Category Archives: Sunday Dinner Ideas

Recipe for Ground Beef Meatloaf, individual servings

Easy as 1-2-3, This Flavorful Meatloaf is Hard to Beat.

Sometimes, whipping up a quick and easy meal isn’t all that quick, or easy. But when meatloaf goes to the table, not only is Momma happy, Daddy and the whole gang are waiting with fork in hand for the start of a memorial and satisfying meal. Nothing is quicker, nor tastier than a good ol’ homemade meatloaf. And when I say homemade,  I mean using good ingredients and delectable flavors that will make every bite outstanding.

Now the key to easy dinners is planning and keeping it simple. But that does not mean processed foods or out-of-the-box meals or sides. This meatloaf meal comes together with 3 recipes that together, makes for one outstanding, non-ordinary meatloaf. Plan your side dishes around the meatloaf, choose ones that will complement the flavor and be sure to maintain correct portions of the vegetables ( and the grains, fruit and dairy too) to the protein serving. Think steamed or quick pan sauteed, or even oven roasted vegetables.

We love meatloaf around our house. This is one way we enjoy making it, in individual servings and with a gravy made with good ingredients that really taste superb. The recipe uses basic ingredients for flavor but what we really love about this one is the added flavor and moistness the vegetables give to the texture and, with the addition of tomato paste as a binder, no egg is used. Enjoy!

Individual Meatloaves with Vegetable Gravy
Great for family dinners or company too – freeze unneeded loaves

makes 6 loaves

1) for the meatloaves:

2 1/2 to 3 pounds ground round beef (85/15)
1 tablespoon dehydrated minced onions
1 teaspoon dehydrated minced garlic
2 teaspoons of your favorite seasoning blend (you should know by know, mine is Badia Complete)
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon low sodium Worcestershire
1 teaspoon low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onions
1/2 cup finely chopped mixed bell peppers
1 celery stalk, finely chopped

2) for the basting sop:

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

3) for the vegetable gravy:

1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced onions
1/2 cup chopped mixed bell peppers
1 small carrot, diced
seasoning blend of choice
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup low sodium chicken or beef stock
1 teaspoon cornstarch

In an extra large bowl, blend the dried onion and garlic, seasoning blend, tomato paste, Worcestershire, soy sauce and liquid smoke together well. Mix in the chopped vegetables. Using a large metal or wooden spatula or mixing fork, cut in the ground beef adding about one-third of meat at a time. Mix to incorporate being careful not to compact the meat.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Using cold hands, form meat mixture into 6 balls and then each one into individual meatloaves. Place on a meat or wire rack and over a large shallow roasting pan.

Cook for about 30 minutes basting with the sop about 3 or 4 times during the cooking time. Remove when each is nicely brown and glazed.

While loaves are cooking, saute the mushrooms, onion, bell peppers and carrot with the olive oil until onion is soft. Add wine and chicken stock and allow to reduce about half in volume. Stir the cornstarch in a little stock or water and blend into the mixture to thicken. Simmer on low until gravy is desired consistency.

Place loaves in baking dish and spoon gravy on top. Return to oven if desired and allow gravy to simmer. Or, you can serve right away.

Notes: You could do away with much of the dried seasonings and use the standard onion soup mix I suppose, but then, it wouldn’t exactly be my recipe.
Next time I make these, I am gonna cook these on the grill, I can only imagine the added flavor especially using the basting sop.

Smothered Pork Chops over Collard Greens

Old southern foods are a lot like people – resilient!

There has been a lot on my mind lately that I just can’t seem to shake no matter how much I try to move on, certain thoughts still linger around, unsettled I suppose, now going on the second month. I’m talking about people, my southern brethren to be exact, folks who just don’t know how to act nor have learned the values of living. That’s it in a nutshell.

