Only remembered as I was serving the meal.  That would have been a nice pairing.

Now, if you don’t mind, I have a lot of blogs to catch up on.  🙂

 

 

Using the Carrot and Keeping Things Positive

Yesterday was a much needed day for so many people.  There has been so much rhetoric and hatred that seemed to have been winning out and leaving a lot of us feeling adrift and shocked.  But yesterday was an historic day.  It was a day that millions across the world stood up peacefully and said we don’t accept that.  The reports today are estimating that nearly 3 million in the US alone showed up which made it the most represented protest in US history.

I know it was called the Women’s March but it was inspiring to see that men and children joined in as well and that we are standing up together and rejecting the hate, rejecting the notion that we are going to be dragged backwards.  I’m afraid we will for awhile but I hope that we will not be silenced and we will fight to move our rights forward for all.

In our little town we had a turnout of about 500 people.  It was fabulous, though as I looked round you could see people of my parent’s generation and all I could think was that they must be so irritated they have to march for this again.  Signs around the world definitely bore this out.

Here are some of my photos of yesterday to share with you.

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I think if we can keep this positivity and using the carrot instead of the stick we can do so much.  Well, except voting.  That’s going to be a very big stick.

In the middle of tax season starting and standing up for ourselves I am finding time here and there to be creative in the kitchen.  Not as much as I’d like but it’s that time of the year!

We had great success with the carrots in the garden.  They came out massive but very sweet and tender.  There was the last large one to use up and because the kids love soup this time of the year I made a carrot ginger soup.  There are a lot of recipes out there with orange juice but that would that would make this soup super sweet so I went the savory route.

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In a saucepan heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  Chop up about half a red onion.  You want to end up with a 1/2 cup/4oz or so.  Finely chop a couple of garlic cloves.  Begin to saute while you cube the carrot.  Obviously if you don’t have a massive carrot, cube 4-6 of them depending on size.  Add the carrot to the saucepan.

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Add enough chicken stock to cover the carrots and bring to a simmer. Grate fresh ginger into the pan. I did about an inch/2.5cm square. Then add a small handful of fresh tarragon.

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I seasoned this with sea salt and pepper.  I wanted a little kick to this so I added a bit of red pepper flakes.  Once the carrots are cooked through puree and add back onto the heat.  Add a cup of cream and slowing heat that through.

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Add a dollop of sour cream and enjoy with your favourite bread.

I sincerely hope that yesterday is the beginning of hope and positivity where we find our strength to stand up against the drumming of fear.

 

Mushroom Tarragon Pork Pasta

I’ve lost count on how many days I’ve been saying I need to do a blog post!  It’s been the typical craziness with the holidays and all the prep that goes along with it.  We had a lovely Christmas with the kids.  It was our turn to have them for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning which I love.  We have Chinese food at night and sticky buns in the morning.  Other than that it was a very quiet day with my husband.

For one of the dinners before the holidays I wanted to make a nice comfort type of dinner to go along with the very cold nights we were having.  I am so ready for spring.  My MIL has been emailing me telling me how the grass is growing and how she is trying to keep up with weeding.  Harrumph!

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I had some boneless pork ribs and I decided to do a slow cooked dish with mushrooms and tarragon.  Heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet.  Season the pork with sea salt and pepper.  Brown all sides.

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While this is browning chop half a red onion and a few cloves of garlic.  Remove the pork and cover.  In the skillet saute the onion and garlic.

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Quarter several mushrooms until you have about a cup or 8 oz.  Add them to the skillet.  Chop a handful of fresh tarragon and add that as well.

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Saute for a few minutes then add half a cup/4oz of sherry or dry white wine.  Simmer for a couple of minutes then add the pork back in.  Next add 3 cups/24oz of vegetable stock and bring to a simmer.  It was at this point I got a text from my boss wondering when I was coming in.  Erm, not working this week?  Turns out, yes I was.  Nuts.  Turned off the dish and dashed off to work the evening shift.  It also turns out to be a happy accident.  It allowed the flavours to really deepen.  The next day I slow cooked it for several hours which reduced the broth.

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Cook the pasta and add to the skillet just before you are ready to eat.  My husband made a delicious quick bread to go along with this dish.

