Tag Archives: cooking

Lentil and Sausage Soup: No Fuss, Simply Satisfying

When I made this Lentil and Sausage Soup, it was delightfully easy and its flavor impressive. Surprised by numerous recipes calling for “just throw everything in the pot” once the sausage browned; I struggled a little with not layering the flavors, skeptical of great taste with so little effort.  Melding a few promising recipes into one, this soup proved worthy of a regular spot on the menu rotation. Nothing fancy, just down right delicious.

Lentils boast a beautiful range of autumn colors to choose from; I selected yellow for a bright, appetizing soup. Green and brown lentils are more common and equally as tasty, but tend to make soups look muddy or cloudy. Its humble ingredients will never outshine Lobster Bisque or Cream of Asparagus for culinary elegance, however, Lentil and Sausage Soup delivers a flavorful and satisfying meal without a lot of fuss.

Lentil and Sausage Soup

Serves 6
2        tablespoons  extra virgin olive oil
1         lb  Italian sausage — removed from casings (link chicken sausage is great too)
1         medium  onion — chopped
2         stalks  celery — chopped
3         medium  carrots — chopped
1          orange  bell pepper — chopped
4         cloves  garlic — minced
1          teaspoon  sea salt
1          teaspoon  lemon pepper
1/2 – 1  teaspoon  red pepper flakes — or more, to taste
1          teaspoon  basil — or 1/4 cup fresh basil
1          teaspoon  oregano
1/2       teaspoon  thyme — or 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
2         cups  dry lentils
1          medium  zucchini — chopped
28       ounces  diced tomatoes — undrained
6          cups  chicken stock
1          piece  parmesan rind
2         tablespoons  fresh parsley
Parmesan cheese

In a large pot, brown sausage in olive oil. Removed from pan and drain sausage on paper towels. In the same pot, saute the onion, celery, and bell pepper until vegetables are softened and beginning to caramelize. Add garlic, salt and spices, cook until fragrant.

Mix in the remaining items, except the parsley, and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 1 hour or until lentils are tender.

Stir in parsley and simmer about 10 minutes before serving. Remove Parmesan rind and serve with freshly grated Parmesan and crusty bread.

Roasted Cauliflower & Garlic Soup

Yesterday, with the storm blowing outside, I was ready with a fist full of recipes. Sausage and Lentil Soup was already on the docket, along with sprouted wheat bread recipes, both dinner rolls and French bread.  Mid-morning, the creative process kicked in and this recipe lined up in my head like a military march.

I often wonder why these flashes of creativity strike during a shower, at 3:00 a.m., or when I am already committed to something else for the day. 

Oh well, I have learned to grab a pen and something to scratch it out on, because you can bet money on the fact it will NOT come back to me later.  Fortunately, I had more than the back of an envelope at hand, so the recipe made its way from my head to the paper.

Roasted cauliflower and roasted garlic … these would carry the show. 

Wanting it as creamy white as possible, I chose parsnips over carrots, and declined the notion of celery. Cauliflower creates a creamy texture all on its own once pureed, so a small amount of cream is all it took to hit the mark for texture.  Roasted garlic brings a smooth, deep flavor to quick soups, making it taste like it has simmered all day. Stir in extra roasted cauliflower just before serving, garnished with bacon and scallions for a little crunch and satisfying finish.

This recipe was so easy to put together it was ready in time for lunch with plenty of energy for my breads and lentil soup, which we had for dinner.

Roasted Cauliflower & Garlic Soup

Serves: 2
1      small head  garlic (8-10 cloves) — roasted
2     tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil
1/2    small head  cauliflower — sliced 1/4″ thick
lemon pepper
2     slices  bacon — fried, crumbled
3/4   cup  parsnip — peeled and diced
1/2    cup  sweet onion — chopped
2      cups  chicken stock
2      tablespoons  cream
scallions — for garnish
sea salt — to taste
pepper — to taste

Heat oven to 400°F Cut top of garlic bulb off so that the majority of the cloves are exposed. Place in a small oven proof dish, pour 2 tablespoons olive oil over garlic bulb, and roast at for 30 minutes or until garlic is soft.

Arrange sliced cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet, brush with additional olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2-1 teaspoon of the lemon pepper. Place in the oven beside the garlic and roast for about 10 minutes, stirring midway through, until cauliflower is lightly browned. Remove cauliflower from oven and set aside. When garlic is soft and top is lightly browned, remove from oven, place garlic bulb on a plate and let cool. Reserve roasted garlic oil for garnish, if desired.

