The Opinionated Foodie: The Love (or Not) of Food and Everything That Goes with It

For More Than Just Popcorn: Basil Chicken Pasta


To me, there is just something unnatural about using the microwave to cook. My microwave is on the counter by the refrigerator, but we only use it for defrosting, Easy Mac, and popcorn.


So, when a friend shared this recipe for chicken and pasta in the microwave, I thought she was kidding. This friend is trustworthy and a great cook, but microwave pasta? Blech.

Then she shared a sample. Yum.

The recipe:

4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
3 c uncooked penne pasta
3 c chicken broth
2 c grape or cherry tomatoes
1/2 t salt
1 oz. parmesan
1 c fresh basil, cut into ribbons or 1 t of dry basil-I used dry.
3/4 c white wine
1/2 c heavy cream
2 c diced grilled chicken-I bought a bag of frozen grilled chicken, and it worked out fine.
Put the olive oil, garlic, and tomatoes in a large glass casserole dish with a lid. I used my largest Corning Ware bowl. Cover and cook in the microwave on high for five minutes. The tomatoes should pop.
Add the chicken broth and pasta to the tomatoes, as well as the wine. Stir. Cook and cover again in the microwave for 10 minutes. Stir it again and microwave again for another 8 minutes.

Stir in the basil, chicken, and the cheese. Cover and heat in the microwave for another 3 minutes. Top with extra cheese if you wish.

I like this a lot. It’s got vegetables, pasta, protein, wine, and cheese-all the things needed for a happy life and shiny coat.

This recipe is easy enough for a novice to do well and anywhere there is a microwave. Thinking that, I gave my niece all these ingredients for her to make this meal in her dorm room at college. I thought I was doing a good deed. Later she texted me and reminded me that if someone found the wine in her dorm, she would kicked out of school and her future would be ruined.

My bad!


Making Grandma’s Chicken and Dumplings

Thanksgiving this year was oddly unique. The family enjoyed lots of time together and also lots of time apart. I got to read a book and play lots of Angry Birds, which I so enjoy but rarely get to do. It was fun.

For lunch on the big day, we had the usual. Then, that night we had leftovers just like always. This year, however, a new dish was in the leftover pile. It was my husband’s grandmother’s chicken and dumplins.

Grandma makes the chicken and dumplins sometimes, but her daughters make it too. You can’t always tell who has made it, and it is different depending on the cook. These dumplins were like nothing I had ever had before. They were so, so good.

When we got home, I got the bright idea to try to make these dumplins. I convinced my husband to call his grandma for the recipe. She, of course, did not use one. She did share some info, though, and using that and the intel I got from my MIL, I tried it out.

Dang, it was good.

The recipe to the best of my knowledge is-

004One hen. Not a chicken. Not a turkey. A hen. Ours was found under the frozen turkeys at Kroger. They may be seasonal. I have no idea. Ours weighed seven pounds.

Take the hen and let it thaw in the refrigerator for several days. Mine took two days. Take out the gizzards and neck and such. I fed that to the cat. Place the thawed hen in a pot and cover it (her?) in enough water to cover it/her. Add one tablespoon of minced garlic to the water. Cook covered over low heat for five hours. At the five hour mark, add a can of chicken broth. Then, increase the heat to medium for thirty minutes.

At this point, remove the hen from the water and let it/her cool. When cool enough to touch and handle, debone the hen and set the meat aside. At this point, I packed up the broth and the meat and stored both in the refrigerator over night.

005The next day, a nice, thick layer of fat had formed over the broth. Do not remove it. Heat the broth slowly to warm it up and add a half a stick of butter to it. I think this is the trick to what makes it so good. Also add a tablespoon of salt. Shread the chicken into pieces.

006While the broth is getting good and warm, open a can of refrigerated biscuits-prefereably the non-flakey kind. I used a can of ten. On a floured surface, roll out each biscuit until they are very thin and reflour as you go. Slice each thin biscuit into strips; I slice mine into four.

007When the broth is warmed and the butter has melted, add the chicken and turn up the heat to a rapid boil. Add the well-floured dumplins one at a time and so, so very lightly stir. I used a large spoon and just pressed mine down so they were wet. Minutes later-like five or so-the whole thing is done. Add salt and pepper to taste.

