Potato Cakes

I have to admit, I had never cooked potato cakes before. Last fall, I ran across a recipe for them which included corn and scallions plus sour cream topping. I thought it looked good. I quickly learned potato cakes can be more difficult to form than a crab cake. But if you use your spatula, you push it together once everything gets hot. I think the real success of this recipe is the sauce. I just put a light shrimorror on top and it was perfect.

Potato CakesLoaded Cheddar-Corn Potato Patties by Darlene Brenden
1 c. (8 oz.) sour cream
2 T. plus 1/3 c.  sliced green onions (scallions)
2 c. mashed potato flakes
1/3 c. cornmeal
1-3/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
2 c. milk
1 package (10 oz.) frozen corn, thawed
1 c. (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

In a small bowl, mix sour cream and 2 T.  scallion and refridgerate. In a large bowl, mix the potato flakes, cornmeal, garlic salt and paprika. Add the milk, corn, cheese and remaining green onions; mix until blended. Shape into patties. Heat a large nonstick pan on medium and coat with cooking spray. Cook patties in batches for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Serve with sauce.

Notes:

  • I halved the recipe and I still got about 20 corn cakes.
  • Since you aren’t cooking the sour cream, this is a situtation where you can use fat free sour cream.
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Kitchen Gadgets I Use All the Time

Here are just a few of my must haves in the kitchen:

  • Quality knives – My mother game me a set of Paula Deen knives. They cut great. The only down side is they can’t stay wet so they have to be washed by hand and dried immediately after use.
  • Good set of pots – I have Rachael Ray’s oval pans. One is like a sauté pan and the other is designed to cook pasta without having to break it in half. I use the sauté pan all the time. The best part is the pans are dishwasher safe.
  • AerolatteAerolatte – I use this little device to create milk froth for my lattes. LOVE IT! Super easy to use and paid for itself in the cost of about four coffee beverages made at home.
  • Slider measuring spoons – they work great for recipes with multiple ingredients. The Pamper Chef ones are my favorite.
  • Mini-whisk – This really does make a difference when you are scrambling an egg. I brought mine at Crate and Barrel.
  • Food processor – My mother bought me this big one. It’s a total blessing because I always have enough room to process anything (stewed tomatoes, Oreo cookies, or nuts).
  • Bubble & Brown dish – My mother gave me for Valentine’s Day last year a Bubble and Brown dish from Rachael Ray. It works great for cooking meat, dessert, or side dishes. I also cleans up very easily and is dishwasher safe.
  • Nesting bowls – These are great for recipes that need more than one bowl. They also take up less space in the cupboard because they were designed to fit inside each other. I would also recommend picking a set with rubber on the bottom so they don’t move all over the place while stirring.
  • ThatabowlThat-a-bowl – Every once in a while you get a huge recipe that really can’t be stirred in a normal bowl. This genius invention by Tupperware is also great for storage of food.

Mini Ham & Cheese Frittatas

What exactly is a frittata? I always thought it was like an omelet. When I went to cook this recipe I noticed the amount of milk compared to eggs seemed off for a traditional omelet or scrambled egg recipe. I Googled it and found that the definition of frittata is “an Italian egg dish made with fried beaten eggs, resembling a Spanish omelet.”

I ran across this recipe while I was home for Christmas. If you think I have a lot of recipes, you should see my mother’s house. One of the lessons I learned over the years was to get rid of recipes you will never make. This often means tearing recipes out of cookbooks and putting them in three ring binders. I also throw away recipes that I made and don’t love enough that I think I want to make them again. My mother refuses to do this so she has LOTS of recipe books. Two of her most recent purchases include Taste of Home and Simple & Delicious cookbooks. They were very colorful and filled with lots of great recipes. This is one I made while I was home for the holidays.

Ham & CheeseMini Ham & Cheese Frittatas by Simple & Delicious
1/4 pound fully cooked cubed ham
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
6 eggs
4 egg whites
3 T. minced chives
2 T. milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Spray eight muffin cups of a muffin pan. Put in ham and top with cheese. Beat together all remaining ingredients. Pour over ham and cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 22-25 minutes.

