Cheesy Molasses Chicken with Mushrooms and Homemade Rice a Roni Mix

This cheesy chicken and mushroom dinner is perfect for company, but also for a nice weeknight dinner for your family. It’s also nice to have some of this Rice a Roni mix in the pantry for an easy side dish too!

Cheesy Molasses Chicken with Mushrooms and Homemade Rice a Roni Mix | thepajamachef.com

Two recipes in one day! Whoa there, this is crazy! So last fall I read Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist and that book just makes me want to COOK! And eat, but that’s no surprise. It’s a collection of essays knit together thematically around the idea of food, community, friendship, and growth. Though it’s written from a Christian perspective it’s really not in your face Christianity, if you get my drift, and it’s just a lovely book. Being a librarian I pretty much ALWAYS check books out to read from the library prior to purchasing them, and I think this one is good enough to go on  my to-purchase [read: Christmas/birthday present] list. Though I made this dinner just for Ben and myself, it’s truly a company-worthy meal. Though it’s weeknight-doable, the flavors are rich, intoxicating, and delicious. It feels like a fancy escape from the week, even if only at the dinner table.

Cheesy Molasses Chicken with Mushrooms and Homemade Rice a Roni Mix | thepajamachef.com

As I sit here thinking about what I just wrote, I wonder… why do we consider things to be “company-worthy meals” or not? At the root of it definitely is our innately human desire to put on our best face for everyone and to receive compliments/praise/glory/affirmation of how great we are. Somewhere in there is a desire to treat others well. And why shouldn’t we do that for our families on a regular Tuesday? I know people are busier than ever but I still think regular family dinners–even if it’s just you and your husband–are so important. They don’t have to be fancy. In the same vein, “company meals” don’t need to be fancy either–they just need to be made with love, like this meal. This chicken dish only took about 40 minutes to put together, and much of that is baking time. Using a few pantry ingredients, some mushrooms, and cheese, it looks so special! And the homemade Rice a Roni mix is awesome too! Hope you give it a try–and check out this book. :) Enjoy!

one year ago: Flourless Peanut-Chocolate Cookies
two years ago: Buffalo Pretzels 
three years ago: Camp Tecumseh Baked Oatmeal
four years ago: Crispy Honey Ginger Chicken

Cheesy Molasses Chicken with Mushrooms

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 40 minutes
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Ingredients:

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 thin boneless skinless chicken breasts [I cut one large 16 ounce chicken breast into 4 smaller cutlets]
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • dried tarragon
  • 4 ounces mushrooms, sliced [I used shiitake but regular white mushrooms would be fine too]
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced or shredded swiss cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat with a bit of olive oil. Season one side of each chicken breast with pepper and tarragon, then sear chicken for a minute on the seasoned side. Flip to the other side, season, and cook for a minute. Remove chicken to an oven safe baking dish.

In the same skillet, add more olive oil if necessary and reduce heat to medium. Cook mushrooms and onion for about 5 minutes, until soft, then add garlic. Cook another 30 seconds until fragrant. Season with more pepper and tarragon. Add water, vinegar, and molasses and bring to a boil, letting most of the excess liquid cook off, about 3-4 minutes. Spoon mushrooms, onions, and sauce overtop chicken.

Cook for 10-20 minutes or until fully cooked. When chicken is almost done, top with cheese and return to oven until cheese melts.

Serve with homemade Rice a Roni [below].

Homemade Rice a Roni Mix

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 25 minutes
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from Fabulously Frugal

Ingredients:

for mix

  • 2 cups uncooked white rice
  • 1 cup small pieces of angel hair, vermicelli, or thin spaghetti, broken into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 6 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder OR 3 tablespoons poultry seasoning [original recipe called for the former but I didn’t have any so I improvised]
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

for preparation

  • 2 tablespoons butter or oil
  • 1 cup of rice a roni mix [above]
  • 2 1/4 cups water or chicken broth

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a large airtight jar or plastic storage container. Breaking apart the noodles was probably the most difficult part. I found it easiest to break just a few at a time, while the measuring cup was in a taller bowl. I used maybe 1/3 of a 16 ounce box of pasta. Orzo or another small pasta would be a good substitute I think.

To make the rice, heat 2 tablespoons of butter or oil in a saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add 1 cup rice a roni mix and stir. Cook, constantly stirring, for about a minute until pasta begins to turn golden brown. Add water and bring to a boil, then prepare as you would rice–reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until water is absorbed.

