Thursday, October 30, 2014

Elevated Biscuits and Gravy with Italian Sausage and Mushrooms

The post "Elevated Biscuits and Gravy with Italian Sausage and Mushrooms" first appeared on The Stay At Home Chef on March 22, 2013.

Biscuits and's one of those ugly comfort foods, that warms your soul and makes everything feel okay in the world. I love making biscuits and gravy with a little flair. Italian Sausage provides a level of elevation and deliciousness to the gravy. I often pan roast mushrooms to add to it as well since I'm quite the mushroom lover. The mushrooms are optional though, as I well know with a sister who hates mushrooms. Either way, it's a delicious twist on the old comfort food favorite. 

Time to Make It: <30 minutes
Serves: 4


1 Large Italian Sausage (about 1/3 lb)
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
salt and pepper, to taste
8 biscuits


1. Cook the Italian sausage in a small skillet over medium-high heat for 7-8 minutes per side. Slice and quarter into bite-sized pieces.

2. In a large skillet, or medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Pan roast the mushrooms. Since they are sliced it should only take 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

3. In the mushroom pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour to form a nice golden paste. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking it into the butter paste. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. The sauce will thicken. Once it has thickened, remove from heat and add in the mushrooms and sausage. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

4. Serve over freshly baked biscuits.

This recipe makes the most basic "cream of." Yes, it's true. There's absolutely no need to buy those cans of cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup. Making your own "cream of" is so much more delicious and so simple to make. 

Basic Instructions:

1. Melt your fat (usually butter) in a medium-size saucepan.

2. Add in any added vegetables (like mushrooms, celery, or broccoli) and cook through.

3. Add in flour so that it clings to the fat in the recipe and no white powder is left floating about.

4. Stir in liquids (usually milk), and heat over high until thickened.

Basic "Cream of": 2 TB butter, 1/4 cup flour, 2 cups milk

For cream of chicken: 2 TB butter, 1/4 cup flour, 1 cup milk, 1 cup chicken stock

For cream of mushroom: 4 oz mushrooms, chopped, 2 TB butter, 1/4 cup flour, 2 cups milk

For cream of celery: 3 celery stalks, chopped

For cream of broccoli: 2 cups broccoli florets, chopped

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Best Swedish Meatballs and Gravy

I've been holding out on you. I'm really excited to share this recipe with you today. I've been working on it for a while, and I've finally perfected the Swedish Meatball. Seriously guys, this'll put anything you might find at Ikea to shame. The meatballs are baked in this recipe for convenience. Not only does baking the meatballs free you up to work on other things, it also keeps things separate for kids who will eat meatballs, but won't eat sauce. Yup, that's my kids. I wouldn't dare freak them out with a sauce. However, my 6 year old says this is his favorite pasta sauce. Go figure! Serve it over egg noodles or rice, either way, it's going to be pretty dang good. 

Time to Make it: 40 minutes
Yield: Serves 4 to 6


1 lb. ground beef (85-90%)
1 lb. ground pork 
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
4 cups beef broth
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup sour cream
salt and pepper, to taste
chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)

1 lb. egg noodles
2 cups white rice


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet.  

2. In a medium-size mixing bowl, knead together ground beef, ground pork, bread crumbs, Worcestershire sauce, egg yolks, 1/2 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Form into 1-inch meatballs and place on baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, you'll want to make the egg noodles, or white rice to go with the dish, whichever you prefer to serve the meatballs and gravy over.

4. Make the gravy by melting butter in a large saucepan. Once butter is melted, stir in flour, nutmeg, and allspice until it forms a paste. Pour in beef broth and 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce and heat over medium-high heat until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in sour cream.

