Croissant Bake

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One of Will’s favorite desserts is bread pudding.  I never had much of it growing up so it never made a big impact with me.  I also have a huge dislike of soggy bread so it wasn’t something I would reach for if given the choice.

Silly me, I should have realized that bread pudding is so much more than soggy bread!  Now, I am a huge fan of it and love to play around with the makeup of the recipe – a base of bread that absorbs a sweetened milk mixture and maybe the addition of fruit, nuts or chocolate.  This recipe is one example of a play on bread pudding.  The light and airy croissants easily and quickly take on the cream cheese and milk mixture but are hearty enough to support the fruit. It’s a delicious take on one of my now favorite desserts.


Croissant Bake

  • 3 large croissants, or 6-8 small, cut up (about 5 to 5 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, strawberries, blackberries
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup milk

Let’s start with those croissants.  Normally, when making something like a bread pudding I would say skip the knife and just tear the bread up into chunks.  For croissants though, my preference is to use a serrated knife to cut them into chunks.  Don’t stress about keeping the pieces the same size by any means, but using a serrated knife keeps the delicate bread nice and airy rather than crushing it.  This allows the croissant pieces to take in the liquid nicely but stay on the lighter side rather than being too dense.  By all means though, if that knife is just too far away… start shredding!

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Side note:  sometimes I feel like someone is watching me in the kitchen just hoping that something hits the floor…

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Grease a 9-inch square pan* and fill the pan with the croissant pieces. Spread the fruit along the top of the croissant pieces.  You can easily use fresh or frozen fruit here, whatever is easiest to work with at the time.  I’ve gone both routes and the end result is always delicious!  You can also switch out the flavors to whatever you prefer – add in other fruits such a banana or stick with one classic, add pecans or walnuts for a little texture, or toss in some chocolate chips for added decadence.

*As a variation, you can also bake these in individual ramekins for a different presentation.  See the end of the full recipe below for those baking instructions.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, vanilla and nutmeg until smooth.  I’m a slightly impatient baker so I tend to leave a few little lumps in the mix… we’ll just call those “lumps of love” 🙂

Slowly add the milk, mixing as you go.  Once that is combined, pour the milk mixture evenly over the fruit.

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Here’s the hardest part – cover and let it sit for at least 20 minutes.  While you are letting it sit, preheat the oven to 350. You can also make this the night before, cover it up, then let it sit in the fridge overnight.

Waiting is hard for all of us.

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When ready, bake the dish, covered, for 20-25 minutes.  Then take the cover off and bake another 20-25 minutes, or until the top is a nice golden brown and the center is set – no jiggles.

Serve the Croissant Bake warm with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and/or a little whipped cream.  (I’ve also let the dish cool and frozen individual portions of the Croissant Bake.  It reheats quickly and nicely for a breakfast on-the-go!)

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Full Recipe

Croissant Bake

  • 3 large croissants, or 6-8 small, cut up (about 5 to 5 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, strawberries, blackberries
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 9-inch square pan.

Place croissant pieces in the pan.

Sprinkle with fruit.

Beat cream cheese, sugar, eggs, vanilla and nutmeg in a bowl with electric mixer until smooth.

Gradually add the milk, blending well.

Pour evenly over croissant pieces.

Cover and let stand 20 minutes or soak overnight.

Bake, covered, at 350°F for 20-25 minutes.

Uncover and bake another 20-25 minutes, until the center is set and the top is browned.

Serve warm sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Variation:

Place croissant pieces evenly in 10 (1/2-cup) ramekins.

Sprinkle with fruit and pour cream cheese mixture evenly over croissant pieces.

Let stand 20 minutes.

Bake at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes or until set in center and golden brown.

Green Chile Pork

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Who needs a super easy slow cooker recipe for the winter?  I got ya!

I love a good slow cooker recipe and this one really exemplifies what they stand for – easy to put together, easy to walk away from and delicious to eat!  Set it and forget it, right? You can adjust the heat level to your preference and serve it over rice, polenta or wrapped up in tortillas.

I’d call that a winter win!


Green Chile Pork

  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 2 ½ lbs pork shoulder/butt roast
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • cumin
  • 1 (16-oz) jar green salsa
  • 1 small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped or torn, plus more for garnish
  • 2-3 jalapeños, halved and seeded, if preferred
  • 1 lime
  • radish, cilantro, cotija cheese for topping, if desired

Spread the onion across the bottom of your slow cooker, making a bed for the pork to rest on.  You can chop the onions into a large dice or strips – whatever you prefer for your end results.  I usually do a large dice as you can see here.

