Broccoli Casserole

I was volun-told to make a Broccoli Casserole for a Christmas luncheon at work last week. In the South, a typical Broccoli Casserole contains a boat-load of mayonnaise. I think it is gross. I wasn’t too happy about having to make the dish, but set out to create a Broccoli Casserole recipe I would be proud to serve to people. I wanted to make one that had way less mayo and fat, but still maintained the essential elements of the dish. I think my revamped Broccoli Casserole turned out great. It was creamy, but didn’t have an overpowering mayonnaise taste. I really liked it. I will definitely add this side dish to my repertoire.

Broccoli Casserole

2 12 oz. packages frozen broccoli florets
1 10.5 oz. can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I recommend Duke’s)
1/4 cup sour cream
1 egg
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I use mild)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350º F. Spray a casserole dish (a 9 X 13-inch will work) with cooking spray.

Cook the broccoli according to the package directions (I just zap it in a bowl in the microwave) and drain well in a colander. 

In a large bowl, combine the cream of mushroom soup, mayonnaise, sour cream, egg, cheese, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add the drained broccoli and mix well. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish and spread evenly.

Mix the crushed Ritz crackers with the melted butter. Spread evenly over the top of the broccoli mixture. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, until nicely browned.


Southeast Asian Cabbage Salad

Southeast Asian Cabbage Salad

I love this salad! It’s something I make quite a bit. It’s fresh, crunchy, colorful, virtually fat-free, nutritious, and very flavorful. This salad keeps fairly well in the fridge for up to two days.

Southeast Asian Cabbage Salad

1 head green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1 to 2 carrots, grated
1/2 to 1 cucumber, seeded, peeled, and chopped
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
2 (or more) fresh chiles (I usually use jalapenos or serranos), seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
chopped roasted peanuts

Combine cabbage, carrot, cucumber, cilantro and chiles in a large bowl. Mix vinegar, sugar, garlic, and fish sauce together in a small bowl. Pour vinegar mixture over cabbage mixture and toss well. Sprinkle with crushed peanuts right before serving.


Hot Water Cornbread

 

This is another favorite from my childhood. It’s a Southern classic. My Dad used to add in shredded sharp cheddar cheese, minced onion, and minced jalapenos to his hot water cornbread mixture before frying. Experiment with the add-ins. The possibilities are endless. I like my hot water cornbread simple, plain. I’ve been known to dip mine in ketchup, but others like them drizzled with honey are maple syrup. They go great with a nice pot of pinto beans.

Hot Water Cornbread

2 cups cornmeal
1 tsp. salt
2 cups boiling water
oil for frying

Add about an inch of oil to a cast iron skillet. Heat oil over medium-high heat.

Meanwhile, combine the cornmeal and salt in a bowl. Add the boiling water and mix well. Let the mixture cool slightly. When the mixture is cool enough to handle, shape into patties by forming a ball with about 2 or 3 tablespoons of the mixture and then flattening it into a 1/2-inch patty with your fingers. Fry the patties in the hot oil in small batches, turning often until golden on both sides. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.


Shrimp Risotto

Shrimp Risotto

Risotto takes a little time, but is very easy to make (and hard to mess up) and it always seems to impress. You can add a variety of ingredients to a basic risotto recipe to create endless combinations. Shrimp is my favorite, but I also like mushroom, or a combination of fresh vegetables. It’s a great way to incorporate seasonal vegetables into your menu. Asparagus and baby peas in the spring. Corn, tomato, and zucchini in the summer. Wild mushrooms in the fall. Winter squash in winter. It’s all good.

Shrimp Risotto

1 cup arborio rice
1 pound shrimp
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, minced (or substitute 1 small onion, finely chopped)
½ cup dry white wine (or vegetable broth)
2 ½ cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 tablespoons heavy cream (half and half will work too)
salt and pepper

Have the vegetable broth simmering in a pot close-by before you begin.

