CHEW THIS! Family Secret Potato Casserole

Family Secret Potato Casserole 

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, May 19th 2019 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

Sharing Family Secret Recipes
Blaise Doubman

I am sharing family secret…recipes! Ha! I try to check my email messages at least once a day that are filtered through from my website, http://trailblaise.com and lately most of the messages have been wondering if I have any “secret family recipes” that I would be willing to share. Well, I have written two cookbooks, “Blaise the Baker Dessert First” and “Blaise the Baker Celebrates” that share quite a few “secret family recipes” but there are a few that I just cannot, for whatever reason, to get myself to share! Mocha brownies, my brown sugar and ketchup glaze for meatloaf, cinnamon toast with vanilla drizzle, butterscotch pie, chocolate pudding pie and cheesy potato casserole are just some of the few recipes that have made an appearance nowhere in my recipe collections. I figure, what is the joy in having “secret” recipes if I am not going to share them? So, I am going to start sharing them with everyone so that everyone can enjoy the “secret” recipes and wonderful flavors the recipes bring!

The first “secret” recipe I want to share with everyone is a recipe that I am positive everyone has tried at their family reunion at one time or another and wondered what it was and more than likely tried the recipe themselves and failed. Most of the time people forget that one essential ingredient that makes this dish work on a flavor profile level. Now, do not get me wrong, there are a few people out there who know what I am talking about and do add it to their dish and if you are one of them, good for you! What am I talking about? Dijon mustard! Yes! Dijon mustard must be added to this cheesy, party, fabulous potato casserole! Why? The secret here is the Dijon mustard makes the cheese taste more like cheese! True story. Same thing goes for coffee bringing out the flavors of chocolate. Add the Dijon mustard to this dish and be prepared to be blown away and be prepared to share with others this “secret” recipe.

Family Secret Potato Casserole

This can be made ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator for reheating later. The best thing about this dish is that it can be served hot, room temperature or even chilled. It lasts for days and reheats wonderfully!

32 ounces southern-style hash browns
2 cans condensed cream of potato soup
2 cups sour cream
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
4 tablespoons butter, diced fine
Grated parmesan cheese, for sprinkling

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray a 13×9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl combine the hash browns, cream of potato soups, sour cream, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, finely chopped onion, Dijon mustard, salt and black pepper.

Pour mixture into prepared pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle top with diced butter. Sprinkle top with grated parmesan cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes. Carefully remove from oven and remove aluminum foil. Place back into the oven and continue to bake, at the same temperature, for 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and serve hot. Can also be served room temperature or chilled.

Ask and Answer: Lots of people wonder what my favorite cookbook is, and I usually tell them that would be like picking a favorite child! Ha! I do have a few favorite cookbooks though that I always recommend. Anything by Ina Garten is a must! Her “Barefoot Contessa” cookbooks are by far my most used cookbooks of any other collection. Nigella Lawson and Martha Stewart are also some of my favorite and often used cookbooks. “Butter and Chocolate” by Shelia Maines and any of the cookie cookbooks written by Elinor Klivans are also fabulous.

Corn Griddle Cakes

These are delicious made and served hot with butter and lots of maple syrup!

Corn Griddle Cakes

1 can corn, drained
1 1/2 cups white all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted

In a large bowl combine the drained corn, white all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, large egg, whole milk and melted butter.

Warm a large skillet over medium high heat. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Dollop large tablespoon amounts of batter onto preheated and prepared skillet leaving about 3 inches between each.

Once the cakes start to bubble, carefully flip them over with a spatula and cook another minute or two depending on desired doneness.

Work in batches.

Serve warm.

