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 🙂

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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.

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

To Taste: Catfish & Shrimp Po’Boys

Last Sunday, the Colts took on the Saints for Superbowl XLIV. I wanted to cook up a dinner in the spirit of the game, but even though we were rooting for Peyton Manning to pull out a win, there’s not much to say about the cuisine of Indiana. Dre suggested a New Orleans flair and requested Po’Boy sammies. We had just gotten thru the first round of Snowpocalypse 2010 and it was a slow, slippery trip to Acme to pick up the rest of the supplies.

Thank goodness for Dre! He found the Green Bean under 28"+ of snow!

I’m still very much in the honeymoon stage with my new Deep Fryer, so I was excited to fry again! I defrosted (2) Catfish fillets & a half dozen U20 Shrimp, rolled them in Cornmeal Flour seasoned with Tony Chachere’s, dipped them in milk, and rolled them in the Cornmeal mixture again for a double layer of flavor & crisp. The Catfish & Shrimp fried up perfectly in only about 5 minutes!

Cornmeal Crusted Catfish Fillet

You can’t make a Po’Boy sandwich without a delicious Remoulade to spread on your roll. I deferred to Emeril’s recipe and pretty much followed it exactly (which is a rarity for me!). The batch ended up being WAY more than we needed for our sammies, and I certainly wished I had cut the recipe in half until I realized I’d have a delicious spread for other sammies all week. I ended up using it on a Griddled Ham, Turkey, & Swiss Sandwich for dinner Tuesday night and on a Ham, Egg, & Swiss Sandwich on a leftover long roll for my snow day breakfast. It was perfectly creamy & spicy with LOTS of flavor!

Spicy Remoulade w/ Shallots, Celery, & Green Onion

I discovered some amazing fresh long rolls from the corner store when picking up salt for the sidewalks.  They were no Louisiane French Bread, but were soft & crusty. We split them, spread them with the Spicy Remoulade, and topped them with Romaine, Roma Tomatoes, and our Fried Catfish & Shrimp. Dre prepared Zatarain’s Dirty Rice to pair with our Po’Boys for a perfect New Orleans dinner. Way to go Saints!

Shrimp on our Superbowl Po'Boy Sandwiches

CATFISH & SHRIMP PO’BOY SANDWICHES w/ SPICY REMOULADE

  • Cajun Fried Catfish & Shrimp
  • Emeril’s Remoulade Sauce
  • Romaine Lettuce, Sliced Roma Tomatoes, & Crusty French Bread
  1. Split French Bread or long roll and spread Remoulade Sauce on both sides.
  2. Add Lettuce & Tomato Slices and top with the fried Catfish & Shrimp
  3. Enjoy!

Cajun Fried Catfish & Shrimp

Prepared for (2) people

  • Catfish Fillets – (2) whole fillets – rinsed, patted dry, & cut in half
  • U20-25 Raw Shrimp – (6-8) – de-veined, de-shelled, & de-legged
  • Cornmeal Flour – (1.5) cups
  • Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning – (3) T
  • Milk – (1.5) cups – you choice on fat level & use buttermilk if you have it!
  1. Pre-heat deep-fryer or pot of oil to about 350 degrees. Set prepared Catfish & Shrimp aside.
  2. Combine Cornmeal Flour & Tony Chachere’s in a bowl and then spread evenly on a plate.
  3. Lay Catfish Fillets on seasoned Cornmeal mixture and flip to coat each side. Dip each fillet in a bowl of milk and return to Cornmeal mixture to coat again.
  4. Drop coated Catfish filets into hot oil and allow to cook for 5-8 minutes. While cooking, prepare the Shrimp with the same coat with Cornmeal then dip in milk then coat in Cornmeal process.
  5. Remove Catfish once crispy and drain on paper towels. Make sure the oil comes back up to temperature and drop in coated Shrimp. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, until crispy. Drain.

