By Cheryl Radkiewicz
Just when you think you’ve tried everything in the kitchen, rest assured there’s always more. That’s what I learned after retiring last June from teaching. We all have our favorite “go to” dishes, which have become “family favorites”.
When you’re a working professional, you somehow manage to throw dinner together after a long day. Being retired somehow gives you a “freedom”, which I never knew existed after teaching for 42 years.
I’m grateful for retirement and for the time it allows me to expand my cooking horizons. Doing research on the internet and sitting in my library has afforded me different perspectives. I’ve actually added some new “family favorites” to my repertoire which I’d like to share with you today.
They have all been made time and again in my kitchen and have received rave reviews. They are all easy, and you will not be disappointed. Enjoy!
Mississippi Pot Roast:
1- 4lb. beef chuck roast
1/4 cup (1 stick) butter
1-1oz. pkg. dry ranch dressing mix
1-1 oz. pkg. dry au jus mix
1 cup juice from pepperoncini jar
Place 1 cup pepperoncini juice in bottom of slow cooker. Place roast on top. Form a pocket on top of roast and place butter, sprinkle ranch dressing mix, au jus mix and a handful of pepperoncini peppers on top of roast. Cover. Cook on Low for 8 hours.
The juice is absolutely wonderful. If you want a thicker gravy, transfer juice to pot, bring to boil and whisk in Wondra flour. This does not need any seasoning..I’ve served it both ways, both au jus and gravy over mashed potatoes.
2 lbs. chicken thighs
4 Tbsp. butter (divided)
1 cup heavy cream
3 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. white pepper ( better for flavor than black)
Mix all the spice ingredients together, remove and reserve 1 tsp. for the sauce. Place chicken in large bowl and sprinkle spice mixture over chicken. Mix chicken and spice mix with your hands so each piece is well coated. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in large skillet over medium heat until it sizzles, but don’t let it brown. Add half of the chicken and brown well on each side. Remove from pan and melt the remaining butter and brown the remaining half of the chicken. Add all chicken back to skillet, cover and reduce heat to low and cook for 20-25 minutes or until juices run clear from the chicken.
Remove chicken from pan (cover and keep warm) and raise heat to medium. Reduce liquid by 25%. This should take 3-5 minutes once it begins to boil. Slowly stir in cream. Add the reserved 1 tsp. of spice mix to the sauce. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened and coats back of a spoon, about 10-15 minutes. Add chicken back to pan and heat through.
Sticky Asian Glazed Chicken:
1 lb. thinly sliced chicken breasts or thighs
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp. Sweet Chili Sauce
2 Tbsp. ginger, peeled and grated
Pinch of dried red pepper flakes, to taste
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper
Sesame seeds, green onions, optional
Heat large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 Tbsp. of olive oil. Add the chicken and salt and pepper. Cook chicken until thermometer reads 165 degrees and brown on each side. This will differ from breasts and thighs. Breasts will be done sooner. Set chicken aside on plate.
In skillet, whisk together brown sugar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sweet chili sauce, ginger, red pepper flakes, garlic and lime juice. Bring to boil over medium heat for 1-2 minutes until sauce thickens.
NOTE: You can also prepare sauce in a medium saucepan while chicken is browning and add to skillet with chicken. Add chicken back to sauce and coat each side with sauce. Garnish with sesame seeds and chopped green onions if desired.
Creamy Cheesy Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas:
1- 8 oz. block cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1-4 oz. can diced green chiles
2-3 cups cooked and shredded chicken
1 cup shredded cheese, divided
1-28 oz. can Old Paso Green Chile Enchilada Sauce
8-10 large flour tortillas
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stir softened cream cheese and softened butter together until smooth and well combined. Stir in chicken, green chiles, and 1/4-1/2 shredded cheese (depending on how cheesy you like). Dip each flour tortilla into enchilada sauce and spoon some of chicken mixture into tortilla. Roll up and place in pan.
Repeat until mixture is gone. Top with extra enchilada sauce and rest of shredded cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Can serve with sour cream on the side.
Darn Good Roast Chicken:
1 whole chicken, rinsed and dried
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. fresh ground pepper
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. mustard powder
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. dried thyme
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. paprika
Combine all spice ingredients. Place chicken on a large piece of plastic wrap. Cover entire surface with spice rub. Be sure to get underneath wings and drumsticks, as well as inside cavity. Wrap chicken tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight. Set grill or oven temperature to 400 degrees. Cook chicken, breast side down, for 30 minutes with lid closed.
After 30 minutes, flip chicken so breast side is up. Continue cooking with lid closed until internal temperature reads 165 degrees. Remove from grill or oven and allow meat to rest, loosely tented with foil, until internal temperature in thickest part of thigh reads 170.
NOTE: This rub also goes great on pork and steak.
2 lbs. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pkg. Italian dressing mix
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Pinch of salt
Add shrimp to large zip-top bag or lidded container. Whisk together dressing mix (unprepared), oil, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and salt until well combined, then add to shrimp. Toss to coat shrimp then refrigerate 1-4 hours.
Line baking sheet with aluminum foil. Drain shrimp from dressing mixture, then place shrimp in a single layer on baking sheet. Broil shrimp on top rack of oven for 5-7 minutes or until pink and cooked through, flipping shrimp once during cooking.
Serve hot or at room temperature with cocktail sauce, if desired.