Friday, January 31, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins

Still looking to add some yummy snacks to your football feast this Sunday? You should definitely try my twist on the average chicken wings. I am a potato lover. These buttery little potatoes melt in your mouth. They are not fried like many versions of potato skins, they are baked! Don't worry though, they still come out with crisp skin and edges. Piled high with shredded buffalo chicken and ooey gooey pepperjack cheese and topped off with celery bits and blue cheese dressing. These are a football fans fantasy.

3-4 chicken breasts, boiled
1/2 cup wing sauce (I used Frank's wing sauce)
10 potatoes (I used a small  but really you can use any small potato, white or yellow and 4" x 3" or so)
1 1/2 cups shredded pepperjack cheese
salt and pepper
granulated garlic
1/4 cup diced celery (small diced)
Blue cheese dressing
Blue cheese crumbles

Shred the boiled chicken. You can use 2 forks...however, if you have a stand mixer, you can connect your paddle blade attachment and set your machine to low and you will get perfect shredded chicken! Lightly salt and pepper the shredded chicken and toss in the wing sauce. Set aside. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the potatoes in half. Drizzle olive oil on a baking sheet lined with foil. Sprinkle baking sheet with salt, pepper and granulated garlic.

Place the potatoes face down in the olive oil and slide them around in a circular motion just a bit to ensure that olive oil coats the cut side of the potato. 

Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour (depending on the size of your potatoes). When they are done, the skin will be crisp and the cut side will have formed a crispy crust.

Use a knife to cut through the crust in a circle (the area you will scoop out) so that the crust does not all pull off when you remove the flesh.

Use a spoon to scoop out most of the flesh of the potato. Do not remove it all to allow the potato to keep some structure. Just focus on creating a bowl for your toppings. 

Save the scooped out flesh! You can use it later for mashed potatoes or a baked potato casserole side dish. 

Fill the "bowl" you created with the buffalo chicken.

Pile a good amount of pepperjack cheese on each one.Use the same foil-lined baking sheet and pop these bad boys back in the oven just long enough to melt the cheese but not make it disappear.

Top your potato skins with bits of diced celery, a dollop of bleu cheese dressing and bits of crumbled bleu cheese and Viola! Enjoy these little guys!

Enjoy! XOXO~

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Monday, January 27, 2014

Superbowl Loaded Mac and Cheese

In case you haven't heard, Superbowl XLVIII is this coming Sunday! The most exciting day of the year for hardcore NFL fans from coast to coast. It is the last day of football season which means that every person in my life has one last reason for cussing at the players, coaches and refs on TV like our opinion is gonna change the game (It does right?! They can totally hear us!). Are y'all pulling for the Seahawks or the Broncos? I'm torn! I myself am a die-hard, born and raised Steelers fan. Infact, my first ever in-person Steelers game was in 2011 at Superbowl XLV against the Packers. Unfortunately we lost but it was an amazing game and an incredible experience to be there and witness the spirit of both teams. For this reason, the Superbowl will always hold a special place in my heart. I can usually pic a team but this year it is a tough decision. I may have to flip a coin day of...we'll see.

Are you guys heading to a friends house or hosting a watch party of your own? I am doing a little menu planning for mine and I can't wait for y'all to try this creation. It's like a loaded baked potato, but mac and cheese....I know that's just ridiculous! But seriously, the bacon, chive and cheddar in this amped up mac & cheese absolutely rocks the house! It is the perfect game day side dish. So, place your bets and then go make your plate!

4-5 cups dry elbow macaroni pasta (other pasta options: Cavatappi, Shells, Ziti, Fusilli, Rigatoni)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
3 1/2 cups milk
1/2 lb Shredded Muenster Cheese
1/3 lb Shredded Cheddar Cheese (plus an additional 1/2 cup to be used separately)
1/3 lb Shredded Colby Jack Cheese
2 Tbsp goat cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp granulated garlic
1/3 cup chopped chives
1 lb bacon, cooked until crispy and chopped

Boil pasta until al dente, drain, rinse with cool water and set aside. Melt butter in a sauce pan over low-medium heat, whisk in flour until fully incorporated to create a roux. Whisk continuously until the roux starts to brown a bit (3-45 minutes) slowly whisk in milk making a point to work out any lumps. Continue to whisk until it thickens to the consistency of gravy. Add in the muenster cheese, 1/3 lb cheddar cheese, colby jack and goat cheese. Stir until all of the cheese is melted. Add the salt, pepper and garlic. Taste the cheese sauce and add more salt and pepper to taste. Add in pasta* one cup at a time and mix well until you reach your desired ratio of cheese sauce to pasta. Mix in chives and bacon, pour into a casserole dish. Top the dish with the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar and place casserole dish into oven with broiler on high. Broil until cheese on top starts to brown. Serve immediately. Serves 10

**This recipe doesn't have an exact amount of pasta but rather an approximation in order to give you the opportunity to choose the consistency of your mac and cheese.

