Hash Brown Chorizo Casserole

A variation of my hash brown sausage casserole.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. chorizo
  • 1 lb. bacon
  • 1 lb. ground pork sausage
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • my house seasoning
  • 1 med. onion, diced
  • 2 c. shredded cheese
  • 1 and 1/2 c. milk
  • 12 eggs*
  • 1 pkg. frozen hash browns, thawed

Instructions:

Thaw the hash browns, dry excess moisture if needed.  In a large bowl, stir together hash browns and butter, needed to be thick and mold-able.  Spread hash browns in a sprayed oiled 9×13 baking dish/pan.  Covering the bottom and sides like a crust.  Bake for 30 minutes and then broil for 5 minutes to brown.  When done remove from oven and set aside.

Place the bacon on a broiler pan and broil for 10 minutes flip and then 5 – 10 minutes more, then set aside to cool.  Slice into half inch to 1 inch pieces and place into a large bowl.

In a large skillet, heated to medium add the chorizo and chop up with spoon or spatula.  While the chorizo is cooking chop the onion.  Drain some of the juices off the chorizo and then add the onion and cook till tender, season with my house seasoning.  When done add to the large bowl with the bacon.

Return skillet to heat and cook sausage till done, crumbling as ground meat.  When done add to bowl with chorizo and stir all together.

Add shredded cheese to the top of hash browns.  Spread the meat mixture into the casserole evenly.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and milk together, then pour* over evenly the casserole.  Bake for an hour at 350 degrees.  May still seem liquid when removed, but will become thickened when sets.

Good to serve with salsa.

*An alternative to eggs – scramble the eggs till almost done then stir into the meat mixture then bake for only 30 minutes to evenly heat and melt cheese.  This may be a better way if it is too liquid after baking.

Brunch Punch

Ingredients:

  • 2 containers of frozen orange juice
  • 1 can of mango nectar
  • 1 ginger ale 2 liters

Instructions:

Add together and stir till orange juice is melted, or thaw juice before putting into punch bowl.

This makes about a half a punch bowl.  Double or triple the recipe in equal parts to fit the order needed for your occasion.

Chocolate Cake

A very basic but versatile chocolate cake and easy, easy to make.

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz. Baker’s brand baking chocolate*
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 c. boiling water
  • 2 c. brown sugar
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Instructions:

In a bowl, stir together the chocolate squares, butter and water till melted.

In a mixing bowl mix brown sugar, flour, soda.  when blended add chocolate mixture, blend well.  Add eggs, sour cream and vanilla.  Mix for two minutes.

Pour into a greased and floured 9×13 baking pan/dish, bake for 35 minutes on 350 degrees.

*any flavor of baking chocolate will work. I have used Baker’s German chocolate squares and a coconut frosting and transformed this basic recipe into a German chocolate cake.  The coconut frosting recipe can be found on the inside of the German chocolate squares box, it’s really good.  Maybe try some Ghirardelli white chocolate baking squares and a caramel frosting (try Duncan Hines frosting flavors), Mmmm, can’t wait to try this one myself.

Chicken Enchilada Bowls

The bowls are flour tortillas baked into bowls with tortilla bowl pans or this recipe could also be a layered dish.

The bowls are flour tortillas baked into bowls with tortilla bowl pans.  The six – seven inch size I have are available from Amazon here.

Instead of the bowls, this recipe could also be a layered dish, or wrapped enchiladas and top with cheese, or leave the chicken separate and wrap the chicken and use rest as sauce and top with cheese.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

Bake tortillas on 350 for 6-8 minutes.  Bake till the edges start to turn brown, don’t under-cook them or when you fill they will flatten out, they won’t be stiff enough.  Set aside and cool completely on a cookie sheet so if you only have two pans, you can bake more.  Leave on cookie sheet so to bake once filled or if you have enough pans leave in pan and fill.

I boiled my chicken breast until they were almost done.  I then drained and diced and returned to the pot I boiled it in.  Finish cooking and dice even smaller if needed with stirring tool. Add optional paprika to chicken while cooking dry, not while boiling.

While chicken is cooking, in a skillet, saute the tomatillos, green onions, and garlic.  When veggies are softened and slightly browned, add to completely cooked chicken after you have added the soup to the chicken.

When chicken is done, add chili powder, soup, sour cream, tomatoes of choice, tomatillo mixture, cilantro.  Stir together and let bring to a bubble, simmer for 10 – 15 minutes.  Once simmered, spoon or ladle chicken into the bowls tryin not to get too much extra juice in the bowl so not to make it prematurely soggy, top with a 1/2 cup cheese.

Return filled bowls to oven at 300 degrees for up to 6 minutes to melt cheese.

Remove and top with fresh diced tomatoes and additional sour cream if desired, you can also add fresh diced green onions or avocados.

