Dad’s Cheese Potatoes

These little slices of cheesy potatoes bring back so many memories for me. My dad was always trying to invent new recipes by putting together what he knew best. They were usually something simple and didn’t take much time, but they would come out really tasty. These potatoes was something he came up with as a side dish when he grilled bbq chicken or sometimes even steaks. Whenever I make these, I can see my dad in the kitchen slicing potatoes and putting these together while running back and forth outside to man the grill.

I knew his recipe by heart because he’d make them so many times and I would help him slice the potatoes or shred the cheese. Recently I was going thru my old recipe box. It contains so many recipes that my mom, dad and me had kept over the years. Most were just written down on those little recipe index cards that you would find many moons ago. I came across the one that my dad jotted down for these potatoes.

You know that feeling you get when you see something written by someone that you have lost a while ago. It’s that warm sensation….like a hug from that person, but yet you still feel the tug of the heart strings because after all the years that pass, you still miss them like it was yesterday. But it still makes you smile because it brings back so many wonderful memories. We do share memories through food so I wanted to share this as well. Of course over the years I have tweaked it a bit. I know if dad were here, he would probably be tweaking them again with me.

These little round, slices of potatoes are covered in cheese and topped with bacon. They make a great side dish for BBQ chicken, steak, roasted chicken or just about anything else that you might crave something simple, but packs great flavor.

Here’s what you need:

*Potatoes cut into 1/2 inch rounds; these can be peeled or unpeeled, I leave the skin on; 1 large potato usually makes about 2 servings

*1 TBS butter melted

*1 TBS canola oil

*1 tsp. onion powder or more to taste

*1 tsp. garlic powder or more to taste

*1 tsp. salt

*1/4 tsp. sweet paprika or more to taste

*cracked pepper to taste

*bacon; I use 2 strips of bacon per potato

*shredded cheese; I used sharp cheddar

Preheat oven to 400° (I know my dad’s original recipe card shows 375° but I have found that 400° works best)

In a cast iron pan, cook bacon until crisp; crumble and set aside. Wipe out the excess bacon fat but leave a small amount in the pan.

As you can see I did not take any pictures of the bacon, I think I was just so hungry and enthralled by the smell that I forgot. So just picture the bacon cooking here —–>

While the bacon is cooking, mix together the onion powder, garlic powder, salt, paprika and pepper; set aside.

Pour in the canola oil and brush the oil all over the bottom of the pan.

Place the sliced potatoes in the pan leaving a small space between each slice if possible. This will make getting the potatoes out of the pan easier.

Brush the tops of the potato slices with the melted butter.

Sprinkle the seasoning mixture over the potatoes.

Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Check during cooking time to see if the potatoes appear to be drying out too much or the season mixture is getting too done, if so brush with a little more butter and continue cooking.

Sprinkle the shredded cheese generously over the potatoes and top with the crumbled bacon.

Continue cooking a few minutes more until cheese is melted.

Serve as a side or you can even do what I’ve been known to do a few times, start eating them right out of the pan. I know, I have no self control at times but it’s worth every cheesy bite.

Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Cheesy Ravioli

This is one of those meals that is pretty quick to put together and the slow cooker does most of the work. The most work to this is cooking the ground beef. The sauce made from your favorite jarred marinara sauce and tomatoes, simmers long and slow for that homemade taste….even though it did come from a jar, but no one has to know right? At the end of the cooking time all you have to do is toss in a package of thawed ravioli, some cheese and you have a delicious, cheesy dinner. This is defiantly one of those meals for when you want comfort food at the end of a long day.

