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Posted by on Nov 12, 2014 in Uncategorized | 5 comments

#BlogsgivingDinner: Smoked Mushroom Steaks with Herbed Bread Crumbs (Vegan)

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#BlogsgivingDinner continues today with entrees, salads and side dishes. I may have to have a few Thanksgiving dinners this year because all of these dishes sound AMAZING! Here’s the menu today:

Salads

Pomegranate & Goat Cheese Salad from Feast + West

Persimmon & Pear Salad from Wit Wisdom and Food

Roasted Butternut Squash & Gorgonzola Salad from Hello Little Home

Entrees

The Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey from My Cooking Spot

Roasted Turducken from The Speckled Palate

Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Orange-Cranberry Reduction from Home at Six

Beer Brined Turkey with Bacon Gravy from Cake ‘n’ Knife

Smoked Mushroom Steaks with Herbed Bread Crumbs (Vegan) from Betty Becca

Side Dishes

Turkey, Apple & Sweet Potato Pot Pies from Love & Flour

Creamy Pumpkin Apple Pasta from My Cooking Spot

Mushroom Spinach Farro from Think Fruitful

Bacon and Cornbread Stuffing from Chez CateyLou

Sweet Potato Crunch from I Cook. I Eat. It’s Life.

Blue Cheese & Bacon Mashed Potatoes from A Savory Feast

Sausage Stuffing from the Wetherills Say I Do

Butternut Squash Grits from Homespun Seasonal Living

Wine

Thanksgiving Wine Pairings from Twin Stripe

(Psst…don’t forget to keep an eye out for the hashtag – #BlogsgivingDinner as you make your way around social media today.)

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Every couple of months, I attend a vegan dinner party. It’s always a great time, and I never miss the meat on my plate. The dishes are always so fantastic – almost as good as the company. The first time I went, I took these Smoked Mushroom Steaks, and they were a big hit. Mr. J says this is not really something you’d go through the trouble to smoke on its own — it’s a good thing to throw in with whatever meat you’re smoking because it doesn’t take very long, but considering the reactions at the dinner party, I think it might be totally worth the effort. Depends on who you ask? All my veggies in the audience say, “‘ells yeah.”

I know. I know. Thanksgiving is about the turkey. But this is for your loved one(s) going meatless this holiday to have something totally hearty, crunchy, herby, garlicky, and full of flavor – on purpose, just for them, to enjoy, for this special day. Not just sides with sides on the side. Something delicious to hold its own as a main entree. Capisce?

If you don’t have a smoker, you can brown these babies up in a skillet (cast iron would do the trick in this role). Just don’t forget Julia’s tip to not overcrowd the pan (I only know this from watching Julie and Julia).

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Smoked Mushrooms

3 portobello mushroom caps, cleaned and cut in 1/2″ slices

Brush with olive oil and season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Soak a mixture of apple and hickory wood chips (about 4 cups) in water for 1 hour and strain before using. Cook mushrooms in an upright smoker preheated to 225* for 30-45 minutes.

Herbed Bread Crumbs

Now to jazz this whole thing up for turkey day, I decided to add an herbed bread crumb topping that will have your tastebuds riding all the way to the top floor. I guess you can use the store-bought kind of bread crumbs, but that’s totally elevator music instead. Anyway, start with stale bread (you need about 1 cup for this recipe – guess and test), and pulverize it to bits in your food processor.

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Bread – hanging out and getting stale

Next, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a skillet on medium heat. As it heats up, add 1 clove of minced garlic and 1 tsp of Italian seasoning (or herb mixture of your choice). Here’s where you’re going to be hanging out for a minute. It doesn’t take long, but you’ve gotta be there. You’re cooking, and you’re doing stuff. But stay put. Just for this part. Let the herbs and garlic hang out for a minute and do their thing. You don’t want the garlic to brown, but you want it to cook a little bit. Stir, stir, stir. Add your breadcrumbs (about 1 cup), and don’t panic. It’s going to look gloppy and gloopy. And totally wrong. Is there enough oil? Was my bread stale enough? This is never going to work (yes, it is). Stir, stir, stir. Keep everything moving. Then, you’ll notice things are changing. This is starting to look…and smell…appetizing. Keep stirring for a few more minutes until everything is toasty, and you’re done! Woo!

Place the mushroom steaks on a serving platter and top with the breadcrumb mixture. Make a sign that says, “If you’re not vegan, do not touch!” Just kidding.

Note: I don’t add salt and pepper to the breadcrumbs because the mushrooms are well seasoned before their trip to the smoker, and I didn’t want to overdo it. The photo shows the mushroom steaks served over a bed of quinoa and spinach. #SoYum

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Posted by on Sep 9, 2014 in Featured, Uncategorized | 0 comments

How to Host a Country Breakfast

How to Host a Small Country Breakfast

On Saturday, I hosted a delicious country breakfast for one of my favorite mama-friends and our families. Our sons are 1 day shy of exactly 1 year apart, and they’re both approaching birthdays very soon. The husbands were along as well to talk about world events, smoked/grilled meats, and various and sundry sporting events.

