Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's the Great Pumpkin!

So, September is all about apples, October is all about Halloween candy, and November is all about pumpkin dishes. At least, in my opinion.

As a result, I decided to share some favorite pumpkin recipes today. I'm sharing recipes that focus on the sweet side of the pumpkin flavor. One of these days, I'll have to share some savory pumpkin recipes...but not this day! Bring on the pumpkin sweets!

Above: This loaf slightly sank in the middle because of my high altitude (I live on a mountain, whereas in the other pictures, I lived down in the valley).

Pumpkin Bread


2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp ginger
1 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp each salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon
1 cup raisins or chocolate chips (mini chocolate chips, preferably)
1/2 cup nuts, optional
1/4 cup water


Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Blend eggs, brown sugar, flour, white sugar, ginger, pumpkin, oil, soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

Then add raisins or chocolate chips, nuts (if using), and water.

Pour into greased and floured bread pans.

Bake for 65-75 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Notes: Mini chocolate chips make it a lot easier to slice the bread, but you can use regular chocolate chips as well.

Above: Pumpkin Ring Cake pictured without the illustrate the point that this cake is awesome plain, with the glaze, with powdered sugar sprinkled over the cake, or with a dollop of whipped cream on each slice.

Above: Pumpkin Ring Cake with the glaze.

Above: Pumpkin Ring Cake with glaze and a dollop of whipped cream.

Pumpkin Ring Cake


3 cups Original Bisquick mix
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup milk
4 eggs
1 can (16 oz) canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 12 cup fluted tube cake pan.

Beat Bisquick, granulated sugar, brown sugar, butter, pumpkin pie spice, 1/4 cup milk, eggs, and pumpkin in a large bowl on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Spread in pan.

Bake for about 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; turn upside down onto heatproof plate or wire cooling rack. Remove pan, cool cake completely.

Stir remaining ingredients until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle over cake.

Nutrition information: 1 serving (makes 12 servings) equals 405 calories, 10 g fat, 70 mg cholesterol, 500 mg sodium, 76 g total carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 5 g protein.

Source: Betty Crocker website. You can find it here.

Notes: This is also very good with whipped cream (in place of or in addition to the powdered sugar glaze).

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies


1 spice cake mix
1 pkg. chocolate chips
1 egg
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together well (I would suggest mixing all ingredients except the chocolate chips with an electric mixer and then folding the chocolate chips in).

Grease cookie sheet. Drop by teaspoonfuls on sheet. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes.

Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

Source: The Gathering of Friends: Volume 1 cookbook. ISBN: 9780-09816986-0-1

Notes: I made these a LOT bigger than a teaspoon each. I would say that each cookie took nearly 2 tablespoons of cookie dough. As a result, they took longer to cook than 10-12 minutes. I would suggest cooking them for 12 minutes and then checking them and adding 2-4 minutes and then checking them again until they are done. Use the toothpick test to check for doneness. Just like a cake, a toothpick inserted in the center of the cookie should come out clean. And that is when the cookies are done.

Also, if you like your cookies a little sweeter, I would suggest mixing in 1/4-1/2 cup of granulated sugar prior to folding in the chocolate chips.

Pumpkin Pie Cake (Aunt Margaret's Recipe)


1 pkg. yellow cake mix (reserve 1 cup for topping)
1/2 cup melted butter
1 beaten egg
2 cups pumpkin
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 eggs beaten with 2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup butter


Mix the yellow cake mix, 1/2 cup melted butter, and 1 beaten egg and put in a greased 9 x 13 cake pan. Mix pumpkin, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and 2 beaten eggs with 2/3 cup milk, and pour over cake in pan. Mix reserved cake mix and 1/4 cup butter, and sprinkle over cake. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

Serves 12

Source: This is my Aunt Margaret's recipe (I know you weren't expecting that from the title).

Notes: Definitely serve this with whipped cream. Don't skip it! Also, the edges of my cake are curved and rounded because I made it in a disposable tinfoil pan that had shaped edges. I kind of like it! It added some personality! And then I didn't have to worry about bringing a dirty pan home.

Pumpkin Pound Cake with Buttermilk Glaze



Cooking spray
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour (about 13 1/2 ounces)
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup fat-free buttermilk


1/3 cup fat-free buttermilk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon baking soda


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To prepare the cake, lightly coat a 10-inch tube pan with cooking spray; dust with 1 tablespoon flour. Spread pumpkin over 2 layers of paper towels; cover with 2 additional layers of paper towels. Let stand about 10 minutes. Scrape drained pumpkin into a bowl.