Notes:

  • I felt like the eggs would have been better if I had used more milk.
  • I used Egg Beaters Whites for the egg whites. Way easier and healthier for you.
  • Be sure to spray the entire cup good with cooking spray or use silicon muffin cups. My recipe stuck a little more than I would have liked it to.

Overnight Caramel French Toast

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of my blog. I had the best of intentions to post but got caught up watching the Oprah interview with Lance Armstrong. As a celebration of one year sharing my favorites and testing new recipes, I thought I would share one of the best new recipes I’ve made in 2013.

I hope you enjoy this recipe from “Favorite Recipes – MS Forward.” I got this cookbook from my aunt Linda. Two of her daughters (Jenny and Jeanna) battle MS every day. Jeanna was one of the people who helped put this fundraising cookbook together. You know what I say, the best recipes come from cookbooks like this because people only share their best recipes. Hope you make this for your family on this long holiday weekend.

Caramel French ToastOvernight Caramel French Toast by Carol Hendrix
2 T. light corn syrup
1/2 c. butter (1 stick)
1 c. brown sugar
12 slices of bread
6 eggs
1 1/2 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt

In a saucepan, combine corn syrup, butter, and brown sugar. Simmer til syrupy. Pour mixture into the bottom of a 13 x 9 sprayed glass baking dish. Layer with six slices of bread. Stack second layer of bread on top. In a bowl, beat together eggs, milk, vanilla, and salt. Pour over bread. Cover pan and refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven for 350 degrees. Uncover pan and bake for 45 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

Notes: This reheats well and doesn’t leave a messy pan.

Homemade Tortilla Chips

My grandparents are both diabetic. As they are getting older, they tend to eat out for every meal they actually eat. That means less paying attention to ingredients and skipping meals. While home for the holidays, I decided to do a little baking for them. To be quite honest, I bit off more than I could chew. I had dozens of recipes I thought I could make in a day – soups, casseroles, entrees, and desserts using veggies. In about 10 hours time, I made 13 entrees, 4 side dishes, and 3 snacks.

My Grandpa loves salsa so I decided to make him fresh salsa with some homemade tortilla chips. My thought process was to pick a low-fat, high fiber, and whole grain tortilla I could bake. I cooked these up and my Grandpa loved them. I hope you like them too.

Homemade Tortilla Chips Homemade Tortilla Chips by Simple & Delicious
Six – 10 inch flour tortillas
3 T. melted butter (I used unsalted butter)
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. pepper

Brush mixture on both sides of tortillas. Use cookie cutter to cut into shapes. Bake at 400 degrees for 7-9 minutes. Chips will crisp a little bit when they cool.

Notes:

  • I used scissors to cut into triangle shapes (a pizza cutter would also work). I only coated one side and I thought it was still good.
  • I used Wildtree Fiesta Salsa Mix for the salsa. Wildtree is certified organic – meaning you can read all the names of the ingredients on the side of the bottle and know what they are. 1/4 c. of the mix combined with a can of low sodium diced tomatoes in a food processor makes a great salsa. Just refrigerate for two hours before serving. One of the dried ingredients though is peppers so if you want a milder salsa don’t use as much mix.

Carli’s Chili

A few months ago, we did a soup fundraiser at our Komen office for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. My boss made this yummy chili recipe. I think the trick to the success of this recipe is beer, coffee, and brown sugar.