5. Add cooked meatballs to sauce and serve hot over egg noodles or rice. 

Step number 4 in this recipe involves making a roux. The flour in the recipe acts as a thickening agent. If you just added flour to a liquid you'd end up with a clumpy mess. By combining the flour with a fat source (melted butter), you will be able to distribute the thickening agent throughout the sauce without leaving clumps behind. This same principle can be applied to any sauce or soup that needs to be thickened. A roux is equal parts flour to fat. Cornstarch is a stronger thickening agent that I use (with butter) in things like puddings and cream pies.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How to Stock Your Pantry: A Guide for the Home Cook

Welcome to The Stay At Home Chef Cooking School!

Whether you are attempting to enter the world of cooking for the first time, or simply want to get a better hold over your current pantry, this post will help get some control over the crazy and endless world of ingredients.

Stocking A Pantry
It can be overwhelming to stock a pantry.  There seems to be an endless smorgasbord of options, especially when it comes to herbs and spices. Fundamental cooking techniques can cover a wide array of cuisines, but the ingredients you use can be vastly different. I recommend stocking your pantry based on the kinds of cuisines you are interested in cooking.

The Basic Pantry Staples

Salt - Table salt is the most commonly used salt in recipes. Sea salt has larger crystals and is best used as a finishing salt. Salt should be stored away from moisture.

Black Pepper - You can purchase ground pepper or a jar of peppercorns to grind in a spice grinder. Pepper should be stored away from moisture.

Garlic - Garlic is sold in bulbs. Look for bulbs that are tight together. Minced and crushed garlic can also be purchased in jars, in varying quality. Garlic is best when fresh, but pre-minced and pre-crushed can also be used. Garlic should be stored at room temperature in a dry place.

Onions - Red onions, white onions, yellow onions, and sweet onions are the most commonly found varieties. White and yellow onions are most often used in cooking. Red onions can be cooked, but are often eaten raw. Onions should be stored in a cool, dry place.

All-purpose Flour - This flour is a finely ground wheat flour. It can be purchased bleached, or unbleached. Flour should be stored in a cool, dry place in an airtight container.

Granulated Sugar - This fine cane sugar is an all-purpose sugar to use in both cooking and baking. Sugar should be stored in a cool, dry place in an airtight container.

Eggs - Eggs can be purchased in varying sizes and colors. The color of the shell does not matter, but the size does. Most recipes call for large eggs. Eggs should be stored in the refrigerator.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil - This is the highest quality olive oil and should have no defects. It is the most versatile of olive oils and can be used as a cooking oil, or drizzled fresh. Olive oil should be stored in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.

Chicken Broth or Stock - Chicken broth or stock is a liquid that has been flavored by chicken, bones, and herbs. It can be purchased in cans or boxes, or can be made from scratch. Fresh chicken broth, or liquids from opened cans or boxes should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge, or frozen.

In addition to these basic pantry staples, you can stock your pantry with additional items based on the cuisines that interest you. A well stocked pantry would have the basic pantry staples, baking staples, and the staples from at least one variety of cuisines.  I've included printable 3x5 lists to make it easy for you! The lists include items from the basic pantry staples that are applicable. Below the printables I've also included text lists for your convenience.

Click on the image for a free 3x5 Printable




Baking Pantry Staples
  • Light Brown Sugar
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Baking Soda
  • Baking Powder
  • Cornstarch
  • Instant Dry Yeast
  • Chocolate (milk, semi-sweet, unsweetened)
  • Butter, unsalted
  • Heavy Cream
  • Vegetable Shortening
  • Vegetable Oil

Italian Pantry Staples

  • Basil, dried and/or fresh
  • Oregano, dried and/or fresh
  • Parsley, dried and/or fresh
  • Rosemary, dried and/or fresh
  • Sage, dried and/or fresh
  • Thyme, dried and/or fresh
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Canned Tomatoes
  • Canned Olives
  • Cornmeal
  • Dried Pasta
  • Red Wine
  • White Wine
  • Semolina Flour

Latin Pantry Staples

  • Dried Chiles
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Chile Powder
  • Ground Cinnamon
  • Ground Cumin
  • Avocado
  • Cilantro
  • Green onions
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Tomatillos
  • Chipotle in Adobo
  • Black Beans, dried or canned
  • Pinto Beans, dried or canned
  • Chorizo
  • Rice (long or short grain white rice)
  • Tortillas, corn or flour
  • Tequilla