Place 3/4 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, and 1/2 cup butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 3 minutes or until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in pumpkin and vanilla. Lightly spoon 3 cups flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture and 3/4 cup buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted inc enter comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove from pan, and cool completely on wire rack.

To prepare glaze, combine 1/3 cup buttermilk and remaining ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly; remove from heat. Drizzle cake with glaze.

Source: December 2006 Cooking Light. You can find it here.

Nutrition information: 1 serving (makes 16 slices. 1 slice per serving) equals 273 calories, 8.7 g fat, 5 g protein, 4.6 g carbohydrate, 1.4 g fiber, 72 mg cholesterol, 2 mg iron, 243 mg sodium, 66 mg calcium.

Notes: I really like this cake. It's not a super sweet cake. I would describe it as a breakfast or brunch cake...or a tea cake. But that buttermilk glaze is addicting. You'll love it!

Pumpkin Pie Punch

Start to finish: 10 minutes

Makes: 1 1/2 gallons (about 24 cups)


15 oz can pumpkin puree
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 gallon apple cider
2 liters ginger ale, cold


In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Add the apple cider and whisk until smooth and the sugar is dissolved. Chill.

In a large punch bowl, gently stir together the cider, pumpkin mixture, and ginger ale. Serve with ice.

Source: Deseret News/Alison Ladman/Associated Press

Notes: I know this sounds kind of weird...but it was awesome! Trust me!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"He Stuck a Feather in His Hat and Called it 'Macaroni'"

Today, as you might have guessed, we're sharing recipes for macaroni and cheese. Oh, and this post is going to be chock full of fun facts.

Did you know that the song "Yankee Doodle" dates back to the Seven Years' War (1754-1763) and that it is the state anthem of Connecticut? The use of the word "macaroni" in the song referred to a term used in mid-18th century England to describe an outlandishly fashionable fellow. Basically someone who was over-the-top in terms of fashion (over-the-top meaning ridiculous). As used in "Yankee Doodle" it is derogatory to Americans. It was sung by British military officers to mock the disheveled and disorganized colonials whom they served with in the French and Indian War. Basically, the verse is saying that the yankees were so unsophisticated that they thought that simply putting a feather in their hat made them stylish and fashionable.

I think it just shows the brazen pride of the early Americans that they would adopt such a song as an anthem for themselves. Way to turn things around on your persecutors!

And you're probably aware of this, but you can find anything and everything on the internet. I found a nice little cheese website that had some interesting tidbits on it. For instance, there are over 2,000 varieties of cheese. But as impressive as that is, you can probably find even more versions of macaroni and cheese out there than there are varieties of cheese. Cheese has been found in 4,000 year old Egyptian tombs (I guess if you thought you could take it with you, cheese would definitely be something you'd want to pack for the journey!). The site also includes directions for a fun game where you take turns saying the different names/varieties of cheese and when you can't come up with any more, you're out. The winner is the last person out. Sounds like some good, old-fashioned culinary inspired fun to me.

The origins of macaroni and cheese can't be pinpointed exactly. Nobody knows when it was first made. However, it dates back to at least colonial times because Thomas Jefferson brought it back after a trip to Italy and served it at his dinner parties.

Kraft introduced its version of macaroni and cheese in 1937...and I can only imagine that it gained a great deal of popularity during World War II when the use of meat was few and far between due to rationing for the war.

Macaroni and cheese was something we didn't really have growing up--except the packaged variety. I didn't really like the packaged version of macaroni and cheese as a kid...or even when I was in college. I only came to appreciate it when it came time to make it for my own little one. And do you know what? I like it now. It really does have a charm all its own.

But while the packaged macaroni and cheese has its place, there's nothing quite like homemade macaroni and cheese. Tonight, I am collaborating with my sister. I will share her macaroni and cheese recipes first (there are three of them) and then mine (I have four to share).

And don't feel tied down to using only elbow pasta in your macaroni and cheese. You can use any of your favorite smaller pastas: penne, mostaccioli, tubetti, wagon wheels, shells, etc. That just mixes things up and makes it more fun for your kids.

So, without further ado, enjoy our macaroni and cheese recipes!

Here's what my sister has to say: "There is nothing like Mac and Cheese! It is comfort food at its finest. It's cheap, it feeds a bunch, and it's very tasty! You can't go wrong. Here are a few of my favorite variations on the classic."

