Tag Archives: Mushrooms

Poppy Seed Chicken Skillet Casserole

Poppy Seed Chicken Skillet Casserole

I love the days when my cooking/food magazines show up in my mailbox. I get almost as excited as Billy Madison did when his pornos arrived, and I silently chant “Foodie magazine day! Foodie magazine day!” to myself, something I probably shouldn’t admit out loud. But, whatever.

Poppy Seed Chicken Skillet Casserole

So a couple months ago my Taste of the South magazine showed up, and this recipe immediately screamed “you must make me!!!” Because it was definitely winter then, and mild winter or not, a creamy baked chicken dish sounded heavenly, plus I was inexplicably giddy about the idea of garnishing the top with crushed Cheez-It* crackers that have been coated in melted butter.

Poppy Seed Chicken Skillet Casserole

Having grown up where I did, I feel almost positive that at some point I’d eaten a poppy seed chicken casserole during childhood – it just sounded so familiar. But I’m quite certain that the one(s) I ate did not have crushed cheese crackers on the top, because I think I would have remembered that! As I’ll likely remember this one, always.

poppy seed chicken skillet casserole

It lived up to my high hopes and drooling anticipation, with lusciously creamy chicken studded with soft mushrooms, and totally complemented by crunchy, familiar cheese cracker crumbs. A perfect mid-winter, cozy supper. I highly recommend. Enjoy!

Poppy Seed Chicken Skillet Casserole

Source: Taste of the South Magazine, January/February 2016

½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup chopped cremini mushrooms (can also use white button if you prefer)
½ cup chopped yellow onion
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup whole milk
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 cups shredded cooked chicken (I used the entirety of a small store-bought rotisserie chicken)
1 tbs poppy seeds
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
2 cups crushed cheese crackers, such as Cheez-Its
2 tbs unsalted butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 350 F.
Place a 12” cast-iron skillet over medium heat and melt the stick of butter. Add mushrooms and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3-4 minutes. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly for about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the chicken stock. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, 4-5 minutes. Whisk in the milk, then immediately shut off the heat and stir in the cream cheese until melted and smooth. Now stir in chicken, poppy seeds, salt, and pepper.
In a small bowl, stir together the crushed cheese crackers and melted butter. Smooth out the chicken mixture in the skillet, then sprinkle the crushed cracker mixture over the top evenly.
Bake until bubbly, 25-30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

* I mention Cheez-Its simply because that is what I used. This post is not sponsored or paid for by a third party in any way.

Pork and Sausage Meatballs in Porcini-Tomato Sauce

Pork and Sausage Meatballs in Porcini-Tomato Sauce

“Is it legal for meatballs to taste this good?” – Matt

Let’s hope, because these meatballs may just be the meatballs that will ruin all the other meatballs for you. I don’t know how the crack culinary geniuses at Fine Cooking Magazine came up with this one, I’m seriously living in complete awe of their recipe development prowess, but I’m forever grateful that they did.

Pork and Sausage Meatballs in Porcini-Tomato Sauce

And I’m forever thrilled to share it with you. This one is definitely going in my repertoire with the “Best Ever…” label firmly attached, something I’ll be pulling out to impress company. The slow cooker does most of the work, and you don’t even have to broil or brown the meatballs first (I told you they were geniuses!!).

Pork and Sausage Meatballs in Porcini-Tomato Sauce

Dried herbs, usually a foodier-than-thou no-no, are much of what takes the flavor of both the meatballs and the sauce just soaring. This is one instance where I’m thinking fresh actually isn’t better. The dried herbs really stand out in the long cooking time. Also, porcini mushrooms – ‘nuff said there! Soaking the breadcrumbs in sweet vermouth really makes a difference too – don’t skip that step. Genius.

Pork and Sausage Meatballs in Porcini-Tomato Sauce

I really can’t overstate how much we enjoyed these. I made them twice in one week – the first time because I hadn’t planned on blogging them, then a second time a few days later because I realized what a grave and unpardonable sin it would have been not to. I hope you all enjoy them as much as we did!

