Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Bacon Mushroom & Cheddar Strata

Never fear! You're not in the wrong place! Still working on getting my domain issues worked out, but in the meantime I decided to make the design changes that were going to go with the move anyway. I'd be forever grateful if you'd all be your usual awesome selves and send some good vibes in this direction or keep your fingers crossed that this domain nonsense gets settled soon! Thank You! M.


Strata is one of those brunch dishes that's a no brainer, for several reasons... You can make it vegetarian, or not. You can add bacon or ham or sausage. (or all of the above and then some, if you have a family full of meat lovers!) And you can saute up just about any kind of aromatics or vegetables that you have on hand or  shred up any type of cheese (or cheeses) that you like. Best of all, you can have it all prepared the night before and just pop it in the oven the next day, so that it's just out of the oven, all brown and bubbly right on time time as your guests are arriving.

I make some version or other of Strata for my brunch buffet every Easter because I know from experience that it's a sure bet. How is that, you ask? Well, I think the fact that there's never any of it left in the pan when the last of my guests is heading for home, makes it a winner - for sure!

On this particular Easter, I just happened to have bacon, mushrooms and cheddar cheese on hand. I also always have milk and eggs in my fridge, so all I had to do was pop out to the store the day before to pick up the bread and I was good to go. You can use just about any dense type of bread for a strata, but I tend to prefer challa (an egg and butter based bread, or brioche if you're in Paris) It soaks up the egg and milk mixture (custard) perfectly and it also lends just a tiny hint of a sweet and buttery flavor to the finished dish.


Bacon Mushroom & Cheddar Strata
Serves 4 to 10
(4 as a main dish or 10 as part of a buffet)
  • 1 Lg or 2 Small Loaves Challa Bread
  • 1 Lb Bacon
  • 12oz Crimini or Button Mushrooms
  • 8 Lg Eggs
  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 2 Cups Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 2 Tbls Butter
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper


(If you are preparing this and baking it the same day, pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees F.)

1. Remove the crust, cut the bread into 1 and 1/2 to 2 inch cubes and place them in a large bowl. Set aside.


2. Wipe away any excess dirt from the mushrooms with a damp paper towel and slice them into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces.


3. Melt 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms to the pan. Once they're all coated well with the butter, turn up the burner to medium high.


4. Cook the mushrooms, stirring often, until they begin to exude some of their juices. Turn the burner to high, season with a little salt and pepper and stir continually until the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are a rich golden brown. Remove them from the pan and set them aside.


5. Slice the bacon into 1 to 1 and 1/2 inch pieces. Pre-heat a dry, non-stick skillet over medium high heat. When the pan is good and hot (but not smoking) add the bacon and stir it around well with a spatula, to separate the pieces.


6. Cook the bacon, stirring frequently, until it begins to get crispy and browned. Watch it closely once it gets to this stage, because it can go from golden brown to burnt very quickly. (I remove mine as soon as the edges begin to darken slightly, because it will continue to cook/crisp up as it cools)


7. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to a plate covered with 2 or 3 layers of paper towel to absorb any excess grease. Set aside to cool.


8. Place the bread cubes, mushrooms and bacon into a lightly greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish. (a 10 x 10 inch square dish like the one I used will work, too)


9. Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and beat them with a whisk or a fork, until well blended.


10. Pour in the 2 cups of milk and continue to whisk it all together.


11. Season the mixture well with salt and pepper and if you want a little extra zing, you can add a pinch or two of some dried herbs, a dash of cayenne pepper or a few drops of your favorite hot sauce.


**Tip: I'd say that the best herbs to use with this combination would be either thyme, marjoram or a tiny bit of sage. A pinch of dry mustard powder will also add a little zest and a mild warmth to the dish. Just make sure to mix any of these seasonings into the eggs and milk very thoroughly. You wouldn't want anyone getting a bite that had a big clump of herbs or especially dry mustard in it. LOL


12. Add about 2/3 of the shredded cheese. (I used a mix of both sharp and mild Cheddars on this occasion, but you can use whatever type of cheese you like. Just make sure that it's a cheese that melts well and that won't overpower the other flavors in the strata)


13. Gently fold all of the ingredients together in the pan, making sure that the ingredients are equally distributed. You want each bite that your guests take, to contain a nice blend of all of the flavors in the dish.


14. Pour your egg and milk mixture over the top and once it's all in there, use a spatula or the back of a spoon to gently press the bread down in the pan a bit. This will help all of that liquid absorb into the bread, so there won't be any pieces of dried out bread once it's been baked.

14a. If you are making and baking the strata the same day, once the egg and milk mixture has been poured over top, take a sheet of waxed or parchment paper as close to the size of your pan as possible and lay it directly on top of the strata. Using your hands or another pan that has a bottom that sits evenly on the paper, press down gently and slowly on the mixture. This will help the bread absorb the liquid more thoroughly and rapidly, so that you don't have dry portions after it's finished baking. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 of the shredded cheese over the top and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the egg/custard mixture is fully set and a sharp knife inserted into the center comes out clean and hot to the touch.

14b. If you are making this the day (or night) before serving, do not sprinkle the additional 1/3 of the cheese on the top. Just cover the pan tightly with cling wrap and place it in the fridge overnight. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to put a sheet or two of aluminum foil over the top of the plastic wrap, so that the strata doesn't get dried out. The next morning, remove it from the fridge about 15 minutes before baking to allow it to come up to room temperature. Then uncover it and sprinkle the remaining 1/3 of the cheese over the top. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the egg/custard mixture is set and a sharp knife inserted into the center comes out clean and hot to the touch.


Enjoy!
(And Happy Easter!)

Mary


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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Ooops! Spoke Too Soon...



