Author: williamjkraft

Mini Breakfast Casseroles

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The process of creating a miniature breakfast casserole was simple. We love breakfast, breakfast foods are delicious and easy to cook. We love miniature versions of things, they’re cute, this is just a fact. When these two ideas are joined together they yield a wonderful, flavor-packed, and easy-to-make breakfast delight.

An additionally exciting note is that with breakfast casseroles, you can truly tailor them to your own taste preferences. It’s honestly really hard to go wrong with flavor combinations when it comes to these. The final thing to keep in mind is, to have fun while making them because these little breakfast dishes aren’t just adorable, they’re delicious too!

 

Mini Breakfast Casseroles
(makes 4)

Ingredients
Two, thawed hash-brown patties (we love to use Trader Joe’s brand frozen patties)
2 tablespoons yellow cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons white cheddar cheese
8 strips Morningstar veggie bacon (this could be substituted with real bacon if desired)
4 eggs
splash of milk (we used around 2 tablespoons)
1 Serrano pepper
4 tomatoes
1/3 cippolini onion
salt and pepper to taste

To start, preheat your oven to 350° F.

We made these using four small to medium sized ramekins. Grease the bottom and sides of your ramekins with either butter or some type of cooking spray. Then, cut your hash-brown patties in half and squish them into the bottom of your ramekin. Dust them with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Place these in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, we want these to start getting crispy so they add a nice textural note to your little egg nests.

While the hash-browns are baking, this is a perfect time to start prepping your filling. Dice the tomatoes, the pepper, and the onion. You can either grate your cheese or just chop it into small cubes. Whisk your eggs together with the milk and set them aside in a bowl.

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Once your hash-brown filled ramekins have been taken out of the oven, you can start the assembly. First, place two strips of bacon in the shape of a cross on top of your ramekin and then push them in so that they are both touching the inside of the ramekin and the top of your hash-brown.

Single ramekin with bacon

All ramekins with bacon

Second, distribute your filling (tomatoes, pepper, and onion) evenly among your four ramekins.

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Third, pour your whisked eggs into each of the ramekins making sure to fill them evenly (that way they all cook at the same speed).

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Finally, top with your grated cheese!

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Place the ramekins back into the oven for another 20-22 minutes or until the egg is fully cooked. Take them out and enjoy!

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Smashed Potatoes

smashed potatoes all dressed up

This was a dish that I had seen many times but had always been hesitant to attempt. One of the worries I had was that the potatoes would dry out and end up tasting chalky, this recipe solves that problem and in doing so imparts a spectacular flavor on these potatoes.

This dish was made vegetarian but you could easily make it either vegan or meaty with a few swapped ingredients.

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Ingredients
1 lb baby butter potatoes
2 cloves garlic
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh sage
2 sprigs fresh oregano
1 Knorr veggie broth bouillon cube
4 tablespoons salted butter (divided into single tablespoons)
2 cups water
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Optional Ingredients
chopped rosemary (topping)
grated Parmesan cheese (topping)

smashed potato ingredients

To start, combine the water and the bouillon cube in a wide pot (be sure it’s large enough, this is where I made a mistake) over high heat until it begins to boil. Feel free to help the bouillon cube dissolve by crushing it with your spoon and stirring the pot. At this point, add in your herbs and two tablespoons butter to help season the broth and let it stew for about 5 minutes. It’s this delicious broth mixture that gives the smashed potatoes so much flavor and at the same time allows them to stay moist.

herbs, butter, veggie broth

After the butter has melted, gently add your potatoes, making sure they are partially covered with liquid and have enough space around them. As you can see in my picture, the pot I used was a bit too small and I ended up having to change to a larger one later. Making sure they have enough space is crucial, as they will need to spread out when you gently smash them.
potatoes in the broth

Let these cook, covered, until tender enough that a fork will somewhat easily pierce a potato (about 15 – 20 minutes). At this point remove the cover and gently press down on each potato until you feel the skin give way. Don’t push too hard or the potatoes will not hold together and you’ll have a mess on your hand!

squished potatoes

Cook these until the liquid has completely evaporated, and after for an extra 3 – 5 minutes to get a nice crispy edge. At this point, remove your pan from heat and gently remove the potatoes from the pan.

potatoes out of the pan

Scrape out the contents of your pan before returning it to the stove top.

scrape the pan

Upon returning the pan to the stove-top, add in the last two tablespoons of butter. This will help the other side of the potatoes get nice and crispy.

butter in the pan

After the butter melts, add the potatoes back in with the previously crisped side facing up.

second round potatoes

Cook these for another 3 – 5 minutes or until browned. Remove them from the pan and serve! We added extra chopped rosemary, some grated Parmesan, salt, and fresh black pepper to ours.

