Skillet Potatoes and Smoked Sausage

I prefer to cook at home as often as I can. We usually only eat out in restaurants or have Take-Out when we really need a night off or a date night. There are many easy to make recipes that only take about 30-45 mins from start to finish and when you think about it that much time will usually pass while driving to the place, waiting for a table or your order, then the drive back home.

One easy comfort food dinner we like is simple Skillet Potatoes and Smoked Sausage. This was a recipe that I grew up on. My mother would often use Italian sausage which I sometimes do as well. This recipe can be easily doubled.

If you give this a try I hope you enjoy it!

Skillet Potatoes and Smoked Sausage

Serves 2-4 depending on portion size

2 large russet potatoes, cut into 1″ cubes…

14 oz. smoked sausage, thinly sliced (You can use Kielbasa, or links of Italian Sausage cooked whole then sliced.)

1 small onion, chopped

1/2 c. chopped bell pepper (red or green)

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 c. chicken stock

1 1/2 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper

1/4 tsp. dried parsley

2 tbsps. veg. Oil

In a large skillet heat oil…add in the smoked sausage and cook, turning often till browned on edges. Remove meat from skillet and add in the potatoes and cook over med. high heat till they begin to brown and become tender. Add in the Onions, Bell Pepper and Garlic cooking for about 5 minutes then add in the chicken stock and cover. Cook for about 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove cover and check potatoes for doneness. Add the spices, stir and add in the smoked sausage.

skillet potatoes and Kielbasa

 

 

Thank you for visiting my blog I hope you will enjoy this dish.

Please Like and leave a comment, I would love to hear from you.

Also, share this site with family and friends and ask them to join Sundays in a Small Kitchen to see what my next cooking adventure will be.

 

Easy Weeknight Chicken Croquettes with Gravy

I love to make a nice plump roasted chicken on a Sunday for dinner then I can have leftovers for another meal during the week. This past week I made a roasted chicken by just stuffing the cavity with a quartered lemon and a handful of rosemary from the garden, oh so flavorful. There was still plenty of chicken leftover for another meal so all I had to do was decide which recipe to make. I use this croquette recipe in several ways, it’s super easy for a weeknight dinner after a long workday. You can easily swap out the chicken for cooked salmon, tuna, ham, turkey or anything you like really, just adjust the portions of meat to stuffing to your liking.

IMG_2502

Easy Weeknight Chicken Croquettes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Box of Stove Top Stuffing (6 0z box)
  • Leftover roast chicken shredded approximately 3-4 cups, not tightly packed down
  • 1 egg, beaten

Directions:

  1. Grease a baking sheet and pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Also, have an ice cream scoop handy.
  2. Pull and shred by hand the leftover roasted or rotisserie chicken
  3. Prepare the stuffing according to box directions
  4. Add the shredded chicken to the stuffing and add the beaten egg.
  5. Mix all the ingredients well
  6. Using the ice cream scoop portion out the croquettes on to the greased baking sheet. (The ice cream scoop I have makes 9 croquettes)
  7. Put into the hot oven and bake for 15 minutes
  8. While croquettes are baking prepare the chicken gravy.
  9. Remove from the oven and enjoy!

Simple Chicken Gravy

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp pepper or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Poultry Seasoning

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan.
  2. Add flour and blend thoroughly.
  3. Slowly add in the broth, mixing with a whisk,
  4. Add salt, and pepper and Poultry Seasoning.
  5. Allow to simmer and continue to mix with the mix until mixture thickens.
  6. Serve!

I hope you will enjoy this dish and thank you for visiting my blog. Please Like and Comment, I love hearing from you. Also, share this site with family and friends and ask them to join Sundays in a Small Kitchen to see what my next cooking adventure will be.

 

A Dish from the Garden. Summer String Bean Salad with White Zinfandel Salad Dressing.

Since my husband retired last year he was looking forward to starting up a vegetable garden again. Really just the basics to pique his interest. Roma tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, snap peas, yellow wax beans, and string beans. The zucchini plants didn’t make it this year otherwise I’d be posting one of my many versions of zucchini bread. The herb garden did well with lots of fresh Basil, Parsley (flat and curly), Rosemary, Chives and some Oregano. I hope to expand it a bit more next year. This dish starts with great produce from the garden or your local vegetable stand. Here is my delicious Summer String Bean Salad with White Zinfandel Salad Dressing.

