February 02, 2017

sticky oven-baked drummies

It has taken me years to enjoy chicken on the bone. And I confess that although I have come to a mature appreciation of the tender meat that accompanies any meat-on-the-bone, I still examine nearly every bite I take....UNLIKE the men in my house who chew whatever until they're holding a dry, nekked bone. My daughter Grace and I watch in fascination as we nibble and pick at our carefully-selected, premium bites.

So when these sticky oven-baked drummies made all of the people in my household happy - picky eaters and non-picky eaters, males and females alike -  I knew we had a winner on our hands! The tangy, sweet marinade becomes the glaze on these chicken drumsticks. And the oven works its magic on the sugar in the honey to make them charred and sticky and delicious! Perfect for the big game! They are mouth-watering when they come out of the oven! Just ask my husband who couldn't wait...

STICKY OVEN-BAKED DRUMMIES
makes 12 drumsticks

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2-3 cloves of garlic, mashed
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
pinch of salt
12 drumsticks 
2 chopped scallions, green parts only

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, honey, brown sugar, soy sauce, mashed garlic*, and pepper flakes. Place 12 chicken drumsticks in a glass or ceramic baking dish, nestling them into a single layer as best you can. Pour the marinade over the drumsticks, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, turning them over with tongs at least once so all of the meat soaks in the marinade. 

Set the oven to 450F. Line a metal sheet pan with a metal cooling rack that has been sprayed or brushed with oil. (You may want to put a sheet of foil on the pan underneath to help with cleanup!) Remove the chicken from the pan, line them up on the cooling rack, and reserve the marinade. Season each chicken drummie with a pinch of salt. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes or until the skin begins to crisp and caramelize. 

While the chicken is in the oven, pour the marinade in a small pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook and stir over low heat until it reduces and thickens, about 15-18 minutes. 

Remove the drumsticks from the oven, spoon a little of the marinade on each piece of chicken, and return to the oven for a final 7-10 minutes. 

To serve, arrange the chicken drummies on a large platter or serving board and sprinkle with chopped scallions. Serve with a good cool dip of your choice!

*The garlic is intended to flavor the marinade only. By mashing the cloves, it releases the good garlicky flavor. Let them float around in the marinade and simmer in the glaze. Then discard. 

February 01, 2017

layered spaghetti pie

 I make it a point to hire gals at Euna Mae's who love to cook and feed people. It's our mode of operation around here. Cooking and feeding people. So we have many a conversation about food and recipes and ingredients. My shop girl Robyn and I had a visit not long ago about spaghetti pie. She was telling me how she made up a recipe that was a mix-up of two recipes from one of her Little Rock local cookbooks. So we talked all about it, how she built hers, what she had learned, and I interjected with my favorite ingredients and kitchen ways...and voila! This layered spaghetti pie came to life! 

Truth be told, I couldn't quit thinking about it after Robyn and I talked. Please tell me that y'all fix on food like I do.   

Anyway, this little number is so good. There're few things more comforting than spaghetti and cheese! AND it's so so fun to baked it in a spring form pan. Yes of course, you can pile it all in a 9x13 or an oval casserole, but the presentation after releasing this noodle pie from the spring form pan is undeniably fabulous! AND. IT'S. DIVINE. Layers of saucy noodles, ricotta, mozzarella, and an easy seasoned bread crumb topping! If lasagna and spaghetti had a baby, it would be this layered spaghetti pie! You must try it. My family went wild over it! I'm betting yours will too! 
 
 LAYERED SPAGHETTI PIE
Serves 6-8

Not quite 1lb angel hair pasta (I boil ¾ of the box)
2 cups seasoned store-bought croutons, crushed

-for the sauce-
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 ½ lb. ground beef
2 jars store-bought red sauce (I choose a three-cheese sauce)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
Pinch salt and pepper

-for the cheese filling-
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 cups + 2 cups shredded mozzarella
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Pinch salt and pepper

In a large saucepan swirled with oil, saute onion 2-3 minutes to begin the cooking. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up, until no longer pink. Spoon out some of the fat. Pour in jars of red sauce; and stir in brown sugar, flakes, garlic, and salt/pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and have at the ready when it’s time to boil the pasta. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella, eggs, garlic, oregano, and salt/pepper. Then boil the angel hair for only about 3 minutes so it’s very al dente. (Pliable but firm inside.) Transfer drained pasta into the spaghetti sauce. If your saucepan inside large enough to combine the two, then mix them together in a big bowl.

Set the oven to 350F. Grease a 9-10” springform pan and set it on a metal sheet pan. (If you don’t have a springform pan, you can bake the spaghetti in a 3 qt baking dish. Spoon/spread ⅓ of the spaghetti in the bottom of the pan, then spread half of the ricotta mixture. Repeat with another ⅓ of the spaghetti, the last half of the ricotta, and top with the final ⅓ of spaghetti. Top with remaining 2 cups shredded mozzarella.

Bake loosely covered with foil for 30 minutes. Remove foil, cover top with crushed croutons, drizzle with olive oil, and bake another 10 minutes or so until the crouton topping is golden. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before removing from the springform pan. Use a long serrated knife to cut into wedges. Serve with garlic toast and a salad!

January 25, 2017

baked apple cranberry walnut oatmeal + my favorite homemade granola

 Gosh we love oats. We eat oats in various ways for breakfast. And do we even need to talk about the glories of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies? I like to incorporate oats into my crumb toppings on muffins and cobblers so that I can feel proud that there's a healthy element among all of the eggs, sugar, and white flour. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

But THESE are two of our absolute favorite ways to eat oatmeal. Baked apple cranberry walnut oatmeal and an easy homemade granola that we eat with greek yogurt and berries. Good stuff, y'all. Both are easy. Both are heart healthy. And we know that that means...you can eat cobbler because you were mindfully responsible with your breakfast choice. Ying and yang.

