Tag Archives: Southern

August 14 – One Year Blog Anniversary

14 Aug

Today is a very special day!  It marks one year since I began Sweet Southern Comfort!  This blog was originally started as a way for me to keep track of my favorite recipes and try out new ones for D, but it’s definitely evolved into something much more special to me.  I’ve learned so much from the other bloggers I follow on Word Press and have been inspired by each and every one of you!  So much so, that my stack of recipes to try/adapt/create has probably tripled in size from a year ago!  Here is a link to my very first post: Sunday Supper-Lemon Spaghetti.  This recipe remains one of my go-to comfort foods and I encourage you to try it out sometime.  It’s very easy!  While I may not always have been the most consistent blogger, I did manage to publish 48 posts during my first year of blogging!  Next year, I hope to become more consistent about blogging and bring you all more Southern-focused content.  Here’s a little blog-related re-cap for you:

Top Posts
1. Caramel Cake – My ultimate favorite dessert.  I haven’t tried to make this again since last February as it took me HOURS to make the caramel icing, and I’m still not sure I perfected it.  This might be one of those treats I will stick with having when I’m home with my family and we can buy it from Cindy Lou.
2. Christmas Treat: Peppermint White Chocolate Macarons – Another dessert that was a true labor of love.  I want to take a macaron pastry class at the ICE sometime this year so keep an eye out for future macaron recipes!
3. Fried Red Tomatoes? – My first attempt at frying and a big hit!  Hopefully this year, I can tackle fried chicken!
4. Sunday Supper: Low Sodium Chicken Tortilla Soup – My go-to weekday winter dinner.  Healthy and delicious!
5. Special Valentine’s Day Steak Dinner – Filet Mignon with Cognac Cream Sauce – Hands down the yummiest sauce for your filet.  Great for special occasions (or just any occasion)!  D and I learned how to make this on our first Valentine’s Day together and try to make it a couple of times every year since.

Least Popular Posts – They’re all still awesome so what are you waiting for, check one of these pages out! 🙂
1. Christmas Dinner: Christmas Crostini – This is a really cute, festive and easy appetizer to make at your next holiday get-together.  I would serve it with the Pear Bellinis (better known as Christmas in a Cup)!
2. Oregon Coast Fresh Vegetable Salad – The key to this recipe is having super fresh vegetables and dicing everything immediately before serving.  My pictures definitely did not do our meal at Anna’s by the Sea justice.
3. Sunday Supper: End of Winter Pasta with Cabbage, Speck and Grappa – I make this recipe once a year at the tail-end of winter.  That one meal leaves me with lunches/dinners for a few days and is rich and hearty enough that I’m more than satisfied not to make it again until the next year.

My Personal Favorite Posts – it was hard to pick just three, but here are my favorite recipes I’ve made over the past year
1. Christmas Dinner: Dad’s Cream of Chestnut Soup – This recipe always reminds me of family and the holidays.  It’s so unique and different.  And delicious!
2. Sunday Supper: Hearty & Healthy Borscht – Soups are easy weeknight meals and this one is low-sodium and it’s main ingredient is beets, which are really good for you!
3. Homemade Momofuku Milk Bar Crack Pie – It’s always flattering when people compliment your cooking/baking, but I was especially flattered when someone told me that this was better than the original!  The best part is the ingredients that go into this pie are quite cheap and it is incredibly easy to make.

Thank you for reading during the past year!  Looking forward to many more years to come!

Homemade Momofuku Milk Bar Crack Pie

30 Jun

Homemade Momofuku Milk Bar Crack Pie

Earlier this summer, I made my first trip to Momofuku Milk Bar.  This place is RIDICULOUSLY good.  Naturally, I had to try (almost) everything on the menu in case I never made the 12 block trek again.  Here’s a review of everything we tried:

