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Monday, April 13, 2015

Sausage Gravy (Sawmill Gravy)

When it comes to breakfast, I pretty much like everything about it. I love oatmeal, scrambled eggs, breakfast meats (especially bacon), toast, pancakes, waffles, and fluffy, buttery biscuits. Biscuits aren't biscuits without some creamy sawmill gravy on top.

Gravy is tricky. There's a science to making gravy that can be a bit difficult. First you have to make the rue. A rue is a combination of fat and flour that acts as the thickener in gravy or sauce. The general rule is equal parts fat and flour and 2 Tbsp fat and 2 Tbsp flour per cup of liquid. This is the same way that you would start homemade cream of chicken or vegetable soup. The difference is that you will want to use only milk as your liquid for gravy.

Some people like white gravy while others like it dark. The only difference between the two is how long you cook the rue. If you leave the temperature low and continue stirring constantly you can cook the flour to a nice golden brown color or even darker for more flavor. Personally I like my gravy very white.

Once you have the fat:flour:liquid ration right gravy is a snap. You'll become a gravy expert in no time. The only other thing you need to know is this: If you cook your sausage first and leave the drippings in the pan (and sometimes leave a few crumbles of sausage in the pan as well) your gravy will have the most possible flavor. Then all you need is a little salt and a lot of pepper and your gravy will be perfect!

This gravy is ideal for biscuits and gravy but it's also quite good over breakfast casserole, fried chicken, chicken fried steak, and mashed potatoes.

Sausage Gravy (Sawmill Gravy)

Source: Mamaw Allison's Recipe

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
sausage drippings if available
4 cups milk (I use 2%)
1/2 tsp salt
a generous sprinkling of black pepper, fresh cracked is even better

Begin with a large, deep skillet. Non-stick is fine but if you have one that is not non-stick that's even better because you can use a wire whisk.

Cook your sausage and leave the drippings (and some bits of sausage if you like) in the pan. Over medium heat melt the butter. Wait until the butter is completely melted to add your flour.

Stir or whisk the flour and butter together to make the rue. It really is easier (and smoother) if you use the whisk. Now is the time to cook the rue to your desired darkness. I usually just cook it long enough to get all of it nice and bubbly but you can cook it on medium-low heat until the color pleases you.

Add 2 cups of the milk and whisk until the gravy is smooth (no lumps of flour) before adding the other 2 cups of milk. Whisk again until smooth.

Raise the temperature to medium-high and bring almost to a boil, stirring continuously to keep it from burning or sticking. (The flour will settle back to the bottom of the mixture and thicken rapidly. The continuous stirring will prevent this from happening and result in a smoother, more evenly cooked gravy.)

When the gravy is just beginning to really thicken turn the heat off. The residual heat from the pan and from the burner (if you're using an electric stove) will continue to thicken the gravy. I like mine thin enough to drizzle over my biscuits but Aaron prefers his quite a bit thicker.

Stir in the salt and pepper before serving.

Serve warm over fresh baked biscuits or breakfast casserole... or chicken or chicken fried steak or mashed potatoes.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Menu for 4/10/15-4/16/15

So even though this weekend was super busy it was also super fun! It started with some much needed, Bailey-free girl time with my brother's girlfriend. We got to go see Insurgent (my first movie in theaters since Zero Dark Thirty way back when I first started the blog) and then sat outside at Menchie's and had some delicious frozen yogurt! It's really nice to have another friend (besides my bestest friend, Anna) to hang out with.

Then Friday Anna came over with enough candy to hype Bailey up for a week! We went out for lunch together. Bailey actually ate lunch at a restaurant, it's always kind of hit or miss with restaurant food. We ordered her some kid's nachos which came in the form of chips and queso dip (pretty good queso dip too) and of course Bailey loves to dip some chips.

After lunch we went shopping. Well, we went shopping the way crazy crafters go shopping. We spent a long time in A.C. Moore craft store, then we checked out a dollar store next door, a shoe store (still searching for the perfect red peep toe pumps for Anna's wedding), and Steinmart. Bailey was an angel. She stayed with us on every aisle. We occasionally had to ask her to put things back on the shelf so we could move on, but she never once complained or started to throw a fit. She even tried on hats with us at Steinmart.

Easter Sunday was such a beautiful day. The sun was out, there was a nice breeze, and we spent the day at Nana's out in the yard. Bailey and her cousin, Li'l P, love Grandpa's tractor. We got some really good shots of them sitting in the drivers seat together, standing on the huge front tires (Bailey was barefoot making the pictures even cuter for some reason), and I got a few of Bailey trying to steer the tractor. They had a lovely conversation about boo-boos. It went something like this:

P- I got a boo-boo.
B- I don't have a boo-boo, you have a boo-boo.
P- No, I don't got boo-boo, you got boo-boo.
And so on.

