Heather's Florida Kitchen

Seasonally inspired easy recipes for the home cook.
Smothered Chicken Casserole

Smothered Chicken Casserole

Smothered Chicken Casserole (Photo courtesy General Mills Co. and BettyCrocker.com)

Smothered Chicken Casserole (Photo courtesy General Mills Co. and BettyCrocker.com)

Smothered Chicken Casserole is my Morning Mix recipe of the week. The dish from BettyCrocker.com is just the kind of comfort food you might need on a day when the world seems upside down. You can try different vegetables, such as cut green beans, corn, or thawed and drained frozen spinach. If desired, substitute boneless skinless chicken breasts for the chicken thighs. Look for more recipes curated exclusively for WOMX Mix 105.1 at the station’s website. Tonight add conversation to the meal. Devices off, hearts open.

Smothered Chicken Casserole
Yield: 4-6 servings

1 tablespoon oil
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 ounces uncooked angel hair pasta
1 (10 3/4-ounce) condensed cream of chicken soup
1 1/4 cups half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 cups frozen broccoli florets, cut into smaller pieces
3 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

1. Heat oven to 350F. Spray 2 1/2-quart casserole with cooking spray. In 10-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken thighs; sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper. Cook chicken 8 to 10 minutes, turning once, until golden brown and juice of chicken is clear when thickest part is cut (at least 165°F).
2. Cook pasta as directed on package; drain. In large bowl, mix soup, half-and-half and paprika; reserve 3/4 cup sauce. Stir in cooked pasta and frozen broccoli.
3. Place pasta mixture in casserole; top with chicken thighs. Spoon reserved sauce over chicken thighs. Top with bacon. Cover and bake 20 minutes; uncover and bake 10 to 15 minutes or until sauce bubbles.
SOURCE: General Mills Co. and BettyCrocker.com

Smoky Hot Chops with Cool Cucumber-Tomato Salad

Smoky Hot Chops with Cool Cucumber-Tomato Salad

Smoky Hot Chops with Cool Cucumber-Tomato Salad (Photo courtesy EatPork.org)

Smoky Hot Chops with Cool Cucumber-Tomato Salad (Photo courtesy EatPork.org)

Smoky Hot Chops with Cool Cucumber-Tomato Salad is a great weekend recipe from EatPork.org. That site Pork.org and the National Pork Board are great resources for inspired recipes. So many of the dishes showcase Fresh from Florida flavors too. In most of the preparations on this blog, I substitute Florida’s signature datil pepper sauce for Tabasco, however in this case the Louisiana product works best. In creating the spice paste in Step 1, I added a small amount of olive oil to get the paste consistency I wanted. You may not want to do that. It’s your kitchen. You are in charge. Also, I tested the Cucumber-Tomato Salad using my own homemade blue cheese dressing.

Smoky Hot Chops with Cool Cucumber-Tomato Salad
Yield: 4 servings

4 thick-cut boneless New York (top loin) pork chops about 1 1/2-inches thick
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
4 1/2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce such as Tabasco, plus more for serving
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Olive oil as needed to make the spice paste (optional)
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
1/4 cup blue cheese salad dressing, or more to taste
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. In a small bowl, combine smoked paprika, hot sauce, cayenne, salt, garlic powder and onion powder, stirring to make a paste. Divide paste into two small bowls, with about 2/3 of paste in one bowl, and 1/3 in another. Arrange pork on a plate or platter and use a butter knife to thinly spread about 2/3 of the spice paste from one bowl over both sides of the meat. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.
2. Prepare a grill to medium-hot heat and lightly oil the grate. Grill pork until the internal temperature reaches 145F. (medium rare) to 160F. (medium), 4 to 5 minutes per side. It’s okay if some of the spice paste sticks to the grill. Transfer chops to a platter and spread remaining spice paste from second bowl on top, and set aside to rest 3 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, make the Cool Cucumber-Tomato Salad. In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumber, onion, parsley and salad dressing, tossing gently. Add more dressing and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Serve chops with cucumber-tomato salad alongside. Pass additional hot sauce at the table
SOURCE: EatPork.org

Pork Pappardelle Puttanesca with Basil and Pecorino Cheese

Pork Pappardelle Puttanesca with Basil and Pecorino Cheese

Pork Pappardelle Puttanesca with Basil and Pecorino Cheese (Photo courtesy the Pork Checkoff)

Pork Pappardelle Puttanesca with Basil and Pecorino Cheese (Photo courtesy the Pork Checkoff)

Pork Pappardelle Puttanesca with Basil and Pecorino Cheese is from the National Pork Board, America’s Pork Producers and the Pork Checkoff. Don’t let the lengthy ingredient list steer you away. The dish is laced with wonderful flavor notes.

