Tag Archives: milk

Braised Pork in Milk with Lemon and Sage over Spinach

17 Sep
Braised Pork in Milk with Lemon and Sage over Spinach

Braised Pork in Milk with Lemon and Sage over Spinach

So I have this friend who has a food blog in this far distant place called Ireland. He recently posted a recipe about some rare, free-range organic pork that can only be found in that special place of the world, and he did a fine job with it! But, today, I am here to tell you about how to cook cheap, non-free-range odd cuts of pork into a delicious meal, which doesn’t require trips to specialty breed organic farmers, meat butchers, and the like. (No offense Conor! ūüėČ To make amends, I shall lead others to your epic blog —> HERE.)

What I have here are two distinctly generic cuts of pork, one a thick bone-in pork loin, the other, two small thin slices of pork chops. Both of which were purchased then frozen from the 50% off bin. GASP! However, I am a frugal shopper when I want to be.

Non-Free-Range nor Rare Pork Cuts

Non-Free-Range nor Rare Pork Cuts

I adapted this recipe from my Braised Chicken in Milk recipe. Low and slow is the way to go my friends! I selected to eat (after cooking) the thin chops, which I chose to bundle together first to match the pork loin thickness. They were perfectly moist and delicious, as well as a bite I took from my husband’s pork loin was equally moist and tender. However, my husband swears one can never cook a moist and tender pork and even balked at his piece. Nay-sayer! But let me tell you, I will prove him wrong once I buy a sous-vide machine, which is happening in the very near future. I know I keep telling my foodie friends that, but I have to put this nonsense to bed that pork can’t ever be tender. So there.

Now, on to the recipe, which is fantastic (and simple) in my humble opinion.

Braised Pork in Milk with Lemon and Sage over Spinach

3/4 to 1-1/2 pounds pork cuts, even thickness, any kind
Ground black pepper and salt or Mrs. Dash, to taste
1 tablespoon real butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup homemade or low sodium chick broth/stock
1 cinnamon stick
Handful of fresh sage
Zest/skin of a large lemon, peeled in thick strips
Handful of garlic cloves, smashed
1-1/2 cups Half and Half or Heavy Cream, plus 1/2 to 1 cup more if needed
4 to 6-ounces fresh spinach

The Ubiquitous Ingredients Shot

The Ubiquitous Ingredients Shot

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Season the pork all over with ground black pepper and salt or Mrs. Dash, to taste. Add butter and olive oil over medium-high heat in a deep cast iron skillet or Dutch oven and brown on both sides.

Browning the Inferior Pork

Browning the Inferior Pork

Remove from the heat then put the pork on a plate to rest. Deglaze the skillet or pot with the chicken broth, scraping up the browned bits. Add the rest of the ingredients back to the skillet except pork and spinach and stir until simmering.

Bringing Lovely Sauce up to Simmer

Bringing Lovely Sauce up to Simmer

Nestle the pork into the sauce and place in the preheated oven for 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Ready to Bake in Oven

Ready to Bake in Oven

Turn the pork over and stir the sauce half-way through the cooking time.

When done, remove from oven and remove the pork to a plate and cover to rest again. Add the skillet to the stove burner over low heat, then add spinach, and add 1/2 cup to 1 more cup of Half and Half or cream, if needed. Stir until the spinach is wilted and the sauce has thickened and is bubbling. Don’t worry about any curdling, it’s supposed to do that.

Simmering the Sauce and Wilting the Spinach

Simmering the Sauce and Wilting the Spinach

Remove cinnamon stick and lemon rinds from sauce, and garlic cloves if you want but they are yummy! Serve the pork over the spinach on warmed plates, with plenty of extra sauce to coat.

Braised Pork in Milk with Lemon and Sage over Spinach

Braised Pork in Milk with Lemon and Sage over Spinach

Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

 

 

Braised Chicken in Milk

28 Jan
Braised Chicken in Milk

Braised Chicken in Milk

Sometimes you just have to ignore comments on a recipe and just go with it. This is one I followed some suggestions from the original recipe, and they didn’t work out for me. Plus the fact that my husband insisted he didn’t want “split milk” and that the original instructions stated “you can add a few tablespoons of fat to keep the sauce from curdling” but failed to read on that “the split sauce is actually the point.”

