Not Your Daddys Oldsmobile (Or Your Mommas Potato Soup)

I wonder how many of my readers are too young to even remember that advertising campaign. Twas back in the ’80’s I believe with the premise being that the “new” oldsmobile (looking back at what now would be an antique car lol. Damn, I’m old) was so modern and improved that it was nothing like what your daddy drove and no longer had the stigma of being dowdy and old fashioned.

What the heck does this have to do with food you ask? Whadda ya mean; you didn’t ask?! Why are you here then? So for those of you who ASKED (hmmppphhh to the rest of you). Well, it’s the same with foods. There are some things that get ostracized from the foodie world because they are seen as dowdy and old fashioned. When have you seen a post praising liverwurst/braunschweiger ? or one touting Pickled Herring as the best movie time snack? Once upon a time, both of these things, among many others, were considered delicious every day foods. And while I personally happen to love both, I know I’m in the minority. Foods get pushed aside for the newest trend, a fact I’ve mourned more than once in this blog.

One thing though that seems to have held on through the test of time is potato soup. Oh sure, you can look and find some strange ones that use truffle oil and caviar or ones that have the calorie count required by an amoeba as well as the taste of a piece of cardboard. But good old fashioned creamy potato soup seems to be loved by most. There are a few weirdos out there but they also ate school paste as kids and we won’t count them. Their taste buds are still glued together.

But even the old can be made better (other than Joan Rivers and Meg Ryans plastic surgery attempts; there are some things that can’t be fixed *shudders*). Witness said Oldsmobile :-P. And you all know me; if it can be changed, I will do it. Not a drastic change mind you; I like continuity and sameness too much. But just enough change to take something that at times can taste like Elmer’s glue (I seem to have a glue/paste fetish going here today. Hmm)

So I played with potato soup today. Ok, that came out wrong but you know what I mean. And I must say, I think I have made some pretty darn delicious soup. It’s thick, creamy, rich without being overwhelming, meaty, chock full of potato flavor with a burst of texture from onions and potato chunks. All in all, I think this will become my standard way of making potato soup. It takes a bit more time than just dumping dry potato flakes in a pot and adding milk (did anyone elses mother do that?), salt and pepper but it’s still very easy. So go buy some taters.You’ll like this. This makes a large pot of soup so cut in half if need be or soup freezes well. Also, I used Bob Evans Brand mashed potatoes; just a personal preference; use your favorite. This recipe is all me btw… just played around with the basic idea of potato soup

Creamy Potato Soup (Worlds Best ๐Ÿ˜› )

  • 5 medium potatoes, chopped into small pieces (peel or not; your choice. I like the peel)
  • 3 cans good quality chicken broth
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup chopped leeks
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 stalked celery, chopped fine
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 lb smoked andouille sausage (I used Aidells brand )
  • 8 ounces bacon, cooked and crumbled (go ahead and throw a teaspoon or so of the bacon drippings in there too. I won’t judge.) plus a few extra cooked slices for garnish
  • 1 package refrigerator style ready made mashed potatoes (I used the sour cream & chive flavor)
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, cubed (I had to laugh when all I had was 1/3 less fat. Don’t think it helped much in this ๐Ÿ˜› )
  • 8 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 8 to 12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 green onions, sliced thin and more for garnish
  • extra chicken broth if you prefer a thinner soup
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • GARNISHES- our cream, bacon, green onions, more cheese
  1. Combine your chopped potatoes and the 3 cans of chicken broth in a large (preferably non stick) pot. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to a low simmer.
  2. While potatoes cook, in a large saucepan over low heat, saute the onions, leeks, shallot, celery and garlic. You’re not wanting to brown the veggies, just sweat them out and soften them so keep your heat low. When veggies are nice and tender, dump them into the pot with the potatoes.
  3. In the same pan you sauteed the veggies in, add the sliced andouille. Turn the heat up to about medium high and cook them until nice and crispy on both sides. Toss them into the pot too making sure to get all the drippings in the pan in there too.
  4. Add in your bacon (don’t forget to save some for garnish) and the refrigerator mashed potatoes
  5. Stir well until the mashed potatoes are smooth and let this all simmer together over low heat (keep an eye on this and stir frequently to prevent sticking) for about 30 minutes.
  6. ย Add in your shredded cheese and the cream cheese. Stir constantly until the cheeses are smoothly incorporated into the soup.
  7. Add the half and half. Continue cooking the soup just until it’s heated through. You don’t want to bring it back to a boil because that can break down the cream and sour cream and make the soup very unattractive and curdled looking.
  8. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with your favorite toppings. We had this served with a buttered dark bread and it was a fantastic, filling EASY meal.


