Monday, December 26, 2011

Breakfast Hoagie

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend full of family, fun and good food.  Maybe after eating all of that traditional food you're in the mood for something quick, but still indulgent if you have a day off this week.

In the name of all things ridiculous, why would you want to eat a hoagie for breakfast?  I thought it sounded crazy, too, but around these parts we have a lovely convenience store/gas station/fast food mart called Wawa.  Wawa started selling breakfast hoagies earlier this year.  If you've ever lived in the Philadelphia area you'll know that Wawa is legendary for having everything you need to get through your day.

Case in point:  We discovered the breakfast hoagie on our way to the beach back in August last year. I pulled in to get gas and a cup of coffee and to make a rest stop.  My hubby went up to the deli counter to get us some food.  He noticed that they had breakfast hoagies for $2.99.  $2.99 for bacon, eggs and cheese made to order on a classic 12-inch hoagie roll?  Okay!  He ordered one and devoured the entire thing.  I got in a bite or two.  I'll admit, it was good.

So what if you don't live near a Wawa?  What if you live near one, but you don't feel like getting in your car and driving to get a fast food breakfast sandwich?  What if you are like me and you like really good quality bacon and the finest American cheese?  Well, you'll need to make your own breakfast hoagie!

If you live in a place that doesn't have fresh hoagie rolls I feel sorry for you I hope you can find some type of long roll that's crusty on the outside and soft on the inside.  Once you have the roll, you're on a roll!

First I cooked up some bacon.  I like to roast mine in the oven for about 12 minutes at 400 degrees.

I turned on the broiler and put the roll under the broiler for a few minutes to toast it up... Then I scrambled up some eggs and started layering everything on the roll...

First eggs, then cheese, then bacon (not eggs on top like I did in this photo... doh!)...

The cheese is like glue for the eggs and the bacon.  Pure deliciousness.  Of course, this isn't exactly a healthy breakfast, so make this an occasional treat and save it for a morning when you  know you're going to have a long day.

And there you have it!  A homemade breakfast hoagie.  A simple combination of toasted bread, eggs, cheese and bacon that's enough food for two reasonable adults (or one very hungry husband).  You don't even need a recipe for this one!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Emile Henry Giveaway Winner!

The randomly selected winner of the Emile Henry loaf pan is:

Entry #1 - Kayris

Thank you to everyone who entered and stay tuned for future giveaways.  I have other cooking-related prizes for the near future.

Kayris, please email me at keeleycancook (at) to set up delivery of your prize. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Beef Enchiladas

I love Tex-Mex food, or at least the Mid-Atlantic approximation of real Tex-Mex that I get around here.  Salsa, tacos, burritos, Chipotle... all of these things make me very, very happy.  I've had the pleasure of visiting the great state of Texas twice and I can assure you that the highlight of my visit was the cuisine.  While it's not always good for your waistline, Tex-Mex is really tasty and a welcome departure from the typical soups, salads, pastas and pizzas that we serve so much around this house.

I've posted and tried a few enchilada recipes, including these delicious Pork Enchiladas.  I like that you can stuff enchiladas with any meat (or even beans and veggies) and that you can go authentic and use corn tortillas or you can break all the rules and use flour tortillas.  I recently tried a great recipe from (who else?) my BFF Pioneer Woman and it came out really well.

Her recipe calls for mixing ground beef with onions and green chilies (and I can see myself trying pork or chicken, too)...

Making a red sauce from canned enchilada sauce and chicken broth (again, I'll be borrowing this technique) and thickening it with a little flour...

She adds in some chopped black olives and tops hers with sour cream.  I omitted both of these ingredients, but you can put them back in if it works for you.

I think enchiladas are a great vehicle for leftover lean meats like pulled pork, rotisserie chicken or even roast beef.

The Pioneer Woman's recipe made a ton of enchiladas (enough to serve 6 hungry adults).  I served mine with Salsa Rice and we had a really good dinner, plus leftovers.  I assure you that these enchiladas are better than many I've eaten in restaurants and they are the best that I've made at home.  The filling is flavorful and they have the perfect amount of red sauce.  I topped mine with fresh cilantro and green onions and it gave them a nice, fresh finish.  Even my onion and pepper-hating husband liked these.

These are a bit involved for a weeknight (it took me nearly an hour to get them in the oven), but the leftovers heat up well and that's one of my qualifications for a good weekday meal.

Want the original recipe?  I pretty much followed this recipe from The Pioneer Woman.

There's still time to enter the Emile Henry Giveaway!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Carrot Bread + Emile Henry Giveaway!

I am so excited about this post and this giveaway!  First, the recipe.  Carrot bread?  I know, I know... you've heard of carrot cake and you may or may not like it.  Well, this is kind of like carrot cake, but not as sweet and it has a perfectly smooth texture, not a chunky or stringy texture that you find in some carrot cakes.  Does that make sense?  Think pumpkin bread and you're in the ballpark on this one.  Hesitant to give it a try?  It's worth the extra effort.  My coworkers devoured this bread both times I brought it to the office.  People have been begging for the recipe.  Here it is.

