Eat Something

{October 11, 2008}   Girl Scout Potato Casserole
Behold the newborn son of blob... ok, potato casserole is not exceptionally photogenic...

Behold the newborn son of blob... ok, potato casserole is not exceptionally photogenic... but it's pretty good, especially when you add the onion and cornflakes (I saute the onions with part the butter and coat the cornflakes with the rest of the melted butter)... if you open the oven half way thru to add the cornflakes you do need to cook it the full hour...

Girl Scout Potato Casserole (original recipe given, tried and true)
2 lb hashbrowns or cubed Irish Potatoes
1 pt Sour Cream
a can of cream of chicken
10 oz grated cheddar
1/2 c butter
1 c minced onion

Mix in 9×13 pyrex. Cook at 350. After 30 min, top with corn flakes and cook 30 min more.

My Modified Version: (as I was lazy and wanted to do even less)
28 oz bag frozen potatoes o’brian (diced potatoes w/peppers and onions; I measured and this was about 6 c), not thawed
1 c sour cream
1 c cottage cheese
s/p, garlic/onion powder
1 can cream of chicken
1/2 lb grated cheddar

Mix together all but cheese… Then top with cheese and bake about 50 min @ 350…


{August 29, 2008}   Cheesy Potato Broccoli Soup

Pretty straightforward, run-of-the-mill soup made to suit the 4yo’s craving… Simple basic scout night eating… served with grilled cheese and raw carrots, special requests really don’t get much easier than this…

Cheesy Potato Broccoli Soup
4 oz cheese, sliced/chunked or cubed
1/2 lb broc
1 lb potatoes
1/4 onion, halved
1.5 milk
3 c cold water (you could I suppose use broth here)
2 tsp: s/p, dry mustard
1 tsp: garlic/onion
2T: butter, flour

Cover segmented broccoli with 1.5c water, and microwave 3 min on HIGH. Put in the blender and puree… Melt flour and butter and seasonings together until well incorporated and pour in broccoli puree slowly while whisking out the flour lumps… Let that come up to boil while you add milk, cheese, onion to blended and blitz until relatively smooth… Pour cheese mixture into pot whisking into broccoli mixture… Add the remaining half of the water to the blender and blend to rinse/collect any remaining yummy bits and add to the pot as well. Promptly add the diced potatoes now as this is a good time since it is no longer hot… bring back to a boil and simmer about 20 or until potatoes are done.

So while this is one of the easiest things to make (no need for a recipe just caramelize some onions, add some beef broth and top with french bread and swiss and heat until cheese melts), it has nevertheless been requested so here goes.

Oopsie... I forgot to take a pic before eating, but there is soup, bread, and cheese all still there so all is set, no?

Oopsie... I forgot to take a pic before eating, but there is soup, bread, and cheese all still there so all is set, no?

French Onion Soup
1.5 yellow onions, thinly sliced
olive oil
1 T butter
couple pinches of salt (go really easy on the salt–your gonna have a marked saltiness from reducing the liquids soon)
pinch of thyme
6 c beef broth/stock
3 T worsterchire sauce
lightly toasted slices of french bread (just toasted on the one side that is to lay in the soup is adequate really)
swiss cheese

And thank goodness for second helpings... please for give the untoasted bread, this is approximately the look Truth is I am not sure the pic helps much... or does it any favors...

And thank goodness for second helpings... please for give the untoasted bread, this is approximately the look. Truth is I am not sure the pic helps much... or does it any favors...

Caramelize the onions slowly over med-low heat with a little salt and thyme in a covered pot. When they look satiny and browned add the liquids and simmer until reduced by half. Put into ovensafe bowls and top with slices of french bread toast and slices of a swiss cheese and bake in a moderate oven until cheese is melted. (Alternately you can just make cheese toasts on a baking sheet and float them on your soup if you don’t have any oven safe bowls)