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Top with a dollop of sour cream and serve.  If you want this to be more like a soup don’t reduce the broth so much.

Happy New Year’s everyone, I hope it is a safe and enjoyable evening.

 

Slow Cooked Pork Pasta

The kids are very happy today.  There is nearly 6 inches of snow on the ground so they got a snow day.  Granted back in my day we wouldn’t have had the day off!  I literally walked up hill both ways.  Not sure if we’re getting soft or just more safety conscious.

I did take a short video of our lovely snow storm but it turns out in the past few months WordPress decided to not let the lowly plebs upload videos anymore.  But you can see it on Instagram if you wish.  I guess this means I really need to get off my duff and upgrade the site!

We’re making progress on the room we are reworking.  Got the primer on the walls and picked up the flooring this weekend.  So I needed an easy dinner to put together with the kids coming back for the week.

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Doing a slow cooked pork dish fit the bill.  Because of what we had going on I had time to toss everything into the baking dish and that’s about it.  If you have more time, brown the pork before you put it in the dish.  However, if you don’t have time it will still be delicious.

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Add a half a large red onion, finely chopped, with a few cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped to the baking dish.  Then add a 14oz can of diced tomatoes and 1/2 cup of red wine.  Season with sea salt, pepper, some red pepper flakes, and a couple of teaspoons of oregano.  Bake at 300F/150C for several hours until the pork is tender and falling apart.  Taste halfway through to adjust the seasoning.

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Toss in the pasta and serve.  Grate with a hard Italian cheese and enjoy.  This is a very easy flavourful dish to make when life is crazy busy.  And of course a nice glass of red wine goes nicely with this.  🙂

 

Definitely Time for Comfort Food

A week ago I was filled with such anticipation of being on the cusp of history.  Since then I’ve been in complete shock, along with a lot of the world.

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I wore my version of the pantsuit.  I don’t actually have one so a suit coat would have to do!  I also wore white and purple for the colours of the suffragettes.  I was excited!  But after the evening wore on I could see the writing on the wall.  Going to sleep that night I was hoping beyond hope that the numbers would be wrong. The first thing I saw in the morning was a message on my iPad from a friend in Scotland asking what the hell did this country do.

Clinton wasn’t great shakes but I am having trouble wrapping my head round the fact that so many people accepted the sexism, the racism, the ego, the inciting of violence, and outright lies of Trump.  It pains me that these weren’t deal breakers and in fact celebrated.  I don’t know what is in store in the next few years but I can’t say my normal optimism is in play.

It was also difficult talking about it with our kids.  Fortunately they are old enough to recognise what is right and what is wrong.  Let’s just say my daughter can’t wait to be old enough to vote!

In the meantime we have to get on with our lives.  Given we had another weekend of home improvement and how the week went, comfort food was definitely in order.

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Because we still have a ton of apples from apple picking I thought a pork hand pie with apple and sage would do the trick.

For the pastry I cut in 1/2 a cup of butter into 1 1/2 cups of flour and a 1/4 tsp of salt.  When the mixture is reduced to the texture of bread crumbs and they stick together, gradually add cold water until the dough comes together.  It doesn’t take much so add a bit at a time.  Cover and set aside until it’s time to fill the dough.

In a skillet heat up about two tablespoons of olive oil.  Add about 1/2 a cup of finely chopped onions and begin to cook.  Once the onion starts to become translucent add a pound of ground pork.  Finely chop 2 large cloves of garlic and mix in.

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When the pork is half cooked add a small handful of chopped fresh sage and a small handful of sliced fresh cranberry.  Then add a spoonful of mustard and about a 1/4 cup of dry white wine.  Season with sea salt and pepper.

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Roll the dough out thinly and cut out circles.  I used a bowl for this.

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Fill one side of the dough with the filling.  I had filling leftover because I only needed one pie but that would be good for a later pasta dish!   Brush beaten egg round the edge of the pastry and fold the pastry in half.  Pinch with a fork round the edge and then put 3 small slashes in the top. Brush with the egg and bake at 425F/220C for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden and flaky.

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My husband made a fabulous dessert with apple and frangipane so it was a lovely meal.

Now that a week has passed I hope the grass roots efforts that are springing up to hold on to the progress we’ve made for equality and to make this place better continue.  It won’t be easy but we do have a voice.