You'd think that by the ripe old age of 53, I'd have learned not to rush things when there's even the slightest chance that something could go wrong. Yeah, well....

Nope. Apparently not. At some point during the wee hours of the morning, something caused bit of a hiccup in my subscription feeds and everything reverted back to the original "blogspot" web address.

Facebook and all of my other social media networks have been updated (again) to reflect this (hopefully) very temporary glitch. Thank you all so much for being so kind as to bear with me while I straighten this out!

I'll let you know when things are once again up and running the way they should be with the new domain! Fingers crossed!

Mary


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Big News! We've Moved! (The blog, that is!)


Go Ahead... Take A Bite! has a new web address! I've purchased my own domain and the new address is not very different from the old one. I've just dropped the "blogspot" part of the URL and it is now...

http://www(dot)goaheadtakeabite(dot)com

(Of course the dots aren't spelled out in the actual web URL. I just didn't want to turn it into a clickable link when I wrote it out.)

And there's no need to be concerned about security or service with this change of domains, because it is a Google domain and is as safe as ever. Google is actually the "parent" of my old "blogspot" domain as it is for all "Blogger" blogs.

Now, I have to ask a very big favor! If you came here by way of the old link in your email or reader subscription and got a "redirect" notice; First, let me say Thank You for reading it thoroughly, trusting that I would never misdirect you and clicking "Yes" to be redirected. And second, I might need to ask you to re-subscribe under the new address/feed.

I use the word might, because I'm still trying to find out of my subscription service can/will move all of my RSS and email readers over to the new address for me. I should have an answer soon and will post it here and on Facebook as soon as I do.

Knowing all of you for as long as I have, I already know the answer to this one final request... but I very humbly and gratefully ask for your patience while I get all of the bits and pieces, like social media, updated. I'm about half way there already, so it shouldn't take long.

Well, I'm off to get it all set up, so I'll be seeing you soon!

Mary


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Top Saint Patrick's Day Recipes!



I'm not quite up to whipping up anything special this year, but in case you need a few last minute ideas for St. Patrick's Day feasting, I thought I'd re-post a few favorites from past years!

Just click on the numbered titles below for the full recipes and directions!





1) Guinness Float with homemade Bailey's Ice Cream

2) Traditional Colcannon

3) Ale Braised Beef Brisket

4) Guinness Braised Short Ribs

5) Fried Cabbage with Bacon and Onions

6) Pan Sauteed Baby Turnips and Carrots
    (at the end of the post)

7) Mashed Potatoes and Parsnips



Or,

If you're more of a traditionalist, click HERE for the recipe for Corned Beef and Cabbage, done my way.



Slainte! 

Mary 🍀


Don't Forget To Follow Me On Social Media! I Post Blog Updates, Ideas For Kitchen "How To's", Restaurant Recommendations And Reviews And Always Lots Of Photos!




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Friday, March 13, 2015

Update! (And A Sneak Peek!)


Howdy folks!

I'm back! And as the statement above clearly indicates, I have an update and a sneak peek at some tasty new recipes that I'll be sharing in the days and weeks ahead!

First, the update! I won't go into the major details about what the past couple of months has been like in my world. I'm in the process of writing a post for my other blog (Spilled On The Kitchen Table) called "Living With Lupus - The Crash". If you'd like to know more about my trip and my recovery from it, I'll be adding the link to the title here once it's live on the blog and you'll be magically whisked from this blog to the other, where you can catch up with my life and learn a bit more about it/me. (Should be up in a few days)

For now, I will say that I've been down for the count since the first part of the year and that I'm finally working my way back toward being a more functional, more involved with the world, Me. I have to throw in one little spoiler, though...


As of December 11, 2015 we are the very proud, over the moon, head over heels in love grandparents, of a beautiful, 3 month old, baby boy! He is our first grandchild and he arrived at 8:34 PM after 13 hours of very intense and very painful labor for my daughter. He weighed 8lbs 4oz and was 21.5" long, with a very full head of dark brown hair. And he is THE most beautiful child on the planet! (of course, I might just be a tad biased, but he really is gorgeous! lol)

Part of the reason that I've been gone so long, is that I was blessed beyond all blessings, to have been right there in the room, the moment that he entered the world. I went down early so that I could also be around to help the new little family settle in. Then the Hubbs drove down a couple of weeks later, to spend a love filled, truly joyous first Christmas with the newest member of our family!

We drove back up North, shortly after New Year's week and as I suspected, I've been recuperating ever since. Yup. It sounds like a long time to recover from a "holiday trip", but when you live with an autoimmune disease like Lupus, that's just how it is. Lupus has been a part of my life long enough to know before I left, that it was going to kick my behind and then some, but I wouldn't trade the joy of being there when our grandson was born and for his first few weeks on this earth for anything in this world! (Even with Face Time and phone calls, etc. I miss him like crazy, though)

So, let's take a little peek at what I'm working on for all of you at the moment, shall we?

How To Perfectly Saute Mushrooms

Pan Sauted Broccoli With Garlic

Easy Homemade Fettucine Alfredo

Baked Ricotta Meatballs

Creamy Cheddar Dijon Brussels Sprouts

And believe it or not, there are even more yummy posts in the works! But, I'll stop here for now. After all.. a girl likes to leave a little bit to the imagination. Even when it comes to what she's been cooking! LOL

See you all again, very soon!

Mary



You Can Have New Posts From Go Ahead Take A Bite Delivered Right To Your Inbox! Just Enter Your Email Address Here:


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We will never send any advertising or provide your email address to any other blogs or businesses.




Don't forget that you can print this (or any) recipe using the "Print Friendly" button at the foot of each post. It's a great little feature that allows you to remove any pictures (or any text that isn't relevant to the recipe) before printing. That can save on ink and paper & in today's economy, who doesn't want to save a little cash when you can?!



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