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Ham, olive and three cheese grilled cheese

Here’s a great lunch for a cold weekend day, and even better if you live in a cheese haven like Wisconsin! It was originally posted on Bullz-Eye.com’s Grub for Guys.

Ham, Olive and 3 Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich

On the comfort food charts, it’s pretty hard to top a good grilled cheese sandwich with a cup of tomato soup. My friend Matty once told me he eats three grilled cheese sandwiches every Saturday. I can’t imagine that being the kind of lunch a cardiologist would recommend, but there shouldn’t be any harm in having one at a sitting. With that, I didn’t want to present you with the same old, same old here. I also didn’t want to do anything too girlie. The end result? A classic sandwich with three cheeses, ham and chopped green olives. If I was selling you this sandwich, it would come with a money back guarantee, because I just tried it and it’s that good. I hope you agree!

Ingredients
4 slices bakery sourdough bread (most supermarkets have bakeries, so splurge on some fresh stuff)
2 Tbsp. whipped cream cheese
2 Tbsp. chopped green olives
2 slices Swiss cheese
2 slices American cheese
2 slices ham
1-2 Tbsp. butter or margarine, softened

Directions:
Spray a nonstick skillet with bit of cooking spray over medium-high heat. Butter one side of each slice of bread, and then lay them, buttered side down, on a plate. Combine the cream cheese and olives in a small bowl, and spread that evenly over the unbuttered side of two of the bread slices.

Then on the remaining two bread slices, layer the Swiss cheese, American cheese and ham. Assemble the sandwiches by matching a cream cheese slice with a ham/cheese slice, giving you two full sandwiches. Grill in the skillet for about 3-4 minutes per side or until the bread is lightly browned and the cheeses have melted. Serves two, or one, if you’re a hungry dude like Matty.

Note: Campbell’s Tomato Soup is always good with grilled cheese sandwiches, but it’s even better if you mix the condensed soup with milk instead of water.

A can a week: Campbell’s Chunky Chicken Corn Chowder

Chef JimI’ve always been a fan of Campbell’s Chunky Soup. Maybe it’s because like the name implies, there are big chunks of stuff in it, making it good man-food. Or maybe it’s because they take the time and care to put real ingredients in that taste good. But here is one flavor that stands out–Chicken Corn Chowder.

Chowder to its core is a thick, hearty soup, usually involving cream and/or potatoes–with a base of either clams or chicken or corn or, like this one, a combination of chicken and corn. It’s also often flavored with bacon.

Campbell’s Chunky Chicken Corn Chowder has big chunks of white meat chicken, potatoes, and carrots; as well as a lot of corn kernels. The base is a chicken broth that is thickened with corn starch but tastes extremely creamy, and there is also bacon to give it a hint of smoky flavor. Above all, this chowder just rocks and is the perfect cold weather soup. There is also a “Healthy Request” version that has a lot less fat and about 2/3 of the calories (this one has 200 calories per serving, 400 per can).

If you have never tried this chicken corn chowder or any chicken corn chowder, go try it and let me know what you think. And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to finish the rest of the can.

An interview with Adam Richman from Man vs. Food

This is a re-post of an interview we did with Adam Richman from Travel Channel’s “Man Vs. Food,” which is entering its third season this coming summer. The interview originally was posted in April of 2009 and this is one of the best shows on television. Well, if you like food!

Adam Richman is host of The Travel Channel’s new hit show, “Man Vs. Food,” in which he visits different cities throughout the country and samples some of their best cuisine. He ends each show with one of that city’s food challenges, which range from a 72 oz. steak to a gigantic pizza to an order of the hottest curry on the planet. The show is fun and entertaining, and Richman is a natural at his gig. We had the chance to talk to Adam about his new gig and more….

Bullz-Eye: Hey Adam, how are you?

Adam Richman: What’s going on Mike?

BE: Coincidentally I just saw the episode from St. Louis last night where you drank the milkshakes? That had to be one your toughest challenges, wasn’t it?

