Last Sunday means food

First thing, thanks for all the opinions on the cheesecake issue!   By the way – so far it is a tie!!!  I just may have to make one of each for the auction at this rate! HA!

Yesterday was the last Sunday of the month and yep! We ate in Sunday School.  It is a given. Last Sunday of the month…bring food!

This cheesy, grits filled goodness of a casserole was a hit!   A crowd pleaser if you are have company over for the 4th weekend.  Or not.  Make it for your family.  You won’t be disappointed.  I used the good old Conecuh sausage in mine.  But feel free to use whatever link sausage you wish – turkey sausage even!  But for my SS class, I wanted to give them the best flavor I could!  So get your aprons on and get the pots ready.

Grits and Sausage Casserole with cheese (can’t get any more Southern than that!)

1/2 Tbsp oil

1 pkg sausage (link) – I used 16 oz pkg of Conecuh smoked sausage – next time I am using the hot and spicy!

about 1/4 cup chopped bell pepper (I keep the tri-colored bell peppers – frozen pkg in my freezer – just grabbed a hand ful – let sit on the counter for a bit, and chopped away – hubby said the combination was great in this dish – and I may have chopped a bit more than a quarter cup – it’s up to you!)

4 green onions, sliced

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups chicken broth

1 tsp salt

1 1/4 cup quick cooking grits

1/2 cup milk

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 tsp garlic powder (I may have put just a smidgen more)

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (1/4 cup of this saved back to sprinkle on top)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease or spray an 11×7 inch baking dish.

Heat the 1/2 Tbsp of oil over medium heat in a nonstick skillet.  Add sliced sausage and saute for a few minutes (3 or 4 minutes should be fine) then add the bell peppers and onions and saute for 3 more minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside. (I actually did this step the night before and then put in microwave for about 20 seconds the next morning before using to knock the chill off of it. saved me time Sunday morning!)

In a medium saucepan bring water and chicken broth to a boil.  Add salt and then slowly stir grits in.  Simmer grits for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.    In another bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, and garlic powder.  Slowly stir in about 1 cup of the hot grits to temper the eggs (don’t want scrambled eggs)  Then pour the milk/grits/eggs mix into the saucepan with the rest of the grits, stirring constantly to combine.

Stir in the Parmesan cheese and half of the Cheddar cheese (the 1/4 cup), reserving the other 1/4 cup of the cheddar cheese.  Mix in the sausage mixture.  Pour into the prepared pan and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Mine actually came out after 40 minutes.

No, I did not take a picture.  I forgot.  Sorry!  It sure was purty!  I hope you will try it.

Have a great week.

Which cheesecake? You decide!

I will be making a cheesecake to be auctioned off to raise funds for our local humane society.  I have had the pleasure of sending a baked good in the past to the auction block and it is a lot of fun to know someone will not only be taking home a wonderful tasting treat but helping our local animals.

This year I am making a cheesecake. Not just any cheesecake.  And I need you, the followers, to help me decide which one to send.   Below are the two I am choosing from.  Both are very decadent and flavorful and worthy of bids.  So…if you please, leave a comment and tell me which would be your favorite or the one you think will bring better moolah for “the cause!”

1.  Pecan Pie Cheesecake- yep- wonderful graham cracker crust- layer of pecan pie slices-crust and all!- topped with the traditional cheesecake filling and baked to a beautiful consistency.  Good- better than good!

2.  Carrot Cake Cheesecake- the best of both worlds! Layer of a beautiful carrot cake batter – I can smell it baking now – (no raisins in this recipe- thought you needed to know this) – then the cheesecake layer- then dollops of the carrot cake batter then the rest of the cheesecake batter- oh my! And don’t forget the cream cheese topping!

So see.. I am at a loss as to which one to make and send to the auction block! HELP! Reply with your favorite between the two!

When one has Basil…

Make fresh Basil Pesto!

