Friday, February 3, 2012

Bonus Foodie Friday: crowd-pleasing food!

So I figured with Super Bowl Sunday coming up and because I am gullible enough to believe all the commercials that on this day, everyone and their dog is coming over to your house or your neighbors to watch the Super Bowl, or at least the commercials. I don't get into the Super Bowl parties so much. I sure do like a big game and I sure do like food. But the crowd wears me out. However every year, I still plan to attend some party out of all the invites. This year, I will probably find myself at the Youth Complex at our church with a bunch of young, hip and cool middle schoolers and high schoolers sitting on old couches with someone heating up Pizza Pockets or a stack of local delivery pizza, and of course the allergy-free snacks I pack for my own family.

But just like I said on Friday. I get so sick of the cliche food for a crowd. So I have planned out three different menu's for you that are sure to please a crowd (I've tried them out on my crowds for you already), they are super easy and super delicious. Last week was a fresh Tex Mex feel with a gourmet dessert, check it out here.

Today, I share with you an old classic pulled the pantry recipe box of my grandmother. My mother made it a lot and improved it. And I have improved it even further and made it gluten-free for my family. For years I hated the gluten-free version, but I have finally perfected and I can truthfully say, I enjoyed the gluten-free version more than the regularl -which is a miracle! I can also say that those that have tried this recipe always return for seconds and many continue to ask for the recipe. 
So folks, here it is. 

Gma JJ's Awesome Chicken Casserole
Kickin' Corn Bread Bites
Raspberry Lemon Tarts
Citrus Mint Goodness Drink

Gma JJ's awesome Chicken Casserole 
(click here for the gluten-free version)
Remember that chicken I roasted last week for the Tortilla Soup. Well, the leftover went into this casserole. The combination of white and dark meat compliment the casserole well, so if you use canned, shoot for the white and dark meat combo. 
The flavor of roasted chicken (or canned if you're strapped for time) melding with soft pasta, creamy cheese and soup, crunchiness of celery and water chestnuts and the salty browned topping of potato chips, somehow I have never found a chicken casserole recipe that could even hold a candle to this family heirloom.  Because you make this casserole the night before, you save so much time on the day that your guests are coming. 
(the gluten-free version is pictured here)

So the trick to making this casserole as outstanding as the original is to have a good gluten-free condensed soup. I thought it a miracle when I stumbled upon these nuggets at my local store. 

And I've always trusted this brand. The ingredients in the Cream of Chicken: filtered water, organic celery, organic creme fraiche, organic rice starch, organic rice flour, sea salt, organic why powder, organic celeriac juice concentrate, organic onion powder, organic garlic powder. 

 However if you cannot find this brand at the store and don't have time to place an online order. I don't necesarily recommend just any gluten free cream soups that are out there. First of all your dish will suffer in the way of taste, but also they won't be condensed. I have made this casserole before by making my own cream of chicken and cream of celery. But I don't have my recipe on hand. So I suggest you use this recipe for cream of chicken from Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom blog, she also has a cream of celery recipe

Gma JJ's Awesome Chicken Casserole
Gluten-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, Corn-Free
serves 15-25 (depending on if they go back for seconds)

2 cups of chopped cooked chicken (or 2 cans of chicken, drained)
1/2 lb of Velveeta Cheese, cubed
12-15 oz Condensed cream of chicken soup (gluten-free)
12-15 oz condensed cream of celery soup (gluten-free)
15 oz can of chicken broth
1 cup of chopped celery
1 cup of chopped onion
2 cups of Shells or macaroni (gluten-free)
1/4 cup of butter melted
half a bag of Lays potato chips, smashed
1 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste

Add cream of chicken, cream of celery, chicken broth, chicken, shells/macaroni,  and stir well. Add salt, stir and taste until the preferred saltiness is attained. (the gluten-free soups usually need a bit more salt. You can always add more salt so do not overdue it. How much salt you'll need will be determined by which brand/version of condensed soup you use. Add just a dash of pepper. Then add in cubed Velveeta, chopped celery, chopped onion, milk, and melted butter. Push down all the pasta to make sure it is covered by the liquid.

Cover with plastic wrap and put in fridge overnight. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. When oven is ready, remove plastic wrap and place in the middle of oven. Cook for 50-60 minutes. Make sure it is bubbling all the way around. 

Sprinkle smashed potato chips, cook for another 15 minutes until chips on top have browned.


Kickin Cornbread Bites (gluten-free)
This recipe comes from my friends over at Pamela's Products, this adapted recipe was originally created by Margie B., a 2010 runner up contest winner. Savory and sweet at the same time, there is an explosion of flavors in these little bites. Because I don't feed my children Pecans, and they can't quite handle the tiny punch of the cream cheese topping, I made some with and without it. You can make these the day before and put in a tubberware container with a lid to keep them moist. Wait until just before serving to add cream cheese topping. 

