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Croque Monsieur

We first had this in Paris, France at Fouquet on the Champs d’Elysee and subsequently in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico at the wonderful Merci Restaurant. Merci is better with their homemade bread! Trust me! Below is the version I use at home.

Croque Monsieur

 Croque-Monsieur

A Croque-Monsieur is the French answer to the grilled cheese sandwich. Gruyere cheese, ham, and bread are topped with a creamy Béchamel sauce.

Preparation Time: 7 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Total time: 12 minutes
4 sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 8 slices whole wheat bread

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 2 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 cup milk

  • 1/8 teaspoon sweet paprika

  • fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Dijon mustard for spreading

  • 4 slices ham

  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (you can also use Emmenthal or other Swiss-style cheese)

  • OPTIONAL – 4 eggs

Instructions:

  1. Toast the bread until lightly browned on one side.

  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk until thick and bubbly. Gradually whisk in the milk, until the sauce is smooth and thickened. Whisk in the paprika. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep the sauce warm while your assemble the sandwiches.

  3. Lay four slices of bread, toasted side down on a broiler pan. Brush each one with Dijon mustard, to taste. Lay one slice of ham on each piece . Divide 1/2 cup cheese among the four sandwiches. Top with the second slice of bread, toastier side up. Divide the sauce among the four sandwiches, spreading it over the top. Add one fried egg per sandwich. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the sandwiches.

  4. Broil until the cheese is melted and the tops are bubbly and brown, five minutes or more in my toaster oven. Watch it carefully; yours may be different. Serve immediately.

I like to serve it with a small salad or grilled asparagus.

Link to recipe: http://goodcheapeats.com/2015/02/how-to-make-a-croque-monsieur/


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Chicken Pot Pie Soup

I LOVE chicken pot pie! I dont make crusts…LOL. Nor can I buy the store-bought crusts here. With some leftover Costco roasted chicken, I yearned for pie. FYI…Bisquick isn’t available here either. Turning to my trusty Pinterest, I found this recipe. It was awesome!!!! I left out the mushrooms and added chopped red pepper… The diced veggies looked great so I added a photo of them too!

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CHICKEN POT PIE SOUP

COOK TIME: 15 MINS

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 Tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 chopped red pepper
  • 4 ounces button or baby Bella mushrooms, diced
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose or white whole wheat flour
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, diced (I used a can of diced potatoes)
  • 1 cup frozen corn (I used a small can )
  • 1 cup frozen peas (I used a small can)
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
  • oyster crackers (instead of the crust)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat butter in large stockpot over medium-high heat until melted (or heat the olive oil until it is shimmering).  Add onion, carrots, peppers and celery.  Saute for 6-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and translucent.  Add in the garlic and mushrooms, and sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the garlic is fragrant.
  2. Stir in the flour until it is completely combined, and saute for an additional 1 minute, stirring occasionally.  Gradually add in the chicken stock and milk, stirring frequently.  Stir in the chicken, potatoes, corn, peas, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper until combined.
  3. Bring the mixture to a simmer (be careful not to bring it to a boil!), stirring occasionally so that the bottom of the soup does not stick to the pan.  Then reduce heat to medium-low, and continue simmering the soup for 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are soft and cooked through.
  4. Taste the soup and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
  5. Serve immediately, with crackers on top or on the side, if desired.

Easy Shepherd’s Pie

Who does not like shepherd’s pie? There are several variations out there. Sometimes it is called Cottage Pie. This one was a snap! The only tricky part was the roux, melting the butter and adding the flour. Make your life easier and use instant potatoes!

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Easy Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lb. Ground Beef
  • 4 cups Mashed Potatoes
  • 1 tbsp Oil
  • 1 tsp Minced Garlic
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 2 tbsp Flour
  • 12 oz. Frozen Peas and Carrots, thawed (Use a can of mixed peas and carrots)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and add ground beef, onion and garlic.
  • Cook until browned and drain.
  • In another skillet or pan, melt putter and add flour.
  • Cook roux for 2 minutes.
  • Whisk in Worcestershire and milk.
  • Cook for 1 minute to thicken.
  • Combine beef mixture, gravy and thawed vegetables.
  • Place in baking dish.
  • Top with mashed potatoes and place in oven for 20-30 minutes until heated through. In the last few minutes sprinkle the cheese on the potatoes.