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Sprinkle the pork with the salt, pepper and cumin.  No amounts here – just do what feels right!  You just want a nice base of seasoning across the entire roast, all sides.  This recipe works well with any type of pork roast, shoulder or pork butt, bone-in or boneless.  Today I had a bone-in pork butt so I just keep in mind to remove any bones before shredding later.

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Place the pork in the slow cooker on top of the bed of onions.

Pour the jar of salsa (I’m partial to the Herdez brand) over the pork and add the cilantro and jalapeños.  Here’s where you can control the level of spice in your dish – the salsa can range from mild to spicy and you can remove or leave the seeds in the jalapeños.  If you are feeling extra adventurous, swap the jalapeños for serrano peppers!  I chose a medium salsa and removed seeds from the jalapeños on this one.

Time to walk away!  Cover and cook the pork on low for about 8 hours. You want the meat to be tender and easily shred when done.

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When ready, shred the pork using a couple of forks.  Remember to pull any bones out!

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Squeeze some lime juice into the pork and serve over rice or polenta.  This pork also makes some delicious tacos and quesadillas!

What’s your go-to slow cooker recipe for the winter?  Let me know!

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Full Recipe

Green Chile Pork

  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 2 ½ lbs pork shoulder/butt roast
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • cumin
  • 1 (16-oz) jar green salsa
  • 1 small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped or torn, plus more for garnish
  • 2-3 jalapeños, halved and seeded, if preferred
  • 1 lime
  • radish, cilantro, cotija cheese for topping, if desired

Spread onion on bottom of slow cooker.

Sprinkle pork with salt, pepper and cumin; add to slow cooker.

Pour salsa over pork, sprinkle with cilantro, and add jalapeños.

Cook, covered, on Low until meat falls apart easily, about 8 hours.

Shred the pork and veggies using 2 forks.

Squeeze lime juice over pork.

Serve over rice or polenta.

Garnish with radish and more cilantro and cotija cheese, if desired.

Beef Stroganoff

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Baby, it’s cold outside! We just blew past those fall-like temps into the frigid winter of Gulf Coast Texas.  For a couple days at least 😉

While our winters may not be as brutal as our Northern friends, or last as long, the chilly outside still calls for warm dinners inside. In our house, that typically means either a slow-cooking something on the stove or a quick, warm, filling dinner before dark falls. This one fits the latter.

This recipe is adapted from one a friend shared with me years ago – back when we were just college babies learning to fend for ourselves. We didn’t add mushrooms and if we had there surely wouldn’t have been good wine to flavor them with! This beef stroganoff is time-tested and one I’ll happily make, good wine in hand and fond memories of friends in mind, for many years to come.

Here’s to you, Becca!

What recipe have you held on to for years?  Tell me about them!


Beef Stroganoff

  • 12 oz egg noodles
  • 6 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Worcestershire
  • 4 T flour
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • salt & pepper black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Salt the water fairly generously and cook the egg noodles until al dente.  Set aside.

Let’s talk mushrooms for a minute:

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To start, mushroom storage.  If you purchase prepackaged mushrooms, leave them in their packaging and place them in the fridge.  If you purchase bulk mushrooms, don’t worry about cleaning them first, just place them in a paper bag and stick them in the fridge.  This allows them to breathe a bit and stay firmer longer – plastic grocery bags can cause them to fade quicker.

To clean your mushrooms, avoid running them under water. Mushrooms retain moisture like a sponge, giving them more will prevent the mushrooms from browning nicely and give more of a chewy texture to them once cooked. Instead, use a damp paper towel and brush off any excess dirt.  Slice or chop them in similar sizes so that they cook up evenly.

Finally, don’t crowd the mushrooms in your pan and wait a bit before salting them.  Give your fungi some room to groove as they cook so that they saute and brown rather than steam.  Salt will bring out the moisture in the mushrooms, which is true for any veggie.  With mushrooms though, you want them to retain the moisture for a bit so that, again, they brown rather than steam. I’m willing to be that those that don’t care for mushrooms have had ones that lean more towards the steamed, flavorless side of cooking.  Let’s avoid that!  Mushrooms are like a sponge, right?  They’ll take on some of whatever flavor you give them but you want to give them a chance to develop their unique nutty, earthy flavors first.

