Tag: bread

Stuffing Is For Any Time: My Favorite Version

There are several foods that fall into the “Even bad ___ is good ___.” My small list includes pizza, french fries, nachos, gyros, and stuffing!

Boxed Stove Top Stuffing, corn bread stuffing, and homemade stuffing are all delicious. Fortunately, this stuffing is very good and is not just a Thanksgiving food; it’s an anytime dish. At least, it should be. My Godmother makes one of my favorite versions. She seasons stuffing with sage, thyme, and flavorful pieces of kielbasa. This is my take on her recipe.

Growing-up, I remember watching my grandma bake stuffing inside the bird. It tasted delicious and we never got ill. Baking stuffing in its own pan, though, is really easy and results in a delightfully crisp top. This version combines white bread and leftover corn bread that I thawed and toasted in the oven. Homemade stuffing is the perfect opportunity to use up any stale bread or crust ends, in addition to any bread hanging out in your freezer. Of course, you can use whatever bread you enjoy.

Serve it with your next holiday meal, or heat up a small bowl for lunch. There’s really no wrong time to eat stuffing.

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Savory Bread Stuffing With Kielbasa
Serves four. Measurements are an approximate guide. Add more or less of what you like. As long as you taste the stuffing before baking, all should be well. 

Ingredients:
5 cups toasted bread. I used a mixture of homemade cornbread (crumbled) and white bread.
Butter and/or olive oil (about 2/3 stick)
1/2 cup finely chopped celery (can use more or less).
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon + pinch of dried thyme
Stock (chicken or vegetable)
A few scallions, finely sliced.
Black pepper (I like a lot).
Sweet Hungarian paprika, a good sprinkle
Salt, to taste. Start with a little if your stock is already salty.
1 – 1 1/2 cups of kielbasa, cut into small pieces. If your sausage has thick skin, can remove.

Instructions:

  1. To toast bread: Heat oven to 350 °F. Crumble cornbread into small pieces and toast until dry and crispy. Tear white bread into small pieces and toast until crisp. Set a timer so it doesn’t burn.
  2. Heat butter in pan. Saute celery and onions until tender, adding a touch of salt and some black pepper. Set aside to cool briefly.
  3. In a large bowl, toss crumbled bread, celery and onion mixture, herbs, scallions, and a good sprinkle of paprika.
  4. Moisten the bread mixture with stock. Pour a little bit in at a time and stir. Stop adding stock when you like the texture of the stuffing.
  5. Taste the uncooked stuffing. Add more salt, pepper, and seasoning as desired.
  6. Spread stuffing in a small, greased pan. Cover with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes until heated through and the flavors meld.
  7. Uncover pan and finish baking until the top of the stuffing is crispy and golden brown.

Beet & Goat Cheese Flatbread

I love baking homemade pizza and homemade pizza is Jake’s favorite.

This week, I found beets at the farmers market and eagerly bought a couple of bunches. We ate the leafy beet greens right away. If you haven’t tried them, cook them like you would any other green. I don’t blanche the tops because they’re tender and wilt quickly like spinach.

Kale is the green everyone talks about, but we enjoy beet greens more. I toss them into sautéed onion and garlic and briefly wilt them in soy sauce and honey or maple syrup for a sweet and salty treat.

Beet Greens

For a special midweek treat, I prepared this beet and goat cheese flatbread. I baked my favorite, thin crust pizza dough recipe and spread it with goat cheese flavored with garlic scapes. Then, I sprinkled over diced beets and green onion. Beets and goat cheese is one of our favorite combinations and it brightened up our week.

Beet and Goat Cheese Flatbread
Makes two large but very thin flatbreads.

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How To Prepare the Garlic Scape Goat Cheese
Combine a large 10 oz. package of plain goat cheese with enough milk or cream to make it spreadable. Add minced garlic scape. The flavor of the scape is strong so I used a handful. If you can’t find garlic scapes, you could add minced garlic, green onion, chives, dill, and/or parsley.

How To Cook the Beets

Beets
I cook beets by simmering them in water because I first learned to cook them this way, though many prefer to roast. Be aware that beets will stain your cutting board. Here’s my simmering method:

  1. Clean the beets and remove most of the stem.
  2. Place them in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer until they are tender enough to easily insert a knife into the center.
  3. Drain and cool until they’re cool enough to handle.
  4. Gently peel off the skin and remove the stem and tails.
  5. Slice or dice however you wish.

Preparing the Flat Bread:
Adapted from the recipe Lahmacun published by Saveur. 