Cook bacon in a medium sauce pan until crisp and fat is rendered. Drain on paper towel, crumble, and set aside. While bacon is cooking, finely chop 1/2 cup of the roasted cauliflower and reserve.

Cook onion and parsnip in bacon fat in the same sauce pan over med heat until vegetables are softened, about 5-6 minutes. Add cauliflower except for the reserved 1/2 cup to the onions and parsnips. Squeeze the garlic bulb from the bottom to remove garlic cloves and add cloves to the pot.

Pour 1 1/2 cups of the broth over the vegetables and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until vegetables are all cooked through.  Puree soup in a blender until smooth, return to sauce pan and add remaining broth, reserved cauliflower, and cream.

Heat on low for 2 minutes to heat through. Serve in warmed bowls and garnish with crumbled bacon, scallions, and drizzle with reserved roasted garlic olive oil.

Stir a Pot, Feed a Soul: Real Comfort Food

Chicken & Dumplings -- click on photo for recipe

When we hear someone say, “comfort food” thoughts drift to dinners from childhood imagining something warm, full of carbs, or sweetly satisfying. We dream of flavors and textures to feed our emotional funk or exhaustive schedule to quench and satisfy.  The focus is inward, self-gratifying.

What if our focus shifted outward instead?

This is not intended to make you feel guilty about surrounding yourself with good food or savoring a favorite meal, simply to think about comfort food differently.  Food not only soothes our moods and maladies, it brings comfort to those hurting, recovering, or overwhelmed. Of course, it fills a practical need, but so do restaurants and pizza delivery. Taking a meal to someone invests in community with a personal touch that goes far beyond the food itself.

When someone notices our need and offers to lift our burden for a moment we feel valued, encouraged, and less alone.

Our family has been the beneficiary of meals arriving at our door after a major car accident, sudden illness, and crisis.  The concern and kindness of friends, as well as others we didn’t even know, created emotional margin and physical relief when doctor appointments, decision-making, and grief consumed daily routine.  They were life-givers, every one, with encouraging words and reassurance they were there to do whatever they could … taking care of one of the basic needs like dinner or groceries was a vital part of the help we needed.

According to 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV) Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.  When we serve others, it is a blessing no matter how big or small the gesture.  It doesn’t have to be a whole meal, if you bake amazing bread, make an extra loaf to give away.  I believe good food is one of the various forms of God’s grace we can use to meet someone’s need—real comfort food.

So what does that really look like?

You can start by responding to needs in your own sphere of influence at church, school, work, club, or neighborhood. It doesn’t have to be someone in crisis, it can be a single mom with a maxed schedule, a college student missing home, or a co-worker trying to finish a big project who would be grateful to know you care. Yes, it might feel weird to be the first one to do something like this, but caring for others is worth feeling a little awkward.

10 Tips for Stirring a Pot and Feeding a Soul:

1. Simple food is best. Make what you know and do well; this is not the time to try new recipes.  Check for allergies and strong dislikes. For food sensitivities and allergies, think outside the casserole. Casseroles are great comfort food for many, but are more apt to contain common food allergens like corn, wheat, milk, or soy.  Braised meats, steamed vegetables, soups, and salads easily accommodate those with food restrictions or strong dislikes of certain foods.

2. Use disposable containers.  Unless it is a neighbor or someone you see regularly, deliver meals in containers that do not need to be returned.  Keep it as simple as possible for those you are trying to bless.

3. Deliver the meal at dinnertime, if possible. If not, make it as close to ready with clear instructions. If delivering food to a family with a new baby, don’t ring the door bell.  Arrange a specific time and arrive with a gentle knock at the door in case the baby is sleeping.

4. Consider everyone in a family. Crisis, surgery, new babies, grief, affects everyone within a family. Try to include at least one thing everyone will like with the meal. If the family has small children, make sure you show up with ice cream or something specifically for them if you can.

5. Customize the meal for the event/purpose. Bereavement, nursing mothers, recovering from surgery or illness can each pose a different need.
New moms
, especially nursing moms, eat often so snacks and easy breakfast foods are great too.  Avoiding spicy, acidic food is helpful to prevent adverse reactions from the baby.
Surgery
is hard on the body, when someone undergoes general anesthesia the entire digestive system shuts down. Provide a gentle and nourishing meal like chicken soup made from homemade bone broth. Consider foods that are soft, nourishing, and easy to digest. If you know they like smoothies, provide a few pre-packaged frozen smoothies easily assembled at home.