Here’s what you need:

* 1 pkg frozen ravioli, thawed or fresh ravioli

*1 to 1 1/2 lb ground beef

*2tsp. onion powder

*2 tsp garlic powder

*1 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds

*1 1/2 tsp. dried sage

*2 tsp. smoked paprika

*1/2 to 1 tsp. red pepper flakes

*1 tsp salt or more to taste

*2 24oz jars of marinara sauce (you can use homemade but I like using a premade kind because it makes this quick and easy)

*1 14.5 oz can petite (or regular diced) tomatoes; undrained

*2 cups shredded cheese; I used a combination of cheddar and Colby Jack

*Parsley for garnish (optional)

Heat a large skillet to medium high heat. Add the ground beef to the skillet and brown.

Drain if needed. Turn the heat down to medium.

To the beef add the onion powder, garlic powder, fennel seeds, sage, paprika, red pepper flakes and the salt.

Stir to combine. Cook for about 1 minutes stirring frequently so the spices will not burn.

Place the beef mixture into the slow cooker.

Pour in the marinara sauce and the diced tomatoes; stir to combine the beef, marinara sauce and the tomatoes.

Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.

Uncover and add in the ravioli.

I thaw out the bag of frozen ravioli in the refrigerator a day or two ahead of time.

Gently stir the ravioli in the meat sauce.

Stir in 1 cup of the shredded cheese being careful not to break apart the ravioli. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese over the top.

Cover and continue to cook on low for 15 to 20 minutes or until the ravioli are tender.

Serve and garnish with parsley.

Enjoy!

The First Country On My Food Journey Is….

Guatemala

Guatemala holds a special place for me because, if you’ve been following me for a while you know this is where my husband was born. I have always wanted to go there, but when we plan to take a trip, something always gets in the way. I have seen so many pictures and home movies that my hubby has shown me, that I feel like I’ve have been there. It is such a beautiful country. I have learned so much more about Guatemala’s cuisine from my hubby and his mom that I wanted this to be my first dish. So the dish for this region I chose

Pepian

Pepian is one of the oldest dishes in Guatemala and by many considered to be one of the national dishes. It is a fusion of the country’s Spanish and Mayan heritage. It is a thick, rich spicy stew that consists of onions, tomatoes, chilies pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds that are roasted and then blended to create that wonderful tasting sauce. I highly recommend to not skip the pumpkin and sesame seeds because they give the sauce a very distinctive flavor. This stew typically contains chicken, but beef and pork can be used instead. Some variations have potatoes and carrots in it as well.

I did do my own variation of the chicken. In the traditional dish, the chicken is cooked in a pot of water then added to the stew. I wanted to incorporate more flavor to the chicken so I mixed it with some herbs and seared it in a pan, just to give it that extra added flavor. I used the slow cooker so the flavors had some extra time to develop. This dish does take a bit of time to prepare, but it is so worth all of the love that is put into it. The chicken came out so tender and flavorful with all of the added spices. The sauce…wow that sauce….it’s so rich and tasty with just an added kick with the jalapeno and chili powders that I added. I didn’t add as many chilies as the traditional recipes call for, but it’s still delicious just the same. The potatoes and carrots help make it a very hearty stew. It’s usually served with rice and tortillas on the side. This dish certainly did not disappoint.

Here’s how I made my version of Pepian (slow cooker)

*1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into bite size pieces

*2 TBS flour

*3/4 tsp. cumin

*1 tsp. coriander

*1 1/2 tsp. chipotle chili powder

*1/2 tsp. paprika

*1 tsp. onion powder

*1 tsp. garlic powder

*1 tsp. salt or more to taste

*1/2 tsp white pepper; you can use cracked black pepper instead

*2 TBS canola oil

*1 Jalapeno; if you prefer it spicy leave the seeds in, if not then scrape the seeds out. I scraped half of the seeds out and left some in.

*4 tomatoes; cut in half

*1 onion, cut in fourths

*4 garlic cloves

*2TBS sesame seeds

*2 TBS pumpkin seeds; shelled

*2 potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size pieces; I used russet because the starch seemed to help thicken the sauce better

*1 carrot cut into pieces

*2 cups chicken broth, divided

*1 TBS or more of cornstarch (if need)

In a large bowl, add the chicken

Next add the flour, cumin, coriander, chipotle chili powder, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Toss the chicken pieces with the flour mixture until the chicken is evenly coated.

