3.23.2014

Sunday Special: Bagel & Lox Breakfast Casserole

.  I know, what is going on at LSM?

I don't think two savory posts in a row has ever happened here.  But not to worry, I have absolutely zero intentions of changing my focus to cooking.  Sorry, not happenin', Robbie.

But you know how sometimes you can just kind of 'sweet' yourself out?  Probably not, because most likely you don't live with a baker.  But trust me, it can happen.  Hard to imagine, but it can.  And I think I made just one [or three] too many sugar-coma goodies in the past few weeks.


But why haven't you seen any of these creations?  Well...they were flops.  Not sure what was going on in my baking world as of late, but I had a couple of misses I didn't think were blog worthy [e.g., Oreo Cream Brownies].  So in addition to making a lot of desserts, the fact that they didn't turn out was a little disheartening.  Thus, apparently my taste buds turned to the savory to give myself a break.

Plus, Robbie recently started on his new audit client, which happens to be out in Northbrook, IL.  Though only a short 20-some miles away, horrendous Chicago traffic turns the drive into about an hour long [or more].  Hence, Robbie leaves at the crack of dawn just to make it in to work on time.  Thanks Deloitte...

So in efforts to pull ahead in the race for fiancé of the year, I made this casserole twice in the past two weeks as Robbie's on-the-go breakfast.  Throw it in a microwavable bowl/cup and voila: a hot, easy, travel-size breakfast for the car ride.


But let's get into the deets of what actually makes this dish so desirable that Robbie requested I make it again [because the first time he didn't have a choice].  

Bagels.  Smoked Salmon.  Cheese.  And Chives.

All mixed together [with a few other tasty ingredients] recreating the ever-so-famous NYC Bagel & Lox combination in one dish.  A truly hearty, yet healthy, flavorful breakfast that Robbie seriously couldn't get enough of.

I, on the other hand, might have smoked salmon myself out.  So I'll be making some cookies today ☺️  .


My Notes:
  • Since the bagels are a main component, use the best quality bagels you can.  Also, don't be afraid to try out different flavors of bagels, too!  But for the first go around, going plain is probably best and then you can adapt next time.
  • To go along with those bagels, also be sure to use the best quality salmon you can.  Yes, smoked salmon is not cheap.  But it will make a difference in this dish that will last you quite a while!


Ingredients:
1/4 c. butter, melted
8 c. (about 4 to 6) plain bagels, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 (3 oz.) package smoked salmon, cut into small pieces
4 oz. Swiss cheese, shredded
4 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/4 c. snipped fresh chives
8 eggs, beaten
2 c. milk
1 c. cottage cheese
1/4 tsp. pepper

Directions:
  1. Place melted butter in 13x9-inch baking dish to cover bottom.  Spread bagel pieces evenly in prepared dish.  Sprinkle smoked salmon, cheese, and chives evenly over bagels.
  2. In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, cottage cheese, and pepper, and whisk until combined.  Pour over bagel mixture in pan.  With back of a large spoon, gently press down bread pieces to make sure all of the ingredients are moistened.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours up to overnight.
  3. When ready to bake, heat oven to 350ºF.  Bake 45 minutes or until set and edges are puffed and golden.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Yield: 12 servings

Per Serving: Calories - 267; Total Fat - 14g; Cholesterol - 176mg; Carbohydrates - 16g; Fiber - 1g; Sugar - 3g; Protein - 17g

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3.09.2014

Sunday Special: Grandma's Creamy Baked Macaroni 'n' Cheese

.  Okay, this isn't my Grandma's recipe.

Neither is it my typical healthy Sunday recipe post [that I seemingly forgot about as of late....].

But guess what?  It just makes it sound better, more nostalgic.  So we're keeping it.


As you may know, Robbie was in Omaha for almost all of February.  Yes, seriously.  What a joke, huh?  Stupid job.

But as the weeks wound down and it was finally time for the fiancé to return back to Chi-beria, a home-cooked meal seemed like the ticket.

See, in Robbie's line of work, what they call 'busy season' goes on every year from about January to April/May.  And busy seasons entails days, weeks, and months of never-ending work.  As in, those poor accounting soldiers spend every waking minute of their day at the office.  From about 8 AM to 12/1:00 AM.  E'ry day.  Except Sundays...


Which means that they have take-out.  A lot.  

And I'm all for take-out.  But I'm sure you can agree that sometimes it just gets old after...29-too  many meals.

