Potato Salad with Bacon and Parsley

We’re big fans of the potato, and throw in some bacon?  SOLD.

This recipe is from Real Simple, June 2009.

Substitution made, noted below.

potato salad 1

Potato Salad with Bacon and Parsley

1 1/2 lbs new potatoes – I used red potatoes
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 slices bacon
3 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tblsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 c fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped – I used about 1/4 c dried

Place the potatoes in a pot with water to cover and 1 tsp salt and simmer until tender, 15 to 18 minutes.  Drain and run under cold water to cool.  Cut into quarters – Because I used red potatoes, I cut them into 1 inch (ish) squares before cooking.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon over med-high heat until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes.  Transfer to paper towels.  Crumble when cool.

In a large bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar, mustard, 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Toss with the potatoes, bacon and parsley.

potato salad 2

cartoon-strawberry-9I served this side dish with some BBQ pork roast and broccoli.   A great alternative to the heavy mayo based potato salad.

Barbecue-Flavored Onion Rings

There were a few greasy spoons in CA that made the best onion rings.  Not something I’d order all the time, but every once in awhile, a greasy cheese burger with onion rings is the perfect meal.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, April 2008.

No substitutions were made.

BBQ onion rings 1

Barbecue-Flavored Onion Rings

3 tblsp all-purpose flour
1 tblsp sugar
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp allspice
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 lb Vidalia or other sweet onion, cut into (1/4-inch thick) slices, and separated into rings
1 1/2 c dry bread crumbs, divided
Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

BBQ onion rings 2

Combine flour, sugar, chili powder, cumin, salt, paprika, allspice and eggs in a large bowl.  (A) Dip onion rings in flour mixture. Place half of onion rings in a zip-top plastic bag; add 3/4 c bread crumbs, shaking bag to coat onion rings.  Repeat procedure with remaining onion rings and remaining 3/4 c breadcrumbs.

(B) Arrange onion rings in a single layer on 2 baking sheets coated with cooking spray.  Lightly coat onion rings with cooking spray.  Bake at 450 for 5 minutes.  Rotate pans on racks; bake 5 minutes.  Turn onion rings over; lightly coat with cooking spray and back 5 minutes.  Rotate pans and bake 5 minutes or until crisp.  Serve immediately.

BBQ onion rings 3

cartoon-strawberry-9These are a less greasy, more flavorful version of one of my favorite guilty pleasures.  They paired perfectly with turkey cheese burgers.  My only wish is that I had a mandolin slicer to make perfectly sliced rings.

Arroz Rojos

So my lesson in life – If you’re not sure how long a new recipe will take, then don’t take on another new recipe at the same time.  I started dinner late and wasn’t sure how the timing of everything would go, so I asked husband to step in and help, which he did.  What a great guy.

This recipe is from Step-by-Step Italian, Mexican & Chinese Recipes.

Substitutions made, noted below.

arroz rojos 1

Arroz Rojos

2 tblsp vegetable oil
1 c raw lon-grain white rice
1/2 c finely chopped white onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
dash chili powder
2 large tomatoes – peeled, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 c chicken broth
1/3 c shelled peas
2 tblsp chopped pimiento – I used corn

Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat until hot.  Add rice.  Cook and stir 2 minutes or until rice turns opaque.

Add onion; cook and stir 1 minute.  Stir in garlic, salt, cumin and chili powder.  Add tomatoes; cook and stir 2 minutes.

arroz rojos 2

Stir in broth.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer 15 minutes or until rice is almost tender.

Stir in peas and chopped pimiento.  Cover and cook 2 to 4 minutes until rice is tender and all liquid has been absorbed.  Rice grains will be slightly firm and separate, rather than soft and sticky.

arroz rojos 3

cartoon-strawberry-9Red rice.  It looks a little “sticker” than the picture in the cookbook, but it was a great compliment to the Creamy Almond Chicken.  In the future I’d add a little bit of tomato paste to bring out the red color and a splash or two of hot sauce to give it some heat.

Julie & Julia

Julie.n.JuliaOne of the girls I’ve been mentoring over the last couple of years asked if we could do a Julie & Julia night.  She wanted to learn how to cook something and then watch the movie, what better night could there be?

Our menu for the evening was:

Butternut Squash Risotto – recipe from Cooking Light, October 2011

Baked BBQ Chicken

Steamed Broccoli Rabe

Lemon Cake Pie (This one will get its own post…)

So it was up to me and these three girls to get a yummy dinner on the table.

JnJ night 1

Butternut Squash Risotto

3 c cubed peeled butternut squash, divided
3 1/2 c fat-free, low sodium chicken broth
2 c uncooked Arborio rice
2 tblsp chopped flat-leaf parsely (I skipped this)
5 oz applewood-smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled

Combine 2 cups squash and 2 1/2 cups water in a saucepan; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes.  Remove pan from heat; let stand for 5 minutes.  Place mixture in a food processor.  Process until smooth.  We used my immersion blender.

