Thanksgiving Leftovers – Round 2

I didn’t post Round 1, as that was just the basics on Friday: put together a plate of what you had on Thursday and reheat. It isn’t glamorous and there is a point when your are done with Thanksgiving dinner. 

Yesterday we had a bit of soup and a few snacks with the crazy football and soccer day that we had scheduled. Today, I started on how to reuse the leftovers so that we weren’t all sick of turkey by the end of the week. 

I started this morning with the stuffing; I’m not sure how but I had an entire untouched 9×13″ pan of stuffing. I placed ham into well-buttered cups of my muffin tin, and then pressed in the stuffing to form cups:

 
  
I baked these for 20 minutes at 375 and then cracked an egg in each one (large is perfect, extra-large might overflow) and sprinkled with a touch of salt, ground pepper, and pepper jack cheese. I then continued baking for 12 minutes longer. 

  
  
Next time I would use a couple of strips of bacon rather than ham, but good nonetheless.

I continued my modification of leftovers with dinner. I was looking for a soup with sweet potatoes and came across this one for a Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup. This was just the inspiration I needed; we had roasted carrots too.

   
 
I began my soup by sautéing a diced onion in a couple of tablespoons of butter. Once they were soft I stirred in the leftover sweet potatoes and carrots (about 3-4 cups of each) along with a bit of white pepper, 3 cups of broth, and about 1 cup of water. I broght this to a boil and then simmered for about 40 minutes. At the end I simply hit it with the imersion blender and served with a dash of cayenne pepper. 

  

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Pumpkin Pie

For those of you who do not know me personally, I do work full time and both my boys are in sports. The last couple of weeks have been pretty hectic both peronsally at work and with new seasons starting up which added a number of weekly obligations. My blog has obviously suffered. 

I however wanted to share this recipe before the Thanksgiving holiday: Pumpkin Pie. It is not always the best item on any table, but it can be. 

The recipe I make is my mother and it starts in advance. Over the weekend I baked the pumpkin, I had 3, but you only need one pie pumpkin. I always use a sugar pumpkin (these are the small ones about  6-8″ diameter), but I have heard of people using other types and I’m sure they would work as well. 

To prepare the pumpkin, cut half, scoop out seeds, and bake for 1½ hours at 350. 

   
 
 When cool, scoop out flesh and press in applesauce or tomato press. I use a tomato press, and the goal is to remove the stringiness from the pumpkin, so everything that comes out the seed chute goes back in the top until it’s all been pressed.

 
At this point the pumpkin can be kept for a week in the fridge, frozen, or canned. The pumpkin pies are my typical Tuesday before Thanksgiving activity, but my mother is bringing it this year so here are her pictures from a previous Thanksgiving:

   
 Pumpkin Pie
Prep 15 mins ∙ Cook 1 hr ∙ Makes 1 pie ∙ Difficulty Easy ∙ Source Mary Jo Sharp

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1½ cup pumpkin
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ginger
  • ¼ tsp. cloves
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk
  • 1 unbaked pie shell

DIRECTIONS

Mix filling ingredientss in order. Pour into an unbaked pie shell and bake in a preheated oven (425°F) for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F and continue baking for 45 minutes or until a knife in the center comes out clean.

My basic pie crust recipe is here: The Stacey Bistro | Cooler Weather.

Chili Verde

OK, I suck, I forgot to take pictues, again.

This recipe however is deserving of a post. I considered making this a couple of weeks ago; the way our schedules worked I put the shoulder roast in the freezer and moved on. Considering this week (busy, cold, windy, and rainy) I pulled it out of the freezer on Sunday and planned it for today. Last night, I cut it up; based on our prefereces I removed as much fat as I could and then tossed it into the crock pot with the other ingredients (not the rice, sour cream, or cilantro) and simply put the insert in the fridge. This morning was easy, I put the insert in the crock pot and set it for 7½ hours. My crock pot switches to warm when the time is up.

For reference, I use jalapeños, but it is good with chilis too, I prefer the heat this way. And the family was split this evening, I did make rice and two of us served it over rice in a soup bowl; sour cream, cheese, cilantro, and cholula are all good toppings. The other two of us used it as a filling for burritos: a large spoonful of pork down the center of a warmed flour tortilla, top with rice, shredded cheese, and cholula, (I also had some sautéed peppers and onions leftover which made it in) then fold in both sides and roll up into a burrito, and finish by searing an a dry skillet. They had their sour cream on the side.

