Tag Archives: cheddar

Homemade Tomato Soup (with Grilled Cheese, of Course!)

11 Feb
Homemade Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

Homemade Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

I have been wanting to try my hand at homemade tomato soup for years, especially since we grow and can our own tomatoes. When my friend Suzanne over at Pug in the Kitchen posted this recipe, I knew it was time. Besides, I had a can of San Marzano tomatoes that had been in my pantry over a year, and what about those 20 pints of canned jars of tomatoes I forgot about in the garage? How did I forget about canning those from the fall? I grabbed a few for my pantry lest I forget again.

This soup comes together quite easily after some initial prep. And if you are wondering how long it takes for tomatoes to caramelize in a hot oven, it takes 18 minutes according to the smoke alarm that went off during my 20-minute timer. I suggest using a vent fan during this process. 😉

My husband was amazed at the taste of this soup. According to him, it did not taste like tomato soup from a can. Errrmmm… We’ll leave it at that. Oh, and don’t forget to cook up some ooey-gooey grilled cheese sammies for dunking! We used sourdough bread and a combination of Monterrey jack, sharp yellow cheddar, and pepper jack that was leftover from Super Bowl. This makes about 3 to 4 dinner-size servings.

Homemade Tomato Soup
Adapted from Tomato Soup at A Pug in the Kitchen

1 28-ounce can San Marzano or good quality tomatoes, liquid reserved
1 pint homemade canned tomatoes (about 1 large cup fresh), liquid reserved
Ground pepper and sea salt, to taste
Olive oil, for tomatoes and vegetables
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 bay leaf
Small piece of Parmesan rind
3 large leaves fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
Additional basil, chiffoned for garnish

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place all the drained tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with oil. Season to taste with ground black pepper and sea salt. Roast until caramelized or until your smoke alarm goes off (18 to 20 minutes).

Roasted and Caramelized Tomatoes

Roasted and Caramelized Tomatoes

Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the celery, carrot, and onion and cook until they start to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook about a minute more until fragrant. Add the roasted tomatoes and the reserved tomato juice (About 2 cups, add water if you don’t have that much. My canned tomatoes had a lot of of liquid.) Also add the bay leaf and cheese rind. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes until vegetables are very tender. Remove the bay leaf, then add the chopped basil. Taste for seasoning.

Simmering Soup

Simmering Soup

Pour into a large blender and puree until smooth (or use an immersion blender if you have one. I need one!) Return soup to the pot, then add the butter and cream and stir until incorporated. Keep warm while you griddle up some grilled cheese. Ladle into bowls, top with additional basil, and serve immediately with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Homemade Tomato Soup

Homemade Tomato Soup

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Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

 

Skillet Huevos Rancheros with Homemade Tortilla Strips

14 Mar
Skillet Huevos Rancheros with Homemade Tortilla Strips

Skillet Huevos Rancheros with Homemade Tortilla Strips

I’ve been eying similar tomato sauce and egg dishes lately from the Middle East region, but “Shakshuka” uses quite a few spices that I simply don’t have. (And I have a LOT of spices!) But the ingredients and spices I almost always have on hand are Mexican in origin. Hence, I bring to you a riff on Shakshuka, Tex-Mex style!

My husband and I were disappointed I only cooked four of the six eggs. We both had large lunches, and decided one egg each would suffice. Oh boy, were we wrong! While are daughter munched happily on her second egg, we longed in silence. However, there was plenty of sauce leftover to make a repeat for lunch the next day!

Skillet Huevos Rancheros with Homemade Tortilla Strips

For the Ranchero Sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 Serrano (or jalapeño) pepper, diced small
1 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 28-ounce can pureed tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon New Mexico ground chile (or chili powder)
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

For the Rest of It:
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 6-inch corn tortillas
Sea salt, to taste
4 to 6 large eggs
1/2 cup fresh-grated Monterrey Jack cheese
1/2 cup fresh-grated cheddar cheese
Handful fresh cilantro, (chopped) for garnish
Sour cream, for garnish

Simmering the Rancheros Sauce

Simmering the Rancheros Sauce

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. To make the sauce, add a tablespoon of oil to a cast iron or oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Add the spicy pepper, onion, and garlic, and cook for about 7 minutes until onions are softened. Pour in the can of tomatoes, then bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the black beans, and salt and pepper, to taste.