CHEW THIS! Sharing Recipes

Grandma Mary’s Graham Cracker Treats

Grace’s Cap’n Crunch Treats


Grandma Mary’s Cheesy Chicken Casserole

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, September 17th 2017 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Celebrating Love with Recipes and Memories
Blaise Doubman

I love recipes that have a history of family and memories attached to them. The recipes I am sharing today come to me from a very good friend of mine, Theresa Pierce. We got to know each other by working together a few years ago and have been close ever since. A lot of people know Theresa as a smart, hardworking, caring person who would go out of her way for any of her friends. But guess what? Not that many people know that she is also very talented in the kitchen! Do not let her tell you otherwise, she really is a talented and very creative person in the kitchen! But she is quick to mention that all credit for that would go to her Mom and Grandma. Over the last few years she has gone from not wanting to enter the kitchen much, to baking muffins, cakes and pies! She even made a pumpkin roll a couple years back and ever since I still cannot use cheesecloth without thinking of her. She did, however, say that she would never make another pumpkin roll again… and so far she has kept that promise! Ha!

Over the course of knowing her, I also got to know her family – her husband, Rick; her Mom , Grace and her Grandma Mary. She loves and respects her family and her friends and I really admire that. I’ve admired her for years and even though I have only told her a time or two, I really think she knows how I feel. The recipe I am sharing today comes from her late grandmother, Mary (Matney) George. Even though I never got the chance to meet her, I feel like I knew her very well. She was kind, funny, warm and caring. I loved telling Theresa stories about my latest kitchen adventures, or misadventures, so that she could go and relay them to her Grandma Mary. I think one of Mary’s favorite stories was the one where I was cleaning green beans for the first time and I was using craft scissors to cut them off the vine and to cut the ends and snap their middles. Theresa said her Grandma Mary laughed and laughed over how I got them off the vine! I can only imagine some of the other stories that Theresa told her Grandma over the course of the several years we worked together! Grandma Mary is missed but her recipes, such as the ones I have shared here, will live on. That is what I love about sharing family recipes! Shout out and special thanks to Theresa Pierce for sharing with me her deliciously memorable family recipes for all to share and for all to enjoy.

Grandma Mary’s Graham Cracker Treats
Cover a 17-inch x 11 ½-inch cookie sheet with aluminum foil (Grandma Mary was VERY specific on size). Arrange graham crackers on the baking sheet, filling the sheet fully. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. In a saucepan melt 1 stick of butter, 1 stick of margarine and ½ cup sugar. Bring to rolling boil and stir for 3 minutes. Pour over crackers, being sure to cover evenly. Sprinkle with finely chopped nuts – pecans work well here. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and remove treats from sheet but leave on aluminum foil. Cool completely and break into pieces. Do not try and make these on a humid day – they will not get crispy!

Grace’s Cap’n Crunch Treats
Theresa’s Mom, Grace, adds broken up pretzel sticks to the following mixture. If using the pretzels add them at the same time you add the cereal and nuts.

16 2 oz. blocks white almond bark
1 box Cap’n Crunch peanut butter flavored cereal
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
1 16oz. jar dry-roasted peanuts

Start by lining two large baking sheets with aluminum foil and lightly spray evenly with non-stick cooking spray.

Melt the white almond bark and the smooth peanut butter in a large microwave safe plastic bowl in the microwave on high power for 3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.

Stir in the cereal and dry-roasted peanuts. When well mixed, spread evenly between the two prepared baking pans. Allow the mixture to cool and set up for about 30 minutes.

After it has set, break up into pieces and store in plastic food storage bags at room temperature.

Ask and Answer: I have had questions about quick and easy casseroles so I thought I would share a recipe that Theresa’s Grandma Mary would make her frequently. Theresa said her Grandma’s “Cheesy Chicken Casserole” is delicious and whenever it was made she would polish off most of it! Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees F. Combine 2 cups chopped cooked chicken with 12 oz. shredded cheddar cheese, ½ cup Quaker 100% natural cereal, 1 10 ¾ oz. can cream of chicken soup, 1 cup chopped celery, ½ cup chopped onion, ¼ cup milk and sprinkle of pepper. Spread into greased 8-inch square baking pan. Combine 1 cup Quaker 100% natural cereal with 2 tablespoons melted butter and sprinkle over top of chicken mixture. Bake in preheated oven for 24 minutes. Remove and cool slightly before enjoying.

