Sunday, April 26, 2009

Red Beans and Rice

I think Geoff would eat cajun food every day of his life if he had his way. I love it, too and it's so incredibly easy to make I feel like a wizard every time I whip up a jambalaya or gumbo and especially last night when I made Red Beans and Rice.

Pretty much every recipe for Cajun food involves the trinity of: 1 white onion, 2 green bell peppers and 3 stalks of celery. That's the beginning of gumbo, jambalaya, etoufee, etc. Adding tomatoes and/or okra is sometimes an option as well (I might add tomatoes next time I make these beans, but they certainly don't need it).

I had a ham bone in the freezer leftover from a ham I cooked about a month ago, but chicken stock would work fine OR you could just dice up some andouille sausage (MMMMM) and add that to the sauteeing veggies and then use plain water to cook the beans. It's your call.

Red Beans and Rice


1 ham bone, boiled in enough water to cover (at least 8 cups), for approximately 2 - 3 hours

1 16 oz. bag small red beans (or kidney beans if you can't find small red beans)
2 - 3 T. oil (or bacon grease if you have some handy)
1 white onion, chopped
2 green bell peppers, chopped
3 stalks of celery (with leaves), chopped
1 jalapeno, diced (*optional)
4 - 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 - 5 bay leaves
Few sprigs of fresh thyme
1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste


Sautee onion, bell peppers, celery and jalapeno (if using) for a few minutes over high heat until soft. Add garlic, bay leaves and thyme and saute a few minutes longer until onions get a little bit blackened.

Add 8 cups stock (or water), Worcestershire, beans and salt and pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 2 - 3 hours until beans are nice and soft.

Add additional liquid if the beans look to "dry" -- they should be "saucey". When they're done, mash them a little with a potato masher (not all of them, just some).

If there's any meat left on the hambone, chop it up and serve on the side so everyone can put as much meat on top as they'd like.

Serve the beans on top of steamed, long-grain rice with chopped green onion, flat-leaf parsley and thyme to garnish as well as plenty of Louisiana style hot sauce (Trappey's, Red Rooster, etc.) to slather over the top. I also like extra Worcestershire on top.

You could make some cornbread to serve on the side ... or toasted and buttered French bread, which is what we did.

Like almost all bean recipes, this stuff is even better the next day.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Barley Casserole

This is a huge Johnson family favorite. Geoff isn't too keen on barley, but whatever -- it's more for me. I usually just eat this as a meal in itself with a salad.


2 T. butter
1 cup pearl barley
1 package sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup water
2 (10.5 oz.) cans Campbell's condensed onion soup

Preheat oven to 350.

Melt butter in skillet.  Add barley and mushrooms.  Cook over medium heat until barley is golden brown, stirring constantly.  Add onion soup and water.  Heat to boiling.  Pour into 1 1/2 quart casserole.  Cover and bake at 350 for 2 hours. 

DEVOUR (this is seriously the best thing ever -- I LOVE it and the best part? Your house will smell a-mazing while it bakes)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Chicken Penne Florentine

Mike rated this dinner an 8 tonight so I'm going to post it! (disclaimer: he would probably rate Raisin Bran for dinner a 6)

olive oil
3 cups of mushrooms
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
3 cups of chopped spinach
1 tsp oregano
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
16 oz cottage cheese
4 cups of cooked penne
2 cups of shredded chicken
1 cup of cheddar
1/2 cup parmesan
1/2 cup milk
10 oz can cream of chicken soup

1. Preheat oven to 425

2. Boil 8 oz of penne pasta (should come out to about 4 cups)

3. Meanwhile . . . saute 3 cups of mushrooms, 1 cup onion, and 1 cup of bell pepper in olive oil

4. Add 3 cups of chopped fresh spinach, tsp oregano, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper. Saute until spinach wilts.

