Sunday, July 24, 2005

Breakfast Casserole

Well folks, we’re entertaining relatives again this week, and I, your lovely and talented cooking blogger and chef, am providing lots of food to serve to everyone for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We’re eating out some, but I have an elaborate menu planned for the next five days and my fridge and pantry is bursting at the seams with ingredients.

Today, while Pat and our two guests were baking their brains out at the pool in the 95 degree weather with 110 degree heat index, I was hiding in the kitchen making slaw and potato salad and prepping ribs for the grill for dinner.

The bad news is that I managed to stop up the drain in the kitchen sink for the third time in the past 15 months, this time with left over veggie parts I put down the food disposal. Why have a disposal if you can’t put anything solid down it, you know?

Anyone know a good plumber?

Any way…I have rarely posted any breakfast recipes in the past, other than last November’s Oven Puff Pancake writing, but tonight I have a simple little ditty based on this recipe. It is easy to put together in advance and let set overnight in the fridge before you pop it in the oven in the morning.

Here is what you need to do to make breakfast for four, with a little left over for kids or seconds:

1 pound of spicy hot sausage
½ red bell pepper, diced
½ medium onion, diced
½ stick of semi-sweet, unsalted butter
5 pieces of bread (your choice, I used “five grain” with the crust)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
7 eggs
2 cups half and half
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt

Here is the process to put it all together:

Melt your butter in a 9”x9” casserole dish (sprayed well with non-stick cooking spray) in the oven or on the stovetop.

Toss a large, heavy skillet on the stove over medium low heat. Put your sausage in the skillet and start cooking it toward brown.

Dice your onion and bell pepper and add it to the skillet and keep cooking until the sausage is brown and the onion and bell pepper are well done.

Turn off the heat, tilt the skillet over on the edge of the eye to drain off the grease, and let the mixture cool off.

When the butter has melted, tear up your pieces of bread into dime sized pieces and put them in the casserole dish on top of the butter. Make an even layer of bread chunks.

Meanwhile, while your sausage is cooling, stir up your eggs and half and half in a small mixing bowl, and add your salt and pepper.

Sprinkle a layer of your shredded cheese over the layer of bread.

After the sausage has cooled and drained a little, spoon it out in a layer on top of the cheese, then pour your eggs evenly on top of everything.

Guess what?

You're done, except letting the dish sit at least a few hours or preferably overnight in the fridge, then cooking it until done in a 350 degree oven, about 45 minutes at my house.

Enjoy Y’all,

The Redneck Gourmet

Friday, July 22, 2005

Welcome Carnival of Recipe Readers

Welcome ladies and gentlemen!

Come on inside and sit a spell, take your shoes off, and look around a little...

Maybe try out some of my BBQ recipes, if you will.

Thanks to Dave over at The Glittering Eye for his efforts in puttin' everything together this week.

If you have the time, stop by my political/current event blog What I'd Liked To Have Said, and see what I have to say about what's going on in the real world--such as it is.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Tropical Shrimp Stir Fry

Another day in paradise…another dinner to be cooked, and again--I refuse to eat CHICKEN.

We had a couple of pounds of shrimp in the freezer, so I thawed out a few and started thinking about what I wanted to cook…something a little new and different…

I found my inspiration in this recipe. It's not really a true "sweet & sour" style flavor, but more of a mildly sweet shrimp dish with the pineapple juice and the soy sauce comes through a little also. You can "kick it up a notch" by tossing in more red pepper flakes if you like a little more heat--Emeril style, you know?

The original write up was for 12 SERVINGS!! You know me, I only wanted to make dinner for two, so here is what you will need to do what I did tonight:

½ pound Peeled and De-veined Shrimp

For the Shrimp marinade:

juice from ½ large lemon (no seeds please)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tbsp rice wine vinegar

For the rest of the Stir Fry:

2 Tbsp vegetable oil (peanut or canola oil—your choice)
1/2 cup water
1-1/2 cups broccoli florets
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips
6 or 8 shitaki mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
pinch crushed red pepper
2 tsp cornstarch dissolved in ¼ cup water
1 small can chunked pineapple, drained (use juice above)
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

2 cups cooked rice

Now, as to the procedure:

Peel and de-vein your shrimp and place them in a small mixing bowl. Add your lemon juice, the soy sauce, and the rice wine vinegar. Let your shrimp swim around in the bowl in the fridge for a half hour or so—mine went a little over an hour.