HER magazine, Betty’s Cajun Snack Crackers

Originally published on “Blaise the Baker” February 12th, 2017

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The following special feature has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times” magazine “HER magazine” Winter 2017 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

These snack crackers are worth the wait…
Blaise Doubman

“Count the memories, not the calories”. This slogan means everything to me and is what I more or less live my life and create my recipes around. The slogan is printed on my blog, printed on my business cards and was the slogan I used for my cookbook. I love family memories and family recipes and I think of them as almost a family tree, or a family journal, that tells the stories and growths of each family member. Each recipe contains a memory and each recipe, regardless of calorie count, is a cherished memory that can be passed along to the next generation. I am always on the hunt for forgotten family recipes and memories and get so excited when someone writes to me with a new piece I can add to my “family recipe puzzle”.

My excitement went through the roof when my Grandma Barbra told me that she had heard from my Great Aunt Betty, and she had sent a recipe! My Grandma Barbra and her sister, Betty, who lives in Texas, correspond back and forth with family pictures and family updates. Last September my Grandma had mailed Betty a copy of my cookbook and Betty had written back saying how much her and her family loved and enjoyed my cookbook, encouraging me to write more and saying that her daughter Jeanne, would be sending me her recipe for gumbo! Immediately I went into trying the recipe that Betty had sent for snack crackers. I did not think I was going to be able to wait the three days that it called for in the recipe, but I did, and believe me when I say that these crackers are worth the wait! Betty said she likes these better than potato chips and I agree with her! They have so much more flavor than anything you can find in a potato chip, or buy at the store. Another fabulous family recipe that I can add to my family recipe collection and I hope that you will also add to yours.

Betty’s Cajun Snack Crackers

These crackers have a spicy kick to them that is amplified by the crushed red pepper flakes. Feel free to add less or simply leave them out. The canola oil that is called for can not be replaced with any other type of oil. I used a large plastic container with a snap on lid but you may also cover your large bowl with a tight plastic wrap. The crackers will break apart slightly from the rolling and tossing, which is desirable. Store covered at room temperature.

1 1/3 cup canola oil
1 package powdered ranch salad dressing mix
1 package taco seasoning mix
3 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 box saltine crackers

Start by combining the canola oil, powdered ranch salad dressing mix, taco seasoning mix and crushed red pepper flakes in an extra large plastic bowl.

Add in the saltine crackers and gently roll, toss and shake them until they are covered in the oil and seasonings.

Place a lid on the plastic bowl and cover. Place on counter at room temperature and gently give a shake and toss several times a day for three days.

At the end of the three days, remove the lid and serve!

Ask and Answer: I have been getting a lot of questions about what to do with a store bought rotisserie chicken. The possibilities here are endless! You could take the chicken, remove the skin and bones, cut the meat into large bite size chunks and add diced sweet pickles, celery, white onion and boiled eggs. Squirt in a little yellow mustard, add a large spoonful of mayonnaise, a sprinkling of white granulated sugar, salt and pepper and have rotisserie chicken salad that would be delicious for days! You could also use the meat in making chicken and noodles, chicken pot pies or even a cold chicken side dish called “Chicken Caviar” that combines the chicken meat with champagne, white and purple grapes, mayonnaise and brown sugar.

CHEW THIS! Rosemary’s Sweet and Sour Pickles and Diane’s Cheeseball

Rosemary’s Sweet and Sour Pickles and Diane’s Cheeseball 

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, September 4th 2016 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Sharing family recipes and memories…
Blaise Doubman

My Grandpa Max loved to cook and so did a lot of the members in his family. His sister Rosemary had a reputation of being not only a wonderful cook, but a fabulous baker too. I am so thankful that food, recipes and a love for both runs deep on both sides of my family. My Grandpa Max started out his love for cooking while he was enlisted in the armed services. He found himself being more and more drawn into the kitchen and the more he cooked, the better he got. It was a win-win for him. He loved working in the kitchen, preparing and serving the meals and had so many great memories that he shared with me of his times there. He actually developed several recipes himself, including his famous beef stew recipe. I have tried for years to duplicate the flavors of his soup, even working off of his own recipe, but never could copy it. I eventually had to tell myself that I was searching for a memory and not so much a taste.

