Dec 27, 2009

Green Beans with Water Chestnuts

This recipe comes from the New York Times Cookbook.

1 cup water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons butter
3 cups green beans, cooked and drained
Salt to taste
A pinch of oregano

Sauté water chestnuts in the butter, about three minutes. Pour this mixture over the hot beans. Season with salt and a pinch of oregano.

Dec 25, 2009

Egg & Cheese Casserole

This dish is also a regular part of our family's Christmas Day brunch, though it would be great any time of the year. It's easy to put together and can be served with lots of different accompaniments.

6-8 slices white bread, crust removed and cubed
½ pound grated sharp cheddar cheese
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon dry mustard
½ can (7-oz.) green chilies

Variations: add ingredients such as spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, basil, onion, green peppers, feta, smoked turkey, mozzarella, pecans etc. before baking

Arrange bread in buttered 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle grated cheese over the top. In a bowl, combine the eggs, milk, salt, mustard, and green chilies. Pour the mixture over the bread and cheese. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Serve with chili sauce, fresh tomatoes, and sour cream.

Dec 23, 2009

Hash Brown Casserole

This dish is also known as "funeral potatoes" around here because it is frequently served along with ham, jello salad, and rolls at the conclusion of Mormon funerals. It's not healthy, probably hastening the onset of additional funerals, but it is genuine comfort food for many.

1 2-pound package frozen hash brown potatoes, unthawed
1 10 3/4-ounce can cream of celery soup, undiluted
3 cups (packed) grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 12 ounces)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 6-ounce can French Fried Onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine first 5 ingredients in large bowl. Transfer to 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Bake until top is slightly golden, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Sprinkle with fried onions. Bake until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Serves 12.

Dec 20, 2009

Creme Brulee

I can't believe that I've been posting recipes for about six months now, and I haven't included one of my all-time favorite desserts--creme brulee. Creme brulee intimidates people, I suppose, because it's generally found only in nicer restaurants, but it really isn't difficult to make.

1 quart heavy cream
1 vanilla bean (or 3 teaspoons vanilla extract)
4 tablespoons sugar
8 egg yolks
3/4 to 1 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large saucepan scald cream with vanilla bean. Add sugar and stir until completely dissolved. In a large bowl beat egg yolks until light lemon color, then stir hot cream mixture carefully into yolks with a pinch of salt. Strain mixture into a 10-inch shallow baking dish. Place dish in a pan of hot water (make sure no water gets in the custard mixture) and bake in a 350 degrees oven for 50-60 minutes. Custard is cooked when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean or almost completely clean. Cool, then refrigerate until chilled.

Push brown sugar through a sieve and spread on top of custard, making a layer about 1/4-inch thick. It must be as smooth as possible. Broil about 4-6 inches from broiler until sugar has caramelized; turn dish as necessary so sugar caramelizes evenly. This process takes about 2 to 4 minutes. Cool before serving. Serves 8 to 12.

Dec 17, 2009

Chicken Artichoke Soup

This soup is clearly not highbrow, what with Velveta cheese as an ingredient, but I love the combination of its cheesy flavor with chicken and artichoke hearts. This is a delicious savory treat!

2 large chicken breasts
1 small onion, chopped
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 package (16 oz) regular Velveta cheese
1/2 package (16 oz) Mild Mexican Velveta cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 cup half and half
1 can artichoke hearts (not marinated), cut in quarters

Cook chicken and onion over low heat in about 2 1/2 cups water until chicken is done. Then separate chicken from broth and onions; cut the chicken into small pieces and set aside. Combine broth and onions, garlic salt, and canned soups in large pan and cook over medium heat. Add chunks of cheese slowly and stir until melted. Then add half and half, chicken, and artichoke hearts. Heat and serve.

Dec 12, 2009

Vanilla Custard with Fruit

This is undoubtedly my favorite item on the menu for our traditional Christmas brunch each year. I LOVE this dish! And I should point out that this isn't only a Christmas food. You could do this anytime, either as part of a breakfast, a brunch, or a dessert. It's a vanilla custard that you serve with fresh fruit.

In our family, we make the custard a day or two before our brunch. Then on the day we are going to serve it, we cut up fresh fruit into bite-sized chunks, which we arrange on a large plate or tray. Each person fills their dish with fruit and then pours the custard over the top. Or you could do more of a fondue approach, and let people skewer the chunks of fruit with toothpicks and dip it in the custard. But whatever you do, give this a try!

3 egg yolks.
1 1/4 cups light cream
3 tablespoons sugar
a few grains of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Fruit: bananas, oranges, apples, pineapple, grapes, pears, peaches, blueberries, etc.

