Day 8/30 – In The Kitchen: A Brunch Casserole

In an attempt to get all my recipes and cooking talk in one place, I’ll be periodically re-posting recipes from my time writing on the Kitchen Mirror here. In some cases I may update pictures & proof-read, but for the most part it will just be a re-posting of what I had there. The posts are not in chronological order.

This is the last one hanging around in my drafts folder. It may not be the New Year yet, but a casserole is still good anytime.

Originally posted January 3, 2009.

To celebrate New Years Day, some friends & I gathered together for a New Years Brunch. I had the idea to do this because there were a couple of things I wanted to try out and I knew that it was ridiculous to make that amount of food for myself.

New Years Brunch
The brunch menu as a whole – so good. YUM.

One of the things I made was an Egg & Sausage Casserole. It was an experiment in recipe modification, as I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted to make – I wanted something without bread, but 90% of the recipes called for bread. Instead, I started with this recipe and modified it quite a bit.

Egg & Sausage Casserole

Here’s what I did to make it:

Ingredients:
1 lb. turkey sausage, cooked, drained, crumbled
2 cups shredded cheese (I used a combination of the Kraft Mexican Blend & regular cheddar cheese)
10 eggs, slightly beaten
4 cups milk (I used skim & 1% because that’s what I had)
>2 tsp mustard
1 tsp salt
dash of pepper
1 cup fresh sliced mushrooms
1 cup pico de gallo (fresh)

Sprinkle 9×13 pan with cheese. Combine eggs, milk, mustard, salt, & pepper. Pour into pan over cheese. Add mushrooms & pico de gallo. Sprinkle turkey sausage over top. Cover and chill overnight. In the morning, preheat the oven to 325F. Bake about 1 hour uncovered (I think mine took about an hour & 15 minutes). Makes 10 servings.

Notes: Since I didn’t use the bread, I probably should have cut down on the amount of milk I used. Next time I think I’d use half as much milk – there was a bit of spare liquid hanging around in my pan. But it was still yummy. I hear that it was delicious with a bit of sausage gravy on top, too.

I did make one other dish for the brunch – Tricia’s Creme Brulee French Toast – and it turned out fantastic.

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In the Kitchen: Rotini with Chicken Sausage

In an attempt to get all my recipes and cooking talk in one place, I’ll be periodically re-posting recipes from my time writing on the Kitchen Mirror here. In some cases I may update pictures & proof-read, but for the most part it will just be a re-posting of what I had there. The posts are not in chronological order – I’m trying to post holiday appropriate recipes near the holidays they go with & fill in others around them.

Originally posted July 27, 2009.

Lately I’ve been trying to do two things: 1. Make out a menu for the week ahead of time so I know what I need to cook my various healthy meals. 2. Use up the stuff in my freezer so I can restock it with more yummy goodness from Trader Joe’s.

This often leads to testing out some new recipes. One of the things hanging out in my freezer was some Roasted Garlic Chicken Sausage from Trader Joe’s (I love Trader Joe’s so much). So I did a little searching and found this recipe and (once again) modified it to suit my own tastes as follows:

YIP 76.365 Rotini with Chicken Sausage

2 cans Red Gold Diced Tomatoes with garlic & olive oil
3 cups dry wheat rotini
4 links Trader Joe’s Roasted Garlic Chicken Sausage
2 cups fresh spinach
2 cups baby portabella mushrooms, sliced (I just dumped in the whole small container)

Cook rotini according to package directions. While water is heating for the rotini, start to make your sauce. Slice sausage into pieces, toss in sauce pan and heat through (TJ’s are already cooked, so they don’t take long). Add mushrooms & saute until tender. Pour tomatoes over sausage and mushrooms. Add spinach and turn burner to low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes (until rotini is done cooking). Drain the pasta & toss with the sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan if desired & serve up with a nice crusty bread. Mmm, bread.

You can add more garlic when you add the tomatoes if you want, but since it was in my tomatoes & sausage, I didn’t figure it was necessary.

This made a good 6 servings – I had mine for dinner & then shared a few at lunch the next day with coworkers. I also took the remaining leftovers to my friend to feed her and her husband for lunch. Since it got such good reviews from everyone, it’s definitely going on my repeat list.

