Tuesday, April 27, 2010
My Venture into Breakfast Food
I could eat breakfast foods at every meal. By far, breakfast is my FAVORITE meal of the day. Bacon. Eggs. Sausage. Hashbrowns. Pancakes. No wonder my thighs rub together when I'm walking down the hall. Today's recipe can be made full-flavored (which is the nice way of saying "fattening") or it can be made more figure-friendly. I certainly love the high octane version but the lighter alternative is actually quite tasty as well.
You'll notice in the recipe below, there are quite a few ingredients. Although it is not difficult to make, you would not normally make this for a normal weekday breakfast unless you like getting up at 5:00 a.m. This would be perfect for Sunday brunch, Christmas morning, or even a Saturday night card game with the guys. I tried to incorporate several short-cuts to help everything come together faster (although I don't normally use those short-cuts when I make it myself).
I was not sure if this recipe would be "blog worthy" so I made it, took quick pictures, and drove to my mother's house with the breakfast enchiladas in-hand. My mother loathes sausage so I assumed she would hate this recipe. My teenage nephew and middle-aged sister were also visiting so it was a good chance to get input from different people. Would they like this concept? Would they think it was too spicy? Would they think it was too heavy? Would they run screaming from the house and vomit uncontrollably in my mother's front yard…again? To my surprise, they all loved it! It's always hard to please people when it comes to spiciness level. Mom thought it was just a hair too spicy for her (she thinks water is spicy). My sister, who also doesn't like spicy food, thought it could be spicier. My nephew thought it was perfect. They all agreed it would be blog worthy and cannot wait for me to make these breakfast enchiladas for them again.
You'll have to forgive my uninspired pictures. I baked the enchiladas at my place because I hate cooking at my mother's house. I normally would have plated a couple of enchiladas and made them pretty for you all but that would have taken too long and they would have gotten cold before I got to my mother's house. So, I opted to take the easy way out and photograph them while they were still in the dish. It's not as pretty this way and you don't get a sense of what they look like but my mother comes first! You know, Mother's Day IS coming up and Mother's Day is not so much a DAY in my family as it is a SEASON.
These breakfast enchiladas are meaty and creamy on the inside. They're very filling. The cheese sauce on top is to-die-for. Very cheesilicious! I hope you enjoy my latest creation. Enjoy – and happy eating!
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1 TBSP oil
1 small onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz breakfast sausage or chorizo
1 1/4 c cooked cubed potatoes or hashbrowns (I use Simply Potatoes® from the refrigerated section of
my grocery store)
Scrambled Eggs (recipe follows)
1 2-oz jar chopped pimentos, drained
1 4.5-oz can green chiles, drained
4 oz (1 cup) freshly grated cheese such as sharp cheddar, monterrey jack, or pepper jack (or a
combination of cheeses)
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 TBSP butter
5 eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
Chipotle Cheese Sauce:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt (3/4 tsp table salt)
1/2 tsp pepper
2 TBSP adobo sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce (plus 1 minced chipotle pepper if you are living on the wild side)
8 oz (2 cups) freshly grated sharp cheddar, monterrey jack, or pepper jack (or a combination of cheeses)
8 fajita-size flour tortillas (about 6")
4 oz (1 cup) freshly grated cheese such as sharp cheddar, monterrey jack, or pepper jack for topping
Optional garnishes such as finely diced red bell pepper, chopped tomatoes, chopped scallions, or chopped cilantro
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat with 1 TBSP oil. When hot, add the onions and cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Add the sausage and cook until brown – breaking the sausage into small pieces as it cooks. Add the cooked potatoes and heat for 2 minutes to warm the potatoes through. Drain off any excess oil and transfer the sausage to a medium bowl. Set the mixture aside to cool while you prepare the other ingredients.
To make the Chipotle Cheese Sauce, heat a sauce pan over medium heat with the butter. When the butter has melted and the foaming has subsided, add the flour and whisk to combine. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, whisking often. Slowing add in the milk while whisking the sauce. Add the salt, pepper, adobo sauce, and whisk in. Heat the sauce until it barely simmers then very lightly simmer for 2 minutes longer. Turn the heat to low. Add the cheese in small amounts, whisking between each addition. Whisk until the cheese has completed melted and the sauce is smooth.
While the sauce is heating, scramble the eggs. To scramble the eggs, heat a skillet over medium heat with the butter (I use the same skillet I cook the sausage in). Once the butter has melted and the foaming has subsided, add the beaten eggs and some salt and pepper. Scramble the eggs until they are firm. Transfer the eggs to the bowl with the sausage mixture.
To the sausage and egg mixture, add the remaining filling ingredients including the cilantro (if using), pimentos, green chiles, and 4 ounces of cheese. Stir to combine. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust as needed. Gently fold in 1 cup of the Chipotle Cheese Sauce.
