Guinness Pub Cheese

Pub cheese is such a wonderful thing. I guess, that only applies when I make it myself. I really don’t want to purchase “pub cheese” from a grocery store – sorry to the Publix.

The fact that this recipe has Guinness in it makes it all the better. I made it the first time as a trial run for a pot luck at work. I am happy to report, it was a great success.

Never hurts that it is super easy, does it?

D&D_2657

2 blocks cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 c. shredded Cheddar
1/4 c. beer, such as Guinness
1 tbsp. chives
1 tsp. garlic powder
kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with chives and serve with dippers of your choice.

Source: delish.com

Sour Cream Cornbread

This is my go-to recipe for cornbread. Again, another recipe from a friend that I have been making for years. It is so damn good I take leftover, if there are any, to work for breakfast – split it open, toast it in the toaster oven and cover it in Kerry Gold Irish butter.  One of the best breakfasts, um, ever. Sometimes I gild the lily and add some extra-sharp cheddar before the toasting.

D&D_2683Now I must make this for the upcoming week at work.

That said, this is what I make to go with chili. I want the cornbread in the bottom of the bowl and chili on top with some extra sharp cheddar, scallions or chives, and sour cream. Oh, and a squeeze of lime never hurt this party.

1 cup self-rising cornmeal (you can make this if you just have plain cornmeal)
2 large eggs
1 small can of cream corn – I use Publix brand, it is really good.
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9×9″ baking dish with cooking spray. Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Pour into pan and bake for 20 – 30 minutes. You will know it is finished when it starts to pull away from the side and the bottom is slightly brown (that is, if you are using a glass baking dish).

Source: Dawn Randle Jennings

Chili Cheese Dog Bread

Love chili dogs? I do. Even as a decade-long vegetarian, I craved chili dogs when I was pregnant with the Boy. I really think there needs to be more research done on cravings while pregnant. Or cravings when you’re sitting in the hospital only able to have ice chips. Either way, more research – I will be happy to assist.

So this is, after all, just a really big chili dog for a crowd. Or just for me. This is also a total cheat meal / appetizer. You don’t cook anything really. You heat, shred, cut, top, bake, and garnish, but really cook absolutely nothing.

To me this is wide open for all kinds of adjustments, additions, and alterations. How about some alliteration?D&D_2673

1 loaf French bread
1 1/2 cup extra sharp cheddar, shredded or more as needed
1 can hormel chili, no beans, heated in a small sauce pan
Nathan’s hot dogs
2 Tbs chives, minced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Slice French bread in half lengthwise and scoop out some of the bread to make a trench in each side. Take 1 cup of cheddar and divide between each half of bread. Place the hot dogs end to end and fit into bread. Feed any “extra” hot dog to patiently (Ha!) waiting dog.

Spoon chili over hot dogs and top with remaining cheddar. Place on baking sheet and bake 25 minutes. Let cool slightly and cut into 3 inch segments. Garnish with chives.

Source: Delish.com

Ideas:

Add cole slaw on top (this will lead to a rant I’m not quite ready to dive into …. yet) after all toppings are heated and cheese has melted. Placement, my friends is very important.

Chopped onions / scallions on top. Could also sauté onions until golden.

Well-drained sauerkraut on top of chili, but under cheese.

Steam dogs in beer first (with a sliced onion), dry and continue with recipe.

Roasted Stuffed Acorn Squash

I have never cooked an acorn squash – or any winter squash for that matter. Therefore this was a completely new experience for me. It did not hurt that I make rice just about every week and make mushrooms pretty much every week too. Rice, mushrooms, shallots, lemon – just my kind of go to lunch.

I would rather take lunch to work than to go out for it (or breakfast). I think I make pretty good food and I make what I like and that works for me. Why go out and buy something if you are happy with the things you make. And for me, I like to mix things up a bit. Sometimes it is toasted bread with mushrooms and some cheese,  or rice with mushrooms and artichoke hearts. I always have cheese and butter at work – and always always a fresh lemon. I also have a salt and pepper grinders – makes a difference.

I guess that is where my lunch hacks come from. Take something you have and turn it into something new with just what you have, appliance wise, at the office. In my case – toaster, toaster oven, and a microwave. Looking forward to the new office where will have a warming oven. Hoping it gets hot enough to make cookies (350 degrees). That will just smell great.

D&D_24931 acorn squash, cut in half stem to root and scoop out seeds/strings
1/2 cup grain, jasmine rice, cooked, finished w/lemon juice/zest
1 cup vegetables, cooked (crimini mushrooms, shallots, garlic, lemon juice/zest)
1/2 cup extra sharp white cheddar
Additional filling ingredients as desired, dried fruits, nuts, etc.

Preheat the oven to 375°F (convection).

Place the squash halves cut-side-down in a baking dish and pour in enough hot water to fill the pan by about 1/4 inch. Cover the dish loosely with foil and place the dish in the middle of the oven.

Roast the squash until easily pierced by a paring knife, 30 to 50 minutes. Exact roasting time will depend on the size of your squash.

While the squash is roasting, prepare the filling. Mix filling ingredients in a bowl and season with salt and pepper and any other spice you would like. Or add some dried fruits (I’m thinking cranberry here) or nuts.

Flip the cooked squash halves so they form bowls. Rub the inside with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Divide the filling between the halves — mound the filling on top.

Cover the pan with the foil and bake the halves for another 15 to 20 minutes until both are hot and bubbly. Top with extra cheese and serve immediately.

15 minutes at 375 convection, turn 15 more – done.

This was pretty cool. Will be trying more winter squashes. Such a new thing for me. I kind of like the speckled look of the acorn squash. Looks like stars.

Source: thekitchen.com

Christmas Eve Buffet Cheese Ball

So I think this year, I might subject friends and family to my odd sense of nostalgia and hope I, the one who has this in my memory, am not disappointed.