  • Cereal Milk – The cereal milk was ice cold milk with crushed cereal powder mixed in.  The texture was really strange to me and it was a little too sweet.
  • Cookies – We tried a compost cookie, a cornflake marshmallow cookie and a corn cookie.  The compost cookie was hands down the best; made with pretzels, chocolate chips, coffee grounds (it works!) and potato chips, the compost cookie contained literally everything but the kitchen sink!  one word or warning though: the cookies are served in plastic wrap which tends to make them a little greasy over the course of the day.
  • Dill Bagel Bomb – A bagel roll with dill cream cheese inside.  Probably would have tasted better eaten immediately instead of waiting until the next morning.  Pretty carb-heavy and not enough cream cheese.
  • Pistachio Croissant – YUM.  We heated this up for breakfast and it was delicious.  It was the perfect pistachio flavor and not too heavy, although I did have a bit of a sugar high heading into work that morning.
  • Birthday Cake Truffles – This was like eating a ball of cookie dough.  Super rich – we shared three truffles between six people and we were all satisfied.
  • Crack Pie – I read an article about “crack” foods in NY Mag last month which initially sparked my interest in checking out Momofuku Milk Bar.  If I could eat a slice of this pie every day, I would.  Each bite melts in your mouth and it the perfect combination of salty and sweet (much like the compost cookie).  It reminds me of chess pie, a Southern dessert from my childhood.  However, at $5.25 a slice and $44 a pie, adding a slice a day wasn’t exactly in my budget.  I did some searching and found a recipe from Bon Appetit for Crack Pie that I used to make my own “crack” pie.  I was a little shocked at just how much butter and sugar goes into this recipe (and not much else!), but was pleasantly surprised to discover the crust is made of oatmeal cookies.  We can consider this a “healthy” food then, right? 😉
Homemade Momofuku Milk Bar Crack Pie

Homemade Momofuku Milk Bar Crack Pie
Recipe from Bon Appetit
Serves 12+ (this cake is very rich; you can make slices 1/2 the size of what you would normally do for pies)

Ingredients
For the Oatmeal Cookie Crust
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
5 1/2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar, divided
2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Filling
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
6 1/2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar (for dusting)

Directions
For the Oatmeal Cookie Crust
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper; coat with nonstick spray.
2. Combine 6 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl.
3. Using electric mixer (if you have one), beat mixture until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, about 2 minutes. Add egg; beat until pale and fluffy. Add oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and beat until well blended, about 1 minute.
4. Turn oat mixture out onto prepared baking pan; press out evenly to edges of pan.
5. Bake until light golden on top, 17 to 18 minutes. Transfer baking pan to rack and cool cookie completely.
6. Using hands, crumble oat cookie into large bowl; add 3 tablespoons butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar. Rub in with fingertips until mixture is moist enough to stick together.
7. Transfer cookie crust mixture to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Using fingers, press mixture evenly onto bottom and up sides of pie dish. Place pie dish with crust on rimmed baking sheet.

For the Filling
1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F.
2. Whisk both sugars, milk powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add melted butter and whisk until blended. Add cream, then egg yolks and vanilla and whisk until well blended.
3. Pour filling into crust. Bake pie 30 minutes (filling may begin to bubble).
4. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Continue to bake pie until filling is brown in spots and set around edges but center still moves slightly when pie dish is gently shaken, about 20-25 minutes longer.
5. Cool pie 2 hours in pie dish on rack. Chill uncovered overnight. Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; keep chilled.
6. Sift powdered sugar lightly over top of pie. Cut pie into wedges and serve cold.  (NOTE: Don’t add the powdered sugar until the pie is completely cool and right before serving.  I got excited and added mine pretty soon after taking the pie from the oven and it absorbed into the pie.  Whoops!)

Outdoor Dining: Crab Cakes with Citrus Avocado Cream, Spicy-Sweet Corn and Watermelon Salad