 

The boys playing at our last brunch in June

The boys playing at our last brunch in June, where my son is taking a toy away from a baby

Back in June, we had brunch at their house, and I had big shoes to fill. As I was trying to decide what to make, I decided to stick with what I know – good, ole country breakfast. The deciding factor was the delicious products I received from Southern City Flavors a week or so ago. I knew these local tastes would complement my menu beautifully. Here are my notes from the night before the breakfast that served as my cooking guide (basically the entertaining recipe for 2 mamas + 2 papas + 2 toddles) – with links to the recipes I used. My friends were arriving at 8:30 so I started prepping at 8-ish.

Pre-heat oven to 475* for biscuits.

Stone Ground Grits from Southern City Flavors – cooked in chicken stock

I cooked 2 cups of washed grits with 4 cups of stock and 2 cups of water. I started the grits first since they have a 20 minute cooking time. Here’s the tutorial I used to find out the process behind “washed” grits the label mentions. (Note: I had a LOT of grits left over so half of this amount would have been plenty. But that just means I’ll be cooking up grit bowls for my breakfasts this week. They have been amazing!)

I made the grits and eggs without any seasoning because both toddles are lactose intolerant, and I like to keep things salt free for them, too. But I had a toppings bar of herbs, spices, butter, various cheeses (including shredded Colby jack and cheddar and blue cheese crumbles), and salsa. The adults trashed up our servings for sure, as you can tell by my photo above.

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Biscuits – For two of us, I usually make a half batch, but since I had 4 adults this time, I made a full batch. The oven was beeping that it had reached temp just as I was about to pop these babies in the oven. It is really not hard to make fresh biscuits, and the canned kind can’t compare (#alliteration :P).

Local biscuit toppings including Fig Jam and Sweet Potato Butter (how good does that sound!?!)

Biscuits and local toppings

Biscuits and local toppings

Sausage gravy – a double batch of this recipe was just right. Check out my sausage trick below –

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It’s an age old problem: 1 lb of sausage is too much to use at once for a single person or small family, and it’s impossible to cut up frozen sausage. So here’s my trick for freezing sausage for use in smaller portions. I take a 1 lb package and cut it in quarters, wrap with plastic wrap, and freeze. Then, I can use as much or as little as I need. To thaw, I will either move it to the fridge ahead of time or defrost in a glass bowl in the microwave. I used 2 frozen bits (about half a pound) from the freezer for the sausage gravy.

Eggs – 10, scrambled at the last minute.

I think it’s ok to start the eggs after the guests have arrived. It only takes a couple of minutes, and they will be fresh, hot, and delicious!

Fruit – My friend brought pineapple and cantaloupe

Tomato Juice

Tomato Juice

 

I have several quarts of ta-may-tuh juice from my mom so we had to make up a Bloody Mary or two.

– – –

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Southern City Flavors was generous enough to send over samples of their delicious products for me to check out, and my review is 100% my own. Input Bettybecca at checkout to save 25% through 11/30/2014. Their story of cooking with family and friends really resonated with me, and I hope you will check them out today!

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Posted by on Apr 27, 2011 in Everyone Will Eat It, Try Something New, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Baked Spasagna Inspired by Cheddar’s

This is what I whipped up for dinner tonight…Spasagna!

Spasagna - Yummm


We’re really big fans of Cheddar’s in Smyrna – great food, good service, and super cheap! What more could you ask for? This is definitely one of their signature dishes, but they have tons of choices for everyone’s taste buds!

I didn’t look for a recipe before I started, but this looks like a good one.

I made it up as I went along, and here’s my recipe:

1 package of spaghetti, prepared as directed

1 jar + a little extra marinara sauce

Filling:

1 cup mozzarella

1 cup ricotta

1/4 cup Parmesan

1/4 – 1/2 cup cream cheese (I didn’t use this, but I think it would meld the creamy/cheesy elements together. I definitely will next time)

1 T Italian seasoning

1 t salt

1/2 t black pepper

6-7 garlic cloves, minced

Mix well.

To assemble:

1.) Spray an 8 x 8″ casserole dish with cooking spray and put a little sauce on the bottom (1/4 – 1/2 cup; this is where I used the “little extra” from a jar that was already open in the fridge)

2.) Toss the cooked noodles with the entire jar of the marinara sauce, coating well.

3.) Put a little less than half of the noodles in the dish and mash flat with the back of a large spoon.

4.) Spoon an even layer of the cheese filling (use all of it).

5.) Top with remaining noodles and flatten as before. Cover with foil, and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until everything melts. Top with a little more mozzarella and let melt in the final minutes.

6.) Enjoy!

Notes: It was kind of messy when we cut into it (as you can see from my loverly photo). I heard a tip from Anne Burrell one time about refrigerating lasagna overnight so that you get a perfect slice for serving. Her show is Secrets from a Restaurant Chef, and in a restaurant it’s all about presentation. I think it would be a good idea to try this trick with this dish, not that I’m that patient!

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