After my Grandpa Max passed away, my Mom, Darla, started calling and corresponding with Rosemary. They had many similar interests and really loved talking about old memories of when everyone was younger. Rosemary was one of the sweetest people I knew. A couple of years ago my parents and I, along with my Uncle Duane went to visit Rosemary, and her daughter Diane and family. It was a wonderful time and we shared so many memories, photographs and recipes. It would be the last time I would see Rosemary. She passed away a couple of months later. In remembrance her daughter, Diane, sent me the Bolinger family recipes, two of which I am sharing here with you today. The recipes range from appetizers to main dishes to desserts and more. I love and cherish them so very much. The two recipes I am sharing today are delicious! The sweet and sour pickles and unlike anything you can buy in the store. My friend and recipe tester, Mary, said they were the “best pickles I have ever eaten”. Diane’s cheeseball recipe is super simple at only three ingredients, but loaded with flavor!

Rosemary’s Sweet and Sour Pickles and Diane’s Cheeseball

Both of these recipes are family heirloom recipes that I very much cherish. The pickle recipe is perfect for snacking, topping on hamburgers or making homemade relish from! The cheeseball is delicious with or without the nuts but really memorable when served with whole wheat crackers, fancy crackers or an assortment of entertaining biscuits. Both of these recipes are best made ahead of time and are perfect for family reunions or Holiday parties.

For the sweet and sour pickles…
1 quart jar whole Kosher dill pickles
3 cups white granulated sugar
1 ½ cups white vinegar

In a medium pot over medium heat combine the white granulated sugar and white vinegar until it comes to a boil. Allow to boil for about 30 seconds and then remove from the heat. Drain pickles from their juice, discarding the juice. Rinse the pickle jar and set aside. Slice pickles about ¼-inch thick and place back in jar. Pour sugar and vinegar mixture over the pickles and fill the jar, leaving about ½-inch space at the top. Screw on lid and place in refrigerator for 24 hours before removing, serving and enjoying.

For the cheeseball…
16 oz. cream cheese
1 jar Old English cheese
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups chopped walnuts, optional

In a large bowl combine the cream cheese with the Old English cheese until the mixture is smooth and combined. Beat in the Worcestershire sauce. Form into 2 large balls or 4 medium sized balls and roll in chopped walnuts. Place in refrigerator to chill for several hours.

CHEW THIS! Skillet Meatballs

Skillet Meatballs

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, June 5th 2016 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Homemade meatballs are deliciously versatile…
Blaise Doubman

When developing a recipe, the first thing on my mind is flavor. What will add to the overall flavor of the recipe, what ingredients will contribute to the flavors I’m looking for and what will pair nicely with the flavors? Most of the time I’ll eat something I want to recreate and it will go from there. Take this recipe for skillet meatballs for example. There’s a popular restaurant chain that has a meatball sandwich on its menu. I’ve eaten this more times than I’m willing to admit, and after a friend and I got to thinking about what could possibly be the secret ingredient in their meatballs, I sat out to crack the code myself. It took a little experimentation, several recipe testers and lots of ground beef, but I can happily say, I cracked the code.

I have a recipe on my blog for hamburgers that are perfect on a charcoal grill and served with cooked onions and peppers. I remember developing that recipe and adding all kinds of things to the ground beef, to try and add flavor. Then I thought – why am I doing this? You want to be able to taste the freshness of the ground beef, right? So I went minimal, which is what I’ve done here. I’ve added bread crumbs to help bind the meatballs and hold them together, and added two main flavor components – yellow squirt mustard and fresh basil. The yellow squirt mustard gives the ground beef subtitle flavor, and the fresh basil combines nicely with the overall flavors and adds a fresh background note. This is my go to meatball recipe…

Skillet Meatballs

I prefer this method over baking them in the oven. These are very versatile. The recipe can be doubled, tripled or more! These are delicious served over warm spaghetti or, my personal favorite, placed into sub buns and served with homemade tomato sauce, or marinara sauce, sliced mozzarella cheese and a sprinkling of Parmesan. These also make a perfect appetizer. Serve with toothpicks and a side dish of tomato sauce and/or barbecue sauce. Keep them warm by placing them in a low heated slow cooker. 