Source: Fine Cooking Magazine, Feb/Mar 2015


1 ½ cups fresh breadcrumbs
½ cup sweet vermouth
1 ¼ lb. ground pork
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 large egg
6 tbs grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1 (15 oz.) can crushed or diced tomatoes, with their juices
¼ cup tomato paste
½ oz. dried porcini mushrooms, crumbled
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp fennel seeds
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Make the MEATBALLS: mix the breadcrumbs and vermouth in a large bowl and set aside for 20 minutes.
Add the pork and sausage to the mixture, breaking the sausage up with your fingers as you go. Add the egg, cheese, sage, oregano, salt, and nutmeg. Mix until just combined. Form into 12 meatballs.
To make the SAUCE, mix the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, dried porcini, oregano, thyme, fennel, pepper flakes, and salt in a 5-6 quart slow cooker until the tomato paste dissolves.
Nestle the meatballs into the sauce. It’s fine if they don’t all fit in a single layer. Cover and cook for 3-4 hours on HIGH or 8 hours on LOW. Once done, the meatballs can stay on the keep-warm setting for up to 2 hours. When you’re ready to serve, gently break the meatballs apart if necessary, and gently turn them all in the sauce. Serve in bowls with plenty of sauce, and with extra Parmesan for garnish, if desired.

Alice Springs Chicken

Alice Springs Chicken

Happy Secret Recipe Club reveal day!! This month I was assigned Angel’s Homestead, written by the lovely April – a lady living with her husband and the last of FIVE children in Southern Indiana. April has a very full blog as she writes about her family’s journey being simple, frugal and living off the land as much as possible; she also shares allergy-free recipes and blogs about her weight loss journey. Spoken from someone who’s been there, huge congrats on your accomplishment, April!!

It’s always such a treat when you peruse your assigned blog for SRC and find that they have a recipe you’ve been dying to try anyway, and thus they give you this perfect excuse to make it now. April has a restaurant remake on her blog that has been on my to-make list for a few years now, so what better time to take the plunge? This is Alice Springs Chicken from Outback Steakhouse.

Alice Springs Chicken

Although I grew up frequenting the Outback, I never tried this dish until a couple years ago, I guess because… well, who goes to a steakhouse and orders chicken? Judging from the popularity of this dish and the fact that so many try to copycat it at home, apparently lots of people order it and love it, and two years ago, I joined those legions of people who went to a steakhouse and ordered chicken.

I was visiting my sister and her family right after my niece Claire was born. My brother-in-law’s parents had just come in to see the baby too, and our first night for dinner, seeing as everyone was a bit too weary to cook, his parents generously brought some Outback takeout home. I decided to order the Alice Springs Chicken – see what all the fuss was about.

Alice Springs Chicken

And? It’s really good! It’s rich and decadent and comforting, and everything I wanted after the agitation of missing my connecting flight in Charlotte because someone in air traffic control saw two whole snowflakes. Though I’d never done it before, I was not the least bit regretful about ordering chicken from a steakhouse. I vowed to make it at home, and somehow that’s taken two years. I have no excuses…

The homemade version might be even better, I kid you not. This is really cheesy and flavorful and fun to make, and more important, it just tastes really, really good. Perfect comfort food, and no futzing around with getting out and worming your way through a crowded restaurant. So thank you so much for having this wonderful recipe on your blog April! Y’all be sure and check her out. Enjoy!

