Monday, June 26, 2017

White (Bechamel) Sauce

Basic White or Bechamel Sauce

                                         Image result for bechamel

This is one of the first recipes that burgeoning cooks should learn. Once you have the hang of this,  you can add grated cheese or other ingredients such as carmelized onions to enhance your meals.

Ingredients

  • flour
  • 1 stick of butter
  • milk or cream (warm)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated cheese optional
Procedure (Read before starting)
  1. Melt butter in a medium sauce pan
  2. When melted, stir in approximately 1/2 c of flour. It should melt into the butter without being too wet or too solid. Add a bit extra flour if necessary - but not more than a tablespoon at a time or it will get chunky (time to experiment).
  3. Stir over medium heat until thoroughly mixed and add a bit of salt and pepper.
  4. Reduce heat slightly and slowly stir in warm milk or cream (room temperature or slightly heated) into the flour mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk so it doesn't scorch. It may take a cup to a cup and a half of liquid. What you want is a thick, creamy sauce.
  5. If you want a cheese sauce, add some grated cheese to the mixture but be careful, it will scorch easily. Always work over low heat for this addition.
  6. When the mixture is smooth, remove from heat and serve over pot pies, perogies, meat pies or other dishes as required. To refrigerate and reuse, keep covered (will last up to a few days) and simply add a bit of milk when you reheat it, stirring often in the microwave or on the stove top on low-medium heat.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Twice-Baked Potato Casserole

This recipe is an adaptation from a recipe at allrecipes.com, one of my favorite go-to sites. It is perfect for potlucks, family dinners and with a bit of tweaking (see below), is just right for large gatherings (2 pans). This is the perfect dish to prepare the night before and bake the following day. And yes, I had to taste it for "quality control" <koff koff>.





Ingredients

  • 2 large baking potatoes (or 6 regular)
  • 1/2 pound lean bacon (or Real Bacon Bits)
  • 3/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted


  • 1 teaspoon dried chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
  • 3/4 cup shredded mild Cheddar cheese

Directions



  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a 9x13-inch casserole dish.
  2. Poke a few holes into each potato using a toothpick.
  3. Bake potatoes in the preheated oven until fully cooked, about 1 hour. Cool for about 15 minutes.
  4. Place the bacon in a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon slices on paper towels and crumble.
  5. Cut a thin slice from one side of each potato; carefully scoop out the flesh and transfer to a bowl. Discard skins. Mix 3/4 cup Cheddar cheese, sour cream, milk, butter, chives, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder with potatoes. Spread potato mixture into the prepared casserole dish; top with 3/4 cup Cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven until just bubbling, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.

*Let the 'tweaking' begin. I baked 5 lbs of potatoes and, after letting them cool slightly, I scraped the contents into a big bowl and chopped them up with my spoon. I added a full bag (8 oz) of sharp cheddar, 1 1/2 c of sour cream, 2 tbsp of dried chives, half bag of Kroger 'real bacon bits', ground pepper and salt (didn't measure, just poured some on my hand and then into the bowl). I didn't use garlic salt because the chives provided sufficient seasoning). I used about a cup of milk and about 4 tbsp of butter. The potatoes were still hot enough to melt the butter when mixed in. I folded everything together, put it in one larger foil lasagna pan and one smaller, more shallow aluminum foil cake pan (about 8.5" by 12.5") for us. I used another half bag of shredded sharp cheddar to top the two pans and sprinkled liberally with dried chives and about half the pack of bacon bits. The casserole was moist, not wet, before baking and because I like my casseroles well cooked, the small one took about 25 minutes to warm through with bubbly cheese. I will probably cook the large one for about 30-40 minutes. Turned out tasty, slightly puffy and smelled delicious!*

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Little Cook's Enchilada Casserole

We went bulk grocery shopping, taking advantage of the case lot sales about a month ago, and the rest is history! This casserole may feature tortilla chips on top rather than actual rolled tortillas in the mix, but it's tasty, easy and above all, quick for those evenings when you just don't have time to fix. Plus it offers quite a bit of left-overs - always a bonus in our house.

Little Cook's Enchilada Casserole


  • 1/2 lb ground turkey (browned in a couple of tsp of canola or olive oil)
  • 2 c cooked rice, white or brown - a great way to use left-over rice!
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 14 oz can of corn (not creamed)
  • 1 14 oz of kidney or black beans 
  • 1/2 jar of your favorite chunky pasta sauce
  • 1 pkg of taco or chili seasoning
  • 1/2 to 2/3 pkg sharp cheddar cheese (approximate 1- 1 1/2 cup)
  • about 1 c of any flavor of broken tortilla chips (I used some awesome sweet chili chips)
  1. Mix together ingredients, from the browned turkey to the taco seasoning. If you like, you can stir half the cheese into the mix. Place in large casserole.
  2. Sprinkle with tortilla chips and the remainder of the cheese
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately half an hour, until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Note: It tastes even better the next day and the day after that, as the flavors mellow and blend!

Vintage '50s Hamburger Casserole

This is a recipe that can be dressed up or down, changed to use a variety of ingredients and still work out to be as tasty as you can imagine.


Vintage Hamburger Casserole

  • 8 oz large noodles (elbow, rotini or any other favorite)
  • 1 1/2 lb ground beef (if you prefer, use ground turkey or chicken)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 med. green pepper, chopped
  •  1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 lb sharp cheddar, grated or cut into small chunks
  • 1 large can cream-style corn (or use regular corn or peas and add a can of cream soup)
  • 1 can pitted black olives - optional (the sliced ones work well)
  • Dash of Tabasco sauce for flavor (some people prefer to use ketchup)
  1. Boil noodles according to package directions. Set aside.
  2. Brown meat, onion and green pepper. Add salt and black pepper.
  3. In large mixing bowl, add all ingredients and fold well. 
  4. Pour into 2-3 qt casserole.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour
Goes well with your favorite mixed green salad or a tomato, cucumber and onion salad.
Yields 12 servings.