Chicken with Creamy Parmesan Sauce

What does one do if you have chicken tenders, spinach, mushrooms and a lot of rice?
You improvise!
From start to finish, including the rice cooker rice time, it took about an hour. A large part of that time was the prep work, especially cleaning the chicken yuckies.
As always, prep everything ahead of time. If you don't care about the tendon running down the chicken tender, then you saved time. You can also save time by buying pre-sliced mushrooms, a little jar of minced garlic, and grated Parmesan cheese.
The only reason I made rice, it because I have a lot of rice, and the only pasta I had was lasagna noodles, though this would be nummy on fettucine!

Chicken in Creamy Parmesan Sauce


1.5 lb. chicken tenderloins
2 Tbls. olive oil
10 oz. mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbls. butter
1 Tbls. flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup cream
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2-3 cups baby spinach, rough chop
2-3 Tbls. sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, julienne cut
Garlic powder, optional

Heat oil in large skillet or wok over high heat. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken. Add chicken to hot oil. Cook until brown and turn, about 3-4 minutes. Cook another 4 minutes and remove from pan. Add mushrooms to pan and cook until liquid evaporates and edges are caramelized, about 3-4 minutes. Remove mushrooms from pan.

Turn down heat to medium. Melt butter in pan. Add garlic, and sauté for a few minutes until light brown. Stir in flour, and cook for about a minute. Add chicken broth, cream and Parmesan cheese. Stir to blend for 3-4 minutes. Taste seasonings. Adjust with salt, pepper, or garlic powder, if needed.

Add spinach to sauce, allow to wilt. Add chicken, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes. Stir to blend. Heat for a few minutes to bring the chicken and mushrooms up to temperature. Serve immediately.

Serve over rice or pasta, or if you want to be healthier…a bed of spinach. Yes, more spinach.

Tips & Tricks:

·         My family is particular about their chicken. I tend to clean it up by removing excess membrane and the tendon running down the center of the tenderloins.

·         Chicken broth—I used 1 cup of water and @ 2 tsp. of Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base.

·         I like the baby portobello mushrooms because they are meatier, but use white button mushrooms if you like.

·         “Rough chop” is exactly what it says. Grab a handful or two of spinach, chop it a few times one direction, then again, the other way. Makes it less stringy.


Dad's Favorite Chili v. 2.0

There are so many chili recipes out there. If you had 20 people make chili, you would have 20 very different types of chili, from bland to uber spicy, from vegan to a meatsa-meatsa fest, from beans to no beans.
Everyone has their own take on chili. This version is the current favorite in the Golla household.


Dad’s Favorite Chili

 2.5 lbs. ground beef, 85% lean
1.5 lbs. Hot Italian sausage
¼ c. bacon crumbles
1 large onion, chopped
2 poblano peppers, seeded and chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bottle Corona, 12 oz.
1 Tbls. Beef Better than Bouillon
4 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes
2 15-oz cans spicy chili beans
1 6-oz can tomato paste
¼ cup chili powder
1Tbls. oregano
1Tbls. cumin
1Tbls. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. hot pepper sauce, (e.g. Tabasco)
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. sugar

Heat large stock pot over medium heat. Add beef and sausage, breaking apart while it cooks until brown. Drain excess grease.
Add rest of ingredients. Stir to blend.
Cover and simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.
Taste and adjust flavor. Add salt, pepper, chili powder, or nothing at all.
Do whatever floats your boat.
This is YOUR chili. Own it.

Tips & Tricks:

·         Use this recipe as a template. Adjust it to suit your family’s tastes.

·         This recipe makes A LOT OF CHILI. Half it, or freeze half after it cooks.

·         It’s good in a bowl with bacon sprinkled on top, then cheese. Or on Fritos.


Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas v. 2.0

Over the years since I was given the original recipe for Sour Cream Enchiladas from a co-worker, I’ve made a few changes. I’ve tried some different ingredients. Some worked. Some didn’t work. And depending on your personal, or families, preferences, you might make a few other changes.

My daughter isn’t a fan of chicken enchiladas, but likes the sour cream sauce. I had a cream cheese mixture* in the fridge that I formed into cylinders for the insides of her enchiladas. And yes, I did add more shredded cheese when I rolled them up. I didn’t put jalapenos on her two enchiladas to remind me which ones were hers.  

This is the recipe that I made last night.

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas v. 2.0

2 cups sour cream
½ cup Herdez Salsa Verde
2-3 cups chicken, shredded or diced
1 Tbls. butter
½ onion, chopped, @ ½ cup
1 4-oz can Hatch chopped green chilies, drained
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
8-10 tortillas
Shredded Mexican cheese
Jalapeno peppers, sliced


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix sour cream and Salsa Verde in bowl.

Spray 9 x 13 glass baking dish with cooking spray. Spread ½ cup sour cream mixture on bottom of pan.

Melt butter in large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in chilies and spices. Add chicken. Mix well until chicken is hot. Stir in ½ cup sour cream mixture. Turn off heat while building the enchiladas.

