29 September 2016

Chicken Divan - Chicken Casserole

Chicken Divan - Chicken Casserole / www.delightfulrepast.com
Chicken Divan is one of those things I never had until I was an adult. My father did not like casseroles (or chicken), so we never had them. This was a busy week, not much time or energy for cooking, so I was asking myself what I could make for dinner that wouldn't take much of either. 
Chicken Divan Casserole popped into my head because the first time I ever had it was at the home of a friend who said she never spent more than 15 minutes making a meal because that's how long her family took to eat it! 
Mr Delightful likes casseroles, so I thought this might be a good time for Chicken Divan Casserole. Of course, I couldn't bring myself to use canned cream-of-something soup, so it might have taken a bit longer than 15 minutes. 
I wanted to use up the last of the plain Greek yogurt I'd bought for the Meyer Lemon Frozen Yogurt last week, so in it went as well to give the sauce a bit of tang. Sour cream would also work. 
I don't even know if this is chicken divan exactly. I used what I had on hand. Would've liked red bell pepper instead of green for added color, but when I bought produce this week I found that the red ones were imported and the green ones were domestic. I always buy domestic produce, local whenever possible, so green it was.
How do you feel about casseroles? I think my dad was really missing out! 
Chicken Divan - Chicken Casserole / www.delightfulrepast.com

Chicken Divan - Chicken Casserole 

(Serves 3 to 4) 
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
6 ounces (170 grams) mushrooms, sliced
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, divided
1 small bell pepper, julienned or chopped
1.25 pounds (20 ounces/567 grams) boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1/8 teaspoon marjoram
1/8 teaspoon thyme leaves
2 tablespoons (0.625 ounce/18 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup (8 fluid ounces/237 ml) milk
2 tablespoons (1 fluid ounce/30 ml) drinkable dry sherry
1 10-ounce bag (283 grams) frozen broccoli florets
1/3 cup plain yogurt
2 ounces (57 grams) shredded cheese, cheddar or whatever you like

1 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Spray a 1.5- to 2-quart casserole with cooking spray.
2 In large skillet (I use the All-Clad 12-inch fry pan), heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Then add butter, mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper; cook about 5 minutes. Add bell pepper; cook for a minute or two.
3 Push vegetables to edge of pan, add 2 tablespoons olive oil to center of pan. When oil is hot, add cubed chicken to center of pan; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook until chicken is done. Sprinkle with marjoram, thyme and flour. Cook and stir for about a minute. Stir in milk and sherry; bring to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly, about 3 minutes. Taste and decide if you'd like to add another 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
4 Stir in frozen broccoli (no need to cook or even thaw) and yogurt until well combined. Pour into prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle top with shredded cheese. Bake for 30 minutes.
Chicken Divan - Chicken Casserole / www.delightfulrepast.com

22 September 2016

Meyer Lemon Frozen Yogurt

Meyer Lemon Frozen Yogurt / www.delightfulrepast.com

Meyer Lemon Frozen Yogurt was at the top of Mr Delightful's list as we awaited the arrival of the Cuisinart ICE-100. He also couldn't wait to see where I was going to put yet another countertop appliance in our kitchen! 

But I already had a spot staked out for it in my butler's pantry. I know, I know. But before you get all green with envy over my having a butler's pantry, let me tell you it's not an official butler's pantry. It's just a humble countertop in the garage. 

When we remodeled the kitchen nine years ago, we had the crew carefully remove the old cabinetry and install it against the back wall of the garage. While most of the cabinets are filled with typical garage stuff, part of the countertop holds appliances. 

Appliances that don't get used every day, such as the slow cooker, Belgian waffle maker, two different kinds of juicers and the infrared oven my dad got for us. And now the ice cream maker. Difference is, I've decided to actually use the ice cream maker there

The light was horrible, so I didn't take any pictures; but here's what I did. I left it exactly where I'd set it for storage, uncovered it, plugged it in and proceeded. When it was done, I just turned it off, removed the lid, lifted the mixing bowl out by its handle and took it into the kitchen. We are loving this machine! 

Now about the recipe. I first developed a super sour version especially for Mr Delightful, who loves tartness. This version is tart enough for everyone else. Meyer lemons are sweeter than regular lemons. If using regular lemons, you may want to use less, perhaps a third of a cup. 

Are you a frozen yogurt fan, or do you prefer ice cream? Tart or sweet? In case you missed my Coffee Chocolate Gelato two weeks ago, check it out. 