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Please Keep The Blue Box Away From Me

Caramelized Onion & Bacon Mac & Cheese

 

My kids are pretty normal kids when it comes to food tastes. Normal as in they prefer simple foods like hot dogs that have ketchup and mustard on them and nothing else. Whereas when I eat a hot dog, that bad boy better be covered in onions, sauerkraut, relish, cheese, ketchup and spicy mustard. Plus, it had better be Oscar Mayer or Nathans, not “Joes Brand Hot Dogs.,..made with all beef lips”. They like ice cream, but are perfectly content eating the container of vanilla I bought last year and forgot about, that has now gotten horribly freezer burned (“there isn’t anything wrong with this ice cream, momma”). When I eat ice cream, it usually has some weird name and bigger price tag as well as a much higher fat content ๐Ÿ˜›

It’s the same with mac and cheese. My boys (and sadly, my husband too hehe) are perfectly content with mac and cheese from the little blue box. Or even worse, from a box that has the store brand name on it and is made with something that may or may not have had intimate relations with real cheese about 15 generations back. On the days when I don’t feel like cooking, boxed mac and cheese and hot dogs is considered a wonderful, gourmet meal. Obviously, none of my kids are going to grow up and try to emulate James Beard. Though, in their defense, my three older and moved out kids all seem to have inherited my “cooking gene” and love to cook as well as experiment with food that goes beyond beef lip hot dogs.

So last night, when I made the following mac and cheese, I knew that the adults would like it (my daughter and her family were over) as well as my 2 year old grandson Lukas (Lukie… hey, we’re in the south. If a name can be changed and made to end in “ie”, we’ll do it). He will eat anything. I try to put the cats up when he is visiting… and cardboard…and his uncles…and…well, you get the point. He is the rare child who isn’t picky. The reactions were about what I expected, especially from Zachie (see?) my 15 year old. “Ewwww, I might have eaten it if you hadn’t put those onion “things” in there.” From Jordan (hard to put an “ie” on the end of his) “Whet ate the brown things in there, momma?”. From Joshie, “I don’ wanna eat, momma”. Gee, never would have guessed that was coming *rolls eyes*. From Lukie, <insert gobbling, slurping noises here>.

Personally, I thought it was pretty darn tasty and I will definitely be having leftovers tonight for my own dinner. So what was this, you ask? Well, it wasn’t blue box, that’s for sure. I made a wonderful creamy cheese sauce and mixed in a good amount of caramelized onions and enough bacon that our arteries are probably still screaming in pain even now. This was rich and creamy without being overwhelmingly so. The onions added a nice caramelized nutty sort of flavor and the bacon mixed with the cheese sauce and the macaroni was just heaven on a spoon. Yes, I used a spoon, not a fork. I didn’t want to miss any of the sauce.

You really need to try this. The sauce whips up quickly and is based on one I found on Martha Stewart’s web site and with no powdered cheese in sight. Tender pasta, creamy gooey cheese, meaty bacon and nicely browned onions. I mean really… what more do you need? Except maybe ice cream with a high fat content for dessert. Continue reading

Bacon Makes Any Food Better

Well, maybe not ice cream..or jello… or candy (sorry, chocolate bacon lovers) Yeah yeah, I know, there actually IS bacon ice cream and bacon candy but there are some things I just can NOT get behind. I am however still petitioning congress to make bacon, cheeses of all kinds, wine and chocolate part of the government supported food plans. For some reason whenever I call or write though, no one is ever in the office anymore. I can’t imagine why.

