Chicken and Tater Tot Casserole

I think, if my not-always-reliable memory serves me correctly, that this recipe was featured in the “Chopped Dinner Challenge” on the Food Network recently.

Yes, a quick check on their site confirms that my facts (and memory) are indeed correct.

alert the media. 

Anyhoo, tater tots, for the uninitiated, are ground up, formed, seasoned potatoes that are held in very high regard in this house. Very high regard. Very high. Very.

Capiche?

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This was a winner all around and will definitely be made again.

Chicken and Tater Tot Casserole – adapted from Food Network

  • 4 tbs. unsalted butter
    2 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds
    1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Fresh ground black pepper
    1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    2 cups milk
    1 cup white wine
  • 4 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 3 cups frozen tater tots, thawed
    1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add the carrots and onions and season with pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 6-7 minutes. Add the peas, and cook for another minute or so. Stir in the flour, and then whisk in the milk and wine and bring to a boil, whisking. Boil until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the chicken. Transfer to a greased 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the chicken mixture.

Pulse the tots in a food processor with the thyme until medium ground. Scatter over the top of the casserole and bake until the filling is bubbling and the topping is golden and crisp, 30 to 35 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Roasted Cauliflower and Ricotta Pizza

I have a very complex and complicated relationship with homemade pizza. I have multiple kitchen gadgets (dough docker, iron pizza stone, and mini pizza oven, to name just a few) to assist me in the creation/baking process, yet I am invariably disappointed with the results. Either the crust is flavorless, underdone, overdone, lacking that wonderful crispy/chewy bite you get from restaurant style pizza, or is just plain blahhhh.

Until now. 

This recipe, from the current issue of Bon Appetit, was foolproof and delicious. The crust had the perfect ratio of crunchy edges to chewy middle, the topping was outstanding, and although there were a few steps to creating this masterpiece (i.e don’t attempt it for a weeknight dinner unless you have all the components prepped ahead of time), it was well worth every bit of time and effort to make it.

In fact, I think I’m going to try one of the other variations for tonight’s dinner.

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Roasted Cauliflower and Ricotta Pizza – adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1 lemon, cut into quarters, seeded
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Breadcrumbs

  • 1 cup finely ground breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 ounces Parmesan, finely grated (about ½ cup)

Assembly

  • Cauliflower:

Preheat oven to 400°. Toss cauliflower, lemon, and garlic with oil on a large rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper.
Roast, tossing occasionally, until cauliflower is tender but not browned, about 20 minutes. Squeeze lemon juice over cauliflower and toss to coat. Discard lemon and garlic, if desired.
  • Breadcrumbs

Meanwhile, toss breadcrumbs and oil on a large rimmed baking sheet; toast, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 6–8 minutes. Let cool; toss with Parmesan.

  • Assembly

Place a rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 525° or as high as oven will go.
Once dough has risen in baking sheet, top with mozzarella, dot with ricotta, and top with cauliflower mixture. Bake until golden brown and crisp on bottom and sides, 20–30 minutes. Top pie with toasted breadcrumbs and bake 1 minute longer.

Serve topped with parsley.

 

Gorditas

I’ve said this before, but today, it bears repeating:

“The best laid plans of Mice and Men……”

Translated?

We (meaning J, Sabrina and myself) were supposed to embark on a 6 1/2 hour drive to Lubbock to take a tour of Texas Tech College tomorrow morning.

Supposed being the operative word. In typical mother fashion, I had it all planned out: Alexander was to be shipped off to a friend’s house, the pups’ care was arranged, hotel rooms were booked, our route was mapped out, and the tour was scheduled.

phew...

Then, at 7:30 last night, J came home with the news that he wouldn’t be able to make the trip with us because of work. No problem.

Right about now you’re probably thinking, ok, just because J can’t go, why don’t you and Sabrina hit the road “Thelma and Louise” style?

Without the gunfire, of course.

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Do you know what my father will do to me if I tell him I made that drive?

** shudder **

Gorditas – adapted from Food and Wine

These were fun, different, and tasty. They come together really quickly, and are a nice change from tortillas or taco shells.

  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for frying
  • Shredded chicken, salsa, sour cream and cotija cheese, for serving

In a large bowl, mix the masa harina with the water and the 1/4 cup of oil. Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a 10-inch log; cut into 10 pieces. Using a 3-inch round biscuit cutter, mold the pieces into flat disks a scant 1/2 inch thick.

Heat a large griddle. Add the gorditas and cook over high heat, turning once, until lightly browned in spots, about 2 minutes per side. Using the back of a spoon, lightly press an indentation in the center of each gordita.

In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch of oil until shimmering. Add the gorditas and fry over high heat until golden and crispy, about 2 minutes per side; drain on paper towels. Top the indentations with chicken, salsa, sour cream and cheese and serve hot.

 

Glazed Cinnamon Rolls

Happy National Dessert Day!

side note: I love food holidays :)

Question: Do Cinnamon Rolls qualify as dessert? Or are they strictly relegated to the “breakfast/brunch” category? Considering Alexander and his friend Dale singlehandedly ate 3/4 of the batch at 1:30 pm, I think it’s safe to say that these can go either way.