Vegetarian Dirty Grits

Dirty grits with hot sauce

Honestly, this first came about as a warm, filling, sick person, comfort food.  However, as the sickness subsided, we noticed the depth of flavor and the pure deliciousness that we had stumbled upon. There are so many different ways to make grits and with this hodgepodge creation, all of the ingredients just clicked.

Another thing to note is that there is a level of flexibility granted to the dish as well; if you want to make it carnivore friendly, you can easily add real sausage or use chicken broth during the cooking process. Aside from having a multitude of options for toppings, this recipe’s leftovers can easily be used to fry up some amazing grit cakes!

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Ingredients
(makes about 3 entree or 9 appetizer servings)
1 cup grits
3 cups water
1 Knorr veggie broth bouillon cube
1 slice Swiss cheese
2 slices Monterey jack cheese
1 slice cheddar cheese
1 slice Colby jack cheese
1-2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
cracked black pepper
kosher salt

optional items
Morningstar breakfast sausage patties (cooked)
hot sauce

 

dirty grits ingredients

To start, add your water and the bouillon cube to a pot over high heat until it begins to boil. Feel free to help the bouillon cube dissolve by crushing it with your spoon and stirring the pot.

veggie broth

While this is heating up, start preparing your cheeses by tearing or chopping them into smaller pieces. This will make it easier for them to melt and to be evenly distributed throughout the mixture.

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Once the broth begins to boil, add in your grits and immediately turn down the heat to low so that it simmers. Be sure to keep stirring continuously; if this mixture boils or is not being stirred it will sputter and hot grits will go flying everywhere.

grits closeup

After this has cooked for about five minutes, add in your butter and stir for another two. At this point the mixture should become fairly thick. Add in your cheeses and mix thoroughly.

cheeses added to grits

Once the cheese has been completely melted, remove the pot from heat and let it cool. While this is happening add in salt and black pepper as they are a necessity in almost everything delicious.

season the grits

Finally, you should chop your sausage to adorn  your portion of the grits.
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Add in any additional toppings you would like and enjoy!

cheesy grits

 

 

 

 

Mushroom and Fontina Empanada with Cilantro Salsa

empanada

From Katie: As a history buff, y’all know I couldn’t just make a recipe like this and not explore the origins of the food. Empanadas turned out to have a fascinating backstory! Empanadas are a really neat food because they come from a long line of regional variations. Essentially, people have been stuffing crispy doughs with yummy fillings for centuries! We believe that empanadas are originally of Middle Eastern or Asian descent, possible coming down to us from samosas (also yummmm). The variations are really cool to look through, but ours are most similar to Argentinian or Peruvian empanadas, mainly due to the fact that they are baked. Truly, though, you could explore the entire culinary world simply through miniature, crusted pies like these. They have different names in many places, but they all have this homey and simple feel to them that is comforting and enticing- plus they are SO conveniently portable!

This empanada filling and sauce is a continuation of my earlier post regarding the empanada dough. This was our favorite combination of empanada sauce and filling that we tried that weekend and I’m also convinced it was the easiest.

The mushroom, shallot, and fontina filling is a slightly sweet and savory filling that is perfectly complimented by the crisp, spiciness of the jalapeño cilantro salsa.

The filling was loosely based on laylita.com while the sauce was adapted from laylita.com.

 

Ingredients

One, half-batch empanada dough

empanada dough disks
1 egg, separated for the wash

Mushroom and Fontina Filling (makes 6-9 empanadas)

1 tablespoon salted butter
1 & 1/2 cups mushrooms,  sliced and chopped
1 cup shallots, chopped
1/2 cup fontina cheese, grated
Start by chopping your mushrooms and shallots; then add them and the butter to a warm frying pan and cook until tender.

cooked mushrooms and shallots

Add roughly two tablespoons of the mushroom and shallot mixture to the center of the dough disk and top with about a tablespoon of cheese (you can start off with smaller amounts of filling to get used to stuffing and creating the empanadas).

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with cheese

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then, lightly brush the egg white on the edges of the disk before you fold it over (this makes for a better seal). Take a fork and press down on the joined edges; flip the empanada and press down on that side. Finally, use the egg yolk to wash over the top of the sealed empanada before putting it in the oven at 375°F for 20-25 minutes.

washed

 

Jalapeño Cilantro Salsa

1 cup cilantro, packed
5 jalapeños
2 garlic cloves
2 oz lime juice
1/2 cup olive oil

Cut open the jalapeños to remove the seeds and stems before placing them in the food processor. De-stem and wash the cilantro, peel the garlic, and add them to food processor with the jalapeños. Pour in the lime juice and olive oil, and blend all of the ingredients together.