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If you have a mushroom-loving family, you can most certainly start the mushrooms in a larger skillet and once they are beginning to brown, add the ground beef and cook it all together in the same skillet.  Just remember, you want to give the mushrooms a little time to brown up before salting them. I live in a house divided – one of us says they do not like mushrooms.  It’s okay, we can’t all be perfect 😉 I’m willing to go with it on this one though – I kind of like the presentation of having the sauteed mushrooms on top of the stroganoff rather than all mixed together.

Back to the recipe! In a medium skillet, cook the mushrooms in just a touch of olive oil or butter. Once the mushrooms begin to brown and release their liquid, season them with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat and let the mushrooms continue to cook as you move on to the beef. I may be biased… but a splash of hearty red wine never hurts here.  You know the rule though – make sure it’s a wine you would drink as the flavor intensifies as it cooks. Worcestershire sauce is also a nice addition to the earthy veggies.

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Saute the onions, garlic and ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat.  When the meat begins to brown and the veggies soften, season the pan with Worcestershire, salt and pepper to your liking.

If your ground beef was fairly lean, add a tablespoon or so of butter to the pan. Add the flour and stir to absorb the fat and cook the flour a bit. Stir in the beef broth and cook until slightly thickened, about 5-10 minutes.

Stir in the sour cream and check your seasoning, adding salt and pepper as you like. Let the stroganoff simmer until heated all the way through.

Spoon the stroganoff over the egg noodles and top with mushrooms.  Enjoy!

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Full Recipe

Beef Stroganoff

  • 12 oz egg noodles
  • 6 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Worcestershire
  • 4 T flour
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • salt & pepper black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Cook egg noodles in boiling water until done; drain.

In a medium skillet, cook mushrooms in just a little olive oil.

Once the mushrooms release their liquid and begin to brown, season with salt and pepper.

Saute the ground beef, garlic and onions in a large skillet over medium heat until the meat begins to brown and the veggies soften.

Season the meat with Worcestershire sauce.

If the beef was fairly lean, add a couple tablespoons butter to the skillet.

Add the flour and stir to absorb the fat and cook the flour.

Stir in beef broth and cook until slightly thickened, about 5-10 minutes.

Stir in the sour cream,  season to taste with salt and pepper.

Continue cooking until sauce is hot all the way through.

Serve sauce over egg noodles and top with mushrooms.

Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole

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Who needs an easy weeknight meal? Everyone, yes?!

I think we have all seen variations of a tater tot casserole – meat on the bottom, covered in cheese, topped with tots and baked.  This is no exception, but I am pretty proud of it.

I like a good Sloppy Joe now and then, the tangy almost-BBQ style sauce is a familiar, comforting flavor.  However, a Sloppy Joe sandwich presents a problem to me… soggy bread.  I am a hard pass on soggy bread. So to me, replacing bread with tater tots was a moment of brilliance. 😉

Will was challenged with the sauce recipe.  He played around and this one is our hands-down favorite.  It does closely resemble a BBQ sauce with the tang and sweet heat and utilizes ingredients that we consider pantry staples.  Perfect for a weeknight throw-down dinner.

Here’s my challenge to you: please enjoy this Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole.  But then, think about the ways you could change up the meat (Italian sausage or ground turkey anyone?), the sauce (is that jar of marinara in the pantry calling to you?) or the cheese (what about a Pepper Jack?) to enjoy a different flavor profile. You could also sneak in some veggies by adding beans or corn as you are sauteing the meat and veggies. Customize the dish to the likes of your family – and let me know how you do it!

Weeknight dinner – COVERED!


Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole

  • 1 pound ground meat
  • Bell or poblano pepper, diced
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1-2 T flour
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup (pretty much a 20 oz bottle)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more as needed
  • 1-2 T Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Frozen tater tots
  • Green onion, sliced for topping

Preheat the oven to 375.

Saute the ground meat, pepper and onion in a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet.  As for the pepper – we like a little heat and tend to use poblano peppers in place of green bell peppers.  Coming up, the sauce also calls for red pepper flakes so you can adjust the heat level easily by either using bell peppers here or adding/removing the red pepper flakes later.  Customize the heat levels to your taste!

