Monday, May 2, 2022

Joey's Chicken and Greens Casserole

So, here's a question for you:
Are you a "little bit of this, little bit of that," sort of "throw it together" kind of cook?
Or are you a "never make anything without a trusted recipe" kind of cook?
For me, I guess it depends on what I'm making! If I'm baking, yes, definitely follow the recipe.
But usually I'm a "just throw it together" kind of a cook. That's how my Mom always cooked, so I guess I get it from her. In the case of this recipe, it was definitely a throw together dinner, born out of everything I had set aside in the fridge, thinking "I'll use that for something later."
  For Easter, I had made a few quiches, and I had a few different kinds of cheese leftover. So I thought, well, I can always do something with that later.
 I was recently planning to pressure can some collard greens, but I wasn't sure how many jars I'd have. After I finished all of my canning, I had a few handfuls of blanched greens leftover. No problem. I can always do something with them later.
 I even had some cut up boneless chicken in the fridge on stand by, just because I like to have a full canner whenever I pressure can. Who knew the greens would go so far?? So I didn't need to add any jars of chicken to the canner. But that's fine. I'm sure I can do something with it later. 
 Do you see where I'm going with this? That's literally how it all fell together. So I dredged the chicken in flour, sauteed it in a pan with some onions and the collards, added a sauce and poured it over rice. Perfect easy weeknight dinner! It'll feed a crowd too. 
 So, the next time you're not sure what to make for dinner? Open up that fridge and look at what you have. I'll just bet you already have the makings of a great dinner!

3-4 cups cooked rice
4-5 bonless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
Flour for dredging
1 bunch of collard greens, rinsed well, cut into ribbons, and blanched for a few minutes
1 onion, diced
2 (10oz) cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 soup can of milk
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Heat oven to 350ºF.
In a large casserole dish, spread the cooked rice in an even layer across the bottom.
Toss all the chicken pieces in a little bit of flour until coated, then saute them in a large skillet with a little bit of oil. Just lightly brown the outside, but don't cook the chicken all the way through. Remove chicken pieces and place them over the rice. In the same pan, add the chopped greens with the diced onions, adding a little more oil if needed. Be careful, the green will splatter a little. Saute until the onions are soft. Scatter the onions and greens over the chicken. Whisk together the soup and the milk. Pour over the chicken and greens. Top with each kind of cheese. Bake for about 35 minutes.

Remember, I used literally whatever I had in my fridge, so use this recipe as a guide to springboard into any direction you like, based on whatever you have on hand.
Don't like chicken? Use diced ham. Or turkey. Or pork sausage.
Don't like collards? Use spinach. Or Kale. Or any other veggie you want. 
Don't like cream of mushroom soup? Use any cream soup you like. Or make your own white sauce. 
Don't like Cheddar or Mozzarella? Use Swiss. Or any good melting cheese. 
Don't like rice? Pour the the whole thing over noodles! Or even better, mashed potatoes. 
Want it to be saucier? or cheesier? or meatier? add more of whatever you like!

Monday, April 11, 2022

What the Fig Ham and Cheese Pinwheels

 Here's an easy little 'picky uppy" finger food that you should add to your repertoire. It's an easy do-ahead for a party, and they're always a big hit!
 It's just my own little variation of a Pillsbury recipe. I added a little fig jam to balance with the salty ham, and the result was magic! I made them for Carly and Christopher's housewarming party and everyone loved them! They would also be perfect for a Brunch, or even just a quiet movie night.
You really can't go wrong with Pillsbury, can you?? Give 'em a try!
1 can crescent rolls or full crescent dough sheets 
4 thin slices Swiss cheese or American cheese
4 slices deli sliced ham
2-3 tbs fig jam
Heat oven to 375°F. 
Spray large cookie sheet with cooking spray, or line with cooking parchment paper. Unroll dough sheet onto large cutting board; press into 12x8-inch rectangle. If using crescent rolls, unroll and press into 12x8-inch rectangle, pressing seams together. Using an offset spatula, spread with a VERY thin layer of fig jam over the dough, leaving 1/2-inch border on each of the short ends. Top the jam with cheese and ham slices. Starting on short edge of rectangle, roll up tightly and pinch seam together. With serrated knife, cut into 8 slices, about 1 inch wide. Arrange on cookie sheet. Bake 17 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Be sure to choose a salty deli ham. If you use a honey ham or something on the sweeter side, it might wind up being too sweet with the jam. 
Don't like figs? Use a different kind of jam, or just omit it! The original Pillsbury recipe said to drizzle the baked pinwheels with honey, but the jam was what I had on hand! Not a fan of salty and sweet? Go completely savory! Try some sliced roast beef and pepper jack cheese. Or maybe ham, cheddar, and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes! You do you!
The parchment paper is key! Don't forget it! Otherwise, your pinwheels will stick from all the jammy goodness.  
This only makes 8 pinwheels. Baking for a crowd? Do several batches!