Now, I get all riled up when I see a chef go and do some dang fool thing with a southern recipe, meddling with it or doing something that I purely disagree with and then calling out to all that it’s the real deal. That’s one thing; it’s my opinion and I think I have the right to do so and I guess they have the right too. I have called out on such a thing a few times before and probably will again. Of course, the person that I’m talking about, well, I can say I have never thought of using the title ‘chef’ as reference. Why, that’s like calling me a chef and we all know I’m nothing more that a cook. A self-made entrepreneur for sure, this person climbed to TV stardom and is indeed a very shrewd business person. A ‘celebrity chef’ is perhaps more fitting, but I still think adding ‘chef’ is using the title loosely. Although she did entertain me for a short while before I became bored with the epitomized act of all things southern even though her southernism is a bit uncomfortable and embarrassing. The south was and is the main focus of this celebrity’s food, media and merchandising commodity, but really, do we southerners really tauk like that?

And, when I see such a person acting a fool on a matter that should have been answered and coped with and overhauled so long ago, it just tears me up. To sling slurs as a child or young teenager is one thing. We can blame it on peer pressure. But this is a grandmother. And we are not talking about targeting aspersions toward just one group. Why, no – she made sure she scooped everyone up in her sweet pot. I doubt her intentions missed any of her many pursued crowds. Well, it just goes to show that sooner or later, as grandmother used to say “even sweet honey brings out nasty flies.”

Oh well, I may not feel any better; my head might not be any clearer nor my heart any lighter and I might have offended a few but I do have a real, bonafide southern recipe to share. One that I am proud of and one that’s the real deal. This recipe or versions like it, been around for decades, resilient to disparateness long before anyone ever thought of becoming a ‘celebrity chef.’ Enjoy!

Smothered Thick Pork Chops
over Seasoned Collard Greens
4 servings

for the Smothered Chops:
Salt, pepper and seasoning blend
4 thick cut pork chops (about 1-inch thickness), diced
3 pieces thick cut hickory smoked bacon
2 tablespoon light olive oil
1 large sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 sweet red bell pepper, sliced into ribbons
2 garlic toes, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves or 1/2 teaspoon ground bay leaves
1 teaspoon fresh minced thyme
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley, optional

Dry chops completely with paper towels and season with salt, pepper and a seasoning blend. I used a no salt Creole spice mix but any Mrs. Dash or other blend would do just fine to add a bit of flavor to the meat. Set aside.

Pork Chops in Gravy covered with Onions and PeppersIn a large heavy skillet over medium high heat, cook bacon until lightly browned. Remove bacon with tongs to a plate to drain and remove all but 1 teaspoon of bacon grease to a large stockpot (for cooking the collards). Reduce heat to medium and add olive oil. Add chops and cook about 3 minutes for a good brown sear to form. Turn chops over and sear the other side cooking for 3 minutes. Remove chops with tongs to a clean plate.

Stir in the onion and bell pepper cooking for about 5 minutes until light brown. Remove onion and bell pepper with a slotted spoon to a bowl leaving as much oil as possible in skillet. Stir the garlic into the skillet and cook until fragrant. Add flour and stir to mix. Cook stirring the bottom for about 4 minutes or until mixture is light brown. Slowly add chicken stock and stir to blend. Add bay leaves, thyme and parsley. Add additional salt if needed to the gravy. Nestle in the chops and spoon gravy over the top of each. Sprinkle the onion mixture onto each chop. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook 15 minutes, test (pork should be 145 degrees F.), cover and turn off heat.

for the Collard Greens:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small hot pepper or 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 bunches fresh collards (or packaged if desired)
2 cups or more chicken stock
1 smoked ham or turkey meat
salt and pepper to taste
dash of cider vinegar

Rinse greens underwater in a deep sink if possible allowing grit to settle to bottom. Remove greens and drain water rinsing away the grit. Repeat until no trace of grit remains. Remove the thick stems and discard any blemished leaves. Rough chop collards and put aside.

