Dornish Garlic Strata

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Game of Thrones Series Week #7

I swear that every time I think I’ve seen the most dramatic Game of Thrones episode this season, the next one will come on, and I will be freshly stunned and shocked by the jaw dropping ending. I think this may be the best season yet, and from what I understand from my twin sister (who knows what’s going to happen with the story ahead of time), the best is still yet to come in the final two episodes we have left. There was a lot to recap from this past week’s episode- yes, even more than that last scene, which I’ll get to in a minute. So let’s review, shall we?

  • I find the romance between Grey Worm and Missandei to be cute. They definitely have chemistry between each other, and although I think they may be one of the sweeter couples in the GoT series, I can’t see that they have much of a future together. Unless Missandei is one of those women who don’t mind being in a relationship with a guy who’s been ‘handicapped’ (if you know what I mean), which she doesn’t seem to be for now. Peeping Tom or no Peeping Tom, she’s definitely into Grey Worm. Side note: the Mother of Dragons braids her servants hair and does Girl Talk in her spare time? Since when did this happen?

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  • Speaking of Daenerys, oh man, how about  her kicking Ser Jorah to the curb? I understand her suspicion of him now that she’s found out the truth about the poison, but I still feel like this may be her one, big ‘fatal error’ that sets things into motion towards her losing her shot at ever being able to take over the Iron Throne for herself. Whether she realizes it or not, Jorah was the best and truest friend that Daenerys has EVER had. Tywin Lannister certainly realizes it, and she’s playing right into his schemes to thwart all of her plans just because of one mistake that Jorah made years ago. All that he’s went through with Daenerys should have been more than enough for her to at least grant him the opportunity to properly explain himself to her and allow him to give his side of the story. Not only that, I’m also disappointed that she made the blunder of throwing him out of her country alive when he now has so little to lose and now, so much to get revenge on her for. Let’s not forget, Jorah still had sour grapes over her new dalliance with Daario Nahaaris. To be rejected by the woman you’ve loved, served, protected and stood by through thick and thin is hard enough for any man- but to then be kicked to the curb over 1 misunderstanding without even the chance to properly defend himself is probably going to be enough to send Jorah over the edge and straight into the enemy’s camp. He knows her mind, her secrets, the workings of her kingdom, army, and her plans. If Daenerys was really set on ridding herself of him, she should have just had him executed and let that be the end of it; Banishing Jorah is going to be the nails in her coffin, mark my words.

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  • You know, I’m definitely not going to say I’m thrilled about this turn of character for Sansa, but I’m also definitely not going to say that I don’t completely understand why she’s decided to stay on Littlefinger’s ‘good side’ and try to make herself an ally for him, and not a mere prey. She knows that he was obsessed with her mother, she saw him shove her aunt through the moon door without blinking an eyelash, she knows that he poisoned Joffrey- all with that cool, sneaky smile on his face. It took her a while, but our Sansa has finally grown up and seen the way that the world works. She knows she’s not tough or strong enough to take Littlefinger on as an enemy, but she obviously feels strong enough to try and play his (creepy/disgusting) infatuation with her as Catelyn’s daughter to her own advantage. I can’t say that I can see any other way for her to survive at this point. Women do what they have to do when they have to do it- it’s just the way things are. (Another side note: was I the only one reminded of Maleficent by Sansa’s new threads and hair job? Maybe it’s just because Angelina Jolie’s movie just came out, I don’t know. But she did  seem very reminiscent of of the Disney icon to me,)
  • In other news, Ygritte’s heart wasn’t completely demolished by Jon Snow’s diss as she was willing to let Gilly and her baby live. To be honest, I can’t wait to watch it freeze right back up when the two of them meet back up again. I don’t care how good a fighter he is; Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and that means that our Jon is in for SUCH a beat down when Ygritte gets her hands on him again.It’s bound to be epic.
  • Well, Theon turned his ‘faux’ performance out after all- resulting in more people dying and Ramsay Snow dropping the ‘bastard’ title from his name. Oh joy. Oh rapture. I’m sure this will go splendidly.