I’ve mentioned before that I love corn bread. I prefer it the southern way a la no or very little sugar. But I will eat it with sugar too so long as it’s not heavily sweetened. As the saying goes, if I want cake, I’ll eat cake. If I want cornbread, I’ll eat cornbread. Hold most of the sugar please.

You really have to forgo the sugar if you’re making a cornbread with add ins like this one. I added a couple of tablespoons to help with color but that’s it. This was based on Ina Gartensย  corn muffin recipe and I have to say, even had I been making it plain, I couldn’t have brought myself to add the full cup of sugar she called for. Really? A full cup!?

But this way? Say yummy with me! C’mon… say it! SAY IT DARN IT OR NO RECIPE!!

Erhmmm, sorry. I’m calm now. Continue reading

Something Smells Fishy Over Here

Smoked Salmon Chowder

Well actually, that’s not true. How many of you realized that if your fish smells fishy, it’s old? It may still be perfectly edible but it’s certainly not fresh. Just thought I’d throw that tidbit out there. If fish smells fishy, buy different fish.

I love fish. Unfortunately we don’t eat it as often as my taste buds or my health would like. it’s one of those foods that is so good for you but is also usually so darn expensive! Continue reading

You’re Such A Tart!

I’ve always been astounded by how the English language has so many words that have multiple meanings.ย  I mean, think about it for a second. (Swiped the following from a homeschooling website ๐Ÿ˜› )

  • crane: That bird is a crane./They had to use a crane to lift the object./She had to crane her neck to see the movie.
  • date: Her favorite fruit to eat is a date./Joe took Alexandria out on a date.
  • engaged: They got engaged on March 7th./The students were very engaged in the presentation.
  • foil: Please wrap the sandwich in foil./They learned about the role of a dramatic foil in English class.
  • leaves: The children love to play in the leaves./They do not like when their father leaves for work.
  • net: What was your net gain for the year?/Crabbing is easier if you bring a net along.
  • point: The pencil has a sharp point./It is not polite to point at people.
  • right: You were right./Make a right turn at the light.
  • rose: My favorite flower is a rose./He quickly rose from his seat.
  • type: He can type over 100 words per minute./That dress is really not her type.

See what I mean? And then we won’t even get into words with similar spellings but totally different pronunciations (rough, bough, dough, cough, through and so on and so forth). I swear, it’s all enough to make ones brain bleed. It’s a wonder that our children learn to speak and read at all. ๐Ÿ˜›

One of my favorites though is the word “tart” (it can refer to food after all so of course I like it hehe). It can mean that something is sour, can mean a woman who is a bit…erhmmm… free with her affections or it can be a word referring to a certain type of baked good. Since I am not cooking a Jezebel (another word for tart and yet another that can also be used in cooking ๐Ÿ˜› ) and while I like foods that are sour, this isn’t sour, I must be making a baked good ehh? Hmmm, now I want to make a tart tart just because I’m weird like that.

Ok, enough of an English lesson for the day. Go push your brains back into your heads and clean up the blood spills. Then go get out all the ingredients for this tart and get to cooking. I promise; you will love this. Bacon, cheese, crispy crust and the over the top yumminess of caramelized onions all combine to make this stick your face in it and inhale good. I got the original recipe from The Cooking Channel. I’ve changed it some but not a ton. I added the Swiss cheese and some extra Parmesan as well as extra bacon, a shallot and the sour cream. Ok, so maybe I changed it more than I thought now that I read that.

Bacon, Cheese & Caramelized Onion Tart

  • 1 9 to 10 inch pie crust
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 small onions, cut in half and then sliced into thin half circles
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 12 ounces bacon, cooked until crisp & crumbled
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 inch tart pan. Line the pan with the pie crust (I admit to having used the Pillsbury refrigerator crusts), making sure to press the crust into all the edges.
  2. In a medium sauce pot, melt the butter and olive oil. Add the onions and cook over medium high heat, stirring often, until they are limp and slightly softened. Add the shallots and garlic
  3. Turn the heat down to low (about 3 on an electric stove) and cook the onions until they are brown and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it because it can burn easily. Stir in the rosemary and thyme then set aside to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients.
  5. Spread into the pie crust
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 to 35 minutes, until the tart is firm and the top is nicely browned. Let cool before slicing or it will fall apart.