Alice Springs Chicken

{One Year Ago: Collard Greens, Mushroom, and Cheddar Bread Pudding}

Source: adapted from Angel’s Homestead and See Aimee Cook

6-8 slices bacon (April calls for 6 slices, my bacon was looking very puny so I went with 8)
2 cups sliced white button mushrooms
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Oil or butter, if needed
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
Smoked paprika, to taste
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 tbs garlic powder
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat your oven to 375 F.
Preheat a 12″ cast-iron, or other oven-safe skillet over medium heat. If you do not own an oven-safe skillet, then use your regular large skillet and lightly grease a 9×13″ baking dish. Cook the bacon in the skillet until crisped. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.
Add the mushrooms to the bacon fat. Some versions of this recipe instruct to drain most of the bacon fat, but remember that mushrooms are little sponges that love to soak up any fat the encounter, which just makes them taste better in the end, and this is a splurge meal anyway, so I say leave all that bacon fat and don’t worry about it! Anyway, cook the mushrooms until they are softened and browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl. Pour off any mushroom liquid in the pan. Add a touch of oil if it’s too dry to sear the chicken.
Turn the skillet to medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Sear the chicken in the skillet, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to a heat-proof flat surface.
Meanwhile, make the honey mustard by thoroughly whisking together the Dijon mustard, honey, mayonnaise, and garlic powder. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
As soon as you remove the chicken from the skillet, brush the side facing up with a generous amount of the honey mustard. Place the chicken breasts back into the skillet, OR in the prepared baking dish, mustard side down. Brush the other side generously with the honey mustard. Now top the chicken with the bacon, the mushrooms, and some of both cheeses. Really press the cheese down, and do not worry about it spilling over onto the skillet or baking dish. Transfer the chicken (carefully!) into the oven and cook for 7-10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the chicken is just cooked through. Slide a chicken onto each of 4 dinner plates, making sure you scoop up a good amount of that cheesy goodness too.

Vegetarian Pâté with Chestnuts and Porcini

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Pâté seems to be the perfect elegant party food, especially around the holidays. It appears to be most likely featured in the December issue of popular food magazines, and even cookbook entries tend to extoll its December-y seasonal virtues.

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Pâté is traditionally made with cooked and pureed chicken livers, but today I wanted to share a vegetarian (vegan, actually!) version. Firstly, because your vegetarian friends and guests cannot eat the chicken livers, and secondly because many of your carnivore friends and guests probably won’t eat the chicken livers either.

Vegetarian Pate with Chestnuts and Porcini 6654

Chicken livers have gained of lot of foodie ground in the past decade or so, but they are still fully capable of dividing an otherwise peaceful room of people. Personally, I find them delicious and will eat them in whatever form except for over- or undercooked; but I am not everyone.

This particular pâté will solve all your problems. It’s still completely delicious, completely sophisticated and completely seasonal, but no one will lodge any complaints. (Except maybe your chicken liver loving friends… Nah, they’ll take one bite and get right over it!)

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This cocktail party favorite is very easy to throw together, and since it must chill before you serve it, it automatically falls into the make-ahead category, which we all know is ideal for hosting a party. Everyone will adore this one, promise. Enjoy!

Vegetarian Pate with Chestnuts and Porcini 6670

Source: Vegetarian Dinner Parties by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough

{One Year Ago: Recipe Round-Up: 75 Comfort Foods}

5 tbs olive oil, divided
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, smashed and peeled
5 oz. (about 2 cups) thinly sliced cremini mushrooms
2 tbs brandy
¾ cup roasted, unsalted cashews
1/3 cup jarred roasted chestnuts
1 tbs finely ground dried porcini mushrooms
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp fresh cracked black pepper
¼ tsp ground turmeric
Toasted bread slices, for serving
Cornichons, for serving
Radishes, stemmed and halved, for serving

Set a medium high-sided skillet over medium heat for a couple minutes, then add 2 tbs olive oil. Add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until softened, about 4-5 minutes.
Shut off the heat and carefully add the brandy. Swirl the brandy around gently, then turn the heat back on. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom, then shut the heat off again and transfer the contents of the skillet to your food processor. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Add the cashews, chestnuts, dried porcini powder, sage, thyme, salt, pepper, turmeric, and the remaining 3 tbs oil. Process until very smooth, scraping down the bowl a few times to get every last speck of nuts of spices incorporated. Be patient, as this may take a few minutes.
Once the mixture is completely smooth, scrape the pate into a serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
Serve with the toasted bread slices, cornichons, and radishes.

Mushroom Spinach Enchiladas

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It probably sounds a little funny and hugely un-revolutionary to many, but seeing as I grew up in two extended families of carnivores, and living in the Land of the Almighty Cow, vegetarian fare is somewhat novel to me. But I have to say, it’s grown on me more and more, to the point where I will actually seek it out. Those who knew my youthful self would never have predicted this, but it’s true – I love vegetarian cooking and I’ve even purchased several vegetarian cookbooks.

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Mushroom Spinach enchiladas 5266

And so it goes with these extremely tasty enchiladas. Instead of just being meat-free and cheese-filled every which way, they have actual vegetables in the filling (not that cheese isn’t there aplenty; it is). The mushrooms have something of a meaty texture. While mushrooms themselves don’t taste like beef per se, and you won’t be fooling any of your diners, the texture is quite pleasing to the chew. They give the enchiladas heft.