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What I liked best about these rolls was that they weren’t drowning in sugar and/or smothered in frosting. Granted, cream cheese icing has its place (on carrot cake, just sayin’), but sometimes it can be a little overwhelming.

NOT! Who am I kidding? These were practically the diet version of cinnamon rolls.

ummm, not really. 

But they were very, very, yummy.

Glazed Cinnamon Rolls – adapted from epicurious.com

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 2 1/4 tsp rapid-rise yeast
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature, beaten
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 tbs. unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Vegetable-oil cooking spray

For the filling:

  • 1 1/4 cups packed dark-brown sugar
  • 2 tbs. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 6 tbs. unsalted butter, room temperature

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbs. plus 2 teaspoons whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the dough:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add flour, yeast, and sugar. Mix on low speed until well combined. Add eggs and mix on low to combine. In a small pot, heat milk, butter, and cinnamon over medium-low heat until butter is melted and mixture is between 120 and 130°F (use a thermometer).

Add warm milk mixture and salt to stand mixer. Beat on low speed 2 to 3 minutes, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl with a spatula. Beat on medium speed until smooth and elastic, 2 to 3 minutes. Dough will be very sticky.

Lightly oil a large bowl with cooking spray. Form dough into ball and transfer to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

While dough rises, line a 9 x 12 pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Make the filling:

Mix brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in medium bowl.

Make the glaze:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla.

Assemble and bake:
Preheat to 375°F and position rack in center of oven. Punch down dough and transfer to floured work surface. Roll out to 16-by-12-inch rectangle. Spread butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border on the long sides. Sprinkle filling mixture evenly over butter, then add pecans. Starting at a long edge, roll dough toward you into a log, pinching gently to keep it rolled tightly. With seam side down, cut dough crosswise with a thin sharp knife into 8 equal slices.

Place rolls in the baking dish, arranging cut side up; rolls will be touching. Cover baking dish with plastic wrap then a kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes.

Bake rolls until tops are golden, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and invert immediately onto rack. Cool 10 minutes. Turn rolls right side up. Drizzle glaze over rolls and serve immediately.

Collard Green Gratin

Prior to our big move to Texas, I never would have thought to try collard greens. I could blame ignorance, apathy, or my personal favorite, my unyielding force of habit to always reach for either spinach or arugula.

Silly girl.

I really wish I had been enlightened to their deliciousness sooner in life. Not as bitter as rapini or swiss chard, and with a texture similar to escarole, these greens are good and good for you.

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That was my sales pitch to the posse, in case you were wondering why I sounded like I was selling something.

Really though, anytime you take crisp greens, sauté them with onions and garlic, and smother them in a homemade white cheddar cheese bechamel sauce, you can’t lose.

Well, at the end of the day, I guess I did, because Sabrina ate the last of gratin yesterday when she came home from school ….. and now there’s none left.

Collard Green Gratin – adapted from epicurious

  • 1 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbs. butter
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup sharp white cheddar cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lb. bag chopped collard greens
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk

Combine breadcrumbs and 2 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet; toast over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, 10–15 minutes. Remove from heat and season with pepper.

Heat 4 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened and golden, about 10 minutes. Add greens and cook until wilted, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is smooth and very pale brown, about 4 minutes. Whisk in milk, and bring to a boil. Whisk in cheese, and pour the sauce over the collard greens mixture and mix to combine; season with pepper.

Pour the mixture into a large gratin dish and top with the toasted breadcrumbs. Bake until the gratin is bubbling – about 15-20 minutes.

 

Crack Pie

It is very rare to hear me say that a dessert is too sweet for me.

Very rare.

I honestly can’t even remember the last time the words “too sweet” came to mind.

Unless you’re talking about me, of course.

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I’m kidding, I’m kidding.….

One bite of this pie, though, and all I could taste was “sweet”. Like tooth-achingly sweet. I even bribed persuaded cajoled Sabrina into trying a bite, for an unbiased, third party opinion.

Her words: “Wow…..this is really sugary sweet.”

Now I am well aware of the fact that this recipe, from the legendary Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC, is universally loved and adored by millions.

I just don’t happen to be one of them. 

Crack Pie – adapted from Chrisina Tosi

Crust:

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 9 tbs (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 5 1/2 tbs. (packed) golden brown sugar, divided
  • 2 tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbs. old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda

Filling:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
  • 6 1/2 tbs heavy whipping cream
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar (for dusting)

 Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper; coat with nonstick spray. Combine 6 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, 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, and baking soda, and beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Turn oat mixture out onto prepared baking pan; press out evenly to edges of pan. Bake until light golden on top, 17 to 18 minutes. Transfer baking pan to rack and cool cookie completely.

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. 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.

Filling:

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Whisk together both sugars and melted butter until blended. Add cream, then egg yolks and vanilla and whisk until well blended. Pour filling into crust. Bake pie 30 minutes (filling may begin to bubble). 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 minutes longer. Cool pie 2 hours in pie dish on rack. Chill uncovered overnight.

Sift powdered sugar lightly over top of pie. Cut pie into wedges and serve cold.