Thursday, May 7, 2020

Bacon-Cheddar Hasselback Potatoes

I don't know why I never tried to make these potatoes before, since I've seen the recipe all over the internet for years. I think it looked challenging, but it is actually very easy and fast!

Yield:   4 servings


4 large russet potatoes
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
8 slices cooked bacon, cut or broken into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Optional toppings: sour cream, chopped chives or green onions


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Make cuts in each potato, about 1/8 inch apart, stopping just before cutting through to the the bottom. Place on a greased baking sheet and drizzle with butter, then season with salt and pepper. Place baking sheet in oven and bake until the outsides are beginning to crisp, about 45 minutes.

Remove potatoes from oven and place bacon pieces evenly throughout the cuts in the potatoes. Drizzle with more butter and sprinkle each potato with the cheddar cheese. Place back in the oven and bake an additional 10 minutes or so, until cheese is melted and bacon pieces are crisp.

Once the potatoes are ready, top with any desired toppings and serve! Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Crispy Mongolian Beef

Serves 2 to 4

Vegetable oil (for frying)
2 teaspoons ginger, minced
2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup water
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 lbs flank steak
1 cup cornstarch (divided,1/2 cup for sauce, 1/2 cup for beef)
6 green onions, sliced on the bias in approx. 1 inch pieces
2 cups sliced mushrooms (if desired)
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds (if desired)

3 cups white rice (if desired)

Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add green onions, ginger and garlic to the pan and fry until softened. Add soy sauce and water, then add brown sugar and cornstarch and stir until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and let stand.

If you would like to add mushrooms to the dish, cook those separately and set aside.

Slice the flank steak against the grain into thin, bite sized slices. Dab with a paper towel to remove excess moisture, then dip each piece of meat into cornstarch on both sides. Let the beef stand for about 10 or 15 minutes, to allow the cornstarch to adhere.

Heat about 1 cup of oil in a skillet or wok on medium heat. Add beef to the oil in batches, frying until just crisp and removing to let drain on paper towels.

Once all the beef is fried, pour any remaining oil out of the pan. Add the beef, sauce and mushrooms (if using) and warm on low heat until meat and veggies are covered in sauce and hot.  Remove and garnish with sesame seeds if desired, then serve.  This is most frequently served over white rice. Enjoy!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Loaded Irish Potato Pancakes (Boxty)

Boxty are traditional Irish pancakes, different than American style potato pancakes in that they are made from half hash browns, half mashed potato. I prefer them to traditional potato pancakes; something about the mixture helps make them a bit less greasy.

The Irish saying goes, "Boxty in the griddle, boxty in the pan, if you can't make boxty, you'll never get a man!"  Sexism and cooking; a great combination!  Happy St Paddy's Day!

Yield: 4-6 servings

3 cups grated raw potatoes or frozen shredded hash browns
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups mashed potatoes
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
Vegetable or olive oil, for frying

Prepare mashed potatoes using standard methods and set aside to cool (can be made the night before, or used from leftovers).  Toss the grated potatoes with flour in a bowl.  Stir in the mashed potatoes.  In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and milk, then add to the potato mixture.   Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil on a griddle or pan, then drop the potato mixture in large tablespoons onto the hot surface, pressing down slightly to form patties.  Fry on both sides until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes per side.  Drain on paper towels and serve while warm.

Note: I turned these into "loaded boxty" pancakes; with sour cream, crumbled bacon, cheddar cheese and green onions. There are a lot of variations on boxty, so if you're in the mood to experiment, search online for more ideas.  In Ireland, these are traditionally served with breakfast or dinner, so there are a ton of ways to serve this recipe.  Enjoy!

Very Berry Muffins

A super easy muffin recipe!   Use fresh berries in the summer, frozen berries in the winter. For this recipe, I used a combination of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, but you could substitute other berries such as blackberry, boysenberry, etc.  These smell great while in the oven and taste even better while still warm!

Yield:  approx 15 small muffins

1 cup brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 cup cream cheese
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup diced strawberries, fresh or frozen
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a muffin pan with non-stick spray.  Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.  Add butter chunks and cut into the dry mix with a pastry blender - or, if you're lazy (I like to call it efficient), use an electric mixer to mix until the butter is incorporated into pea sized bits.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla extract.  Pour over the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  The batter will be lumpy.  Fold in the berries and fill a muffin tin or cupcake wrappers about 3/4 full.

Bake for 20-25 minutes longer or until muffins are firm and a clean knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Curried Cauliflower and Potato Soup

The depth of flavor in this soup is amazing, considering how few ingredients are in it, and that it's completely vegan - there is no cheese, no butter, no cream, none of the things that I associate with a really creamy and delicious soup. I almost added some cream at the end, just out of habit, but decided to follow the recipe I had, and it turned out perfectly without it!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced

2 carrots, ends removed, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 large baking potato, cubed
4 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 cup coconut milk
Salt and pepper, to taste 

Garnish:  Fresh cilantro, if desired

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook onions, celery, garlic, and carrots until soft and slightly browned, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, then add the cauliflower and potato, vegetable broth, and seasonings.  Simmer until cauliflower and potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.  Stir in the coconut milk and season to taste.

