Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Summery Sausage Casserole


Why yes, all my photos are striking similar... how would you photograph
a casserole in a skillet?? ;-p


Ok, so maybe baking isn't at the top of your list of things to do in the summer. But - especially if you have your own garden - you have to do something with all those veggies!! This dish is very tasty, and can be healthy, depending on the meat you use. It's loaded with garden fresh (or market fresh!) veggies, and I serve it over whole wheat pasta with shredded parm. It's summery and delicious!

Summery Sausage Casserole
Serves 4

1 pkg. sausage (I've used Jimmy Dean Reduced Fat pork sausage, and also 6 links of Smoked Turkey Sausage - I prefer the turkey!)
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 large yellow squach, shopped
1 large zucchini, chopped
1T minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
2 14oz cans chopped tomatoes (3 large fresh ones, chopped)
1T dried parsley
1T dried oregano
1t salt
1t black pepper
1.5C shredded mozzarella
1/2C italian seasoned bread crumbs (if you don't have them, just leave them out - its fine with no crumbs)

fresh parmesan cheese for each plate (also fine without)
hot, cooked whole wheat penne, rigatoni or bowties

Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 400. In your largest skillet, begin to brown the meat. If you use pork sausage, you won't need any oil. Turkey sausage might need a drizzle of EVOO or some skillet spray. When the meat is about 1/2 done, add the onions and peppers (drain pork sausage first). Saute 5 minutes, add squash & zucchini and saute 5 more. Everything should be softening by now. (if your skillet wasn't big enough, just pour the meat into a bowl to hold while you finish everything else)
  2. Add tomatoes and seasonings, and reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes. Mix your mozz and bread crumbs together in a small bowl. If your skillet is oven-safe, sprinkle the top with mozzarella cheese and pop into the oven. Or, grease a casserole dish, pour your skillet in, top with cheese and bake. Bake about 20-25 minutes or until all the veggies are tender, and the cheese is bubbly and brown.
  3. Serve over whole wheat pasta, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese along with a green salad and french bread!

Thursday, 3 June 2010

"One" Skillet Chili


This recipe was based loosely off another, but bears no resemblance to the original. It's beefy chili in a skillet with loads of veggies and a golden herb-cheese biscuit top. You only use "one" of each ingredient! It happened that way accidentally, I promise!

"One" Skillet Chili
serves 6-8ish

Ingredients:
1lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 zuchinni, chopped
1 yellow squash, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1T minced garlic (or 1t garlic powder)
1 12oz can diced tomatoes (fire roasted is nice!)
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1t each - oregano, cumin, parsley, chili powder, salt
1 recipe of cheesy garlic-herb biscuits
1 C shredded cheddar cheese

Cheesy garlic-herb biscuits:
2C all purpose flour
1T sugar
1T baking powder
1t salt
1t. crushed rosemary
2t. minced/crushed garlic
1/2C shortening
1/2C shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2C milk

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 400. In a large (I used a 12" cast iron - it barely all fit!) oven-proof skillet, begin to brown the meat. As you get the veggies chopped, add them too. (if you don't have an oven-proof skillet, grease a medium casserole dish) Add both tomatoes and spices. Simmer 15 minutes, until veggies are beginning to soften. Transfer to casserole if you need to.
  2. For biscuit topping - mix together dry ingredients, spices and garlic. Cut in shortening until it resembles fine crumbs, then stir in cheese and milk. This should be much softer than regular biscuits. Spread evenly over hot beef mixture.
  3. Bake for 45 min. It may look done before that, but test the biscuit middle to be sure before taking it out. Sprinkle with 1C cheese during last 5-10 minutes to melt and brown.
  • For regular roll-out biscuits, use only 3/4C milk. Enjoy!
  • Next time, I'll try simmering the skillet with the biscuits on top for about 10 minutes before putting it in the oven - to give the biscuit bottom a head-start on cooking.
  • It barely fit into my 12" skillet, and overflowed a tiny bit while baking. I need a bigger skillet, or a casserole.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

THESE ARE NOT GOOD FOR YOU Raspberry Pie Bars


Usually I try to post things that are healthy, or quick, or at least use whole grains. This recipe follows none of the above. They're full of eggs, sugar and sour cream. And flavor. And deliciousness. And perfection. The original posting is here. These are quite frankly the most perfect little raspberry pie bars ever. They're creamy, yet tangy. Chewy and super moist, but they don't need a fork. The edges are that perfect caramelized combination of crispy and chewy. And - despite the amount of sugar - they're actually not overly sweet. Enjoy. Warm. With a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

THESE ARE NOT GOOD FOR YOU Raspberry Pie Bars

Makes - 1 9x13 pan, 12-15 bars

Crust and Topping

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes

zest of two lemons

Raspberry Filling

4 large eggs

2 cups sugar

1 cup sour cream (I used plain whole milk yogurt and it was fine)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

pinch of salt

2 (16-ounce) packages frozen blackberries or raspberries, defrosted and drained. I've also heard good reports about using blueberries.

