Creole Tomato and Basil Bruschetta Topping

I went to the Crescent City Farmers Market on Saturday and found some beautiful Creole tomatoes. These tomatoes have a wonderful taste because they are grown only in the River Parishes of Louisiana, so they don’t have to travel far from the field to reach my plate.

I used the new-to-me bread machine from Michelle’s mom to make the dough for some French bread. I relied on the recipe from the Fleischmann’s Bread World website. It wasn’t the prettiest loaf of bread I’ve ever made, so no pictures of it.

While the dough was rising, it was time to toss together diced tomatoes with some basil, olive oil and salt. For about two large tomatoes, you’ll need about a 1/4 cup of high quality olive oil, about 1/4 cup of fresh basil, cut in a chiffonade (stack the leaves, roll them like a cigar and slice thinly). Add in a few generous pinches of coarse sea salt like Fleur de Sel and a couple of grinds of black pepper. Stir and let sit for the flavors to come together.

I took the bread from the oven and, once it had cooled, I cut it into rounds. Those, I lightly brushed with olive oil and then toasted them on a grill pan (to make pretty grill marks). While still warm, I rubbed them with a raw clove of garlic. Then, I mounded on the tomato and basil mix and ate until I was fit to burst.

Oh, the taste of summer!

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Cheesy Meatloaf

I love meatloaf – it is cheap, easy and any leftovers makes awesome sandwiches for the next several days. I’ve done meatloaf before (here and here) but this one uses lots of cheddar cheese to make the finished meatloaf even better.

I served it with a bacon, broccoli, cheese stuffed Vidalia onion but that recipe needs a lot more tweaking before I will post it.

Cheesy Meatloaf

3/4 cup milk
2-3 slices stale bread (at least 1 1/2 cups worth when torn)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 lbs ground beef
8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Make a panade by soaking the torn pieces of bread in the milk for ten minutes.

Sauté onion in a tablespoon of butter until softened, at least 5 minutes.

Combine panade, sautéed onions and all the rest of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix with your hands. Form into one large loaf or two smaller loaves and bake at 350 degrees F for 60 minutes (or until it reaches an internal temp of 160 degrees). Remove from the oven, slice and serve.

Cocoa Pebbles Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

I was in the grocery store the other day and saw a pallet of Cocoa Pebbles cereal boxes on sale. I remembered making a dessert years ago and, thanks to my smartphone, I was able to pull up a similar recipe there in the store so I knew how much to buy.

Coming home, I found my recipe and decided to use salted caramel chips instead of the original butterscotch chips. You could also use a microwave oven to melt everything before stirring together. Combining peanut butter, chocolate chips and salted caramel chips with the Cocoa Pebbles makes for a crunchy and delicious snack.

Store in the fridge until ready to eat.

Cocoa Pebbles Bars

1 – 10 oz package Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips
1 – 10 oz package Hershey’s sea salt caramel chips
1 cup peanut butter (I prefer Skippy Super Chunk)
1 – 11 oz package Cocoa Pebbles cereal

Butter a 9×13 baking dish. Set aside.

Combine the chocolate chips, caramel chips and peanut butter in a double boiler. Stir over low heat until the chips are fully melted and the mixture is smooth.

Place Cocoa Pebbles in a large bowl and pour over chocolate mixture. Stir until fully coated. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Press into corners and smooth the top.

Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

 

Breakfast Skillet for Hungry Gals

I burned a huge pile of debris from Michelle’s yard on Saturday and was utterly wiped out afterwards. It isn’t June yet but Mississippi’s heat index was well into the 90’s. I woke up starving the next morning and decided to make a hearty meal for us to start the day.

I used Michelle’s 8 inch cast iron skillet. It gave us two hearty slices for breakfast plus two for eating the next day. If you have more people, double things and use a 12 inch skillet instead.

For the bulk sausage, I cut the tube in half and sliced one of the halves. I browned those sausage patties first and set them aside to serve with biscuits later in the week. I then browned the rest of the sausage.

I didn’t add salt to the recipe. The potatoes are cooked in salted water and the cheddar cheese and sausage are salty but definitely taste for seasoning.

Breakfast Skillet

1/2 lb bulk breakfast sausage
2 medium potatoes, diced (or 1 1/2 cup frozen hashbrowns)
1/2 small onion, sliced
1/2 medium red bell pepper, diced
5 large eggs
1/2 cup 2 % milk
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
On the stove top in a 8-inch cast iron, brown the sausage. Remove from the skillet to paper towels to drain, reserving the drippings in the pan. Meanwhile, place diced potatoes in a saucepan with cold water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the onion to the drippings and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper. Sauté for 3 minutes or until softened. Season with black pepper to taste.
Add the parboiled potatoes or shredded hash brown potatoes to the pan. Cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring periodically until lightly browned and heated through.
Spread the potato mixture evenly across the bottom of the skillet, then sprinkle the browned sausage over the top.
Whisk the eggs with the milk. Stir in 3/4 cups of the cheddar cheese. Pour on top. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese and cook for 5 to 10 minutes more, or until the eggs have set. Put under the broiler for just a minute or two to brown the top.
Remove from the oven and let stand for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Blackberry Bonanza

Michelle has been picking blackberries around her house and we had more than enough to make a pitcher of blackberry lemonade and a batch of lemon blackberry sorbet plus plenty for freezing for later. These recipes made a very refreshing drink and sorbet – beautiful, tasty and loaded with antioxidants.