{August 23, 2008}   Blender Puffy Mac and Cheese

So confession time, this was meant to intro my cooking phobic friend into the world of easy but impressive dishes but it was a big time flop. (Note to self: Do NOT try to beat egg whites in the blender–even if you think that’s what a recipe is suggesting–it is painfully frustrating… I say “think” because upon closer more careful examination I realized blenderness aside they were saying blend, blend, blend, beat and thus with more attentiveness it is clear that they are not suggesting you attempt to whip these whites into shape via blender blade and it was some what a**inine of me to assume so as logic would alert you to the lack of air potential but alas no I was have a completely blonde night–as despite physically outgrowing the more evident symptoms I am still very much afflicted.) And while I got it from the cookbook in theory, I cut out the veg because of the kids and the onion for my friend, changed amts on things to fit with my supplies and taste preferences and threw up a little in the back of my throat at the idea of pureeing the pasta (as they so wonderfully suggested) so umm, yeah I didn’t dare do that… and when as was said and done this not really the recipe any more either. But as you know that’s in keeping with how I operate… and I won’t take it personally if you make it faithfully to the original (I mean I might have blended the pasta to if I was making it for the pitty pat, but as is I was cooking the pasta past my desired for the goonies anyway so that was a concession I didn’t have in me)

Blender Puffy Mac and Cheese (inspired from “Macaroni Puff Soufflé” p 39 of Better Homes and Gardens Blender Cook Book 1971)
12 oz elbows
2.5 c milk
5 eggs, seperated
2.5 c shredded cheddar
2 wedges laughing cow spreadable swiss (you can sub butter, that’s what a normal person would use)
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

So I boiled the pasta in very salty water. Threw the whites in the blender with the cream of tartar (but will just use the electric beater next time) poured out in a bowl and nearly cried, and began feebly trying to save them and never got them where they needed to be (hence the non puffiness, but this is still a salvagable recipe and I’ll come make it with you the proper way if you’d like). Added the milk, yolks and cheeses to the blender and blitzed smooth. Fold everything together and put in dish to bake in and ungreased dish preheated 350 oven until set, I think it was around 45 min.

As a special note, you’d actually want to put this in an dish with tall sides but as I was planning to use that dish in chicago and didn’t have any faith this would rise much I went with the big glass casserole, aka my brownie pan (did you catch that diane? but I swear there was no such reason why he liked the mac… I’m a good girl unlike the other three adults at the table *smirks* at least in that respect), instead so I wouldn’t need to hand wash it before we left town (but of course a certain sweet fairy cleaned all the dinner dishes before my sojourn home)…

[NB. It needed a little something IMO, so I think I’d add some roasted yellow or orange bell pepper next time to discreetly replace the pimentos as that’d puree into something that could easily hide under the guise of the cheese and would lend a little more roundness I think.]

{August 18, 2008}   Sausage and Egg Casserole

So this is basically 2 fluffy oven omelets with some sausage in them and cheese sauce between the layers and on the top… The only egg and sausage casserole I’d made before was a strata and, like with bread pudding, it’s best if you can let it sit awhile for the egg to absorb so not the best ‘I don’t want to make tonight dinner tonight’-substitute. So I dug this out of the old plaid, and improvised…

Sausage and Egg Casserole (adapted from ‘Fluffy Omelet’ from BHG New Cookbook 1953)
2 pork sausage patties **
1 lb turkey sausage, bulk (Honeysuckle White–as it was much lower in fat to pair off well with the pork grease)
6 eggs (you could probably stand to do 8), seperated
s/p, onion/garlic pwd
cheese sauce
1 c ea: milk and sharp cheddar
2-4 T ea: butter and flour
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of white pepper and nutmeg

Browned the pork sausage, draining off and reserving it; simmered the pork sausage in some water. Used the reserved grease to saute the turkey sausage, browned up and simmered. Fridged the pork sausage, put the turkey crumbles in the bottoms of 2 greased glass pie/cake pans. Preheated the oven to 350.

Whisk the yolks with seasonings until very thick and pale lemon colored. Beat the whites with an electric beater, unless you have mad whipping skills and want to do it yourself (if you want to use the same whisk as for the yolks make sure to either do the whites first or rinse it really really well as you want no yolk in the whites for beating), until frothy…then add 1/4 c water and a 1/4 tsp salt and beat until stiff. Fold the two egg mixtures together and put in pans gently leaving sides higher than center and bake on middle rack 15 min.

Cheese sauce: Make a blonde roux (use 2T ea for a medium consitency, 4T for thick), ie. melt the butter and flour together until well blended…add seasonings and then the milk, stirring constantly (it’ll go quicker if you preheat half the milk and add the cold to the roux first until blended and then stir in the hot) until thick and smooth. (If you think you will have trouble with the heat, or you want to be able to cover it and walk away for about 5 min after the milk is incorporated, you can fuss with getting out a double boiler. Otherwise stay with it and keep stirring so it won’t stick and clump at the bottom.) Add the cheese and stir until melted.

