Comfort Food

Homemade Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

How many of you could use a little comfort right about now?

I understand that we’re all supposed to be watching our weight, unclogging our arteries and thinking keto-thoughts, but by golly sometimes regular old comfort food is in order and it comes happily to you today in the form of Homemade Biscuits and Sausage Gravy.

While biscuits and gravy traditionally spell morning and breakfast, they were a welcome and satisfying Sunday night dinner for us. After a full three days at the farm which included cow feeding, fence clearing, mesquite cutting, porch sitting, and huge Copperhead killing (holy moly, so close to JT!), these rich buttermilk biscuits and creamy gravy were the perfect ending to a rainy and socially distant weekend!

With all of the extra “home” time that many of us have right now, it’s a great opportunity to make some biscuits from scratch (why not?) and perfect our gravy-making technique. I mean if you’re from the south you’ve got to know how to make gravy- it’s just a thing! But on the off chance you’re not exactly a gravy afficionado, I promise it’s a breeze to stir up and delicious to boot!

Let’s start with the gravy – it’s so simple really. Here’s my own recipe:

SAUSAGE GRAVY

Ingredients (to serve 4-6)

1 lb. pork breakfast sausage (I use Jimmy Dean)

about 1/2 cup flour

about 4 cups milk

Salt, coarsely ground pepper, and Seasoning salt to taste

Directions

  1. Brown the sausage in a skillet over medium-low heat, breaking it into small pieces as you stir.
  2. When the sausage is brown, but not crispy!, reduce the heat to low and sprinkle the flour directly onto the sausage in the skillet and continue to stir. Cook for about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Slowly pour in the milk while continuing to stir. It will thicken almost immediately. Cook while stirring about 5- 8 minutes more. (Note: If necessary add a bit more milk or a little additional flour to achieve your desired consistency.)
  4. Season with salt, pepper, and seasoning salt to taste. (Really that’s the best way!)

Serve over hot, homemade biscuits!

For the biscuits, I use Joanna Gaines biscuit recipe from the Magnolia Table Cookbook. She mixes things up by adding eggs- and a perfect addition they are!

And just to note – I usually half this recipe and get about 12 biscuits- they freeze well.

JOJO’S BISCUITS

PREP: 20 minutes, plus at least 30 minutes chilling COOK: 15 to 20 minutes COOL: 5 minutes

Makes about 20 biscuits

  • 4 cups self-rising flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ pound (3 sticks) salted butter, cold, cut into ½-inch pieces or grated
  • 2 large eggs, beaten, plus 1 large egg for brushing
  • 1½ cups buttermilk, or as needed, plus 1 tablespoon for brushing
  • Jam or gravy, for serving

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the butter and use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour until the pieces are even and about the size of peas.

2. Stir in the beaten eggs with a wooden spoon until combined. Stir in 1½ cups buttermilk until the dough comes together into a sticky mass. If it is too dry, add more buttermilk 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing after each addition, until it reaches the correct consistency. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

3. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

4. Scrape the dough onto a floured work surface. Use your floured hands to press it into a round roughly 14 inches across and about ½ inch thick.

5. Use a floured 2¾- inch round cutter to cut out about 20 biscuits. If necessary, collect and pat out the scraps to cut more biscuits.

6. Transfer the biscuits to the prepared baking sheet, arranging them so that they all are touching.

7. In a small dish, beat together the remaining egg and 1 tablespoon buttermilk. Brush the mixture on the top of the biscuits.

8. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool slightly in the pan on a rack.

9. Biscuits are best the day they are made (and ideally fresh out of the oven!). Serve with strawberry jam or gravy, if desired. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

NOTE: For longer storage, arrange the biscuits about ½ inch apart on two parchment-paper-lined baking sheets and freeze until solid. Transfer them to a zip-top plastic bag and freeze for up to 2 weeks. There is no need to thaw them before baking.

From Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines. Copyright © 2018 by Joanna Gaines.

Enjoy!!