AR: I don’t know, they’re all pretty tough. It was definitely rough in that it came with a “reversal of fortune,” so that was a little lame. Apart from that, though, I haven’t quite lost my taste for milkshakes yet.

BE: So you have done some acting and had a passion for food. But how did the idea of “Man Vs. Food” come about, and was it your idea or did the Travel Channel approach you?

AR: Actually it was Travel Channel’s idea. It was actually based on a few shows that they had already. They had a series, which still airs, called “Food Paradise,” like “Hamburger Paradise” and “Pizza Paradise.” They have those shows and then they had a special called “World’s 10 Best Places to Pig Out.” So they approached Sharp Entertainment to develop the show. Sharp developed the show and sent out a casting notice, which came to me through my agent. I just sort of launched myself at it both barrels and it was a six-round process. I basically got the job provided there was a job to have. We shot a presentation reel and they showed it to Travel Channel. May 1 of last year we got picked up for ten episodes and they saw the pilot and liked it so much that they bought eight more. And now we’re renewed and we’re going to go into Season 2 in the spring.

BE: Watching the show, it’s easy to get a feel for how much you love food, and it’s a love many of us share. Do you sometimes feel like you have to pinch yourself that you have such a cool gig?

AR: Definitely, especially in this economy. Already being an actor by trade, that’s how I acquired a lot of my food expertise, was by working all these jobs in the restaurant business supporting myself as an actor. It’s to have finally had, if you’ll pardon the cheesiness of the phrase, that “big break” at all to begin with, and that I’m doing it while, like in the San Jose episode, getting to show that I can play guitar. Or in the Atlanta episode I get to show that I can dance. In Portland I showed that I can sword fight. There’s so many different things that it’s kind of like a job that has no routine, no tedium, constant variety, constant gratification, and travel. And it pays better than regional theaters.

BE: Very cool. So out of all the Season 1 episodes, what to you was the most difficult challenge and why? Which one did you fear the most?

AR: Wow, they were all hard to some degree, and that’s not a cop-out answer. L.A. I think may have been the hardest because it was spice and quantity. Generally with the exception of the milkshake challenge, they tend to fall into one of those two categories. L.A. was both. And what made it so hard was that I had only prepared for it as a spicy challenge, not realizing it was going to be an issue of quantity as well.

BE: Now which one was this again?

AR: The spicy ramen. That one was just unbelievable and unrelenting, and unrelenting in its recovery time as well. Also, I love eggs, but it’s “Man vs. Food,” so it’s never, like, eating hard-boiled eggs. It’s something like a 12-egg omelet or 8 ¾ pound breakfast tacos. Egg challenges are very good but you know, eggs are binding and they’re very rich. They’re almost always going to be accompanied by cheese and always with potato. So you have dairy and potato that are going to occupy such volume in your stomach that you’re like, “Oh my gosh, I’m totally stacking the deck against myself.” Denver was pretty gnarly too. Denver was gnarly because of a bunch of different factors. I don’t want to give anything away, but it was a 7-pound breakfast burrito. And while the craftsmanship and the workmanship and the quality of the ingredients were excellent, some of the things were not necessarily my favorite foods. So while being palatable to be sure, if you don’t really care for something in particular and it’s one of the main ingredients and it’s 7 pounds, you’re kinda hosed. (laughs).

BE: You had the privilege of having the great Gladys Knight cook you chicken and waffles. Was that as surreal as it looked on TV?

AR: It was beyond surreal. I think TV caught very jovial moments. They didn’t have the sort of moments when I went, “Yep, that’s the empress of soul feeding me fried green tomatoes. That makes sense.” Yep, bizarre. And the fact that she’s so unassuming and everyone around her gets who she is…it’s like everyone there has found out that she’s Gladys Knight, except Gladys Knight. It’s like (in hushed voice), “I think she’s coming, here she comes, her bus just pulled up.” And then she’s like, “Hey baby!” You know what I mean? And her son Shanga is like the greatest, coolest guy ever, and totally has his mom’s smile and her affability. But yeah, to see the mom and the mother and the woman and the child of the South that is Gladys Knight, independent of the woman who sang “Midnight Train to Georgia” and all these amazing, iconic tracks that I grew up listening to, then to see her strap on an apron and go, “This is the chicken recipe that I grew up eating, and now I’m going to make it for you.” And then to watch her sit there and fry stuff and bread stuff and coat stuff…..