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  • And of course, there was the Trial By Combat. Oh man, what a scene. I’m trying to think of a more grisly, gruesome death scene in Game of Thrones up to this point (and we all know there have been plenty), but I’m coming up with blanks. Nothing tops Oberyn’s exit. Blegh. Here’s my take on the fight: Guys, I’m sorry, but this was doomed from the very beginning. You know why? Because Oberyn was going into this fight with his feelings. It was personal for him, and there’s always a much bigger risk when you fight with your feelings. I understand why he wanted to fight the Mountain; he wanted vengeance for his sister and her children. But it was this desire for vengeance that ended up getting him killed. Oberyn not only wanted to kill the man who killed his family, he wanted to get  a confession from both the killer and indict/humiliate the man who ordered the hit: Tywin Lannister. If he’d been satisfied with just killing the Mountain, he never would have gotten distracted enough to let him live long enough to force him to name Tywin as the mastermind behind the crime. He couldn’t afford to be that careless with that good (and huge) a fighter- it should have been a quick, clean, precise kill. Oberyn was obviously capable of doing that, but he wanted to kill the Mountain, he also wanted to humiliate the Lannisters. His own pride was ultimately his unfortunate downfall. God knows what Tyrion is going to do now that his champion is dead. I’m sorry to see Oberyn go; he was a very charismatic character, and I was touched by his devotion to avenging his sister’s rape and death.

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Because last week was our farewell to Prince Oberyn, I thought that I would dedicated this week’s dish to him. In thinking of aspects of Oberyn’s character, I obviously decided to draw on inspirations from his amorous, exotic nature, while also being substantive and delicious. (Yes, I did just use that word because Pedro Pascal = male deliciousness on a stick. Am I right? Of course right.)  What I came up was this strata recipe. What makes this an Oberyn recipe? The garlic and the eggs; both are considered to be ancient and modern aphrodisiac foods (you learn something new every day, huh?). I ate mine with jalapenos and salsa on top to give it that extra ‘Dornish’ kick; it was just as fantastic as it looked. This would make a great recipe for a brunch to feed a crowd, or an easy fix for a Breakfast for Dinner craving.

R.I.P. Prince Oberyn. You fought well. You (and your smoking hot accent) will be thoroughly missed.

Game of Thrones Series

Week 1: Pigeon {Chicken} Pies

Week 2: Winterfell Brown Bread

Week 3: Southron Spinach & Plum Salad

Week 4: Baratheon Smothered Pork Chops & Apple Gravy

Week 5: Lemon Cakes

Week 6: Dothraki Flat Bread

Week 7: Dornish Garlic Strata

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Dornish Garlic Strata

Recipe Adapted from Annie’s Eats and Ina Garten

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Ingredients

For Garlic Oil:

  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil

For Strata

  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1½ cups onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 (10 oz.) pkgs frozen chopped spinach, thawed & drained
  • 8 cups stale, cubed bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp garlic oil
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese (6 oz.)
  • 12 large eggs
  • 2¾ cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cup meat of your choice (sausage, chicken, bacon, ham)
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic & herb seasoning (like Mrs. Dash)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

 Directions

1. In a small saucepan, bring garlic and oil to a boil, then turn heat to low, and cook for 5 minutes, until garlic is lightly browned. Turn off heat and set aside. The garlic will continue to cook.

2. Remove garlic cloves from the oil & slice them. Place them in a bowl & pour the oil over them.

3. Place bread cubes in a bowl, and pour garlic oil over them. Toss to combine, set aside.

4. Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add onions & peppers to pan and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the spinach, remove from the heat and set aside.

5. Butter the inside of a 2½-3 quart baking dish.  Layer the bottom of the dish with one third of the bread cubes.  Top with one third of the meat, one third of the spinach mixture and one third of each of the cheese.  Repeat these layers twice more with the bread, meat, spinach and cheese.

6. In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, milk, onion powder, garlic/herb seasoning, paprika, and pepper.  Whisk together until blended.

7.  Pour the mixture evenly over the bread and spinach layered in the baking dish.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 8 hours or up to 1 day.

8. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.  Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Bake uncovered until puffed, golden brown and cooked through, 45-55 minutes.  Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving.

