Tag Archives: cheddar cheese

Savory Onion, Mushroom, Sausage, and Cheese Strata

I love bread. People that don’t eat bread? Sheww… I feel bad for them. French bread? Yes please. Italian bread? Sure thing. Baguettes topped with anything? Absolutely. Sliced sourdough packed with cheese and toasted on a griddle? MY FAVORITE. So when I go to the store and the bakery has discounted bread on the day-old rack, I stock up. Last week I made a bread pudding out of French bread and today I’m making a strata for dinner out of a stale baguette.

Today’s dinner uses the long, skinny, unassuming baguette. Crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside. Perfect for sucking up milk and eggs. Here you go.

Wipe the drool from your chin and read on, my friend.

Wipe the drool from your chin and read on, my friend.

Savory Onion, Mushroom, Sausage, and Cheese Strata

Ingredients:

  • one large Vidalia or sweet onion, chopped
  • 16 ounce container sliced mushrooms (white mushrooms are okay, baby bellas are better)
  • 1 tsp basil (dried)
  • 1 tsp oregano (dried)
  • 1 pound fresh mild flavored sausage (breakfast sausage or mild italian sausage)
  • 1 baguette cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 16 ounce container whole milk or heavy cream
  • 6 eggs, whisked in large bowl
  • sprinkle of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
  • 7-8 ounces gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 7-8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:

Place 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil in large skillet and add chopped onions.

My one large sweet onion made 4 cups of chopped onion

My one large sweet onion made 4 cups of chopped onion

Sprinkle a pinch of salt over onions. Cook on medium heat 10 minutes.

sauteed onions

sauteed onions

Add sliced mushrooms. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over mushrooms. Cook 10 more minutes.

Add mushrooms to sauteed onions

Add mushrooms to sauteed onions

Add some cracked black pepper. Place a tsp oregano in palm of your hand and crush to release oils while adding to onions and mushrooms. Place a tsp basil in palm of your hand and crush to release oils while adding to mixture.

top with basil and oregano

top with basil and oregano

Stir mixture and allow to cook 20 minutes until softened and a bit caramelized.

stir to combine herbs and onions and mushrooms

stir to combine herbs and onions and mushrooms

While that’s cooking, whisk the 6 eggs and milk/cream in large bowl.

Whisk eggs and add whole milk or heavy cream.

Whisk eggs and add whole milk or heavy cream.

Add sprinkle of nutmeg.

Add nutmeg. If it's dried powder or fresh makes no difference. Just add some.

Add nutmeg. If it’s dried powder or fresh makes no difference. Just add some.

Whisk to combine.

Now remove the mushrooms and onions to a medium sized bowl and place the sausage in the pan and cook until brown and crumbled.

Remove the mushrooms and onions and place sausage in the pan and brown.

Remove the mushrooms and onions and place sausage in the pan and brown.

Now combine the sausage, mushrooms and onions back in the pan and toss to create a delicious pan of yumminess.

Combine mushrooms and onions with the sausage and allow to cook for five minutes more. TASTE IT! Adjust it with salt and pepper if necessary. Keep in mind the cheese will add a ton of flavor.

Combine mushrooms and onions with the sausage and allow to cook for five minutes more.

TASTE IT. Add salt and pepper if necessary. Allow to cook together for 5 minutes and then remove from heat and allow to cool for a bit.

Cut the baguette into bite-sized pieces.

My baguette made about 6 cups

My baguette made about 6 cups

And place the baguette in the milk/cream/egg mixture and toss to coat.

While bread is soaking, prepare your pan and finish cooking sausage mixture

While bread is soaking, prepare your pan and shred the cheese

Allow to soak while you prepare the pan and shred the cheese.

Spray a large casserole dish or cake pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

Shred your blocks of cheese.

Good cheese. That is all.

Good cheese. That is all.

I chose cheddar because it’s tasty. I added Gruyere to it because I like the melt-ability. I lucked out at the store because I found this one: APPLEWOOD SMOKED GRUYERE. Perfect with sausage.