6. Offer to coordinate the meals.  Major crisis, trauma, accidents can be overwhelming and having an infant with the phone constantly ringing is no picnic either.  Having one person collect primary information and receive questions regarding meals is truly helpful.  Organizing a handful of suppers for a friend is pretty straight forward, but when a larger group or longer-term need is part of the equation, there are services to help.

Care Calendar
Meal Baby
Food Tidings
Lotsa Helping Hands
Take Them A Meal

7. Providing a meal is not the time to impose your nutritional agenda on someone else or “teach” them how to eat.  Try to understand what would bring comfort to them, even well-meaning advice can be overwhelming when someone is stressed.

8. Include the recipe. This can be especially helpful for those with food sensitivities or allergies too—they can have a little more confidence when they can review the recipe.

9. Include a note of encouragement, which mentions what you brought. This is helpful when a number of meals are provided. It can be difficult to remember and sort out who brought what when writing thank you cards. (Yes, I know, you didn’t do it to be thanked.)

10. Even if you don’t cook or have time to prepare a meal, you can help. Offer to run errands, clean, babysit, carpool kids, or provide a gift card for take-out.

What is comfort food to you? 

Have you comforted others with food or received this kind of comfort food from someone?  If so, what was your experience?

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
Gallery of Favorites Holiday Edition

Minestrone Soup with Blue Cheese-Parmesan Meatballs

Sunday is our day to rest, which includes a rest from cooking, so dinners throughout the week have to carry us through the weekend. As the weather turns colder, soup is ideal to comfort from the chill in the air, as well as provide for Sunday’s break from the kitchen.  I have had this Minestrone Soup recipe rolling around in my head for months. It is one of those things you have to get into the kitchen to work it out—even take an entire day just to make it as you imagined. Well, that’s how it is for me, anyway.

Yes, I’ve had those times when not all the tweaks and additions measure up to what my taste buds anticipated, though it is never a waste, I always learn. Fortunately, yesterday wasn’t one of those times :D.  This recipe turned to gold right before my eyes with beefy broth, loads of savory vegetables, and tender meatballs.

Rolling mini-meatballs can be a bit tedious, but I am a perfect bite kind of gal, so there has to be more than just a meatball on the spoon.  The blue cheese is subtle, blending with the Parmesan beautifully, packing deep flavor in each morsel—it was exactly as I imagined. If it is the perfect bite you’re after, you will want a hearty, crusty bread to soak up every drop of the delicious broth too.

Minestrone Soup with Blue Cheese-Parmesan Meatballs

Serves 8-10
For the Meatballs:
2          eggs
1/2      cup  milk
1 1/2   teaspoons  Worcestershire sauce
1/2      cup  bread crumbs [for gluten-free, use GF bread]
3/4     cup  Parmigiano-Reggiano — grated
1/4      cup  fresh parsley — minced
1           teaspoon sea salt
1           teaspoon  pepper
2          teaspoons  unrefined sugar
1/2      teaspoon  ground ginger
1/2      teaspoon  ground nutmeg
1/2      teaspoon  ground allspice
1          teaspoon  Italian seasoning
1          teaspoon  oregano
2         tablespoons  extra virgin olive oil
1          medium  onion — finely chopped
3         cloves  garlic — minced
1          pound  ground beef
1          pound  ground lamb
1/2      pound  hot Italian sausage — casing removed
1/4      cup  blue cheese — crumbled fine

For the Soup:
3        quarts  beef stock
2×3 piece  Parmigiano-Reggiano rind
4        tablespoons  extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2  cups  leeks — white and light green part only, coarsely chopped
1         cup  fennel bulb — sliced, then coarsely chopped
1         cup  celery — chopped
6         cloves  garlic — minced
1         cup  carrots — diced
1 1/2   cups  parsnips — diced
2         teaspoons  oregano
1/2     teaspoon  rosemary leaves — crushed fine
1/4     teaspoon  red pepper flakes
2         cans  diced tomatoes — crushed or pulsed in processor
1          can  red kidney beans — drained and rinsed
1 1/2   cups  dry pasta [for gluten-free, use Ancient Harvest Quinoa Shells]
3          cups  baby spinach leaves — lightly packed
1/2      cup  fresh parsley — minced
sea salt and pepper, to taste

For the Meatballs:
In a medium mixing bowl, beat eggs with milk and Worcestershire sauce.  Mix in the bread crumbs, Parmesan, parsley, salt, pepper, sugar, and spices; set aside.

