Broccoli Casserole

I remember as a kid having a casserole with nearly every supper. While they’ve fallen out of fashion, I still have fond memories of all the things my mom could do with a can of cream of mushroom soup. Here is a recipe for a side dish that is sized for a small family – double everything if you’re feeding a crowd!

Broccoli Casserole

1 box frozen chopped broccoli or 1 head of fresh, cut into florets
1 small onion, chopped
1 can cream of mushroom soup (for more broccoli umph, use cream of broccoli soup)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons butter, cut into thin slices
Crushed Ritz crackers, for topping

Steam fresh broccoli for 5 minutes (frozen doesn’t need this step). Thaw ad drain well if frozen. Sauté onion in a little olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Combine soup, egg and cheese in a large bowl and mix well. Add in broccoli and onion and stir well. Pour into a quart casserole dish. Sprinkle crushed cracker crumbs on top and dot top with butter. Bake at 350 degrees F for about an hour, until golden and bubbly.

Sweet Potato Pancakes

For breakfast this morning I made some sweet potato pancakes. They were sweet enough to need only a splash of maple syrup and they went really well with some salty, smokey bacon.

To get the sweet potato mash, Michelle fills a crock pot with rinsed sweet potatoes and puts them on low overnight (6 to 8 hours). Don’t pierce them or anything or you’ll get a mess in the bottom of your crock pot! The next day, use a spoon to take the peel off. After mashing them, she stores them in 2 cup servings in zip top bags in the freezer. Perfect for making a side dish for dinner or adding into crescent roll or biscuit dough or, like here, in pancakes.

I didn’t have any buttermilk, so I used a combination of Greek yogurt and milk. You could also use sour cream in place of the Greek yogurt. If you have buttermilk, use 1 1/2 cup in place of the milk and Greek yogurt/sour cream.

Sweet Potato Pancakes

1 1/4 cups mashed sweet potato
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
3/4 cup milk
1 large egg
4 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Place sweet potatoes, Greek yogurt, milk and egg in a medium bowl. Melt 2 tablespoons butter and add to the mixture. Whisk to combine.

Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until mixed. Do not overmix and, for best results, let the batter stand while you heat griddle and preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in a griddle over medium heat. Add batter by 1/4-cup measures. Cook until the first side is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip and cook until browned on second side and pancakes are puffed, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate and set in the warm oven and repeat until all pancakes are cooked, adding more butter to the griddle as necessary. Serve immediately with a little maple syrup.

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes

This is a quick recipe for buttermilk pancakes that is as easy as using a box mix and it includes Michelle’s favorite add in – blueberries. This recipe makes 6 to 8 pancakes, perfect for a meal for two. I started by using the powdered, dry buttermilk to make a cup of buttermilk for the recipe. To make sure it had that tang you get from real buttermilk, I added a little sour cream.

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
2 tablespoon sour cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup blueberries (use fresh or thawed frozen berries)
2 additional tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Warm a pancake griddle over medium low heat while preparing the batter. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F, to have a place to stash cooked pancakes while cooking the next batch.

Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, sour cream and 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and gently stir until all the streaks of flour are incorporated. The batter will still be lumpy.

Brush a little bit of the additional melted butter on pancake griddle in the area where you will put batter. Using a ladle, pour out about 1/4 cup of batter over the butter. Sprinkle on a small handful of blueberries. Cook until the edges of the pancake are set, the top bubbles begin to break and the underside is golden brown. Flip over and cook the other side until it is golden brown.

Serve pancakes immediately or place them in the prepared oven. Using more melted butter, prepare the griddle for the next set of pancakes. Continue until all the batter is used up.

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

I think I may have figured out a way to improve chocolate chip cookies. Just add bacon! Salty, fatty bacon combines with dark chocolate morsels to make for a cookie that is decadently addictive. This recipe makes half the usual recipe of cookies, mainly because I was making smaller batches for my experiments but also because you need to eat these all up faster than non-baconated cookies.

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 strips bacon, cooked and chopped fine
1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.

In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter and sugars. Add egg and vanilla extract, and beat until just blended. Add the dry ingredients; beat until everything is incorporated. Stir in the bacon, chocolate chips and pecans.

