Tuesday, July 30

Sweet Potato Magic (How to feed 4 people with 1 potato)

Recently I read an interesting competition called One potato magic. The rules stated you had to make a dish capable of feeding a family of four using only one potato. The potato had to be the featured ingredient and no other vegetable or starch could be included.

Of course, I chuckled to myself but then I looked at a few of the entries and wondered if I could do it. Turns out I could, my dish inspired by a cross between roasted potatoes and sweet potato casserole was a huge hit. We even had leftovers, now before you chuckle and say "no way". I should tell you about the four of us. Two adults, two children (one 13 the other 10) and we all like sweet potatoes! Seriously, give it a try and see if any guesses it was only one potato.

Full time: 1 hour
Serves 4

You will need:

1 extra large sweet potato*
1/2 cup miniature marshmellows or 8 large marshmellows cut in half
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp butter cut into 8 pieces
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

*a note about the potato: when I say extra large. I am referring to one of those potatoes you see in the pile and think, wow that thing is huge. It needs to be a good 8" long and at least 3-4" wide or 6" round. You want a baby foot ball.

Let us begin:

Preheat your oven to 350' and spray a baking dish lightly with cooking spray, set aside for a moment.

Wash and dry your potato.

Now here is the secret to this, how you cut the potato.

Start by cutting it in half.

Working with one half, cut it in half again, cutting parallel (or same direction) you just cut in.

Keeping these halves together. Cut four equal segments.

Keeping this all together still, start at one end and cut every 1/2" all the way down. This creates nice uniform pieces.

Place these pieces in baking dish and repeat with second half of potato.

Season potatoes with brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Give it a quick stir to even out the seasonings. 

Drop butter pieces across top, trying to spread out evenly.

Bake in oven 35-40 minutes or until potatoes are easily pierced with fork.

Carefully remove from oven and spread marshmellows across top.

Return to oven for 5 minutes, marshmellows will swell and turn golden, keep an eye on them if it looks like they are melting, remove from heat.

Remove from oven and serve.

That's it one potato magic, enjoy!

Sunday, July 28

Pretzel Chicken

Ever have one of those why not moments? Or ever have a half a bag of something hanging around that you do not want to waste? This was one of those times. A half a bag of pretzels meet chicken and happiness was created. Great texture, taste, and contrast combine to make this chicken simple but delicious.

Full time: 45-60 minutes
Serves 4

You will need:

2 eggs
1 1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken tenders
2-3 cup miniature pretzels (or equivalent)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese  
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Agave or honey for finishing

Let us begin:

Preheat oven to 350', spay a cooking sheet lightly with cooking spray and set aside for a moment.

In a bowl beat the two eggs, set aside.

In a zip top or plastic bag place pretzels.

Seal and whack with a rolling pin or flat mallet until they are nicely crumbled.

Pour into a bowl. Add in Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Stir to fully blend.

Carefully dip chicken into egg.

Than into pretzel mix, making sure to coat both sides.

Lay on baking sheet.

Repeat until all chicken it coated. Throw out remaining mixture.

Bake in oven for 35-45 minutes until fully cooked thru.

Remove from oven and let set 1-2 minutes on baking sheet.

Move to serving plate, drizzle lightly with agave or honey. Serve and enjoy!

Friday, July 26

HOW TO: Make Penne Margherita

Named after Margherita of Savoy, Margherita pasta/pizza features the colors of the Italian flag. White mozzarella balls, red tomatoes/sauce, and green basil. Making a flavorful combination which is well balanced and extremely delicious. 

Often referred to as a "white" pizza or pasta.  There are slight differences between the pizza and the pasta depending on where you get it. Some places or regions use cherry tomatoes, some use sliced tomatoes, and some use tomato sauce. In places where cherry tomatoes or tomato slices are used olive oil is commonly used to replace the "sauce" aspect of the dish, giving the dish a "white" color.