BE: That’s amazing. And you had no idea that was going to happen?

AR: No, I mean I knew that the possibility existed but there were no guarantees. She knew we were coming, and same with Kevin Youkilis in Boston, that was a complete, complete accident. There was not even a feeler sent out. They were, I actually just found out on a blog, they were at the funeral of a little boy, a cancer patient he had become friendly with. His wife was familiar with this place from Boston College, where she had gone, and “Youk” wanted a burger. And he went there and all of a sudden there’s the “brother love traveling show” in town, and he was just the best sport.

BE: Yeah, it’s horrible that that’s why he was there, and I was wondering why he was dressed up in a suit and tie in the episode.

AR: Yeah, he had won the Hank Aaron Award the day before and we thought that maybe he was on his way to the ceremony. But there’s a blog called “Out of the Park (Paak)” and on that Kevin was saying, “We were sad, we were driving around and we were hungry and my wife knew this place.” And I had just seen Youk at the Celtics season opener the night before, and he was joking around on the Diamondvision and so I was able to start a dialog with him based upon what he had done the night before. And he was so great, just so so great. The challenge and the Red Sox fans, less so. (laughs).

BE: What are some cities and/or challenges you are talking about for future episodes, and how much input do you have on the whole process?

AR: I would tell you if there was anything in stone. I know that what we’ve been batting about has been, well, I’m still trying to fight the good fight for a Brooklyn episode. I would love to do a Brooklyn episode because it’s where the heart is, and it’s literally where the home is, and in fact it’s where I’m talking to you from right now. But also we’ve talked about the idea of kind of like, just for one or two of them, like concept shows….like an all-stadium show, or an all-tailgate show, or a show doing stuff with members of the armed forces. Or a cruise line show, or resorts, that kind of thing. Something that sort of focuses on genre as opposed to geography. But nothing is set. Like one of the first meetings for Season 2 is going to be happening in the next week or so and we’ll have a better idea, but the thing is, it’s been a learning curve for everybody and I think that’s kind of important, but I think no one really knew the effects of a meter-long bratwurst on a human being. I feel like I’m John Glenn in “Do The Right Stuff.” Like we don’t know what a human’s going to do in space, but we have ideas. But it’s cool.

BE: Well cool, are you coming to Nashville at all?

AR: That’s actually something that’s been discussed as a possibility in Season 1, but we had just done Memphis. People said, “Well, you did L.A. and San Jose,” but Northern California and Southern California, there’s such a disparity in mindset, architecture and climate that there’s a significant difference. I personally have been to Nashville and love it, and been to Memphis before and loved it, so yeah, I would love for that to be the case. I’d love to go to Nashvegas.

BE: Yeah, there’s a lot of great food here.

AR: Yeah, oh my God. They may have to butter the door of the plane when I leave.

BE: How many days does it take to shoot one episode? In other words, you’re not eating all of that food including the challenge in one day, are you?

AR: Oh dear God, no. Generally I would say between four and six days, sometimes including or not including travel days. Essentially there’s like a travel day, a shoot, an off day and then a shoot and a challenge. I always love it when we do the two other places and then I have an off day and then the challenge. Those are always the most effective, especially when it’s a quantity challenge. You like to be as empty as you possibly can going into those. But generally four to six days. But let’s say, pick a place, like you just saw St. Louis. We did Pappy’s Smokehouse one day, we did Iron Barley with the hot dog Monte Cristo and the pork loin. And those are like, in my opinion, of all the menu items, the pork loin’s pretty great and the Monte Cristo’s pretty great, but I’d give those, as good as his menu is, those are like 8’s, 7’s and 5’s and he’s got a whole slew of like 10’s and 11’s on that menu. It’s crazy. So there’s those places, and then the following day would be the other challenge, the milkshake challenge. It’s nice to have some recovery time in between to just sort of get empty and get ready for the actual thing ahead.