 

Empanada Dough

empanada dough

This past weekend my fiancé and I made empanadas, or as my co-worker called them– hot pockets.  This ended up being a really fun and straight-forward dish (especially with strawberry margaritas!).

This recipe can be the delicious base for any and all flavored empanadas you want to make.  We used a [tiny] food processor to try and give the dough the best consistency, but you can always do this by hand with a little elbow grease.  One thing we’ve learned with having a small food processor is that you pretty much almost always split the recipe into smaller portions and then mix them together later, it just ends up being more time consuming.

This recipe is adapted from laylita.com.

 

Ingredients

3 cups AP flour
1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
6 oz chilled butter
~8 tablespoons ice water (it’s very important that the water is cold!)
2 large eggs

 

To start, pour the flour and salt into the food processor and pulse it to mix.  Then, chop the butter into small pieces, add it (and one of the eggs) to the flour-salt mixture, and then process away. About halfway to it being completely mixed, start to incrementally add in tablespoons of your ice water.

caramel mousse pie

Once dough mixture slowly starts to turn into a buttery, powder-like substance (a little on the damp side) you can stop adding water.

caramel mousse pie

Next, empty the mixture into a bowl and start to press it together into the shape of a ball.

caramel mousse pie

Once all of the dough is part of one mass, you can either put it in the fridge for later or roll it out immediately, on a lightly floured surface, until it is around a quarter of an inch in thickness.

rolled out dough

After the dough has been rolled out, take a small bowl to cut out your empanada disks. You can alternatively use a small plate and a knife.

cutting out circles dough stack

 

 

 

 

After your disks have been finished and before you begin to fill them with your desired filling, take the last egg and separate the egg white from the yolk.  Beat them separately to make them easy to spread, this step will give your empanadas both a stronger structure and a beautiful golden color.

egg wash

When filling the disks, take a couple tablespoons of your mixture and place it in the center.

mushroom filling

Then use the egg white on the edges of the disk before you fold it over (this makes for a better seal) take a fork and press down on the joined edges then flip the empanada and press down on that side. Finally, use the egg yolk to wash over the top of the sealed empanada before putting it in the oven!

washed and ready

The amount of time and temperature for baking is dependent on the size and filling of your empanadas.  Our empanadas took about 20-25 minutes at 375 F.

 

Vegan Pesto

 

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Pesto is an incredibly delicious, versatile, and easy thing to make! It’s based off of four, wonderful ingredients- basil, garlic, pine nuts, and olive oil.  You can use pesto in a variety of dishes such as: pizza, sandwiches, pasta, flatbread, and more!

One thing to note: pesto typically calls for parmesan cheese, but we decided to make a vegan pesto, so we took it out. However, if you want to add the cheese back in, you should consider reducing the amount of salt you use.

 

Vegan Pesto
makes 4-5 cups

Ingredients
3 cups compressed basil (about 4 bunches)
3/4 cup pine nuts
3/4 cup good olive oil
3 cloves garlic (sliced)
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt (flexible based on taste)

 

To start, wash all of your basil leaves and set them out to dry (usually for about 2-3 hours).

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While they’re drying you can take the time to assemble your other ingredients. Note: If you have a small food processor, as we do, I recommend dividing the ingredients by 3 (1 cup basil, 1/4 cup pine nuts, etc.). Processing the pesto in batches can help avoid overrunning the food processor.

Once your basil has dried, place the basil, garlic, and pine nuts into your food processor and pulse. In between pulses you will want to scrape the inside of the processor to make sure it gets minced evenly.

pesto

Then, add the olive oil, pepper, and salt.  Continue to pulse the food processor and scrape down the sides.  Once the mixture has reached the consistency of a puree, you’re done!

At this point, you’ll want to either add it to whatever you intend to use it on, or place it in a container.

pesto

If you plan on saving this for later, be sure to add a thin layer of olive oil to the top. This will keep it fresh tasting for longer.  Also, this can be frozen for around 3 months!

Pesto is great just spread over pasta as a sauce or over bread. It is nice to keep some in the freezer for a quick and healthy weekday meal!

 

Eggs Benedict

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To go with every great homemade English muffin, it’s always good to make a classic eggs Benedict. In this post I’m not going to explain the details for making the hollandaise sauce, but you can find it in this earlier post.

Eggs Benedict
makes 1 serving

Ingredients
2 eggs
4 slices of Serrano ham
4 cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons shaved, Paremsan-Reggiano cheese
kosher salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste

 

To start you need to prepare the various layers of the eggs Benedict.