Margherita is a very easy dish to make and is one if my guilt pleasures. I very often make either the pizza or the pasta for myself on nights where I am the only one home. It cooks up quick and easy and requires little to no work. It is also a great spontaneous guest dinner. For those times you weren't expecting a visitor for dinner, Margherita is perfect. It looks fancy, tastes great, but takes little time to create.

Let us begin with what your going to need, I will be showing you both versions. This will take roughly 15 minutes to cook up and will serve 4.

You will need:

1 pound penne pasta
1 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella balls, roughly 1/2" or bite size (usually found in deli or cheese section of grocery store in water)
1 cup fresh thinly sliced basil
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp minced garlic

Either: 1 jar or 2 cups homemade tomato sauce

Or: 1 cup olive oil
2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

Let us begin making your Margherita:

In a large pot bring several quarts of salted water to a boil. (This means to add roughly 1 tsp of salt to water before boiling).

Cook pasta to al dente according to package directions.

Once cooked drain and set aside. Do not rinse! This next step happens fast so you do not need to work about sticking.

In a large sauté pan heat 1 tbsp olive oil, over medium high heat.

Once nice and hot, add in garlic and cook 1 minute or until it begins to golden.

Add to the pan either your olive oil or tomato sauce:

If using sauce allow sauce to heat 2-3 minutes, if using oil go straight to next step.

Add pasta into the sauté pan and toss or stir to fully coat.

Once you feel the pasta, sauce/oil is a good serving temperature add in the mozzarella balls. To do so remove them one at a time from the water and squish them with your thumb, this will split them slightly.

Now, add in the basil.

If using them add in tomatoes.

Toss or stir to fully incorporate.

Remove from heat once mozzarella begins to melt, approximately 2-3 minutes.

Move to a serving platter or plate.

Serve and enjoy! See how easy that was! I hope you have fun with your new knowledge of making Margherita, you can try both styles and see which one you prefer!

Wednesday, July 24

Kid-Friendly Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp is a great source of protein and perfect for weeknights. Recently it has been discovered that one if the two kids in the household love seafood. Shrimp, lobster, you name it, he is a fan. So I started playing around with recipes I thought he would enjoy. Here is a great bold flavor dish adults will love and kids will enjoy eating!

Full time: 20-25 minutes
Serves 4

You will need:

1 lb. large 18-21 count cleaned, tail off shrimp. (Frozen will also work, but defrost first)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp dried Italian blend herbs
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp warm water
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Let us begin:

Get a deep sauté pan preheated over medium-high heat.

Add in butter and olive oil to pan, allow butter to fully melt.

Add garlic into the pan and cook 1-2 minutes.

Add shrimp into the pan, cook 5-8 minutes or until shrimp has begun to turn pink.

Add lemon juice, herbs, salt, and pepper into the pan and stir well to coat shrimp. 

Continue to cook until liquid bubbles and shrimp is fully pink. Approximately 5 minutes.

In a small bowl mix together cornstarch and water.

Add into pan juices and stir well, sauce will thicken quickly. Approximately 1-2 minutes.

Remove from pan to serving plate.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Monday, July 22

Orange Dream Cupcakes

Summer means fun in the sun and nothing encompasses that feeling better than an orange dream cupcake. Fun, flavorful, and fantastic, these cupcakes are sure to please.

Full time 45 minutes
Makes 12 cupcakes

You will need:

3 eggs
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup milk, room temp
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp orange extract
1/4 tsp salt
6 drops yellow food coloring
2 drops red food coloring

Let us begin:

Preheat oven to 350 and line your cupcake tray with paper liners.

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add in eggs and mix until fully incorporated.

Add in vanilla and orange extracts and give it a quick mix.

Add in half of the flour, baking powder, and salt. Blending well.

Add in milk, food coloring, and blend well.

Add in remaining flour and blend well, make sure to scrape side of bowl once or twice.

Divide evenly into the paper liners and bake in oven for 18-20 minutes or until center tests done when a toothpick is inserted into the middle.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes in pan.

Move to wire rack or cutting board to finish cooling.

Now just plate, serve and enjoy!