Heat a large skillet, preferably cast iron because it gives a great sear, to medium high heat and add in the oil.

When the pan is hot, add in the chicken, but do not over crowd the pan. You will have to do this in batches.

Cook for about 2 minutes and turn the pieces over and cook for another minute. Do not leave the chicken in too long or the spices will burn. If the skillet becomes too dry, add in more oil.

Place the seared chicken pieces in to the slow cooker.

Wipe the skillet out and place the tomatoes in skin side down. Add in the onion, jalapeno and garlic cloves. Cook until it all begins to char, abut 5 minutes and then turn them over and cook until the other side begins to char.

Take out the garlic cloves before they become too brown or they will have a bitter taste.

While the vegetables are in the pan, in another small pan or sauce pan, toast the sesame and the pumpkin seeds.

I found pumpkin seeds that were already roasted, to I just had to toast the sesame seeds. Be careful not to burn the seeds, they toast quickly.

Add the charred tomatoes, onions, jalapeno and garlic cloves to a food processor or a blender, then add in the sesame and pumpkin seeds.

Pulse a few times to start breaking everything down.

Pour in 1 cup of the chicken broth and blend until everything is pureed.

To the slow cooker add in the potatoes and the carrot.

Pour in the pureed mixture and the remaining cup of chicken broth. Stir to combine all of the ingredients.

Cover and cook on low for 5 hours or until vegetables are tender. If sauce needs to thicken, add equal amounts of the cornstarch and water to make a slurry. Pour into the slow cooker and stir. Cook on high for about 5 minutes or more until sauce is thickened.

Serve with rice and tortillas.

A Journey Through Food

I want to go on a journey, a food journey that is. For a while now I’ve had this idea in my head about choosing random countries and learning more about their food and creating a dish honoring that certain country or region. I’m not a world class traveler by any means. Sad to say, this woman has never left the U.S. I have traveled to many places around the country…well…ate my way around the country I should also say. In the past I have always wanted to travel outside of the U.S, but I had a fear of flying. Well, that changed quickly when I met my now hubby I met my now hubby and some cherished friends that we all met through a sci-fi show online. With some prodding and planning from those friends, I flew for the first time to what would be a start of my own personal journey. After that my now hubby and I started dating. He lived in Boston and I’m here in SC so, yes I had to get over my fear very quickly.

I have always been intrigued and wanted to experience the food in other countries and learn about their food cultures. So now that I don’t mind flying….ok it still scares the heebijeebies out of me still but I will do it. I still haven’t been able to travel, but maybe one day. But until then I really would like to try to do this. I kind of think of this as my own personal challenge. Maybe I’m being a little too ambitious. Maybe I’m biting off more than I can chew…no pun intended…ok maybe a little. When I told my hubby what I was thinking he was already looking up what Ethnic grocery stores we have near us. He was born in Guatemala and still has family there so I have already learned so much about that region of foods and flavors. But there is so much more I’d love to learn and what better way than to do it through cooking.

I will still post some of my regular food posts, but I would really like to include you all on my journey and see what you think. So with a deep breath and fork in hand I will begin planning.

Cheesy Breakfast Skillet with Steak, Scrambled Eggs and Potatoes

This breakfast skillet came about from leftovers. Yes, I had leftover steak. Those that know me might find that impossible seeing that I’m a woman who loves her steak, but I cooked ribeyes for dinner and they were huge. So the next morning needless to say, I was still craving the last of that delicious steak along with some roasted potatoes that we had on the side.

This breakfast skillet is easy to make and you can make as many servings as you want. Or you can keep it all to yourself, I won’t tell. If you don’t have leftover steak or potatoes that’s ok, you can cook them separately and then follow the rest of the recipe. It may take a little more time, but it will be worth the wait. How can you resist tender steak with crispy potatoes all folded into fluffy eggs with a touch of hot sauce and gooey cheese all nestled together to make a delicious, satisfying breakfast.

