Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I'm still here and I made burritos!

The other day I realized that I hadn't posted a blog since, well since the beginning of summer.  While I am always a little annoyed to read bloggers say how busy they were, I can honestly say that I had the time to blog, but it skipped my mind.  I have been cooking and taking pictures, and most importantly eating, but I forgot to blog.  I'm back now, and I will not leave you for such a long time again.  Now onto the food.

I love breakfast, but I also love sleeping, and will literally hit the snooze button on my phone for over an hour if I can get away with it.  Because school is starting soon and my assistance-ship, I may have to  get myself out of bed before 10:00 am, and actually put on real clothes before 4:00 pm.  This kind of practical nonsense is going to dramatically cut into the amount of time I have to make myself elaborate breakfasts every morning.  My choices are to either grab cereal bars or brownies on the way out the door (What?  Brownies contain eggs, which is a breakfast food.), get fast food (too expensive) or to figure out a way to get a hearty breakfast quickly.  I could buy pre-made frozen items, but I think making them myself is a better way to go.  

These breakfast burritos were easily put together, and if wrapped in foil could probably be eaten in the car, or bus for school kids, without too much trouble.  For fillings I choose eggs with hot sauce, sausage, potatoes and onions, and cheese.  For 9 burritos I used 1 dozen eggs, a pound of sausage, half an onion, and one large russet potato.  You could put in any filling you like, but personally I would avoid salsa, sour cream, and guacamole because these do not heat well, in my opinion, and are better left on the side.  These could be made vegan with scrambled tofu, vegan cheeses and veggies.

First, I cooked all my fillings and placed them in bowls on my kitchen table where I made a burrito assembly line.

Potatoes and onions
 Scrambled Eggs
 The assembly line ready to go.  If only I was as organized in everything else. 
 I started with the eggs.  Be sure not to over fill the burritos or they won't fold.
 Then the sauage
 Now the potatoes and onions
 Finally the cheese
 Then I rolled the burritos and placed them on parchment lined baking sheets.

The burritos were then placed in the freezer until frozen solid, and then I put them in a freezer bag and put back in the freezer until they will be used.  These can be microwaved from frozen.  I would try anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes depending on your microwave.  I will probably bake mine for 20 minutes at 350 degrees F.  I'll pop one in the oven while I'm getting dressed, and it will be ready to go as I rush out the door.  This will allow me to hit snooze just a few more times.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Finally, Hashbrowns! (and a new post)

First, I must apologize for my absence.  I have recently completed my first year of graduate school, so I was busy writing papers and reading literature theory.  Then I immediately started my summer job, so I'm still adjusting to my new sleep schedule that has me waking up at 6:00 instead of 9:30 or 10:00.  I have still been cooking, and I have a lot of delicious food to share.

Hashbrowns, a food that is deceptive in its complexity.  I have been trying for at least six months to make crispy golden brown shredded potatoes.  During those six months my husband and dog have eaten many terrible attempts at hashbrowns. Each weekend morning when I would mention breakfast my husband's face would grow excited and hopeful until I mentioned that I was making another attempt at hashbrowns.  Some were crispy on the outside but soggy and gray in the middle.  Some were gray on the outside and raw in the middle, and some were burnt on the outside.  I tried baking them, cooking them in cast iron, non-stick, and stainless steel pans on the stove top.  I tried Russets, red, and Yukon Gold potatoes.  I always shredded the spuds on a box grater and wrapped them in a kitchen towel to ring out the moisture.  I tried soaking them in water first.  I tried frying them in bacon grease, butter, olive oil, and canola oil.  Finally, finally with the help of my electric skillet I made perfect hashbrowns.  The key is a medium high heat and a pan large enough to spread out a very thin layer of the potatoes.  They must be left alone and only flipped once.  They were cooked with a lid for about half the time, and they took a good 20 minutes.  When I slipped these hashbrowns on the plate along with bacon and eggs I felt a surge of triumph. I had finally defeated my nemesis.  My husband was happy that he didn't have to eat gray, soggy, mystery potatoes.  The dog, however, was not pleased as he knew he would not get as many leftovers as usual.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Improvised Pasta and a Possible Blogging Experiment

Sorry it's taken longer to post than I was expecting.  Right now I'm taking a little break from writing my final papers, so I thought I would post.  I've been thinking about conducting a little experiment with this blog, but it will take reader involvement.  If you're interested, you can look after the story about the missing rigatoni and picture.  As soon as school is finished for the year, I should be able to post on a more regular basis, and I have lots of great food I'm ready to share!

