2013 SERV International Recipe Winner:
Colossal Chicken & Veggie Tower
“SERV”ed with Love

They say you first “eat with your eyes,” but with today’s recipe I hope you will also taste with your heart.

Before your fork ever touches your food, your senses are anticipating how enjoyable the dish before you will be. You’ll taste with your senses and find delicious flavors. When you taste with your heart, you will feel the love behind the food. Let me explain.

I created the following recipe for a cooking contest sponsored by Association of Food Bloggers in conjunction with SERV International, an organization that provides life saving meals to people in impoverished countries. The challenge was to invent a unique recipe using the dehydrated food product they supplied.

Cathy Nelson Arkle

When the package arrived I was curious. How does a snack sized portion of this curious seed/grain mix feed eight people? I found that when cooked with water it magically multiplies, plumping many times, providing a large nourishing meal. It contains dehydrated potatoes, rice, fortified textured vegetable protein, caramel color, zinc oxide, ferrous sulfate, niacinamide, calcium pantothenate, vitamin B6, riboflavin, vitamin B1, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin B12, carrots, and onions.

One 8-ounce serving meets the daily nutritional needs of one person.SERV International
The crazy part is, for only 5 cents, you can nourish a person for an entire day! For just $5, you can feed up to 100 people for a day OR one person for 100 days! I find that simply amazing. Click here to learn more.

SERV international photos

SERV International puts smiles on kids faces and nutritious food in their tummies in the Dominican Republic and in Kenya.

SERV international

Of course it isn’t just the kids that are smiling!

SERV international

Today’s Recipe

I added chicken and fresh vegetables to the dehydrated food mix to create a complete – and more fun and exciting – meal. I stacked the dish to create a highly visual presentation. I wanted it to command attention, to represent SERV International’s commitment and engagement in global projects that make life changes real and personal.


If you don’t have food ring molds you have two options: buy one, or make your own.

DIY food stack

D.I.Y. Food Ring Molds

I used a can opener to remove the top and bottom off 14-ounce can of garbanzo beans. I hot-glued an empty spice jar to the top I cut off the can. Now I have a ring mold with plunger. You will need 6 cans for this recipe.shepaused4thought_line-NEW

Colossal Chicken & Veggie Stack “SERV”ed with Love


Polenta layer

2 ounces SERV International Dry Mix, finely ground*
4 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup corn meal – I use Bob’s Red Meal Medium Grind Corn Meal
2 ounces Parmesan cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste

Balsamic glaze

2 cups balsamic vinegar

Chicken layer

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 boneless & skinless organic chicken breasts
Salt & pepper to taste
1 cup onions, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced

Mushroom layer

2 cups mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1 small red bell pepper
½ cup white wine
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Pea layer

2 cups frozen green peas


3 cups organic micro greens
Balsamic Glaze


Coarsely grind 2 ounces of SERV Int’l Dry Mix in a food processor or immersion blender with chopper attachment.

SERV international

Bring water to a boil in a medium-size heavy sauce pan over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Pour cornmeal & SERV dry mix slowly into water, stirring with a wire whisk. Continue stirring as mixture thickens, 2 to 3 minutes.

Turn heat to low. Cook for at least 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. If polenta becomes quite thick, thin it with 1/2 cup water, stir well and continue cooking. Add up to 1 cup more water as necessary, to keep polenta soft enough to stir.

SERV international

Remove pan from heat and add cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Line a baking sheet or shallow dish, approximately 8 ½” x 11” with parchment paper. Carefully pour polenta into pan. Using a spatula, spread polenta to a thickness of 3/4 inch. Cool to room temperature to allow polenta to solidify. Note: You can cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

* To make this without the SERV dry mix, use just 4 cups of water and no mix.

Balsamic glaze

Pour the vinegar into a small non-reactive sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to low reduce the vinegar for about 30-40 minutes or until the vinegar has become thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. You should end up with just more than 1/2 a cup.

Remove from heat and allow to cool. Pour into an airtight container and store at either room temperature or in the refrigerator. When you are ready to plate, place the container into a container of warm water and it will soften.

Note: Keep a watchful eye when reducing the balsamic so it doesn’t over reduce and burn.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in skillet over medium high heat and sauté the chicken breasts until just cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. Remove the chicken from the skillet and keep warm.

Add the chopped onions and garlic to the skillet and sauté until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from the skillet. Dice the chicken breasts and combine with the onion mixture.

Add the mushrooms to the same skillet, along with the red pepper, and sauté until just cooked, about 5 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms and pepper to a plate, pour the white wine into the skillet and reduce by half. Then add the balsamic vinegar and sugar and cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Return the mushroom mixture to the skillet. Stir to coat with the glaze. Set aside.

