Stuffed Potatoes

stuffed-potatoes

Does anyone remember that place in the mall food court that had stuffed potatoes?  Fortunately I don’t frequent the mall food court anymore so I have no idea if it still exists, but it was a childhood favorite of mine. Baked potato Cheese Broccoli my mom buying me anything I wanted at the ‘Nature of Things’ Store = perfect day.

I recreated that ‘magic’ here, minus the Nature shopping and a cheese sauce that consists of who knows what. Really, this is just a twice baked potato with the addition of broccoli and bacon. I made this recipe for 2, so you can adjust quantities appropriately.

Recipe

2 large potatoes
1 cup chopped broccoli, cooked (or more if you’re a broccoli lover)
2 slices bacon
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons butter
2-3 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste

Scrub the potatoes, then wrap in foil, make slits, and bake for one hour at 350. You can also bake them in the microwave if you want to speed things up – two large potatoes would take 10-15 minutes, I think.

Meanwhile, prepare the bacon. Place in a skillet over medium heat, and cook until done. Place the bacon on paper towel to soak up fat; leave remaining fat in the skillet. Turn off heat.

When the potatoes are done, let them cool enough that you can touch them without your fingers falling off. Cut off the top fourth of each potato, to prepare the larger side for stuffing. Scoop all of the potato out into a bowl. Prepare the potato stuffing by combining them with the sour cream, butter, milk, s p. Mash until creamy. Add in cooked broccoli and bacon. Mix thoroughly.

Preheat the broiler for the potato skins. Place the larger skins cut-side down onto the bacon skillet. Use a brush to coat the skin with a small amount of the bacon reserve, and make sure there is plenty along the edges.  Place the skillet in the oven to crisp the skin, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from oven and place on baking sheet.

Flip the potatoes over and stuff with potato mixture. Top with cheese, and place back in the broiler, about 5 minutes or until melted and slightly browned.

Maple Oatmeal Cookies

maple-oatmeal-cookies

I woke up last Sunday morning with an urge to bake, but had no interest in going to the grocery store. I needed to make something with the limited ingredients I already had, and since it was Sunday I decided to start with maple syrup and go from there. See the connection? Sunday is the day for maple syrup.

These cookies are more like a muffin-cookie, a mookie, if you will. They are very moist, fluffy, and soft. They are fantastic for breakfast, and a good alternative if you are in the mood for a ‘lighter’ cookie.

Recipe:

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cream the butter and sugars in a standing mixer. Add the egg, maple syrup, and vanilla. Slowly add in the oats, flour, soda and salt. Mix until combined.
Bake on a greased baking sheet at 350, about 10-12 minutes. Enjoy with a cup of coffee!
honey-mustard-glazed-chicken

This is a wonderful and simple chicken recipe, perfect for summer grilling.  I really prefer to cook more complicated items for my Sunday night cooking sprees, but John (my fiance), is a grilled chicken lover and I am a people pleaser. Not really, but we are getting married in a month and so I like to take every opportunity I get to let him know I am going to be a really good roommate.

The key to delicious grilled chicken is to not over cook it – and yet nearly everybody does. Chicken should be cooked to 180 degrees – no more. It also continues to cook for about 10 minutes after you remove it from the grill, so you definitely need to monitor the temperature and take it off before you reach 180.

I grilled this chicken mainly over indirect heat – it really helped to keep the meat juicy and delicious.

Recipe:

2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, split (so 4 pieces total)
3/4 cup honey
6 tablespoons dijon mustard
3 tablespoons soy sauce
Pepper to taste

Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl, set 1/3 c. of the mixture aside.  Pour the rest into a ziploc bag; add the chicken and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Prepare the grill for indirect heat.  When grill is heated to about 350, place chicken over direct heat. Grill about 5-6 minutes over direct heat, flipping over once to get both sides.  Move chicken to indirect heat.  After about 10 minutes, turn chicken over and brush on the remaining glaze. Grill for another 10 minutes, or until your meat thermometer reads 165 degrees.  Take the chicken off, and let sit 10 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

Cookie Dough Brownies

cookie-dough-brownies

I don’t love brownies. It’s odd because I love chocolate more than I love Friends (the tv show), but brownies just don’t do it for me. Whoever developed the recipe for brownies was definitely on the right track – chocolatey, chewy, cake-like. But somewhere along the brownie development path I think someone got bored, and the result was a boring brownie.

I like some of the variations – cream cheese, peanut butter, frosted, etc….so I was thinking of all the other things you could add to a brownie to spice it up. Aha! Cookie dough. What’s better than cookie dough? Chocolate, but cookie dough is second.

Cooke dough brownies. These are rich, but delicious. And for sure not boring.

Recipe:
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour

Cookie Dough:
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
3 Tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips
Prepare the brownies first. Preheat the oven to 325. Melt the chocolate in bursts of 30 seconds, until completely smooth. In a standing mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla, then mix in the melted chocolate. Finally, stir in the flour just until combined.

 

Bake the brownies in a greased 9×13 inch pan for 25-30, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the cookie dough. Cream the butter and sugars, followed by the milk and eggs, and finally the flour. When the brownies are completely cooled, spread the cookie dough on top. Refrigerate for a couple of hours, until very firm. You can also freeze them to speed up the process. It is best to cut these with a sharp knife and serve chilled. Enjoy!

Texas BBQ Ribs

texas-bbq-ribs

Ribs are tricky. I had to default to my friend Doug Pickering for this recipe, he is an excellent cook and makes the best ribs in the world. I have made these several times now, and I can assure you they will turn out perfect every time.

I used St. Louis Ribs from Central Market, mainly because I didn’t know what the difference was between St. Louis and Baby Back. They were awesome – there was a little more meat to them and they were about $2/lb cheaper. You can make this recipe with either one.

Start by marinating the ribs in a dry rub made for pork/ribs/poultry – cover completely and marinate in aluminum foil (refrigerated) for at least 3 hours. The dry rub consists mainly of paprika, pepper, salt, and I like to add brown sugar.

Take the ribs out of the fridge and let them warm to room temperature.  Heat the grill to a very high temperature, about 450-500. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees.  When the grill is hot, take the ribs out of the foil and sear each side for about 5 minutes.

When the ribs are browned on each side, take them off the grill and wrap each slab in 2 layers of foil.  Place the ribs in the oven and set the timer for one hour.  I would recommend putting a grease-catcher on the rack below the ribs – they can be messy.
After one hour, baste the ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce. We found this one to be awesome:

Austin’s Own Medium BBQ sauce – perfect combination of sweet and spicy. Brush the BBQ sauce on the ribs and return them to the oven for another hour. After two total hours of cooking, removing the ribs from the oven, and let sit for 30-45 minutes. This is an important step, so don’t skip it.

Serve the ribs with additional BBQ sauce if you’d like, and enjoy! Thanks Doug!

watermelon-avocado-salad

Watermelon and avocado: two of my favorite things. Put them together, add some cheese (my other favorite thing) and what you get is one ridiculous summer salad.

I chopped up about a half of a watermelon, two avocados, and mixed with about 5 cups mixed greens (and some spinach that I illegally mixed into my ‘bulk lettuce’ bag). Central Market would understand, I am a very loyal customer. Then I topped with Feta cheese, and a pineapple-balsamic vinaigrette. I sort of eye-balled the dressing, but I would imagine I used the following approximate quantities:

3/4 cup Pineapple juice
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 t. olive oil

Toss the salad and dressing and you’re done. Delicious!