Well I came out with a LOT of sauce that wasn’t split, and it was much too watery. Many readers said they did not have enough sauce and wish they kept the pot covered, which I did. SOOOOO, lesson learned? If you are going to make a recipe from someone as famous in the culinary world as Jamie Oliver, just try it exactly as is and then modify as needed on the next go-round.

However, the chicken was exceedingly moist and tender, and the sauce was delicious even if too much and too watery. For the leftovers, I scraped off the fat that solidified to the top (the butter and olive oil) the next day after refrigerating it and reduced the strained sauce over the stove. BINGO! Split milk curdly sauce.¬† OMG it was delicious!!! Both me and my daughter ate the leftovers right up. Next go-round with this? Original recipe. I will link to that. My variations are in the recipe below, which is probably not the best help for you. Comments are added to NOT do some things I did. ūüėČ

I served this with homemade mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach with some of the lemon juice from the lemon I zested for this.

Braised Chicken in Milk Ingredients

Braised Chicken in Milk Ingredients

Braised Chicken in Milk
Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk on the Food52 website

One 3 to 4 pound organic chicken (Mine was 3 1/2 pounds)
Salt or Mrs. Dash, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons real butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cinnamon stick
3 sprigs fresh sage (use more if you have some, that’s all I had)
Zest of 1 very large lemon, peeled in thick strips with a peeler
10 to 15 garlic cloves, skins left on. (Some of mine were very small)
2 cups whole milk (not half or skim)

Snug Chicken in a Pot

Snug Chicken in a Pot!

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and use a snug-fitting pot for the chicken (My 3 1/2 pound chicken fit snugly in a 3 quart saucepan that had an oven proof lid, however you may not want a lid).

Season the chicken all over with salt or Mrs. Dash and pepper, and fry it in the butter and olive oil. Turn it 1/4 turns until golden-ish all over. This took about 20 minutes.

Browned Chicken

Browned Chicken

Remove from the heat then put the chicken on a plate. Here was my first mistake. I left the butter and olive oil in the pot. Don’t do that. Remove it for another use, such as sauteing some veggies.

Put your chicken back in the pot with the rest of the ingredients, then cook it covered (DON’T) in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours. Baste with the cooking juice when you remember. (I forgot, OY!) However, if you do want more sauce you can partially cover it. I did end up taking the lid off in the last 20 minutes to brown the skin a bit more.

The Rest of the Ingredients Added to Chicken Ready to Finish Cooking

The Rest of the Ingredients Added to Chicken Ready to Finish Cooking

When done, remove from oven, then cut and divide the chicken on to your plates. Spoon over plenty of juice and curds (if you have them!). Serve with wilted spinach or greens and mashed potatoes.

Braised Chicken in Milk Meal

Braised Chicken in Milk Meal

As an aside, here is what the “reduced” gravy after taking out the fat looked like with the chicken in it the next day (I added the chicken after reducing the sauce just to heat the meat back up.) That sauce was WAY better that way. Just remember, curdles aren’t all that bad, even if your spouse disagrees! ūüôā

Split Milk and Lemon Sauce Done Right

Split Milk and Lemon Sauce Done Right

 

Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

 

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‚Äôs 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

Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Chicken

14 Dec
Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Chicken

Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Chicken

I am so very proud of my daughter! She cooked us dinner for the very first time last night, and she did a wonderful job of it. She is learning cooking and nutrition skills in her Freshman courses called “Family and Consumer Studies” or some such nonsense. Back in ancient times when I was that age, the class was called Home Economics (Home Ec for short). Nonetheless, the class has taught her that she CAN cook something besides eggs and cookies, both of which she cooks herself on a regular basis.

The original recipe has no chicken in it, but since this was going to be our dinner she wanted to add some. She asked me if I could cook the chicken for her and she would do the rest. How could I complain? I did tell her she could watch me and learn, but alas, that wasn’t part of her plan. So I pan-fried up some chicken, called her down for her part, and started snapping photos. “MOM! I do not want you in the kitchen while I do this. GO! I can do this myself!” You don’t know how hard it was for me to do that. Really. I slunk upstairs to my office space and frittered away the time nervously until I was called to supper.

