Tuesday, March 31, 2020

It Ain’t Gourmet Tamale Chili Casserole

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I remember when my boys were little and I had to get dinner on the table. It had to be something that I could get to them in the quickest amount of time possible, that my picky then husband would like, that the boys would like, and that was reasonably nutritious, and by reasonable, I mean by the widest definition of that word. I didn’t have time to browse cookbooks, or flip through magazines, or involve myself in tedious activities like pounding meat between two slices of waxed paper, or cutting vegetables into even julienne. I had to have a trough of something at the ready.

Remembering those days, and attempting to make up for today’s lack of culinary preparedness, I furiously ransacked my pantry, and found a can of tamales, and a can of chili, don’t ask me what they were doing there. I remember years ago, and I’m talking back in the 80s, when tamale casserole was all the rage, so I went back in time for a revisit. I assembled it from what I could remember, popped it into the oven, and when it was ready, I dug right in. I’ll tell you what, this is delicious! It was so satisfying and yummy, that I could hear myself making sounds one might hear from a pig looking for truffles. As I alluded to in the title, it isn’t fancy by any stretch of the imagination, but it is REALLY good.
It Ain’t Gourmet Tamale Chili Casserole

1 15-oz. can chili no beans
1 15-oz. can beef tamales
1 small Melissa’s shallot, chopped fine
1 2.25-oz. can
chopped black olives
1 c. frozen corn, thawed
1 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Crushed corn chips

Preheat oven to 350° F. In an 11” x 7” baking dish, spread half of the chili evenly on the bottom. Remove paper from tamales and place them on top of the chili. Sprinkle with shallot, black olives, corn, and cheese. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until hot and bubbly. Serve immediately topped with crushed corn chips, guacamole, sour cream, additional cheese, or whatever you happen to like.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Brussels Sprouts Fritters with Lemon Sour Cream

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I have liked Brussels sprouts ever since I was a kid. My mother prepared them the same way every time, namely to sauté them and top them with butter, salt, and pepper. I thought that was vegetable perfection. These days, I try to come up with as many recipes as I possibly can in which to use them, because are one of my faves and so easy and fun to grow.

This week, as have most of us, I’ve had plenty of time to experiment with things culinary and otherwise. Today I decided that the purple Brussels sprouts that I got from Melissa's Produce (Yes, PURPLE!) would make an excellent fritter, and I was right. These versatile bits of vegetable deliciousness can be served at brunch, lunch, or dinner, or as a starter or side dish. Be sure to serve them with the sour cream, and wedge of lemon, as the latter provides an extra zing.
Brussels Sprouts Fritters with Lemon Sour Cream

2 scallions, finely sliced
2 T. flour
1/8 t. salt
½ t. baking powder
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten to blend
Canola oil, for frying
1 t. butter, for frying

Place sprouts in a
saucepan with water and salt, cover, and boil gently 15-20 minutes until crisp-tender. Drain and chop.

Transfer sprouts to a medium/large mixing bowl; stir in scallions. In a small dish, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, pepper,
Old Bay Seasoning, and Parmesan. Stir the dry ingredients into the sprouts mixture, and then blend in the egg until mixture is evenly coated.

Heat oil and butter in a large sauté pan until oil shimmers. Drop small dollops of the mixture into the pan (I used a cookie scoop for this). Cook for 2-3 minutes until golden, flip, and cook 2-3 more minutes. Makes 8.

Serve immediately topped with Lemon Sour Cream, and a wedge of lemon on the side.

Lemon Sour Cream

¼ c. sour cream
1½ t. freshly squeezed Meyer Lemon juice
Gratings of lemon zest
Punch of Kosher salt

Whisk ingredients together until smooth. Top each fritter with a dollop before serving.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Meatball Nirvana

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On March 9th we celebrated National Meatball Day, wherein I provided you with links to a lot of varied and delicious meatball recipes. That day I decided to try a new recipe, and I think it is probably my favorite overall. I made good-sized meatballs so that I could enjoy them with either my homemade marinara sauce or with homemade gravy. While they have a definite Italian bent, the beauty of these meatballs is that they go well with either treatment. They are tender, flavorful, and spicy, but not so spicy has to be off-putting by people who don’t care for too much heat. We’re all home this week, and for a number of weeks in the future I reckon, so experiment with some recipes. My guess is that you have all of these ingredients on hand, so try them. If not, thank goodness for Amazon!
Meatball Nirvana
Adapted from Allrecipes.com

1 lb. ground chuck
½ t. sea salt
¼ c. finely chopped fresh mushrooms
½ t. garlic salt
1 ½ t. Italian seasoning
¾ t. dried oregano
¾ t. crushed red pepper flakes
2 drops Frank’s hot pepper sauce, or to taste
1 ½ T. Worcestershire sauce
1/3 c. milk
¼ c. Parmesan cheese
½ c. Italian breadcrumbs

Preheat an oven to 400ºF.

