appetizer

The BEST Roasted Potatoes

Friend!!  These potatoes are like a religious experience…they’re also like a science experiment. lol  “What?” you say…Yes, though easy, they have a couple ingredients you’ve probably never added to make roasted potatoes.  Which is why they’ve never turn out quite like these!  These roasted potatoes have a crunchy coating on the outside and are warm and tender in the center with a beautiful golden brown color, every single time.

A few things you want to remember when making the perfect restaurant-style roasted potatoes are:

  • You MUST parboil.  If you only roast in oven, your potato will almost always be overcooked or undercooked and not be too pretty to look at.  Plus the baking soda in the boiling water creates an alkaline pH that helps break down the potatoes surface, resulting in a starchy paste like exterior that will help make that crunch you’re after.
  • Please cut them in 2-inch (or even 3″) pieces for maximum surface area.  You always want the have a good exterior/interior ratio with roasted potatoes.
  • Russet potatoes are the best choice for this given they will make the crispest crust and fluffiest interior.  Save the Yukon Gold’s for mashed potatoes.
  • Please feel free to play around with the amount of baking soda and cornstarch as you make this recipe through the years.  Also, every oven operates a bit different, so just always watch to see if they need taken out sooner or need to roast a bit longer.

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 2lbs russet potatoes, cut into 2″ cubes
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 hefty teaspoon+ baking soda
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (bacon drippings too if you have it)
  • 1 Tbsp+ cornstarch
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • Fresh or dried herbs for garnish, optional

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (400 if using a convection setting).  Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil, along with the 1 Tbsp kosher salt, the baking soda and 2″ cubed potatoes.  Boil for roughly 10 minutes, until a fork can just pierce them.  You don’t want them overdone as they’ll finish in the oven.

Drain the parboiled potatoes in a colander and allow excess moisture to evaporate (a minute or two).  Transfer to a large bowl and season with salt and pepper, drizzle with the oil/a bit of bacon grease and sprinkle the cornstarch over top.  Roughly toss around in the bowl and a thick “mashed potato-like” paste will seem to build up over the potato cubes.

Finally, transfer to a baking sheet, lined with foil or nothing at all (parchment paper will not allow it to crisp up on the side touching the potato).  Spread them out evenly and place in the oven to roast for 20 minutes.  At this time, shake the potatoes around (you may need a thin spatula to release any stuck potatoes from pan) and return to oven for another 15-20 minutes and your potatoes are a beautiful golden brown and crisp all over.

Season with more salt and pepper or herbs and serve immediately, enjoy!

RoastedPotatoes

 

 

GameDay Jalapeno Popper Piggies

Break out of your typical, grilled jalapeno-popper rut and try this out for size!  It has all of the flavors we love, fresh and spicy jalapenos, creamy cheeses and crisp bacon, BUT it also has another level of smokiness with the beef sausage while all wrapped in a warm, pretzel like pastry dough.

So whether your an avid football fan, need a new Thanksgiving appetizer or you just want to curl up on a cool day with a movie and snacks…these rock, my friend!

The Starting Lineup

  • 3 sheets puff pastry dough, thawed
  • 1 package (36) Lil Smokies
  • 18 jalapeno peppers, halved
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Flour (for dusting); Kosher salt (garnish)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees; line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Cut off each jalapeno pepper top; halve and discard the seeds.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, combine the cream cheese, shredded cheddar and crumbled bacon.  Fill the halved peppers with the cheese and bacon mixture.  Press a “Smokie” on top of the filling.
  4. Lightly flour a clean surface and unfold the thawed puff pastry dough.  Cut each dough rectangle into 6 equal strips vertically and then in half crosswise, to create 12 pieces.  *you may have to gently roll out each dough piece a bit to wrap around filled pepper.
  5. Wrap each stuffed pepper in one of the cut puff pastry strips and seal with a bit of egg wash; seam on the bottom.  Place on prepared baking sheet.  Once finished with all, brush the remaining egg wash overtop and sprinkle on a bit of the kosher salt.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, till golden brown; serve warm.

 

JalapenoPiggies2

 

Eggs Benedict Quiche

Hands down, my husband’s favorite breakfast dish is Eggs Benedict.  If a restaurant is serving it, he shall have it.  He also has been known to order a quiche for lunch from time to time, which is humorous when you see his large frame and heavily tattooed self.

Myself, on the other hand, is not a giant fan of eggs, especially if it’s a runny yolk.  I just cAnNoT do it, no way José.  So while trying to be a good wife, I thought to bring together his two favorites and then I would enjoy it too, as there would be non of that yolkiness!

Needless to say, it was a huge success and is wonderful for holidays, brunches or even a light lunch.  The same flavors of a good benedict is there, just MUCH less of the hassle!

