More quarantine cooking! This time I made it for the folks in my neighborhood who came by a block party hosted at my house with Lobster Dog and Eleven Lakes Brewery. We all sat at a safe distance and shouted our greetings to one another! My deal was if they showed up, I gave them treats for their desserts. This is one I made.
Salted Butter Pecans Bites
1 cup chopped pecans
Nonstick cooking spray
12 graham crackers
1 cup packed brown sugar
3⁄4 cup (6 ounces) salted butter
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 15×10-inch rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray with cooking spray.
2. Bake the pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan, stirring halfway through, until toasted and fragrant, about 10 to 12 minutes.
3. Arrange the graham crackers in a single layer in the prepared baking sheet, slightly overlapping the edges.
4. In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, butter, and cream. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat, and stir in the vanilla and pecans. Pour the butter mixture over the crackers, spreading to coat.
5. Bake until lightly browned and bubbly, about 10 to 11 minutes. Immediately sprinkle with salt, and slide the foil from the pan onto a wire rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Break into bite-sized pieces.
I have NO idea why I keep gaining weight during this time of Quarantine! What could it be???
On a completely unrelated note, here is a Lemon Meringue Pie I made today that is amazing.
Lemon Meringue Pie
1 1/2 cup sugar (plus 6 Tbsp. for meringue)
3 Tbsp. Cornstarch
3 Tbsp. Flour
dash of salt
1 1/2 cup hot water
3 slightly beaten egg yolks (save the whites for meringue)
2 Tbsp. Butter
1/3 cup lemon juice
9″ pie shell (I prebaked mine)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cream of tartar
In saucepan, mix sugar, cornstarch, flour and salt. Gradually add hot water, stirring constantly. Cook and stir over hgih heat until mixture comes to boiling. Reduce heat; cook and stir 2 minutes. Stir small amount of this hot mixture into the egg yolks, then add these tempered yolks to your hot mixture. Bring back to boiling and cook 2 minutems more. Add butter and lemon juice, mixing well. Pour into pastry shell. Make meringue (see below). Spread meringue over filling. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes.
Beat 3 reserved egg whites with vanilla and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add 6 Tbsp. of sugar, beating until stiff peaks form and all sugar is dissolved.
I don’t get the chance to cook too many seafood dishes because I’m practically the only one in my household who actually eats seafood these days. I decided this weekend to cook something from Paula Deen that I found in one of her magazines, JUST FOR ME! It was actually pretty easy, all things considered, and very tasty.
Creole Shrimp and Lobster Bisque
2 cups half and half
1 teaspoon Paula Deen’s Creole Blend Seasoning
1/2 lb steamed medium size peeled, deveined, steamed and chopped fresh shrimp
3 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 cloves minced garlic
2 stalks finely chopped celery
1 small finely chopped white onion
4 tablespoons butter
2 steamed fresh lobster tails
Remove lobster meat from shell; coarsely chop and set aside.
In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and garlic; cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in flour, and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth; cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.
Add lobster meat and shrimp. Stir in half-and-half and Creole seasoning; cook for 10 minutes, or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Serve immediately.
Pasta is from God. It can’t be bad, I refuse to believe it. Dinner the other night for us was Spaghetti Carbonara. Delish! I clipped the recipe from a magazine a few years ago, but found a link to it online: Spaghetti Carbonara
12 ounces spaghetti
6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 4 ounces), plus more for topping
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 8 minutes. Add the spaghetti and reserved pasta cooking water to the skillet and toss to combine.
Add the eggs, Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper; toss to coat. Cook, tossing continuously to avoid scrambling the eggs, until the sauce is creamy, about 1 minute. Stir in the parsley. Serve topped with more Parmesan.
I have a TON of potato casseroles in my recipe files. You need them. Perfect for taking to potlucks, always welcome at cookouts, and the perfect comfort food to take to new parents or sick loved ones. This one is creamy and delicious and I’d even eat it with eggs and bacon the next morning.
CREAMY AUTUMN POTATOES
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup chopped onion
1⁄2 – 1 garlic clove, minced
1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, cut in cubes
1 (10 1/2 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup or (10 1/2 ounce) can cream of celery soup
3 -4 cups southern style hash browns
1⁄2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 400°F Butter a 1 quart casserole dish. In sauce pan, sauté onion and garlic in butter over med heat until tender. Stir in cream cheese cubes and undiluted soup; cook, stirring constantly, until smooth and hot. In casserole, alternate layers of frozen potatoes and cream cheese sauce, ending with sauce layer. Cover and bake 45 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and potatoes are tender. Remove from oven and sprinkle with shredded cheese.
If you prefer a crunchier topping try these:
Potato Casserole Sargento
2 pounds Hash Browns; thawed
3/4 cup butter; divided (1/2 and 1/4)
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon Pepper
1 can cream of chicken and mushroom soup
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
16 oz. Sour cream
10 oz. Cheddar cheese; grated
2 cups crushed corn flakes
Mix first 8 ingredients together well, saving 1/4 cup butter. Pour into big buttered casserole dish. Top with cornflakes and drizzle with 1/4 cup melted butter reserved. Bake at 350 for one hour. Can be halved at half the cooking time.
Christmas morning is probably the only morning that I’ll prepare a delicious and indulgent breakfast casserole. I’ll pull bacon and eggs together on special occasions: a niece spending the night, overnight guests visiting and the like, but the rest of the year we eat cereal or just wait for lunch hours to roll around.
