Cheesy, Bacon, Tomato, and Spinach Strata

Cheesy, Bacon, Tomato, and Spinach Strata

I can’t wait for Halloween!!!!!

I picked up a mermaid costume at Target this past weekend for our trick-or-treating. I even grabbed a red wing so when I put it on Autumn called me “Mommy Ariel” over and over again. My life is complete now.

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Autumn is going to go as Doc McStuffins. She is super excited about it. We are all ready with her costume and her Stuffy.

She doesn’t really understand what Halloween is yet but she heard that candy is involved so she excited, even with the decorations in the neighbors’ yards that scare her a bit.

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And I’m excited to share with you this flavor packed strata.

Do you know what a strata is?

It’s a breakfast or brunch casserole that is made with bread, eggs, cheese, meat, and veggies. There are so many variations that the possibilities are nearly endless.

I put in cheddar, bacon, tomatoes, and fresh spinach. I just love the sharpness from the cheese, the sweetness from the burst tomatoes, and the fresh flavor from the spinach.

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Guess what guys, if you can remember the numbers 2 and 8 you can make this awesome breakfast! Yes!

Everything is in the quantity of 2 or 8… 2 Cups, 8 ounces, etc. It’s so simple!

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Yes, I know the spinach on top looks a bit meh, but it’s still delish. If you want to avoid that then mix together everything but the spinach, then layer half the moistened bread mixture to the dish, add the cooked spinach, and then top off with the rest of the bread mixtures. Problem solved.

 

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Get ready for a great breakfast!

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Cheesy, Bacon, Tomato, and Spinach Strata

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces of french bread
  • 8 ounces of thick cut bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 Cups whole milk
  • 2 Cups grape tomatoes
  • 8 ounces fresh spinach
  • 2 Cups freshly grated cheddar cheese, I suggest Kerrygold’s Reserve Cheddar
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper

Process

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a casserole dish, set aside.
  2. Cut the bread into 1/2″ Cubes. Set aside in a very large bowl.
  3. Over medium heat, cook the bacon in a skillet. Stir occasionally until bacon is crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Leave 1 Tablespoon of fat in the skillet.
  4. Add the grape tomatoes to the skillet. Cook until just bursting.
  5. Add 1/2 the spinach, cook until wilted. Add the rest of the spinach and cook until wilted. Set aside to cool a bit.
  6. Beat together the eggs and milk. Add the salt and pepper.
  7. Add the bacon, tomato, and spinach to the bread, mix well. Add the cheese and egg mixture, mix well making sure all the bread is
  8. Transfer the mixture into the casserole dish. Cover and refrigerate for up to 12 hours. Remove from the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes prior to baking to come up to room temperature (this helps with even cooking).
  9. Bake uncovered until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, about 45-50 minutes. Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving.

 

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All-American Cheeseburger Pie

All-American Cheeseburger Pie

It’s been a while since I posted a pie, but I swear the wait was worth it.

I didn’t really burn out from last year’s ‘A Year of Pies‘ weekly pie recipes, I’ve been making them still. I’ve just taken a break from posting them on the blog to have a bit more variety of things. Oh yeah, and waffles too!! ha!

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But that pie hiatus is all over now with this All-American Cheeseburger Pie.

This recipe is from Dinner Pies: From Shepherd’s Pies and Pot Pies to Tarts, Turnovers, Quiches, Hand Pies, and More, with 100 Delectable and Foolproof Recipes by Ken Haedrich. It’s a new cookbook, just released this fall, that focuses on savory pies. Perfect for pie lovers who want to try something new. Or just for anyone who wants an awesome pie for dinner.

I flagged several recipes in the book to make but this cheeseburger pie jumped out at me because I was really curious how it would turn out. Like would it really, actually taste like a cheeseburger. Well, guess what?!?!

It’s EXACTLY like a burger, but in pie form. It’s amazing. And genius. And amazing, all over again.

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But, if we are going to be honest, I was a bit worried while making it. Hear me out!

The crust is tough to handle. And I’ve made a few crusts before!!

The crust is very soft, which the author notes is because of the moisture from the sour cream in the dough. His notes throughout the recipe process, and in notes off to the side, about appearance of the recipe, or even the touch or smell. His attention to detail and well written recipes are very clear to follow.

