Thanksgiving Breakfast

On Thanksgiving morning, my family will wake up to this breakfast. I make everything the night before, put it all in the fridge, and then put it in the oven with minimal extra prep in the morning.

Both of these recipes work together. They are both custards. One is savory and one is sweet. They bake at the same temperature for about the same time.

Sausage and Egg Bake
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 45 minutes | Servings: 12 servings | Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:

1 pound sausage
1/2 onion finely chopped (optional)
6 slices white bread without crust
softened salted butter
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
5 eggs
2 cups half and half
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard

Directions:

Grease 9×13 casserole dish.

Butter tops of slices of bread. Place butter side up in the casserole dish.

Brown sausage (and onion if using). Drain.

Sprinkles sausage over the bread. Sprinkle the cheese over the sausage.

Whisk eggs, half and half, salt, and mustard together.

Pour egg mixture over everything. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes until brown.


French Toast Casserole
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 40 minutes | Servings: 12 Servings | Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:

1 (1 pound) loaf French bread; cut diagonally in 1 inch slices
8 eggs
2 c half-and-half cream
1 1/2 c 2% or whole milk
2 ts vanilla extract
1/4 ts ground cinnamon
3/4 c butter
1 1/2 c brown sugar
3 tb light corn syrup

Directions:

1. Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish. Arrange the slices of bread in the bottom. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, milk, cream, vanilla and cinnamon. Pour over bread slices, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

2. In a small saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar and corn syrup. Cover with a lid. DO NOT COOK.

3. The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Heat the butter, brown sugar and corn syrup until bubbling. Pour over bread and egg mixture.

3. Bake in preheated oven, uncovered, for 40 minutes or until brown.

Salsa, Trump, and You

There is a method to my madness here. You will have to bear with me. First, you will need some ingredients.

1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes With Juice
2 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel
1/4 cup Chopped Onion
1 clove Garlic, Minced
2 whole Jalapenos, quartered and sliced thin
1/4 teaspoon Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/4 cup Cilantro
Juice of one lime

Directions: Combine everything in a large blender or food processor and pulse until your desired consistency. Refrigerate for one hour. Serve with chips. Or, if you really want to liven things up, pour two cups of the salsa over some chicken breasts and bake for an hour at 350 degrees.

This is a recipe in my new book. It is completely non-political. It has no opinion on the President, healthcare, tax policy, or anything else. It can be consumed by people who have different opinions and you may wind up having a non-political conversation about the salsa or something else. Food should not be political. And salsa is the perfect thing to make because it is both healthy and is one of the many foods from other countries that has become thoroughly Americanized.

Now for the political point. The above recipe will change your life more than President Trump has changed your life in the nine months he has been in office. The Republicans in Washington have done hardly anything. And nothing they have done has improved or harmed your life in any meaningful way. The America of October 2017 is little different from the America of October 2016, but you could be forgiven for not realizing it given the hyperventilating on both sides of the aisle.

Democrats continue to behave as if Donald Trump is destroying the country. Republicans continue to behave as if Donald Trump is single handedly stopping everyone else from destroying the country. Meanwhile, nothing has really changed. It is all very exhausting to witness and even more spectacular to realize we are only nine months into this administration. I seem to be chronicling the passage of months in what feels like an eternity of bitter screaming by both sides.

One of my great issues in the modern American landscape is that every issue has become a hill to die on and thus every election a battle to the death because we have made Washington so powerful. My liberal friends are convinced we need Washington’s help with many aspects of our lives, but I really think because of that we have abandoned the welfare of our cities and decided we must seek the welfare of Washington. Conservatives, though, used to decry a massive central government and now many of them cheer on the strong man in Washington.

A return to federalism would do us well. It would mean we never get the universal healthcare the left wants. But it would also mean your particular state might get it. It would mean a bakery in Macon, GA might not have to provide a cake for a same-sex wedding, but it would mean a bakery in Los Angeles, CA might have to or close down. We are sadly far removed from allowing people to live in communities of interest with Washington doing just the bare necessities. Still, we could all use a corrective at this time that Donald Trump has not really done much of anything. That salsa recipe will improve your life more than anyone in Washington will.

