Sunday, April 17, 2011

You Know You're Southern When...

I once told a co-worker I had eaten black-eyed peas for dinner.  She asked what I had them with - the answer was nothing.  I like sweet potatoes, and have eaten a sweet potato for dinner.  I love black-eyed peas...from a "cakes" pretty much any form.  So for dinner, when I needed something quick, I went to my quick favorites.

I started a sweet potato cooking in the microwave, then put a pan on the stove to heat up.  When it was hot, I swirled in some oil, chopped a small link of andouille sausage, and sauteed until it seared and sizzled.  Then I dumped in a half-drained can of black-eyed peas.

As the peas heated, the potato finished, so I cut it open and made a few strategic cuts to make it easier to eat. 

I swirled the pan of sausage and peas, and when it was hot, dumped it on the plate with the sweet potato.  It was such a warm, satisfying dinner - yes, it smacks of southern tradition - that took me less than 15 minutes to pull together.  This is true comfort food!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Family Brunch

Every once in a while we have a confluence of family in the area. A few weeks ago this happened, and we decided to host everyone for Sunday Brunch. With nine adults for brunch, I knew we'd need a spread. Being my usual self, I decided to have fun with this!

+ Fruit Salad
+ Monkey Bread
+ Biscuits with Homemade Peach Preserves, Homemade Plum Preserves and Honey Maple Butter
+ Sausage, Egg and Cheese Casserole
+ Smoked Salmon Pinwheels
+ Shrimp Cocktail
+ Mimosas (of course!)

Obviously some of these items were store-bought and required little effort on my part, but it was fun to put together the whole spread, and boy was it yummy! I bought the shrimp and the salmon pinwheels, and in the interest of time baked biscuits from a can. One fun feature was that my homemade jams were made with fruits from my CSA last summer, and I had the last few frozen peaches to put in the fruit salad!

It was such a yummy and relaxing way to end the weekend, and I loved everything!

Fruit Salad with Mint and Honey

Peach Preserves, Plum Preserves, Butter and the Little Lady (hiding my Honey Maple Butter!)

Shrimp Cocktail and Salmon Pinwheels

Monkey Bread and Egg Casserole

The Sausage, Egg and Cheese Casserole was easy - I put it together the day before and just popped it into the oven on Sunday morning. Here's how I did it - it's based on a Cooking Light recipe for a Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Casserole, but I made a few adjustment of my own!

12 ounces sweet Italian turkey sausage
2 cups skim milk
2 cups egg substitute (like Egg Beaters)
1 tablespoon dry mustard powder (like Colman's)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 eggs
16 slices of bread, crusts removed
1 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Brown the sausage, stirring to crumble it. Remove from heat and drain any excess fat. Allow to cool.

Stir together the milk, egg substitute, mustard powder, salt, peppers and eggs in a large bowl, whisking gently.

Cube bread slices. Add bread, cheese and cooled sausage to egg mixture.

Spray a baking dish (I used a lasagna dish, which is a little deeper, and is about 8x12) with cooking spray, and pour in the mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours, up to one day.

When ready to bake, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove casserole from fridge and let stand at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.

Sprinkle top of casserole with paprika. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until top is lightly browned and eggs are set. Let stand for at least 10 minutes, and serve. It's also great at room temperature!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Warming Trends

When it starts to warm up for the season, I love having salads for dinner. My husband enjoys them too, but then sometimes complains about being hungry soon after. Solutions: more protein and more fiber in the salads!

This week we FINALLY had two consecutive days of warm weather (now I'm holding out for warm AND sunny!), so I decided to make a lovely salad for us for dinner! I usually start with store-bought salad greens, for speed. I added a can of black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed, for more fiber, protein and general staying power. I added some toasted almond slices, and chopped up an avocado as well.

The other major addition was quinoa - a plant-based, complete protein. It's quick to cook and is a great grain side for many meals, and it was a wonderful addition to the salad. I put the saucepan on the oven, and while it cooked I put together the rest of the salad and the dressing.

For the dressing, I went for a light, citrusy vinaigrette.

juice from 1 tangerine
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey mustard
1/3 cup oil (I usually use a combination of olive and canola)
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together the juice, vinegar and mustard. Add the oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly. Dip a piece of salad green into the dressing and taste for flavor. Add salt and pepper to taste. I like dressings on the tangy side, but if this is too tangy for you, just add a little more oil.

I about half the dressing on the salad and mixed it, then gave the rest to my dressing-happy dining partner! This salad was delicious, and it kept us both satisfied! I can't wait for the warm days to come...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Happy Spring!

Now that it's finally warming up again, I'll get back in the saddle and post more food (and fun!) here! I'm excited about some new things I've been trying, some new cookbooks that I've been reading and the impending return (two months isn't long!) of my beloved CSA! Keep your sets tuned in here for coming adventures and an occasional recap of some lovely meals over the winter... Enjoy every last bite!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Mmm...a warm and hearty dinner for a cold winter's night!

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