Sunday, November 15, 2015

Wild Rice Salad

1 cup wild rice, uncooked (3 cups cooked)
1/2 c almonds, sliced
1 cup dried cranberries
1 bunch green onions, sliced thinly
4 ribs of celery, chopped
1 c chicken
Marzetti's poppyseed dressing

Directions:

  1. Prepare wild rice as directed on label.
  2. In a large bowl, stir everything together.
  3. Add enough dressing to coat ingredients.
  4. Refrigerate for an hour or more.
Notes:
  • I more than doubled the recipe and didn't need a whole bottle of dressing.
  • Rotisserie chicken was a great choice!
  • If refrigerating overnight, add the almonds just before serving.
  • I had this for a lunch at Pacem In Terris and the rice was perfectly cooked.  I'm sure it all tastes the same, but it is prettier if the rice isn't overcooked.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Baked Croissant Blueberry French Toast

French toast made with croissants - seems like the stars are lining up just right, eh?
We (Tony, Emily and I) first had this at a department brunch during her Notre Dame commencement week and it was memorable enough that we analyzed it and took notes with the hopes of duplication.  Fast forward to this week when I have a Costco-sized pack of croissants and a ladies group that needs lunch - again with the stars!  Unfortunately, neither Emily nor I could locate notes, but I did come up with something pretty nice on the 'net.

French Toast
6 -8 plain croissants, cut in half lengthwise
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
1 orange, zest
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 pinch salt

Topping
1 cup pecans
1/4 cup unsalted butter, plus
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups blueberries
1/4 cup packed brown sugar

Blueberry Syrup
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Directions

  • For the French toast: Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Arrange the croissant halves in the baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, half-and-half, nutmeg, vanilla, Grand Marnier, orange zest, 1/4 cup brown sugar, white sugar and salt. Pour this mixture over the croissants. Cover the baking dish and chill until all of the liquid is absorbed, at least 2 hours.
  • For the topping: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a shallow baking pan, spread the pecans evenly and toast until fragrant, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and toss pecans with the 1 teaspoon butter and salt.
  • Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Sprinkle the blueberries evenly over the croissant mixture. Melt 1/4 cup butter with 1/4 cup brown sugar, stirring until the butter is melted. Drizzle this mixture over the baking dish and bake for 20 inutes, or until the liquid from the blueberries is bubbling.
  • For the blueberry syrup: In a small saucepan, cook blueberries and maple syrup over moderate heat until berries have burst, about 3 minutes. Pour syrup through a sieve; stir in the lemon juice.
  • Sprinkle the croissant French toast with toasted pecans. Serve with the syrup.
NOTES:
French Toast
  • I used Orange Curacao instead of Grand Marnier.  It was orange-y, it's a fraction of the cost, and I had it on hand.
  • I also ramped it up with about 1/4 tsp. of orange oil.  No regrets.
  • I sliced the croissants in half and put some blueberries in the middle.  I also sprinkled some brown sugar in there, but it probably wan't necessary.
  • I do remember the original inspiration having some connection with cream cheese in the middle but when I looked at the nutrition facts page of this recipe, I decided that maybe cream cheese wasn't all that necessary after all.
  • 6 Costco bagels = one cake pan.
  • After slicing them in half, re-assemble by giving the tops a 180 degree twist so the thick side of the top ends up on the thin side of the bottom.  Uniform thickness is the goal.
Topping
  • I don't typically bother with unsalted butter.  (Heck, the recipes that use it almost always have you adding salt along the way somewhere anyway.)
  • Because I'm inclined to skim while reading wanted to save time, I didn't bother to toast the pecans, and I just added them right away before baking instead of messing around with that whole "increase the temp" and "drizzle carefully" thing.  I just mixed the pecans, brown sugar and melted butter together and spooned it on the top.
  • I tried Aldi's canned blueberries for this recipe and they were pretty great.  It's not that gloppy pie filling stuff, but real blueberries canned in a light syrup.  (Sorry, I can't find a link.  They were canned, not frozen though.)
Syrup
  • Seriously, don't bother.  It would be too sweet and you've already added enough blueberries by this point anyhow.
One more operation note and one word of caution:
  • I started with these top-side-up soaking up all that egg and nutmeg goodness, but even by morning there were still dry spots on the top of those oversized Costco monstrosities.  I ended up flipping each of them upside down to help (and it worked).  A better strategy would be to start top side down and flip them the next day so the more attractive side is up before baking.  A minor detail since it was smothered in blueberries and pecans anyway, but I'd do it that way next time.
  • Just focus on the health benefits of blueberries and don't follow the link to the nutrition facts box in the original recipe.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Oven Baked Fajitas