Lu

A One Pot Cajun Blessing

Has this whole isolation thing already worn you out? Are you tired of coming up with something new to cook for dinner each day? While this isn’t really a problem for someone like me who loves to cook, some of my friends tell me they’ve pretty much exhausted the limits of their cooking skills.

And their patience.

I’ll tell you what wears me out. Cleaning up. The counters, the dishes, the floor (although Hootie is a splendid help here) , the everything. The sole reason I would love my own cooking show? Someone else does the dishes. They wash the 12 pots and pans and various sizes of mixing bowls and platters and spatulas and knives and YOU NAME IT -I SEEM TO USE IT ALL.

And I’m not even sure how it all happens.

Anyway, for me, a one-pot meal is a wonderful, healing and transfomative thing. This Jambalaya is just that! I made an extra huge batch this morning for some of JT’s survey guys who are working here in town. I had plenty to feed them with lots left for our supper- and all in one pan! (Albeit it’s a big pan!)

Jambalaya is one of those things that lends itself well to additions and substitutions and sometimes even my own forgetfulness! You can dress it up or down, turn up the heat or make it mild. Substitute proteins (sausage, chicken, shrimp, crawfish) and generally tailor it to the tastes of your family. You can even forget several of the ingredients and still end up with a wonderful dish.

Not that I have ever done that.

In the picture below you can see a couple of things I used instead of what’s actually listed in the ingredients- a girl has to improvise sometimes!

The important thing is, it’s tasty and it doesn’t keep you in the kitchen for hours AFTER dinner.

You can read all the substitutions/deletions/ changes I made in italics in the ingredient list- we’re all working with limited pantry and fridge supplies right now. And because I was pressed for time, I browned the sausage, the chicken, the peppers, onion, and garlic (with the Better than Bouillon) all at the same time!

No one said you can’t just be your own person.

Hope you enjoy this one is much as I do!!

One Pot Jambalaya

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning, (adjust to suit your tastes/heat preference – I just used about 1 1/2 T
  • 10 ounces andouille sausage, sliced into rounds ( I had no andouille today – I used the sausage in photo)
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 stalks/ribs celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Better than Bouillon Chicken Flavor (I use low sodium)
  • 14 ounces can crushed tomatoes (I used a can of diced tomatoes that I put in the food processor for a few spins!)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon each dried thyme and dried oregano (I completely forgot these today!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes ( I used some of the chili/onion mix in photo- get it at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (Left this out today)
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup thinly sliced okra (no okra today!)
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice (short grain or long grain)
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • Sliced green onions and chopped parsley, to garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Season the sausage and chicken pieces with half of the Cajun seasoning. 
  • Brown sausage in the hot oil; remove with slotted spoon and set aside. Add remaining oil to the pot and sauté chicken until lightly browned. Remove with slotted spoon; set aside.
  • Sauté the onion, bell pepper and celery until onion is soft and transparent.  Add the garlic and Better than Bouillon and cook until fragrant (30 seconds).
  • Stir in the tomatoes; season with salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, red pepper flakes (or Cayenne powder), hot pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and the remaining Cajun seasoning. Stir in the okra slices (or file powder), chicken and sausage. Cook for 5 minutes, while stirring occasionally.
  • Add in the rice and chicken broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low-medium. Cover and let simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked.
  • Season with a little extra salt and pepper if needed and remove from heat. Adjust heat with extra hot sauce, Cayenne pepper or Cajun seasoning. Serve immediately with sliced green onions and parsley. 

Free Style

I’m a cookbook junkie.

It’s probably a little shameful, but I keep acquiring more. I read them like novels, devouring the background stories on the recipes, interesting cuisines, and most importantly the cooks who write them. I have good ones and bad ones. Some are tattered and stained from frequent use, others barely used and relegated to a fairly inaccessible shelf in the bookcase. Many I’ve read through word-by-word more than once. A few I might try to grab in case of a fire. I would probably suggest that JT grab some too, but he’d likely be too busy saving all his Made in the USA vintage tools.