Saute onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat until softened.

Mix meats and blue cheese together, add egg and spice mixture and onions; mix thoroughly. Shape into small 1/2″ meatballs. Place meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Broil on HI until lightly browned, about 6-8 minutes. Cooking time will vary depending on size of meatballs.  Break one open to be sure they are cooked through, extend cooking time if needed.

Set meatballs aside to finish the soup.  Note: This meatball recipe will produce more than is needed for the soup, though you can add as many as you like. Add the remaining meatballs to a pasta sauce or use for appetizers, simply freeze until ready to use.

For the Soup:
Pour beef stock into a soup pot and add a 2×3″ piece of Parmesan rind, bring to a low simmer (if you do not have Parmesan rind, grate some Parmesan into the stock). In a skillet over medium heat, saute leeks, fennel, and celery in half the olive oil until the vegetables begin to caramelize. Add garlic and continue to cook until garlic is fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add to the soup pot with stock.

In the same skillet, saute the carrots and parsnips in the other half of the olive oil over medium heat. Sprinkle with the oregano, rosemary, and red pepper flakes and cook until vegetables begin to brown lightly and herbs are fragrant. Add to the soup pot.

Crush the tomatoes by hand or in a food processor until desired consistency. Add tomatoes with juices to the pot along with the drained kidney beans and meatballs. Stir to combine and simmer until flavors meld and vegetables are cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Add dry pasta, spinach, and parsley to the soup and simmer an additional 15 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with more Parmesan and serve with crusty bread or Parmesan-Garlic toasts.

Note: This meatball recipe will produce more than is needed for the soup, though you can add as many as you like.  Add the remaining meatballs to a pasta sauce or use for appetizers, simply freeze until ready to use. A versatile soup, easy to substitute your favorite vegetables in place of any of those listed.

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania
Premeditated Leftovers Hearth & Soul Hop
SS&GF Slightly Indulgent Tuesday
Real Food Forager Fat Tuesday
The Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter Thursday
Mom Trends Food Friday
Real Food Whole Health Fresh Bites Friday
EKat’s Kitchen Friday Potluck
Easy Natural Food Sunday Soup Night

Turkey Pot Pie with Gluten Free Pie Crust

Over the past few months, I have experimented with a number of gluten-free recipes, especially on those nights our daughter will be home for dinner.  I have had some great hits and some real misses trying to find what works and still tastes good.  Cupcakes, stews and sauces, and pancakes all turned out, but pie crust was illusive, either crumbly or gritty.  There was advice about grinding the flour more fine or buying certain mixes, but I wanted a recipe that worked with the six flours I already had.

Yesterday, I hit a home run (in the spirit of the World Series).  This pastry crust was easy to handle, light and delicious, without the grit common in gluten-free pastry.  It got a thumbs-up from everyone, even our youngest who is not thrilled about anything GF, so she is my real tell.

Last year I posted a recipe for Inside Out Turkey Pot Pie with Whole Wheat Biscuits, this recipe shows how to make it gluten-free with a traditional pie crust. This one-pot meal is full of comfort for cold winter days.  Often we save leftovers from rotisserie or baked chicken for this recipe, but with the holidays coming, it is a great way to use up those turkeys.

Turkey Pot Pie [Gluten-Free]

Serves: 6
1/3      cup  butter
3/4     cup  onion — minced
1        cup  carrots — sliced thin
1/2      cup  celery — chopped
1/2      teaspoon  thyme
2        cloves  garlic — minced
3/4      teaspoon  salt
1/2      teaspoon  pepper
1/4      cup  sweet rice flour
1 3/4   cups  chicken or turkey stock
2/3      cup  milk
3        cups  turkey — cooked and cut into small pieces
3/4      cup  frozen peas — defrosted

Preheat oven to 425° and prepare pastry crust.  Roll out 2/3 of the crust for the bottom and press into 9x9x2 pan (minimum 2.2 quart).  Pierce with a fork to prevent bubbles and pre-bake the bottom crust at 425° for 5-8 minutes until set, but not brown. Roll out other part of crust enough to top the dish and refrigerate until ready to use.