Spoon about 1/2 cup of the filling into the center of a tortilla. Roll it up and place it seam-side down into a 9x13" dish that has been coated with cooking spray. You should place the enchilada lengthwise in the dish so that you can get 2 enchiladas in each row running the length of the dish. Repeat with the rest of the filling. You may have a little of the filling leftover. If so, refrigerate it and use it for leftovers. Pour the remaining cheese sauce all over the enchiladas – making sure they are completely coated with the sauce. Top with 1 cup of cheese and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling around the edges. Garnish with chopped red bell pepper, tomatoes, cilantro, and/or scallions.
1) With 2 tablespoons of adobo sauce (and no chipotles), you will have a subtle background kick in the sauce. My sister, who doesn't like spicy food, says it could be spicier. My mother thought it was spicy but not too much. My teenage nephew didn' t think it was spicy. If you are very sensitive to spicy things, I recommend decreasing the amount of adobo sauce. If you really want a kick, throw in a minced chipotle.
2) To lighten the recipe, use 2% cheddar, 2% milk, fat-free tortillas, and reduced-fat sausage. You could also use egg whites instead of whole eggs.
Posted by Cooking Ventures at 7:03 PM
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
My Venture into Stuffed Corn Muffins
Anybody who regularly reads my blog knows the joy I get from cooking comes from making new recipes. I rarely make a recipe in its original form because I normally have lots of ideas of how I'd like to change it. Every so often, I come across a recipe that I just cannot think of a way to change. Today's recipe is like that.
I found today's recipe on Food Wishes – a video cooking blog that I love to frequent. I think this recipe is innovative and easy and I'm kicking myself in the rear for not having thought of it myself! I made a couple of very small changes to Chef John's recipe but they are hardly worth mentioning. He adds more milk than I do and his filling is drier. He also adds cheese on top (which I wasn't excited about) and he used muffin liners and I didn't.
This recipe is kind of the like the American version of cha shao bao (char siu bao for you Cantonese speakers). Cha shao bao is a Chinese steamed bun that is stuffed with Chinese-style barbecue pork. Very tasty. My backside bears many dimples caused by eating too many cha shao bao over the years.
Do you ever get in one of those moods when you JUST don't want to cook? I'm in one of those moods. That's why I like today's recipe. It can be put together and baked in just minutes. It's painfully simple and it's a great way to use up leftover barbecue meat. If you don't have any leftover barbecue, just go to your favorite BBQ restaurant and pick some up. I hope you like today's recipe as much as I do. Enjoy – and happy stuffing!
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Barbecue-Stuffed Corn Muffins
1/4 c milk
1/2 c freshly grated cheddar, monterrey jack, or pepper jack cheese
1 8.5-oz box Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix (or a similar brand)
1/2 to 3/4 c leftover barbecue pork, rib meat, or brisket (cut into small pieces)
Barbecue sauce to taste
Preheat oven to 375F.
In a small bowl, add the leftover barbecue pork, rib meat, or brisket that has been cut into pieces. Add enough barbecue sauce to make the meat nice and wet but not swimming in sauce. Set aside. Butter or spray 6 wells of a muffin tin. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. Fold in the cheese and corn muffin mix until the mixture is well combined.
Add approximately 2 tablespoons of batter to each of the six wells (I use a cookie scoop). This should use up half the batter. Spoon about 1 tablespoon or so of the barbecue meat on top of the batter in the wells – making sure to keep the meat from touching the sides of the pan. The meat needs to be somewhat piled up in the center. Evenly add the remaining batter to the top of the meat in the wells. Bake about 13 to 16 minutes or until the muffins have browned on top. Allow the muffins to cool for several minutes before attempting to remove them from the muffin tins. Makes 6.
Posted by Cooking Ventures at 6:26 PM
Sunday, April 11, 2010
My Venture into Red Potatoes
Potatoes and I have a strange relationship. I'll go months without cooking any and then, suddenly, I'm hit with a craving for spuds and I can't get enough of them – as you can probably see from my recent post for Ham and Potato Soup.
For a while, eggs were considered unhealthy so I stopped eating them. Then pasta was evil so I stopped eating it. Then potatoes became the wicked food du jour. So I was relegated to eating unflavored rice cakes – until eating rice became as heinous as chowing down on bald eagles. So, after giving up all of the food I loved, I became bitter and angry and didn't lose a pound – which, in turn, made me more bitter and angry. Today, I eat eggs in moderation. I cook whole wheat pasta (which I really like!). At home, I rarely eat white rice because it really has very little nutritional value. Potatoes are NOT in the same class as white rice and all-purpose flour. Potatoes, with the peels on, are high in vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, and fiber. And they taste really good – especially with lots of butter, sour cream, and bacon on top … or deep-fried for french fries.
All joking aside, it is not the potato that's unhealthy – it's what we add to them! If you left out the cheese, this recipe is fairly healthful (aside from the sodium level in the onion soup and ranch packets). You could even cut back a bit on the olive oil without significantly sacrificing flavor. I decided to add some cheese when I took the above picture just because I think it photographed better with the contrasting colors. I used 2% sharp cheddar and it tasted great! However, normally, I don't add any cheese at all if I want a simple side dish.
