Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mushroom Stuffing

Random!  Why Mushroom Stuffing you say?  It's not Thanksgiving.  It's 100 degrees outside.  What brings about heating up a casserole-style dish today?  Simple.  Too many mushrooms in the fridge.  Maw admitted to being smitten by a large container of beautiful, round mushrooms.  A large container.  Almost two weeks ago.  All I needed to know, to begin the fretting about something going bad or going to waste on these premises.  And I don't always want sautéed mushrooms, which was one option we talked about.  We just had them recently and I don't even have anything in mind this week yet that might go with them.  So, into my head pops "stuffing."  Of course there's stuffing-stuffed mushrooms, but that wasn't my intention.  So I went looking around the internet for a recipe.  The first one I came across sounded pretty good, and I surprisingly had all of the ingredients.  Now I would publish the recipe from where I got it, but I did alter some measurements, so I'm only going to publish my version.  I was suspicious about one amount in particular (12 cups of bread crumbs!) and after reading the reviews, I think I agree with many who commented that that was a huge typo-style mistake.  Unfortunately, some of the folks who tried it in its original form were quite disappointed and had disastrous results.  Sometimes, you gotta go with your gut. Now I did cut the recipe in half, but still, 6 cups of bread crumbs?  No.
But all that being said, many did figure it out before it was too late and saved the dish.  A wonderfully savory, nutty comfort food dish.

Mushroom Stuffing

Half pound fresh mushrooms, chopped
3 T. butter/and another 3 T. butter
1/2 C. diced onion
1/2 C. diced celery
1/2 t. poultry seasoning
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. ground black pepper
2-3 C. bread crumbs
1.5 C. chicken broth
1 beaten egg
1 C. peeled and diced apple
1/8 C. chopped fresh parsley

Heat the oven to 375º and butter a 9x9 inch casserole dish.
Clean mushrooms and chop; melt 3 T. butter in a large skillet, then add the mushrooms, chopped onion and chopped celery.  Sauté 5-8 minutes and remove from heat.  Stir in the poultry seasoning, salt and pepper.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of the bread crumbs, broth and beaten egg.  Add the mushroom mixture, chopped apple and parsley.  Mix well.  If it's really soupy, add more breadcrumbs till not quite so.  Remember, dressing is usually pretty moist when you first put it in the dish, and for a good reason.

Put the mixture in the casserole dish, cut up and dollop the remaining 3 T. butter in several places on top and cover with foil.  Bake at 375º for about 45 minutes. Remove the cover and bake an additional 15-20 minutes longer to brown the top.

As with most things, let it sit for a few minutes before you dig in.  Really good.  A great one-pot-wonder version would be to add about a cup of chopped, roasted chicken for a full-meal-deal.  But this is great without it too.

A little comfort food in the heat of the summer.

Happy eating!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cast Iron, Love it.

I do.  I love cast iron.  I love the look of it, the feel of it, everything about it.  I get excited when I see a shelf of it at a sporting goods store.  And I've amassed a pretty good collection of cast iron cookware - dutch ovens, both stove top and campfire style; skillets in various sizes, a turtle, and a couple of griddles.  By far, the skillets get the most use, now that we've retired from Scouting.  In those days, we never left for a campout without at least two dutch ovens on board.  But I think I also love my skillets the best.  I have a huge Lodge that I can't even pick up by the handle when it's full of fried chicken.  I have several smaller ones (mostly old Griswolds that my mom or I have picked up at estate sales), and they're all seasoned well and very useful.  I use them all the time out on the grill, but my dirty little secret is - I use them all the time on my glass stovetop.  I know, voiding the warranty.  I promise you, my warranty was out a long time ago.  And I can attest to the fact that I've never scratched the surface with cast iron.  I'm thinking of cast iron right now because we used it a bunch this weekend.  When I got home from work Friday night, Don and David were manning the grill making three different types of street tacos.  Beef fajita, chicken and picadillo meat.  All the toppings, lots of chips and white corn tortillas.  My beautiful, large lodge was cooking up the sweet caramelized onions, while two others were frying the picadillo meat and warming the fajita meats.  It was a beautifully proud moment to see it all out there on the grill waiting for me.  I know, food nerd!  So fast forward past that lovely evening of goodies (plus swimming and campfire by the pool with s'mores), and then you have...the clean up.  No, WAIT!  It's cast iron, remember?  It cleans up wonderfully!  Once you get these puppies seasoned, it doesn't take much to get them clean; and then just rubbed down with a little oil.  I don't like to put mine away immediately, so I usually leave them out overnight on the stove (yes, the glass top!)  And when I got up Saturday morning, well, there they were again, begging to be used and not filed away in the cabinet.  So what else to do, but make a batch of chilaquilas from the leftovers.  Fried up another onion, added eggs and some cheese, a few crushed up tortilla chips - voila!  Of course, I only needed one, so the rest did get put away.  But again, cleaned the breakfast skillet up, and again, left on the stove to "cure."
I know this is getting long, but bear with me.  So now for today.  I found some beautiful beef filets at Sam's this morning, so I decided I'd replicate a dish I had just seen on Chuck's Day Off (Cooking Channel) where he pan seared some ribeyes (in a cast iron skillet, of course) and then roasted them in the oven to finish.  I'll let the pictures do the talking.