This casserole is super sweet and decadent. The kids loved it. Christmas is a time for happiness, that’s my only excuse for making this delicious sugar bomb!
Sandwiches represent a certain failing for me. Whenever I can’t get a home cooked dinner on the table, I rely on this old staple to sustain my hungry people. It’s a default if my kids won’t eat what I’ve made (yep, I’m one of those parents who don’t MAKE the kids eat what I fix.) But I’ve learned that sometimes, when you make a sandwich, there is a certain comfort in being able to take your plate and eat in front of the TV while watching Seinfeld re-runs. Here are some of my favorites:
Perfect for an easy summer dinner, especially with fresh homegrown tomatoes
3 slices toasted bread
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 slices American cheese
4 slices shaved ham
4 tomatoes, sliced, divided
4 leaves lettuce, divided
4 slices crisp bacon, divided
2 slices Monterey jack cheese
4 slices shaved deli turkey
Spread mayonnaise on one side of a piece of toast; add layer of American cheese, ham, two slices of tomato, two leaves of lettuce, and two pieces of bacon.
Spread mayonnaise on second piece of toast and place on top, mayo side down.
Spread mayonnaise on top of that second piece of toast.
Layer Monterey Jack cheese, the rest of the tomatoes, lettuce, turkey and bacon on top.
Spread mayonnaise on third piece of toast and place on the stack mayo side down.
Slice the sandwich in quarters diagonally.
Skewers or long toothpicks may be used to hold all the layers together.
Grilled Chick N Wrappers
A wrap is a kind of sandwich, right? I made this one for the family last night and it was a spot hitter. You know, it hit the spot? OK, so it comes together easily, and even though the word “grilled” is in the title, you just cook up the chicken in a skillet. I suppose actually grilling it could only improve its flavor.
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 sweet onion
8 ounces Monterrey jack and cheddar cheese blend
6 slices hickory smoked bacon
16 ounces shredded Lettuce
ranch salad dressing
6 (10 inch) flour tortillas
In a skillet heat olive oil on medium.
Cut the chicken thighs into strips and add to skillet.
In a separate skillet, fry the bacon.
While they are cooking, slice the onion, cucumber and set aside.
When chicken is done and the bacon is done, remove from skillet and set aside.
Assembly time. Heat the tortilla in microwave for 15 seconds.
To the tortillas, add the ranch, lettuce, cucumbers, onion, bacon, cheese, and then chicken and squeeze a little lime juice over and wrap like a burrito.
Pressed Chicken Tortas
I got this recipe when I was using Blue Apron. They have some really great recipes, probably the best service I’ve found. This one seems long, but it’s just because they over-explain all steps 🙂 Give it a go. Delicious sammy!
Wash and dry the fresh produce. Halve the rolls. Core, halve and thinly slice the tomato. Crumble the queso fresco. Pick the cilantro leaves off the stems; discard the stems. Cut off and discard the root end of the lettuce; roughly chop the leaves. Quarter the limes. Halve, pit, peel and thinly slice the avocado; top with the juice of 2 lime wedges to prevent browning. Peel and halve the onion; small dice 1 half and thinly slice the remaining half. In a medium bowl, combine the diced onion and thejuice of 4 lime wedges.
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels; season on both sides with salt, pepper and (reserving a pinch) as much of the spice blend as you’d like, depending on how spicy you’d like the dish to be. In a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the seasoned chicken. Cook 4 to 6 minutes per side, or until browned and cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board to cool slightly. Wipe out the pan.
While the chicken cooks, add the sour cream and remaining spice blend to the diced onion-lime juice mixture. Stir to thoroughly combine; season with salt and pepper to taste.
When cool enough to handle, thinly slice the cooked chicken. Place the bottoms of the rolls, cut sides up, on a clean, dry work surface. Divide the sliced chicken, avocado, as much of the sliced onion as you’d like (you may have extra), the tomato, half the queso fresco and the cilantro between the roll bottoms; season with salt and pepper. Top with the juice of the remaining lime wedges and the roll tops.
In the pan used to cook the chicken, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium until hot. Working in 2 batches, add the tortas. Place a heavy pot on top of the tortas to press them down. Cook, occasionally pressing down on the pot, 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until lightly browned and slightly flattened. Transfer to a cutting board or plate.
While the tortas toast, in a large bowl, combine the lettuce, pepitas,remaining queso fresco and as much of the dressing as you’d like (you may have extra dressing). Toss to combine; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cut each toasted torta in half diagonally; divide between 4 plates. Serve with the salad on the side. Enjoy!
Another favorite is LEMONY CUCUMBER CREAM CHEESE SANDWICHES. I made these for a Broker luncheon at a home I had listed in Lincolnton during the summer and they were cool, refreshing and tasted of summer. The original recipe is from Chew Out Loud.
DIAN’S CHICKEN SALAD
PREP TIME: 1 hr 15 mins
TOTAL TIME: 1 hr 30 mins
YIELD: 4 cups
4 chicken breast halves, bone in
8 ounces green olives, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
Skin chicken, put in pan, cover with foil. Bake at 375 for 75 minutes. Cool, pull from bones and chop finely. Add mayo and chopped olives.
*Depending on how big your chicken breasts are, you may want more mayo and olives. Make it to your favorite consistency.