The making of Tex-Mex Breakfast Hash

 

Beginnings

 

 

Yesterday I decided to have grilled chicken for dinner and as you know, that is only the beginning of meal planning. What was I going to serve with it and what did I have on hand? These things go easier if you have a pretty well-stocked pantry. You know, salsa, lime juice, rice, beans, etc. It also helps to have things like sour cream and fresh produce on hand too.

Since this is the middle of July, we are over-run with tomatoes right now. Knowing this, and trying to find different ways to use them up, I wanted to make some Pico de Gallo salsa. That’s in the realm of Mexican or at least Tex-Mex so when it came to whether to marinate the chicken or not I chose to marinate. Actually, I almost always marinate chicken. There are two reasons for that. One, chicken needs flavor! It takes on the essence of the flavor of whatever it’s cooked or paired with. The second reason is that chicken dries out so easily during cooking.

Yesterday I used the zest and juice of a large lime, added chopped cilantro, salt and pepper, and a bit of olive oil to a bowl and whisked it all together. I added it to the trimmed chicken breast that I had placed in a large zip-type bag and massaged it all together, letting it sit on the counter for about an hour to come to room temp while I made the pico salsa*.

Anyway, that was dinner last night. I made some guacamole and some Mexican rice and served the pico de gallo over the grilled chicken. It was great!

And, again I made too much – we had lots of leftovers.

Leftovers are great, as long as they are repurposed, as far as I’m concerned. In my house, Paul is the one who usually eats the leftovers. Me? I want to make something new because I get bored with the “old”.

But back to the breakfast hash! (Sorry for the rabbit trail)

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This morning was no different. I decided to repurpose last night’s dinner into a one-dish breakfast.

I had leftover, pico salsa, guac, grilled chicken, and Mexican rice. I had a pretty good start with the ingredients already.

I looked in the pantry for some type of beans because let’s face it, Tex-Mex needs beans! I found a can of chili beans that are already seasoned so I put them in my pre-heated large iron skillet, without draining.

Next, I added the leftover Mexican rice. After rummaging around in the fridge for some pepper jack cheese I discovered some leftover corn on the cob and thought – why not? I cut it off the cob and tossed it into the pan with the beans and rice.

Now for some protein! The chicken I cut into bite-sized pieces and tossed into the pan, too. To this, I added a bit of the leftover pico de gallo and some regular salsa, heated everything through, and then made 4 “wells” in the bean and rice mixture. Into each well, I cracked an egg and seasoned with salt and pepper. On the top, I added shredded pepper jack cheese, taking care not to cover the eggs.

Unbaked

I popped it all into a preheated 350-degree oven and left to bake for about 15 minutes. or until the eggs are opaque but not set. Then I turned the broiler on, keeping watch closely and browned it off a bit before removing from the oven. (Don’t forget that handle is sizzling hot – use a towel to remove and leave the towel in place so no one else touches it!!)

Sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro.

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I brought the entire pan to the table to serve “family-style.” I had sour cream, guacamole, and the pico salsa on the side. I also heated some fresh corn tortillas on the stove while the hash was baking then served those alongside, too.

Plated 2

It was soooo good! I don’t know how I managed to clean my plate but I did! (Close enough to clean!)

The Aftermath

Vietnamese Spring Roll Salad

 

Inside-out Vietnamese spring rolls

I made this about a year ago and it was delicious! The problem was, I didn’t write down how I made it and more importantly, what the dressing comprised of. Ugh, I hate when I do that, or don’t do as was the case here.

So in order to be able to make this again, as many times as I want, I decided to make it again and write it down this time. With much research, (and much eating, lol) I finally (FINALLY) got it right.

Note: As is the case of many Asian recipes, and fresh food in general, there is a fair amount of knife work here but I promise you, it is totally worth the time and effort it takes to do this right. Also, I highly recommend the Tsang Bangkok brand peanut sauce – oh my!

