Caramelized Banana Dutch Babies

The first Friday of the month is reserved for recipes. You can see additional First Friday Food posts here.

The Reason:

As I said the last time I talked about Dutch Babies, sometimes you want a delicious, warm pastry for breakfast, but just don’t have time to go full-on pancake.

Well I would further add to that, sometimes you don’t have time to slice up a bunch of peaches or apples, or peaches are not in season. Enter, banana dutch babies:

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The Journey:

One of the coolest things about dutch babies is the way they puff up in the pan, then deflate when you take them out of the oven (or, at least, *I* think it’s cool, but none of the kids seem to be as excited about it as I am…with this and a lot of other things)

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Pictured: mid-puff dutch babies! (And look! It even fits in the oven with sheet pan bacon!)

The Verdict:

We have actually been making these for years, so about time I got around to putting this one up. It is easy and delicious. The only problem I have is that two are no longer enough for our family!

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Oh wait, I do have one other problem with it.

We only have one cast iron pan, which means my 2nd dutch baby is in a pan that is oven safe, but I don’t normally put in the oven. That means that I can NEVER, EVER remember that the handle will be scorching hot, and constantly grab it for all it’s worth.

Learn from my constant, repeated stupidity. BE VERY CAREFUL ABOUT GRABBING HOT PANS WITH YOUR BARE HANDS!

The Recipe:

Recipe adapted slightly from Chef Druck.

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 4 bananas
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Get two ovenproof skillets out (cast iron of you have them!)
  3. Combine the vanilla, eggs, milk, granulated sugar, salt and flour in the blender. Pulse until mixed.
  4. Heat both pans on medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of butter to each pan along with half of the brown sugar. As soon as the sugar is melted, slice two bananas into each pan and turn a few times to coat well on both sides. Let them brown slightly. Pour in half the batter to each pan and put both pans in the oven immediately.
  5. Cook for 15 minutes, until the Dutch Babies are golden and puffed up. Optionally, douse with a big cloud of powdered sugar (we usually skip this) and serve immediately

Sheet Pan Hash Browns and Oven Baked Bacon

The first Friday of the month is reserved for recipes. You can see additional First Friday Food posts here.

The Reason:

Obviously this is a pancake sort of blog, but *eeeevery once in awhile* I might eat something else for breakfast (shocking, I know). And when I do, there are no better accoutrements than hashbrowns and bacon.

(This is, however, a bacon sort of blog. No exceptions)

(Except maybe sometimes sausage)

The Journey:

Regular hashbrowns are pretty amazing. I mean, I wouldn’t have thought you could improve on hashbrowns. But you CAN and now you MUST.

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Usually I make hash browns in a pan, but then I get entirely too impatient to eat them, so I don’t let them fry long enough to actually get crispy. Instead they end up as kind of warm, mush potatoes, that are still delicious. Intellectually I understand that they would be better if I could wait for a few more minutes, but…

However, imagine you could make ENTIRELY CRISPY hash browns, with no effort?!? And since they’re in the oven you don’t even have to sit there and look at them, waiting for them to crisp up but growing increasingly more impatient.

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As for the bacon, I have cooked a slice or two in my day. Usually the grease is flying everywhere, burning your hands like liquid magma as you try (unsuccessfully) to flip the piece over with a fork. Then it starts curling up, so you try to hold it down, but it doesn’t work so you end up with one side that’s crispy and the other side that’s just like raw fat.

No more. This is going to change your life my friend.

It is so unbelievably simple, you end up with perfectly cooked, flat pieces, and you don’t even have to stand there and shepherd it the whole time. Set it and forget it. The strips are actually less greasy too, since most of it stays in the pan. AND! AND! It’s easier to clean up: just wait until the grease congeals a little bit, crumple the parchment paper, and throw it away.

Sometimes you really can have your cake and eat it too. And the best part is that you can cook it in the oven AT THE SAME TIME as the hash browns!

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The Verdict:

The one slight knock I would say is that I am a crispy bacon kind of guy, and you can’t *quite* get the bacon to that perfect level of crispiness. However Sara, who claims I always overcook the bacon, is quite satisfied (and honestly this is probably somewhere in the middle between us as far as our preferred texture).

