Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Scalloped Croque Monsieur

Mr Wonderful's birthday was two days after Thanksgiving. His absolute favorite food is scalloped or au gratin potatoes, so I decided to make a variation by adding classic Croque Monsieur flavors: mustard and ham. In addition, we had a lovely salad with apples, candied pecans, bacon, caramelized balsamic onions, blue cheese and balsamic vinaigrette. And for dessert we had Tiramisu, another favorite of his.

Russet potatoes are an antioxidant-rich food, so this will be my submission for Sweetnicks' ARF/5-a-day roundup. Click the link to see more great recipes from food bloggers!

Scalloped Croque Monsieur
4 Tbsp butter
1/4 c flour
2 c milk
1 Tbsp good grainy mustard
1/4 tsp nutmeg (freshly grated, if possible)
1 1/2 c shredded Gruyere cheese (or other good swiss-type, like Emmenthal or Comte)
3 small russet potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
1/4 lb thinly sliced deli ham
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 375.

In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. When the butter starts to bubble slightly, add the flour and cook for a minute or two. Add the milk slowly, stirring or whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Raise the heat to high, and continue stirring constantly, until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove the sauce from the heat and add the mustard, nutmeg, salt & pepper (go easy on the salt; cheese is salty) and 1 cup of the shredded cheese.

In an 8" buttered baking dish, layer the potatoes, sauce and ham, starting with a little bit of sauce on the bottom, and ending with a bunch of sauce on top to make sure it's all covered. Sprinkle the casserole with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the potatoes are soft and the casserole is golden brown on top. Serves 2-3.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving Dinner

I obviously didn't spend much time on plating, but maybe you'll forgive me if I tell you that I was halfway through a bottle of wine by the time it hit the table, since I spent ALL DAY cooking for only four people. Oh, and only two of those people actually appreciated the food and ate it without making nasty faces.

I skipped the apple crisp, figuring that Rugrat wouldn't eat it and I'd be plenty full from dinner anyway. But I did put out a crudite platter for everyone to snack on during the afternoon, and whipped up a quick batch of stuffed mushrooms for Mr Wonderful and I. The kids won't touch mushrooms with a ten foot pole, which was just fine with me, because stuffed mushrooms are one of my favorite things.

Mashed Maple-Brown Sugar Sweet Potatoes
3 c baked, peeled & mashed sweet potatoes
1/3 c half and half
1/3 c good maple syrup
2 Tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp salt
2 egg whites, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix all ingredients together and spoon into an 8" buttered baking dish. Then, combine the following ingredients with a pastry cutter (or in a food processor or stand mixer, if you're lazy like me) until it gets crumbly and the butter bits are smaller than peas:

1/4 c lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 c flour
2 Tbsp cold butter

Sprinkle evenly on top of the mashed sweet potatoes, then bake for about 30 minutes. Serves 6-8.

Stuffed Mushrooms
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp EVOO
10 mushrooms, cleaned
1 Tbsp minced shallot
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 tsp fresh lemon zest
1/2 c cracker crumbs (I usually use saltines; this time I had oyster crackers on hand, but you can use Ritz or whatever)
salt & pepper
2 Tbsp finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350.

Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop the stems finely. Place the caps, hole side up, on a cookie sheet. Melt the butter with the EVOO in a small saute pan, then add the chopped mushroom stems, shallot, parsley and lemon zest. Cook for about 3 minutes to soften the mushrooms and shallots, and to blend the flavors together. Add the cracker crumbs. At this point, you may need to adjust a little - if the stuffing looks too wet, add a little more cracker crumbs; if it's too dry, moisten with a bit more EVOO. Cook for another minute, to bind everything together and toast the crumbs a little, and season with salt & pepper to taste.

With a teaspoon, stuff each mushroom cap with the mixture. You should mound it up and kind of press it down a bit with the spoon, making sure it's well packed. Top the mushroom caps with the shredded cheese and then pop them in the oven for 5-10 minutes, until the mushrooms give up their liquid and start to brown a bit. Serve immediately. This recipe will only serve about 2 people, though, because they are really yummy and you'll be scarfing them down as fast as you can.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Menu

This year I had given my family over six months' notice that I would be doing Thanksgiving. Six months! And still, nobody is coming, as far as I know. I extended a last-minute invitation to my aunt & uncle, and my cousin & her son, but no word yet on whether they'll be attending. I guess the party jinx extends even to family parties now. :-(

In spite of that, though, I'll be making a FULL Thanksgiving dinner. Mr Wonderful and I and the kids will be here to enjoy it, and even if we're stuck having leftovers for a month, I won't skimp on Thanksgiving. So, the menu is:

Sage, Onion & Apple Cider-Roasted Turkey (a 12 pounder!)
Apple-Herb Stuffing
Green Bean Casserole
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon (will probably add some apple cider to this to sweeten it and tie it in to the turkey/stuffing)
Funeral Potatoes (I've been dying to make this - no pun intended)
Mashed Maple-Brown Sugar Sweet Potatoes (recipe will be posted after Thanksgiving)
Cranberry Sauce
Pumpkin Pie
Apple Crisp

I dislike Pumpkin Pie, but Mr Wonderful thinks it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without it, so that's why we've got two desserts.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Spider-Man Logo

Spider-Man Sweater
Originally uploaded by snarkmeister.
The Spider-Man logo I used for Rugrat's "Weasley Sweater" in place of an initial.

Chart (Excel format) can be found here.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Clam Chowder

So much fresher and healthier than the canned stuff!

Clam Chowder
3 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp EVOO
1 c diced onion
1 c diced celery
1 c diced carrot
2 c diced potatoes
1/4 c flour
1 bottle clam juice
4 c chicken stock (one large box with a pour-spout)
1/2 c half and half
2 cans whole clams, drained (juice reserved) and checked over to ensure there are no little bits of shell
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
salt & pepper

Melt the butter with the EVOO in a large soup pot or a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, carrots and potatoes, and salt & pepper to taste. Saute for about 10 minutes, until the veggies are tender and the onions are translucent. Add the flour and cook for a minute or two. Add the bottled clam juice slowly, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Add in the chicken stock and bring the heat up to high, stirring often, until the soup begins to thicken. Reduce the heat back to medium. Add in the half and half, reserved clam juice and the clams. Cook just for a few minutes, until the clams are cooked through, then stir in the chopped parsley and serve.

Makes enough soup for 4-6 people.

Edited because I forgot about the potatoes! Whoops!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I'm on Ravelry!

Ravelry is like MySpace for knitters/crocheters. The site is still in beta, but I signed up for a beta account and finally, after nearly a month, got my invite. :) I'm "snarkmeister" on Ravelry, if you're a fellow Raveler.