I served this chunky, but for a creamier soup, you could puree the mixture with a food processor or immersion blender.

Garnish with parsley or cilantro and serve, maybe with some crusty bread on the side.  Enjoy!

Note:  You could also make this soup with a brightly colored seasonal cauliflower - a green or yellow cauliflower would pair great with the yellow shade the turmeric adds to the broth.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Meatless Meatballs


I stumbled upon this recipe while trying to make a meal that was both hearty and delicious for a vegetarian friend.  This turned out really nice and the texture is surprisingly similar to a meaty meatball.

One caveat - I tried making the veggie meatballs even healthier by omitting the frying and that version wasn't nearly as tasty, or as textured, as the fried version.  Oil, you win again!  Bake for health or fry for flavor! 

Yield:  about 20 appetizer sized meatballs 

Olive oil, for frying 
4 cloves garlic, minced 
1 medium white onion, finely chopped 
1 pound mushrooms, finely chopped
1 large zucchini, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 
1 cup panko crumbs
1/4 cup flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped 
2 large eggs
Salt and pepper, to taste

Coat large pan with olive oil and heat to medium-high. Add garlic and onions to hot oil and cook for about 2 minutes.  Add mushrooms, jalapeno, and zucchini.  Cook until softened, then transfer to a mixing bowl.

Add cheeses, panko crumbs, and herbs to the vegetable mixture and mix until well combined.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add the eggs and stir until the mixture comes together.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.

Once the mixture has chilled, form into firm meatballs with your hands or a scoop.  Add more olive oil to a pan, bring to medium-high heat, and fry the meatballs for about 10 minutes, until crispy and golden brown.  For a healthier version, bake the meatballs in 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until brown.

Serve with pasta and marinara sauce as an entree, or try adding a little extra cheese to the top and serving as an appetizer with some marinara on the side.  Enjoy! 

Note:  for a vegan version, simply omit the cheese and substitute an egg replacer so the meatballs hold together

Monday, December 1, 2014

Honey Bourbon Hot Toddy

A hot toddy is the kind of enticing thing you read about in books when you're a kid, like baked alaska, or Turkish delight - it sounds so amazing that the name sticks with you, even though you may have no clue what's in it or how it might taste.

I have heard from friends that grew up in cold places that this is often served after winter sports, like ice fishing and skiiing.  I grew up in California, so I never had this until recently, when I had a bottle of bourbon on hand and the wind was whistling outside.

It's the perfect drink for a cold night in front of the fireplace, snuggled up to someone special... or with a good book!

Yield:  2 cocktails

6 tablespoons honey
2 cups hot water
3/4 cup bourbon (I used Maker's Mark)
2 lemon peels
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise cloves 

Heat the water on the stove, in a teapot, or in the microwave. Mix in the honey until it dissolves. Add the bourbon and divide between two rocks glasses.

Add a strip of prepared lemon peel and the star anise to each cocktail. Stir the drinks with the cinnamon sticks, drop in, and serve. Cheers!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pumpkin Spiced Scones

Scones are surprisingly easy to make!  They taste best eaten within a day or so and while warm.  Happy holidays!

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 cup buttermilk, divided (reserve ¼ cup)
1 large egg

3 teaspoons vanilla extract 

Spiced Pumpkin Glaze: 
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons canned pumpkin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons milk (add more if needed for a pourable consistency)

The first step is to combine the dry ingredients.  The idea is to blend the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.  The old school way to do this is to cut in the butter with your fingers or a pastry blender.  You can save a little time and carpal tunnel by doing this in a blender or food processor - I have replicated this technique in my blender many times and there is no discernable difference in taste or texture in the final product.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, pumpkin and milk. Stir in the crumbly flour/butter mixture until just moistened; do not overmix.  On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until it comes together. Use your hands to form the dough into a large round shape, making it smooth and even, about 1 inch high.  Using a large knife or a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 8 triangle pieces.

You can bake the scones right away if you're in desperate need of carbs, however the best thing to do is chill them first!  The scones have a large proportion of butter to flour, and if baked while at room temperature, the butter will melt and seep out, which will make the scones overly dense and dry.  Freeze or refrigerate the scones until they are cold, and you'll end up with a much tastier scone!  The scones can also be frozen indefinitely and baked at a later date.

When ready to bake the scones, preheat the oven to 400.  Place the scones 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Brush reserved buttermilk over the top of each scone.  Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

To decorate the scones, if you want to be fancy, you can make a simple powdered sugar glaze (1 cup of powdered sugar and several tablespoons of milk or water) and coat the top of each scone with that before drizzling with the spiced glaze.  That will create a dual toned icing (see top picture).  Or you can simply combine the spiced glaze ingredients as listed above and drizzle over the scones.  Either way they will be delicious!  Enjoy!

Note: if you have pumpkin pie spice on hand, you can substitute the other spices in the recipe with that. Season to taste or use about the same total quantity.