It was pretty darn cute. Anyway, here's next week's menu!

Breakfast- cereal and milk
Lunch- leftover pork fried rice
Dinner- honey mustard glazed chicken, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and broccoli and carrots

Breakfast- chicken biscuits and hash browns
Lunch- leftover chicken and potatoes
Dinner- breakfast casserole, biscuits, and gravy

Breakfast- chicken biscuits and hash browns
Lunch- peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
Dinner- lightened up Zuppa Toscana at Admiral's

Breakfast- scrambled eggs and toast
Lunch- McDonald's (because I'm running errands all day)
Dinner- breakfast casserole, biscuits, and gravy

Breakfast- cereal and milk
Lunch- peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
Dinner- chicken taco casserole

Breakfast- scrambled eggs and sausage links
Lunch- leftover taco chicken, cheese, and frozen vegetables
Dinner- bacon cheeseburgers and french fries

Breakfast- grilled ham, egg, and cheese sandwiches
Lunch- chili and chips (from the freezer)
Dinner- fried chicken, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and broccoli

Monday, April 6, 2015

Roasted Asparagus

I'm a huge fan of any recipe that requires this little work. Seriously, it's so easy that I only took the one picture. I didn't feel it needed a step by step photo guide since there aren't that many steps.

I used to blanch asparagus or steam it, but since I discovered this method I really prefer it roasted. The flavor of the asparagus is concentrated rather than leeching out into the cooking liquid and it takes on the flavor of the seasonings so much better. This is the simplest way to roast asparagus but it still leaves room for some creativity. Season it however you like and even add a little onion if you like onions. Try it for yourself and hopefully discover a new favorite vegetable.

Roasted Asparagus

Source: Original, inspired by the roasted broccoli from my birthday a few years ago

1 bunch (about 2 lbs) asparagus spears
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a small baking sheet with foil.

Take one of the asparagus spears and bend it until it breaks. Now line up the rest of the spears next to the broken one on a cutting board and cut them all roughly the same length as the broken spear.

In a mixing bowl combine the asparagus, olive oil, salt, and garlic and toss together with a pair of tongs (or your hands) until all of the spears are coated in oil and the garlic is evenly dispersed.

Arrange the asparagus on the baking sheet in an even layer and bake for about 12-15 minutes, until the asparagus and garlic begin to brown.

Serve warm, it's especially good alongside a nice, juicy, medium rare steak!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Menu for 4/3/15-4/9/15

Hooray for Good Friday! My bestest friend and Bailey's Aunt Anna has a day off work to come and play with us! We're going to go shopping and have lunch together and she always builds Bailey a huge Easter bucket full of toys and candy. It's going to be so much fun!

Saturday night we'll be celebrating Easter with Aaron's parents and a delicious glazed ham! I'm using my grandmother's recipe for the glaze. I remember having her glazed ham at Christmas and Thanksgiving when I was little and I'm hoping it tastes just like I remember it.

We're also having Easter lunch at Nana's house. Bailey will get to play with her little cousins! I'm taking my favorite roasted asparagus but I really can't wait to have some of Yaya's broccoli casserole! The creamy rice, the melty cheese... My mouth is watering already.

Here's the whole menu!

Breakfast- cereal and milk
Lunch- McAlister's Deli with Aunt Anna
Dinner- Yaya's spaghetti, salad, and garlic toast

Breakfast- chicken biscuits and hash browns
Lunch- leftover spaghetti
Dinner- glazed ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, macaroni and cheese, and yeast rolls

Breakfast- cereal and milk
Lunch- Easter lunch at Nana's
Dinner- Creole style chicken and grits and roasted asparagus at Admiral's

Breakfast- raisin and brown sugar oatmeal
Lunch- chicken salad sandwiches and chips
Dinner- maple dijon glazed pork roast, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and peas

Breakfast- grapes and yogurt
Lunch- leftover pork roast sandwiches
Dinner- chicken bacon ranch macaroni and cheese

Breakfast- scrambled eggs and toast
Lunch- leftover macaroni and cheese
Dinner- grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, roasted broccoli, and macaroni and cheese

Breakfast- scrambled eggs and toast
Lunch- leftover grilled chicken and mashed potatoes
Dinner- honey garlic pork chops, steamed vegetables, and seasoned rice