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French Onion Soup, Chicken in Milk, and Creamy Lemon Chicken Casserole

January 13, 2010

I haven’t posted in a while. Mostly because things have been a little busy at home. I started my history consulting project and the boy and I went and bought an elliptical the other day so that I could actually get some exercise now that I’m being so sedentary! : ) It’s my birthday present.

Class starts next week and we’ve got a wedding to go to this weekend. Life has been busy, but I’m still finding time to cook from scratch. : )

Last week I made french onion soup for the first time. It was SOOO easy! Of course, I had homemade beef stock on hand (which never happens), but it was amazing and delicious and CHEAP. Cheap is important when you are working part-time at a nonprofit. Here’s what I did:

French Onion Soup

1-2 large onions, thinly sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped (optional)
two tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons madeira (you could also use dry sherry)
1 quart beef stock
3 cups chicken broth (if you cheat like me and use boullion, you won’t need to add salt)
ground black pepper to taste
shredded cheese for topping (I used a pre-shredded Italian blend, but if you’re feeling expensive, GO FOR THE GRUYERE!)
french bread for dipping (this is important, it’s not a meal without it)

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium heat. Add onions (and garlic, if you’re using it) and caramelize slowly, stirring occasionally to scrape up the sticky bits from the bottom. This should take at least a half an hour. When fully caramelized, the onions will be a deep golden brown (brown, not yellow). When you think they’re caramelized enough, add two tablespoons of madeira and let cook off. Then add the other two tablespoons and let cook off. Don’t forget to sniff the air – it will smell amazing! Add beef and chicken stocks and pepper well. Simmer until soup is cloudy brown and thickened to your liking. Top with cheese and dig in with that bread! Serves appx. 4 people.

Brown onions! But not quite brown enough.

Stocks added! See how nice and brown? Mmm….

On Sunday we had a linner guest (that’s the meal that combines lunch and dinner) before our plans to go see Avatar (really cool, by the way), so I made Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk, minus the sage, with red potatoes and fresh green beans. I first read about Chicken in Milk at, which had the link to Jamie’s original recipe. It was delicious, but the cinnamon was weird without the sage. I think that I will definitely make it again, but without the cinnamon. If you make this and keep the carcass and/or leftover chicken, don’t keep the sauce. It will jell and turn into a strange kind of fatty aspic. Toss it when you’re done with it.

I love my IKEA stockpots! They can go in the oven because everything on them is stainless steel. It makes not having Le Creuset that much more bearable. : )

Tonight with the leftover potatoes, green beans, and chicken, I made a casserole of pasta, green beans, potatoes, chicken, fresh lemon juice, sour cream, and a little cheese on top. It was amazing. Here’s my recipe:

Creamy Lemon Chicken Casserole:

2 cups leftover chicken from Chicken in Milk
1 cup sliced boiled red potatoes
1 cup cut fresh green beans
juice of 2 lemons
large handful spaghetti pasta, broken in half
1 cup sour cream
shredded cheese to top

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Put on water to boil for pasta. Tear chicken into bite-sized pieces and toss with vegetables in an 8×8 glass casserole dish. Juice lemons over chicken and veggies (don’t let the seeds fall in!). Toss pasta into boiling water and cook until done. Drain almost all the water, leaving perhaps a 1/4 cup. Pour over chicken and veggies. Add sour cream and stir/toss to combine. When everything is well-coated, top with cheese and bake for 20-25 minutes until casserole is thoroughly hot and cheese is melted and browned. Serves 4.

This recipe was originally inspired by a Splendid Table radio show that talked about a light lemon pasta with potatoes and green veggies had in Italy. The sour cream was a suggestion from Ree Drummond over at Pioneer Woman. I’ve since decided that EVERYTHING is better with sour cream. Pasta, Mexican food, cake, everything. Except, perhaps, pudding. : )

Tomorrow I think I might make roasted cabbage with bacon or red cabbage with apples, onions, and sausage. I have lots of cabbage, onions, and apples that need eating. : ) And now? Time for some ice cream before bed. Why? Because that gives me a reason to make myself get up in the morning and use the new elliptical. : D

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