*Heads up here – you are going to bake the casserole after it comes together.  If you have one available, an oven proof skillet is great way to go here.  You can transfer it right into the oven and not mess with another dish later. I love our Calphalon cookware for this very reason!  If you don’t have an oven proof skillet available, spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick spray and set it aside for now.

As the meat mixture is cooking, grab a bowl and mix up the sauce ingredients. Whisk together the flour, ketchup, garlic, brown sugar, chili powder, dry mustard, red pepper flakes and Worcestershire.  Once it is all combined, check for seasoning and add salt & pepper as you like.

When the meat is browned and the veggies are softened, stir in the sauce mixture.  Simmer the mixture on low heat for about 10 minutes and check again for seasoning.

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At this point, if you are not using an oven safe skillet transfer the mixture to your prepared 9×13 pan.

Top the casserole with the shredded cheddar cheese, then the frozen tater tots.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the tater tots are toasty and brown.

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Top with the sliced green onions and enjoy!

How will you enjoy this casserole?  Traditional Sloppy Joe?  Or change it up to something like Mexican taco flavor or Italian red sauce and mozzarella cheese?  Let me know!

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Full Recipe

Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole

  • 1 pound ground meat
  • Bell or poblano pepper, diced
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1-2 T flour
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup (20 oz bottle)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more as needed
  • 1-2 T Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Frozen tater tots
  • Green onion, sliced for topping

Preheat oven to 375.

Saute the meat, peppers and onions in a couple tablespoons olive oil.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients.

When the meat is browned and veggies softened, stir the sauce mixture into the meat.

Simmer over medium-low heat, about 10 minutes.

Pour in a 9×13 pan if not using an oven safe skillet.

Top with shredded cheddar and frozen tater tots.

Bake 40-45 minutes.

Top with green onion and serve.

Easy Sticky Buns

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It’s fall, y’all!

Regardless of the fact that we have yet to feel any brisk fall temperatures for more than half a day I feel that it is time to brush off those fall recipes. Why not start with a little morning treat?!

The hardest part of this recipe is having puff pastry on hand and remembering to thaw it out. The thawing out part… that tends to get me sometimes.  If you master those two hurdles, you are well on your way to an easy caramel treat.

Fair warning, these are full of butter and brown sugar.  But I’m pretty sure that’s what the start of fall calls for!  Try these out and let me know if you agree.


Easy Sticky Buns

Yield: 12 sticky buns

  • 12 T (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ⅓ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ½ cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
  • 2 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • ⅔ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 T ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick spray and place it on the cookie sheet.

Whisk together the 12 tablespoons of room temperature butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar. I typically just work it all together with a fork until it is a smooth consistency. Drop a tablespoon or so into each of the 12 muffin cups. Scatter the pecans evenly over the butter mixture.

Lightly flour a cutting board or other surface and unfold one sheet of the puff pastry so that the folds are running left to right in front of you. This will help you roll the pastry up after it is filled. Brush the entire sheet with half of the melted and cooled butter. Sprinkle the dough with half of the brown sugar and half of the cinnamon.  If you’d like an added treat, sprinkle in some raisins, cranberries, other fruit or chocolate chips.  You can mix these up in many ways!

Starting with the edge closest to you, roll the dough up like a jelly roll.  End with the seam at the bottom of the roll.  Using a serrated knife, trim the uneven edges off of the roll, about 1/2 an inch.  Discard the scraps. Slice the roll in half, then slice each half into three equal pieces.

Place each piece of the roll, spiral side up, in 6 of the muffin cups.  Repeat this process with the second sheet of puff pastry.

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Bake the full tray for 30 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden brown on top and firm to the touch – but be careful! The caramel will be very hot!

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Set the tray on a potholder or rack and allow them to cool for 5 minutes only.  If the sticky buns cool too long before taking them out of the tray… they will very much stick to the pan. Turn the buns onto the parchment paper, easing any pecans and filling that hang behind onto the buns with a spoon.

Cool the sticky buns completely and enjoy! These are delicious at room temperature and reheat easily the next morning. 

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Full Recipe

Easy Sticky Buns

  • 12 T (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ⅓ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ½ cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
  • 2 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • ⅔ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 T ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400.

Place a 12-cup muffin tin on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

Spray the tin with nonstick spray.