1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp seasoned salt
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chilies (Rotel)
1 medium onion, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into strips

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken strips in a greased 13×9 baking dish.
  • In a small bowl combine the oil, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, dried oregano, and salt.
  • Drizzle the spice mixture over the chicken and stir to coat.
  • Next add the tomatoes, peppers, and onions to the dish and stir to combine.
  • Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender.
Notes:
  • The method was great.  Actually, better than great!  Quick and easy and things were a good texture.
  • I baked for 20 minutes in the convection oven.
  • There were probably more spices than necessary, for us anyway.
  • I'd definitely do this again.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole

This one is dairy light and veggie & egg intense.

3/4 pound uncooked sausage, casings removed
optional: 1 teaspoon dried rosemary to give the sausage more flavor
2 bell peppers, diced (any color you prefer; about 2 cups)
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup fresh spinach
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
salt and fresh ground black pepper
4 slices day-old gluten free bread (or whole wheat, white, sourdough, etc)
10 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded cheese
Directions:

  • Place sausage in the skillet and begin to break it up with a spatula or fork. Stir in the rosemary and brown the sausage, about 6-7 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, set a 2nd skillet over medium heat and coat it with nonstick spray or a drizzle of olive oil. (If you have a skillet large enough to fit both the sausage and veggies, you can just add the veggies to the sausage that is browning in step 1.) Add the peppers, mushrooms, spinach, onion, garlic, and a sprinkle each of salt and pepper. Begin stirring and cooking the veggies down until tender, about 6-8 minutes.
  • Set sausage and veggies aside.
  • Generously grease a 9x13 baking pan. Break the bread into pieces and place in the pan in an even layer.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, and 1/4 cup shredded cheese together. Pour half of this egg mixture over the bread. Top with the sausage and vegetables, then the remaining egg mixture and remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper on top.
  • Cover casserole with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight-- or up to 1 day. Allow it to come to room temperature before baking.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F (191°C). Bake the casserole, uncovered, until the top is golden, edges are crisp, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean-- about 40-45 minutes. I like mine on the super crisp side, so I bake it for around 45-50 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then slice and serve. Kevin loves hot sauce on top of his. Try it! Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave to your liking.
  • Make ahead tip/Freezing instructions: Obviously this is a make ahead recipe! However, you can brown the sausage and cook down the veggies up to 2 days in advance-- simply put the two in a tupperware in the refrigerator until ready to use in the recipe. Also, you can freeze this breakfast casserole. Prepare through step 5, then cover the casserole with plastic wrap, then a layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature, then continue with step 7.
NOTES:
  • Two whole peppers seemed a little intense.  I just used one plus a few little sweet red ones from the garden.  (I doubt they added up to an additional half though.)
  • The sage was good.
  • I'd use less garlic next time.
  • Loved the spinach and mushrooms in it.
  • I divided it all in half.  We ate one for brunch and froze the other for later.
  • And I should also note my huge success - after owning my "new" stove for a couple years now, I finally tried the delayed start feature.  It worked flawlessly and was almost ready to eat when we got home from Mass.  Hooray!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup

1 tablespoon melted butter
1⁄2 medium chopped onion
1⁄4 cup melted butter
1⁄4 cup flour
2 cups half-and-half cream
2 cups chicken stock
1⁄2 lb fresh broccoli (chopped into bite size pieces)
1 cup carrot, chopped
1⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
crusty bread


  • Sauté onion in butter. Set aside.
  • Cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly and add the half & half.
  • Add the chicken stock. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat 20-25 minutes.
  • Add salt and pepper and add cheese. Stir in nutmeg.
  • Serve with crusty bread and Enjoy :).
NOTES:
  • I'd consider steaming (or microwaving) the veggies a little next time.  
  • I used processed cheese instead of cheddar.  Don't judge, it melts perfectly!
  • Considering the cheese choice, I did not add any additional salt.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Fresh Blueberry Pie

3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold water
5 cups fresh blueberries, divided
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 pastry shell (9 inches), baked

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt and water until smooth. Add 3 cups blueberries. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened and bubbly.
Remove from the heat. Add butter, lemon juice and remaining berries; stir until butter is melted. Cool. Pour into pastry shell. Refrigerate until serving. Yield: 8 servings.

