Sunday, December 19, 2010

Brat Beer Bath, Baby!

Another warm, comfort food for Sunday night's dinner. I love sausages and brats, and I really love the ones that are made with things other than just the usual innards. Tonight we had chicken and apple sausages, and I didn't feel like standing around with a pair of tongs out in the cold, so the "brats got a bath."

I used my BIG cast iron skillet, which always makes a nice pot. A stick of butter, and bunch of sliced onions to start (I used yellow and red just because those were leftover from other stuff), and I let that simmer till the onions got somewhat soft, but not translucent. Added two beers (David insisted on his Miller High Life - "it's the champagne of beers, Mom!"), and once hot-added the sausages. Just simmered till they were looking to burst. These were previously fully cooked, by the way. I found some fluffy, over-sized hot dog buns at the bakery, and served them with Texas Caviar (black-eyed pea salad) and some sweet yellow cherry tomatoes.

The Texas Caviar is another recipe to be found in the Strand Family cookbook. An old friend from church, Landa Cartwright, gets credit for this one. I've had other black-eyed pea salads, but this one is the best. Easy to make, too. Just get a large mixing bowl and dump 4-5 cans of black-eyed peas in (drain all but one or two cans), 1 medium red onion-chopped (oh yeah, that's why I had red onion!), 1 green 1 red, and 1 yellow bell peppers-chopped, 1 large bottle of Kraft LITE Zesty Italian Dressing, 1 jar of picante sauce (I use mild), 1 large can pitted black olives-finely chopped, and you can add jalapeño to taste, though I leave it out. That's it. Mix it up, refrigerate in a container, and the saying goes, "the longer it sets, the better it gets!" It is true. Wait at least 24 hours before you serve it. It's great on crackers or big scoop chips; and I like it cold, but you could heat it as well. This will pass for eating black-eyed peas for good luck in the new year.
On another note, I wish I had taken pictures of breakfast this morning. We had my version of Migas, along with fried potatoes and onions (I eat a lot of onions?), and a cast iron skillet of "greasy" refried beans. I would have loved to post a picture of those beans. Usually when I heat up refrieds, I do add a little bacon grease, but this time I wanted them to get really dark and smoky flavored. I learned the term "greasy" the other night when we were at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants "Ojeda's," and I asked our waiter for the "darker" refried beans they serve with the Carne Asada. He said, "Oh, you want the GREASY beans!" And of course I said "Okay!"
So this morning I fried a whole pound of bacon and reserved the grease for the beans; I used about half of it when it was all said and done. And using the iron skillet just added to the flavor. They were perfect if I do say so. The Migas were just scrambled eggs (I use a little sour cream to get them fluffy); all that crunchy, crumbled bacon; shredded monterey jack cheese, and broken corn tortillas chips. Mixed it all together and put it in a casserole dish in the oven for a few minutes with a little extra cheese melted down over the top. I love breakfast. And I really love Mexican breakfast. Don does too, especially when he wakes up on Sunday morning, gets in the hot tub and is served a Tequila Sunrise before his Mexican breakfast. Hey, I like to do it up right, right? We're still coming down from our recent trip to San Antonio. I have foodie pics from that I'll post over the holidays.
Okay, I've rambled on about food--so what's new! Thanks for reading.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bacon-Wrapped Green Beans

Sara (shout out!) is on me about not blogging, especially during the Thanksgiving holiday. It was weird; I didn't cook much. We were invited somewhere else for the actual Thanksgiving Feast, so all I made was a side dish. I cooked a turkey later, but we just went into immediate leftover mode with it and never actually made it as a "meal." Speaking of leftovers, you know how I love them. My favorite leftover from thanksgiving is to cut a dinner roll in half, smear it with mayo, lay several pieces of dark turkey meat, some cornbread stuffing (my favorite) and some cranberry sauce on it, and that's my deal. So it was a little strange this year not to do that--but I made due.
This is a picture of the side dish we have every year now--
Bacon-Wrapped Green Beans. If you know me, you know I have a thing for bacon. And as much as I love it savory, I love a sweet twist on it as well. (Notice, I did get my turkey sandwich in there, but it's on Asiago Cheese bread with just mayo--I lived through it!)
So this is a recipe you can find in the Strand Family Cookbook. (Secretly, behind my mom's back, I gathered recipes from all of her side of the family in order to present a cookbook to her on her 70th birthday. The Strand family/descendants are awesome cooks!)