This recipe has no measurements. You can make as much as you need and season to taste. It’s a very flexible recipe.

IMG_2412

Summer Bean Salad

Fresh Blue Lake Green Beans, cook or steam but leave a bit firm.  (I used a combination of green beans and yellow wax bean this time)

Cherry Tomatoes sliced in half

Mozzarella cut into small bite-size cubes (You can also use Feta cheese or any semi-soft cheese to your liking cut into small bites)

Fresh garlic, grated fine on a Microplane. How much you use is up to your personal taste

Add your favorite herbs of choice. The dish in the photo has a chiffonade of some basil and parsley. Salt and pepper to taste.

Toss the bean salad with your favorite Oil & Vinegar dressing, or a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Here is one of my favorite ways to make salad dressing.

 

1012657_310011625803005_46043211_n

White Zinfandel Salad Dressing

1/4 cup White Wine Vinegar (I used Colavita)

3 Tbsp. Water

1 pouch Good Seasons Italian Salad Dressing

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/4 cup White Zinfandel Wine

Pour Vinegar, Water, Olive oil and white zinfandel into a Salad Shaker. Then add contents of the Good Seasons Italian salad dressing mix. Shake until well blended. Let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours before using it.

I hope you will enjoy this dish and thank you for visiting my blog. Please share this site with family and friends.

 

 

Baked Parmesan Tilapia in the Instant Pot Vortex Oven with Basil Penne on the side.

I had been away a bit longer than I had planned. Since the beginning of Summer, my weekend time where I usually enjoy writing about my cooking adventures has been filled with vacation time, house projects, and several milestone birthday parties that needed planning, all great times but it means time away from my computer. So I am trying to pull back the reins to get back on track which can be difficult when you are an easily distracted person like myself.

One of the most exciting things I purchased while on vacation was an Instant Pot Vortex Oven. It is just what I needed now that we are empty nesters and don’t necessarily need to use our larger oven for smaller weeknight meals. Years back I had one of those Showtime Rotisseries which I loved using, but unfortunately during a kitchen renovation when we put it in storage the oven was damaged and became unusable. I enjoyed having a rotisserie for roasting chickens and roasts. While the IP Vortex is a bit smaller than the Showtime Rotisserie it will still do the job perfectly. So I have been having fun making dishes this hot Summer while avoiding heating up the house which is a plus.

Here is a photo of my first time cooking in the IP Vortex making chicken wings in the rotisserie basket and I also made home cut fries that turned out great.

One hot night this past week, I made an easy Baked Parmesan Tilapia in the IP Vortex oven. You can easily adapt this recipe to be made in any oven.

Baked Parmesan Tilapia

INGREDIENTS:

  • Two large pieces of Tilapia fish fillets
  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning for rubbing on to the fish
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • coarse ground black pepper to taste

On a plate or small cutting board sprinkle the Old Bay seasoning on both sides of the fish. Mix the mayonnaise, parmesan cheese and garlic powder in a small bowl. With the fish still on the plate apply the mayonnaise mixture to the top of the fish. Transfer the fish to the baking tray. I set the oven to bake then baked these two lovely pieces of fish at 380 degrees for 12 minutes. They came out golden brown, moist and delicious. I served the fish with a few lemon slices and a side dish of penne pasta tossed with pesto made with fresh basil from our garden.

Basil Pesto Sauce

3 cups fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts walnuts, almonds, pignoli (pine) nuts or pecans
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a food processor, blend together basil leaves, nuts, garlic, and cheese. Pour in oil slowly while still mixing. Stir in salt and pepper. Toss over warm pasta. (Note: You may want to reserve a cup of the pasta water to thin the pesto sauce should you feel it is a bit too thick)

Enjoy, and thank you for visiting my blog, I hope you will share it with family and friends.

My Journey Making Bread

20180113_122952

I love homemade bread. I even plan on making some today, as it’s been a while. I remember as our children were growing up we had two bread machines going every Sunday to prepare for sandwiches and toast during the week for work and school. Now that we are empty-nesters I don’t nearly bake as often as I use to. I love to make bread and rolls to have for a family dinner.