Still, that is a very minor complaint, especially when weighed against the obvious advantages.

I have no knocks against the hash browns whatsoever.

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And naturally, it is Alex approved, so what more could you ask for?

2017_04_24_3060The Recipe:

Recipe from Macheesmo.

  • 1 bag of frozen hash browns (1 lb 4 oz)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  1. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a microwave safe bowl, combine butter, oil, and spices. Microwave on high for 30 seconds to melt butter.
  3. Stir spice mixture into potatoes.
  4. Stir in grated Parmesan cheese.
  5. Spread potatoes out on sheet pan in a single, even layer. Some overlap is inevitable, but try to make it as even as possible.
  6. Place sheet in a preheated oven on the bottom rack for 15-20 minutes. When edges of hash browns are browning nicely, move sheet pan to the very top rack. Bake for another 10-15 minutes so top can crisp up. Don’t stir the potatoes!

Recipe (is this really a recipe?) from The Pioneer Woman.

  • Bacon
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Cook for 15 – 22 minutes (depending on thickness of bacon)

Aunt Helen’s Apple Pie Cake

The first Friday of the month is reserved for recipes. You can see additional First Friday Food posts here.

The Reason:

You’ve probably heard of people joining a CSA: you buy a “share” and then every two weeks you pick up a load of whatever fresh vegetables happen to be in season.

We have recently joined an apple CSA, which means every two weeks we get another 10 lbs of apples, straight from the orchard.

You call it an apple CSA, I call it PURE BLISS.

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The Journey:

I love apple anything.

I love apples like a lazy house painter loves the rain. I love apples like Trader Joe loves pumpkin flavored food. I love apples like Evelyn loves solid color leggings with mostly matching solid color shirts.

I love apples.

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If you really want to look like a genius, instead of using 2 eggs, you can use 1 egg + 3 egg whites, and parlay those 3 egg yolks into a batch of Charred Brussels Sprouts Carbonara.

The Verdict:

Nothing pairs better with cool, dim, slightly-rainy days and the crinkle of leaves under your feet than the taste of apples and cinnamon. Nothing tastes more sweaters and knitting and holding your loved ones close before the eternal Chicago winter steals your breath and settles in your bones.

So soft and moist, so fall-like. I definitely recommend a dollop of homemade whipped cream on top. Maybe a steaming mug of tea on the side.

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The Recipe:

Recipe adapted from the 1999 Marne United Methodist Church cookbook, or previous to that, from Sara’s mom’s Aunt Helen.

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts
  • 5 cups chopped apples (about 4 large apples)
  • 4 Tbsp. hot water (forgot this, but it turned out fine, so?)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Cream butter with mixer; beat in sugar and eggs
  3. Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt, baking soda, and flour
  4. Add nuts, apples, water, and vanilla and fold together (with spoon, not mixer)
  5. Bake in 9×13 pan for 40 to 45 minutes.
  6. Serve warm or cooled with whipped cream or ice cream

Quinoa Salad with Peaches and Pickled Onions

The first Friday of the month is reserved for recipes. You can see additional First Friday Food posts here.

The Reason:

Ya’ll, I have been sitting on this recipe for an entire year.

We made this a ton last summer, but by the time I thought to put it up on the blog, it was kind of past tomato / peach season, and I didn’t want to post it over the winter and have you forget about it by the time the correct season was upon us.

THAT TIME IS NOW.

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The Journey:

You know how sometimes you’re eating a delicious, juicy, ripe peach and you just think to yourself, “What is this missing? Ah, I know, quick pickled onions.”

No?

Well after eating this, you WILL think that when eating a delicious, juicy peach, because the combination somehow goes together like Laurel and Hardy. Like chocolate and marshmallow and graham crackers. Like peanut butter and cheese.

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The Verdict:

This salad tastes like summer. It’s unique, fresh, and delicious. I strongly encourage you to give this one a try. I sat with a pending post for a WHOLE YEAR so you could give it a try.