Komen staffChili by Carli Good
2 T. vegetable oil
2 onion, chopped
3 cloved garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
3/4 pound beef sirloin cubed
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can of dark beer
1 c. strong brewed coffee
2 cans (6 oz.) tomato paste
1 can beef broth
1/2 c. brown sugar
3 1/2 T. chili powder
1 T. cumin seeds
1 T. unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. salt
4 cans kidney beans
4 fresh hot chili peppers, seeded and chopped

Heat oil in a large sauce pan. Cook onion, garlic, ground beef and cubed sirloin in oil for 10 minutes. Mix in diced tomatoes with juice, beer, coffee, tomato paste, broth. Add seasonings, 2 cans of beans, and hot chile peppers. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Stir in 2 remaining cans of beans and simmer for another 30 minutes. (Copyright Allrecipes.com)

Notes: When I made it for myself, I replaced beef sirloin with ground beef. I added water in place of beer. I didn’t have any peppers so I omited them. I also used three cans of beans. I thought it still tasted good.

My Favs

Kansas City is a great food city. Lots of amazing local restaurants as well as about every possible restaurant chain. Kansas City Restaurant Week is January 18-27, 2013. Not only do over 100 restaurants participate but a portion of their special menus benefits Harvester’s, the greater Kansas City area community food network.

In case you have been hiding under a rock or aren’t from the Kansas City area, Harvester really is an amazing nonprofit meeting the food insecurities of our community. Each week, they provide emergency food assistance for approximately 66,000 people in our community. WOW! I had an opportunity about a year ago to fulfill one of my nonprofit volunteer bucket list dreams – to volunteer in their warehouse. I have to tell you, not only do they run a well oiled machine but they have this down to a science. I helped fill food supplements boxes for senior adults. Positioning the food in the exact right spot of the box is key to proper weight distribution. Boxes include things like Orange Juice, Tomato Juice, rice, and cereal.

But probably my favorite program Harvester’s offer is the Backsnack Program. This program provides food on the weekends and in the summer for kids who otherwise wouldn’t have anything to eat. I think we sometimes forget that children are some of the youngest victims of hunger. They often rely on school breakfast and lunch programs to function. I remember carrying fruit snacks and granola bars in my backpack as an AmeriCorps member, mentoring and tutoring children in the public schools. My kids often couldn’t function in school because they were so hungry. Imagine how difficult it would be to learn the foundation of your education like your ABCs, site words, and memorize match facts if you were starving because you hadn’t eaten in almost 24 hours?

You can help make a difference in the lives of these children and enjoy some incredible food during this year’s restaurant week. Although not all of these restaurants are in Kansas City or participants in restaurant week, I thought I would share a few of my favorites. Please post comment below about your favorite places to eat and why. Or come back and tell me about how you helped support hungry people in your community through Restaurant Week, volunteering, or making a donation (food or monetary) to your local food bank.

Homecooking – The Granary (Norfolk, NE) – Harvester Fried Chicken is my favorite. It’s served with cottage fries, a dinner roll, and a side salad for about $6. That’s not too much more expensive than when I went to eat their at age 8. I also love Wheatfields in Omaha, NE for their amazing selection of bakery items. 

Mac & CheeseThe Bristol (Leawood, KS&Kansas City, MO) – The Lobster Mac & Cheese is hands down the best mac & cheese recipe I have ever eaten. But I also love just about everything else on the menu including their never fried crab cakes.

Pizza – This is a hard one for me. I love Godfather’s and Waldo Pizza but my favorite pizza place is probably Minsky’s. The best location is in Independence, MO. They have these Mexican Pizza Rolls and Cheese Breadsticks that are only made this way at the Independence location.

Steak – The plain best steak I ever had was at a place called Cattleman’s Steakhouse in Oklahoma City, OK. It was also a great deal. I think it cost like $18.95 for a filet, baked potato, dinner roll, and salad. But I also Pierpoint’s and J. Gilberts steak.

Seafood – I love The Bristol but you can’t go wrong with the Bang Bang Shrimp at Bonefish Grill (Kansas City (north), MO & Overland Park, KS).

Photo from Megabites 417 WordPress Blog

Photo from Megabites 417 WordPress Blog

Best friesBlanc Burgers & Bottles (Leawood, KS and Kansas City, MO) They have these AMAZING Gouda Cheese Fries which have the best bacon I have ever eaten on them. I actually asked my server where they bought their bacon the last time I ate there. It turns out they buy it in blocks and cut it to their liking.

