Showing posts with label family casserole. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family casserole. Show all posts

Friday, October 1, 2010

Easy Chicken Parmesan Casserole from Cleo Coyle

I'm kickin' it old school today with a red-sauce favorite: Chicken Parm. This version is an easier (and healthier) one than your classic breaded and fried version. But first...

Crime-writing cook, Cleo Coyle,
is author of the bestselling

Coffeehouse Mysteries and
Haunted Bookshop Mysteries
Guess what the big culinary news was in New York last week? I'll give you a hint: Four Stars.

An Italian restaurant received four stars from The New York Times. Why big news? Because The Times hasn't given an Italian restaurant four stars since the 1970s.

"Great restaurants may start out that way," wrote the Times' chief restaurant critic (Sam Sifton). "But an extraordinary restaurant generally develops only over time, the product of prolonged artistic risk and managerial attention. An extraordinary restaurant uses the threat of failure first as a spur to improvement, then as a vision of unimaginable calamity. An extraordinary restaurant can transcend the identity of its owners or chef or concept..."

Yes, the man actually used the word "extraordinary" five times in the first two paragraphs. And the restaurant that earned this honor was...Del Posto.

Never been, you say? Well, how 'bout you and I go there right now for a *virtual* dinner? Just click the arrow in the window below. (FYI - I'm ordering the 100-layer lasagna; and, for dessert, the chocolate tree, of course...)

Now you may not have eaten at Del Posto, but odds are you've heard of two of it's three owners: Lidia Bastianich (of the PBS cooking show, Lidia's Italy) and Mario Batali, yes, Molto Mario of Food Network fame (who started out in NYC as the chef-owner of a little, bitty restaurant named Po in Greenwich Village, one that I was lucky enough to experience before Mario sold it and moved on to lusher culinary pastures).

The truth is I've never been to Del Posto, and after this review...well, as they say in Italian restaurants located in other parts of NYC: fugettaboutit! (At least right away.) Manhattan's obscenely rich and obnoxiously famous will now be lined up in an endless queue that won't have room for little old me. Do I care? Not in the least. And you shouldn't, either.

The next time you come to NYC, as a tourist or commuter, I have a different restaurant suggestion for you: Batali's less formal but still amazing Greenwich Village restaurant Otto.

No dress code at Otto's (that's Batali's philosophy, BTW, and I do love him for it). Orgasmic Italian food (salumi to die for, artisan pizza, and homemade gelato). Inventive decor. (It's designed to look like an Italian railway station.)

The prices are quite reasonable for a night out in New York,'s fun. Elegance and pomp are a trip, I grant you, but you just can't beat fun.

So you see, there are always alternatives. Like the recipe I have for you today...

Now Chicken Parmesan is the kind of red-sauce dish a typical New York restaurant snob would call an Italian cliché. But I'll tell you what: People LOVE their clichés, including New Yorkers: egg creams, black-and-whites, Nathan's hot dogs...just three of the dozens I could list for you. And despite all the shiny new, California-style burger joints and up-market shake shacks sprining up all over Manhattan Island, you'd have to nuke the place before most of the population would let you take away their "slices to go."

Of course, Chicken Parmesan is delicious made the old-style way: breading and frying the cutlets, covering them in cheese and sauce and baking. But today I'll give you an alternative to consider--a healthier one because there's no frying involved and instead of all that breading there's just a light layering of crushed garlic croutons.

Many of you may have seen some version of this casserole before (it's really nothing new) but for those who have not, I hope you'll enjoy the way I make it. The tricks to getting it absolutely right (in my opinion) are three:

(1) Use chicken tenders or slice your chicken breasts into strips so that the chicken will cook through (and become so tender as it poaches in the sauce that you can cut it with a spoon).

Start with Caesar salad style
garlic croutons and roughly crush them.
(2) Do not use breadcrumbs (too small). Instead, start with the kind of garlic croutons you would use in a Caesar salad then roughly crush them up (by putting them in a ziplock platic bag and lightly hammering them with a rolling pin or back of a large spoon).