For some reason, known only to herself (she never did explain it), my mother left me in charge of deciding the food for Christmas Eve. Not the making in all, or even most, cases, but the deciding. In our family which was rather large even though is was just my 3 siblings, me, my parents, and our older siblings kids, we opened presents from each other on Christmas Eve, so it was a night of perpetual snacking and in my case eating enough vanilla taffy to almost (almost, but not quite), make myself sick. Oh, and fudge too. And I don’t even like fudge (Groundhog Day.)

D&D_1499This was one of the things that I wanted every year and also made myself – not exactly difficult even though we had no food processor or mini chopper. You just did it the old fashioned way, by hand – no harm in that. I have no idea where this came from, but in my made-up back-story for it, it was a contribution to a local newspaper from some woman who would call herself by her husband’s name, you know what I mean. Instead of Mary Smith, she would be Mrs. John Smith, like she didn’t have an existence outside of him – yes, going off the rails here a bit, but that kind of thing just makes me slightly crazy.

Here for posterity’s sake.

8 ozs  cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar, room temperature
3 Tbs well-drained horseradish
1/4 cup finely chopped dried beef

Combine cream cheese, cheddar, horseradish until well blended. Make into a ball and chill. Roll in dried beef until covered. Chill several hours. Let sit at room temperature before serving. Serve with Triscuits or whatever crackers you like, but when I was 12, Triscuits is what I did. And everyone else did too.

Several questions arise – the first being do they still make dried beef in those odd little jars (not that I could tell, and I looked), where is it in the store if they do and what are my other options? I’m thinking pan fried proscuitto minced.
Also – only 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar. First, must be Cabot seriously sharp, but needs to be orange for color contrast and it will most certainly be more than 1/2 a measly cup. Please.
I will taste and check the horseradish level, but must be careful not to blow everyone’s palate. I tend to like just a click more horseradish than most people.

What I did make –

8 ozs cream cheese, softened
1 cup extra sharp cheddar, shredded at room temperature
3 Tbs well drained horseradish
1 cup minced dried cranberries
3 scallions minced
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Coating:
1 Tbs chives, minced
3 scallions, minced
1/2 cup dried cranberries, minced

Combine cream cheese, cheddar, and horseradish until well combined. Add in cranberries, scallions, and pecans. Roll into a ball and cover with plastic and chill until firm.

When ready to serve, mix coating ingredients in a wide bowl, and roll cheese ball in to cover, pressing in as necessary. Serve with crackers or toasted bread.

23 December 2017 – for Christmas Eve.
Never hurts to try something new, esp. if it is really good – and um, it was.

Hash Brown Casserole

I love hash brown casserole but so many recipes use cream of something soup – ugh. I just can’t stand the idea of doing that. It is just so … yuck.  I thought that for our New Year’s Day brunch, I would add this to my mom-in-law’s tradition of New Year good luck food. You know – from the south it is collards, black-eyed peas and from the north it is sauerkraut and sausage oh, and German potato salad. Hell of a New Years Day, especially when some beer is involved. And beer is always involved.

D&D_2587

2 Tbs unsalted butter
2 Tbs flour
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup chicken stock
salt/pepper

30-32 ounces frozen shredded hash browns – thawed
8 Tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled
8 ounces sour cream
medium yellow onion, grated
2 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese, divided (1 1/2 & 1/2)
1 teaspoon salt, might need a bit more but I prefer to add when serving
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a small sauce pan, melt butter. Whisk in flour and let cook for a minute or so. Slowly stir in chicken broth, then milk. Stir until it begins to thicken. Let it simmer for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. This is your roux.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together thawed hash browns and melted butter.

Stir in the roux, sour cream, onion, and 1 1/2 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour mixture into a lightly greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Top with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese (or more if you’d like – and yes, I would).

Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove foil and cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown.

Source: centercutcook.com

We were super pleased with this. It was really good – almost Cracker Barrel good. Think it might need a little more onions to get there, but that is totally do-able.

When it is just me and  the MotH, I’ll do a half recipe and keep the rest of the hash browns in the freezer. Love flexible recipes.

Sausage Balls – Cook’s Country

There are just some things I MUST have for Christmas and probably the two most important things for Christmas morning are toasted banana nut bread and sausage balls. My mom always made them both. For the sausage balls she used, as most people did at the time, Bisquick, but since finding this Cook’s Country recipe that is just not necessary. I never used it for anything but this recipe, so to not have to purchase it and make do with things I already have on hand – well, it just makes so much more sense to me.

So here’s to my mom and to Christmas morning. D&D_2573

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
8 ozs bulk hot breakfast sausage
4 ozs extra sharp cheddar, grated (1 cup)
3/4 cup whole buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the food processor, pulse the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper an cayenne until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal about 12 pulses. Add sausage and cheddar and pulse until combined, about 8 more times. Place mixture in a nice sized bowl and stir in buttermilk until just combined.

Wet your hands and roll dough into 1 1/4 inch ball (about 1 Tbs each). Space evenly on baking sheet and bake until golden brown between 20 – 22 minutes, rotating baking pan halfway through. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm. With grape jelly. Yum.

You can make these ahead and bake, cool, and then freeze and just reheat in the oven at 200 degree for 15 or so minutes. Just test one and see if it where you want it to be for reheating.

24 December 2014

24 December 2016 – for Christmas Day brunch/lunch

22 December 2017 for Christmas Day brunch/lunch – 375 degrees convection- 20 minutes – turn 1/2 way through – perfection! Need to double next time and freeze half (after baking). They keep well in the freezer for a month or so. Also, grape jelly needs to be involved.

These are also excellent on New Year’s Day morning too. Pretty much excellent anytime, but you get the point.