One herb that grows quite well in my little section of herb growing fun is basil.  I have the regular green basil…

green basil

this was just cut for my above recipe!  And still plenty more for other cooking recipes.

And I grow a beautiful purple basil.  See?

purple

Today I decided to make some fresh basil pesto…with a new twist!  I added some chopped jalapeno to add some heat and man is it good!   What a difference!   And for supper, I plan on taking a roasted chicken breast I have cut up in to cubes, stir some of this beautiful pesto in to it, and serve it along side some fresh sliced tomatoes.  Help me Rhonda.

If you like pestos, try jazzing yours up with a little jalapeno in yours.  Or just leave it out.  Pesto is versatile, and good!

Here’s how I make mine:

Fresh Basil Pesto

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed

2 cloves garlic (some of the recipes, I notice, calls for 3 cloves of garlic – 2 is enough for us!)

1/2 cup olive oil

1/3 cup pine nuts, (I like to toast mine for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly, in a dry skillet.)

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

and 1/4 to 1/2 jalapeno pepper, if you dare!

Place the basil leaves, toasted pine nuts and garlic in food processor and pulse until just chopped.  Add Parmesan cheese (and jalapeno pepper if using) and while the processor is going, slowly pour the olive oil in.  When combined, stir in salt and pepper to taste.

Serve on pasta, on chicken (this was delicious, by the way!) however you like your pesto!

Now on to cutting my other herbs and drying!  Have a great rest of the week!

Fried Green Tomatoes

Let’s talk here a minute.   We love our fried green tomatoes.  We love the batter and sauce that goes along with them.  And we have determined we like a cornmeal crust compared to a crust that resembles a cracker crumb base or panko crumb base or a tempura batter base.   There’s something about the crunch of the cornmeal batter

Eating healthy leaves us little options on this subject.

tomatoes

Look at those babies.  YUMMY!  (And yes, that is a “Land Before Time” melamine plate from many, many MANY years past my grandkids ate off I can’t seem to part with). Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to give up flavor, crunch OR BAKED (fried) green tomatoes.   Y’all.   These.   The crunch.  The flavor.   I could go on and on but I won’t.  Just try some.  They went well with our fresh veggies from the “curb market”.  Fresh sliced red tomatoes, fresh snapped green beans, and some good old fresh yellow squash.  We ate like kings (and queens!).

All I did was spray the pan with pam spray.  I sliced my green tomatoes, dipped them in a small bit of flour to coat (I shook off all excess – all you are doing is making sure they are dry and slightly coated so the wet stuff sticks), dipped them in an egg beaten with a tablespoon of water, and then in Zatarain’s Fish Batter -( comes in a box and has the seasoning in it) spicy and good – no need to add extra anything!   Once coated, lay on the prepared pan, then spray the tops of the battered tomatoes with the pam cooking spray, and place in a preheated 375 degree oven – let cook for about 15-20 minutes – depends on your oven – just peep under one of the slices and make sure they are good and golden on the underside; then flip them over and bake for another 10-15 minutes – again, depending on your oven till the other side gets a bit of color to it.

Serve them with your favorite sauce or eat just as they are.   And y’all come on back and let us know if you make them and what you served them with!  Happy summer!

If you cook it….they will come!

So go and spend that e-gift card that is going to the two lucky winners!

Random.org drew the following:

win one win two

#10 – Matt and

#7 – Jonathan!

Congrats and how neat that both are guys with father’s day coming up!   Whether you are a father or not, enjoy the spoils!

Have fun choosing from the selections that Urban Accents offers and come back and let us know how you liked them!

I will be getting with both of you to get your e-gift card out to you!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Father’s Day is coming!

Father’s Day just doesn’t get the recognition that Mother’s Day does.  Never has.  So to help that little issue along, I am here to help you make that day special for that dad in your life, or maybe help your child get Daddy something just for him.  Maybe even a brother, or just someone who has meant a lot to you if your father is no longer with you.

