Monday, November 26, 2018

Sausage and Chestnut Dressing

It’s hard to get creative with Thanksgiving food, because so much of it is traditional. I have also come to learn that people want what people want, and I am determined to give it to them. This year, I did mix things up a bit by making a new kind of dressing. I read a lot of recipes, investigated a variety of techniques, and ended up with this one. It was unique in that the vegetables are puréed and sautéed before being mixed in with the other ingredients. For that, I give a nod to Tyler Florence, as that was part of his recipe. For the rest, I wandered off on my own, using components from my mother’s dressing, and tossing in some chestnuts on my own. The result was such that this is going to be my "go to" dressing for the future. It’s also nice because it can be made the day prior, and baked the day of, during those 30 minutes or so when the turkey has just come out of the oven, and is settling itself prior to carving.

I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, full of friends, fun, and good food, and that you didn’t exhaust yourself on Black Friday. Here’s my recipe, yes after the fact, but this goes equally well, deliciously so, with roast chicken. So make meals fancy by making dressing all year long, don’t just save it for Thanksgiving.

Sausage and Chestnut Dressing

1 medium carrot, peeled and quartered
1 medium onion, cut into chunks
2 stalks celery, quartered
1 small bunch fresh sage (about 1/3 c. chopped)
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound sausage (I used Bob Evans)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 cups cubed (or torn, I tear) rustic bread
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
½ cup chopped scallions (white and green parts)
¾ cup heavy cream
1 large egg

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a 9” x 13” baking dish with PAM; set aside.

In a food processor, puree the carrot, onion, celery, and sage until you have a fine pulp. Place a 10” skillet over medium-high heat and cook the sausage, until done but not dark brown. Use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate to allow it to drain; place in a large mixing bowl. Add the vegetable pulp to the pan in which you had cooked the sausage, and sauté until most of the moisture has evaporated; season with salt and pepper. Add to the mixing bowl with the sausage. Add bread cubes, parsley, scallions, and chestnuts; toss to mix.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together chicken stock, cream, and egg. Pour this wet mixture over the dressing mix. Season again, if needed, and fold everything together. Turn out into the prepared baking dish and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown on the top (if it gets too brown before the 30 minutes is up, tent with foil).

*Next year I will use more

If you’re new to chestnuts, and would like to try something simpler, you will love these Haricots Verts with Bacon & Chestnuts.


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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Lisa Fain’s Carrot Soufflé Texas Style

First of all, do not be put off by my pictures that make this wonderful soufflé look as flat as a pancake. I cut the recipe in half, because, hey, it’s just me, and kept debating which pan to use to bake it. It seemed like too much for my 8-inch pan, but not quite enough for my 10-inch pan. So I said to myself, “Pattie, go for the larger pan, you don’t want to use the smaller pan and have this overflow in your oven the week before Thanksgiving. I had to agree with myself, so that’s what I did.

This recipe is from the wonderful Lisa Fain of
Homesick Texan book and blog fame, and author of the book Queso, that I reviewed here. This dish is perfect for the holiday season. It is quick and easy to put together, utilizes ingredients that you probably already have on hand, is inexpensive to make, will please everyone at your gathering, and is light, airy, fluffy, and like sinking your teeth into a spicy carrot cloud. I cannot say enough about this dish. Given the proper spoon, I think I could have easily inhaled this entire pan full, it is that good!

While my Thanksgiving menu is already planned, I think this would pair marvelously with baked ham, so I’ll be serving it at Christmas. Wonderful!
Lisa Fain’s Carrot Soufflé Texas Style

1 pound baby carrots
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs, beaten

Place the carrots in a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium and cook until fork tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the carrots and place half in a blender or food processor. Place butter on top of the carrots, and then top with the remaining carrots.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish or cast-iron skillet.

When the butter has melted and the carrots have stopped steaming, add the flour, baking powder, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg, vanilla, and eggs. Puree all the ingredients until fluffy and smooth; pour into the prepared dish.

Bake uncovered for 50-55 minutes or until the casserole is puffed and the top is lightly browned. Serve warm, though it’s also good at room temperature or even cold.

If you prefer your carrots on the cold side, this Fresh Carrot Dip is phenomenal!

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Monday, November 19, 2018

The Versatility of Shallots

I like vegetables, I always have. I remember eating broccoli, brussels sprouts, and asparagus when I was a little kid. I still like those today and many more, but some vegetables are more versatile than others, and I tend to use those the most. You would probably be surprised to learn that one of my favorite vegetables as far as versatility, is the shallot. My shallot of choice being those of wonderful freshness and perfection from Melissa’s Produce. Today’s blog post is a salute to that humble allium (essentially a type of onion, only milder, and growing in clusters like garlic), and all of the ways in which it can be used. The only thing I have yet to try is to pickle them, but that’s ahead!

To get to each recipe, click on the name of the dish below each picture. Every one of them is delicious. You cannot go wrong with

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Friday, November 16, 2018

Spicy Ranch Crackers

I cannot tell you how many times, with a big dinner looming ahead, I have spent all of my time focusing on it, and not on the various nibbles that need to be served earlier with drinks. If this has happened to you, you’re going to love this recipe. There are variations for it all over the web, but having recently tried this one, I cannot recommend it enough. It’s very simple to put together, and can use a variety of crackers that you have on hand. If you don’t have Ritz crackers, use saltines, if you don’t have saltines, use oyster crackers, if you don’t have any of these, well, shop!