 

The Starting Lineup

Quiche

  • 1 9-inch pie crust, store bought is fine
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 6oz Canadian bacon, chopped
  • 1/4 cup scallions, sliced
  • 1/4 tsp each, salt & pepper
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chives or parsely, garnish

Easy Blender Hollandaise Sauce

  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice, fresh
  • 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
  • a few dashes of tabasco sauce (or 1/4 tsp cayenne)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Roll out your pie crust into your pie pan, lightly pressing into the bottom and up the sides, while fluting the edges.
  2. Place parchment paper (or foil) over it while adding pie weights or dried beans and blind bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the parchment and weights and bake for another 10 minutes.  Remove the parbaked pie crust from the oven and allow to cool while you prepare the custard filling.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, heavy cream, salt and pepper.  Stir in the scallions.
  4. Layer the chopped Canadian bacon to the parbaked pie crust and then pour the egg mixture overtop.  Carefully transfer the full custard’y future quiche to the oven and bake at 350 degrees for about 55 minutes.  The center will just barely jiggle.
  5. Remove from oven and allow to “set”.  While the quiche is cooling, you can prepare the quick (and delicious) hollandaise sauce.

Easy Blender Hollandaise Sauce

  1. To your blender: add in the egg yolks, lemon juice, Dijon and hot sauce/cayenne.  Blend till smooth.
  2. Melt your butter in a pan or even the microwave for a quick minute.
  3. While the butter is quite warm, pour as a thin stream into the egg mixture while blending.  The sauce will thicken fairly quick, serve immediately.

Serve the slices of quiche with a heaping tablespoon of your hollandaise sauce overtop and a sprinkle of fresh chives or parsely, enjoy!

Quiche

Campfire Nachos

Back in the day, pre-kiddos, my husband and I actually went out on dates.  Like I real-deal left the house and even wore heels! …memories… That being said, one of our favorite places to go was the Yard House for extra-large beers and appetizers, my fave being their chicken nachos.  Given my current, complete “mom life” and flip flops, I still crave those crunchy, cheesy chips, but it’s not as easy to get.

Sooooo, I made my own version!  All I have to say, is that Yard House has best watch-out, because mine are just as legit.  Ok, the multi-million dollar restaurant is probably safe, they’ll just be losing my $13.95. 😉

*Absolutely buy your favorite tortilla chip, BUT for the best experience, I buy mine from our bakery.  They’re 100% fresh, crunchy, salty and thick.  Yes, normally I’d like thin chips for my salsa, but with heavy piled nachos you do NOT want your chip to break, right??  Eating nachos with utensils defeats the entire purpose, so please listen to me folks! 🙂

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 bag of corn tortilla chips 
  • 2 cups shredded chicken (i.e. rotisserie); you can also use ground beef or brisket
  • 1 can Borracho beans, drained
  • 1 cup enchilada sauce red, green or both (1/2+1/2 cup…which I love to do!)
  • 2+ cups cheese, shredded (fresh melts best, i.e. cheddar or jack)
  • Guacamole, Pico de Gallo, sour cream

Using a cast-iron skillet, Dutch oven or disposable foil pan, layer in 1/2 of the tortilla chips, followed by 1/2 each of the shredded chicken (or beef), beans, enchilada sauce and cheese.  Repeat the same process with another layer.

Warm the prepared nachos, until the cheese is melted and bubbly, either over your campfire, on your grill or in the oven (350 degrees).  Once the nachos are heated through, remove and top with a scoop each of the guacamole, Pico de Gallo and sour cream.  Serve warm.

**If preparing on the campfire or grill, you can loosely cover with foil to speed up the cooking time.

CampfireNachos2.jpeg

CampfireNachos3

Monte Christo Brunch Pinwheels

A ‘Monte Christo’ brings back a lot of yummy memories.  Memories that often stem from the Blue Bayou restaurant inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at the famed, Disneyland!!

A Monte Cristo is a fried ham and cheese sandwich, a variation of the French croque-monsieur. In the 1930s–1960s, American cookbooks had recipes for this sandwich under such names as “French Sandwich”, “Toasted Ham Sandwich”, and “French Toasted Cheese Sandwich”. Swiss cheese is typically used.

Now, since we live in Texas and easily cannot get to one of my favorite haunts, I decided to make them at home for brunch.  Given I said the key word, “brunch”, I thought to make them into a finger food, if you will.  Fun for adults, yet easy for kiddos!  Here you get the same flavors, yet the ease of no frying involved and EVERYONE loves a dunking sauce!!

With the simpleness of preparation and lack of cleanup, I promise these will NOT disappoint!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 (12oz) can refrigerated crescent rolls dough
  • 4 thin slices of deli ham
  • 4 thin slices of deli turkey
  • 8 slices of Swiss cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Raspberry preserves, warmed
  • Powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and spray with nonstick.  Unroll the dough into 4 rectangles (2 triangular halves/slightly spreading out and making dough larger), and pressing together the perforations.

To each rectangle, spread a thin layer of the Dijon, followed by 2 slices of cheese (tear to fit), and 1 slice each of the turkey and ham.  Roll up, length-wise, into log form and using a serrated knife, cut into 4-5 slices.

