Chicken and Mushroom Caserole
As promised here is the second recipe for the weekend. I decided to share a casserole that has lots of flavor and only takes about half an hour to cook. It’s main ingredient is one of the staples on my shopping list as per my blog on doing the weekly shopping.
You’ll notice that my recipes are gluten free, that’s just because I’m a coeliac. You don’t have to use the gluten free options in the recipes.
As a home cook, no chef training at all, I’m very happy to share what works for me and hopefully it inspires you to enjoy cooking, and do it in a way that works for you.
Chicken and Mushroom Casserole
300 – 400 grams of chicken thigh fillets cut into one inch pieced
half an onion
1 small punnet of sliced mushrooms
1 clove of garlic
2 short rashers of bacon (less fat on those)
1 tablespoon of all purpose flour (I use gluten free self raising. I know it’s weird but it works)
1 teaspoon chicken stock powder (I use GF Massell)
1 cup of water
2 tablespoons olive oil
Heat a heavy based saucepan over a medium flame or temperature setting while chopping the onion garlic. Put the oil in the pan and let it get hot before adding the onion garlic and mushrooms. Stir occasionally while you dice the chicken thighs. When done add them to the pan and keep stirring until the chicken has browned or lost most of the pink colour.
In a cup mix together the water, chicken stock and flour then pour into the saucepan and keep stirring while bringing it to the boil. It should thicken a bit. Cover and simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes. Serve with steamed sweet potato and broccoli.
If you want you can take the onion, mushroom mixture out before browning the chicken and add it back later. I think this is the proper way to do it but I find it works fine just leaving it in.
Add a tin of crushed tomatoes when putting in the water to make this a great sauce to serve over pasta or polenta.
For a special occasion you can add a quarter of a cup of cream to this casserole near the end of cooking for a richer sauce. Serve with steamed green beans and potatoes that have been boiled then mashed with butter and cream. Oh my goodness.
I find this dish goes very nicely with a glass of wine on a Saturday night. I don’t bother lighting a candle it’s romantic enough sharing a meal with the man I love. It always makes me feel like smiling.
Enjoy your cooking and thanks for dropping by,
Lasagna with extra bolognaise sauce spooned over the top and sprinkled liberally with Parmesan Cheese.
Hi, I took a break from the Cooking Series for a Mother’s Day post and got caught up with a busy weekend last week so I missed blogging. To make up for it, I’m posting two recipes this weekend. Today as you can tell from the title is spaghetti bolognaise. Tomorrow there’ll be my chicken and mushroom casserole recipe.
Once a week, Mum served up an Aussie version of spaghetti bolognaise. It was based on a tin of Campbell’s tomato soup. Italians the world over would despair at this, but I thought it was delicious. However in an effort to include more vegetables in the meal, I started using the more traditional method of making a bolognaise sauce. I began with Dolmio bottled pasta sauce and when Aldi came to Australia, I sampled their Romano bolognaise sauce. I really like that one too.
Carrying on Mum’s tradition, we have some kind of pasta with this sauce once a week. My partner, Sam (born here but with Italian parents) starts getting pasta withdrawal if I miss a week, so that's rare. Pasta is such comforting food and, for me, it’s easy to cook. Once I have all the ingredients combined in the saucepan I can relax with a romance novel while it simmers away.
Most people have their own family recipe for pasta sauce, I wonder if it's the same or similar to mine. If you are looking for a recipe, this is an easy one and you can adapt it to suit your individual tastes. Either way I hope you enjoy reading my favorite recipe for pasta sauce.
Ingredients list for my bolognaise sauce
250gms of minced beef. ( I use 90 – 95% fat free)
500ml tomato pasta sauce of your choice. (I use Dolmio or Romano brand)
1 cup of water
half a finely diced red onion
one medium carrot, diced or grated
one medium zucchini, diced or grated
clove of garlic grated or finely chopped
I bay leaf
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 500gm bag of dried pasta of choice
To begin, put a heavy based saucepan on medium heat to preheat while preparing the vegetables. I dice the onion, grate or dice the carrot and zucchini, using a fine grater, grate the garlic. Pour around two tablespoons of oil into the hot saucepan then tip in all the vegetables stirring them over the heat until the onion is transparent and the carrots have softened. If they brown a little it’s not a problem the caramelized vegetables will add flavor to the sauce. Next in, goes the mince. Stir this until it’s no longer pink and has broken down into a crumbled texture.