While the shrimp are marinadeing, slice up your vegetables.

After the shrimp marinaded, heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat, and add your oil. When your oil has come up to temperature, toss in your shrimp and stir fry them for a couple of minutes on each side until they start turning pink, then remove them to a bowl and reserve on the side.

Now add a ½ cup of water and bring it to a simmer and add your broccoli. Be careful to adjust your heat so the water doesn’t boil. Cook the broccoli for a couple of minutes or so, then add your bell pepper and mushrooms and keep simmering.

Place two large pasta bowls in the oven to preheat, get out your chargers, and start cooking your rice.

Mix together the pineapple juice, the remaining water, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, vinegar, crushed pepper, and cornstarch mixture and pour it over your cooking vegetables.

Keep cooking everything until the sauce bubbles and thickens—that’s what the cornstarch does for you.

When your sauce is about done, add your shrimp back in the skillet along with the pineapple chunks and stir everything up. Cook another couple of minutes, but try not to over cook your shrimp.

Put some rice in your bowls, spoon your stir fry over your rice, sprinkle with almonds, sit down at the table, and EAT.

Enjoy Y’all,

The Redneck Gourmet

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Shrimp Creole

OK, it happened accidentally.

I did NOT want to go to the grocery store today. I also did NOT want to eat chicken for dinner.

I started early (10:00 AM) thinking about and looking for something new to cook, and it could only involve things that we already had in our pantry and fridge.

I found it about 10:30 in my Betty Crocker cookbook—Shrimp Creole.

I checked our cooking inventory and guess what? We had all of the stuff already in stock, but of course "I" couldn’t just use the simple Betty Crocker recipe.

With the idea in mind, next I did a Google search and found this incredibly elaborate recipe and this slightly more realistic listing of ingredients. The only problem was that both recipes (and most of the others I found) made enough food for 6 or 8 people…

I’m cooking for only two people, remember?

So here is what you need to do what I did tonight:

2 tbsp corn oil (I was out of olive oil...AAAHHHH)
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp all purpose flour (plus a little more in case you need it)

½ colored bell pepper (I used red) diced
¼ Vidalia onion, diced
¼ red onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced

15 oz can diced tomatoes
7 oz can tomato sauce (no salt)
15 oz can chicken broth

½ pound (about 10 or 12) medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined

And finally, some store- bought or home-made Creole seasoning. (I made my own in a big batch.)

Here is what I did with all of the above stuff to make a hearty dinner for two:

First, peal and de-vein your shrimp if you didn’t buy them that way. Toss them in a bowl, squeeze a little lemon juice over them, a dash of Worcestershire, add a tablespoon of olive oil, and sprinkle lightly with your Creole seasoning. Toss the shrimp to coat evenly and refrigerate them while they (the shrimp) swim around and get all tasty and comfortable.

Next I made what my Cajun friends would call a “blond” roux.

To do this, heat a small skillet on the stovetop over medium low heat, melt your butter, add your 2 tbsp of oil, and sprinkle in your flour until it is all mixed together. Now stand at the stove and pay attention, stirring virtually continuously as the mixture browns and thickens. Watch the temperature—you burn it—you start all over from scratch.

Cook your roux for at least 15 or 20 minutes, until it is a nice blond color.

Now turn off the heat and let your roux cool down while you dice your vegetables. Using a large, heavy skillet, splash in a bit of vegetable oil and add your onion. Sautee the onion for 10 or 15 minutes.

Now add the celery and bell pepper to the skillet with your onion and continue cooking for another 10 minutes.

After the vegetables are cooked, spoon in your “blond” roux and splash in a bit of chicken broth, along with the diced tomatoes, and the tomato sauce. Also add 1 teaspoon of your Creole Seasoning

Redneck Tip: Add more seasoning if you want, but be careful now...don't hurt yourself...