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Impossible Coconut Pie

Have you ever heard of an "impossible" pie? This was something that became popular in the mid 1970s and it still remains one of my all time favorite recipes. So, why is it called an Impossible Pie? Well, it makes it's own crust! What?? But that's impossible!! Nope, not at all. You just throw everything into a blender, pour it into an empty pie plate and bake!! Fun, right??! It's the baking mix in the recipe that sinks down to the bottom while it bakes, and that's what forms its own base. How cool is that??
 Over the years, there have been many variations of Impossible pies, even savory versions, but coconut was the original, so I'll stick with it. It really is just as easy as it sounds, and it comes together in no time at all. So, if you're looking for a quick and easy custard pie, give this one a try! And be sure to let me know if you find any other "impossible" recipes!! I'd love to try 'em!
2 cups milk
1/2 cup baking mix such as Bisquick*
1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup white sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut extract (optional)
2 cups flaked coconut
Heat oven to 350ºF.
Set aside 1 1/2 cups coconut.
Place all remaining ingredients in a blender. Blend on high for 3 minutes,
Pour into an empty pie plate. Top with reserved coconut. Bake for 30-40 minute or until set. 
Serve with sweetened whipped cream, if desired. 
 *You can make your own baking mix by combining 1 cup of flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/2 tsp of salt, and 1 tbs of oil or melted butter.
-Be sure to use a BLENDER for this, and not a food processor or mixer. You really want everything to be completely pureed together to make one smooth batter. And be sure to blend it for the full 3 minutes!
-Whenever I make a coconut something, I like a LOT of coconut flavor, so I always add just a little coconut extract. It wasn't part of the original recipe, just my own addition, but it really goes a long way!

Monday, March 7, 2022

Sausage, Potato, and Cabbage Casserole

  Every year around St Patrick's Day, I like to find something different, instead of the standard corned beef or ham and cabbage with potatoes. So, this year, I decided to throw together a casserole using sausage instead of ham or corned beef. 
 I started with the potatoes (because how can you have an Irish inspired casserole without potatoes?) and then figured I'd just layer them with the cooked sausage and chopped cabbage. And then, sort of in an "au gratin" kind of move, I poured cream over the whole thing and baked it. 
 Well..... Let me just tell you... OMG it was amazing!!!! The cream and the extra liquid from the cabbage soaked right into the potatoes, cooking them perfectly, and the sausage seasoned the entire thing. And then the little tang of the Swiss cheese rounded the entire bite. I'm not even kidding when I tell you that I couldn't stop eating it. Btw.. I must say.. very often, when I make a giant casserole, I usually give half of it away, since there's only one of me. But in this case, I kept the entire thing for myself and then just sliced a big square of it for every meal. Talk about stretching a buck... I seriously have to do the math the see how many meals I got from just one casserole. This will definitely feed a crowd! So if you're feeling something hearty and St Patrick's Day -sh, try this one.  It's just the thing for a crisp March night and it will definitely hit the spot. Enjoy!

2 lbs bulk sausage
5 or 6 large Yukon gold potatoes (more or less)
1 small head cabbage (or half of a large one)
1 medium onion
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper
16 oz shredded Swiss cheese
2 cups heavy cream
1-2 cups Panko bread crumbs

Heat oven to 400ºF.
In a large skillet, brown the sausage, breaking it into small pieces. While it's cooking, roughly chop the onions and cabbage.
When sausage is cooked, remove from pan to a bowl, set aside. In the same pan, add onions and cabbage along with fennel seed, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Add a little butter or oil if needed to get things going. Saute until they begin to soften. While it's cooking, peel and slice the potatoes into thin slices.
In a large casserole dish, layer half of the potato slices, then add half of the sausage, then half of the cabbage. Top with half of the shredded cheese. Repeat all layers. Pour cream over all.
Cover with foil. Bake for 1 hour.
Remove cover, top with bread crumbs. Place back in oven for about 15 minutes or until golden.
Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cut into squares and serve. Would be great witha lovely light salad.
Use any kind of sausage you like. Don't like Swiss cheese? Use Mozzarella or a sharp Cheddar.
To save a little time, you can use already cooked potatoes when assembling your casserole, but the raw potatoes are meant to absorb all the extra liquid from the cabbage and also the cream. That's also one of the reasons for letting it sit for 15 minutes out of the oven.
 Hmm... now I'm thinking I'll go back and make it again...  with ham or corned beef ... or bacon!.... and BOTH mozzarella cheese and cheddar. Yum.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Chocolate Cobbler