Priorities I guess.

Recently I got a new cookbook written by a TV chef whom I really like. I’ve watched her shows for years and find her personable and unassuming. She’s known for making meals in just 30 minutes! , and I’ve enjoyed the book immensely- she includes lots of personal anecdotes, which I love.

Chances are, though, I won’t try many of the recipes because the ingredient lists go on for days, most including things I wouldn’t normally buy or even be able to find. I can only imagine how intimidating this could be for a newbie just trying to get started cooking. Or anyone who doesn’t have the time or energy (much less the dollars) to come up with all the those ingredients. Have you ever shied away from a recipe because it seemed too complex? Where does one find a sheet of pork belly fat anyway?

This girlfriend would likely give up and make a bologna sandwich instead.

Trust me, though, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to cook. You don’t need to be a TV chef, author (or even be able to decipher) a cookbook.

Coincidentally (and thankfully) you don’t even need to be particularly smart.

Anyone can cook. I mean what’s the worst that could happen? OK, besides the whole fire and burning thing?

Here’s what I did last night: No recipe involved.

I cut a few thin- skinned potatoes into bitesize pieces and put them in a skillet, covering them with water, boiling them until the water was gone (this almost cooks them through and softens them up). Then, I added some olive oil, minced garlic, a few raw asparagus spears (chopped) , some kale, and a few little tomatoes cut in half. That’s it. These were just things hanging in my fridge without a purpose for their lives.

Stir until all the veggies seem cooked then season with salt and pepper to taste. Imagine all the endless variations… I topped mine with some salmon left over from Sunday night’s dinner.

It looked great and tasted even better.

You don’t need one cookbook much less 500 or so.

Just your imagination will do.

Chicken Pot Pie with Puff Pastry Crust

I’ll admit.

The crust on this beauty is a little over the top in more ways than one! It’s a bit rustic. A tad dramatic. Let’s just think of it like a Texas gal having big hair and being closer to God.

Amen

But it’s true, isn’t it, that the main attraction of a pot pie is the crust. Sure there are all kinds of good-for-you vegetables under all that big hair, but mostly we’re here for the crunchy, crevice-y crust. And lots of it.

This pot pie is super simple to make and once you have the main formula down, you can throw in lots of changes to the veggie selection (some people NEED little peas in their pot pie), or add bleu (fancier than blue) cheese or even a little cheddar to the vegetable base. You could make this a beef pot pie, or pork, or if you were a rock star, a BACON POT PIE and I would be your best friend.

Just have your way with it.

Chicken Pot Pie with Puff Pastry Crust

Luann at Hobnob Kitchen

Ingredients

7 tablespoons butter

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup diced carrots

½ c. diced celery

Approximately 10-15 petite yellow potatoes (walnut size or smaller) cut up just slightly larger than the other vegetables. Or any potatoes, cut small.

¾ tsp. dried thyme

¾ tsp. kosher salt

¾ tsp. coarse black pepper

½ tsp. celery salt

7 tablespoons flour

2 cups chicken broth

2-3 cups cooked, shredded chicken (I use a deli chicken)

17.3-ounce package puff pastry sheets, thawed

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Heat the butter in a Dutch oven, then add the veggies and saute for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the thyme, salt, pepper, celery salt and flour and cook about 3-4 minutes more, stirring continuously. Slowly add the chicken broth while continuing to stir. The mixture should thicken. Add the milk.
  4. Cook on very low for about 5 minutes, continuing to stir, then add the chicken.
  5. Pour the mixture into ramekins or a pie or tart pan.
  6. Cut the puff pastry to cover the top (or be creative and let it be more rustic!)
  7. With a pastry brush, brush the puff pastry with a mixture of one egg mixed with a little water. (This will make the crust pretty and glossy when cooked).
  8. Bake about 30-40 minutes. If the pastry appears to be getting too dark, reduce the heat to 350 or you can cover the crust loosely with foil.
  9. Enjoy with salad.