Prep vegetables and rinse peas to separate.  Melt butter on medium heat, stir in onion, carrot, celery, and thyme and cook until vegetables are softened. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir in salt, pepper, and flour.

Add salt, pepper, and flour, stir until mixture is bubbly, 2-3 minutes.

Add broth and milk, heat to boiling stirring constantly.  Stir in turkey and peas; simmer for 3-5 minutes. Adjust seasoning, to taste.  Pour mixture into prebaked crust. Cover with crust, pierce crust with a fork to allow steam to vent.  Bake at 425° for 30 minutes and bubbly.

Remove dish from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Pie Crust [Gluten Free]

Adapted from You, Me & Gluten Free
Yield: 2 crust pie
1       cup  sweet rice flour
2/3    cup  tapioca flour
1/2     cup  cornstarch
1        tablespoon  coconut palm sugar
3/4     teaspoon  sea salt
1        teaspoon  xanthan gum
1        teaspoon  baking powder
3/4     cup  butter — very cold or frozen, cut into small pieces
2        large  eggs — beaten
2        teaspoons  lemon juice or apple cider vinegar

Combine the flours, sugar, salt, xanthan gum, and baking powder in a bowl or food processor until well mixed.

Cut in butter with a pastry knife or in the processor until blended and butter pieces are very small (smaller than peas).

Mix in beaten eggs and lemon juice until a smooth ball forms.  If the room is warm or the dough is too soft, refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour until firm. Sprinkle a little rice flour on a sheet of parchment paper and on a rolling pin to roll out dough into desired shape. Fold in half and place in the pan.

Unfold and gently press the dough into the pan and bake according to recipe directions.

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
The Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter Thursday
Mom Trends Friday Food
Real Food Whole Health Fresh Bites Friday
EKat’s Kitchen Friday Potluck

Seasonal Ingredient Map [via Epicurious]: Feature Fridays

Epicurious Seasonal Map

THIS is cool!
An interactive map from Epicurious showing what is fresh and grown locally in your area, by month.  Ever wonder when you can expect local strawberries or winter squash?  Want to be more purposeful about buying locally, but not sure what is available?  Just click on a state and there it is, along with ingredient descriptions, shopping guides, recipes, and tips.  Pretty neat, huh?!  Well, I liked it, though on Fridays I can be easily entertained. 😀  Enjoy!

Chicken Broccoli Casserole with Fried Onion Topping [GF]: Remaking an Old Standby

I imagine most families in America have some version of this soup-mix classic in their recipe rotation, or at least in their distant memory.  Casseroles did not originate in the U.S., but the method of using canned cream soups to bind a hodgepodge of ingredients together in one vessel, is certainly on us.  In the 1930s, The Campbell Soup Company began producing Cream of Mushroom soup, leading to a host of new, quick-fix family meals for home cooks.

Campbell’s® Ready To Serve Cream Of Mushroom Soup: water, mushrooms, cream (milk), vegetable oil (corn, cottonseed, canola and/or soybean), modified food starch, contains less than 2 % of: bleached enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, ferrous sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), salt, monosodium glutamate, soy protein concentrate, yeast extract, spice extract, dehydrated garlic, oleoresin paprika.

Thanksgiving green beans, canned tuna, chicken, rice, tortillas, has all been subject to the cream sauce short cut of creamed soups. Throw French’s Fried Onions on top and dinner is served all across the country.  I remember my mom serving it over cooked rice as a side dish and trust me, she knew how to make good gravy, but it was quick and easy.  When schedules are maxed, we have all turned to convenience items like this to get something on the table.

The pity is, generations raised on convenience foods lose the knowledge, skill, and taste for preparing real, whole foods. Butter, cream, homemade stock is abandoned for processed alternatives with sugar, MSG, bad oils, and preservatives.  A couple of years ago, I discovered Emeril’s Green Bean Casserole with a homemade mushroom sauce and I was ruined, never to return to the recipe on the can of French’s onions again.

With resolve to eliminate processed foods from our diet and accommodate our daughter’s sensitivity to gluten, I was determined to make Chicken Broccoli Casserole from scratch.  That’s right, no canned soup or pre-made onions, just fresh ingredients creating a satisfying dinner from a single dish.  Our original recipe includes Paul Prudhomme Poultry Magic to season the chicken, which is a great line of seasonings.  However, it is not available in all stores, so part of the remake includes a mix of spices common in most kitchens.

