Sunday, February 20, 2011

Spinach & Mushroom Egg Strata

I found a recipe for an egg-type casserole in our newspaper called a strata. I had the opportunity to make this for our mom's group one morning last week. If you plan to make this, make sure to start it the night before since the egg mixture needs to soak into the bread. I was a bit worried since I was bringing this to a function having never made it and tried it myself. I was glad when one of the moms made a point to find out who made it saying she really liked it.


6 cups day old bread (cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
6 egg yolks
2 eggs
1/4 cup flour
4 cups half and half
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 T minced garlic
1 box sliced mushrooms
1 or 2 boxes frozen spinach (thawed and drained)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • Place bread in a 9 x 13 baking pan. Whisk together yolks, eggs and flour in a bowl. Whisk in half and half, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour mixture over the bread and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
  • Heat oven to 350. Heat 2 T oil in large skillet on high. Add garlic and spinach. Cook for 5 or more minutes and set aside.
  • Add remaining 2 T of oil; heat on high. Add the mushrooms and cook until browned (4-5 minutes).
  • Mix spinach, mushrooms and 3/4 cup Parmesan into the strata. Sprinkle top evenly with remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.
  • Place in oven and bake for 35-40 minutes until browned and set. Let rest for 15 minutes at room temperature and cut into squares. Serve warm.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sweet Potato Tray-Baked Chicken

I saw a picture of this in the Parade Magazine and it really caught my eye. I love meals that include lots of cooked vegetables and the star of this one is the sweet potato. I know how good sweet potatoes are for you, but so far this is the first recipe I have that uses them. This turned out to be a huge hit. J really liked it and it made plenty for leftovers too. This starts out with a brine that the chicken breasts will soak in (2-8 hours), so you have to do a little pre-planning for the time factor involved there. The only ingredient I omitted was the bacon. Partly I forgot, but then realized we didn't need it. Oh, I guess I nixed the onion too since it doesn't agree with my husband.

Brine Ingredients:
1 quart water
2 T salt (calls for kosher but I used sea salt)
1/3 cup honey
3 T minced garlic
1 T sage
1/4 cup apple-cider vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon

"Bake" Ingredients:
4 boneless chicken breasts
3 sweet potatoes (scrubbed and thinly sliced)
4 medium potatoes (scrubbed and thinly sliced)
4 T minced garlic
2 T sage (shredded leaves if possible; I had to use ground sage)
Olive Oil (I used our oil sprayer and liberally sprayed it over the vegetables before baking)
Sea salt and pepper
1-2/3 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup half and half
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
A few pats of butter

  • Mix the brine in a large bowl. Add the chicken and cover with cling wrap. Refrigerate for 2 to 8 hours. (I did mine for about 6 hours.)
  • Remove chicken and allow it to come to room temperature. Drain chicken and discard brine. Pat dry with paper towels and set aside.
  • Toss potatoes, garlic and sage with olive oil and a pinch of salt/pepper. Place in large roasting pan and pour in broth. Cook for 30 minutes. **Note to self: Don't forget to add the broth at this point next time. I forgot and ended up adding it in the next part. It didn't seem to be that big of a deal though.**
  • Remove pan from oven. Pour in cream and sprinkle with pepper and Parmesan. Add the chicken breasts placing pats of butter on each piece. Cook for 35 minutes or until chicken is golden brown.


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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Papa's Hungarian Goulash

Just last month, I had a wonderful week's vacation with J down at my sister's place in the Chicago suburbs. My sister's father-in-law, who we call "Papa" came over to visit and taught me how to make a couple of his favorite meals. Papa has an incredible story of living in Germany during the war and then coming to the US in its aftermath. He and his now late wife, Vera, were authentic cooks using everything fresh and not processed for their meals. This is a wonderful meal and I'm so blessed to now have this recipe.

1.5 lbs Round Steak
2 pork chops
2 to 3 T olive oil
2 T Paprika
3 T ketchup
Salt/pepper to season
2 T Onion soup mix
1 can diced tomatoes
1 container fresh sliced mushrooms (or canned)
Beef stock
Few stalks of celery
2 parsnips
6 to 8 baby carrots
Red pepper
1 box Bow Tie Pasta
Corn starch (1 T plus little water)

  • Trim round steak and pork chops removing fat and cutting meat into small pieces.
  • Heat olive oil in large pan and add the meat.
  • Add ketchup, onion soup mix, paprika and cook until meat is browned and not much oil is left.
  • Put meat into dutch oven (basically any pan with a lid that you can put in the oven).
  • Add beef stock, diced tomatoes and mushrooms. Cook for an hour or two (until meat is very tender).
  • Chop veggies into small pieces and add to dutch oven.
  • Cook for 1/2 hour or until veggies (especially carrots) are tender.
  • Mix corn starch and water in small bowl. Add to dutch oven and let sit for several minutes.
  • Add more corn starch and water until the sauce thickens to your liking.
  • Prepare box of bow tie pasta.
  • Serve goulash over pasta and ENJOY!

Simple Mexican Rice

I was in a pinch the other day. I was making a meal for a mom in our church Titus group who just had her second child. I decided to make my burrito recipe and thought I had some Mexican rice to go with it. Turns out I didn't have the rice so I surfed the internet a little bit until I came up with a few recipes I liked. I merged a few recipes and came up with this.

1 cup white rice
1 can tomato sauce
1 onion, chopped
2 cups chicken broth
1 can tomato sauce
2 T vegetable oil
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin

  • Heat oil in large saucepan and add rice. Cook for 5 minutes or so until rice is a bit golden.
  • Stir in tomato sauce,onion, garlic salt and cumin. (I really improvised here because I didn't have tomato sauce. I only had tomato paste. So I took 3/4 of a can of tomato paste mixing it into the chicken stock before I added it to the rice.)
  • Once it boils, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.