008 Serve in a bowl with lots of broth.


This must be the most unhealthy recipe ever-the hen, the fat, the butter, the dough.

011But, it will satisfy and make you feel so, so happy.

When I gave Mr. Opinionated his bowl, he took one bite and said, “You did good.” Coming from him about a dish that was supposed to be like his beloved grandma’s, I consider that a success, and I hope yours is too.

Chicken Rotel
November 6, 2012, 12:21 am
Filed under: Food Made by Other Food Folks | Tags: , , , ,

Lunch. Someone shared some chicken rotel. Delish and day-making stuff here. Not that today was an especially tough day, but just knowing someone thought of me and took the time to include me in their meal made it such a nice day.

I think I need to share food like she did more often, but I am afraid to. What if what I make to share is gross or makes them sick? What if they have an allergy? What if it is too cold/hot/spicy?

I guess I shouldn’t worry. It is the thought that counts, right? Sharing a meal with someone is one of my favorite things. Food is fun, but food with company is a party.

I think I’ll get over this food sharing fear and go make a pie to share tomorrow.

Have a great week, Foodie Friends.

Hugs and Casseroles

“I am not going to like it, but I will eat it.” -Mr. Opinionated right before supper.

The weather is turning. Saturday is the first day of fall. I love it. Rain has fallen all day, and the temps are cool.

This kind of weather makes me want to devour anything warm and creamy and cheesy and gooey.

So, I made Trisha Yearwood’s wild rice and chicken casserole.

The only thing is that I only had one box of wild rice, and the recipe calls for two. I was supposed to half the whole recipe, but at times I forgot and I added the ingredients as the recipe said. So, it was about half right with lots of extra parts.For example, I added two jars of mushrooms, and I made all the sauce. Devine.

Still, this chicken recipe that my husband was not at all excited about made me one happy gal, even if it wasn’t the way Trisha intended.

This dish was so perfect for this bleh day that I wanted to hug Mr. Opinionated and celebrate the moment. He thought I was crazy.

Maybe I am.

I for sure would have hugged Trisha if she had been in my kitchen. I think she and I would get along splendidly.

Homemade BBQ Sauce
April 10, 2012, 2:15 am
Filed under: Food I Make, Random Foodie Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , ,

Several years ago, I found a recipe for a homemade bar-b-que sauce that looked interesting.  It had everything under the sun in it, and I just so happened to have that much stuff in the pantry.

Lucky me. 

I have been making my own version of  this sauce ever since-especially during grilling season.  I only slather it on chicken, but I am sure it would be great on other things like a burger or a pork chop. It just does the best job on chicken on the grill.

The ingredients are 1 large onion diced, 1 1/2 cups of Hunt’s ketchup, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup of honey, 1 T liquid smoke, 1 T molasses, 1 T spicy brown mustard, 1/2 T white wine vinegar, 1 T worchesshire, 1 t ceyenne, 2 smashed cloves of garlic, 1 T chopped pickled jalepeno, 1 T soy sauce, salt, and pepper.

To make the sauce, all you do is combine everything in a saucepan on medium for about thirty minutes.  If it boils, turn it down to simmer.  This recipe could easily be doubled or tripled, but I only make enough for one meal at a time. 

This still makes plenty, though. We had some leftovers that I took to work the next day and had enough to share.  I offered my extra piece to a friend who declined my offer at first. When I told her that I made it from scratch, she said, “You can do that? I’ve never heard of such. I’ll try it.”

I think she enjoyed it. The proof was that she brought me back my plate-clean and washed-and told me I could make that chicken again anytime I liked.

Coq au Vin
June 16, 2011, 4:18 pm
Filed under: Food I Make | Tags: , , , , , ,

Coq au Vin is one of the faniciest dishes I have ever made.  It is time-consuming, expensive, complicated.  In the middle of it, I always think, “Now, why am I making this again, and why am I going to all this trouble?”

Then I remember.  Because it is fancy, time-consuming, expensive, and complicated.  In other words, because I am trying to show off my cullinary skills.  Go, me.

It is fun just to say the name of this dish.  It is sooo French, and I am sooo not French.