Before you click away and assume that this recipe is way too non-conventional to be good (and easy), let me tell you that if you like the warm, fall-spiced and moist taste of Sweet Potato Pie or Pumpkin Bread, this recipe is right up your alley.

First, you need to puree some carrots.  It's the most annoying part of this recipe and you may want to do it the day before you bake the bread because it will take a full hour of cook time, mashing, etc.  But, I promise, it's worth it.

You take a 1 pound bag of baby carrots (or 2 bags if you're making 2 or more loaves... you'll want to double this recipe).  Put the carrots in a big pot with about 1 1/2 cups of water and simmer on medium/high for 45 minutes or until softened.  Then, you need to whip those carrots into a smooth puree.  I used an immersion blender.  Maybe you have a blender of a food processor that can do the job.

 At this point you have some beautiful, orange, smooth puree that you can store in the fridge until you need it (up to 3 days or so).

 When it's time to make the bread, you'll be using 1 1/2 cups of puree per loaf.  You should be able to get a little more than 1 1/2 cups of puree from one pound of carrots.

I add plenty of wintery spices to this bread and I also use half whole wheat flour.  This bread is hearty, not too sweet, and pretty healthy.  Make sure you sift your dry ingredients (yes, the wheat flour may separate during sifting, just mix it back in).  You don't want any big chunks of baking powder in your bread.

 Then you mix together your wet ingredients (butter, sugar, puree, vanilla).  Introduce the wet to the dry...

 Stir until just combined.  Then, the best part... the raisins!  I know there are some raisin haters out there, but I love me some raisins, especially golden raisins.  If you're a raisin hater you could add some nuts... or if you love both, add both!  I like to toss my raisins in a tablespoon of flour before stirring them into the batter.  I think it keeps the raisins from sinking to the bottom of your loaf of bread... or at least that's what they say on television.

After the loaf takes a trip to the oven, you get this goodness...

This bread makes me very happy at 7:00 am on a 35 degree morning in traffic on I-95.  Oh yeah, it's the good stuff.

Now, you're probably thinking, "Keeley, this bread looks so good, but I don't have a loaf pan!"  My dear readers, I have your back.  Since it's almost Christmas and all, I have a giveaway.  I picked up this lovely Emile Henry Loaf Pan last weekend and I'm going to give it away to one lucky reader:

Sorry for the mediocre photo... it's late!
The rules?

  • Contest is open today (Friday, December 16, 2011) and ends at 11:59 on Monday, December 19th, 2011
  • To enter, please leave a comment telling me your favorite type of bread.
  • I'm only shipping this prize to the U.S., so please keep this in mind as you enter.
  • This giveaway is not sponsored by Emile Henry, it's just me showing love to my readers. Thanks for reading!
  • I'll announce the winner on Tuesday.  Please email me directly to claim your prize and arrange shipment.
This contest ended.  A winner was selected for this giveaway on 12/20/11.

Okay, here's the recipe:

Carrot Bread
a Keeley original
yield 1 loaf

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
3/4 c. brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups carrot puree (instructions in this blog post for making puree)
1 T. vanilla flavoring
3/4 c. raisins tossed in 1 T. flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x5 inch loaf pan with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper.
In a large bowl bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until well mixed. Stir in eggs and carrot puree until well mixed.
Make a well in the dry ingredients (flour mixture) and stir in the wet ingredients (carrot mixture). Do not overmix. Gently stir in raisins and pour into prepared loaf pan (batter will be thick). Wrap pan on the counter a few times to even out the mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for 60 to 75 minutes. Bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove bread from pan immediately after baking and place on a cooling rack.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Corn and Cheddar Chowder

I really like soup, especially thick, hearty, artery clogging filling soups on cold days.  In the summer I enjoy lighter, broth-based soups that are loaded with vegetables, but a nice bowl of Roasted Potato and Leek Soup or Chili can really serve as a full meal on a cold winter day.  Add a grilled cheese on sourdough and I'm in heaven.

My husband has to drive through rural Southeastern Pennsylvania for his commute, so he passes tons of roadside stands with fresh produce.  In the summer he often brings home fresh sweet corn.  This year my mom blanched and froze some of this corn, so we have plenty to enjoy during the winter months.  Of course, if you didn't go through the trouble of preserving your own corn this summer you can always hit up the frozen food section of your local grocery store.  Or, if you're making this soup in the summer, get that corn fresh off the cob!  There's nothing like it.