BAKED APPLE CRANBERRY WALNUT OATMEAL

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
¾ cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons Euna Mae’s baking blend (or just use cinnamon)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 cups half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the dish
2 tart but sweet apples, peeled and cut into ½ cubes
       
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a deep 2.5qt baking dish with butter.
In a medium bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, ½ cup of the nuts, dried cranberries, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix well. In another bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk; then whisk in the half and half and vanilla until combined. Add the cream mixture to the oat mixture, and stir in the melted butter. Spread the chopped apples evenly on the bottom of the baking dish. Pour the oatmeal mixture on top and spread evenly. Sprinkle remaining ½ cup nuts on top. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the top is golden and the oats are set. Allow to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.
 --------------------------------------
MY FAVORITE HOMEMADE GRANOLA

2 1/2 cups oats (not instant!)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup pecan chips
1 cup coconut
1 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
pinch of salt
1/2 cup canola oil
2/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Set the oven to 325F. Combine dry granola ingredients in a big bowl. Then in a small saucepan over medium low heat, stir together the oil and honey until they are melted and combined. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and cinnamon. Pour over the granola in the bowl, tossing to coat. Spread granola on a large sheet pan, and bake in oven for 10 minutes. Toss gently and return to bake another 10 minutes. Then turn oven to 375F and bake granola another 5 minutes. Remove, pour out on a sheet of parchment to cool. Then store in an airtight container!

January 04, 2017

salmon croquettes with cajun alfredo angel hair pasta

 
Happy New Year to y'all! It's freezing cold this week where I am, so it's perfect for a comfort dish and a fire and comfies! Do y'all put on your comfies at 5:27pm like we do? Well listen to me, you're gonna want your comfies on for this dish. Lord help us all, it's good. 

I first had salmon croquettes at my friend's house in college when I went home with her to visit her parents. I hadn't ever had them because it wasn't in my mama's repertoire. And I loved them from the very first bite. Hers was a recipe of simply white crackers and eggs. But I've sinced added all kinds of things to mine so they're just exactly what we love! Creaminess from mayo, extra crispiness from bread crumbs, a little fresh bite from green onions, and a sinfully delightful cheese-pull from a little mozzarella inside. THEN we pile them on top of angel hair pasta tossed in homemade cajun alfredo angel hair pasta! Run, don't walk, to your comfies!

SALMON CROQUETTES WITH CAJUN ALFREDO ANGEL HAIR PASTA
Makes 12-15 croquettes | Serves 6
 

-salmon croquettes-
20oz pink salmon, flaked & broken up
1 ½ - 1 ¾ cup mayonnaise
2 large eggs
2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
1 cup shredded mozzarella
½ cup chopped green onions + more for garnish
Pinch salt and pepper
-cajun alfredo sauce-
¼ cup unsalted butter
2 cups heavy cream
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 ½ cups grated parmesan
1 ½ teaspoon cajun seasoning

Preheat oven for 325. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cover and have waiting.

For the croquettes, combine all ingredients and pat loosely into 2.5” round patties. Keep them plum, don’t mash them down.
Preheat a skillet swirled with oil over medium high heat. Cook patties in batches on each side about 2 minutes or until they’re nicely crisped and browned. Transfer to a metal sheetpan lined with a wire rack. Place croquettes in a preheated oven to continue to warm through while the pasta and sauce are made.
For the alfredo sauce, in a deep saucepan, melt butter. Add heavy cream and chopped garlic; whisk and bring just to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and stir in grated parmesan; whisk until the parmesan melts into the cream. Stir in cajun seasoning. Taste and adjust. Boil 1/2lb angel hair pasta about 4 minutes, drain and transfer noodles to alfredo sauce. Stir together.
To plate, divide cajun alfredo pasta between 4-6 shallow bowls. Top with 3 salmon croquettes and sprinkle extra parm and garnish with chopped green onions.

December 11, 2016

bacon and balsamic brussel sprouts

First things first. Don't judge these brussels from your bad brussel sprout experiences. It's not fair to them. It's like leafy green profiling to think that these brussels are like all brussels. AND THEY'RE NOT. 

They're so good, you won't believe them. Like so good that the day after I served them to several families, all three of the families contacted me for the recipe. So believe me when I tell you that you need to make these for your holiday table! I made them for Thanksgiving, and by gosh, I'm making them again for Christmas!

These little edible cabbage-y buds are seasoned, drizzled with olive oil and lemon, and then roasted with garlic and bacon for aMAZing flavor. That. Good. Char. Is. Key. Then they're drizzled in a honey balsamic glaze with a little hit of red pepper flakes for a surprise heat. So many flavors. You are going to love these. Love love love. 

BACON AND BALSAMIC BRUSSEL SPROUTS
Serves 6-8

2lbs fresh brussel sprouts, stalks trimmed and halved
4-6 slices raw bacon, chopped into pieces
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Juice of one lemon

-for the glaze-
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
4 Tablespoons honey
Fresh rosemary leaves from 2 sprigs
½ tsp red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 425F. Put sprouts, bacon pieces, and garlic on a large sheet pan, doing your best to get the sprouts in a single layer and not piled on top of one another. Drizzle well with olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle with a good dose of salt and pepper. Rub around with your hands to coat. Spread back out into a single layer and bake in oven for 30 minutes, tossing halfway through.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, stir together the balsamic and honey. Bring just to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, allowing to reduce for about 5 minutes. Carefully transfer brussels to a pretty serving bowl. Stir the rosemary and red pepper flakes to the glaze. Then pour over the brussels, stirring to combine.