Kickin Cornbread Bites
Gluten-Free, Nut-Free (if you omit the pecans), Soy-Free
makes about 55 bites

When I say adapted, it means I wasn't able to find Pamela's Cornbread mix, so used Bob's Red Mill cornbread mix. Not quite my favorite but you do what you got to do when you live in Nebraska. I also add shredded cheddar and green onion and I use the Real Bacon Pieces already packaged to save time rather than cooking the bacon and tearing it up, which would save on costs.

1 1/2   2.8 oz packages of Real Bacon Recipe Pieces (Hikory Smoke Flavor)
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1/4 cup (plus 2 tablespoons) pure maple syrup
8 tsp unsalted butter, melted
1 bag Bob's Red Mill Cornbread Mix
1/4 cup mild shredded Cheddar Cheese
2/3 cup  green onion (including the green parts)

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 tsp chipotle flavored hot sauce
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted*

Preheat oven to 375°. Spray 2 non-stick 24 mini muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray. 

In a large bowl, whisk buttermilk, eggs, 1/4 cup maple syrup and butter. Stir in cornbread mix and green onion until blended. Stir in cheese and 3/4 of the bacon, reserving the rest for topping. Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full, and bake in oven until golden (about 10-12 minutes). Place muffin tins on wire rack to cool completely.

In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, hot sauce and remaining 2 tablespoons maple syrup with mixer until smooth. Stir in remaining bacon and pecans. When muffins have cooled, spread cream cheese mixture over tops.

*I make some without for my kids, due to my son's tree nut allergy, I keep them separate. I also makes some without the topping because they are a bit too spicy for my kids. But the full amazing flavor of these bites does not truly play out with out the topping. 

Easy Raspberry Lemon Tarts
This recipe again from my friends at Pamela's, and the original recipe comes from 2008 contest runner up Shirley R. I have to tell you. Pastry scares me when you are making it gluten-free. I'm not a pastry chef, and although I've had decent luck with it the few times I've made it for pies and tarts, there is still a high percentage it may not turn out right or worse yet, it doesn't taste good bc I've handled the dough too much. This recipe made it simple. And as you can see below, I had trouble getting them super thin so they did not fold into the muffin tins in the most beautiful form. But nonetheless, my guests were still impressed and the taste was outstanding.

Easy Raspberry Lemon Tarts
Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free (if you make the sub.s) Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, Corn-Free
makes about 24 tarts (or more if you want)
Two great things about this recipe, I can make it up the day before or ahead of time and they can sit in my fridge until guests arrive. Also, after 24 tart cups are made, I have leftover dough and filling. I could continue to make more of save the dough for another project, like pies, or pot pies. And use the pudding filling for a different dessert for the kids. 

1 bag (3-1/2 cups) Pamela's Gluten-Free Bread Mix
2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled (or shortning for non-dairy)
8 tbsp ice cold water
1 package instant jello pudding mix lemon flavored (you will need milk or sub. also)
raspberries, blueberries, blackberries ;/or strawberries
24 mini baking cups

Preheat oven to 345°. Line mini muffin pan with mini baking cups. Crust: In a bowl, cut chilled butter and shortening (cut into smaller chunks) into Pamela's Gluten-Free Bread Mix with two knives or a pastry knife until small pea sized pieces form. Slowly add water until dough comes together, not sticky. Add 1 tsp additional water if dough is too dry. Chill for 30 minutes. 

Divide dough in half and pat small pieces of dough using the palms of your hands until about 1/8-inch thick. Cut into 2-inch diameter circles (using a 2-inch diameter shot glass works well). Place each circle into a baking cup making sure the dough reaches the sides of the cup. Before baking pierce each Tart Crust with a fork. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool completely. 

Make pudding with milk or alternative according to package. Fill each cup generously with tapioca pudding. Then place washed and dried berries on top of each tart and refrigerate until ready to enjoy.

Citrus Mint Goodness Drink - a definite crowd pleaser!

Citrus Mint Goodness Drink 
(gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soy-free, corn-free, rice-free)
serves about 10 (I think you should double this recipe)
I love drinks with mint, it mellows the sweetness in the perfect way. I tried this drink out on my toughest crowd. You know the crowd that wants regular soda, water or coffee when they come over. These are not your lemonade or tea type people. I made them try it. This is not even close to lemonade or tea by the way. The flavors blew their taste buds out of the water and I had to make another pitcher as I saw the first one being devoured. I tell them, it was made with love. Cuz really, it is, you have to boil the concoction before cooling it. Now that's love!

1 cup lemon juice
1 cup orange juice
2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups water
10 sprigs mint
32 fluid ounces ginger ale 

Place first five ingredients in a saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cover; remove from heat and let steep until cool. Strain. Cover and refrigerate. To serve, a pitcher with equal amounts of fruit juice, ginger ale and water. Add ice and serve immediately.

I see ya next week for yummy Valentine's food!

1 comment:

lauren said...

so yummy. for reals. come cook for me. pleeeease?? :) being in the kitchen right now grosses me out but i'm starving ALL the time. i'm the perfect candidate. :)

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