You can make them spicier by adding more pepper flakes, or lighten things up a bit by adding fewer. These are not only good prior to a meal, but make a nice bit of crunch when crumbled on top of a salad, or a wonderful accompaniment for a hot bowl of soup. You and your family are going to love these spicy bits of crunchy goodness.
Spicy Ranch Crackers

1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 packet
Ranch Dressing Mix
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon
red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 box
Ritz buttery round crackers

Preheat oven to 300° F.

Combine all ingredients EXCEPT crackers. Place crackers in a large bowl, pour mixture over it and toss to cover. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

If you have more time, these Deceptively Delicious Bacon Yummies are another easy and well-liked nibble.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Chicken Soup au Gratin

There are many reasons why I love my readers, the least of which is that they tend to remember things that I don’t. Case in point, recently a reader mentioned that I had posted a recipe from the cookbook of the old Peace 'n Plenty restaurant at Lake of the Ozarks. She had enjoyed their Chicken Soup au Gratin, and asked me if I had that recipe in my cookbook. As it turned out, I did, and sent it to her. This brought to my attention that I had never had that soup in the restaurant, nor had I made it myself. Because I well remember P'nP for having excellent soups, I decided that I was going to make it. So, Sandy, thank you for requesting this recipe, it’s a good one!

As I tend to do, I changed the original up a bit. Below is my version. Yes, it does call for a can of cream soup. Just use it and be done with it. The recipe calls for cream of chicken soup, I didn’t have it, so used cream of mushroom. I can’t imagine there’s that big of a difference. If you only have cream of celery, use that instead. This was a great soup to enjoy this November day with snow falling (can you believe it?!), and a fire in the fireplace.
Chicken Soup au Gratin
Adapted from Peace ‘n Plenty, Lake of the Ozarks, MO

1 whole boneless, skinless chicken breast
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups water
½ cup chopped scallions
½ cup chopped carrots
½ cup chopped celery
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 small
Melissa’s shallot, minced
1 10.5-ounce can
Cream of Chicken soup
½ cup milk or half-and-half
Few gratings freshly ground cracked
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (grate it yourself)

Simmer chicken in a medium saucepan in salted water until tender; reserve water. Remove chicken and dice. Add vegetables to broth and boil until tender, 8-10 minutes. Gradually stir in soup, milk (or half-and-half), pepper, cheese, and chicken. Heat and stir until cheese melts. Serve.

Serves 4

Another exceptional recipe from Peace ‘n Plenty is this one for Ham and Cheddar Rolls. So good!

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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon-Parsley Dressing

I’m sure that when I say the word cauliflower it doesn’t get you very excited. Honestly, I have been a cauliflower fan for as long as I can remember, so I don't quite get your lack of glee. Largely, I eat it raw in salads, or on a crudités tray with dip. Today, testing a number of side dishes for Thanksgiving, I roasted it and tossed with a lemon parsley sauce. Oh, my! It was so good that I ate it for lunch! I actually made yummy sounds while I was eating it. This is an easy, fool-proof, delicious dish that everyone is going to enjoy, whether they are a fan of this cruciferous vegetable or not.
Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon-Parsley Dressing

1 head Melissa's cauliflower, cut into florets
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
½  teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss cauliflower and 4 tablespoons oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing occasionally, until tender and golden brown, 25–30 minutes.

Meanwhile, pulse parsley, lemon juice, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a food processor until very finely chopped; season with salt and pepper. Toss cauliflower with lemon-parsley mixture and top with lemon zest.

DO AHEAD: Lemon-parsley mixture can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill.
Yep, it was that good.

If you prefer your cauliflower in a smoother form, My Mother’s Cauliflower Soup is "soup"er good!


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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Easy Slow Cooker Chili

Today is what my dad would call a grim day. It is overcast, and rainy, and while the temperature isn't all that low (52° F), the humidity is high, giving the day a damp, bone-chilling feel. On days like today, warm and soothing comfort food is in order, particularly so when I am still grumpy from having to set all of the clocks back.

Chili sounded so good to me that I decided to throw some in the crockpot early this morning and let it slow cook all day. Because, when I buy onions and peppers, I dice them and bag them and put them in the freezer, aside from browning the beef, this was pretty much a measure and dump recipe. It’s a hearty main dish on its own, but positively delectable when a lot of toppings are piled on, and super yummy with a side of
corn bread.
Easy Slow Cooker Chili

1 pound ground chuck
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
1 15-oz. can kidney beans, drained
1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, drained
½ cup chopped parsley
1 cup water
½ cup red wine
1 tsp. beef soup base
1 T. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. smoked salt
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Place the beef in a skillet and cook over medium heat evenly brown. Drain on paper towel-lined plate.

Place the beef in a slow cooker along with the rest of the ingredients. Give it a good stir and cook on low for 7-8 hours, or high 5-6.

Polly Bergen’s Chili is another family fave.

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