A little ciabatta bread sprinkled with olive oil, salt and pepper and toasted in the oven; fresh asparagus lightly sautéed in olive oil and a splash of balsamic, a fresh green salad and oh yeah, a few sautéed mushrooms thrown in over the steak - and you've got a great Sunday night meal.

The Scallops?  well, that was my indulgence.  They were beautiful.

So go get that cast iron off the shelf in the garage.  Dust it off and give it a good seasoning.  And get busy.  It'll make your food world rock.

Happy eating!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


What soup screams summer more than a Gazpacho? This is a great recipe of Ina Garten's and it's super easy.

Copyright 1999 The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

4 to 6 servings

1 hothouse cucumber, halved and seeded, but not peeled
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
4 plum tomatoes
1 red onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
23 ounces tomato juice (3 cups)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into 1-inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not overprocess!

After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day

I don't think I need to say much more. We celebrated at the office. After all, I did say cheese.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Herb Harvest

I keep a little herb garden right outside the back door and I'm always trimming and cutting on it.  I like to dry my own herbs and now that it's MARCH, I'm finally finishing my harvesting from last year.  For me, it's a long, drawn-out affair.  I snip what I want and then tie the bunches with twine and hang them to dry.  (I'm sure my family gets tired of all the ugly, dried weeds hanging in the kitchen window...)  I leave them quite a long time.  Then, when I've almost forgotten what they were to begin with (sometimes I completely forget--you'd be surprised what all looks similar when it's all dried and shriveled...) I place just the leaves in baggies and mark them.  Then they sit.  And sit.  And sit.  So today, it was time to clean out the baggies.  I have a coffee mill I use specifically for herbs and grind them down to the consistency I want for seasoning/cooking.  Today I ground Sweet Basil, Oregano, Mint and Pineapple Sage.  And I have more bay leaves than ten people would ever use in a lifetime.

I had a lot of pineapple sage, because I did away with it at the end of the season last year, so this was everything.  While there aren't many uses for it mentioned online, it's a pretty cool plant.  First of all it's beautiful in the garden, with a striking red bloom.  In it's fresh form, it smells sweet, tastes sweet (really nice to brew in tea) and the bugs don't seem to care about it.  In it's dried form I've used it in pork rub before, and today, I put it in my enchilada meat mixture.  I'm making the enchiladas later this week, so I'll let you know how it is, but I can say, it smelled fantastic going in the with "enchilada" seasonings.

Happy Harvesting!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Who Says Office Lunch is Boring?

I made some Butternut Squash Soup the other day out of (get this) mashed butternut squash I had in a freezer bag labeled November 2010! I kept forgetting about it, so this was somewhat of a gamble, but it was just fine. I sautéed some onions in a pot with some canola oil and once they were translucent I added the squash and some chicken broth. Then some Allspice and ground thyme to taste and a little salt. Once heated through, I added some fat free half & half. It's delish! And so easy. Nice on this gray day. Oh and that little rolled up thingy? That's a low carb tortilla with Kim's homemade pimento cheese spread in it. I'll post her recipe if she'll give it up.

Happy lunching!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Random Food Pics

I'm in trouble for not posting for a while, but I promise I've been busy.  And I also promise that I haven't missed a meal.  So here are just some random pictures of food I've encountered, made, eaten, etc. lately.
First of all, who doesn't like boiled shrimp with some tangy red sauce?  Okay, folks who don't like fish.  And behind the shrimp you'll see an easy appetizer--small sweet peppers roasted with port wine cheese ball smeared on them.  That's right, soften one of those port wine cheese balls you find in the gourmet cheese section at the store.  Cut the peppers in half (they're the small, sweet, multicolored ones you find in a bag in the produce section), clean out the few seeds and membrane, then smear about a teaspoon of the cheese on it.  Roast in the oven till light brown and bubbly, or if you're feeling lucky, place on the grill outside.  Watch out--they're hot!  Not spicy, but burn your lip.  Let them sit for a few minutes before partaking.

Pam's Marinated Cheese.  It's a thing of beauty.  My sister-in-law turned us on to this, and she still makes it the best.  Cheddar and cream cheese sliced and stacked together, with a beautiful, rustic Italian blend of ingredients make the dressing that you pour over the cheeses.  Marinate for a while, then set out and let get near room temp before you spoon the dressing back over the cheeses.  Eat with crackers.  Yum!

Even though this IS Super Bowl Sunday, I didn't mean for it to look like an appetizer feast.  These photos are coming from Christmas Eve, where David and Lauren hosted and we had a "finger food gala."  Here are two different kinds of stuffed mushroom my mom made, and sure enough, we had so much stuffing left over that some of those cute little peppers got stuffed as well.  The mushrooms in the back have a more traditional stuffing, while the ones up front have a bacon and cheese style stuffing.

Pam also brought "Uncle Ed's Chicken Wings."  Yes, they ARE as good as they look.  Crispy, messy, sweet, savory, gooey, eat-over-the-sink good.  Recipe is in the Strand Family Cookbook.

I'll stop here and resume in another post.  But doesn't it just make you hungry?

Happy eating!