Sunday, April 23, 2017

Dump and Stir Corn and Bean Salad

I call this a salad, but it can serve as the starch for a meal. I love the tastes, and I rejoice in the fact that in the summer you can prepare it from farmers market fresh items, but, in the winter, it is nearly as good with canned or frozen ingredients.

The name stems from the fact I often contribute this dish to potlucks.  When I do so, I put the individual ingredients in baggies When I arrive, I dump the ingredients in the service vessel with the spices and dressing and stir the mixture well. That way the salad tastes more fresh.

I suggest you follow the recipe one time and then modify the salad to fit your own taste. For example, 3 or 4 shakes of Sriracha would add a serious bite you might prefer.


2 cups firm cooked beans or peas (black, pinto, black eyed, lady, field, red kidney) thoroughly rinsed.
2 cups corn (try grilling whole ears and adding the charred kernels)
1 cup seeded and diced tomato (in the winter, halve or quarter cherry tomatoes)
1/2 cup seeded and diced sweet pepper
1/2 cup diced cucumber (if using grocery store cucumbers, peel and seed them)
1/2 bunch green onions, sliced in 1/4 inch rings
2 radishes, sliced thin
1 medium small jalapeno, seeded and small diced
optional: 1/4 cup minced cilantro leaves
optional: one small squash or zucchini, diced
spice blend:
   1 teaspoon chili powder
   1 teaspoon salt
   1 teaspoon garlic powder
   1/2 teaspoon cumin

   Juice of 1 or 2 lemons


Dump the beans and all the vegetables in the service vessel. Add the spice blend to the lemon juice and stir well to mix.  Add it to the salad. Stir the mixture well. Taste and add the remaining spice if desired. The salad may also require additional salt and/or lemon as well.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Revisiting, Revising and Reviving a 1960's classic, Chicken Divan

This is another of those dishes featured on Kraft and Campbell soup labels and television advertisements in the 1960's. It really was not bad, but it never was all it could be. One of its selling points was that it made a great way to use leftover chicken, especially those dry and unappetizing white meat bits. Nancy's mother managed to acquire and use a variation on the standard, and after we were married, she made a batch for the family. I liked it!

Coming forward to now, we have tweeked the recipe several different ways. In this form, the dish deserves front and center at a meal where you want to impress. And that includes those high stakes potlucks at church where your reputation may be on the line. And it still has the blessing of using leftover chicken (whether you roasted it yourself or bought a rotisserie bird at the store).


2 to 3 cups diced boneless leftover roasted chicken

2 small heads broccoli, florets removed and blanched, and cut to bite size pieces*
2 cups basmati rice
5 cups chicken broth, divided
2 Tbs. minced parsley
1 clove garlic minced or pressed
2 Tbs. EVOO
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups milk
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

2 Tbs. yellow mustard
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. ground mustard powder
2  Tbs. curry powder
2 - 4 squirts sriracha
salt and pepper
spray grease


For the Rice:

In a six cup sauce pan with lid, heat 2 Tbs. EVOO over medium heat and add the rice.
Toast the rice for 2 to 4 minutes, but do not allow the rice to brown. Add 3 cups of chicken broth, a large pinch of salt and some pepper, the parsley, and the garlic, and bring the mixture to a boil and cover. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and simmer for 16 minutes. When the time expires, turn off the heat without uncovering the pot and allow it to rest more than 20 minutes.

For the Sauce:

Melt the butter in a saute or other pan over medium low heat and add the flour and a pinch of salt. Cook the flour in the butter, stirring constantly, for 2 to 4 minutes. Do not let the mixture brown. Add the remaining chicken broth and use a whisk to blend the liquid and solids. Just as the sauce mixture begins to bubble, add the mustard and the lemon juice. Whisk well. Add the mustard powder and curry powder. Whisk in well. Add the sriracha and whisk in well. Add the milk and whisk in well.

When the sauce begins to make small bubbles, taste and adjust salt and other spices. Add the cheese and whisk constantly as the cheese melts. Turn off the heat and allow the sauce to rest as you layer the ingredients.


Set the oven to 350 degrees.

Spray grease a 9 X 13 casserole dish. Spread the rice evenly in the casserole. 

Spread the chicken over the rice. 

Cover the rice and chicken with the broccoli florets.

Spread the cheese sauce over the casserole.

Bake for 30 minutes to bubbling stage.

* Blanching broccoli: Cut the florets from the head. Bring a large pot of salty water to a rolling boil. Add the broccoli to the pot. When the pot returns to the boil, remove the broccoli and plunge it in ice water to stop the cooking.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Frank Stitt's Low Country Red Rice with Shrimp

One of my lovely daughters gave me a cook book by Frank Stitts. Many of the recipes are outstanding! This is one of our favorites.


2 cups peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes, juices reserved.
one onion diced
1 gold or red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 poblano or banana pepper, seeded and diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup reserved tomato juices
1 cup basmati rice
1/4 pound bacon
1 pound peeled raw shrimp
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon thyme
5 green onions chopped in thin rings
1 lemon


Drain the tomatoes in a sieve or colander set over a bowl to catch their juices; set juices aside.

In a large Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until it is beginning to crisp; with a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain.

Return Dutch oven of drippings to the stove; add the onion, bell pepper, and celery; saute until softened, about 10 minutes (add a little oil if the bacon fat seems insufficient).

Add the jalapeno, poblano, tomatoes, bay leaves, and thyme to the pot; season with salt and pepper to taste; simmer for about 10 minutes, until the peppers have softened.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the broth with a scant 3/4 cup of the reserved tomato juices (discard any remaining juice) and add salt to taste.

Bring to a simmer; add the rice, return to a simmer, and stir a few times.

Decrease heat to the lowest setting, cover, and cook until the rice is tender, about 16 minutes. Leave cover on and allow the rice to sit for 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the shrimp to the rice and add the mix to the vegetable mixture, along with the bacon; stir and allow to sit, covered, for 10 minutes; taste for seasonings.

Stir in the scallions, (or basil), and a big squeeze of lemon; serve immediately.