I have some leftovers, I foresee this in a breakfast burrito this weekend.

Chili Verde

Cook 3½ – 8 hours ∙ Makes 6-8 servings ∙ Difficulty Easy
INGREDIENTS

  • 8 ounces roasted diced green chilies (or jalapeños), canned, with their liquid
  • 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1½ tsp salt, plus more, to taste
  • ½ tsp white pepper, plus more, to taste
  • rice, White or Mexican, for serving
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup cilantro, freshly chopped

DIRECTIONS

Put the chilies and their liquid in a slow cooker. Stir in the pork, broth, garlic, oregano, salt, and white pepper. Cover and cook on high for 3½-4 hours or on low for 7-8 hours.

Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and white pepper. (Note: I also break apart the chunks of meat with my Pampered Chef Mix ‘n Chop – not trying to sell it, it’s just a favorite tool.) Ladle the stew over rice and serve immediately, passing the sour cream and cilantro at the table. Serves 6 to 8.

Steak and Mushrooms

There are few better combinations than steak and mushrooms. On Sunday a recipe caught my eye, but it wasn’t quite right. I put it on the menu anyway and sent my husband to the store for steak; the recipe called for hangar, so that’s what I told him to ask for (knowing that it was unlikely) and told him to accept whatever they suggested. He came home with a 1½ pound skirt steak and some thin green beans. Meanwhile I picked up packages of mushrooms, a mix with shiitake, cremini, and oyster. 

Today, I got out the steak when I got home and let it rest on the counter. Eventually I trimmed up the skirt steak, cut it into 4 pieces, and pounded it to make sure it was all the same thickness (~½”). I then rinsed and trimmed up the mushrooms and coarsely chopped them. I sautéed the mushrooms in olive oil until they were golden and set them aside. In the same pan I added a bit of butter 2 sprigs of rosemary and 4 smashed garlic cloves and the steak. 

  
  
Once I had the steak medium rare, I removed it from the pan, loosely covered it with foil and then deglazed the pan with red wine, after reducing it slightly I added in beef broth and continued reducing until it was about ½ cup remaining. I turned of the heat, stirred in more butter, oregano, and the mushrooms. 

While I was reducing, I also sautéed/steamed the green beans with thinly sliced shallots and a bit of salt and pepper. Just prior to serving I sliced the skirt steak.  

    
 
Dinner served at 7:30. Delish. Nothing better than steak and mushrooms.

  
Hanger Steak with Mushrooms and Red Wine Sauce

prep 10 mins ∙ cook 20 mins ∙ makes 4 servings ∙ difficulty Easy
INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 12 ounces assorted mushrooms, torn or cut into large pieces
  • kosher salt
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1½ pound hanger or skirt steak, trimmed, pounded to ½” thickness
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 6″ sprigs rosemary
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • ¾ cup beef stock
  • ½ tsp. oregano

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl; set aside.

2. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with remaining 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over medium heat. Season steak with salt and cracked pepper. Add steak, garlic, and rosemary to skillet. Cook about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board. Let rest while preparing sauce.

3. Discard garlic and rosemary from skillet. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat. Add wine; cook, stirring up bits, until reduced to ¾ cup. Stir in stock; bring to a boil. Simmer until reduced to ½ cup, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; Whisk in 3 tablespoons butter. Stir in mushrooms and oregano.

4. Thinly slice steak; serve with mushrooms.

Cooler Weather

Late fall, when it begins to really cool off is always the time that my appetite goes to soups, stews, and crock pot recipes. One of my favorites is jambalaya, it may not be a traditional recipe, but I really enjoy this crock pot recipe. Today it gave me the time to pay attention to my son and his new girlfriend in the famility room while I made pies, one for dessert, one for a friend’s birthday tomorrow, and a third just in case we need more.

The only work of the jambalaya is chopping the vegetables,


and the kielbasa.

img_2797

Once these cook down,

img_2801

stir in the shrimp and parsley and you are done.

I prefer this as a weekend meal since it isn’t good if it’s in the crock pot for 9 hours (my minimum time away from home on a workday; and I’m not actually fond of eating at 5:30). The recipe is very amenable to to changes based your preferences; I am a bit heavy handed with the shrimp and kielbasa, I have also used andouille…play with it so that it matches your taste preferences.