Add olive oil to stockpot with bacon grease and heat over medium high heat. Add onion and hot pepper. Saute until onion is soft. Add a handful of collards at a time tossing all while cooking until all the greens are wilted. Add the chicken stock and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the ham hock and simmer covered on low until greens are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove cover, add the vinegar, stir and continue simmering out most of the liquid, about 30 minutes. Do not allow collards to scorch.

To serve:
Spoon with a slotted spoon a helping of collards on each dish. Top with a pork chop covered with onions. Divide the gravy among the chops as well as the bacon.

Note: Back in the day, for many households, the collards were cooked into the gravy mixture (which was thinned out) with the chops nestled in during the tenderizing stage of the last, long simmer.

Speckle Butter Beans, Country Style Recipe

Summer’s Enjoyment

Nothing says summer like fresh butter beans and around these parts, the speckled variety does rather well in our hot, humid climate. Now I know these are not available in all areas as I have for years had many of you write me asking where on earth could you find these wonderful gems. My answer many times depending on your locale, is either the farmer’s market when in season or in your grocers freezer. Yup, I have enjoyed many winter meals doing just that. There are many companies that package and distribute speckle butter beans so if your grocer does not carry it, tell them to get off their behiney and get to ordering. Once word gets out you better be the first in line, ’cause these will sell out faster than greased lighting.

Enjoy!

Country Style Speckle Butter Beans
about 6 servings

1 pound fresh, shelled speckled butter beans (use frozen during the winter)
1 piece smoked turkey or pork meat
1 small white onion, chopped
1/4 green bell pepper, chopped
1 garlic toe, minced
1 bay leaf or 1/4 teaspoon bay leaf powder
1 spring of fresh thyme or about 1/2 teaspoon
2 cups chicken stock
2 small vine-ripe tomatoes, chopped
4 green onions, sliced

In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, add the chicken stock along with 2 cups water. Add the smoked meat, chopped onion and bell pepper, garlic, bay leaf and thyme. Add desired salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a rolling boil and simmer on medium heat with lid partially covered for about 20 minutes. Make sure liquid does not evaporate adding more if needed.

Add the butter beans and add water or stock to cover well, at least by 1/2-inch. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for about an hour or until the bean is creamy on the inside but still intact; do not overcook to mush. As stated in another recipe, I like to turn off the heat and allow beans to set in the pot-licker while finishing other parts of the meal.

Right before serving, pour off most of the liquid and stir in the tomatoes and green onions. Serve using a slotted spoon along side fresh, hot cornbread or muffins.

Note: Like many fresh beans, speckled butter beans enjoy cooking in a good amount of liquid.

Baked Catfish Fillets with Mushroom Sauce

left-over serving with sauce
~  Gone Fishing ~

Folks, excuse my absence. I have not given up cooking nor have I given up sharing our love of southern foods. Like so many things in life, when we change our ways we are forced to change our habits, all for the good of course. Unfortunately, some things get left out like my love of spending time with you. These past months have been probably the busiest in many years, at work and at home, and I do so miss the times shared with so many of you. Hope to get back in the groove soon. But for now, I’m taking a much needed break and heading down to south Florida for relaxation.

In the mean time, here is a nice little ditty of a recipe for preparing fish filets without an overwhelming amount of calories added. It’s easy and the bonus is that it is very flavorful and delicious. Enjoy!

Catfish Fillets with Mushroom Sauce
recipe halved for photos

6 servings

4 tablespoons margarine, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon butter
6 -6 oz catfish fillets (or another mild white fish)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoon salt-free Creole seasoning
16 oz fresh sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup white wine (vermouth)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried seasoning medley of choice (thyme, parsley, marjoram)
1/4 cup green onions, white part only
1/4 cup sliced green onion tops

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large 3 or 4 quart baker, add 2 tablespoons margarine, 2 tablespoons olive oil, butter and the lemon juice. Heat in oven until butter melts; stir to mix. Dip each fillet into the mixture coating well and arrange in the pan. Sprinkle the fillets with the Creole seasoning.
 