Prepping the Tortilla Strips

Prepping the Tortilla Strips

While the sauce is simmering, brush both sides of the corn tortillas with oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Cut into thin strips. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer and place in the preheated oven. Bake for about 3 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. Remove and set aside. (I tried making the strips before the sauce, and got so busy that I burnt my first batch. Lucky for me I always have a large bag of corn tortillas in the pantry!)

Eggs Nestled in Tomato Sauce

Eggs Nestled in Tomato Sauce (LOOK! There is plenty of room for two more eggs, silly!)

When the sauce has thickened, remove from the heat. Make indentations in the sauce with the back of a large spoon, and crack each egg into the wells. Return the pan to the heat and cover. Simmer gently for about 15 minutes, until the whites are partially set.

Skillet Eggs Ready for the Broiler

Skillet Eggs Ready for the Broiler

Turn the oven to broil. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the dish, then place the skillet under the broiler. Cook until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the eggs are cooked to your liking. This shouldn’t be more than a few minutes, unless you like hard-cooked eggs. Remove the skillet (carefully!) from the oven. Garnish with the tortilla strips and cilantro, scoop out your eggs and sauce, and serve with sour cream if you want.

Skillet Huevos Rancheros

Skillet Huevos Rancheros

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Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

 

Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Crab

21 Dec
Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Crab

Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Crab

So what is better than a plain broccoli cheese soup? Well one with Dungeness crab in it, of course! I was going to make this soup as I had in the past here, with chicken, but when we found out our crab-disliking-daughter was having a sleepover elsewhere my husband suggested adding crab instead. I was actually a bit hesitant to do so, but in the end went along with the idea. (I did make him shell the meat from the crab, though, as it can be a tedious process.)

Cooked Crab Ready to Shell

Cooked Crab Ready to Shell

He reheated and shelled one and a half crabs plus some random legs from our bounty in the freezer, which was way more than needed for our soup. I plan on making crab omelets with the rest of it for brunch.

Shelled Dungeness Crab

Shelled Dungeness Crab ~ This is only HALF the crab meat that was shelled!

As a side note, each day the remodel on our house sees a little more progress, but also setbacks. Our washer and dryer got hooked up yesterday and my first load of clothes is now sitting in the washer with detergent. Permanently, apparently. The dang thing won’t start! Granted it is a Maytag from the mid-70s I got while in college, but it has always been so reliable!

The plumbing under our sink also decided to start leaking, but a huge mess was diverted by a roll of paper towels that soaked up most of the water by the time we discovered it. Hubby fixed the sink, and tried to fix the washer but to no avail. Craigslist to the rescue for now…

I also unpacked the box that had my soup-making stock pot yesterday, and set to making a big batch of chicken broth for the soup made from two chicken carcasses I found in the chest freezer. One can never have too much chicken broth — truth. And the house always smells wonderful while it is simmering. That is, until the paint fumes from spray-painting the legs on our dining room table in the garage start seeping through the vents.  Did I mention I LOVE my new kitchen??? Really, I am starting to settle in, even through all the construction. Without further adieu, here is what I did to make the delicious soup from my new batch of stock. (p.s. this is a very quick and easy soup to make!)

Broccoli and Soup Base Simmering

Broccoli and Soup Base Simmering

Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Crab

3 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups half and half (or whole milk)
2 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium
1 head broccoli florets, large pieces halved
Ground black pepper, to taste
Mrs. Dash or salt, to taste
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Shelled crab meat, for garnish

Heat the butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté about 5 minutes, until softened. Sprinkle the flour evenly over the onions and whisk continuously until there are no lumps left. Slowly stir in the half and half and chicken broth. Bring to a low boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick or burn.

Tossing in the Cheese

A Gratuitous Cheese-Tossing shot ~ For Conor and Richard

Add the broccoli and cook 15 to 20 minutes more until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a fork. Add the seasonings and cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted. Ladle the soup into bowls, and garnish with as much crab as you like.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Crab

Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Crab

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Ham and Scalloped Au Gratin Potato Casserole

18 Jun
Ham and Scalloped Au Gratin Potato Casserole

Ham and Scalloped Au Gratin Potato Casserole

I volunteered to make ham and scalloped potato casserole to bring to a Father’s Day BBQ last weekend. Actually, my husband had volunteered to bake a ham, but by the time he informed me of this the hostess had already bought ribs for the event AND my husband had already defrosted the ham we stuck in the freezer last month when it went on sale.

We had about 12 people to feed. Armed with all those factoids, I decided a scalloped potato casserole would work, and then I could add some of the leftover ham that we ended up baking the day before Father’s Day instead.