Crank up the heat to medium and bring things to a low simmer. If you have the time to cook, why not thin things out real good with the rest of the chicken stock, but allow at least 45 minutes to cook things back down nice and thick. Turn the heat down to medium low and keep a lid on your skillet to slow things down a little.

Now let me ask you a question: “You know how to make rice?”

You do?

Well make yourself a batch—instant or whatever. I made a couple of cups worth of Mahatma brand.

When the Creole sauce has cooked down to the consistency of a thin gravy, pull your shrimp out of the fridge and toss them into the mix for ten or fifteen minutes. By the way--taste your sauce.

Does it need anything?

Well add it then--it's your dinner.

Make sure that you stir it all up real good. When you are satisfied with the results (or too hungry to wait any longer), dip out some rice into a bowl, ladle some sauce and shrimp on top, slice up a Baggett to dip, and EAT.

Enjoy Y’all,

The Redneck Gourmet

On Tonight's Menu...

Shrimp Creole...

Please stop back by later tonight for the details. Meanwhile--I've got to go make a "blond" Roux.

Don't you wish you were dining with me on St. Simons tonight?

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Chicken Breasts

With Grilled Yellow Corn And Sweet Potatoes

This meal was an accidental group effort on the charcoal grill. We already had two ears of yellow corn and one large sweet potato that I had purchased earlier last week. Last Thursday afternoon Pat sent me to the grocery store with a demand for some items including boneless skinless chicken breasts if they could be had for less than $10 each.

We were in luck--they were on sale—buy one, get one free. (I think that we call that deal “half price” in Alabama.)

Any way, I arrived home with the chicken and the inevitable extra impulse items that I always buy like spices and such, and the next task was to decide how to cook the chicken.

We eat so much of it (chicken), we’re finding it (chicken) to be a little B-O-R-I-N-G.

You know?

Can't have that

We soaked the ears of corn with the husks on in a big boiler, and Pat pealed and diced the sweet potato into ¾” cubes, and placed it in a double thickness aluminum foil pack with some brown sugar, butter, and a little olive oil.

I fumbled around lighting the grill and ran back and forth to the computer looking at recipes. We found this one for Bacon Wrapped Chicken that I modified as follows:

The Ingredients:

Two medium chicken breasts
Four slices of thick bacon

4 ounces (½ pack) cream cheese
½ tsp dried tarragon
½ tsp black pepper
1 scallion (green onion) diced
Splash of white truffle oil (if you got it)

The process:

Soak your ears of corn in water for a while, then drain them and wrap them tightly in aluminum foil. Throw them on the grill.

Do the same with your sweet potato cubes (not soaked in water--wrapped in foil…you fool.)

In a small mixing bowl, combine your cream cheese, tarragon, pepper, scallion, and truffle oil and mix well.

Meanwhile, while your potatoes and ears of corn are cooking on the grill, rinse off your chicken breasts and pat them dry on your cutting board. Take a sharp paring knife and slice into the fat side of the breast horizontally to form a nice deep pocket in which to place your cream cheese mixture. Try not to cut all the way through the breast except on one side.

Now spoon your cream cheese mixture into the pocket in the breast and pinch everything tightly closed around it. The cheese mixture will act sort of like glue and hold it closed.

Take two slices of bacon and wrap the whole thing up, and pin the bacon tightly around the breast with two or three toothpicks.

After the corn and potatoes have been on the grill for twenty or twenty five minutes, place your chicken on the grill and let everybody get to know each other. Be sure that you make proper introductions –I hate cooking and eating with total strangers.

Let the chicken cook for about 10 to 12 minutes, then turn it over and give it another 10 minutes or so.

If you have done everything correctly, it should look like this:

Yummy!! Posted by Picasa

Enjoy Y'all,

The Redneck Gourmet

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Laughing In The Face of Death

Well, the good news is that Hurricane Dennis isn't coming anywhere near St. Simons this afternoon, and the 5:00 PM National Weather Service forecast track has the storm moving ever so slightly back to the west, AWAY from my mother's property.