BE: Right, well that makes sense. So off camera, and when you’re at home, what does your diet typically consist of? And do you cook?

AR: I do cook. It’s different, since the show has begun. Since it’s the off-season, I have to really limit any indulgences I have, and that’s very, very hard because I love food so much. But to know that now, especially in the off-season when I have to lose weight, I have to do a lot of discipline. But generally, you know, I do eat a very healthy diet. I have a mom who’s very doting and doctors in the family and I go to physicians regularly because of the show, you know, on my own, because of concerns preventatively, and for checkups. My diet is, I guess a balanced diet, you know, lots of vegetables, lots of chicken and fish, egg whites. I work out with a personal trainer, I stay super, super hydrated. I pretty much stick to wine, and try to avoid beer and brown liquors and stuff like that. And yeah, I find that generally speaking, I almost go completely vegetarian when I’m home. It’s like from the show, when we come off the road all of us go completely vegetarian from the time we get home.

BE: Yeah, it kind of makes sense to do that.

AR: Yeah, it’s a balance and I think that’s what the basis of the show is. You can’t eat these things all the time, but it’s a balance. I can’t travel a one-camp travel all the time. But when you do, when you go into say Nashville or Memphis, there are places you have to try. And it may not be the healthiest food per se, or the most waist-conscious food, but you know it’s going to be an experience, you know it’s going to be delicious, and it’s going to be something you can only get in Tennessee.

BE: So if you had to live on one food item, what would that be?

AR: Oh my gosh, great question. Oh, wow. A food item? I don’t know. I’d say it’s like a deadlock tie between sushi and pizza. And I think it’s just because there are variations within those things, like pizza comes in so many incarnations. But I’m fairly certain I could have either pizza or sushi at pretty much every meal.

BE: What are some hobbies and interests you have outside of food?

AR: I play guitar, I write, I still act and have agents and stuff. The schedule doesn’t always accommodate that stuff, but I’m a Yale School of Drama graduate, so I do pride myself on calling myself an actor. But guitar, alto saxophone, I still love cooking. I love travel, I exercise pretty regularly, and not just in the gym. I live right by Prospect Park so pickup soccer games, and you know New York is such a font of art stuff, like going to theater. I’m a museum junky, so I think there’s definitely something in that. And I also, now that I’ve got a little digital camera, I’ve been shooting some stuff with friends. So that’s also kind of great. Oh, and I teach. I am on faculty at two acting schools. I really love that, because in the absence of the opportunities to perform as an actor, I learn the most when I teach and there’s something very edifying about sort of watching other people grow. And my mom’s a guidance counselor so I think it’s definitely like a genetic trait.

BE: Right. Have you released any music?

AR: No, oh my God no, I’d be terrified. Because generally if it’s accompanied by my singing, that’s something you don’t want. I’ve released it in showers and on road trips all over the world. But no, in terms of acting stuff, I played God on “Joan of Arcadia,” I was in “Law and Order” and stuff like that. But you know, I do love music quite a bit and at Yale I was able to study some sound design stuff. So I’ve made some beats for some local rappers here in Brooklyn that they’ve used. I’ve made some music on my own, but generally it’s much more, as you say, a hobby or a pastime. I made possibly the ill-advised decision to buy an X-Box 360 not that long ago. So I make sure that I do intellectual pursuits to counterbalance the Guitar Hero.

BE: One last question, Yankees or Mets?

AR: Oh, Yankees, absolutely.

BE: I grew up on Long Island and I’m a big Mets fan.

AR: Oh, are you? You know, most Brooklynites are Mets fans because of the relationship the Yankees had with the Dodgers. And I don’t really know…my dad was a Mets fan. I’m not really quite sure, I think it was just my experience at the first game, and just going into that ballpark and knowing what history it had, and going through the little Legends Memorial Park behind left field. I don’t know. I felt something I didn’t feel at Shea. And it was just real and truth be told, my very first little league team was the Yankees, and then it was the Angels. And it was hysterical because I went from the Yankees to the Angels at the same time Reggie Jackson did. I was like, “Okay, it’s fate, I was meant to be a Yankees fan.” And I had Mantle’s number and all that stuff.