Over the years I have managed to find recipes I liked and I am comfortable making and feel turn out well.  There have sometimes been “failures” but it has been a journey of learning and in this great technical age, the amount of information on social media and videos available out there is wonderful. There is always someone who is willing to share their “secret” to bread baking. So I’ve gone from not only from baking bread in my bread machine but to making No-Knead Artisan bread. I love using my mixer to make dough for bread, rolls and more recently to making bagels for the first time several weeks back.

There are bread snobs who think if you haven’t baked  “real” bread from scratch, by hand and use a bread machine or a dough mixer that it isn’t bread baking. I don’t believe that at all. I have made bread in several different ways and the joy I get from a freshly baked loaf is the same no matter how prepared.

So give bread baking a try. Bread machines can now be purchased at a fraction of the cost from when they first came out or there are many that can be found in really good condition at local thrift shops for great prices. So while you are thinking it over if a bread machine should be something you would want to think about, how about trying to make a loaf fo No-Knead Artisan bread. They are simple, you can prepare a loaf in the evening and then bake it the next day.

A great place to start is   Crusty Bread the Movie

Then you can move onto to these delicious loaves of bread.

cranberry walnut bread no knead

No-Knead Cranberry Walnut Bread
Recipe adapted from My Bread by Jim Lahey

Equipment: a 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 quart enameled cast-iron pot with a tight-fitting lid (I use a Le Creuset Dutch Oven)

Ingredients:
3 Cups (400 grams) Bread Flour
1/2 tsp instant or other active dry yeast
1 1/4 tsp (8 grams) salt
½ cup (85 grams) dried cranberries
½ cup (50 grams) chopped walnuts
1 1/3 cup (350 grams) cool water
extra flour for dusting

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, salt, cranberries, and walnuts. Add the water and using a rubber spatula mix until a shaggy ball forms. If the dough does not feel sticky to the touch, add in a bit more water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for about 12 – 18 hours, until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough has more than doubled in size.

When the slow rise is complete, Lay a 12 x 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside a 10-inch skillet and spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Generously dust your counter, a large cutting board, or a silicone mat with flour. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the dough out in one piece. Using lightly floured hands, lift the edges of the dough and fold them in toward the center. Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round. Transfer the dough, seam-side down, to the parchment-lined skillet. A bench scraper is helpful for doing this. Spray a piece of plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray and cover the dough loosely with the wrap. Place the dough in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours. The dough is ready when it is almost doubled, and if it holds an indentation when gently poked with your finger.

Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F, with a rack in the lower third position, and place a covered pot in the center of the rack. Take the pre-heated pot out of the oven, and carefully transfer the dough into the pot by lifting the parchment paper and lowering it into the pot. Quickly cover the pot and put it in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and continue baking until the bread is a deep chestnut color, 10 – 20 mins more. Make sure to check the bread so it doesn’t burn, because every oven is different. An instant-read thermometer will register 210 degrees, or you can tap the bottom and listen for a hollow sound. Carefully remove the bread from the pot and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

no knead olive bread

No-Knead Mediterranean Olive Bread

Ingredients:

3 cups bread flour. (I use King Arthur bread flour)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. instant yeast
1 tsp. Thyme
Zest of 1 Lemon
3 oz of sliced black olives
3.5 oz of stuffed green olives (sliced)
4 oz of Kalamata olives (sliced)
1 tbsp. Olive oil
12 oz. cool tap water

Directions:

Mix up the dry ingredients and slice up the olives. Add the zest of one lemon and the sliced olives and mix. Now add the olive oil and the water and mix until you have a uniform consistency. Now cover with plastic wrap and let it proof for 12 to 24 hours somewhere on the counter. After the initial proofing scooped it out onto a well-floured poly board. Fold it back onto itself and from this into a ball. Cut the ball in half and form each half into a loaf shape and let this proof again from another 1.5 to 2 hours. Pre-heat your oven baking vessel to 450.  After the second proofing, place the loaf into the preheated baking vessel and bake for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes. (adjust this time as necessary)

 

Everything Bread mixed in my Bosch mixer20160228_201417

 

Challah Bread mixed in the Bosch mixer20160131_144852

 

Kaiser Rolls, dough mixed in the Bosch mixer and I used a Kaiser roll stamp to make the design.