Lay tortilla on flat surface, spoon about 1/3 cup of chicken mixture down one edge of tortilla. Add handful of shredded cheese. Roll tightly. Lay seam side down in baking dish. Continue filling pan or until you run out of chicken mixture.

Spread remaining sour cream mixture over enchiladas. Sprinkle with cheese and jalapeno slices.

Bake for 10-15 minutes until bubbly and slightly toasted.


*Cream Cheese Enchilada Filling

8 oz package Philly cream cheese, softened
Garlic powder
Mayo, small amount
Shredded Mexican cheese
Shredded Parmesan cheese
Fresh chives, snipped 

Mix all together. Taste. Add more of whatever, depending on preferences. Also makes a good dip for whole grain tortilla chips, or spread on a bread and broiled until bubbly.


Tips & Tricks

·         Use regular sour cream, otherwise it might ‘break’ on you. “Breaking” happens when the product becomes too warm and separates into liquid and solid. The resulting chunks are edible, though unappetizing both visually, and in texture.

·         Feel free to use more or less salsa, depending on your preferences. I use enough to make the sour cream sauce a little more fluid, plus add flavor.

·         This time, I poached 3 large chicken breasts in water with peppercorns, oregano, cumin, garlic, and a bay leaf. When cooked, dice or shred when cool to the touch. I’ve also used rotisserie chicken, but the result varies depending what seasoning the provider uses.

·         When I sauté, I tend to use my flat-bottomed wok. The higher sides keep the potential messes to a minimum.

·         I used Hatch hot chilies. They weren’t as hot as I’d hoped. I’ve also used a fresh chopped poblano chili instead of the canned chilies.

·         Alter the spices to your preference, though I tend to make recipes as written prior to tweaking. The good part about this recipe is that everything is cooked prior to building the enchiladas, so you can adjust the seasoning accordingly.

·         Since my family isn’t a fan of corn tortillas (I am. I like white corn tortillas.), I use flour tortillas fajita-sized.

·         Pour the shredded cheese into a bowl. Digging in and out of the bag is a PIA, plus you’ll be contaminating the remaining cheese with your chicken filling fingers.



No New Year's Resolution

Over my lifetime, I've made thousands of New Year's resolutions.

And have subsequently failed to meet them over the next 365 days.

This year will be different.

I won't make any resolutions. Instead, I'll borrow this wonderful idea from the talented author Holly Jacobs. Last year, her word was GLEE. This year, her word is RESTART.

Find one word that will be your mantra for the year.

For me, that word will be FOCUS.

It will be useful in many aspects of my life:
  • losing weight
  • becoming more active
  • work
  • and last, but not least, writing 
One word is easy to remember. Do you have one word that will allow you to make a New Year's resolution without making a resolution?

I found one word. I bet you can, too!



Foodie Friday--Strata or Breakfast Casserole

This recipe is called Strata—no, I have no idea where the name came from—or breakfast casserole, or simply baked eggy-bready-cheesy-goodness-made-from-refrigerator-leftovers.

Whatever it’s called, it’s yummy.

The beauty of this breakfast casserole is that you can make it any way you want. If you want to go a little Italian, then brown Italian sausage (mild or spicy) and add a teaspoon of Italian seasoning. Or make it using diced ham or bacon, instead of sausage. Add browned onions, or grape tomatoes, diced poblano or jalapeno peppers, or sauté spinach, drain and chop it. If you want more smoky spice then add chipotle powder. Or if you want a herbier type of casserole, add dried sage. Use whatever you happen to have on hand, it doesn’t matter. All you need is the basic eggs, milk, bread and cheese, leave the rest to your imagination.

This recipe calls for white bread slices, but I don’t like white bread, so I used a ½ loaf of French Country bread (weighed—about 8-10 ounces), or use Italian bread, or French bread, it doesn’t really matter. The staler the better since the eggy mixture is absorbed into the bread, like soaking French Toast.

The cheese can be whatever cheese you like. If you don’t have any idea what to use, use a sharp cheddar as the flavor will be a little stronger. And no, the cheese quantity is optional. Personally, I use far more cheese in my strata recipe than recommended . . . like two or three times the amount. This recipe is the perfect way of getting rid of those little chunks of random cheese left over from other recipes. I used a white cheddar cheese and a Mexican cheese blend, but I plan to use my leftover Gruyere and Fontina cheese the next time I make this recipe, which will be Christmas day . . . er, actually, I’ll make it Christmas Eve, but it will soak overnight before I bake it on Christmas day.  



Strata or Breakfast Casserole

8 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry mustard
½ tsp. white pepper
2 cups milk
1 lb. bulk sausage, browned and degreased
6 slices of bread, cubed, about 8 cups
2 cup cheese, grated 

Fry sausage, breaking apart until cooked. Drain fat, blot excess fat with paper towels. Set aside. Cube bread. Set aside.

In large bowl, whisk eggs, salt, mustard, and pepper. Whisk in milk. Fold in grated cheese and bread.

Pour into greased 9 x 13 pan. Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake Strata for 35 minutes until browned and set.

Serve immediately.