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Jambalaya

cook 4-9 hours ∙ makes Serves 8 ∙ difficulty Easy

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 onion, large, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 28 ounces diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1½ pounds smoked kielbasa, halved and sliced
  • ½ tsp thyme, dried
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp red pepper sauce
  • 1½ pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 Tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 4 cups hot cooked rice

DIRECTIONS

In 3½- to 6-quart slow cooker, mix all ingredients except shrimp, parsley, and rice.

Cover; cook on low heat setting 7 to 8 hours (or high heat setting 3 to 4 hours).

Stir in shrimp and parsley. If needed, reduce heat setting to Low; cover and cook on Low heat setting about 1 hour longer or until shrimp are pink and firm. Serve jambalaya with rice.

NOTES

Spicy and smoky, andouille sausage is traditionally used for this dish. If you’re in a more mellow mode, leftover ham works just as well.

Spray the inside of a 1/2-cup measuring cup with cooking spray. For each serving press the hot rice into the cup. Place the cup upside down in the bottom of a bowl, and unmold the rice. Spoon the jambalaya around the mound of rice. Serve with warm crusty French bread.

I have discussed my apple pie before with my mother’s crust recipe, my own recipe is slightly different. For my mom, “easy as pie” is a meaningful phrase. Sadly, for me, not so much. My hands are very dry and I cannot “feel” the crust as she describes. So after playing with a number of recipes, I modified hers to include both butter and Crisco. This gives it the desirable flakiness associated with a Crisco crust and the manageability of a butter crust. It can be mixed in a food processor…easy.

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Pie Crust

prep 30 minutes to 4 hours ∙ makes 1 double crust ∙ difficulty Easy ∙ source Shannon Stacey

INGREDIENTS

  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 5½ Tbsp Crisco, +1 tsp., chilled
  • 5½ Tbsp butter, +1 tsp., chilled
  • ¼ cup water, ice-cold

DIRECTIONS

Mix flour and salt together in a food processor. Add half of the Crisco and half of the butter and process until just combined. Add remaining Crisco and butter and mix until crumbly. Add water slowly while pulsing the processor. Pour out dough onto a very lightly floured board and shape into a disk. Split into two pieces (slightly larger for the top crust) and shape into 5-6″ disks. Wrap each disk in saran wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Use as directed in pie recipe.

NOTES

This recipe easily scales from 1 to 3 double crusts.

Not Your Ordinary Saltimbocca

My first comment is that everyone should go get the Essential New York Times Cookbook Classical Recipes for a New Century by Amanda Hesser, copyright 2010. Each time I go to this cookbook it’s a success.

On a regular basis, my husband tells me that I should consider easier options for Sunday dinner so that I can enjoy the day and not be chained to the kitchen. The simple answer is that I do enjoy a day I get to spend in the kitchen. Today however was almost 70, sunny, in Michigan, in November and enjoying  some if it outside was high on my list of things to do. So I pulled out this cookbook knowing that within its pages of over 1000 recipes I would find what I was looking for. I flipped to the the section Beef, Veal, Lamb, and Pork and began to read. I considered a few different options, stews that I wouldn’t have to watch, I had Beef Burgandy or Stroganoff in my head, and then I landed on the Saltimbocca recipe, with the proscuitto nestled inside the veal.

I continued my reading and proceed onto the recommended pairings, she recommended a few different items, I had potatoes and a vegetable so that’s where I headed in the book, both also simple. The author also recommended panna cotta for dessert, I recalled that in the intro she mentioned that this cookbook contained the best Panna Cotta she had ever tasted, a bit of flipping and I confirmed that this was indeed the one she was referring to, with buttermilk as a main ingredient.

All of the recipes were as easy as promised. I made the panna cotta first, when I got home from the grocery store, I started at 1, it was in ramekins in the fridge by 2.

I then relaxed, read outside, did a few other Sunday tasks, but overall enjoyed my afternoon. At 5 I got my ingredients for dinner out, and began the potatoes, once those were in the pan, I started on the zucchini. At 5:40 the oven was preheated and the potatoes went in. The zucchini only took a few minutes longer to prep and I set it off to the side. I pounded out the veal and folded in he proscuitto as described; I set those off to the side as well. At 6:35, I put the zucchini in the oven, and then at 6:45, I began the veal cooking it in batches so as not to crowd the skillet.

Everything was done at 7, and we started the meal with a goat cheese, dried cherry, and pear salad from my MIL (perfect as always).

The meal was perfect, each item exactly as promised.


