Tag Archives: Onion

Superbowl Extravaganza: Seasoned Potato Wedges

5 Feb

I’ve been making fries, like the ones in this post, for about 1 year and 1/2 now. Like other times in my life, I’ve come across a better way to make them. And this is a case of learning on the job. These potato wedges make my french fries look so average! And you won’t believe the trick I learned to make them crispy outside and soft inside without frying them!

*Note: Due to a photo editing error, these pictures are smaller than usual, sorry!*

First, pre-heat your oven to 425 and then fill a medium sized pot with water and  bring it to a boil.

Next you’ll need to peel your potatoes. For two of us, I used four small-medium russet potatoes.

After peeling them slice them in half, then again, and then again. So you’ll have 8 pieces for each potato.

Once you have cut all your potatoes, add your potatoes to the pot. By boiling them first, we are allowing them to cook so that the inside will be soft and the outside will remain crispy from the oven.

While the potatoes boil, its a great time to get your other ingredients ready. I like to blend all my seasonings together and then add them at once to the potatoes. For this seasoning mixture, you’ll need 1 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp garlic salt 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 1 1/2 tsp chili powder. Yes, chili powder is the great and secret ingredient to these potato wedges!

After about 5-7 minutes in the pot, drain your potatoes and let cool slightly. For the next step, you’ll be putting them into a plastic bag, so you won’t want them boiling hot for that!

Grab a bowl and a gallon sized plastic bag. Roll over the edges so its easy to add to the bag.

Then carefully add the hot potatoes to the bag. Make sure they aren’t too hot, otherwise they will melt the plastic. Whoops!

Then grab your olive oil and add around 2-3 tablespoons. I eyeballed it and just added it straight from the bottle. Don’t do this unless you are familiar with the speed that the oil comes out of the bottle.

First, shake up the potatoes with the oil. The bag will be hot to the touch, so use caution when handling it. After the potatoes are evenly covered with oil, place the bag back in the bowl, open it back up, and roll the edges again.

Now add the dry seasoning mixture from earlier.

And then shake it, shake it, shake it. (Once again, carefully…that is!)

The potato wedges should look like this once they are fully and evenly covered with oil and seasoning.

Open the bag and then wiggle the bag across a cookie sheet to get all the wedges out in the most mess free, and fastest way possible.

And then separate them before they go into the oven.

Put them in the oven for 20 minutes. If you’re not too busy, get them a flip half way through. Another trick for crispier skin is to put them under the broiler for about 2 minutes before you take them out. I left them in about 10 seconds too long, but my husband loves burnt things (go figure – he loves it when I burn stuff??).

These are so good, you can eat them without ketchup! They’d also be great with a chipolte ranch or BBQ sauce.

Superbowl Extravagaza: Healthy Guacamole

3 Feb

You might think that guacamole is one of the more fatty dips to avoid during a diet. But then you hear that avocado is good for you – a healthy fat, they say. Then why is this delicious go-to party/game dip such a calorie-laden waistline disaster? A little avocado, good for you. Heaping servings of guacamole and 15 tortilla chips…not so much! So I have learned a trick, thanks to some help from others, that will reduce the fat and calories too! Wanna know the secret?

Early Young PEAS! If you are anything like me, I know that right now you are thinking, “GROOOOSSS, what an awful thing to pair with avocado!” But I can promise that you will barely even taste it. Here’s my version of pea & avocado “guac” dip.

If you have some built up frustration, go ahead and start mashing the drained peas with the back of a spoon. Or, you can toss them in a mini food processor and push a button. I did a little of both to get the smooth consistency that I wanted for the peas.

I like my guacamole to have actual bits of avocado in it. So instead of scooping the entire avocado in at once, I mashed the peas together with one half the avocado and then added my seasoning.

For my guacamole seasoning, healthy version, or full calorie-loaded treat, I use: 1 tbsp lime juice, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, 1/4 tsp garlic salt, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp onion powder. If I have fresh minced garlic on hand, I throw that in too.

Next add your veggies. I usually add both finely chopped yellow onion, and diced roma tomatoes. I love tasting the individual veggies, but if you prefer a smoother taste, leave them out, or mince both veggies to enhance the overall flavor.

Lastly, add your second half of avocado into your dip. Incorporate it with all the ingredients and then grab a chip. I know you’re skeptical, but don’t worry. You won’ taste the peas – unless you’re really searching for them.

Go ahead, have your friends at the party try it. Maybe make one without and one with to see the difference. Yes, there will be one – mostly in a slight color change, but who would have thought PEAS would be the trick? I estimate that you’ll cut calories by half and cut your fat by almost 75% less than an all-avocado version.

If you are making this in advance, cover tightly with plastic wrap and use the pit to keep the guacamole a bright green color. This recipe is best served after being in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

Chicken Sausage Pasta

24 Jan

There is something about January that makes people want to diet and exercise. Just the word diet implies so much “yuck” that I have come to detest that word. To me, it stands for, “You can’t eat this, or that, or that, or that…” and well, you get the picture. But one thing you shouldn’t have to give up, sausage! Just like I use ground turkey for ground beef, I substitute chicken sausage for regular sausage.