Tip in the jar of tomato sauce. I put the cup of water into the sauce jar and swish around collecting every last bit of tomato, then tip that into the saucepan too. Add the bay leaf (if small 2 or even 3) and stir everything together. When it begins to boil turn the temp down to low and put on the lid.
if I’m cooking pasta I’ll put on the pot of water to heat now. When the water boils, add the pasta and cook until it’s soft or to how you like it.
All up the sauce has 20 minutes on simmer. That’s the minimum it needs to really be nice but it can be left a lot longer, it just gets better.
Keep reading for tips and variations to this basic recipe.
I add all the vegetables together so that they have time to soften before putting in the liquid. If they don’t soften first they tend to stay hard in the tomato sauce. No idea why, that’s just what I’ve found.
I stir the sauce every so often, about every 10 minutes, to prevent the meat from forming a crust on the base.
If simmering for longer than half an hour, check to see if it needs more water. Use the pasta water, if available, to thin it out.
For a Mexican style dish, add shopped capsicum to the vegetables and spice it with half a teaspoon of cumin and a teaspoon of paprika. Add dried chili to your taste. I can only have a quarter of a teaspoon max.
You can make this sauce using chicken or turkey mince, I add a rasher of diced bacon when I do this.
If I want something super quick to prepare, I omit the onion, carrot and zucchini and instead tip in a small punnet of sliced mushrooms.
If I’m using this sauce to make lasagna, I use one box of GF sheets. If it’s for a crowd I’ll double the recipe and use 2 boxes. This will make a baking dish size lasagna.
For an easy lasagna, I put a layer of tasty cheese slices on top and skip the white sauce.
In my soon to be released novel, 'The Australian Billionaire's Secret Proposal' the housekeeper leaves this lasagna in the fridge for Jarrod's dinner, which he shares with Ruby.' I chose this dish because, nearly everyone loves lasagna and it keeps so well, I think it tastes better the next day, don't you?
Enjoy reading and cooking.
This is a card that I gave my mother when I was in primary school. I must have been no older than ten, so she had kept it for over forty years. For me, it's a touching example of how much our mothers care. They worry about how we are sleeping. They worry about how we are doing at school and work. They want us to be happy in our life and support us the best they possibly can.
But mothers cannot be all the things we want them to be. They can’t give us all the things we’d like them to. There are excellent reasons for this and I believe they all add up to mothers being people doing their best with the skills life has equipped them. The benefit of that is mothers have to leave room for us to find our own way.
We have their support and encouragement as we tread our own special life path that is different from hers. Each of us has a brilliant mind, creative and unique so each of us will have a life that is unique. So our mother can’t completely prepare us for a life that is very different from hers. Neither should she.
My mother wasn’t a romance author like I have become. Each of us are here to create our own life. Our mother nurtures us until we are able to take the training wheels off and head down roads of our own choosing. Whatever kind of mother we had, whether she held our hand for a long time or a short time, she was there at the beginning and she was the right one for us. Our life is what it is because she began it all and taught us what she could. Even if those lessons weren’t pleasant they were a gift of experience that we now have knowledge of.
Mothers do so much behind the scenes in our lives. Their silent hopes or prayers for us continue long after we’ve grown up. When I’m writing I often think about the relationship my heroine has or had with her mother and what gifts it bestowed on her. Especially on Mother’s Day, I’ll be thinking of my mum. Watching me from spirit, I know she’ll be happy that I’m enjoying dinner with my grown up children.
She wasn’t perfect and I certainly wasn’t either, but since she passed I’ve never been more aware of how much I KNOW she gave me in kindness, caring, disciple, listening and giving advice. And I know I used what she gave me when it came to mothering my children. On a day that is full of pink roses and advertisements for expensive presents, I want to focus on my mother’s achievements and my own. Having my children come and visit me is present enough.
Hi, This week I’m starting a series on how I manage the cooking (in my romantic life). Sam doesn’t cook - other than toast in the morning which I don't think actually counts. But we moved in together in our 50’s which means we’re both pretty set in our ways, so I choose to make that work for us. I enjoy cooking ( and eating what I cook) so it’s my department.