Vietnamese Spring Roll Salad

1 bunch Asparagus cut into 1-inch pieces

1 large Red Bell Pepper, julienned

2 Carrots cut into 2-inch pieces then julienned

½ pound Snow Peas stemmed and strings removed, left whole if small, or cut in half if large

8-ounces Rice Vermicelli

1 tsp. Salt

1 pound of medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cooked

1 medium jalapeno or 2 Thai chilies, stemmed, seeded and minced, optional

½ cup each, loosely packed basil, cilantro, and mint, coarsely chopped

½ cup coarsely chopped roasted salted peanuts, optional

Ingredients arrayed

Dressing:

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons fish sauce

2 ½ tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon salt

3 to 4 tablespoons purchased Peanut Sauce

3 tablespoons Olive Oil

Dressing Ingredients

Blanch the asparagus and snow peas in boiling, salted water for 2 minutes. Drain and place in cold water to stop the cooking.

All chopped and blanched

Bring 2 quarts of water to boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in salt and rice vermicelli. Cook until noodles are tender but not mushy, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain noodles and rinse under cold running water until cool. Drain again and transfer to large bowl.

Combine the first 5 ingredients of the dressing in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Taste and season as needed. Once emulsified, add to the rice vermicelli and toss well.

Making the dressing

To the large bowl, add the red peppers, carrots, shrimp, jalapeno, and peanuts, if using. Toss well to coat. Finish with the fresh herbs and toss. If possible, let sit for 30 minutes before serving. (On the counter or refrigerated)

Salad complete - large bowl

Yields: 6 main course servings

Finished serving

Chicken & Dumplings

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This recipe originated from Bill Neal’s Southern Cooking,  a book I had borrowed from my Father in law.  I have since made a few modifications that suit our taste more, like adding the carrots and celery directly to the cooking liquid instead of roasting on the side, etc.

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When I went and looked this up in my old personal recipe book, I discovered that I first made this back on February 8th, 1989 when I was pregnant with Chelsea and the first year of our marriage.

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Turns out I really have been making this for a long time! And I will confess – I don’t even look at the recipe anymore! But, I thought you might be in need of a really good recipe for comfort because at the end of the day, isn’t that what this really is – Comfort in a bowl? It is for me!

Enjoy!

Chicken and Dumplings…

1 Poached chicken, reserve stock

8 Tbls. butter

1 C. chopped onion

1 1/2 C. chopped fresh mushrooms (or as many as you like)

2 cloves garlic, minced

2/3 C. flour

6 C. reserved stock

1 to 1 1/2 C. each coarsely chopped carrots and celery

1/2 C. heavy cream

12 drops Tabasco sauce, or to taste

Melt the butter over medium heat in heavy 5 Qt. Dutch oven.  Add the onion and sauté until translucent.  Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until the moisture evaporates, about 7 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook 2 minutes more.

Make a roux by adding all the flour to the onion mixture at once.  Whisk in 1/2 to 3/4 cup stock.  Continue stirring until smooth, about 3 minutes.  The flour will take on the color from the mushrooms; do not let it brown from the heat.

Pour in the remaining stock and stir to blend. Add the carrots and celery and let simmer until tender.* In the meantime remove the meat from the chicken, and roughly chop.  When vegetables are tender add the chicken and heavy cream.  Simmer for 15 minutes, do not let boil. Season well with salt, pepper and the Tabasco sauce.

Dumplings:

1 1/2 C. flour                                          2 T. chopped fresh basil or 1 T. dried

2 t. salt                                                    4 T. chopped scallions, green & white parts

2 T. chopped fresh parsley                1 egg beaten, with enough milk added to equal 7/8 cup.

1 t. sugar

2t. baking powder

Stir the dry ingredients together twice.  Add the herbs and scallions and stir to coat with flour.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and quickly stir in all of the liquid.

Drop by large spoonfuls into the simmering broth.  Cover pot tightly and reduce heat so that the liquid bubbles but does not boil.  Cook approx. 15 minutes.  Dumplings will appear “dry” when done.