I found a great recipe for this on one of my favorite foodie cook’s site, The Pioneer Woman. Gosh, I don’t even know how many gajilion recipes I’ve made of hers. She makes it look sooo easy and her food photography is great! She calls it Scalloped Potatoes, but with all the cheese it’s really Au Gratin too, so I added that to the title.

However, last time I made a dish with a ton of sliced potatoes (mind you we are feeding a crowd), it took me over 45 minutes to slice the potatoes, and even then, they were haphazardly sliced, at best. I’m terrible at slicing thin potatoes.

I decided to risk life and limb and invest in a food slicer (also known as a mandoline, and no, not the instrument kind.) They now come with hand guards and decided I could make the plunge and invest in one. And heck, it was less than 10 bucks! What was I waiting for???? Those horror stories of old of trips to the emergency room to re-attach a fingertip are long gone with this device.

My new love:

Food Slicer and Potatoes

Food Slicer and Potatoes

Story: I got the slicer all assembled and cut a potato in half (to have a flat surface to start with). I put it on the gadget and quickly ran it twice up and down to slice. Nothing. Nada. I was like… “Uggh, this thing doesn’t even work! And then I lifted it up, and two beautiful slices were laying underneath it on the cutting board. Really? I thought I would feel some resistance, something, anything! Nooop! That blade is so sharp it was like cutting through soft butter. I had 3 pounds of potatoes sliced perfect-thin in under 10-minutes! WOW! Happy me. 🙂

The below recipe is how I made it as I didn’t have all the ingredients, but you can find the original recipe link below. And just use whatever cheese you have on hand. I used all my cheddar for another recipe earlier in the week, so ended up used store-bought grated Colby-Jack combined with some fresh-grated Gruyere cheese. Either way it came out great! I didn’t have much to bring home from the BBQ. Now on to the recipe.

Ham and Scalloped Au Gratin Potato Casserole)
Adapted from Ree Drumond, The Pioneer Woman, Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

3 pounds Russet potatoes, washed and scrubbed
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 large sweet onion, diced
3 cups ham, diced
1/2 cup half-and-half (that is all I had, you can use more and reduce the milk for creamier potatoes)
2 cups milk
1/4 cup flour
Black pepper, to taste
1 cup grated Colby Jack cheese (mixture of Colby and Monterey Jack)
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees then butter a large casserole dish. (Mine was 9 x 13 inches.) Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat, add the onions and cook for several minutes until they start to turn translucent. Add the ham and cook for another few minutes until heated through. Remove from heat and set aside.

Sauteeing Ham and Onions

Sauteing Ham and Onions

Combine the half-and-half and milk in a microwave-safe container and cook in the microwave for about a minute, until no longer cold. Whisk in flour and black pepper until combined. Set aside.

Using a vegetable slicer (or a knife if you don’t own one), slice potatoes into 1/8-inch slices. Layer 1/3 of the potato slices in the buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle 1/3 of the ham/onion mixture over that, then 1/3 of the cheese.

Scalloped Potatoes without Milk

Scalloped Potatoes without Milk ~ Sometimes I don’t follow directions exactly

Here is where I went astray. I forgot to pour 1/3 of the milk mixture over it until the end, but if you want you can pour on 1/3 of the milk mixture now. It didn’t seem to make a difference.

Repeat this twice more, ending with a sprinkling of cheese and pouring on the rest of the milk mixture (or in my case, all at once). Then grind a bunch more of black pepper over it. Cover the pan with foil and bake for an hour.

Peeking at Casserole

Peeking at Casserole ~ Yes I peeked at the casserole at the hour mark

Remove the foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes at least, or until bubbly and hot and the potatoes are tender. Check with a fork periodically for doneness.

p.s. (You can make this ahead of time and cook later. I cooked mine to the one hour mark, then brought it to the BBQ. About a half hour before ready to eat, I uncovered it, popped it in a preheated oven and baked until ready, about a half hour more.)

Casserole in Oven

Casserole in Oven ~ I had to check on that puppy! Baked beans underneath from other guest cooking

 

 

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Authentic Tex-Mex Cheese Enchiladas with Chile Gravy

14 Jun
Authentic Tex-Mex Cheese Enchiladas with Chile Gravy

Authentic Tex-Mex Cheese Enchiladas with Chile Gravy

I was on a mission to both redeem and console myself after the prior night’s dinner disaster. I was wanting some Tex-Mex. Gooey, cheesy, spicy Tex-Mex. The kind of stuff you get at those mom and pop shops in the little towns scattered between the wide-open roads and ranches of Texas.