Meyer Lemon Frozen Yogurt / www.delightfulrepast.com

Meyer Lemon Frozen Yogurt 

(Makes about 1 quart) 

Finely grated zest of 1 Meyer lemon
1/2 cup* (4 fluid ounces/118 ml) freshly squeezed and strained Meyer lemon juice
3/4 cup (5.25 ounces/149 grams) sugar 

2 tablespoons non-GMO cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces/118 ml) heavy whipping cream
2 1/2 cups (20 ounces/567 grams) plain full-fat** organic Greek yogurt with no additives or stabilizers
2 tablespoons rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* Quite tart. If you like less tartness, use 1/3 cup juice.
** The full-fat yogurt (and the rum or other liquor and the cornstarch) makes the yogurt less icy and more scoopable.

1 Zest one lemon; squeeze enough lemons to make 1/2 cup juice. 

2 In 1-quart saucepan whisk together sugar, non-GMO cornstarch and salt. Whisk in cream until mixture is smooth, then whisk in lemon juice and zest.

3 Heat over medium-low to medium heat, stirring or whisking constantly, just until it is just below a simmer (if you stick your impeccably clean little finger into it, you will jerk it right out!) and starting to thicken. Remove from heat.

Measure yogurt, rum, and vanilla extract into 1-quart glass measure (the spout will make pouring mixture into the machine easier). Gradually whisk in the heated mixture. You should have about 3.75 cups. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hours or up to a day or two (I always aim for 24 hours for maximum flavor development and chilling). 

Put the ice cream paddle into the mixing bowl of the Cuisinart ICE-100 compressor ice cream and gelato maker; whisk the chilled mixture, pour it into the mixing bowl and put on the lid. Turn unit on, set timer for 30 minutes* and press Start; let spin until thickened. Or follow the directions for whichever ice cream maker you have. While frozen yogurt is churning away, put the container you'll be storing it in into the freezer (cuts down on the melting when you're transferring the frozen yogurt from the freezer bowl to the storage container).

* Check it in 20 minutes. It might be ready in 20 or 25 minutes, but if you set it for 20 minutes and it stops, you can't restart it with the frozen yogurt already quite thick. So set the machine for 30 and your kitchen timer for 20 minutes.

Turn the unit off by pressing the power button, remove the lid, lift the mixing bowl out by its handle and remove the paddle from the bowl. Transfer the soft frozen yogurt to the chilled freezer-safe airtight container, and place in freezer for at least 6 hours. Everyone's freezer is different. If necessary, remove from freezer about 15 minutes or so before serving to make it easier to scoop.

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15 September 2016

Sugar - Toxin or Treat?

Sugar - Toxin or Treat? / Magical Meyer Lemon Bars / www.delightfulrepast.com

I'm often asked: 1) how I maintain a normal weight being a food blogger who features a lot of desserts, and 2) how making those desserts squares with my whole healthful eating philosophy. So I thought I'd address those questions here today. Sugar - Toxin or Treat?

Sugar - Toxin or Treat? - A Comfort Food Blogger's Unusual Take on Sugar / www.delightfulrepast.com

A Balance I Can Live With

Am I anti-sugar? If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I make plenty of recipes with sugar (though I reduce the sugar where I can, but never use artificial sweeteners). So, no, I am not anti-sugar. Do I think sugar consumption "in moderation" is a good thing? No, not exactly.

It's just my opinion, but I think I would probably be better off eliminating all added sugar (whether it is sucrose or fructose, coconut palm sugar, maple syrup, honey, agave, etc.) from my diet. But, barring a dire pronouncement from my doctor that I've developed a serious condition and truly must, I'm never going to do that. I mean, let's be realistic!

Quality Over Quantity 

I've seen recommendations that we not exceed 6 to 9 teaspoons (24 to 36 grams) of added sugar per day. It sounds like a lot, but when you consider that a 12-ounce can of soda has more than 9 teaspoons of sugar, it's easy to see that if you want to stay within that limit, something's got to give!

Sugar - Toxin or Treat? / Cream Puffs, Eclairs and Profiteroles / www.delightfulrepast.com

With so many fabulous homemade pies, cakes, ice creams, scones, jams, biscuits and all sorts of desserts to be enjoyed, I've chosen to eliminate sodas, candy and all but the very best (I am fond of Walkers shortbread) store-bought sugary treats from my diet. I can't see wasting my self-imposed sugar allowance on junk!

It All Counts, Not Just Dessert

There's lots of "hidden" sugar in things like flavored yogurts, teriyaki sauce, sweet and sour sauce, barbecue sauce, ketchup, salad dressings.

Sugar - Toxin or Treat? / Tangerine Marmalade / www.delightfulrepast.com

Alcohol is also a sugar, so if I'm planning to have a glass of wine with dinner, then I adjust my sugar allowance for the day. If I'm having biscuits or toast and homemade jam or marmalade for breakfast, that will affect dessert or snack choices for the rest of the day.

