In The Kitchen: Occupy Your Kitchen

It's not too late to join us! 

Occupy Sewing Room
Watch for the Link Up and Giveaway on December 11th!

While occupying my sewing room yesterday, I was also occupying my grocery store . . . and then I occupied my kitchen.  You'd think I'd have enough of food after going grocery shopping, but not so.  I'm always excited to try out the new recipes I've set aside once I get home with the ingredients.  So here's what I did yesterday:

(Image credit:  Frances Janisch, www.countryliving.com)

First, Peppermint Divinity.  Looks so pretty, huh?  Who wouldn't want to receive that as a Christmas treat?  Well . . . not so fast.  Although I followed this recipe (which only purports to be divinity) to the letter, it was a failure.  Actually, it's not entirely accurate to say that it was a failure.  If you're attempting to make marshmallow whip, then it was a roaring success.  But who wants to eat a 9 x 9 dish of marshmallow whip?  Gack.  Oh well.  What a gloppy mess.  Back to the drawing board on my divinity quest.

My mother made wonderful divinity, but alas, I don't have her recipe; and since I don't have a direct line to heaven, I can't ask her either.  I went through my mother-in-law's recipe box to see if she had left behind a divinity recipe.  Sadly, there was none there either.  I did find her recipe for peanut brittle, however.  I'll save that for another time when I'm not mad about a recipe that says it's one thing, but turns out to be something quite different.  Anybody have a good and reliable divinity recipe?  It doesn't need to be peppermint.  That was just for fun. 

So then I was off to my next try:  Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole.  I found this recipe in:
This recipe caught my eye because you can make it up to 24 hours ahead, refrigerate it, and then make it the next day.  It's great if you're having overnight guests during the holiday season (or any other time for that matter).  You can also halve the recipe for a smaller group because this will feed 8-10 people.

(image credit:  www.cookscountry.com)

Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole
Serves 8-10

1 loaf Italian bread (14 inches) -- ends trimmed
1 pound  bulk pork sausage
1 small onion -- minced (about 1/2 cup)
12 ounces  extra-sharp cheddar cheese -- shredded (about 3 cups)
12 large eggs -- lightly beaten
4 cups  whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons  salt
1 teaspoon  pepper

Adjust the oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 400°F.  Slice the bread in half lengthwise, then slice each half crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick pieces.  Spread the bread in single layers on 2 rimmed baking sheets and bake until golden, 15-20 minutes, flipping the bread and switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through.  Cool for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Add the onion and cook until golden, about 5 minutes.

Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.  Shingle half of the bread in the prepared baking dish so the edges overlap slightly.  Top with half of the sausage mixture and 1 cup of the cheese.  Repeat with the remaining bread, remaining sausage mixture, and remaining 2 cups of cheese.

Whisk the eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt and pepper in a large bowl and pour evenly over the casserole.  Wrap the casserole with plastic wrap and weight it with another baking dish and some canned goods.  (This is so that the bread completely absorbs the egg mixture.)  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350°F.  Let the casserole stand at room temperature while the oven is heating.  Remove the weight, unwrap the casserole, and bake until the edges and center have puffed and the top is golden brown, about 50 minutes to 1 hour.  Cool for 10 minutes and serve.

My notes about the recipe:  If you are making this for a smaller group, the recipe may be halved.  Use an 8 x 8 baking dish.  If you would like to try another version, replace the pork sausage with 1 pound of hot or sweet Italian sausage, and the cheddar with 3 cups of shredded fontina cheese.  In step 2, add 1/4 cup shopped fresh basil to the sausage mixture after it has been removed from the heat.

Finally, I had dinner to make for the two of us and so I tried making Pomegranate-Orange Glazed Chicken, which I adapted from a recipe I found on Good Thymes and Good Food.  This was quick and simple to make, and it turned out really tasty.  This is one I'll make again and again, especially because I still have pomegranate juice to use up.  Yum.

It seemed to me there was an easier way to make this, and my way dirties fewer pans, so I'll tell you how I did it.

Pomegranate-Orange Glazed Chicken
adapted from Good Thymes and Good Food
Serves 2
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts -- butterflied (or do what I did and use thinly-sliced   chicken breasts)
1 cup  all-purpose flour
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper -- to taste
2 tablespoons  olive oil
1 tablespoon  unsalted butter
1 clove  garlic -- minced or pressed
3/4 cup  POM Wonderful 100% pomegranate juice
1/4 cup  fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon  dried oregano

Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper.  Place all-purpose flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper.

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat.  Coat the chicken with flour, shaking off excess.  Add chicken to the hot pan and cook through 4-5 minutes per side, depending on thickness of pieces.  Remove chicken from pan and tent with foil to keep warm.

Meanwhile, mix pomegranate juice, orange juice, brown sugar, basil, and oregano in a small bowl.  Return pan to heat.  Add minced garlic, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Then, add pomegranate mixture to deglaze the pan.  Bring to a boil and continue to boil until mixture has been reduced and is slightly syrupy.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and spoon liberally over chicken.  Serve immediately.

(Image credit:  Lydia DeGaris-Pursell, www.myrecipes.com)

Mashed Honey-Roasted Sweet Potatoes are a good accompaniment to this dish, and you can halve this recipe as well.

Oh yes, and I occupied my sewing room yesterday too.  I'll show you what I did in a later post.

4 comments from clever and witty friends:

Stray Stitches (Linda G) said...

Sorry your Divinity wasn't what you were hoping for. Does it react to weather like meringue?
The breakfast casserole looks delish - just might have to give that a try some time soon.

Michelle said...

There's something to do with the humidity that'll determine whether or not your divinity comes out. I've never made it myself, so I don't know what it is. I'll try to remember to ask my grandma tomorrow - she used to make it.

Becky~ said...

Oh my the chicken looks too good.I never made divinity,but it looks yummy especially with peppermint.I love peppermint.


Mrs.Pickles said...

everything looks yummy!! thanks for sharing\!