Chicken-stuffed Shells

 

Bethany made these for dinner on Sunday night. They’re one of my favorites.

There are many variations on the ‘net out there.

I’d use Miracle Whip instead of mayo if I was doing it, but there’s not enough to taste the difference.  We also generally add a 2nd can of cream of chicken soup so there’s more (& thicker) gravy.  We have used the light Miracle Whip and the “healthy request” can of chicken soup with no discernible difference.

Obviously, a rotisserie chicken makes this go a little more quickly.  Ha ha.  Also, I like to grill the chicken breasts on the counter-top electric grill rather than boil them.  Seems easier, and I like the dark edges.

This is one of my favorie meals, it lasts for lunches for days or freezes well.  I like ’em with a side of nice fresh green beans.

Also… you could change it up with Cream of Mushroom or Cream of Celery or Cream of whatever soup…  Not sure how you’d adapt to a vegetarian/vegan version if you wanted to… I know Campbell’s “cream of” soups have “natural flavors” that could have once been alive & self-aware… and I’m not sure about stove-top stuffing but I’m sure there’s chicken flavoring in there.

We’ve also done this with leftover Turkey & stuffing after Thanksgiving.

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Acorn Squash, Roasted Corn on the Cob, Skillet Steaks, & Duquesne Beer

Recently, we had a ridiculously excellent fall dinner.  I could eat this meal several nights a week, and not grow tired of it.

Delicious Fall Dinner
Acorn Squash, Corn on the Cob, Skillet Steaks, & Duquense Beer!

First up was the acorn squash, which is really easy to prepare once you get the damn thing cut open.  I have recently stopped trying to go through the whole thing at once.  I use a serrated knife and poke from the beside stem into the center, then slice out form the stem all the way back around until I hit the stem again, then crack it open.

After scooping out the seeds (which I always wonder about cooking like pumpkin seeds) and stringy gross stuff, I placed the two halves orange side up in a glass baking dish in about ½” to ¾” of water.  Don’t worry, they actually generally do sit up that way without a problem.  I sliced the tops/insides a little in preparation for the next part…

Acorn Squash, after roasting.
SQUASH!

I melted some butter (or some Country Crock spread actually) in the microwave, probably about 3 tablespoons worth, and added a little bit of brown sugar, stirred, then ladled it on the top & into the cup formed in the middle.  Add it to taste.  I don’t really ever measure this.  If you’re looking for a measurement form me, add what you think is too much brown sugar, then add a pinch more.  I also added a tiny bit of black pepper & paprika to mine this time… but I add that to almost everything.

After that, I placed it in the already pre-heating oven at 400° for about an hour and 5 minutes.  I was going for somewhere between an hour and an hour & 15 minutes, and it worked out closer to the hour this time.  Check on it around the hour mark.  This one was roasted perfectly… the meat of the squash was just melting on to the spoon, & peeling right off of the skin inside.  It was really a great flavorful vegetable.  I don’t know if this is baking or roasting, but whatever it is, it works.  It would have also been good scooped out & served like groovy orange mashed potatoes.

Corn, unressed, re-dressed, & bound for doom!
Corn, undressed, re-dressed, & bound for doom!

Up next was the corn, figuring temperature was more important for the squash, I typically roast corn at 425° or 450° for 20 minutes to a half hour… but figured why not let it ride along with the squash here?

My wife & I carefully pulled back all the husks… just pulled them back not off, then removed the silk.

We buttered (again, we used Country Crock’s butter approximation), salted, & peppered the corn.

Next we wrapped it back up, and tied the tops back together using a loose strand of the husk.  This doesn’t always work out, so sometimes I use foil & make little caps to keep ’em all bound together.

I did a whole post on corn & why you should keep it in the husk, and never ever boil it unless you’re making soup.  You can read that here if you’re interested.  As you can see, “other stuff in the oven” is not even a good excuse to boil corn.  It can go along for the ride.  Proof?  It turned out beautifully:

Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob
Why would you boil corn, when you could have this awesomeness every time?

I wish my cell phone’s camera got better shots.  I need to think farther than Facebook or Twitter when taking food photos, and get the real camera so I can post more to this blog.  The corn husks did smoke a little… but I didn’t see any flames, and it let me know when it was done.  Ha ha ha.  I’ve grown to not rely on timers so much, but to go with temperature and a gut feeling.

Oddly enough for a carnivore like myself, the steak was not the star of this meal.  We just got some thin  skillet steaks and put them on the Foreman grill oiled, salted, & peppered for about 5 minutes, maybe a little less.  They turned out fine.  The Foreman Grill seems to be my go-to tool for cooking meat until I get new knobs for by real grill outside.  I’m in a Yahoo! Group that’s a really good resource for innovative GFG cooking.

I topped it all off with the newly resurrected Duquesne Beer.  [Insert zombie and or Jesus joke here.]  I have a collection of antique bottles and have a Duke beer bottle in with my local stuff… so when I heard that they were making it again, I knew I had to try some.  I was born after the company was dissolved the first time, so I can’t compare it to the original… but it is a nice mellow pilsner that goes well with this kind of dinner.  It rounded out the meal perfectly.

It was aggravating to get my hands on some though… they’ve had a weird release schedule, and no 6 pack shops around me were carrying the stuff.  When one local pizza joint was listed as having the stuff, I went there to buy some and they had no idea what I was talking about.  I ended up buying a case, but luckily I don’t feel “stuck” with something that I don’t like.