Saturday, 25 April 2015

The Bread

We need to have a little talk about The Bread.  Yes - I did refer to a side dish using a proper noun, or whatever the term is that I mean when I'm using capital letters at the beginning of each word of this side dish.  I'm pretty sure I mean proper noun, but we're not here to talk about English (because, while I can spell like a superstar, I basically flunked English).
We're talking about The Bread.
I'm not going to lie to you.  The Bread is not for the faint of heart.  Or the faint of waistline.  I don't encourage you to have this on a regular basis and most DEFINITELY don't eat it by yourself.
There are two ingredients.
Bread.  Butter.
End of list.
I used salted butter.  But if you really wanted to, you could use unsalted.  I just thought the salted butter would be more exciting.  Please don't, for the love of my sanity, use anything but butter.  Seriously.  No margarine, no Becel, nothing in a tub.  It's gotta be the real deal.  In bricks or sticks - butter.
First things first.  You want to make sure your butter is very, very soft.  I actually put mine in the microwave and cooked for about 1 1/2 minutes on 30% power.  Just don't melt it.
Cut a loaf of beautiful, glorious, soft, fresh French Bread in half lengthwise.  Extra flavor points if the bread is still warm when you pick it up from the bakery section.
Then take your very, very soft butter and spread it on the bread, making sure you get all the way to the edges and the layer of butter is pretty level and even.

The recipe says to put the bread in the oven at 350 degrees F and cook for 10 minutes, then turn the broiler on to high and cook 3 - 5 minutes.
But I'm going to tell you exactly how I did mine.  Because it took me two attempts to make The Bread.
Because I was making pasta and the oven was at 375 degrees F, I put the bread in the oven on a rack ABOVE the pasta dish in the 2nd set of "rack brackets" and let it bake with the pasta for the last 7 minutes of the pasta cook time.
When I took the pasta out, I moved the bread from the upper rack to the rack that the pasta had been on. 
Now, my broiler has a couple of different settings.  Broiler high, broiler low, and then numbers in between.  For the first couple of minutes, I set the broiler to a 3 setting.  Then I bumped it up to high.
Keep an eye on the business in the oven.  What's going to happen is that the butter is going to brown/blacken on top and the edges of the bread are going to char a little.  This is totally fine and is absolutely what you're looking for.
Like this.
That picture is from my second attempt - but the ones above are from my first attempt.  I didn't think you'd mind if I didn't take the pictures all over again.
Also, The Bread probably could have stayed in the oven for another 30 seconds to a minute.  But I was being a chicken and didn't want to burn it to a crisp.
I guarantee that you will get rave reviews when you serve The Bread.  My brother took a piece, and told me that he didn't WANT any pasta - he was just going to eat The Bread.
The Bread is gooey and chewy, with a crisp bottom.  Because the butter is browned a little in the oven, the flavor is somewhat nutty and bold.  It tastes like you did something to the butter without the extra work.  It made my head spin and my toes curl!  It's truly glorious.
Make sure The Bread is taken out of the oven, cut up, and served right away.  It's best when it's warm.
You could add on some freshly minced garlic if you want, or maybe a little parsley flakes.  But really - it's not necessary.
I recommend that you should serve this with your next pasta dish, your next meatloaf, your next pot of soup, or to liven up a meal of Caesar salad (if you're into that sort of thing).
But, be warned, you will be shocked when you see exactly how much butter is involved. 
Sorry not sorry.
xoxo - Heather

Friday, 3 April 2015

Scalloped Potatoes

Let's say you're making your Easter ham.

And you need a side.  Like, a gooey, creamy, cheesy, carby, potatoey, side.

Look no further - I would totally recommend THESE scalloped potatoes.

Cause they're AH-MAZING!!!

You're going to have to slice up red potatoes pretty thin-like.  I used my mandolin.  And I had perfectly same-sized potato slices right lickety-split.
But you could also do the same with a steady hand and a very sharp knife.

Layer the potatoes into a greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish.  Don't worry if not all the potatoes fit.  Not all of mine did.
Then, you'll need to make the sauce.
Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium-high heat.

Then add in the onion and garlic.

Cook until the onion is translucent and softened.  Then add in the cream of broccoli soup.

Then the cream of celery soup.

And the milk.



And the cheddar cheese.

After the cheese is all melted, pour the sauce mixture over top of the potatoes.  Don't worry - the sauce will make it down into the bottom of the pan.

And top with additional cheddar.  A LOT of cheddar.
I mean - you've come this far already.