20150902_220711

 

Father’s Day Menu – Chinese Style Pineapple Chicken & Spare Ribs

The weather here has been disappointing on the weekends lately, on again off again showers. This Spring has brought lots of rain and our backyard garden is enjoying it even if we aren’t. My husband had made some of his great smoked ribs for the family for Mother’s day this year but he fought the elements throughout the whole day just to prepare me a fantastic meal. Rain showers are predicted again for all day tomorrow so I decided to plan a fun indoor meal for our family and one I know he will enjoy as well.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dad’s out there!

Here is my menu:

Eggrolls for an Appetizer – Not making them from scratch this time because of time constraints.

Instant Pot Chinese Spare Ribs – the terrific recipe can be found here:

pressure-cooker-char-siu-pork-ribs

Instant Pot Chinese Spare Ribs

 

 

 

 

Chinese Pineapple Chicken with White Rice

Chinese Style Green Beans – the recipe can be found here:

Chinese Restaurant Green Beans

Sweet baked hawiian chicken

Chinese Restaurant Style Pineapple Chicken

Ingredients:
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper to taste
1½ cup cornstarch
3 eggs, beaten
¼ cup canola oil

1 cup pineapple juice
½ cup brown sugar
⅓ cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ tablespoon cornstarch
1 red pepper chopped
1 (20 oz) can pineapple tidbits, drained

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper.
In separate bowls, place cornstarch and slightly beaten eggs. Dip chicken into cornstarch then coat in egg mixture.
(yes, you dip the chicken first in the cornstarch. I promise this method is amazing.)

Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook chicken until browned. Place the chicken in a 9 x 13 greased baking dish.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together pineapple juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, minced garlic, and cornstarch.
Add the red pepper and pineapple tidbits. Pour over chicken and bake for 1 hour.
I stir the chicken every 15 minutes so that it coated them in the sauce.

 

 

Savory Meat & Spinach Pie

“What should I make for dinner?” This usually happens when I know I have made the rounds in recent weeks that seems to cover all the bases. One of my go to recipes when this happens is I like to take any meat I may have leftover and turn it in to a savory meat and spinach pie. This often happens after making a Virginia Ham but you really can use any favorite meat of your choice. This recipe can be easily modified to not only use ham but also ground meat, cooked chicken or sausage instead.

Riviera Egg Pie

 

Savory Meat and Spinach Pie

8 servings

Ingredients
3 tablespoons oil
1 large onion, diced (about 2 1/2 cups)
2 (9-inch) refrigerated, unbaked pie crusts (a 15-ounce package) or freshly made pie crusts
3/4 pound of your favorite ham, diced * You may want to substitute 1 lb of ground meat, cooked chicken or Italian sausage (a mix of sweet & hot sausage is great!)
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained well
1 cup grated Parmesan  ** You may want to add another of your favorite cheeses in place of the Parmesan like mozzarella or cheddar, I usually add 11/2-2 cups of shredded cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
4 eggs, plus 1 yolk, slightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1 egg white, lightly beaten
Directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent and just golden, about 8 minutes. *If you are planning to use fresh ground beef or sausage this would be the time to cook that meat as well. Remove from the heat, transfer to a large bowl, draining off any excess oil and allow to cool while preparing crust.

Remove 1 of the prepared pie crusts from the refrigerator, and place in an ungreased, 9-inch pie plate. Shape the crust to fit the form of the pan with about 1/2-inch overlap around the edge.

To the onion mixture, add the ham*, spinach, cheeses**, 4 eggs plus 1 yolk, salt, and pepper, and mix well. Spread mixture into prepared crust. Cover with remaining pie crust; crimp edges and score to vent. Brush with egg white and bake until golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes. Let stand at least 15 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.

Serve with a Tossed Green Salad and you have a wonderful meal.