Place each slice flat, onto the prepared baking sheet and brush the beaten egg over all the pinwheels.

Bake, for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.  Transfer to a serving dish and drizzle with the warmed raspberry preserves, sprinkle the powdered sugar overtop and serve with the remaining preserves for dipping!  Enjoy!

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Michelada Pops

After a fun-filled weekend, we love to wake up with a “hair of the dog” sort of beverage.  Often, those are either a Mimosa or Bloody Mary, the Midwest inspired Red Beer or a south of the border, Michelada.  Now, like many first-world-problems, we sure do not  want our drink getting warm, so how do we keep it cool???…..

A Michelada (Spanish pronunciation: [mitʃeˈlaða]) is a Mexican cerveza preparada made with beer, lime juice, and assorted sauces, spices, and peppers.[1] It is served in a chilled, salt-rimmed glass.[2] There are numerous variations of this beverage throughout Mexico and Latin America.

We simply turn the flavors into a popsicle!  Yep!  Depending on your cocktail of choice, mix all of your non-alcoholic ingredients into your mold and freeze overnight.  Once you awake and need that oh so special beverage, you simply add your frozen delight to your seasoned beer and it keeps it ice cold and never dilutes the flavor, only enhances!

*If popsicle molds are not readily available, feel free to use an ice cube tray and add a few frozen cubes to each glass of lager.

**Another easy variation, is making popsicles/icecubes with freshly squeezed orange juice and adding to a wheat beer (i.e. Hefeweizen)

https://www.wayfair.com/kitchen-tabletop/pdp/fox-run-brands-frozen-ice-pop-maker-fru1290.html

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 1/2 cups Clamato juice
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • A few dashes of hot sauce (i.e. Tabasco)
  • 2 tsp Tajin seasoning spice (a chile-lime-salt blend)
  • 2 tsp horseradish
  • “popsicle molds or ice cube trays)

Serve:

  • 6-8 bottles of light Mexican beer
  • Limes wedges
  • Tajin seasoning
  • Frosted pint glasses

In a large, glass measuring bowl with a spout, whisk all 7 ingredients together until combined (NOT the “serve” ingredients).

Carefully pour into popsicle molds and place in the freezer for 8 hours, or overnight.

To serve, squeeze a lime wedge around the rim of each frosted pint glasses and dip into Tajin seasoning.  Pour the beer 3/4th of the way into each pint and drop the popsicle, stick side up, into each glass.  Serve immediately.

*Again, if popsicle molds aren’t available, feel free to use an ice cube tray and add a few to each glass of lager.  Another variation, is fresh frozen orange juice with a wheat beer (i.e. Hefeweizen)

Michelada2

Honey Garlic Baked Cauliflower

When I get a hankering for some Asian flavors, this is one of my favorite go-to’s!  What I also love about this dish, is the different ways one can prepare it.  There are times that I just like it clean and simple with “naked” roasted cauliflower and a drizzle of sauce.  Other times, I will coat it with a super crunchy panko crust and toss it completely covered in sauce, then top it off with orange zest and sesame seeds.  Lot and lots of options here friends!

So when you may be in a time crunch, midweek, but still want something fun to put on the table for dinner, THIS is great!  It is healthy, sweet, savory, spicy and can be tweaked oh so easily to fit your family’s palate.  I’m sure after trying this recipe, it’ll be a back pocket staple!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into bite size florets
  • 2 cups Panko bread crumbs, plain
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced

Sauce (can be doubled for larger cauliflower heads or to fully coat vs drizzled)

  • 6 Tbsp honey
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 6 Tbsp water + 2 tsp cornstarch (whisked into a slurry)
  • 1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce or Tamari
  • 1/2 Tbsp sriracha or chili-garlic sauce (<–if you like more heat, like myself)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.  Pour the Panko breadcrumbs onto the sheet in a flat layer and spray with a bit of cooking spray.  Bake for about 5 minutes until a golden brown.

Dip the cauliflower into the beaten egg and shake off any excess.  Place, one by one, onto the slightly browned Panko and gently roll and press all of the breadcrumbs onto the cauliflower.

Place back in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until the cauliflower is cooked and exterior is a dark, golden brown.

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While the cauliflower is cooking, you can prepare the sauce.  In a small bowl, combine the water and cornstarch, set aside.  In a small saucepan, combine all of the remaining ingredients and bring to a gentle simmer for a few seconds.  Next, whisk in the cornstarch slurry to the saucepan and keep on a simmer/whisk for a couple minutes, until it starts to thicken.  Remove from the heat and the sauce will thicken even more.

Drizzle (or coat) over your baked cauliflower bites and top with the thinly cut scallions.  Serve over rice and don’t forget those chopsticks!!

*Can be made without the panko for low-carb or gluten free/ GF Panko can be substituted as well.

**A fun addition of orange zest and sesame seeds are always tasty too.  If you really like the orange flavor, add a bit of the zest and squeeze of juice to the sauce.  

BakedHoneyCauli

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