Whisk together the 12 T butter and ⅓ cup brown sugar.

Drop about 1 T of the mixture in each of the muffin cups.

Scatter the pecans evenly among the muffin cups on top of the butter mixture.

Lightly flour a wooden board or stone surface.

Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry with the folds going left to right in front of you.

Brush the whole sheet with half of the melted butter.

Sprinkle the dough with half of the brown sugar and cinnamon.

Starting with the end nearest you, roll the pastry up snugly like a jelly roll around the filling, finishing the roll with the seam side down.

Trim the ends of the roll about ½-inch and discard.

Slice the roll in half, then slice each half in thirds.

Place each piece, spiral side up, in 6 of the muffin cups.

Repeat the process with the second sheet of puff pastry.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden to dark brown on top and firm to the touch.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes only.

Invert the buns onto the parchment paper, easing pecans and filling onto the buns with a spoon.

Cool completely.

Braised Chicken Thighs

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This recipe is definitely not complicated but instead re-introduces the concept of braising. Loosely defined, braising is “frying or searing meat to then slowly stew in broth or other liquid”. The result? Tender, juicy, flavorful meat! Chicken thighs are a great protein to try braising on as they are easy to work with and fairly forgiving. (Not to mention they are frequently a bargain purchase at our local grocery store) The vinegary braise packs a flavorful punch and you can play around with the veggies you use in this recipe.

We’ve explored this a little bit with the Osso Bucco previously and it’s a technique I enjoy. What’s your opinion? Do you have a favorite braising recipe?


Braised Chicken Thighs

  • 4-6 chicken thighs (or quarters)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3-4 carrots, diced
  • 3-4 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 T butter

Preheat the oven to 375.

You are going to want to use a large, heavy, oven-safe pot or Dutch oven for this recipe.  I like using our enamel-coated cast iron for this job as it is easy to take from stove to oven and back again.  Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in your pot of choice.

Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and add to the pot, skin side down to start.  Let the chicken brown on the skin side, then flip over and brown the other side. You want a nice dark brown sear, the chicken will finish cooking as it braises in the oven.   When browned, transfer the chicken to a plate or tray.

Spoon off all but about 2 tablespoons of fat from the pot. Add the carrots, celery, garlic and onion and cook over medium heat until the veggies are softened.

Add the flour and stir for a minute, cooking the flour a bit.  Add the cider vinegar and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot and avoiding lumps from the flour.  Bring the sauce to a boil and cook until thickened, about 3 minutes.

Add the chicken broth, thyme, season with a little salt and pepper and bring the sauce back up to a boil.  Nestle the chicken thighs into the sauce, skin side up.  It doesn’t matter if the chicken is completely covered, you just want to make sure that all the chicken is tucked into the pot.  Put a lid, or foil, on the pot and transfer it to the oven.  Braise the chicken for 40-45 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

Remove the pot from the oven.

Optional step:  if you want a crispy skin, transfer the chicken skin side up to a sheet tray and set the oven to broil. Broil the chicken until the skin is golden and crisp, about 5 minutes.

Ladle a cup or two of the braising liquid into a small pot. Simmer the sauce over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce is as thick as you like it.  When it’s just about done, add the butter and taste for seasoning.

When serving this dish, I like to strain some of the veggies from the braising liquid and plate those on top of the chicken thighs.  I then drizzle some of the thickened sauce across the top of the chicken and serve typically with mashed potatoes and a green side.

Try this one out and let me know what you think!


Full Recipe

Braised Chicken Thighs

  • 4-6 chicken thighs (or quarters)
  • 2 T olive
  • 3-4 carrots, diced
  • 3-4 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 T butter

Preheat oven to 375.  

In a large oven-safe pot, heat oil over medium-high heat.

Season chicken thighs with s&p and add to pot, skin side down.

Cook in batches, turning once, until golden brown.

Transfer chicken to plate/tray.

Spoon off all but about 2 T of fat in pot.

Add carrots, celery, garlic and onion.

Cook over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes.

Add flour and stir for 1 minute.

Add cider vinegar and stir, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of the pot.

Bring sauce to a boil and cook until thickened, about 3 minutes.

Add broth, thyme and season with s&p; bring to a boil.

Nestle the chicken in the sauce, skin side up.