I’ve made plenty of Tex-Mex dishes in the past, and have a standard chile con carne recipe used for a lot of them. But mostly, when I cook up a Tex-Mex dish I don’t rely much on a recipe. It’s my take that any taco, burrito, tostada, or enchilada are just different shapes and cooking methods for pretty much the same ingredients, right?

Spices for Chile Gravy

Spices for Chile Gravy

But there was one dish I had yet to conquer, and that was the Authentic Tex-Mex Cheese Enchiladas with Chile Gravy. And what better place to start than the recipe from the Enchilada Queen herself, Sylvia Casares? She hails from the small town of Brownsville, Texas and currently owns two enchilada restaurants in Houston as well as offers cooking schools and catering.

I found a scaled-down version, time-wise, of her recipe in Texas Monthly magazine. I took my time and cooked everything linearly, instead of concurrently. Basically, I didn’t do any “meanwhile” cooking. But please, feel free to multitask on this one, I was enjoying each individual process so that I could become more familiar with each step for the next time I make these.

When the enchiladas came out of the oven, I was all set to take a plated shot (as best I could, as they come out of the pan pretty messy), but when I went to pick up the plate to move it to the table, it slipped out of my hands! In my spastic move to keep it from tumping upside down onto the floor, I smashed my other arm right on top of the plate, making a mess of not only the plate, but my shirtsleeve. The dish didn’t crash to the floor, but I was left with a pretty pitiful-looking plate of enchiladas and beans. And a dirty shirt. Thank goodness I had the foresight to wear an old camping shirt for this foray. I just sighed and thought “forget it, I’m hungry.” And sat right down to eat the mess.

 The Ill-Fated Shirt

The Ill-Fated Shirt

Ohhhh, but it was sooo good! I got a thumbs-up from the hubby and two thumbs up from my daughter. Even when she had the leftovers the next day she said “Mom, these are really really good! Are you going to make them again sometime?” The answer is a definite Yes!

I’m giving you the full recipe below as printed in Texas Monthly, but I did scale it down a tad since the dish I use for enchiladas only holds 9 rolled tortillas, which makes about two meals for my family of three. The full version makes 12 enchiladas. Suggested serving sides are refried beans and Mexican rice.

Authentic Tex-Mex Cheese Enchiladas with Chile Gravy
From Sylvia Casares via Texas Monthly

Prepare the Chile Gravy
1 1/2 cups white onion, roughly chopped
5 garlic cloves
1/4 pound lean ground beef
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup flour
2 cups beef broth (I used homemade)
3 tablespoons chile powder (I used half New Mexico Red and half Ancho)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine onion and garlic in a blender (or food processor) and purée on high for about one minute or until smooth.

Onion Garlic Puree

Onion Garlic Puree

Add purée, ground beef, and 1/2 cup water to a small saucepan and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes (skim froth from surface). Note from me: Don’t freak out if your onion/garlic/meat mixture turns a bit green in the first part of cooking it. It’s a natural reaction and all turns brown eventually.

In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium heat until hot. Lower heat, add flour, and stir continuously until the roux turns a light golden brown.

Heat beef broth and 2 cups water over low heat in a small saucepan or in a microwave oven. Combine all spices and add to flour mixture along with broth and ground beef and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes or until mixture is the consistency of gravy.

Authentic Chile Gravy

Authentic Chile Gravy

Let rest for at least 10 minutes before using. Makes about 5 cups.

Prepare the Tortillas Dipped in Guajillo-Árbol Chile Sauce
7 guajillo chiles, stems and seeds removed
2 árbol or ancho chiles, stems removed (I used Ancho)
12 corn tortillas

Put chiles and 1/2 cup water (I used about 1 cup) in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 15 minutes, adding water if needed. Let cool 15 minutes.

Chile Peppers Cooking

Chile Peppers Cooking

Purée the chiles and water in a blender or food processor on high speed until liquefied. Pass the purée through a strainer to remove any skins.

When almost ready to assemble the enchiladas, dip tortillas in the guajillo-árbol chile sauce one at a time and put on a plate. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.

Guajillo-Ancho Chile Sauce

Guajillo-Ancho Chile Sauce

Assemble the Enchiladas
1 cup vegetable oil
Chile Gravy
Tortillas Dipped in Guajillo-Árbol Chile Sauce
5 cups grated cheddar cheese (reserve 1 cup for garnish) (I used cheddar for the tortillas and Monterey jack for the top)
1 cup white onion, diced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Place one tortilla at a time in the hot oil and quickly turn with tongs or a nonstick spatula. Total time in oil should be about 5 seconds. Stack on a plate and use immediately in next step.