 Are you a chocolate lover?? And do you like ooey gooey decadence? Well, if you are, and you do,  then I think I've found the perfect dessert for you! I think this dessert is possibly the ooiest and gooiest thing I've ever tasted. Not even kidding! Pretend chocolate pudding and a brownie had a baby. THAT's how fudge-tastic this is. SO GOOD!
 Now, I must confess that as much as I love chocolate, sometimes the chocolate dessert isn't always my first choice. Most times I would choose the hot apple pie with caramel....or the carrot cake with cream cheese icing... or the strawberry cheesecake. But sometimes.. well.. what can I say...sometimes, you know you just have to have something chocolate. I'm pretty sure that THIS is the dessert that will hit that spot. The recipe is from Southern Living, and it's absolutely delicious. Simple too!!
 So the next time you're feeling like you need a little rich chewy ooey gooey chocolateness in your life, give this recipe a try. BOOM.

Preheat oven to 350°F. 
Place butter in an 11- x 7-inch (2 qt) baking dish. Place dish in oven (the oven does not need to be fully preheated). Heat until butter melts, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Joey's Brunswick Stew


Have you ever heard of Brunswick Stew? 
Basically, it's a very thick tomato based stew, with lots of beans and vegetables, and usually several different kinds of meat. It's a very Southern BBQ type of thing, and back in the day, it was a way to use up leftover smoked meats, briskets, and such. The taste is a perfect combination of smokey, spicy, and just a little bit sweet.
 Most recipes claiming authenticity call for squirrel or rabbit meat, but chicken, pork, and beef are also common ingredients. (personally, I think I'll skip the squirrel and rabbit. ) A debate currently exists as to whether Brunswick Stew was actually originally made near the town of Brunswick, Georgia, or in Brunswick County in southern Virginia. The main difference between the Georgia and Virginia versions has been the types of meat used. The Virginia version tends to favor chicken as the primary meat, while the Georgia version tends to favor pork and beef. As there is no "official" recipe, some variations have chicken, pork, beef, and other types of meat, all in the same recipe. Pretty much everyone makes it the way they like it. So there are probably as many recipes for Brunswick Stew as there are recipes for Italian Sunday Gravy. Every house makes it the way they like it, using whatever they have on hand. 
 So guess what I did? The same thing I always do! I looked at several different recipes, decided what I liked from each one, and then made my own! I noticed that all the recipes seemed to have tomatoes, corn, and lima beans in them, and many have BBQ sauce or ketchup and a little shot of hot sauce too. It all sounds wonderful to me, so I was sure to include them. 
 Originally, I was thinking this would be the perfect thing to warm you up if you're out in the subfreezing weather, but then I thought this would also be a great thing to make for a Super Bowl Party or Olympics Watch Party, or any other choose your own TV Event party. How perfect is that? Instead of doing a pot of chili, how 'bout this instead? Bake up some corn bread muffins, or some buttermilk biscuits and you're good to go!  Oh, one more thing.. If you're a novice cook, this recipe is for you! All you do is dump everything into the pot and let it cook! Easy peasy! Hope you like it!
4 slices bacon, cut into lardons 
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large cans crushed or diced tomatoes
1/4 cup brown sugar 
1 cup of any favorite BBQ sauce 
1 tbs hot sauce, or to taste
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce 
1 tsp ground black pepper 
1 tsp kosher salt
2 cans cream style corn
2 cups whole kernel corn, yellow and/or white, fresh, canned, or frozen
2 cups lima beans, canned or frozen
2 cups diced carrots, fresh, canned, or frozen
2 cups peas, fresh, canned, or frozen
4 cups of stock, chicken, beef, vegetable, whatever you have
your choice of cooked meat, diced or shredded, as much as you like

Place bacon in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Slowly let the fat render for a good 5 minutes, giving it a stir every so often. Add the diced onion to the bacon. Saute until the onions begin to soften. Now add all the remaining ingredients. If you're using canned vegetables, no need to drain them. Just pour it all in. That's all there is to it! Increase the heat and bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat down to a simmer. Let it simmer for about an hour. Serve it with corn bread, buttermilk biscuits, or poured over a pile of fluffy mashed potatoes.

