Smash ‘Em – Crisp and Fluffy Baked Potatoes!

It’s been a while since my last posting, and if you follow me on other social media you’ll know I’ve been spending a lot of my ‘down time’ teaching a few different cooking classes at Hipcooks San Diego.  Absolute loving it, but haven’t found time to post here on a regular basis.  Rest assured, my freezer and tummy are still full, and I’m still doing my Sunday prep kitchen for the week ahead, including my go-to roasted chicken salad that gets me through weekday lunches!

Today I thought I’d share one my new favorite go-to ways to make roasted potatoes – smash ’em!  Easy as can be:  Wash/Boil, Smash, Season, Bake

Picture of Multi-Color Boiled Potatoes

Multi-Color Boiled Potatoes

Picture of Smashed Baked Potatoes

Smashed Baked Potatoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wash and boil bunch of small red and/or multi-colored new (thin skin) potatoes until a sharp knife pierces them with a bit of resistance.  Drain the water and leave in hot pot to dry out a bit.  (That’s the secret to the fluffy part!)  Transfer to a baking sheet and gently smash with a kitchen mallet or bottom of a glass/cup.  Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt/pepper, and bake at 425F for about 25-30 minutes until crispy and golden brown!  That’s it!

I hope you enjoy these easy and delicious roasted potatoes as much as I do.  I came home from teaching the pasta class today, roasted my regular Sunday Chicken and these beautiful potatoes – and I’m about ready to sit down to eat some dinner (right after I pour myself a glass of wine!)

Any questions, let me know.  If you’re in the San Diego area, check out a class at Hipcooks!

In the meantime, eat well – Buon Appetito!

 

 

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Turkey Pot Pie – Warm, Cozy, Delicious!

As the nights get colder, and very cold in some parts of the country, who doesn’t love a warm, satisfying, and delicious pot pie to help you settle into the night?  This particular pot pie was made with leftover turkey and green beans from Christmas dinner, and the gravy was made with some of the leftover turkey stock I had made to prepare the gravy.  (Shredded chicken and regular chicken broth will work just fine!)  In addition to that, I added a half bag of frozen vegetables and some cubed potatoes.  Could not have been easier!

Picture of freshly baked turkey pot pie

Ready to Eat!

Picture of unbaked turkey pot pie

Ready to bake!

Picture of freshly baked turkey pot pie

To make the gravy, use equal parts butter and flour.  (I used 4 TBSP butter/flour with about 4 cups warmed stock.)  Start by melting the butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat.  Once melted, whisk the flour into the butter and keep whisking for a minute or two to cook out the flour taste.  Slowly add in the stock, whisking constantly until fully combined.  Let “gravy” simmer for a few minutes, adding salt/pepper to taste.  (You might want to add a little extra salt/pepper at this point as the frozen vegetables will need the flavor.)  Once the gravy is bubbling and thickened a bit, add in all the rest of the ingredients:  2 cups chopped turkey or chicken meat, 1.5 cup frozen vegetables, 1 cup diced potatoes (frozen hash brown size potatoes work here, too,) and any other leftover veggies you want to add in.  I also had some leftover green beans that I chopped and added.

For the crust and assembly, it’s up to you.  You can put the pot pie mixture into a buttered baking dish and top with your homemade or favorite brand of biscuit dough, or you can go with pie crust – either homemade or your favorite from the store.  If using pie crust, you can use both bottom and top crusts.  If using biscuit mixture, just lay on top of the pot pie mixture.  Before baking, I like to brush dough with an egg wash (1 egg beat with a tablespoon of water) and sprinkle with coarse salt.  I use Maldon sea salt.  Bake at 400-425 F for about 30-40 minutes until brown and beautiful!  Let rest for at least 15 minutes, dig in and enjoy!  Any questions, just ask.  Buon appetito!

 


Stuffed Peppers – Turkey-Quinoa… in a Crockpot – yikes!

Okay, I admit it.  Never had, nor never wanted a crockpot.  I love to cook, so I never saw the point.  Given that, we got one this year and I did make a delicious Chicken Chili Verde.  Although that worked well for that purpose, I still couldn’t think of any reason to use, or want to use, a crockpot.  As my dad and I talk about food and cooking most every time we talk, he told me he had just made stuffed peppers in a crockpot.  (That surprised me because I never knew the crockpot to be his go-to cooking method.) . I guess I was hungry when we talked because that sounded so good to me, and I knew I’d make enough for a few to go into my freezer pantry.   Today being Father’s Day, though my father is 3,000 miles away, was the day I put crockpot stuffed peppers to the test!  Results:  AWESOME!

3.5 hours on high in the crockpot, then 20 minutes in the oven at 400F (I couldn’t help myself because to me it’s all about the golden color and added texture/taste.) . Here you have it, healthy, delicious, nutritious Turkey, Quinoa, Spinach, Feta, Crimini Mushroom, and Diced Tomato stuffed peppers!

(I had enough extra stuffing left for about 4 more peppers, so I made those directly in the oven.  Same result, but with 2+ hours with lots of checking, covering/uncovering, removing liquid, etc.)

Still not a crockpot convert, but it will be my go to cooking method the next time I’m craving stuffed peppers!  (Stuffed peppers allow you the freedom to put whatever you want in them, so get creative and have fun.  If you want more information about these peppers, let me know.)

Buon appetito!


8 Home-Cooked Meals for under $20?? No Problem – I’ve got you covered!

As I’ve shared many times before, I spend a few hours in the kitchen every weekend and we’ve got fresh and delicious home-cooked meals throughout the week ahead – and beyond!  Today’s adventure in the kitchen (and this blog post) isn’t about a new recipe I’ve been waiting to try, but all about my regular routine of ensuring I can always answer the question, “What’s for Dinner?” (and lunch, too, for that matter!)

