March 14, 2014

My Take On A Few Irish Classics for Saint Patrick's Day!

Monday is Saint Patrick's Day and because I'd like to ignore the possibility of an accumulating snow in March and focus on something else, let's revisit some entries from years past and take a look at my take on a few Irish Classics. I blogged all about them and you can check them out here.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day everyone!

Oh and avoid the green beer. Seriously. ;)

Posted by Dianne at 1:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 13, 2014

Baked Potato Casserole

As some of you know Jamison is a pick eater. On top of this, a few years back, we found out he can't really tolerate gluten. Not a big deal, but when the majority of your diet is in some form of gluten, you've got problems. Every once in a while, I go out on a limb and try to make something different for him to eat, though he's not much of a "Let's try something new!" sort of person. I get bored with his food. He suffers through, but I'm completely bored to tears, and this is how this came about.

He'll eat bacon, he'll eat cheese, he'll eat potatoes, why not toss them all together and make something new. I knew it was a crap shoot whether he'd eat it or not, but hey, I like all those things too, so it was all good, and that's exactly what this was...all good! Jamison even liked it, and Jamison liking something, especially food, well that's not a common occurrence.

The great thing about this, is there are no wrong answers. A little more of this, a little more of that, it all works. This is also a good dish for using left over baked or mashed potatoes. I always like something that takes leftovers to a new level. It's a win, win, win, win situation! ;)

What You'll Need:
10-12 potatoes, baked and peeled (Note: Just fill up most of a 13 X 9 inch dish with potatoes.)
1 package of uncured, natural bacon, chopped and cooked and drained
1 cup of half and half or heavy cream, divided
1 stick of butter, melted
Sea salt (Note: If you want to just go crazy use season salt instead!)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup of sour cream
1 - 8 ounce block of cheddar cheese, shredded and divided

First you want to bake your potatoes and let them cool. Or you can use left over potatoes. It's all up to you. You want enough potatoes to basically fill a 13 X 9 inch dish with mashed potatoes when it's done. This go around I baked them for the recipe specifically.

Bake those potatoes, let them cool, peel the skin off. Set aside.

While the potatoes are baking, chop up a package of bacon and cook until crispy. Drain and set aside.

Next shred your cheese. I can't stress this enough...take the time and shred it yourself. The stuff you buy pre-shredded is weird and has stuff in it to keep it "separate" and from molding. You want cheese, not fillers. It's so much better when you start with a block of cheese and shred it yourself.

Trust me.

After your potatoes are cooled, and all of your ingredients are ready, turn your oven on and start mixing!

Preheat oven to 400 F.

In a large bowl mash the potatoes with butter, 1/2 cup of half and half or cream, salt, pepper, 1 cup of cheese and sour cream. You want the consistency of mashed potatoes. If you need to add a bit more dairy or sour cream to get it right, go for it. Once you hit the right consistency stop adding. Just add a bit at a time. Sometimes you won't need to, others you might. Sometimes potatoes are more dry than others.

Spray a 13 X 9 inch dish with non-stick spray. You can use the dish you baked the potatoes in if you like, that's what I did. Spread potato mixture in to the dish. Sprinkle the top of the mixture with the rest of the cheese and all of the bacon. Then pour 1/2 cup of half and half or heavy cream over the top of the cheese and bacon evenly.

Bake for for 25 minutes covered. Uncover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until slightly golden and bubbly.

Let sit for 5 minutes and then serve.

Notes: You could serve this by topping it with a bit of sour cream and some chives or green onion if you wanted, but trust me, it's good just as it is!

Posted by Dianne at 11:23 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

December 3, 2013

Pumpkin Banana Muffins

Pumpkin Banana Muffins

Long time, no see huh?

I'll bet you thought I've gotten lost and I guess in a way I have.

I needed a little blog break, so I took one. 2013 really has been a horrible year for my family as a whole, and topped with my on and off again depression, it just got the better of me for a while. Depression kind of moves in, takes up camp, drives its stakes down deep and dares you to remove them. The human psyche is such a fragile place.

Last week however I actually got back in the kitchen in a big way and I thought I'd share these muffins with you. I can't promise I'm back on a regular basis, but I'm feeling better, and I'm feeling creative, so we'll see where we end up from here.

For now, if you're a pumpkin lover, grab a cuppa and make some of these muffins...you won't be sorry you did!

What You'll Need for the Muffins:
2 cups of unbleached, all purpose flour
1 cup of brown sugar (preferably natural)
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon of cinnamon (preferably Saigon)
1/3 cup of oil (preferably safflower)
1/3 cup of maple syrup
1 cup of buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 - 15 ounce container of mashed pumpkin
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
Crumble topping (see below)

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Prepare muffins pans with cupcake liners and set aside.

In a large bowl stir together flour, brown sugar, sea salt, baking powder and cinnamon until completely incorporated.

Add oil, maple syrup, buttermilk, eggs, pumpkin and bananas to the dry ingredients and stir until completely mixed.

Add batter to prepared muffin pans, filling each cup 2/3 of the way full.

Top each cup with a layer of crumble topping.

Place muffin pan on top of a baking sheet to prevent spill overs. Bake for 25-30 minutes until tops are golden and muffins stick clean.

Let cool and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Makes 32-36 muffins.

Notes on the Muffins: You can add in nutmeg and/or allspice if you like. 1/4 of a teaspoon would be fine. You can also add 1 cup of raisins to the batter if you like them.

What You'll Need for the Crumble Topping:
1 cup of raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup of brown sugar (preferably natural)
1/2 cup of unbleached, all purpose flour
1 stick of butter, softened and cut into chunks

In a large bowl stir together pumpkin seeds, brown sugar and flour until completely mixed.

Add butter chunks and work in to the dry mixture with your hands until mixture is crumbly.

Use mixture in recipe above.

Notes on the Crumble Topping: You can use nuts instead of pumpkin seeds, or a mixture of the two. This is also a good topping for sweet potatoes.

Posted by Dianne at 12:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

July 11, 2013

It's Time for Some Summer Pie!

Summer Pie

I love all the fresh fruits and veggies this time of year. Alexis and I have been eating a lot of fresh fruit and salads the past few weeks. Around this time, when the tomatoes and zucchini are beginning to become abundant, I always start thinking about Summer Pie!

Unfortunately I'm the only one in my family who will eat this, and it doesn't freeze well, so I usually only make it once a year, but I look forward to this all year long. I feel this year's Summer Pie coming on really soon. I need to head to the farmer's market or orchard soon. I can't wait!

Are there any foods that you look forward to?

Want to make a Summer Pie of your own? Check out the recipe here.

Posted by Dianne at 2:10 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)