Saturday, June 28, 2014

Five on...Saturday?

I had this post ready to go yesterday but got busy and forgot to post! 

I hope everyone has had a good week. Here is my recap:

1. Today officially starts my week long vacation! I couldn't be more excited. I really don't have plans, just ready to relax and do what I want. And maybe get some things done around the house and for the blog...

2. My tomato plants have shot up like crazy. I originally put tomato cages around them but had to stake them up this week. I probably waited too long to stake them, as they were a mess to untangle. Last year my tomatoes did not do well, so I'm excited that these plants are growing. I have quite a few tomatoes and I've already harvested a some this week.  It looks like they will be hardy plants this year!

3. This little guy turned one this week. He's going to be such a big boy. He already weighs the same as our four year old cat and I know he'll continue to grow. He may be headed to the groomers soon. His hair is out...of...control. Isn't he cute though?

4. My nieces, Lily and Olivia had birthdays this week. I am looking forward to their birthday party on Saturday.

5. As you may notice, the blog looks a little different than before. I have a new design (yay!) and am working on the layout as well. It's still a work in progress and I have a few things to tweak, but hopefully it will be much easier to navigate my new site.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. I will be back next week with some new recipes!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Layered Taco Salad

All of your favorite taco fixings in a easy, layered taco salad. It's one of my favorite, quick summer recipes!

I think summer is officially here! These last few days have been hot and humid

During the sweltering, summer months, I prefer to fix easy recipes that don't involve the oven. I have a tiny kitchen in my house and it doesn't take long for it to heat up.

Salads are always a good option, but it has to be a hearty salad that will be filling for Mark. This taco salad is very simple to throw together--it's ready in three easy steps: prepare meat, prep toppings, and assemble salad!

Growing up, my Mom made a taco salad that was mixed together in one large bowl. Later on in my junior high years, she came up with this idea to do a layered taco salad. It's a simple process of making taco meat and preparing various toppings. This "build your own" style allows everyone to choose the toppings that they please. Don't like beans? Add more meat. Don't want tomatoes? Add more salsa or cheese or any of your favorite toppings. This salad is completely customizable!

Notice how simple of a dinner this was: I photographed the salad on a paper plate. I's probably a food photography no-no. 

Sometimes, simple food just needs a simple setting. :)  

Layered Taco Salad

  • Tortilla chips
  • Taco meat - you can find my recipe here
  • Black beans
  • Freshly chopped romaine lettuce
  • Diced tomato
  • Shredded Monterrey jack and cheddar cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Salsa

1. Prepare Taco Meat.
2. Prep other ingredients: chop lettuce, dice tomatoes, and shred cheese.
3. Assemble salad as desired.

Source: Tasteful Cuisine

Monday, June 16, 2014

Oven Fries

These homemade oven fries have a even brown, crisp texture on the outside, and are nice and creamy on the inside. Best part: no frying involved!

I don't know that there's anything more satisfying than a good french fry.

I don't deep fry very often, it's a mess and I don't like using a lot of oil. Oven fries have delicious homemade flavor, but can be kind of tricky. Oven fries take a long time to bake and it takes time to get a evenly browned exterior. I've found a quicker method to make these fries, and solved the browning problem.

The goal with this recipe was to cut down on oil, but still produce a fry that has a golden exterior and crunch. There a few things I did to accomplish the perfect, baked french fry.

First, add a  tablespoon of oil to a large rimmed baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. When the oven is hot and ready to go, remove the pan from the oven and evenly spread the potatoes on the baking sheet. Note: How do you know when the pan is hot and ready? You should hear the potatoes "sizzle" when they hit the hot pan.

Don't overcrowd! The potatoes need plenty of space to brown evenly--I slightly overcrowded mine in the picture below. If you want them a little soft, then you can move them closer together.

It only takes about 20-25 to bake the potatoes until they are tender. To brown the potatoes, you typically would need to bake the potatoes an additional 20-30 minutes for a brown, crunchy exterior. To speed up that process I use the broiler. Leave the pan in the oven, turn off the oven and turn on the broiler. It only takes about 5 minutes for the potatoes to have a beautiful brown exterior. The potatoes brown quickly, so make sure you don't leave the oven during this process!

The finished product is a perfectly crisp and creamy, oven french fry. No fryer needed.

Homemade Oven Fries

  • 3 large russet potatoes (or 4 if the russets are on the small side), washed and dried
  • 2-3 tablespoons canola oil
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon freshly ground, black pepper 

1.  Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pour 1 tablespoon of canola oil on a rimmed baking sheet and evenly coat the pan with oil. Place baking sheet in oven and allow pan to warm up with the oven (about 10-15 minutes).

2. Slice potatoes lengthwise into 1/2 inch slices and again longwise. Fries should measure approximately 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch. In a bowl, toss fries with one tablespoon of oil,  kosher salt, and black pepper. Make sure that potatoes are evenly coated, if needed, add more oil 1/2 tablespoon at a time until potatoes are well coated. Remove baking sheet from oven and evenly spread potatoes onto pan. Do not overcrowd pan. If needed, use two baking sheets and rotate pans halfway through.

3. Bake fries for 20-25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Bake until you can easily insert a paring knife into the potatoes. Turn off the oven and turn on the broiler (leave pan in the oven). Broil until potatoes are browned on the outside, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer fries to a place lined with paper towels. Allow fries to drain cool for 2-3 minutes before serving. Sprinkle extra kosher salt on the fries if desired (I like the added texture from a little more salt) Enjoy with ketchup or your favorite condiment!

Yields: 4 servings

Source: Tasteful Cuisine