Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hot Potato- Roasted Potatoes with Sin Sauce

I love sauces. Chick-fil-a almost sends me into a panic because there are so many different sauces I love that I have a hard time figuring out which food to order to dip with my sauces. I like a specific sauce with just my fries, then another for just nuggets and another for just the sandwich with extra pickles.
I was a child of the 80's when Tontino's Pizza Rolls were at their prime. I remember my dad would cook up a handful of Pizza Rolls then grab out a stack of his condiment cups and fill them with things like salsa, ranch and bar-b-que sauce to dip all of his Pizza Rolls in when they came out of the oven pipping hot. I love basic foods like potatoes and grilled chicken because they are the perfect companions to a good sauce or dip. These roasted potatoes are pretty standard around my house. I don't fry much of anything(honest) so these roasted potatoes are the go-to alternative for fries or stuffed for us. I prefer my potatoes to be soft and creamy but the Salesman prefers them to be crunchy so roasted potatoes are a good happy medium. I have created many a combination of dipping sauces for potatoes during my time and finally decided to write one down since we loved it so. This side was the perfect partner to our grilled chicken that had bathed in lemon juice, fresh basil and olive oil before going on the grill.
Now, let me tell some of you out there who think that Goat cheese tastes like dirty socks that 1. you are wrong, 2. you need to get over it and 3. just trust me, please. If you are so anti that you can't stand the thought then you can easily swap out the Goat for Feta or Gorgonzola...and maybe even add some bacon. One trick for the perfect roasted potatoes are to make sure they are all cut the same size. This is ensure that they all bake evenly. I typically will but my potato in half width wise, then each half in half lengthwise then each plank into three sections.I love that when roasting everything can be dumped on the cookie sheet, tossed then baked so you have minimal clean up. If you really want to be a lazy bum you can even line your cookie sheet with foil then pitch it after it comes out of the oven.
I hope this makes your heart happy and helps you find that happy saucy medium!

Roasted Potatoes with Sin Sauce
4-6 Large Red Potatoes (About 1 large per person) Cut into cubes *I prefer red because of their texture. I don't recommend baking unless you don't have another alternative. You an also use Yukon Gold or Fingerling.
2 Tbsp Whole Grain Mustard
1/3 C. olive oil
1/2 -1 tsp red pepper flakes, depends on how spicy you like
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 tsp. dried oregano or rosemary
1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp salt- might need to adjust to taste after cooking
 Combine all of the above directly onto a cookie sheet and toss to make sure everything is well coated. Bake at 425 for 30-40 minutes, tossing them around at the 20 minute mark, and cook until potatoes are golden around the edges.

Sin Sauce
1/2 c. Sour Cream - can use light or non-fat or even plain greek yogurt
2 Tbsp heaping of Goat Cheese (or Feta, or Gorgonzola, or Blue...)
1 Tbsp heaping of store bought basil pesto (or homemade if you have it, show off)
5-6 Fresh Mint Leaves
Heavy crank of fresh black pepper, about 8 and few splashes of Sea Salt
Place all of the above in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until all is combined.
Serve along side roasted potatoes. Sauce is also great with grilled chicken, fish or pork, fresh cut veggies...really anything.

Enjoy Y'all!

