Twice-Baked Taters

I think the entire world knows how much I love potatoes. It’s true, I love them so much that I want to move to Idaho to and marry a potato farm so I can take care of them to maturity, then cook them and eat them. I doubt I’ll ever actually live in  Idaho, let alone visit the state, so that’s not really a possibility but still I love me some potatoes.

In the process of branching out my potato cooking skills, I have developed the ability to bake potatoes like it’s no one’s business, except mine (I could probably make a job out of it). This comes in handy when you want to make bake potatoes, potato skins, or twice baked potatoes. I have told you about all of the above except the twice-baked potatoes. This is because I have never actually made them with my own hands until last night.

To start you need to bake your potatoes. If you are planning this as a side dish, bake half as many potatoes as there are people, plus one incase you mess up, if you want it to be a meal do one per person. Wash and dry the potatoes, then rub them in some canola oil and salt the outside. Also poke a few holes on each side with a fork so they can vent.

They should bake for at least an hour, to an hour and fifteen minutes, at 350 degrees. then pull them out of the oven. Keep the oven on, though.

Let them cool for 10-15 minutes, then slice them in half. Let them cool just a bit more (like 5 or 10 minutes) and then scoop ou the insides and put them in a mixing bowl, leaving a potato skin boat. It should be about a quarter-inch think, it needs to maintain its structural integrity.

Now you have a bowl of hot potato guts, add some cheese, some sour cream, and a couple of tablespoons of butter. Salt and pepper to your taste. If you are doing this not on a Monday, throw some bacon bits in there too. Mash this stuff up, making sure that the butter is completely melted and distributed evenly.

Take a scoop of this mixture and put it back into the potato boats, making sure that they are full. Top it with some more cheese, and bacon bits or whatever, and then pop them back into the oven for another 10-15 minutes. After the cheese has melted, turn the oven off, turn the broiler on, and let the top brown just a little. Do not let them go too long.IMG_7217

Serve with whatever you would like, they go great with almost anything but pasta or other carb-y food.IMG_7220

You can take a number of different paths with twice-baked potatoes. You can go with a Mexican flavor, throwing in some salsa in with the inside mixture and doing mexican cheeses, or you could do a jalapeno popper potato with cream cheese instead of sour cream and diced bits of jalapeno on the inside and on top with a crunchy bread crumb topping (you might want to keep those small, and they might not be that great anyway, I’ll have to try someday when I have extra time (HAHAHA time?)).IMG_7223

Anyway, you can make a meal out of these if you really want, but mostly they are just wildly delicious.

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BANANANANANANANA Bread

Actually, it’s just banana bread. But it’s more fun to say it BANANANANANANANA. Try it, it’s fun.

Yesterday was Mardi Gras, and in honor of the day of  binge eating I made a loaf of banana bread and put some chocolate chips in it. Oh man, it’s yummy. I kind of had a rough day yesterday and baking helps me calm down and enjoy myself, so there’s another reason for my baking actions.

Here’s what you will need (since it’s a baked good, you should have the actual quantities if you feel so inclined):

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup mashed bananas
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips (or nuts:P)

To start you’ll need to mix the oil and the sugar together.IMG_6957

Then the eggs, the salt, and the banana. About 1/2 a cup of eggs (I’m kidding, but still, it’s funny how these things work out).IMG_6958IMG_6959

Then add the vanilla and cinnamon.IMG_6960

And the soda, flour,IMG_6961 and chocolate chips. Be careful not to over mix it, that would be a bummer.IMG_6962

Then pour it into a greased pan.IMG_6963 I use Pam, because it’s easy and it’s fun to spray stuff.IMG_6964

Then pop it into the oven at 350 and let it bake for an hour. It may take longer than that, it probably will, but watch it closely  It will get dark, but that’s how it works. It will be okay and crunchy.