So prior to his arrival on a late Friday night a couple of weeks back, I decided Robbie needed a comfort-food greeting.  And while I keep telling myself Robbie was glad to be back home to see me, I could see his eyes light up at the sight of the surprise mac 'n' cheese sitting on the stove.  Dang it.


But this dish is comfort-food-Paula Deen-esque to a 'T'.  A casserole of chewy elbow macaroni covered in creamy, cheesy goodness.  Then finished with a toasted layer of bread crumbs adding that ever-so-perfect crunch.

Crunchy topping.  Rich, gooey, cheesy sauce.  Chewy al dente macaroni.  

Please tell me what could be better?  .

My Notes:
  • I [still] don't know exactly what Vermont cheddar is, so I went for the regular ol' cheddar cheese.  But use whichever type you like best or can at least find!
  • The original recipe used individual servings in ramekins but I opted for the casserole style.  But if you want to serve this decadent dish as a side, the ramekins are absolutely perfect! 
Adapted from Simply So Good

Ingredients:
scant 8 oz. uncooked elbow macaroni
3 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. all purpose flour
2-1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. salt
Pinch of nutmeg
Black pepper (to taste)
2 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese or aged Vermont cheddar cheese
1 c. bread crumbs

Directions:
  1. Follow package directions to cook macaroni in pot of boiling water.  Drain, rinse with cold water, and place macaroni into a large bowl; set aside.  Butter the bottom and sides of a 13x9-inch baking dish; set aside.
  2. Heat oven to 350ºF.  In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat.  Add flour and whisk until smooth.  Add heavy whipping cream and whisk until sauce thickens (this takes several minutes).  Add salt, nutmeg, and pepper, and continue whisking until combined.  Remove from heat and stir in cheese.  Whisk until smooth and most of cheese is melted.
  3. Pour cheese mixture over macaroni and stir until completely covered.  Pour the macaroni 'n' cheese into prepared baking dish.
  4. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and mix with bread crumbs in a small bowl.  Evenly sprinkle bread crumbs over top of macaroni 'n' cheese.
  5. Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until edges are bubbling and bread crumbs are golden brown.  Remove from oven and serve.
Yield: 12 servings

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3.03.2014

Glazed Snickerdoodle Waffle Cookies

.  I have to say it...

You will LOVE. these. cookies.


There was really no rhyme or reason as to why I needed to test out this recipe.  Maybe for the fact that I was itching to try something new.  Or maybe because I wanted to use the beloved waffle iron I just had to have for the...second time now.  

Probably a combination of both.

But regardless of the reason, this a unique, fun treat that you can't ignore.  I'm serious.  Particularly for the Snickerdoodle lovers of the world, you'll find this cookie twist quite refreshing.


And how could you not?  The classic cinnamon, buttery Snickerdoodle dough is baked to perfection on a waffle iron, producing a non-traditional, supa-cute cookie shape with an ever-so-slightly crunchy exterior encasing a soft, yet chewy center.  

Oh, and then topped with a smooth cream cheese glaze that takes this goodie to the next Snickerdoodle level.

I won't be able to explain to you well enough just how addictive these little guys are.  For those that I could bare to part with, I shared these cookies with our dog walker and the front desk staff in our building.  Thank goodness for them, otherwise I would have consumed the entire batch on my own in one weekend.  Because once you start, the fun just don't stop!


Until you have a stomach ache ☺︎

But I know you have more self control than I.  So if you have a waffle iron [or are on your way to go get one!], I hope you're already gathering together the ingredient list.  You'll thank me.  You'll see.

Happy baking!  .



Ingredients:
Snickerdoodle Dough:
1/2 c. butter, at room temperature
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Glaze:
2 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 to 3 tbsp. heavy whipping cream or milk 
Ground cinnamon (to decorate)

Directions:

  1. For the cookies, in a large bowl beat together butter, sugar, and light brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla extract until smooth.  Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, and beat on low speed just until combined (batter will be thick).
  2. Heat waffle iron.  Scoop 1 tablespoonful of dough and shape into balls before placing onto waffle iron.  Bake for desired time directed by your iron or until golden brown.  Carefully remove cookies to wire rack to cool.  Repeat until all of dough is used.
  3. For glaze, beat together cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract until smooth.  Slowly beat in enough cream [or milk] to make glaze a drizzling consistency.  Drizzle over waffle cookies and sprinkle with cinnamon.  
Yield: 2 dozen cookies

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