So this recipe is in there, but here's how i
t goes:

3 cans of whole greens beans (not cut or French style--use the long "whole" ones), drained
1 lb. bacon, cut strips into thirds
1 C. packed brown sugar
5-6 T. soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced

Wrap 5-6 green beans with a piece of the bacon and lay seam side down in a lightly greased, 9x13 Pyrex dish. Continue until all the bacon and/or greens beans are used. In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, soy sauce and garlic. Mix well, and pour the mixture over the bundles, making sure to hit all of the bacon. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Bake uncovered in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour.

That bacon becomes a kind of candy--so good!

More to come.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

All Hail the Compost!

Gross, huh? Kind of. But not to those of us who reap the rewards of composting. THIS, is a pretty good take for one day. In case you're wondering, that's a regular-sized Rachel Ray garbage bowl. And it's almost full, so that means we had a good day in the kitchen. Lots of fresh ingredients in the recipes. It's amazing what we can add to the compost pile. Oh by no means are we huge composters. Don has a bin out back and it's getting full of leaves and grass as is common for this time of year. There's a few pumpkin remnants in there from last week, too. Talk about something that breaks down fast--any kind of gourdage! Blek. Takes on a whole new life.
Anyway, we do love the idea of getting it back into the soil. The flower beds around our house are full of different kinds of soil, I think from years of previous owners trying out different things, and oh yes, a whole lot of rocks. The compost helps to balance things out. We even had a bunch of Papaya plants come up in the beds this summer from one papaya I used earlier.
So let's break this bowl down a little. There's an apple peel--okay, somebody had a good snack! I see a leaf from a house plant. (I don't do houseplants--that's Mom's baby. I think she ate the apple too.) Brussel sprout leaves. Okay, I have a confession. It's huge. Ready? I've never eaten a brussel sprout till today. Really. Never had them growing up--Mom didn't serve them. Just never had the opportunity or the knowledge about them or how to cook them. And it doesn't help growing up hearing them referred to as "the worst thing you've ever put in your mouth." Admit it--you've heard that. It's like...spinach. Essentially hated by all young people everywhere. Nationwide. So I've been throwing around the idea and asking around about recipes. My boss and I just talked about this a few weeks ago, and I think she gave me the idea that I should roast them. I've seen Ina Garten do it on the Food Network. (Which, by the way, is off the air due to AT&T and Scripps network not getting along--that's another story--and I'm not happy.) So I roasted some. Olive oil, salt and pepper. 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes, that's it. I wanted to experience them without a bunch of other flavors masking the true taste. Well, I love them. It's true that I do love a lot of green things that I didn't used to, but these really are good. I don't know about how they'd be boiled, since I'm not crazy about mushy veggies, but this gave them a little crunch and I thought they were great. We're having them again.
Back to the compost. There's an egg shell in there. That was for a great Weight Watchers recipe-Lemon Pasta. Hence also the lemon rinds. Used the zest and the juice in that one. I'll post a picture of dinner below--Lemon Pasta, Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes. (Same thing on the taters-just olive oil, salt and pepper--just takes longer--about 45 minutes.)
Down below what you can see in the bowl is also trimmings from some green onions (scallions) and believe it or not, dryer lint. What's sad is, I forgot to get the bowl out early and missed getting to add previous egg shells from breakfast along with the coffee grounds. It's Sunday and a lot of food was flyin' around.
So it doesn't take much to get a compost heap started. You'd be amazed to see what all you would accumulate in no time. And it's amazing to see what it turns into. I'd say it's like "black gold." I can't believe what it used to be, but by spring, it's rich, dark, nutritional goodness for the beds.