Cook the peas according to the package directions.


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray 6 cylinders with vegetable spray.
  3. With the tin can or 3” stack cylinders, cut the polenta into round. Slide a spatula under the polenta round and place them on a sheet pan.polenta stacks
  4. Spoon enough peas to create a single layer of peas. Press down gently but firmly.
  5. Spoon a couple of tablespoons chicken on top of peas and gently press the chicken down.
  6. Top chicken with several tablespoons of mushroom mixture and press down again.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes.

To Serve

Slide a spatula under each stack and transfer to a serving plate. Put three circles of balsamic glaze on your plate.

cathy nelson arkle

Take a toothpick and drag it to make a swirl.

Unmold stack and garnish with micro-greens.

Dig in and enjoy!

stacked food

Recipe Shortcuts

• Buy a rotisserie chicken and dice. Sauté onions and garlic and mix with chicken.

• Buy a quality Balsamic Glaze instead of making your own.


Feeding people is a beautiful facet of our mandate to love one another.
… and then, she paused 4 thought.

Note: I am honored to say I won the recipe competition.


About Cathy Arkle

Cathy Arkle is a food blogger, culinary explorer, graphic artist, and cooking class junkie. Her inspirations come from her travels across the globe (50 countries) in the last 20+ years partaking in various ethnic cuisines while working as a graphic artist for major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX & ESPN). She has collected a few Emmys in the field of graphic design for sports & entertainment. Cathy is also a graduate of the Pro Chef courses at The New School of Cooking in Culver City, CA

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20 Responses to 2013 SERV International Recipe Winner:
Colossal Chicken & Veggie Tower
“SERV”ed with Love

  1. nusrat2010 June 17, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

    God bless the fingers that created this beautiful dish and wrote this touchy blog !
    A BIG, tight hug, Cathy, for making my day with this BEAUTIFUL post of yours ♥ A piece of art indeed ♥

    • cathyarkle June 17, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

      Thank Nusrat! A good cause is always inspiring!

  2. Fresh Food in a Flash June 17, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    Wow! It’s beautiful and inspiring. I learned two things from you. How to have a tall ring for towering and how to make the balsamic glaze. Thanks Cathy!

    • cathyarkle June 18, 2013 at 9:19 am #

      Thanks Patricia! Glad I could help.

  3. mysfkitchen June 17, 2013 at 9:38 pm #

    Beautiful creation! And thanks for sharing the information about this wonderful organization! I will read more about it…

    • cathyarkle June 20, 2013 at 7:02 pm #

      Thanks Kristianne. I love any organizations that feed people… especially those in need.

  4. Jen @ Savory Simple June 18, 2013 at 4:44 am #

    Thank you for all of this information! You’ve made such a gorgeous dish out of these ingredients.

    • cathyarkle June 20, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

      Thank you Jen. Your beautiful food styling and photography inspire me.

  5. Rona Lewis June 18, 2013 at 11:49 am #

    I know how hard you worked on this. Well done, girlie!

    • cathyarkle June 20, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

      Thanks Rona, I put my heart into this one for such a good cause.

  6. Teri O June 18, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

    Yummmm that looks fabulous.

    • cathyarkle June 20, 2013 at 7:09 pm #

      Thanks Teri! It tastes pretty fabulous as well… in my humble opinion. 🙂

  7. Cheri Cameron Newell June 19, 2013 at 8:57 pm #

    One of the monks at Self Realization Fellowship mentioned that one of the best meals he had ever eaten was in India because it was baked with love!!! He said you could actually taste the love!!! Cath… I know you do everything with all of your heart… so the love and the beauty are there!!! What a gorgeous dish!

    • cathyarkle June 20, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

      Thanks Cheri. Cooking with love is a great goal of all of us. I appreciate your encouraging comment.

  8. Alice Muradyan June 19, 2013 at 9:54 pm #

    Cathy! Well done! This truly looks delish and I love that I can use a can as Food Ring Mold. What a great idea!!!

    • cathyarkle June 20, 2013 at 7:07 pm #

      Thanks Alice. Recycling in the kitchen can create some wonderful tools. I tried several things before I found the one that worked.

  9. Natalie || The Devil Wears Parsley June 21, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

    This is so beautiful Cathy! Both the dish itself, and the love that you put into it.

    • cathyarkle June 25, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

      Thanks Natalie! I appreciate your kind words.

  10. Adelaida Khopshanosova June 30, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

    Excelent dish!!!I definetly will try,you are so talented!!!!!!

    • cathyarkle July 3, 2013 at 11:32 am #

      Thanks Adelaida, I appreciate your kind words.

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