To Taste: Grandma’s Chicken Divan

I grew up with the luck of enjoying my Grandma’s home-cooked dinners every night. My favorite of her dishes was the Chicken Divan – a casserole of broccoli, pulled chicken, & a cheesy sauce. If she wasn’t making it fresh for dinner, she was always sure to have portions frozen to indulge my divan requests. Not too long ago, I finally convinced her to share her recipe.

Grandma's Chicken Divan

We had a serious surplus of broccoli in the fridge so I had to get creative with ways to get rid of it. A giant casserole of my Grandma’s Chicken Divan seemed perfect. The first direction on the recipe was to blanch broccoli and layer it in a greased casserole.

Broccoli Base

I thawed half a chicken worth of white & dark meal STILL hanging out from my Rustic Roasted Chicken dinner. I can’t believe how many Leftover Lightning! meals came out of it!. I pulled it & layered it on top of the broccoli.

Pulled Chicken layered on the Broccoli Base

I was missing some ingredients from the next step, so I improvised with what my pantry staples could offer. I only had (1) can of Cream of Broccoli & Cheese Soup, so I combined it with mayo, lemon juice, & some water to loosen it up. Grandma’s recipe called for smoked paprika, but all I could dig out was some chili powder. My spice cabinet is really a disaster right now. Once the cheesy mixture was combined, I spread it on top of the pulled chicken & broccoli layers.

Cheesy Soup Blend over Pulled Chicken over the Broccoli Base for Chicken Divan

I melted some butter, combined it with seasoned bread crumbs, & sprinkled it over the whole casserole.

Breadcrumbs over the Cheesy Mixture over Pulled Chicken over the Broccoli Base

And then I realized I missed a step in the recipe. What’s new. But this was an important step. The CHEESE! How could I FORGET THE CHEESE? I quickly shredded mild & sharp cheddar cheeses and had no choice but to layer it on top of the breadcrumbs. It was only a minor mistake, just a good thing that I caught it. The casserole looked & tasted so delicious. I know I did my Grandma’s recipe proud!

Grandma's Chicken Divan

P.S. Follow along with my steps & feel free to recreate, but my Grandma’s actual recipe will remain a secret among family 🙂

To Taste: Baked Toni

I prefer to cook what my dinner guest craves, so I indulged Dre’s request for baked ziti. I was low on spaghetti sauce and had some veggies that needed to be eaten. I blanched broccoli florets, sauteed mushrooms, onions, & garlic, opened a large can of crushed tomatoes, and warmed them together with seasonings in a saucepan.

Fat Rigatoni

While the sauce simmered, I decided on large rigatoni and boiled them until al dente in salted water. I like fat noodles when making baked pasta dishes as they tend to fill with your sauce when tossed. The jumbo macaronis for my Smokey Bacon Mac & Cheese worked great! I folded ricotta cheese & shredded mozzarella into the warm sauce, tossed it with the cooked rigatoni, and dumped it into a greased casserole. Once the sliced mozzarella I tiled on top began to brown & bubble, I pulled it from the over and served Dre a big, hot scoop of Baked Toni.

Baked Toni

Baked Toni

  • Crushed Tomatoes – (1) large can
  • Broccoli – (0.5) head, trimmed into small florets & blanched
  • Mushrooms – (1) cup, sliced
  • Garlic – (1) T, minced
  • Onion – (1) medium, sliced thin
  • Dried Basil – (1) T
  • Red Pepper Flakes – (1) tsp
  • S&P – to taste
  • Ricotta – (1.5) cups, part skim
  • Shredded Mozzarella – (1) cup, low moisture – part skim
  • Fresh Mozzarella – (6) oz, sliced (or enough to cover most of the dish)
  • Grated Parmesan – to taste
  • Rigatoni – (1) lb, cooked al dente & tossed w/ olive oil
  • Olive Oil – as needed
  1. Heat about (2) T of Olive Oil in a saute pan. Add garlic & onion and cook until caramelized, about (5) min.
  2. Add mushrooms & saute until browned on both sides, about (3) min per side.
  3. Dump entire contents of the canned crushed tomatoes into a sauce pan. Add cooked mushrooms mixture, blanched broccoli, dried basil, red pepper flakes, and S&P. Stir and bring to a simmer.
  4. While sauce simmers, bring a large stockpot of salted water to a rolling boil. Cook rigatoni until al dente, about (10-12) min.
  5. Drain rigatoni and return to stock pot. Add a bit of olive oil & toss to prevent sticking.
  6. Remove sauce from the heat and dump into a large mixing bowl.
  7. Fold in ricotta & shredded mozzarella cheeses unti combine.
  8. Add rigatoni and toss to coat completely.
  9. Pour the rigatoni & sauce mixture into a greased casserole dish.
  10. Tile sliced fresh mozzarella on top.
  11. Bake at 350 degrees for (25) min or until the cheese is browned & the casserole is bubbling.
  12. Let cool for about (3) min and serve with grated parmesan cheese.

Leftover Lightning! Sunny Fried Chicken Breakfast Wrap! A la Dre!