We have had a bit of excitement here this afternoon, I had to do an emergency delivery. Here is a picture of the insturments I used:

Surgical instruments... Posted by Picasa

And here is a picture of the results of my efforts (the delivery took almost four hours):

I'ts a mean a Pork Butt Posted by Picasa

I'm a proud father of a bouncing 5 pound baby Pork Butt. Don't you wish that you were me?

Here, have a Cigar...

(Please excuse me while I dual post this on both my blogs for my non-political readers)

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Fancy Asian Cold Slaw

Sorry Y’all, but my holiday cooking and entertaining has taken prescient over my writing the past four days, so I’m taking this opportunity to catch up a little.

I don’t necessarily write about everything I cook because some stuff is so elementary, but since I write a cooking blog I do try to outline the trends in my cooking and let people know what I’ve been up to.

I did Beer Butt Chickens last Thursday night for our holiday guests and made red potato salad and cold slaw as side dishes. The cold slaw recipe came out of an old copy of Bon Appetit magazine—the July 1998 print edition. I love the recipe, but I must admit that if you can get three teenaged girls to devour the slaw without objection I must be on to something here.

Here is what I did to make a generous portion of slaw for seven people:

½ head (about 5 cups) of green cabbage
¼ head (about 2-1/2 cups) of red cabbage
1 red bell pepper, cut into matchstick sized strips
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into matchstick sized strips
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into matchstick sized strips
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
4 green onions, cut into matchstick sized strips (optional)

For the preliminary dressing:

4 tbsp rice vinegar
4 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
1-1/2 tbsp golden brown sugar
1 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tbsp minced fresh garlic

For the final dressing

4 tbsp rice vinegar
4 tbsp vegetable oil
5 tbsp smooth peanut butter
2 tbsp soy sauce
1-1/2 tbsp golden brown sugar
1 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tbsp minced fresh garlic

Prepare your cabbage with a food processor or by hand. I used the food processor. Take the time to julienne by hand the bell peppers, carrot, and onions because your efforts will make a beautiful presentation. Use the food processor for everything if you must.

Whisk the six ingredients for the preliminary dressing together in a small bowl and let stand at room temperature for a half hour, then toss it with your vegetables.

Whisk the seven ingredients for the final dressing together in your bowl and leave it sitting out at room temperature while your veggies sit in the fridge for an hour or two.

When you fire up your grill, toss the final dressing with the slaw and refrigerate everything until you are ready to eat.

Enjoy Y’all,

The Redneck Gourmet

Beer Butt Chicken

I’m used to cooking for only two people most of the time—at most two couples.

That isn’t my present circumstance, however.I’m cooking for SEVEN—four adults and three hungry teen girls that seem to want a snack every hour, on the hour.

While a couple pounds of lunch meat and cheese and a few loaves of bread can take care of lunch, dinner is another matter entirely.

My solution, when the going gets tough, the tough crack out…


I’m what you call a Grill Snob. A so called purist…I’m a charcoal man through and through, and I absolutely refuse to use any petroleum products in association with my grilling.

No Propane. No lighter fluid. I have an electric resistance starter for my charcoal. It takes a little longer, but your food doesn’t smell like a diesel truck transmission when you get through cooking it.

There is usually some beer involved in the process, however, and yesterday I found a new use for beer in association with grilling. I cooked something called beer butt chicken—two four pounders—for dinner.

Did I mention that they were delicious?

And really moist?

Well they were.

That is the point in cooking beer butts. You pour ¼ of the beer in each can out into an aluminum pan, stick the beer can with the rest of the beer into the cavity in the chicken, and sit the whole shebang on the grill. The beer in the can boils out while you are cooking and keeps the bird nice and juicy, while the beer in the pan evaporates and keeps the outside wet.

My chickens spent the night before cooking in a nice brine solution, then I did my spicy BBQ rub on one and cooked the other plain (other than a little salt and pepper.) I served my home made Kansas City style BBQ sauce on the side, along with a fancy Asian cold slaw and Red Potato salad.

Don't you wish you were hanging out on St. Simons Island with me this weekend?