Pork Pappardelle Puttanesca with Basil and Pecorino Cheese
Yield: 8 servings

4 pounds boneless pork shoulder roast, trimmed
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper
5 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 tablespoons anchovies in oil, drained and finely chopped
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
1 (28-ounce) can tomatoes, peeled whole, in juice, coarsely chopped, juice reserved
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
9 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted
17 3/5 ounces pappardelle pasta
12 fresh basil leaves, large, torn into small pieces
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese, plus a chunk of Romano for serving

1. Liberally rub pork shoulder with salt and pepper. Cut 2 garlic cloves into 16 slivers. Make sixteen 1-inch incisions and insert a sliver in each. Cover and refrigerate for 6 to 12 hours.
2. Heat oven to 375F. In a Dutch oven or large ovenproof casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add pork and brown on all sides. Transfer pork to a platter. Pour out all but 2 tablespoon of fat and return Dutch oven to medium-high heat. Chop 2 more garlic cloves. Add carrot, celery, onion, and chopped garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of anchovies and 1 1/2 teaspoons chili flakes and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes with their juices, thyme, and bay leaf to Dutch oven and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits on the bottom with a wooden spoon. Return pork with any juices to the Dutch oven. Add enough hot water to almost cover the pork and return to a boil.
3. Tightly cover Dutch oven and bake in 375F oven, turning pork occasionally, adding hot water as needed if liquid reduces, until pork is very tender, about 3 hours. Remove from oven and let pork cool in sauce until easy to handle, 1 to 2 hours. Discard the thyme branch and bay leaf.
4. Transfer pork to a carving board and shred with fingers or two forks. Set aside half of pulled pork for another use (see note below). Skim off fat from surface of sauce. Stir half of the pork into the sauce. Keep warm over low heat.
5. In large sauté pan, preferably nonstick, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Chop the remaining garlic. Add the garlic with the capers and remaining 1 tablespoon anchovies, and 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes and cook, stirring often, until garlic is lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add the cherry tomatoes and olives and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes soften, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
6. Boil pappardelle in a large pot of salted water until al dente, according to box directions. Scoop out and reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain well and return to the pot. Add sauce, cherry tomato mixture, and half of the basil, and the Romano cheese. Mix well. If the sauce seems thick, stir in some of the reserved pasta water.
7. Return the sauté pan to medium heat. Add the reserved pasta and cook until hot, about 2 minutes. Serve the pasta in bowls, topped with the pork and remaining basil. Pass additional oil for drizzling and with more Romano shaved from a chunk of cheese with a vegetable peeler, if desired.
SOURCE: National Pork Board, America’s Pork Producers and the Pork Checkoff.

Caraway Cheese Soup

Caraway Cheese Soup

Caraway Cheese Soup (Photo Peter Krumhart and Dean Tanner; reprinted with permission from “The Dairy Good Cookbook: Everyday Comfort Foods from America’s Dairy Farm Families.” Andrews McMeel Publishing 2015)

Caraway Cheese Soup (Photo Peter Krumhart and Dean Tanner; reprinted with permission from “The Dairy Good Cookbook: Everyday Comfort Foods from America’s Dairy Farm Families.” Andrews McMeel Publishing 2015)

Caraway Cheese Soup was developed by dairy farmers John and Kim Koepke of Oconomowoc, Wisc. They make a version of this recipe with their own LaBelle cheese with fenugreek, an aromatic seed popular in Indian cooking. Fenugreek has a sweet, nutty, maple-like flavor that perfectly complements the rich, creamy flavor of the cheese. In fact, the Koepkes’ recipe includes a bit of pure maple syrup. You also can try this satisfying soup made with Swiss cheese studded with caraway seeds, according to goboldwithbutter.com.

Caraway Cheese Soup
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

3 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup heavy cream
12 ounces Swiss and caraway cheese, shredded (see note)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Toasted seasoned croutons
Cracked black pepper (optional)

1. Melt the butter in a large heavy-bottom soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the onion begins to soften. Sprinkle the flour over the onion and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes.
2. Gradually add the chicken broth and wine, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Decrease the heat to low and add the bay leaf. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Remove the bay leaf. Turn off the heat and stir in the heavy cream. Gradually add the cheese, one small handful at a time, stirring until each handful is melted before adding the next handful.
Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and ground pepper. If the soup is not hot, return to low heat until warmed through.
Top with the croutons and, if desired, cracked pepper.
Recipe note: If you can’t find Swiss and caraway cheese, use Swiss cheese and add 1/4 teaspoon crushed caraway seeds to the butter and onions in Step 1.
Source: Adapted from the kitchen of Wisconsin dairy farmers John and Kim Koepke, reprinted with permission from “The Dairy Good Cookbook: Everyday Comfort Foods from America’s Dairy Farm Families.” Andrews McMeel Publishing 2015

