Oven Roasted Potatoes

roasted potatoes

I’ve looked a lot of roasted potato recipes and I have been SHOCKED at how many recipes didn’t mention first boiling the potatoes.  This is something I’ve always done and I think it produces better results. It wasn’t until I specifically searched “boiling potatoes before roasting”  that some recipes that some good-looking recipes popped up.  Fun With Your Food to the rescue!

The main reasons for par-boilng the potatoes are that the roasted potatoes become crispier and a fluffier inside. I tried this with both sweet and red potatoes. The red potatoes come out crispier but the roasted sweet potatoes are still divine.

Roasted (sweet) Potatoes

1-2 pounds potatoes cut into chunks (I used sweet and red potatoes)

3-4 tablespoons oil (grapeseed, vegetable or other high heat oil)

salt and pepper

In a large pot, cover potatoes with water and add a generous pinch of salt.   Bring the potatoes to a boil. While the potatoes are cooking – preheat your over to 400F.  Boil potatoes for 5 -7 minutes.  You don’t want them to be falling part but mostly cooked through.  Drain the potatoes and let them sit to steam themselves dry for about 4-5 minutes. Generously coat the potatoes in oil, salt and pepper.  Here you can add some herbs if you’d like (rosemary is nice or some crushed garlic as well). Spread the potatoes onto a baking sheet.  Make sure they are in a  SINGLE layer. Place in the oven and let roast for 30 minutes.  At 30 minutes take them out and flip them so both sides get crisp. Put back into the oven for another 15 minutes. If you want them to get EXTRA crisp you can put them under your broiler on high for 5 minutes each side as well (be sure to watch so they don’t burn!)

Let cool for 5-10 minutes and eat straight away.

My New Waffle Maker

I have a confession. There are a few “must have” kitchen  that I simply haven’t cared to buy. One of my biggest offenses is THE WAFFLE MAKER.

I’ve never owned one.  See the thing is, I don’t LOVE waffles. I just am not a sweets for breakfast person. Eggs and harsh browns or potatoes O’Brien are my favorite breakfast foods.  However, I’ve been seeing a BUNCH of new articles about things you can make in a waffle maker, BESIDES waffles.  This really peaked my interest so I became DETERMINED to get a waffle maker.

I was in luck! Target had a small appliance sale and a ceramic waffle iron was included. I didn’t take the time to research a bunch of waffle irons, I simply found a sale and purchased it (I did the same thing with my crockpot without issues). The sale price was $29.99 and I still had $28 so I consider this an almost free waffle maker.

Here is the one I went with:

Oster DuraCeramic Flip Belgian Waffle Maker

Oster DuraCeramic Flip Belgian Waffle Maker

As soon as I got home with it, I wanted to test it and make waffles. I didn’t matter that it was 2pm on a Sunday- that still counts and brunch right? I found a recipe online and was happy to see I already had all the ingredients I needed.  I used the Betty Crocker basic Waffle recipe.  If you have a mixer, this recipe is quick and no hassle.  The only problem I had was determining what heat level to set that waffle maker at and for how long. I imagine that is a common new waffle maker issue though.  The results:

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I chose to top my waffle with some frozen tropical fruit that I thawed in a pan with maple syrup. I like frozen or fresh fruits on my waffle, The frozen fruits add flavor to my syrup and the fresh ones add great texture. * please note, not pictured are the mango mimosas paired with this waffle brunch.

Now I need some help on what ELSE I can make in a waffle maker.   Anyone have any tried and true recipes for me?

 

Roasted Brussel Sprouts You Will Love

I like Brussel sprouts but I know they’re not everyone’s favorite. This recipe should help win over most people who think they don’t like sprouts. It’s got enough going on other than the Brussels flavor for people to enjoy the dish.

Citrus roasted Brussel sprouts dusted with Chipotle powder and pecans.

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1 pound Brussel sprouts (halved lengthwise)

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil

1-3 Teaspoons of Chipotle Powder (depending on how much spice you like)

1 teaspoon sea salt

Juice and zest of 1-2 mandarin oranges

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Pre Heat Oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together oil, zest, juice, chipotle powder and salt. Add in Brussel sprouts and toss to coat them well.  Spread into one layer on a baking sheet and place in oven. Roast for 40 minutes and allow to cool for 10 minutes before enjoying!

Fino – Closing soon.