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(Pairs well with smoothes, and photobombs.)

The Recipe:

Recipe from Bon Appetit.

  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa rinsed well
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced ¼” thick
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 large ripe firm peaches, cut into ½” pieces
  • 1/2 bunch arugula, leaves torn (about 2 cups)
  • 2 cups small cherry tomatoes (about 1 pint), halved
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup ½” pieces chives, divided
  • 4 tsp. kosher salt plus more
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Bring quinoa and 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Season with salt. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until quinoa is tender, 8–10 minutes.
  2. Drain, return quinoa to pan, and cover. Remove from heat and let sit 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and spread out on a rimmed baking sheet; let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, place onion in a small bowl. Bring vinegar, sugar, and 4 tsp. salt to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt. Pour over onion and let stand 20 minutes. Drain, reserving pickling liquid.
  4. Toss pickled onion, peaches, arugula, tomatoes, oil, ¼ cup chives, and 3 Tbsp. reserved pickling liquid in a large bowl; season with salt, pepper, and more pickling liquid, if desired. Fold in quinoa.
  5. Serve salad topped with remaining ¼ cup chives.
  6. Do Ahead: Quinoa salad can be made 6 hours ahead (do not add arugula and chives). Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature and toss in arugula and chives just before serving.

Cheesy Hashbrown Bake with Homemade Sausage

The first Friday of the month is reserved for recipes. You can see additional First Friday Food posts here.

The Reason:

You might not know this, but when Sara and I were dating, she worked at the Cracker Barrel. You might say I didn’t so much date her as use her as a supplier of delicious cheesy hashbrown casserole.

(Now, before you get all up in arms, I didn’t *ONLY* date her to gain access to cheesy hashbrown casserole: they also had biscuits.)

I don’t remember how we came to make our own sausage, but you should know by now that if there is an easy way to do things and a hard way to do things, I generally choose the hard way.

The Journey:

You guys! You can make your own sausage? Did you know that was a thing you can do? It turns out sausage patties do NOT descend fully formed from Mount Olympus, but are in fact a simple mixture of pork and spices! Who knew?

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Anybody who says links are better than patties can just get the hell off my blog right now.

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Okay, so now you have the sausage…now what? Eat it, you say? NOT SO FAST.

(Okay, well eat a little bit of it, I mean, seriously)

Now we shall transform that into something EVEN MORE DELICIOUS.

How could anything be even more delicious than homemade sausage? Well, it involves a whole lot of cheese, that’s how. And hashbrowns. CHEESE AND HASHBROWNS.

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…and then you bake it and it gets even more magical.

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The Verdict:

Well, we do like our breakfast food around here.

I daresay this is even better than the Cracker Barrel cheesy hashbrown casserole. I suppose you *could* use your homemade sausage just for eating, and you *could* make this with non-homemade sausage, but…

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The Recipe:

Breakfast Sausage

Recipe adapted from from Bon Appetit:

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 1 1/3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/3 teaspoon onion powder (if you have it)
  • 1 pound ground pork
  1. Mix sage, thyme, brown sugar, salt, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika and onion powder in a medium bowl. Add pork and work spice mixture into meat with your hands until it’s very well blended.
  2. Scoop out ¼-cupfuls of mixture and flatten into about ¼”-thick patties (they will plump slightly when cooled).
  3. Griddle sausage over medium-high heat until browned on one side, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook 2 minutes more.
  4. Do Ahead: Patties can be made 2 days ahead. Stack between parchment paper; cover and chill, or freeze up to 1 month.

Cheesy Hashbrown Bake

Recipe adapted from All Recipes:

  • 1 pound 4 oz package frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 1/2 – 2/3 pounds pork sausage
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 7 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 8-12oz sharp cheddar, shredded
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 2 quart baking dish. Place the hash brown potatoes in the bottom of the baking dish.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium heat and cook and stir the sausage and onion until the sausage is crumbly, evenly browned, and no longer pink; drain. Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, milk, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, and pour over the potatoes. Layer with half the Cheddar cheese, the sausage mixture, and the remaining Cheddar cheese. Cover with aluminum foil.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Remove cover; return casserole to the oven and bake until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 10 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Herbed Bread

The first Friday of the month is reserved for recipes. You can see additional First Friday Food posts here.