Sauteing the Chicken

Sauteing the Chicken

After I snapped some shots of the finished soup in the pot and took my requisite bowl of soup photos and started eating it, she shouted “Hot Sauce! You can add hot sauce if you want!” I found the Sriracha sauce in the fridge, and she splattered quite a bit over her soup. I tentatively added a few drops over mine and stirred it in, took one bite, and thought “Wow! What a great addition to the taste!” Splurt, splurt, splurt, on went more. Sadly I did not take any photos of this momentous event, but trust me, Sriracha tastes great with this soup. Without further adieu, here is the recipe:

Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Chicken

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
Mrs. Dash Table Blend, or salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups half and half (or whole milk)
2 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium
1-2 pounds fresh broccoli florets
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Sriracha sauce (optional, for serving)

Season the chopped chicken with Mrs. Dash (or salt) and pepper to taste. I used a lot of it. Heat a large skillet to medium high, add the oil, then sauté the chicken for several minutes on each side until browned and cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside.

Chopping the Onion

Chopping the Onion

Heat the butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and saut√© 3 to 5 minutes, until softened. Sprinkle the flour evenly over the onions and whisk continuously until there are no lumps left. Add the half and half and chicken broth. Bring to a 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.

Add the broccoli and cook 15 to 20 minutes more until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a fork. Add the salt, pepper, chicken, and cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted. Serve with Sriracha sauce, or any other hot sauce, and thick slices of crusty bread.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Chicken

Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Chicken

Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

Potato Moussaka

27 Nov
Potato Moussaka

Potato Moussaka

(Pssst! It’s my birthday today. Any and all comments to that effect welcome. ūüėČ )

I chose this tasty recipe to test over the weekend as part of Food52’s most recent recipe contest for Your Best Potatoes. I entered my Ooey Gooey Au Gratin Potatoes to the contest, and when I didn’t make the first cut, I looked over all the Community Picks and this one stood out as one I’d enjoy cooking AND eating! So I pressed the Test This button and got to cookin’!

Since I was testing a specific recipe, I did not change or substitute any of the ingredients so that I could give it a fair assessment of the original. I was also very brave and served this to a couple we had over for dinner as the main course, with never even making it before to know how it would turn out. Very brave indeed. With a sigh of relief, all plates were polished off. Whew!

Potato Moussaka Assembled and Ready to Cook

Potato Moussaka Assembled and Ready to Cook

However, if I ever made this again, I would double the amount of spices and herbs called for in it. With the large amounts of potatoes, milk, and cream, the taste of those got lost in the mix. While this was very tasty on its own, three out of the five eating it decided to splash some Sriracha hot sauce over top, which made it just delicious! The other thing I would do different is buy a mandolin to slice the potatoes. It was sure slow going trying to evenly slice that many pounds of potatoes. Oy! Plus I only ended up with three layers of potatoes because I couldn’t slice them thin enough with just a kitchen knife. If you look at the original recipe photo, you can see she did a much neater job with the slicing and presentation. I also did not wait the requisite 15 or 20 minutes to let it set, and that’s pretty obvious from my “square slice” that really wasn’t square or sliced too well.

HINT: Add the sliced potatoes to a bowl of cold water while slicing them, then keep them in the water while you prepare the other ingredients. Remove and pat them dry with a towel when you are ready to assemble. This prevents them from browning.

Soaking Sliced Potatoes

Soaking Sliced Potatoes

Without further ado, here is the recipe I tested, as originally published:

Potato Moussaka <<– link to original, you can also print it from there
Recipe by QueenSashy on Food52 website

Author Notes:¬†Moussaka is a famous Turkish/Mediterranean dish with eggplants, minced meat, tomatoes, b√©chamel and an occasional potato. However, as the Turks gradually conquered more and more of the Balkan territories and traveled north, towards Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania, most of the fancier ingredients were dropped and only potatoes remained with a scant sprinkle of minced meat, a testament to the life in these impoverished farming lands and their colder climates. And that is how the famous Potato Moussaka, one of the staple dishes of the Balkan cuisine was born. Potato moussaka is a seemingly simple dish to make, but the essence of getting it right lies in the baking process. When executed properly potato moussaka is a true masterpiece — wonderfully crisp on top, soft and caramelized on bottom, creamy in the middle, filled with wonderful little caves of fragrant minced beef, and bursting with rich, cheesy taste, despite of containing no cheese at all!¬† –¬†QueenSashy