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Baked Spaghetti

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Here’s an interesting fact about me guys: I’m an identical twin.

For some reason, whenever people find this  out about me, they act like it’s the coolest thing since sliced bread. Their eyes get all big and they immediately subject me to a game of 21 questions where me and my twin sister Jasmine (I call her Jas) are supposed to answer every rumor, superstition and stereotype of twins that exists. And I’ve literally heard it all.

“What’s it like being a twin?” (After 24 years, I still don’t know to answer this to anyone’s satisfaction. I have an older sister and younger brother, the truth is that having a twin feels no different from having any other siblings.)

“Can you read each other’s minds?” (I really am tempted to just stare at people that ask me this until they actually begin to feel as stupid as what they just asked sounded.)

“Do you ever switch places to try and fool people?” (Uh, no. Just…no.)

“If I pinch you will she feel it?”  (No, I’m not making it up. I hear this ALL.THE.TIME. And yes, Some people have actually tried to pinch me).

“SISTA SISTAAA!” (In case you didn’t know, that’s taken from the Tia and Tamera Mowry television show from the 90s, “Sister Sister”. Jas and I have had it sung to us more times than we’d care to remember. It’s very annoying.)

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All of the cliche stuff about twins aside, I will be honest and say that Jas really is one of my closest friends. She knows me better than just about anybody in the world, and vice versa. The telepathic/empathic connection between twins isn’t real, but Jas and I are close enough  and friends to the point where we can look at each other and make an instinctual guess as to what the other is thinking depending on the circumstances. But really that’s just because she’s been around me more than anyone else and we’ve had a lot of shared experiences and have a lot of inside jokes. There’s no ‘magic’ to it or anything. I’m sure some of you have friends or regular siblings that you’re like that with too.

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Anyway. One of the things that Jas and I do NOT have in common is a love of cooking. Not that she can’t cook at all, it’s that she just doesn’t like to do it all that much. Now, I already shared before that my older sister Ashley loves the meat pies that I make for her. I also said that Jas likes baked spaghetti. Actually, no. I said that she could eat the stuff every day. That was not an exaggeration.

Jas LOVES baked spaghetti. Really, really, REALLY loves it.  I’d say it was right up there at the top of the list of her favorite foods, along with salmon, Teddy Grahams and chocolate milk. This baked spaghetti that I make for her is on a regular rotation in our house. I can make a lot of it at a time, and it pretty much doesn’t get any easier than this so far as easy meals go.

There are however 3 things that anyone cooking Jas baked spaghetti MUST remember: she wants lots of meat, she wants lots of sauce, and she doesn’t want a lot of cheese. So just keep that in mind when you make this recipe for yourself-my twin sister is a meat and sauce lover, and a cheese hater. However, since this recipe is so easy, you can always adjust the ratio of ingredients to suit you and your family’s taste.

FEED(ME) BACK: What’s a question you’ve always wanted to ask a twin? (Yes. I’ll answer anything you ask me…within reason.)

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Baked Spaghetti

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Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef, browned and drained
  • 9.6 oz fully cooked sausage crumbles
  • 8-8.5 oz of angel hair pasta
  • 6 oz (1 can) tomato paste
  • 13 oz tomato sauce
  • 1/2 teasp pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 heaping teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teasp garlic salt
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, diced
  • 1 and 1/2 cup of Italian style cheese, shredded
  • 2 oz pepperoni (About 40 slices)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9 x 12 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

2. Heat a  pot over medium heat. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, brown sugar, garlic salt and green pepper and stir to combine.

3. When tomato paste has completely dissolved into sauce, add the sausage crumbles and ground beef. Cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.

4.  Cook and drain pasta according to package directions.

5. Layer pasta, sauce and cheese in baking dish, making sure you start and end with sauce.

6. Bake in preheated oven for thirty minutes. Remove from oven and place pepperoni over the top of casserole, then sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Bake for about 5-7 minutes more, until cheese in melted. Remove from oven, let stand for about 10 minutes. Serve.

Sweet Potato and Sausage Breakfast Bake

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Whoever came up with the idea of having breakfast for dinner is a genius.