This dish doesn’t fit in ’round these parts. I love that.

My recipe is a mish-mash of cookbooks/trials and errors/Food Network shows.  Start early as this process takes afternoon and finish with a “Sha-zam!” or something to that effect.

And be prepared to repeat the title in a fancy way many times to those to whom you are serving it.

My recipe:

5 pounds (or close to it) chicken thighs
12 oz. Thick cut bacon
2 T butter
one bag of pearl onions
2 celery stalks in one-inch pieces
2 carrots in one-inch pieces
one pound whole mushrooms, quartered
2 T flour
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
one bottle of red wine
2 sprigs of thyme or 2 T of dried thyme
1 T parsley
2 bay leaves
Chicken stock

In a medium pot, boil salted water. Add whole pearl onions and boil for three minutes. Drain, cool, cut off the root end, peel.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Cut the bacon into one-inch chunks. In a large, oven-proof, deep skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Drain on a paper towel. Remove most of the bacon fat from the pan. Leave about two tablespoons to season.

In the same pan, add the butter, onions, celery, and carrots. Heat over medium for five minutes or until the onions start to brown. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon.

In the same pan again, heat the mushrooms. Same thing here-medium heat for five minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. Set aside with everything else.

Now, the chicken. Preheat your oven to 350. In the same pan that everything else was in (if necessary, add little butter), brown the chicken for three minutes on each side. It will get nice and happy. When you’ve crisped both sides, sprinkle the tops of the thighs with the flour. Spread it around, but don’t worry about the bottoms. Once sprinkled thoroughly, put the chicken in the preheated oven for five minutes.

Remove the chicken after time is up, and drop the heat to 250. Now, we start adding things. Add the garlic to the chicken. Add most of your wine, about three-fourths of the bottle. Return the pan to the stove on medium heat. Add the two thyme sprigs whole along with the parsley, bay leaves, bacon, and vegetables. Stir as best your can without making a huge mess. At this point, I like to add the stock to the top to dilute the wine a little as most of my family doesn’t care for wine. You may want to add the rest of the wine to cover the chicken. You may want to drink the wine and cover with the stock. Regardless, cover the chicken with something. Cover the pan and return everything to the oven where it will set for one and a half hours.

When time is up, remove the pan from the oven. On a plate, pull out the chicken and vegetables. Remove the skins from the chicken and discard. Also discard the herbs. They’ve all done their part to flavor this menagerie. Add salt and pepper.

With the sauce left in the pan, add one tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of flour. Boil until thickened.

Serve the chicken, vegetables, and gravy on a large platter with rice or noodles. Add salt and pepper before serving. Viola!

Chicken Rotel
June 10, 2011, 2:07 pm
Filed under: Food I Make | Tags: , ,

The most perfect food in the world may very well be a creamy, rich concoction called chicken rotel. It has long been a favorite of mine, and I thought everyone knew of its wonder. I learned recently, though, while talking to a friend of mine not from around here that its awesomeness was not worldwide. Shame.

Aside from its abilities to warm the tummy and heart, this recipe is also great because of its flexibility. It is highly modifiable. Want more chicken? Noodles? More creamy, rich cheese? Adjust all you want.

My recipe goes like this:

a whole chicken
Spaghetti-about half a box worth or half a pound
one can of rotel, half drained
one pound/box of Velveeta
one small jar of mushrooms
one can of sweet peas

In a large pot, cover your chicken with water. Add salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Allow to slowly boil for almost an hour. The meat should fall off the bone when you pick up a piece. When your chicken is done, pull it out of the water to cool.

In the same water that you cooked the chicken in, cook your spaghetti following the package directions. Save a little of the broth-about half a cup- to thin things out if necessary later.

When the chicken is cool enough, pull the meat off the bone. In a large bowl, mix everything together while your pasta is warm. If it looks a little thick, add the broth but don’t make it too soupy unless you want it that way. This will melt the cheese and make a gooey wonder. Ahhh.

When the mixture is mixed, spread it in a pretty casserole and warm it at 350 for 20 minutes.

You’ve got it all here: cheese, pasta, chicken. It is devine.

%d bloggers like this: