Monday, May 26, 2008

The Edge of Summer

So it's official...the beginning of the summer cookout season. If it wasn't for the weather, summer not Fall, would be my favorite season. I'm not a fan of the heat or the humidity. I love the sunny weather and the beach, the food, the long nights by the fire pit, but the weather is not for me. Give me a cool breeze and a crisp night and I am one happy girl but I do love the fact that it's getting warmer out, the flowers are starting to bloom, and soon there will be fresh veggies from the garden to eat and cook with. My favorite part of summer is the cookouts and having my family and friends over. Yesterday we had a Memorial day cookout. The weather was just perfect. Highs near 80, sunny and mild, and just enough of a chill at night to light a fire and make smores. Welcome back summer. We missed you.

Brats on the grill, Dorie's poundcake, Wild Rice & Sausage Caserole & the dessert table.

Along with lots of other food I made my Wild Rice & Sausage Casserole. I’m always looking for new side dishes. I came across this one on one of the food boards I frequent. I took a recipe that one of the girls posted and I tweaked it a bit and it’s really been a big hit because it’s one of my most requested recipes. It’s super simple too. I usually double it, because one pan is not enough for a party

Wild Rice & Sausage Casserole
Printable Recipe

1 6oz box of Uncle Ben's Long Grain & Wild Rice, cooked according to box
1 pound bulk pork sausage (Pssst, your looking for the roll of sausage with Mr.Jimmy Dean’s name on it). Browned & drained (use the Sage flavor if you can)
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup diced celery
1 tablespoon of butter
1 package of mushrooms sliced (I use Portabella)
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup chicken broth

1 cup shredded cheddar

Cook the rice according to the package directions. The last time I was at the grocery store I found that Uncle Ben’s had a quick cooking wild rice. I used that and it worked just fine too. After the rice is cooking transfer it into a large bowl so it can cool down.

Cook the sausage in a large pan, breaking it up as it cooks. While the sausage is cooking I add some Mrs. Dash, and salt & pepper.

Cook onions and celery in about a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter until tender. When the onions are almost translucent, put in the sliced mushrooms and cook them about half way through. You want to get a lot of the water out of them. Set aside. In a bowl combine mushroom soup and chicken broth. Whisk it up until it’s smooth. Add all remaining ingredients and gently stir. Place into a greased 9x13 pan. Cook at 350 uncovered for 45 mins or until brown and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Stand back and wait for compliments and recipe requests!

Ryan & Evan with the giant football, the whole gang on the deck, Sara, my John & Tati.

Evan blowing bubbles, my Dad with Moose, Eva & Ken, John (Tati's John).

As soon as the food is hauled away indoors, Tati starts asking where dessert is. The woman has a sweet tooth to rival my own. So out came Dorie's Peanut Butter Crisscrosses. Printable Page, brownies, more cookies, and Dorie's Pound Cake served with strawberries and cream. We were all so stuffed by the end of the night.

Perfection Poundcake
Printable Recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour (or 2-1/4 cups cake flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan or an 8-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch loaf pan. Put the pan on an insulated baking sheet or on two regular baking sheets stacked one on top of the other. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar on high speed until pale and fluffy, a full 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beater and reduce the mixer speed to medium. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 to 2 minutes after each egg goes in. As you’re working, scrape down the bowl and beater often. Mix in the vanilla extract. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until it is incorporated - don’t overmix. In fact, you might want to fold in the last of the flour, or even all of it, by hand with a rubber spatula. Scrape the batter into the buttered pan and smooth the top.

Put the cake into the oven to bake, and check on it after about 45 minutes. If it’s browning too quickly, cover it loosely with a foil tent. If you’re using a 9×5 pan, you’ll need to bake the cake for 70 to 75 minutes; the smaller pan needs about 90 minutes. The cake is properly baked when a thin knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven, transfer the pan to a rack and let rest for 30 minutes.

Run a blunt knife between the cake and the sides of the pan and turn the cake out, then turn it right side up on the rack and cool to room temperature.

Wrapped well, the cake will keep for 5 to 7 days at room temperature (stale cake is great toasted) or up to 2 months in the freezer.

SMORES! All the kiddos round the fire. They were all a gooey mess!

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