 

Lobster Thermidor

Just before I get to the recipe, I want to say thank you to the 6000 visitors as of today, who have checked out this blog. You give me inspiration to keep going just when I think I should move on to something else!!

The following recipe was posted by Rachel Ray who has her own cooking show.  I almost hate to say that I was clearing out the freezer and found small lobster tails asking to be used for dinner…LOL. I know, its a little rich, but consider it for a special dinner, make that ROMANTIC dinner…hope you will have an opportunity to try it.

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Lobster Thermidor (Rachel Ray)

Ingredients

4 (6 to 8-ounce) packaged lobster tails,  jumbo shrimp or prawns can be substituted

  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Splash dry white wine or dry sherry
  • 1/2 cup milk, eyeball it
  • 1/3 cup grated white cheddar
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika or crab boil seasoning, recommended: Old Bay
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • Lemon wedges, for garnish
  • Handful parsley leaves mixed with 2 cups baby greens, for plate garnish

Directions

Bring a pot of water to a boil, 3 or 4 inches deep. Add lobster tails to the water and boil 7 to 8 minutes. Drain and shock under cold water to cool. Use kitchen scissors to cut away soft underside of tails. Remove meat and save the shells*, arranging them in a shallow casserole dish. Chop the cooked meat on an angle into chunks.

Preheat your broiler to high.

Heat a medium skillet and a small saucepot over medium heat. To the small saucepot, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add finely chopped onion and cook 3 to 5 minutes until very soft. To the skillet, add remaining 2 tablespoons butter. When the butter melts, add chopped lobster meat and sauté.

Add flour to sauce pot with onions and cook together another 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in wine or sherry, then milk. Remove sauce from heat and stir in cheddar cheese and paprika or crab boil. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over lobster meat and stir to combine. Pour lobster into and over the shells* in a casserole dish and top with Parmesan and bread crumbs. Broil on high until golden, 2 or 3 minutes. Serve each tail, spilling over with lobster bits in sauce, on a bed of mixed baby greens and parsley with wedges of lemon along side.

  • I did not use the shells…so much for my presentation…

Lamb Liver and Bacon Casserole

Before you even get started on me, yes I love liver, but not the way my mother overcooked it after dredging it in flour! Quite a few months back we found a lamb store here and we purchased this lamb liver to try. Where else would I turn but Pinterest? The recipe could be made with any liver…well maybe not chicken…cluck cluck. Leftovers were great for breakfast with  fried eggs on the top. Trust me!! Let me know if you try it…Chuck? LOL

Lamb Liver and Bacon Casserole

Ingredients:
– 500 g lamb’s liver, trimmed and cut into small pieces ( try baby beef)
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 230 g rind less smoked bacon rashes, cut into pieces
– 2 small onions, chopped
– 2 cups mushrooms, cut into quarters
– 2 tablespoons plain flour
– 150 ml hot water
– 1 teaspoon smoke sweet paprika powder
– 1 tablespoon soy sauce
– salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a casserole dish and stir-fry the bacon until crisp. Add the onion and continue frying until the onion is soft. Add the mushrooms and fry for another 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon (to make sure that oil and bacon fat will stay in the casserole dish), remove the bacon and vegetables and put aside.
Add the liver to the remaining fat and cook over a medium heat for about 4 minutes, turning so it’s seared and cook all around. Remove from the dish and keep warm.

Rhubarb Strawberry Custard Pie

After 12 years of searching we finally found rhubarb here in Yucatan!! In the last month we have bought up almost all of it, washed it, cut into chunks and frozen in 4 cup quantities for later use. The only problem is that we seem to be using it all up now…LOL. When there’s a glut…??? This pie is incredible, as is the Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Ice Cream!!!

Let us know if you make it and what you thought…

Rhubarb / Strawberry Custard Pie (Makes one 9 inch pie)

* Pinterest recipe adapted from the English Kitchen (Marie) whose recipe I found too sweet for my taste and too juicy and I wanted cream in the recipe.