Enchiladas Smothered in Chile Gravy

Enchiladas Smothered in Chile Gravy

Distribute a row of about 1/3 cup (about 2 ounces) of cheese down the middle of each tortilla. Roll up and place side by side in a 9-by-11-inch baking pan. Pour the chile gravy over the enchiladas and garnish with reserved grated cheese and diced onion. Bake until sauce bubbles and cheese is melted, 10 to 20 minutes; do not allow to brown. Makes 12 enchiladas (serves 4 to 6).

Enchiladas Ready to Bake

Enchiladas Ready to Bake

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Cheesy Baked Goulash

26 Mar
Cheesy Baked Goulash

Cheesy Baked Goulash

How many of you have moms or grandmas out there that made this when you were growing up? (Or at least a version of it.) Lots of hands, huh? I am in that crowd of hands, except my mom made it with that red and white can of tomato soup. Yes, I loved it growing up, too. But tastebuds mature, and I fell away from thinking I would ever like Americanized Goulash again.

Until the night I made this from scratch! Wowee! What was I waiting for? I even got thumbs up from my teenage daughter and her friend spending the night, and that is AFTER they ate a value-meal Sonic hamburger (at their begging) at almost 4 pm in the afternoon as a snack. (My husband dutifully drove them to the fast-food drive-in, as I was still working. It’s Spring Break this week in my neck of the woods and the kids are restless and hungry all the time!)

I hauled out my old cookbooks from college where I figured there would be a version or two of this recipe to adapt. I was astounded I couldn’t find any variation of it, even in my trusty Good Housekeeping cookbook from 1981. Am I dreaming I ate this growing up? I wondered then if it was a Hamburger Helper version I was thinking of that my mom added the soup to. Or maybe she made it up herself? Nonetheless, I scraped together a recipe from all the online versions I found. I am happy to say that it’s a keeper, and definitely in the rotation for a quick weeknight meal made with ground beef. One cannot have too many of those on hand with a hungry teenager around.

Cheesy Baked Goulash

Cheesy Baked Goulash Just out of Oven

Cheesy Baked Goulash

1 pound ground beef
2/3 cup chopped onion
Ground black pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 cup dry elbow macaroni pasta
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce (or 2 8-0unce cans)
1 jar homemade canned tomatoes diced, or 1 can low-sodium diced
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and set a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the burger and chopped onions, then grind a bunch of black pepper over it. Cook until beef is browned and onions are translucent. In the last minute or so, add the minced garlic. Drain any grease, if needed.

Browned Burger and Onions

Browned Burger and Onions

When the water is boiling for the pasta, add the macaroni and cook until just before al dente, then drain and set aside. It will cook more in the oven. Meanwhile, add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, soy sauce, sugar, and herbs to the ground beef and stir to incorporate.

Cooked Macaroni and Tomato Beef Sauce

Cooked Macaroni and Tomato Beef Sauce

Or you can be like me and forget the parsley until later. Next add the cheddar cheese (or perhaps parsley if you forgot) and mix until cheese is melted. Stir in the cooked macaroni until combined.

Cheddar Cheese and Parsley Added

Cheddar Cheese and Parsley Added

Pour into a 2-quart casserole dish sprayed with oil. Top with the Mozzarella cheese and bake for 30 minutes.

Cheesy Baked Goulash

Cheesy Baked Goulash

Let rest about 5 minutes, then serve with buttered bread, and a salad if you want.

 

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Cheesy Baked Goulash

Cheesy Baked Goulash

 

Cheesy Cauliflower with Cauliflower Panko Topping

18 Dec
Cheesy Cauliflower with Cauliflower Panko Topping

Cheesy Cauliflower with Cauliflower Panko Topping

I’m doing a bit of experimenting with my cooking to help decide what I plan on making for the second round of the Diced! competition. Thank you so much to all who voted for me, as I made it to the second round at the top of the leaderboard. I couldn’t have done it without you!

This particular recipe uses two of the four required ingredients. You can probably figure out what one of them is. I won’t be posting my final recipe until it’s up for voting next round, but in the meantime I can share my experiments with you.

