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Lemony Chicken & Brown Rice Casserole

June 29 005 Edited Lemony Chicken & Brown Rice Casserole

I baked a casserole right as the heat of summer set in. All the bloggers with an ounce of sense are posting popsicles and ice cream or salads and meals prepared without an ounce of heat.

Meanwhile, I crank up the oven. I tell myself I do this for readers in the Southern Hemisphere who might find their way to this space during their present winter. But really, I do this because I sometimes lack an ounce of sense.

Speaking of ounces, after writing this recipe tonight and seeing it called for 1/2 an 8 ounce package of cream cheese, I think I know why I liked this casserole so much. I am fairly certain I whisked the whole 8 ounce block into the mix.

And by fairly certain, I mean almost certain. Almost to the point of 100% certainty.

June 29 033 Edited Lemony Chicken & Brown Rice Casserole

The flavor that shone thorough all of the cream cheese deliciousness was the lemon. I was surprised by its presence (just one lemon, juiced and zested, is called for), but it really made the dish.

I modified some of the measurements seen below from the original recipe by 1/4 to 1/2 cup or so, but given the nature of casserole, the recipe is fairly forgiving.

Unforgiving, unfortunately, is not a term I can apply to the current state of my pants vs. my waist after eating the equivalent of one block of cream cheese over a five-day period.

My advice to you to avoid such a predicament is to share this with family and friends. They’ll thank you for it. Enjoy!

June 29 045 Edited Lemony Chicken & Brown Rice Casserole

Lemony Chicken & Brown Rice Casserole
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped (1 cup)
  • 2 medium leeks, white parts only, thinly sliced (1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1, 14½ ounce can or box of chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest of
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1-2 pounds rotisserie chicken, skin removed
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • Optional garnishes: parsley and lemon zest
  1. Saute the carrots, leeks, and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat until tender, about 6 minutes.
  2. Add the milk, chicken broth, and flour to the skillet and stir until slightly thickened.
  3. Bring to a simmer and then remove from the heat.
  4. Whisk in the cream cheese until melted.
  5. Stir in lemon juice and lemon peel and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Spoon the rice into a 2-quart baking dish.
  7. Pour cream cheese mixture over the rice, then gently press pieces of the torn chicken over the rice mixture.
  8. Stir the bread crumbs into the melted butter, then sprinkle over the casserole.
  9. Bake at 375 degrees F for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown.
  10. If desired, sprinkle with fresh parsley and lemon zest before serving.
I took great liberty with the amount of chicken called for in my rendition. The original recipe called for 2 pounds, but I found just over half of a 1.75 pound bird suited me.

Malted Pretzel Crunch {Secret Recipe Club}

Pretzel Crunch 038 Edited Malted Pretzel Crunch {Secret Recipe Club}


It is Secret Recipe Club Monday, and this month I was assigned to the blog Cook Lisa Cook. The oatmeal coconut raspberry bars and curried Israeli couscous looked good, but I settled on the malted pretzel crunch when Lisa described it as the “snack version of crack.” I have a snack addition, so off I went to make this.

The recipe originated from famed Momofuku chef Christina Tosi. I have made two Tosi recipes – cinnamon bun pie and chocolate chip cookies with cornflakes and marshmallows. Neither turned out quite turn out the way I hoped.

I hold little doubt those were quality recipes, but they were recipes that just did not translate to the home cook. Or this home cook anyway. Given those experiences, I approached this recipe with a “third time’s the charm” attitude.

Pretzel Crunch 043 Edited Malted Pretzel Crunch {Secret Recipe Club}

In true “I fail at all things Momofuku” fashion, I made two batches. In the first, I broke up the pretzels. Lisa noted the mixture did not form into small clusters as noted, and I experienced the same. My first batch looked like pretzels baked in sand.

However, I noticed the coating filled the few holes left in the broken pretzels, so I made a second batch with whole pretzels. This one I would consider a success if the pretzel crunch is intended for snacking purposes.

The first rendition will make a great mix in or topping for any variety of sweets. Ice cream, brownies, and Rice Krispie treats immediately come to mind. Sounds like I’ve got some more work to do. Enjoy!

Pretzel Crunch 040 Edited Malted Pretzel Crunch {Secret Recipe Club}

5.0 from 1 reviews
Pretzel Crunch
  • 2 cups mini pretzels
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup milk powder
  • 1 tablespoon malt powder
  • 7 tablespoons butter (or coconut oil), melted
  1. Place the pretzels, sugars, milk powder, and malt powder in a large bowl and give a quick stir to combine the dry ingredients.
  2. Pour the melted butter over the dry ingredients and toss to coat.
  3. Spread the clusters on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 275 degrees F for 15-20 minutes until the mixture looks toasted.
  4. Allow to cool and then break into pieces, if desired.
  5. Store in an airtight container. The pretzel crunch will keep for 1 week at room temperature or for up to one month in the refrigerator or freezer.
I subbed coconut oil for butter.


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Ginger Peach Muffins

Ginger Peach Muffins 1 Ginger Peach Muffins

Sometimes sounds take me by surprise. The unexpected jolt of a weather alert on my phone is one thing, but most surprises are much more subtle. A scent wafts by to pick up my thoughts and transport them somewhere else. But sound lands me right back square in the present.

The boom and fizzle of fireworks yesterday. The quiet whir of fan blades spinning overhead right now. There is the soft rustle of leaves in the trees and the chirp of crickets and cicadas. A baby’s laughter and Harleys rumbling past on the road.

Those are good sounds. Other sounds I loathe. Let’s call those noise. The motorized backpacks landscapers wear to blow leaves all about the lawn rank right up there. The clang and bang the garbage truck makes when it shakes the dumpster at 5 a.m. (Is it necessary to do that half a dozen times? Something must have been stuck.)

Ginger Peach Muffins 3 Ginger Peach Muffins

I like to hear church bells ringing and the sharp ting of a steel drum. The smack of a hockey puck against a stick before it dings off the cross bar (so close!). The pop of a champagne cork and the crack of my spoon against the burnt sugar crust of a crème brûlée.

And then there is taste. Berries and peaches and tomatoes and sweet corn and everything good about summer is either happening now or about too. I took one of my favorites – peaches – and baked them into a spiced muffin batter.

You can substitute plums or chopped cherries now, or add pears or apples in the fall. Swap out the ginger with cinnamon or use a bit of both. Whatever sounds good to you. Enjoy!

Ginger Peach Muffins 4 Ginger Peach Muffins

Ginger Peach Muffins
Serves: 12
  • 1 egg
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup plus two tablespoons sugar
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped and unpeeled peaches (from 1-2 large to medium peaches)
  • optional: coarse sugar and crystallized ginger
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, melted butter, sugar, and buttermilk. Make sure the butter is slightly cooled; it will cook the egg if it is piping hot.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, ground ginger, and salt.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients from the medium bowl into the dry ingredients in the large bowl and stir until almost, but not fully combined. There should be bits of unincorporated flour still visible.
  4. Add the peaches into the batter and fold the batter to incorporate the fruit and fully mix the batter.
  5. Scoop the batter into the wells of a paper-lined muffin tin. There should be enough batter to fill the wells ¾ of the way full.
  6. Sprinkle with coarse sugar (like Sugar in the Raw) or press a few bits of chopped crystallized ginger into the tops.
  7. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-30 minutes until the tops are golden brown and firm to the touch.
The muffins will keep frozen in a well-sealed freezer bag for up to one month.