21 May

Crab Cakes with Citrus Avocado Cream and Spicy-Sweet Corn

Once spring/summer arrives bringing with them warm weather and sun, New Yorkers really embrace outdoor dining.  For the next four months or so, sidewalks outside restaurants become cramped with tables and diners enjoying an al fresco dinner in the warm summer air.  I love walking through the West Village on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, people watching (and puppy-watching – outdoor dining is pet-friendly after all!) at all of the brunch spots in the neighborhood.  D and I are no different in this respect – as soon as it becomes nice out, we try to eat any dinner we prepare on our roof deck.  This gave me this idea to write a series of posts this summer on Outdoor Dining.  These posts will be grill-friendly and/or refreshing meals for when you’re eating outside (read: no heavy pastas or super hot meals).  They will also be focused on ingredients that are freshest in the summer months (think corn, watermelon, tomatoes, etc.).  For my first post in this series, I wanted to make crab cakes with two refreshing summer sides: spicy-sweet corn and a watermelon salad.  Two recent blog posts inspired me in coming up with my recipes and also meal combination.  (You can see their posts here and here.)  These are “healthy” crab cakes because they use less breading, light mayo and are not deep fried.  I pan fried mine in a skillet, but you could also bake them in the oven if you wanted to be even healthier.  For those watching their sodium intake, crab meat IS high in sodium so this is something to be mindful of.)  In addition to the spicy-sweet corn and watermelon salad, we also served this meal with a refreshing campari cocktail (recipe here).  This was one of my favorite meals I’ve made recently and D agreed – he told me this meal was in my “top five” if not the best and has requested that I make this meal on a weekly basis.  Fortunately, the crab cakes and the corn both taste great cold so it won’t be that difficult to make extra and then have a second helping later in the week.  That is, if there are any leftover from your original batch – there weren’t when I made them! 🙂

Healthy Crab Cakes
Serves 6

Ingredients
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup skim milk
3 tbsp. light mayonnaise
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. fresh dill, chopped
1/2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
1/4 tsp. dried tarragon
1/4 tsp. chili pepper flakes
Zest and Juice from 1 lemon (do the zesting first!)
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used panko)
3 tbsp butter, divided
1 pound cooked crab meat OR 3 cans (6 oz. each) of white crab meat (Note: I used canned because Whole Foods was out of fresh and rinsed the crab meat with water to try and remove some of the sodium brine)
Arugula (for crab cake bed/garnish)

Directions
1. In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients except for last four (bread crumbs, butter, crab meat, arugula).
2. Fold crab meat into mixture.
3. Place bread crumbs in a shallow dish.
4. Gather approximately 1/6 of the crab meat mixture and form into a ball in your hands.  Roll in bread crumbs until covered.  Then press/form into a 3/4″ to 1″ thick patty.

Crab Cakes Pre-Skillet

This is what your crab cakes should look like before you put them in the skillet.

5. Repeat with remaining crab mixture.  You should have six crab cake patties when you are finished.
6. In a large skillet, melt 2 tbsp. butter over medium-high heat.  Place all six patties in skillet and cook for 3 minutes.  Don’t touch them once you put them in the pan!
7. Flip crab cakes over and cook on other side for three minutes.  If the pan is starting to burn, add remaining 1 tbsp. of butter.

Crab Cakes Cooking

Crab cakes cooking in the skillet

8. While the crab cakes are cooking, rinse some arugula and place a small amount on six dinner places.  When the crab cakes are finished, place each crab cake on top of a bed of arugula.  Serve immediately with citrus avocado cream (recipe below).

Citrus Avocado Cream
Adapted from Texana’s Kitchen
Serves 6+
Note: I would recommend making fish tacos  later in the week and using this as a garnish instead of guacamole.  It would taste great with mahi mahi!

Ingredients
1 ripe avocado
Juice of 2 Naval oranges (a little more than 1/2 cup)
Juice of 2 limes (about 1/4 cup)
2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 jalapeno
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp. agave syrup
1/2 tsp. salt

Directions
1. Mix all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
2. Set aside.  If preparing in advance, chill in refrigerator.  Take out 30 minutes before serving so the garnish can reach room temperature consistency.
3. Drizzle on crab cakes or on side of plate before serving.  Try with fish tacos!

Spicy-Sweet Fried Corn

Spicy-Sweet Fried Corn
Adapted from Texana’s Kitchen
Serves 2

Ingredients
2 tbsp. butter, divided
4 ears fresh corn, cut from the cobs
1 jalapeno, finely diced
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 tsp. sugar

Directions
1. Heat 1 tbsp. butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Add corn, jalapeno, green onions, salt & pepper.
3. Saute for about 10 minutes.  If corn begins to burn, add an additional tbsp. of butter.
4. Add sugar and stir well.  Continue to cook until the corn begins to caramelize (about two minutes).
5.  Reduce heat to simmer and keep warm until ready to serve.  Note: I would consider adding diced red peppers and/or tomatoes to this dish next time around.