Nesting the proscuitto inside the veal protects it from the skillet and still keeps the veal moist. The sage adds a subtle touch of flavor.


Saltimbocca

prep 15 mins ∙ cook 10 min ∙ makes 4 servings ∙ difficulty Medium ∙ source Essential New York Times Cookbook | Amanda Hesser | 2010 – page 561

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 thin slices proscuitto
  • 4 small veal cutlets, pounded very thin
  • 1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 sage leaves
  • Sea salt
  • Splash of dry white wine

DIRECTIONS
1. Place 2 pieces of prosciutto on each piece of veal so they hang over the ends and overlap in the middle. Fold each piece of veal in half, securing it wit toothpicks in 2 places.

2. Heat the butter and olive oil in a medium non-stick pan until foamy. Add the veal packages and sage leaves, and cook for about 1 minute on each side, turning once, until slightly brown. Season with salt as the packages cook, and sprinkle white wine into the pan as they finish. Discard sage and serve.


NOTES

Heat the oil and butter over medium heat.

These are perfectly crispy, I added extra garlic since we love it. I used a large cookie sheet rather than a roasting pan.


Italian Roasted Potatoes

prep 20 mintues ∙ cook 1 hour 15 mintues ∙ makes 6 servings ∙ difficulty Easy ∙ source Essential New York Times Cookbook | Amanda Hesser | 2010 – page 300

INGREDIENTS

  • 2½ pounds waxy potatoes (about 6 medium), scrubbed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 12 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Salt

DIRECTIONS
1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Combine potatoes, garlic, oregano, and oil in a large roasting pan. Stir until potatoes are well-coated, and spread them evenly in pan.

2. Place in the oven, and roast until the potatoes are golden brown and crisp, 1 to 1¼ hours. (If the potatoes are crowded in the pan, they will take longer to crisp.)

3. Remove potatoes and garlic from oven, and transfer to serving dish. Sprinkle with salt to taste, and serve immediately.

NOTES
Use a coarse sea salt at the end.

This recipe was the only recipe that concerned me, I knew the flavor would be good, and the recipe notes assured me it would not be mush, but…  As you can see from the nip ages I could not find baby zucchini, only small, so I also cut them in half. My only edit would be to reduce the olive oil to ¼ cup.


Baked Zucchini with Herbs and Tomatoes

prep 20 minutes ∙ cook 20 minutes ∙ makes 6 servings ∙ difficulty Easy ∙ source Essential New York Times Cookbook | Amanda Hesser | 2010 – page 250

INGREDIENTS

  • 10 firm baby zucchini, or 5 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick sticks
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 scallions, white part only, thinly sliced
  • Leaves from 3 inner stalks celery
  • 6 basil leaves
  • About ¼ cup flour
  • 2 whole ripe plum tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
  • Sea salt
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine zucchini, onion, and scallions in a colander. Tear celery and basil leaves into small pieces and sprinkle on top. Sprinkle flour over all. Using one hand, press and toss ingredients together until well mixed and coated (it will get a little moist, but not gooey). Add tomatoes, season with salt and toss once more.

2. Pour half the olive oil into a medium baking dish or ceramic pie plate. Fill dish with zucchini mixture, then grind pepper over top. Sprinkle remaining oil on top, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until ingredients are just cooked but still firm.


Although Amanda recommended a blueberry sauce, I opted for blackberries, I described both options in the notes.

Panna Cotta

cook 15 minutes ∙ makes 6 servings ∙ difficulty Medium ∙ source Essential New York Times Cookbook | Amanda Hesser | 2010 – page 840

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 package powdered gelatin
  • 1⅔ cups buttermilk
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh fruit for garnish

DIRECTIONS
1. Place the cream and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 7 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, place the water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let stand for 5 minutes.

3. Stir the gelatin into the warm cream until dissolved. Stir in the buttermilk and salt and remove from heat.

4. Ladle the mixture into six 6-ounce ramekins. Refrigerate, loosely covered, until set, at least 2 hours.

5. To serve, run the tip of a small knife around the edge of the ramekins to loosen the panna cotta, and unmold onto individual plates.

6. Let stand until almost at room temperature, about 1 hour. Surround with fruit and serve.

NOTES
From the cookbook:

To unfold, dip the ramekins in a bowl of hot water for 30 seconds then dry the bottoms of the ramekins before inverting onto serving plates and tapping out the panna cotta.