Best cheeseNick & Jake’s (Parkville, MO and Overland Park, KS). Every sandwich I have ever had at this restaurant had amazing cheese. Even my mother agreed it was incredible.

Best burger – I had the most amazing burger at Westside Local (Kansas City, MO). It wasn’t even on the menu so you might have to ask for it. Quality meat coated in Swiss cheese, arugula, and aioli on a pretzel bun.

My favorite BBQ – This one is controversial living in a barbecue Mecca. My favorite is Fiorella Jack Stack’s Barbecue (Martin City, MO, Kansas City, MO & Overland Park, KS). I love their burnt ends and cheesy corn are AMAZING! Plus, I really like being able to sit down in a nice restaurant to order my BBQ. Hickory Park in Ames, IA is also incredible. Be sure to save room for dessert if you go there though. They have a whole ice cream menu.

Ice cream – I love Sylas and Maddy’s (Olathe, KS). My favorite is the Da Bomb – chocolate flakes and oreo. Yummy! Murray’s located in Westport (Kansas City, MO) also has wonderful homemade ice cream. They just don’t have as many choices and aren’t open year round. I also love Goodrich in Lincoln, NE (as well as various locations across the state) for malts and shakes.

Italian food – Copa Room – Located in a strip mall by Hen House in Lenexa, KS you would never guess how good the food is without going in and trying this restaurant for yourself. I love that they also have smaller portion options at dinner. You don’t leave feeling like you can’t move.

Non-authentic Mexican food – El Matador Cantina in Columbus, NE is one of my favorite places to eat when visiting my sister. They have a salsa bar with this really good thousand island looking salsa for $1.99 and pitchers of margaritas for $5.99.

To-go lunchValentino’s To-Go (Lincoln, NE and several other locations across the Midwest) I used to live on this when I was in AmeriCorps. It was super close to my office so it was my Friday lunch. They have the best lasagna ever. You can pair any number of combinations: pizza, pasta, garlic breadsticks, dessert breadsticks, and/or salad. Back in my college days, I think combinations ranged from $2-$6. And the pasta dished filled me up on the nights I had to work at Super 8 until 11PM.

Best serviceLazlo’s (Lincoln, NE). The food is great but the service is even better. I used to work for the owners of this restaurant back in their days of owning Jabrisco’s, an creative Italian restaurant. The original location is tucked in the charming Haymarket District is just blocks from the University of Nebraska. Even though I haven’t been to this restaurant with my friends since college, I can still tell you everyone’s favorites (Rob – French Dip with cheese and onions – a side of honey mustard and ranch for dipping his fries. Dan always ordered a burger and Empyrean Ale – Amber Ale. Ben loved the Beer Cheese soup.) What makes their service so great is that everyone has to have two years of service experience before they can be a server. As a host, I remember the training we went through to make us consistent at our service. And you may not be 100% sure who your server is in a restaurant where anyone takes care of a guests need before you even have to ask.

Panko Salmon

I was having dinner with my friend Kelly over Christmas break. I was telling her how I was going to be cooking a bunch of meals for my grandparents while I was home. The goal is to make it like Social Supper for them – prep, freeze, thaw, and cook. I also told Kelly that I needed some healthier dishes that were not chicken or turkey based as my Grandpa won’t eat those meats. She had this great Weight Watcher recipe suggestion. I’ve eaten something similar with chicken so it sounded perfect. Give it a try to help you achieve those New Year’s resolutions.

HoneyMustard_SalmonPanko Salmon by Kelly Howard
4 salmon filets
1/2 c. Panko bread crumbs
3 T. honey mustard
1 T. honey
a touch of paprika and thyme (optional)

Mix mustard and honey together. Brush on thawed salmon. Roll in bread crumbs. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

Note: I served it with a half serving of Weight Watchers Smart Ones – Mac and Cheese.