Simple Paella

Not a typical paella, but one that us normal people can afford to make and is simple.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

In a 2 quart sauce pan, cook the rice according to package directions.  Set aside when done till ready to use.

While cooking rice; in a skillet, cook the chorizo links 10 minutes on each side on med. heat. After cooking cut links into small pieces.

While cooking chorizo; in a small bowl combine the paprika and house seasoning together.  Cube chicken and toss in the seasoning mixture till well coated.

Remove the chorizo links when done and set aside.  Add the chicken to same skillet and cook on med. to high heat 8-10 minutes, stirring until done.  Cook till the seasoning forms somewhat of a crust on the pieces.  Set aside when done till ready to use.

In a pot, heat on med. heat for 6-9 minutes, the onion, bell pepper, diced tomatoes and garlic.  Bring to a boil and cook till tender.

Once the veggies are tender, add the rice, clam juice, chicken broth*, parsley flakes, and lemon juice, stir and bring to a boil.

Add chicken, chorizo, and shrimp.  Cook on medium for 5-6 minutes or if using uncooked shrimp heat till shrimp is cooked.  If using pre-cooked shrimp them reduce and simmer till ready to serve.

Serve with cornbread.

*Chicken broth: I used 5 c. of water with 3 tbsp. of McCormicks chicken base.

Southern Fruit Cobbler

How Cobbler is supposed to be made, anything with a crust on it is a PIE! Be creative this recipe is very versatile.

How Cobbler is supposed to be made, anything with a crust on it, is a PIE!

For a 9×13 baking dish/pan.  The measurements do not have to be exact, more is o.k. but not less, so that it does not come out too dry.

Ingredients:

Fruit filling:

  • 3-4 cups of fresh or frozen fruit
  • 1 to 1 & a half c. of sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter

Batter:

  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 1/4 c. milk
  • 2 tsp. baking powder

Instructions:

In a 2 quart sauce pan, add fruit, sugar and butter.  Bring to a slow boil and cook till sugar is dissolved. If using fresh fruit that is naturally hard & crunchy(apples,pears, etc), longer cooking time may be needed to help make fruit tender.  But take into consideration that they will become more tender while baking.

While fruit is cooking; in a med. – large bowl – mix together batter ingredients till smooth and well blended.

Spray your cooking dish with oil, pour batter into the pan first, then evenly distribute the fruit with the juices over the batter.

Place in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour.

Serve warm with ice cream.

Suggested fruits:
Peaches, black berries, pears, apples, fruit cocktail.
A little different:
pecans with corn syrup, butter and less sugar and brown sugar.  Be creative this recipe is very versatile.

Roux and Thickeners

flours and cornstarch are your common thickeners for soups, stews, gravy, etc..

Roux:

  • a thickener to recipes, these can be made of almost anything. A traditional roux has a fat of some sort and flour.

Standard Thickener ingredients that do not require fat:

  • flours and cornstarch are your common thickeners for soups, stews, gravy, etc..

Instruction to thicken a soup or a stew: first place your dry ingredient in a small bowl and add just enough warm water to whisk out the lumps and make it creamy.  Then, add slowly to your pot, whisking at the top of your pot as you pour it in to help if you missed a lump and to keep from clumping in the soup.  Stir with a spoon after and over time while cooking and setting it will thicken. Removing the heat and letting sit after heated, will help thicken more and sometimes faster.

1/2 to 1 cup of dry ingredient is the norm that I use for my standard size cook pot(4 quart approx.)

If cooking with broth, you can remove some from the pot in place of adding more water if your pot is getting too full or if you don’t want to risk diluting the broth flavor.

Masa Corn flour (Maseca) has become a favorite of mine to use rather than plain flour, this has a slight corn flavor and is not as bland tasting as all purpose flour, especially if you accidentally use too much.

Shopping Bags

A project to keep from paying the price for the cheap reusable shopping bags, turning out to really pay the price for making my own.

A project to keep from paying the price for the cheap reusable shopping bags, turning out to really pay the price for making my own.

Being green isn’t cheap, but worth money to have something of good quality to last for a reasonable reusable time.

The cheap shopping bags from the grocery stores, made of the thin woven fabric (what ever it is) doesn’t hold up to long  of use, then your still left with landfill because you have to throw them away frequently.  As a cashier for a local retailer, the customers that hand me their reusable bags that we sell, are well used and in awful shape.  Flimsy and ratty, fuzz ball heaven, getting exactly what they paid for at .50 cents or more.

I was going to wing it and try to create a pattern on my own but I’m glad I found a McCalls pattern at the store that made this bag, once I started I figured it would have taken me weeks and lots of wasted material to come up with this. The pattern called for a piece of cardboard for the bottom, it goes in between the outside and liner.  The problem I foresaw was that if I used cardboard on the inside I would not be able to wash it, the pattern said to whip stitch the opening closed after inserting the cardboard.  I however, modified this pattern to include velcro where you would whip stitch, this way I just open it up and remove the cardboard when ever I need to wash them. Also, out of the material that it called for I was able to make two bags, unless you make the liner out of the same material as the outside.