1 short crust pastry to fill a 9 inch diameter, deep style pie dish or just buy one at your supermarket!
4 cups of diced rhubarb / sliced strawberries
¼ cup of caster sugar (icing sugar)
3 TBS cornstarch
2 TBS flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
½ cup golden syrup
½ cup heavy cream
1 TBS butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 230*C/450*F

Place the chopped rhubarb into a large mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, corn starch, flour and salt.
Mix in the egg, beating it in well, and then stir in the golden syrup, cream and the melted butter. Mix well.
Pour this evenly over top of the rhubarb and mix well to coat the fruit.
Transfer mixture into the prepared shell.
Bake in the heated 450F/230C oven, covered lightly with foil, for 15 minutes.
Decrease the oven heat to 180*C/350*F Remove foil and bake for 30 to 40 more minutes, until the crust is nicely browned and the rhubarb is tender.
Remove from the oven to a wire rack and cool until the pie is firmed up, about 45 minutes, before serving.
Delicious!!

 

Classic Scalloped Potatoes

Easter Sunday dinner with 16 friends. Menu of spiral ham (from Costco of course), scalloped potatoes and BBQ green beans. Salads courtesy of our guests along with desserts. Larry was chef for the day. To make life simpler, I put the ham out in its foil for about an hour to warm it up. After uncovering it, I sliced off a fair amount and put the slices in our slow cooker. I added one cup of Fresca  soft drink to keep the ham moist and set the timer on low for 1 and 1/2 hours. When the potatoes and beans were ready, so was the ham. A great way to serve ham for a buffet! And now for the potato recipe courtesy of Canadian Living Magazine with Larry’s modifications.

Classic Scalloped Potatoes (Canadian Living Magazine)
• Prep time 25 minutes Total time 2 hours Portion size 8
Ingredients
• 1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
• 3 cloves garlic, minced or more
• 1/4 cup (60 mL) all-purpose flour
• 1 tsp (5 mL) chopped fresh thyme
• 3/4 tsp (4 mL) salt
• 1/2 tsp (2 mL) pepper
• 2-1/2 cups (625 mL) milk **
• 6 Yukon Gold potatoes, (about 2 lb./900 g)
• 1 small onion, sliced
• Parmesan and old cheddar cheese shredded to taste
**or use ½ milk and ½ media crema if you are in Mexico!
Preparation
In saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; cook garlic, stirring, for 1 minute. Add flour, thyme, salt and pepper; cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Gradually whisk in milk; cook, whisking constantly, until boiling and thickened, about 8 minutes.

Peel and thinly slice potatoes. Layer one-third in greased 8-inch (2 L) square baking dish or casserole dish; spread half of the onion over top. Spread some of the cheese over each layer. Repeat layers. Arrange remaining potatoes over top. Pour sauce over top, using back of knife to ease sauce between layers. Top with any remaining cheese.

Cover and bake in 350F (180C) oven for 1 hour. Uncover and bake until lightly browned and potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. If necessary cover with foil to keep warm.

Broccoli Casserole from Scratch!

Must be the cold season down here as I realize I am posting another casserole. I have always enjoyed broccoli casserole but was never quite happy with the mushroom soup. Et voila? Pinterest to the rescue. Served this to company with a lite salad and baked potatoes. All agreed it was really good. Hope you will try it…Easter is coming and this would be great for a buffet.

