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Hash Brown Casserole PlatedOur weather has been incredibly and ridiculously cold the past week or so (although it seems like months!).

The bone-chilling temperatures just make me crave comfort-type food. Something warm and filling.

The other day, in a panic to come up with something edible for dinner before Captain Cavedweller arrived home, tired and hungry, I whipped up a hash brown casserole. Super easy, it proved to be quite tasty.

Simple ingredients

Simple ingredients

Start by giving your baking dish a good coating of non-stick spray.

Start by giving your baking dish a good coating of non-stick spray.

Melt the butter and crush, crumble or pulverize the crackers into the bowl.

Melt the butter and crush, crumble or pulverize the crackers into the bowl.

Stir together until cracker crumbs are well coated.

Stir together until cracker crumbs (in my case, chunks… did I mention I was in a hurry?) are well coated.

Mix together the rest of the ingredients.

Mix together the rest of the ingredients.

Then scoop into your baking pan. If you love cheese, go ahead and sprinkle some on top.

Then scoop into your baking pan. If you love cheese, go ahead and sprinkle some on top.

Finish it off with your cracker crumbs and bake in a 350 oven for an hour.

Finish it off with your cracker crumbs and bake in a 350 oven for an hour.

When it's done, you'll have a crispy ,crunchy golden cracker crust on top of a gooey layer of cheese.

When it’s done, you’ll have a crispy ,crunchy golden cracker crust on top of a gooey layer of cheese.

Hash Brown Casserole

2 lbs frozen shredded hash browns

1 can of cream of mushroom soup

1 cup of sour cream

2 cups shredded cheddar (or colby-jack cheese) grated

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. all-purpose seasoning (like Mrs. Dash)

1 tsp. parsley

1 sleeve of Saltine crackers, crushed

1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°F and spray an 11 x 14 baking dish with cooking spray.

Melt butter then crumbled crackers into it, stirring until well coated. Set aside.

Mix the remaining  ingredients together, place in prepared pan, and top with 1/2 cup additional cheese, if desired. Top with the cracker crumbs and bake for an hour.

Remove and indulge in the deliciousness!

She Who Should Not Make This Again, but It Was So Yummy

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Let me start today’s recipe post by apologizing to anyone who is of Norwegian ancestry or has ever eaten Norwegian food prepared by someone who knows what they are doing.

That said, I decided a few weeks ago to make Lefse.

If you’ve never had it, think of a crepe made with potatoes.

Intriguing, yes?

The whole reason I wanted to make Lefse came about because the romance novel I’m working on right now features a Norwegian mail-order bride. She is a great cook and makes several Norwegian dishes, including Lefse in the story.

I thought it might be a good hands-on experience to attempt to make it myself.

Those who actually know how to make Lefse and do it the proper way have some special tools they use.

I made do with what I had.

I also feel the need to apologize for losing most of the photos I took while I was making it. Apparently, the computer gremlins deleted the file because I can’t find it anywhere.

Lefse Dough - roll it thin, super thin, before cooking.

Lefse Dough – roll it thin, super thin, before cooking.

If you have a griddle, fantastic, if not, I used a cast iron skillet with some oil to fry the Lefse.

If you have a griddle, fantastic, if not, I used a cast iron skillet with some butter or a dab of oil to fry the Lefse.

Golden brown and lovely. We sprinkled cinnamon and sugar on top and devoured. I'm blaming Captain Cavedweller for devouring so quickly, I didn't get any photos of the finished product on a plate.

Golden brown and lovely. We sprinkled cinnamon and sugar on top and devoured. I’m blaming Captain Cavedweller for devouring so quickly, I didn’t get any photos of the finished product on a plate.

Lefse

1 pound potatoes

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Peel potatoes and cut into large, somewhat uniform chunks (the uniformity is challenging for me). Place in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Over medium heat, bring the water and potatoes to a gentle boil. Cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 10 minutes or so. Drain potatoes and transfer to a mixing bowl.

Using a potato masher (or ricer if you have one), mash the potatoes as thoroughly as possible – get out all the lumps. Cut the butter into small chunks and work into the potatoes. Add cream and salt. Keep mixing until teh butter and cream are completely absorbed.

Cover and refrigerate over night (or up to three days).

When ready to make the lefse, mix the potatoes with one cup of flour. Keep working it from the crumbly stage until it comes together in a ball. Turn onto floured counter and knead a few times. Roll into a thick log then divide into about a dozen even portions.

Roll each portion between your palms to form a ball. Set aside and cover with a clean dishtowel.

Heat a griddle or cast iron skillet with just a little dab of butter on medium heat until a bead of water sizzles when flicked on the pan.

Roll one of the rounds of dough using a rolling pin dusted with flour. Roll the dough out into as thin a circle as possible. Flip the dough as you are rolling to keep it from sticking to the counter. Use more flour as needed on the counter and pin as needed.

When the lefse is as thin as you can get it, roll it onto the rolling pin (like transferring pie dough) and place it in the skillet. Cook for a minute or so on each side, until brown and lovely. Transfer to a plate and cover with another dish towel.

While one lefse is cooking, roll out the next.

You can eat lefse with jam, peanut butter, cinnamon and sugar, berries and whipped cream, whatever tickles your fancy.

She Who Liked Lefse

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The other day I saw a recipe on Pinterest for Gnocchi Mac N’ Cheese.

I thought it looked divine. Captain Cavedweller turned up his nose at it. He doesn’t like Mac N’ Cheese.

So of course I decided to make it anyway. I tweaked the recipe , which originated from Cuisine at Home, and came up with a dish that both of us really liked. As in we ate way to much of it. As in couldn’t stop taking one more bite. As in really good.