Red Beans and Rice

On Thursday night, July 12, 2017, at 7:00pm, I’ll be cooking this recipe live on the radio with my listeners. You can download the recipe, if you like, and cook along with me in real time. You can listen to the show in Atlanta on 95.5FM or AM750 or via the WSB Radio app on iPhone or Android.

Red Beans and Rice
Prep Time: 15 min | Cook Time: 30 minutes | Servings: 6 Servings

Ingredients:

1/2 c Vegetable Oil; (or bacon drippings for more flavorful beans)
3 Green Onions; chopped
1/2 Yellow Onion; chopped
1 clove Garlic; minced
1/4 ts Cayenne Pepper
1/2 ts Black Pepper
1/2 ts Salt
1/4 ts Thyme
2 Bay Leaves
1 cn Dark Kidney Beans; (16 oz can)
1 cn Light Kidney Beans; (16 oz can)

Directions:

1. Heat oil in large pot. Add green onions and onions. Stir till wilted and browning. Add garlic until it browns. Add all spices and bay leaves. Stir together. Add beans.

2. Pour water into one of the cans of beans filling no more than half way. Stir around in can to get bean residue. Pour into pot. Stir. Bring to a boil and stir.

3. Reduce to simmer and stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

4. Prepare rice by add 1 part rice to two parts salted boiling water, covering for 20 minutes undisturbed on low heat. When the rice is done, the beans are done.

OPTIONAL: thinly slice andouille sausage then brown in the pot. Remove and use the drippings instead of the oil. Add back to reheat after the beans are done.

Cracker Candy — an Easy Recipe

Here’s a good easy recipe for you to try. It is one of our family’s favorite recipes. Just note that you’ll need a rimmed baking sheet/jelly roll pan that can fit in your freezer on a shelf by itself.

You’ll need:

Box of saltines
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
23 oz. milk chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray, then line it with the saltines.

Cracker Candy Recipe

Put two sticks of butter in a sauce pan over medium high heat and let them melt.

Cracker Candy Recipe

While the butter is melting, measure out 1 1/2 cups of packed brown sugar. You can use light or dark.

Cracker Candy Recipe

Add the brown sugar to the butter and bring to a raging boil, whisking constantly for five minutes.

Cracker Candy Recipe

Then spread the mixture across the crackers. Don’t worry about not covering all of them.

Cracker Candy Recipe

Place the pan in the oven for 15 minutes. When it comes out, you’ll see that the mixture has bubbled and spread all over evenly.

Cracker Candy Recipe

Get your chocolate chips. I find that the Hershey brand melts the best.

Cracker Candy Recipe

Spread the chocolate chips across the pan.

Cracker Candy Recipe

Use a rubber spatula and spread the chips until they are melted and no more chocolate chips appear — just smooth chocolate. Then place the pan in the freezer for at least one hour.

Cracker Candy Recipe

After freezing for at least an hour, break into cracker sized bits and store in a zip lock bag in the freezer.

Cracker Candy Recipe

In Honor of 𝜋 Day: Buttermilk Pie

Today is 3/14, which means it is pie day (3.14159). So here’s a pie recipe. It is the easiest pie recipe you will ever make. Our pastor’s wife, Barbara Miller, introduced Christy and me to it. To be honest, I hate coconut — not because of the taste, but because it feels like you are eating hair. When Barbara put this piece of pie in front of me, I was afraid I was going to have to be nice and swallow hair. It looked kinda like a coconut custard pie because of the way it browns on top.

But nope. No coconut at all. It’s just one of the best pies you will ever eat and also one of the easiest to make. So, for pie day, go get you some frozen pie dough from the store, some whole buttermilk, and bake.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
unbaked pie shell (deep dish or regular)
1/2 cup buttermilk

DO NOT USE LOW FAT BUTTERMILK OR GOD WILL BE ANGRY WITH YOU
Directions:

Melt butter. Add sugar and flour. Beat with hand mixer. Add eggs and beat some more. Add buttermilk and vanilla. Mix thoroughly. Pour into an unbaked pie shell.

Bake at 340 degrees for 40 minutes or until browned and set.