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So, the crust it’s sorta a pain since it’s hard to work it. But I am warning you now so you don’t heave that sucker into the trash as you struggle with it. It’s a soft, wet dough so you will need plenty of bench flour (and patience) to roll out the dough, lift it up, and get it in the pie plate. I suggest using some parchment. I didn’t have any so it was a pain, but I used my bench scraper, which did help quite a bit.

That being said, you have to suck it up and make this crust. It makes this recipe. It has the best flavor and texture for this recipe. I swear.

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Even then, don’t freak out when you look at the process to make this pie. Yes, it’s a lot of steps. Chill out, seriously. I broke out everything so it seems like a lot to do, but in reality it is just about making the crust, which you can do in advance, and sauteing the meat, mixing together a sauce, mixing everything together, and then baking it all.

Really, it’s not so bad! In fact I made the crust in advance, and then I made the rest while Autumn napped. In fact, everyone in the house, including the rabbit, was napping. But I was baking, what else is new?!?!

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I followed the crust recipe exactly but I made a few tweaks to the filling recipe.

Don’t get me wrong, the recipe sounds great from the start, but I wanted it a bit leaner so I skipped the oil in the pan to cook the bacon (something I don’t think I’ll do for any recipe, ever). As well, I drained all meat mixture in a colander to remove a lot of fat, instead of spooning it out. Lastly, I cut back on the cheese. The recipe calls for 2 1/2 Cups, but I just used 1 1/2 Cups. I’m sure it would have been terrific with the extra cheese, but I was quite satisfied with the reduced amount.

Also, random bacon tip, I find that using kitchen shears to ‘chop’ up the bacon actually is a lot easier than cutting it with a knife.

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Like I mentioned before, I loved this recipe so much.

I really had to stop myself after eating 1 slice. It was so tough. I am already looking forward to the leftovers.

Give it a try, I bet you will love it!

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American Cheeseburger Pie

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

For the Cornmeal Biscuit Crust

  • 2 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 Cup fine yellow cornmeal
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″-inch cubes, cold
  • 3/4 Cup sour cream, cold
  • 1/3 Cup whole milk, cold

For the Filling

  • 4 slices of bacon, chopped*
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 Cup Italian Style bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 Cup whole milk
  • 3 Tablespoons Heinz chili sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 Cup dill relish
  • 1 1/2 – 2 Cups grated sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced

Process

  1. Start by preparing the crust. You can prepare it a day in advance.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda,  and salt. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Incorporate the pieces of chilled butter using a pastry cutter, or your hands (work quickly so that heat of your hands does not melt the better!). You are done blending when the pieces are the size of a pea.
  4. Mix together the milk and sour cream. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the milk mixture in. Gently mix together with a wooden spoon. Let sit for at least 1 minute at this point.
  5. Knead together on a well floured surface. (The dough will be wet) Work into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap before chilling, for a least 3 hours. You can make the pie dough in advance.
  6. Butter a 9 1/2″ deep dish pie plate. On a very well floured surface or on a well floured piece of parchment paper, roll out your chilled dough again to be 12″ round. Carefully lay into the pie plate. Fold over and crimp any excess along the edges. Refrigerate while preparing the filling.
  7. In a large skillet, over medium heat, cook the bacon for a few minutes, until it has rendered some of the fat. Add the ground beef and onion. Use a wooden spoon to break up the meat while browning it. Add the garlic when the beef is almost done.
  8. Drain the fat out with a colander.
  9. In a large bowl, combine the meat with any remaining drippings with the bread crumbs, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Mix well.
  10. Whisk together the eggs, milk, chili sauce, mustard, and Worcestershire Sauce in another bowl. Add the sauce mixture to the meat along with the relish and 1 cup of the shredded cheese. Mix well.
  11. Set aside for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  12. Spread the meat mixture evenly into the refrigerated pie shell. Top with a single layer of the sliced tomatoes.
  13. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with the remaining shredded cheddar cheese. Continue to bake for another 10 minutes to melt the cheese. Let cool for 15 minutes prior to serving.