Cover and transfer the pot to the oven and braise chicken for 40-45 min, until cooked through.

Remove pot from oven and preheat to broil.

Transfer chicken to a baking sheet, skin side up.  

Broil on middle rack of the oven until skin is golden and crisp, about 5 min.

Ladle a cup or two of the braising liquid into a small pot.

Simmer sauce over moderate heat until reduced to your desired thickness.

Stir in butter and taste for seasoning.

Serve chicken with veggies strained from braising liquid and sauce drizzled over the top of each piece.

RoTel Cheeseburger Pasta

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You know those days when it’s time to make dinner and you got nothin’? You open the fridge… nothing.  You open the pantry… nothing. You even open the freezer hoping that in some moment of brilliance you made extra of something else and… nothing.  This recipe is a result of one of those days.

It’s like a “Chopped” Challenge – how do you take the odds and ends of what is in your kitchen and make a dinner? The initial prep went something along these lines:  the ground beef was already defrosting in the sink.  I see enough pasta in the pantry for a dinner, and that can of RoTel is calling to me.  Cheese, of course, makes everything better so we can work with that.

The first attempt was okay, not stellar, but I wrote it down and we played with the portions and flavors a bit until we had it – RoTel Cheeseburger Pasta.

And wouldn’t you know it?  It’s become a family favorite!


RoTel Cheeseburger Pasta

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • ½ box linguine, spaghetti, or any pasta
  • 1 can RoTel Tomatoes
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves – minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 8 oz. cheddar cheese
  • 2-3 T chopped pickled jalapeno 
  • handful cilantro, chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Bring a pot of salted water up to a boil and cook the pasta until just shy of al dente, about 6-7 minutes.  You want it to have a pretty decent bite to it still, a healthy “chew”, as it will continue to cook in the sauce as it bakes and you don’t want it to become gummy as it bakes.  I like the linguine for this dish, the flat noodles hold the sauce really well.  However, you can use spaghetti, or really any pasta shape you like.  Drain the pasta well and set it aside when it is ready.

Brown the ground beef with the onions and garlic.

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When the veggies begin to soften, add the RoTel tomatoes and continue to cook to thicken and evaporate the extra juices.

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As the meat cooks, melt the butter in a saucepan.  Whisk in the flour to form a paste and then slowly add in the milk, whisking continuously to avoid lumps.

Whisk until the sauce is thickened then add the cheese.  Continue to stir until the cheese is melted into a smooth sauce.

Combine the ground beef, cooked pasta and cheese sauce together – I just remove the beef skillet from the heat and work it all together in the pan.

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Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.  Add the cilantro, if using, and chopped jalapenos. Cilantro is one of those things, right?  You either love it or hate it? I’m firm in the “love” category and think that it adds a little brightness to the dish.  If you don’t care for it, or just don’t have any on hand tonight, simply skip it.  Chopped green onions or chives would be nice here as well.  If you happen to have a spicy can of RoTel tonight, you may skip the chopped jalapenos – this part is totally to your liking.

Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

This is a great place to stop and either chill or freeze.  You can stick this casserole in the fridge to cook within the next 24 hours or so, or let it cool and freeze the dish for future baking.

Bake the casserole for 20 minutes, or until it starts to bubble and brown.  From chilled, you’ll bake the dish for about 40 minutes.

Let the dish sit a few minutes before serving.

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What’s your throw-together dish that’s become a family favorite?


Full Recipe

RoTel Cheeseburger Pasta

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • ½ box linguine or spaghetti
  • 1 can RoTel Tomatoes
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves – minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 8 oz. cheddar cheese
  • 2-3 T chopped pickled jalapeno
  • handful cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Grease a 9×13 casserole dish.

Cook the pasta until just shy of al dente, about 6 minutes – it will finish cooking when it is baked.

Rinse well in a strainer.

Brown the ground beef with the onions and garlic.

Add the tomatoes.

Melt the butter in a saucepan.

Whisk in the flour.

Slowly add the milk and whisk until thickened.

Add the cheese and stir until melted.

Combine the ground beef, pasta and cheese sauce together.

Add the cilantro and jalapenos.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour mixture into the prepared casserole dish.

**At this point, you can cool down the dish and refrigerate until cooking or freeze for future baking**

Bake for 20 minutes until it starts to bubble and brown.

**From chilled – bake for 40 minutes**