Mac 'n' Cheese with Chipotles

Serves 8


1 (1 ounce) slice white bread
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups fat-free milk
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 drained canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, seeded and chopped
8 cups hot cooked cavatappi (about 5 cups uncooked pasta)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained
Cooking spray


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place bread in a food processor, pulse until coarse crumbs form to measure 1/2 cup; set aside.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, and level with a knife. Place flour in a large saucepan. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly with a whisk. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer mixture for 2 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat; stir in 2 tablespoons Parmesan and the next 5 ingredients (2 tablespoon Parmesan through chipotle chiles), stirring until cheese melts. Combine cheese sauce, pasta, onions, and tomatoes in a bowl.

Spoon the mixture into a 13 x 9 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Combine 2 tablespoons remaining Parmesan and breadcrumbs; sprinkle over pasta mixture. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until mixture is bubbly.

Note: To make ahead, assemble casserole as directed, but stop before adding breadcrumb topping. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature; sprinkle with breadcrumb topping, and bake as directed.

Nutrition Information: Makes 8 (1 cup) servings. 328 calories, 7.3 g fat, 17.7 g protein, 46 g carbohydrates, 1.8 g fiber, 20 mg cholesterol, 2.4 mg iron, 638 mg sodium, 415 mg calcium.

Source: March 2001 Cooking Light. You can find it here.

Notes: Followed the recipe as written--no changes made.

Mac and Cheese with Roasted Tomatoes

Serves 10


Cooking spray
8 plum tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices (about 2 pounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 pound uncooked multigrain whole wheat elbow macaroni (such as Barilla Plus)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 ounces)
5 cups 1% low-fat milk
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded extrasharp white cheddar cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded fontina cheese
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon paprika


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and coat foil with cooking spray. Arrange tomato slices in a single layer on baking sheet. Drizzle oil over tomatoes. Sprinkle with thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and garlic. Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes or until tomatoes start to dry out.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain well.

Place flour in a large Dutch oven; gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. Cook over medium heat 8 minutes or until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add cheddar, fontina, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper, stirring until cheese melts. Remove from heat. Stir in tomatoes and pasta. Spoon into a 13 x 9 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Combine grated Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, and paprika; sprinkle over pasta mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until bubbly.

Nutrition Information: Makes 10 (1 cup) servings. 411 calories, 14 g fat, 22.8 g protein, 49.9 g carbohydrates, 4.7 g fiber, 29 mg cholesterol, 2.5 mg iron, 638 mg sodium, 414 mg calcium.

Source: March 2006 Cooking Light. You can find it here.

Notes: Again, no changes were made. Recipe was followed as written.

Macaroni and Cheese with Butternut Squash

Serves 6


1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
1 cup homemade or low-sodium canned chicken stock skimmed of fat
1 1/2 cups nonfat milk
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound elbow macaroni
4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, finely grated (1 ounce)
2 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon olive oil
Olive-oil, cooking spray
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine squash, stock, and milk in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Mash contents of saucepan; stir in nutmeg, cayenne, and salt, and season with black pepper. Stir to combine.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles; cook until al dente according to package instructions, about 8 minutes. Drain, and transfer to a large bowl; stir in squash mixture, cheddar, ricotta, and 2 tablespoons Parmesan.

Lightly coat a 9-inch square baking dish (4 inches deep) with cooking spray. Transfer noodle mixture to dish. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan, and oil; sprinkle evenly over noodle mixture.

Cover with foil, and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil, and continue baking until lightly browned and crisp on top, 30-40 minutes more. Serve immediately.

Source: Martha Stewart website. You can find it here.

Notes: No changes made.

Baked Mac and Cheese


4 1/2 cups (12 ounces) uncooked penne (tube-shaped pasta)
1 (12 ounce) carton 2% low-fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
3 tablespoons panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain; place in a large bowl.

Place cottage cheese in a food processor; process until smooth. Combine cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Add the cheese mixture to pasta, and stir well. Spoon mixture into an 11 x 7 inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Combine remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan, panko, and parsley in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over pasta mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.

Preheat broiler (do not remove dish from the oven). Broil pasta 1 minute or until top browns.

Nutrition information: Makes 6 (1 1/3 cup servings. 329 calories, 7.4 g fat, 191 g protein, 47 g carbs, 19 g fiber, 21 mg cholesterol, 2 mg iron, 455 mg sodium, 275 mg calcium.

Source: November 2011 Cooking Light. You can find it here.

Notes: The only change I made is that I used a full pound of penne pasta. I hate when you are asked to use less than a box of pasta. What am I going to do with 4 oz of pasta? Save it until you have 4 other boxes of the same kind of pasta that only called for 12 oz each? I added a teeny tiny bit more cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, and Parmesan cheese since I increased the amount of pasta. I also added salt and pepper, to taste (meaning, a lot more pepper than 1/8 teaspoon otherwise it is too bland for my tastes).