Serves 6

  • About 3lb Russet potatoes (to the extent possible, try to use potatoes of similar size and shape)
  • 1 pound ground beef (preferably 80% lean)
  • 2 small shallots (about 4 oz)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups light cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 generous teaspoon of dried summer savory (or ¬Ĺ tsp dried oregano and ¬Ĺ tsp dried marjoram)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil, plus more for oiling/brushing
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 9×13 inch rectangular baking dish
  1. Preheat oven to 400¬įF.
  2. In a large sauté pan heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent, for about a minute or two. Add the ground beef and cook until browned on the surface. Do not overcook. Remove from heat and season with salt, pepper, parsley and summer savory. Divide the meat into three parts.
  3. Peel the potatoes, rinse them and pat them dry. Slice the potatoes 1/8-inch thick, no more, no less. (You may want to discards the smallest pieces.)
  4. Liberally oil the baking dish. Arrange the potato slices neatly in the baking dish in one layer, overlapping each one about the third of the way over the slice that came before, until the bottom of the dish is neatly paved. Sprinkle with salt and cover with the third of the meat. Repeat the process (potatoes + sprinkle of salt + ground beef) two more times. Finish with another neat layer of potatoes (for a total of four potato layers.)
  5. In a small bowl beat the eggs. Add the milk, cream, garlic and a pinch of nutmeg. Mix well. Pour over the potatoes.
  6. Cover the baking dish with a foil and bake covered, until the liquid starts to bubble. Once the liquid starts to bubble, remove the cover, reduce heat to 365¬įF and bake for another hour or so (this will depend on your oven, dish, and many other factors, so start watching at about 45 minutes). The moussaka is done when the potatoes on top are golden brown, spotted with dark crispy areas, while potatoes inside are very soft. (If you notice during baking that top layer is getting dry, sprinkle it with water and brush it with vegetable oil. If you notice that the entire dish is getting dry, add a bit more warm milk. If you think that top is getting baked faster than the inside, cover with the foil again. If the inside is fully done and the top is not golden, finish the dish under the broiler for a minute or two.)
  7. Remove the moussaka from the oven. Let it settle for about 15-20 minutes, then cut into square slices and eat immediately.
Potato Moussaka

Potato Moussaka

Creamy Fish Chowder with Corn and Potatoes

25 Sep
Creamy Fish Chowder with Corn and Potatoes

Creamy Fish Chowder with Corn and Potatoes

My husband made this delightful (and decadent) creamy fish chowder over the weekend from some of the sea bass we caught off the central coast of Oregon a few weeks ago. He accomplished this after helping me can all those tomatoes I wrote about last post. Super Dad!  I played a minor role in the making of this, helping with a few measurements and prepping the potatoes, but I mainly taste-tested it along the way and of course ate a heaping bowl of it for dinner. Now we have several bags of it frozen for future quick and easy meals.

p.s. The tripod holder insert-thingy on the bottom of my camera broke just as I was setting up to take photos. Because I did not have my thinking cap on, I ended up using a flash for some of the shots, instead of rubberbanding it to the tripod or some other method of securing it (DOH!). Time for a new camera? Yes, I think so.

Fish Chowder Ingredients

Fish Chowder Ingredients

Creamy Fish Chowder with Corn and Potatoes

4 sea bass filets, or other white fish (about 1 pound)
Milk for soaking the fish
6 strips of bacon (optional)
1/3 cup real butter
1 cup onion, diced
1/3 cup flour
8 cups lowfat milk
4 medium potatoes, peeled and 1/2-inch diced
1 cup sweet white corn (fresh or frozen)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Paprika, to taste
Mrs. Dash Table Blend, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

Soak the fish in a bowl of milk mixed half and half with water for at least an hour, or longer in the refrigerator. Meanwhile, cook up a mess of bacon. My husband cooked an entire pound and the leftovers were used for garnish and a BLT for his lunch the next day.  He said he was tempted to use some of the bacon drippings to prepare the roux, but decided his heart would thank him for not doing that. Besides, adding the bacon to the soup gave it plenty of flavor.