I had planned and shopped for a delicious pasta dinner.  It would include rigatoni, spinach, chickpeas, a spicy pepper, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  The beans were soaked and cooked, the spinach was washed, and the pepper was dehydrated and ready to go.  All I had to do was boil the pasta and toss everything together.  I started rummaging through my cabinets and realized I couldn't find the pasta.  I looked in other cabinets; I rechecked the cabinets I had just looked through, and I had my husband look for the pasta too.  We couldn't find the package of rigatoni.  I knew I bought it.  I could picture it in my cart.  I knew I bought it, but I couldn't find it.  The water was boiling, and I had to think of something quick.  I found a package of lasagna noodles, broke them up and put them in the water.  Everything got tossed together and dinner was saved.  While supper was not as good as it could have been, I managed to at least put an edible meal on the table.  The next day I found the rigatoni in the cabinets both my husband and I had looked through twice.  Go figure!

The experiment:

I remember being around 15 and reading magazines in the car on the way to a vacation destination.  One of these magazines featured an article where two women wrote down everything they ate for an entire week.  Both women were then assigned to follow the other woman's eating habits for a week and write down their responses.  I've been fascinated by this idea ever since, and I'm interested in doing that and posting it here.  I'm always curious about what other people are eating, the choices they make, the reasons behind those choices, and the way those choices make them feel.  I think the best way to examine my own eating, which admittedly has been horrible lately is to walk in someone else's shoes for a bit.  If you want to participate then you need to keep track of everything you eat for an entire week with amounts and recipes (I know this is a lot to ask, but I bet some of you do this anyway).  If you want to swap diets with me let me know and I will do the same for you, but it's not required.  If you have a blog and want to blog about this along with me then I will link to your blog on the week I chronicle this.  I'm not sure if I will get any responses for this, but I think it will be interesting to try it out.  I will blog about what I eat and how it makes me feel.  Obviously, I will not engage in any diets that I feel are harmful (below 1200 calories, all alcohol, etc.).  Just something I'm curious about and I bet someone else out there is too!

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Pig Cake to Tide you Over

I just wanted to make a quick post to say that I just got back from Boston and final's week is coming up, so things are crazy right now.  I will have a post by Thursday with food.  Thanks to everyone who is stopping by.  The only food I have to post for today is my husband's birthday cake.  My mother made this after Jason told him he wanted a pig cake.  When he said this I tried to decide how I was going to make a cake out of pork with mashed potatoes as frosting, but then he explained that he wanted a cake that looks like a pig.  I don't make pretty cakes, I just make cakes that taste good, so thankfully my mother came to the rescue with her cake.  It was a chocolate cake with vanilla frosting.  The eyes are jelly beans, and the feet are Good and Plentys with the candy coating removed (she did this by running them under water).  The cake went over well.  Later in the week I also make him a peanut butter cake with chocolate peanut butter ganache and peanut butter cream cheese icing.  I will post that cake later.  Without further ado: the pig cake.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Wow, I see it's been over a week since I've last posted.  Don't worry, I didn't go anywhere, and I've been cooking and eating delicious meals.  I guess life just got in the way of posting.  Since it's been a bit since I've been on here I hesitate to post a kitchen fail, but this blog obviously isn't about perfection, so I figured I'd share with you anyway.  

I got a fondue set as a wedding gift, and I was curious about it.  It seemed like a fun way to have an interactive dinner at home.  I considered a cheese fondue, but ultimately decided on a broth fondue where you stick raw meats and vegetables into a simmering broth and cook them.  I thinly sliced chicken, broccoli, and potatoes and awaited my interactive supper.  The chicken cooked fine.  It was moist and flavorful, and didn't cause a problem.  The vegetables where an entirely different story.  The potatoes would not stay on the fondue forks.  This is probably because I thought slicing them would be better than cutting the potatoes into cubes, but it was too late at this point.  As we waiting patiently (or not) for our food to cook, we kept fishing around for the potatoes and finally realized it was a lost cause.  The broccoli stayed on the fork, but took too long to cook.  