NOTES:

  • Recommended by Like Mother Like Daughter and from Taste of Home.
  • I made the recipe as is and really liked it!
  • Using a frozen crust made this a super easy dessert.
  • Having uncooked berries really makes a difference!  It's pretty delicious.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Sour Cream Cucumber Salad


1/2 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
Pepper to taste
4 medium cucumbers, peeled if desired and thinly sliced
1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings

In a large bowl, whisk sour cream, vinegar, sugar and pepper until blended. Add cucumbers and onion; toss to coat. Refrigerate, covered, at least 4 hours. Serve with a slotted spoon. Yield: 8 servings.

NOTES:

  • Delicious and I always have the ingredients on hand.
  • It's very easy to adjust the amount.  (Hello, single cucumber!)
  • Much better with some dill weed, obviously.
  • Source

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Key Lime Pie

from The Gourmet Cookbook

1¼ c graham cracker crumbs (from nine crackers)
2 T sugar
5 T unsalted butter, melted
1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
6 T fresh or bottled key lime juice (I used 8.)
¾ c cold heavy cream

Put a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°. Butter a 9-in pie plate.

Stir together cracker crumbs, butter and sugar with a fork until well combined. Press evenly into pie plate and bake for 10 minutes.

Whisk together condensed milk and yolks until well combined. Add juice and whisk well. Pour filling into crust, bake for 15 minutes. Cool completely on rack, then chill for at least 8 hours.

Just before serving, beat the cream until it just holds stiff peaks. Spread cream on top of pie.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Best Zucchini Bread


 The zucchini bread recipe in the red Cook's Illustrated book is simply the best.  This one is virtually identical (the only difference is that it shreds the zucchini in the food processor instead of by hand).

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Chicken D'Arduini

One of Johnny's all-time favorites, but I rarely make it because I cannot stand video recipes with no written component.  Here's the original video if that's your thing, but he finally wrote the instructions down for me.  It really is a great meal.

Chicken D’Arduini
Ingredients:
8 chicken thighs (bone-in, but skinned)8 chicken legs6 cloves garlic1/4 cup olive oil1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley1/4 cup chopped basil1 tbl dried rosemary1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes2 oz anchovy fillets1/2 plus 1/3 cup red wine1/4 cup vinegar1 1/2 tsp salt


Slowly simmer garlic, anchovies, and olive oil on low heat until it begins to smell and anchovy begins to melt.  Add chicken to the pot and add basil, salt, red pepper flakes, rosemary, and parsley.  Add wine and vinegar, and stir to make sure all the spices are mixed.  Turn the heat to medium and put on the lid, letting it cook for 30 minutes.  Remove the lid, toss the chicken a bit, and turn the heat up to high until the liquid has reduced a bit and the chicken looks cooked.  Add mushrooms and olives.  Add the final 1/3 cup of red wine, and let simmer long enough to cook out alcohol.  Serve on pasta. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Fresh Cherry Crisp


FOR THE CRISP TOPPING

1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup butter, melted

FOR THE FILLING

2 cups pitted cherries
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Spray four ramekins with non-stick cooking spray.
Combine oats, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, baking powder and baking soda together in a medium bowl. Whisk together well to evenly combine.
Add brown sugar and melted butter to the flour mixture and mix well to form a clumpy dough. Set aside.
In another bowl combine pitted cherries, granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour. Mix well so the cherries are coated with the flour and sugar. Divide them between the four sprayed ramekins.
Cover cherries with crisp topping, dividing it evenly between the four ramekins.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until crisp topping is golden brown.
Notes:
You can easily double this recipe and prepare in one 9"x13" baking dish.