Doing the Math

The dessert I posted last week, Coffee Chocolate Gelato, contains 32 teaspoons of sugar in a quart; a 1/2-cup serving contains 4 teaspoons of sugar. Fresh Peach Sheet Cake contains 38 teaspoons of sugar and I cut it into 16 servings; so one serving contains under 2.5 teaspoons. 

Fresh Peach Scones recipe contains 12 teaspoons of sugar for 12 scones; one scone contains 1 teaspoon of sugar. Chocolate Butter Cake without frosting contains 72 teaspoons of sugar and I cut it into 16 servings; one serving contains 4.5 teaspoons of sugar. (You can do the math on the frosting; I always scrape off frosting!)

It doesn't call for a lot of math because I never weigh or measure myself, I never "diet," I don't concern myself with fat grams (I simply avoid the unhealthy fats, trans fats, altogether) or calories or anything else. I just monitor the sugar and ask myself "Is this worth it?" before I start eating. No mindless eating. And, as I often say to Mr Delightful, we don't need to have a dessert every day! I also tell him, "Don't do the Dew (Mountain Dew)!"

And the Science

I like to have all my sugar for the day in one sitting, so my body just "takes the hit" once a day instead of having several blood sugar and insulin spikes. (Don't ask me about the science on that one, it's just a feeling I have.)

There are a lot of documentaries, books and articles out there about sugar, but I'm not going to go into all the scientific data about sugar. That's beyond the scope of this blog. I just wanted to tell you how I handle it. How about you?

The Conclusion

Never more than 6 teaspoons (24 grams) of sugar in a day. Never. No exceptions. And you will be able to "take it or leave it" when it comes to sugar. 

Update 04/12/18: Just posted the latest addition to my health regimen: Intermittent Fasting 16/8.


08 September 2016

Coffee Chocolate Gelato - Cuisinart Giveaway - ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream Maker

Coffee Chocolate Gelato - Cuisinart Giveaway ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream Maker / www.delightfulrepast.com

Coffee Chocolate Gelato. Something I never thought of making myself until I got the Cuisinart ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream and Gelato Maker. Besides the regular ice cream paddle, it has a gelato paddle specially designed to incorporate less air into the gelato; less air is one of the differences between gelato and ice cream.

I've owned the Cuisinart ICE-21 Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream-Sorbet Maker for several years and still love it. I liked to keep the freezer bowl in the freezer at all times so it was ready to go on a moment's notice. But I have very limited freezer space I'm trying to maximize more than ever just now, so the ICE-100, which is a self-refrigerating compressor machine has replaced it in my affections.

And don't even get me started on the old-fashioned ice-and-rock-salt-wooden-bucket kind. You know I think "old-fashioned" is a good thing, so I'm not using it in a pejorative way here, just by way of description! In theory, I love that kind of ice cream maker and even had one back in the day. They are perfect for making a large batch of ice cream for a crowd. 

Coffee Chocolate Gelato / www.delightfulrepast.com

But these days I just make small batches and so appreciate the just-plug-it-in convenience of the compressor unit. No rock salt. No ice. No insert bowl that needs to be frozen for 24 hours. It's so easy! And Cuisinart is going to send one to one of YOU! 

Some gelatos (actually, I think the plural might be "gelati") have eggs, but I developed this recipe to be a no-egg gelato. I use all organic ingredients. If you can't get organic milk and cream, at least get a brand that doesn't have hormones.

I've posted lots of ice creams, including Chocolate Ice Cream, Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream and Chocolate Frozen Yogurt.

Mr Delightful says this recipe is "the perfect balance of chocolate and coffee; I can taste both." What is your favorite ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt, sorbet or non-dairy frozen dessert?

Coffee Chocolate Gelato - Cuisinart Giveaway ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream Maker / www.delightfulrepast.com

Chocolate Coffee Gelato

(Makes about 1 quart)

1 tablespoon ground coffee*
1/3 cup (2.67 fluid ounces/79 ml) boiling water
1 3/4 cups (14 fluid ounces/414 ml) milk (I use 2%)
2/3 cup (4.67 ounces/132 grams) sugar
1/4 cup (0.75 ounce/21 grams) natural unsweetened cocoa powder*
3 tablespoons (27 grams) non-GMO cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces/177 ml) heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

* I always buy organic fair trade coffee and cocoa

1 Put the coffee in a single-cup filter bag, place it in a teacup and pour over 1/3 cup boiling water; let brew for 2 minutes, then remove bag, pressing out all the liquid, making about 1/4 cup triple-strength coffee. In 1-quart saucepan, heat milk just to a simmer.

2 While milk is heating, in 2-quart saucepan whisk together sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in the cream until mixture is smooth.

3 Whisk in hot milk. Over medium heat, stir constantly and cook until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes; do not boil. Whisk in vanilla extract and brewed coffee.