Our supper that night ended up being small strips of chicken, raw broccoli, and sliced potatoes that I slipped into a casserole dish with some of the broth, salt, and pepper and microwaved.  Next time I'll stick with the cheese sauce.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Weeknight Kitchen: Peasant Bowls

One of this weeks recipes from The Splendid Table's Weeknight Kitchen newsletter was Peasant Bowls.  This was a bowl layered with black beans, rice, spices, Monterey Jack cheese, tomatoes, and green onions.  I've had other layered bowls similar to this, but the small amount of cheese in this one really set this one apart. The flavors were excellent, and it was a filling and healthy supper.  This would be great packed up for lunch.  I forget how delicious a simple bowl of rice and beans can be when it is properly seasoned.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Stir-fry and a Rice Tip

This stir-fry almost didn't happen.  I had a recipe for it, but I didn't feel like following the steps.  I was sitting in class thinking about what I would do for supper instead, and I was thisclose to picking up something on the way home.  I eventually talked myself out of it, and decided I could make a stir-fry without using the recipe I had.  I knew my husband was thawing out some shrimp for the original recipe.  I had some veggies and chicken in the fridge already thinly sliced from the fondue fiasco of the night before (I will post on this later), and I could quickly whip together a sauce.  I don't have a recipe for this, but I cooked the shrimp and chicken in a hot pan, removed them, and added carrots and broccoli.  When the veggies were soft I added some frozen peas.  Back in the pan went the cooked shrimp and chicken, and I threw on a sauce that contained sesame oil, soy sauce, and agave nectar.  The sauce was then thickened with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch whisked with 1 tablespoon of water and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil.  I served the stir-fry with rice.  

For those of you who don't know (and I just recently discovered this by accident), rice freezes really well.  Every time I need rice for something I cook extra.  I put the extra in a bag and freeze it.  The next time I need rice I just put some of the frozen rice in a covered bowl in the microwave and zap until warm.  It's much better than resorting to minute rice all the time, and it's even easier. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Enchilada Casserole Because I Live in the Midwest

I've mentioned it before, but I've heard that the common stereotype about Midwesterners is that we're nice and we make casseroles.  Once again I'm reinforcing the stereotype, and I've decided to turn my dinner plans into a casserole.  I had a post on cabbage rolls about a month ago when I decided that instead of taking the time and effort to actually roll the filling in the cabbage I would just layer everything and bake it.  I had the same thought while making enchiladas last night.  I always have a problem with the tortillas splitting on me when I try to roll up the filling, so I thought I would be so much easier and faster to just layer the ingredients like a casserole.  I was right, and I will make enchiladas this way from now on.  The recipe I have can be changed to suit your tastes and pantry.  If you don't want peppers and onions, don't use them.  If you don't eat meat, add more veggies and use veggie broth or water instead of chicken broth.  Use the following recipe more as a guideline than a strict rule.  Also, please don't be intimidated by what looks like a long list of ingredients and steps.  It's very easy and comes together quickly.

Enchilada Casserole

For the enchilada sauce
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes (I used fire roasted adobo seasoned tomatoes)
  • 2 dried chilies (I used a medium chili, but use the hottest or mildest one you like)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • salt
For the enchilada filling (these are suggestions, use whatever you like.  I had these ingredients on hand)
  • 3 cups cooked chicken
  • 1 bell red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup cooked black beans with 1/4 cup cooking liquid
  • 1 oz white tequila
  • 4 cups shredded cheese (I used co-jack and Montery Jack)
You will also need:
  • 12 small corn tortillas
Optional toppings:
  • lettuce
  • diced tomato
  • diced green onion
  • diced black olives
  • sour cream
  • hot sauce
To make the sauce:
  1. Roast dried peppers in a dry skillet for a little less than a minute on each side.  Take out of skillet and cool to touch.  Meanwhile, heat chicken broth.  When peppers are cool, remove the seeds.  Place peppers in warm chicken broth, soak for about 5 minutes.  Place broth, softened peppers, tomatoes, and garlic in blender.  Puree until smooth.  Taste for salt and spice.  Add salt and chili powder/hot sauce if needed.  Set aside.  (This freezes really well, and you've made more than you need for the recipe.)
To make the filling:
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Add chopped pepper and onion.  Cook over medium low heat for about 8 minutes.  You want the onions very soft and brown.  Add the tequila to deglaze the pan.  Add cooked chicken, beans, and broth and over medium heat until the chicken is warm and some of the liquid has reduced.  Set mixture aside.
To Assemble:
  1. Line large baking pan with corn tortillas.
 2. Top with chicken and veggie filling
 3. Top with cheese
 4. Add second layer of corn tortillas
5. Top with enchilada sauce.  It will look very soupy, but don't worry, the sauce with soak in when it bakes.
 Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes
 Cut and serve with toppings of your choice

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Quesadillas: Better the second day