This is one of those stews that can go in any direction. Use whatever kinds of veggies you like, and add as much or little as you like of each kind. Instead of doing individual veggies like I did, you can just add a couple bags of mixed frozen veggies and call it a day. I just happened to have my own home canned veggies, so that's how I roll. Just be sure to include corn, lima beans, and tomatoes. They're the classics!
You can add diced potatoes, if you like, but I like the idea of serving it over a starch, like biscuits or mashed potatoes, but you do you! 
The one thing that makes this specifically a Brunswick Stew and not just any regular vegetable stew is the addition of BBQ sauce. It adds that hit of sweet smokiness that gives you a nice BBQ flavor. Basically all the other ingredients are negotiable.
Want to pump up the heat? Add crushed red pepper flakes, or a diced hot pepper of choice. 
Want to make it vegetarian? (Yes, that's actually a thing) Just leave the meat out and use a veggie stock.
Want it to be a little more smokey? Add a smoked ham hock or smoked meat of your choice. Or you could even just add a few drops of liquid smoke. 
This makes quite a pot of stew. Have fewer mouths to feed? Cut everything in half. Or just freeze half of it in containers! Giant crowd to feed? Double everything!

Monday, January 24, 2022

Sloppy Joe Biscuit Casserole


  Lately with all the sub-freezing temperatures, I've been thinking that I'd like to have some sort of casserole. Maybe something saucy on the bottom and bread on the top. I remember the chili bread casserole I did about a million years ago which had chili on the bottom and then corn bread baked right on top of it. Hmm... possibly. And then after a brief browse through the fridge and pantry, I saw that I have a can of Pillsbury biscuits and a few cans of Sloppy Joe sauce. oooooh NOW we're talking. Sloppy Joe on the bottom and biscuits on the top? Yes please! What's not to love?
 So I did a quick google search to see what similar ideas were out there. I immediately found a recipe on a blog called This Is Not Diet Food. Ok then! That'll work!
 So, the original recipe made the sauce from scratch, adding ketchup and brown sugar, etc. I opted to use my home canned Sloppy Joe sauce, since I happened to have it, but I'm sure the results are similar. You could even use your favorite store bought sauce like Manwich, and it'll be perfect. The basic recipe is still there. Tweak it however you like, and use what you have on hand. I'm sure it will still turn out great! It's definitely just the thing to have after you come in from being out in the cold!
2 lbs lean ground beef 
1 cup yellow onion, diced 
1 bell pepper, any color, diced
2 cups homemade or store bought sloppy joe sauce
1 cup French fried onion rings
2 cups shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese blend 
12 oz Pillsbury refrigerated biscuits
Heat oven to 375ºF. 
Place ground beef in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the diced onions and peppers to the pan with the ground beef. Crumble the ground beef well as it cooks. When the ground beef is completely cooked, turn off the heat and drain the excess grease from the pan. Add sloppy joe sauce to the beef mixture. Add the French fried onions. Stir well until everything is coated in sauce. Pour the sloppy joe mixture into a greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish and spread it out evenly. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top. Open the package of biscuits and cut each one into 6 pieces. Place the biscuit pieces on top of the cheese, spacing them out as evenly as possible. Place the dish in the oven and bake the casserole until the biscuits are nicely browned. 22-25 minutes. Serve with a nice salad or veggie on the side and enjoy!
Sometimes I like to mix things up by doing a pound of ground beef and a pound of bulk sausage.  Want to add some heat to it? Add a diced jalapeno pepper. Want it to be a little sweeter? Add 1/4 cup each of brown sugar and ketchup. Want it to be more savory? Add a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Don't have ketchup? Use canned tomato sauce. Make it however you like it!