So here's a pretty picture of dinner:
And here's a link to that pasta recipe:

And finally, here's a shout out to my assistant Sara, who was appalled that I was off all week and didn't post. I'm bringing brussel sprouts in my lunch tomorrow to share with you!

Yummy in your tummy!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Warm Tortillas in a Snow Storm

I was looking back through my posts and I owe a lot of stories that I've promised. So here's the deal on the tortillas. (Really, this is just nervous tension while I watch the Rangers play game number 4 against the Yankees-ALCS.) The mercado on Jefferson, near Marsalis Ave. (yes, near the Dallas Zoo), make the absolute best homemade tortillas on-site, that you have ever put in your mouth. Oh, I've tried to make tortillas before--that was the most rubbery ball of dough once I got through with it--and not fit to eat, I might add. Anyway, I appreciate a good tortilla. Like, 4 at a time, but let me back up a bit. Last Winter, we decided to host the Rehearsal Dinner for our son's wedding (yes, the one who put us all on a diet last week!) as we had 60+ people to entertain from all parts of the US, and decided we'd have Mexican fare. Fajitas and all the fixings; even a Margarita Machine. So we were scoping out places to get bulk amounts of meat, chips, tortillas, etc. And one of our scouting buddies, Bob Cummings, turned us on to the "Super Mercado," and it's been tortilla bliss ever since. So after the wedding in January (and the dinner was awesome, I might add), we had a really big (for north Texas anyway) snow-storm in February. Over 14 inches of snow at my house in about 30 hours. In the course of that time, we went on to work with only an inch or two on the ground, with every intention of leaving in the early afternoon to get home before the "big stuff" got to falling. It was a Thursday as I recall. All good. Kim and I left the office (we carpool, by the way--that was a previous blog) in plenty of time, but I suggested we stop for warm tortillas and a few groceries at the Mercado on the way home. I even took my computer home, knowing we wouldn't make it in the next day. Anyway, we might have stayed a little long at the store. We kept finding things we needed--you know--in case we were snowed in for days. (North Texans always think that!) I think Kim even booked someone (we work for a talent agency) while standing in the middle of the produce aisle. So we left a little later than expected. (we ate a few tortillas in the parking lot...) The snow was really coming down and it was heavy. We decide to go into my neighborhood from a different than usual way, only to find out there's a huge tree down in the street and we can't enter that way. So we go back around to the "normal" way to take me home and there's a school bus trying to make a maneuver that there's no possible way it can, and we have to turn around and take us a little bit of a different way. There's a huge hill at the bottom of my neighborhood and we need to get there before the snow gets any thicker. We didn't make it. After several tries, we landed at the bottom of the hill and my husband had to come down the hill and pull us out of the ditch. And not towards the house. We ended up going to Kim's house and leaving her and her van there. So now we've transferred all my groceries and computer and random work stuff to our Suburban. And we're further from home than before. So we go into the neighborhood from the other direction. The first direction--remember--there's a huge tree down that way. After much waiting, we figure out that an emergency vehicle is stuck near where the tree is down, and someone (an emergency worker) has a broken ankle. Can it get any worse? We're in a huge traffic back-up. I could get out of the car and walk home. (I actually did walk around and got pretty close to home, while checking out the situation--but I had all those tortillas and groceries in the car--not to mention my computer and my husband...I couldn't just leave...them?) So the snow is falling harder and getting deeper, and oh yes, it's getting darker, and we're nowhere near getting home. Kim calls and she's all tucked in at home and her groceries are put away and she's cooking dinner and watching TV. She was appalled that I wasn't home yet. And further appalled that I spotted a guy in a Kilt and was describing him, and then had to let her go because as it turned out--I KNEW HIM! One of the old boy scouts from our troop! Snow falling, getting dark, very surreal...
But soon though, it all turned out fine. Just when I thought we were going to have to hide all the groceries in a snow bank and come back for them later, Don made the daring move of just turning around and going back, yet again, to the treacherous hill he had pulled us from hours before--only to make it up the hill and get us home! Everything survived, and we were safe and sound by the time it was truly dark. And I might mention, no tortillas were harmed in the process. So no recipes or pictures--just a true story of women who won't be deprived of their tortillas.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Weight Watchers Feast

