Chicken Broccolli Casserole with Cheese

I whipped this up last night with ingredients I found in the house.

  • 5-6 IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) chicken breasts
  • Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute
  • 3 cups shredded Jarlsberg cheese
  • 1 bag frozen broccoli florets
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In my convection oven, I cooked the chicken for about 20 minutes while defrosting the broccoli for about 8 minutes in the microwave. I then cut up the chicken with kitchen scissors, gave it a healthy coating of the seasoning mix. After a few minutes, in went the broccoli while I shredded the cheese with a cheese grater.

After mixing and cooking a few more minutes, the mixture went into the casserole dish and I then covered the entire top with a lot of cheese. When done I sprinkled the top with paprika more for color than anything and put it in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

I had some for dinner – it was pretty good. The cheese was more hard than gooey, and maybe the cayenne pepper was a bit too much, but I ate it and enjoyed. Trader Joe’s @1 Salute seasoning is a handy blend of seasonings for those of us clueless at the sight of a spice rack.

What surprised me was the family also enjoyed it. “It’s actually pretty good.” was one comment – which shows both the typical expectations of my low carb cooking as well as the review of this particular dish in comparison.

I’d say it’s a keeper and I’ll be making it again.

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Creamed Asparagus and Scallion Soup

UPDATE: I’ve been eating this the past couple of days and have a few tweaks to add

I love my immersion blender. 12 bucks or so at most large grocery stores, these things can take the place of a regular blender or food processor with minimal cleanup.

I was searching the Internet for something low carb I might be able to make with some ingredients I have lying about and came up with this idea based off another recipe I found.

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches of fresh asparagus
  • 10 scallions
  • 1 box (32 oz) chicken broth
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1/3 pint heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 20 turns of the pepper mill
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Using a soup pot I melted the butter on high heat while washing and cleaning the asparagus and scallions. I chopped it in 1/4″ lengths. Thrown into the pot with the butter, I stirred on high flame intermittently for about 10 minutes while looking for the rest of the ingredients and the immersion blender.

Be careful with asparagus. While I cut off more than an inch of the bottom stems, it was still more fibrous than I would have liked and might be off-putting to some. My solution: cut the asparagus – especially at the stem end very, very closely together to be sure any fibers will be as short as possible. The immersion blender won’t fix this.

I do this with kale when I make kale soup and use the stems and it works splendidly.

After that, in went the chicken broth. I brought to a boil, then added the garlic and onion powder, turned down the heat, and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Once the simmering was done, I turned off the heat and blended until smooth. Then I slowly poured in the cream with the immersion blender on.

Now it was time for a taste – and I came up with a trick to have a good-sized taste with the extremely hot soup not burning my mouth.

We have some small metal ingredient cups about the size of the business end of a soup ladle. The keyword here is ‘metal’. Using a soup ladle I put a few tablespoons into the cup. It became almost too hot to touch – good. All that heat was being conducted out of the soup into the metal cup. To make something hot, you got to make something else cold. In less than 30 seconds I had a mouthful of the stuff at a temperature that would let me taste it.

It was very good – creamy and flavorful. I did think it needed a little salt and put in a teaspoon at that point and mixed it again with the immersion blender.

Oops – maybe just a teensy-weensy too much salt – the broth and butter brought their own salt and it was *almost* enough. My advice if you try this: be careful with the salt.

The final product was delicious. It’s a one-pot meal using only a few utensils and in a half-hour you have a great soup for a cold, possibly snowy day. It’s also suitable for vegetarians who use dairy – not usual for my recipes.

I did find after repeated lunches of the stuff that it was missing ‘something’. I added more salt and pepper at work and it was better, but it could have used some other ‘something’ – but what?

Any ideas out there?

Salmon with Green Beans And Avocado Sauce

My daughter is a natural, instinctive cook and she came up with this. She made potatoes with this, which I avoided, but the rest was an amazing melding of flavors and textures.

I have yet to make this myself, but I can categorically state that it will be a meal worth trying.

Salmon ingredients

  • 5 salmon fillets
  • champagne apple mustard
  • honey
  • salt
  • pepper

OK – I do not buy ‘Champagne Apple Mustard‘ nor can I see any use for such a thing given my use of mustard is exclusively for hot dogs and bologna sandwiches – and store-brand spicy brown mustard is all I need. A knuckle-dragging Cro-magnon like me would never see such a thing in the store – and if I did I would not exclaim: “This will make an excellent sauce for my baked salmon!” – but that’s because I’m a dope.

As for this being low carb – it’s OK – the honey is way worse, but you are still using a minimal amount – substitute if you like – I will probably try some substitute for the mustard and honey when I give it a try, but it will be a risk and might sacrifice some very fine – and expensive – salmon.

The salmon was placed on parchment into a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Green beans

  • 1 bag ‘nuke and eat’ green beans

Lazy – yes. Fast and effective? Yep. This was nuked while the salmon cooked with some salt, pepper, and drizzled with olive oil and the avocado sauce was prepared.

Avocado sauce

This pulls it all together. Again, I’m dealing with someone who channels some magical talent and like a medium possessed by a spirit is not exactly sure what happened while the possession was occurring. This is her best attempt at describing what was in this:

  • 1.5 perfectly ripe avocados*
  • 3 big tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • basil
  • lemon juice
  • paprika
  • chili flakes
  • salt
  • pepper

*I know – this almost never happens.

These ingredients were well-mixed with an immersion blender and was perfectly smooth.

When everything is done, plate the salmon and beans, then slather the avocado sauce on both. Don’t be shy – pile it on.

Everyone enjoyed this, and my daughter – who can conjure up a great meal so easily that she doesn’t bother to write down recipes – now has one documented.