Place the beef into a mixing bowl, and season with salt, shallot, mushrooms, garlic salt, Italian seasoning, oregano, red pepper flakes, hot pepper sauce, and Worcestershire sauce; mix well. Add the milk, Parmesan cheese, and breadcrumbs. Mix until evenly blended, form into 1½” meatballs, and place onto a baking sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven until no longer pink in the center, 20 to 25 minutes.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Creamy Cucumber and Radish Salad

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It’s really difficult to know what to say these days, isn’t it? These are truly uncertain times, and scary ones at that. But, life does go on, if perhaps a bit differently than what we are used to, and today is the first day of spring. It’s a day when I plant root vegetables, and rain or no rain, my radishes are going in. I’ve had great success with both them and cucumbers in the past, so was delighted when I ran across this recipe for a salad utilizing them both. Because I tend to have salad every day, the lettuce salad gets a bit boring after a while. This salad, Is a unique and pleasant change. It’s super crunchy, with a tangy dressing that pulls everything together making these two vegetables a surprisingly good combination. My guess is I am going to be revisiting this again and again. Try it and see for yourself.
Creamy Cucumber and Radish Salad
Serves 4
Inspired by a recipe from WellPlated.com

long English cucumber, thinly sliced*
4 large radishes, thinly sliced*
¾ t. kosher salt — divided, plus additional to taste
1/4 - 1/3 cup Duke’s mayo
2 t. white vinegar
1 t. prepared mustard
1 t. honey
¼ t. freshly ground black pepper
2 T. finely chopped fresh dill
2 T. chopped garlic scapes or chives

In a medium bowl, place the cucumbers and radishes. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and stir to combine. Cover and let sit 30 minutes. This step is crucial to ensure your salad does not become watery.
Pour the cucumbers and radishes into a colander and stir, draining out as much of the water as you can. Transfer to a dry bowl.

In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together mayo, vinegar, honey, garlic, pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pour half of the dressing over the cucumbers and radishes and stir to combine. Continue adding additional dressing until you reach your desired creaminess. You want the vegetables to be well coated but not soggy.

Stir in the dill and chives. Taste and season with additional salt and/or pepper as desired. Refrigerate for 1 hour prior to serving.

*I used a mandoline to get such beautiful, uniform, thin slices.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Irish Stovetop Potatoes

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It has become a bit of a tradition over the years for me to make Irish Mash to accompany corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day. I was getting a little tired of that, so decided to look for something different. In my search, I found myself on the Kerrygold web page, eyeballing this recipe. I made it, and absolutely loved both taste and ease. I adapted it to include shallots instead of onion (I far prefer shallots to onion in every dish). As with a lot of stovetop recipes, this is adaptable. Feel free to add your own blend of cheeses, variety of onion, or even leeks. One thing that is an absolute must when making this is a mandoline. If you don’t have one, buy one; you will never regret it. You can get your potatoes and shallot slices wafer thin, so they cook evenly, and are wonderfully tender. I would be lost without mine.
Irish Stovetop Potatoes
Adapted from Kerrygold USA website

1½ lb. russet potatoes
2 T. salted butter
1 3-oz. pkg. Melissa’s shallots, peeled, thinly sliced
2 c. (8 oz.)  aged cheddar, grated
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Peel the potatoes and slice thinly on a mandoline or with a very sharp knife.

Heat the butter in a heavy-based frying pan that is about 8” in diameter and about 2” deep. Remove from the heat and cover the bottom with a layer of the potatoes.

Add a layer of shallots over the potatoes and another of grated cheese, seasoning generously as you go. Continue these layers, finishing with a layer of potatoes and a sprinkling of cheese.

Cover tightly with foil and cook over a very low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour until potatoes on top are just cooked through when pierced with a sharp knife.

Preheat the broiler. Uncover the potatoes and place straight under the broiler to cook for 2-3 minutes until golden brown.

Serve cut into slices, straight from the pan.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone. Be safe!

Monday, March 16, 2020

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake

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Today I was craving chocolate cake, but I wasn’t craving the work that goes into my favorite chocolate cake, the Guinness Stout cake. So I started looking online to see if I could come up with something interesting, easy, and delicious. I found a recipe for this cake online (and changed it up, like I do) and expected something entirely different than what I got. I was expecting it to taste like a less-than-sweet Black Forest Cake. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The cherry pie filling is completely absorbed by the cake mix, combining the two into the richest, most decadent chocolate cake that you can imagine. This is so good that it’s almost unbelievable. It takes no time to do, everything is stirred together in a bowl keeping work at a minimum, and all is dumped into a pan. I don’t think I am ever going to be caught without a box of chocolate cake mix or a can of cherry pie filling in my pantry ever again. Admittedly, it’s not the prettiest of cakes, but those of us who have a simple exterior, nearly always have a fabulously delicious interior. To die for!
Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake

For the cake:
1 (15.25 oz) box chocolate cake mix
1 (21 oz.) can cherry pie filling
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
2 t. almond extract

For the frosting:
1 c. sugar
1/3 c. milk
5 T. butter
1 c. bittersweet (60% cacao) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350° F and grease and flour 9”x9”x2” baking pan; set aside.

