Chicken a la King in Puff Pastry Shells

I’m not sure where this recipe originated.  An internet Google search turned up several variations – all of which are more complicated than the recipe my Mom and Uncle Manny use.  However, I can confidently say that our version is always a hit.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Chicken Breast – shredded
  • Jar of sliced pimiento peppers
  • Jar of sliced mushrooms
  • 1 can of evaporated milk
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom
  • pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Boil chicken breast/s until cooked.  Let cool and then shred.  Transfer to medium pot or sauce pan.
  2. Drain pimientos & mushrooms.  Add to shredded chicken.
  3. Add evaporated milk & cream of mushroom.
  4. Pepper to taste.
  5. Let simmer on low until heated through being careful to not let burn.
  6. Mixture will thicken.  Can be served either warm or chilled.

PUFF PASTRY SHELLS:

We typically use Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry Shells.  They come 6 to a box.  They also sell miniature shells which would be perfect to use for appetizer size.

Bake pastry shells as directed on box.

Let cool.

An option to the puff pastry shells that Mom and Uncle Manny both used to do is to take a cupcake/muffin pan and line each cup with a slice of white bread with the crust on all 4 sides removed.  This forms a shell/cup.  Bake in the oven until the bread is crisp.  Remove each toasted cup carefully after cooling.

TO ASSEMBLE:

Remove tops from pastry shells and spoon chicken mixture into shell.  You can be generous & fill to almost over-flowing.

Chicken Adobo with Gata

Chicken adobo with gata (coconut milk) is a dish that I remember Uncle Manny making when we were kids.  It’s a wonderful variation of chicken adobo.  Angela now makes it.  Here is her version:

I always loved this dish growing up, and have tried several variations.

Typically, I use a combination of chicken parts (on the bone); chicken thighs and chicken breast, and follow the recipe above until malutong (I typically double the liquid portion of the recipe, and after the meat is cooked, set aside about a cup of the sauce for later).

Chicken is a little different than pork, though, because in order to get the ‘fall of the bone’ effect, you have to cook a little longer on lower to medium heat.

After the remaining liquid has evaporataed, and the chicken is cooked through and a little toastado, I add back the liquid with a can or two of coconut milk.

I’ve tried several types of coconut milk with this dish, and have found that Thai coconut milk (even the Lite version) works best. Be sure to taste the coconut milk (for freshness) before adding to the dish, as a bad can of coconut milk can ruin the entire meal! I usually serve with simple garlic sauteed green beans and sininaag.

Without a toddler wrapping her arms around my legs as I cook on a hot stove, this would be a pretty simple meal to prepare. But as a working Mom with too many other things I’d rather be doing (like giving my little Skye 100 kisses a day), I am constantly on the search for the easiest, least-mess way to prepare a meal.

Enter the crock pot.

I’ve found all sorts of interesting uses for the crock pot – sinigang, apritada, and now adobo chicken with gata. For this version, I follow all of above (ie. doubling the liquids in Pinky’s original recipe, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, but without the coconut milk) and allow to cook in the crockpot for a few hours (I usually do this in the early morning before heading to work). I skip the part of setting aside the adobo liquid for later (and sacrifice the tostado pieces of chicken – which, for this recipe, is actually okay, since the ultimate result is a saucier meal). Right before serving, I add the coconut milk, and a few scoops of cooked japanese rice.

Wow…sarap!  I’m not sure if this blog was such a great idea after all.  I’ve been inspired to cook but all I’m doing is eating!

Adobo

Adobo…
  • 1.25lbs Chunks of pork (or chicken pieces)
  • 1/2 cup Vinegar (I use Datu Puti)
  • 1/4 cup Soy Sauce (I use low sodium)
  • Crushed/chopped garlic (A LOT)
  • Fresh cracked peppercorns
  • 3 Bay leafs

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients into pot.  Do not stir.
  2. Cook on medium until boiling.
  3. Lower heat, cover & let simmer ’til done.
  4. If you like it “wet”, make sure to not simmer away all the liquid.  If you like it “more malutong”, simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated and then if necessary, add more oil (I use olive for most types of cooking unless I’m actually deep frying).

Serve with white rice.

Still to come…Uncle Manny’s adobo wrapped in banana leaves for inihaw!

Crock Pot Tortilla Soup

When I lived in San Antonio during the 80s/early 90s, one of my favorite spots for lunch was the cafe at the Gunther Hotel in downtown San Antonio.  Almost every day I ordered the same thing:  a bowl of their chicken tortilla soup.  I’ve never quite perfected it but after many attempts have come to enjoy this recipe when the weather cools down.  Since I’ve been experimenting over the years to make this soup, I don’t have any measurements to share (what else is new?).

This is a pretty easy tortilla soup to make and perfect for cold winter days.