Take out the omelets, loosen around all edges. And plate up like a layer cake with cheese sauce in between (reserve a little bit for the top), add the remaining cheese to the top… chop up and rewarm the pork sausage a little (30-45 sec in microwave) and use it on the top center as a garnish.

** I cooked the turkey sausage in the pork grease to help appease the rest of the crew, and garnished with the pork sausage so that the pickers would taste that on its own and presume it was all the way thru. You by no means need to fuss with pork at all really… But coming off of Hubs’ Lentil Soup sausage laments and having had it specifically requested again I wasn’t sure the turkey sausage would silently pass as is.

{August 17, 2008}   Beer Cheese Risotto

Beer Cheese Risotto
1.5 T butter
1.5 c ea: onions, aborio rice, beer **
1/2 tsp ea: dry mustard, salt, onion pwd
4 c hot water/broth (may not use all, but need it warm and ready in case)
1/4 c parm
1.5 c sharp cheddar

Saute the onions. Stir in rice and coat well and get mostly translucent. Add beer and seasonings and simmer, stirring. When absorbed add remaining liquid in 1/2-1 c increments, stirring until absorbed. On last batch of liquid when it’s getting to be just about done end with about 1/2 c unabsorbed liquid and turn off heat, but leave on hot eye. Add the cheeses, and stir until melted and rice appears creamy and remove from hot eye.

** You can sub hard cider, wine, or even vinegar/lemon juice spiked water for an alcoholess version…though obviously subbing anything will make it not beer cheese. And IMO the best beer for this is an amber one… too dark is overpowering here (just put it in a stew you’re not gonna want to bother finding it a cheese mate trust me I’ve tried many and it’s not an appealing combo even when you have a cheese that doen’t get lost) and too light is not going to stand up to the strong cheeses (does ok with a swiss or kind of a white cheddar–but that one’s still pushing it a tiny bit); but feel free to use what you like to drink I tend to tweak the cheeses according to what stray beer is hanging around (as I always have a good selection of cheeses on hand).

NB: Sometimes I finish this off with a bit of butter (or a wedge of laughing cow if I have it), but not always. It’s often a where shall I spend the calories deal here, and therefore decided meal by meal. And you can add garlic, Hubby likes adding garlic… but I just don’t care for the garlic, cheese, beer trio.

{August 15, 2008}   Finagled Box Mac and Cheese

For some reason the hubs has an affection for buting boxed mac and cheeses… all sorts of varieties. Most recently he chose to buy target’s brand. So I used it to make life easier and changed it to make it umm dinner. And sure it’s not glamourous but neither was the rest of dinner tonight… but scouts night is about kid friendly so everyone is done eating when it’s time to go so it works out.

Finagled Box Mac and Cheese
2 boxes of target mac
1/2 c sour cream
1/4 c butter
1 c shredded sharp cheddar
s/p, onion pwd

Cover the pasta with about 1 qt of water and 1 tsp salt and simmer. Microwave sour cream and butter at 1/2 power until butter is melted and stir together add powdered cheese packets and shedded cheese and season to taste. Blend cheese mixture into cooked pasta until well blended.

I guess this is really an adaptation to the lazy lady mac (I don’t usually make it with boxed though, I threw that in to be helpful for the girls, but this tasted a little better so this will probably be my boxed version of Lady Lady if I need it again–but I’ll probably tweak the seasonings some more, and not by target’s again) because it’s another no drain. But I didn’t put it all in the pot at once so it is still a bit different…

{August 12, 2008}   Perk-me up Kid’s Pizza

Perk-me up Kid’s Pizza
3/4 lb (12 oz) pizza dough, rolled out (yes, I use a rolling pin… B’s the italian not me, I have no nifty dough tossing skills)
olive oil
some leftover jarred spaghetti sauce
some leftover canned tomato paste
3 oz ea: cheddar and mozzarella (shredded or rough chopped in tiny bits)
the last of the pepperoni (about 3 dozen slices I’d guess)

Let the dough rise, then roll it out (or toss) as you wish. Spray or rub some olive oil on the dough. Thicken the sauce with the paste and spread it on the oiled dough (oiled to back up in case the sauce remains a little thin so there won’t be soggy crust). Scatter the cheese and let them place the pepperoni as they wish… Bake about 12 min-ish @ 425, cool pan on a rack about 5 min.