For serving, I brought, ½ cup sugar and ½ cup water to a boil in a small saucepan, added 1 cup blueberries and 1 star anise pod, turned off the heat, and let the mixture steep 20 minutes (remove the star anise before serving the sauce).
My notes:

For serving, I set 24 blackberries aside and brought the remainder to a boil in a small saucepan with 3 tbsp. sugar and 3 tbsp. water and let them boil until the berries were soft. I remove it from the heat and crushed the berries. Just prior to serving I stirred in the remaining fresh berries.

Happy Halloween!

We have great friends who have hosted a fabulous Halloween party for number of years. I am so happy that we have been able to attend the past few years. This year was no exception:


I was happy this year that my offer to contribute was accepted; I am happiest when I can share good food (although they had plenty). I brought 3 new items that can all be made in advance.

Monster Eyeballs

 

Monster Eyeballs

makes about 80 eyeballs ∙ source Epicurious.com | October 2009
INGREDIENTS

  • 1½ cups creamy peanut butter
  • ½ cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 pound confectioners’ sugar (about 4 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening
  • 1 (3-ounce) package miniature M&Ms

DIRECTIONS

1. Blend the peanut butter with the butter, sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl. (I recommend a pastry blender or your hands.)

2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with wax paper. Roll the peanut butter mixture by teaspoons into small balls and place on the baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to firm up the eyeballs.


3. Put the chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave-safe bowl and melt the chocolate in the microwave: Heat on high for 60 seconds, and then stir well. If it’s not quite smooth, heat in two or three 10-second bursts, stirring well after each burst. (Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate, stirring frequently, in a double boiler, over just-simmering water. Avoid overheating, which can cause chocolate to seize up into a stiff mass.)

4. Take the sheet of balls from the refrigerator; use a fork or a toothpick to dip each one most of the way into the chocolate, leaving a round or oval opening of undipped peanut butter on top. (This opening in the chocolate will be the cornea.) Hold each ball over the chocolate to catch the drips, and then return to the wax paper, cornea side up.


 5. Place an M&M in the center of the peanut butter cornea to make an iris. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Store the eyeballs in the refrigerator or freezer and serve chilled.

 

Scary Barbecue Snack Mix


Scary Barbecue Snack Mix

(Way better than Chex Mix and good for all of fall (football season), not just Halloween.)

makes 8 servings ∙ source Gourmet | October 2012

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 cups popcorn (1½ ounces; see Cooks’ notes)
  • 2 cups coarsely broken blue corn tortilla chips (2¾ ounces)
  • 2 cups Cheddar fish-shaped crackers or other cheese crackers (3¾ ounces)
  • 2 cups corn nuts (6½ ounces) or smokehouse almonds (or 1 cup of both)
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika (sometimes labeled pimentón dulce)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon Tabasco (optional)
  • Special equipment: Large (18- by 13-inch) rimmed baking sheet

DIRECTIONS

  • Heat oven to 300°F with rack in middle. Grease rimmed baking sheet with oil.
  • Combine popcorn, tortilla chips, cheese crackers, and corn nuts in a large bowl.

  • Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove pan from heat and whisk in barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, paprika, chili and garlic powders, and Tabasco, if using.
  • Drizzle barbecue sauce mixture over snack mix and stir until combined well.

  • Evenly spread mixture in baking sheet and bake, stirring and turning mixture over every 10 minutes, for a total of 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack (it will crisp as it cools), then break into pieces.



NOTES

Cooks’ notes: Snack mix keeps in an airtight container for up to 1 week. If you want to pop your own popcorn, we recommend using a hot-air popper. To end up with at least 6 cups, use 1/4 cup kernels.

Pumpkin Seed Brittle  (so sad, I forgot to take a picture)

makes 16 ∙ source Bon Appétit | November 2013
INGREDIENTS

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup raw shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • A candy thermometer

DIRECTIONS

Spray a parchment-lined baking sheet with nonstick spray; set aside. Bring sugar, corn syrup, and 3 Tbsp. water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Fit saucepan with thermometer and cook until thermometer registers 290°, 3–4 minutes.

Stir in pumpkin seeds, butter, and kosher salt and cook, stirring often, until pale brown and thermometer registers 305°, 3–4 minutes.

Stir in baking soda and cinnamon (mixture will bubble vigorously), then immediately pour caramel onto prepared sheet. Using a heatproof spatula, quickly spread out and sprinkle with sea salt; let cool. Break brittle into pieces.