I’ve made a few dishes with chicken sausage, but my favorite includes a small bed of pasta, topped with marinara, sautéed spinach, and then sliced sausage. The final product is impressive, but the process and ingredients are so easy.

First, in a medium size pot, heat four cups of water to a boil for your pasta. Add 1/2 tsp salt if desired (I always add salt to my pasta water, even just a pinch makes a difference!).

First, add 1 tbsp olive oil to a frying pan set to medium high. Next add 1/2 a medium onion, quartered. Then add your sausage.

By this time, your water should be ready for the pasta.

This is a great time to prep your sauce. I love making big batches of sauce and saving them in small containers for easy use. However, you can always use my marinara cheat or a jarred sauce if you’re short on time. If you are making a fresh sauce, reserve about 1/2 cup of tomato juice for later.

Be sure to check on your sausage, as you want the skin to brown evenly.

If you notice that your sausage is browning to quickly, turn down the heat to low and cover to finish the cooking that way. If the sausage is sticking to the pan too much, you might have not used enough oil, or the sausage isn’t ready to turn over yet. Of course, little bits will stick to the pan here and there, creating what could be a terrible to clean up mess. However, we’re going to fix that.

Remember that tomato juice from earlier? Now its time to add it to your pan to deglaze the caramelized bits on the bottom pan. And just like that, all those bits of flavor are suddenly incorporated into your sausage and onion flavors. If you didn’t use a can of tomatoes and don’t have the reserved juice, take about 1/4 cup marinara and add 2 tbsp water and then add that to the sauce. It’s the acidity from the tomatoes that help this to happen.

The smell at this point is almost heavenly, but resist the urge to eat them now! Check your pasta and drain if ready.

Its time to get our last step ready, the spinach. Add 1 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 minced garlic to a non-stick pan over medium high heat. Then add a heaping mound of baby spinach. I use about 1 big handfuls for each serving of this dish. If you need more than two servings, be sure to adjust the amount of oil, garlic, and butter too. Carefully toss the spinach until just wilted, and then remove from heat. At first, the pan might seem too dry, but it will come together quickly. The big mound of spinach turns into a very small amount, in an even smaller amount of time.

If you or someone eating this dish doesn’t like spinach, substitute with another more favorable vegetable. Asparagus or broccoli might work, but will impact the overall texture, since spinach is soft and incorporates better with the pasta.

Now its time to serve. First, layer the pasta followed by a serving of marinara, and sprinkle with a dash of basil.

Next, add your sautéed spinach. To incorporate the onions and sauce in the sausage pan, drizzle it on the spinach. Then, slice your sausage at an angle, and arrange atop the spinach.

This is a flavorful and filling dish without all the extra fat of a pork sausage, pasta heavy, cheesy Italian meal. Fresh spinach, light pasta, healthy sausage…time to say goodbye to the January diet! Serve this dish with a side of fruit for an even better meal.

Cheatin’ on Marinara

18 Jan

A good marinara can be the difference between an okay pasta dish and an amazingly delicious meal. And there have been times that I have let a sauce simmer on a stove for three hours before using it in a dish that is baked for an additional hour. But some days, I don’t have four hours to devote to a meal. In fact, I nearly have around 30-40 minutes each night from the time I get through the door to get dinner on the table to eat and enjoy before we’re off to something that night.

So I like to cheat on marinara.

Okay, so seriously, I love to make this homemade sauce that tastes like it took much more effort and time. To begin, grab a can of petite diced tomatoes, and drain some of the excess juice. Probably somewhere around 1/4 cup. Add the tomatoes and the rest of the juice to a medium pot.

Next add 1/4 cup of diced onions.

Then add 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1/2 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp basil, and 1/2 tsp onion powder.

Then the cheat…add 1/2 cup of your favorite jarred tomato sauce. Let  the sauce simmer while you create the rest of your meal – whether it be noodles, meat, etc.

Five minutes before serving, stir in a slurry of 1 part water to 1 part cornstarch. Don’t add to much otherwise you’ll end up with a pink sauce! Better to add a little of the slurry at a time until you arrive at the thickness you like.

If you plan to finely blend your sauce, turn off the burner and pour the sauce into the blender. Return to the pan to keep the sauce warm until ready to eat. Either put it on a low setting, or turn burner off and cover. In our house, we love tomatoes, so we don’t blend the sauce together. For me, tasting the individual pieces of tomato makes it more homemade.

If you want to make a meat sauce, now is the perfect time to add your pre-cooked ground beef, or in this case ground turkey.

Even without meat, this sauce is the perfect canvas for your favorite flavors. Experiment with different varieties by adding red pepper, or mozzarella cheese, or even using a can of tomatoes that already has seasoning in it. Any way you do it, it sure beats the long wait of the usual homemade sauce!

What to do with that $0.67/lb Chicken?

