Sunday, August 30, 2015

Clear the Kitchen Casserole

     Sometimes it's fun to try to use up surplus food supplies. You know what I'm talking about. There's always some random can of something or other that's been lurking in the cabinet for six or seven years. You should just throw it away, but it's probably still safe to eat. You weren't raised to waste food or throw away money. Unless the can is inflated like a football. 

You may be throwing 90 cents in the trash,
but you're saving about $35,000 in hospital bills.
     The can that had been lurking in our cabinet was an off-brand can of sauerkraut. The can was not inflated, and the contents didn't smell poisonous, so I decided to use them in a casserole. If you don't like sauerkraut, you could probably substitute a can of greens or even beans. I'm not going to tell you this was a culinary masterpiece. However, it was moderately tasty and filling. It wound up being used for my lunches for over a week. So why do I call it Clear the Kitchen Casserole? Is it because it clears the kitchen of surplus ingredients? Maybe. Is it because after a plate of this you'll clear the kitchen. And the rest of the house. Boom! As always, notes are in blue.

Clear the Kitchen Casserole
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 can (14 ounce) sauerkraut, drained
  • 1 can (14 ounce) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 can (10.5 ounce) cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can (8 ounce) tomato sauce
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 12 banana peppers, sliced and seeded (or use two bell peppers if you don't like banana peppers)
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, chopped (or 1 4 ounce small can of mushrooms, drained and chopped) 
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 4 ounces (1 cup) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  1. In a large pan, heat oil. Add beef, onions, peppers and mushrooms. Brown meat. Once meat is browned and the veggies tender, take off the heat and drain excess oil.
  2. Cook the pasta to al dente. Drain off the water and return the pasta to the pot. Dump the meat mixture in there with it. 
  3. Unceremoniously dump all the remaining ingredients in the pot and stir until everything is incorporated. Enjoy the horrifying wet noises it makes while you stir it.
  4. Find a large Pyrex casserole dish. Spray it with non-stick cooking spray. Dump the contents of the pot into the dish. Spread it all to an even layer.
  5. Chuck it an oven preheated to 375F (190C, Gasmark 5). Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until casserole is starting to bubble and the top is getting crispy.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Cheeseburger Jalapeno Poppers

     Year after year I can count on my garden to produce insane amounts of peppers. There's only so many peppers I can pickle or make into relish. Surplus peppers are almost always stuffed and frozen for later. Banana peppers normally end up Sriracha Stuffed, but I wanted to do something different for my jalapenos. This particular mix really does taste like a cheeseburger! I might actually use that meat mix for other recipes. I'm resourceful like that. If you go to make these, don't be a dummy like me. Remember not to touch your eyes or nostrils. Also, assembly is messy, so have paper towels on hand. I can guarantee you'll love these and they will be a hit at any party!* As always, any notes are in blue.
Cheeseburger Jalapeno Poppers
(banana pepper poppers if you're a wuss)
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dried minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup (or catsup if you prefer)
  • around 2 dozen larger jalapeno peppers (if you're a big baby and heat is an issue, you can use banana peppers, but you won't fill as many since they tend to be a bit bigger than jalapenos. I did a mix of the two for my most recent batch since The Wife is breast feeding and I have this image of The Spud breathing fire)
  1. Cut the ends off the peppers and core them out, being careful to not cut through the sides of the peppers. Make sure to remove all the seeds. Set peppers aside. 
  2. Heat oil in a pan. Add beef and cook until browned. About halfway into the cooking, add the onion and garlic powder.
  3. Once the meat is browned, drain off the grease and make sure the meat is broken into very small pieces. Mix in the mustard, ketchup and cheese. Stir until cheese has melted completely into the meat. You may need to keep the heat on low for this.
  4. Take the meat off the heat. (BONUS FOR RHYMING)
  5. Fill each pepper with the still warm meat mixture. If you let it cool, the cheese will start to set and make it very hard to get into the peppers. Use whatever method you feel is best to fill the peppers. If you've got really small fingers, you'll do fine. I generally do it Civil War style and load a small charge of meat in and then ramrod it in with a chopstick. Fill the peppers to the top.
  6. If you have one of those jalapeno popper racks, this step is easy. 
    I'm talking about one of these guys.
    Fill a rack and put them in the oven at 375F (190C, Gasmark5) for about 20-25 minutes or until the peppers start to blister. Make sure you put a drip pan under this or you're in for a world of hurt come cleanup as these will leak grease. If you don't have this rack, or are using banana peppers, lay a sheet of foil or silpat mat on a baking sheet. Cook about the same amount of time, turning the peppers once so they blister evenly. 
  7. Remove peppers from oven and let set for 5-10 minutes
  8. Bonus idea: cook bacon halfway and then wrap it around the peppers, securing it with toothpicks. Finish cooking and you have bacon-cheeseburger poppers!
  9. Bonus idea #2: Wrap peppers in canned biscuit dough for a greasy cheesburger popper in a bun!
Good times!
* I totally can not guarantee that.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Three Mustard Pepper Relish

     The weather this summer has absolutely sucked. It started off cold and raining for weeks. Then it was hot and raining. Then it was hot and humid. Weeds are rampant, Bugs are rampant. All our cucumbers died. The tomatoes are running late. Our peppers, however, are growing out of control. Once again I am inundated with banana peppers. I could always do my Sriracha Stuffed Banana Peppers but I'm pretty sure I still haven't eaten the ones I froze last season. I perused the interwebz and found a likely recipe at BetterRecipes. I liked the idea, but it used only yellow mustard. That's a pretty commanding flavor profile here. I like yellow mustard, but not enough to risk that much. I decided on a mix of three different types instead. The result was absolute dynamite. This would be great on a brat, Polish sausage, pork, chicken, just about anything. The Wife even put it on her eggs. My only complaint is it probably could use more peppers. You could probably add another half dozen peppers easy. If you like mustard, give it a try and see what you think. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Three Mustard Pepper Relish

  • 3 dozen banana peppers
  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard 
  • 1/2 cup spicy brown mustard
  • 1/2 cup Kentucky's Smokin' Grill Grand Spiced Honey Mustard (this really brings this recipe together. You could probably find another spicy honey mustard, but it's not going to be the same. This stuff is the bomb-diggety)
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cups water
  • 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1 heaping teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 heaping teaspoon onion powder
  1. Cut the stems off the peppers and discard (the stems, not the peppers) Finely chop the peppers into tiny little pieces. If you have a food processor, pulse the peppers in small batches. You're looking for pieces less than 1/8". 
  2. Put the peppers, water and vinegar in a nonreactive pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and let simmer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add sugar and stir until sugar is completely dissolved. 
  4. Add remaining ingredients and turn the heat down a bit. You don't want the flour to overthicken (is that even a word? It is now. SCREW YOU, SPELLCHECK). Stir everything for a few minutes to make sure the flour is incorporated. If you have a whisk, use it.
  5. If you are terrified of canning, stop here. You now have a quart  of relish that's only going to last about a month in the fridge. 
  6. If you like canning, this will yield about 8 half pint jars. Seal them with a two-part lid. Process them in a boiling water canner for 12 minutes. If you decide on pint jars, process for 15 minutes. As always, double check with the National Center for Home Food Preservation for tips on how to not accidentally poison your loved ones.
Good times!