Okay, so (Oh Queso! Little joke between Kim and I...), our eldest son put the hammer down and the whole family is either back on Weight Watchers or counting calories. We've got several pounds (between the six of us) to lose. So I'm reverting back to my Weight Watchers program. It really is awesome; I started the program last year right around this time, Halloween as a matter of fact, and by the time my son's wedding came around on January 9th, I'd lost 15 pounds. It was a wonderful feeling. And I kept it off for a while, but with all this cooking and wine, and wine, I've gained 10 pounds back. I've never really dieted before, didn't even start seriously thinking about it until I turned 39 when my metabolism starting playing horrible tricks on me. So this is an eye-opener. I think what I love the most is the science of it. I like to be able to break foods down and figure out exactly what's in there. I also like re-styling recipes to work with the program, using low fat ingredients and sugar substitutes. And besides Weight Watchers, there are so many good, reputable programs out there and great helps, like "Hungry Girl," -you have so many tools at hand, you can't go wrong. Okay, sorry, sounds like I'm doing a commercial.
The point is, tonight's dinner was really good, filling, good for us, and based on
Weight Watchers recipes. In the picture above, the thing that looks like a meatball is really a Turkey Meatloaf Muffin (I know, sounds weird) but it's so good. It's one of the currently featured recipes on the Weight Watchers site. The only thing I did differently was I made half-batch, added less salt, but added a small packet of Hidden Valley Ranch Buttermilk Dressing. For you point counters, that's 3 points per muffin and the dressing packet didn't add any!
The "salad" is Apple and Carrot Salad and here's that link:
That one's only 1 point per serving.

And the blanched asparag
us is drizzled with some of my friend Julio's "Go-To" dressing, and here's what he said if I blogged it: "If you blog the Cilantro-Basil dressing make sure you give credit to LA FONDA SAN MIGUEL in Austin. It's from their cookbook. It's a dressing I rely on when we have last minute guests!!"
Well Julio, you were totally correct. That dressing is awesome! I haven't fi
gured the point value for it in Weight Watchers--I'm sure it's a few just for the fact that it's oil based, but it is so flavorful and fresh that I'm sure it's worth it. And I only used a tablespoon or two for the drizzle. I can't wait to use it tomorrow on a salad. Just look at the color!

So enjoy these recipes and feel good about eating right! Thanks to all the contributors.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Evolution of a Dill Pickle

Well, not the entire evolution. Fast forward from the cucumber growing on the plant, getting picked and getting "pickled." This is "life after dill pickling." We haven't made these pickles in a while, and I don't know why, because they are SO good. There are commercial "Hot-Sweet" pickles on the shelf at the market, but these are so good and so easy to make. And economical, too.
Start out with a gallon jar of whole dill pickles. Drain and cut up the pickles in pretty good-sized chunks. The thicker the slice, the crunchier they'll be later. Once you cut up all the pickles, start adding them back to the gallon jar and layer in approximately 3 lbs. of white sugar. (The recipe I have calls for 5--but that's really too much. Be my guest if you want to experiment.) Also add 5 large, peeled garlic cloves, more if they're smaller. And the original recipe calls for one small bottle of Tabasco sauce, but Don doesn't like Tabasco, so I use a few good squirts of Sriracha sauce. This is the hot sauce you find at your favorite Chinese restaurant--it's in the Asian section of any store.
So that's all layered together in the gallon pickle jar. Make sure the lid is on TIGHT. I actually like the plastic jars as they have a better seal. Why? Here's why:
Place the jar somewhere out of the way, not too cold, not too hot, and place a tray or pie plate under it. Because every day for one month, you're going to turn the jar once. Monday-right side up. Tuesday, upside down. Etc.
The pickles evolve from your everday dill pickles, into these awesomely crunchy hot sweet yummy snack pickles! They make standing around eating just pickle chunks stylish. Okay, whatever.
After the month is up, place the jar in the fridge to add extra crispiness. And oh yeah, start the next batch immediately, because these will be gone in no time!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Smokin' Hot!

