You Had Me at Potatoes

Valentine’s Day is the one-time Jeremiah and I stay in. We hate the crowds and waiting past your reservation time for a table. We eat out enough so we don’t feel like we need to mess with it on Valentine’s Day. Instead, it’s the one night we prepare an all-out meal and sit down at the dinner table to eat it.

This year, the plan was for spaghetti. In fact, I’ve turned Jeremiah into someone who prefers to eat my Great Grandma Reith’s spaghetti sauce over anything you can get from a jar or at a restaurant. That was the plan.

On our way home, we stopped at Sprouts to grab some bread. Unfortunately, finding bakery bread has turned into a nightmare because everything in that area seems to have barley. Since I’m allergic, it’s getting way harder to make garlic bread ourselves.

While in the store, Jeremiah spotted some lobster tails on sale for $4.90 each. That’s crazy ridiculously cheap! We know from our trip to Maine why they are so expensive. A change of dinner plans occurred. “Why don’t we have lobster tails?” said Jeremiah. I said, “We’ve never made them. Do you know how to cook them?” Jeremiah used his phone to research a recipe. It looked simple and quick enough. Then, the next question was what we would eat with them? That’s when I throughout this recipe from our wedding cookbook for cheesy potatoes. Needless to say, what should have taken less than 20 minutes to make for dinner, turned into a late-night Valentine’s Day dinner. We even grabbed something in the McDonald’s drive-thru, which we never eat, to hold us over.

Jeremiah goes way back with the Fox boys (brothers – Kelly and Travis). Kelly and Travis grew up with the Slater clan. From what I understand, I think their dads met through work and became good friends. I also learned that Jeremiah’s mom used to babysit the boys when she did home daycare. The Fox’s grandma told me at our wedding that she considers Jeremiah almost be like a grandson because he spent so much time with her when they were kids.

According to Erin, these potatoes are the reason her husband Kelly married her. Jeremiah says Kelly was smitten on her from the moment he met Erin.

This recipe is similar to my mom’s cheesy potatoes. I like Erin’s recipe through because it feels a little less rich and just the right amount of cheesy to make this side dish a little more often. My biggest pet peeve is when someone says they made cheesy potatoes and you can barely taste the cheese. Not the case with this cheesy potato dish at all.

And on a side note, we probably ate a lobster dinner complete with cheesy potatoes, garlic bread, and monster cookie cheesecake for less than $8 a serving. If you add in a glass of local vineyard wine, it probably came out to $12 a serving. In fact, that’s cheaper than we spent on a fast-casual dinner at Chipotle of nights ago. And it’s definitely cheaper than if we had gone to one of our favorite steakhouses.

fullsizerender-12Cheesy Potatoes by Erin & Kelly Fox
1 stick of butter
1 can of cream of chicken soup
8 oz. sour cream
2 c. cheddar cheese
1 – 1lb. package of shredded hash browns
Garlic salt and black pepper to taste

Melt butter. Add cream of chicken and sour cream. Add garlic salt and pepper. In an extra-large bowl, pour mixture over hash browns. Add cheese and combine. Pour into sprayed 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake for 45 – 60 minutes at 400 degrees.

Carne Asada

One of the places Jeremiah and I eat out at a lot is Chipotle. On more than one occasion, we have tried to make our own at home. I also was telling Jeremiah about these amazing black beans and rice I had eaten at the Culinary Center of Kansas City. I was convinced they used chicken broth and I could try to replicate the flavor at home.

This was our attempt last week and trying to replicate both these tasty dishes. Although we thought the Carne Asada had really good flavor, making it along with rice, beans, guacamole, and Pico from scratch made quite a mess to clean-up. Sometimes, it’s just easier to go out and stand in line.

FullSizeRender (6)Carne Asade by Show Me the Yummy
2 lb. flank steak
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 T. olive oil
¼ c. orange juice
¼ c. lime juice
¼ c. lemon juice
¼ c. soy sauce
2 T. white vinegar

In a small bowl, mix spices. Then, stir in oil. Rub half of mixture on each side of the steak. Mix together remaining ingredients. Spray Crockpot with nonstick spray. Pour in half of juice mixture. Place in steak and pour over with remaining juice. Cook on low for six hours.

Black Beans by Amber Bourek
8 oz. dry black beans
1 c. low sodium chicken stock
water
½ diced yellow onion
2 crushed garlic cloves
salt
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder

Rise black beans. For beans in sprayed Crockpot. Cover with 1 cup of chicken stock and enough water to cover by two inches. Add in onion, garlic, and seasonings. Cook on high for six – seven hours.