(3) Pre-bake the chicken before adding the cheese. This gives the very best results--beautifully cooked chicken and cheese that's melted to perfection. Otherwise, you'll either have undercooked chicken or cheese that's freakin' burned.

And now...the actual recipe!

Cleo Coyle's 
Easy Chicken Parmesan 

To download this recipe in a free
PDF document that you can print, 
save, or share, click here.

For the free PDF
of this recipe, 
click here.

Cleo Coyle's Easy
Chicken Parmesan Casserole


5-ounce package of garlic croutons

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic (minced)

½ teaspoon dried oregano

Salt and pepper (a light sprinking)

2 pounds chicken tenders (or breasts cut into strips)

5-6 fresh basil leaves (chiffonade)

2 cups of tomato sauce (jarred or your favorite recipe)

2 cups shredded mozzarella

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Step 1 – Prep oven and croutons: Preheat your oven to 350° F. Place garlic croutons in a plastic bag and beat with a meat hammer or heavy object until they’ve been crushed into smaller pieces. Do not beat these babies into breadcrumbs. But do break down any large, chunky pieces into smaller bits. Set aside.

Step 2 – Toss chicken with oil and spices: In a 9 x 13-inch glass baking dish, drizzle the olive oil. Add the chicken tenders, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper, and stir well to coat the chicken pieces with the oil and spices. Spread the fresh basil on top of the chicken.

Step 3 – Add sauce and pre-bake: Pour the tomato sauce on top of the chicken, distributing evenly. Slide into a pre-heated 350º F. oven for 30 minutes. Remove. Do not turn off oven!

Step 4 – Add layers of cheese, croutons & cheese: Spread half of the mozzarella and Parmesan evenly over the sauce. Next sprinkle all of the crushed croutons onto the sauce. Finish with a sprinkling of the remainder of the two cheeses.

After pre-baking, layer on half of the cheese...

Now add the crushed croutons....

Finally, add the rest of the cheese...

Step 5 – Final bake: Return the pan to your 350 degree F. oven for another 25 to 30 minutes. Casserole is done when all of the cheese is well melted. Remove pan from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before cutting into squares or spooning onto plates.

Re-heating: This dish makes amazingly tasty leftovers. For the very best result, before reheating, add a bit more sauce and cheese on top. Place in a small casserole dish, cover with a lid or aluminum foil, and reheat in a 350º F. oven for 20 minutes. Or simply place in a microwave-safe dish and zap uncovered until warmed through.

Click here for the
free Recipe PDF, and...

Buon appetito,

Eat with joy! 

See more
of my
 recipes at...

Yes, this is me - Cleo Coyle
Learn about my books here.
Friend me on Facebook here. 

Follow me on Twitter here.
Sign up for my free
E-newsletter here.

~ Cleo Coyle, 

New York Times
bestselling author of

The Coffeehouse Mysteries

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
culinary mysteries set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each
of the 15 titles includes the added
bonus of recipes. 


To download mini summaries

of each of these 15 mysteries, click here.

* * * 

The bestselling hardcover
is now a bestseller in paperback!

Join amateur sleuth Clare Cosi as she
sets out to caffeinate our nation's capital
and solve a capital crime.

To learn more or buy...

It can get a girl killed...

This culinary mystery
includes more than 25
delicious new recipes!

Download the free
Recipe Guide by...

* * *

Is this billionaire
a victim? a lover?
or a master of murder?

Billionaire Blend 

*Starred Review  ~ Kirkus

Top Pick  ~ RT Reviews

"...a highly satisfying mystery."
 ~ Publishers Weekly

To order from Barnes & Noble click here.

To order from Amazon, click here.

Includes recipes for Billionaire Bars
Bailey's Irish Cream Fudge
Skillet Lasagna and many more tasty
foods and drinks mentioned in the story...