Emeril’s Remoulade Sauce

Makes about 1.5 cups from Emerils.com

  • Mayonnaise – (1) cup – prepared or homemade
  • Ketchup – (3) T
  • Creole Mustard – (3) T – I used Inglehoffer’s Original Stone Ground Mustard
  • Hot Sauce – (1) tsp – I used sriracha, but any kind you’d like works fine.
  • Celery – (1) T – julienne, then minced
  • Shallots – (1) T – minced
  • Garlic – (1/2) tsp, minced
  • Green Onion – (2) T, minced
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper – to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  2. Chill in fridge at least 15 minutes or until you are ready to use.

Catfish & Shrimp Po'Boy w/ Dirty Rice

@ Sunshine’s: Swedish Meatballs, French Blue Salad, & Curvy Girl Vintage

After a long Wedding Open House at work, I made my up to Fishtown to visit my favorite vintage-crafty fashionista, Sunshine. She recruited me to model some fun vintage clothes for her blog, Blog Full of Jelly, and her Etsy shop, bubblepipe. My favorite was a 1940s German Black Wool Dirndil with ruffled detail that I may have to scoop up for myself! I can def see myself rocking it on a long-overdue visit to my birthplace.

German Black Wool Dirndil

Sunshine’s a great cook, too, so I was pretty pumped to hear she was making Swedish Meatballs. Why so pumped you ask?

A. None of my regular dinner guests eat red meat (except for a burger here and there)

B. Dre refuses to eat meat in the form of a ball (or loaf for that matter!)

Swedish Meatballs a la Sunshine

She paired the meatballs with some crusty bread, rye toasts, and, what I coined, her French Blue Salad. Simply enough, it’s blue cheese crumbles mixed with French dressing over Bibb lettuce. Sooo good and so on my list of regular salad preparations. Tuning into the retro ambiance of her amazing home, our dinner was served on vintage TV trays as we enjoyed classic Simpsons episodes, orange-y cocktails, & each others company!

Swedish Meatballs & French Blue Salad

P.S. I left Sunshine with a pint of Cream of Asparugus Soup that she enjoyed the next day with the rye toasts and French Blue Salad for a Leftover Lightning! of her own.

To Taste: Sautéed Brussels Sprouts

A tiny cabbage bloom on top of my Brussels sprout stalk.

I was pretty stoked when I came across full stalks of Brussels Sprouts! They were about 2.5 feet long with about 40 fresh tiny little cabbage heads. I appreciated their natural state and minimal packaging, plus, they’re in season! I think Brussels Sprouts  are delicious and am on a quest to erase the stigma they have.  If you’ve had them (or haven’t) and claim you don’t like them, it’s probably because they weren’t made with enough love. Many a friend can attest to me forcing my yummy Brussels Sprouts on them, and just as many will admit that they enjoyed them. I make sure to enhance my Brussels Sprouts with Worcestershire, Sauce Garlic, Shallots, Bacon, Sriracha, Fresh Ground Pepper, Chicken Stock & Love and sauté them to a tender caramelized finish.

Brussels Sprouts, sautéed & simmered

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts

  • Fresh Brussels Sprouts – about 20 or so
  • Minced Garlic – (2) T
  • Shallot – (1) bulb – peeled & minced
  • Bacon – (2-3) pieces, cooked & crumbled
  • Worcestershire Sauce – (1) tsp
  • Sriracha – (1) tsp or a quick swirl
  • Chicken Stock – (1) cup
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh Ground Pepper – to taste
  1. Rinse Brussels Sprouts, remove any browned out leaves, & cut in half lengthwise.
  2. Heat pan on Med-Hi and coat with Olive Oil.
  3. Add Garlic & Onion and cook about 4-5 min, until tender & aromatic
  4. Add Brussels Sprouts to pan and sauté 10-15min, tossing regularly until caramelized
  5. Add Bacon, Worcestershire, Sriracha, Pepper, & Chicken Stock. Sitr & bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce to Med-Low. Simmer until liquid reduces to a minimal amount and sprouts are tender.
  7. Tell me you don’t think they’re delicious!