Mushroom spinach enchiladas 5260

The spinach provides a nice leafy background note, and its slight bitterness contrasts nicely with the bright, acidic tomatillo salsa. And of course both the filling and the enchiladas themselves are ensconced in creamy cheesiness that we all love. It’s a filling meal! Without a lot of guilt. That always works in my book. Enjoy!

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{One Year Ago: Pancetta-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin over Apple-Turnip Hash, Apple Maple Walnut Cobbler, Apple Crisp}

Source: slightly adapted from The Homesick Texan Cookbook by Lisa Fain


1 poblano chile
1 large jalapeno
½ lb. fresh tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed
½ cup cilantro
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp lime juice
1 cup vegetable stock
½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp canola oil
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

1 tsp canola oil
10 oz. white button or cremini mushrooms, sliced thin
½ medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 serrano or small jalapeno chile, seeded and minced
1 (10 oz.) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 (16 oz.) container ricotta cheese, full-fat or low-fat, but not fat-free
1 tbs lime juice
¼ tsp cayenne
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground cinnamon, preferably Mexican canela
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
12 corn tortillas
2 cups (about 8 oz.) Monterey jack cheese, shredded

First make the salsa. Roast the poblano and jalapeno either under the broiler or on an open flame from a gas stove, until the outside skin is blackened all over. Place them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let them steam for about 15 minutes. Using either your hands or a paper towel, scrape the blackened skin off. Cut off the stems and remove the seeds from inside the chiles, then add the flesh to your blender.
Meanwhile, add the tomatillos to a small pot and cover with water. Bring the pot to a boil and cook about 5 minutes, until the tomatillos are tender but not gone to complete mush. Drain, and add the tomatillos to the blender, along with the cilantro, garlic, lime juice, vegetable stock, and cumin. Blend until smooth.
Heat the oil in the pot you used for the tomatillos and place over medium-low heat. Pour the salsa into the pot and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then turn the heat to very low and just keep it warm until you need it again.
Now make the filling. Heat the oil in a medium-to-large skillet on medium. Add the mushrooms and sauté about 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Add a pinch of salt and remove to a large bowl with a slotted spoon. Add the onion to the skillet and cook about 5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and chile and cook another minute.
Place the spinach in a clean kitchen towel and wring it out over the sink, until you’ve gotten most of the excess water out. Add the spinach to the skillet and cook about 2 minutes, just to remove the excess water. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Shut off the heat and add the spinach mixture to the mushrooms in the large bowl. Allow to cool about 5 minutes, then add the ricotta, lime juice, cayenne, cumin and cinnamon. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then stir to combine everything. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a large casserole or baking dish. Warm the tortillas either in the microwave or on top of your gas stove. Store them in a tortilla warmer or wrapped in a clean kitchen towel to keep them warm.
Take a heated tortilla and drag it through the salsa, coating both sides. Use tongs if it’s too hot for your fingers. Shake off most of the salsa back into the pot, but make sure the tortilla is pliable. Lay the soaked tortilla on a clean work surface and add about ¼ cup of the mushroom spinach mixture to the center of the tortilla. Roll the tortilla and place, seam side down, in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with the remaining 11 tortillas. Pour the rest of the salsa over the enchiladas and top evenly with the shredded cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is lightly browned and bubbling. Serve immediately. Leftovers are good.

Chicken Stir-Fry in Lettuce Cups + A Cookbook Giveaway!!!

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Alright, guys – my giveaway is ending tomorrow at 5 pm EST! Get yourself entered to win my excess copy of “The VB6 Cookbook” by Mark Bittman! I’ve been showing you recipes from the book all week, and this one is a real gem in the flavor department.

chicken stir-fry in lettuce cups 001

For anyone unfamiliar with Bittman’s story, I’ll summarize it quickly for you: a few years ago he found himself at his doctor’s office, not insignificantly overweight and with his blood test numbers (cholesterol, blood sugar) on the high side. His doctor told him he needed to make some major changes to his overall diet, which initially didn’t sound too appealing to Bittman. I mean, the guy has a career in food. So after some research and pondering the situation quite a bit, Bittman decided he could compromise on his diet: before 6 pm (dinnertime) he eats vegan, with no refined sugar or flour. After 6 pm, he can eat whatever he wants, but he does try to keep things on the leaner side (most of the time).