Big Pot of Fish Chowder

Big Pot of Fish Chowder

In a large soup pot, melt the butter and cook the onions until just starting to soften. Add the flour, whisking until a paste forms. Very slowly add about half the milk, whisking constantly. Bring up to a simmer until it starts to thicken, then add the rest of the milk, the potatoes, corn, and seasonings. Also add the bacon, which should be chopped at this point.

Bring the soup back up to a low simmer. You need to monitor the heat and stir often, as the milk could scald and stick to the bottom of the pot if you’re not careful.¬† After about 15 minutes of simmering, cut the fish into bite size pieces and add to the pot, once again bringing up to a simmer until the potatoes and fish are done. Ladle into bowls and garnish with additional chopped bacon. I cheated and ate my garnish first instead.

Creamy Fish Chowder with Corn and Potatoes

Creamy Fish Chowder with Corn and Potatoes

Spinach, Artichoke, Chicken, and Mushroom Alfredo Pasta

1 May
Chicken, Spinach, Artichoke, and Mushroom Alfredo Pasta

Chicken, Spinach, Artichoke, and Mushroom Alfredo Pasta

This is the third variation I’ve made of this dish over the past couple of months, but the options are endless and it only takes a half hour to make from start to finish. That makes it my go-to recipe when I’m pinched for time. I’ve served this with just the spinach and noodles as a side dish, then I also made it a meatless main by adding artichokes. I think I’ve maxed out the ingredients this time around by also adding chicken and mushrooms to that growing list!

Getting this ready in a half-hour with chicken means you need precooked chicken. I used the leftover grilled chicken from the night before, but you can also use a rotisserie chicken from the deli.¬† I made way too much, as adding the chicken and mushrooms just put it over the top in quantity category for the three of us, especially since I over-eyeballed the pasta amount. Somebody PLEASE tell me how much dry pasta to boil for three?!¬† But it made great leftovers the next night.¬† All I had to do was add a little milk to the saucepan while reheating it to loosen it up, and it came out great. Since we didn’t have as much leftovers to eat as the night before, a side salad was served for round two.

Adding the Chicken and Spinach to Alfredo and Artichokes

Adding the Chicken and Spinach to Alfredo and Artichokes

Spinach, Artichoke, Chicken, and Mushroom Alfredo

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 to 2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cubed

Plus, follow the recipe from this blog entry¬†Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Angel Hair¬†Pasta, ¬† except add the mushrooms when sauteing the garlic, then add the cooked chicken when adding the artichokes. That’s it! Dinner on the table in a half hour, really! So sorry for the shortcut recipe, but I’m short on time these days.¬† ūüôā

Hash Brown, Ham, and Cheese Spinach Casserole ~ Light Version!

6 Mar
Hash Brown, Ham, and Spinach Casserole, Plated and Ready to Eat!

Hash Brown, Ham, and Spinach Casserole, Plated and Ready to Eat!

Now this is a yummy comfort food dish that doesn’t have to be laden with a gazillion calories if you don’t let it. This is probably one of the most common dishes brought to a potluck in the South. Most likely a funeral or some kind of “event.” I don’t say that in a bad way,¬† either. It’s just a dish you can bring, no matter the occasion. I’ve had so many variations of this over my lifetime, (and usually just potatoes, ham, and cheese) and to me it’s all goooood! This lightened up version is fairly easy to make aside from a little chopping and a rather abundant use of bowls. The hardest part was trying to make this flavorful without all the fat. I spent more time scouring Pinterest and the internet looking for a hash brown and ham casserole that didn’t have a “cream of” soup in it or too much¬† butter and cheese than I did actually preparing it. I finally settled on mashing the best parts together of several recipes, and this is what I came up with. The result? Both daughter and husband went back for huge second helpings, leaving me with a very small portion to take to work for lunch the next day. It was so small I had to make a snack run to the store later for some rice cakes to help fill in before dinner. Of course, you can double this recipe and make plenty, but I only had a half a bag of hash browns in the freezer to start. This recipe would feed four if the fam wasn’t so starving. Or perhaps they really liked it,¬† huh?