Here’s what you need:

This serves 2 but you can double it to serve more.

*2 tsp canola oil

*any cut of steak cooked the way you like it; I used ribeye. I used some leftovers that I had, but 1 steak would make 2 to 3 servings depending on the size of the steak.

*Roasted potatoes; I used leftovers but you can use frozen diced potatoes. If using diced frozen potatoes cook according to package directions

*4 eggs; I used 2 eggs per person.

*hot sauce to taste

*salt and cracked pepper to taste

*1/3 cup of shredded cheese or more to taste; I used a combination of cheddar and Colby Jack

*fresh or dried parsley for garnish (optional)

Cut steak in to pieces; set aside

Heat a medium skillet to medium high heat and add the canola oil. Add in the potatoes and cook for about 2 minutes stirring frequently. If you are using frozen potatoes, cook according to package directions.

Add in the steak.

Continue cooking for another minute or until the steak is warm. Do not cook too long or the steak will over cook.

Turn the heat down to medium. In a bowl whisk together the eggs.

Pour the eggs into the pan over the steak and potatoes.

With a spatula, start folding the eggs on and around the steak and potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

When the eggs begin to set, sprinkle on the cheese and the hot sauce.

Keep stirring the egg mixture until the eggs are no longer runny and are set, but still soft.

Place on to plates and sprinkle on the parsley and serve.

Pepperoni Calzones

Calzones are right up there on my list of favorites with pizza. They are basically a pizza after all, just all of those good pizza toppings are stuffed in a crust. To tell the truth, I hardly ever make them at home. It does take a little more time than making a pizza, but they are not difficult to make. I like to keep it simple and use premade pizza dough. You can certainly make your own dough.

This calzone is bursting with pepperoni, cheese and a tasty pizza sauce all nestled in a golden brown crust. I also saved some of that pizza sauce for dipping.

Here’s what you need.

*Pizza dough: I used a premade kind.

*Pepperoni slices

*Pizza sauce; you can use homemade or premade; make sure to save some for dipping

*Shredded cheese: I used a blend of mozzarella, Colby Jack and Cheddar

*Olive oil for brushing the tops

*Grated parmesan cheese for on top of the calzone

Preheat oven to 425°.

Spray a baking sheet with no stick spray or use parchment paper; set aside.

Divide dough into equal portions and roll out into about 8 inch circles.

Spoon a small amount of pizza sauce near the center of the dough. Do not spread the sauce to the edges, because you will have to seal the dough later.

Sprinkle on the shredded cheese over the sauce.

Place the sliced pepperoni over the cheese.

Gently fold the dough over the top of the filling to create a semi-circle.

Crimp the edges using a fork to seal the dough.

Cut a few small slits into the top of the dough with a knife.

This will help some of the steam to escape with the calzones are cooking. Place on the baking sheet.

Brush the tops with a little of the olive oil.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the calzone are golden brown.

Take out of the oven and sprinkle some of the parmesan cheese on top.

Serve with some of the pizza sauce on the side.

Breakfast Nachos

There are some days that I crave a big plate of nachos. I’ve had several different kinds and have really enjoyed them all. But the one kind I’ve never had is breakfast nachos. Yes, you read right breakfast nachos. Have you even heard of such a thing? I actually thought of this one Sunday morning. The first thought I had after I opened my eyes was…. I want nachos. Yes, I sometimes think about food right when I wake up…..don’t you? My second thought was, but I should be eating something that’s breakfasty…..is that even a word? If it’s not it should be. Anyway, my third thought was, why can’t I turn breakfast foods into nachos. Out of curiosity, I looked up to see if breakfast nachos was a thing. It turns out that yes, there is such a thing. One thing about nachos, you can make them your own….the tortillas are your blank canvas, just add all of your favorite goodies that make your taste buds sing.