Feta Watermelon Salad

Feta Watermelon Tomato Salad
Serves 1

Ingredients
About 10 watermelon cubes or balls
About 10 cherry tomatoes or 1/2 large tomato, roughly chopped
Feta cheese, crumbled
Fresh basil, chopped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions
1. Combine watermelon and tomato in individual serving bowls.
2. Immediately before serving, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.  Then top with crumbled feta.
3. Serve immediately.

Lone Star Chili Cook-off

13 May
Beekman Beer Garden Beach Club

Lone Star Chili Cook-Off – beautiful day for chili, beer and the “beach”!

Yesterday, D and I went with some friends to the Lone Star Chili Cook-Off at the Beekman Beer Garden Beach Club at the South Street Seaport.  This annual event is sponsored by the NYC Texas Exes (UT Alumni Association) and the NYC A&M Club (Texas A&M Alumni Association).  Thirty-six amateur teams compete against each other for bragging rights of “best chili” and “best team presentation.”  Alongside the amateur chefs is a restaurant category with all of the usual suspects in NYC that have chili on their menu: Hill Country, Southern Hospitality (aka Justin Timberlake’s BBQ joint), Manhattan Chili Co., Sidebar (seemed extremely random they were there), etc.  You can bet your hat that I am going to sign up to cook in this event next year!  The idea of making five gallons of chili all the while coming up with a clever team name and fun presentation may seem daunting but at least I’ve got a year to prepare myself to meet the challenge!

After a cold and rainy week with weather that was WAY too cold for NYC in mid-May, we were finally in store for some beautiful weather and couldn’t wait to relax out side while tasting a bunch of homemade chili and drinking cold beers.  While we weren’t able to sample all 40+ chilis on tap, I’d say we tasted at least 25 of them, and yes, we left completely stuffed.  They ran the range of being pretty bland and basic to being so spicy that we had to take a 20 minute break before eating, drinking or even talking (I’m talking about you, Asses of Fire).  But on the whole, I was amazed that these chilis were all made by amateur chefs just like you and me!  The biggest differential among chilis was the type of beef used.  Most used ground beef but a few used brisket which was a nice touch.  When tasting a bunch of chilis side by side, you could definitely tell who had used higher quality meat in their dish.  The other thing that stood out was teams who offered sides (cornbread, desserts) and garnishes (cheese, sour cream, jalapenos, onion crunch, Fritos, etc.).  According to D, when you serve Fritos with chili, it’s called a pepperbelly.  Who knew?  Thanks hun!

Here are some pictures from the event as well as my thoughts on a few favorites that really stood out from the crowd.

Most Creative Name and Side: King County Cretaceous Chili.  These guys totally went overboard with the dinosaur theme, and I loved it!  The chili was made from “tyrannosaurus rex meat” (aka ground beef) and the side was a “pterodactyl egg” (aka a sweet potato fritter).  I’ve never had sweet potato fritters before and they reminded me a little bit of hush puppies or fried cornbread.  Very clever, guys!

Chili Samples

Team Red Hot Chili Peppers (L) and Team King County Cretaceous Chili (R)

Spiciest Chili: Asses of Fire.  I am all for a little heat and think I have pretty high spice tolerance, but I met my match here.  I’d be curious to know what kind of spices this team put in their chili because we were all dying after trying this chili!

Best First Impression: Chili Bombers.  This was the first chili we tried when we walked in the venue.  It was piping hot, had just the right amount of spice and was just a good basic chili to start the day.  The small serving of cornbread was just the right size for a chili tasting.  (Other teams overloaded you with garnishes and you could barely taste the chili!)  This goes to show that sometimes less is more.

Chili Samples

Team Asses of Fire (L) and Team Chili Bombers (R)

Best Overall: Chili Con Blarney.  These guys were hands down the best of the best.  The quality of the brisket  was top notch and  you could tell they didn’t scrimp on ingredients.  It wasn’t too spicy, but after some of the other chilis we tried, it was a nice respite.  The sour cream was homemade (yum!) and the cheese was “Irish” to go along with their theme.  They were also the only team I noticed who served dessert.  The bite-size chipotle brownies were awesome and a great way to finish off the chili.    I also gave these guys bonus points for handing out green mardis gras beads and going all out on the Irish theme in their table decoration.  Nice work guys!  This was the only team where we went back for seconds, and I wish we had gone back for thirds.  If anyone on the team is reading this, I would LOVE to get your recipe. 🙂

Chili Sample

The Winner! Team Chili Con Blarney

Team Chili Con Blarney

Team Chili Con Blarney

Runner Up and Best Use of Veggies: Chill-ayyyy Bro.  This was a meaty chili but they also used tons of fresh veggies in their chili when many chilis only contained beef.  It tasted great and made me feel like I was getting my recommended serving of veggies.