Combine egg yolks, light cream, sugar, and salt in blender and blend thoroughly. Pour into top of double boiler and cook over boiling water, stirring constantly, until mixture coats the back of a metal spoon (about six minutes). Remove from heat and add vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight. Keep in mind that this is a thinnish custard, not a pudding. It should be a liquid, not a solid. Serve chilled custard with chunks of fresh fruit.

Note: This recipe makes a small batch of custard. I usually double or triple this recipe so that we can serve more people, or so that I have leftovers for myself. But when you make a larger batch of custard, you need to increase the cooking time. As it says above, the cooked custard should coat the back of a metal spoon.

Dec 9, 2009

Sausage Balls in Applesauce

This dish is so easy that it barely qualifies as a recipe, but it's something my family enjoys nearly every year as part of our Christmas Day brunch. After the presents have been opened, we--the children, grandchildren, and sometimes a few neighbors--usually gather together at my parents' house for a wonderful meal. The menu may vary slightly, but it usually includes an egg casserole of some sort, vanilla custard and fruit, sausage balls in applesauce, homemade rolls and/or sweet breads, orange juice, and French chocolate (we usually have some leftover frosted cut-out cookies and homemade candy as well). This Christmas brunch is one of my favorite holiday traditions. I love the coziness, and I love being with family.

I've already included a few of these recipes on this blog, but I'll share some of the remaining ones in the coming days.

2 packages Jimmy Dean sausage
1 jar of your favorite applesauce (chunky applesauce doesn't work as well because it doesn't adhere to the sausage balls)

Form one-inch balls the uncooked sausage and fry until they are browned and fully cooked. Then pour a layer of applesauce in the bottom of a baking dish and arrange the cooked sausage balls so that they are partially covered in the applesauce. Put the baking dish in a 300 degree oven and heat until warm. Serve with toothpicks.

Dec 7, 2009

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

I made this cake for my dinner group the other night. It's a recipe I've always liked, but instead of doing a traditional chocolate frosting, I tried the chocolate whipping cream (see recipe below) that I use when I make chocolate angel food cake. The combination was perfect and also made for a wonderful presentation. I grated semisweet chocolate on the swirls of chocolate whipped cream and arranged fresh raspberries along the top so that each piece was topped with a raspberry.

1 box yellow cake mix
1 small instant chocolate pudding mix
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup water
4 eggs
1 small package chocolate chips
8 ounces sour cream

Combine cake mix, pudding, and sugar. Then add oil and water. Beat with a wooden spoon. Add eggs one at a time and beat in thoroughly. Add sour cream and chocolate chips. Bake in greased and floured tube pan at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes. Cool one hour before removing from pan. Then let cake cool fully before frosting.

Chocolate Whipped Cream
2 cups powdered sugar (Note: next time I make this cake, I may try cutting the sugar back a bit. It's delicious as is but may taste just as good with less sugar.)
1/2 cup cocoa
2 cups chilled whipping cream

Beat all ingredients in a chilled 2 1/2-quart bowl until stiff. After frosting, arrange fresh raspberries on top of the cake and/or sprinkle with grated semisweet chocolate. Refrigerate the cake for at least an hour before serving.

Dec 5, 2009

Homespun Tomato Soup

And another recipe from The Homespun restaurant (near St. George, Utah), which sadly is no longer in business and hasn't been for years. Such a great loss. But this soup is one of a number of recipes that I still love from that establishment. It has that delicious combination of sweet with the sugar and salty with the bacon!

2 cups water
5 pounds fresh tomatoes
1 cup sugar (I think it helps to reduce the sugar a bit, perhaps to 3/4 cup, but it depends on personal preference)
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon mixed spices (the original recipe doesn't specify, but we think it's 1/2 tablespoon ground cloves and 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon)
3 large onions
Bunch of parsley
1 stalk of celery
7 strips of bacon
2 tablespoons flour

Cut tomatoes in quarters and combine in a pan with the sugar, water, salt, spices, onion, celery, and parsley. Bring to a boil. Simmer 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Cut bacon finely and brown, then add flour and brown lightly. Put the tomato and vegetable mixture through a food mill. Then combine with the bacon mixture and bring to a boil. When serving, add one teaspoon cream to each serving. Make only from fresh tomatoes in season. We usually make a triple batch and freeze portions for use throughout the year. Will keep well frozen. Makes 10–12 servings.

Note: This year, instead of running the tomato and vegetable mixture through a food mill, we just used our blender, a batch at a time. That seemed to give the soup a little more body. We prefer it that way.

Dec 3, 2009

Tomato Drink

This is a comforting drink on a cold winter evening. It's also easy to put together and serve with appetizers when entertaining guests.

1 large can tomato juice
1 teaspoon salt
4 bay leaves
1/2 cup sugar

Simmer together and let sit. Serve warm with dollop of unsweetened whipped cream.