Wow, I’m one lucky girl! Dre made me a delcious breakfast two days in one week. First, were his savory Bacon, Egg, & Gruyère Toast Cups for our VDay breakfast. This time around, he embarked on a Leftover Lightning! adventure of his own. He sauteed red bell peppers & onions and scrambled them in eggs, melting the sliced Gruyère atop the last two whole wheat tortillas. He finished the wrap with crispy bacon & leftover fried chicken breasts from his VDay Dinner for another sunny breakfast a la Dre ❤

Sunny Fried Chicken Breakfast Wrap

VDay Sweet: Lemon Buttermilk Cake – Cream Cheese Icing & Lemon Curd Filling

I ❤ U Lemon Buttermilk Cake

I have a hard time following recipes. I prefer to peruse a few different versions and just go for it. That, obviously, is why I rarely bake. Since Dre made me a delicious breakfast in bed & an impressive dinner, I decided I’d whip up whatever flavor of cake the he wanted. I looked up a recipe for Lemon Cake & came across Martha Stewart’s Fluffy Lemon Buttermilk Cake. I carefully measured each ingredient & set up a mise en place to take a pic of them all…

Lemon Cake Ingredients

… and then I realized I had already ignored the first two instructions. I had mixed ALL the dry ingredient together, including the sugar. Thus, there would be no creaming of the butter & sugar and then no folding in the flour, baking powder, & salt. I couldn’t give up so I figured I’d see how things would turn out if I just went for it. I creamed just the butter in my stand mixer and added in the eggs, vanilla, & lemon zest.  I then folded in the dry mix & buttermilk for a smooth, lemony batter. After about 25 min in the oven, I had successfully baked one 9″ layer of my lemon cake (recipe or not!).

Lemon Cake Layer

While the second layer was baking, I made my first attempt at lemon curd from the Joy of Baking’s recipe. It was really easy and the perfect filling for my cake!

Lemon Curd Filling

While the lemon curd set in the fridge, I worked on a simple Cream Cheese Frosting. I whipped together (1) pkg of cream cheese & (1) stick of butter, both room temp. Once smooth, I added in powdered sugar, scraping the bowl & whipping to a smooth finish in my Cuisinart stand mixer.

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

So in the end, persevering after a little mistake turned into a delicious lemon cake. It was moist with a dense crumb cake consistency. The tart lemon curd filling & sweet & creamy frosting blended for a perfect end to our Valentine’s Day!

I ❤ U

Vday Lemon Buttermilk Cake

VDay Din: Fried Chicken Cordon Bleu, Tarragon Dijonnaise, & Champagne-Asparagus Risotto a la Dre <3

Dre always has a plan. He had a shopping list prepared for our grocery trip, did prep work Saturday night, and researched recipes for cooking on Sunday. I dig that kind of organization in a man.

The breakfast he made me was amazing, so I was looking forward to the dinner on Dre’s Vday menu. I was especially impressed with his ambition. Saturday night, Dre trimmed chicken breasts & marinated them in a habanero-buttermilk mixture. We both almost choked to death, not realizing how crazy hot those peppers are!

On Sunday, Dre seasoned & double-breading the breasts before frying them to perfection in my Cool Daddy. He topped them with crisped slices of prosciutto & Jarlsberg Swiss cheese, paired them with his homemade Tarragon Dijonnaise, and proudly declared it fried chicken cordon bleu!

On our shopping excursion, Dre picked up a bottle of champagne. After no mimosas for brunch, I got curious about it’s part in our Vday. Little did I know, but not only was Dre making a creamy batch of risotto, he was perfecting it with the bubbly and some fresh asparagus. I’m so proud of my Valentine!

Fried Chicken Cordon Bleu, Tarragon Dijonnaise, & Champagne-Asparagus Risotto

Vday Bfast: Bacon, Egg, & Gruyère Toast Cups a la Dre <3

I’m the one who does a vast majority of the cooking, so I was excited to hear that Dre planned to make me breakfast AND dinner on Valentine’s Day. Sunday is the only day that we both have off (may it be school or work eating up our time), so my only Vday wish was to spend the day together. In the morn, I stayed in bed watching whatever crappy TV I wanted while Dre got to cooking. About an hour into his kitchen session, love was in the air! I smelled something delicious!

Trio of Breakfast Toast Cups

That delicious something was breakfast delivered in a perfect package of love. Dre presented me with a charming trio of whole wheat bread cups baked full of eggs, turkey bacon, & gruyere and perfectly seasoned with S&P. All that was leftover was a bed full of crumbs, but I loved every bite.

Breakfast Toast Cups w/ Creamy Yolk, Turkey Bacon, & Gruyère

Leftover Lightning! Roasted Chicken Sammie & Rustic Vegetable Soup!

I had to work this past Saturday and needed a warm lunch before I headed out into the cold. I still have alot of leftover chicken from Thursday (and still do) and plenty of the roasted vegetables, too. Pulled chicken breast, lettuce, & mayo on sliced bread is in my top 10 favorite sandwiches, so that was an easy leftover solution.

The veggies were kinda gelatinous and freaking me out a bit, so I quickly removed the chicken and began heating the pan of veggies on the stove. I wasn’t too excited about a sammie with a side of roasted vegetables, so a roasted vegetable soup only made sense. I dug out my Grandma’s 70’s Era Cuisinart Food Processor, and after indulging its typical neediness, whirled the roasted vegetables and pan jus into a wonderfully tasty and perfectly textured Rustic Vegetable Soup… and I still have plenty of leftovers…

Homemade Rustic Vegetable Soup w/ a Roasted Chicken Sammie

P.S. I gave a shoutout on my Twitter – Re:  Dating & finding info on my Grandma’s old Cusinart Food Processor. Please shoot me a message if you can help!

My Grandma's 70s Era Cuisinart Food Processor