Chicken stir-fry in lettuce cups 008

So the recipes in this book are presented as vegan breakfasts, vegan lunches, vegan snacks, non-vegan dinners, and then desserts. Today I’m sharing a non-vegan dinner, one that Matt and I absolutely loved. I love stir-fries anyway, but this one really endeared itself me to it when it used chicken thighs, which I adore, but I’ll tell ya – that sriracha mayo is what really makes it. That was so delicious.

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I hope y’all will enjoy this one! And don’t forget to enter the giveaway, and this book could be yours – there’s still some time!

Chicken stir-fry in Lettuce cups 026

{One Year Ago: Spaghetti Aglio e Olio}

Source: slightly adapted from The VB6 Cookbook by Mark Bittman

1 head of bibb or Boston lettuce
2 tbs vegetable oil
About 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
2 tbs minced garlic
1 tbs minced fresh ginger
1 bunch scallions, whites and green parts separated, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
¼ lb. sugar snap peas or snow peas, chopped
½ lb. shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
¼ cup chicken stock or water
2 tbs soy sauce
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 tbs fresh lime juice
2 tbs sriracha, or to taste

Core the lettuce and separate it into as many individual leaves as possible. Rinse and wrap them in towels. Refrigerate until needed.
Put a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add 1 tbs oil, swirl it around, and immediately add the chicken. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Cook undisturbed until the pieces brown and can be stirred easily without sticking. Stir the chicken around to start cooking the other sides, then add the garlic and ginger. Stir frequently until the chicken is no longer pink and the veggies have softened, about 3-5 minutes total. Transfer the chicken mixture to a plate. Set aside.
Add the remaining 1 tbs oil to the wok or skillet along with the white parts of the scallions, and cook, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat to avoid burning, until they turn golden, 2-3 minutes. Add the remaining veggies except for the scallions greens. Cook, stirring frequently, until they are tender-crisp, about 5 minutes.
Return the chicken mixture to the pan along with any accumulated juices. Now add the stock, soy sauce and scallion greens. Cook and stir about 1 more minute, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. If it isn’t saucy at all, add a touch more stock to help it out. But remember, you are putting this in a lettuce cup you’ll be eating with your hands, so it may be unpleasant to have the stir-fry be too liquid-y. I found mine was perfect without adding any extra.
Turn the heat to very low and let it hang out a minute while you make the mayonnaise. In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, lime juice and sriracha together until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add more hot sauce if desired.
To serve, gently fill a lettuce cup with stir-fry, then drizzle the mayonnaise on top, as liberally or as conservatively as your desire. Eat immediately or the lettuce gets soggy.

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Philly Strip Steaks with Provolone Sauce and Caramelized Onions #SundaySupper

Philly strip steaks with provolone sauce and caramelized onions

Welcome to another Sunday Supper! This week’s theme is Sauce It Up, which meant we could either blog a sauce by itself, or a dish with a prominently featured and yummy sauce. I chose to go with the latter; but now what to make? Well, when we’re talking sauced up food, my philosophy is to look no further than a Bobby Flay cookbook. Seriously, the man puts like, 14 different sauces on each plate! But his food is always delicious, so it seemed like a good choice.

provolone sauce and caramelized onions

I looked through a couple books and narrowed it down to three recipes. I let Matt have the final say, but when I uttered the word “steak” he stopped listening to the choices, and I knew this is what we’d be having.

Philly Strip Steaks with Provolone Sauce and Caramelized Onions

It’s a wonderful dish. It was like a Philly cheesesteak sandwich, but deconstructed and all sophisticated. And it happens to be a low-carb version. But don’t read low-carb and dismiss it, because I promise, you will not miss the bread. It was just a fun change-up on a very familiar flavor profile. We really loved it.

Provolone sauce

As per usual, I’ve linked to the rest of the Sunday Supper team – be sure to check out all those delicious sauces!