Tips & Tricks

·         Use LARGE eggs

·         I don’t drink regular milk; 2% milk works fine. I added a little cream to the milk to give it a slightly higher fat content.

·         Use spray oil for the pan. It’s easier

·         When I baked this for my work gang, I put the casserole in a cold oven and turned it on to 350 degrees while I showered and dressed. I wasn’t about to putter around while waiting for the oven to preheat.  I added 15-20 minutes to the stated baking time and kept an eye on it toward the end.

·         The dry mustard and white pepper give the casserole a little zing. Put your own spin on the basic recipe. Add whatever seasonings you feel like.  



Foodie Friday--Dad's Favorite Chili

I have been on the lookout for a chili recipe for over thirty years. I've tried many types of recipes, some cooked by the letter of the recipe and some made with my own twist.
None of them compare to this recipe.
Seven days later we are still eating this chili and enjoying it like we had on the first day.
Plus, this recipe makes A LOT OF CHILI.
I had used my regular 5 quart Calphalon pot that I use for everything . . . and it was too small.
Fast forward to the chili bubbling and dripping down the sides of the pot and burning on the stove to me hastily scooping the chili into my big ass crock pot--lined with a slow cooker liner because those wonderful heat resistant bags of nylon are the BEST!
Two hours later, and a supreme amount of elbow grease to clean the stove and pot, I had a fantastic scoop of chili poured over Fritos, a sprinkling of shredded cheese and a large pinch of bacon crumbles. I was in heaven.
My hubby thinks I might give his boss a run for the money when the chili cookoff rolls around.
Feel free to take this recipe and put your own spin on it.

Dad's Favorite Chili

2 lbs ground chuck
1 lb bulk Italian sausage
3 1-lb can Ranch-style chili beans
1 1-lb can chili beans with spicy sauce
2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 6-oz can tomato paste
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 Poblano chili peppers, chopped
1 Tbls minced garlic
1 Tbls. bacon crumbles
1 Tbls. beef Better Than Bouillon
1 12-ounce Corona beer
1/4 cup chili powder
1 Tbls Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbls oregano
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp hot pepper sauce (Tabasco)
1 tsp basil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp white sugar
In large stock pot (6 quart or larger), brown beef and sausage. Drain grease. Add all ingredients.
Stir to blend. Cover and simmer over low heat for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Adjust salt, pepper, and chili powder.
Tips & Tricks
  • I didn't have Italian sausage, so I used bulk sausage. Next time, I'll try spicy bulk breakfast sausage for a different zing.
  • I picked up the Ranch-style (black label) beans thinking they were just beans. They aren't. They are in a sauce. I didn't drain them and just tossed them in the pot.
  • I think I used 4 14-ounce cans of diced tomatoes, but honestly, I think I might have only put in 2 cans. Oops. Do what floats your boat. 2 cans or 4 cans. It really doesn't matter, just make sure you have enough room in your stock pot!
  • Recently I bought fresh paprika. It was smoked paprika, because that was all they had. I like the nuance of the flavor.
  • Yes, I did have to add more salt. It will all depend on your beans, bouillon, and the sausage you use. Wait until everything cooks down a bit so you don't over season it.
Fritos and shredded Mexican cheese is handy, gooey and makes a great Frito chili pie!


Foodie Friday -- Sea Salt Caramels (redo w/pics)

Requested by my hubby's co-workers when I mentioned I wasn't making candy this year.

Last winter I posted a Sea Salt Caramel recipe, well, yesterday I needed to make a batch of them to "suck-up-to-her-teacher's" night, formerly called Back to School night.

And I needed to get a visual for a box of candy that I intend to donate next month.

Here's the recipe:  Sea Salt Caramels

And here are the pics:
Ingredients: salt, honey, sugar, butter, vanilla, heavy cream and Karo syrup
Ingredients added--the waiting starts
15 minutes later--almost there
salt, butter and vanilla were added; and pour into prepared pan
*Notice I didn't scrape the sides? *you don't want to scrape sugar crystals INTO the mixture. Yes, that's a Mickey Mouse on my scraper!
Cut, dip, and sprinkle with salt
Let chocolate dry, then trim excess around edges
Figuring out the right size for the 1 lb. candy boxes
Suck-up sampler boxes

I did discover a few things:
  1. My daughter's little camera takes better pictures than my cell phone. Though there are some issues, it's pretty good. Plus I can pop the chip into my computer and just pull them into my database
  2. Those little caramel squares in the 1 lb. box are TINY, less than an inch square.
  3. I'm out of practice
  4. I need to cut the caramel and then chill it to keep it from getting melty. The lights are very hot.
  5. I'm out of practice
  6. The sampler box candies are about 3-4 bites each--for a normal person, not a guy. A guy would eat it in one bite. Jus' Sayin' what I observe. Those candies are HUGE--the boxes are 3.5 X 3.5 inches.  
  7. Blogger hoses up at night and it's irritating
  8. I started at 10 AM, finished at 6:30 PM, not counting clean up.
  9. I'm out of practice of candy making

Later, Peeps!