Third Place: T. Love and Special Sauce.  2nd Place in the 2011 Cook-Off.  We can’t remember why we liked this one, but clearly they are doing something right to place last year and stand out in our minds this year too!

Last year’s winner was WildER Turkey.  We didn’t see them at this years event and I hope we didn’t miss them!  We had to leave before the winner was announced but I have my fingers crossed for Chili Con Blarney and can’t wait to join in the fun next year!

Southern-Style Chicken Cordon Bleu

26 Apr

One of my good friends Kristin is an editor at the fabulous blog A Woman’s Paris.  I would highly recommend this site for anyone interested in French style, culture, cooking and more.  In addition, the creator of the site is a talented artist and sells her whimsical drawings as iPhone and iPad covers at the following site.  I love them all but I think the Avenue Montaigne drawing is my favorite.

Avenue Montaigne, Paris

Avenue Montaigne, Paris
Photo Credit: A Woman's Paris

After my successful (but tiring!) attempt creating French macarons last year and talking with Kristin about French cooking, I was inspired to try and create a classic French dish but to add a Southern twist to it.  Below is my adaptation of the famous French entree Chicken Cordon Bleu.  This recipe has its roots in a Rachel Ray 30-Minute Meals episode that I watched years ago in college but never wrote down.  The thick, hearty mushroom-gravy is what really makes this a “Southern” dish.  Bring your appetite to the table when you make this dish – it’s rich and very filling!

Southern-Style Chicken Cordon Bleu with Mushroom Gravy
Serves 4

Ingredients (for the chicken)
4 chicken breasts, butterflied (you can have the butcher do this for you)
Fresh sage
Prosciutto
Fontina cheese
Flour
2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

*You also need: Toothpicks 

Directions (for the chicken)
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Place small amount of cheese, sage and prosciutto in each chicken breast.  (Note: I overstuffed the chicken breasts and put way too much filling in the pictures below.  They are included so you can see the layout only.)


3. Starting at one of the narrow ends of the chicken breast, roll each chicken breast up and secure with a couple of toothpicks.  Coat each roll up in flour.


4. Heat a skillet using medium heat and add extra virgin olive oil.  When heated, add the chicken breasts and brown.
5. When browned, place chicken breasts on a baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes until fully cooked.
6. Remove from oven and place one breast on each plate.  Remove toothpicks immediately before adding gravy and serving.

Ingredients (for the gravy)
1 package crimini or button mushrooms
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. flour
Dry white wine
Chicken Broth (low sodium stock)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions (for the gravy)
1.  Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add butter.  When butter is melted, add mushrooms to skillet and cook until browned and soft.
2. Add flour and 1/4 cup wine and 1/4 cup chicken broth to skillet.  Mix until incorporated and warm.
3.  Season with salt & pepper.  If you want more acidic sauce, add more wine.  If you want thicker sauce, add more flour.  I usually wing it here so apologies I can’t give more specific directions!

Serve With…

Sauteed Green Beans or Spinach

and

Cheesy Risotto with Peas
Serves 4

Ingredients
Arborio Rice (4 servings according to rice package)
2 tbsp. butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 32 oz. container low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1/2 – 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions
1. In a saucepan, heat chicken stock until warm but not boiling.  Keep warm while you prepare the risotto.
2. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat and add butter.  When melted, add garlic, rice and 1 cup chicken stock, stirring frequently.
3. When the chicken stock cooks off, ladle another cup of broth into the pot.  Continue doing so until the rice is cooked, which should take about 20 minutes.
4. About halfway through cooking the risotto, try out the rice.  If it is TOO chicken-y, substitute 1 cup of water instead of chicken broth when the liquid runs out for the next cycle.
5. When the rice is cooked, add the peas and Parmesan cheese to the pot, stirring rapidly to incorporate.
6. Serve immediately and top with freshly ground black pepper and an additional sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Mom’s Easy Easter Quiche