I've mentioned in previous posts that Mondays around here are referred to as Mexican Monday.  I always plan a Mexican themed dish on Monday nights because my husband could each tacos three times a week.  Last week we decided that chicken and chorizo quesadillas would be on the menu.  These were a very fast weeknight supper.  I already had some cooked, shredded chicken in the refrigerator, so all I had to cook was the chorizo.  I layered cheese, chorizo, and chicken in flour tortillas, and then I put them in the oven at 350F to bake while I cut olives, tomatoes, lettuce, and avocado to top the quesadillas.  I had never baked quesadillas before, but I will start doing this from now on because it's much easier to get all the other side dishes or accompaniments together.  I keep cooked black beans and refried beans in the freezer, so I pulled them out and stuck them in the microwave for a quick side dish.  I also made two extra quesadillas for lunch the next day, and I found out that the flavor of the chorizo was much better when we had these for lunch.  I will start making the quesadillas ahead and just reheat them for supper, which will make an even quicker supper.  

Friday, March 9, 2012

German Potato Salad

I don't have a recipe for this yet.  It's something we've always had in my house.  We serve it warm, and it's done by taste.  It contains potatoes, dill seed, bacon, vinegar, water, and eggs.  I will start measuring and tasting so I can get a recipe soon.  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Slutty Brownies

If you read many other food blogs you'll know that I am behind the times with these brownies.  I first saw them here and was intrigued.  I don't often get very excited over dessert as I would normally rather just have an extra helping of mashed potatoes, but something about the idea of slutty brownies had me talking about them constantly for a week. They are a layer of chocolate chip cookie dough, a layer of whole Oreo cookies, and a layer of brownie batter.  I don't really have a recipe for these, but I made a batch of Nestle's Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie dough, and then used one box of Ghirardelli brownie mix.  For a 9x13 inch pan, I really should have used two boxes of brownie mix, but these are so rich, I thought one box actually worked better.  For a dark metal pan, bake at 375 for about 35 minutes.  If you bake this in a glass pan they take about 50 minutes.  Check for doneness often because you want to err on the side of underdone and gooey than overbaked and dry.  These really are amazing brownies, and they would be great for a carry-in or to share as they are really rich.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie

Once again, because I'm a MidWesterner I guess it's a necessary part of my identity that I make casseroles.  I love the idea of everything mixed together harmoniously, baked in one dish, and something that would feed a hungry crowd of pot-luck or carry-in (as I always say) goers.  This chicken pot pie was very easy, and I will put it into winter rotation.  The only problem was my "brilliant" idea to use the leftover cheese straws from the freezer instead of just making a crust.  The problem was that the puff pastry got soggy and never really crisped up like it was supposed to.  The picture below illustrates that.  I'll just make a regular crust next time.  

Chicken Pot Pie

  • Meat from 1 whole chicken, reserve 2 cups cooking liquid (I cooked mine in the crock pot)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 2 celery stocks, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1 pie crust
1. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a heavy pan.  Add flour, whisking the entire time.  Cook for 2 minutes on medium heat.  Slowly add milk, whisking to prevent lumps.  Add broth. Whisk.  Add chicken and season.  You will need quite a bit of salt and pepper for this.  Flour, butter, and milk all have pretty bland flavors, so add some salt and pepper, taste, then add some more until it's where you want it to be.  You have just made creamed chicken.  You could serve this over mashed potatoes on its own.

2. Set creamed chicken aside.  Preheat oven to 400 F.  In a pan, melt 2 Tablespoons of butter.  Add chopped carrots, onions, and celery and cook over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes depending on how soft you want your veggies.  I wanted mine crisp, so I only cooked them for 5 minutes.  Add peas, parsley, and creamed chicken.  Stir everything together.

3. Place ingredients into a large baking pan.  Top with pie crust. (I'm thinking mashed potatoes might be a good topping for this too).  Bake for 40 minutes.  Enjoy!

Note: You could also put this in several small pie pans for individual serving.  You would want to bake those for around 20-25 minutes.  They would freeze well pre-baking.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Don Sol

In a previous post I talked about a restaurant in Mattoon, IL called Don Sol.  I mentioned their excellent Sunday buffet.  While grocery shopping last week, Jason and I decided to drop in for all you can eat Mexican fare.  We were disappointed when we discovered the buffet was no longer running, but we ordered off the menu and we were not disappointed.  Jason ordered the chicken torta.  It was huge; the size of two regular sandwiches and loaded with chicken, avocado, refried beans, lettuce and tomato.  They make their bread in house for this, and it makes a difference.  I had carnitas which were well seasoned and crispy on the edges, the way they should be.  We are sad the buffet is no more, but with so many delicious items on the menu, we will keep coming back.