“Can I Have Another Bigit Momma?”

With six kids, I have heard a lot of mispronounced words in my day. For a woman who tends to be a grammar and vocabulary Nazi (*waits for someone to go through all my posts looking for all the errors…of which I’m sure there will be many hehe), I always found it strangely cute. I guess it comes down to that “when our kids do it, it’s cute even if other people aren’t so amused” sort of thing. I still say that the ability to find our children adorable is what keeps us from being like other species and eating our young. That and baby smell. Is there anything better than the smell of a babies head? Erhmmm… a clean baby. Not a baby that needs a diaper change or has old milk smell ๐Ÿ˜›

When Jordan and Zach (now 14 and 17) were little, they loved canned ravioli but called them “roly polys”. Hey! I had five kids then… convenience foods kept me sane! For the longest time, I never corrected them when they would ask me to make them a can of roly polys. Then when they hit puberty, I figured it could have long term effects on their social lives if I didn’t tell them the correct pronunciation so I reluctantly told them the correct way to say the word . ๐Ÿ˜›

Now Joshie, being three, is the one with the way of pronouncing things that makes me giggle.ย  Yes, I’m easily amused. What can I say? So when I made these biscuits the other night, how could I refuse his cute little face when eh asked me for another “bigit”? Not to mention, getting the boy to eat anything other than apples and raisins is a feat in itself, so I wasn’t going to argue. But seriously, they ARE good bigits.. I mean biscuits. Only I could manage to find a recipe for a simple southern treat that has been sullied by adding demon meat ๐Ÿ˜€ But really; like they say, everything is better with bacon. Well, except for chocolate. I can’t get behind that trend. *shudders*

These are easy as can be. And with bacon, cheddar cheese and cracked black pepper, they are yummy too! The first time I made these, the cheese on top got a bit too brownedย  so I suggest adding the cheese to the top when they are almost done. So I have more baking right now so that I have prettier ones to show you. The sacrifices I make for all of you. This came from a BHG magazine and other than adding more bacon and cheese it’s the original recipe. The real recipe called for just a stingy 4 slices of bacon and 1/4 cup of cheese and the cheese was just for on top. What WERE they thinking!? Aren’t that laws against the under use of bacon and cheese? I didn’t change much. Ok, so I added a few green onions… and the extra cheese…and more bacon. Sigh. Let me rephrase. Once upon a time, this began its life in a BHG magazine.

Bacon, Cheddar & Cracked Pepper Biscuits

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup cold butter
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 12 ounces bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled (hold back two slices for crumbling on top of biscuits)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (and about another 1/3 cup for sprinkling on top)
  • 2 green onions, sliced thin
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, pepper, cheese, green onions and cream of tartar.
  3. Using a pastry blender, cut in the cold butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk all at once.
  5. Stir with a fork just until mixture is thoroughly moistened.
  6. Dump onto a lightly floured board and knead until the dough is barely smooth. This isn’t a yeast dough; don’t over knead it.
  7. Pat it into a circle (doesn’t have to be perfect) of about 1/4 thick. Use a floured biscuit cutter to cut out rounds. Place them on a very lightly greased (cooking spray is fine) baking sheet. almost touching.
  8. Gently reroll scraps and do the same with them.
  9. Bake at 450 for 10 to 14 minutes or until golden brown. If sprinkling cheese and bacon on the tops, wait until they are almost done; sprinkle bacon and cheese on them, then finish cooking. Better yet, cook them, turn off the oven, sprinkle the cheese on them and put them back in and let the residual heat do the melting

 

Entering The Strata-osphere

Yeah, I know. I really need to work on my titles. But that was the best I could come up with for today.

With that title as a hint, I bet you can’t guess what the recipe is! Can ya, can ya can ya!!? It’sssssssss

LIVER!!