* Carrots and Celery can be pre-cooked in the microwave if desired.

**  If you have left-over sauce, heat the sauce in the dutch oven and make another batch of dumplings.  (I always have to do this!)

chicken and dumplings

 

Super Bowl Food – Buffalo Chicken Tacos

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For most of my adult life I’ve been a huge fan of the Super Bowl and then, only partially because of the teams on the field. Of course, I love watching the best of the best play but I have to be honest here – my favorite part has always been the food!

I love “football” food. And more than I like eating it, I like making it! That’s hard to believe, isn’t it? Yeah, I know…not really. (Smile)

One of my “must haves” every single year is chicken wings. There is just something about them. I rarely eat them out but whenever I get the chance, I make them at home. I might be a tad bit particular about my wings! LOL

One year my son in law, who spent many years in Texas, wanted me to make tacos for the Super Bowl. I wasn’t sure how tacos would fit in with my favorites though. Sure, I like tacos, but I like wings better.

I gave in and we got to brainstorming about what kind of tacos we wanted and ended up making three different kinds of tacos. We had beef with peppers and onions, we had fish tacos with spicy slaw and oranges in adobo sauce and the best one, in my opinion, was the Buffalo chicken taco! It was my nod to wings while still staying with the taco theme.

Since that year, we have talked about the Buffalo chicken tacos and how great they turned out, it was everyone’s favorite. They were surprisingly good! So good in fact, we have them a couple of times of year – whether there is a game playing or not!

And now that the Super Bowl is only two weeks away, I thought I’d share the recipe with you.

(This is one of those times that a rotisserie chicken from your grocery store is perfect.)

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Buffalo Chicken Tacos

Ingredients

2 cups shredded, cooked chicken (1 rotisserie chicken)

½ cup Franks Buffalo wing sauce

½ to ¾ minced celery leaves and hearts

Blue cheese dressing, purchased or homemade

Blue cheese crumbles, optional

Corn tortillas or street taco – size flour tortillas, heated if desired.

****

Shred the chicken into bite sized pieces, discarding the skin and bones.

Place the shredded chicken and wing sauce in a medium microwaveable bowl and mix with your hands until combined.

Heat in microwave for a minute or two to warm back up.

Holding a tortilla in your hand spread a tablespoon or so of the blue cheese dressing along the bottom. Follow with some of the celery and then the chicken mixture. Don’t overfill. Sprinkle with a little more celery and top with blue cheese crumbles, is using.

Place in a taco holder and repeat with remaining tacos.

Enjoy

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Giving the gift that keeps on giving – It’s the perfect gift.

 

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As many of you know, I bake and sell things through my Etsy shop and sometimes that makes it a little interesting when I post pictures of things I bake on a daily basis. Many people try to eat healthily by cutting out sweets and carbs and when they see my pictures I get a lot of conversations about people wishing they weren’t tempted or wishing they could have some or even the occasional, “I wish I could support you and what you do but I’m gluten-free or sugar-free, or I don’t know…pick something. I get this and it’s all fine.

Really, it’s fine. Not everyone is supposed to be my client. We can still be friends.

What many of you may not know is, about 80% of what I bake is a gift for someone. Most of my clients aren’t buying for themselves so their own dietary restrictions are not part of the equation. They want to bless someone with freshly baked items, period. I simply bake what they want to send, include a note from the client to the recipient and off it goes.

Since this is the perfect time of year to think about gift giving, let me tell you about a few of my clients.

Mary, (not her real name), contacted me last year because she wanted to gift her mother with a 6-month subscription of my Cookie of the Month Club. Her mother lived in an assisted living facility in upstate New York and, it was her 90th birthday! Every month when Mary’s mother received those cookies she would share them with all the other people she played bingo with. It was a great adventure each month because “momma” got so excited to see what treat she received this time. After a month or so, her friends were as excited as she was! (Of course, they got to share in the loot also!)

