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Chicken and Wild-Rice Hot Dish

Serves 6.

Note: The light brown hand-harvested wild rice is preferred and takes less time to cook than paddy-cultivated wild rice (which is dark in color, almost black). If using supermarket rotisserie chicken, omit  1/4 teaspoon salt. For extra flavor, cook the wild rice in 1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken stock rather than water. To make the dish vegetarian, substitute 2 cups roasted mushrooms for the chicken, and substitute water or vegetable stock for chicken stock. To roast mushrooms, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, toss 1 pound chopped white button or cremini mushrooms with 3 tablespoons olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Arrange on a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast mushrooms until they release their liquid, about 10 to 15 minutes. Carefully drain liquid, return mushrooms to oven and continue roasting until mushrooms are browned but still tender, about 20 to 25 minutes longer. Remove from oven and allow mushrooms to cool. From "The New Midwestern Table" by Amy Thielen. Find her at

• 1/2 c. hand-harvested wild rice, or 2 c. cooked wild rice (see Note)

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 1 dried bay leaf

• 6 tbsp. (3/4 stick) salted butter, plus extra for pan

• 2 leeks, white and light green parts, cut into small dice, about 2 1/2 c.

• 3 ribs celery, cut into small dice, about 1 1/2 c.

• 3 tbsp. flour

• 1 1/2 c. whole milk

• 2/3 c. heavy cream

• 3/4 c. low-sodium chicken stock

• 3/4 tsp. dried thyme (or 1 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme)

• 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

• 2 c. roughly chopped cooked chicken

• 4 oz. aged Gouda cheese (or aged Cheddar cheese), grated (about 1 1/2 c.), divided

• 2 c. coarsely crushed buttery crackers, such as Ritz

• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil


Preheat oven to 375 degrees and rub a thin layer of soft butter on the bottom and sides of a 9- by 13-inch baking dish.

Place the wild rice in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse it under cold running water, swishing the rice with your hand until the water runs clear. Transfer the wild rice to a medium bowl and add water to cover. Pour off any black bits or floating kernels, pour the rice back into the sieve to drain, and then put it in a small saucepan.

Add 1 1/4 cups water, a pinch of salt and a bay leaf and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until wild rice is tender and water has evaporated, about 25 minutes (paddy-cultivated wild rice can take 45 minutes or more to cook). Remove from heat. (If any liquid remains in wild rice, drain it using a sieve. Discard bay leaf.)

While the wild rice cooks, melt butter in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and celery, and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle flour over vegetables and stir until well combined with the butter. Add milk and bring mixture to a simmer, whisking to prevent any lumps. Add the cream, chicken stock, thyme, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer over low heat until the floury taste dissipates, about 5 minutes. Add the cooked chicken, cooked wild rice and half the cheese, and cook, stirring, until the cheese melts.

Pour hot dish mixture into prepared baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the crushed crackers, olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper in a heavy plastic bag and shake to combine.

Sprinkle the cracker mixture evenly over the chicken-cheese mixture and bake 25 minutes more, until the crackers are dark brown and the center is bubbly. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories625Fat41 gSodium645 mg

Carbohydrates38 gSaturated fat20 gAdded sugars2 g

Protein26 gCholesterol130 mgDietary fiber2 g

Exchanges per serving: 1 starch, 1 ½ carb, 3 medium-fat protein, 5 fat.

Orange Salad With Black Olives, Fennel and Red Onion

Serves 6.

Note: "When blood oranges are available, from February to May, blend them with the navels, slipping slices in here and there in a random pattern," writes Lynne Rossetto Kasper in "The Italian Country Table." "This salad looks stunning on a buffet table and tastes wonderful."

• 1 small or 1/2 medium red onion, sliced into thin rings

• 5 large navel oranges or 3 navel oranges plus 2 to 3 blood oranges

• 1/2 of a small bulb of fresh fennel, thinly sliced

• 5 herbed or oil-cured black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped

• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

• 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. sugar

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Immerse the onions in a bowl of ice cubes and cold water and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to several hours.

Peel the oranges, trimming away all the white pith. Slice into rounds between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick, reserving their juice (the oranges can wait, covered, for several hours at room temperature).

When ready to serve, overlap the orange slices on a large platter. Drain the onions and tuck the rings here and there between the orange slices. Scatter the fennel and olives on top. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, sugar and any reserved orange juice, and sprinkle mixture over oranges. Season with a little salt and a generous amount of pepper. Serve soon, to experience the full crispness of the onions.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories130Cholesterol0 mg

Carbohydrates21 g Sodium35 mg

Protein2 g Added sugars0 g

Fat5 g Dietary fiber4 g

Saturated fat1 g

Exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 1 fruit, 1 fat.

Coffee Blondies

Makes 12 large or 24 small bars.

Note: "The combination of coffee and chocolate makes for blondies that are both unique and indulgent," writes Minneapolis blogger Sarah Kieffer in "The Vanilla Bean Baking Book." Find her at To toast pecans, place the nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat, and cook, stirring (or shaking the pan frequently) until they just begin to release their fragrance, about 3 to 4 minutes. Alternately, preheat oven to 325 degrees, spread the nuts on an ungreased baking sheet and bake, stirring often, for 4 to 6 minutes.

• 1 1/2 c. flour

• 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

• 12 tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, plus extra for pan

• 1 1/2 c. packed brown sugar

• 1/4 tsp. salt

• 2 tbsp. strong brewed coffee, room temperature

• 1 egg

• 1 1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract

• 3/4 c. chopped pecan halves, toasted (Note)

• 3/4 c. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips

• Caramel or chocolate sauce, for garnish, optional


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9- by 13-inch baking pan and line it with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder, and reserve.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, brown sugar and salt. Remove from heat and stir in coffee until well combined. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.

Add the egg and vanilla extract and whisk until combined. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Add pecans and chocolate chips and stir gently.

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake until the blondies are set on the edges and the tops are golden brown and just beginning to form cracks, about 18 to 24 minutes. A wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the blondies should come out with just a couple of crumbs.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Use the parchment paper to gently lift the blondies from the pan. Cut blondies into squares and serve with ice cream, topped with caramel or chocolate sauce, if desired.

Nutrition information per each of 24:

Calories190Cholesterol23 mg

Carbohydrates23 g Sodium65 mg

Protein2 g Added sugars15 g

Fat11 g Dietary fiber1 g

Saturated fat5 g

Exchanges per serving: 1 ½ carb, 2 fat.