Thursday, December 8, 2016

Egg Muffins

I love a savory breakfast! But I am also somewhat lazy first thing in the morning. I'll generally not eat anything unless it comes together very quickly. I tend to cook lunch and dinner, though, for 5-6 people, so I suppose it's only natural that I don't want to add in a third meal to cook! Anyway, I often make up breakfast meals that I can heat up easily throughout the week. I love quiches, like this Cheese Quiche or this Potato-Spinach Quiche. I love having Breakfast Burritos waiting in the freezer, too. These Egg Muffins, though, are nice to have in the refrigerator, ready to serve one at a time to the little ones, or two (or three ...) for the bigger people in the family.

(For the meat in these, my favorite thing to use is lean ground turkey mixed with a couple of teaspoons of Frying Pan Pork Sausage Spice.)

Egg Muffins

9 eggs
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 pound breakfast meat, cooked and crumbled or chopped (bacon, ham, sausage)
3 cups raw spinach, chopped
1/2 cup finely diced peppers
2 green onions, sliced
1 cup shredded cheese

In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and sour cream with the salt and pepper. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Divide the mixture between 12 greased muffin cups. Bake at 375° for about 15-18 minutes. Yield: 12 muffins

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Apple-Carrot Cake with Cinnamon Maple Cream Frosting

For Jeff's birthday cake this year, I adapted an apple-spice cake recipe. It's full of autumn flavor and would be the perfect cake for Thanksgiving!


 Apple-Carrot Cake with Cinnamon Maple Cream Frosting

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon maple extract1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour 

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 medium apples, finely chopped
1 medium-sized carrot, peeled and shredded

Preheat the oven to 350°. Prepare 2 9-inch round cake pans by lining the bottom with wax paper and spraying with non-stick spray. 

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter, coconut oil and sugars until fluffy - this will take a few minutes. Blend the eggs and extracts into the mixture. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Alternately add in the flour mixture and the buttermilk, just until combined. Fold in the apple and carrot. Divide the batter between the pans and bake for 25-28 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for a few minutes, then remove cakes to a wire rack to cool completely. 

For the frosting:

8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon maple extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
(milk or cream, as needed)

In a mixing bowl, blend together the butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add in the extracts and cinnamon. Slowly add in the powdered sugar until the frosting is the right consistency. Add milk or cream if it's too stiff.

Garnish the frosted cake with chopped pecans or walnuts, if desired.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Bajan Coconut Chicken

As a thank you for some recipes I had submitted to the site, Savory Spice Shop sent out a variety of spices and seasonings for me to experiment with and enjoy. One of the seasonings I had never heard of before, which made me especially eager to try it. When I ran across a recipe for Coconut Lime Chicken on Pinterest, I knew that was the one I wanted to adapt. 

The seasoning blend is called Bajan (say it so that it rhymes with Cajun) and it originates from Barbados. It's a unique combination of herbaceous, spicy, sweet and tangy flavors. Of course, I recommend ordering it from Savory Spice Shop! I think this recipe features it beautifully.

Bajan Coconut Chicken

1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 chicken breasts, cubed
2 teaspoons Bajan seasoning
1 fresno chili, finely diced
     (or 1/2 teaspoon aleppo pepper flakes or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 green onions, sliced
1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional, but highly recommended!)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 can full-fat coconut milk (shake well before opening)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

In large skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat. In a bowl, combine the chicken, Bajan seasoning, chili, and garlic. Transfer to the hot skillet and cook until the chicken is nicely browned, about 5-7 minutes, turning halfway through. (It's okay if the chicken isn't 100% cooked at this point. It will finish in the sauce.) Stir in the green onions, fish sauce, soy, lime juice and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened and the chicken is cooked through, about another 5-7 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the cilantro. (The Bajan seasoning, soy and fish sauce all contain salt, but you'll want to test the sauce and add a touch more salt if necessary.) Serve over rice, rice noodles, cauliflower rice or quinoa.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Sausage and Grits Casserole

If there is one meal I could eat all day every day, it's breakfast. I love everything about it. Well, I should clarify: savory breakfast. I don't like anything sweet first thing in the morning. The most I can handle is my coffee, which is hardly sweet at all. Anyway, whenever we have occasions to provide breakfast for gatherings, I usually volunteer to make something savory. This casserole is perfect for just such a need. It can be made ahead of time and baked before serving, and (especially if you keep cooked sausage in your freezer) it comes together in a snap! You can certainly cook the grits in only water, but in my experience every little layer of flavor helps when you're cooking.

This is also a fairly simple recipe that can be customized. Diced green and red peppers, chopped spinach, mushrooms - there are plenty of ways to add variety.