Bake for 25 minutes or until flakes easily with a fork.

Meanwhile, prepare the mushroom sauce: In a large skillet, melt remaining margarine and olive oil over medium high heat. Add the mushroom and stir rapidly to coat. Cook about 5 minutes and or until mushrooms begin to brown. Add the chicken stock, wine and flavor with the salt, pepper and seasonings. Allow liquid to reduce in half. Add the white part of onions and reduce down until liquid barely covers mushrooms. Reduce heat to low and wait for fish to finish cooking. Top with green onions just prior to serving.

To plate, add a fillet to fish platter and top with mushroom sauce. Be sure to distribute liquid sauce among the platters; it is so good to sop with French bread.

Seasoned Country Fried Thick-Cut Pork Chops

Get your taste buds ready!

The beginning of a mouth-watering and head nodding approved meal in our house normally begins with a long stare at the entree as it arrives to the table. In this case, a thick ol’ southern fried pork chop seasoned perfectly.

I say perfectly ’cause this is how we do it. Each bite of this moist, well flavored chop is a celebration of goodness. And if cooked right, not only is it tasty but tender as can be and so moist, that the juicy goodness runs down the fork. Now of course, ya might want to save all the pan renderings for some good ol’ brown gravy, as we do sometimes, or you might want to go with the simplicity of enjoying the chop naked. And if you notice in this recipe from way back when frying was acceptable, and was the mainstay on every southern table, you will notice good ol’ shortening is used as the oil of choice. Butter is added to assist in acquiring a nice, ultra-thin crispy brown crust from a simple dredging in the seasoned flour. No egg, milk or buttermilk here, simple and pure. Enjoy!


Country Fried Thick Pork Chops
2 servings – or increase for more servings

1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/3 cup Crisco
1 tablespoon butter
2 -1 to 1 1/2 inch thick pork chops

In a wide, shallow bowl, mix the flour and cornstarch with the seasonings.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Pat the chops dry with paper towels. Season lightly with salt and pepper on both sides. In a wide enough skillet without crowding the chops, heat the shortening over medium heat. Dredge the chops in the mixture coating both sides well.

When shortening is melted and hot, add butter and just as it starts to color, shake excess flour from chops and add to the skillet. Cook 6 to 8 minutes per side.

Remove chops to a baking pan and place in the oven. Cook until internal temp is 145, about 15 minutes. Let rest tented with foil for 5 minutes before serving.

Confetti Rice Casserole

A baked rice casserole recipe worth serving.

Running down through Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi is an area known as the Southern Rice Belt and from here, a significant portion of the nation’s rice crop is grown. Positioned along side the Mississippi river, this land yields much of our conventional rice such as the long-grain white rice found in every southern kitchen. Creole cooks from long ago discovered the grain characteristics which result in the rice cooking dry and flaky, not sticky.

Then there are the specialty rice grown for the specific needs of niche markets which usually command a premium market price. A few interesting varieties are: Neches – a glutinous (waxy) long grain cultivar that is used by the starch and flour ingredients industry as a way to reduce the imported waxy rice. Lotus – a popcorn-scented long grain cultivar. Louisiana Pecan – This long-grain rice is grown only in the bayou country of southern Louisiana. It’s similar in flavor to Basmati, but the flavor suggests a nutty flavor and has a rich aroma. Texmati – A wonderful long grain rice with a dry, fluffy texture when cooked. Bengal, Jupiter and Neptune – All are medium grain rice grown mostly for expansion rice and used in breakfast cereals, confections and snack type products. Southern medium grain rice is also grown for its creamy consistency to use in desserts and puddings. It is not considered a good choice for serving as a stand-alone white rice as it is not as clean tasting as japonica varieties. Cooks in the southern states prefer to use it in foods containing spices, beans, meat and sauces.

