Hey there ladies! Howdy from Atlanta! Here is this week’s Common Meal. The main dish is Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Spaghetti. If you haven’t made this already, it really is a wonderful recipe and not to mention, it is very convenient for a group gathering. Convenient and good wins brownie points. I am listing two desserts to choose between: Barefoot Contessa’s Apple Crostata and Kimberly Meyer’s Banana Pudding. Kimberly Meyer is a super-employee at Living Proof and when I first tried her banana pudding, I passed out in ecstasy. Both desserts are wonderful, but obviously with the banana pudding, you won’t have to roll out a pie crust. And lastly, because I love you ladies with my whole heart, I want to add something for those meeting around brunch or lunch-time (in place of the Chicken Spaghetti). I am adding my favorite Mini Cucumber Sandwich recipe. I must admit that I am a sucker for Cucumber Sandwiches. I don’t particularly enjoy bridal showers but one thing I always look forward to is the Cucumber Sandwiches. As soon as the hostesses start making us play games like pin-the-tail-on the-Groom, I run to the Cucumber Sandwich Table. And if there aren’t Cucumber Sandwiches, I find my way to the exit door. A fun fact for you: when I got married a few months ago, I requested to have zero bridal showers thrown for me. No, I am not anti-social, I simply have played one too many bridal shower games. Enough banter…on to the recipes!!!
Pioneer Woman Chicken Spaghetti
2 cups cooked Chicken
2 cans Cream of Mushroom Soup
2 cups Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/4 cup finely diced Green Pepper
1/2 cup finely diced Onion
1-4 oz jar diced Pimientos, drained
3 cups dry Spaghetti, broken into two inch pieces
2 cups reserved Chicken Broth (from pot)
1 teaspoon Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 additional cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (for the top of the casserole)
Cook 1 cut up fryer and pick enough meat off the bones to make two cups. Cook spaghetti in same chicken broth until al dente. Do not overcook. When spaghetti is cooked, combine with remaining ingredients except additional 1 cup sharp cheddar. Place mixture in casserole pan and top with remaining sharp cheddar. Cover and freeze up to six months, cover and refrigerate up to two days, or bake immediately: 350 degrees for 45 minutes until bubbly. (If the cheese on top starts to get too cooked, cover with foil)
What sets this recipe above the average chicken spaghetti recipe is that 1) the spaghetti is cooked in the chicken broth not water 2) the chicken broth is not from a can but is reserved from the actual pot the chicken was boiled in. In my opinion, this recipe lacks without these two elements. The chicken spaghetti feeds approximately 6 people.
Apple Crostata (Barefoot Contessa Parties!)
For the pastry:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated or superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 pound (1 stick) very cold unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons ice water
For the filling:
1 1/2 pounds McIntosh, Macoun, or Empire apples (3 large)
1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup granulated or superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
For the pastry, place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse 12 to 15 times, or until the butter is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water all at once through the feed tube. Keep hitting the pulse button to combine, but stop the machine just before the dough becomes a solid mass. Turn the dough onto a well-floured board and form into a disk. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Flour a rolling pin and roll the pastry into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer it to a baking sheet.
For the filling, peel, core, and cut the apples into 8ths. Cut each wedge into 3 chunks. Toss the chunks with the orange zest. Cover the tart dough with the apple chunks leaving a 1 1/2-inch border.
Combine the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and allspice in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Pour into a bowl and rub it with your fingers until it starts holding together. Sprinkle evenly on the apples. Gently fold the border over the apples to enclose the dough, pleating it to make a circle.
Bake the crostata for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is golden and the apples are tender. Allow to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Melissa’s Notes: This is what some call a “free-form” tart or galette, which means simply that it isn’t baked with the support of a pie-dish or tart-pan. You just fold the 1 1/2 inch border up and crinkle it in about two inch intervals, to partially cover the fruit and then bake it straight on a baking-sheet. Try looking at pictures of similar recipes online if you have never made anything like this before. I think that this dough is pretty forgiving, though. I have made it numerous times and even when I think the dough has failed, it ends up tasting flawless.
Kimberly Meyer’s Banana Pudding
(seriously, it has the ability to change your life)
5 Bananas, sliced
1 14 oz Can Eagle Brand (Sweetened Condensed Milk)
1 Large Cool Whip
1 Large Instant Vanilla Pudding
3 Cups Whole Milk
1 Box of Vanilla Wafers
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Trifle Bowl or a REALLY deep dish (much prettier in a trifle bowl)
-Put entire box of Vanilla Wafers on the bottom of a deep dish.
-Take can of Eagle Brand, 1 tsp. of Vanilla Extract & ½ of the large carton of Cool Whip and blend it all together.
-In a second bowl, mix instant vanilla pudding & 3 cups of Milk.
-Fold the two mixes together by hand (the pudding mix & Eagle Brand mix)
-Pour HALF of this mixture on the layer of wafers
-Put all of the sliced bananas on top of the layer of pudding mixture
-Put the other half of the pudding mixture on top of the sliced bananas
-Finish with the other half of the Cool Whip on top.
– Chill and Serve!
I have found that this recipe makes a bit too much pudding mixture, so when I get to the step after layering the sliced bananas, I do not use the entire other half of the pudding mixture. Since I don’t like for it to be too sweet, I use a little over ¼ of it. Just make sure you taste it, and modify it according to your desires.
Mini Cucumber Sandwiches
Recipe from “Southern Entertaining for a New Generation” by Rebecca Lang
1 8-oz package Cream Cheese, Softened
¼ cup of Sour Cream
¼ teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon fresh chopped Dill
¼ cup finely diced sweet Onion
20 thinly sliced white sandwich bread slices
1 Large English Cucumber (seedless cucumbers) or 2 Cucumbers, thinly sliced
20 thinly sliced wheat sandwich bread slices
-In a medium mixing bowl stir the cream cheese and sour cream until smooth. Add the salt, dill, and diced onion.
-Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the white bread slices. Top the cream cheese mixture with one slice of cucumber, then top with the wheat bread slices.
-Slice the sandwiches in half diagonally or cut with your favorite cookie or biscuit cutter.
-Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container up to 3 hours before serving.
-Makes 20 Servings.
I buy Pepperidge Farm “Very Thin Sliced” bread in the bread section of the grocery store. This brand has both white and wheat varieties and they fit perfectly together for this recipe (buy one loaf of wheat and one loaf of white) Sometimes I add one really thin slice of turkey if I am serving them around lunch-time. Using a really sharp cookie-cutter or a biscuit cutter makes them look the prettiest!
Until next time….Bon Appetit!