Italian Bacon and Tomato Risotto

Italian Bacon and Tomato Risotto

Italian Bacon and Tomato Risotto (Photo courtesy KraftRecipes.com, Kraft Foods, and the H.J. Heinz Co. brands )

Italian Bacon and Tomato Risotto (Photo courtesy KraftRecipes.com, Kraft Foods, and the
H.J. Heinz Co. brands )

Italian Bacon and Tomato Risotto from KraftRecipes.com creates a quick and satisfying meal or side without the traditional technique of making risotto. It is a great way to get the most out of Florida’s tomato crop. Like the sunny Mediterranean region, Florida has the warm temperatures necessary for cultivating tomatoes, according to the Florida Tomato Committee. The state’s tomato industry is believed to have started in the 1870s. Today, Florida is the nation’s largest producer of fresh tomatoes. With almost every Southern county in the state cultivating tomatoes, Florida produces virtually all the fresh-market, field-grown tomatoes in the United States from October through June each year, and accounts for about 50 percent of all fresh tomatoes produced domestically.

Italian Bacon and Tomato Risotto
Yield: 4 servings, 1 1/3 cups each

8 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups instant white rice, uncooked
1 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup 2 percent milk
2 teaspoons freshly chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley, plus additional for garnish
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1. Saute the bacon, onions, and garlic in a large, deep skillet on medium heat until the bacon is crisp and the onions are translucent and beginning to brown, about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain pan.
2. Stir in the rice, tomatoes, broth, milk, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer on low heat for 5 minutes, or until rice is tender and cooked.
3. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese. Remove the pan from heat. Let stand, covered, for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle top with the remaining cheese and additional chopped parsley. Serve immediately.
Recipe notes: I like to stir in toasted pine nuts or walnut pieces for added flavor and texture. Add a lightly dressed fresh green salad on the side.
SOURCE: Adapted from KraftRecipes.com

Chicken Vegetable and Red Lentil Stew

Chicken Vegetable and Red Lentil Stew

Chicken Vegetable and Red Lentil Stew (Photo courtesy National Chicken Council and ChickenRoost.com)

Chicken Vegetable and Red Lentil Stew (Photo courtesy National Chicken Council and ChickenRoost.com)

Chicken Vegetable and Red Lentil Stew is a hearty one bowl winter meal. Green beans or asparagus tips can be added to the mix as well. The recipe was developed for the National Chicken Council and ChickenRoost.com.

Chicken Vegetable and Red Lentil Stew
Yield: 6 servings

1 1/2 pounds chicken thigh meat, boneless and skinless, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly minced ginger
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried coriander
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 cups chicken broth
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
2 small potatoes, peeled and diced
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 cup red lentils
1 (12-ounce) bag spinach, cleaned and chopped
2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro, plus additional for garnish
6 tablespoons plain yogurt or sour cream

1. In a stock pot, heat oil on medium. Add chicken and seasi with salt and cayenne pepper. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally to brown all sides of meat.
2. Add garlic, ginger, and onion. Saute for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add dried spices (cumin, mustard, coriander, and cinnamon) and brown sugar and stir until well combined.
3. Add broth and tomatoes with juice; bring mixture to a boil. Add the carrots and potatoes. Return mixture to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes. Add lentils, cover, and simmer for an additional 20 minutes.
4. Using a fork, check to be sure vegetables are soft. When soft, add chopped spinach, stirring to combine just until spinach is wilted. Add the 2 tablespoons of freshly chopped cilantro.
5. Serve in soup bowls garnished with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and topped with additional chopped cilantro to taste.

Morning Mix recipe: Cuban Hash

Morning Mix recipe: Cuban Hash

Cuban Hash (Photo courtesy PorkBeInspired.com and the Hispanic Food Network)

Cuban Hash (Photo courtesy PorkBeInspired.com and the Hispanic Food Network)

Cuban Hash is my Morning Mix recipe of the week. This one pan recipe from PorkBeInspired.com is great for late suppers on New Year’s Eve or breakfast or brunch on New Year’s Day. Pair the hash with poached eggs and whole grain bread or rolls. Look for more recipes curated exclusively for WOMX Mix 105.1 at the station’s website.

Cuban Hash
Yield: 4 servings

1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound lean ground pork
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups new potatoes, cooked, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 1/4 cups tomatillo salsa
1 cup fresh corn kernels
1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro
1/4 cup queso fresco, crumbled (see note)

1. Heat the olive oil over medium in a large skillet; add the onion and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes.
2. Add the ground pork, breaking into crumbles with the back of a spoon and turning frequently until browned on all sides.
3. Add potatoes, salsa and corn; stir and cook 8 to 10 minutes or until heated through. Fold in the cilantro and sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately.
Recipe note: Feta cheese can substitute for queso fresco.
SOURCE: Adapted from PorkBeInspired.com and the Hispanic Food Network

Apricot Curry Cheese Dip

Apricot Curry Cheese Dip

Apricot Curry Cheese Dip

Apricot Curry Cheese Dip

Apricot Curry Cheese Dip is a spin on a Layered Chutney Cheese Spread, an appetizer you will find in community cookbooks from coast to coast. The layered version has long been a go-to potluck starter. But mashing up the elements intrigued me. Instead of chutney, I used apricot preserves. The result was a rich dip with just the right notes of salty and sweet for a festive party.