Ok, so unless you’ve never read my blog before, you’re not falling for that one.

I made a strata. Gee, the title kind of ruined the anticipation of what I made didn’t it? Maybe I should start having really misleading titles and to see what I made, you have to click on a link or something.

Nah. Way too much work and we all know I try to avoid that if possible.

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know about my love/hate relationship with bread pudding and the like. I absolutely LOVE it when I find or create a good one like my Pineapple Upside Down Bread Pudding or the
French Onion Bread Pudding I posted. But by the same token, I HATE them when they are dry, not creamy, boring and dull like the old time ones that were a bunch of stale white bread and a handful of raisins mixed with milk. Can we say “ick”?

Stratas are, in my mind, simply another version of bread pudding thus if it is good, I’m in love. And the one I created tonight was good. I had had a recipe picked out in a cookbook for one I wanted to try but for the life of me, I couldn’t find the recipe. Out of my 500000 cookbooks, I have no idea whatsoever what cookbook it was in. But I was determined to make a strata so I improvised. And it worked. Quite well actually. It is creamy with lots of meat and cheese and would make a perfect dish for an easy meal or to serve on a buffet or Christmas morning breakfast. It has a bit of spice but not overly so if you are one of those strange spice averse people you can still eat it. ๐Ÿ˜›

This feeds a lot of people… or two teen boys and my husband.

Cheesy Cajun Bacon And Andouille Strata

  • 5 hoagie buns, cubed (you could use Italian bread I’m sure but I had hoagie buns I needed to use thus this says hoagie buns ๐Ÿ˜› )
  • 12 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups milk
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 14 to 16 ounce package smoked Andouille style sausage, sliced (I used Johnsonville brand)
  • 1 pound bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled
  • 5 green onions, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt (I used “Janes Crazy Mixed Up Salt” cause I love that stuff)
  • 1 teaspoon salt free Cajun seasoning (only use if it’s salt free or between the seasoning salt and the meats, the end result will be over salted)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 2 quart (preferably glass) baking dish.
  2. In aย  frying pan, saute your sausage and green peppers until the sausage is lightly browned and the peppers are tender.
  3. ย Set the sausage aside to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the milk and beat until blended.
  5. Mix in the rest of the ingredients.
  6. Let sit for about ten minutes to give the bread time to soak up the liquid.
  7. Pour into the prepared baking dish and drizzle with the melted butter
  8. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes or until set in the middle (check with a butter knife or skewer. It shouldn’t come out with any loose dripping mixture on it.) and nicely browned.
  9. Let rest for about 5 minutes before cutting.

 

Dip Because I’m A Dip

 

 

Hard to take a decent picture of dip. I mean, it's DIP... ๐Ÿ˜›

When I was a kid, people who were ditzy were called dips or dippy. I have no idea if that was a regional thing or just that the people I knew were strange. Please don’t answer that. But suffice it to say that I fell squarely into the dippy category.

Thus the title of this post. I mean, this dip has chicken, cheese, bacon and green onions in it too but titling this “Dip for the chicken” or “dip for the bacon” just didn’t make much sense to me. I can be a bit chicken at times (like when eating liver is involved) but I am not related to pork products in any way. Hmmm, I’ve been known to be piggy. As for cheese, we all know I can be cheesy but “Dip for the cheese” just sounds stupid.

Fine, I admit it!! I couldn’t think of a good post title and this is all just a coverup to make it sound planned! It was “Dip-Gate”! A vast right wing conspiracy!! Erhmmmm, sorry, I think I was channeling Hilary Clinton. *Shudders* Now THERE’S a frightening thought.

Sigh. I really need to get out more.

Moving on.

Still have a couple of big holidays coming up. You may have heard of them. And they tend to be big eating holidays too. Not like Columbus Day… or Groundhog Day. Personally, I don’t go overboard on yummy foods for those two.

In my family, it has become a tradition to have our big meal on Christmas Eve. It has also become a tradition that the meal is mainly appetizers and finger foods. Mind you, with my kids and hubby that still means enough food to feed a small country but still… appetizers.