Every month, I contacted Mary and let her know the next batch was on the way and gave her all the shipping details. That way, she knew exactly when her mother would receive them. Also every month Mary would re-contact me and let me know how much her mother enjoyed her cookies, and also enjoyed the attention she got from her friends!

Sadly, this ended after 6 months were up. Mary thanked me so many times for bringing joy to her mother.

A few months ago, Mary contacted me again. She decided to purchase another 6-month subscription for her mother’s 91st birthday. She knew her mother had loved the gift the previous year and knew she would be so excited to receive it again.

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And, that’s just one mother’s tale. Last week I got an order for a 3-month subscription for Grandma Gigi who was turning 101 years old! Yay, Grandma! I get to do this kind of thing all the time and feel honored that someone would trust me with such a precious gift.

Sometimes this is the only “home baked” thing these parents or grandparents get each month. It’s a splurge and it’s a great treat for them to think someone baked something just for them. What they don’t know is, it’s an even bigger treat for me.

I’ve been honored to send condolence gifts to someone who is grieving over a death in the family. I’ve celebrated birthdays and anniversaries. I really do get to celebrate with them – even if they never know.

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If you are interested in something like this – whether it’s Christmas gift for your parents, grandparents, or simply a Thank You gift for a friend or co-worker, I think I may have something to help make things easier for you.

Check it out…

Sometimes you want to treat that special someone with a gift but not sure what to choose. Maybe they have EVERYTHING! Maybe you just want to say thank you and not really sure how.

My Cookie, Muffin, or Treat of the Month Clubs could quite possibly be the answer you need. Who doesn’t like receiving packages in the mail, especially packages of fresh, delicious baked goods? And you know, YOU might be that special someone who needs a gift of freshly baked treats each month!

That would mean that you could gift someone Treats for the entire year (or however long you choose), and it would be a surprise each month.

So why not treat yourself or a special friend to 3 months of fresh-baked cookies delivered right to the front door? (Or you may select 6 months, 9 months, or an entire year!) Order once and I’ll take care of everything else. You get to sit back and enjoy; either your own treats or thank-you from the recipient.

Here are the links if you want to see what it’s all about:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/223027550/cookie-of-the-month-club

https://www.etsy.com/listing/250544588/muffin-of-the-month-club

https://www.etsy.com/listing/269267579/treat-of-the-month-club
 

Breakfast Sausage French Toast

I received a recipe in the mail from one of my local grocery stores the other day and it looked so good, I decided to give it a try. I’m so glad I did.

They were so good, in fact, that I went back to the store and got more so I could make them ahead and freeze for another day.

Breakfast Sausage French Toast

Breakfast Sausage French toast

1 lb Breakfast sausage links

14 slices white bread, crusts removed

2 eggs

1 cup milk, half & half, or cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

Dash of cinnamon, optional

Powdered sugar, optional

Maple syrup for dipping

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 225º

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil – set aside.

Cook the breakfast sausage according to package directions, set aside.

Meanwhile, stack several slices of the bread and remove the crust with a bread knife, or another serrated knife. Repeat with remaining bread.

In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, and cinnamon if using.

Lay 1 slice of bread down on your work surface. Next, place 1 sausage link at the bottom and roll up, sealing the edge as best you can. put on a plate. Continue until you have rolled all sausages.

One at a time, put each “roll” in the egg/milk mixture being sure it’s totally covered. Let the excess drip off and put on a plate. (I dipped only about half of the rolls into the milk mixture at a time.)

Using the same pan you cooked the sausage in, add about a ½ tablespoon of butter and let it get nice and hot, say medium-high. Don’t let the butter brown! Once it begins bubbling, add the rolls, one at a time, being sure not to let the butter splash on you – cook, turning until all sides are a nice golden brown.

Remove the pan from heat and place the cooked on the baking sheet and pop in the oven until the other batch is cooked.

Repeat the dipping and cooking process with the remaining batch.