The Reason:

This is the king of garlic breads. I have never tasted any other garlic bread with quite this combination of flavors. I could eat a whole loaf of this (and as a teenager, basically did).

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The Journey:

When I was in about 1st grade, someone brought this bread to school. My memory is a bit hazy on this, but I loved it SO MUCH, that I got them to give me the recipe.

This was before there was any such thing as “the Internet” where you can just “look up recipes” when you’re hungry, but despite living in this vast, unknowable future, I still make this bread from a recipe card written out in my mom’s handwriting like it’s the 1600s (note: I do not churn my own butter).

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The trick is to butter BOTH SIDES OF THE BREAD. Even if your wife is like, “Why does this take so much butter? Couldn’t you cut down on the butter a little bit?” You shout “Shut your mouth, hypothetical wife in this entirely hypothetical situation!” and then you just go ahead and make it with all the butter and hypothetically tell her you cut down on the butter even though you really didn’t.

(Either that, or you just cut down on the butter like she said and complain bitterly with every piece how there’s not going to be enough butter. Hypothetically.)

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The Verdict:

This is one of my all time favorite things to eat in the world, and I always requested it for my “birthday dinner” when I was a kid (along with lasagna). I could absolutely just eat a loaf of this as a meal, and I am very happy to finally share it with all of you.

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The Recipe:

Recipe from some kid in my 1st grade class.

  • 1 loaf Italian bread (whole wheat if you can get it)
  • 1/2 cup soft butter
  • 1 tsp. parsley flakes, plus more for topping
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dill weed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced, OR 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • grated Parmesan cheese for topping
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Cut loaf into approximately 1 inch slices and place on aluminum foil.
  3. Blend butter, parsley, oregano, dill and garlic.
  4. Spread on both sides of each slice, and spread any remaining mixture on the top
  5. Twist ends of aluminum foil, but leave the top open
  6. Top liberally with Parmesan cheese and parsley flakes
  7. Bake 10 minutes.

Honey-Garlic Chicken and Veggies

The first Friday of the month is reserved for recipes. You can see additional First Friday Food posts here.

The Reason:

You know, I share a lot of recipes on this blog, but sometimes I yearn for simpler days. The kind of thing my mom would have cooked, growing up. Just a regular, old steak chicken-and-potatoes kind of meal.

This is that meal.

The Journey:

I have practically nothing to say about this recipe, because it’s just what you would expect. Sometimes, simplest is best: just a few standard ingredients that you already have.

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This makes a decent amount of food, and the best part is that the main dish and side dishes are made all at the same time. Still, this would be easy to scale up or down, as the situation dictates (although it never hurts to scale it up and have some leftovers!)

In the picture here it’s all piled up on one pan, but in reality we bake it on two so that everything can crisp up a bit better.

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The Verdict:

This just really hits the spot. It’s just so exactly perfect, and exactly what you want on a still-a-little-bit-cold-a-little-bit-rainy spring evening. This is the kind of easy-to-make staple that we need in heavy rotation for dinners at our house.

Clearly something about this recipe makes-me-want-to-use-hyphens.

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The Recipe:

Recipe adapted from Damn Delicious:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 rounded teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds baby red potatoes, halved
  • ~1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 4 – 5 pieces
  • ~4 heads broccoli cut into florets (or 2 bags of frozen broccoli)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil 2 baking sheets or coat with nonstick spray.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together butter, honey, brown sugar, Dijon, garlic, Italian seasoning; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
  3. Place potatoes in a single layer onto two prepared baking sheets. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Top with chicken in a single layer and brush each chicken breast with honey mixture.
  4. Place into oven and roast about 15 minutes. Stir in broccoli and continue roasting for another 20 minutes. Then broil for 2-3 minutes, or until caramelized and slightly charred. Remove top baking sheet from the oven and move the bottom baking sheet to the top rack; broil for 2-3 minutes.