Return mixture to pan.  Stir in broth; bring to a simmer.  Remove and set aside 1/4 cup squash mixture.  Keep pan warm over low heat.

Heat a large Dutch oven over med-high heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add rice; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Stir in remaining 1 cup squash, 2 1/2 cup squash mixture and 1/8 tsp salt.  Cook 2 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.

Add remaining squash mixture, 1 cup at a time, stirring until each cup is absorbed before adding the next cup (about 20 minutes).  Removed from heat, stir in reserved 1/4 c squash mixture.  Top with parsley and bacon when serving.

cartoon-strawberry-9This risotto was GOOD.  We didn’t coat the pan enough at the beginning and a little of the rice stuck to the bottom, but not much.  This was a great side dish for chicken, and would be just as good for beef or pork.

For the chicken, we lightly salted both sides with some seasoned salt, covered with BBQ sauce and baked in a 400 degree oven for about a half an hour.

We steamed the broccoli in a steamer for 15 minutes.

JnJ night 2

JnJ night 3

We cooked and laughed and ate.  A good time was had by all.  And then there was the Lemon Cake Pie…

P.S. – This is what happened when I wanted to get a shot of the girls cooking…

JnJ night 4

Four Cheese Scalloped Potatoes

I signed up to bring potatoes to an early Thanksgiving dinner, and wanted to try these out.

This recipe is from Food Network Magazine, April 2011.

I altered the recipe slightly, noted below.

Four Cheese Scalloped Potatoes

1 1/2 tblsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for brushing
1/2 clove garlic
1/3 c shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 c shredded asiago cheese
1/3 c shredded raclette or comte cheese – I used my favorite parm/asiago blend from Trader Joes
2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
2 c heavy cream
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
4 fresh bay leaves – I used dried
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.  Generously brush a large skillet with butter, then rub with the garlic.  Combine the mozzarella, asiago and raclette in a bowl.

Heat the skillet over med-high heat.  Add half of the potatoes, spreading them out.  Sprinkle with 3/4 tsp salt, half of the cut-up butter, half of the shredded cheese blend and pepper to taste.  Arrange the remaining potatoes on top.  Sprinkle with 3/4 tsp salt and pepper to taste.  Pour the cream over the potatoes, then add the nutmeg and bay leaves; simmer 3 minutes.  Dot the potatoes with the remaining butter.

Generously brush a shallow baking dish with butter; slide the potatoes into the dish; arrange with a fork if desired. (If your skillet is ovenproof, you can skip this step and bake the potatoes in the skillet.)
*Sliding the potatoes from the skillet to the baking dish wasn’t easy. I would use a spoon or spatula to transfer next time.

Sprinkle the potatoes with the parmesan and the remaining shredded cheese blend.  Bake until golden, about 25 minutes.  Let rest 5 minutes before serving.  Discard the bay leaves.

These were some serious scalloped potatoes.  Heavy cream, full fat cheese, butter – makes me drool thinking about it.  Everybody loved them and I came home with an empty pan.

Stuffed Cornbread Pan

Every once in a while, husband and I will go to the mall to walk around and window shop.  A trip to the mall always includes a stop in Williams-Sonoma, just to see what new and amazing things they have (that we usually can’t afford..).  One such trip, we found a ‘Stuffed Cornbread Pan’ on sale and couldn’t pass it up.

The included recipe was for cornbread stuffed with cheese, but I was thinking bigger.  Cornbread stuffed with smoked sausage.  Brownies stuffed with snickers or cookie dough.  Chocolate chip cookies stuffed with caramels or marshmallows.  The possibilities are endless!

I used the pan for the first time the other night.  Cornbread stuffed with smoked sausage, it was so good!  The cornbread recipe was great and could be made and baked in a 9″ square pan.  Here is the original recipe:

Buttermilk Corn Bread Squares w/ Pepper Jack Cheese

12 cubes pepper jack cheese, each 3/4 inch
2 c yellow cornmeal, preferably stone ground
1 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 c sugar
4 tsp backing powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 c buttermilk, at room temperature
2 eggs, well beaten, at room temperature
8 tblsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease the wells of the Stuffed Cornbread Pan

Place a cube of cheese on the spike of each well so that the top of the cheese is flush with the top of the spike.

In a large bowl, thoroughly stir together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, stir together the buttermilk, eggs and butter until just combined.  Stir the buttermilk mixture into the cornmeal mixture until just combined.  Divide the batter evenly among the wells.

Bake until the edges of the corn bread are just turning golden and a toothpick inserted just outside the center of the cornbread come out clean, about 15 minutes.  Let the cornbread stand in the pan for 2 to 3 minutes.  Using a small offset spatula, gently life the cornbread out of the pan.  Serve warm.  Makes 12 cornbread squares.

Just a side note: we did get this pan on sale and I was unable to find it on the Williams-Sonoma website.  I’m thinking its discontinued. 😦