Riced Cauliflower

Riced Cauliflower

My husband made a ham for Sunday dinner, and asked if I could make one of the sides. Little did he know I had already planned on making this cheesy cauliflower dish, so it worked out perfectly. My original recipe for this includes mushrooms and doesn’t have a bread topping, but we didn’t have any mushrooms anyways so I just omitted them. (Which is just as well since my daughter doesn’t like mushrooms. She’s not a big fan of cauliflower either, but she’ll still eat it.)

When all was said and done, I think my experiment worked. That can be considered both good and bad, because now I have to decide whether I want to use this technique for the contest dish. So many decisions! But, in the meantime, here is a new side dish with an unusual but great topping:

Cheesy Cauliflower with Cauliflower Panko Topping

1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1/8 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Ground white pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. “Rice” a couple of the cauliflower florets, using a grater, until you have about 1/4 cup of riced cauliflower. Add it to a small bowl or measuring cup, then add the 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs. Melt one tablespoon of the butter with the paprika, then mix well into the cauliflower/Panko mixture. Set aside.

Riced Cauliflower and Panko

Riced Cauliflower and Panko

Cook the cauliflower to al dente, either by steaming, microwave, or pressure cooker. I’m a fan of the pressure cooker, as it takes hardly any time! When it’s done cooking, place it in a casserole dish and cover.

Meanwhile, add the butter to a saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add the flour, and stir until a paste is formed. Quickly pour in the milk, whisking until all the lumps are out and the sauce has thickened. Add the mustard, then stir in the cheddar cheese until it melts and the sauce starts to bubble. Add ground white pepper to taste.

Stirring in the Cheese to the Sauce

Stirring in the Cheese to the Sauce

Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower, then top evenly with the cauliflower/Panko mixture. Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes until the topping has browned lightly. Remove and serve immediately.

Cheesy Cauliflower Ready to Bake

Cheesy Cauliflower Ready to Bake

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Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

Hash Brown, Sausage, and Egg Casserole ~ Starting a New Christmas Tradition

25 Dec
Hash Brown, Sausage, and Egg Casserole

Hash Brown, Sausage, and Egg Casserole

Merry Christmas to all my family and friends! I have decided to start a new Christmas tradition in our household this year. We’ve always done a “fend for yourself” for Christmas breakfast/brunch, but this year I decided it would be nice to wake up and bake a hassle-free breakfast casserole. This make-ahead casserole is a cinch to make, and you refrigerate it over night before popping it in the oven just before you unwrap your presents. Well, that was the plan anyways. I forgot to put it in the oven (hey it’s my first year to do this!) so we ate a bit later than planned. My daughter went back for a second serving, so I guess it’s safe to say this is a tradition I can continue.

There are hundreds of recipes online for this, most of them stating they go way back from their grandmother or handed down from a dear friend. But they are all pretty much the same, with variations here and there on the meat and/or vegetables. And they all feed about 10 to 12, so I scaled this one way back.

Another one of our traditions is to watch Polar Express on Christmas Eve, after attending a Christmas Eve party that my friend here in town hosts every year. Do you have a favorite Christmas tradition?

Hash Brown, Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Casserole

Hash Brown, Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Casserole

Hash Brown, Sausage, and Egg Casserole

8 ounces frozen hash browns
2 tablespoons butter or substitute, melted
Ground black pepper
Mrs. Dash Table Blend, or salt
10 ounces breakfast sausage
1 cup diced onion
6 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 400. In a large bowl, thaw the hash browns (I used the microwave) then stir in the melted butter. Season with lots of ground black pepper and lots of Mrs. Dash, or salt to taste if you use that. In a 2 quart casserole dish, press the hash browns into the bottom in an even layer.  Bake for about 20 minutes until starting to brown. Meanwhile, break up the sausage into little chunks and add to a medium-hot skillet, stirring and breaking up. When the sausage starts to release some of the grease, add the onions. Cook the sausage and onions until the sausage is no longer pink, about 10 to 15 minutes, then drain the grease and set aside.  The hash browns should be about ready to come out of the oven now. Take them out and let them cool a bit. Crack the six eggs into the same large bowl, then whisk together well with the milk. I added a bunch more pepper and Mrs. Dash too.  Spread the crumbled sausage and onion mixture over evenly over the top of the hash browns, then slowly pour the eggs over the entire dish. Last, top with shredded cheddar cheese. Cover tightly with foil, then refrigerate overnight. About an hour before you are ready to eat, cook the covered casserole in a 350-degree preheated oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, then cook another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest about five minutes. Serve plain, or with sour cream, hot sauce, Tabasco, whatever you like with your eggs! Easy and delicious.

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