CHEW THIS! Mona Brown’s Grand Champion Jade Express Chicken with Rice

Mona Brown and Inga Neal

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Saturday, September 21st 2019 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

Mona Brown’s Grand Champion Jade Express Chicken with Rice
Blaise Doubman

My friend Inga Neal, of “Temptations” fame, was kind enough to share with me her Mom’s famous recipe for zucchini bread that I shared with everyone in my last column. At the end of that column, I spilled a secret that Inga had also shared with me another recipe from her Mom, a dish that won Grand Champion in a contest through “The Courier-Times” years ago. The dish is for a chicken and vegetable dish, served with rice and sprinkled with cashews and let me tell you, it is absolutely fabulous and delicious! When sharing these recipes with me Inga shared that her Mom, Mona Brown, had owned and operated “Mona’s Little Shoppe” from 1970-1981. Inga worked at the shop with her Mom and the shop was a craft shop where tons of memories and conversations took place. Inga also shared that her and her Mom used to pick strawberries and black raspberries every year and they enjoyed making jams and jellies. I love hearing stories and memories that are food related and that can be passed down to other generations. Getting to know Inga and hearing about some of her history and passion for food, there is no doubt in my mind as to why she is so successful. Everything she does is out of passion and love.

When sharing this recipe with me, Inga also sent me the original published article. In the article Mona Brown talks about her love for cooking, especially cooking for crowds. This made me smile and think of Inga and not only her successful restaurant but her successful catering business. The article goes on to say that sometimes Mona substitutes the chicken in this recipe for beef and that as a time saver, she recommends chopping and preparing everything in advance before starting the recipe, as well as freezing the dish for a later time. The article concludes that she had plans of writing a “family cookbook”, joking that now since this recipe for chicken with rice had won, there would need to be an additional page added to the book. What I would like to know, is more about this “family cookbook” and where I could purchase one! Ha! In all seriousness though, I would like to thank Inga Neal for sharing her family memories and recipes with me, as well as a thank you to her Mom, Mona Brown. Mona is no longer with us, but I really believe she is smiling down at Inga and her family and is so proud of everything she has accomplished. Inga’s restaurant, Temptations”, is located at 2001 South Memorial Drive, New Castle and is open from 11-2, Monday through Friday.

Mona Brown’s Grand Champion Jade Express Chicken with Rice

This dish can be made ahead, wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and frozen. When ready to bake, remove the plastic wrap and aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven.

4 large chicken breasts
2 cups fresh sliced mushrooms
1/3 cup cashews
3 tablespoons salad oil
3 cups celery, sliced
1 large green pepper, chunked
13 ½ oz canned pineapple tidbits, drained, save juice
½ cup cooking sherry
1 cup natural soy sauce
½ teaspoon garlic salt
1 cup sliced green onions
2 tablespoons corn starch
Prepared cooked rice, enough for 4-6 servings

Start by boning and skinning the chicken breasts. You can also use boneless, skinless chicken breasts for this recipe. Cut each breast into ½-inch chunks.

In a large skillet or Wok, sauté the mushrooms in oil until brown.

Stir in the celery, green peppers and chicken. Cook this until chicken is cooked through and tender and then add the pineapple juice, cooking sherry, natural soy sauce, garlic salt and corn starch. Stir this mixture constantly until the mixture becomes thickened.

Fold in the pineapple and green onions. May be simmered 20-30 minutes.

Serve this over the rice and cover with cashews.

Ask and Answer: Several of you have written in about “Mona Brown’s Famous Zucchini Bread” and wondered if the recipe could be doubled or tripled and wondered if the bread could be frozen. Yes! The recipe can be easily doubled or tripled and when freezing the bread be sure to wrap first in plastic wrap, followed by aluminum foil. The bread will keep frozen for 6 months.

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CHEW THIS! BBQ Pineapple Chicken, Corn Pudding and Rice

BBQ Chicken, Corn Pudding and Rice

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, April 17th 2016 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

A complete southern-style meal, with perfect pairings…
Blaise Doubman

I love a good southern-style meal, and this one may be one of my favorites. Usually when someone mentions a southern-style meal, my first thoughts drift to fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, macaroni and cheese, dumplings, cheesy grits, buttermilk biscuits, green beans, fried corn and okra. Southern-style food is classified as a lot more than just fried chicken, loads of butter and carbohydrates believe it or not. The cuisine of the Southern United States consists of a lot of flavor, and food, combinations that I’m sure many of you aren’t aware of. Did you know that in the southern cuisine there are culture influences from Africa, England, and Scotland? Did you also know BBQ, rice and corn are all listed in the online food index as having “southern influences”?

I love hearing from my readers, and many of you have written asking for meal ideas, recipes for main dishes, and recipes for side dishes. I love to bake, but I also love to cook as well, so coming up with something like this isn’t anything out of my comfort zone. I did end up taking myself out of my comfort zone though, when I decided I wasn’t going to fry anything for this southern-style meal. I wanted to produce something southern, but not in the typical way a lot of people associate with the term “southern-style cuisine”. I wanted people to open their minds as to what could be classified as such, and with the combinations of BBQ, chicken, corn and rice – it was a perfect match!

BBQ Pineapple Chicken, Corn Pudding and Rice

If you don’t like pineapple, feel free to leave it out of the recipe, and just add the BBQ sauce to the chicken breasts – no need to do any recipe readjustments. The flavors in this meal compliment each other nicely and even better when served with a side of roasted broccoli. Roasted broccoli is a simple side dish. Take fresh or frozen broccoli florets and place on a sheet pan. Drizzle the broccoli with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and a couple of teaspoons each salt and black pepper. Toss all together with clean hands, and place in preheated 425-degree oven for 30 minutes. This same recipe will work with all kinds of vegetables. Potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, squash… Flavorful – and healthy!

For BBQ Pineapple Chicken…

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 regular size bottle BBQ sauce
1 small can of crushed pineapple

For the Corn Pudding…

1 regular sized can whole kernel corn (undrained)
1 regular sized can cream style corn
1 cup sour cream
2 large eggs, beaten
1 small box “Jiffy”- brand corn muffin mix
1 (4 oz) stick of salted butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

To make the BBQ pineapple chicken, spray the inside of your slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray.

Place the chicken breasts inside the slow cooker and pour over the BBQ sauce, and can of crushed pineapple. Be sure the BBQ sauce and crushed pineapple is evenly distributed over the chicken breasts.

Set your slow cooker on high for three hours, or low for five hours until chicken is done.

To make the corn pudding, start by preheating your oven to 350-degrees F and lightly spray a large casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine both cans of corn, sour cream, beaten eggs, corn muffin mix, melted butter, salt and pepper.

Pour this mixture into the prepared casserole dish, and place in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes until the top is dry and the interior is still slightly wobbly.

Remove from oven, and allow to cool slightly before serving.

To prepare the white rice, follow the package directions of your favorite rice. I also prefer to use the “stovetop” method, adding a little salt and butter to the rice.

Leftovers from this meal can be kept in a covered container, in the refrigerator, for up to three days and reheated in the microwave.