Click here for the book's
free Recipe Guide!

* * *

Will an innocent
sleeping beauty
sleep forever?

The "Best of the Year"
Reviewer's Pick is
Coming to paperback
September 2015!

To order from Amazon, click here.
To order from Barnes and Noble click here.

Fairy Tale Recipes

Click here for the book's
free Recipe Guide 

* * *

New York Times

Holiday Buzz 

Includes Recipes for
Holiday Cookies, 
Festive Foods and Drinks!

To order from Barnes & Noble click here.

To order from Amazon, click here.

Click Here to see the
Free Recipe Guide

* * *

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mexican Cornbread Casserole

RileyAdamsFoodBlogPostpic_thumb_thumb I think I’ve gone on a cornbread kick. In fact, looking back over the cornbread-related recipes I’ve posted here—Spicy Corn Muffins, Quick and Easy Corn Pudding, Grits Breakfast Casserole, and Cheesy Broccoli Cornbread, I think it’s safe to say I’ve been on this kick for a while. :) And Cleo also got into the act with her delicious Corn Muffin Tops a la Julia Child.

With the new release, it’s been an exciting week at the Adams/Craig household—and a busy one! I keep thinking I’m going to cook coq au vin or oxtail soup…but then I reach for something just a little less time-consuming. :)

There’s just something about the sweetness of cornbread. But sometimes you want something just a little spicy to go with it. That’s when I pull out my recipe for…

Mexican cornbread casserole


1 pkg cornbread mix
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 lb ground beef
15 oz. black-eyed peas
15 oz. lima beans
1 can stewed tomatoes (drained)
1 can Mexicorn
1 8 oz pkg shredded Mexican cheeses
2 oz jalapenos
1 medium onion, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook and drain the ground beef and onions and add the jalapenos to the cooked mixture. Spread on the bottom of a greased casserole dish. Layer black-eyes, limas, Mexicorn, and the stewed tomatoes. Mix the cornbread mix according to the package instructions with the egg and milk and pour the mixture evenly over the casserole. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the cornbread is done.

It’s quick and easy and another nice way to sneak some veggies into my children. :)

Riley Adams/Elizabeth Spann Craig
Mystery Writing is Murder
Twitter: @elizabethscraig
Facebook: Riley Adams Author, Elizabeth Spann Craig Author

Friday, June 11, 2010

Welcome Liz Lipperman, Author of a New Culinary Mystery Series!

Liz Lipperman
I am delighted to welcome guest blogger Liz Lipperman to our kitchen today. She and I are actually doing a little switcheroo. While Liz is here, I'm blogging over at her group blog, a fun little cantina called Mysteries and Margaritas! I'm holding a hot instant giveaway there, too. Leave a comment and you could win The California Firehouse Cookbook. So after you've met Liz, come on over and visit me by clicking here (drinks are on the house). Take it away, Liz...   ~ Cleo Coyle

First off, I want to thank Cleo for having me here. I love her Coffeehouse Mysteries and was delighted to have an opportunity to tell you a little about me and my upcoming book.

Since both Cleo and I have series with yummy recipes involved, I’m posting one of the great ones from my story. The kicker is, you have to read all the way down to get it. (Yeah, I know – scrolling takes the impatient ones right to it!)

Cleo asked me to talk about my new Casserole Lover’s Series coming from Berkley in 2011 with the first book, Ducks in A Row, debuting in July 2011.

First a little back story. It’s funny how this all came about. I am a romance writer–-or at least I thought I was--until I consistently got dinged in romance contests because I didn’t follow the rules. I wanted murders and even though I always have a hot love interest and a “happily ever after”, I wasn’t writing romance. You’d think a smart girl like me would have figured that out a lot sooner and saved herself a lot of entry fees!