Dinner time with Sam is when we catch up on our day and focus on each other. I want us to enjoy the experience. I believe that serving up delicious meals, we both like, supports our happy relationship. Shopping for ingredients can be overwhelming but over the years I’ve developed a routine that works for me.
I am a great advocate for online shopping and creating a list that you can auto load each week. But I need the exercise, so I usually shop at the local Woolworth's supermarket. Take a walk with me as I shop and you’ll see how I stay out of the lolly and chip isle and keep focused.
Shopping each week for a set number of staples takes the stress out of visiting the supermarket. My regular staples form the basis of a week's worth of breakfasts lunches and dinners. Because I’ve been using this method for years, I can forget the shopping list as long as my arm. My list contains only the pantry cupboard ingredients that I occasionally run out of.
Closest to where we pick up the trolley is the fruit and vegetables, first on my mental list. We choose to have fruit with for our desert, our favorites include mango, strawberries, cantaloupe, pears and kiwi fruit. This week I’ve got a half a cantaloupe and a punnet of strawberries.
We eat a lot of vegetables so they’re next in my trolley.
We need to pick up, 2 avocados, a lettuce, 3 tomatoes, a green capsicum, 2 zucchinis, a punnet of sliced mushrooms, a kilo of carrots, 1/8th of Queensland blue pumpkin, a head of broccoli, 2 red onions, I fairly large sweet potato, and 2kg medium size white potatoes. Okay, done. Now we are near the back of the store where the meat is kept.
A slight detour to the frozen fish bin. Here we pick up a 1 kilo bag of whiting fillets. One kilo does us for two weeks. (2 fish meal per week). So this is an every other week purchase.
Next is the meat that jumpstarts my meal planning. First in the trolley goes 500 grams of 90% fat free mince (2 meals), followed by 500gms of chicken thigh fillets (2 meals). I used to buy sausages but we’re watching cholesterol so they’re off the every week list. Last stop in the meat department is for a roast of some kind (2 meals). We want one of the following: a whole chicken; leg of lamb; cut of beef or pork. Usually the cheapest roast per kilo makes the decision easy. But I try not to have the same roast two weeks in a row.
After the meat cases is the general fridge section. Here I choose 250 grams of tasty cheese, 200 grams of Swiss cheese. I pack of Parmesan. 250gms of ham or turkey lunch meat, a dozen eggs (every other week), a tub of dip and 500ml tub of plain Greek Yogurt.
Tea and coffee is next and we have to do a u turn to get back to that isle. Beside tea and coffee we also pick up 2 packets of Gluten Free (GF) nut,bars, 3 litres of long-life, low-fat, lactose free milk.
Turning into the next isle we’ll grab 2 x 1 litre boxes of pine coconut drink then on to the health food section. I’ll grab a 500gm packet of GF pasta, a box of GF cake mix, a loaf of GF bread and a loaf of regular loaf of wholemeal for Sam.
In the canned fish isle I put in a tin of salmon or tuna and 4 tins of sardines in tomato sauce. Store cupboard items, sauces, flour, sugar, herbs and spices are next, I have a short list with what I need in the store cupboard if necessary.
In the pasta isle we stop for a bottle of tomato pasta sauce. If necessary a small bottle of olive oil or spray oil. I also buy a cup of GF instant noodles, occasionally, a bag of Doongara rice.
The next isles are for bathroom and cleaning supplies if needed. I buy the same earth friendly brands so it’s easy to keep focused and not get distracted the vast array on offer.
The last isles at my supermarket contain the frozen food. I’ll get 500 grams each of peas and beans and a kilo bag of GF oven fry chips.
This provides us with enough food for two adults for a week, a dinner for seven on Sunday night plus a couple of small meals for my Dad to take home with him.
Some of the meals I make from the above basics include:
There are many more and variations on the above recipes. Next week I’ll share my meal planning process and pantry cupboard supplies list, the ones I buy occasionally to give the basics a twist of flavor. I’ll also post my recipes for Bolognaise sauce and chicken casserole.
Romance author and lifestyle blogger
My whole life is inspired by romance. I write romance novels of course but also love creating DIY's and decorating in a romantic style. I'm rejuvenating an old garden, recusing roses and planting new ones.