First, slice the cherry tomatoes in half and then place them skin side up in a hot frying pan.  Let them sit for about 3 minutes or until they’re slightly blackened.

Once the tomatoes have been cooked, place the ham in the same frying pan with a little olive oil for about 6 minutes or until it is somewhat crispy.

When that part is done you can start to assemble your creation. Start with half of an English muffin, then add the ham.

Ham First

Then add the blackened tomatoes to the top

Parmasean Reggiano

Next, add the Parmesan-Reggiano
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After the base of your eggs Benedict has been set up, it’s time for star of the dish – the poached egg. When you poach an egg, it is definitely easiest to use an egg poacher. These guys create beautiful, less messier poached eggs and are really useful if you like eggs Benedict or really anything with poached eggs! If you’re looking for the best and most affordable egg poaching mechanisms, you can find a great list here on Comparaboo.

 

In my kitchen, until I get a chance to buy an egg poacher, I do it the old-school way. Boiling vinegar and water together in a deep pot creates a liquid that will poach the egg without the yolk turning green. The idea is also that the whites stay together. However, the water temperature must be perfect. The water needs to have been boiling, but with the heat reduced enough that there are no bubbles running rampant through it that would make a mess of the whites, which will take longer to cook. When the water and vinegar mixture reaches this state, you can crack an egg and drop it in, immediately using a spoon to keep the whites close to the yolk. It might be messy, and the first time around you might lose an egg or two (which is why I recommend an egg poacher). If you get the whites together, just slightly cooked, you can then cover the pot and let the egg poach for a few minutes, or until it is your desired consistency.  Next, lift it out with a draining spoon and place it on your stacked Benedict construction!

Poached Egg

To top it off, pour your hollandaise sauce on, dress it with cilantro, and sprinkle it with kosher salt and pepper!

Finished Dish

 

Enjoy!

-William

Vegetarian Jambalaya

 

Jambalaya

 

Readers,

For this recipe, I have asked my wonderful boyfriend, William, to write a guest post. He is the author of this vegetarian jambalaya. Always considerate of my dietary restrictions, he is constantly trying to find ways to adapt new dishes to a vegetarian diet. I am so incredibly grateful for his ability to allow my meatless lifestyle to rule our eating habits so often with such grace and selflessness. I hope you enjoy his healthier and much, much spicier take on this traditional, Cajun dish!

-Katie

 

This is my take on a southern classic- Jambalaya.  If you were to search ‘how to cook Jambalaya’, it is typically started with a sautee of meat and vegetables in a pan. Next, the rest of the dish is built around those ingredients (effectively making it meat centered). This recipe makes rice the star component of the dish and focuses on infusing the spices and flavors into each grain.  More importantly, I wanted to make it vegetarian friendly.  With that in mind, real meat can easily be added to this dish (be it shrimp, chicken, or sausage).

Two quick things before we get into the recipe and the ‘how to’. One: this dish is fairly simple, with most of your time being spent stirring the pot; and two: I made mine very spicy. So, if heat is a problem, tone down some of the ingredients, such as the cayenne pepper.

 

Vegetarian Jambalaya
1 whole, green bell pepper
1 cup white rice
8oz box Zatarain’s jambalaya mix
28oz can San Marzano tomatoes
32oz box vegetable broth
1/3 – 1/2  large sweet yellow onion
3 – 4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence
1 tablespoon cajun spice
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
2 – 3 Tofurky andouille sausage links (or real meat if you want)

Jambalaya

 

The first step is to chop up your onion, pepper, and garlic cloves.

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Next, you’ll want to add them to a frying pan in the following order: onions, peppers, garlic. Give each addition roughly 2 – 3 minutes before the next (onions, 3 min; peppers, 3 min; garlic, 3 min).

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While the vegetable mixture is cooking, put your tomatoes in a large pot and then crush them by hand.

Jambalaya

When they are good and mashed, add in your rice, Zatarain’s mix, spices, and your vegetable mix. Let it stew for about 10 minutes with intermittent stirring.

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After the rice has stewed for about 10 minutes, then add in your milk and butter. This will tone down the heat a bit and give the jambalaya a creamier texture. Continue to cook this for another 15 – 20 minutes, again intermittently stirring.

JambalayaWhile the rice mixture is stewing, slice the sausage and cook it in the same pan that the vegetables were in, with some olive oil. This will infuse some of the flavors and give your sausage a nice, browned edge.

Jambalaya

After your rice is done stewing and your sausage is done cooking, mix them together for a delicious spicy, Cajun bite! If you like, you can sprinkle cilantro on top; it adds color and is a refreshing contrast to the spiciness of the jambalaya!