So for these breakfast nachos I started with one of my favorite brand of tortilla chips, then piled on some fluffy, scrambled eggs, crispy bacon….can’t forget the cheese. I threw it in the oven to get all of that cheese all melted and for all the flavors to come together for each tasty bite. I then topped it off with some salsa and sour cream.

This is something that you can add some of your favorite breakfast ideas as well, This will even be great for brunch. Make as little or as much as you like. They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so there is your reason to indulge a bit for your morning meal.

Here’s what you need:

These served 2, but you can always add more to double the servings.

*Tortilla chip; about 1/4 of a bag

*4 large eggs

*2 tsp. butter

*salt and pepper to taste

*4 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumble

*1/2 cup shredded cheese; I used a cheddar Colby jack blend.

*salsa your favorite brand mild, medium or hot

*sour cream

*dried or fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°

Spray a baking sheet with no stick spray or line with parchment paper.

Spread tortilla chips on to the baking sheet .

Sprinkle half of the cheese over the tortillas chips; set aside.

Heat a non stick pan on medium heat and add the butter.

Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk until a light froth starts to form.

Pour the eggs into the pan. With a spatula, start to pull the eggs inward when it begins to set.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep lightly pulling the eggs across the pan until they are fully set but still moist and fluffy.

Break up the eggs and spread across the tortilla chips and cheese then add the bacon.

Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the eggs and bacon.

Bake for about 5 to 7 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the tortilla chips start to toast.

Top with salsa, sour cream and cilantro.

Serve and enjoy!

Air Fryer Frozen Pizza Rolls

If you haven’t tried cooking frozen pizza rolls in the air fryer, you are truly missing out. These are great for a snack and even as a meal. They do get a little addictive, at least for me anyway. I usually cook these in the oven, but when I first got my air fryer I found out that a lot of frozen foods are so much better cooked this way rather than in the oven.

These turn out so crispy and cook in half the time than they do in the oven. This is the only way that I cook frozen pizza rolls now. I mean, look at that picture….doesn’t it just make you want to grab a few and nosh away. These are great when it’s late and you’re hungry but really don’t feel like going thru a lot of trouble to warm up something, yet you want something that really can satisfy that late night craving. It’s also a hit if you have kids and you want something fast and easy. Just fair warning, these will go fast. Just remember to let them cool a bit before you start enjoying them because they will be piping hot.

Here’s how you do it:

Pre heat the air fryer to 380°.

Place the frozen pizza rolls inside of the basket.

Try to lay them in an even layer as much as possible. It’s ok if some overlap, you just do not want them piled on top of each other or they will not get as crispy.

For 1/2 bag cook for 6 minutes, shaking the basket halfway thru cooking time.

For a full bag cook 8 minutes, shaking the basket halfway thru cooking time.

*Note* Cooking time might vary depending on the brand and size of the air fryer.

Let pizza rolls sit for about 2 minutes before eating.

Enjoy!

Taco Casserole

Want something a little different for taco Tuesday? This takes some of your favorite taco fillings and brings them together in a delicious casserole. It’s layered with black refried beans, tasty seasoned beef, salsa, cheese, crunchy tortilla chips and more cheese. If you have never tried black refried beans, you really should. It’s a nice change from regular refried beans.

My hubby actually loved the idea of a taco casserole so much, that he helped decide what should go in it to make this a really satisfying dinner. You can make this as mild or as spicy as you like. You can add some of your favorite taco toppings like sour cream or guacamole. This is even great to make ahead of time, just save adding the tortilla chips until the day you want to cook it.

Of course it doesn’t have to be Tuesday to enjoy this taco casserole. This might become a favorite during any night of the week. I know it has at our house.