I also increased the panko to about 1/2 a cup.

I really liked this. It was very simple and kid pleasing. Very basic and ingredients that are easy to keep on hand at any time. I chose it, specifically, because I already had all the ingredients for it (except for the panko which I had just used up the week before). I would, however, add between 1/4 and 1/2 cup of milk to the sauce mixture to make it a little creamier next time around.

Family-Favorite Macaroni and Cheese


2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (7 ounces)
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup Gold Medal all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded or cubed Cheddar cheese (8 ounces)
1 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs (my touch, not part of the original recipe)


Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook macaroni as directed on package.

While macaroni is cooking, melt butter in 3 quart saucepan over low heat. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth, and bubble; remove from heat. Stir in milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in cheese. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cheese is melted.

Drain macaroni. Gently stir macaroni into cheese sauce. Pour into ungreased 2-quart casserole. Bake uncovered 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.

Fun variations: You can have fun with additional ingredients by adding in sliced black or green olives, bite-sized pieces of cooked vegetables, hot dogs, or cooked sausage. Or, you could add a 4-oz can of chopped green chiles for a spicier version.

Nutrition information: Serves 6 (that's using only 7 ounces of pasta). 400 calories, 22 g fat, 45 mg cholesterol, 560 mg sodium, 34 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 17 g protein.

Source: Betty Crocker website. You can find it here.

Notes: I doubled the recipe (again, don't ask me to use less than a whole box of pasta! Besides, leftovers always come in handy!). If I remember correctly, though, I didn't double the sauce exactly. I kept the amount of butter and flour the same (1/4 cup) and used 3 cups of milk and 3 cups of cheese...but I doubled the other sauce ingredients (salt, pepper, ground mustard, Worcestershire sauce).

I also added breadcrumbs because I like the added crunch and different texture that they add.

Mediterranean Macaroni and Cheese


Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
8 ounces elbow macaroni
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
8 ounces feta, crumbed


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Set a large pot of salted water to boil and butter an 8-inch square baking dish. In a small bowl, combine tomatoes, olives, and oregano.

Cook pasta 2 minutes less than package instructions; drain pasta and return to pot. Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium. Add garlic; cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Whisk in milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, whisking constantly, until sauce thickens, 3 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in ounces feta. stir in tomato mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Pour mixture over pasta; stir to combine. Pour pasta mixture into dish and top with 4 ounces feta. Bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese begins to brown, 20-25 minutes.

Source: Martha Stewart website. You can find it here.

Notes: Again, I doubled the recipe (I had a large crowd to feed and I wanted to use the whole bag of pasta).

The recipe mentioned that you can add canned tuna, browned ground meat, or cooked chicken when you stir in the feta, if you like. While I think those would be nice additions, they aren't necessary because this recipe is awesome without them.

Macaroni and Cheese


Coarse salt and ground pepper, to taste
1 pound elbow pasta, cooked and drained
4 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
4 cups milk
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded white cheddar cheese
8 ounces ham, diced into 1/2 inch pieces, optional
2 slices white sandwich bread


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta, and drain; reserve. Meanwhile, in a 5-quart heavy pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3-5 minutes. Whisk in flour to coat onion. In a slow steady stream, whisk in milk until there are no lumps.

Cook, whisking often, until mixture is thick and bubbly and coats the back of a wooden spoon, 6-8 minutes. Stir in cayenne, if using, and 1 cup each yellow and white cheddar cheese. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper (or to taste).

Toss pasta with cheese mixture; fold in ham, if using. Transfer to a 9x13 inch baking dish or individual dishes. Set aside.

In a food processor, pulse bread until large crumbs form. Toss together with remaining 1/4 cup each white and yellow cheddar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Top pasta with breadcrumb mixture. Bake until top is golden, about 30 minutes.

Recipe Notes: This recipe makes enough to fill eight 12-16 ounce baking dishes. Divide the macaroni and cheese evenly, sprinkle with topping, and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden. If you like, use just one type of cheddar or mix with another melting cheese, such as pepper Jack, Muenster, Swiss, or mozzarella.

Source: Martha Stewart Everyday Food recipe. You can find it here.

Serves 8.

Notes: I did not use the ham and I only used yellow cheddar cheese. I highly recommend using the cayenne pepper (even though it is listed in the ingredients as "optional"). It adds such a nice kick (though nothing overwhelming if you don't like spicy food).

Monday, November 7, 2011

So Continental...

