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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Breakfast in Bed for Your Valentine

Take advantage of the weekend this year and make your sweetheart breakfast in bed.  But take a couple of shortcuts so you don't have to get up at the crack of dawn to get it done.  These recipes can be made in advance the night before and then just pop them in the oven when you're ready to make them. 

This first recipe is one that we make all the time in my family for holidays and I have to admit that we change up the add-ins pretty much every time we make it.  But the basics stay the same.  This makes a big 9x13 casserole so you may want to cut the recipe back for just a couple people or you'll be eating breakfast casserole for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  This is how we made it on Christmas morning this year.  The recipe was originally adapted from old cookbook that my mom has had for years that I believe was put together by local women as a fundraiser for the country club about 30 years ago. 

Ham and Swiss Breakfast Casserole
Family recipe

8 eggs
2 cups milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
8 slices sandwich bread
2 cups thawed frozen spinach
1 roasted red pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz ham, cut into 1/2" chunks
8 oz Swiss cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (if you are going to bake right away).  Spray a 9x13 casserole pan with cooking spray or grease with butter.  In a mixing bowl, beat eggs and milk together.  Add salt and pepper and set aside. 

Cut or tear the bread into about one inch pieces and toss in the pan.  Add vegetables, make sure your frozen spinach is well drained - add it to a double layer of paper towels and wrap it up and squeeze out all the water.  Add garlic and ham and toss everything together in the pan.  Pour egg mixture over the top, pushing everything down if it floats up.  Top with grated cheese.  At this point, you can cover the casserole with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight if desired.

Bake covered for about 30 minutes, remove foil and continue baking an additional 15 to 30 minutes until casserole is set and golden brown.  Let stand about 10 minutes before cutting. 

Some other recipes to try or serve along with your casserole:

Enjoy -- Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Soft Pretzels with Jalapeno Cheese Sauce

Well the Superbowl didn't have the outcome that I was hoping for, my team had too many turnovers, I wasn't a fan of the halftime show and the commercials weren't anything exciting, but the food was good at least.  For me these soft pretzels were the highlight of the night.

I debated between a couple different recipes - one from Baking Illustrated and one from Alton Brown.  Although similar the main differences were in the type of flour and the type of sweetener.  The Baking Illustrated recipe used bread flour which has a higher gluten content and therefore creates a chewier dough.  Pretzels are supposed to be chewy so I decided to stick with the bread flour.  The Baking Illustrated recipe also used honey and after reading their explanation, I decided to go with that - it also meant I didn't have to open a package of brown sugar for a couple tablespoons - so it made it a fairly easy decision.  The other key to the recipe which both versions did is to boil the pretzels in a baking soda solution, so make sure you don't skip this step.

The pretzels are best eaten the day they are made or you can freeze them right away and then warm in the oven when you want them.  Don't store them in a covered container on your counter top though or they will end up a little soggy.

I made a simple spicy, garlicky cheese sauce to dip these in because it sounded good and I was already chopping jalapenos and garlic for guacamole and sliders that I was making.  It turned out to be a great dipping sauce for the pretzels adding a spicy kick to the slightly sweet and salty pretzel dough.  They would also be good with mustard or a cheddar cheese sauce.  Of course you can also sub cinnamon and sugar for the salt sprinkled on before baking and make more dessert-like pretzels if you prefer.

Soft Pretzels
Recipe slightly adapted from Baking Illustrated

1 package rapid-rise yeast
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp salt
3 cups bread flour (16 1/2 ounces)
1 cup water, at approximately 110 degrees
Approximately 1 T olive oil

Baking Soda Solution:
Approximately 6 cups water
3 T baking soda
Salt for sprinkling on pretzels

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine all ingredients for the dough.  Make sure you are using rapid rise yeast, or you will need to proof your yeast before mixing.  Mix on low speed until combined and then knead about 5-7 minutes on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Prepare a separate bowl by coating with olive oil, transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat evenly.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for about one hour or until doubled in size.  Punch dough down, recover and let rise approximately 30 minutes more.

In a large low pan (a 12" skillet with deep sides or a small dutch oven will work perfectly) bring water and baking soda to a boil over medium high heat.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Separate dough into 12 approximately 2 ounce pieces.  Roll each piece into a long string, about 20 inches in length.  Fold pretzels into shape, twisting the ends over each other and pressing lightly to seal dough into shape.  Transfer pretzels, a few at a time to boiling water, cook 30 seconds on each side, turning with a slotted spoon, drain and transfer to prepared baking pan.  Sprinkle with coarse salt and repeat until all the pretzels have been boiled.  They don't need much room on the baking sheet as they won't spread much in the oven.  Bake approximately 12-14 minutes until dark golden brown.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool and serve.

Jalapeno Cheese Sauce

1 T unsalted butter
1 T flour
3/4 cup milk
1 clove garlic, finely grated or minced
1 jalapeno pepper, finely minced
1 cup Colby Jack cheese
1/2 -1 tsp cayenne pepper

In a small sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add flour and whisk to combine, cooking about one minute until smooth.  Add milk, whisking to incorporate.  Add garlic and jalapeno.  Switch to a wooden spoon and stir frequently until thickened, about 15 minutes.  The sauce should begin to coat the back of the spoon.  Remove from heat and stir in cheese.  Add cayenne pepper to taste. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Steelers are going to the Superbowl!

Here we go, Steelers, here we go!

Obviously this is old news but I'm a little behind on starting this Superbowl recipe post.  Since half the fun of the Superbowl is making a bunch of appetizers and snacking all day (at least that's half the fun for me) I've got some great recipes to share with you. 

To start off - here are six recipes from the archives in honor of each of the Steelers past Superbowl victories!

Since the Steelers are attempting to win their 7th championship game, here's a 7th recipe for spicy sausage pizza roulade. 

This recipe is really easy and essentially a rolled up pizza, so you can change up the filling to whatever your favorite pizza toppings are.  I would recommend staying away from things with a high water content though, like pineapple if it's on the top of your list, so that you don't end up with soggy bread.  You can use any bread dough you want for this - a standard pizza crust from scratch or even roll out a dough like Pillsbury's French bread dough, they even have one that doesn't contain any high fructose corn syrup or trans fats.  That's what I used for this one since I didn't have any pizza dough ready to go and I had a coupon to try their Simply Rustic French bread dough

Spicy Sausage Pizza Roulade

12 oz hot ground Italian sausage
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pizza or french bread dough
1 tsp pizza seasoning
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup shredded pizza or mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 T butter, softened
1 tsp garlic powder
Pizza sauce for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet with baking spray or line with parchment paper.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add sausage and crumble as it browns.  After about 2 minutes, add onions, peppers and garlic.  Cook until sausage is just cooked through and vegetables are softened.  Remove from heat and drain any grease off the sausage.  Lightly flour a smooth counter surface and roll out dough into a large rectangle, about 12x18 inches.  Evenly sprinkle pizza seasoning and crushed red pepper flakes over dough.  Spoon sausage mixture onto bottom third to half of the long edge of the dough, leaving an edge of about one inch open at the outside.  Next add cheeses directly next to the sausage mixture on the 2nd third of the dough, a little overlap is fine.  The final third should be open. 

Begin rolling from sausage side, rolling the dough gently into a long tube.  Pinch the seams to seal the dough and place the dough seam side down on prepared pan.  Fold the ends under slightly, pinching to seal the ends.  Bake about 25 minutes and remove from oven.  Add garlic powder to melted butter and brush over the top of the bread dough and return to the oven for about five more minutes until golden brown.  Cool at least 5-10 minutes before slicing into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Serve with warmed pizza sauce.

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