As much as I enjoy hearty soups, I try to lighten the recipe in a way that won't compromise the taste.  Whenever a soup calls for half and half (or heavy cream) I like to try to substitute 1% milk for at least half of the dairy.  Sometimes the texture isn't as thick, but since I end up reheating soup for lunch it thickens up in the fridge.  I also always choose very flavorful cheeses like sharp white cheddar or Parmesan so I can use less cheese and get a big punch of flavor.  I also take the opportunity to load my soups up with vegetables like peppers, onions and corn for a chunkier consistency and a larger serving of vegetables.  Of course, with all that said, I've been known to brown my vegetables in bacon fat to create the base for my soups.  You don't need to go there, but I think a tablespoon of bacon fat really gives you that nice, smoky flavor.  If you decide to do so, you can cook your bacon in the morning for breakfast and store the rendered fat in a covered container in your refrigerator.  Or, you can just use vegetable oil like a normal person.

This soup starts with browning your chopped onions and peppers in oil (or bacon fat)...

Then stir in corn and chopped bacon...

Stir in some flour...

Then stir in milk (and/or cream)...

Finally, you add your cheese and you're ready to eat.  (I use Cabot Sharp White Cheddar... it's my favorite!)

I added some extra bacon on top and I served it with Rosemary Bread.  It was heavenly.  This bread also makes a fantastic grilled cheese.  Your tummy will be full and warm and you won't mind that it's 30 degrees outside.

I believe this soup rivals anything you'd enjoy in a restaurant and if you make it at home you'll have at least six servings.  For us, that's one dinner and two lunches.  Packing lunch = more money to spend on (or save for) fun stuff.

December has been a busy month, but I do have a few more recipes to share before Christmas.  I also have a very good giveaway coming up before the holiday.  Stay tuned!  Hint: It's baking-related.

Corn and Cheddar Chowder
adapted slightly from The Pioneer Woman

6 slices of bacon
1 medium onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
4 cups of fresh corn (off the cob) or frozen corn kernels
1/4 cup flour
3 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 cups half and half (or milk, or a mixture)
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

In a large pot, cook bacon over medium-high heat. Remove bacon, but keep the drippings in the pot.  Drain the bacon and chop it into small pieces.  Cook onions for a couple of minutes in the bacon fat. Add half of the bacon and cook for another minute or so, then add diced peppers and cook for a couple of minutes. Finally, add corn and cook for a minute (for fresh corn) or up to 10 minutes (for frozen corn).

Sprinkle flour evenly over the top and stir to combine. Pour in broth and stir well. Allow this to thicken for 3 or 4 minutes, then reduce heat to low. Stir in half-and-half or milk, then cover and allow to simmer/thicken for 15 minutes or so.

Stir in cheeses. When cheese is melted and the soup is hot, check seasonings. Add salt and pepper as needed.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pioneer Woman's Pot Roast

Before I even get started, let me state that I (generally) don't like beef.  I don't eat hamburgers and I prefer to use turkey in my meatballs instead of ground beef.  I don't even like steak.  It's just the way I am.  I can't help it.

With all that said, I really enjoyed this pot roast.  And yes, it's a beef pot roast.  Special shout out to The Pioneer Woman for putting me on to this recipe.  It was easy (although I learned that beef is more expensive than poultry or pork) and my husband thought he had forgotten our anniversary when I put this meal on the table.  (He's a meat-eater who got stuck with a white meat-loving spouse.)  It was just that good.  I've also served this pot roast for company and it went over really well.  It made at least eight servings, but I'm sure the leftovers would be delicious on sandwiches.

Four pounds of thick, marbled beef... a rare purchase for me.
It takes about 30 minutes to chop and brown the necessary ingredients, then you place the entire pot in the oven for at least four hours.  Your house will smell amazing and you can go on with your day.  I like to do this on the weekend when I have work to do and it's great knowing that my dinner is in the oven simmering away.  I didn't do this in a slow cooker (the original recipe calls for the oven, so I stuck to the recipe), but maybe you could use the slow cooker and get the same results.

Carrots and onions, ready to be browned in the pot.

Ready for a four hour excursion in my oven... the house already smelled amazing!
There's no need for me to re-print this recipe since I made it exactly as shown on The Pioneer Woman Cooks.  Red wine is optional and I used it in the recipe.  I popped open a nice Cab and then served the rest with dinner.  Also, make sure you splurge and use fresh herbs.  I really think fresh thyme and rosemary makes a difference in this one.

It felt good to branch out and try a recipe that isn't in my normal repertoire.  I also felt great to make this completely from scratch without using any processed ingredients.  If you have 30 minutes of hands-on time, plus a few hours at home, you can make this pot roast.

Want the recipe?  Get it here.

Serve with mashed potatoes and the vegetables... all is right in the world.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Making the Switch

So I disappeared for a week... for a good reason!  After much consideration I've finally decided to invest in a MacBook Pro, so I'm in the process of learning the difference between my old PC and this new Mac.  I'm very excited about my new computer, but it's still very new (I just moved all of my photos over, but they are organized differently).  I'll be back with a recipe very, very soon.  I just wanted to let you know I'm still here and I'm still cooking.  You can blame this on my iPhone.  It got me addicted to Apple products!
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