Assembly:

Place some of the bread in the bottom of the pan.

Layer 1 - soaked bread

Layer 1 – soaked bread

Top with half of the sausage/onion/mushroom mixture.

Layer 2 - Sausage mixture. Layer 3 - Cheeses

Layer 2 – Sausage mixture. Layer 3 – Cheeses

Top with half of the cheese.

Layer the rest of the bread on top of that. And don’t waste that milk and egg that’s left in the bowl.

Layer the rest of the bread and milk/egg mixture

Layer the rest of the bread and milk/egg mixture

Place the rest of the sausage/onion/mushroom mixture on top of the bread.

Finish the whole thing with the remainder of the cheese.

Top with the rest of the sausage/onion/mushroom mixture and the rest of the cheese.

Top with the rest of the sausage/onion/mushroom mixture and the rest of the cheese.

Rip off a piece of foil and spray it with non-stick spray.

Prepare the foil with non-stick spray

Prepare the foil with non-stick spray

Place it over the strata and push down on the contents. Your goal here is to allow that custard mixture to soak into the bread cubes and the flavors to all marry together. Yum. Place in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight. I made mine midday and will eat it this evening for dinner.

When you are ready to make it, remove it from the fridge and preheat the oven to 350F. Allow to bake (foil on) for 45 minutes. Remove foil carefully

Remember when I had you spray the foil with non-stick spray? Yeah. That's why. None of the cheese gets pulled off the top of the strata. I'm pretty smart.

Remember when I had you spray the foil with non-stick spray? Yeah. That’s why. None of the cheese gets pulled off the top of the strata. I’m pretty smart.

and bake for 15 more minutes until bubbly and crusty. Allow 15 minutes or more to rest before serving.

Um what? I'm so distracted right now I forget what we're talking about.

Um what? I’m so distracted right now I forget what we’re talking about.

We had creamed corn in the freezer from last summer so that’s what we had with this hearty meal. It was nice to have something sweet and simple paired with this since it’s so rich. A nice glass of Pinot Grigio would be nice with this, too.

Enjoy!

Jessie’s Creamy Chicken Lasagna

A few weeks ago my brother called me from the grocery store to ask me some questions about ingredients in my lasagna recipe. I thought he was referring to my sauteed mushroom and onion lasagna but no… he called it Jessie’s Creamy Chicken Lasagna and said he makes it all the time. I don’t have a very good memory (I know. My husband is very lucky) so I didn’t know what he was referring to. Long story short, I got the recipe from him and he told me to post it here. He said it is a go-to of his when he is looking for that comforting, warm, cheesy, creamy indulgent meal. So here it is. I have no idea when I came up with this. I’m guessing at least 6 or 7 years ago. Maybe longer.

I hope it’s as awesome as my big brother says it is! I can’t wait to try it. Because apparently I can’t remember it from the first time around.

***update***

I made it!! It started to come back to me as I was whisking the milk into the soups and adding the herbs. It was great. It was creamy and decadent. The fruit salad was a great side-dish because it helped cut the richness of the lasagna. Josie even ate a few bites after I explained to her that the lasagna tasted like cheese crackers and chicken nuggets. Thanks big brother for bringing this one back!

creamy chicken lasagna with a little bowl of fresh fruit salad. The fruit salad is great because it cuts the richness of the lasagna.

creamy chicken lasagna with a little bowl of fresh fruit salad. The fruit salad is great because it cuts the richness of the lasagna.

Jessie’s Creamy Chicken Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 1 15 oz. container small curd low fat cottage cheese (cottage cheese melts and blends right in but it’s MUCH cheaper than ricotta. Try it. You’ll thank me for saving you the bucks AND still giving you the smooth, mellow, cheesy, creaminess you need.
  • 3 cups diced cooked chicken – a rotisserie chicken is a great choice for this if you are in a hurry. Just pick it up at the grocery store along with the rest of the ingredients.
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 12 oven-ready lasagna noodles
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • hot pepper chili flakes to taste if you like that touch of heat.

Preheat oven to 350F

Stir the soups, milk, and herbs, s&p and chili flakes in a large bowl.

