Thursday, January 28, 2021

King Ranch Casserole

Dang Netflix.  It is a bit addicting with that little “next episode starts in 5, 4, 3…”.  Ok, just one more episode and the next thing you know, it’s midnight.  David and I are now binge watching Cobra Kai, which is The Karate Kid 40 years later.  We are chuckling our way through it – ahh the 80’s.  The kids tolerate our latest nightly ritual.   

Know what else is yesteryear?  A potluck.  Dr. Fauci would not approve right now.  This King Ranch casserole was dubbed by Texas Monthly as the “Lord of the potluck.”  Despite the fact that it takes a while to assemble and an hour to cook (so plan ahead), this dish will enter our repertoire and serve as a nice alternative to other family favorites, like chicken enchilada verde casserole and chicken chilaquiles.


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves (or 2 teaspoons) garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock, divided
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 - 4 oz can diced green chiles
  • 1 - 10 oz can Ro-Tel
  • 18 corn tortillas
  • 1 cooked chicken (poached or roasted), meat shredded, approximately 4 cups
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar, divided

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and mushrooms and sauté on medium-low about 7 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper and cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle in flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and stir until the white is no longer visible. Whisk in 3 cups of the chicken stock, 1 cup at a time, until smooth. Whisk in cream and stir in chiles and tomatoes.

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with butter or spray with Pam. Pour remaining 1/2 cup of chicken stock into a bowl. Stack the tortillas in the bowl, 6 at a time, to moisten, then line the bottom of the pan with the tortillas, making sure they overlap each other by about one third. Cover the tortillas with half the sauce. Add half the chicken (@2 cups) and sprinkle with 1/3 cup of each type of cheese. Add a second layer of soaked tortillas, the remaining sauce and chicken, and another third of the cheese. Top with the remaining tortillas and cheese.

Bake for about an hour, until bubbling and lightly browned on top. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Mixed Berry Sauce

“For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.  If only we’re brave enough to be it.” – Amanda Gorman, The Hill We Climb  

While this sauce was posted previously with the French Toast Waffles recipe, we make it often because it tastes great on just about anything.  I decided to highlight this sauce with a post of its own because sometimes you are the complement and sometimes you are the feature.  Whatever your role, be brave and be you.

Try this sauce on:

In the original Bobby Flay recipe, Bobby uses a 2:1:1 ratio of strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries and he doubles the quantities below – he must really have a crowd for brunch at Bobby’s.  At our home, we make a 1:1 of strawberries and raspberries.  Krista replaced blackberries with blueberries.  Go nuts (no, don’t use nuts – it’s just a figure of speech)!

For the Mixed Berry Sauce:

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1/8 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 1 heaping tablespoon seedless raspberry preserves
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Combine the strawberries, raspberries (or fruit combination of your choice), sugar and 1/8 cup water in a medium saucepan, bring to boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries are soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

Transfer the berry mixture to a blender or food processor, add the raspberry preserves and lemon juice and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator stored in a container with a tight fitting lid for 1 week.


Thursday, January 14, 2021

Creme Brulee French Toast

When the kids go to camp in the summer, I send a daily joke which no doubt receives an eye roll and is not shared with friends.  Andrew told a new joke today “If you had some pennies and I took your coins, then you would have no cents.”  He didn't understand why I laughed so hard; all the while I'm considering the number of people walking around without "coins" these days.

One of the things that I have been doing with my time is tackling my out of control email inbox.  The best part is finding some fun pictures, silly conversations, and recipes.  I found this one from my Uncle Willy.  I am unsure why I waited until now to make it.  If you are trying to keep a healthy new year’s resolution, skip this one (but don’t, because it is really delicious).


  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1 loaf challah, cut into 1-inch thick slices and crust removed
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon Grand Marnier, optional
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

In a small heavy saucepan, melt butter with brown sugar and corn syrup over moderate heat, stirring, until smooth and pour into a 13x9x2 inch baking dish. 

Cut bread into 1-inch thick slices, remove edges and trim crust.  Arrange bread slices in one layer in baking dish, squeezing them slightly to fit.

In a bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, vanilla, Grand Marnier (optional), and salt until combined well and pour evenly over bread.

Chill bread mixture, covered, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bring bread to room temperature.  Bake bread mixture, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed and edges are pale golden, 35 to 40 minutes.

Serve hot French toast immediately (although no one complained about reheating leftovers the next day).  When serving, flip the toast over so the crème brulee crust is facing upward. 


Friday, January 8, 2021

Pecan Bars

It is about time.  

When I taught a class on business presentation skills, we did an exercise where we focused on accentuating a different word in the same sentence.  The speaker would change the emphasis, tone, and volume and it varied the meaning of the sentence, even though it included the same words.

IT is about time.

It IS about time.

It is ABOUT time.

It is about TIME.

While I have them, I tend not to espouse my political or philosophical beliefs on the blog because 1) cooking and baking is apolitical and 2) I recognize and accept that we may have different views.  Over the years I have tried to not let that influence my relationships with others – although at times it took an awful lot of patience and determination not to write people off.  That would have been the easy path but I refuse to cancel people out simply because we have different opinions.  But make no mistake, words and where you put the emphasis matter.

In the new year, it is about TIME.  Where will we choose to spend our time?  With whom will we allocate our most precious resource?  How can we use our time to incite good and benevolence and respect and listening and honesty? 

Alison shared this recipe from Once Upon a Chef with me.  Although we are working to wean ourselves from the sugar rush of the holidays, this one is too decadent not to share.


For the crust:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

For the filling:

  • 12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Generous pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped pecans

To make the crust:

Cover a 9-inch square baking pan with heavy duty aluminum foil. Push foil neatly into corners and up sides of the pan, using two pieces if necessary to ensure it overlaps all edges (the overhang will help removal from pan). Spray foiled pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Place the flour, cornstarch, confectioners sugar and salt in a bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal with pea-size clumps of butter within. It will seem dry; that's okay. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan and press firmly with your fingers into an even layer over the bottom. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. While the crust is in the refrigerator, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350° F. Bake the crust until crust is set but not browned, about 17 minutes. Set on rack to cool. Leave oven on.

To make the filling:

In a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine butter, brown sugar, honey, vanilla and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until sugar dissolves. Turn up the heat and boil gently for 3 minutes. Stir in heavy cream and chopped pecans.

To assemble:

Pour pecan mixture over crust (it's fine if the crust is still warm). Bake until filling is bubbling and caramel in color, about 20 minutes. Cool completely on rack. To cut, use the foil overhang to lift baked square out of pan and onto cutting board. Loosen the foil from the edges, then cut with a sharp knife into 2-inch squares. Store finished pecan squares in air-tight container and serve at room temperature.