Philly Strip Steaks with Provolone Sauce and Caramelized Onions

{One year ago: Blue Cheese Hazelnut Drop Biscuits}

Source: adapted from The Bar Americain Cookbook by Bobby Flay

1 ½ tbs smoked paprika
1 tsp ancho chile powder
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp dry mustard powder
½ tsp dried oregano
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
4 (12 oz.) boneless New York strip steaks, trimmed of excess fat
2 tbs olive oil
Chopped or torn fresh parsley, for garnish

1 tbs unsalted butter
1 tbs all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
½ lb. aged Provolone cheese, grated (2 cups)
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp kosher salt
Black pepper to taste

3 tbs unsalted butter
2 ½ – 3 large Spanish onions, halved and thinly sliced
8 oz. Cremini mushrooms, sliced (optional)
1 tsp kosher salt
Black pepper to taste

First, make the caramelized onions since they take the longest. Heat the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions, mushrooms if using, salt and pepper. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and caramelized, about 45 minutes. Keep over low heat while you cook the steaks and cheese sauce.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Let the steaks sit at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes. Season both sides of the steaks with the spice rub. Set a cast iron, or other oven safe skillet over very high heat. Preheat to make sure it is screaming hot before you add the steaks. When very hot, drizzle in the olive oil and add the steaks. Let it sear very well on one side, then flip and let it sear on the other side. Transfer to the oven and, using a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of one steak, cook to your desired doneness. Remove to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest.
Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium-sized saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook for one minute (this gets that pasty, raw flour taste out). Slowly add the milk, whisking as you pour. Whisk constantly for 4-5 minutes, until thickened. Turn the heat to low, then add the cheeses, plus salt and pepper. Stir with a spatula or wooden spoon to melt the cheese.
To assemble, place a steak on a dinner plate. Place some caramelized onions beside it, and then drizzle a liberal amount of cheese sauce over the steak and onions. Garnish with parsley.

Savory Sauces

Pasta Sauces and Pastas with Sauce

Entreés with Sauces

Sweet Sauces

Desserts with Sauces

Stuffing Bruschetta

I have a major confession to make to y’all. I hope you’ll still love me afterwards. Okay here goes…. I hate stuffing. Yes, Thanksgiving stuffing. Or dressing. Or whatever you call it. I don’t like any of it. That’s kind of bad, right? But it’s true.

My dislike of stuffing is a texture thing, not a flavor thing. I think what turns me off is the soggy bread aspect. I’ve never liked it, despite giving it more than a fair shot over the years. And I’ve had it many different ways: with sausage, without sausage, with various kinds of bread, including cornbread, different types of veggies, you name it. And it’s always that softened bread thing that I just can’t do.

I think what makes this a confession at all is that stuffing is such a beloved dish and people are very proud of and passionate about their own family recipes. Most are shocked to hear that someone doesn’t like it. So people do get a little miffed when you decline the stuffing at Thanksgiving dinner. But what also gets annoying to a stuffing-hater is that you can’t simply and politely decline the stuffing and have that be that. Someone always makes a fuss. I mean, you could simply say that you dislike, for instance, spinach and people would accept it. But stuffing is different. Someone always pipes up and says “Try my stuffing! My stuffing is different. You’ll like my stuffing.” So then I try a little to keep the peace. And it’s never different. I never like it. It still has that softened bread thing going on.

Maybe that’s why I like hosting Thanksgiving. I don’t have to make stuffing! Lol. But, it has occurred to me over the years that yes, I am weird in my dislike of stuffing, and my guests may well expect it to make an appearance. What to do, what to do. That’s when I came up with this recipe.

Enter Stuffing Bruschetta. It has all the elements of a good stuffing with none of the soggy bread. I simply take the best parts of stuffing, like sausage, and mushrooms, and creaminess, and herbs, and top it on toasted bread slices. So the bread element is still there, but it’s not soggy. Win-win!

You stuffing-lovers may still be skeptical. I understand. But just give it a try. I’ve served it to stuffing-lovers in the past and they have all raved over it. My husband, who I would call a stuffing-liker, not lover, goes absolutely nuts over this dish. It’s one of his favorites, and he claims it’s much tastier than actual stuffing. So be open-minded, and see what you think.

