Shannon Fennell's Blog

My life, art, travel, make-up, cooking and the occasional rant!

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Making up things – food things

I’m an excellent cook.  Always have been – I was cooking meals at home when I was seven.  Mom figured if I wanted to cook she could get out of doing it herself.  After high school I did a year of pre-apprenticeship Chef training. Back then it was an industry full of misogynistic assh**es (at least the chefs I was exposed to were,) which put me right off wanting to make it my career.  I do not kiss anyone’s as*!

I even won a gold medal at a Grande Salon du Culinaire – in the Gateau category (edible sculpture).

For almost 30 years I was the designated family Christmas cook.

I don’t measure and I make things up as I go pretty much.  The exception to that is baking – you need to have the right measurements to have consistent results.  But for the rest, I just toss things in.

I watch cooking shows and look through cookbooks to get ideas.  If I am trying to replicate something exactly I will follow a recipe – like the sauce for Vietnamese Spring Rolls!  But generally I just want inspiration then check to see what I have on-hand then substitute as necessary.

I am still trying to master cooking for one – not very successfully.  I make something then eat it for 3-6 days in a row.

Yesterday’s creation was completely made up without anything triggering the idea.  I had grabbed a couple of chicken breasts out of the freezer thinking I might make a salad with them and the fresh lettuce I had from my farm delivery.

But then I thought… I could make a hot dip, hmm, that would be good.  So I had a look in my cupboards to see what I could throw in it as I did not want to spend time chopping or shredding.

It turned out so well that I want to share it.  Keep in mind I measured nothing so seasonings are pretty much going to be to YOUR taste if you try it and throw whatever else you want in it.

Hot Chicken Dip

Two cooked boneless skin-less chicken breasts, diced

One can of creamed corn

One can of cream soup – I used cream of mushroom and garlic, but it almost was cream of celery – any flavour will work

One small can of green chilies

Once small can of sliced black olives

About a quarter cup of real crumbled bacon (I buy it at Costco in the 1 kg bags – bacon goes on everything!)

About a quarter to half a cup of grated Parmesan cheese

About a half a cup of chopped or shredded cheddar cheese (and extra for topping)

Spices – this is where it got to be a free for all.  I used dried thyme (just a pinch), chili powder (maybe 1/4 tsp), paprika (couple shakes), black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper (just a dash!) – it tastes “Mexican” with this combo.  Don’t add any extra salt – the bacon, Parmesan, soup and chilies are all already salty.

Into a two-quart casserole I dumped the chicken and all the ingredients and stirred them together well.  Sprinkled some extra cheddar on top and put in the oven at 400F for about 30-40 minutes – until it was bubbling in the middle.  Then I turned on the broiler to brown it up a bit.

I ate it with whole grain tortilla chips and it was YUMMY!  It actually still is yummy as I am eating it for day two right now.  I just reheated it in the oven with more cheese!  Photos are from the reheat in a smaller dish.

Chkn dip 1

Chkn dip 2

Chkn Dip 3

I think I will try a “Greek” version next time, leaving out the green chilies, using cream of celery, feta cheese, maybe some finely chopped green pepper, and oregano, dill, garlic and lemon for seasoning.  And chopped tomatoes added on top after it is cooked.  With pita chips.  Oh, that sounds really good!  I will have to take out some more chicken.