Sunday, September 11, 2016

John's Big Bad Breakfast

One of my favorite meals to make AND eat is a big breakfast on a weekend morning. I got a chance to do that over the weekend as we had house guests. The big breakfast needed to be gluten-free. I wanted to make one of my favorites, the breakfast casserole. It usually uses a layer of bread on the bottom, but omitting the bread still makes a very tasty egg casserole. I started making it without the bread several years ago when we were cutting out the carbs. 

I start by browning a pound of breakfast sausage. 

Whisk up 10 eggs with about a cup of milk. 

Spread the cooked sausage over the bottom of a greased baking dish (I use nonstick spray). 

Cover the sausage with a mix of shredded Swiss & cheddar cheese. 

Pour the egg mixture evenly over the cheese & sausage. Cover with foil and bake at 375 for about 45 minutes. 

More $1.99 peppered bacon! I'll cook that in the oven since it's already on. 
Cover cookie trays with foil and lay down the bacon. Luckily, there's an equal number of pieces (9) on each sheet!

I diced up a few potatoes to make some home fries cooked in peppered bacon grease. I season them up with a mixture of seasoned salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and black pepper. I cover them to start so they'll cook a little better, then stir them up and get them crispy on the outside. I also like to use leftover baked potatoes for this. It gives them a really deep potato flavor. 

Sometimes I'll add some diced onion and some diced green peppers, but not today. 

Bacon is done! I also uncovered the casserole so it can brown a little. 

The finished breakfast casserole. Everything tasted great. I love big breakfast!

Gluten Free Seafood Chowder

I've seen a lot of seafood chowders on Food Network lately, so I thought I would give it a shot. I've only made clam chowder once, and I make lobster bisque once a year. Had some fish & shrimp in the freezer, along with a can of clams in the pantry. My attempt at serving a gluten-free meal to our houseguest failed yesterday (sorry, Paula...who knew soy sauce wasn't gluten-free? I mean, isn't it soy? Guess they should rename it soy/wheat sauce). 

I wanted to make up for that mistake by making my seafood chowder gluten-free. 
I start by using all those raw shrimp shells & tails I've saved and frozen over the past several months to make a basic shrimp stock. Cover with water and simmer for 45 minutes or so. 

I peeled and diced up 3 potatoes. 

My dad always put bacon in his clam chowder when he made it (and bacon is pretty awesome!), so I'll dice up a package and cook it. I'll also use some for our baked potatoes tomorrow night. Jo got mad because I bought this bacon during an apparent "meat buying ban", but it was peppered bacon for $1.99 a pound. I bought 3 packages!

Diced up and into the pan to brown. 

Had about 1/2 pound of raw shrimp in the freezer, along with a couple Swai fish fillets. We love the taste of Swai and it's very inexpensive at Aldi. 

I strained the shrimp stock and have about 4 cups of stock. 

I did a quick boil on the diced potatoes to soften them up just a bit. 

Bacon is all crispy. 

Now for the roux to thicken the chowder up. I use a little of the peppered bacon grease and about 3 Tablespoons of butter. 

To make it gluten-free, I'm using rice flour to make the roux. 

Looks pretty normal. This might work!

After cooking the roux for a few minutes, I start adding the shrimp stock and whisk. 

Next up is a pint of half & half. 

Then I added some milk. I keep whisking and adding milk until the consistency is very chowder-like!

A can of clams from the pantry. 

Chopped clams & juice into the mix. 

The potatoes...

And the raw shrimp & fish. 

The shrimp were a little big for soup, so I cut them in half. 

Added the cooked bacon, too. It's all in there! Simmer, covered for an hour or so. 
Add a little Old Bay seasoning and some salt & pepper til it tastes awesome. 

Nice chunks of seafood in the chowder. 

Tasted great! Had it for lunch, then had 3 containers for the freezer. Rice flour thickened it up just like regular flour. Gluten-free worked for the seafood chowder. 