Temporary cover for Liz's
Ducks in a Row,
the first in her new
Casserole Lover's Mysteries,
 coming next year.
I was excited when my agent began shopping a mystery ghost series in NY and elated when an editor at Berkley called to say she loved the story and the voice. Unfortunately, she was looking for cozies and asked what else I had.

I had nothing that would work. I write mysteries with lots of twists, a fair amount of sex, language that wouldn’t work in a cozy and gruesome murder scenes. My agent asked if I could write one about food since that was what the editor was looking for. Initially, I said there was no way. We agreed I would sleep on it and let her know in the morning.

Here’s the problem. Most of the food cozies I read involved intricate gourmet cooking. I knew I could never pull off a series like that. Did I mention I grew up with 9 siblings in a household where casseroles were the only things that fed us all on our budget?

So, I fell asleep that night prepared to tell her I couldn’t write a cozy--until I awakened from a deep sleep at three in the morning and Jordan McAllister was born.

Jordan is a wannabe sports writer who graduated the top of her class and followed her boyfriend to Dallas where he promptly dumped her for a weather girl with “perky clouds.” She ends up in a small Texas town writing Personals until she's offered a chance to fill in for a local food critic off on sick leave.

Rationalizing that it’s one step closer to her dream, she jumps at the chance. However, when a dead body is found underneath her apartment stairwell with her name and number along with it, she becomes the prime suspect, as well as the main course on the murder menu.

Now, that I can write about--a girl whose idea of cooking is frying bologna and microwaving TV dinners. Now she has to write a column with fancy food recipes, and despite cooking a mean Pop Tart, has to rely on her hippy friend for recipes that are given fancy names and printed in her column. One such recipe is Potato Chip Chicken or Budine de Papitas Fritas con Pollo.

Click on the link below to download it.
It’s easy and really good.
Liz's awesome
Potato Chip Chicken Casserole
(or) "Budine de papitas fritas con pollo!"

to get Liz's

To visit Liz at
her offical author website

click the link below

And that’s how the
Casserole Lover’s Mystery series was born.
I’d love to hear how your ideas were hatched.

Comments and questions for Liz
are most welcome.
Just click the "comments" link below.


And now I'd like to tell you about our brand new contest here at Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen!

My talented friend, mystery author Avery Aames, has an exciting contest for us now that Margaret and Ken won Julie’s May contest. We’re celebrating the upcoming release of The Long Quiche Goodbye and...

Here’s how you can enter!

Avery's "You Be The Sleuth" Contest!
Avery’s first book in A Cheese Shop Mystery series, The Long Quiche Goodbye, debuts July 6. To celebrate its release, Avery is running a contest from June 9 to July 6! You be the sleuth! Track down the recipe on Avery's website that includes eggs, Edam, and white pepper. Enter your answer by clicking on this link: CONTEST ENTRY FORM.

One of you will win a $25 gift certificate at your favorite bookstore.

Two of you will win signed copies of The Long Quiche Goodbye.

Three of you will win a Long Quiche Goodbye magnet. You can ask friends for help. Spread the word and share the fun. And while you're there, consider pre-ordering a book on Avery's booksellers pageHere is the link to Avery’s website to help get you started. Good luck!


Cleo Coyle is also holding a
HOT instant giveaway today
during her guest blogger appearance at Mysteries and Margaritas blog.

Go to Cleo's blog post by clicking here.
Leave a comment for Cleo
and you could win
The California Firehouse Cookbook, which benefits a charity formed in the name of Terry Farrell, an heroic firefighter who lost his life on 9/11....

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Judy Alter Cooks Her Way Through Life

A very warm welcome to author Judy Alter. The recipient of numerous awards for her westerns and juvenile fiction, Judy has accomplished the impossible by having a cookbook published!

Thanks so much for joining us today, Judy.

1. Congratulations on having a cookbook published! I thought only TV cooking stars and celebrity chefs were able to publish cookbooks. Tell us how it happened for you!

