Tag Archives: onions

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!

Grilled Steak Reinvented

Made steaks at my mom’s house and brought home the leftovers. Yum.

We visit my mom often. This one particular weekend we decided to go all out and really cook. We grilled steak, made a blue cheese onion sauce, creamed corn (the real stuff – from a garden). And broccoli. My favorite veggie! Then when I was so full I couldn’t keep my pants buttoned I decided instead of making myself sick, I’d pack it up and take it home. Once at home, a few days later, I sliced the steak, added the onion sauce, a few fresh blue cheese crumbles and thinly sliced potatoes with butter and thyme, fried in a pan and then put under the broiler.

Leftovers are sometimes just as good, if not better, than the first meal. Yum. Again.

I don’t have any recipes here or anything. I just wanted to challenge you to think about using your leftovers in new ways. Oh and topping anything like this with a dippy egg (over-easy egg) makes it awesome-er. ;-)

Lemon Basil Parmesan Risotto with Peas

One of the dishes I was most afraid of making from scratch was always risotto. It seemed like a daunting task of perfect measurements, constant stirring, and cooking for exactly 22 minutes. Now it’s one of my go-to dishes. And I barely follow a recipe anymore. But for you, I’ll tell you exactly what to do.

It’s very versatile. You can add all sorts of flavorings to it and veggies to create a perfect bowl of flavor. I personally like the zesty, tangy lemon, the sweet ‘pop’ of peas and salty Parmesan flavor.

Lemon Basil Parmesan Risotto with Peas

finished bowl of risotto

finished bowl of risotto

Ingredients:

2 small sweet onions or 1 large Vidalia onion

5 T unsalted butter, divided (3 and 2)

1 T extra virgin olive oil

1 1/4 C Arborio rice

1/2 tsp salt (depending on how salty your stock is. Mine is home made so it’s not as salty as store-bought)

1/2 C Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc (optional)

5-6 Cups chicken stock

2 T fresh basil chiffonade

juice from 1/2 lemon

zest of whole lemon

1 C frozen peas

1/2 C Parmesan cheese

dash of heavy cream (optional)

Directions:

Start out by placing all the chicken stock in a sauce pan over medium heat. Place butter and oil in a separate larger heavy sauce pan over low heat to melt. Add finely chopped onion and allow onion to soften for about 10 minutes. (I place the onion in the food processor to chop it up as finely as possible. It ends up being about the same size as the grains of rice. Which is nice when you are trying to get your picky kid to eat it.) Add rice to onion and stir to coat. Allow to toast in butter/oil for about 5 minutes. Add the 1/2 tsp salt and stir. (note: if your stock is super salty, don’t add too much salt at this time. Keep in mind the Parmesan is salty, too.) Add wine and pat rice down into liquid. The liquid should be at a slow simmer. If you cook the rice too hot it will cook too fast and the starch won’t be released. If you cook the rice too low the rice will get mushy. A nice slow simmer is good…. a couple bubbles, not too much.

Once the wine is absorbed you can start adding the hot stock at about a cup at a time. Add one cup stock, stir, and allow to simmer. Add another cup stock, stir, and allow to simmer.

risotto, stock, measuring cup for scooping stock and a glass of wine for me to drink. Yum.

risotto, stock, measuring cup for scooping stock and a glass of wine for me to drink. Yum.

Once you add about half the stock, add the lemon zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon.

risotto2

Continue adding the stock and stirring the rice. Taste to see what the texture is like. It should have a little bit of a bite in the center of the rice but the general ‘feel’ should be creamy. I tend to cook the rice for about 30 minutes. Once it has a creamy texture, add the basil and peas and Parmesan and stir. At the end, stir in 2 Tablespoons of butter and even a dash of heavy cream if you have it. Voila! Easy.

Aside: you can drink wine while you are cooking this dish. That’s really why it’s my favorite meal to make.

