Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ham Casserole

By Paul Briand

What to do with the leftover Easter ham? Well, my mother is taking care of the bone by making a split pea and ham soup. I doled out some leftovers to family, and I still had plenty for this casserole, adapted from a recipe titled (appropriately enough) End of the Line Ham Casserole on

The AllRecipe version used a little parmesan cheese -- all of 2 tablespoons. I went all out with a package of low-fat Italian blend cheeses. Also, I topped mine with a handful of crumbled French Fried Onions that I had leftover from the breaded pork chops I made not too long ago.

1 can condensed cream of celery soup
1/2 cup milk
ground black pepper to taste
2 potatoes, sliced
1 onion, sliced
2 cups cooked ham, diced
1 7-ounce package of low-fat shredded Italian cheeses
¼ cup French Fried Onions, crumbled

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees;
2. In an 8x8 inch casserole dish, combine cream of celery soup with milk and a generous amount of pepper;
3. Layer the potato slices, then onion slices then ham on top;
4. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour;
5. Remove foil and sprinkle the cheese and crumbled French Fried Onions over the entire surface;
6. Bake uncovered for another 20 minutes or when cheese is bubbly, then let rest five minutes and serve.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

French Fried Onion-Crusted Pork Chops

By Paul Briand

You can bread pork chops in the usual fashion. How about including French Fried Onions as part of that breading? It creates a crunchy layer that has a burst of flavor, while keeping the pork moist.

This recipe can be used with other dishes where you might use bread crumbs -- chicken breasts, for example.

4 boneless pork chops
1 egg
¼ quarter cup of milk
½ cup Panko bread crumbs
½ cup of French Fried Onions, crumbled

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees;
2. Prepare egg wash in bowl by whisking egg with milk;
3. In large plate, mix the bread crumbs with the crumbled fried onions;
4. Take pork chop and dip both sides into egg wash;
5. Press one side of pork chop then the other into the bread crumbs and onions mixture;
6. Repeat with three other chops;
7. Place encrusted chops onto baking dish that has been coated with cooking spray;
8. Cook until the pork is no longer pink, about 35 - 40 minutes.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spinach & Avocado Salad

By Paul Briand

This is a great, simple little salad recipe that will bring the freshness of spring right to your taste buds.

It’s light and wonderfully refreshing with the vinaigrette that combines lemon juice, rice vinegar and olive oil.

The basis of this salad comes from a recipe I received with store coupons mailed to me by my favorite supermarket.

1 6 ounce package of spinach leaves
1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and sliced into bite-size pieces
1 cup of grape tomatoes, halved
¼ cup of slivered almonds
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Combine the spinach, avocado, tomatoes, and almonds into a large bowl;
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, garlic and lemon zest;
3. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until it is well combined;
4. Toss salad with vinaigrette and serve immediately.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lobster Mac & Cheese

By Paul Briand

If you’re looking for a fish recipe for no-meat Fridays during Lent -- and you’re willing to fork over a few bucks -- here’s sinfully rich dish that combines lobster meat with very cheesy macaroni and cheese.

Fresh lobster meat -- picked from a cooked lobster -- isn’t cheap, but it’s oh so good when lightly sauted in butter and lemon then folded into a cheese sauce that combines Parmesan and Monterey Jack and is topped with sharp cheddar.

1 pound box of Rotoni macaroni
3 heaping tablespoons flour
8 tablespoons of butter, divided
3 cups of whole milk
7 ounce package of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
7 ounce package of shredded Monterey Jack cheese
7 ounce package of shredded Parmesan cheese
2/3 to 1 pound of fresh lobster meat
Old Bay seasoning
Lemon juice
Panko bread crumbs

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees;
2. Cook the Rotoni according to the directions on the box, drain, set aside;
3. In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter and stir in enough flour to make a roux;
4. Add milk slowly to the roux, constantly stirring;
5. Reduce heat and add the Monterey Jack and Parmesan cheese, continuing to stir;
6. When cheese has fully melted, remove pan from heat;
7. In separate small saute pan over medium high heat, melt remaining butter then lightly saute lobster meat then spritz with a dash of lemon juice;
8. Return cheese skillet to the heat and fold the lobster fully into the mixture;
9. Add a generous palmful of Old Bay;
10. In large bowl, pour the drained Rotoni and mix in the lobster and cheese mixture;
11. Pour entire mixture into a large casserole dish, top with cheddar cheese;
12. Cook for 20 minutes, remove from oven and sprinkle bread crumbs (half a cup or so) then cook another 10 minutes;
13. Remove from oven, let sit about 5 minutes then serve in generous slices.

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