Friday, February 20, 2009

Spicy Potato Wedgies and Smoky Fry Sauce

The other day I stopped at a gas station to pick up a Coke for my mom. The gas station had one of those delis (read: fried food smorgasbords) and I suddenly had a hankering for potato wedges. I approached the counter and found corn dogs, burritos, tater tots, and several other varieties of deep-fried, artery-clogging tastiness, but alas, they were out of potato wedges. I was disappointed but figured it was probably better not to have them anyway. Still, the craving clung to me and this morning I decided to try my hand and make my own. The result was delicious, and probably a little healthier than the gas station alternative. (If nothing else, at least they're fresh!) And be sure to try the Smoky Fry Sauce. They went together so well!

(Also, I called them "Wedgies" because new foods are more likely to be eaten at my house if I give them an irreverent name...don't judge me...)

Spicy Potato Wedgies
4 large russet potatoes, scrubbed and cut in 8 wedges lengthwise
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp red pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
nonstick cooking spray

Place a rimmed cookie sheet in the oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place potatoes in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil, toss to coat. In a small dish combine seasoned salt, paprika, thyme, red and black peppers. Sprinkle half the mixture over potatoes, toss to coat. When oven has preheated, remove cookie sheet and spray with cooking spray. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on cookie sheet, cut side down. Sprinkle with remaining seasonings. Put pan in oven and bake 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven. Turn over each wedgie and increase heat to 450 degrees. Bake 15 more minutes or until desired crispness is achieved.

Smoky Fry Sauce
1/4 c mayonnaise
2 Tbs ketchup
2 drops liquid smoke (I used hickory - and I do mean drops people, a little liquid smoke goes a long way!)

Combine all ingredients in a dipping bowl. Serve with spicy wedgies.

Even with the uh...enticing(?) name, my kids still didn't eat them, which was okay, they probably would have been too hot for them. If you don't want that much spice on your taters reduce or omit the red pepper. Also, heating the pan with the oven starts the potatoes crisping from the moment they touch the pan. I like that instant joy thing.

(Still no camera...I think my husband hid it.)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Slow Cooked Beef Stew

1 onion, chopped
4-5 large potatoes, peeled and diced
4 carrots, sliced (I almost always use about 1/2 lb whole baby carrots)
3 ribs celery, sliced
2 lbs stew meat (I used 2 top sirloin steaks and cut them into bite-size pieces)
2 Tbs sugar
2 tsp salt
2 Tbs instant tapioca (you can grind it in a coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle for a smoother texture)
1/2 tsp pepper
3 cups vegetable juice (I use low-sodium V-8)

Place onion in the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the remaining vegetables and stew meat. Combine sugar, salt, tapioca and pepper. Sprinkle over meat and veggies. Pour in vegetable juice. Stir gently taking care to leave onion layer on the bottom so they'll cook better. Cook on LOW 8-10 hours.

(I have pictures of this recipe but I'm unable to locate my camera...dang kids!)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Popeye Quiche

Really it's Crustless Spinach Quiche, but every time we eat it here my son ultimately relates it to Popeye and big muscles. I made this for dinner last night and all the kids ate it without complaint, which is either a miracle, or just really delicious quiche!

In a large mixing bowl beat 6 large eggs and 2 cups whipping cream. (I actually almost always use 1/2 and 1/2. It serves the same purpose and costs about half as much. I'm thrifty like that.) I happened to have farm fresh eggs last night that my husband brought home from a coworker. Personally, I didn't notice much difference other than the photogeneticity - it's a word, really. Stir in 1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 Tbs orange juice concentrate (mix up the rest of the concentrate and serve with quiche,) and 1 cup finely torn spinach. If you don't have Italian style bread crumbs use regular bread crumbs and about 1 tsp Italian seasoning. Also, I am notorious for letting fresh veggies go bad in the fridge, so I always use 10 oz frozen spinach. Thaw it and squeeze it really well before adding to egg mixture.

Mix it up really well. Pour into a buttered quiche dish or a 10-in pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until custard is set.
Top individual servings with slices of cheese.
I got this recipe from my friend Katie, who does not give herself enough credit in the kitchen. She's super saucy!
I have to tell you that I actually have a strong distaste for eggs. This is one of the few ways that I enjoy them, the other being scrambled eggs with so many stir-ins that they don't taste like eggs anymore.
The recipe:
Crustless Spinach Quiche
2 cups whipping cream (or 1/2 & 1/2)
6 eggs
1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs orange juice concentrate
1 cup finely torn spinach
sliced cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat eggs and cream. Stir in bread crumbs, salt, concentrate and spinach. Mix well. Pour into a buttered quiche dish or 10-in pie plate. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until custard is set. Top individual servings with cheese.


I love this recipe. It comes together easily and has great flavor. I know a lot of people use steak strips for stroganoff but I grew up with ground beef. Another twist on this recipe is the addition of tomato paste.

In a large skillet, saute 2 Tbs butter, 1 chopped onion and 1 small can of mushrooms, drained. Once onions are clear, remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, brown 1 lb ground beef. Drain. Stir in 2 Tbs flour.To the meat, add 2 cups water, 2 cubes beef bouillon (or 2 cups beef broth), and 2 Tbs tomato paste. Return onions and mushrooms to pan.