(You can also use 6 cups of fresh raspberries, or 1 (16-ounce) package frozen raspberries and 3 cups of fresh raspberries. Or use 1/2 rasp and 1/2 black berries)

Just for the record, I used raspberries and only made 1/2 batch in an 8x8 for my tasting testing)

Directions for the crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch backing pan with butter or cooking spray and set aside. Zest two lemons onto a cutting board (wooden works well). Measure out the sugar on top then pinch, crush and knead until the lemon is distributed. 2-3 minutes should do it. The hard sugar grains bring out the oils of the lemon peel. Do yourself a favor and add 1/2 C sugar, then remove 1/4C when you're done (it will be damp and pack down). Use this phenomenal lemon sugar in your hot tea. Mmmmmm....
  2. Combine lemon sugar, flour, salt and butter in an electric mixer fit with a paddle attachment. Beat the ingredients on medium speed until the mixture looks dry and crumbly. (if you don't have a stand mixer, make this crust like any other pie crust)
  3. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the crust mixture to use as the topping (hide these lemon crust crumbles from yourself, or you won't have any left for the topping!). Press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the pan. Bake the crust for 12 to 15 minutes until it is golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes while you make the filling. (mine took more like 20 min. I think it's because of the tall sides of my glass pan. Just bake until golden)

To make the filling-

  1. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. (you can use the same bowl/utensils that you used for the crust - you're going to sprinkle it on top of the filling anyway) Add the sugar, sour cream, flour and salt. Gently fold in the raspberries. Spoon the mixture evenly over the crust. You may have to distribute the raspberries evenly around.
  2. Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture evenly over the filling. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes until the top is lightly browned. Cool for at least 1 hour before slicing.

**If you’re using frozen berries, be sure to defrost and drain the excess liquid. Place the frozen berries on a plate in the refrigerator overnight. They’re defrosted and ready for bar baking! Or give them about 4 hours on the counter.

BONUS RECIPE: Thaw the berries in a colander over a bowl. Pour the juice into a glass, squeeze your 2 zested lemons in and add 2 big spoonfuls of sugar. Dilute to taste (I drank mine full strength... s-l-o-w-l-y... Mmmmmm)

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Crock Pot Asian Chicken & Vegetables


I am really excited about this posting. This recipe was amazing and I had to share!! The original recipe called for using a crock pot, but I only have a BIG crock pot - my 4qt. got lost in the move. So, I used my 6qt. cast iron dutch oven. In hindsight, after I got all the ingredients in, I would have had plenty to fill my big one!! Read the recipe to the end to be sure you get your times right.


Crock Pot Asian Chicken & Vegetables
Total time - about 5:15
Serves - 6-8 or more

Ingredients:
  • 3 lbs chicken - I skinned and boned 9 thighs. You can use bone-in or breasts as well. Do take the skin off.
Sauce:
  • 2/3C soy sauce
  • 6T (3/8C - just guess) oil - any kind
  • 6T (3/8C) brown sugar
  • 3/4C water
  • 1T or more minced garlic
  • 1T ground ginger
  • 2" piece of fresh ginger, peeled and quartered
Veggies:
  • 5 C of your favorite vegetables for asian. I used: 1.5C baby carrots - quartered lengthwise, 1.5C snap peas - snapped and strung, 2C broccoli - cut into flowerettes. Red bell pepper strips would be awesome here too.
  • 1/4C soy sauce
  • 2T corn starch
  • Hot rice for all
  • optional garnishes - sliver almonds, peanuts, sliced green onions
Directions:
  1. Place chicken in the bottom of your crock pot or dutch oven. I put mine in frozen solid. (I opened the lid after an hour and pressed the chicken down into the sauce). Mix together sauce ingredients and pour over. You can use only 1 type of ginger, but using both kinds will give you a much richer flavor. If you only use 1 kind, increase the amount. Set your crock pot to high for 1 hour, then turn to low for 4 hours. Bake your dutch oven at 300 for 1 hour, then reduce to 250 for 4 hours.
  2. When there are 1.5 hours remaining, open the lid. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and lightly shred with 2 forks. It will be absolutely falling apart. I could have removed the bones with a spoon! Next time I'll save myself the trouble of de-boning first! Add the chicken back to the sauce and stir in the veggies. There won't be enough liquid to cover it all - that's fine, the veggies will add their own liquid as they cook down. Just press them down as much as you can, cover, and finish cooking for 1.5 hours - no peeking!
  3. When it's almost time to eat, test a crunchy veggie to make sure it's done. To thicken the sauce, take 1/4C cold soy sauce and stir in 2T corn starch, until smooth. Add it to the pot, stirring well, and give it 15 minutes longer to cook, or until thickened.
  4. Serve over hot cooked rice, topped with garnishes and watch out for those chunks of ginger!!
My Notes:

  • At the end, the veggies aren't so vibrant, but it's because they're stained with the soy - the snap peas and carrots still had some crunch. If you're worried about them getting too soft, add the carrots at T-1:15, and the rest at T-1 hour (the carrots take the longest to cook).
  • There also seems to be a lack of veggies - there's just so much meat! I think you could either increase the sauce, and use 2C more veggies, or just decrease the chicken, and increase the veggies.
  • Further note - on my second attempt, I only used 5 thighs, and added a whole bunch of kale (chopped) and 2 bell peppers, sliced. The kale soaks up the flavor of the sauce, and you literally can't taste it, and it loses most of its fibery-ness - it adds nice vitamin punch with no taste!! I was going to add bean sprouts too, but they went bad before I got to them :-( It was a much better meat/veggie ratio.
  • I also tried it in only 3 hours. 350 the whole time, shredded chicken & added carrots at 1.5 hrs, then added all other veggies with only 1 hr. remaining. Worked great!