Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Cheesy Ham and Hashbrown Casserole

Today was my annual mammogram as well as the year for a bone density test. So, I scheduled them  mid-afternoon and it turned out to be a sunny day for a drive to the "big" hospital 30 minutes away. Bill went along only because I agreed to go in ample time to visit Home Depot, too. If you have NOT scheduled a mammogram in a year, go immediately to the phone and do it NOW! It can literally save your life. It's not comfortable, but neither is a trip to the dentist and I do that every 6 months without fail.

As we wandered the aisles of Home Depot lined with BBQ grills, I realized how ready I am for grilled food! My mouth watered at the thought of big juicy hamburgers, BBQ ribs, grilled chicken breasts, tzatziki pork..... Oh! Man! Then I heard the weather report for the next week. We will NOT be grilling out anytime soon. Sigh.......

 I realize that winter is the best time for slow cooked foods, warm soups and casseroles. All those things that by next fall, I'll be craving. So, back to the kitchen and the warmth of the oven baking something yummy.

Quick and easy casseroles sprang to mind. But not ones loaded with "cream of" soups. How about ham and potatoes with cheesy sauce? Served with a bowl of green beans (canned last summer from my friend's garden) and a side of applesauce.... yuuum... winter comfort food!

Give this one a try. I think you'll like it! It's also great for brunch.

Cheesy Ham and Hashbrown Casserole
5 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 cups chopped ham
3 cups frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
1/2 cup chopped onions (I like to saute mine in butter until transparent)
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (shred it yourself, the pre-shredded stuff doesn't melt!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking dish.
In a large bowl, beat together eggs and milk. Stir in ham, hash browns, onion and 1 cup cheese.
Pour into prepared dish and bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over top and return to oven until cheese melts. Remove from oven and let set for 5 minutes before serving.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Nutella Meringues

Meringues literally melt in your mouth, like clouds of egg white and sugar. Add Nutella and you've got a real winner! Meringues should be made on a day with low humidity. That would rule out most of the days lately! Wait for a sunny day and try this fun and easy recipe.
Nutella Meringues
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
a pinch of cream of tartar
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon, granulated sugar
1/4 cup Nutella

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Make sure you have one oven rack in the bottom third of your oven and one in the upper third of your oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

 Place Nutella in a double boiler. Warm the Nutella through and then set aside. Let the Nutella cool as you make the meringue.
Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until completely foamy. Add cream of tartar and salt; continue whipping at medium-high speed until soft peaks form when you lift the whisk attachment. This should take a few minutes.
Increase the speed to high and begin adding the sugar a few spoonfuls at a time.
Once all the sugar is incorporated, the meringue should be very thick (almost stiff) and when you lift the whisk, firm peaks should remain.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and drop in all the Nutella. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the Nutella into the meringue three or four times. You’re aiming for a swirled effect so don’t overmix. This will also help avoid deflating the meringue. Using two spoons, drop the meringue onto the parchment-lined baking sheets in large dollops. Place in the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, immediately lower the heat to 200 degrees F. and rotate the trays. Bake for an hour.
After an hour, check the meringues. If they are completely dried out then turn the oven off and leave the meringues in the oven for a few hours to cool with the oven. If the meringues still look a bit “wet”, then continue baking for another 20 minutes or so. Either way, once fully baked, turn off the oven and leave the meringues in there for a few hours.
When you remove the meringues from the oven they should be completely dry and cool and will sound hollow when you tap the bottoms.
The meringues will keep in an airtight container for a week.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Quick Chicken Cacciatore

Wow! Has it really been THAT long since I posted? I am so sorry! It's been a tough few weeks with death, illnesses, major surgeries on friends, a guest in our house fell down our stairs, etc............
To top it all off, my email was hacked, address book wiped out and then my eBay account was used to order numerous tech gadgets from iPads to phones. Thankfully, no real harm was done, just major inconveniences! So instead of thinking about yummy things to cook, I've been changing passwords, email address and recovering my address book contacts. None of this has been fun!

Now, let's get back to something fun and easy! Not sure how the weather looks at your house, but here it is spring one day and winter the next. It's a hard time to plan seasonal meals, so I will defer to our favorites. Pasta and chicken. This one is quick, easy and yummy!

Quick Chicken Cacciatore
1(8-oz.) pkg pasta, cooked
1 medium onion, cut into thin strips
1 medium green pepper cut into thin strips
1 medium red pepper cut into thin strips
1(8-oz) pkg sliced fresh mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 chicken tenderloins
1 ( 24-oz) jar Classico Cabernet Marinara Sauce ( or your favorite sauce )

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook vegetables for 5to6 minutes, or until tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from skillet.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the same skillet over medium high heat. Brown chicken for 2-3 minutes on each side. Stir in pasta sauce and vegetables. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and cook 8 - 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Serve over hot cooked pasta.