Jason with his first bite of torta, I think I caught him off guard.

I kept saying "Hold it up to your face, so I can compare sizes."

The torta in all its glory (the fries were pretty good too)

My carnitas.  The sauteed, pickled jalapeno slices are a nice touch.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Louisville Part II

I discussed the first party of my Louisville trip yesterday, and I only featured food we ate at the Brown Hotel. Today I will discuss 2 other local places I ate on my trip.  The first was Moby Dick.  I was interested because I'm reading Moby Dick right now.  (If you've never read it you should.  It's actually really funny in some parts, and tragic in others) If you do a Google search for Moby Dick's in Louisville, you'll come up with a kabob menu, but the link is wrong.  This Moby Dick's is a fish restaurant.  Think a Long John Silver's but with Southern sides.  Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of my meal.  I had the Moby Dick sandwich, which contained 2 large pieces of cod on white bread.  The breading on the fish was excellent.  I also had the macaroni and cheese which was creamy and delicious.  They were out of the seasoned greens, so that was disappointing.  Overall, my experience was very good, and this no frills fried fish place made for a quick lunch.  I would go back again.

The outside of the restaurant.  I thought the ominous clouds were appropriate for the theme of the novel.

The last place we went before our drive home was Lynn's Paradise Cafe.  As soon as I announced I was going to Louisville several friends told me I had to stop here.  Even though we went at an odd lunch time (3:30) the place was packed with a 30 minute wait.  There was a little shopping area with different odds and ends to keep us occupied while we waited.  The menu looked excellent, and I had a difficult time choosing what I wanted.  Even the drinks were a difficult choose.  It came down to a bourbon ball milkshake or a fried green tomato bloody Mary with bacon blended in.  I went with the bloody Mary and was glad I did.  It was spicy and smoky and came with a garnish of a fried green tomato, which was excellent.  Jason had a gigantic mimosa made with fresh squeezed orange juice.  I'm not a huge mimosa fan, but it was very good as well.  We both choose breakfast entrees.  I had the Popeye omelet filled with creamed spinach, bacon, and tomatoes.  Jason had the Matador omelet which had chorizo, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and cheese.  Some of the side choices with omelets were sauteed apples, cheese grits, baked macaroni and cheese, lima beans, fried green tomatoes, garlic mashed potatoes, and fresh fruit.  I really enjoyed having all these choices, and I had a difficult time decided what I wanted, but ultimately I went with the cheese grits, and I'm glad I did.  I had a great time at Lynn's and I would visit again.  You can find their website here.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Louisville Part I: The Brown Hotel

I went to Louisville, KY last weekend for a literary conference, and other than listen to people talk about literature, which was amazing, I of course, ate.  I'm splitting this into two posts (one today and one tomorrow) because of all the pictures.  For the first post, I'll be focusing on the meals I ate at the Brown Hotel.  When I'm visiting a new place I research the food and try to eat things unique to the area.  I think I did a good job on this trip.

It was around midnight when Jason and I finally checked into the hotel.  We were hungry, and I knew we were going to have a hot brown, which I'll describe when I get to the picture.  The lobby bar serves food until 2:00.  We started out with a few beers.  I had Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale.  It was a mix between beer and bourbon.  I didn't expect such intense bourbon flavors, but I like bourbon, so I was okay with that.  I'm not sure if you can only buy this in Kentucky, and I hope not because I'll buy it if I see it around here.

Jason ordered a La Fin Du Monde.  I didn't really care for it, but he liked it.  It had an interesting spice blend that is desirable for some people.

Finally our food came.  Below you'll see the Derby Pie.  It's basically what we call a Toll-House pie around here.  Think chocolate cookies, but baked into a pie shell and loaded with walnuts.  This was very good.

Then we had a hot brown.  The hot brown is a Kentucky original.  It's basically thick-cut bread topped with turkey, tomatoes, mornay sauce loaded with cheese and bacon.  It was very rich, and I'm glad we split it.  It was delicious, but I think a horseshoe (local food from my area which is open faced hamburgers topped with fries and cheese sauce) has it beat.  The Brown Hotel was the inventor of the hot brown, so I'm glad we got one here.

