Sourdough rolls top off chicken cobbler casserole

Good morning, readers. Here are today's requests: pizza stone specifics and recipes that combat liver problems and for salt-free dieters; a taste-alike homemade Frappuccino and iced coffee as served at McDonald's.

E of Henagar, Ala., wrote, "I just got a pizza stone. Never used one before. Is it OK to use in either a microwave and/or small counter oven? Also, if anyone who has liver problems and on salt-free diets has good recipes, I'd like to get some for friends with change in eating habits."

Melinda Mayo has read the new research about the benefits of coffee and wants to try something that is "not too rich, not too sugary, not too whipped creamy, but delicious. I would like to make McDonald's iced coffee and Starbucks Frappuccino at home."

Barb Hay of Harrison saw the request for a rice or orzo salad and thought that "couscous falls into that category. When we were at Epcot at Disney World, I got the idea of using yogurt as a dressing in salads. For example, raspberry yogurt in broccoli salad and lemon yogurt in chicken salad." Here's her recipe for a couscous salad bound with yogurt.

Couscous Salad

1 box couscous with pine nuts or plain, prepared in microwave and cooled

1 (11-ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained

2 snack packages dried cranberries or raisins

1 (16-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

Feta cheese, crumbled (use as much or as little as desired)

1 (6-ounce) container light orange yogurt

Mix together all ingredients. Put in refrigerator. Best if made early on the day it will be eaten. Also good the next day.

We have an answer to the requests for a Southern Living cover-story chicken casserole. Mary Ellen Maycann and Camille of Hixson opted for this one.

Chicken Cobbler Casserole

6 tablespoons melted butter, divided

4 cups cubed sourdough rolls

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 medium-size sweet onions, sliced

1 (8-ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms

1 cup white wine

1 (103/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup

1/2 cup jarred roasted red bell peppers, drained and chopped

21/2 cups shredded cooked chicken

Toss 4 tablespoons of melted butter with cubed sourdough rolls, Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley. Set aside.

Sauté onions in remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat 15 minutes or until golden brown. Add mushrooms and sauté 5 minutes.

Stir in wine, soup, roasted peppers and chicken. Cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until bubbly. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 9-inch square baking dish; top evenly with bread mixture.

Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 4 servings.

Rose Secrest, longtime contributor to this page, has written a cookbook. Here's a route she took to an orzo salad.

"One day I had some brown rice, a lot of pecans and a large container of a Cajun spice blend. I cooked the rice, toasted and chopped the pecans and then threw them together with the spice. It took me a long time to find another spice blend that tasted the same, and I am again out, so I can't tell you its ingredients. If I were to write this recipe, it would be equal parts rice and pecans, with your favorite Cajun seasoning. It is a good 'dirty rice,' if you ask me!"

For those of you who like inspiration instead of instructions, the above will work just great. For those in the latter camp, here are two recipes from Ms. Secrest's cookbook. Her healthful formula does not call for salt but for other seasonings; salt certainly may be added.

Orzo Salad

2 cups orzo, cooked and chilled

2 carrots, diced

1 green onion, sliced

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 tablespoon orange zest

1 tablespoon Italian parsley, minced

1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated

1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Combine and serve.

Wild Rice Salad

1/2 cup wild rice, cooked

1/4 cup dried apricots, diced

1/4 cup dried cherries

1/4 cup almonds, slivered and toasted

1/8 cup green onions, sliced

1/8 cup Italian parsley, minced

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon mustard

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine. Let chill for one hour.

These are salad days, and you've got the salads. Keep this up, valued correspondents. And while we are talking about toasted nuts, as per the recipe above, I'll pass on the idea of simple home-roasted almonds. My favorite diner, that husband of mine, says they are better even than the best packaged roasted nuts. Just roast 10 to 12 minutes in a preheated 350 F oven, remove from oven and sprinkle with salt (a teaspoon of sea salt for a pound of raw almonds). What could be easier?

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