This recipe is also incredibly EASY-to-make. My inspiration came from the recipe for onion-roasted potatoes on the back of the onion soup box. I have only one complaint with that recipe. It's BLAAAAND. That's why I decided to bump up the flavor. If, after making my recipe the first time, you think it's too salty, add a couple of extra potatoes the next time you make it. If it is not salty enough, don't use as many potatoes. Play with it until you get it the way YOU like it.
I have a confession to make. The major reason I made this recipe today is because I had an "incident" at the grocery store. I wanted to buy a couple of red potatoes to add to a different recipe I was making. The red potatoes were beautifully stacked in a pyramid shape. Well, stupid me, decided to take one of the potatoes on the bottom of the pyramid and I caused the whole thing to collapse – sending red potatoes and various other vegetables all over the floor. I picked up, like, two dozen potatoes, six red bell peppers, and a yellow onion. I think the onion was already on the floor but I picked it up anyway since I was already on my hands and knees. Did I mention it was a BIG pyramid of potatoes? Anyway, I didn't want to put them back onto the shelf since they were probably all bruised from dropping on the floor. That, and because an old lady was standing nearby and gave me the look of death like "You BETTER not put those back on the shelf or I'm gonna smack you with this English cucumber." So, I have LOTS of red potatoes to use up. Enjoy – and happy roasting!
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3 lbs small red potatoes (skins on) –each approximately 2" in diameter
1/3 cup olive oil (not extra virgin)
1-1 oz packet onion soup mix
1-1 oz packet ranch dip mix
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 c freshly grated parmesan cheese or sharp cheddar (optional)
Chopped scallions or parsley for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400F. Mix the olive oil, onion soup mix, ranch dip mix, garlic powder, and pepper. Set aside while you prepare the potatoes.
Cut each potato in half and then each half into quarters. Add the potatoes to a medium bowl. Stir the olive oil mixture and pour it on to the potatoes. Toss to evenly coat. Spread the potatoes onto a sided sheet pan which has been sprayed with cooking spray. Make sure that one of the cut sides of potatoes is touching the bottom of the sheet pan (so that it browns nicely). Cover the sheet pan with aluminum foil. Bake for 15 minutes then remove the aluminum foil. Do not stir. Bake another 20 minutes (uncovered), stirring after 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl and, if desired, toss with your choice of cheese. Garnish with chopped scallions or parsley.
Posted by Cooking Ventures at 2:21 PM
Sunday, April 4, 2010
My Venture into Simplicity
Aaaaah. Spring is my favorite season. The days are longer. Flowers are blooming and the birds are singing. Spring has always been a time of renewal and rebirth. I have been getting tired of the look of my blog so, in the spirit of spring, I decided to freshen it up a bit.
You'll notice a new header at the top of my blog. I've also added a navigation bar at the top so you can more easily search for ingredients or recipes by clicking in the search field in the upper-left part of the page. I've made my blog about 20% wider so there is less dead space in the left and right margins and the background color is no longer white but rather a greyish blue. I'm not into "busy" webpages that have a lot of extraneous images and patterns. As with my cooking and recipes, I appreciate simplicity the most.
Today's recipe is so quick and easy-to-make but tastes SO GOOD. Isn't it interesting that the simpliest of ingredients can make the best tasting food? Ham and potato soup is really inexpensive to make. I used leftover ham and the rest of the ingredients I either had on-hand or were very inexpensive to buy. Simple, wholesome, inexpensive, and great-tasting. That's my kind of cooking!
Leave a comment and let me know how you like the new look my blog. Enjoy the Ham and Potato Soup – and enjoy the beauty of spring!
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Ham and Potato Soup
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
6 TBSP butter, divided use
1 1/2 bunches scallions (white and light green parts), chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 c diced cooked ham
3 1/2 c water
2 TBSP chicken bouillon granules
1/2 tsp black pepper
5 TBSP flour
2 c half-n-half
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional garnishes: Freshly grated cheddar cheese, scallion tops, and cooked bacon pieces
Heat a dutch oven over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of butter. When melted, add the scallions, garlic, and ham. Saute for 3 minutes. Add the potatoes, water, bouillon, and pepper. Cover and crank up the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. When boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 12 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
While the potatoes are simmering, in a separate saucepan, melt the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. When melted, add the flour and whisk constantly for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the half-n-half. Once the mixture comes to a simmer, cook about 3 minutes, whisking often.
When the potatoes are tender, add the half-n-half mixture to the dutch oven and stir. Allow the mixture to return to a simmer then cook 2 minutes longer. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. If the mixture is too thick, add a little water. If it is too thin, cook a few minutes longer.
Ladle the soup into a bowl and top with any optional garnishes such as freshly grated cheddar cheese, scallion tops, and cooked bacon pieces.
Posted by Cooking Ventures at 2:55 PM