NOTES:

  • Easiest dessert ever AND quite delicious served warm with a little ice cream.
  • I made it as directed except I added a few blueberries to get more fruit.
  • I baked it in a 9x9 pan instead of ramekins.
  • Source


Friday, July 3, 2015

Dried Coconut

Thank you, Aldi, for hearing our cries!
Not a great price ($3.79 for 5 ounces), but as delicious as the oft-mourned version no longer available at Costco.

(Actually, I wonder if the price on amazon went down.  $16 something with Prime shipping seems pretty reasonable all of a sudden.)

Garlic Honey Ginger Glazed Salmon

It was every bit as nice as promised, including visually.




4 salmon filets, skin removed (about 2 lbs total)
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce (or regular)
2 teaspoons minced or chopped garlic
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
4 cups broccoli florets (or serve with your favorite veggie)
optional for garnish: chopped scallion, sesame seeds, sprinkle of parsley for color
Directions:


  1. Place the salmon filets in a large zipped-top bag. Whisk the honey, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger together in a medium bowl (I added a sprinkle of dried parsley for color-- try chopped scallion!). Pour half of this sauce over the salmon filets, coating them thoroughly. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or up to 4 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
  3. Line the marinated salmon filets on the baking sheet. You can hold onto this used marinade-- see step 5. Bake for 15-20 minutes depending on thickness (about 10 minutes per 1-inch inch thickness-- measured from the thickest part of the filet). You can broil the salmon for the last 3 minutes for crispier edges.
  4. Meanwhile, begin steaming the broccoli and reducing the glaze. First, the broccoli: fill a large saucepan with 1 inch of water. If you have a steamer, place it inside. Bring water to a boil. Add the broccoli. Cover and reduce hear to medium. Cook for 6-7 minutes until the broccoli is bright green and tender.
  5. Now, the glaze: Pour the remaining, unused marinade into a small saucepan or skillet. If you want, you can add the remaining (used) marinade as well. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat low-medium and allow to simmer for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool and thicken.
  6. Remove cooked salmon from the oven. Some of the glaze may have browned on the edges. You can discard this.
  7. Garnish the salmon with any of the listed options. Serve with steamed broccoli and additional glaze. Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for a few days. Reheat to your liking.
  8. Make ahead tip: You can marinate the salmon up to 4 hours in advance. If needed, you can extend to 8 hours. You can steam the broccoli and reduce the unused marinade (steps 4 and 5) ahead of time as well.
NOTES:
  • I made this recipe as written except I had just used up my jar of fresh ginger on another recipe and couldn't get more at Aldi.  I used powdered ginger which, I'm sure, isn't as nice.  (But it wasn't bad!)
  • I made the glaze, but we didn't end up using it because it was quite delicious without.
  • Also, we had fresh green beans, so no broccoli here.
Quick, easy, beautiful enough to serve to company, and delicious!  All credit (including the photo) goes to Sally's Baking Addiction, whose blog I'm really appreciating these days!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Crockpot Meatloaf

6oz garlic-flavored croutons
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
3 whole cloves of garlic
1/2 red bell pepper
36 oz ground meat(see note)
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 egg

Glaze
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tsp cumin
Dash of Worcestershire Sauce
Dash of Tabasco
1 tbsp honey


Combine croutons and spices in the bowl of a food processor, pulse until you have fine crumbs, place mixture in a large bowl.  Combine onion, carrot, garlic, and bell pepper in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Combine the veggies with the crumbs, meat, salt, and egg; mix until just combined.

Stir together glaze ingredients.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, form the meat mixture into a loaf shape.  At this point you can either bake it or freeze it for later.

Bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes, brush on the glaze then return to the oven and continue baking until it reaches an internal temperature of 155 degrees.

Freeze until frozen solidly and then wrap in freezer paper until ready to use.

To cook in the crockpot, slice 1-2 potatoes into 1/2 inch thick slices and place in a single layer on the bottom of your crockpot.  Place a frozen meatloaf on top of them and brush the top with the glaze.  Cook on low for ~6 hours.

Based on Good Eats Meatloaf from Alton Brown

Note: Alton calls for half ground chuck and half ground sirloin.  I prefer the texture of half beef and half turkey or pork.