One of the things we all enjoy is dips. Not so much the ubiquitous kinds like cold french onion dip with chips (I save that for maybe a twice a year craving and TV) but more substantial ones. Preferably with meat. Lots of meat. Or cheese. Lots of cheese. Or even better, with both.

You’ve all probably heard of Buffalo Chicken Dip by now, even if you haven’t tried it. Hot cheesy dip that is SUPPOSED to taste like buffalo wings. Too often however, tasty as it is, it bears no resemblance to wings. With that in mind, I had no qualms keeping the same basic idea and taking it even farther down the path away from “Wingdom”. Ha!! You thought I was going to say that I had created one that tasted exactly like a scoopable buffalo wing. Admit it… you did, you did you did..

Oh heck no. As much as I love wings, I kinda like that the dips aren’t perfectly like them. But being me, as usual, I couldn’t leave well enough alone. So try MY version of Buffalo Chicken Dip. Hot, gooey, cheesy, chickeny (yes, that is now a word) bacony (hey; spell check didn’t say anything. I guess bacony really IS a word!), oniony (damn; not a word. Stoopid spell check.) and oh so yummy with tostitos or celery (if you’re feeling strangely healthful which is a waste of time with this dip) or off of your fingers. You may want to let it cool before you try that last one though. Just sayin’. I will not be held liable for burned fingertips :-p

Newly Revised Deluxe Version Of Buffalo Chicken Dip

  • 2 10 ounce cans chicken, well drained
  • 1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing or blue cheese dressing
  • 1/2 to 3/4 (if you’re brave) cup hot sauce (I use Franks Red Hot)
  • 1 3 ounce package bacon bits (yes, you could make your own bacon but this is meant to be easy, not work)
  • 3 cups cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese (I’d put more if I could but no one else in the family likes blue cheese, the boogerheads)
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese, hot sauce and dressing.
  3. Stir in the chicken, breaking up any large chunks (but don’t mush the crap out of it; leave some pieces), the bacon, the green onions and 2 cups of the cheddar cheese.
  4. Spoon into a lightly greased 2 quart baking dish or 9 inch pie plate.
  5. Top with the rest of the cheddar cheese, the blue cheese (and some extra green onions if you want)
  6. Bake at 350 until lightly browned around the edges and bubbly, about 20 minutes.
  7. Serve with veggies of tostitos or fingertips.

Oui Oui Monsieur and Madame!

 

You must read this whole post in a very bad cartoonish French accent. Unless of course, you are French or French Canadian in which case I would appreciate you trying to read this inย  sayyyyyy, a Russian accent, just to shake things up a little. Of course, if you can manage an Antarctic accent, I’d REALLY be impressed. Mind you, I have no Earthly idea what that would sound like (Polar Bear maybe?) but that’s what would make it impressive.

I know y’all are used to coming here for decadent treats and things that make you fat just reading about them but every once in a while I like to post something different. If for no other reason than to make you cry. I mean, if for no other reason than to prove I can.

Having been a foodie for years if not a food blogger, there aren’t a whole lots of foods I haven’t tried. Ok, so I haven’t tried Fugu and I never will. Nor have I had Caviar… again by choice. And while I bought a bottle of Truffle Oil a few months back, I haven’t used it yet because I can’t get past the fact that it smells like old gym shoes one would find in a teenage boys locker. But you know what I mean. At 47, I’ve eaten a lot of different foods.

But one I had never tried until now was Cassoulet. I had read nine gazillion recipes for it, had seen it on menus, had heard others talk about it here and there, but had never made it or eaten it. I think I was scared off by the recipes that usually had 322 directions and 58 ingredients. It just seemed too much trouble. And I won’t lie. For all that this is considered “French Peasant Food” by many, aka NOT the kind of food one would find in a fancy restaurant, but one one would find in the homes of the locals, it WAS a bit of work. One pot meal? Yes. One pot to prep? No. Plus lots of step by step prep work. As for the taste, read the recipe, see if you want to make it yourself and then scroll down for MY opinion of cassoulet.