Old School Dinners – Salisbury Steak

Cooking dinners have evolved over the years with modern day appliances like the Slow Cooker, the Air Fryer and the Instant Pot to name a few. The one thing that seems to carry on is some of those old school dinner recipes that continue to evolve with the times. The kind of recipes you not only remember your mom making but maybe your grandma as well. I love to see the new ways people are adjusting the cooking of these dishes for today’s popular appliances. Salisbury Steak is one of those meals that has been around since the late 1800’s and people continue to make to this day. There is even a version for the Instant Pot.

This dish takes me back to when I was growing up and my mom would make Salisbury Steak in her large copper bottom Revereware skillet. It would be served with creamy mashed potatoes or buttered noodles and a vegetable.

It’s a meal that can be served in any season and is easy enough to prepare on a weeknight for a hungry family. Hope you will enjoy this recipe.

Salisbury Steak

 

Salisbury Steak with Onion Gravy

1 egg
1 can (10 1/2 oz.) condensed French onion soup (undiluted, divided)
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 tsp salt
pinch pepper
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion, sliced
8 oz Fresh Mushrooms, sliced (optional)
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup water or Beef Broth (I use Better than Bullion)
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp prepared mustard
6 cups hot cooked egg noodles

In a large bowl, beat egg. Stir in 1/3 cup of soup, bread crumbs, salt and
pepper. Add beef, mix gently. Shape into six oval patties. Brown in a
skillet over medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove and set
aside.
Sauté the sliced onions and mushrooms. Until soft and cooked, remove and set aside.
In the skillet, combine flour and water or broth until smooth: add ketchup,
Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and remaining soup. Bring to a boil.
Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Return patties to skillet. Then add the sautéed onions and mushrooms.
Cover and turn down to a simmer for 15 minutes or until meat is no longer pink.
Serve patties and gravy over your favorite noodles, pasta, rice or mashed potatoes.

IMG_1943

Mother’s Day Planning – Luncheon Ideas

 

vintage mothers day

Thought I would post a few days early as Sunday I’ll be busy with my family and I thought I would share some Mother’s Day food ideas for anyone looking. I was always one to do lots of things for my mother throughout the year but I made sure I would do something a little extra special for Mother’s Day. Twice we took mom out to dinner and it was really a big mistake, restaurants are super busy, long wait times and they are looking to turn over tables as quick as possible, leaving you feeling rushed through a meal. So instead I would plan a nice day with an extra special dinner or Spring luncheon. Lunch was often a perfect choice, we would have the entire afternoon to enjoy being together and share some Springtime dishes.

The dining table would be nicely set and a floral centerpiece to pretty things up. Here are an assortment of the recipes I used over the years.

Sunshine Salad

I found this recipe years ago. When prepared for an evening meal, it’s called “Sunset Salad”.

8-10 Servings
Prep: 10 min. + chilling
Ingredients
•1 can (20 ounces) pineapple tidbits
•1 can (11-15 ounces) mandarin oranges
•1 package (3.4 ounces) instant lemon pudding
•1 cup quartered strawberries
•1 cup sliced ripe bananas

Directions

Drain pineapple and oranges, reserving juices. In a large bowl,
combine pudding mix with reserved fruit juices. Fold in pineapple,
oranges and strawberries; chill for at least 2 hours. Add bananas
just before serving. Yield: 8-10 servings.

Chicken Salad for Sandwiches

You can serve this salad on rolls, sandwiches cut in triangles or fill shells made from biscuits.

2 whole boneless chicken breasts
1 stalk celery
1 onions, quartered
1 cup celery, chopped
1 1/2-2 cups mayonnaise (depending on how wet you like your chicken salad)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon dill (optional)
Directions
Place chicken, celery stalk and onion in saucepan with water to cover.
Bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes or until chicken is done.
Drain and discard onion and celery.
Let chicken cool.
In a food processor chop chicken.
In a medium sized bowl combine chicken with mayonnaise, salt& pepper, parsley, dill seed, chopped celery and lemon juice.
Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Orzo Salad

orzo salad 2

8 ounces orzo pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/2 cup grape tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cook orzo according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in olive oil, vinegar, red onion, tomatoes and basil and toss to combine. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper.