 

 

 

Homemade Turkey Sausage Patties

Enjoy homemade turkey sausage patties seasoned as you like. My version includes a little sweet [brown sugar], a little spicy [cayenne pepper], and a little herb [oregano]. Mmm!

Homemade Turkey Sausage Patties | thepajamachef.com

When creating my 30 before 30 list last spring [and BOY am I running out of time…yikes!], I put homemade sausage on my list because I thought it was, ya know, hard or something. Umm, no. Not really. Well, maybe there’s something that makes real sausage legit… but this? It tasted pretty good to me. Pretty much like sausage. These sausage patties are sweet and savory with a lil bit of spice. You should definitely try this for your next fancy breakfast or brunch. I’m sure you’ll enjoy them!

Homemade Turkey Sausage Patties | thepajamachef.com

one year ago: Quick & Healthy Pineapple Fried Rice
two years ago: Healthy Mexican Hot Chocolate Breakfast Bars
three years ago: Cream of Broccoli Soup with Cheese
four years ago: Pork Chops with Red Wine Sauce

Homemade Turkey Sausage Patties

  • Servings: 16
  • Time: 1 hour + overnight
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Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper – optional
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • sea salt to taste

Directions:

In a medium bowl, mix together all ingredients. Season with pepper and salt to your taste. Divide in half, then in half again, and in half again to form 16 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then flatten into small patties and place on a baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour if not overnight. When ready to serve, cook on the stovetop until no longer pink inside.

Note:

Seasoning amounts are VERY flexible. Adjust as desired–especially the cayenne pepper. Sausage patties can be frozen for another day if desired.

Skinny Lasagna

Skinny lasagna… lot of flavor with a few substitutions to make a classic dish just a little healthier for the new year!

Skinny Lasagna | thepajamachef.com

Lasagna is one of my favorite meals of all time! My mom’s lasagna is my go-to dish, but when Red Gold [an Indiana company… gotta support my home state, ya know!] contacted me to ask if I wanted to participate in their Lasagna Party this month I jumped at the chance. Lasagna is so good, how could I say no?!? :) The Red Gold Simple Gourmet Lasagna Party runs through February 3rd on their Facebook page. Be sure to enter for a chance to win one of 750 aprons or 6 gourmet lasagna party prizes [that include a Le Creuset Lasagna pan! How fun!]. The fabulous folks at Red Gold sent me a fun package with a selection of canned tomatoes, lasagna noodles, a Laura’s Beef coupon and apron, and some recipes to try out.

Skinny Lasagna | thepajamachef.comI made this lasagna a couple weekends ago, on a Saturday morning before I did a long run. Psssssst! Did I tell you guys that I’m marathon training?!? #5, in Nashville! Woohoo. :) It’ll be fun to do a marathon in my new city! Anyways, this lasagna was SO delicious. Using Italian seasoning, as simple as it sounds, along with tomatoes that have already been seasoned with basil, garlic, and oregano, made this dish SO flavorful. My only beef [ha ha ha] with this lasagna recipe was that it used a whole pound of lasagna noodles. I usually use just half a pound, so I thought it was very noodle-y and there was no way this would all fit in my pan. So I used two! [Ben’s idea. What a smartypants.] This lasagna was SO flavorful and delicious. PLUS it was really easy to make this sauce with just canned tomatoes and seasoning. I’ll definitely be using that trick more often. One less step to yummy lasagna! Hope you enjoy, and don’t forget to enter the contest! :)

Skinny Lasagna | thepajamachef.com

one year ago: Broccoli Stuffed Loaded Potato Skins with Avocado Cream
two years ago: Lemon Cranberry Muffins
three years ago: Preparing Black Beans in the Oven
four years ago: Triple Chocolate Oat Cookies

Skinny Lasagna

  • Servings: 16
  • Time: 2 hours
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 28 ounces Red Gold crushed tomatoes
  • 2 – 14.5 ounce cans Red Gold diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, & oregano
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning – I used ~2 tablespoons of Gourmet Gardens Italian Herbs + 1 tablespoon crushed garlic instead
  • 1 pound Laura’s Lean Beef or ground turkey
  • 16 ounce traditional lasagna noodles, uncooked
  • 15 ounces low fat cottage cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water to boil to cook the lasagna noodles to al dente. Meanwhile, in a skillet, brown ground beef or turkey. Cook noodles according to package instructions, then drain. Drain grease from meat when done.

