Breakfast casseroles are one of our favorite meals – for breakfast, or for a “breakfast for dinner” meal. When space is limited in the refrigerator or I have not had time to prepare the night before, this is a good last minute casserole to assemble. I do not trim bread crusts, and stack the slices of bread to cut into cubes so getting this ready to go into the oven is quick!

Maple Sausage and Egg Bake

1 lb. maple flavored pork sausage

6 slices white bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

6 eggs

2 cups milk

1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook sausage in a skillet over medium heat, stirring until it crumbles and is no longer pink then drain. Place bread cubes in a lightly greased 9″ X 13″ baking pan. Sprinkle bread evenly with cheese, and top with sausage. Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper, dry mustard and Tabasco sauce and pour evenly over sausage mixture. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until set in the center.

Lemon Tahini Dip

After using part of a jar of Tahini making hummus (posted previously), I looked for a way to use the remainder. I experimented with a recipe I found and made this dip to serve as an appetizer before last week’s family chili supper. Any combination of sliced vegetables is a beautiful addition. Delicious!

Lemon Tahini Dip

1/2 cup tahini

1 cup Greek yogurt

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

juice of 2 lemons

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon honey

1/4 cup water

teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine all ingredients, except olive oil, in a blender or food processor container. Blend or process till smooth. Remove to a bowl and stir olive oil in by hand. Serve with fresh vegetables, crackers, or pita chips. If, after being refrigerated, the dip is too thick , it can be thinned with a bit of water. This is also good as a salad dressing if you add water or lemon juice until desired consistency.

Parker Hummus

Parker Hummus

Roasted Tomato Soup

 

September 1 seems like a day to begin thinking cooler weather and autumnal foods. Although our South Texas temperatures won’t change significantly for a while, there is a barely perceptible change in light and in leaf colors. I like soup any time of year, but it is a favorite as we change calendar pages and look forward to cooler days. This recipe for tomato soup is a new one for me. It is thick, rich, and definitely one I will cook again soon. I found the original recipe in a cookbook Joe gave me in 2010 published by the Junior League of Houston titled Peace Meals, A Book of Recipes for Cooking and Connecting. Isn’t that a wonderful title?

My version is here:

Roasted Tomato Soup

2 cups beef broth, divided

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

6 Tablespoons sherry vinegar

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

2 cups chopped onion

8 garlic cloves, minced

4 28 ounce cans fire roasted whole tomatoes, drained

1/ 1/2 cups half and half

freshly ground black pepper.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. In a small bowl, mix 1 cup of the beef froth, sugar, vinegar and soy sauce. Spray two 9 X 13 baking dishes with cooking spray. Divide onions, garlic, and tomatoes between the 2 dishes. Pour half the broth mixture over each, then place dishes into oven for 50 minutes or until beginning to brown. Pour the remaining cup of broth and the half and half over the roasted tomatoes, dividing equally. Allow to cool for a few minutes. Working in batches ( no more than half the blender jar due to the heat of the mixture), puree the tomato mixture in a blender until smooth. Add each batch to a stock pot, heating gently over medium heat.  Add freshly ground pepper to each bowl as the soup is served. If desired, garnish with chopped fresh basil.

Cantaloupe 5 Ways

Summertime in Texas encourages cool meals. We have been thankful that so far hurricane season has not produced bad storms in our area. Rain has been unpredictable – flash floods in Houston and only a few showers here and there for us. So it is dry and unbearably hot. Air conditioning helps, and so does having cold foods on the table for meals. Salads are included often. Also, melons are favorites in our family, Watermelon and cantaloupe are part of my earliest childhood memories of summer in Texas. Both sets of my grandparents grew melons at one time so we had plenty. I can close my eyes and taste the sweetness of fresh melon, even the sensation of their juices dripping on my chin!  When Joe and I were growing up in East Texas, both watermelon and cantaloupe got a sprinkling of salt before we ate them. My family even added pepper to sliced cantaloupe.

The cantaloupe slices above are special because they grew in our own garden. All these years later, I have learned to love the taste of a squeeze of lime juice on melons, and like to serve them in a variety of ways as an addition to meals. You can always add melon to a breakfast smoothie, but consider trying  –

  1. Cantaloupe wrapped in a thin slice of prosciutto – wonderful with Italian food.
  2. Cantaloupe, watermelon, and other fresh fruits like peaches or pineapple, sprinkled with a spicy seasoning like Penzey’s Pico Fruta. The spice and heat makes the sweet of the melon even more mouth watering.
  3. Coarsely chopped fresh melon and berries drizzled with poppy seed dressing.
  4. Chopped melon along with kiwi slices scattered on top of whipped cream on a dessert Pavlova.
  5. Chunks of melon as a surprise element in green salads. One recipe is below.

Spinach Salad with Melon and Mint

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup olive oil

1 Tablespoon sesame seeds

1 Tablespoon poppy seeds

2 Tablespoons honey

1 (10 ounce) bag baby spinach leaves

2 cups cubed seeded watermelon

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In a small bowl, whisk together the apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, vegetable oil, sesame seeds, poppy seeds and honey. Set aside.In a large serving bowl, combine the spinach, watermelon, onion, pecans and mint. Toss with the dressing just before serving.

 

 

Snickerdoodles

 

While most of the requests for cookies in our family are for Chocolate Chip, Joe talks about 2 favorite cookies – Molasses and Snickerdoodles. I don’t think I have ever made Molasses cookies that taste as good as he remember the ones his Aunt Sally made, and I have not made Snickerdoodles in a long time. Recently I decided I needed to make his favorites more often. But to be honest, the ones in this pictures were destined to send to church for the VBS kids last week. I saved enough for him though! Recipes are everywhere for this old-fashioned cookie with a strange name. My Treasures from the Bend cookbook published  by the Ford Bend Junior Service League includes a comment about the history of the cookie.