Note:

I put together a few recipes to make this dish. I cooked them for 4 hours. They were still a little hard so I kept cooking them. My husband thinks we should have soaked the beans for 24 hours and then they would have cooked in 3 ½ to 4 hours.

Guacamole

Five weeks ago, I married the love of my life in a small but beautiful ceremony. Although our original plan was to go to St. Kitts. Then, the Zika virus happened. We decided we want to either stay in the states or head up north to Canada. We settled upon San Antonio, Texas. Why? We had never been and read lots of things that said it was a must visit destination.

Jeremiah and I are planners. Unfortunately, wedding planning and out of town travel for work left us heading to San Antonio without a plan. When we arrived, our first stop was a great little restaurant called Magnolia Pancake Haus. OMG – that side order of pancakes was the best pancakes I’ve ever had. It was so good, we went back one more time and even purchased a bottle of their homemade syrup to take home.

All the food we ate on our honeymoon was amazing. We loved the Hearthstone Bakery Café, Tycoon Flats, Franks, Gruene River Mill, and Guenther House. But Boudros Texas Bistro on the Riverwalk makes the most amazing table side guacamole I’ve ever had. And Jeremiah and I thought we love Chipotle’s guac until we tasted this dish. Lucky for us, we were able to find this recipe online. My husband made it two weeks ago for dinner and I’m roasting the ingredients right now so we can have it for dinner with Skinny Chipotle Cilantro Rice and Carne Asada (cooking in the crockpot as I type this post). Note – the secret ingredient here is fruit squeezed orange juice.

IMG_0971Boudro’s Famous Guacamole
1 orange
2 limes
4-6 avocados
1 roma tomato, roasted and diced
2 serrano pepper, roasted, seeded, and diced
4 T. red onion, diced
½ c. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. sea salt
1 garlic clove, chopped

Squeeze orange and lime juice into a bowl. Scoop out avocados and add to the bowl. Add tomato, peppers, onion, garlic, and cilantro. Fold into avocado. Add salt to taste.

Notes:

  • Results should be more or cut together than mashed. Our server just used the two knifes she cut everything open with.
  • This makes 6-8 serving. Since guacamole gets brown so quickly, we half this recipe.

Stuffing from Scratch

It’s 5AM and I’ve been awake for about an hour now. After 30 minutes of tossing and turning in bed, I had a bit of a panic attack when I remembered that my uniform for work was in the laundry. I jumped out of bed and found myself sorting laundry in the closet as to not wake my fiancé.

I guess that is a bit of news I’d hadn’t shared here. My boyfriend proposed to me at dinner a few weeks ago. It was our 16 month anniversary and we were eating at Houlihan’s in Leawood. It was where we had gone on our very first date. We had planned to go to dinner early because the Kansas City Royals were playing game five of the World Series at 7PM. We were standing outside the restaurant talking about our first date and how we stood outside the restaurant talking after a long dinner. I turned around to walk in and Jeremiah spun me back around before getting down on one knee. I was a little in shock. If I was, you should have heard all the people around us. The people dining on the patio and getting in/out of vehicles were like “Is he prosing?” “Did she say yes?” Of course, without a doubt in my mind, I said yes. We went into the restaurant and the server asked us how it was going. I said, “We just got engaged.” He was like, “Congratulations!” I was like, “It was a minute ago just outside the restaurant. This is where we went on our first date.” The table next to us asked if he could take our photo when he overheard us. He told us how it was he and his wife’s second marriage but when you find the right one, it’s meant to be. The restaurant was so sweet and the manager brought us champagne and dessert to celebrate. Phone calls were made while we waited for our lovely dinner – the George Banks Sea Scallops with risotto and fresh arugula (one of my absolute favorite dishes of all time). As you all know by now, the Royals won it in game five beating the Mets in extra innings. It was also my mother’s birthday so this is certainly a day we will never forget.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been sleeping very long since our engagement. I wake up with ideas about our vows or what food should we make during our engagement photos. The date is set for July 2016 so I need to get cracking on these details. The venue is pretty much set, the guest list has been made, our wedding app/website has been created, half the attendants have been asked (including our adorable 3 ½ month old ring bearer), and the photographer has been selected. However, I have no idea what my dress will look like or what colors I want. I also need to email my hairdresser to see if she’s available. Every hinges on what time my hair can be done. Oh let’s hope she’s available because I have zero skill when it comes to doing my hair. I better email her right now, this is really important.

So since I’m awake and my laundry is in the wash, I decided to write a blog post for all of you. It is Thanksgiving week. Can you believe it? Normally, I would have already scoped all the Black Friday ads and had a plan for our day after Thanksgiving adventure. This year, I’m worried about whether or not I need to schedule a dress outing the Saturday after Thanksgiving with my mother and sister. I’m also not sure what on earth to get my fiancé for Christmas in our $75 spending limit?