Don loves to smoke all kinds of meat, and agreed to smoke a pork shoulder this weekend for Sunday's "Pulled Pork" dinner. We don't utilize our smoker nearly enough, but we always promise "we'll do better." This recipe is one he found on the site and we made it several weeks ago, but in the Weber charcoal cooker. We went to our favorite Mercado in Oak Cliff (for all you Dallasites, it's the "Super Mercado" on Jefferson near Marsalis)--beautiful meat counter and fresh made flour tortillas always at the ready. (Some day I'll have to tell about Kim and I stopping by for warm tortillas in a snow storm...) Got a 10.5 lb. shoulder after much "translation" help from the girl behind the counter and an older Hispanic gentleman; also got 4 lbs. of their already seasoned skirt steak for beef fajitas and froze that. Back to the shoulder! We also bought a fairly large bag of hickory chips and Don soaked all of it overnight. We wanted to eat around 2 p.m., so we got up at 4 a.m. to get the smoking started. Okay, here's the recipe:
Pulled Pork
Poke 8 to 10 slits in an 8-pound, bone-in pork shoulder; stuff with garlic cloves. Whisk 1/4 cup each paprika and brown sugar, 2 tablespoons each kosher salt and black pepper and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Rub all over the pork; refrigerate overnight. Preheat a grill to medium-high on one side. If using a gas grill, place 5 cups soaked wood chips in the smoker box. For a charcoal grill, toss 1 cup wood chips onto the hot coals; add more hot coals and chips every hour. Place the pork, skin-side up, in an aluminum pan with 1 1/2 cups water on the cooler side of the grate. Cover and cook, rotating every hour, until the meat reaches 180 degrees, 5 to 6 hours. Mix 1 cup cider vinegar, 1/2 cup water, 1/3 cup ketchup, 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon each Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper; brush onto the pork every 20 minutes until it reaches 200 degrees, 1 to 2 more hours (keep the grill covered). Let rest 15 minutes. Remove the skin, shred the meat and toss with more vinegar sauce. Serve on rolls.
The only changes we made were: of course adjusted for the larger amount of meat, and, we didn't use cayenne in the rub, but rather Emeril's Essence, which has some cayenne but also other spices. That's it. The mopping sauce is awesome the way it is, and we actually had some left over so we added that to some already made BBQ sauce and it was great.

How can something so ugly...

Become something so beautiful!

I know folks usually like the more runny, vinegar-y sauce for pork, but we're big BBQ beef eaters and insist on a "heartier" sticky sauce.

Just keep the smoke going and make sure to keep the moisture up, both in the smoke pan and the pan with the meat. Kudos to Don for another wonderful "Smoke-Fest!"

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Black Bean Soup

Now that it's not 100 degrees (it's about 98), time for soup, right? This one really is a soup. I promised this a while back. Here's Don's rendition of the Black Bean Soup on the back of the Ranch Style® Black Beans can.

2 T. cooking oil
½ C chopped carrots
½ C chopped celery
½ C chopped onion
2 cans Rotel (used mild)
3 cans Ranch Style Black Beans, undrained
1 can corn (used ½, and reserved the other half for fritters)
¼ C fresh cilantro
Sour cream
Scallions, chopped

In a large Dutch oven, sauté carrots, celery and onions in the oil over medium heat for about 15 minutes or until tender. Add remaining ingredients except the cilantro. Heat to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Add the cilantro, turn off the heat and use the immersion blender (we call it the “Boat Motor”) to blend till almost smooth. Taste and add salt if needed.