Sausage and Grits Casserole

1 cups grits
1-1/2 cups milk
1-1/2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound ground breakfast sausage
2 green onions, chopped
4 eggs
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

In a large saucepan, bring the milk, stock, butter and seasonings to a boil, whisk in grits and turn heat down to low. Continue to cook, whisking frequently, until the grits are thick. Remove from heat. Meanwhile, cook breakfast sausage in a skillet until browned through, breaking it up as it cooks. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs with salt and pepper. Temper the eggs by whisking in about 1/4 cup of the grits, then pour the mixture into the grits and stir well. Add in the sausage, green onions and 1-1/2 cups of cheese. Pour that mixture into a greased 9 x 13 dish. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Store in the refrigerator until ready to bake, or bake immediately at 350° for 30-40 minutes.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Unstuffed Pepper Casserole

My kids could eat spaghetti every night of the week. Except that one kid who is starting to get tired of it. At any rate, I make a lot of marinara and I like to have different ways to use it rather than just the traditional pasta route. This recipe is a great alternative. It offers a big veggie punch along with the flavors that it seems like everyone loves! This is also my go-to casserole for giving to others because it can be adapted to fit dietary restrictions like gluten-free, dairy-free, whatever. It freezes well so I sometimes give it unbaked. That way if the family has received a lot of food they can freeze it for another time.

Unstuffed Pepper Casserole

1-1/2 cups brown rice, prepared according to package directions

1 zucchini, trimmed and shredded
1 carrot, trimmed and shredded
1/2 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 pound ground turkey
1 jar marinara sauce (about 1 quart)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

2 eggs
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper

In a large skillet, saute the turkey until brown, breaking it up as it cooks; season with salt and pepper. Remove to a separate dish. In the same skillet, saute the zucchini, carrot, onion and green pepper. Add the turkey back in, along with the rice, marinara, cheddar and eggs. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, seasonings and olive oil. Sprinkle over the top. Bake at 350° for 30-40 minutes, until heated through and bread crumbs begin to brown.




Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Thai Chicken Pasta

I have made variations of this recipe many times over the years. One such simplified variation I submitted to a magazine cooking contest and won 3rd place! My favorite version is one that comes together quickly on the stove top. I'm sharing that one here, including preparing the chicken. Don't let the long list of ingredients scare you! If you keep cooked, shredded chicken in the freezer, or pick up a rotisserie chicken, it makes the recipe even easier! The flavor is really in the sauce, so if you need another shortcut but you're cooking the chicken, simply season it with salt and pepper. I've made it many times for my own lunch and left out the chicken altogether! The sauce also makes a terrific dip for egg rolls or wontons.

One of the wonderful things about Asian-inspired dishes is the layers of flavor they feature : sweet, spicy, salty, bitter, and sour. This dish does a nice job of incorporating each of those elements.



Thai Chicken Pasta

For the chicken:
2 chicken breasts, cubed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons canola oil 

Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. In a small bowl, mix together the seasonings; sprinkle over the chicken. Add the chicken to the hot skillet and saute for 5-6 minutes, until just cooked through. Remove and keep warm.

For the sauce:
2 green onions, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground ginger, or 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated
1 cup chicken broth (or vegetable stock or even water)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional, but it's so good!)

Add the onions, garlic and red pepper flakes to the skillet and saute for about a minute. Add in the remaining ingredients, stirring well to combine. Allow it to simmer for 3-4 minutes, until it thickens slightly. If it gets too thick, just splash in a little more stock or water.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, and cook 8 ounces angel hair pasta according to package directions. Drain and add to the sauce along with the reserved chicken. Mix well; heat through and serve topped with chopped fresh cilantro, shredded cabbage, shredded carrots and/or chopped peanuts. Yield: 4-6 servings




Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Rustic Apple Tart

Last weekend my daughter had plans to stay the night with a friend about an hour away. After looking at a map and realizing that we'd only be another hour away from Ellijay, the Apple Capital of Georgia, we knew what we had to do. In addition to eating some fantastic apple cider doughnuts, we picked up quite a few apples. Some for snacking, some for use in recipes. For this Rustic Apple Tart, I used Granny Smith. They stay slightly crisp and their tartness is a lovely foil for the sweet crumble topping.

Rustic Apple Tart
 
Pastry for a single-crust pie (the roll-out kind, not the one sold already in a pie plate) Here's my recipe!
3 medium-sized tart apples, cored, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup quick oats
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
pinch of salt

Roll out pastry dough into a circle. Place the apple slices in the middle - fan them out in a spiral pattern if you're feeling fancy - leaving about a two inch border all around. In a small bowl, mix together the streusel ingredients. Sprinkle the mixture over the apples. Fold pastry up over the edges of the apples, leaving the middle exposed. Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes, until apples are tender. You may need to cover the tart lightly with aluminum foil to prevent it from browning too much.