Saturday, April 19, 2014

Luncheon Recipes

Southwestern Chicken Barley Chili
YIELD: SERVES 6-8 by Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Note: in anticipation of the questions, yes, I think this would freeze very well, even though it might be ultra-thick when reheated (simply add some chicken broth or water to thin). Also, I think it would fare quite well in the slow cooker, adding the first set of ingredients (perhaps all??) to the slow cooker and cooking on low for about 7 hours and then adding in the corn and beans (if you didn’t throw them in first) for the last hour.

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (16-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup medium barley (not quick cooking)
4 cups water
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
dash cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into bite-size pieces
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
Garnishes: shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, sliced green onions, tortilla chips

In a large pot (about 6-quarts), combine the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, barley, water, chili powder, cumin, dried oregano and cayenne (if using). Stir well. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat and add the chicken. Stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer the chili for 40 minutes, until the barley is tender and chewy and the chicken is no longer pink. Stir occasionally, while it simmers to prevent sticking and to make sure it stays at a steady simmer. After 40 minutes, add the beans and corn. Stir to combine and simmer for five more minutes. Serve the chili with optional garnishes, if desired.
The chili will thicken considerably upon cooling. Add chicken broth or water as needed to achieve a desirable consistency (especially if reheating the leftovers).

Sugar Cookie Bars
YIELD: MAKES 9X13-INCH PAN OF BARS by Mel's Kitchen Cafe

3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened to cool room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon lemon zest (optional)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk or cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sprinkles (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, granulated sugar and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until combined.
Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Press and/or spread the sugar cookie mixture gently into an even layer into the bottom of the pan.
Bake for 10-13 minutes. Don't overbake! The bars shouldn't have any color around the edges and barely be set in the middle. Let the bars cool completely before frosting.
For the frosting, cream together the butter and powdered sugar until smooth (if the mixture has trouble coming together, add a drop or two of milk). Add in the vanilla and mix. Add the milk or cream and mix until the frosting is light and fluffy. Add food coloring, if desired.

Cream of Broccoli-Cheese Soup

Yield: 10 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

½ cup butter
 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
 4 cups milk
 2 cups half-and-half
 4 heads broccoli, stems removed and discarded, and florets cut into bite-size pieces
 Pinch of nutmeg
 12 ounces medium or sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 3 cups)
 1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
 2 cups chicken broth

1.  Rinse broccoli with cold water, cut, and put cut tops in microwavable dish, add 1/4 c water, put plastic wrap over and microwave for 4 minutes.

2. Finely chop onions.  In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and add the onions.  Sauté for 5 to 6 minutes until they begin to soften, stirring frequently with wooden spoon.

3.Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir to combine, cooking for about 1 minute. Turn off heat.  Measure milk and half and half all into one bowl.  Turn heat back on and pour in about 1-2 cups of the milk mixture (doesn't need to be exact) stirring with a whisk while you do this.  Continue stirring constantly until smooth--adding more milk if it becomes too thick to stir.  When it's smooth, slowly stir in the rest of the milk along with the half and half. Continue to stir milk mixture constantly until it comes to a boil.  Boil for 1 1/2 min. then turn down to lowest setting. 

4. Add the nutmeg, broccoli, salt, and black pepper.

5.  Take about 2 c of soup mixture and half of broccoli pieces and put in blender.  Cover with lid loosely.  (The heat builds up pressure on lid, so hold it on loosely.)  Blend on low for about 5 sec.  Pour back in soup and mix. 

6. Add the cheese a handful at a time, stirring to melt the cheese after each addition.
Finally, whisk in the broth, and re-warm over low heat if needed, and serve.

Lemon Bars

2 c. flour
1 c. butter
1/2 c. powdered sugar

2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
3-4 eggs
1/4 c. flour
1/3 c. lemon juice

For Crust
Sift flour and powdered sugar. Cut in butter. The mixture will cling together. Press into a 9x11x2" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes

For Filling
Beat together eggs, sugar, and lemon juice. Add 1/4 C flour and baking powder. Pour mixture over crust and bake at 350 for 25 minutes longer.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into bars when cool.

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