Note: My wife likes to ruin this pie by adding blueberries and lemon zest. It tends to take a bit longer to bake when you ruin it that way.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe I’ve Tried

I have tried lots and lots of chocolate chip cookie recipes. The problem tends to be simple. Many of the best recipes dry out quickly. I like a cookie that his crisp at the edges and chewy in the middle. Usually you get one or the other and the latter just dry out.

I finally have discovered a recipe that does what I wanted. The edge of the cookie gets crisp. The middle stays chewy. The taste is spectacular. The secret is to make the cookie more hygroscopic — that is a cookie that will absorb moisture. Upping the ratio of brown sugar to white sugar helps as brown sugar is more hygroscopic. But there’s another secret to this recipe. Substitute a bit of the flour for corn starch. Anyone who puts on baby power knows corn starch absorbs moisture. It works perfectly in this cookie. Here is the recipe.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Prep Time: 20 minutes | Rest Time: 1 hour | Cook Time: 12 minutes | Servings: Yield: 24-28

Ingredients:

1 1/2 sticks butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups + 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 11oz bag of chocolate chips (semi-sweet or milk chocolate)

Directions:

Melt the butter on the stove or in the microwave. Pour into a large mixing bowl.

While the butter is cooling, combine in a sifter the flour, cornstarch, and baking soda. Sift into a bowl. Sprinkle the salt in.

Add butter, brown sugar, and sugar to the butter. Cream using a mixer on medium speed for five minutes.

Beat in eggs and vanilla.

Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined, then add the chocolate chips and mix till blended.

Either cover the dough or scrape it into a clean bowl and cover. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Scoop dough and place on baking sheet 2 inches apart.

Place in preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until the edges are brown. The center will still be soft.

Beer Braised Pork Roast

I made up this recipe tonight after reading several online. It was delicious.

Beer Braised Pork Roast

Ingredients:

1 5 to 6 lbs. bone-in Boston butt
1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz. beer
32 oz. chicken stock
1 bag baby carrots
Olive oil

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 300°F.

In a 6 to 7 quart Dutch oven, heat 4 tbs of olive oil over medium heat till simmering. Add finely chopped onion. Cook for twenty minutes until they are browned, then remove from the Dutch oven to a plate. While the onions are cooking, season the Boston butt by lightly sprinkling the salt and pepper over the fat and opposite side of the meat. The sides do not need to be seasoned.

Add additional olive oil if necessary to keep a slick surface.

Add the Boston butt fat side down. Let it brown for five minutes. Then brown each remaining side for one to two minutes each. Remove from the Dutch oven to the plate with the onions. Make sure the fat side is face up.

Add the garlic and stir for a minute to brown while scraping the bottom of the Dutch oven. Add beer and continue scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the Dutch oven for 2-3 minutes. Add chicken stock.

When steaming, but not boiling, return the Boston butt and onions to the Dutch oven, cover, and place in the oven for two hours and forty-five minutes.

When the time is reached, add the carrots and cook for one more hour. Upon removing the roast from the oven, use a fork and peel off the fat cap. Shred the meat for serving.

Gravy

This is the homemade gravy I make every Thanksgiving by demand of the family. Remember, the flour must go in the melted butter and cook before adding stock. That’s the key to avoiding lumps. Let the flour absorb the fat from the butter as it cooks and the flour will not clump together.

Homemade Gravy

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter
1 medium sized sweet onion, finely chopped
1/4 c flour
1 ts kosher salt
1/2 ts freshly ground black pepper
Defatted turkey drippings plus chicken stock to make 2 cups; heated (or jarred stock if needed). Be sure it is steaming hot.
1 tb heavy cream

Directions:

1. In a large (10 to 12-inch) pan, cook the butter and onions over medium heat for 20 to 30 minutes, until the onions brown. Take your time. See the note for making ahead of time.

2. Sprinkle the flour into the pan, whisk well, then add the salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes, whisking occasionally. Add the hot chicken stock mixture, and cook uncovered for 4 to 5 minutes until thickened. Add cream. Season, to taste, and serve.

Notes: You can brown the onions the day before in the butter, then put them in a jar and put them in a fridge. Reheat in a skillet till bubbling on Thanksgiving Day before adding the flour.