Place all the cooked Breakfast Sausage French toast on a serving platter and sprinkle with powdered sugar, if using. Serve with warm maple syrup.

Anytime you can make something in advance, you should do it. I’m about to begin writing a series on this food blog (The Table) of exactly this – food hacks, tips and make-ahead things to help your holidays (and everyday life) run more smoothly.

To make ahead:

Let the sausage rolls cool. Then place on a baking tray and place in the freezer until firm. Once they are firm/frozen, place them in a zip freezer bag, or other freezer containers and put in the freezer until ready to eat.  Bake in a preheated 350º oven for about 5 or 10 minutes. There is no reason to thaw first.

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I fried a couple of eggs to go along with the French Toast and added a bit of warm maple syrup. It was the perfect breakfast for a cold autumn day.

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College Ahead

College ahead

Before you know it we’ll be sending our kids off to school again. Do you have any that are going off to college? It can be had on both of you sometimes. Obviously, it’s hard for us parents when our kids go away and aren’t under our influence anymore. But do you realize that it’s also difficult for them, too? It is. When my daughter went away to art school it was really hard for me. She seemed too young – she only turned 18 the day she moved into the dorm for Pete’s sake! She was several states away, didn’t know anyone and had never been away from home more than a week or two at a time.

College dorm room

What I did to make us both feel better was to send her care packages.

I realize I’m not the only one who has thought of this but the other day I was baking some cookies and was reminiscing about sending cookies and such in the mail so she could have a taste of home. I can’t tell you how much she appreciated it. (There was even enough to share with her new friends!)

Treat of the month 1

Wouldn’t your child love to get some home-baked goodness from you every month while they are away from home also? If you think they would I can set up a monthly subscription and you won’t have to do a thing – except receiving all the thank you’s they will be sending your way!

I have 3, 6, 9, and 12-month subscriptions to choose from. The choices are pretty limitless; you get to choose all muffins, all cookies or you can even mix it up and choose to send cookies, brownies, pies or even cupcakes. The choice is yours. Of course, you can simply send one order – they will love you for it no matter what you send.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/GigisTable

Mexican Wedding Cookie

Mother’s Day and Honoring Women

Coconut TPC

Mother’s Day is on May 14th this year and that makes it less than a month away. I have to find a victim, quick! No, really. Let me explain…….

My mother passed away 8 years ago and because she has gone on, it doesn’t exempt me from honoring mothers all around me. There are single mothers who need encouraging, spiritual mothers who need honoring, sisters who have forgotten how awesome they truly are or maybe you’re a mother to orphans who simply needs someone to listen to what has happened in your day. The need is greater than we know.

Find someone to honor and celebrate extravagantly this year. Take them to dinner, send them something in the mail, go clean their house or buy them flowers. And most importantly, tell them how much they’ve meant to you, how they’ve spoken into your life, or how awesome they are!

And, if you do want to send them something in the mail I can help you out with that! There are plenty of options to choose from in my shop: There are gifts of cookies, muffins, pies, scones or even cupcakes! Also, there are options to send a give that keeps on giving. You can choose from 3, 6, 9 or 12-month subscriptions for cookies, muffins or even assorted treats – your choice. All made fresh the day they ship.

Anyone can send flowers and really, haven’t we all been guilty of this fallback no-brainer year after year? I know I have. I also know that I love it when I get something different for a change.
I do all the work; you get all the praises and thanks.

If you want to check out the options for gift giving, here’s the link:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/GigisTable?ref=hdr_shop_menu

 

Tomato Pie – The quintessential taste of summer at our house.

Tomato Pie 3

Every spring when we set out our tomato plants we also plant lots of basil to go with them because what we have in mind is tomato pie. The other thing we plant in the spring is sweet banana peppers because you cannot have tomato pie without them. Did I mention how much we love tomato pie?  We have so many memories that are attached to this pie that it’s like taking a walk down memory lane when we eat it. (smile) Continue reading “Tomato Pie – The quintessential taste of summer at our house.”