We ate in the hotel again for breakfast before we left, and this was my favorite meal of the trip.  I had the breakfast Florentine hot brown.  It was amazing.  It had poached eggs, roasted potatoes, spinach, artichoke hearts, and Mornay sauce.  If I go to the conference again next year, I will order this.

Jason, who loves sweet breakfasts had the brioche French toast.  This was crazy, and even Jason couldn't finish it.  This was 3 thick slices of brioche bread coated in rice crispies.  It had a thick chocolate spread slathered between each piece.  It was then topped with a caramelized banana and served with housemade bourbon caramel sauce on the side.  It was excellent, but too sweet for me.  There were a lot of other great choices on the menu, but they only serve breakfast on Saturday and Sunday.  If you're staying in the hotel on a weekend I would definitely check it out.  Tomorrow, I will post 2 local spots we checked out during the trip.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Weeknight Kitchen: Kofta with Allspice and Almonds

It's been several weeks since I've made a Weeknight Kitchen recipe that I actually liked and would make again.  I wouldn't say I was leery when I looked at the recipe for Kofta.  Kofta is basically a Middle Eastern or South Eastern meatball or meatloaf.  When I looked at the ingredients there was ground beef, almonds, allspice, cumin, and onions listed.  I wasn't sure about the almonds.  I've made a lot of veggie burgers with nuts in them, but I'm wary of spicing up ground beef too much because I don't want to mask the flavor.  Instead of meatballs, I made my koftas into little patties.  They cooked up quickly and turned out very well.  I served them with a cucumber yogurt sauce and couscous with peppers and onions.  Next time I make these (and I will make them again because they are so quick and good) I will stuff them into pita.

You can sign up for the Weeknight Kitchen newsletter at www.splendidtable.org

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Roasted Broccoli

We eat a lot of broccoli in this house, and it's usually prepared either steamed or roasted.  Broccoli just seems really easy.  I just wash it, peel the stem, and cut it.  It's not labor intensive at all, and I don't really have to think about it, so it's my go to side dish.  Roasting broccoli is very easy, and if you haven't tried it you should. The outside of the broccoli becomes crispy while the inside gets velvety smooth.  Because of the texture, this is a really nice side dish to go with mashed potatoes and a protein, but honestly, we eat it with just about everything.

The directions are really simple.  Preheat oven to 400 F. (The temperature is not set in stone.  If you are baking something else just throw the broccoli in with it.  I've done this with temps ranging from 350 to 425, but adjust the time a little)  Wash broccoli and peel the stem with a vegetable peeler or knife.  Don't throw the stem away!  The stem is excellent, and all you need to cut off it a little bit at the end.  Cut broccoli into pieces (I cut on the large side, but whatever size you like is fine).  Place broccoli pieces on a baking sheet.  Try not to let them touch, so they can get crispy.  Drizzle broccoli with olive oil, salt, and pepper, you could also add garlic and/or red pepper flakes.  Roast broccoli for about 25 minutes.  You want the broccoli to be brown in places.  Serve immediately.
 Going into the oven
 Coming out of the oven
Crispy and delicious

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sausage, Potato, Kale Soup

While on my quest to make a soup my husband actually likes, I came across a recipe for Sausage, Potato, and Kale soup.  My kitchen calendar this year has a recipe for each month, and this was January's recipe.  I looked at the ingredients and thought yum, I like potatoes, onions, bacon, sausage, kale, heavy cream, garlic, and chicken broth (really that's it.)  I couldn't find kale in the store, so I substituted collard greens, and it was great.  I will be making this again.  Jason's verdict: "It wasn't terrible; I could eat this a few times a year."  Okay, maybe we're getting somewhere.  This was served with the cheese straws from yesterday's post, which made a delicious accompaniment.  

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cheese Straws

I've mentioned before that my husband does not like soup.  I still make it thought, but I try to make something special to go along with it, as to enhance his (bribe him) soup eating experience.  I have heard about cheese straws as a Southern party appetizer for a long time, but I have never had them or made them.  I thought they would be a nice side for the soup I made, which I will post tomorrow.  For those of you who don't know, cheese straws are basically a cheese bread stick.  They are made by rolling out puff pastry, sprinkling with copious amounts of parmesan cheese, rolling some more, cutting into thin strips (I used a pizza cutter) and then baking in the oven.  They were amazing.  This was my first time working with puff pastry, and it was very easy.  Eventually, I'll attempt making the pastry from scratch, but for now I'll stick with the frozen pastry.  One box of puff pastry made a lot of straws, so I put some in a freezer bag before baking.  Now, next time I make soup I can just defrost and bake them.