Let your daughter lick the tomato paste can. Make sure she really digs in. :)

Stir it all together, it will look like this. Bring it to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
While your sauce is simmering set some water on to boil for some egg noodles.
(Yes, I took a picture of a boiling pot of water. What's worse, I took several and chose the best one. Apparently I can be more boring!)
After it is done simmering, remove from heat and add 1/2 cup sour cream.
Stir and serve immediately!
So, just to recap:
1 sm can sliced mushrooms
1 onion, chopped
2 Tbs butter
1 lb ground beef
2 Tbs flour
2 c water
2 cubes beef bouillon
2 Tbs tomato paste
1/2 c sour cream
cooked egg noodles for serving
Saute onions and mushrooms in butter, set aside. Brown beef in same pan, drain. Add flour and stir with meat. Add water, bouillon and tomato paste. Stir well. Return onions and mushrooms to pan. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in sour cream. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Crock Pot Chicken Alfredo

This is a very simple recipe that yields delicious results. However, it may not be for the health conscious. I make it because my kids are twigs and could stand to gain a few pounds...and because I really like it! Here's what you do: Place 2-4 chicken breasts, 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter and 1 package dry Italian dressing mix in a crock pot. Cook on low 4 hours or until chicken is no longer pink in center. Remove th chicken from the pot. It will look yummy like this. Slice the chicken or chop it into chunks. What's left in the crock pot will look kind of yucky, like this. I use a fork to skim the fat chunks out of the base.
Add one can of cream of chicken soup to the mixture. Then fill the soup can 1/2 full (or is it 1/2 empty?) of water, stir it around to get that final bit of soup out and pour that in as well.
Now take an 8 oz block of cream cheese and whisk it in until there are no lumps.
There, now we have our alfredo sauce! Looks yummy, huh?
Usually I stir the chicken back into the sauce and then just spoon it over linguine. Last night I opted for a more aesthetic presentation by placing strips of chicken over a bed of pasta and then spooning the sauce on top.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Secret Ingredient Casserole

Here we are, at the edge of discovery. As I promised, here is my secret ingredient casserole. I'll hold your hand as we make it. First, let's start with 1 chopped green bell pepper, 1 small chopped onion, and 2-3 large russet potatoes, quartered lengthwise and sliced thinly. And I mean thinly people, they'll bake quicker.

Nothing scary so far, right? Right. Now let's add a can of sliced mushrooms, drained. I used stems and pieces because they're less expensive and I don't much care. I suppose that if you want to use fresh mushrooms, you may. I didn't happen to have any. Now grease a casserole, I used a 3-qt oval dish. You'll want to layer the potatoes, onion, pepper and mushrooms. Season in between layers with salt and pepper.
Keep layering until all of your veggies are nicely arranged in your casserole.Are we still doing okay? Great. Now you need a can of cream of mushroom soup and some milk. Pour the soup into a bowl, then fill the soup can with milk - stir it up a bit in there to get out that last little bit of soup. Have your little kitchen helper add the milk to the soup in the bowl and whisk together until well blended. Little hands like this part.

Once it's all mixed together pour it over your veggies. Mmm. that's looking pretty good.
Now, you are ready for the secret ingredient. At least, I think you're ready. Are you ready? Are you? If you keep reading you have to promise me that you won't NOT make this recipe just because you have preconceived notions about this ingredient. Promise? Promise?
Okay then, take a deep breath and say it with me....

You promised! Don't go back on your word! That's right, it's Spam Casserole. Go ahead and take a minute to let it sink it. Then gather your courage and open that pop-top can of smoked, meaty(?) goodness. Once you've gotten over the "shock of the block," shred it...right over the top of your veggie mixture. Of course, eating the uncooked shreds by the handful is optional and will most likely only be attempted by those in the "connoisseurs of all meats processed" category.

I didn't take a picture of the topping before baking because even I'll admit it does not look appetizing. Try to get past that because when it bakes up the Spam topping gets all crispy and bacon-like. It's really good.

So anyway, if you've been bold enough to go ahead and try this recipe, heat your oven to 375 degrees and bake the casserole for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the potatoes are baked through. Just to let you know, I didn't have ANY leftovers. The kids ate it and my husband and I each had several helpings. My daughter kept sneaking the crispy topping onto her plate.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Times three.
Batch 1:
I used the recipe on the back of the bag. They sucked. I threw them all away. 'Nuf said. (My mom experiences a modicum of satisfaction when I have "flops." It keeps her from thinking I have superhuman baking skillz.)
Batch 2:
I used the recipe that Bob posted a couple of days ago. (I had to adjust it a little bit because I live at a high altitude.) I ran out of all-purpose flour (I know, I call myself a cook...) and had to throw in some wheat flour. They turned out pretty well and they all got eaten at the Young Womens activity.
Don't they look good?Want a closer look?How about even closer? Just look at that craggy goodness. Good enough to eat, don't you think?
Batch 3:
I was pretty sick of making stinkin' cookies by this time. I signed up to make some for a church meeting at the old folks home. I was told that the ladies loved chocolate but I was not to add nuts. ('m guessing allergies.) So I decided to add broken pretzel bits instead. They turned out great. I think I will do this every time I make chocolate chip cookies - if I ever make them again.

I'm Still Here

I apologize for the lack of posts this last week. I'd like to claim it's because I've been working like a mad scientist developing new recipes with amazing results. The reality is that I've been out of groceries and I just don't know how I can make chili dogs (read canned chili with hot dogs, sans buns, cheese and onion) sound appealing. Although I did broil the hot dogs to get those looks-like-it-was-cooked-over-a-fire blisters...that was cool.

Anyway, I finally made it out grocery shopping - with 2 kids in tow in less than an hour thankyouverymuch! - so I should be back in the kitchen soon. Tonight I'm making a casserole with a secret ingredient. Intrigued? You should be. I'd tell you what the ingredient is, but I think it's one that most people shy away from at the very mention of it's name. However, I'm going to ask you to trust me on this'll see.