One day’s haul

To do these two recipes, make a simple syrup with 2 cups of water and two cups of sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to make sure the sugar dissolves. Pour over 2 cups of blackberries that have been lightly mashed and let steep for 30 minutes. Press the simple syrup, juice and berries through a strainer. You should have about 3 cups blackberry simple syrup. If you’re only making one of the items, either double the recipe ingredients or drop the simple syrup ingredients (sugar, water and blackberries) to 1 cup.

Leftover syrup can be added to tea or used in cocktails.

Blackberry Lemonade

1 1/2 cup blackberry simple syrup
1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2-3 cups water

Add blackberry simple syrup and lemon juice to a large container. Add up to 3 cups water to taste.

For an added kick, add a 1/4 cup bourbon to the final mixture.

Lemon Blackberry Sorbet

1 1/2 cup blackberry simple syrup
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Combine chilled simple syrup with the lemon juice and zest and pour into the bowl of an ice cream machine. Freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. After the sorbet is made, transfer to a container. Cover and freeze until ready to serve.

Honey Lemon Chicken

I needed a quick meal when I came home from an all day event in Baton Rouge but I didn’t want to sacrifice flavor. This meal takes a little over an hour but that includes the marinade time. I prepped the marinade and let it sit over the chicken when I first came home and then changed clothes and walked the dog and the chicken was ready to cook when I was done with those chores. Stove time is about 20-30 minutes, about the duration needed for the rice to cook.

The chicken is sweet from the honey, tangy from the mustard and sour from the lemon. The chicken stock adds a depth of flavor that you usual don’t get from a quick meal.

Honey Lemon Chicken

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
2 chicken breasts, skinless although they don’t need to be boneless
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 lemon, sliced

Whisk together honey, lemon juice and mustard. Pour over chicken and allow to marinate for 30 minutes.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Remove chicken from marinade and season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.

Sear chicken in skillet, for about 5 minutes per side. Remove to a plate.

Whisk together the marinade and chicken stock. Pour into skillet and whisk until boiling. Reduce to a simmer and add chicken and juices back in pan. Lay the lemon slices over the chicken, cover the skillet and let simmer for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. If using bone-in chicken breasts, increase cook time to 20 minutes.

Serve over a bed of rice, with remaining sauce poured on top. Squeeze the lemon slices for a bright burst of flavor.

 

Bacon Wrapped Grilled Whole Chicken

I tip my hat to my brother-in-law, Wayne, who made such a delicious bacon wrapped pork loin that I decided to get in on the fun. I choose a chicken as I had one thawing.

I didn’t have a can of beer so I drank a can of Coke and filled it halfway with water and dropped in a couple of garlic cloves. I went with the “beer can up the butt” method as that was the easiest way to get the bird in a position for the wrapping. It also keeps the grill environment moist during the cook.

Use your favorite chicken rub for the dry brine. I used my Rosemary Sage Grilling Rub. You’re looking for a good amount of kosher salt as you’re basically jumpstarting a breakdown of the protein structure. This denaturing makes the meat hold onto more water so your final result will be a tender and juicy bird. I don’t generally rinse the brine off but, because the bacon is salty, I brushed off as much as I could before wrapping.

I only had thick cut bacon in the house, so I went out and bought a cheap pack of thin for this recipe and it shrank so much it pulled off the toothpicks. It did give plenty of flavor anyway and ended up looking like the chicken was wearing a coat of many colors. The finished resulted looked awesome and tasted delicious. The meat was luscious and juicy with just the right amount of seasoning and a little crunch from the cooked bacon.

Bacon Wrapped Grilled Whole Chicken

4 lb whole chicken, neck and giblets removed
2 tablespoons Rosemary Sage Grilling Rub
1 can beer or soda – drink half the beer or all the soda
2 cloves garlic
1 lb bacon, thin sliced
bunch of toothpicks

Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Use a dry rub to cover the chicken both inside and out. Place in the refrigerator, uncovered, overnight but no more than 24 hours.

Remove chicken from fridge and brush off any visible salt. Set aside to dry while you prepare the grill for indirect cooking. Fill and light a charcoal chimney and, once the coals are ashy, pour them around the edge in a horseshoe shape.

Drop the garlic cloves into the half full can of beer (or half filled with water coke can). Work the chicken onto the can by placing the can on a solid surface and setting the back end of chicken over the top of the can. Work it down until it is securely inside. Use the legs to set it up like a tripod and begin the process of draping it in bacon.

Wrap the chicken strip by strip with bacon and secure with toothpicks. Don’t forget the wings Transfer the chicken, with it’s can, to the grill and place it on the center of the grate and drop in some wood chips for smoke.

Cook the chicken for at least an hour or until temperature of the thighs is 175 to 180 degrees F. Remove from the grill and let stand for 10 minutes before removing the can and then carving the bird.