Sweet Potato Skins

sweet-potato-skins

Remember when potato skins were a real novelty? If you grew up in small town Wisconsin I bet you do. I feel like potato skins were reserved for restaurant chains like TGI Fridays and California Pizza Kitchen. God, when I was a kid I would have killed to have one of those restaurants near us. The only reason I knew they existed was because I got to travel to exotic far away places like Appleton for gymnastics sometimes. (if you’re not from Wisconsin, Appleton is about 90 miles away from where I grew up; they had a mall with a Disney store and a real food court).

Anyway, I loved potato skins but I could only get them when I got to travel outside the county. Oh my, how our perspectives change. How fantastic that back then life didn’t get any better than potato skins and the Disney store.

These are really a lot different than Friday’s potato skins, obviously. For one, I don’t like to fry things. So these are baked (at a high temperature to give them some crispiness).  I also used sweet potatoes, because honestly my babies love them and I was going for a two-for-one meal here. I decided to keep the toppings traditional – bacon and cheese – and let me tell you, the flavor combo of sweet and savory is a real winner.

Recipe

  • 3 large sweet potatoes
  • ~ 3/4 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar + jack)
  • ~1/4 cup cooked & crumbled bacon
  • Canola oil
  • S&P

Start by baking the potatoes. Ours were HUGE (come on, Central Market, what kind of steroids are these guys on??). So they took about an hour in a 350 degree oven. Let them cool, then cut them in half lengthwise. Scoop out most of the middle, about 1/4-1/2 inch remaining around the skin. Reserve this for whatever your heart desires.

Increase oven temp to 425.  Place a wire rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet, place the potato skins on there skin side up, and brush them with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt.  Roast until slightly crisp, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven, flip over, add cheese and bacon to each, and put them back in the oven for a few more minutes (about 5) until the cheese is melted.

Chocolate Muffins

chocolate-muffins

Ayayayay. Today has been a day. Any day where I have to unexpectedly take my twins to the doctor solo is an ‘ayayay’ day. There is just no graceful way to manage it. From bringing them into the building, to keeping them from falling off the exam table when they’re on their together (today I adopted a goalie stance), to holding one while helping the doctor pin down the other so she can look in his ears, to getting them dressed again, and finally to physically getting out the door on my way out. Yes generally people are helpful, but in the end I’m in it alone (when John is not with me). Also, my dad used to use the term ‘snot-nosed little kid.’ (in good fun, of course).  I didn’t really take that term seriously until I’ve had two with sinus infections for 4+ weeks. How does such a tiny baby make so much snot? The good news is my clothes do a really good job of wiping off their noses.

Onto more pleasant topics, my neighbor did the best thing in the world for me recently. She went to Wisconsin to visit friends, and she brought me back CHEESE CURDS. My most favorite thing in all the land. Honestly it was the best day.  So I finally got a chance to repay her, and I decided to make her these chocolate muffins. They’re no cheese curd, but they do give you a nice little kick start to your day.

Recipe

  • 1 stick butter, room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (a little less if using regular)
  • 1/2 cup freshly brewed coffee
  • 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the butter and sugar together, then beat in the egg, vanilla, yogurt and milk. In a separate bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients. Slowly add the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Mix ONLY until combined (over mixing is a great way to make dry muffins). Stir in the coffee, then the chocolate chips.  Divide into 8 greased muffing tins for larger muffins, 12 for smaller. Bake for about 23 minutes.

sweet-strawberry-basil-toast

Sometimes I would like to go back to the Summer days of picking strawberries with my mom and sisters. Weren’t those the best? Fresh strawberries, a day outside, and nothing on your agenda but strawberry pickin’ and swim lessons. Maybe a grilled hot dog when you got home. Of course it all sounds so blissful to me now, but being a particularly finicky kid my mom also reminds me of all the complaints about the heat, the sun (you would think those were the same..they weren’t), the mosquitoes, and of course the kneeling. Luckily I toughed it out enough times that the strawberry picking trips are all rolled up into one amazing and comforting memory.

These strawberries, are not fresh (by the definition of me picking them straight off the plant or whatever it’s called). I got them at the store, because I don’t know where to strawberry pick in Dallas. Anyone know? I would like to start my baby boys young so they can withstand the harsh picking conditions.

But this toast will make your summer. Sweet, flavorful, and just a tad savory from the cream cheese. Enjoy for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Or as an app!

Recipe (2)

  • 2 pieces good Sourdough bread
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese spread (lite or regular)
  • 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
  • 2 teaspoons chopped basil
  • honey drizzle (optional)

Toast the slices of bread. Spread cream cheese evenly over the warm toast, top with strawberries, basil, and drizzle with honey.

 

Zoodle Piccata

zoodle-piccata

More zoodles! We can’t stop!