In a large bowl combine cake mix, pie filling, eggs, extracts, and, using a wooden spoon, mix by hand until well blended. Spread batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

For the frosting, place sugar, milk and butter in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil stirring gently. Boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove pan from heat and stir in chocolate chips until smooth. Pour the frosting over the warm cake.

Let cool at least 90 minutes before cutting.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Asparagus with Bacon and Hard-Boiled Eggs

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Fresh asparagus really says “spring” to me, and this is a lovely way to enjoy it. All of the components can be made ahead of time, from cooking the asparagus, to hard boiling the eggs, even making this fabulous dressing one or two days prior, so it assembles in a flash. I had it for breakfast, but if you want to have it for lunch and make it a bit heartier, consider serving it over toast points. It is crisp, fresh, tangy, and delicious. It’s a wonderful addition to a brunch buffet (consider this for Easter), a light lunch, served along with a crusty rolls (think about Mother’s Day), or makes a wonderful first course for dinner. The dressing can also be heated, and tossed with spinach, to make a wonderful wilted spinach salad. 
Asparagus with Bacon and Hard-Boiled Eggs
Adapted from Bon Appétit July 2014

2 slices bacon
1 bunch Melissa’s white asparagus, trimmed, ends peeled if thick
Kosher salt
½ Melissa’s shallot, finely chopped
2 T. olive oil
1 T. reserved bacon drippings
Freshly ground black pepper
2 hard-boiled lg. eggs, whites and yolks separated, chopped
2 T. chopped fresh chives

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, turning once, until browned and crisp, 5-8 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain; let cool, then crumble. Reserve 1 T. of the drippings.

Meanwhile, cook asparagus in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, 3-5 minutes, depending upon thickness. Drain and transfer to a large bowl of ice water to cool. Drain and pat dry.

Whisk shallot, vinegar, maple syrup, and mustard in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil until emulsified, then whisk in vegetable oil; season with salt and pepper.

Serve asparagus drizzled with vinaigrette and topped with eggs, herbs, and bacon.

Do Ahead: Vinaigrette can be made 2 days ahead; cover and chill. Asparagus can be cooked 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Makes 4 side servings or 2 main dish servings.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Celtic Apple Crumble with Irish Whiskey Cream Sauce

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A week from today is St. Patrick’s Day, and if you are looking for a luscious, Irish dessert to accompany your equally luscious corned beef meal, have I got a dessert for you! This Celtic Crumble, from well-known Irish cookbook author, Margaret Johnson, is simple to prepare, but will wow your guests with its Irish whiskey goodness. You may just want to hide this one and keep it all to yourself. Enjoy it with a cup of Irish coffee for the complete experience.
Celtic Apple Crumble with Irish Whiskey Cream Sauce
Adapted from Irish Puddings, Tarts, Crumbles, and Fools by Margaret Johnson

½ c. water
3 T. Irish whiskey
½ c. golden raisins
¼ c. currants
1 t. vanilla extract
4 lg.
Melissa’s Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/3 c. granulated sugar
½ t. ground cinnamon
½ t. ground ginger
1/8 t. nutmeg
1/8 t. allspice
1/8 t. cardamom
Pinch kosher salt

1 c. flour
½ c. (packed) brown sugar
6 T. butter
1 c.
quick-cooking Irish oatmeal

Irish Whiskey Cream Sauce
1 c. heavy cream
2 T. dark brown sugar, packed
2 T. Irish whiskey

To make the filling, in a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the water and whiskey to a boil. Stir in the raisins and vanilla. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 1 hour, or until the raisins have absorbed most of the liquid.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter an 8- or 9-inch square glass baking dish. In a large bowl, toss the apples with the sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. Stir in the raisins and cooking liquid and arrange in the prepared pan.

To make the crumble, combine the flour, brown sugar and butter in a food processor. Pulse 4-5 times to form coarse crumbs. Stir in the oats. Sprinkle the mixture over the fruit and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the topping is golden and the apples are tender. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Irish Whiskey Cream Sauce
In a deep bowl, beat the cream with an electric mixer on high until soft peaks form. Dissolve the honey in the whiskey. Fold the honey mixture into the whipped cream and spoon over the crumble.

Monday, March 9, 2020

National Meatball Day 2020

Once again it is National Meatball Day (a personal favorite holiday of mine, destined to become the subject of a greeting card at some point in the future)! If you love them as much as I do, why not celebrate by whipping up a delicious meal in honor of the day using one or more of these delicious recipes. Click on the name beneath the picture to take you directly to the recipe.

Cheesy Baked Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs

Guinness Meatballs from The Original Crusoe's Restaurant

Sweet and Tangy Root Beer Meatballs

Soutzoukakia (Cumin Meatballs in Tomato)

Italian Meatballs

Beef Porcupines

Millie's Meatballs

Rigatoni and Meatball Soup