This recipe is an easy way to make a rice soufflé-like casserole with savory overtones. This dish will accompany most any entrée and is one you will be glad to serve at your next dinner, supper or Sunday meal. It is especially good served under creamed chicken which, is an old southern way to use up left-over chicken meat by melding it into a flavorful and creamy, milk-base gravy.

Enjoy!

Confetti Rice Casserole
6 to 8 servings

1 tablespoon butter or margarine
3 cups cooked long-grain white rice
1/2 cup grated mild cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup grated Gouda cheese
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/3 cup diced onion
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
3 eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire
good dash of hot red pepper sauce

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a 2 quart round (or 3 quart rectangular if you want to cut into squares) casserole, melt the butter and coat the bottom and sides of the dish.

Combine remaining ingredients and spoon into the casserole. Bake for 1 hour or until a knife inserted into center comes out clean.

Let rest about 5 minutes before serving.

Irish Immigrant Stew

Beef or Lamb Stew Recipe

When emigrants arrive to the United States, they bring with them their native way of cookery. America is blessed with such a rich diversity of food cuisines from a wealth of countries. The south is no different as I have mentioned many times and I believe it is here, where a most homogenize merging of foodstuff comes together, just like in a good gumbo.

Most historians when mentioning the Irish migration tend to focus on the settlement of the New England states, although during the 18th century, the Irish flourished heavily in Georgia and the Carolinas as well moving onwards into the Delta areas. It is here that many became prominent citizens, rising above the immigrant mentality held in the upper New England states of New York and Massachusetts. Much of the rise came about from the Irish fighting in the American Revolutionary War and doing so won the hearts and camaraderie of fellow southern citizens. It is here, in the south where the Irish found tolerance and where their heritage was welcomed. And it is in the south where Irish families felt acclimated, becoming part of a community while gaining foothold and persevering tenacity.

After 1815, the Irish immigration rose to over 33,000 per year and of those, the laborious work of digging, forming canals for waterways and moving earth to make way for railways in the south was done by many of the Irishmen. Others became doctors, lawyers and plantation owners. During this time, New Orleans, which was the largest city in the south, became one-quarter Irish. It is no wonder there is such an influence of Irish character in New Orleans. Mobile had its share of Irish influx too and even today, Callahan’s Irish Social Club exists just a couple blocks from our house.

Which brings us to the recipe today, one of those peasant style, home-goodness, one-pot meals that slowly comes together in making a full-bodied, hearty stew of pleasantry. It blends together the distinctive characteristics of the southern Irish, a little of my momma and a whole lot of me. You see, the recipe is based on one my momma made many times and in making her version of Irish Stew, she used cubes of lamb shoulder along with large chunks of carrots, potatoes and turnips. You could too, either way . . . enjoy!

Irish Immigrant Stew
4 to 6 servings

2 pounds beef roast, boneless short ribs or stewing meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves toes, minced
1 bottled beer, like the clean and crisp Harp Lager or the somewhat hoppy Murphy’s Irish Red
4 cups rich beef stock
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 large bay leaf
pinch of cayenne
good pinch of thyme
4 whole carrots, roughly sliced bite size
1 pound red potatoes, unpeeled and chopped bite size
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

In a medium bowl, sprinkle the beef cubes with a little salt and pepper. Add enough flour lightly coating each piece. Spread on a pan to keep dry.

In a stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the oil and butter over medium high heat and when butter begins to brown add the beef, just enough to cover the bottom. Sear bottom side of the beef to a light brown, about 3 minutes and turn meat to sear the other side. Remove to a plate and sear remaining beef cubes. Tent the plate of beef with foil and keep warm.