Cover and bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes, then uncover and bake an additional 10.
To test if the potatoes are done, just stick a knife in the center.  If the potatoes are ready, the knife will just slide right in.  If not, bake for an additional 10 minutes. 

For this particular dinner, I served the potatoes with Salisbury Steak.  I was slightly underwhelmed by the steak, but the potatoes blew my socks off. 
I would have gladly just curled up with the pan and a fork and ate potatoes until I couldn't anymore.  Like I said before, they're creamy, gooey, cheesy, and carby.
And you can find out right nowish how great these truly are because they would pair beautifully with the gorgeous, delicious ham that will grace your tabletop this weekend!
Happy Easter to you and yours!
Xoxo - Heather

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Rice-A-Roni Chicken Casserole

When I was a kid, my Dad would cook every now and then.  You should know that I'm not the biggest fan of pork chops, but pork chops in mushroom sauce (icky - but I still liked it! The horror.) was his speciality.  And he would ALWAYS serve it with Rice-A-Roni. 
I'm sure it's chock full of sodium and scary preservatives, but I freaking love that stuff.  Like. LOVE.
So when I saw this casserole on Pinterest, I could hardly wait to make it.  I mean - look at what's in there!  How could it NOT be delicious!
Prepare the Rice-A-Roni according to the package directions.
Stir in the cream of chicken soup.

And the sour cream.

Pull the chicken off the bones and break it into chunks. And add that to the rice mixture too.

Spread the chicken mixture into a 9 x 13 casserole dish.

Top with the French fried onions.

And bake in the oven until heated through and the onions on top are crispy.

And serve.  Oh my.
I loved this casserole.  It's creamy and dreamy and delicious.  The onions add this great crisp texture. 

Never mind that it's not the healthiest casserole on the planet - it's totally worth the calories.
I totally recommend this for a cozy, heart-warming Sunday Supper with your family, or for a Friday when you just can't grown-up anymore.  It'll fill up all the empty spaces in your tummy.
You should also know - I sent this along to my Mom for a dinner she was hosting and they all loved it.
I mean.  How could you not.
Xoxo - Heather

Friday, 27 March 2015

Shrimp and Wild Rice Casserole

Have you seen that President's Choice commercial where Galen Weston talks about food and wonders why someone would eat the pineapple, or the mushroom, or whatever?
For real.  Who would have thought that cutting into that spiny, evil-looking thing would result in sweet and juicy pineapple? 

And who was the brave soul that looked at raw wild rice and thought "yeah.  Let's try this.  Looks delicious".
How hungry would you have to be?  Probably pretty hungry.
I have no Cast of Characters picture for you.  They were too busy being turned into dinner to have their picture taken.
Start cooking the very weird wild rice according to the package instructions.
Be nervous about it.
While the rice is cooking, melt butter in a frying pan and add in the onions and green peppers.  Cook them until they are soft.  It takes about 5 minutes.

Then, in a large bowl, combine the cream of celery (or mushroom, or chicken, or whatever) soup.

And the cheddar cheese.

And the cooked onions and peppers.

And the shrimp.


And the wild rice.  When cooked, the rice kind of breaks out of the black shell so there's soft fluffy bits and chewy black bits.  It's strange and delightful.

The proverbial pineapple of rice if you will.

Mix it all together, put it into a casserole dish, top it with additional cheese and bake it in the oven until it's bubbly.


I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed this casserole.  It was creamy and cheesy, the shrimp was plump and juicy, and the rice was actually completely perfect. 

Even my 5-year old niece, albeit slightly freaked out at first, willingly cleaned her plate!

It's an easy weeknight meal that anyone would love.  Although maybe your most finicky eaters might freak out totally.

And the leftovers were great too!

Enjoy! - Heather

Shrimp and Wild Rice Casserole

8 oz package of wild rice
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deceived
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
10 ounce can cream of celery soup
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Prepare wild rice according to package directions, but remove 1/4 cup of cooking water.  Drain and cool
  2. In a medium pot, bring 2 cups of water and 1/2 tablespoon salt to a boil.  Add the shrimp, cook for 1 minute.  Drain and set aside.
  3. In a frying pan, melt the butter and add the green pepper and onion.  Cook until softened - about 5 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the soup, 1 1/2 cups cheese, cooked pepper and onion, the shrimp, and the wild rice.
  6. Add the salt and pepper.
  7. Grease a 7 x 11 casserole dish, spread the rice mixture into the dish and top with the remaining cheese.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, until bubbly.
Source:  Kitchme