 

 

 

 

Sausage and mixed potatoes

Growing up one of my favorite meals, that my dad always made, was sausage and potatoes. I always thought it was his recipe. I asked him about it recently and he said it was, in fact, my grandmother’s recipe. His mother-in-law, not his mother. My mom’s mom. So cute. She must’ve made it when they were dating or early in their marriage because I remember this meal from early in my childhood. And I remember my dad making it. Anyway, I’ve adapted it to make it a little more wholesome by adding sweet potatoes for fiber and vitamins but that doesn’t mean I’m not still dipping each bite into plain yellow mustard like I’m a ten year old.

Sausage and Mixed Potatoes

(I don’t have a picture of this. It’s potatoes and ground sausage on a plate. Use your imagination.)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

one pound of loose country sausage or sweet Italian sausage links (sausage removed from the casings).

1 large sweet potato cut into bite sized chunks

1 large russet potato cut into bite sized chunks

1 large or 2 medium yukon gold potatoes cut into bite sized chunks

1 medium sweet onion or half a large vidalia onion cut into small pieces (Make the onions smaller than the potatoes. This is a bite that accents the sausage and potatoes, not a giant chunk of onion that gives you the chills kind of bite.)

Spray a 9×13 casserole pan with nonstick spray. Mix the potatoes and onion in the dish. Rip chunks of the sausage and dapple/sprinkle/dollop it around the potatoes and onions. (Forgive me, I can’t think of the right word.)

Place the casserole dish, uncovered, into the oven and bake it until you smell it (isn’t that a song from the 60′s?). Mix the potatoes and sausage mixture around and poke each type of potato (because they are all different in density) and if it slides off the knife, you’re done. If you don’t trust your nose, open the oven and toss the sausage and potatoes after about 30 minutes. Poke a chunk of each type of potato with a sharp knife and if it slides off the knife you are done. If not, close the oven and allow to cook another 15 minutes. It could take up to an hour. You are looking for roasted, fork tender potatoes but not so soft they turn into mashed potatoes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a little bit. Oh and serve with a little childish pile of yellow mustard. Or ketchup… if that’s your thing.

 

 

 

A Pan Full of Deliciousness

I kind of feel like I’m always running to the store and looking for ‘what’s on sale’ in the flyers when planning my menus. And then I realize, “I already have a bag of onions, a bag of sweet potatoes, a bulb of garlic in the pantry, … oh …. and five chickens, 9 pounds of ground meat, a dozen packages of hot dogs and 5 bags of frozen broccoli in the freezer. Why do I keep buying food??” So tonight I used leftover rice, a pound of ground turkey and some pantry veggies and created a pan full of deliciousness. I don’t even know what to call it. Goulash? Hash? Or do I just call it what it is?

 

Sweet potatoes, ground turkey, rice, and broccoli roasted… in a pan… No. That’s boring. I think I’ll call it A Pan Full of Deliciousness.

pan full of deliciousness

pan full of deliciousness

You need to be able to brown on the stove top and then put the pan in the oven to finish roasting so consider using an oven safe pan or wrapping the handle (if it’s plastic or rubber) with aluminum foil to protect it.

This is all you do. The idea is to allow each item to cook a bit in the pan as you are chopping the next ingredient. So while you are chopping the onion the turkey is browning. While you are chopping the potato the onion is softening. So don’t try to prep all these ingredients and toss them all in. This is a methodical but simple recipe.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Enter the following items into the largest pan you have, placed over medium heat …IN THIS ORDER….

1 tsp olive oil

1 pound ground turkey

3 small cloves crushed garlic

1 small sweet onion or half a vidalia onion finely diced

1/2 tsp salt

12-15 cranks cracked black pepper

one medium diced sweet potato

1 tsp dried thyme leaves crushed between palms to release fragrance

pinch of cayenne pepper

1 tbsp worcestershire sauce (3-5 heavy splashes)

1 Cup (or so) frozen broccoli florets

sprinkle broccoli with some more salt, just a sprinkle

toss well and then flatten into the pan so the bottom layer gets all toasty on the stove and then once entered into the oven the top gets roasty and toasty, too.

Place in oven for ten minutes, uncovered. Stir and flatten ingredients again. Roast again, ten more minutes.

Now add 3/4 cup to 1 cup of leftover rice, if you have it. If not, leave it out. I had it so I added it.

Heat through until you are satisfied with the roasty toasty deliciousness. Then stuff yo’ face.