7 Apr

For Easter brunch tomorrow, I’m making my mom’s super easy and delicious quiche recipe.  She has been making it for so long that she doesn’t use a recipe.  It’s always delicious, but it tastes different with every preparation.  I’m a stickler for following her recipe to a tee because I think the combination of spices is perfect.  Also, this while this recipe calls for heavy cream and whole milk, you can substitute skim or low fat milk if you would prefer.  The resulting quiche will be less fluffy and creamy, but will still taste great with a lot less calories and fat.  In my mind, whenever I make this dish it’s for a festive occasion, so I like to stick with the heavy cream and whole milk and indulge a little!  Note: This recipe makes TWO quiches so if you only want to make one, halve the recipe.  This quiche does well refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for a couple of months though so I always make two and have an extra on hand when a quiche craving strikes!

Mom’s Easy Easter Quiche
Makes 2 quiches, each serving 6-8 people

Ingredients
2 deep dish pie crusts
Dijon mustard
1/2 pound of bacon, cooked and crumbled (6-8 slices)
2 cups shredded cheese (approximately 1 1/2 cups Jarlsberg and 1/2 cup Gruyere)
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
6 eggs
1 medium onion, minced
1/2 cup unsifted flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
Grated parmesan cheese
Spray butter or margarine

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Squeeze a large dollop of Dijon mustard on top of each pie crust.  Using the back of a spoon, spread so there is a thin layer of mustard along the bottom and sides of the pie pans.
3. Put crumbled bacon on the bottom of each pie pan.  There should be enough to cover most of the surface area of both pans.
4. Add shredded cheese on top of bacon, dividing evenly between both pie pans.
5. In a large bowl, mix onions, flour, salt, cayenne pepper and nutmeg.   In a small bowl, beat eggs.  Add egg mixture to large bowl of dry ingredients.  Slowly add in heavy cream and milk until fully mixed.
6. Pour mix into both pie pans on top of cheese, dividing evenly between the two.
7. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top of each pie and spray a few times with spray butter or margarine.
8. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Then turn temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 30 minutes.
9. Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting.

Tastes great reheated – simply microwave a slice or warm it in the oven at 350 degrees for a few minutes.

For those of you looking for more of a sugar-filled Easter brunch, check out this link that my mom sent me for some special Cadbury Creme Egg recipes.  I wish I lived in the UK because a Cadbury Creme Egg McFlurry sounds really yummy!

Happy Easter everyone!

Homemade Ketchup (aka Tomato Jam)

31 Mar

When we want to go out for dinner but still be super casual, we visit the grill at our neighborhood Whole Foods and get their turkey burger.  It’s much healthier than a beef hamburger, not greasy at all and comes with a large side salad.  The best part of the WF turkey burger though is the tomato jam they put on the burger.  It’s thicker than regular ketchup and slightly sweet.  D challenged me to make some for us at home, which seemed like a daunting task until my March issue of Real Simple arrived and there was a recipe for tomato jam inside!  It is super easy to make and tastes so much better than Heinz ketchup (think: no preservatives, super fresh, slightly sweet).  Here’s my recipe adapted from RS.  Since I don’t like to cook with a lot of salt, I used low-sodium whole peeled tomatoes and a very slight pinch of salt for depth.

Homemade Ketchup (aka Tomato Jam)
Adapted from Real Simple, March 2012 issue

Ingredients
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes (low sodium – you can find at Trader Joe’s)
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch kosher salt

Directions
1. Empty the entire can of tomatoes (and juices – do not drain) into a deep large skillet.  Add sugar and salt.  Bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently.
2. Reduce heat to medium and cook, mashing occasionally, until thick and jammy.  This should take 20 minutes or so
3. If you don’t like the idea of “thick” ketchup, once cooled, put in blender and puree until smooth.
4. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

We use this homemade ketchup on burgers, fries, anything else you might put ketchup on.  You can even add some spices like oregano and use it as a pizza sauce.  However, our new favorite way to spread this is on slices of lightly-buttered bread that have been toasted then topped with extra-sharp cheddar cheese and melted under the broiler for a few minutes.  (See below for a picture.)

Tomato Jam