Monday, May 31, 2010

This Week's Menu

Monday: Memorial Day Picnic at the Park
(I'm bringing Potato Salad and Oatmeal Crispies)

Tuesday: Tequila Lime Chicken
Tortilla chips
Squash and Zucchini

Wednesday: Pan Fried Flounder with Corn and Tomatoes

Thursday: Dinner at Rachel's

Friday: Spinach & Mushroom Salad

Saturday: Shaved Asparagus Pizza
Parmesan Twists

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Twice Baked Potatoes or Part II of the 10lb bag of Potatoes

The potatoes are back!!!!

I promise that my next post will not be potato related.

I hope.

Twice baked potatoes are a recipe I stumbled upon about a year or so ago. Yes, they are basically a baked potato, but with a little bit of extra goodness. I never make them the same way twice (because that would be booooring), but I will share with you how I made this batch.

The ingredients:
milk; cheddar cheese; green onions; sour cream; butter; potatoes; olive oil; salt and pepper, too.
(You could also use cream cheese, bacon or cream if you have it. I'll tell you when you can add them.)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

You certainly don't have to, but sometimes I drizzle olive oil over the freshly scrubbed potatoes.
And then I rub the olive oil all over the potato. It kind of gives the skin a crispier skin. Throw these potatoes in the oven for about an hour.
In a small bowl, we will be mixing ingredients. Now, you don't have to measure these if you don't want to, but remember that you'll be adding the cooked potatoes to the mix and you won't want it too sloshy. So, kind of eyeball it while you're mixing to make sure it's not to runny.

I started with 2 chopped green onions (you can add the bacon here if you have it)...
sour cream (I used 1/2 a cup)...
a little less than 1/4 C. of milk (or cream if you like)...
and one chopped up stick of butter (and/or cream cheese if you'd like).
This would be Julia saying, "Mommy, I eat? Juju eat?". It's a daily occurrence while I cook.
The potatoes are done!! Now, slice them down the middle.
And using a towel, because those buggers are going to be H O T, take each half...
and scoop out the innards and toss them into the bowl with the other ingredients. Leave enough of the potato in the skin as a kind of wall.
Oops. I attacked this potato and ruined it's wall. No worries, it'll be fine.
Now, take your fabulous potato masher your husband bought you because he loves you and would like you to make mashed potatoes often,
and mash everything together in the bowl. Of course, I had mine a bit too runny, so I added some cheese to the mixture to thicken it up. Next time, I will eyeball it better. I promise.
Because I had company over while I was finishing these up and because I can't do more than one thing at a time, I did not take pictures of the next few steps. But, you will take the mixture in the bowl and put them back into the potato skins. They might be wobbly, but it's okay. You can top them with cheese and bacon if you so desire. Then, put them carefully back into the oven and cook them again for another 15-20 minutes. Mine kind of spilled a bit, but I just scooped the spilled parts and put them back into the potato skins when I served them.

We ate ours with beef brisket and salad. My family loves these potatoes and ate them even before the beef! They also reheat nicely in the microwave as leftovers. But, what I love, is that you can add whatever you want to these to make them your own!


Monday, May 24, 2010

Oven Fries

Recently, I happened to be on base when they were having their case sale at the Commisary. I had never been to a case sale before (due to still being new to the Air Force and everything) and was super stoked to find out that a case sale was in fact a sale on CASES of food.

I was ecstatic.

One of the many, many things I purchased was 10lbs. of potatoes. Our family loves the potato. It's so diverse. You can do millions of things with them. And, I totally plan on showing you some of those millions of things while I steadfastly create meals around 10lbs. of potatoes. :)

First on the list--Oven Fries.

Oven Fries are a staple side in our house. They are mindlessly easy to make and just sit in the oven baking away while you tend to the rest of the meal. Plus, you can make them for 1-2 people or for a dinner party, depending on how many pounds of potatoes you .

(I have 10lbs.)

Let's get started!

potatoes; olive oil; Kosher salt; pepper. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Since this is a free country and you can slice and dice your potatoes however you wish, I will just show you how I choose to cut mine.
First, I cut it in half.
Then I cut the halves in half aka fourths.
Then I cut the halves halves in half aka eighths. (I know, you'd never survive in the kitchen without me. I'm the reason you know fractions. Does it scare you I used to teach children?)
Take all the cut up potatoes and throw them in a bowl and add some olive oil. I don't measure, I just pour until I think it's enough. If I had to guess how much I pour, I'd say it's around 1/4C.
Then I toss in some Kosher salt. Kosher salt is muuuuch more forgiving then table salt, so I don't panic if I accidentally add more than intended. But, please remember, I do love salt and would love to have a salt lick in my home like they have for deer. I'm just saying.
Then I add some pepper. I stir the potatoes around until I'm sure they're evenly coated.
Place them on a greased cookie sheet. Make sure they're all touching the cookie sheet and none are overlapping each other or they won't cook evenly.
Oh, look! It's Julia! She's spinning in the kitchen until she gets dizzy, her favoritest thing to do while I cook.
I leave my oven fries in for a good 20-30 minutes, checking on them occasionally. Evan hates hates hates mushy oven fries, so I'm looking for crispness.
See how brown they are? Yum...
We ate ours with Pioneer Woman's Marlboro Man sandwich. It's Evan's favorite sandwich now and he asks for it all.the.time. You should go check out her website because it's fabulously fantastic and even my girls love it. And the oven fries are PERFECT as a side with the sandwich. I promise!