Adapted from Dinner Pies: From Shepherd’s Pies and Pot Pies to Tarts, Turnovers, Quiches, Hand Pies, and More, with 100 Delectable and Foolproof Recipes by Ken Haedrich

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Harvard Common Press sent me the Dinner Pies cookbook for review. As always, all opinions are my own.

 

Creamy Dreamy Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Creamy Creamy Baked Macaroni and Cheese

This is a creamy dreamy mac and cheese.

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We were heading over to a friends, Mark & Allie, house for lunch one day and the request for Mac & Cheese came through. Mark makes fantastic pulled pork. And smoked pulled pork and mac & cheese are best buddies. BFF’s.

To stand up to Mark’s ah-mazing pulled pork, I had to really bring it. And damn… it was brought!!

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I consulted with some foodies at work for the best mac and cheese to make and was pointed to Ina Garten’s mac and cheese recipe. Well, you know, Ina knocks it out of the park so I had to go with it.

Rightfully so too! This made for a ridiculously delicious mac and cheese. Ridiculous.

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The key to making this recipe the best it can very be is the cheese sauce.

Get your ducks in a row to have the cheese all grated so you can quickly dump it in once you get the rue and warm milk combined and smooth.

Trader Joe’s has a cheese that is a combination of cheddar and Gruyere so just grabbed enough of that (2 big blocks) and got to work at grating that right up.

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 This mac and cheese is perfect for the winter as it’s the perfect kind of comfort food, but it’s also great in the spring, summer, or fall. It’s great on it’s own, or with a side salad or with some smoked pulled pork. Or in a house with a mouse. Or in a box with a fox. Wait a minute…

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Oh, and the breadcrumbs. Toasty, crunchy, & yummy.

I had to end the week on this ultra decadent, super cheesy recipe as next Monday Price and I are diving into Whole30, an ultra strict 30 day diet reset. And, buddy, this is not complaint to that diet at all. I just had to share this recipe now so I don’t have to look at this drool worthy pictures while we pass out on all dairy and grain for the month.

While we won’t be eating recipes like this from February 2nd- March 3rd, it doesn’t mean you can’t! Share some pics if you do. I’ll probably lick my computer screen. ha!

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Creamy Dreamy Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Makes 8-10 servings

Ingredients

  •  1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
  •  1 quart milk
  •  8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  •  1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 ounces Gruyere, grated (4 cups)
  •  8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
  •  1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  •  1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  •  3/4 pound fresh tomatoes (smaller is better)
  • 1 Cup Panko breadcrumbs

Process

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.
  4. Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

Adapted from Ina Garten

Ultimate Tatchos

Ultimate Tatchos

After a few weeks off from posting my usual Friday Sprint Cup Snacks posts (thanks broken computer!!!!) I’m back with one kick ass recipe that will have you running to the store for the goodies to make this dish this weekend!!

This weekend the boys (and Danica) are racing at Texas Motor Speedway. I figured that I had to make something that would warm up the house (it’s def cold in Boston!!) and something that had a bit of a kick to it! I thinking about making a big huge batch of chili but I started to think about snack food, which made me think about a plate of piled high nachos. (pregnant much?!?) And then I was lamenting one day about how the cafe in my office building has stopped serving tots at breakfast (what the hell?!?). That made me think about combing tater tots and all the best toppings on nachos to make a big pile of these…

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Ultimate Tatchos!!

I just love how the tater tots act as the perfect vehicle for all the toppings. Plus the tater tots change things up from the typical crunchy chip.

This is so great to make because you can easily adjust the size of the batch you make for the amount of people you are serving. I highly suggest that you always make more than what you expect to need since everyone will love to snack on the cheesy, spicy tots.

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We (Price) are finishing up painting the baby’s room this weekend. Then we are going to  assemble the crib so we can get to decorating like crazy since we only have 3 weeks to go. I can’t wait to get in there and reorganize the room and hang up pictures we have picked out.  I’m sure we’ll be hungry after all that work, so I’m sure I’ll be whipping up again batch of these Ultimate Tatchos!

