Sunday, October 27, 2013

Amish Breakfast Casserole

Finding a portable brunch dish isn't always easy. Certain foods dry out when reheated; others require lots of "on site" prep work. So when I was surfing through the blogosphere looking for something that would be easy to put together, would feed at least 12 people, and wouldn't have to be reheated or assembled on site, I came across this hearty casserole from Taste of Home. I read through some 90+ reviews and thought about what some of the negative reviewers had to say and amended the recipe as follows.

1/2 lb bacon, diced
12 oz Jimmy Dean bulk breakfast sausage
1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped
12 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
30 oz bag shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed (place in a clean dish towel and squeeze out excess moisture)
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 cups ricotta
1/4 - 1/2 tsp dried sage
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large skillet, cook the bacon,, sausage, and onion until bacon is almost crisp; drain oil
In a large bowl, combined the remaining ingredients.

Butter a 9 X 13 inch deep baking dish. Transfer mixture to the dish and bake, uncovered, for 45 - 55 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting or spooning out.

N.I.  1 serving: 273 cal; 18g fat; 8g carb; 1 g fiber; 18 g protein
I let the casserole cool for 5 minutes, then loaded it into one of those insulated bags they sell at the grocery store. Forty-five minutes later, it was still piping hot. While the incidental heat did cook it a little more, it was still gooey and delicious. I will definitely make this one dish brunch again.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

When the Weather Turns Chilly...It's Chili

Last year I became a convert. After years of turning up my nose at chili, I found a chili that was more than some ground beef and beans with overpowering spices. I've been waiting for the weather to turn cooler so that I could make up a big pot and decided to repost the recipe with a somewhat improved photograph.

The recipe is a slight adaptation of Jamie Deen's:

Serves 8 - 10 generously
1 lb each ground beef and ground sweet sausage
1 onion, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
2 cups chopped celery
3 (28 oz) cans petite diced tomatoes
1 (28 oz) can whole, peeled tomatoes
1-2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
salt to taste
2 (14.5 oz) cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5 oz) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 (14.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 pkg chili seasoning mix
shredded cheddar cheese, crema, guacamole, chopped scallions (optional toppings)

In a large skillet, brown ground beef and sausage, drain, and place in a slow cooker. In the same skillet, add the onion, pepper, and celery and saute 5-8 minutes. Add to the meat mixture, then stir in the diced tomatoes and run the whole tomatoes through a food mill and add to the mix. Add cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, beans and chili seasoning (taste and add salt, if needed). Set the slow cooker to low heat and cook 6-8 hours. Serve garnished with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream.

The flavor of this chili, which is wonderful to begin with, only improves the next day. I like to eat my chili with a piece of homemade cornbread and have at least 3 additional meals waiting in the freezer.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Apple Pear Coffee Cake

A few weeks ago I tasted a piece of coffee cake at a guild meeting and I couldn't get that taste out of my head. Although I was promised the recipe at our next meeting, I decided to conduct an online search to see if I could find something like it. I think I hit paydirt with this recipe from Taste of Home. With a few tweaks of my own, here is the recipe:

Serves 15
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup light sour cream
2 medium honey crisp apples, peeled and chopped
1 Bartlett pear, peeled and chopped

1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbs cold, unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and generously grease a 9 X 13 inch baking pan.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.

In another large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add the flour mixture alternately with the sour cream, beating until combined.

Fold in the apples and pears.

Pour into the greased pan.

In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in pecans. Sprinkle evenly over batter.

Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into 15 pieces.

Nutritional Info:  313 cal; 14g fat; 44 g carb; 1 g fiber; 4 g protein; 9 Points Plus values

I am 99% certain that this is the recipe for the coffeecake made by my fellow guild member. It is exceptionally moist with just the right amount of topping. I think it tastes very buttery, more than just a "half stick's worth."  I will have to put it out of sight and/or freeze some of it because it is way too tempting.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Spanish-style Chicken

I've been in a rut lately, cooking the same "old favorites" over and over again. While I do have my tried and true chicken preparations, I felt like eating something a bit different. So, instead of using boneless, skinless thighs, which are my "go to" part of the bird, I decided to use a whole chicken, skin, bones, and all.

Serves 4
1 whole chicken (3 1/2 - 4 lbs), cut into 10 pieces
Kosher salt
sweet paprika
1 tbs olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, minced (I used gigantic cloves and loved the flavor; you may want less)
1 heaping tbs tomato paste (I use the one in a tube)
1/3 cup sherry vinegar
2 cups chicken broth (I recommend low sodium)
6 jarred piquillo peppers, cut into strips
1/2 cup green olives, sliced
2 tbs chopped, fresh parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season the chicken pieces on both sides with salt and paprika. Heat an ovenproof skillet* (at least 12 inche) over medium heat and swirl in oil. Working in 2 batches, add chicken to pan and cook until browned (2-4 minutes on each side). Transfer chicken to a plate as it is browned.

Reduce heat to low and add the garlic and tomato paste, scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon. Return chicken to the skillet, increase the heat to high, and pour in the vinegar. Boil, stirring, until liquid is reduced to a glaze. Turn chicken pieces to coat all over.

Stir in broth and bring to a boil. Add the peppers and olives. Transfer to oven and braise for 25 minutes (until a thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast reaches 160 degrees and liquid is reduced by half. Garnish with parsley.

*I wrap my nonstick skillet's handle in aluminim foil and it works fine
Chicken on the bone almost always tastes far better than boneless, skinless pieces of the bird do (and that's even when you take the skin off before eating). This dish smelled wonderful and tasted even better. My only regret was that I couldn't dunk an entire loaf of garlic bread into the wonderful sauce. The sauce is very thin, but could be thickened at the very end with a simple slurry. I had planned to use leftovers to make a soup, but I'm having second thoughts and may just eat it as is.