This Week's Menu

Something that makes me happy is unexpected dinners at friends' houses. Of course, we have our weekly dinner at my friend Rachel's house (which I adore), but then we ended up having a cook out over at one of Evan's co-worker's house. I love a fantastically grilled hamburger. Then, on Saturday, we had a wedding so we ate a delicious meal there. Needless to say, our menu from last week got a little neglected and pushed around. So, we're going to try some of those meals again this week. :)

Monday: Lasagna

Tuesday: Beef Brisket
Twice Baked Potatoes

Wednesday: Tacos
Refried Beans

Thursday: Rachel's House

Friday: Southern Sloppy Joes
German Potato Salad
Green Beans

Saturday: Pan Fried Flounder with Scallions, Corn and Tomatoes

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

This Week's Menu

Monday--Creamy Orzo

Tuesday--Asparagus Frittata
Hash browns

Wednesday--Braised Beef Brisket
Twice Baked Potatoes
Green Beans

Thursday--Dinner at Rachel's!

Friday--Pan-fried Flounder with Scallions, Corn and Tomatoes

Monday, May 17, 2010

Chinese Chicken Salad

This is Evan's absolute favorite meal of all time. I remember his mom making it when we were dating and when we got married it was the first recipe he asked for me to get from her. It's more of a warm weather dish, and when Spring and Summer roll around, we have this probably every week. It's fantastically easy and super delicious!

The ingredients:
2 packages of cole slaw mix; green onions; 1/2 C. sunflower seeds; 2 packages of Ramen noodles (make sure one of them is the oriental kind); 1/2 lb. of cooked chicken; soy sauce; red wine vinegar; sesame oil; vegetable oil; water. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Oh, and sugar. You will need sugar.

Start by dumping the cole slaw into a very, very, very large bowl. I'm not kidding, it needs to be HUGE. I bought this bowl at IKEA and it is the Chinese Chicken Salad bowl.
Take the two packages of Ramen noodles and crush them to smithereens and put them on a cookie sheet. Then take the 1/2 C. of sunflower seeds and also add them to the cookie sheet.
You will be putting these into the oven for about 5-10 minutes. We're just browning them, so keep an eye on them. Burnt Ramen noodles are way nasty. Not that I have ever burnt them before or anything.
While the noodles and sunflower seeds are roasting, take your green onions
and chop them up! Add them to the cole slaw mix.
(I must tell you that, when I first started making this salad, I refused to add the green onions. I felt like they ruined the dish and I hated hated hated green onions. But, as time has gone by, as my taste buds have changed, and as Evan has cried tears of sorrow each and every time that I neglected to add the green onions, I have learned to enjoy the taste in moderation. So, I only use 2-3 green onions. You can always use more--my mother-in-law uses an entire bunch of them--or you can omit them completely.)

Take the cooked chicken and either shred or cube it. Add it to the cole slaw mix.
Oh, look, perfectly roasted noodles and sunflower seeds! Hooray! Add them to the cole slaw mix.
Now it is time for the dressing. In a microwaveable bowl (or measuring cup, as I apparently used), add 1/2 C. of sugar.
The entire packet from the oriental flavored Ramen noodles.
2 Tbsp. of soy sauce.
1/4 C. of sesame oil.
1/4 C. of vegetable oil.
1/4 C. of water.
1/4 C. of red wine (or white) vinegar.
Stir together and then pop that into the microwave for 1 minute.
After you've nuked it, give it another stir and then pour it over the cole slaw mix. Stir the entire salad, being careful not to spill the contents out of the very full bowl and getting it on your khakis and then saying bad words.
When you are done, chill it in the refrigerator (after you've cleared an entire shelf to make way for your OBSCENELY GIGANTIC bowl) for an hour or so.
I neglected to take a picture of this wonderful salad being presented on a plate because, once it's time to actually eat this dish, there is no picture taking. There is only shoving as much of this deliciousness into your pie whole as fast as you can before the kids and Evan eat it all. Oh, and we do tend to add more soy sauce on top before eating it, but please remember, we do love us some soy sauce. Also, please note how the crunchy noodles and sunflower seeds are such a compliment to the tangy dressing and crisp slaw. Yum...


Wednesday, May 12, 2010


We are a popcorn family. It's our favorite snack. Evan and Elisabeth eat it every Friday night when they watch "Star Wars: The Clone Wars". Evan and I have it maybe every other night while we watch tv.

If I had to have a "last meal" it would be chicken and dumplings and popcorn.

Which is why I need to introduce you to this:
It's a Whirlypop. We received it as a wedding gift (5 years ago this month!!) and we have put it to good use. We actually kind of forgot about it once we'd moved out here. But, when I bought real kernels instead of microwave popcorn, our love of the Whirlypop returned.
Here's the inside.
So, what you do is you take 4 Tbsp. of the kernels.
Dump them in. Add about 1/2 Tbsp of salt or less. Add 2 Tbsp. of oil and get to whirling!
We set our heat at medium-high. You just have to continuously turn the crank so the kernels are moving around. It takes about 3-4 minutes.
Look at Evan. He's such a happy whirler.
And, PRESTO!, you have delicious popcorn!
The nice thing about the Whirlypop is that it came with a little recipe book. Our favorite is the cinnamon popcorn recipe, but there's tons of others--cheesy popcorns, chocolate popcorns, even spicy popcorns!

If you do not have a popcorn maker (aka: not microwave bags), then I totally recommend investing in one. Elisabeth LOVES helping us make the popcorn and it's kind of a fun thing when she has friends over. It impresses the crowd.