In a large skillet with a heavy bottom, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent. Add the arborio rice and sauté with the shallots, stirring often, until the rice starts to get some color, about 5 minutes. Carefully add the white wine (or vegetable broth) slowly, stirring often with a wooden spoon. Once the rice has absorbed the wine (or broth), add 1 cup of the vegetable broth, continuing to stir often. Continue to add the broth (about ½ cup at a time) as the rice absorbs the liquid and the pan becomes dry, until all the broth is absorbed. This should take about 20 minutes (the risotto will become creamy). About 3 to 4 minutes before the risotto is done (about the time you add the last bit of broth), add the shrimp and cook until pink. Stir in the butter, Parmesan, and heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Top each serving with additional Parmesan cheese.


Savory Zucchini Pie

Savory Zucchini Pie

Savory Zucchini Pie is great for a light lunch or dinner. Since it is very quiche-like, it is also perfect for breakfast. No matter what meal you eat it for, it is sure to become a favorite. Jazz it up with the addition of herbs. Basil, cilantro, or oregano are all delicious additions to this pie.

Slice of Savory Zucchini Pie

Savory Zucchini Pie

1 prepared pie crust (I just use store-bought)
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
3 medium-sized zucchini, halved lengthwise and then thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup shredded cheese (I like a combo of cheddar and mozzarella, but feel free to use your favorite cheese)
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 375º F.

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft, stirring often. Add the sliced zucchini and continue to sauté until tender. Add the shredded carrot and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat. Combine the beaten eggs, cheese, and a little more salt and pepper together. Add the egg and cheese mixture to the zucchini mixture. Pour into the pie shell. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the pie comes out clean.


Southern-Style Green Beans

I’m 45 years old and until recently have never really cooked green beans with bacon. I don’t generally think vegetables need meat (or extra fat) added to them, but maybe the years of living in the South have rubbed off on me because here I am adding bacon to my green beans and cooking them until they are super tender. They taste great this way and are a nice variation to the way I usually prepare green beans (toss them into some salted boiling water and cook about 10 minutes until they are crisp-tender).

Southern-Style Green Beans

4 slices bacon, chopped
1 pound fresh green beans, washed and ends trimmed
2 cups water
1 bouillon cube (vegetable or chicken)

Cooked the chopped bacon in a pot until crisp. Remove the bacon, leaving the bacon fat in the pot. Set the bacon aside. Add the green beans, water, and bouillon cube. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and then cook for about 1 hour or until the green beans are very tender. Stir in the reserved bacon and serve.


Jambalaya with Sausage

Once or twice a year, I am able to get sausage super cheap at Publix by pairing coupons with a sale (BOGO). I have been using http://www.southernsavers.com to match coupons with sales for years now. I think the website/app is a wonderful tool to help save lots of money. It certainly helps me stick to my grocery budget.

By getting the sausage for a steal, I was able to make this batch of Jambalaya with Sausage for under $5. Thrifty. It’s a super easy recipe that makes plenty to have again another day.

Using the frozen vegetable seasoning blend is very convenient and helps get dinner on the table in about 30 minutes. Great for a weekday meal.

Jambalaya with Sausage

12 ounce package rope sausage (I used Hillshire Farms Beef Smoked  Sausage, but Andouille sausage would be perfect)
10 ounce package frozen vegetable seasoning blend (I used Publix brand with onions, celery, sweet red & green peppers, and parsley)
4 cups (32 ounces) chicken broth
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (with their juices)
2 cups long-grained white rice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon your favorite Cajun seasoning mix (homemade or store-bought)
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne, or to taste

Slice the sausage into 1/4-inch slices. Cook over medium-high heat in a large soup pot until evenly browned. Remove the sausage and drain on paper towels. Set aside.

Add the frozen vegetable seasoning blend to the hot sausage drippings. Cook, stirring often, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth, diced tomatoes, rice, Worcestershire sauce, Cajun seasoning mix, and cayenne to the pot. Stir well and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce the temperature to low. Cook 20 minutes or until rice is tender and all the liquid has cooked out. Fluff with a fork and serve.