Urban Accents.  Need I say more?   It’s summer, its grilling time, and this on line store has got it all.  From Brining Kits to Fall Roasting Glazing Kits, to Popcorn Sprinkling Kits, to Seasoning Rub Kits, well, and I can’t miss mentioning this:

urban-accents-tart-and-spicy-jalapeño-lemonade-and-margarita-mix

While I won’t be making the margarita, I will be making the lemonade with a kick! Oh my!  And don’t overlook the directions of some of these products.  The frittata mix alone has other uses.   Geez!  I will have to buy two of everything!!!

And look at this!

UA-SALTED-CARAMEL-FRENCH-TOAST-DRIZZLE-510x652

GAH!  Salted Caramel French Toast Drizzle.  How can I NOT try this!   What a variety they have.   An order from me goes in today.

Want a chance to win a $50.00 e-gift card for someone special you know?   Just go to https://www.urbanaccents.com/  and come back and shout out what you want to try first.   My list is long.  My list will take me a month to cook through.

Two winners will be announced Friday so get shopping for a favorite of yours!  Happy cooking!

Breakfast in Italy….sort of

Breakfast in Sunday School is the best!  There is such a variety of foods and flavors to sample!  I made this to take…and it is the “ready to go in the oven” shot – there isn’t one that is “just out of the oven” shot – I am a dumbbell! I admit it.

breakfast casserole

An Italian Breakfast Casserole! A recipe I found floating around the net and one I sort of revised to my likingt\. And man did it ever smell good!  This is a casserole you could serve for a brunch, lunch or a great supper night with a side salad.  And you can variate the meats/seasonings to your liking.

Use spinach/mushrooms instead of meats layered in on top of the dough.  Add some swiss cheese with it.  Man.

Use pepperoni or some prosciutto ham – include fresh garlic and a pinch of cayenne somewhere along the way!

Make this today and come and tell us what you used in yours!

Italian Breakfast Casserole

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 cups diced bell peppers (use tri-colored!) and onions

1 (8-0z) tube of crescent rolls

8 slices ham (i just bought some oscar meyer deli ham in the lunchmeat section – worked great)

15 slices salami – (did the same but got the small round “hard salami” as it is called)

(or any other combination of good meats)

8 eggs

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 dried oregano (optional but sure gives it a great flavor)

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 cup Italian Blend Shredded cheese (or you can use just plain shredded mozzarella cheese)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9×13 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Add the olive oil to a large skillet and heat over high heat.  When hot, add bell peppers and onions and cook, stirring occasionally.  You will want them to be soft and have a slight char to their edge.  And you know me, I flavor in layers so I threw in a pinch of salt and pepper.  Remove to a plate and set aside.

In the prepared dish, layer the crescent rolls, (pinch seams), ham, and salami.  Beat the eggs with the seasonings and pour on top.  Sprinkle on the peppers and onions, and then the cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes.   Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.  I hope you enjoy this as much as the class did!

Not just any old side dish

We had Baked Chicken for dinner last week and needed a side dish to go with it.  I had a can of sliced carrots and wanted to “jazz” them up a bit.  There’s nothing more bland than a can of sliced carrots, folks.

carrots

See these?  Man were they tasty.  (and I apologize if the lighting isn’t that great – I don’t claim to be a photographer! at all!) I drained all the juice from the can, put about teaspoon of butter in the skillet, added about a scant tablespoon of Splenda brown sugar, and about a scant tablespoon of (sugar free) Apricot Preserves along with about a teaspoon of chopped jalapeno pepper (seeds and all for a bit of heat)a pinch of salt and a dab of pepper in the skillet also.  I let this simmer on low heat to get everything melted together, added the drained carrots, and let them hang out a bit in the sauce to get the flavors all through the carrots.