French Pantry Staples

  • Basil, fresh or dried
  • Ground Mustard
  • Herbes de Provence, fresh or dried
  • Parsley, fresh or dried
  • Rosemary, fresh or dried
  • Tarragon, fresh or dried
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Leeks
  • Shallots
  • White Wine Vinegar
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Heavy Cream
  • Red Wine
  • White Wine
  • Port Wine

Asian Pantry Staples

  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • Ginger, ground or fresh
  • Lemon Grass
  • Lime
  • Cilantro
  • Chili Sauce
  • Fish sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • Soy sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Oyster sauce
  • Coconut milk
  • Curry paste
  • Noodles (soba, udon, ramen, rice, lo-mein)
  • Jasmine Rice
  • Peanut oil
  • Sake

American Pantry Staples

  • Basil, fresh or dried
  • Oregano, fresh or dried
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Ground Mustard
  • Cornmeal
  • Yellow Mustard  
  • Ketchup
  • Mayonnaise
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Vegetable Oil  
  • Honey
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Chicken and Beef Stock
  • Beer  
  • Bourbon
  • White and Red Wine

Monday, October 27, 2014

Gingerbread Pancakes with Butter Pecan Syrup

The post "Gingerbread Pancakes with Butter Pecan Syrup first appeared on The Stay At Home Chef on December 1, 2012. 

These are a family favorite during the months of November and December. As the holidays approach and the weather gets colder, gingerbread just makes perfect sense. The syrup and pancakes come together so quickly that you can easily have this festive breakfast ready to go in 15 minutes. Whether you are cuddling up together on a cold winter morning, or you are exhausted from unwrapping presents and need a Christmas morning breakfast, these pancakes will be a delicious reward  your family can enjoy for years to come. 

Time to Make It: 15 to 20 minutes
Yield: 8 to 12 pancakes


1/2 cup butter
1 cup molasses
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves

4 tsp cornstarch
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup water
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped


1. Using a hand mixer, whip the butter in a large mixing bowl.

2. Mix in the molasses, egg, and milk until well combined.

3. Add in the flour, cornstarch, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger cloves, and salt and mix until well combined. The batter should be pour-able, but not runny. 

4. Heat a non-stick griddle to medium high heat.

5. Meanwhile, prepare the syrup by combining cornstarch, brown sugar, and water in a medium saucepan. Heat to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking often. When the mixture boils, remove it from the heat and add in the butter and pecans, stirring until the butter melts.

6. Cook your pancakes on the griddle by scooping 1/4 cup of the batter onto the griddle. Flip the pancake over when bubbles appear. The pancakes is done when it is lightly browned on both sides and cooked through.

7. Serve with the hot butter pecan syrup.

Tips for great pancakes:

1. Pancakes are ready to be flipped when bubbles form, and the edges are getting cooked.

2. Always do a test pancake or two so that you can check adjust the temperature on your griddle. It's better to waste one or two than a whole batch.

3. Don't press them with your spatula. It doesn't help them cook any faster and makes them lose fluffiness.

4. Once cooked, don't stack your pancakes. All of the steam from the hot cakes will make them all soggy. Hold them in a single layer on a baking pan in the oven (warmed to the lowest temperature setting, mine is 175).

5. Pancake batter can be frozen and taken out to thaw when ready to use. Freeze it in a ziplock bag and you can just cut off the tip and squeeze out the batter. Just take a bag out of the freezer and put it in the fridge the night before you want your pancakes.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Restaurant-Style Mexican Black Beans

Tacos for dinner? Enchiladas? Carne Asada? Well, you might be looking for a side to go with that deliciousness and black beans are a delicious and healthy option. I love ordering black beans at Mexican restaurants. This recipe brings that restaurant feel to the home. 

Time to Make It: <15 minutes
Yield: Serves 4


1 TB olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 (15 oz) can black beans, undrained
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped


1. Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the olive oil and let heat briefly.