11/1/13 edit: I was actually just thinking about this recipe the other day – it was delicious, yet I haven’t made it in far too long. I’ll have to do that again sometime soon. I also still fight to use up the food in my freezer. No matter what, I never have extra freezer space. 

In the Kitchen: Bacon Fest 2009, the recipes.

In an attempt to get all my recipes and cooking talk in one place, I’ll be periodically re-posting recipes from my time writing on the Kitchen Mirror here. In some cases I may update pictures & proof-read, but for the most part it will just be a re-posting of what I had there. The posts are not in chronological order – I’m trying to post holiday appropriate recipes near the holidays they go with & fill in others around them.

Originally posted on July 1, 2009.

I actually wrote about Bacon Fest here after it happened – I got some mileage out of this one. And we STILL talk about it at Knit Night to this day. There is something to be said for Bacon Overload.

I actually have a couple of food related things to talk about, but as I have just returned home from a bacon-tastic knit night, we’ll start with my bacon-themed foods.

Bacon-fest came about somehow last Wednesday at knit night and once plans were finalized, I said “I’ll bring Pig Candy!” Which was the plan until the weekend when I was trying to fall asleep & could not get my brain to stop working. At some point, one of my thoughts was peanut butter & banana bread pudding topped with pig candy. I figured it was either one of the worst ideas ever or one of the best, but I couldn’t decide which.
Believe it or not, it actually worked. So I give you Elvis Bread Pudding. I started with a basic bread pudding recipe and (obviously) modified it heavily to get the final result.

Peanut Butter & Banana Bread Pudding
This is the single serve portion I baked with the 9×13 pan. There was no way I was serving this without trying it first.

Ingredients:

1lb sweet white bread (I used a local store brand’s “sweet mini loaves”)
2 cups milk (nonfat is fine)
3 cups fat free half-and-half
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3 eggs beaten
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter, melted*
2 bananas, sliced
3 pieces pig candy (see recipe below) or 3 pieces crispy bacon crumbled & extra brown sugar for dusting
*Do not make my mistake and heat this in the jar unless you’re sure that all the foil from the top has been removed. I swear, sometimes we can make the simplest mistakes while cooking. Also, this step just makes it easier to mix the peanut butter into everything else.
Preheat the oven to 350 (if you make the pig candy first, your oven will already be at 350).
Tear or cut bread into chunks. Place into large bowl & pour half & half and milk over the bread. Let soak for at least 10 minutes (I probably went 20). Add the sliced bananas to the bread mixture & stir. Beat eggs in small bowl & then stir in your peanut butter (you want to make sure the peanut butter isn’t going to clump up when you add it to the bread mixture). Add the egg/peanut butter stuff & your sugars to the bread mixture and mix well.
Pour the mix into a 9×13 pan (I would probably recommend a little nonstick cooking spray first). Sprinkle crumbled pig candy or bacon & sugar on top.
Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes until pudding is firm (it will still be quite moist, though).
Pig Candy*

Pig Candy

1 lb bacon
dark brown sugar
Coat bacon in brown sugar. Place on racks over a foil-lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 until crispy (about 20 minutes). Remove from oven, let cool BRIEFLY & then remove to waxed paper. Otherwise it will stick to the racks.
*I don’t know if it’s worth the trouble, really. My entire apartment still smells like brown sugar coated bacon. And have you ever tried to coat bacon in brown sugar? It’s not as easy as it sounds – the sugar doesn’t want to stick.
If you want to include bacon in the Elvis Bread Pudding, just crumble up some nice crispy pieces & then sprinkle them over the top. Dust the top with brown sugar and voila. Same difference.
As for the rest of the bacon-themed dishes for the potluck? There were many and they were delicious.

Bacon-fest

I’m going to go have a little bacon induced heart attack now.

In The Kitchen: Evil Chocolately Caramel Chex Mix

I was cruising around Ravelry one day, as usual, and there was much discussion of this fantastic chex mix that had appeared at the Plucky Knitter Retreat. Once I saw a picture, I had to try it for myself.