Spray bottom and sides of 13×9 baking dish with cooking spray.

Assembly instructions:

Coat the bottom of the baking dish with a big spoonful or two of the soup mixture. Place noodles on top of the soup mixture. Top with about 1 cup of soup mixture, half of the cottage cheese, 1 1/2 cups of chicken, 2/3 cup Mozzarella cheese and 1/3 cup cheddar cheese. Repeat layers once. Place another layer of noodles on top and cover with remaining soup mixture, Mozzarella cheese and cheddar cheese.

Cover with foil (spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray to prevent the cheese from ripping off the top of the lasagna when you remove the foil) and bake for 45 minutes. Then remove foil and bake until golden and bubbly.

Enjoy the simplicity of this lasagna! It freezes well and it is great to give to friends or family or neighbors that need a hearty meal.

Baked Mac N Cheese with Ham

After the holidays, be it Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Fourth of July, New Year’s Day, I always try to stock up on the foods that were overstocked in the grocery stores. Many times you will spend three dollars a pound for a turkey but after the holidays you might see them for $ .89 a pound! So keep your eye on the ham after Easter and Christmas, the pork after New Year’s, and the beef and chicken after Fourth of July. Also, check the produce after the 4th too. Often those watermelons and cobs of corn are on the ‘not the best but still a good buy’ rack. AND the corn on the cob is usually husked for you when it’s on the day old rack! Woo hoo!

Anyway, my father-in-law came to our house for Thanksgiving. I made a turkey. But he brought a ham that he got for free through his local grocery store and I put it in the freezer. I recently got it out and thawed that bad boy and threw it in a roasting pan with a splash of pinot grigio, honey drizzled over the ham and some dijon mustard brushed on it. (Tightly sealed with foil and baked 15 mins per pound). We ate it hot that night for dinner. We ate it cold for quesadillas the next day. We ate it for breakfast piled high with an over easy egg on an English Muffin. The best part is, I pulled a bunch of the slices off for Josie’s lunches. I make her a real life “lunchamajig”. You know. Those prepackaged plastic trays with crackers and cheese and a cookie and that meat that’s perfectly round but not really identifiable. What is this? Ham? Turkey? One is the same color as the other and it almost looks like sliced hot dogs. Gross. Yeah, momma’s making Josie her own “lunchamajig”. That’s what I’m calling it.

I had a ton of ham left so I picked it all off the bone and chopped up one cup of the salty sweet goodness for the following recipe and put the rest in the freezer for many many more meals to come. Thanks father-in-law for the free ham! Maybe I’ll bring a casserole the next time we visit which includes some of your generous Thanksgiving donation!

Baked mac and cheese with ham

finished mac n cheese w ham

This recipe calls for 1 lb cooked pasta – your choice. I used mini shells. Cook until just under al dente. It will bake for awhile too so don’t over cook it at this time. A pointer: add some chicken bullion to your water before adding the pasta. Or just a tablespoon of salt. It adds so much to the flavor of the pasta if you flavor the water.

drain the pasta and put back in the pot (or in a big bowl) and add:

1 Cup sharp cheddar cheese and 1 Cup of the diced ham and toss to distribute the ham and cheese evenly.

Place the mixture into a greased 9×13 casserole dish.

Top with 1/3 Cup of dried Italian Style breadcrumbs and 1/2 Cup of sharp cheddar cheese

Top that with a couple pats of butter. Slivers of butter distributed over the breadcrumbs helps to brown the topping.

mac and cheese w ham before baking

Top with slivers of butter and drizzle with milk.

Now, pour one cup of milk (I used 2%) gently over the top of the pasta and breadcrumbs. It also helps to make the top moist and helps it crisp up in the oven.

Bake uncovered at 350F about 45 – 60 minutes until top is golden. Allow to rest for ten minutes before serving.

The creamy soft noodles and the salty ham is so yummy together. And if you chop the ham up in small enough pieces you often get a crunchy piece from the top that is a lot like BACON! Yum.

Enjoy!