Here’s what you need:

*1 lb ground beef

*1/2 bag tortilla chips

*1 can black refried beans

* 1 jar of salsa mild, medium or hot; I used medium

*2 cups of shredded cheese; I used cheddar and Monterey Jack

*fresh of dried cilantro for garnish (optional)

Taco seasoning ( you can add the premixed taco seasoning if you prefer)

*1 tsp. salt or more to taste

*2 tsp. chili powder

*1 tsp. garlic powder

*1 tsp. onion powder

*1 tsp. cumin

*1 tsp. coriander

*1 tsp. paprika

*1 tsp. oregano

Preheat oven to 350°

Pour tortilla chips in a zip top bag and using your hands, roughly crush them.

This makes a great stress reliever. Just try not to pulverize them if you’ve had a trying day. My first attempt turned to dust. I think hubby was a little afraid to come into the kitchen during this moment. Set aside

In a large pan over medium high heat, add ground beef and cook until no longer pink; drain if needed.

Turn the heat down to medium and add in the taco seasoning.

Stir to combine. Cook for about 2 minutes stirring frequently. If the seasonings start to turn dark, turn the heat down to low.

Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with no stick spray. Spread the black refried beans on to the bottom of the dish.

Spoon the beef mixture over the refried beans in an even layer.

Pour the salsa over the beef mixture.

Sprinkle 1 cup of the cheese over the salsa.

Add the crushed tortilla chips over the cheese.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the tortilla chips.

Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.

Enjoy!

*Note* If you like the cheese to taste a little like toasted cheese, then add it on at the beginning as noted. If you would prefer the cheese just melted, then add the cheese on top at the last 5 minutes of cooking.

To reheat any leftovers, I recommend rewarming it in the oven or toaster oven so the tortilla chips stay crispy. I tried reheating my first portion in the microwave and the tortilla chips became soggy. It was still really tasty, but it had lost that nice crunch.

How To Freeze Corn On The Cob

If you are like me and you love fresh summer corn and you find yourself with a good many, you might be wondering what to do with it. I find that freezing it is the best way to keep that just picked from the garden taste, not to mention you can still have great tasting corn even when the days turn cooler and it’s hard to find.

I have tried freezing corn two ways, blanching them first and without blanching them. Yes, blanching them does take time but the corn keeps that nice, sweet taste. Freezing them without blanching them, the corn seemed to taste a little bland and the kernels were not as tender, but they still tasted good. So really I think it’s a preference…to blanch or not to blanch that is the question….well a question only you will have an answer to.

No matter the route you choose, when you get your fresh corn, refrigerate and either use it all quickly or freeze it within a day or two. The longer corn sits, the sugars inside the corn starts to turn to starch and it starts to lose flavor. Below is how you can freeze your corn so you can continue to enjoy them coated in butter, slathered in a mixture of cheese, mayo and herbs, or take the kernels off of the cob and come up with a show stopping side dish.

Here is how you can freeze your corn.

Instructions:

1. Remove the husks and silk from the corn. You might need to use a soft brush. I have also used a damp paper towel.

2. Blanch the corn: Fill a large pot with water. Do not fill the pot up to the top with water, leave enough room for the corn or the water will spill out once the corn is added. Bring to a boil and add the corn. Do not add salt to the water. This makes the kernels less tender.

Boil for about 4 minutes.

3. Fill a large bowl with ice cubes and water. Place the corn in the ice water. This will stop it from cooking.

If you have a lot of corn, you might have to use more than one bowl. Keep corn in the ice water until the corn is cold.

4. Let the corn air dry. When completely dry, wrap each ear in plastic wrap.

You don’t have to do this step, but I have found it helps keep the corn from forming ice crystals while freezing.

5. Place the wrapped corn in a labeled zip top freezer bag and try to remove as much of the air as possible. Freeze for 8 to 12 months.

Now you can enjoy corn all year around.

If you need directions on how you can cook some of that tasty, sweet corn, click on the link to my earlier post Air Fryer Corn On The Cob with Smoky Parmesan Cilantro Butter . You will find directions on how to cook corn on the cob in the air fryer, on the grill, in the microwave and by boiling it.

Enjoy