The original post calls it Better Than Sex Chex Mix, but I don’t know if I’d go that far. It’s delicious and chocolately and wonderful and terrible all at the same time. Once you take a bite, it’s hard to stop.

I definitely recommend using Chocolate Chex if you can find it – it’s worth the effort.

Evil Chocolate Caramel Chex Mix

Evil Chocolate Caramel Chex Mix
from Chef In Training

Ingredients:
8 cups Chocolate Chex cereal
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
6 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 cup mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
1 cup mini marshmallows
1/2 cup caramel bits
1 Tbsp. heavy cream
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips*
1 tsp. coarse sea salt.

Directions:

  1. Pour cereal into microwaveable bowl.
  2. Line large cookie sheet (or two smaller ones) with aluminum foil (or parchment paper or similar non-stick surface).
  3. In small bowl, microwave together the brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup for 1 minute, stirring well. If needed, microwave 30 seconds at a time until melted and smooth. Stir in baking soda until dissolved, then pour over the cereal and mix well (until evenly coated).
  4. Microwave cereal mixture for 3 minutes, stirring well after each minute. Note: my mix started to smell a little burny, so I cut the last minute down to about 30 seconds.
  5. Spread out onto cookie sheet(s) and let cool for at least 10 minutes. Once cool, break into pieces. Make sure to let this cool enough so you don’t melt your candy pieces in the next step.
  6. Evenly sprinkle mini Reese’s cups and mini marshmallows over the mix.
  7. In small bowl, melt the caramel bits and heavy cream in the microwave – about 1 minute. Drizzle over cereal mixture.
  8. Repeat with the chocolate chips & the white baking chips.
  9. Sprinkle salt over the mixture before the chocolate sets.
  10. Refrigerate until the chocolate & caramel are set. (Don’t skip this part – the chocolate & caramel won’t set up quite enough at room temperature.)
  11. Break into bite size pieces & store in a covered container.
  12. Serve to all your friends who will curse you for bringing this into their lives.

Evil Chocolate Caramel Chex Mix

*For the white chocolate chips, I found that some brands melt better than others. Ghiradelli worked fine, Nestle did not. Better yet would probably be a white chocolate that’s made for melting instead of just baking chips – some chips resist melting.

In the Kitchen: Peanut Butter Cups

In an attempt to get all my recipes and cooking talk in one place, I’ll be periodically re-posting recipes from my time writing on the Kitchen Mirror here. In some cases I may update pictures & proof-read, but for the most part it will just be a re-posting of what I had there. The posts are not in chronological order – I’m trying to post holiday appropriate recipes near the holidays they go with & fill in others around them.

Originally posted September 7, 2008

I have a thing for sweets and sugar. It is my downfall, seriously. No matter how many times I try to get on track to eat healthy, something sweet and delicious sneaks into my mouth. Especially if it’s chocolate. Chocolate can turn me into Homer Simpson, complete with drool.

So, recently I’ve decided to cut down (if not out) on the amount of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in my diet. Which doesn’t mean that I’m going to be all freakazoid about it and insist on ingredient lists when I’m out eating, but I’m really trying to be more conscious about the foods I’m putting into my body and right now, I’m still learning what those are. This has led to the possibly annoying habit of reading ingredient lists on EVERYTHING until I figure out what the limits are.

Which has nothing to do with today’s cooking experiment, but it will probably flavor my future posts here, so heads up.

Now, let’s get to the fun stuff, shall we?

I love peanut butter. I love chocolate. I like making foods myself so that I know what ingredients are in it. And just the other day, I found this recipe for a home made peanut butter cup. Naturally, I jumped all over that.

peanut butter cups<

Doesn’t it look fantastic? It really was quite yummy.

What I did – I doubled the recipe because I wanted bigger pb cups and I used regular size muffin papers to make them in.

What happened when I did that – I ran out of chocolate about halfway through topping the cups, so I improvised. I used the rest of my bag of chocolate chips and tossed in some semisweet Scharffen Berger chocolate squares I had in my candy stash (oh, yes, there is a candy stash), melted it all together in my microwave and still ran out.

Oh, well. In the end, these were delicious, but I think that next time I’ll follow the directions to make them smaller by using the mini muffin cups.