Once it’s done, let it cool for a little while, then take it out of the pan and put it onto a cooling rack to let it finish. At this point it should be cool enough to handle, so slice a piece of and enjoy it while it’s still warm. Grab a glass of milk and enjoy yourself.IMG_6965

I think that banana bread is my favorite thing to bake. It’s the only thing that I can get to consistently turn out properly; even cookies sometimes are flat and ugly. It’s a simply mix, and pretty easy to measure everything so that it won’t be flat._MG_6977

I think that the cinnamon adds a just a little extra excitement. You can also change up the chocolate chips and do walnuts or pecans instead. Apparently that’s what normal people do, but it should be obvious that I am not normal._MG_6976

Also, here’s a bonus pic of the edge that almost spilled over. The other side was nowhere near this close to the edge, so it probably happened because the rack in the oven may have been uneven.

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Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread

Nothing better than a boatload of cheese on a garlicky hunk of bread for watching the big game, right?  RIGHT! It turned out looking like a football, too, so that’s pretty funny (if I may say so myself)._MG_6898 We were looking for things to make, that were pretty unhealthy and good food to eat while watching others burn calories and we found this recipe. I became excited about it quickly and once all the ingredients were assembled I had a hard time waiting to start. You will need several green onions, a couple cloves of garlic, some butter, some cheese (shredded or off the block), and the  loaf, of course._MG_6872

To start, chop op the green onion and mince the garlic. Set aside and take the time now to preheat the oven to 400._MG_6887

Now cut the bread into a grid system, they don’t have to be perfect squares, but they should be pieces that are easy to handle in one or two bites. Probably about half an inch thick should be good._MG_6890

Now melt that butter (about a quarter cup) and mix the onions and garlic into it._MG_6892

And pout this delicious mixture between the slices of the bread, evenly distributing it, making sure that you don’t leave too many hunks in one section, you should push them down into it farther, like a deep pit of flavor._MG_6893

You’ll wrap this baby up in that foil it’s sitting on and pop it into the oven for 10-15 minutes.

Once that time is passed, pop it out and get ready to stuff it with cheese._MG_6888_MG_6894

Now pop it back into the oven, uncovered, for about twenty minutes, enough to melt the cheese and crisp up whatever bread is still exposed._MG_6899

It should look supper yummy and smell fantastic. It will be gooey and pull apart all stringy-like.

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It will be hard to control yourself, but that’s okay, Lent is around the corner, you have time to heal.

I used a sourdough loaf for it, and those flavors turned out pretty good. You can use Italian or whatever and some other cheeses than cheddar and jack. Also, you can do peppers and spices in place of the onion and garlic, and turn it into some sort of taco pull-apart bread. The idea is actually pretty versatile.

I hope you enjoy it, it’s pretty simple, pretty yummy, and pretty cute. Enjoy (in moderation).

Honey Glazed Salmon

Lent is coming up, and even though I’m not Catholic and my family doesn’t practice No-Meat Fridays, I do get super excited about fish. My favorite kind of fish is salmon, so when I found this recipe  I was super crazy excited to try it out.

I made the quinoa salad that’s on that page as well, but the asparagus at the store looked pitiful, so we omitted that for the time being. Hey, who cares if I followed that recipe exactly? I just needed some inspiration.

To start I got two salmon fillets (about 5 oz a piece), some chopped walnuts, a lemon,some Dijon, some honey, some Worcestershire sauce, some melted butter, and some salt and pepper.

I mixed all of the stuff except the walnuts and salmon together in a bowl.IMG_6933

IMG_6935Put the salmon into a greased (Pam-ed) pan. IMG_6936And then pour the honey mustard mixture over the top.

Then I sprinkled it with some walnuts (I didn’t chop them any further than they way they came from the store, so the hunks of nuts were huge, I would reccomend giving them another rough chop though).IMG_6938

IMG_6939And pop it into the oven at 400 for about twenty minutes.IMG_6941

This will make your house smell really good and it will be reallyhard to wait. BUT YOU MUST!IMG_6942

Okay, so that salmon is done. You should let it cool for just a minute, then serve yourself and your dinner partner. Scoop up the extra walnuts that are left in the pan and put them on top of each fillet.IMG_6946

Other than the salmon, the other ingredients are regularly in our cupboard and fridge, so it’s any easy dish to prepare, and it’s not that hard to prep. I think that this one will have to stay on the possible list for special dinners.