Add the onions to the pot and cook stirring onions until the onions caramelize from the fond in the pot. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two. Add any remaining dusting flour along with enough to make about 1/4 cup. Stir flour into the onions and cook about 3 minutes. Pour in the beer (at room temperature), beef stock, Worcestershire and add the bay leaf, cayenne, thyme and sugar. Allow liquid to come to a simmer on its own (not increasing heat to do so) and at simmer add the browned beef. At second simmer, reduce heat to medium low (barely simmering) and cook covered for about 2 hours.

Stir the carrots and potatoes into the stew mixture. Cook 30 to 45 minutes covered or until the potatoes are tender. Add a half-cup of hot water to the stew if the mixture becomes too thick.

Serve with a sprinkle of parsley and hot crusty French bread, cornbread muffins or soda bread.

Creole Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Spinach and sausage inside, tasty savor on the outside.

Nothing better than a good stuffing and I’m not just talking about me. For some reason, we love to stuff all kinds of foodstuff from vegetables, loaves of bread to critters of all kind. Many enjoy a stuffed bird but I kinda shy away from that, I mean, I enjoy pan-style dressing with roasted poultry. It’s just the way I was brought up I guess.

Now, stuffed vegetables I can eat my self crazy and beef or pork roulades, why, dey ain’t nuttin’ better if you ask me. This is another way we enjoy eating pork – stuffed tenderloin southern style. Enjoy!

Creole Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
serves 6-8

1 1/2 to 2 pound pork tenderloin
Poultry seasoning, salt and white pepper
1/4 pound mildly spiced ground bulk pork sausage, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup diced celery
1/3 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
8 ounce baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup toasted blanched almonds
1 tablespoons minced white raisins (dried cranberries would be good too)
2 tablespoons
1/2 cup soft breadcrumbs

Prep the tenderloin by slicing down the length about 1/2-inch depth with a sharp fillet knife. Turn the knife to one side and begin slicing horizontally while rolling loin along as you proceed until the tenderloin becomes a flatten, rectangular rolled out piece of meat, sort of steak-like. There are many ways to prepare the loin, some prefer cutting downward in the center and then cutting to each side; the cut would resemble an upside-down ‘T’. And there is the cut that resembles an angular ‘J’. I like the rolled version as the piece of meat becomes more of a roulade.

Lightly sprinkle the inside (cut side) with a little poultry seasoning, a light sprinkle of salt and white pepper. Cover and refrigerate to allow rest while proceeding to prep the veggies and cook the sausage.

In a medium skillet, brown sausage over medium heat and remove any grease. Add the celery, onion and bell pepper to the sausage and cook about 3 minutes over medium low, just enough to soften the veggies. Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Add the almonds and raisins; remove from heat. Stir in the bread crumbs. Allow to cool and give all a rough chop on a cutting board.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Remove roulade from refrigerator and set aside. Place the mixture in the center of the roulade. Spread the mixture to one end (the thinnest) and begin rolling just like a jelly-roll. Use kitchen twine to truss the tenderloin in several places securing it together.

Place the tenderloin cut side down on a baking pan and place in the oven. Turn the temperature down to 375 degrees. Roast about 25 minutes or until internal (meat part) temperature reaches 150 degrees F. Remove from oven, cover with foil and let rest about 10 minutes before cutting.

Notes: This time, I mixed a little soy sauce with red wine vinegar and brushed on the tenderloin before placing it in the oven. Not Creole but it gave it an outdoor flavor.
Many folks prefer to brown the tenderloin on the stove but I think a good hot oven does just as well and leaves only one pan to clean.

My Potato, Cheese and Onion Casserole

 A creamy, cheesy potato recipe

The word casserole has been in French usage since at least 1583, meaning, “to cook in a casserole” (the dish/pot used for cooking it). In or before 1706 the word came unto English and used as a verb figuratively, to mean blending of some kind (typically having rice pounded and pressed similar to the pastry used for pies and used to encase fillings). Since at least 1930, a more open meaning appeared referring to the food prepared in the utensil itself.