BE: Well great, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us.

AR: No worries man, thank you so much for being so positive about the show. It really means a lot.

For more information on “Man vs. Food,” visit www.travelchannel.com

All-natural hangover cures

Chef JimHung over after too many cocktails over the Christmas weekend? Maybe not, but chances are better you will be after New Year’s Eve this coming weekend. And if you are, you may or may not have your go-to remedies such as Tums or Alka-Seltzer (my personal favorite). Or you may opt to cure it with food or, for you hardcore drinkers, more alcohol. A great food cure is huevos rancheros, or a couple of the other recipes we posted recently on Bullz-Eye’s Grub for Guys–”hangover” soup and bloody marys. Here are those recipes….but either way, be safe during this holiday season and always by not getting behind the wheel if you’ve had a few too many:

Hangover Soup and Bloody Mary
Okay guys. The following recipes are for those days when you wake up after a night of imbibing, and have cottonmouth, a pounding headache, sore muscles, and a thick fog hovering atop your very existence. That, and you surely don’t want to put anything into your body right now. Well, you sort of need to, because you need to replenish with fluids and protein, give yourself a jolt with hot sauce, and if using vodka, getting the dog that bit you last night. And believe me, I know firsthand that these both work, as well as drinking plenty of water.

Hangover Soup
Ingredients:
1 carton (or 2-3 cans) chicken broth
½ cup small pasta such as orzo
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
Black pepper to taste

Directions:
Bring chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add pasta and cook according to directions, 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat, and slowly add egg as you stir the soup. Add Parmesan and pepper, and serve. Makes about 4 1-cup servings

Bloody Mary (or Virgin Mary if you omit vodka)
Ingredients:
2 cups tomato or vegetable juice (such as V-8)
1 shot vodka (optional)
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. hot sauce (more if you like it hot)
Juice of ½ lime
1 Tbsp. prepared horseradish
¼ tsp. celery salt
Salt and pepper to taste
1 stalk celery

Directions:
Combine all ingredients except celery in a tall glass. Stir, add ice and serve with celery stick. Serves 1, but if it does the trick, you may want to have another…I’m just sayin’!

Happy Holidays (and you know what that means)

Happy Holidays everyone. That means for the next ten days (and for the past 20 for that matter), it’s time to indulge a bit, and to not feel guilty about what you eat or drink. Within reason of course, but still. Yesterday I think I exemplified that more than anything. I went to Brennan’s Market (the best cheese in Wisconsin, at least from what I’ve found so far), to buy some cheese for Christmas Eve and an amazing looking beef tenderloin for Christmas day. But before that, I stopped at Old Navy and bought two pairs of pants that are a size up from what I normally buy. I’m tired of squeezing into a 33 when my waist is more like a 34. Hey, it happens when you get older and all the dieting and working out make it hard to maintain those lower waist sizes, for anyone.

I’m going to work on that in 2011, but while it’s still 2010, I want to enjoy my food. I want to eat lots of cheese and sausage, drink beer and wine and Bailey’s, eat cookies and chocolate covered nuts, and drink hot chocolate and coffee spiked with Bailey’s (is there a trend here?).

My family back in New York follows the tradition of my brother-in-law’s family–seven fish on Christmas Eve. This year, we’re starting a tradition of seven cheeses on our first Wisconsin Christmas Eve–12 year cheddar, 5 year cheddar, peppadew havarti, gouda, butterkase (just tasted this yesterday, it’s amazing), bacon cheese, and asiago. Oh wait, we also have beer spiked cheddar spread, but that’s a bonus.

I’m also cooking a beef tenderloin for the first time. The butcher told me there were two kinds–the less expensive kind you eat with a knife and fork, and the more expensive kind you eat with a spoon. Guess which one I bought? I mean, it’s Christmas, so break out the spoons!

And hey, make sure you indulge a bit this holiday season. The holidays are about family, friends, good food and drink and enjoying the season. So with that, I raise a proverbial glass and wish you the best, and wish you happy holidays from Mikey’s Kitchen!