Enjoy! XOXO~

Friday, January 24, 2014

Lebanese Style Cabbage Rolls

This dish was inspired by my favorite steakhouse in Oklahoma City, Jamil's. It has been around for 50 years and was the go-to celebration spot for my parents and grandparents birthday dinners when I was a kid. The atmosphere is dimly lit and romantic. They have famous Oklahoma faces painted throughout the walls of the restaurant, and yes at least one very recognizable face. It has always been fun to look around and try to spot my dads face (I only go there for special occasions so I always forget!) The food is so good and the staff has been there since as far back as I remember. They start you off with quite a spread of Lebanese appetizers that includes these cabbage rolls (and by that I mean a similar recipe), fried bologna, tabbouleh, pita bread, hummus and pickled vegetables. By the time the steak and lobster you ordered gets to your table your ready to pop! I use ground turkey instead of pork or lamb which is just a personal preference but they taste amazing either way. These cabbage rolls have such a distinct flavor that is just ever so slightly sweet with a hint of cinnamon. I can't wait for y'all to try these! What are you waiting for?! Get to cookin'.

1 small head of cabbage

1.5 lbs lean ground turkey
1 small onion, petite diced
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups cooked brown rice 
1/2 cup milk

1 can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup water
2 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil

Brown the turkey, onion and seasonings together. Add rice and milk; stir. Set aside to cool. Remove the outer few leaves of cabbage and discard. Wash the head of cabbage and place it in the microwave for 4 minutes. This will help the leaves separate without tearing. If it becomes more difficult to remove leaves as you get toward the center, just pop back into the microwave for a couple more minutes. (You can also blanche the head in boiling water but I find the microwave to be less time consuming and I get the same result).

Fill leaves with 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of filling. The bigger leaves will need more filling and as you get to the inner/smaller leaves of the head of cabbage you will need less filling. Wrap chimichanga style by folding in the sides and then folding stem side in and tucking it under and then rolling until the edges are flush against the roll. 

 Your cabbage rolls should look something like this one below:

Arrange the rolls in a casserole dish that you have rubbed with olive oil. The arrangement doesn't matter too much just follow a "not too tight, not too loose" rule.

Combine the ingredients for the sauce and spread over the cabbage rolls. 

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for an hour and a half (90 mins). If the cabbage doesn't appear translucent and tender, you can pour 1/2 cup of water over the dish and continue baking for an additional 30 minutes.

Serve and Enjoy! (nom, nom, nom)  Makes 10-12 cabbage rolls

Enjoy! XOXO~

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Baked Chicken Taquitos with Cilantro Lime Sour Cream

Simple. Healthy. Delicious. These are the three words that come to mind when I describe this dish. The crisp shell combines with the tender filling to create the perfect taquito and all without the grease of a traditional taquito! If you are feeding a large crowd (Calling all Superbowl Party hosts!) or just a few hungry kids on a Sunday afternoon (or any day that ends in Y really...), this is a throw-together kind of snack that will satisfy the masses. And if by chance you didn't happen to have the extra chicken lying around, you can grab a "hot and ready" rotisserie chicken at your grocery store (Walmart and Target for sure!) for around $5.00. It will leave you with plenty of extra chicken to make lots and lots of taquitos!

1/2 lb shredded rotisserie chicken (leftovers!)
2/3 cup shredded white cheese (your choice; muenster, mozzarella and queso blanco work well)
8 yellow corn tortillas
salt and pepper
1/2 a lime

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly salt and pepper the chicken. If you are not using fresh corn tortillas, this will happen....

(Not even the toothpick trick could save these....)

If this is the case for you, as it was for me, there is still hope! fold 1 paper towel in half and saturate it with water. Wring it out just enough to keep it from dripping excess but keep it as moist as possible. Lay it on a plate. Place 4 tortillas on your plate like below and cover with another moist paper towel folded in half. 

Place in the microwave for 20 seconds. One at a time, keeping others covered, place them in a skillet over medium heat for 15-20 seconds or so to seal the surface, flip and heat the other side for the same amount of time. Remove from heat and spray both sides with fat free cooking spray and fill with chicken and cheese. Roll tightly and place edge down on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 

Move on to the next tortilla, and then the next and the next. Re-wet the paper towels and repeat the same process with the next 4 tortillas until all 8 taquitos are constructed. 

Squeeze a little lime juice over each of the taquitos (just because it is fun and festive).

Place the taquitos in the oven for 12 minutes, flip and bake for an additional 5 minutes. The taquitos should be crisp and the edges should have slightly browned. Serve with Cilantro Lime Sour Cream sauce below. 

Cilantro Lime Sour Cream:
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp lime zest
salt and pepper

Combine sour cream, cilantro, lime juice and zest in a mini food processor, process together and then add salt and pepper to taste.  You can also serve these with the Guacamole Spread from my Patacones post last week.