Ladle into bowls, place a dollop of sour cream in the middle of each and garnish with chopped green scallions.

Makes 4-6 servings (we ended up with about 5 decent sized bowls)

This has a little kick to it, but not unreasonable. Warm enough for those guys who need some heat, but calm enough for folks like me who can't handle anything too hot.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Startover Stew

Or maybe it's a soup. Is there a certain size the "chunks" of food have to be in order to make it a stew? Or is it the consistency--but if it's thick, isn't it a chowder or a bisque? I'll have to investigate this and get back to you. In the meantime, today at lunch we had the perfect example of a "startover" moment. Maw and I agreed that we needed to eat up everything "leftover" in the fridge. So I pulled it all out and set it on the counter. Unfortunately, I was the only one who made a plate from the "spread" and there was still a lot left. Counter contents: white rice, mashed potatoes, pork sausage, chicken fajita meat, pizza, cranberry sauce, sausage gravy, chicken breasts in a mushroom gravy, cherry tomatoes that were baked last night in olive oil with garlic and fresh mint (it was awesome, served warm, smashed onto crostini...), canned seasoned green beans, refried beans and Chinese orange chicken. (There's cubed watermelon, but that was just to wash it all down with.) Oh yeah, and a little chopped BBQ beef. We decided it looked like the makings of a soup. Out comes the "Big Red Pot." I used the oil that the tomatoes were floating in to start sautéing some onions and celery. Once that was all translucent we added some chicken broth Maw made and added everything else (minus a few things), once we'd chopped some of the larger items into bite sized pieces. And, I forgot to mention, I found a container of salad (lettuce and tomatoes) in the fridge I hadn't pulled out so I added that.
Items that did not make it in were the pizza, the BBQ, the orange chicken, the refried beans and surprisingly, the mashed potatoes. The two gravies made it thick enough so we decided we didn't need the potatoes. And yes, the cranberry sauce did go in.
Just heated it all through--didn't need salt because a lot of things had already been salted in their previous life, and added a little fresh ground pepper.
Tastes great, and served with that leftover crostini from the night before makes it "rustic." The chicken and the sausage complemented one another and the tomatoes gave it a fresh kick.
And now if we can't stand to eat it all up this time, it can go in the freezer for another day. A day that's not over 100 degrees, like today. I love leftovers and take them all the time in my lunch, but sometimes that gets old. Startovers make me feel better about not wasting food.
And if you're not into chunky, throw all that stuff in the blender and make a bisque, or a chowder, or whatever.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Old Cheddar Shortbread

Last week Maw decided to make Aunt Louise's "Old Cheddar Shortbread." Yummy, short little crackery discs. Lovely with wine, even white, Auntie! Add some grapes and a good sharp cheddar and it compliments it even more. Hints from both: Louise says the older the cheddar, the better. Maw says to be sure to shred the cheese very fine. Recipe is in the Strand Family Cookbook.

Old Cheddar Shortbread

Louise Strand Russell

"These are great with a glass of red wine."

1/2 C. soft butter
1 1/2 C. grated cheddar (old)
1 C. flour
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper (or cayenne)
1/2 t. dried thyme
1 large egg white

Combine ingredients and roll into 2 rolls about 1" in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 2 hours. Slice into 1/4 inch rounds and bake at 325 degrees F for 18 minutes. Cookies come out well baked on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Thanks gals!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

"A Room With a View"

I should elaborate on Heather's place. It's called "A Room With a View" and we really have been going there for ages. It's a quaint place--not fancy--but really nice and very private. Two rooms. Two big rooms. That's all. You have to book in advance. The wrap-around porch is the most pleasant place to be. Unless you go down at Christmas and it's cold, then eat in your room. Otherwise, eat breakfast on the porch, talk to Heather about where to go on Saturday on the porch, take your afternoon nap on the porch. After dinner, watch the cars and motorcycles on their way to the state park, on the porch. Even at Christmas, just wrap up in a blanket, on the porch. What can we say? I hate to even tell you of our "secret" place. But it's good for her business. Some day, she'll sell it to us. I hope. While her "techies" aren't keeping up with her online experience, we are. Here's a link to some old pics on an old page:

Love her!