Any excuse for a good meal is a-ok with me

Any excuse for a good meal is a-ok with me

I don’t like to make a big deal out of Valentines day. I think of it as an excuse to eat a nice meal or to do something nice for myself- no gift required. This year my nice meal was at FINO. Sadly, this tasty spot will be closing it’s doors at the end of March 2015. The owners will be opening a new Italian restaurant in April 2015 and I’m sure it will be a great success.
What I ate:

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Muhammara- red pepper Mediterranean dip. This was an unexpected delight. It has a bit of kick and was served with fresh, warm pita.

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Tomato bisque with lime jelly- this was a free passed aperitif. It was a bite of bright lime and then a creamy smooth tomato finish.

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PEI Mussels- I am a sucker for this dish. If it’s on the menu, I’ll probably order it. This version had Chorizo and a tomato, white wine broth. The bread was butter soaked and fabulous.

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Black risotto with charred/grilled baby octopus – This was a Valentines special and the risotto was creamy and was spotted with random chunks of seafood.

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Pasta del Mar- This was another special and I think I have the name wrong (whoops!). There was a harrisa sauce as well a fresh green peas that made the entire entree pop with spice and freshness.

If you have a chance, get to FINO before it closes. They have a great happy hour:
$2 off Cocktail Menu | $2 off Beers
$1 Sherries | ½ off Aperitif Wines
$2 off Tapas
$5 House Sparkling, White and Red glasses of wine

Grilled peaches with maple syrup and vanilla ice cream

Foodie Photo Friday this week features a summer favorite that can be made in winter as well.

grilled summer peaches with maple syrup and vanilla ice cream

Grilled summer peaches with maple syrup and vanilla ice cream

You can use frozen peaches to make this in winter. This is so no-fuss that I can’t give it a full recipe post. I use my George Foreman non-stick grill to grill sliced peaches I’ve coated in maple syrup. If you’re using a grill plate or grilling outside, I’d use aluminum foil or coat your cooking surface generously with oil. Depending on how soft you like your peaches, it takes about 5-10 minutes flipping them over once so they’re heated evenly.

This is best devoured while the grilled peaches are still warm and pouring the extra maple syrup on top is a highly recommended as well.

Valentines Throwback Post

Every year at this time I see signs for chocolate covered strawberries. “Only 2.99 each!”

I think that is IN-SANE. Chocolate dipped strawberries are way too easy to make at home to pay that price. I was going to post about it but I searched my blog and *BAM!* I already have :)

You can review my post on how to make chocolate covered strawberries here.

Just one of the many benefits of having a blog for YEARS- the archives. Poke around them any ol’ time for fun recipes of yester-year.

My 2015 Super Bowl Snacks

I call the Super Bowl my Thanksgiving #2. For the past 4 years I’ve gathered with the same group of people and we have feasted while yelling at the tv.  To me, this is perfect. It’s a potluck but we have a generous host that always goes over the top with providing everything for a good party. The amount of food could be considered ridiculous.

Here are my contributions to this year’s party:

Super Bowl Snacks

Homemade herbed goat cheese, Homemade avocado cucumber salsa, Toasted baguettes brushed with truffle oil, Napa valley wine and Heller Bock (very drinkable cheap trader joes beer)

Homemade herbed goat cheese- This is unbelievably easy to make and sounds impressive. It was a big hit at the party. Costco has the cheapest goat cheese I’ve ever seen. I get some every time I go. Let the cheese sit on the counter and come to room temperature, then stir in either fresh herbs or pesto. I have pesto in my freezer from my garden this summer. I just melted that and mixed it in.

Homemade avocado cucumber salsa- Most people don’t know that there are cucumbers in this salsa but they add a nice cooling effect to the serrano I like to add in. Roughly chop avocado (2), cucumber (1), garlic, serrano pepper (1-2), cilantro and place in a food processor with lime juice (1 lime), salt and pepper.  Blend until smooth.

Toasted baguettes brushed with truffle oil- the biggest take away from this dish is that Trader Joes sells bottles of truffle oil for about 5 bucks. And that is ridiculous. You can’t afford NOT to get it at that price ;)

Gift Ideas for the Foodie in Your Life

Finding the perfect gift for a loved one can be difficult.  I have to say, I’m not the world’s best gift-getter. I think the best gift are ones you didn’t even know you wanted until you open them and are amazed. Here are some foodie gifts that I have put to good use.

A Kindle

typical kitchen 1

I didn’t know how much I would use this in my kitchen. It’s larger and easier to read than my phone so I frequently pull recipes I’m trying up on it while I’m cooking. You can get a Kindle for less that a hundred bucks now and that’s an amazing deal.