Friday, August 22, 2014

About to get real- Buffalo Chicken Burgers

So, I am going to let you know about one of my big secrets...I am totally afraid of ground chicken. Bone-in chicken doesn't phase me, and you have read about getting over my fear of whole chickens when I wrote Yellow Rose Cafe: Big Girl Britches-Smokey Bacon Roasted Chicken:, but there is something about the ground up chicken in it's neat plastic package that frightens me. Maybe it is because all form of it's previous life is gone. Maybe because I know the only way it might possibly taste like something I could potentially enjoy is if I shove it full of an obscene amount of goodies. I don't know, but whatever it is I finally decided to buy a pack the other day and quickly threw it in my cart before I had time to second guess myself. I have been craving blue cheese lately and since I am the only one in the house that has a love affair with it I am bit limited. I decided that I would make up some burgers so that I could jazz mine up to my liking, and it was good. The obscene turned out to not be so bad. And, the muffins gobbled up every single bite. Let me repeat this. EVERY. SINGLE. BITE. Can I get an amen? For any of you mom's out there you know that this is up there on the kids nearly impossible list, right next to them making their beds and not burping in public. I left the dinner table and felt as if I deserved a momma medal for a meal well done.
This burger was amazing as a buffalo burger, but you can take it in any direction. My boys had a melted slice of Colby-jack cheese and loved it. I was tempted to sliced up some fresh jalapenos from the garden on mine but didn't want to over power the burger. But, I think this chicken burger could have put up a good fight. This would be amazing with many, many toppings like bacon or avocado. The secret weapon for me was the crushed up gold fish. I have decided that anyone under the age of 100 possibly has goldfish in the pantry so I took that into consideration when deciding what my bread-like texture would be. We had the extra cheddar (go big or go home, right?) flavor on hand and it was perfect to add that little cheesy punch in the burger. By the way, don't over mix these. Ground chicken needs to be handled gently to keep what little bit of dignity it has left after having it's innards and outters removed so stir just until mixed. They will also have a sort of sticky texture when you are patting them out, unlike their partner ground beef. Oh, I can't wait to hear how you loved these!

Chicken Burgers- Yields 4 good size burgers

1/2 Cup diced onion
1 Lb ground chicken
1 Egg
1/2 cup cheddar gold fish crackers - measured first then crushed finely
2 tsp. Ms. Dash chicken seasoning
1/4 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

In a small saute pan, heat up 2 Tbsp of olive oil with the onions and a splash of salt over medium-low heat. Cook onions for approximately 15 minutes, stirring occasionally,  until they have cooked through and turned a light brown around the edges and caramelized a bit.
Combine remaining ingredients into a bowl with the cooked onions and stir just until blended. Gently pat out into 4 round patties on a piece of foil or parchment paper so that you can flip them into the pan easily.
Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Lightly spray with non-stick spray and add a splash of olive oil. Once the pan is good and hot plop the burgers into the heat and gently remove the foil backings. Cook on one side approximately 5 minutes until you can see that half of the burger has turned from opaque to white. Once flipped, cook for 5-6 minutes until heated through and the burger has a great caramel color on the exterior. Flip back one last time and lay whatever cheese you are using on top of the burgers. For blue cheese, you will want about 1 heaping Tablespoon. Cover the pan with either a lid or a big cookie sheet and allow the cheese to melt.

For my Buffalo burger I used toasted French bread split for my bun. I put a good schmear of mayo on it, a good handful of spinach (so that it was healthy) and some heavy, heavy dashes of Texas Pete. If I had to do it all over again, I would do it all over again.

Enjoy Y'all!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

South in your mouth- Cucumber Salad

One of my very favorite things do to when I have a moment's peace is to flip through old cookbooks I have in my collection. I have a Betty Crocker dating back to the 50's with marriage advice as well as recipes, it's a keeper. I have a large collection of old school church cookbooks and love them because they connect me with my roots and remind me of how much of life is centered around a holy table. My favorite section of those old cookbooks is typically the salad sections since we in the South consider a LOT of things "salad". I am not sure who decided that things with gelatin should fall into this category. How many versions of Frog Eye or Copper Penny salad does one need?
One of those good Southern staples I have grown to love with all of my heart is cucumber salad. I remember it being very pungent with onions when I was little. Cucumber salad is similar to cole slaw in that you can have a creamy version or a vinegar version. You should know me well enough by now to know that anytime I can have the creamy version I will go with that. This recipe is one I have been using for years, not sure where it ever originated other than this is how I have been making this staple for a very long time. I love summertime when cucumbers are bright and plentiful and have a super crispy texture. If I am buying cucumbers from a store I will always but the English kind individually wrapped but if I am at the Farmer's Market I will always buy whichever one looks like it was picked last. I love this "salad" with things like grilled chicken or bar-b-que with a side of corn on the cob. You can easily double this to feed a hungry crowd. It is best to let it sit for a while so that all of the flavors can get to know each other a bit. Since this recipe only has a couple of ingredients, make them count. Don't skimp out on using good Mayo and fresh cracked pepper, it makes all of the difference! 