So now I can say I have had cassoulet. I can also add it to my repertoire of foods I have cooked. So, if like me, you always thought it was too much trouble, give it a try. Let me know what you think of this famous dish.

French Cassoulet

Chicken
1 cup Kosher salt or 1/2 cup table salt
1 cup Granulated sugar
10 bone in chicken thighs (about 3 1/2 pounds), skin and excess fat removed
Topping
6 slices High-quality sandwich bread , cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 3 cups)
3 tablespoons Unsalted butter , melted
Beans
1 pound Dried flageolet beans or Great Northern beans, picked over and rinsed
1 Medium onion , peeled and left whole
1 Medium head garlic , outer papery skin removed and top 1/2 inch sliced off
1 teaspoon Table salt
1/2 teaspoon Ground black pepper
6 slices Bacon (about 6 ounces), chopped medium
1 pound Boneless pork loin roast (blade-end), trimmed of excess fat and silver skin and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Small onion , chopped fine
2 Medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes , drained
1 tablespoon Tomato paste
1 sprig Fresh thyme ( I subbed 1 teaspoon dried)
1 Bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon Ground cloves
Ground black pepper
3 1/2 cups Chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cup Dry white wine (I used a dry Riesling)
1/2 pound Kielbasa sausage , halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch slices

1. Brining the Chicken: In gallon-sized zipper-lock plastic bag, dissolve salt and sugar in 1 quart cold water. Add chicken, pressing out as much air as possible; seal and refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 1 hour. Remove chicken from brine, rinse thoroughly under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Preparing the Topping: While chicken is brining, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position; preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix bread crumbs and butter in small baking dish. Bake, tossing occasionally, until light golden brown and crisp, 8 to 12 minutes. Cool to room temperature; set aside.

3. Bring the beans, whole onion, garlic head, salt, pepper and 8 cups water to a boil in a stockpot or Dutch oven over high heat.Turn your oven off for now. You won’t need it for a while.

4. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the beans are almost fully tender, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Drain the beans and discard the onion and garlic.

5. While the beans are cooking, fry the bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat until just beginning to crisp and most of the fat has rendered, 5 to 6 minutes.

6. Using a slotted spoon, add half of the bacon to the pot with the beans; transfer the remaining bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Increase the heat to medium-high; when the bacon fat is shimmering, add half of the chicken thighs, fleshy-side down; cook until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes.

7. Using tongs, turn chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned on second side, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to large plate; repeat with remaining thighs and set aside. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot.

8. Return pot to medium heat; add pork pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add chopped onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add minced garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf, cloves, and pepper to taste; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

9. Stir in chicken broth and wine, scraping up browned bits off bottom of pot with wooden spoon. Submerge the chicken in the pot, adding any accumulated juices. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer about 40 minutes.

10. Remove the cover and continue to simmer until the chicken and pork are fully tender, 20 to 30 minutes more.ย  Preheat your oven to 425.

11.ย  Gently stir the kielbasa, drained beans and reserved bacon into the pot with the chicken and pork; remove and discard the thyme and bay leaf and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the croutons evenly over the surface and bake at 425, uncovered, until the flavors have melded and the croutons are deep golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes and serve.

Now for what I thought of it.ย  Whenever it’s a recipe I haven’t made up or adapted to my own likes, I like to say what I thought of it and since I made this by the recipe, here you go.

Brutal honesty? I don’t think I’ll be making this again. It was a lot of work to make for a dish that to be honest, had very little flavor. I found myself wanting to dump a cup of Franks Red Hot Sauce on it. Not for the heat, but to give this a little pizzazz. I know it’s SUPPOSED to be fairly plain standard country food but it was just…. bland. The meat was wonderfully tender, the beans were fine so each separate component was good but put together the sum of the WHOLE didn’t equal the sum of the PARTS in this case.

So I can say I have tried cassoulet. It wasn’t horrible by any means… but I guess I just like foods with more layers of flavor. But please… give this a try! You aren’t me and you may love it!