In short: casserole – verb, noun ~ 1) to bake or cook food (in a casserole); 2) a baking dish of glass, pottery, etc., sometimes with a cover; 3) any food, usually a mixture, cooked in such a dish.

“Casserole….The word has a complicated history, starting with a classical Greek term for a cup (kuathos), progressing to a Latin word (cattia), which could mean both ladle and pan, then becoming an Old French word (casse…), which then became casserole…Historically, casserole cookery has been especially popular in rural homes, where a fire is in any case burning all day and every day…Although casserole is a western term, the use of cooking pots which would be called casseroles in Europe or Americas is almost universal in Asia.”
—The Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford]

Now folks, it really don’t matter where the word comes or how you use it. The most important thing is that we use it to make something good, something outstandingly tasty and something that at the end of the meal, when the casserole dish comes back empty, ya know you casseroled the best casserole your family could enjoy.

This is my take on a potato onion pie. Enjoy!

Potato Casserole Yum Yum
6 servings

1 medium onion, halved and sliced thin
1/4 cup fully cooked real bacon pieces (Hormel Black Label)
6 garlic toes, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 cup grated mild cheddar cheese
1/3 cup grated Colby Monterey jack cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 pounds yellow potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
salt to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 2 1/2-quart casserole with oil or cooking spray.

In a small bowl combine the bacon, garlic and jalapeno; put aside. In a medium bowl, combine the three cheeses; put aside.

Scatter 1/3 of the onions in the bottom of the casserole. Arrange half of the potatoes on top of the onions overlapping the slices. Lightly season with salt to taste. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the bacon mixture and top with 1/2 of the cheese mixture. Repeat layers with remaining onions, potatoes and bacon mixture. Pour the cream evenly over the top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese mixture. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.

Remove foil and continue baking for 30 minutes or until cheese turns golden. Remove and tent with the foil for about 5 minutes before serving.

Sugar Cured Creole Ham Recipe

Sugar spiked, sugar glazed, sugar crusted … this is one sweet ham.

Sweet as in better than good is the meaning here even though sugar is incorporated in three different stages of preparing this amazing ham. The ham is actually not really that sweet, but moist with a delectable, very southern and distinguish flavor.

This is one fine way to cook a ham and it is one suitable for many occasions, holidays and special meals. Heck, this is one to cook for no reason at all other than it’s that good.  Enjoy!

Sugar Cured Creole Ham
my version of a honey baked ham but with southern flavors
serves 8-12

1 -6 to 8 pound spiral-cut ham
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 -12 oz ginger ale
1/2 cup Southern Comfort

1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons Creole mustard, or a brown grain
3 tablespoons Alaga syrup, or cane syrup

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon pan drippings
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning, salt-free
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Place the ham in an extra-large zip-lock bag (or large container). Mix the next 3 ingredients together in a saucepan and heat until slightly warm. Pour marinade over the ham. Seal removing as much air as possible and allow to cool just a bit. Refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours. Rotate if possible, especially if using a container.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Remove ham from marinade and pat dry. Discard marinade. Place ham cut side down in a roaster on a large sheet of wide aluminum foil; enough to enclose the ham. Mix the next 3 ingredients together and rub over the ham. Seal foil and place in the oven.

Bake ham for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Test after an hour with a meat thermometer and continue cooking until internal temperature reaches 140 degrees F. Be sure not to place probe into a fatty area or next to the bone. During the last hour, baste with the pan drippings.

Right before removing ham from oven, place remaining ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil stirring constantly. The mixture should be thick. Pull away the foil and position ham on one of its long sides. Normally, the top has a thin layer of fat. Spoon glaze over the ham and turn oven to broil turning up the heat. Watch carefully. Allow glaze to crystallize. Remove to serving platter and serve warm.

Note: The ham I used was presliced and pre-cooked, I believe the packaging said ‘fully cooked’. Thanks to Lea Ann for bringing this to my attention.