It was really simple to make and didn’t take long either, always a plus in my book.

Enjoy!

Ingredients for Gnocchi. You can use whatever assortment of cheese you like - this is what I had on hand.

 

Start your sauce by melting butter in a heavy saucepan, then adding flour. Stir until it gets thick and bubbly. Add in milk and continue stirring until it starts to thicken. Then add in cheese.

 

Cook your Gnocchi according to package directions, drain, and place into a shallow baking dish.

 

Top Gnocchi with sauce.

 

Sprinkle Gnocchi with cheese and bake at 375 until golden brown and Gnocchi puffs up - about 20 minutes.

 

Restrain yourself and let Gnocchi rest for a few minutes before serving.

Gnocchi and Cheese

1 pound gnocchi

2 tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. flour

3/4 cup milk

1/4 cup grated Myzithra Cheese

1/4 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese

salt

1/3 cup shredded Romano or Parmesan Cheese

Parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 375.

Cook gnocchi according to package directions. Drain and place gnocchi in a single layer on a shallow baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and stir until it thickens and bubbles. Continue to whisk, adding in milk and cook until it begins to thicken. Add in cheese and salt to taste. Pour sauce over gnocchi and sprinkled with Romano cheese over top. Bake about 20 minutes or until gnocchi puff up and cheese turns a delicious golden brown. Let rest a few minutes before serving.

*Note – you can use any assortment of cheeses like Fontina, Parmesan, Feta – whatever floats your boat.

She Who Liked This Way Too Much

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Fried apples have been a menu staple my entire life. I remember watching my grandma make them, as well as my mom.

They go great with pork or chicken dishes or anytime you want something delicious to add to the table. You can spoon them over vanilla ice cream, serve along side spice cake or just enjoy the spicy, caramel goodness all by itself.

These are also really easy to make.

Here ar the simple ingredients. Figure on half an apple per person.

 

Slice and core your apple, leaving the peel on. You can do this while your butter is melting in the skillet. I like to use a non-stick skillet for the apples.

 

Once the butter is melted, add apples, cinnamon and sugar. Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally.

 

Cook until the apples are tender and the cinnamon, butter and sugar have created a beautiful caramel sauce on the apples.

 

Then enjoy! Just look at all that caremel-y deliciousness.

 

Fried Apples

1 apple

1 tbsp. butter

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/3 cup brown sugar

Wash apple then core and slice. I like medium-thick slices (about 1/3 inch). Melt butter in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. When melted, add apples, cinnamon and sugar. Stir until apples are coated. Cover and simmer until apples are tender (about 15 minutes) and the sauce is thick and makes you want to eat it with a spoon.

Inhale the fragrant scent and enjoy!

 

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If you are looking for a colorful side dish to serve this holiday season, try this easy Pasta Ribbon Salad.

 

Ingredients

Cook pasta according to package directions.

 

Slice Olives

 

Toss everything together.

 

I finished the salad off with a bit of freshly grated Parmesan and a sprig of dill.

Pasta Ribbon Salad

1 package Ribbon Pasta

1 can sliced olives

1/4 cup sliced Mazanilla Olives

1/4 cup sliced Kalamata Olives

1 cup Feta cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup Italian Salad Dressing

Cook pasta according to package directions. Cool completly. Add in olives and cheese. Toss with dressing. Chill and serve!

She Who Loves Pasta Salad

 

 

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If you are looking for an easy side dish that is filling and really yummy, give these potatoes a whirl.

Ingredients

 

Butter makes everything better!

 

Add toppings

 

Add sour cream and try to refrain from eating more than your share!

 

Loaded Baby Bakers

1 pound baby baking potatoes (I cheated and used Schawn’s roasted bakers that are pre-cooked)

1/4 cup butter, cut in cubes

1/2 cup bacon pieces (use the pre-cooked, pre-crumbled kind you find next to the salad dressings)

1/2 cup shredded colby-jack cheese

1/3 cup sour cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine potatoes and butter in a foil pouch and seal. Bake on a grill over medium indirect heat for 15-20 minutes if you are using pre-cooked potatoes, you’ll need a bit longer if you are using uncooked potatoes. You can also toss them in the oven at 400 for 15 minutes. Which I did while I was cooking the meat to go with the potatoes.

Once they are done. open up the foil, sprinkle on the bacon, cheese and seal back up until cheese melts – just a minute or two. Then add sour cream and close your eyes in bliss as you take a bit and your tastebuds do a dance of gratitude.

Enjoy!

She Who Likes Loaded Baby Bakers Way Too Much

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Roasted Zucchini

Captain Cavedweller will only eat zucchini if it has been dipped in batter and deep fried.

Until I roasted a zucchini the other day.

Don’t ask me what is magical about the fast roasting process, but it makes the zucchini taste so good.

And talk about fast and easy. In less than 10 minutes you can make this side dish and have it ready to eat.

Basic ingredients

Pour a tablespoon or so of EVOO into a ziploc bag.

Add a dash of salt and some seasoning to the oil.

Put zucchini into the bag and shake it a few times to coat.

All nicely coated and ready to dump onto baking sheet.

Spead out the zucchini on the baking sheet.

Bake in 400 degree oven for about five minutes.

Baked, tender and ready to be devoured.

Roasted Zucchini

Zucchini, cut into slices

Dash of Salt

Dash of Seasoning

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pour a tablespoon or two of oil into a ziploc bag. Sprinkle in a dash of salt and some seasoning. Put in zucchini slices, seal and shake bag to coat slices. Place slices on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about five minutes. Serve and enjoy!

You can use this method with a variety of vegetables including carrots and beets (which will need a longer baking time).

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