So what does 8 meals for under $20 look like?

Chicken Salad Roasted Chicken goat-cheese-basil-chicken

 

 

 

 

I reserved 4 of the chicken breasts to prepare the Goat Cheese-Basil Chicken that will go in the freezer for easy weeknight meals (2 [2 serving] meals) that can be on the table in 45 minutes.  Then I roasted the remaining 2 chicken breasts with all the dark meat pieces.  The roasted breast meat (and a few of the thighs) were used to make the Chicken Salad (Quart size container – Easily 4-5 servings), and the rest of the dark meat pieces to be served alongside a salad, rice or potato, for another 2 [2 serving] meals.  (I saved the back bones to make chicken stock, too!)

Although I’ve shared each of these food prep ideas before, I thought it worth another post to remind everyone that fresh and delicious home-cooked are always within reach – at a fraction of the cost of going out or stopping at the drive-thru window on your way home from work.

I’m reminded about what I wrote in the “About Joe” section of this blog nearly 7 years ago, and it’s still true today.  Here’s an excerpt from that section:

I’ll write about shopping smart and turning leftovers into delightful new creations.  I’ll share ideas on dishes that can be made ahead and placed in the freezer to ensure a hot healthy meal after a long day at work.

I believe everyone can enjoy home-cooked meals at a fraction of the cost of going out – and feel good about what you’re doing for yourself and others in the process!  Food is a great way to share a part of yourself – and it doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive.

Thanks for joining me on my adventures in the kitchen, and I hope you’re inspired to try some of the recipes and prep-ahead ideas to reduce stress, eat fresh, and enjoy great food together!

Buon appetito!

 

 

 

 


Homemade Cavatelli!

Last day of winter break before going back to work tomorrow, so what better way to spend part of it than making homemade fresh pasta, Cavatelli to be exact!  My absolute favorite!   It’s very similar to a (potato) gnocchi, but made with ricotta cheese, and instead of little dumplings, the dough is rolled into little shells.  I posted this very easy (3 ingredients) recipe  a while back, and today’s updated post shows the same pasta made with my very vintage hand-crank Cavatelli machine.  The previous post, Sunday Cooking, shows a picture of hand-rolled pasta shells.  A little more free-form than these more uniform shells, but either way, they’re great!  (If you do get your hands on a machine, it’s even more important to have very dry and well-floured dough so it doesn’t get stuck in the machine!  Thanks, Dad, for that in-the-moment advice!)  It’s a good idea to lay them in a single layer on a sheet pan to freeze so they don’t stick together when put in a freezer bag for storage.  Take them right from the freezer into a pot of boiling salted water for 4-6 minutes.  They’ll float to the top when ready!  Buon Appetito!

Picture of fresh pastaCavatelli

Picture of vintage pasta makerCavatelli Machine


Everything Old is New Again!

Too many holiday leftovers?  Have you sworn you’ve eaten them for the last time?  Get creative and turn them into something new – with half the work already done for you!  Here are a couple of tasty treats I made after a 3-day food fest over Christmas weekend!

Chicken Pot Pie made with leftover chicken – 3 ways, a half bag of leftover fresh spinach leaves, a big bunch of carrots, some roasted potatoes, and a few other veggies (both cooked and uncooked) that rounded out the list of repurposed leftovers!

Picture of Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

I also had an extra pound (ball) of dough from a couple of pizza rolls I made over the Christmas weekend, so I decided to make a pizza with whatever I could find in the refrigerator.  I make my own pizzas at home all the time, but this was a first with only leftover ingredients I could find in the refrigerator.  I knew I had a little leftover red sauce and some mozzarella and parmesan cheeses on hand, but I wasn’t sure what else.  I served some delicious hard salami earlier in the week, so whatever I had left of that went on the pizza.  After a little more searching, I came across a container of spinach artichoke dip that I prepared a few nights earlier – and that became the perfect (last) topping before popping it in the oven.

Picture of fresh baked pizza

‘Anything Goes’ Pizza

I hope you all enjoyed this holiday season in whatever way you celebrate – and I hope it was filled with good food and fun!  Here’s to a delicious 2017!

Buon Appetito!


Economical, Flexible, Delicious!

Cooking on a regular basis doesn’t mean you have to come up with something new and different each and every time.  What it does mean is that you and your family will have healthy home-prepared meals at a fraction of the cost of going out – even fast food!  As part of this weekend’s ‘Sunday Fun-day in the Kitchen’, here’s a tray of breaded chicken cutlets (that have made an appearance on this blog before) that was the result of 3 large boneless chicken breasts for $5.18!!  Imagine the possibilities:  Chicken Parmesan, Chicken Sandwiches, Sliced Chicken atop a Green Salad, or any other way you can imagine eating crispy delicious oven-baked breaded chicken cutlets! – And what a bargain!!

Platter of Breaded Chicken Cutlets

Breaded Chicken Cutlets

Using a sharp knife, filet the boneless chicken breast to about 1/4″ thick, then cut into 4-5 cutlet size pieces.

Kosher Salt and Black Pepper both sides of each piece, dredge in flour, dip in beaten egg, then coat with seasoned bread crumb mixture.  Place on a prepared (cooking spray) baking sheet pan, drizzle olive oil between and around the pieces, then bake for about 15 minutes on each side to a crispy golden brown.  (You should shake the pan about half way through the cooking on each side to ensure the cutlets don’t stick to the pan.  Add more olive oil as needed.)  Once cooked, move cutlets to rest on a plate – then enjoy!  These store really well in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.  Now you know what’s for dinner!