Hash Brown, Ham, and Spinach Casserole

Hash Brown, Ham, and Spinach Casserole ~¬†¬† This is my mom’s vintage bakeware, don’t you just love it??

Hash Brown, Ham, and Spinach Casserole

12 ounces of frozen, shredded  hash browns
2 tablespoons butter, or substitute
Ground black pepper, to taste
Mrs. Dash Table Blend or salt, to taste
1/2 cup lowfat milk (I used 1%)
1/2 cup lowfat sour cream
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 cups chopped, diced ham
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
1 6-ounce bag spinach
Squeeze of lemon juice
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs mixed with 1 tablespoon melted butter, or substitute
Chopped green onion parts, for garnish

Ham, Red Pepper, Cheese, and Hash Browns

Ham, Red Pepper, Cheese, Onions, and Hash Browns all ready for mixin’

Bowls! You need lots of bowls for this dish, sorry. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and chop all your veggies and shred your cheese. Once that’s done, add the hash browns to a large bowl with the butter. Microwave for a minute or two until the hash browns are somewhat thawed and the butter is melted. Grind a bunch of black pepper over it and sprinkle Mrs. Dash or salt on to taste and mix again. In a bowl or glass measuring cup, add the milk, sour cream, and mustard and whisk to combine then stir into the hash browns. Now add all the chopped ham, veggies and cheese and combine.¬† Last, add the chopped spinach to another bowl, sprinkle with a little water and lemon¬† juice, then microwave for one to two minutes until wilted. Stir that in with the potato mixture. Now spray a small casserole dish (or large one if you doubled!) with some oil, spread the mixture evenly into the dish, then pop in oven for 45 minutes. Pull it out, sprinkle the buttered Panko bread crumbs over the casserole and put back in and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until the breadcrumbs start to brown. Take out and let rest until it stops bubbling. Serve on plates with chopped green onion for garnish. This will be hot, creamy, and oh so good for your belly.

Hash Brown, Ham and Spinach Casserole 3

I just had to show you one more picture of my mother’s vintage casserole dish. I don’t cook in it that often but it’s the perfect size for this scaled-down version of the casserole. It’s probably 7 by 5 or so? Never measured it!

Asparagus, Potato, and Chicken Soup with Ricotta Cheese

2 Mar
Asparagus, Potato, and Chicken Soup with Ricotta Cheese

Asparagus, Potato, and Chicken Soup with Ricotta Cheese

My husband really does cook a lot in this household. The problem is, whenever he cooks, I’m usually off and about doing other things since I don’t have to cook that night, so don’t get the photos or the recipe or method he used. Last night however, I hovered around him, took a few photos, helped out a tad, and probably made him a little irritated with my cooking opinions. He’s made asparagus soup for us before, but this time he added some different ingredients that I felt made it worth a new post. He also cooked the turkey broth base from scratch! OK that was one thing I did help him with. I’m the queen of broth-makers, and had to make sure it was done right. (Although in reality it’s hard to mess it up at all, hmmm.) Nonetheless, this was a satisfying meal and the Ricotta cheese really gave the cream base a nice flavor that prevented it from tasting too floury. He made my Spinach Lasagna the other night, and had leftover Ricotta cheese he wanted to use. Also fresh early spring asparagus has started showing up in the stores and he had bought some of that. Then we had a leftover roasted chicken breast from the night before. He did some interwebz searches, and this is what he came up with. Thumbs up, hubby!

Asparagus, Potato, and Chicken Soup with Ricotta Cheese

1 pound asparagus, woody stems removed, tips cut off and reserved
4 to 6 cups chicken or turkey broth, homemade or low-sodium
1/2 cup diced onion
3 cups diced potatoes
1 cup low-fat Ricotta cheese
1 cooked chicken breast, shredded
1 tablespoon real bacon bits, optional
Ground black pepper, to taste
Salt to taste, optional
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons flour
Shredded Parmesan for garnish, optional

