photograph by Matt Hulsman

Chicken & Rice Soup with Mushrooms

Yield: 6 servings.

Meat from 1 roasted chicken, chopped (approximately 2 cups)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup basmati rice
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, coarsely chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme
6 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

Heat the oil in a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion, celery, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook for 5 minutes or just until the celery is tender and the onion is translucent.

Add the rice, mushrooms, thyme sprigs, and chicken broth to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked through. Remove the thyme and discard.

Add the chopped chicken, and lemon juice to the pot. Season with pepper and additional salt as needed. As soup thickens, add water to desired consistency.

Stir in the parsley and cook for a couple more minutes before serving.

Curried Chicken & Broccoli Casserole

Yield: 8 servings.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 cups bite-size broccoli florets, stems removed
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup light cream
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons curry powder
½ teaspoon salt
4 roasted chicken breasts, chopped
2 cups sharp shredded cheese
1 cup slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 350˚. Using a large nonstick skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add broccoli florets and sauté until just fork-tender. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, blend together cream cheese, light cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, curry, and salt.

Grease an 8 x 8-inch baking dish and layer broccoli and chopped chicken inside. Pour cream mixture over broccoli and chicken. Sprinkle with cheese and almonds. Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and almonds are golden brown.

Chicken Enchiladas

Yield: 4 servings.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 sweet onion, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
Meat from 1 roasted chicken, shredded
½ cup sour cream
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
½ cup water
1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles
1 clove garlic, minced
8 (10-inch) flour tortillas
1 (12-ounce) jar mild or medium chunky-style salsa
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 limes, sliced

Preheat oven to 350˚. Add oil to a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion and salt. Sauté onion for 5 minutes or until it begins to brown. Add jalapeño pepper and sauté for an additional 3 minutes or until peppers begin to soften.

Reduce heat to low and add chicken, sour cream, 1 cup shredded cheese, chili powder, cumin, paprika, tomato sauce, water, green chiles, and garlic. Heat chicken mixture until cheese melts and the liquid begins to lightly boil. Remove from heat.

Roll even amounts of the filling in the tortillas. Arrange in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Cover with salsa and 1 cup Cheddar cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with lime slices.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Yield: 12 servings.

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
¾ cup buffalo sauce (Texas Pete)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
⅔ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
2 green onions, sliced
1½ cups cornflakes cereal

Preheat oven to 350˚. In a medium bowl, toss shredded chicken and buffalo sauce until chicken is coated. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream, and garlic powder with a wooden spoon until well blended. Add buffalo chicken mixture, ½ cup of the Cheddar cheese, ½ cup of the Monterey Jack cheese, and green onions. Stir to combine.

Spread mixture into a 9 x 9-inch pan and top with remaining cheese and cornflakes. Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbling. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Serve with celery and/or pita chips and your favorite blue cheese dressing.

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Lynn Wells is a personal chef with more than 20 years of experience in the food and hospitality industry and a degree in Nutrition Management from UNCG.