(No one knows exactly where this whimsical name originated, but similar recipes date back to ancient Rome and were popular in medieval and Renaissance Europe. Eighteenth and nineteenth century American cookbooks contain similar recipes for “jumbles.” Some suggest that the “snicker” portion of the name comes from the Dutch “snekrad” or the German “Schnecke,” both meaning a snail-like shape.)

Snickerdoodles

2 3/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup butter, softened

2 eggs

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 Tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix flour, cream of tartar, soda, and salt together. Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar with butter and blend. Add eggs and mix until smooth. Add dry ingredients and mix well to form a dough. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll balls in mixture of the cinnamon and 2 Tablespoons sugar. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown. Remove from oven and cool on rack. Makes 4 to 5 dozen.

 

Marinated Vegetable Salad

Summertime is a good time for grilling. This marinated salad keeps well for several days in the refrigerator, and is a delicious side for any grilled meat, chicken, or fish. Don’t let the long list of ingredients discourage trying it. There is little preparation involved other than some minor chopping and opening the variety of canned vegetables.

Marinated Vegetable Salad

Note:  all canned ingredients need to be drained before adding.

1 red onion, sliced

1 cup sun dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped

15 oz. can petite green peas

15 oz. can white corn

15 oz. can french style green beans

15 oz. can bean sprouts

12 oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts

10 oz. can bamboo shoots

10 oz. can sliced water chestnuts

12 oz. jar marinated roasted red peppers, coarsely chopped

3/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives

1 bottle Italian salad dressing, or make your own with oil, herbs, and vinegar.

Combine all ingredients except salad dressing in large bowl with lid. Toss well.

Add salad dressing and toss lightly to coat. Refrigerate several hours or overnight, tossing or turning bowl occasionally. Keeps well and is a great addition to potlucks.

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken with Lemon Butter and Sundried Tomato Sauce

Dressing up grilled chicken is easy. The hard part is deciding which great recipe to use. I recently overheard a comment about Chicken Bryan, a dish served at Carraba’s Italian restaurants. When I researched online, I found numerous versions. We keep most of these ingredients in our pantry or in our garden.  Flavors of the melted goat cheese and tangy sauce made this a new favorite.

Chicken topped with Goat Cheese, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Lemon Butter Sauce


1 small yellow onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons butter for saute of onions and garlic, more added later to sauce

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2/3 cup cold butter, sliced

1 1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

extra virgin olive oil (for brushing chicken)

8 ounces goat cheese, room temperature, cut into 6 thick slices

Saute garlic and onion in 2 Tbsp. butter in a large saute pan over medium heat until tender. Stir in wine and lemon juice, increase heat to medium high, and simmer until reduced by half.

Reduce heat to low and stir in cold butter, one slice at a time. Stir in tomatoes, basil, kosher salt, and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.

Brush chicken breasts with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Grill chicken and remove from heat. Immediately place equal amounts of cheese on each chicken breast. Spoon prepared sun-dried tomato sauce over chicken. Serve with pasta.

 

 

 

Wagyu Flat Iron Steak with Herb Butter

We began a few months ago to host a neighborhood Farm to Table group which means deliveries are made weekly to our front courtyard, then picked up by neighbors who have placed orders. We have a number of local farmers and producers who offer a variety of locally made or raised foods. Our most recent addition to this group of vendors is a family who owns a Wagyu cattle ranch in Jackson County, southwest of our area. This beef is primarily grass fed but finished on hormone-free, non-GMO feed and is known for its marbling and flavor.  We ordered flat iron steak and prepared it in the simplest way – a quick sear in a hot iron skillet, then topped with butter blended with shallots and fresh herbs from our garden, an adaptation of a classic French accompaniment called maitre d’ butter. There is a similar recipe from Saveur online. Results?  My family’s version of a Michelin star!

Wagyu Flat Iron Steak with Herb Butter

Flat Iron Steak – We used 2 1/2 pounds for 6 adults. Tailor the amount to the portions you need – 6 to 8 oz. portions are average.

salt and freshly ground pepper

cooking oil

 

For the Herb Butter –

8 oz. unsalted butter

1 medium shallot, diced

1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh basil leaves

2 Tablespoons chopped tarragon or Mexican Mint Marigold (tarragon does not grow well in our area, so I always use the latter herb  because we have a lot of it in the garden.)

1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Rub steaks generously with salt and pepper and set aside to let rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.
In a low flat bowl, blend butter, shallots, salt, pepper, and herbs with a fork. Set aside until serving time.
Heat 2 Tablespoons oil in a 12″ cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 steaks and cook, turning once, until seared to your preference for doneness – about 4 minutes on each side for medium rare, 5-6 minutes each side for medium to medium well. I use 2 skillets and repeat for additional steaks adding more oil as necessary. Transfer steaks to serving platter and let rest for 5 minutes. To serve, top each steak with 2 tbsp. of the herb butter. I use a small ice cream scoop to make this quick and simple.

Oatmeal Mango Muffins

As I have mentioned before, I have a favorite breakfast cookbook that features recipes from various Bed and Breakfasts on the West Coast. I have made oatmeal muffins from one of their recipes that we liked which included peaches.I learned in Indonesia that mangos work well when peaches are not available. (We had a mango tree in our back yard there.) So since I had no peaches but several ripe Ataulfo Mangos, I chopped them into the batter for our muffins – a new breakfast favorite!

1 1/4 cups flour

1 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 Tablespoons molasses

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup peeled, chopped fresh mangos

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, mix wet ingredients and add to dry ingredients. Mix just until blended. Batter will be lumpy. Stir in mangos. Fill greased muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until muffins are done.