Oh, and the fried onions … be sure to make a few extra for snacking, and (confession) don’t start hungry or you’ll eat too many before you can get them on the casserole.  So here it is, Chicken Broccoli Casserole with Fried Onion Topping, also gluten-free—a warm, savory, crispy, creamy, and satisfying, one-dish meal; perfect for fall and winter evenings.

Chicken Broccoli Casserole with Fried Onion Topping

Serves: 6
For the Onion Topping:
peanut oil or coconut oil — for frying
1       large  sweet yellow onion — sliced into rings
1       tablespoon  Chipotle Tabasco
1       tablespoon  Worcestershire sauce
1       tablespoon  Tamari soy sauce (gluten-free)
1/2     cup  King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour Mix or whole wheat flour
1/4     cup  cornstarch
1/2     teaspoon  baking powder, if using GF flour
salt

For the Mushroom Sauce:
4       tablespoons  butter
1/2     large  sweet yellow onion — chopped fine
1/2     cup  celery — chopped fine
6       large cloves  garlic — minced
8       ounces  mushrooms — wiped clean and ends trimmed, sliced
1/4     teaspoon  pepper
1/2     teaspoon  salt
2       tablespoons  sweet rice flour or 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2  cups  chicken stock, homemade or low-sodium
1/2     cup  heavy cream

For the rest of the filling:
1       cup  brown rice, uncooked
8      cups  broccoli (about 1 1/4 lbs) — cut into small florets, blanched
2      tablespoons  butter
3-4  large  boneless and skinless chicken breasts — cut into 1″ cubes
1      teaspoon  granulated garlic
1      teaspoon  onion powder
1      teaspoon  oregano
1      teaspoon  thyme
1      teaspoon  paprika
1/2    teaspoon  coriander
1/2    teaspoon  salt
1/2    teaspoon  pepper
1/4    teaspoon  cayenne
pinch  nutmeg
2      cups  extra sharp cheddar cheese — grated
Note: To save a step, the spice mix for the filling can be substituted with 2 tablespoons Paul Prudhomme Poultry Magic

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease a 9×13 casserole dish with butter and set aside.

Cook the rice according to package directions. 1 cup of uncooked rice should yield 3 cups cooks rice. Once rice is done, fluff and set aside to cool.  Blanch prepared broccoli in boiling water for 1 minute, drain, and rinse with cold water-or-plunge in water bath and drain again; set aside to cool.

For the Onion Topping:
Separate the onion slices into individual rings. Mix Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce together. Using your hands, combine the onion rings with the sauce in a mixing bowl and toss thoroughly until the onions are coated with the sauce. Mix GF flour, cornstarch, and baking powder in a shallow bowl until well blended.  Dredge the onion rings in the flour to coat (gently tap off any excess flour).

Heat 1/2 inch of peanut oil in a deep skillet until hot enough that onions sizzle, place onion rings one at a time in skillet, but not touching. Fry until onion rings are lightly golden on each side, about 30 seconds. (Since the onions will bake in the oven, you do not want them to brown too much, only set the coating). Transfer to a paper towel lined platter to drain and season onion rings with salt. Set aside. (The onions that are darker brown are great for snacking 🙂 )

For the Mushroom Sauce:
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over med heat and cook the chopped onions and celery until soft, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are soft and golden brown and have released their liquid, 4 to 6 minutes. Sprinkle with the sweet rice flour, salt, and pepper, and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the chicken stock and cream and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce begins to thicken, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and cover with a lid.

For the rest of the filling:
Mix remaining seasonings together in a small bowl. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet, place cubed chicken in the skillet and sprinkle with seasoning mix. Cook over medium heat until chicken is just cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside.

Mix the rice, broccoli, chicken, and 1 1/2 cups of cheese together in a large mixing bowl until evenly mixed. Mix in cream sauce until incorporated. Pour into a prepared baking dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Top with fried onion rings. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly and the onion rings are golden brown.

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
Mom Trends Friday Food
Real Food Whole Health Fresh Bites Friday
The Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter Thursday
EKat’s Kitchen Friday Potluck
Real Food Forager Fat Tuesday
SS&GF Slightly Indulgent Tuesday