Sunday, May 29, 2011

Simply Strata

It's Memorial Day weekend, known to us "old folks" as Decoration Day weekend. You gather with the family, go to Grandma's house, cut fresh flowers, then go to the cemetery to decorate the graves of all our dearly departed, whether they died in a war or some other way. It's been a family tradition for us, and who has time to cook? That's why a Strata comes in handy - it's easy to put together the night before for a quick cook in the morning, and can be served before your Memorial Day activities for energy to decorate graves, go to a barbecue, see an art museum exhibit, or whatever else might be on your agenda.

Here's all you need:
1 lb pork sausage
6 slices of bread - french or sourdough - cubed
6 ounces fresh mushrooms, sauteed
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
2 cups cheese - I like a combination of sharp Cheddar and Swiss
7 eggs
2 cups buttermilk (most recipes call for just "milk," but I had left-over buttermilk, and the Internet gods told me that buttermilk was just fine for Strata).
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Saute the mushrooms in butter in a large skillet - put aside.

Cook the sausage in the same skillet until evenly browned - drain and put aside.

Lightly spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with Pam cooking spray, and layer one half of the bread cubes, cooked sausage, sauteed mushrooms, chopped green peppers and combination of cheese. Repeat layering with the other half of all those delicious ingredients.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and seasonings; then pour the egg mixture over the bread cube mixture.

Cover, and refrigerate at least 12 hours, but preferably overnight...(if the 12 hours isn't overnight, that's some party and why wasn't I invited?)

Next morning, 30 minutes before you're going to cook it, take the egg casserole out of the refridgerator and preheat your oven to 350 degrees, then enjoy a cup of coffee and/or a bloody mary while the oven heats.
Bake covered for 40 minutes, then remove cover and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until top is evenly browned, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let stand 10 - 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

ENJOY with a bowl of fruit - nectarine, peach, orange and banana, with a splash of orange juice and triple sec.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Green Peony Tea, a Rapturous Rare Treat

While you're waiting for the Rapture (scheduled for just a few minutes from now - I hope I get this posted before I get taken away) you might need something to calm your tense nerves. I have just the answer! RARE TEA!

Kim, my dear sister-in-law from West Jordan (who was probably the first one whisked to Heaven), surprised us with a lovely gift of Rare Teas from Peet's (I know I should acknowledge some trade mark or whatever, and it's probably wrong to put in a plug for my nephew's coffee company MILLCREEK COFFEE - which is amazing and delicious and you should get some).

First, have a lovely sister-in-law who sends you this fun and amazing Tea, and your favorite LARGE tea/coffee cup.

Next, put water in your tea kettle and put it on the burner to heat. Take one "blossom" of tea and place in the bottom of you BIG tea/coffee cup (if you have a good-sized glass tea cup, I would recommend this - so you can enjoy the beauty of this tea).

When the water is ready, pour it gently over the tea blossom.

The blossom will initially rise to the top, then as it absorbs water, will sink to the bottom of the cup.

Let it seep for 5 to 10 minutes - the longer it seeps the more flavor is released from the tea blossom.

ENJOY! The beauty of this tea blossom is that, as you drink it down, you just add additional water and let the tea blossom seep some more, and you can enjoy this tea ALL DAY LONG - or until your swept away to Heaven - so be sure to wear clean underwear!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Gibbs' Bratwurst & Cabbage Surprise

Last week I was "spring-cleaning" my freezer - you know, going through the mystery packages that have been in there forever, tossing the unidentifiable items, and planning meals around items that should be used before they become unidentifiable. And that's how I came up with "Gibbs Bratwurst & Cabbage Surprise. " I put the frozen brats in the fridge to thaw, then scoured the internet for recipes - and I mixed and matched ideas for the end result:

1 package Johnsonville Bratwurst
2 medium onions - chopped
4 stalks celery - chopped
5 garlic cloves - chopped
beef stock
salt, pepper and other seasonings
divulged in the discussion below).
red wine vinegar
1 smallish head red cabbage

I'm going to tell you how I prepared this, and then I'm going to tell you what I would do differently when I make Gibb's Bratwurst & Cabbage Surprise again.

Poke the casings of the brats with a fork - like you would a potato for baking - to keep it from "exploding" while it cooks. In my favorite dutch oven I browned the brats on all sides in a bit of oil; remove the brats to a paper towel.

In the oil still in the dutch oven, combined with a pat of butter, sautee chopped onions, celery and garlic.

Here's where I got "creative" with my spices - I added a couple pinches of dry mustard powder, a couple of generous pinches of red chili pepper flakes, a dash of curry powder, and a couple splashes of red wine vinegar. None of these are essential, but I thought they added a nice flavor. Feel free to alter to suit your own taste.

Cut the cabbage into 4 quarters. Remove the center heart (the thick white stem) and the large exterior leaves. Then thinly slice the quarters - I used only 3 quarters of my small to medium cabbage. Add the sliced cabbage to the sauteed veggies and mix well.

Nestle the brats on the bottom of the dutch oven, underneath the cabbage-veggie mix, then pour in enough beef broth to half-way cover the mix. Bring the broth to a boil, cover, and transfer your dutch oven to a pre-heated 225 degree oven.

I planned on a slow-cook at a low temp, so we took the bus to the MOLO for Saturday afternoon Happy Hour with Mark.

My concoction stayed in the oven for approximately 4 1/2 hours. Upon returning home, I scooped the brats out to a plate, used a slotted spoon to drain the cooked cabbage, arranged a bed of cabbage in a bowl, topped with Brats, and served with a Jalapena Cheese bread - lightly buttered and broiled.


One recipe I borrowed from suggested that once the broth was added, just bring it to a simmer, cover, and continue to cook on the stovetop at low heat, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes or until the cabbage had the desired consistency. I would probably try this method, because the cabbage was a bit on the "mushy" side under my method.

This meal probably won't make any Top 1o Lists, but it was still yummy, and the flavor and texture of the brats was wonderfully delicious.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Huntington Beach Surfer Snacks

UTAH gymnastics is done for the season, and Greg and Megan had their annual "gym decompress" weekend at Huntington Beach. For the 3rd year, Brian and I have been fortunate enough to be invited to join them for a couple of decompression days.

This weekend, over a night of "Mexican Train"- a domino game, I was called upon to fix a "poo poo platter" (appetizers, simple as that) -
Here's a "before" shot, how the tray looked before it was set out for the hungry game players to enjoy...

and , if you do it right, here's what your "after" tray will look like:

ALL GONE! And the beach and hotel were divine GO UTES!