Drop by large tablespoons the cookie dough onto the baking sheet. They will spread, so put them 2 to 3 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown. They will still be soft in the center. Transfer to a rack and cool for 15 minutes.

Keep refrigerated in an airtight container.

Personal Size Potato and Rosemary Frittata

I had a hankering for a frittata for breakfast but all the recipes I have call for 8 to 12 eggs. Great when having people over for brunch but, as I’m home alone, that wasn’t going to work. The recipe I came up with serves two typical appetites for breakfast or 1 very hungry person. If that one person can show some restraint, it will make both breakfast and lunch.

Personal Size Potato Rosemary Frittata

1 medium potato
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced (I used a mandolin slicer)
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, finely chopped (should give you about 1 teaspoon)
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Peel the potato and place in a saucepan of cold water. Bring to a boil and keep it there for 10 minutes. Remove potato and slice.

Meanwhile, in a small cast iron skillet, heat the oil. Add the onion slices. Cook over medium low heat, stirring regularly, for about 10 minutes, until they are lightly caramelized. Sprinkle on the rosemary for the final two minutes of cooking.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and salt and pepper. Stir in the potatoes and the onions and rosemary. Make sure everything is coated in egg.

Heat the skillet the onion was in and then pour in the egg mixture. Bringing the pan up to heat is an important step or the bottom of the frittata will stick to the pan. Cook for 2 minutes to allow the base to set. Run a knife along the edge to loosen. Transfer to the oven and let finish cooking, about 10 minutes. The top will be golden brown.

Transfer to a plate and either eat hot or at room temperature. It also makes for a terrific sandwich filling once cold. I put it between toasted slices of white bread but it is even better between slices of focaccia (recipes here, here and here).

Michelle’s Salty Sweet Peanut Butter Cookies

The NY Times had a recipe for Salty-Sweet Peanut Butter Sandies for the holidays a few years ago. Frankly, it just wasn’t peanutty enough although the salty/sweet coating on top was awesome. Using crunchy peanut butter helped but that also meant dropping the sugar a little. They also weren’t crisp enough, so Michelle made several batches until we determined that baking them longer and flattening them a bit with the classic fork press made us a most excellent peanut butter cookie. 

Michelle's Salty Sweet Peanut Butter Cookies


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups crunchy peanut butter (I prefer Skippy Super Crunch)
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon flake salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter two baking sheets.

In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars until smooth and fluffy, at least 3 minutes. Add the peanut butter and eggs, and mix. Add the flour and salt and mix just until well combined, with no white flour showing.

Scoop 2 tablespoons dough onto prepared pans. Flatten with fork dipped in water to form a criss cross pattern. The cookies will not spread much or change shape when they bake, so they can be placed quite close together, but leave room for air circulation so they can brown. In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoons sugar with 1 1/2 teaspoon flake salt. Sprinkle each cookie generously with sugar-salt mixture, being sure to get it into all the nooks and crannies.

Bake 15-17 minutes, until cookies are set and golden-brown. Cool on the pan for 2 minutes. Carefully lift or slide off baking sheets and cool the rest of the way on racks. Store in airtight containers.

Chocolate Mint Syrup

At the Spring plant sale of the New Orleans Herb Society, I picked up a small plant of chocolate mint. It has really taken off and I needed a perfect recipe in which to use some of it.

The chocolate mint is growing out of the pot!

I made the sauce to gild the lily of my Chocolate Oblivion Torte, which I made again this year for Michelle’s birthday. It can also be poured into warm milk for a great hot chocolate or heated back up and drizzled over ice cream.

Chocolate Mint Syrup

1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup cold water
3/4 cup sugar
30 chocolate mint leaves, rinsed, patted dry, and torn into pieces

In a small saucepan, combine the cocoa powder and cold water, and whisk together until smooth. Add the sugar and torn mint leaves and place the saucepan over medium heat.

Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly to melt the sugar. As soon as the syrup begins to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. It will thicken and turn glossy.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

When the syrup has cooled to near room temperature, strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a clean jar. Cover and store in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

A gravy boat of chocolate mint sauce is what dreams are made of!