And yes, if you have any doubts, the cheddar and the pepperoni make this somewhat of an orange oily spotted thing. So I personally would have used only mozz, but the kid got 5 shots, a blood test and a skin test, so with 7 needle pricks if he wants a few grease spots to cheer him up then so be it I reckon…this wasn’t a battle I deemed worth picking. The normal among us–ie. me and the other 2 kids–towelled it off before eating, while the Bluejay just blissfully dripped grease on himself in joyous stupor.

Shrek Ogre Mac and Cheese
florets from 2 crowns broccoli
2 c milk
1/2 tsp s/p, garlic pwd
1 c hot tap water
2 c ea: elbows and sharp cheddar
1 c sour cream or plain yogurt
1/2 c parm, romano, or asiago
additional seasonings to taste (like powdered mustard)

Cook broccoli, milk and seasonings slowly, at MED or lower, until well softened (this may seem a little gross and counter to your cooking instincts but if you don’t overcook it a bit past fork tender, it will retain too much texture and not have as pleasant a mouth feel once pureed I’ve done this a time or two so you can trust me or you can dig your heels in and see for yourself if you like–just be aware that the odd gritty-ish bits were your own doing not my recipe–but either way you’ve been forewarned, LOL) and puree in blender. Pour back in pot and put water in blender, blitz and swish to get all broccoli flower buds out and add to pot with pasta and cheddar, simmer to cook the pasta. Take out sour cream and mix with cheese and let stand at room temp while pasta cooks. When all or most of the liquid is absorbed, stir in sour cream mixture.

***Part of the key to this being ‘incognito’ is the use of the stonger cheeses, you are welcome to use milder cheeses if you wish but the broccoli will be more prevalent (still good if you like broccoli though especially with swiss). But the important truth is that even in the more incognito version the broccoli will be still present in the background. That said it has, however, been happily consumed by avowed broccoli haters even after being armed with the knowledge that it is in there…you see for me it is more about getting them to take the first bite that lead to the somewhat misleading name (because even adults will think they won’t want to eat pureed broccoli before they’ve had it, LOL). This is more about helping people to appreciate broccoli (while listening to and trying to overcome what they said they don’t like about the taste of it) than it is about completely hiding it. If you are trying to pull the wool over someone’s eyes, then look elsewhere as this won’t cut it…but if you are trying to introduce new flavors in a palatable way then you should be fine. I mean, the food is green and the broccoli can be tasted–this is not incogonito in the newfangled sense of hiding 2T of brussel sprouts in a batch of brownies… So just be aware of that. Otherwise, enjoy as it is a yummy side dish that offers some variety from the same ol’ mac and cheese! (We make tons of different versions of mac and cheese since we eat it all the time..and while I can’t say this is my favorite, it is good and we do crave it from time to time and I do get quite a few requests for it–not to mention the recipe–sometimes more often than I am willing to make it, LOL)

Lazy Lady Mac and Cheese 
Ok, well this should probably be teen friendly and I’m even throwing in a from the box version for a real bare minimum effort.

From the box
1 7-8 oz box
1/2 stick of butter (or marg, I guess)
1.5-2 c hot tap water
1/2 c milk
1/2 tsp salt
any other desired seasonings to taste

From scratch
2 c elbows
2 T butter (or marg, I guess)
2 c hot tap water
2/3 c milk
1/2 tsp salt
any other desired seasonings to taste (I usually used pepper and dry mustard)
1/2 c grated parm (or romano, or blend of the like)
1-1.5 c shredded cheddar (the sharper the better, but use what you like)

From the box
Put the butter in the pan and melt it (melts quicker if you cut it up), add the dry cheese pouch and stir to coat all the powder with butter. Add the hot water slowly and whisk out any cheese clumps. Add pasta, milk, salt and any other seasonings and bring to a boil (boils faster covered) on HIGH. Once boiling, stir to make sure pasta is distributed well cover (or recover) and turn off the heat but leave on the hot burner. That’s it just leave it alone while you make the rest or dinner and it will absorb the liquid (if you leave it too long it will absorb the milk too and not be creamy nd the pasta might be oversoft but otherwise it can’t burn or anything if you get sidetracked and forget it…hence, it is perfect for this lazy lady.

From scratch
Add pasta, water, butter, milk, salt and seasonings, and parm and bring to a boil on HIGH. Then stir in the cheddar until well scattered (it will finish melting later), cover and cut off the heat but leave on the hot eye. Leave it to absorb most of the liquid usually 30 or less.

et cetera