That's not really a phrase that is used much these days. But if you watch movies from the 1930's or 1940's, it's actually used quite often. Saying "so continental" is referring to the continent of which Europe is a part. So, it's saying something like "that's so European" or calling something very up-scale or classy. Anyway, there's your fun fact for the day!

The following recipes have nothing in common with Europe. I'm pretty sure the recipes are American in origin. But they all contain the word "continental." In fact, they are all variations of basically the same recipe. The first is richer and a little more time-consuming to make while the second is easier and lighter. The third, and final, recipe is much more different than the first two...but it does have a few things in common.

The recipe with many variations of which I am speaking of is "Continental Chicken." Growing up, I always knew it as "Three Hour Chicken" because that's what my Mom always called it (even though I discovered just last year that it was always called "Continental Chicken" and "Three Hour Chicken" was just a name that she called it because we remembered it better that way when we were little).

I used to love this recipe and would request Three Hour Chicken for all of my birthday dinners. I still really enjoy it, but now that I'm older and have to watch my calories more, I don't make it as often. The last time my Mom made it, she halved the chicken breasts and I really think that was the perfect thing to do. It is such a rich dish that most likely you'll only want (or need) to eat half a chicken breast anyway.

The second version of this recipe is a slow cooker version I found on It's a great, quick, satisfying, and lighter version. It is very similar, but it omits the bacon called for in the other recipe. However, if you can't do without the bacon, I would suggest making and crumbling some bacon separately and sprinkling it over the finished dish (if you put the bacon in the slow cooker it might just become mushy, but then again, I've never tested it, so I don't really know exactly what the result would be).

At any rate, you've got to love a main dish that incorporates three different types of meat! Chicken, beef, and pork all in one dish? It's crazy, but it works.

Serve the chicken along with a baked potato (or twice baked potato, if you have the time--I will post our recipe for twice baked potatoes at a later time) and a salad and you'll have a very nice meal indeed.

Also, maybe another reason my Mom called the first recipe "Three Hour Chicken" is because she had another recipe called "Continental Chicken" that was a little different. It helped us kids differentiate between the two so that we really knew what was for dinner. It didn't call for the bacon or dried beef and it added rice. It's an old favorite as well (my Mom loves her rice!), so I'll post that recipe at the bottom (though I don't have a picture of it).

I hope you like them.

Continental Chicken (aka Three Hour Chicken)


4 chicken breasts
1 small jar of dried beef
8 slices of bacon
1 can cream of mushroom soup (cream of chicken soup can be used, if you prefer)
1 cup sour cream


Wrap bacon around chicken and secure. Line a 9x13 baking pan with dried beef. Put chicken on top of beef. Mix sour cream and soup and pour over chicken. Bake at 375 degrees for 3 hours

Source: This came from an old cookbook that my Mom had. It was either a Pillsbury, Campbell's or Betty Crocker recipe, but I really can't remember which one exactly.

Notes: You can find jars of dried beef near the canned tuna fish. I prefer cream of mushroom soup in this recipe, but if that's not what you have in your cupboard, you can easily substitute cream of chicken soup.

This recipe isn't going to win any beauty contests any time soon, but it is soooo tasty!

Slow Cooker Chicken Continental


2 (8 oz) jars of dried beef
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 cup sour cream
1 (10.75 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup all-purpose flour


Lightly grease slow cooker and line with dried beef. Place 3 chicken breasts in the slow cooker. In a mixing bowl, stir together sour cream, soup, and flour; pour half of the mixture over the chicken. Layer with the dried beef and last 3 chicken breasts. Top with remaining sour cream mixture and finally the last of the dried beef.

Cook in a slow cooker on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

Source:, submitted by JTWCO. You can find it here.

Notes: I don't think you need two jars of dried beef. I personally think that 1 jar is enough (it's pretty salty stuff). But that is up to you!

Continental Chicken with Rice


2 whole chicken breasts, split
1 can (4 oz) sliced mushrooms
2 tbsp butter or margarine
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp parsley
1 1/2 cups quick cooking rice


In skillet, brown chicken and mushrooms in butter. Stir in soup, water, parsley, and pepper, to taste. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in rice. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Stir often.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: I don't know. My guess is that my Mom found this one in a recipe similar to the one where she found the other Chicken Continental recipe.

Notes: "Quick cooking rice" doesn't mean that you have to use minute rice. It just means that you won't be able to substitute something like brown rice (which takes 40-50 minutes to cook).

This is a very simple, pantry friendly, comfort food type of recipe. Nothing elaborate...but a good recipe to have on hand. It's great because you have the main dish and a side dish cooked all in one. So, just add some veggies and you're set!