Apricot Curry Cheese Dip
Yield: 16-20 servings

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, plus additional for garnish
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder, or more to taste
Hot pepper sauce to taste
1 cup apricot preserves, or more to taste
6 bacon strips, cooked until crisp, drained and crumbled
6 green onions, chopped (including green tops), plus additional for garnish
Sturdy wheat crackers for serving

1. With an electric mixer on medium, combine the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, curry powder and pepper sauce.
2. With the mixer on low or using a sturdy spatula, blend in the apricot preserves, bacon, and green onions.
3. Spoon mixture into serving bowls and garnish with chopped green onions. Serve with crackers.

Morning Mix recipe: Beef Tenderloin with Rosemary-Pepper Butter

Morning Mix recipe: Beef Tenderloin with Rosemary-Pepper Butter

Beef Tenderloin with Rosemary-Pepper Butter (Photo courtesy Taste of the South magazine and tasteofthesouth.com)

Beef Tenderloin with Rosemary-Pepper Butter (Photo courtesy Taste of the South magazine and tasteofthesouth.com)

Beef Tenderloin with Rosemary-Pepper Butter is my Morning Mix recipe of the week. I found it at tasteofthesouthmagazine.com. The recipe creates an impressive holiday entrée. Look for more recipes curated exclusively for WOMX Mix 105.1 at the station’s website.

Beef Tenderloin with Rosemary-Pepper Butter
Yield: 8 to 10 servings

1 (5-pound) beef tenderloin, trimmed and trussed
5 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Rosemary-Black Pepper Butter:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons freshly chopped rosemary
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1. For the seasoned butter, stir together 1 cup unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons freshly chopped rosemary, freshly ground black pepper to taste, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice. Spread the butter mixture onto the center of a piece of parchment paper, and roll into a log, twisting ends to secure. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours. (Store in a heavy-duty sealable plastic bag in the freezer up to 1 month.)
2. Let the beef stand at room temperature 1 hour before roasting.
3. Preheat oven to 475F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick aluminum foil. Place whole rosemary sprigs on pan; place a roasting rack on prepared pan.
4. Drizzle beef with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place beef on roasting rack.
5. Bake until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion reads 130F (medium-rare), approximately 30 minutes, or until desired degree of doneness. Remove from oven. Loosely cover beef with nonstick foil, and let stand 20 minutes before slicing. (Beef will continue to cook as it stands.) Serve with slices of rosemary-black pepper butter.

Apricot Walnut Bars

Apricot Walnut Bars

Apricot Walnut Bars

Apricot Walnut Bars

Apricot Walnut Bars have a wonderful, light crackle on the top and the insides are soft and sweet. These are my favorite non-chocolate dessert ever and a must for the holidays. I think I have saved the best for last in this holiday series of 12 great bars that go great with tall glass of cold milk. I first made these in Mrs. Pert’s Home Economics class in grade school in Indianapolis.  You can dust them with powdered sugar if desired, but it’s really not needed.

Apricot Walnut Bars
Yield: About 48 servings

1 1/3 cups (6-ounce package) dried apricots
1/2 cup salted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 cup baking mix, such a Bisquick or Jiffy
2 cups packed brown sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
2/3 cup baking mix, such a Bisquick or Jiffy
1 teaspoon spiced rum
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
Powdered sugar (optional)

1. Place the apricots in a 2-quart saucepan. Add enough water to cover. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer 10 minutes, uncovered. Drain. Cool completely. Chop and reserve. (Using kitchen shears makes this step a breeze.)
2. Heat oven to 350F.  Line a 15 1/2-by-10 1/2-by 1-inch baking pan lengthwise with nonstick aluminum foil, letting just a bit hang over the edges.
3. Mix the butter and granulated sugar and 2 1/2 cups of the baking mix until crumbly. A pastry blender or two knives are tried and true tools for this, but I have found careful pulses in the work bowl of a food processor work just as well. Pour into the foil-lined baking pan, patting down evenly over the bottom. Bake 10 minutes.
4. Beat brown sugar and eggs. Stir in apricots, 2/3 cup baking mix, rum, and nuts. Spread over the baked layer. Bake 30 minutes. Remove pan to a wire rack and cool completely.
5. Using the foil “handles,” lift the bars from the baking pan and place on a cutting board. Remove foil and cut into bars.