Bourbon, Bacon, Pecan Cookies

¾ cup butter-flavored Crisco
1-¼ cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 tbsp bourbon
1 tbsp vanilla
1 egg
1-¾ cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp baking soda
1 cup chopped toasted pecans
½ cup crumbled bacon( ¼ lb)

Heat 375
Combine Crisco, brown sugar, bourbon, and vanilla in bowl; beat in egg. Combine flour, salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Mix into creamed mixture. Stir in bacon and pecans.  Chill for ½ hour.

Roll into 1 inch balls and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Better the second day.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam - No Pectin

1-1/2 lbs Fresh Strawberries, chopped
1-1/2 lbs Rhubarb, diced
2 cups sugar(more or less to taste)
2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and let sit for 4+ hours.  Pour the contents of the bowl into a saucepan and simmer over medium heat, keeping it just at a slow boil for around 20 minutes or until thickened(somewhat like apple butter).  If you want it smoother, puree with an immersion blender.

Makes 2 pints.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Braunschweiger Dip

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
8 oz. braunschweiger, mashed
1 tbsp. onion
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Salt & pepper
Mix all together very well. Chill for several hours.

NOTES:
I used about a tsp. of onion powder instead of real onion and it was fine.  This would be a great dip to bring to Klejeski or Webster Christmas.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Coffee Ice Cream


Adapted from this source.

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 1/2 cups whole coffee beans
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat the milk, coffee beans, and 1/2 cup of the cream in a medium saucepan until it is quite warm and steamy, but not boiling. Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for at least one hour (I forgot about mine for 6 or 7 hours. No harm done). Strain the coffee beans out, and return the milk mixture to the saucepan.

Reheat on medium heat, until again hot and steamy (not boiling!). In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Slowly pour the heated milk and coffee mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly so that the egg yolks are tempered by the warm milk, but not cooked by it. Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof, flat-bottomed spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula so that you can run your finger across the coating and leave a trail. This can take about 10 minutes.

Pour the custard into a bowl and stir in the remaining cream. Mix in the vanilla and chill thoroughly.

Freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Makes one quart.

Notes: I've tried the recipe as written, and you lose a ton of custard that gets stuck to the coffee beans. Much better to strain before thickening. 

This came out ridiculously smooth and thick, and froze quickly, but is still scoopable straight out of the (inside) freezer.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Grilled Marinated Shrimp

1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails attached
skewers

  1. In a mixing bowl, mix together olive oil, parsley, lemon juice, hot sauce, garlic, tomato paste, oregano, salt, and black pepper. Reserve a small amount for basting later. Pour remaining marinade into a large resealable plastic bag with shrimp. Seal, and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  2. Preheat grill for medium-low heat. Thread shrimp onto skewers, piercing once near the tail and once near the head. Discard marinade.
  3. Lightly oil grill grate. Cook shrimp for 5 minutes per side, or until opaque, basting frequently with reserved marinade.
NOTES:
  • Source
  • We were pretty loose with the ingredient list (surprise).  I used dried parsley, less pepper sauce and tomato sauce instead of paste.
  • In spite of all that, these were super easy and even more delicious than expected!
  • I used a 2 lb bag of Costco uncooked shrimp (the larger ones) and just put the marinade inside the bag of thawed shrimp.
  • It worked perfectly with our awesome skewers and we'll be making this again!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Skillet Taco Mac Hotdish

8 ounces of macaroni, cooked
1 lb. ground beef
1 chopped onion
1 can black beans
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 can corn
1 cup salsa
1 pkg taco seasoning mix
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese
1/2 c sour cream


  • Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, in large skillet, cook ground beef and onion
  • stir in black beans, tomatoes, corn, salsa and taco seasoning.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes
  • Stir in 1 cup cheese, sour cream and pasta. Top with remaining cheese, serve.
NOTES: 
  • I cooked everything in one pot after the macaroni was done.
  • I didn't have taco seasoning, so just added a little cumin and chili powder.  Really, the salsa covered it pretty well anyway.
Source:
Back of the pasta box.