Salad Nicoise

Romaine Hearts
4 Hard-boiled eggs
1 can artichokes
Steamed Green Beans
3 Roma tomatoes cut into wedges
Nicoise olives (Greek pitted Olives)
Potatoes cooked and cut into quarters
1 sweet red onion, sliced into thin rings
2 cans of white solid tuna
Anchovies
Dressing
1 garlic clove minced
Lemon Juice
olive oil
Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
Optional – Fresh chopped basil

Separate romaine heart leaves and arrange on a platter. Arrange hard-boiled eggs cut into quarters, green beans, artichokes, tomatoes, potatoes, and olives decoratively over lettuce leaves. Add the anchovies and onion rings. Break up tuna and arrange over vegetables. Drizzle with dressing.

Cucumber and Onion Salad

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups sliced cucumbers
1 small onion (sliced thinly)

In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar and salt. Add cucumbers and
onions; stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Yield: 6-8
servings.

20171225_110137

Deli Style Tuna Salad

You can easily make as much as needed by doubling or tripling.

One 6 oz can albacore tuna
1/4 cup coarsely chopped celery
1 Tbsp coarsely chopped onion
2 Tbsps drained sweet pickle relish
4 Tbsps mayonnaise
2 tsps fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in food processor and process until consistency of pate.

Tomato & Onion Salad

3 large Tomatoes – sliced into wedges or slices if your prefer
1 small to medium sweet red onion – size depends how much onion you prefer
3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons fresh minced parsley (or 1 tablespoon dried parsley)
2 teaspoons fresh basil leaf (or ½ teaspoon dried basil)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced

Directions:

Peel the onion and cut into thin rings. Add slice vegetables into a glass bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients.

Pour over tomatoes and onions.
Cover and allow to stand 30 minutes at room temperature or longer, refrigerated.

Serve with a nice loaf of bread.
20140702_073544

Rainy Day Comfort Food – Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Mac and Cheese Casserole

Even though the calendar says it’s Spring there still may be a bit of a chill in the air and right now we have hit several weeks of on again off again rain.  So it’s still a bit early for starting to make those lighter warm-weather dishes and my old stand-by comfort foods still have a chance to be made once again. So why not make a dish of my homemade baked macaroni & cheese. I know there are many preferences on how people enjoy their mac & cheese, anywhere from the “blue-box” to a thick creamy sauce stirred with pasta and sometimes baked or served as is. I have made and enjoyed them with my family so you won’t get any arguments from me.

While I was growing up my mother made a baked macaroni and cheese casserole that we loved and I pretty much make it the same way. Over the years I made a slight revision to my mother’s recipe to make it just a bit richer by adding two eggs to the milk so it has a more custard-like consistency. I also on occasion add other cheeses to the shredded cheddar like Mozzarella or Fontina when I have it on hand to vary the taste and creaminess.

classic make and cheese

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

You will need: A deep casserole dish or pan

1 lb Elbow macaroni (sometimes I use shells or Cavatappi)

Block of a good quality Sharp or Mild cheddar cheese (about 4 cups shredded) I have on occasion mixed other cheeses to the cheddar like adding Mozzarella or Fontina when I had some left over.

1 Quart (4 cups) Whole Milk

2 Eggs,  beaten

1 Stick of Butter

Ground Black Pepper (as desired)

Directions:

Boil pasta according to the package in salted water, al dente works perfectly.

Drain.

Butter a deep casserole dish

Add the two beaten eggs to the quart of milk and mix well

Place a layer of macaroni (about 1/3), enough to cover the bottom, of the casserole dish. Dot with some butter.

Add a layer of the shredded cheese covering the macaroni.

Repeat these layers until you are out of pasta – the top layer is cheese. Don’t push down on the macaroni or it will make it too dense.

Slowly pour milk/egg mixture over the casserole until the milk almost reaches the top of the casserole dish.

Dot top layer of cheese with butter and ground pepper

Bake uncovered for about 50-60 minutes in a 350-degree oven depending on how crisp you like the top, just make sure the milk mixture has turned to a custard-like consistency when a knife is inserted into the casserole.

You’ll know it is finished cooking when the milk is no longer liquid and is custard-like.

Serves 6 – Cook time and servings are approximate.

A secret to switching up this recipe: If you want to push this recipe over the top my daughter sometimes adds BBQ pulled pork in between the layers when building the casserole. It’s fantastic!