4 Pour into a 1-quart glass measure (the spout will make pouring mixture into the machine easier). You should have 3.5 cups; if you don;t, just stir in a bit of milk or cream. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hours or up to a day or two (I always aim for 24 hours).

Put the gelato paddle into the mixing bowl of the Cuisinart ICE-100 compressor ice cream and gelato maker; whisk the chilled mixture, pour it into the mixing bowl and put on the lid. Turn unit on, set timer for 30 minutes* and press Start; let spin until thickened. Or follow the directions for whichever ice cream maker you have. While gelato is churning away, put the container you'll be storing the gelato in into the freezer (cuts down on the melting when you're transferring the gelato from the freezer bowl to the storage container).

* Directions said to set for 40 minutes, but I found my chilled mixture took only 30 minutes. So I would suggest checking it every 5 minutes after the first 20 minutes or so, at least when making a new recipe the first time.    

6 Turn the unit off by pressing the power button, remove the lid, lift the mixing bowl out by its handle and remove the paddle from the bowl. Transfer the soft gelato to the chilled freezer-safe airtight container, and place in freezer for at least 4 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving. That will make it soft enough to scoop (or spade) and to have that softer (than ice cream) gelato thing going on.

Chocolate Coffee Gelato - Cuisinart Giveaway ICE-100 Compressor Ice Cream Maker / www.delightfulrepast.com

Cuisinart ICE-100 Ice Cream Maker Giveaway 

Update 09/14/16: The giveaway has closed. The winner has been announced in the comments.

This giveaway is open to US residents 18 years of age or older. Leave a comment below (one entry per person) that includes the first thing you'd like to make with it. Please include your email address in the body of your comment. Must enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday September 14. 

Bonus entry: If you are on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest, you may have one bonus entry by doing any or all of the following and leaving an additional comment below with your Twitter, Facebook and/or Pinterest name:
Follow Cuisinart on Twitter; like the Cuisinart Facebook page.
Follow Delightful Repast on Twitter and Delightful Repast on Pinterest

Winner will be chosen by random drawing and be announced here in the comments before noon Eastern time on Thursday September 15. If I don't hear back from the winner of the random drawing by noon Eastern time Sunday September 18, another drawing will be held and a new winner selected from the original entrants (those who commented before the giveaway deadline).

Disclosure: Cuisinart provided an ice cream maker for review purposes and one for the giveaway. I received no compensation. The views expressed here are entirely my own. I always tell my readers what I really think!


01 September 2016

Fresh Peach Sheet Cake

Fresh Peach Sheet Cake - with Variations / www.delightfulrepast.com

For those hot summer days when making a cake to be turned out of its pan onto a serving plate and frosted is just too much effort, or when you need a cake that's easy to transport to a picnic or potluck, try my little fresh peach sheet cake. If peach season has ended where you are, use frozen peach slices.

Of course, you can use other fruits. Or even no fruits at all because this tender butter cake is perfectly delicious on its own or with a thin layer of icing. 

The only special equipment required is a 13x9x1-inch quarter sheet pan. If you need to serve a crowd, just double the recipe and bake it in an 18x13x1-inch half sheet pan. Served right from the pan, it's perfect for any large casual party. I love my quarter sheet pans and need to order a couple more.

This is my last post about peaches until next year, I promise! Summer fruit is the only thing I'm going to miss about summer! How about you?

Fresh Peach Sheet Cake - with Variations / www.delightfulrepast.com

Fresh Peach Sheet Cake

(Makes 13x9x1-inch quarter-sheet, 16 servings)

3 medium freestone yellow peaches
2/3 cup (5.33 fluid ounces/158 ml) buttermilk (or milk with 2 teaspoons cider vinegar stirred in and left standing for 5 minutes)
2 large eggs
1 1/4 dip-and-sweep cups (6.25 ounces/177 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (5.25 ounces/149 grams) sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons (3.5 ounces/99 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon (but no more!) almond extract
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Spray a 13x9x1-inch quarter-sheet pan with cooking spray. Scrub peaches, no need to peel, cut in half and then cut each half into 8 wedges. In small bowl (I use a 2-cup glass measure) beat together buttermilk and eggs.

2 In medium mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; with electric mixer on low speed, mix for 1 minute to blend (it takes the place of sifting). Add the softened butter and extracts. Mix on low speed until combined. Mix on medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Beat in the egg mixture in three batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. 

3 Pour into prepared pan. Place the peach wedges in 4 rows* of 9 to 12 in the batter. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar over the peach slices. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack. (I should have left this one in for 35 minutes; it's a bit pale.)

* Or you can, of course, just put them on there any old which way!

Disclosure: Some posts contain links to my affiliate account at Amazon. If you purchase something from Amazon through one of my links, I receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, which I use toward the expenses of running this blog. Thanks for supporting Delightful Repast when you shop at Amazon!