Holiday apps 101

Happy holidays everyone! Here is a post I did two years ago on Bullz-Eye.com’s Grub For Guys for holiday appetizers. There are some good ideas here for both Christmas parties or New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Enjoy….

Holiday Appetizers
Oriental wings, Zucchini rolls, Pigs in Blankets, Potato Skins, Easy Ham & Cheese Rolls

The holidays are upon us, and one of the best things about said holidays is getting together with friends and family that you actually want to hang with. And for those occasions, when you have people stopping by your pad, you want to impress them with some quality snacks. That means, for once, to not pull out frozen mini-tacos and pizza bagels and chips and dip—but to put just a little effort in so that it looks like you are a chef who knows what he’s doing. Or at least that you fake it good. Doctors, please don’t come after me for the fried food bent running through these recipes—after all, we’re guys and we like fried food, and we all like to indulge a little during the holiday season anyway. (A note about portions: these portions were my “test kitchen” portion sizes, so you can double, triple and quadruple according to how many people are coming over.)

Oriental Chicken Wings
Ingredients
1 pound fresh chicken wing sections
Oil for deep frying
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. cooking sherry
1 tsp. minced ginger (from a jar works best)
1 tsp. apricot preserves
1 tsp. (or more to taste) chili garlic sauce
1 tsp. sesame seeds

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and arrange wings on it. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat about 2 inches of canola or vegetable oil over medium heat in a deep skillet. When oil is hot enough (if you feel heat by placing your hand an inch or so from the oil’s surface), gently add the wings to the skillet. Fry for about 12 minutes or until wings start to turn crispy. While wings are cooking, combine hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, sherry, ginger, preserves, chili garlic sauce and another sprinkling of salt and pepper in a large, heat resistant bowl. Drain wings on a plate with paper towels for a minute, and then toss into sauce and shake until coated. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

Pigs in Blankets
Ingredients
1/3 sheet puff pastry
8 cocktail franks
Mustard
2 Tbsp. mayo
2 Tbsp. ketchup or chili sauce
chopped pickle or relish

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. You only need a small amount of pastry for each frank, so cut pastry with a pizza cutter into one-inch squares. Sprinkle with flour and use a rolling pin to increase size to 2-3 square inches. Roll franks (which are usually pre-cooked) in pastry and bake on a baking sheet for 10-12 minutes or until pastry begins to turn golden brown. Serve with mustard, or combine mayo, chili sauce and chopped pickle to make a Thousand Island dipping sauce.

Potato Skins
Ingredients
2 baking potatoes
oil for deep frying
2 slices bacon
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream

Directions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wash and scrub dirt off potatoes and then prick with a fork a few times before placing in oven. Bake for one hour. Let cool a few minutes, and then when potatoes are easy to handle, cut them in half and scoop out the flesh. Reserve for another use or throw away. Meanwhile, heat an inch or so of vegetable or canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot enough (see tip in chicken wing recipe above), carefully add potato skins and deep fry for about 2 minutes per side. Remove and drain on paper towels. Then place on a baking sheet, sprinkle with cheese and bacon and broil for 1-2 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Serve with sour cream on top or on the side.

Zucchini Bites
Ingredients
1-2 medium zucchini
1 egg
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
oil for deep frying
nacho cheese sauce or ranch dressing for dipping

Directions
Heat oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Cut ends off zucchini and then slice lengthwise into long strips about ¼ inch wide. Disgard rounded ends and use only pieces with flesh on both sides. Beat egg in a bowl and add bread crumbs to a second bowl. Add salt and pepper to each bowl. When oil is hot enough (see chicken wing and potato skin recipes above), dip zucchini slices in egg, and then in breadcrumbs, and carefully add to oil. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until brown and crispy (could be shorter time). Drain on paper towels, and then roll slices up and secure with toothpicks to serve. Serve with nacho cheese sauce, ranch dressing or dipping sauce of your choice.