In a large bowl, combine water, tomatoes, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Stir in cooked meat.

In a 9×13 baking dish, spread out 1 1/2 cups sauce. Top with 1/3 of noodles, overlapped. Top with 1/2 of the cottage cheese, 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese, and 1 cup sauce. Repeat, then finish with remaining 1/3 of noodles and the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Cover with foil and bake for 60-90 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Notes:

I used an oval dish that usually can be subbed with a 9×13 pan but I had way too much so I made a mini lasagna in a 9×5 loaf pan. As I was typing up this recipe, I noticed that the original recipe does not call for cooking the noodles–just placing them in the pan uncooked. So you could try that too–probably cooking it for about 90 minutes instead of the 1 hour I did.

Next time I make this I will probably only use 8 ounces noodles. We felt it was too noodle-y but I usually only make lasagna with 1/2 a box of noodles so that’s just what we are used to.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary lasagna kit from Red Gold with all the tomatoes for this recipe, lasagna noodles, a Laura’s Lean Beef apron, a coupon for Laura’s Lean Beef, and 6 recipes. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own.

Book Review: Longing for More: Daily Reflections on Finding God in the Rhythms of Life

Another book review today! Normally I review fiction or cookbooks on my blog, but I recently requested a different sort of book for review: a daily devotional. When I saw it available at the end of last year, I thought it would be a great book to start the new year off with. And I was right! Timothy Willard’s Longing for More: Daily Reflections on Finding God in the Rhythms of Life is a great book that I highly recommend. Thanks to the blogger review program for Bethany House Publishers for the chance to read and review it!

Longing for More: a book review on thepajamachef.com #devotion #reading #Christianlife #greatbook
Here is a description of the book from the publisher:

Catch your breath and sit for a moment. Now listen . . .

What do you hear–questions of trust, longing, disappointment, courage, and love? In Longing for More, Timothy Willard invites us to think and pray through our deepest needs, and explores how the ebb and flow of life can be used for God’s glory. Creatively organized in 52 chapters that follow the four seasons of the year, the daily readings point the way to a richer spiritual life.

 As usual, my five point review:

  • I’m a librarian, so I know you shouldn’t judge a book by the cover. But you know what? I do. All the time. Sometimes this is good, other times it might not be. This cover is just phenomenal. It’s welcoming, inviting, relaxing… and I just want to sit with this book and read it all day thanks to the fabulous cover art. The print book itself also feels good in my hands. The cover is substantial and the pages don’t feel brittle. I know that’s just a minor thing, but if this is supposed to be a daily devotional, to turn to day after day, it’s gotta stand up to that. And this book does. Bravo!
  • Enough about the aesthetics. The content of the book is just as fabulous as its appearance. [Spoiler alert: I didn’t read the entire book… a year hasn’t gone by, silly!] That being said, the book is set up to be read 5 days a week for a year. The book was originally written as emails to a group of fellows within a social justice program, presumably the author’s friends or at least acquaintances. So it has a feeling of warmth and familiarity which I loved. It’s meant to “reflect the rhythms of daily life, but also point to the heavens, to God.” This is demonstrated in many ways, not least of which is the fact that the third daily reading is just a prayer–because by this point in the week that is what the author needs most. Good call. You can begin this book at any time of the year, but it is structured to align loosely with the church calendar, so a January start is good but not essential. This book isn’t meant to be your one and only devotional either, it is meant to supplement deeper Bible reading so I could see it being good to use at a different time of day than your normal devotions.
  • Willard does a great job blending Biblical truth with his own life experience, as well as quotes from Christian thinkers throughout history [mainly C.S. Lewis and Søren Kierkegaard]. I appreciate that there wasn’t tons of fluff in the entries I read, and though the entries are deep, they aren’t so theologically heavy that they require a dictionary and reference books to understand. It’s a great balance.
  • Willard is also a very poetic writer. These devotions should be savored and pondered throughout the day, each accompanies a daily passage of scripture and they blend well together. The scripture is definitely prioritized but the devotion isn’t an outright Bible study either.
  • The general tone of these devotions is encouraging. Though Willard challenges his readers to more closely follow the Lord and acknowledges the challenges of life and realities of suffering, the tone of encouragement is awesome. He does a great job focusing on heaven while on earth. I highly recommend this devotion and would read more of his work!

 

What are you reading lately?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!