Sangria



1 bottle red wine (Winking Owl Merlot was perfect for this)
4 oz brandy
3 oz triple sec
2 oranges
2 limes
1 apple
4-6 oz simple syrup, to taste
12 oz or more club soda

Juice one orange and one lime; combine with first three ingredients. Add simple syrup to taste. Slice the remaining fruit thinly and add to pitcher. Chill thoroughly and serve over ice mixed about 2:1 with club soda.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Raisin Bread


(First of all, apologies for the terrible pun.)

Home for Easter for the first time in years (and years and years), I felt the need to make Dad his traditional raisin bread.  I morphed this delicious bread recipe with the filling and method from here and it turned out pretty well!  Not too sweet, excellent texture, and it's not falling apart at the swirls, so the second loaf should be very nice toast.

NOTES:
  • I added three cups of raisins to the dough before the flour was all added.  At first, it looked like that may have been too many, but it seems about right in the finished product.
  • The dough could be a little sweeter.  Check into someone else's recipe for raisin bread next year to compare.
  • Using King Arthur's roll up method with the egg wash and flour added to the filling seems to make the slices more stable.  I haven't gotten to the middle of the loaf yet, so I'll edit if this does not seem to be the case all the way through.  I'll paste in the method below, just in case the recipe disappears from their site. UPDATE: About two slices further in to my perfect looking loaf, there was a huge (HUGE) bubble making every slice more of a D shape. I'll be curious to see if both loaves did that, but I have no idea what would have caused it. :-(
  • NB - the filling is for one loaf, so double for this application.
  • Happy Easter everyone!  Christ is risen!
filling
1/4 cup granulated sugar1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon2 teaspoons King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, to brush on dough5) Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and pat it into a 6" x 20" rectangle.6) Brush the dough with the egg/water mixture, and sprinkle it evenly with the filling.Don't skip the step of brushing the dough with the egg/water wash before sprinkling on the filling. The egg is what keeps the bread from "gapping" around the filling.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Sausage and Kraut

I should also set up labels for "unbelievably easy" and "favorites."

My "recipe" for this is to layer some frozen brats or Polish sausage with a jar of sauerkraut in a crock pot.  Cook on low for 8-ish hours.  Receive the accolades of your family.

I like using these brats from Costco.  I also really like the Italian sausage in the same brand (but avoid the grossly under-seasoned breakfast links).

A jar of Aldi sauerkraut is both cheap and delicious.

The finished product is a mellow sauerkraut and very tender sausage.  So good!  The first time I did it, I used one pack (5 sausage) and we liked it so much that I immediately added another pack of sausage to the remaining sauerkraut and cooked it until bed time.  This time I just started with two packs of sausage so there are some planned leftovers.

More notes:
  • If the sauerkraut doesn't have much juice, go ahead and add a little water too.
  • This would be great if started with grilled sausage (even if they weren't cooked through), just to give that extra smokey yumminess.  (That's a word, right?  Spell check is only giving me "chumminess" and "crumminess.")
  • Jim Kostick made something very similar using Kramarczuks Polish sausage slices in sauerkraut, cooked for far less time.  Obviously better, but not so easy to pull off.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
2 cups chicken stock
1 1/4 cup (or 1 10-ounce can) red enchilada sauce
2 (14-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 (15-ounce) can whole-kernel corn, drained
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 white onion, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt, or more/less to taste
optional garnishes: chopped fresh cilantro, diced avocado, diced red onion, shredded cheese, sour cream, tortilla strips/chips


DIRECTIONS:

Add all ingredients to a slow cooker, and stir to combine. Cook for 3-4 hours on high heat or 6-8 hours on low heat, until the chicken is cooked through and shreds easily. Use two forks to shred the chicken.

Serve warm, with optional garnishes.

You can also refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 5 days. Or freeze it for up to 3 months.

NOTES:

  • I particularly liked the part of the method that had me cook the whole chicken breast and then shred it toward the end.  I simply scooped them out into a bowl to cool a little and they fell apart as I was cutting across the grain.  It was much simpler than trying to cut up the raw meat.
  • I used a bigger can of diced tomatoes because that's what I had on hand.
  • The original recipe called for a different kind of tomato, but regular ones worked just fine.
  • Fwiw, this is gluten free if you're careful on what enchilada sauce is added.