Easy Ham & Cheese Rolls
Ingredients
2 thin slices deli ham
2 Tbsp. whipped cream cheese
Black or green olives

Directions
Lay ham out on a plate and spread with cream cheese (1 Tbsp. cream cheese to 1 slice ham), and then roll up. Slice into ¾ inch pieces and slide a toothpick through, and then through one olive. Serve.

A can a week: Progresso Creamy Chicken Wild Rice

Chef Jim

If those condensed canned soups aren’t your thing, and you prefer a soup that is closer to homemade, Progresso is the best commercial one that is widely available. And they make so many kinds now, the options are almost endless.

So for A Can a Week this week, we tried Progresso’s Rich & Hearty Creamy Chicken Wild Rice soup. You’d think that with a cream based soup you’re looking at crazy amounts of fat and calories, but this stuff weighs in at 140 calories and 5 grams of fat per serving, or 280 and 10 if you eat the whole can, which I’m assuming most of you do. I mean, who doesn’t?

But here’s the best part–this soup tastes great. There is a richness to it without being too rich, and the dominant flavor is that of roasted chicken, as if you picked it off the bone yourself. There are big chunks of white meat with no gristle, and a good amount of wild rice that is cooked perfectly and has that nice snap that wild rice has. There is some celery and onion too, but those flavors are in the background as they should be. And here is why it’s not fatty–there is no cream. It’s just thickened chicken broth with a bit of butter and soy protein. But you’d never be able to tell. Well, maybe you would, but you sure don’t miss the cream if you don’t know it’s not there.

So if you’re looking for a good, hearty soup on a winter day, give this one a shot. Mama Progresso would probably be happy you tried it too.

Product review: Ice Breakers Frost mints

If you like your mints to feel like there is a 5-degree wind chill in your mouth, giving you an awesome fresh-breath taste, look no further than new Ice Breakers Frost mints. Sure, that sounds like a commcerical. But I call it as I see it, and after trying a sample of these new mints that are part of the Hershey Ice Breaker family (including gum, sours and regular mints), Frost is one of the most potent mints I’ve ever tasted.

They are sugar-free and are coated with xylitol as well as “cooling and flavor crystals”….I don’t want to know what those are, but they work. They sent the WintercoolTM flavor, which tastes like a combination of wintergreen and spearmint. The mints also come in Peppermint flavor.

So if you eat a big holiday meal with lots of garlic, or just need to freshen your breath before visiting family or friends this holiday season, grab some Frost. Then you can you can tell your family that you plan to quit your job to be a competitive eater, all with the confidence of fresh breath.

Hot meals for winter months

Okay, so we moved from balmy Nashville to frigid Madison, Wisconsin in April–right after the thaw. And so now we are experiencing our first blast of winter–which arrived with a fury right after Thanksgiving. It’s not so much the snow that is difficult to take–it’s the insane cold and wind chill. It’s 24 degrees right now and feels warm. Well, whatever…we chose to move here and the best part about the cold weather is making warm–no, piping hot–comfort food. Even if you’re a dude, you can enjoy stuff like these two oven dishes I created on Bullz-Eye.com’s Grub for Guys last year……

As the weather gets colder, we men retreat to the den and watch sports in the comfort of an easy chair. To sustain ourselves, we spoon up big bowls of rib-sticking hot casseroles. Below are recipes for kickass chicken and rice, and a dish that has everything manly in it except the kitchen sink. And yes, that includes beer.

Dude Casserole
Casseroles might bring to mind Betty Crocker, church potlucks or, well, the women who usually make them. But we’re here to put some testosterone in casseroles…not literally, mind you, but with four types of meat (including bacon), cheese, macaroni, cream of mushroom soup, jalapeno peppers and BEER among the ingredients, this casserole is made for the common man. It’s especially for the common man who likes to watch football and bulk up in the winter months. Make this for your buddies and you will suddenly have more buddies the next time you cook, I guarantee it.