5. Put a 16 oz container of cottage cheese in the food processor and puree until smooth.

6. Combine spinach mixture, cottage cheese, soup, milk, 3/4 cup cheddar, 1/4 cup parmesan, noodles and chicken.

7. Spread in a baking dish, top with parmesan and cheddar. Bake for 25 minutes or until top gets crusty.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cheese Danish

I thought I'd keep with the brunch theme and post one of my favorite Barefoot Contessa recipes. I love, love these danishes. Next time I make them I'm going to try making mini's by cutting the puff pastry in smaller pieces.

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream them together on low speed until smooth. With the mixer still on low, add the egg yolks, ricotta, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest and mix until just combined. Don't whip!

Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry onto a lightly floured board and roll it slightly with a floured rolling pin until it's a 10 by 10-inch square. Cut the sheet into quarters with a sharp knife. Place a heaping tablespoon of cheese filling into the middle of each of the 4 squares. Brush the border of each pastry with egg wash and fold 2 opposite corners to the center, brushing and overlapping the corners of each pastry so they firmly stick together. Brush the top of the pastries with egg wash. Place the pastries on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry and refrigerate the filled Danish for 15 minutes.

Bake the pastries for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking, until puffed and brown. Serve warm.

Prior to baking, you can leave them prepped in the fridge overnight. They are best right out of the oven.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Zucchini Ricotta Frittata

Well, since Meghan kicked off the blog with egg recipes, I figure, why mess with a good thing? Plus, Zucchini Ricotta Frittata is just so fun to say! Really though, this is a recipe I put together when a family friend blessed me with a bunch of zucchini from her garden. I looked through my fridge for some inspiration, and this is what I came up with. Feel free to add whatever good things might be floating around your fridge: sun dried tomatoes, roasted red bell peppers... yum!

Zucchini Ricotta Frittata
  • 1/2 shallot, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 T. grated parm or asiago cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350°

Grate zucchini into a colander, and squeeze to remove as much moisture as possible.

In a large, oven-safe skillet, sauté shallot and garlic in olive oil, and add red pepper flakes. Add zucchini to pan, season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender (don't make mush)

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, parm/asiago, and ricotta.

Reduce heat on stove top to medium low, and add egg mixture to zucchini and stir to combine.

Cook until eggs just begin to set up, while stirring constantly.

Transfer skillet to oven, and cook until eggs are puffy and slightly golden on top.

Slice into wedges, and serve.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mexican Brunch Casserole

I'm just going through recipes I have in my inbox that are already written out and I saw this one, which just happens to be another eggs recipe. But oh sweet lord it's so good.

We can't have Thanksgiving or Christmas breakfasts without it. And, again, this is another perfect vehicle for hot sauce.

Mexican Brunch Casserole

2 cans (4 oz each) mild chopped chiles, drained
2 cups chopped tomatoes (2-3 medium)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup Bisquick
1 cup milk
3 eggs
½ tsp. salt

Heat oven to 375.

Grease 8x8x2 baking dish.

Arrange chiles in single layer in baking dish.

Sprinkle with tomatoes and cheese.

Beat remaining ingredients by hand until smooth, pour over top.

Bake until knife inserted in center comes out clean, 30 - 35 minutes.

Spinach Quiche

This is an old family favorite that my mom has been making for YEARS and I now make it for Geoff and I. We love it. It's great hot or cold and is the PERFECT vehicle for hot sauce. Hope you like it!

Spinach Quiche

¾ cup chopped green bell pepper
¾ cup chopped onion
1 ½ cups sliced mushrooms
1 ½ cups chopped zucchini
1 ½ tsp. minced garlic
3 T. vegetable oil
5 eggs
1 lb. ricotta cheese
1 tsp. pepper
10 oz. spinach cooked and chopped (frozen box works GREAT)
1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Heat oven to 350.

Sautee green bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, zucchini and garlic in oil until crisp-tender. Cool.

Beat eggs with ricotta cheese, salt and pepper. Drain spinach thoroughly, squeezing as much moisture out as possible. Add to egg mixture along with sauteed vegetables and feta. Mix until well blended.

Pour mixture into a greased 10" springform pan and spread evenly. Bake for 1 hour, or until set in center.

Cool 10 minutes before cutting.