A friend was writing a book with recipes in it, and her agent said to ditch the recipes. I said recipes were really big in books right now, so she said, "Okay, we'll write a cookbook together." I went home and began to write, realizing that my life fell into four distinct cooking periods: a childhood in a very meat-and-potatoes household in Chicago, with a Canadian father who preferred pot roast, no fish, and nothing you picked up in your hands but a mother who was an excellent cook and taught me well. Then I married a Jewish man and moved to Texas--two new cultures, and though the husband is long gone, I love Jewish food. Then there were the years I raised four children as a single parent--the casserole years. And in this final cooking phase, I live alone, entertain often, always experiment on guests and find that cooking is a great relaxation for me. Meanwhile my friend confessed that her mother never cooked and when I asked how she fed her children, she said, "I took them out." Needless to say, it became my book. State House Press, loosely related to McMurry University, told me they could only publish things with a historical aspect, but I assured them I am old enough that some of my recipes are historic.

2. What's a typical weeknight dinner at your house?

Depends. If I eat alone these days, it's a meat and a steamed vegetable, because I am on Weight Watchers. If I have company, I may experiment on anything from a casserole to what I call the $8,000 leg of lamb (someone once jokingly offered me that much for the recipe). Last night for my daughter and her husband it was Hebrew National hot dogs, German potato salad, and tossed salad with blue cheese dressing.

3. Name three things you always have in the refrigerator.

Cottage cheese (my breakfast), white wine, Paul Newman's Own Vinaigrette. (Actually these days I pretty much make my own dressings, but my youngest daughter used to list those three as the things we could live on when she and I were living alone).

4. Do you have a secret indulgence that you sneak on occasion?

Chocolate.I recently discovered a chocolate bar with chopped peanuts and jalapeno in it. Unfortunately, it's not the dark chocolate that I love and is so good for you.

5. What is your most memorable meal and where was it?

Oh, gosh--I've had lots of wonderful meals in some fairly posh restaurants but I think my most memorable meals are when my family is gathered around me and usually then it's tacos or fajitas or a family favorite called Doris' casserole. I have four children, all happily married to people I adore, and seven grandchildren.

6. You've written quite a few westerns. What made you decide to
switch to mysteries?

I've always been an avid mystery reader, and I just wanted to prove to myself I could do it. I've written one that my mentor from grad school (who taught genre lit) says is good but so far haven't placed it. A sequel awaits revision. Besides the market for the kind of westerns I wrote has fallen away. I wrote mostly fictional biographies of well known women, like Libby Custer.

7. Will your mysteries include recipes?

Strangely enough, the protagonist is not a good cook, but she's getting better, especially when a policeman who can cook comes into her life.

8. Would you mind sharing a recipe with us?

Here's Doris' Casserole.

Doris' Casserole

First layer:

1 lb. ground beef
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed in garlic press
2 tsp each sugar and salt (I cut back on those but sugar is important in tomato-based sauces-my mom taught me years ago it sort of rounds it off.)
Pepper to taste

Brown ground beef in skillet. Drain grease and return to skillet. Add tomatoes and tomato sauce, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper. Simmer 20 minutes, until it thickens a little.

Spread in a 9 x 13 pan.

For noodle layer:

5 oz. (approximately-they don't come in this size pkg.) egg noodles
3 oz. pkg. cream cheese
1 c. sour cream
6 green onions chopped, with some of the tops included

1-1/2 c. grated cheddar

Cook egg noodles and drain. While the noodles are hot, stir in cream cheese, sour cream, and green onions. Spread over meat mixture. (I gave this recipe to one friend who insisted that it was backward and the noodles should go first-I finally convinced her, and her family loved it too.) Top with grated cheddar, bake 35 minutes at 350 or until bubbly and cheese is slightly browned.
Supposed to serve 8, but you'll be lucky if you can feed six with it. Freezes well.

Thanks again for joining us at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen, Judy!

Visit Judy at her website.

and her blog, Judy's Stew.