I served it with the quinoa salad, you can see my process here.IMG_6944

This meal was the nice end to a great day with my mom, so she was the one that I got to share with. We went to see Les Mis (finally, I know) and had some good quality girl time. She also helped me cook, which makes the whole cooking thing just that more enjoyable. She enjoyed the salmon, though, so we will probably have to make it again sometime (probably when my brother is home next, I think he might enjoy it).

Potato Glory

Since Christmas I feel like I have been in a little less motivated about trying new things. I mean, it’s just not happening.

I ended up with a brand-spanking-new cast iron skillet for my birthday, so I’m trying to use that for stuff, so that’s exciting and I made some yummy corn bread, but it’s not that special or different. I have found a way to incorporate it into these babies, though.

Obviously bacon is a gift from God (well, so is everything else, but this gift is a special one), and goes well with most everything, especially potatoes. So arm yourself with some crumbled bacon, no bacon bits, but the real stuff._MG_6842

Along with the classic, we’ll get a little grown-up, progressive, adventurous or whatever you want to call it. We’re making some potato skins with sweet potatoes!!

Arm yourself with as many potatoes as you would like, each potato will make two skins (come on kids, you can do simple math). Wash and trim them (take out the eyes and other weird stuff that’s kind of creepy looking) and dry them. Next, you’ll want to rub the outside of each one with some canola or olive oil (either works) and salt the white potatoes with sea salt. Place them on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven at 375 and let them bake for an hour, the skins should get crispy and the insides should get tender.IMG_6833

Once they are done, you can let them cool and slice them in half._MG_6848_MG_6849Scoop out the innards and let them cool the rest of the way.Then you can brush the inside with oil and pop them back in the oven for a little bit longer, they will get even more crispy, about 20 minutes. (Your sweet potatoes will bee a little weak, and may collapse.)_MG_6851

Pull them out and let them cool just a little bit, then you can top them. For the sweet potatoes you can do some brown sugar, cinnamon  chopped pecans, _MG_6854and marshmallows!!_MG_6847

For the white potatoes  top them with some cheddar cheese,_MG_6850 and some bacon. Then throw all of the potato skins under the broiler until the cheese is melted and the marshmallows get some nice color.

_MG_6855_MG_6863_MG_6864_MG_6859Serve the white potatoes with some sour cream and enjoy yourself.

This is a good party food, for maybe football or basketball watching. IF you have the time before hand to prep everything, people will love them.

Grilled Mozzarella Sandwich

So I made tomato soup and grilled cheese this week. But the soup and the grilled cheese were both a little special, the soup was homemade and the grilled cheese was made with moz and pesto. They both turned out really good, and I think that they will be made again at some point. But here’s how I did the sandwiches.

I decided to go with a caprese theme for dinner because I was using basil in the tomato soup. The sandwich continued the basil with some pesto and had the mozzarella, so as a whole the meal was caprese-like.

To start, I bought a nice loaf (it was not mean in anyway, the twist-tie is another story) of Italian bred from Hy-Vee, already sliced. [I boughta demi loaf earlier in the week and was trying to slice it, I ended up cutting my left forefinger and it bled a ton, through at least two band-aids. It was painful, but I didn’t bleed on the bread. I think I’m done trying to cut bread for a little while.] I had a jar of pesto in the fridge, and I bought a package of roll-out mozzarella (I didn’t know it existed either).

I think most people know how to do grilled cheese sandwiches, but I’ll still explain this anyway. I put down a nice layer of pesto on each slice of bread, not too much, but enough to taste good._MG_6734 Then I cut a few pieces of moz the fit the bread. I then put the cheese on one slice of bread, and put another on top (the one that went on top also had some pesto, too)._MG_6735

When the pan was nice and hot I brushed a little olive oil on the outside of the sandwich, both sides, and put it in the pan gently._MG_6745

The grilled cheese is finished when the cheese is melted and the outside of the sandwich is crunchy and golden.

Serve it with some tomato basil soup, and you’re golden._MG_6750 Dip it in there and get the bread nice and tomato-y and enjoy your beautiful life._MG_6752