Boy oh Boy.  Were these ever good.   Feeding the kiddos?  Just leave the seeds from the pepper out.  But put them in.  Adds a bit more flavor.  But you can leave them out all together.  And if you want, use orange marmalade.  Whatever flavor you have.   Hubby loved them and were diabetic friendly but not short on flavor.   Jazz your side dishes up next time you open a can.  Have a great rest of the week!

Ribs – on the grill

It was hubby’s birthday so I grilled for his birthday supper.  He wanted ribs.  Here’s how mine are done – it may not be your method but it’s the way he likes his!  Fall off the bone tender, and oh so flavorful!  I did try a new method this time.  I usually dry rub mine and let the dry rub sit on them for a couple of hours prior to grilling.  This method, like a lot of grillers, called for a pre-marinade, and then dry rub for an hour or two.   For the marinade, you can use either apple cider or apple cider vinegar with the juice of one lemon (make sure you have trimmed your ribs of the silverskin and any loose pieces of bits) and make sure the ribs are just covered with liquid – let soak in refrigerator for 2-4 hours.  Then remove from marinade, and dry off with paper towels.   Apply dry rub of your choice and rub in – refrigerate for 1-2 hours.  Then grill! – our grill has a smoker tray of which I placed my soaked wood chips in – I cut all burners on high to heat the grill – when the wood chips started smoking, I cut off the side without the chips, and cut down the side with the chips to medium.  I placed the ribs  meat side down to begin with, on the side with no heat.  I then basted the ribs every thirty minutes with cider and rotated and turned the ribs for even cooking.  Mine cooked for 2 1/2 hours (this is determined by the size and meatiness of the ribs).  I then like to wrap my ribs in foil for another 30 minutes to 45 minutes to finish cooking and tenderizing.  If you like a bit of crispyness or plan on brushing on bbq sauce, just remove from foil, place on fire side (cut up flames if need be) and baste and turn over and baste again to get crisp sides. Hubby liked them cause he went back for seconds!

photo (2)

For my rub, I generally use:

couple teaspoons kosher salt

2 heaping Tbsp  splenda brown sugar

2 tsp smoked paprika

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

You can alter, add other ingredients, to the above, and adjust the amounts of the seasonings to your liking.   And there are a lot of already mixed rubs in the stores that are good.

I had some Chicken Kabobs for me and used the same seasoning on the chicken and it was so good!  So it is a very versatile rub.

I love using the grill in the hot summer months!  Let us know what you are grilling these days!

Pecan Praline Poke Cake

Oldest daughter found this cake recipe floating around somewhere and sent it to me.  Although the original was not a poke cake, and the sauce can be made to spoon over individual slices, I thought it much easier to poke holes while cake was hot and pour over cake and serve that way, letting the whole cake soak up that yumminess of the sauce.

However you make this, it would be the perfect Mother’s (or Father’s) Day dessert.  This cake is so easy and moist.  And yes, you do make the cake with the canned icing right in the cake batter.  What’s easier than that??!!!

Pecan Praline Poke Cake
For the cake:
1 box butter pecan cake mix

1 (16 oz) tub coconut pecan frosting

4 eggs

3/4 cup oil (canola or veg.)

1 cup water

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Sauce –

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk

2 Tbsp butter

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9.13 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

2.  In bowl of mixer, mix all cake ingredients except 1/2 cup chopped pecans (and yes including the canned icing).

Once this is combined, stir in chopped pecans.  Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake for about 40 minutes.  (I think mine actually took 45 minutes).

For sauce:  In small pan melt 2 Tbsp butter.  Once just melted, add sweetened condensed milk and stir until just heated.  Remove from heat and stir in the 1/2 cup chopped pecans.  Poke holes in warm cake and slowly pour the sauce over the cake – if it runs down the sides that’s ok.   Let cake cool.  Cut and enjoy.

This cake was so moist.  So delicious.  Give it a try and see what you think.  Let us know if you served your sauce on the cake or on the side as a “sauce.”  Have a wonderful and blessed Mother’s Day.