Sunday Brunch

I love Sundays, if not for anything but the meal possibilities. Sundays are usually a little laid back and I'm not on a schedule to "make a meal." I was expecting some family today, but alas, regular weekend stuff got in the way--but I still followed through with my Sunday Brunch menu. I usually like to come up with something different than Saturday's menu--so it ends up being sweet. Today, I pay homage to one of mine and Don's favorite characters, Heather Anderson. She owns the Bed & Breakfast we frequent while in the Hill Country of Texas, near the Pedernales Falls State Park entrance, Anderson's "A Room with a View." We've been going to Heather's since our children were little, like for 20 some odd years, and she's never let us down on anything--especially breakfast. The thing is, you can forgive a lot, but when it comes to a "stay over" kind of place, breakfast is key. And Heather knows what she's doing, in the most subtle of ways. She doesn't even ask us anymore what we want. She knows--savory on Saturday, sweet on Sunday. It's a given when I call her and reserve the weekend. And Sundays are this: her "Stuffed French Toast." It's just awesome. I have recipes of hers. Scones, all manner of stuff. But this is a mystery I like to try to solve, and don't care if I ever can. So here's my rendition of her beautiful "Stuffed French Toast."
The night before (or even a day before that), get a loaf of day old french bread. Don't slice it yet. The morning of --slice it--thick. Get at least eight slices out of it. Leave it sitting out for a while to make it "stale." It's a beautiful thing.
Okay, choose your meat. Bacon or sausage. Whatever. Just pick something fresh and good. Get it cooked and in the oven on a warm platter while you're making your toast. 230ºF oven. Put another platter in the oven to put the toast on for when you get it ready.
Make one breading station of just eggs, milk or buttermilk, salt, a little pepper, cinnamon sugar and nutmeg. Mix with a fork in one dish--it's an easy french toast, after all. Heat a 10-inch skillet on medium heat with a pat of butter (like, 2 tablespoons) in it and immediately get as many of the bread slices in there as is can handle--don't overcrowd. Get the toast browned without burning on the bottom, turn and cook till almost the same color--then move to the platter in the oven. Keep going till you're done.
In a bowl, mix a couple of spoonfuls (heaping tablespoons) of whipped cream cheese and a couple of tablespoons of powdered sugar, heat in the microwave till creamy--maybe 30 seconds to a minute. Keep handy.
Set out a jar of apricot preserves, and heat some good maple syrup.
place 2 or 3 pieces of french toast on the plate, spread cream cheese mixture on each piece, then a layer of apricot preserves. Layer the pieces and then drizzle warm syrup over all, including over the protein (bacon or sausage) you chose. (Who doesn't like syrupy sausage?) Shake a little powdered sugar on top and serve immediately. It' so sweet, but it's so good. Really.

All Manner of Frittata

As I mentioned, I like to use my leftovers. For instance, this morning (and yes, inspired by a cooking show I viewed before getting out of bed), I made a frittata. When you look up frittata recipes--it's basically anything that can be held together with scrambled eggs. Usually, savory fare. So once you get the basic frittata down, you're possibilities are endless.
And I should mention right away, my husband will eat a frittata, and he won't touch a quiche. Fine--don't have to go through the trials of making a crust, and it cooks in a lot less time.
So I found myself in my pj's, rummaging through the refrigerator for what to put in it. Yes, pj's and still with sleep in my eyes. Hey, I was RAVENOUS! I told my husband so when I vaulted out of bed. He reminded me later.
I found last night's roasted chicken that I had already de-boned (yay for me for thinking ahead!), a third of a pound of uncooked bacon (I'll post about what I did to the previous 2/3 of the pound later) and of course, yummy sweet onions.