Me?? Make something the “Normal” Way?!

Bite your tongue! You should know better than that. If there is any way to mess up change a perfectly good recipe, I’m the woman to do it. Hmmm, coming from a food blogger, that doesn’t sound too great now does it? Let me rephrase that to put myself in a much better light shall I? If a recipe has certain inherent flaws or shortcomings, or possibly could be adjusted by adding alternate flavors or adding more layers of flavor, I am the woman who will screw up attempt it and be seen later banging my head off of a table when it fails make a roaring success of it.

So were you impressed there?? Huh huh huh? Did I use big words and sound frighteningly wonderful?! Whadda ya mean I just sounded frightening!? I’m hurt! Nay, wounded to my very core! Nay, devastated. Nay, rambling as usual!

Fine, I’ll stop now.

Living in the south, I kinda love cornbread. If you don’t, they kick you out and make you live somewhere like Siberia (prays I have no readers in Siberia cause I just spent five minutes thinking of places one wouldn’t want to live and then changing them so as to not offend anyone living there ๐Ÿ˜› ). You also have to love sweet tea (lack of that love is why they made my native Kentuckian daughter in law move) and Paula Deen (don’t tell anyone, but while I love her recipes, but she annoys the poo out of me with her use of “Y’all” fourteen times in each and every sentence). I wrote a post back when I first started the blog about the differences between Yankee cornbread and Southern cornbread. But this post isn’t about either of them. It’s about MANLY CORNBREAD! Please make sure you say that with a sneer on your face and while swaggering across the room adjusting your crotch. And in reality, I didn’t do much changing to the original recipe. My point was just that I seem to be incapable of making things that are “normal”. Nope; have to hunt down and make the unusual ones. And as cornbread goes, this fits that criteria. It’s from Emeril Lagesse. The only thing I changed was to not use cayenne pepper because while I love spicy foods, I thought that that as well as the jalapenos may be too much for my kids. Plus, I added a good amount more cheese and threw some green onions in there too. I mean… cheese, bacon, peppers… it was just crying out for green onions.

So go get out your cast iron pan (please tell me you have one. If not, time to buy one.) and your cornmeal and get to cooking. And Kim go get me a COKE while you’re cooking, wench! ๐Ÿ˜€ And for YOU
Ann there is no cinnamon in my recipe today so you can make it hehehehe ๐Ÿ˜›

This is wonderful cornbread. Crispy and hot and stuffed full of a creamy corn and bacon mix. It has just the right amount of spice and flavor. Enjoy! As my dad would have said “Eat it! You’ll grow hair on your chest!”

Emerils Manly Man Stuffed Corbread

  • 1 pound bacon, chopped (his called for a half a pound… what can I say? I HAD to have some sitting there for noshing on didn’t I? It’s like…the law!)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (I used frozen & it worked fine)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (again; I didn’t use this)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Place a 10-inch cast iron skillet in the oven to get hot.
  3. In a large pan, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until brown, about 6 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels
  4. Drain all the fat but 2 teaspoons. Return to medium-high heat and add the corn to the pan. Cook, stirring, until golden and tender, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the cream, butter, 1/4 teaspoon salt and water and cook until thick and creamy, about 10 minutes.ย  Do NOT do as I did and walk away and come back just in time to prevent it from overflowing all over your stove top. Ummm… oops?
  6. Remove from the heat and mash with a potato masher, spoon, your husbands electric razor… to crush some of the corn. Let cool.
  7. In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, remaining salt, and cayenne (if using). Stir to combine.
  8. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, buttermilk, and 2 tablespoons of the melted butter.
  9. Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well.
  10. In a separate bowl, combine the cooled creamed corn, bacon, jalapenos, and 1 1/2 cups of the cheese, and mix well.Remove the skillet from the oven and add the remaining tablespoon of melted butter, tilting the skillet to coat the bottom and sides.
  11. Pour half of the batter into the bottom of the skillet. Top with the corn-cheese mixture, then top with the remaining half of the batter.
  12. Bake until golden brown and set, about 30 minutes.Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.