Tip for finding material, look in the reduced and mis-cut remnant bins, these usually have pieces just the right size for the pattern.  I found lots of fabric the right length, just not the correct thickness for the outside, but I did find some I could use. Plus, good place to find your liner material.

The material I used was a thick canvas type material for the outside and basic cotton fabric navy blue solid for the liner.  The handles are a woven strip that is like the handles of duffel bags.  It’s found in the ribbon by the yard section at the store in a variety of colors.  It doesn’t seem to have a name, the pattern called it webbing but that word didn’t seem to make sense to the lady in the fabric department, till I told her the purpose then she recommended this strap material which was perfect.

The finished result ended up being 12.5 x 12.5 x 8, which is a very nice size and holds plenty.  My first shopping trip with this bag will be in a couple days to see how my stitching holds up.

Popcorn Flavor Trick

Want some new flavor to your popcorn? For a more healthy popcorn solution start making your own popcorn with the bag corn and use an air popper or the bowl kind for the microwave.

Want some new flavor to your popcorn?  For a little bit more healthy popcorn solution start making your own popcorn with the bag corn and use an air popper or the bowl kind for the microwave. I own the Presto Power Pop and love it.

When you pop this way, then you can flavor it  using these ingredients:

  • spray oil, (such as Pam)I like the butter flavor or olive oil would be healthier
  • powder flavoring, I use the Kernel brand I can get by the popcorn

Instruction: Once popcorn is popped, spray with a buttered flavored oil, or another healthy oil such as olive oil.  Before the oil dries sprinkle with the powdered flavoring/s of your choice. Toss a quarter over and repeat spray and flavor.  Toss again repeat till covered.

Flavor ideas available:

  • ready for popcorn powders, found by the popcorn in the store

any seasoning in you cabinet

  • Cajun seasoning
  • garlic powder
  • salt
  • sugar
  • powder cheese
  • season salt

Chicken and Dumplins

This recipe will serve 8-12 people, depending on the size of your bowl.

This recipe will serve 8-12 people, depending on the size of your bowl.  Half the soup & dumplin part of the recipe if need to.

Ingredients:

Chicken

Soup Part

Dumplins*

  • 4 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 c. butter flavored shortening (Crisco)
  • 1 tsp salt (optional)
  • 1 c. warm water

Instructions:

Roast your chicken, this can be done the night before if desired to save time.  I roasted mine in a cast iron pot with the lid.  Sprinkle the seasonings in the bottom of a oiled/seasoned pot.  Place chicken in pot and sprinkle desired amount of seasoning onto the top of the chicken.  Add the water to bottom, don’t pour over chicken it will wash off the seasoning.  Place in a cold oven if using cast iron, turn to 275 degrees for 2 – 3 hours.  You want the chicken to fall off the bone, another option is to cook in a slow cooker all day, that will help de-bone a chicken in no time.  Once cooked, remove meat from bone and add to the Big pot. *Save the broth from the chicken to add to the pot, run the juice through a fine mesh colander to remove any extra chicken bones and unnecessaries, and chunks of spices, you just want the flavor in the chicken and in the broth, you don’t want the seasonings to carry over to the finished product.

Once the meat is in the Big pot, add the strained broth from the chicken, water and masa flour. (Adding the masa flour as a thickener, put it in a small bowl and whisk with  a little warm water to get rid of lumps before adding to water/broth.)  Heat this mixture on medium till slightly boiling/bubbly before adding dumplins.  You can make the dumplins while you wait for it to heat.

For dumplins; in a large bowl, add your dry ingredients, then your shortening, then your water.  With a spoon or fork, stir together till the water is absorbed and you can handle, you want to fold the ingredients together till a dry ball forms.  Add bits of flour as needed to help with the stickiness, once you get a well blended dry ball of dough then your ready to form the dumplins.  For bite size pieces, pinch off a piece and roll in your hand to get about an inch to an inch and a half ball, then flatten in your hand.  Once flattened you can drop into the pot of bubbly juice.  The dumplins can also be rolled out with a rolling pin and cut larger if desired.

The dumplins are done when they float. Make sure that when you drop them in your pot that they slip past all the others to get to meet the bottom of the pot before surfacing, this doesn’t take long only a few seconds.  Don’t over cook too long after they are added because the juices could start denigrating the dumplins and then you’ll have chicken and mush.

Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

*To cheat on the dumplins you can use can biscuits, flatten with rolling pin or hand on a floured surface, cut smaller or drop into the pot as is.  The butter flavored ones are good. Don’t use the flaky biscuits, use the home style type, or like the cheap ones you can get in a four pack.