So here's what I can call "the frittata recipe":
6 eggs
1/2 handful grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
1/3 lb. bacon, cut small with the scissors
Handful of cooked chicken, roughly chopped
1/2 medium onion, sliced thinly
Fresh thyme, just pull the leaves off of about 8 sprigs

Preheat the broiler, leaving the rack in the middle of the oven.

Blend the eggs, Parmesan, salt and pepper in a bowl with a fork. Set aside. Cook the bacon pieces in a 10 inch skillet till crisp, remove to a paper towel and set aside. Reserve a couple of table spoons of the bacon grease in the skillet and throw in the sliced onions. Just get them translucent, turn down the temp to low/medium and add the egg mixture. Work the eggs around a little until they start to thicken and add the bacon and chicken, stirring it in evenly and then leaving it all alone once bottom of the eggs set. Remove from heat and sprinkle the thyme on top. Put the skillet in the oven (remember, it's on broil) and keep watch for the eggs to start to lightly brown. Remove from the oven and run a spoonula around the edges so you can slide the whole thing onto a plate. Let it sit for just a minute and then cut it into 6 wedges. Serve immediately. You can add whatever veggies you have in the fridge, whatever meat or fish you've got--again, endless. Sorry that my measurements aren't precise, I eyeball a lot of savory stuff. I do love cheese, so I tend to put more than necessary in just about everything. You could use parsley in place of the thyme, and if you don't have fresh, just use a little less of the dried--you could even blend it into the eggs previously.
This was a pretty good combo--and again--husband ate it without blinking. (The picture includes fresh tomatoes and black bean soup--another recipe my husband made last week that I'll share soon!) LOVE savory in the morning!
So that's how the leftover/startover thing works for me.

Happy munching!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Oh boy, another Food Blog!

This is pretty daunting. I've already tried this blogging thing, and failed. I wasn't good about keeping up with it, and I never felt confident enough to invite anyone to my blog (except a couple of really close, understanding people). I think I posted five times. But--it wasn't about food. And as passionate as I am about food, this might work. Bear with me.
I've actually been posting foodie pics on my Facebook, but it seems silly to rant on and on about a new dish creation or a new eating place I've found on there. I'm hoping this venue will give me the satisfaction I want; a place to catalog and discuss.
I've looked at several other food blogs (OMG there's a million of them out there!) and I was a little intimidated. I mean, these people must spend hours on the computer! I do too, but that's my 9-5 (or 6 or 7) day, M-F, so I'm not crazy about being on it all night. I'll try to be concise and I'm sure I'll be successful at not posting every day (hence the failure of the first blog).
I watch a lot of cooking shows on every network that offers them, and of course, one of my favorite networks is Food Network, where I get a lot of inspiration. MY husband and I laugh about how when we first got married (over 27 years ago), the TV channel that was sort of just "left on" when doing other things around the house was MTV. There were actually music videos playing constantly on there! I know, everybody talks about that now. Point is, now our "left on" channel is the Food Network. And right now, we're into "The Next Food Network Star" show as this season is coming to an end.
I spend time (but not a lot) thinking about "What is my culinary point of view?" That's something the judges on the show try to get the contestants to bring to the table, so to speak. I'm not sure what mine would be. I love to eat. I love to look at food. I love to take pictures of food. I love outdoor cooking. I love cast iron/dutch oven cooking. I love leftovers. And there is a thing I like to do, and that's "startovers." My friends at work dubbed my dishes with that term, when we realized that it's not just leftovers that I'm toting up to the office, I've revamped them into an entirely different dish. Sometimes, not so good, but most of the time--pretty darn good! But is that really a point of view? I do hate to throw stuff out. And my mom taught me to cook way too much at meal time, so we always have leftovers.
I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
So, welcome to my blog. I hope you find it interesting and inspirational. I'm hoping to get some good feedback and wonderful ideas from the followers, too.