Friday, January 27, 2017

Food for Thought

Like the basket of pinecones I forgot to take down with the Christmas decorations, this week's posts covers the recipes I used during the holidays.  It's long, because it also includes this week's menu . . . but lots of good stuff

This was the first year I decided to do something for Christmas Morning breakfast and needed something easy.  Slow Cooker Breakfast Casserole was perfect.  We, thanks to having children, are usually up early.  I went down and assembled the dish before everyone was down and ready to rip into stockings and presents.  I used dehydrated potatoes because the grocery store was out - C.L.E.A.R.E.D OUT!  I rehydrated them the night before, and browned the sausage the night before.  Then it was just assembly.  My ever-doubting family thought they'd be waiting for the casserole and they'd be starving - cook time is stated as four hours - but as usual, my cooker cooked faster, and it was waiting on us.  Declared a winner and a must-do-again.

My side of the family hosts Christmas Day and I needed something appetizy to take to my parents.  Caramel Apple Cream Cheese Dip.  Holy crap, this stuff is addicting!  Easy-peezy to make and you can't stop eating it.  At least we couldn't.

Christmas Eve is for my hubby's side of the family, and I needed a salad.  Not knowing for sure whether we were having ham or turkey (we had both) I opted for something seasonal, this Spinach & Pear Salad with Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette was the pick.  I tripled the recipe because I was taking it to feed a crowd.  The dressing recipe calls for water, which made the dressing really thin.  Next time I'll leave it out and it should coat the salad just fine.

The Monday following Christmas we hosted a dinner at the house for the in-law side of the family, who were in town for the holidays.  I needed something gluten-free and hearty enough that I didn't need a lot of sides to fill people up.  This Quinoa Chili wasn't just good, it was filling and filled with great nutrients - plus gluten free and meat free.  I served it with Everyday Cornbread.  I doubled-and-a-halved the recipe to be sure I had enough.  While I didn't cook it in the slow cooker, it wouldn't have fit anyway, I did serve it from one and refilled it as needed.

This was not first time we made this Maple Whiskey Turkey.  It's just the first time I remembered to post about it.  We've made it for a couple Thanksgivings.  The first time we made the brine, we then keg roasted the bird.  I think that roasting process overwhelmed the flavors of the brine, because the second time we made it I oven roasted it and you got the whiskey and apple flavors - it was delish!

I had rotisserie chicken and I had the dry ingredients for my go-to cornbread (Everyday Cornbread) mixed and bagged (just subbed in the mix for a box mix in the Casserole.)  Enter Chicken Tamale Casserole.  It was really good.  My only change would be to either reduce the sugar in the cornbread or leave it out completely.  I love the touch of sweet when it's plain cornbread, but with this recipe I think I'd like it without.  I also tried a new enchilada sauce recipe, this 5-minute Blender Enchilada Sauce is awesome, a nice spice and heat, and super simple.  It also makes quite a bit, so I froze the remainder, which is enough for another recipe.

Sometimes you want something bright and fresh, even when it's a frozen tundra outside your window.  This Grilled Greek Lemon Chicken fit the bill.  It was lemony, and bright with Greek seasoning.  Grilled indoors it was moist and tender.

Meatless-Monday and Pumpkin Chili.  Usually, when I read a recipe, I can get a feel for it, or a taste for it, before I make it.  I couldn't do that with this recipe - I wasn't sure about the outcome.  It was creamier than a typical chili, thanks to the pumpkin puree, and thanks to the beans, it was filling.  I did double the recipe, and because we like cumin, I doubled that, but stuck to just two tablespoons for chili powder.  The recipe doesn't call for salt, but it needed it.  Also, the black beans I've been using lately have been breaking down (and leaching some color) with long cook times, so I held off adding the black beans until about 15 minutes prior to serving.  I needed to re-season after adding the black beans.  I topped with green onions prior to serving, and then had sour cream on the side.  Avocados when have been a good addition as well.

Because I made the Pumpkin Chili above, I had leftover pumpkin.  Hello, Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip and Macadamia Nut Cookies.  These were awesome.  However, for me, they required more cook-time to set.  Though the dough doesn't look it, it's quite wet (extra flour might work, as well.)  The texture remains somewhat "sticky" so storing them can be an issue - single layer, parchment between and a light cover.  A cookie jar worked, somewhat, after the cookies sat overnight uncovered on cooling racks.

While this was good - creamy without being heavy, the Chicken Fettuccine Bake wasn't what I expected.  I think I was thinking "alfredo" but it's not.  LOL, nowhere does it say that.  However, it was a nice chicken casserole without a cream-soup base.  I thought I had sun-dried tomatoes, but didn't and that might have had me keeping the pin, but I have others I've tired (and to try) so I opted to delete the pin. You will need to check the seasoning - salt especially, and, for my tastes a bit more cheese (I didn't get that Parmesan flavor), top with fresh parsley and it would be a good go-to meal.

This Easy Quinoa Pizza Bowls was crack-a-lackin' good.  I used my go-to Pizza Sauce - which made about half what the recipe calls for, but I found a tablespoon in the bottom, and between the layers, was plenty and actually left me with sauce.  I opted for pepperoni, green pepper and red onion.  I diced the pepper and onion fairly small and cut the pepperoni into fourths, so you had nice bites throughout.  My ramekins are larger around, and more shallow, maybe 6" x 2" and those worked just fine.  I asked the kids, is it filling enough?  Does it need a side - I was lazy and didn't make anything.  It was surprisingly filling, but the kids are sausage fans, so they thought maybe add that, plus what was already in it.  They also thought rounding it out with garlic bread, or a salad would be nice, but probably not both.

My 8 y.o. likes to cook, and because he was home from school and looking bored I asked him to help me with this Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup.  Super simple to pull together and the roasted red peppers were a great addition.

I didn't feel like toasting up sandwiches with the soup, but these Baked Parmesan Zucchini Rounds looked easy.  And they were.  They were also really good with the soup.  They look really thin in the photo, but the recipe calls for 1/4" cuts which kept them slightly crunchy.

Happy Friday,

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