Slate Cheese board

Christmas Gift- Cheese board

I prefer my slate cheese board to a traditional wooden one simply because I can write on it. I have dragged a plastic cheese wrapper or two out before to tell my guests what they’re eating and this is a much nicer way to let them know. (around $20-35)

Ceramic Knives- I like the brand Kyocera. They allow you to send them in to be sharpened for life. Ceramic knives hold their edge for longer and slice things like buttah. The small ones are only about 20 bucks and the larger chefs knives only run 40. My household has 2 ceramic knives and I use them daily.

A Mr. Beer! If you read my post on brewing beer, this was how it all started for me. I didn’t even know what a Mr. Beer was when I got one as a gift. Great for your friends who like craft beer to start them making their own. (basic kit is around $55)

SEEDS- if you have any friends that like to garden, this is a wonderful, inexpensive gift. Even the most rare/heirloom variety seeds are $3 on the web. You can give the gift of an heirloom garden!

TV show or Movie based cookbook- They have cookbooks for any show or movie that involves food or feasts. Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Breaking Bad… Google someone’s favorite show and there MAY be a cookbook for it. This also opens up the opportunity for a themed dinner night with them!

These have all be unexpected wonderful presents for me, hope some of them inspire you as well!

Homemade Vegetable Stock

For me, cold weather means turning on my oven for roasting and eating ALL THE SOUPS.

The right way to start any soup is with a good, homemade stock. Yes, making stock can take a long time but what else you got going on during a freezing Sunday before work?? Plus, food is THE BEST air freshener for your whole house. This week I was in luck.  We had a small company birthday party and there was a veggie tray that everyone steered clear of. I took home the extra because I hate wasting a perfectly good two thirds of a mirepoix.

Vegetable stock

Vegetable stock

Vegetable stock recipe

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2-3 carrots (i had baby carrots and just plopped two handfuls in)

1 onion, quartered (don’t bother to peel)- I also save onion peels in my freezer and add them to stock

1-3 celery (from the veggie tray- just a couple of handfuls as well)

2 or 3 cloves garlic (don’t bother to peel)

SPICES- salt pepper, 1-2 Bay leaves, I just used Italian seasoning as well (spices are all dependent on what you like)

Add the oil to a stock pot and sautee over medium heat the carrots, onion , celery and garlic for about 5-7 minutes- until they start to brown. Then add 6-8 cups of water (depending on the size of you pot). Add in all your spices and let simmer for 1-2 hours. Drain out all the vegetables and take out the spices.

I freeze half of mine for the winter and use the other half over the next week or so. This stock is great for any soup and I like it use it when I make winter ramen as well.

Napa Valley- How I had a Successful Trip

Napa Valley is a place that has long been on my “must see” list. I had a few lady friends mentioned that we should all go together and we collectively put our feet down and did it! We all booked flights and my lovely organized friends booked a place for us to stay and even a driver. * Don’t drink and drive folks*

Ladies weekend in Napa

Ladies weekend in Napa

My recommendations:

Stop at a grocery store: This may seem like an odd one but you will not regret it. Snacking with wine tasting is ESSENTIAL. We were staying outside of Napa proper and there was a gem of a market there. (Glen Allen Super Market) Gourmet sandwiches, phenomenal cheese plates are normal finds here and some vineyards will let you have food while you sample wine.

Rent from Air BnB or Home Away: If you’re staying for a few days it’s glorious to be able to wake up and make a big breakfast.

Our blissful homemade breakfast

Our blissful homemade breakfast

Hire a Driver: All of us LOVED our driver. He felt out what our wine preferences were and really lead us around based on our feedback. He really steered us in the right direction. (hehe see what I did there??)  We used Da Vine Wine Tours. Worth every penny.

Head OUTSIDE Napa: Tastings in Napa run a high price.  There are a lot of award wining wineries in the surrounding areas that won’t charge $30 for a tasting, research those before you go. Also, mention to your driver that you’re willing to leave the Napa bubble

Visit Yountville:  is quaint, cute and the biggest draw is the Bouchon Bakery (owned by The French Laundry Chef- Thomas Keller). Bouchon has a to-go bakery where you can walk up and grab some macaroons or warm cheesy sandwiches to go.

Build a day off into your itinerary: If you’re there for 4 days or more, that’s a LOT of wine tasting. I would take a day to head into The City or plan some other day trip in the surrounding area. Your liver will thank you.

Don’t be shy about a brewery tour!: While it’s known for it’s wine, the Napa area has a strong brewing scene as well.  The famous Pliny the Elder IPA hails from the Napa Valley and you can see where it’s brewed at the Russian River Brewing Co.

napa pliny the Elder

You know I had to try the beer there too ;)

We’re already talking about another trip to Napa. Now that I know these tips, the second trip will be EVEN better than the first.