Broccoli Casserole From Scratch
Serves: 8 servings

Made completely from scratch, this broccoli casserole is filled with fresh broccoli, mushrooms, cheddar cheese, and a homemade cream sauce. A buttery, cheesy breadcrumb topping adds a crispy finishing touch to this classic dish.
Ingredients
• 2 ½ lbs. broccoli florets, cut into bite-size pieces (about 8 cups)
• 6 tbsp. butter, divided
• 1 cup finely chopped button mushrooms
• ¼ cup flour
• 1 cup milk (whole or 2% preferred)
• ½ cup half-n-half (I omitted with no appreciable difference)
• ½ tsp. salt
• ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
• ½ cup Greek yogurt
• 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• 1 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese, divided ( I used old white cheddar)
• 1 ¼ cups whole-wheat breadcrumbs (homemade* or store-bought), divided
Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add broccoli and boil for 4 minutes. Transfer to a colander, rinse with cold water, and drain. Place broccoli in a large bowl.
3. Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until soft, about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer mushrooms to the bowl with the broccoli.
4. In the same saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until smooth; cook, whisking constantly, 30 seconds. Whisk in the milk and half-n-half. Bring to a low simmer and continue to whisk constantly until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt, pepper, and Greek yogurt.
5. Pour sauce into the bowl with the broccoli and mushrooms. Add the onion, egg, 1 cup of the cheddar cheese, and ½ cup of the breadcrumbs. Stir to combine. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
6. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and stir into the remaining ¾ cup breadcrumbs. Stir in the remaining ½ cup cheddar. Sprinkle breadcrumb topping over the casserole.
7. Bake for 45 minutes, until filling is hot and bubbly. Check after 30 minutes and cover with foil if topping is browning too quickly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Acknowledgments to Kristine’s Kitchen – kristineskitchenblog.com

Chicken and Mushroom Casserole

Okay, so I was going to end this blog once I reached 250 posts! We were heading off on a trip to Oaxaca and Puebla and I thought it was a good time to put this blog to rest. The trip was great and now I am invigorated to continue on. (If you are interested in the latest trip then follow this link – www.oaxaca2016.wordpress.com )

This is another Costco recipe – too many mushrooms again! Hope you will enjoy it. It would be great for a brunch!

Ingredients

4 -5 large boneless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1 -inch thick strips
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 cup all-purpose flour to coat the chicken
6 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 pound fresh mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced

Ingredients for the Sauce:
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour for the sauce
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cup half and half (or 1/2 cup milk + 1/2 cup heavy cream)’OR plain yogurt
1. Season chicken with salt and pepper and dredge both sides in flour. Heat 3 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium/high heat. Once oil is hot, add chicken and sauté until golden. Work in batches if needed so you don’t crowd your pan. Don’t worry about cooking the chicken through; it still needs to go in the oven. Transfer chicken to a 13×9 casserole baking dish.
2. 2. Wipe down the skillet with a paper towel. Add 3 Tbsp oil along with sliced mushrooms and diced onions and sauté until soft and golden. Add garlic and sauté another 1-2 min. Spread mixture over the chicken.
3. 3. In a medium saucepan (or in the same pan you’ve been using), melt 3 Tbsp butter. Whisk in 3 Tbsp flour until lightly golden (1-2 min).
4. Add 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 tsp pepper, and whisk until smooth. Add 1 cup half & half and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste
5. 5. Pour sauce over the chicken and mushrooms. Cover with foil and bake at 350˚F for 45 minutes. Serve warm or hot over mashed potatoes, pasta or rice.

Check out more of Natasha’s blog, from where I found this recipe!

http://natashaskitchen.com/2011/04/17/chicken-and-mushroom-casserole/

 

New England Clam Chowder

When I was a teenager on the farm I worked at a Gun Club on Sundays setting skeet traps. Skeet shooting is a recreational and competitive activity where participants, using shotguns, attempt to break clay disks mechanically flung into the air from two fixed stations at high speed from a variety of angles. My mother was a weekend cook and one of the women who prepared clam chowder for the competitors, using cans of clams and water…yuck! I detested this version. Later on in life I came to love New England clam chowder. Recently I came across this recipe which turned out very well.

New England Clam Chowder

Ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 celery stalks (reserve tender leaves) trimmed, quartered lengthwise, then sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 (10-ounce) cans chopped clams in juice
1 cup heavy cream or Media Crema
2 bay leaves
1 pound Idaho potatoes, cut into 1/2- inch cubes I cheated and used canned potatoes chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and celery and saute until softened, mixing often. Stir in the flour to distribute evenly. Add the stock, juice from 2 cans of chopped clams (reserve clams), cream, bay leaves, and potatoes and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, stirring consistently (the mixture will thicken), then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook 20 minutes, stirring often, until the potatoes are nice and tender. Then add clams and season to taste with salt and pepper, cook until clams are just firm, another 2 minutes.

Recipe courtesy Dave Lieberman

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/dave-lieberman/new-england-clam-chowder-recipe.html?oc=linkback