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Ultimate Tatchos

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of tater tots
  • 1 cup shredded mexican blend cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups canned black beans, rinsed and reheated
  • 1/2 cup salsa (I used the restaurant style salsa from Archer Farms)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • sliced pickled jalapenos
  • sliced black olives

Process

  1. Cook the tater tots according to the directions on the packaging. (You want them to be a bit crisp so you might want to add a few minutes actually)
  2. In an oven safe serving dish, layer half of the tater tots, beans, and cheese. Place under the broiler for a minute or so in order to melt the cheese.
  3. Add the rest of the tater tots and top off with the remaining beans and cheese. Again, place under the broiler for a minute or so in order to melt the cheese.
  4. Top off with the salsa, sour cream, avocado, jalapenos, and olives.

Texas Queso Dip

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When Price and I went to visit our friends Natalie and Jason in Austin last year we fell in love with all of the food we had there. Everything was incredible. I couldn’t get enough of the tacos, bbq, agua fresca, and, of course, queso. (Also couldn’t get enough time hanging with great friends, natch.)

Each and everything we ate was amazing for a different reason. The fantastic Mexican we had at Chuy’s, to the BBQ we got to go after a night of drinking, to the chicken on a biscuit from Whataburger immediately after some bar hoping.

But the one thing that was a constant was the queso we had. We had it every change we had and even while we lamented ‘no more queso’ we loved it. I think there really is a limit to the amount of queso/cheese a person can eat in a few days and I think we were fast approaching that limit. But really, worth indulge. Or at least that is what I kept telling myself after dipped another chip in.

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Well since this weekend’s upcoming NASCAR race is at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, I figured that I had to share something for my Sprint Cup Snack that I loved so much about my visit to Texas. Now don’t give me any lip about how Austin and Fort Worth are not that close to each other- 3 hr drive or so- because I say what goes on this blog! ha!

Plus any excuse to eat queso is okay for me.

Natalie emailed me her recipe for queso at a moment’s notice. True friends understand the love of cheese (even if she has gone Paleo now). And let me tell you it was fantastic!!

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The queso is incredibly easy to make and would be fantastic to whip up for watching any sporting event, a movie, or having friends over for a side splitting night of Cards Against Humanity. << come over, let’s hang and just be ridiculous

If you can whip up some simple pico de gallo and can melt some cheese in milk, then you are all set. It’s basically that, plus making a simple rue to thicken it all up. So, so much better than the queso you get in the jar that you microwave. Was that even necessary to say?!?! duh!!

Obviously, queso is best piping hot so it’s super ooey gooey yummy. If you have a little crock pot dip warmer then I suggest you use that to keep it hot and everyone happy.

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Dig in!!!!

Texas Queso Dip

Makes 8 snack servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, room temperature-ish
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Pico De Gallo

  • 3 plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 of a red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 a hass avocado
  • 2 jalapenos, seeds removed
  • 1 clove garlic
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper

Process

  1. Remove the milk from the refrigerator, set aside.
  2. To make the pico de gallo, dice the cored tomatoes, onion, and avocado. Mince the jalapenos and garlic. Combine together and add the cilantro, lime juice, and a generous amount of salt and pepper. 
  3. To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook to make a rue, whisking constantly until golden, about 2 minutes. Continue whisking and slowly add the milk. Bring the mixture to a steady simmer, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 2 minutes.
  4. Combine the cheese sauce and pico de gallo together and enjoy!

slightly adapted from my friend Natalie

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{Sprint Cup Snacks Track Facts}

Texas Motor Speedway seat a whopping 190,000+ people to watch a race. Repeat… 190k+. That was about 3 times the number of people in my whole town when I was growing up. Insane. But everything is bigger in Texas!

Besides being big, it’s also fast. It’s one of the fasted non-restrictor plate races in the series   with qualifying speeds in excess of 192 mph and corner entry speeds over 200 mph. And in 2006 for the Dickies 500 qualifying, Brian Vickers shattered the qualifying record at Texas with a speed of 196.235 mph. Crazy.

Gotta enjoy this weekend’s race under the lights!

Track: 1.5 miles

Shape: Oval

Banking: 24 degrees in the turns

Surface: Asphalt

Capacity: 191,122… yep a lot of people!!!!

Race: 334-laps for 501 miles

2012 winner:  Greg Briffle

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