vegetables

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

 

Mediterranean Chicken Rollatini

Believe it or not, chicken rollatini is an easy weeknight dinner that gives you a restaurant feel.  With school starting up again soon, I have been playing around with recipes that can be made with ease once those long summer days go away.

Another reason this is a keeper in our household, my entire family loves it, including the lil boys!  I’m not kidding, my 6 year old cleaned his plate and asked if we had anymore the next day for lunch!  As a mom, I feel good about that because it’s packed full of vegetables and baked.  Now, if you’re trying an even healthier route, the mozzarella cheese can be omitted…but why would you want to do that?!

*Easy way to roll up your chicken rollatini’s: Pour the slightly cooled veggie mixture into the casserole dish. One by one, take a thin chicken cutlet right onto the mix and with your hands, place a few tablespoons into the center, roll up and place seam side down on the dish. Repeat. *The filling you laid down first will help the rollatini hold together as you finish the rest of them. If you cannot fit all the filling in the amount of chicken you have, that is ok. It can linger on the sides in the dish and you can spoon over top when serving.  Plus the oil and butter the veggies were sautéed in will fully coat the chicken allowing it to brown and stay moist.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1-1/2lbs thinly sliced chicken cutlets (contains about 6 cutlets)
  • 6oz bag of baby spinach
  • 12oz jar roasted red peppers (drained, it is 6.7 oz)
  • 8oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1-2 Tbsp capers
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 8oz fresh mozzarella (i.e. BelGioiosa brand), optional

Garnish/Serving

  • Balsamic Reduction Glaze
  • Parmesan Risotto
  • Parsley/Tomatoes 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a oven-safe casserole dish with nonstick spray.

In a large skillet, warm the olive oil and butter over medium heat.  Add in the spinach, drained roasted red peppers, mushrooms, garlic and shallots.  Sauté for 5-7 minutes until the spinach and mushrooms have wilted.  Pour in the white wine and capers and let simmer for 3-4 minutes (salt and pepper, to taste).  Remove from burner and allow to slightly cool.

Fill and roll up your chicken rollatinis, placing seam side down, in your prepared casserole dish.  Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes.  During the last 5 minutes of cooking, carefully remove the hot dish from the oven, lay the sliced mozzarella over top and return to oven until melted and ooey-gooey!

I like to serve ours sliced (so you can see the goodness inside each rollatini), over creamy, parmesan risotto drizzled with a sweet balsamic reduction and fresh chopped parsley and tomatoes.

 

 

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

Spicy Crab Cake BLT’s

We’ve all heard me ramble on about my love affair with the simple BLT sandwich and it’s no secret that my cuisine of choice is Mexican.  What one may not know is that when I enter any restaurant, I go straight to their seafood options!

So when I saw our local grocer had lump crabmeat on sale, it was on!!!  The sweetness of crab goes wonderfully with a bit of Mexican inspired heat, and please tweak the spiciness level to your liking.  Just remember, don’t go too overboard since the crab is the star of this sandwich!

Oh yeah…and bacon. xoxo

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb lump crabmeat, pick over to remove any broken shell
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 finely minced jalapeno, seeded (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • a couple dashes of Mexican hot sauce
  • Pinch of salt 

Breading

  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil

Assemble

  • Thick slices Texas toast or bakery rolls, lightly toasted
  • Bacon, cooked crisp
  • Beefsteak tomatoes, sliced
  • Romaine or iceberg lettuce
  • Spicy mayo (whisk together 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup sour cream, 2 minced chipotles from can of ‘chipotles in adobo’ and juice of 1 lime)

 

Crab Cakes:  In a large bowl, mix together the crab meat, mayonnaise, beaten egg, Panko, scallions, jalapeno (optional), lime juice, cilantro, hot sauce and salt.

Breading:  Gently form the mixture into about 8 (1/2-3/4th inch) patties and then fully coat in the Panko/cumin bread crumbs.  Set on a platter and refrigerate for 25-30 minutes to firm up.

Fry:  In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil to medium-high.  Fry 2-3 crab cakes at a time until a golden brown crust appears on each side.  About 3-4 minutes per side.

To Serve:  For each sandwich, smear a tablespoon of the chipotle mayo on each slice of the lightly toasted bread or a split roll.  Next layer on the lettuce, tomato slices, spicy crab cake(s) and crisp bacon.  Top with remaining dressed bread slice and serve!  Enjoy!

SpicyCBLT

 

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.  

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