It rained all weekend here, which was so nice. Seriously, it’s never super rainy here for several days in a row. Aside from it squashing our plans to go to the park yesterday, it was a great excuse to stay in all weekend and be lazy (I use the term “lazy” lightly these days, with two mobile babies). And eat sandwiches. I ate lots of sandwiches this weekend. PS- if you’ve never tried pepperoni on your turkey sandwich, I highly recommend.


Chicken Piccata has long been a favorite of mine, and I’ve made similar recipes here and a sour cream version here. Oh and more lemon butter here and a lemon dijon butter sauce here.  This is a very basic white wine lemon butter sauce, so easy and so quick. We loved it with the zoodles because they suck up every ounce of flavor in the sauce.


Recipe

  • 1 1/4 lb chicken cutlets (butterflied breasts, alternatively pound them thin)
  • 1/2 cup + 1/2 tablespoon flour, divided
  • 1 1/4  teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup good white wine (such as chardonnay or sauvignon blanc)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 package  Veggie Noodle Co. Zoodles (or several zucchinis spiralized)
  • 2-4 tablespoons capers

Start by preparing the chicken. Make sure they are either cutlets or pounded thin. Place 1/2 cup of the flour in a shallow bowl.   Season the chicken with 1 teaspoon of the salt, and pepper to taste. Coat each piece in flour, shaking off the excess.  Heat 2-3 tablespoons oil in a large pan. Working in batches, cook the chicken – about 3 minutes per side (for thin chicken). Set aside. Add butter to the pan and melt. Whisk in 1/2 tablespoon of flour. Add in wine and lemon juice, whisking to remove lumps, and then let it reduce for about 10 minutes. Whisk in remining 1/4 teaspoon salt, Dijon mustard and capers and remove from heat. In another pan, cook the zoodles for 2-3 minutes.  Plate the zoodles, top with chicken and sauce.

chocolate-chip-cookie-for-one

Yesterday I had a craving for a chocolate chip cookie so strong I could barely see straight. Does that ever happen to you? Probably not. I had also been cooped up all day in stormy Texas weather and found myself doing a lot of standing around in the kitchen. Reaching for a cheese curd, eating a cracker, looking through the freezer. But nothing was quite doing it for me so I decided to make myself a cookie. You guys, it really improved the overall quality of my day.


Recipe

  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar (1/2 brown and 1/2 white)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Dash vanilla
  • Dash salt
  • Handful chocolate chips

Melt the butter in a bowl, then mix in all other ingredients except the chocolate chips.  Set the oven to 350. While it’s preheating, place the cookie dough in the freezer to cool it down (otherwise the cookie will turn out really flat since the butter is already warm and will spread in the oven).  Cool for at least 15 minutes. Mix in the chocolate chips, then place in a flattened ball on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 14-15 minutes.

Banana Coconut Oatmeal

banana-coconut-oatmeal

There’s nothing genius about these ingredients. It has no unexpected components, combinations, or techniques. In fact this is indeed a very boring recipe. But there is something genius about the outcome. If you have a baby, feeding them can be a real pain. Mine really like to eat, and it’s STILL a pain. Sometimes they’re not in the mood for what you’re giving them (sorry guys I would let you just raid the fridge if you were able), sometimes they like to grab the spoon and fling it at you, and they ALWAYS like to smush at least 20% of what you’re giving them on the high chair seat, their clothes, and their hair. My guys are eating mostly finger foods now, but I haven’t changed one meal: breakfast. And that’s because I make this for them every morning and they literally scarf it down. No other word: scarf scarf scarf. It makes my mornings so much easier.  They love it so much and nutritionally, it’s brilliant.  I have no formal training in that department, but oats: fiber + plant protein; banana: it’s a fruit so lots of good stuff; cinnamon: I see it used as a spice in all sorts of health cookbooks; coconut milk: lots of healthy fat and calories and I’m sure some other stuff too. The calories is a big thing for me- I like a lot of bang for my buck with baby food, and the full fat coconut milk (the natural canned version, often found in the Asian aisle), makes this breakfast a heavy hitter. And the flavor combo is amazing; they love it because it’s sweet. This obviously doesn’t have to be baby food; if I were making it for myself I would probably sub with a lite coconut milk as I’m not trying to bulk up at this phase of my life.


PS-  sometimes I throw in a handful of berries for some more vitamin infusion.


Recipe (for 1)

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (natural canned version; be sure to stir)
  • 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 banana
  • pinch cinnamon
  • optional – berries of choice

Combine the water, coconut milk, and oats in a saucepan over medium heat. Throw in the banana and a pinch or two of cinnamon. Bring to a boil and cook until done (a couple of minutes), smashing the banana with a fork or spatula along the way.  Stir to evenly distribute the banana and cinnamon and allow to cool.  If adding berries, add in the beginning to let them cook down a little. Use an immersion blender or potato masher to combine them into the oatmeal.

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