I know that weekends typically are the time when we think about cooking big breakfasts with all our favorite foods that we don’t have the time to cook during the week when it’s all we can do just to wake up on time and get out the door to work. Fancy, home cooked weekend breakfasts/brunches are great….but in my family, they don’t really happen all that often.

See, the majority of my family really doesn’t get all that much sleep. When the weekend comes around, they’re not really thinking about what biscuits, waffles or casseroles they can get up early in the morning to cook- they’re thinking about being able to sleep in for the next day or so. In fact, the only time that usually happens is when we have family members from out of state visiting, which unfortunately isn’t too often. Generally, in a contest between laboring in the kitchen and catching some extra zzzs…the sleep usually reigns supreme. Me? I’m somewhat of a night owl and an early riser. Personally the idea of getting up early to cook a fancy breakfast is fun and exciting to me. But the idea of getting up to cook said fancy breakfast and no one even being awake (or willing to wake up) to eat it? I’ll pass.

Pic2Luckily, there’s that nifty little invention called Breakfast for Dinner.

With Breakfast for Dinner, I can feel free to make all the wonderful breakfast foods that would otherwise go to waste when made at the crack of dawn. There are certain breakfast themed foods that my family’s willing to eat at anytime of day- Breakfast Bakes are one of them. They’re versatile,  delicious and pretty easy to put together.  Not only that, but they taste good both hot and cold, so leftovers don’t even necessarily need to be reheated. I’ve had/made breakfast bake several different ways; sometimes I make it more ‘breakfast-style’ and include some stale bread in the bottom for a kind of ‘crust’, but most times I go without the bread so that it more resembles a really fluffy, deep dish omelette. It tastes pretty good with sausage gravy over the top, or (my personal favorite way of eating eggs), sprinkled with Frank’s Red Hot or Tabasco sauce. Pic3

I started to call this dish the “It’s Your World Breakfast Bake”, just because, when it comes to putting it together, it really is ‘your world’- meaning that you can put just about anything you like in it.I’m providing my recipe that has my favorite vegetables and choice of meat, but don’t necessarily think that means that you have to stick to it 100%. You prefer white potatoes to sweet potatoes? Fine, swap ’em out. Not a fan of green pepper, but a huge fan of mushrooms? Make the switch. Whatever you want, really. As long as you keep the ratio of eggs and buttermilk proportionate to the amount of meat and veggies you add, I’m sure your breakfast bake will turn out fine. Just keep in mind not to add TOO many ingredients; you want the eggs and buttermilk to submerge the solids, not be absorbed by them. Have fun guys 😉

FEED(ME) BACK: What’s your favorite ‘Breakfast for Dinner” food?

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Sweet Potato and Sausage Breakfast Bake

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Yield: About 8-10 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 and 1/2 cups shredded or diced sweet potatoes
  • A little over 1 cup of cooked and crumbled breakfast sausage (both beef and turkey sausage work fine)
  • 16 eggs
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, diced

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 370°.

2. Spray a 9 x 12 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Place sausage, sweet potatoes, onion and green pepper in baking dish and mix together.

3. In a large bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, garlic powder, salt and pepper, being sure to beat eggs enough so that the yolks are fully broken.

4. Pour egg and buttermilk mixture over the meat and vegetables in baking dish, evenly spreading the mixture out so that all four corners are evenly covered.

5. Bake in oven for about 60 minutes, or until set in the center.

Ashley’s Meat Pies

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I do most of the cooking in my house, and usually when I ask everyone what they would like for me to make, I don’t get too specific an answer.  Instead, I hear things like this:

“I don’t care,”

“It doesn’t matter to me.”

“Anything…just as long as it’s not chicken, I’m tired of chicken.”

See what I have to work with? (And for the record, it’s impossible for anyone to get tired of chicken. I certainly don’t- and therefore, it’s impossible).

But sometimes, I will get a very specific request to make something someone has a craving or hankering for. For my twin sister, Jasmine, it’s usually for baked spaghetti (she could eat that stuff every day). My mom really likes fried chicken. My older sister Ashley really likes these meat pies. Truth to be told, she’s been asking me to make her some of these for a long while now. The problem is, the last couple of times I made meat pies, I didn’t make them to her satisfaction. See, being the foodie that I am, I like to experiment with different flavor combinations and various fillings for savory pies. I’ve got dozens of recipes for pies and empanadas that I still have to try out: spicy Caribbean with curry powder and sweet potato, French Canadian with cinnamon and cloves, southwestern with salsa and corn…the possibilities are endless.