In honor of it being Thanksgiving week though, I have decided to share with all of you one of the recipes Jeremiah and I will be making for my family. This is a recipe we learned last year while taking a cooking class at the Culinary Center of Kansas City. Not to worry my vegetarian friends, I’m including modifications for you to enjoy this recipe as well. I made both recipes for our Thanksgiving work potluck last week.

stuffingApple, Sage, & Sausage Sourdough Stuffing by Rachel Ciordas
12 oz. turkey breakfast sausage
1 tsp. oil
2 c. chopped onion
2 c. chopped apple
2 c. chopped celery
2 T. chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp. dried rubbed sage
1 tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. dried marjoram
½ tsp. black pepper
12 c. cubed sourdough bread
1 can fat-free, less sodium chicken broth

Cook sausage until browned. Add onion, apple, and celery. Sauté for 3 minutes. Stir in seasonings. In a large bowl, combine sausage mixture, bread, and broth. Spoon the stuffing into a sprayed 11 x 7 baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees covered for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes.

Nutrition: Makes nine (1 c.) servings. 208 calories, 5 g. fat, 11.9 g. protein, 28.9 g. carbs, 2.1 g. fiber.

Notes:

  • Rachel said to not use green apples for this recipe. They are not sweet/juicy enough to sauté.
  • Did you know you can eat the leafy part of celery? It’s actually really flavorful.
  • I brought two loaves of fresh French bread at Spouts. I cubed 1 ½ loaves and let it sit out in a bowl overnight. I used the extra bread for a brioche French Toast.
  • I used the local brand of ground sausage. It added some extra flavor. 
  • I’ve found the lowest sodium chicken broth is Rachael Ray’s brand.
  • To make it vegetarian friendly, I substituted veggie broth and removed the sausage. In its place, I put some dried cranberries. After my luncheon, Jeremiah and I mixed the leftovers. It was good so feel free to add cranberries to the original recipe.
  • For a little crisper stuffing, bake covered 15 minutes and uncovered for 35-40 minutes.

Purple Potatoes

The first time I ever saw purple potatoes was in Harvesters warehouse. They were a project for the volunteers to sort and repackage. I think we sent them out on a mobile food pantry. I wondered, “How do you cook them?” and “What do they taste like?” I’m sure the Nutrition Department didn’t have a recipe for them.

My boyfriend Jeremiah is trying to watch his carb intake. Jeremiah discovered that purple potatoes are a good option for someone trying to watch their carbs. They have half the carbs of regular potatoes (37 carbs vs. 17 carbs). He says, purple potatoes have less starch, potassium, and are high in antioxidants. You can’t cook them like regular potatoes though. He found this recipe online and we made it for dinner last night. To my surprise, they were really good. In fact, I think I like them better than regular au gratin potatoes.

Purple potatoesStacey’s Famous Purple Potato Gratin from AllRecipes.com
4 slices of bacon, chopped
1 leek, sliced
8 purple potatoes, thinly sliced
3 T. flour
½ c. milk
6 oz. crumbles goat cheese
¾ c. grated parmesan cheese

Cook the bacon in a pan. Spray a 2 ½ qt. baking dish with non-stick spray. Coat the potatoes in flour. Layer the baking dish with potatoes, leek, bacon, and goat cheese. Pour milk over ingredients. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese before serving. Makes four servings.

Notes:

  • We substituted shallots for leeks in this recipe.
  • We used skim milk and it was just fine. Please note though that you must spray the pan as this dish does not have a lot of fat.
  • Before adding the milk, Jeremiah also added 2 T. of butter cubed onto of the potatoes.
  • The original recipe calls for the leeks to be sautéed with the bacon. It also suggests mixing the cheese and milk together. Then, melting it together before pouring over the potatoes.

 

Cranberry Orange Sauce

I know all of you are frantically planning your Thanksgiving dinners. A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I took a class at the Culinary Center of Kansas City. It was the second class we had taken there. The theme for the class was “Everything But the Bird.” At the end of the class, Jeremiah and I were ready to cook fresh dishes for our families. I made this one up today. My teacher served it over cheese and crackers. I bet it would also be good on a post Thanksgiving turkey sandwich. Super easy so I hope you will give it a try.

Cranberry sauceCranberry Orange Sauce with Apricots by Rachel Ciordas
12 oz. fresh cranberries
½ c. dried apricots, chopped
½ c. unsweetened applesauce
½ c. orange juice
¼ c. fruit preserves

Combine all ingredients and cook over a medium-high heat until cranberries pop (about 10 minutes). Cool and serve at room temperature.