Cucumber Salad- Yields 3-4 side servings
1 English cucumber thinly sliced - about 3 cups
1/4 Super thinly sliced white or red onion in slivers
1/3 cup Mayo (I used Duke's)
1 Tbsp. White Vinegar
2 tsp. Dill- either dried or fresh but I typically only have dried
1 tsp. Sugar
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste if you need more or less
1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1/8 tsp garlic powder

Combine all of the above in a bowl and let it chill out in your fridge for a few hours or overnight before serving. I like to stir it a few times just to make sure everyone is getting some attention in the bowl.

Enjoy Y'all! 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Pastry Queen- Peaches and Cream Cobbler with Fustard Sauce

I love peaches. I love cobbler. I love Texas. The. End.

A few years ago a dear friend of mind brought a cookbook to work one day and said that it reminded her of me and she wanted me see it. I nearly ate every page out of the book! I begged to keep it and joked about not returning it and in my mind I had secret plans to move to outer space so that I could keep it and she couldn't track me down. She knew me well. The cookbook is by Rebecca Rather, also known as the "Pastry Queen" in the Texas hill country. She had two different stores in Texas then shut her doors this past year. Just from reading her cookbooks and seeing how she cooks in the kitchen in her chefs coat and cowboy boots I know we would be best friends. Her Christmas cookbook almost sent me over the edge and I know that her olive beef tenderloin will be part of my holiday traditions forever. She cooks your normal every day food but takes it to a whole different level, like chicken salad with homemade mayo on homemade bread. Need I say more? When I approached her recipe of her peach cobbler and knew I had plans to alter it a wee bit I felt the need to tiptoe into my kitchen and ever so gently open up the book and apologize in advance for make a change. I hope it is one she would approve of. Peach cobbler is one of those staples in my life. I love the sweet creamy peaches combined with the slightly crispy topping and the ooziness of a big fat scoop of Blue Bell melting on top of it, as if it is surrounding the cobbler with a hug. I had some girlfriends over last night and knew it was what I had to make since 1. it is National Peach Month and 2. I heart it.
When you read the title I am sure you thought I had a big fat typo in the title. You are right, fustard was not a word until yesterday, but I promise you won't forget it. I decided that instead of topping the cobbler with a cold scoop of ice cream and trying to gobble up the bowl before every drop melted, I took the ice cream and gently melted it on the stove. I tried it with both a vanilla and a caramel ice cream and both were delish. Once melted, the ice cream is a thinner consistency of a custard sauce, the kind you make with a bunch of eggs and sugar and stir and pray it doesn't curdle. This was much easier to do and can be done in any flavor to top off any sweet. I like how the sauce kept the cobbler warm and melted down into all of the cobbler crevasses. I am in no way saying I am now an anti-a la mode girl, I am going to just be an occasional melt-a mode girl.

Hill Country Peaches and Cream Cobbler with Fustard Sauce
Makes 6-8 servings

1 Stick unsalted butter
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp, white sugar
1 cup, all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3-4 cups, fresh sliced peaches with peels left on (1 peach yields approximately 1 cup)
1- 8oz cream cheese cut into small cubes
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 scoop of ice cream per person eating in either a vanilla or a caramel flavor

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat until it has turned a slight brown color. While it is warming, combine he sugar, flour, baking powder, milk and salt in a separate bowl and stir until just mixed. In a second bowl, stir together the peaches and cream cheese cubes and cinnamon.

Once be butter is melted, pour it into a baking dish at least 8" across. Next, gently pour over the flour and milk mixture and DO NOT STIR. Gently spoon the peaches and cream cheese mixture over the flour and butter mixture and DO NOT STIR. Next, sprinkle the brown sugar over the top. Place your baking dish on a foil lined cookie sheet (just in case spill over happens) and bake for 40-45 minutes until the top turns golden brown.

Just before serving, put the ice cream in a small sauce pan and gently melt it over low heat. Once melted, spoon your cobbler into serving bowls then ladle over a spoon of the sauce.

Enjoy Y'all!
P.S.Rebecca, please come to NashVegas so we can make pink pig cookies and big hair tarts together!