9 Jan

So I grabbed this whole chicken at the grocery store a few weeks ago and put it into the freezer for a rainy day. I wanted to make something super gourmet or unique. But in the end, what sounded the best, was a juicy whole roasted chicken. Nothing really too special, other than one of the easiest things to throw in your crock pot. Talk about no prep time! First, grab half a bag of peeled baby carrots, give a quick chop to an onion, and throw in some diced celery (in my case, from the freezer). Throw them all down in the crock pot.

Next, take the whole chicken out the package and give it a good rinse. Pat dry and then cover the outer skin with salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. I also put some onion and a couple of cloves of garlic inside the bird too. Don’t forget to take the giblets out!

And seriously, that’s all there is to it. If you can, turn the slow cooker on high for one hour, then down to low for the next 5-6 hours. I put the bird in around 11:30 and took it out at 7pm. Later than I anticipated, but you all know how those days go! Here is what the final product looked like in the pot.

You can see how much broth was created by the skin on the chicken. I don’t have a pretty picture of the chicken out of the pot since it literally fell right off the bones. I decided to serve this with one of my most favorite foods, gnocchi. Normally I would make gnocchi myself, but this was supposed to be an easy recipe, remember?

Gnocchi is a potato dumpling that is really easy to make. You can find it in the pasta aisle. Just heat up a pot of salted boiling water, add the gnocchi for about 2-3 minutes (until they float to the top).  Immediately strain and serve, so make sure everything else is ready when you add them to the water.

Gnocchi is most delicious in a rich, creamy sauce. Like perhaps a lobster sherry cream sauce? But in this case of ease and health conscious mentality, it’s a jarred (gasp, I know, I’m lazy sometimes) sauce, but at least it was Wolfgang Puck Four Cheese (so a little more gourmet, right? haha). So I sautéed some diced onion and minced garlic in a bit of EVOO (a la Rachel Ray) and added the sauce and some additional Italian seasonings, like my favorite, basil!

On the plate went the beautiful juicy chicken, next to the tender and flavorful veggies. And lastly, the tender gnocchi adorned with my lazy day red sauce and a dash of basil.

This was a super easy dinner that definitely looked like I spent way more time on it – I love those type of nights. Hubby ate it all up, and we still only ate half the bird. I made another easy meal with the leftovers – any guesses to what that might be?

Recipe Lovers

Chicken:
1 Whole Chicken (small enough to fit in your slow cooker)
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup peeled baby carrots
1/2 cup onion, quartered
1/2 cup celery, diced
2 cloves garlic (optional)

Other ingredients:
1 Package Gnocchi
2 cups of favorite red sauce (or jarred sauce, livened up with onion and garlic)
Pinch of Basil

What’s in the Slow Cooker?

5 Jan

I just love leaving work on the days that I have dinner in my slow cooker. There is an element of surprise for me when I walk through my garage door and take in the initial scent that fills up my entire house. I don’t think I’ve ever actually followed a slow cooker recipe. I just think about what kind of food and flavors sound good, and into the crock pot it goes. This day was no different.

I got these chicken leg quarters on sale at Bashas for $0.97/lb for a total cost of $4.47. I love getting these kinds of packs on sale because they always last for more than one dinner, and they’re always cheaper than buying boneless skinless chicken breasts (which sale cycle is much more rare than bone-in chicken). If the bone is in, generally, into the slow cooker it goes.

I began by adding one can of 98% fat free chicken broth to the bottom of my slow cooker. In order for your slow cooker to work properly, you need at least a 1/2 cup of liquid down there. Otherwise you’ll end up with some dry-charred-shoe-leather skin, not to mention awful clean up duty!

Next, I carefully sliced most of the skin off of the legs. No need for the extra fat, right? This was a pretty easy process considering it was my first time butchering the skin like that. After that, I added equal parts of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and pepper. I then gave each a sprinkle of sea salt. And into the crock pot they went. Two were on the bottom, pretty much marinating in the chicken broth, and two were on top, which meant they would get a nice crispy skin.

I had about two seconds until I absolutely needed to get in the car and go to work. So I grabbed an onion, quartered it, and added that to pot. Hubby and I love onion – I put it in everything! But please adjust to your own tastes.

And then this. my friends, was my surprise when I  got home. I call it a surprise for a reason. With the crock pot, you can’t really test it or taste it as you go along. Raw meat goes into a container for 7-8 hours on low and you hope that something edible comes out of the container when you return home.

Today was a wonderful, delicious surprise. I carefully pulled the chicken out of the slow cooker, trying hard to keep them intact as the chicken was falling off the bones.

I put a small pot on the stove to make some jasmine rice using 3 parts water and 1 part chicken broth from the slow cooker. I had some leftover spinach that was about to expire, so I also sauteed some spinach with butter, olive oil, and garlic as another side dish.

Important thing to note about spinach. This huge bunch is really only one small serving.

And finally, we were ready to eat. My husband’s patience for photographing food is decreasing by the day…

For the record, I got home at 5pm, took pictures, made rice and spinach, served and ate dinner, and we were back out the door at 5:45, with about 10 minutes of relaxing to spare. Now that’s what I call a weeknight meal!

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