Notes:

  • I used apricot preserves.
  • You can use frozen cranberries. I got these on sale last week for $.98 at Sprouts. I threw a bag in the freezer to cook up this recipe again. 

Crockpot Baked Apple

Forget the scented candles – here’s the best way to make your house smell like an apple pie without much work.

Crockpot Baked Cinnamon ApplesCrockpot Baked Apple Slices from Pinterest
5 apples
¼ c. brown sugar
¼ c. sugar
½ c. apple juice
2 T. cornstarch
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1 T. cinnamon
½ tsp. vanilla
1 T. butter

Peel, core, and slice apples. Place in Crockpot and top with all ingredients except butter. Stir and top with diced butter. Bake for 1 ½ hours on high or 4-5 hours on low. Stir halfway through.

Baked Garlic Cilantro Fries

I’ve figured out, I really can’t eat plain fries anymore. I recently took my nephew to BRGR and said “we should order the truffle fries”. As a 16 year old, I think he was a little scared because he asked if we could order regular fries. Although we intended to share, we both gravitated toward our personal picks. This is for my friends with adult palates.

Cilantro FriesBaked Garlic Cilantro Fries on Pinterest
2-3 potatoes
1 T. olive oil
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. sea salt
pepper
1/8 c. cilantro

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line cookie sheet with foil and place a wire cookie rack onto it. Cut potatoes and soak in cold water for a few minutes. Dry. Toss in olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Once fries are done, toss in cilantro.

Notes:

  • If you don’t use a wire rack, flip fries half way through baking.
  • Shortcut recipe, use coating on pre-made frozen fries. I baked 20 minutes and it was probably a little too long.

Crack Potatoes

Thanks to Dan Quayle, does anyone else have a fear of misspelling potato/potatoes every time they write it? Maybe it’s just me since I was in elementary school when that infamous news story broke. I also spent way more time watching news at as a kid than most children. I remember how exciting it was to go to journalism school and find a bunch of other media geeks.

This is another one of my Pinterest recipe finds. Although these potatoes are quite tasty, I don’t know that they are as addictive as the author named them. I think my mother’s recipe for cheesy hashbrown potatoes are better. But it was nice to try something a little different.

Crack PotatoesCrack Potatoes
2 (16 oz.) containers of sour cream 
2 c. cheddar cheese
2 (3 oz. bags) of bacon bits
2 packages of powder ranch dressing mix
1 large (30 oz.) bag of hash browns, shredded

Combine the first four ingredients. Add hash browns. Pour into a 13 x 9 pan and bake for 45-60 minutes at 400 degrees.

Notes:

  • I used one light and one fat free sour cream containers.
  • I used half 2% cheddar cheese and half fat free cheese.
  • I bake three slices of low sodium bacon for this recipe. That’s less than the recipe calls for.
  • I halved the recipe and baked it in my bubble and brown casserole dish. It still took 60 minutes to cook.

Lighter Homecookin’

About six weeks ago, a friend and I went to a meet and greet with Bobby Deen (son of Paula Deen). If you have read People magazine lately, then you probably know that he and his family have lost a lot of weight. Bobby did his by recreating his mother’s recipes with healthier substitutes. In fact, this cookbook is so popular it is a best seller. As part of this event, Season 52 prepared some of the recipes for a special dinner. I have to say the food was excellent and Bobby was so sweet.

This is the first recipe I prepared from his cookbook. I was a little surprised to see corn, sour cream, and apple sauce in the same recipe. But I have to tell you, it was fluffy and delicious. In fact, every recipe my co-workers and I have tried in the cookbook has been good. They best part is he uses normal ingredients – just lighter or fat free versions of them. I would recommend buying this cookbook – From Mama’s Table to Mine.

I think this recipe would be good for Easter dinner.

This plate includes Bobby's recipes for meatballs and twice baked potato as well.

This plate includes Bobby’s recipes for meatballs and twice baked potato as well.

Scalped Corn by Bobby Deen
1 can cream style corn
1 can regular corn (I did not drain because the recipe didn’t say to)
1 egg white
1 c. light sour cream
1/4 c. apple sauce
1 box Jiffy corn bread mix

Mix together sour cream, apple sauce, and the egg white. Slowly add corns and corn bread mix. Spray a 2 qt dish with nonstick spray and bake for 60 mintes at 350 degrees.

 Nutritional Information: Serves 7. Contains 9 g. fat, 6 g. protein, 47 carbs, 1.5 g. fiber, and 660 mg sodium.