Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Potato & Egg Hero

Potatoes and eggs are such a great weeknight meal. They are quick and easy to prepare, it is super cheap and it is easy to throw together with items you normally keep in the pantry. Potatoes and eggs are a staple in any Italian kitchen for these reasons exactly.

Recipe yields 2 heroes

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 14.5 oz cans new potatoes
Salt & pepper, to taste
12 jumbo eggs
2 Italian bread heroes

Peel and slice the potatoes into 1/4" thick slices. Heat a large skillet with oil and place the potatoes in an even layer. If all the potatoes do not fit, you can cook them in batches.

Cook the potatoes until browned and crisp. Season with salt and black pepper, to your liking. Return all the cooked potatoes to the skillet (if you had to cook in multiple batches) and crack the eggs right into the cooked potatoes. Break the yolks and begin to scramble the eggs so they cover the potatoes.

Cook for 3-5 minutes until the eggs are cooked through. Slice the Italian bread and place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes so it is toasty. Pile high the potato and egg mixture. Serve with a side of ketchup, tomato sauce or any other sauce you may prefer. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes

A simple side dish often goes unnoticed, but when it is as delicious as this one, it can make all the difference to your meal. Plain and ordinary mashed potatoes get a make-over with this cheesy upgrade.

Recipe yields 8 servings

2 lbs potatoes
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup Velveeta
2-3 tbsp butter
Salt & pepper, to taste

Peel potatoes and cut into cubes. Add to a large stock pot and cover with water. Bring water to a rolling boil and cook potatoes until soft throughout. Drain and return softened potatoes to the pot. Using a hand masher (or a fork) mash potatoes until most of the chunks are removed.

While the potatoes were cooking, prepare your cheese sauce. To a small sauce pot, add heavy cream and Velveeta. Stir until cheese is melted and you have a smooth mixture. Let simmer for 5-6 minutes to thicken.

Add cheese mixture and butter to the pot of mashed potatoes and stir in to combine well. The potatoes should become creamy. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and more butter, as needed to create a smooth texture.

Transfer potatoes to a large serving dish. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Carrot & Zucchini Cake Bars

During this time of year it is so easy to over indulge in all the sweets, cookies and cakes around the house. This a recipe for a great treat that fulfills the want for something sweet, but sneaks some healthy vegetables in, too. I have always been a lover of carrot cake and these little bars and the perfect size for that sweet (but not excessive) treat.

Recipe yields 16 bars

2 large eggs
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp baking soda

8 oz light cream cheese
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the eggs, brown sugar, oil, honey and vanilla extract.

Shred the carrots and zucchini. Fold them into the mixture along with the walnuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, ginger and baking soda. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until just incorporated, being sure not to over mix.

Pour batter into a well greased baking pan (13X9). Bake for 25-28 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the pan. In the meantime, combine all ingredients for the frosting and mix together using a hand mixer or your stand mixer.

Cut into bars and top with the frosting. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Story on Oats

Some of you may ask yourself what the deal is with oats. What are the different types? Does it really matter what the recipe calls for? Can't I just use what I have on hand? It all ultimately comes down to the way they are cut.

So these are all very valid and common questions, so I am hoping to shed some light onto the whole situation and let you in on a little secret (which will save you money and hassle in the end).

Old Fashioned or Rolled Oats (My personal favorite)

Old fashioned oats are the biggest of the oats. The key here is that the oats are rolled and not cut. They hold their shape and remain visible in your recipes and often result in a chewier product. My suggestion is to ONLY buy old fashioned oats when you are at the store. The reasoning for this is because you can quickly and painlessly turn old fashioned oats into quick oats with a few pulses in the food processor. As such, a batch of old fashioned oats will serve all of your baking and cooking needs.

Quick Oats

These oats are similar to old fashioned oats but have been cut down into smaller pieces making them easier and quicker to cook. When using quick oats in a recipe, it provides for more substance but without a chewiness that comes from the larger oats.

Steel Cut Oats

The key difference to steel cut oats is that they are actually groats. Groats are oats after they have been cleaned, toasted and hulled. The groats are then cut into pieces, instead of rolled. As a result, this type of oat is much chewier and takes a longer time to cook a break down. Steel cut oats are not ideal for baking as they do not break down during the cooking process as easily as the rolled oats.

I hope this helps you with your questions and you know exactly what to grab next time you are looking to make a batch of oatmeal cookies.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Chicken Sausage & Lentil Salad

So I clearly let myself go during the month of November. I am sorry to all of you who were missing my posts. Life has been very busy and unfortunately has gotten in the way of my posting schedule. But no excuses! Due to some current changes, my posting will likely become less frequent then everyone is used to, but I am going to do my best to crank out at least two posts a week. With that in mind comes this dish of sausage with lentil salad. I love lentils anytime of the year, but there is something so warm and hearty about them for winter time. The salad is easy to whip up and you can either grill or pan fry the sausage to add on top. If you are at all health conscious, you can always substitute the sausage for some grilled chicken.

Recipe yields 6 servings

1 1/4 cup green lentils
1 bay leaf
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup fennel
1 medium yellow onion
1 large carrot
1 rib celery
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
12 chicken sausage
Salt & pepper, to taste

Finely dice the onion, carrots and celery.

Thinly slice the fennel and mince the garlic.

Cook those sausage!

Saute all of your vegetables in a drop of oil to soften them up.

Cook your lentils in a large pot with the bay leaf and 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer for 20-25 minutes.

Drain them when they are done and remove the bay leaf.

Now that your vegetables are cooked...

..toss in the lentils. Add in your seasonings and give it all a gentle stir (red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt & pepper). You don't want to smoosh everything.

Remove to a serving dish and top with the sliced sausage. Enjoy!