Ingredients
1 lb. Elbow macaroni
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil (we use canola)
2 slices bacon, chopped
1 lb. Ground beef
2 bratwurst (we like Johnsonville stadium brats), chopped
4 pre-cooked breakfast sausage patties (spicy kind if possible), chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 poblano pepper, trimmed, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, trimmed, seeded and chopped
1 tsp. chili powder
¼ tsp. garlic powder
6 oz. beer
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
½ cup milk
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 cup ketchup
½ cup canned corn
1/3 cup sliced black olives (optional)
1/3 cup bread crumbs
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions
Spray a large casserole dish or 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook macaroni according to package directions and set aside. In a very large, deep skillet, heat oil over medium/high heat. Add bacon, beef, brats, sausage, onion and peppers. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. When beef is browned and onion and peppers are softened, add chili powder, garlic powder, then beer. Stir occasionally and let simmer until beer is almost completely absorbed, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile combine cheese, soup, milk, soy sauce, and ketchup in a large bowl. Stir pasta, corn and olives into soup mixture and add salt and pepper to taste. Add that mixture to meat mixture, and then dump everything into the casserole dish. Bake, covered, for 25 minutes. Remove cover, sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake for 5 more minutes. Serve hot. Serves 4 hungry dudes.

Kickass Chicken & Rice
Chicken and rice go together like football and beer. And while we’re not advocating eating a football, you get the idea—it just works. Here we take this dynamic duo and add some creamy chicken soup, cheese and other bright flavors to make another great hot dish for a cold day.

Ingredients
1 pound boneless chicken breast tenders
salt and pepper
Cooking spray
1 can cream of chicken soup
½ cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 cup white rice
½ cup frozen peas
1 cup French fried onions

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle tenders with salt and pepper and brown in skillet for 2-3 minutes per side. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine soup, milk, cheese, Worcestershire sauce, onion power, parsley and more salt and pepper to taste. Spray a large (preferably a short and wide) casserole dish with cooking spray. Cover the bottom of the casserole dish with rice, and add more if it doesn’t quite cover the dish entirely. Place chicken tenders on top, then sprinkle peas on top of chicken. Then pour soup mixture evenly over everything. Cover and bake for 35-40 minutes or until soup is absorbed by the rice and chicken is completely cooked through. Uncover and sprinkle with onions, and bake for another 5 minutes. Serve immediately, and serves 2-4, depending on how hungry everyone is.

Grub for Guys: chicken fried hamburger with cheddar sauce and tomato-pickle relish

Here is another recipe I had fun making for Grub for Guys: chicken fried hamburger with a cheese sauce and tomato-pickle relish:

For those of you who love cheeseburgers and anything fried, I’ve got a recipe for you that I promise you’ll want to make again and again—chicken fried hamburger. The first time I tested this out, I used brown gravy and it wasn’t quite right. This time, I had the idea of making a cheese sauce to in effect create a cheeseburger, and then added a tomato-pickle relish to cap it off. Success! The only warning here is that we don’t suggest telling your cardiologist about it, okay?

Ingredients:
Relish:
½ large tomato, seeded and chopped
4 crunchy dill pickle spears (such as Claussen), seeded and chopped
1-2 Tbsp ketchup
1-2 Tbsp. prepared mustard

Sauce:
½ stick butter or margarine
2 Tbsp. flour
½ cup whole milk (or more as needed)
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 tsp. hot sauce
Salt & pepper to taste

Burger:
1 pound ground beef
½ cup flour
2 eggs, beaten in a bowl
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine relish ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

For sauce, heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When melted, whisk in flour for about 20 seconds. Add milk, and continue to whisk until it starts to thicken. If it’s too thick, add a splash or two more of milk. Then add cheese, hot sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat, set aside, covering to keep it warm.

For burgers, form beef into four oval patties. Then set up three shallow bowls in a row with flour, egg, and breadcrumbs, respectively. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper to each. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Then dredge the patties in the flour, followed by the egg, followed by the breadcrumbs. Gently add each patty to the pan, and cook for about 4 minutes per side or until crispy on the outside and at least medium to medium-well on the inside.

Slide patties onto a plate, top with cheese sauce and relish, and serve. Makes four servings, or two two-patty servings for you guys with big appetites.

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