In a large soup pot or dutch oven, add the broth and asparagus (minus tips) and onions and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes, until asparagus is very soft. Meanwhile parboil the diced potatoes in another pot for about 10 minutes, drain, and set aside. Using tongs, remove half of the asparagus to a large blender or food processor and puree with about a cup of the broth and the 1 cup of Ricotta cheese. Pour mixture back into pot, then remove the rest of the asparagus and some of the liquid and blend again. Pour that back into the pot and add the reserved potatoes and asparagus tips, shredded chicken, bacon bits (optional), black pepper, and salt to taste.  In a small bowl, whisk the milk and flour together then slowly pour into the soup. Mix well and bring up to a low simmer again, and heat through about 10 or 15 minutes. Serve with warm French bread and garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Popover Chicken Tarragon with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

15 Nov
Popover Chicken Tarragon

Popover Chicken Tarragon

I dusted off this recipe out of my 1979 Better Homes and Garden Cook Book and decided to not only make the mushroom sauce healthier, but to alter the method of “frying” the chicken first. I thought it would be neat to melt my frozen tarragon oil cubes in the casserole dish, then baste the chicken with the tarragon oil and bake the chicken for about a half hour before adding the popover batter. Unfortunately I had a complete “DOH!” moment when I went to pour the batter over the chicken when I took it out of the oven. I had the eggs all mixed with everything else but wanted to wait to add the flour because I didn’t want it to harden or get too stiff in the half hour the chicken was in the oven. So the timer went off, I pulled the chicken out of the oven and poured the egg mixture over it and popped it back in. About five minutes later as I was cleaning up my mess on the counter, I noticed – yep, you guessed it – the flour still in the measuring cup on the counter. ACK!!! You know I thought the batter looked a little watery, but I blamed my poor memory of the dish I’d made 20 years ago and convinced myself that’s the way it’s supposed to be and would set and rise in the oven. Alas, what a mess that turned out to be. I pulled the chicken out of the dish with tongs, then poured the flour right into the casserole dish and mixed it right there in the sizzling hot casserole dish. Then I dunked the chicken back in. Needless to say it made for a pretty messy dish.¬† And the durn thing stuck to the sides pretty bad too since my oil coating got mixed in with the batter, so there was no hope of getting a shot of it plated with the mushroom sauce served over it. I tried to crop out most of the sides in the picture. HOWEVER, the good news is my family thought it was delicious! My husband was disappointed though it didn’t have any chicken wings in it like the picture in the cookbook. I have taken a shot of the recipe (and its photo) so you can compare the differences in the recipe.

Popover Chicken Tarragon

4 cubes frozen tarragon oil (or sub 2 tablespoons oil and 1 teaspoon dried tarragon)
1/4 cup flour
Mrs. Dash Table Blend
Ground black pepper
2 large bone-in chicken breasts with skin (about 2 pounds)
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon

Tarragon Coated Chicken

Tarragon Coated Chicken

Turn on the oven to 400, add the oil and tarragon to a casserole dish, and place in oven while the oven preheats.¬† Meanwhile, mix the 1/4 cup flour and seasonings to taste on a plate. Coat the chicken in the flour, then carefully remove the casserole dish from the oven. Place the chicken in the dish and coat the chicken with the tarragon oil using tongs and a baster. Place the dish back in the oven with the chicken skin side up. Cook for a half hour. Meanwhile, whisk three eggs, the oil, and baking powder in a bowl with an electric mixer until the eggs are frothy. Add the flour and tarragon and mix well. Go ahead and do it now so you don’t forget the flour! The then start making the Mushroom Sauce (recipe below). After a half hour, carefully pour the batter over the chicken. Cook for another half hour or so until the chicken is done and the popover is brown and crusty. Serve with Creamy Mushroom Sauce.

Creamy Mushroom Sauce

4 tablespoons butter or equivalent
4 ounces fresh sliced mushrooms (about 3/4 cup)
2 green onions, white and light part only, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chicken broth
Mrs. Dash Table Blend (or salt if you prefer)

In a saucepan, cook the mushrooms, onion and garlic in the butter on medium low heat until the mushrooms have released their liquid, about 10 minutes. Add the flour and mix into a paste. Add the milk and chicken broth all at once, and whisk to combine. Cook over medium low heat until it thickens. If it gets too thick, add more milk or chicken broth. Season to taste.

Better Homes and Garden Photo

Better Homes and Garden Photo

Better Homes and Garden Recipe

Better Homes and Garden Recipe

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