Meals to make this weekend: Brunch and Dinner

Few things in the world hit the spot like a hearty breakfast.  It’s just the ticket for days when you know you’re going to be working hard, days when you know you won’t have much time for lunch, or days when we just have the time to wake up slow and make a big brunch.

As many of you know, my husband and I like to make our own breakfast sausage. What’s one of the best things to do with it? Make sausage gravy. Piping hot over biscuits,   it’s far from healthy, but it’s definitely comfort food.  I was surprised that this batch of sausage had less fat in it than I anticipated, but Joy of Cooking had a back up plan – in the spirit of Julia Child, when in doubt, add butter.  Yep, in this recipe, if you’re short on sausage grease, make up for it in butter.  This feels exactly like home to me, but probably explains the family history of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.   I guess the key is in moderation, or knowing you’re going to go work it off.

I digress.  Knowing my roots and loving to play to my audience, I made this when my parents came to visit us for the Star Spangled Celebration.  It truly does me good to watch the people I love enjoy the food I make with them especially in mind.  Thinking of the smile on my dad’s face that morning makes me smile as I type this.  Spread the joy, folks!

Nothing more down-home than this.
Nothing more down-home than this.

Sausage Gravy (from The Joy of Cooking)

  • 8 ounces ground sausage
  • 2 Tbsp sausage fat, or butter if necessary.
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 Cups milk
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 dashes of hot sauce (optional)

In a large skillet, brown the sausage.  With a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked sausage to a plate, and then pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of drippings from the pan.  If you don’t have enough drippings, use butter to make up for it.  Stir in the flour, and whisk until the roux is well combined and smooth.  Stir in the milk, stirring constantly for five minutes, until thickened.  Fold in the sausage, seasoning with salt, pepper, and hot sauce.  Serve over biscuits.

Is it just me, or does it seem like whenever I have brunch, it gives a perfect excuse for a big dinner? I mean, I’ve only eaten two meals that day, so why not make them both a little bigger, to cover the meal I’m not having? I’m completely aware that my logic is more than likely totally flawed.  Nonetheless, this recipe here is a cornerstone for a big dinner.  It looks complicated, but it’s actually pretty easy to just throw together.  This one started as an “I have way too much stuff in my fridge, and let’s see how I can use it.”

It looks fancy, but it's totally effortless.
It looks fancy, but it’s totally effortless.

Spinach Stuffed Chicken

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 4 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 minced clove of garlic
  • 1/4 C Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 C shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cover the chicken in plastic wrap, and use a meat tenderizer to flatten it out, about 1/2 inch thick. Remove plastic, sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, stir together remaining ingredients until well combined.  Distribute evenly between the chicken.  Close up the chicken, securing with toothpicks, and place in a baking dish.  Bake for 30 minutes, until done.  Don’t forget to keep track of how many toothpicks you put into each piece of chicken, so you know how many to look for when you’re eating.

Tip of the week: Don’t be afraid of making too many biscuits.  That’s why God gave us honey.