Ingredients:
1 package of quick rise yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup warm water
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the warm water, yeast and sugar. Hot water will kill the yeast. Allow to sit and bloom until it bubbles.
  2. Add the flour and salt to a large bowl. If preparing by hand, make a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast mixture and olive oil. Gradually stir until the dough forms a ball. If using a stand mixer, add the yeast-water mixture and oil to the flour on low and mix with a dough hook until the dough pulls away from the sides and forms a ball. If it’s too dry, slowly stream in a little water. If the dough is too soft and sticky, add a little flour. Knead or mix at a higher speed until the dough is smooth and elastic and not too sticky.
  3. Form dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Loosely cover and place in a warm location until it’s doubled in size.
  4. Punch down and divide in half.
  5. On a floured surface, roll out dough and place on an oiled baking sheet. Stretch the dough towards the edges.
  6. Allow the dough to rise again for about 1/2 hour.
  7. Pre-heat oven to 400℉
  8. Lightly brush the dough with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Bake until the dough is cooked through and golden brown on the bottom.

To Assemble the Flatbread

  1. Spread the warm pizza crust with the goat cheese mixture.
  2. Sprinkle with diced beets, sliced green onion and any herbs you desire.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Slice and serve.

Our Favorite Slow Cooker Corned Beef & Cabbage Meal

I took the plunge and prepared my first corned beef and cabbage meal for Saint Patrick’s Day.

It turned out well and made us realize that corned beef is not just for the holiday. Corned beef is for anytime.

Since Jake and I have been together, we’ve visited restaurants on St. Patrick’s Day to order corned beef and cabbage meals. The thought of cooking my own corned beef intimidated me until I saw how easy it is to prepare in a crock pot.

A reader, Stu, recommended covering it with water, sprinkling over the seasoning packet, and adding baby red potatoes and carrots.

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Cook on low for six hours, add cabbage wedges, and cook on high for another  hour, serving with butter for the veggies.

I also gained some inspiration from Martha Stewart and tossed in some onion and dried thyme. This method worked perfectly.

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Point vs. Flat Cut?
If you have never bought corned beef, you’ll notice your grocery may sell point or flat cuts with a significant price difference. I was only able to find one brand, but I’m sure you can find more in larger cities. We bought our point cut for $7, as opposed to $16.

Afterwards, I learned the point is fattier than the flat and less uniform in shape. But if you are slow cooking it, who cares about its shape? It may be fattier, but at least it won’t dry out. You can always remove the excess fat after it’s done cooking.

We feasted on corned beef for several more meals. As for the last little bit of meat, I shredded it and placed it on top of a frozen cheese pizza. This should be a thing. Corned beef on everything, please.

Soda Bread
We dunked hearty slices of Ina Garten’s Irish soda bread into the corned beef’s broth.

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I made a few small changes by adding less sugar, substituting lemon zest for orange, and raisins for currants. This also turned out well, though it tends to become more crumbly and dry each day its left over. My only complaint is that the raisins on the surface of the bread got burnt so I picked them off.

Did you make a corned beef meal? What are your favorite cooking methods?

Why Homemade Croutons Make Me Want To Sing Songs

Homemade croutons are the best.

I love them so much that I composed little diddies in my head about them as I made a batch to accompany a salad.

Our pastor invited us over for dinner and I had to laugh with surprise when I found out he was preparing Mason City blogger Debbie of Debbie’s Midwestern Kitchen’s copycat recipe for Northwestern Steakhouse’s famous steaks that went viral last week. We’ve lived in Mason City for half a year and still haven’t made it there. They operate similarly to Broders’ Pasta Bar in Minneapolis because they don’t accept reservations as we formally know them, but have a day-of call-in system and there’s typically a line. One of these days. . .

This particular batch of croutons is extra-special because I made them from bread I baked earlier using Liz’s recipe from Carpe Season. Her recipe makes two huge, fluffy loaves so you can freeze the second for later.

I first learned how to make homemade croutons when I volunteered in the kitchen at Spoonriver in Minneapolis, MN many summers ago. Growing up, my family had always bought them by the bags and box and they were always caked in seasoning powders and hydrogenated oils.

Now that I know how simple they are to prepare, I haven’t purchased them since. If you prepare a lot of salads and soups at home, you’ll appreciate having these on hand. 

Here’s how I make my croutons: 

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Grab whatever bread you have lying around your house. Gluten-free bread would work well. If it’s not moldy, it’s fair game. 

Cut the bread into cubes, drizzle them generously with olive oil, and season however you’d you like.

Salt and pepper only will suffice, or go nuts. In culinary school, we tossed them with Italian seasonings and parmesan cheese when we prepared lunch for the students. For this batch, I used salt, white pepper, smoked paprika and garlic powder.

Don’t be afraid to taste a raw crouton to check for seasoning.

Spread them all into a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 350℉ until crispy, tossing a couple of times. Store in an airtight container and try not to eat them by the handful. Or do.

Besides flavor, my other favorite thing about homemade croutons is their texture. Store-bought croutons are 100% crunchy with no give. Homemade croutons are crispy on the outside but have the slightest give on the inside if you let them. This is what makes them so delightful.

I hope that if you try making them, you like them and that they also make you want to sing songs, too.

© 2019 Jeni Eats

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