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But Ashley doesn’t go for all that. She likes to keep her meat pies simple. And by simple, I mean that the only thing she likes in her meat pies is meat. Nothing else.  Yeah, I know. Weird.

Well, I’m a good sport and I generally like to give people what they want (where cooking is involved anyway), so I decided to put aside all of my great genius of  culinary creativity and make Ashley her meat pies the way that she wanted them. The only ‘challenge’ I saw with a recipe like this is making sure that even though the ingredients are sparse, they still have flavor. Because as versatile as ground beef can be, it can still turn out pretty bland- especially without any powerful spices to give it some character. Since I was essentially only working with a ‘beef’ flavor, I decided to just bump it up a few notches. That ‘bump’ mainly came from a packet of Beefy Onion Soup Mix. It enhanced the flavor of the meat, while also giving it some moisture so it wasn’t dried out inside the pastry after baking.

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These meat pies are pretty easy to make, not just because of the simplicity of the filling, but also because the ‘pastry’ is really just canned biscuits that I stretched out with my hands, then folded together. I know, I’m cheating. But I had other things to cook that day, and needed something in a quick fix that would still taste good. I’m not afraid of making my own pie crust, but if you are, then the biscuits in this recipe are an easy and just as delicious alternative.  I went with Pillsbury Grand’s Southern Biscuits. Word of advice though: do NOT use any Flaky kinds. Flaky biscuits puff up and separate while baking, and while this is fine eating them on their own, it doesn’t work well for meat pies. You want them to stay together. That’s the whole point.

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Traditional meat pies in Australia and the UK are typically served with ketchup on the side for dipping. These would probably taste fine that way, but I also think that barbecue sauce or A1 steak sauce would be pretty tasty. I just served them with the leftover gravy I had from the filling, and they got the thumbs up from Ashley. But you can serve/eat yours however you want. It’s your world.

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FEED(ME)BACK: What special dishes do you make for your loved ones?

Ashley’s Meat Pies

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Yield: 16 pies

Ingredients

2 to 2 1/2 lbs of ground beef

1lb sausage (Any variety you like is fine, I used Jenni-O Turkey Sausage)

2 cans refrigerated Biscuits (NO FLAKY KINDS- I used Pillsbury Grands Southern)

1 packet of Beefy Onion Soup Mix

1 tsp Garlic Powder

1/4 tsp Pepper

1/2 tsp sugar

2 cups water

4 tablespoons flour

1 egg, lightly beaten

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°

2. Brown the beef and sausage together in a skillet over medium heat. Drain off fat, extra juices in a colander. Place drained meat in bowl and set aside to cool.

3. Pour onion soup packet and water in a 2 qt. saucepan with 4 tablespoons of flour and bring to a boil.

4. Add garlic powder, pepper and sugar and stir to combine. Let gravy cook until thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for about 5 minutes.

 5. Scoop 1/3 cup of cooled gravy and mix into browned meat. Then, add another 1/3 cup of gravy and stir to combine, being sure to evenly coat the filling.

6. Lay out a piece of wax paper or parchment paper on counter top. Open canned biscuits, and separate, one at a time as you go.

7. Use your fingers to gently spread and stretch biscuit, pressing outward from the center to the rim of dough. It should be about 3-4 inches wide.

8. Scoop out a little less than 1/4 cup of meat and gravy filling and place it in center of biscuit dough.

9. Gently fold one side of dough over the filling and press it against bottom side. Crimp the edges of the dough with a fork to ensure that it is sealed and does not leak during baking.

10. Place pies on greased baking sheets, about eight per pan. Brush tops with beaten egg with a pastry brush.

11. Bake for 15-20 minutes in preheated oven until golden brown on tops and bottoms*

 *Depending on the type of oven you have, you may need to rotate the pans from top to bottom oven shelves halfway through to ensure even baking.