Vaguely Mexican Chicken

I don’t have any Spanish heritage or any Southwestern US heritage, but I think this spicy chicken casserole will satisfy a craving for Mexican food.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Dice two whole medium white onions and add them to the pan. As the onions are cooking, stir in a good shake of cayenne, garlic, black pepper, and salt. (Well, a smaller shake of salt.) Cut 1.5 pounds of chicken breasts into pieces about the size of two or three bites and add them to the pan. Cook the whole mixture, stirring periodically, until the chicken pieces are cooked through. (Do not overcook them. What I do is slice open one of the larger pieces when I think the chicken might be done — if the biggest piece is cooked through, then the other pieces should be fine. You can also remove one piece and use a meat thermometer to test it.)

When the chicken is completely cooked, scrape the whole mixture into a 9 x 9 Pyrex dish. Slice 8 ounces of smoked Gouda cheese into thin strips and lay the strips on top of the chicken casserole. Bake (uncovered) for 30 to 45 minutes, until cheese is soft and melted. Enjoy!

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Quick Chicken Skillet Meal

The forecast calls for a high of around 93 degrees Fahrenheit today in our area, so I definitely didn’t want to be standing over a hot stove for a long time to make lunch. Here’s what I did instead:

Melt six or seven tablespoons of Simply Ghee in a skillet over medium heat. Slice up three large pearl onions — I get mine from a Lancaster County organic farmer via Pure Sprouts — and separate them into rings. Place the rings in the skillet, give them a quick stir, lower the heat to medium-low, and cover the skillet.

While the onions are cooking, cut one pound of chicken breast into bite-sized pieces. Add them to the skillet and re-cover it, raising the heat just a bit. Simmer the chicken until it’s cooked all the way through, which you can check with a meat thermometer or by slicing the biggest piece in half.

While the chicken is simmering, wash and slice one package of shiitake mushrooms (3.5 ounces, about eight mushrooms). When the chicken is completely cooked, add the mushrooms to the skillet, leave the cover off, and raise the heat to medium-high. Cook the whole mixture together while stirring it. When the mushrooms have cooked nicely, remove everything (except the melted ghee) with a slotted spoon to a serving dish, mix in 1/2 cup of cashews, and cover the dish to keep it warm.

Add two tablespoons of cornstarch to the melted ghee and whisk it in over low heat. Add 3/4 cup of water and continue to whisk as you raise the heat to medium. Whisk until the sauce thickens, then add salt and pepper to taste, pour it over the chicken mixture, and serve the dish immediately.

White Pizza

This is a nice dinner for a cold winter evening. It doesn’t take too long to make it, and you don’t have to have a lot of ingredients on hand. I used a pizza stone, but you can bake it on a circular pizza tray if you choose.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Start with Garvey’s organic Irish brown bread mix (or your own recipe for a soda bread). Mix half of the package (1/2 pound, roughly) with 3/4 cup of plain whole milk yogurt, knead it for a bit, then place it on your pizza stone and spread it out a bit so it is the size and shape that you want your pizza to be. Set it aside.

Take 1/2 pound of sliced bacon, cut each slice in half, and saute the bacon in a frying pan in just a tiny bit of olive oil (medium-high heat) until it is just done. While the bacon is cooking, slice two onions extremely thin; when the bacon is done, add the onions to the pan with a hearty shake of all-purpose seasoning. Cook it all together over medium heat, stirring periodically with a fork, until the onions get slightly soft; then turn off the heat and use a fork or a slotted spoon to remove the bacon and onions from the pan to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

With a fork, mix together one egg yolk, 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese (or soft farmer’s / Georgic cheese), and 1/4 cup of plain whole milk yogurt. Spread it on the pizza dough, then cover it with slices of cave-aged Gruyere, then cover that with fresh basil leaves, then top it all with the bacon and onion mixture. Put the whole thing into the oven for 25 minutes. Be extremely careful when you take it out, as it will be tremendously hot Slice it up with a pizza cutter and enjoy!