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Joey's Spicy Sausage Mac and Cheese


 Many years ago, I went to my family's Pollyanna Christmas Party. As you can imagine, there was a ton of food ranging from appetizers to entrees to desserts. That's just what we do! Anyway, this one particular year, my nephew Dan, aka Daniel Boone, brought a small crock full of warm sausage dip, and it was a HUGE hit. When I asked him for the recipe, he said it was super easy, only had a couple ingredients, and that he'll text it to me. Perfect!
 A few days later, I sent him a text, reminding him to send me the recipe. His return text was simply a picture of a pound of sausage, a can of Rotel tomatoes w/ chilis, and a block of cream cheese. That was it. Just a picture. He said "here's the recipe." LOL Well, I guess you can't get any simpler than that!
 Over the years, I kind of forgot about it, and never did get around to posting it. But then recently, as I was thinking of holiday party dips to post, that recipe came to mind again and I thought, OH! That sausage dip! I need to do that! So I browsed my pantry to see if I had any of the ingredients on hand.
And then the A-HA moment happened! 
I thought, hmmm... I bet this would make a SLAMMIN' pasta sauce. As I was browsing my pantry, I noticed, instead of Rotel tomatoes w/ chilis, I had a big jar of salsa. Instead of a block of cream cheese, I had a big block of Velveeta processed cheese. And of course, I had lots of pasta choices. 
Ok, so I could do a mac and cheese, kind of like Queso when you melt cheese with salsa, but then add sausage to it... YES! Let's do this!!! OMG it turned out so good! I couldn't believe it.
 So, instead of a picture, I'll tell you the easiest way to remember this recipe. You don't even have to write it down. It's as easy as 1-2-3: 1 lb Velveeta, 2 lbs sausage, 3 cups salsa! That's all there is to it!!! Who knew that something so simple could be so delish?? It makes the perfect cheesy ooey gooey mac and cheese, and you can throw it together in less than 30 minutes for an easy week night dinner. Cool, huh? 
So if you're a fan of spicy things, sausage, and/or mac and cheese, this one's for you. 
Thanx again, Daniel Boone, for sending me that recipe! 
Maybe sometime, give MY version a try!

1 lb Velveeta cheese
2 lbs mild Italian bulk sausage (or removed from link casings)
3 cups homemade or purchased mild salsa
1 lb large elbow pasta

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, in another large heavy pot, over medium heat, cook sausage until brown, breaking up large chunks as you go. Spoon away some of the excess fat, if needed. Add salsa and chunked Velveeta cheese. Stir well until the cheese melts and the sauce becomes ooey gooey. Add cooked pasta to your cheese mixture. Toss well. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese , if desired, and serve.
Note*- I didn't add ANY other seasonings. I didn't even salt the pasta water. There is already QUITE a bit of salt and other seasonings in the other ingredients. 

The main thing about this recipe is that it's SPICY! Even if you choose mild salsa, and mild sausage, it still gets pretty spicy when it all cooks together. So just keep that in mind. If you don't want any heat at all, try using just diced tomatoes instead of salsa. The sausage will still flavor the rest of the dish. Or, if you don't like sausage, you could use ground beef. The salsa will still flavor the rest of the dish.
 On the flip side, if you want A LOT of heat, go as hot as you dare! Use Italian HOT sausage or HOT salsa, or both! How adventurous are you feeling?? You do you!
If the sauce gets too thick, just add a little milk until it's the right consistency. 
If you prefer a baked mac and cheese, pour the whole works into a large casserole dish, top with Parmesan cheese, or even some shredded Cheddar, then bake in a 350ºF oven until the top becomes golden brown.


Monday, January 10, 2022

Easy Slow Cooker Mushroom Pot Roast


 Full disclosure, I’m not really sure of where I found this recipe. There are similar versions of it bouncing around the interwebs with just a slight variation here or there. Some add wine, some add potatoes or carrots, etc.
 With mine, since I was going in a decidedly mushroom direction, I added a jar of my home canned mushrooms. I was originally gonna serve it with mashed potatoes, but I decided to just go with some roasted carrots, potatoes, asparagus, and some pickled beets (which I LOVE). There’s really no wrong way to do it, and it couldn’t be easier to do. If you can open a can of soup, you can make this recipe. It’s that easy!! And if you don’t own a slow cooker, this is the perfect reason to buy one! Your family will love you for it!!!
1 4-5 lb chuck roast
1 envelope Lipton onion soup mix
2 (10 oz) cans cream of mushroom soup
1 lb baby carrots
1 lb baby potatoes, halved
canned mushrooms, as much as you like
splash of red wine

Spray inside of your slow cooker with cooking spray. Place the pot roast in the slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients. Cover. Cook on low for 9-10 hours or on high for 4-5 hours. That's all there is to it!

To make a thicker gravy, remove the cover for the last hour of cooking. 
Instead of adding potatoes to the crock, serve your roast over a pile of mashed potatoes. YUM.