Ingredients:

  • BBQ marinated boneless pork chops or skinless chicken breasts – shredded
  • 1 large can chopped tomatoes or 2 large fresh chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large chicken bouillon
  • 1 medium can diced chiles
  • 1 medium red onion – chopped
  • 1/2 – 1 cup cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno or serrano pepper – sliced – remove seeds
  • fresh lime juice
  • pepper
  • water – I just filled the tomato can with water and 2 cans of water from the chile can. Could have used more water to make more soup/liquid.
  • shredded cheddar/monterey cheeses
  • avocado slices
  • tortilla strips (use either tortilla chips or cut fresh corn torillas into strips & fry until crisp)

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients but last 2 (cheese & tortilla strips) into crockpot.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 8 hrs.
  3. Into each serving bowl, add tortilla strips and crushed tortilla chips. Ladle soup into bowl and top with shredded cheese.

I much prefer to brown my chicken with garlic & onions before adding to the crockpot but you can eliminate that step & go straight to put everything into the crock  pot.  You can also eliminate the crockpot and simply continue cooking in the same pot that you’ve browned your meat in.  Just let it simmer until you’ve achieved the taste you want in your broth.

I also prefer to cut the corn tortillas into strips & then deep fry over store-bought tortilla chips.

Enjoy!

Arroz Caldo

This is a winter and baby/toddler staple in our family.   If you make extra, you can place  it in plastic containers & store in the freezer.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken – cut up whole chicken pieces or all breast meat
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic
  • 1 onion
  • Ginger – finely sliced
  • Rice
  • Water
  • Patis
  • Scallions
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Lemon

Directions:

We grew up eating arroz caldo with whole chicken cut up into pieces.  However, with us trying to watch our cholesterol (hah), and a general preference for white meat, I usually just use skinless chicken breast cut into small chunks.

  1. In a large non-stick soup pot over medium heat, sauté garlic in oil until lightly brown.
  2. Add ginger and onion, stir for a minute.
  3. Add chicken pieces and patis and cook for another 3 minutes.
  4. Add rice, water and salt and pepper.
  5. Cover and simmer in medium low heat for about 40 minutes.  If it gets too thick, add broth or water but remember to re-season.
  6. Garnish with scallions & squeeze lemon, if desired (I desire lots of lemon!).

Mom told me that adding a cube of chicken bouillon helps to enhance the water flavor/broth.

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Angela has a different way of sauteeing, I believe, so as soon as I can clarify that, I will add a note to this section.

Meat Empanadas

IMG_7717When we were younger  Mom used to make delicious empanadas and its miniature dessert version empanaditas.  The most laborious task when making these meat pies is making & preparing the dough:  one of the reasons I haven’t bothered.  But then not too long ago, Mom told me that Uncle Manny had given her a tip:  use Goya brand empanada “skins”.

I found some at our local Kroger’s a couple of weeks ago & decided to give it a try.  Naturally, I called Mom from Kroger’s to ask for the ingredients…again.

Ingredients:

  • Ground beef, pork or shredded chicken
  • olive oil
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • chopped garlic
  • 2 diced potatoes
  • 1 small can of chopped olives (green or black)
  • frozen peas
  • raisins
  • soy sauce, salt & pepper to taste
  • Goya  empanada discos
  • water

Yesterday I bought a cooked rotisserie chicken, pulled the meat off (after first simmering to make some stock), shredded and then cooked it up for empanadas.  Here’s how:

  1. Sautee garlic and onions in olive oil until translucent.
  2. Add diced potatoes & cover.  Cook until tender.
  3. If using ground beef or pork or uncooked chicken,  add now & brown.  If using rotisserie chicken, add peas, chopped olives & raisins.  Mix well then add shredded chicken.
  4. Add soy sauce, salt & pepper.
  5. Let simmer; beef or pork mixture may have to drain due to drippings.  You do not want to use “wet” mixture on wrapper as it will tear.
  6. Once meat mixture is properly cooled, take wrapper & roll out slightly (per pkg directions)
  7. Add meat filling & fold over so that edges of wrapper meet.  Slightly wet the top edge & press edges together.
  8. Next,  fold the edges of the dough using your fingertip, fold one corner of the empanada over, pressing down firmly, repeating all around, pressing firmly each time to maintain a seal around the edge of the empanada in a spiral pattern.  This is the way Mom taught me but you can also use a fork to make the seal.
  9. Deep fry in hot oil – this only takes a minute or two depending on how hot your oil is & how many you place in pan so watch carefully.  When golden brown, remove & let drain.

If you would prefer to bake the empanadas, place empanadas on a greased (spray Pam) cookie sheet & then lightly brush each empanada with an egg wash.  Bake for 12-15 min in a pre-heated 400* oven.  IMG_7713

Options:  Home-made empanada wrapper (see recipe below), boiled egg, chopped carrots, sugar.

Home-made Empanada Wrappers

I’m not currently this adventurous, but if you are, here’s a relatively simple recipe to make the wrappers from scratch.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ cup of grasa – lard or butter or mix of both
  • ¾ cup to 1 cup of warm milk
  • ½ tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Mix the flour and salt in a food processor, pulse until well combined.
  2. Add the lard or butter, blend well.
  3. Add the egg yolk and the milk in small amounts, pulse until small dough clumps start to form.
  4. Make a couple of balls, flatten into disks and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
  5. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough into a thin sheet and cut out round disc shapes for empanadas (use round molds or a small plate).