2. Add in onions and saute for 5 to 7 minutes until soft. 

3. Add in minced garlic, cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper (optional) and saute another 60 seconds.

4. Add in black beans and juices. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Serve hot topped with fresh cilantro. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Authentic Carne Asada

I've lived in Southern California for a good 1/3 of my life. Being so close to Mexico you get spoiled with a lot of really great Baja Mexican style food. We've been in Utah long enough that I needed to pay homage to our close-to-Mexico roots with some authentic carne asada. When I realized I have never shared the recipe....well, you are welcome. Carne Asada is all about the marinade. Take a nice piece of steak, marinate it with some delicious flavors, and then plop that sucker on the grill for a flavorful piece of beef you can eat plain, on a taco, burrito, or anything else you can think of. 

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Marinade Time: 2 to 10 hours
Cook Time: 15 to 20 minutes
Yield: Serves 4 to 6


2 limes, juiced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 jalapeno, minced
2 TB white vinegar
1 (2 lb) flank steak, trimmed of excess fat


1. In a gallon size resealable bag, combine lime juice, crushed garlic, orange juice, cilantro, salt, pepper, olive oil, jalapeno, and vinegar. Squeeze it around to mix it up.

2.  Put the entire flank steak into the resealable bag. Seal it up tight. Make sure all the meat is exposed to the marinade, squishing the bag around to coat. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight. 

3. Heat an outdoor grill to high heat. 

4. Remove the flank steak from the marinade, and discard excess marinade. Cook on the grill for 7 to 10 minutes per side.

5. Once done, remove from heat and let rest 10 minutes. Slice against the grain, and serve. 

What if I don't have an outdoor grill?


What if it is freezing outside and I don't want to go out there to grill?

Most ovens have a feature called a broiler. It is usually found at the top of your oven. If you have a gas oven (not stove, oven) it may be accessed from a drawer under you oven. I've had both. Think of it as an upside down grill. If you have an electric oven, it's even a flameless grill. Nice, right? The heating element gets super hot and cooks your food from above. So, for the above recipe, you can simply put your flank steak under a broiler for 7 to 10 minutes per side. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fresh Dragon Fruit Strawberry-Acai Smoothie Bowl

Dragon Fruit. Also known as Pitaya. You've probably heard about it, and maybe even seen it around. It's a funky looking fruit that comes from a species of cactus. It has a mild taste, somewhere between a kiwi and a melon. It's got a ton of fiber and very few calories and comes with lots of antioxidants and vitamins and all that other good stuff. Simply put, it's healthy for you and it's making its way into all sorts of smoothie shops and healthy eats places. I found a bunch of dragon fruit at a huge chain supermarket in Utah. Yes, I stood there holding a dragon fruit and could see clothes for sale on one side of me, and tvs on the other. It was weird. I've had dragon fruit bowls plenty of times at a little smoothie shop on the beaches of SoCal so I knew exactly where I was going to go with this recipe. Behold, a super hippie good-for-you breakfast bowl. This breakfast will have you raring and ready to go for anything your day might throw at you.

Time to Make It: 5 minutes
Yield: 2 servings


1 1/4 cup acai juice
1/2 cup greek yogurt
2 TB honey
2 cups frozen strawberries
1 cup granola
1 banana, sliced
1 dragon fruit, diced


1. Place acai juice, greek yogurt, honey, and strawberries into a Blendtec or other high powered blender. Blend until smooth. The mixture will be like a very thick smoothie. 

2. Scrape strawberry mixture into a bowl. Top with granola, sliced banana, and dragon fruit

How to Cut a Dragon Fruit

When picking out a dragon fruit, look for one with bright, even skin. Blotchy spots are a sign that the fruit is overripe. It should be soft, but not mushy, kind of like an avocado. 

Step 1 - Cut the fruit in half, lengthwise.

Step 2 - Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh.

Step 3 - Cut it into desired shape for eating.