One casualty on the favorite all-purpose plastic bowl. I've eaten bushels of popcorn out of this bowl over the years. It has been filled with my Chex mix every winter. I stupidly put it down on the stove on a burner that had just been turned off. Goodbye, old friend. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Bang Bang Shrimp

John is a big YouTube fan. He often falls down the rabbit hole while looking for a video. A couple of hours later he's watched bootleg footage of the Eagles, toured a cruise ship and watched cooking demos. 

One such demo became tonight's meal. 

It started with shrimp. We have a couple sizes in the freezer. (Which is to capacity AGAIN!). John chose a pound of the bigger ones and put them in water to defrost them. 

Now for the Bang Bang sauce. It has 1/2 cup of mayo, 1/4 cup sweet Thai chili sauce and about 1 TBSP siracha. 

All mixed together, we added more siracha for the heat. 

John peeled all the shrimp, saving the tails and skins for a future seafood stock. 

After drying the shrimp, he dredged them in cornstarch. 

We started the pasta. 

Then we dropped the shrimp in the fryer. 

It came out perfectly. 

Right in the Bang Bang sauce. 

A little butter and garlic to flavor up the pasta. 

All stirred together to finish it off. 

The flavor was great. The shrimp was crispy. It could have been spicier and we are thinking of adjusting the mayo. It seemed heavy. Overall, we really enjoyed the meal. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Cast Iron Pizza

Jo saw somewhere that somebody cooked a pizza in a cast-iron skillet. She thought we should try making a deep-dish pizza that way, so I accepted the challenge. 

I've had a great Chicago deep-dish pizza recipe that I've been making for about 30 years, but I've always made it in a deep pizza pan. And I haven't made it for about 20 years. I also wanted to try to make the crust more buttery & flaky. Can't wait to try a few modifications and make a pizza that's the perfect size for the 2 of us. 

I start with the dry ingredients:

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 TBSP sugar

Dissolve 2 1/4 tsp yeast in 1 1/4 cup warm water. Let it sit for 5 minutes. 

Melt 1/2 stick of butter and let it cool down a little. 

Use the dough hook on the Kitchen Aid for easy mixing and kneading. 

Add the yeasty water and the melted butter to the dry ingredients and start that dough hook mixing. 

Mix until the dough comes off the sides of the bowl and forms a ball. 

Oil a large bowl with olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl, then flip it over to coat with the olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in size (about 1-2 hours). 

Press the dough out on a floured surface. 

Roll into a large rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. 

Spread 1/2 stick of softened butter over the dough. Yes, REAL butter. No fake stuff in my house!

Now roll it up like you're making cinnamon rolls. 

My guesstimate is that there is enough dough for 3 deep-dish skillet pizzas. So I cut the log of dough into 3 equal pieces. 

Shape them so they're close to round and put back in the bowl to rise, covered, for another hour in the fridge. 

Here's the 11-inch cast iron skillet I'll be using. It's been in the family for decades and is well-seasoned. 

I sprayed the skillet with some butter-flavored non-stick spray. 

Drop in 1 of the dough balls. 

Flatten out the dough evenly in the skillet. 

Just enough dough to pinch some up the sides for a high edge to hold in all those toppings. Looks like my guesstimate was's just the right amount of dough. 

Chicago-style deep dish pizza is built a little different. First, a good amount of mozzarella cheese goes right on the crust. 

Oops...almost forgot to dice up the garlic cloves!

A nice layer of cooked Graziano's sausage goes on the cheese. 

We prefer fresh mushrooms, but nobody had them on sale this week. So I just used canned mushrooms. 

Now, cover with pepperoni. 

Then cover with a 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes. I like to use the Italian style, which includes some Italian spices. 

Add the chopped garlic. 

And top with some Parmesan cheese. Might want to sprinkle a little salt on those tomatoes, too. 

Bake at 425-degrees until the crust is golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. 

That looks good enough to eat!

Good stuff! And we have leftovers!

And now we have 2 future deep-dish doughs in the freezer. I'll just thaw them out, let them rise for a couple hours, and make them into pizza.