1 tbs olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, bulk or casings removed
3 tbs unsalted butter, divided
1/2 lb. cremini mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
Leaves from 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
2 tbs flour
1 cup chicken or turkey stock
1/2 cup half and half
1 loaf of Italian bread, sliced into toasts on the diagonal

Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle in the tablespoon of olive oil. Remove the sausage from its casings, if needed, and crumble into the hot pan. Break it up with a wooden spoon and cook until no longer pink. With a slotted spoon, remove to a paper towel lined plate.
Add 1 tbs butter to the sausage drippings. Add the mushrooms and cook until nicely browned. Next, add the celery, onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened. Stir in the thyme leaves.
Add the remaining two tablespoons of butter. When it melts, add the flour and stir constantly for one minute. Add the stock and keep stirring to remove any lumps.
Lower the heat to medium, then add the half and half. Return the sausage to the pan, and stir until thickened, 3-5 minutes. You want this to be really thick, with no trace of liquid. When done, season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep it on low heat and stir occasionally if not topping the toasts right away.
On a grill pan or on a baking sheet under the broiler, toast the bread slices. Spoon some of the stuffing mixture atop each toast and garnish with some thyme leaves. Minced parsley would also work if that suits you better. Serve immediately.
Note: I’ve tried this with a French baguette and it does NOT work. The baguette is too skinny, you need something wider to hold the stuffing properly.

Hot and Sour Soup

Growing up I never liked or remotely appreciated Chinese food.  Since take-out isn’t particularly healthy and is deemed an occasional greasy and guilty pleasure by most people, including my parents, they didn’t push the issue at all.  I think I once tried a wanton and begrudgingly said it was okay.

But, yes, I did manage to make it to my mid-twenties having never really tried much in the way of Asian food.  When Matt and I started dating, he offered to take me to a nice Chinese restaurant once, and I informed him I didn’t really like Chinese.  He told me later he wondered then if this was going to work out.  Instead of breaking up with me, he decided to try and persuade me to at least try it.  I’m glad he did, for two reasons:

1)      I’m glad we’re still together, and
2)      I really, really like most Asian food!

I have now come to appreciate so many Asian dishes and cuisines.  I love sushi (something I previously wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole), I’m obsessed with Thai food, and I think Korean barbecue is delicious.  I now find Vietnamese food wonderful, noodle bowls delightful, and my bucket list includes going to Singapore and eating at a noodle shop.  While at one point this would never have appealed to me, now Matt and I love exploring a city’s Chinatown, or other Asian neighborhood, like K-Town in New York or Little Tokyo in Los Angeles. And frankly, those are some of the best meals I’ve ever eaten.

I must confess though, that I’ve never completely warmed to hot and sour soup.  I’ve always thought it was okay, but not great.  However, as it is one of Matt’s favorites, I did want to make it for him at least once.  This soup really grew on me as I ate it.  At first I thought the vinegar was too strong, and I would probably recommend cutting back on the stated amount, then adding more as you feel is desired.  However, the soup had really mellowed after a few bites, and I really enjoyed it.  The heat was just the right amount.  All in all, a very nice dish!

So… what is your favorite Asian neighborhood?  What city is it in?  Is it a Chinatown or something different?  What do you love about it?

Source: Global Kitchen, by Jeffrey Saad

1 tbs cornstarch
1 tbs cool water
1 tbs toasted sesame oil
4 ounces white mushrooms, chopped
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp finely chopped fresh garlic
1/4 to 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tbs soy sauce
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp Sriracha
1 quart chicken stock
2 large eggs
1/2 cup firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

In a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and water and set aside.
In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, add the sesame oil. Once the oil is hot, add the mushrooms. Cook for a few minutes until soft. Add the scallions, ginger, and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, salt and Sriracha. Cook for 2 minutes to infuse all the flavors.
Add the stock and bring to a boil. While whisking the soup, slowly pour in the cornstarch mixture. Whisk until combined and the soup starts to thicken. Shut off the heat.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs until just mixed. Slowly pour the eggs into the pot, stirring continuously in a circular motion. Continue to stir for 30 seconds. You will see the egg cook in long strands and the soup will take on a creamy look, though it will still have a broth consistency.
Taste the soup to test the vinegar amount at this time. Add more, up to another 1/4 cup, if you think it is lacking. Now add the tofu and cilantro, and serve immediately.