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup whole milk
2 pounds ground beef
1 tablespoon yellow squirt mustard
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 stick butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/2 cup chopped basil leaves
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
Olive oil, for frying

Start by placing the panko bread crumbs in a small bowl and pouring over the whole milk. Allow the bread crumbs to soak for 2 minutes.

In a large bowl, place the ground beef and 1 tablespoon yellow squirt mustard, along with the diced onion, melted butter, eggs, chopped basil, salt, pepper and milk soaked bread crumbs.

Mix everything together using a fork, and a light hand. Be careful not the over mix the meat mixture.

Heat about 1/4-inch of olive oil in a medium sized skillet over medium heat. Allow to heat up 2 minutes.

Form the meat mixture into meatballs a little bigger than the size of your standard ping pong ball and place into the skillet.

Fry the meatballs until they are browned on all sides and cooked through, about 15 minutes. You will need to turn them occasionally.

Serve on spaghetti, as appetizers with toothpick holders or in sub-buns as meatball sub sandwiches, topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.

CHEW THIS! Simply Fried Morel Mushrooms

Simply Fried Morel Mushrooms

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, May 1st 2016 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Morel mushrooms go from forest to table – if you can find them…
Blaise Doubman

Growing up, I always heard stories of morel mushroom hunting and it always seemed like something magical to me. I would listen carefully to my Mom, Darla, discuss in detail to my Grandpa Max, about how she had went into this certain patch of woods and she would pull back some brush, and find a huge patch of morel mushrooms! I have never really been a fan of spending my summer afternoons in the thickest part of the woods in the heat and humidity, sharing my personal space with bugs, snakes, and who knows what else – but over the years I have tried it, and it’s never really grew on me. The stories made the hunting seem more magical to me than they really were. And let’s just get this out in the open – I have never, not once, found a morel mushroom. I must not have “the gift”. “The gift” is something that my parents both share, as well as my brother, Damon. I don’t really have the skill I guess, and people don’t rely on me much to find them, but they do rely on me to cook them.

Over the years I have experimented with these, but never could find a way that was better than how my Grandpa Max would fix them. I tried dredging them in Parmesan cheese, I tried crispy onion breading and even pickling them – nothing really worked out that well. I decided to just settle on the method of simple frying. It maintains their taste, and integrity without changing the texture or flavor that much. I’ll admit that I’m not really the biggest fan of these, but I know people (almost everyone in my family) that go wild for this delicacy. Some words of caution if you decide to go hunting for these – be sure to ask permission of the landowner if the land you’re hunting on isn’t yours, wear bug spray, watch out for ticks, wear long pants and long sleeves to cover up as much skin as you can, and if you find a prime location for morel mushrooms, keep it to yourself – that’s one secret real mushroom hunters will never share!

Simply Fried Morel Mushrooms

These mushrooms can be eaten in a variety of ways. Try them fried and then drizzled with balsamic vinegar or even as a special topping to your average salad. For a savory treat, try tossing them in with some Parmesan sprinkled pasta or even pair them with fresh sea scallops. The possibilities are endless. My Great Grandpa, Willie Davis, would eat them between two slices of white bread – moral mushroom sandwich!

Batch of morel mushrooms (approx. 4-5 cups)
1 cup white all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
4 tablespoons salted butter

Start by cutting the morel mushrooms in half, length wise, and placing them in a large bowl of salted water. This is an important step in removing all of the impurities that the mushrooms can harbor. Place them in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours to throughly soak. Be sure the water completely covers all of the mushrooms for them to soak properly.

Once soaked, remove the mushrooms and drain on paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.

Combine the white all-purpose flour and yellow cornmeal in a shallow dish and mix together.

In a large skillet, place the unsalted butter and allow to melt over medium-high heat.

Once the butter starts to bubble, it’s time to fry. Take the mushrooms, one at a time, and dredge them in the flour and cornmeal mixture, and place them carefully in the skillet.

Fry the mushrooms until golden brown and crispy which will take about 6-8 minutes, turning he mushrooms once to ensure even frying.

Once fried, remove from the skillet and carefully lay them on paper towels to drain. Salt the mushrooms to your taste, and enjoy!