Do Ahead: Brittle can be made 1 week ahead. Store airtight, layered between sheets of parchment paper, at room temperature.

Busy Week

So I was really excited this week, I was going to post about the meals I had planned which included 3 favorites. This week had other plans for me though, I had to attend a dinner for work, winter soccer practice started this week, my eldest forgot his cleats at home one day, my husband had a late work meeting, and I had a parent meeting to attend for my younger son’s lacrosse. Whew.

Fortunately, this is part of why I plan, when something changes, I already have all the ingredients available for the entire menu and I can switch it up to fit the new plan. Last Saturday in addition to braising the short ribs, I made burgers for dinner and had a few left over. Along with my Sunday cooking I made the filling for Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. I got this recipe a few years ago from my good friend Dawn; it’s great for any busy week, because you can make it in advance and anyone who can put together a grilled cheese can cook it. I thought we would have these on Monday because  we all eat at different times, but with me not home, my husband and eldest opted for the burgers and this got moved to Wednesday. I put the pork shoulder for the Chili Verde in the freezer and moved on.

By Monday, I knew how the week was shaping up, so the minute I got home, I set to work on Oliver Clark’s Meat Loaf for dinner on Thursday. Last Thanksgiving, I received a cookbook from my friend Jan; she and her family joined us for the meal. Cookbook, is an understatement for the book, Essential New York Times Cookbook, by Amanda Hesser, 2010, there are no pictures but the stories and writing within are beautiful and the recipes (which I have tried so far) are wonderful. This is one of those recipes, it is found on page 554; the only substitution I made was to use baby bella mushrooms, otherwise, don’t change a thing the flavor is perfect. When I was recently married, I made a meatloaf that was primarily ground beef and a box of Stove Top, this puts that to shame. Yes it is more work, it took me 30 minutes to put it all together instead of 5. The time you put in is a noticible difference. I separated the beef mixure into two loaf pans and  froze half. I put the other half in the fridge wrapped in foil until Thursday when I put it on a rimmed cookie sheet and baked as directed.


Just before dinner I quickly sautéed the remaining mushrooms and French beans in the pan I used for the bacon.

Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese Sandwich

cook 10 minutes ∙ makes 4 servings ∙ difficulty Easy ∙ source Dawn
INGREDIENTS

  • 8 slices French bread, sliced ¼” thick
  • 6 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ¾ cup blue cheese crumbled (optional – can replace with ¼ cup ranch dressing)
  • 2 cups rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ⅛ cup onion, minced
  • ¼ cup celery, minced
  • 5 Tbsp buffalo wing sauce (such as Frank’s red hot sauce)
  • Soft butter or margarine

DIRECTIONS

In a mixing bowl, whip the cream cheese until smooth and creamy, scraping the sides of the bowl once or twice. Add the cheddar cheese and mix well, then fold in the blue cheese. Mix in the remaining ingredients.

Prepare bread as you would for grilled cheese sandwiches, buttering the outside. Spread this mixture on top of four of the prepared slices and top with the remaining four slices.

Heat a large sauté pan or griddle over medium-low heat. Add the sandwiches and toast each side until golden brown, about 5-8 minutes. Serve.
Oliver Clark’s Meat Loaf
source: Essential New York Times Cookbook | Amanda Hesser | 2010 – page 554

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1½ large portobello mushrooms caps, finely chopped
  • 1 green pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 lb. ground pork or sausage
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp. Cajun seasoning
  • ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 1 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp. whipped cream cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ lb. bacon

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Sauté the garlic and onions in 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet until the garlic is golden and the onions are translucent. Remove to a bowl. Add a dash of saalt and pepper: it’s important to season well here. (SMS Note: It’s more than a dash, season well.)

2. Place all the remaining ingredients except the eggs and bacon in a bowl. Paw at it with two forks, combining thoroughly but not overmixing. Mix in the eggs and the onions and garlic. Scrape the mixture into a large baking dish and shape into a loaf about 4 inches wide and 3 inches high.

3. Bake for 50-60 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, midway through the baking time, sauté the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until pale, limp, and partially rendered, about 5 minutes. Adorn the meat loaf with it and finish cooking.

NOTES

Trust the time in the recipe so as not to overcook. Can be prepared in advance; allow to sit at room temp for an hour, if possible, before baking if prepared in advance.