Enjoy! XOXO~

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Monday, January 20, 2014

Shrimp, Pancetta and Carmelized Onion Mac and Cheese

First of all, how cute is that little personal sized Le Creuset Mini Cocette dish? I found these adorable little guys in a set of four at the Le Creuset outlet store, which is one of my favorite places to shop for kitchenware because they sell the same stuff that is still full price in big name stores...its just on sale. This is where I build my collection. I actually bought them as a gift...opened them and fell in love and then had to run back and buy another set for the gift giving (I'm bad I know). My mom, sister and I have a rule of gift-giving and it is this: you should never buy something for someone else that you wouldn't love to have for yourself (unless they specifically ask for it). The problem with that rule is that sometimes your going to find yourself buying two of each for you, one for me mentality. Is that really a problem though? (My husband is not eligible to answer this question) Moving on....

This dish is ridiculous. I thought I should preface with that. This is not your kids mac and cheese, although they will dive right in and love every second of it. This is a decadent, sinfully delicious, utterly divine mac and cheese that is fancy and all grown-up. You could serve this to the President of France (where all the best food in the world comes from) and he would be in heaven... Ladies and Gentleman, start your stove-tops!

1 cup raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined if necessary (51/60 or 41/50 size)
1/4 medium yellow onion
1/4 cup pancetta, cooked until crispy
2-3 cups dry elbow macaroni pasta (other pasta options: Cavatappi, Shells, Ziti, Fusilli, Rigatoni)
3 Tbsp cup butter
2 Tbsp flour
2 cups milk
1/2 lb Shredded fontina
1/4 lb Shredded cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp goat cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
pinch of granulated garlic
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese  (optional)

Melt a little butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add in shrimp with some salt and pepper. Saute until cooked through; set aside. Cut your onion in half, and cut onion into very thin slices creating "half moons". Separate the slivers from one another and toss into skillet with a little more butter. Saute onions over low-medium heat until they are translucent and tender. They will pick up a lot of color from the shrimp tidbits left in the pan. Color = Flavor. Finally, and without extra butter, cook your pancetta in the skillet until the pieces are brown and starting to get slightly crispy on the edges; set aside.

Boil pasta until al dente, drain, rinse with cool water and set aside. Melt butter in a sauce pan over low-medium heat, whisk in flour until fully incorporated to create a roux. Whisk continuously until the roux starts to brown just a bit (3-4 minutes) slowly whisk in milk making a point to work out any lumps. Continue to whisk until it thickens to the consistency of gravy. Add in the fontina, cheddar cheese and goat cheese. Stir until all of the cheese is melted. Add the salt, pepper and garlic. Taste the cheese sauce and add more salt and pepper to taste. If the mixture gets too thick you can always add in a little extra milk to thin it out. Add in pasta** one cup at a time and mix well until you reach your desired ratio of cheese sauce to pasta. Mix in the shrimp, onions and pancetta, pour into a casserole dish. Feel free to top with a little Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately. Serves 10

**This recipe doesn't have an exact amount of pasta but rather an approximation in order to give you the opportunity to choose the consistency of your mac and cheese. 

Feel free to make this recipe your own. You could add in some sun-dried tomatoes and some brocollini or you could add in other kinds of seafood such as scallops. Let me know if you come up with anything outrageous that I must try!!

Enjoy! XOXO~

Thursday, January 16, 2014


I have a friend that has done his best the past week or two to make me as jealous as possible. He has posted pic after pic of he and his family on their travels through Costa Rica. The monkeys....the beaches...the beautiful scenery, oh my! His dad's side of the family is from there but he hails from Tulsa, OK (Okie Pride!) so we had an instant connection when we met on a gig several months back. 

When I honeymooned in Costa Rica three years ago we were introduced to an appetizer that was a delicious twice-fried, smashed plantain served with a trio of toppings. I have tried for a while to remember what that dish was called so that I could share it with you but all I got was one big brain fart. Thank goodness for Costa Rican friends with Costa Rican grandmothers because one text to Tico and not only did he remind me that they were called "Patacones" (pronounced Pat-a-cone-es) his grandmother had whipped up a batch and offered some tips! (Lucky for me...and y'all!) 

2 Plantains (green with a little yellowing)
2 cups vegetable or canola cooking oil
4 cups water
olive oil
salt and pepper
Black Bean Spread (recipe below)
Guacamole Spread (recipe below)
Simple Salsa (recipe below)

I'll explain more in depth below but I have been told how to make these two different ways. The first one starts with frying the plaintain peices, smashing them, and then frying them again. Tico's grandmother said that she learned from a great restaurant that you should boil them first, then smash them and then only fry them once. I used Tico's grandmother's version today and they turned out great. I think they are even better than the twice-fried method because the center stays a little softer and they keep better (twice-fried patacones got rock hard when they cooled)

Start by peeling your plantains. If you have never worked with plantain before, you can search Youtube for some videos to help you understand the peeling process a little better but these are the steps:

  • Cut both ends off of your plantains
  • Using a small sharp knife, make slits from end to end just through the skin of the plaintain on the "corners" or ridges that go down the sides of the plantains.
  • Use your fingers to lift the edge of the skin and slide your thumb or fore-finger down the plantain to loosen the skin from the flesh. Continue until the plantain is completely peeled. 
  • Repeat until all plantain are peeled
Next you will boil the plantain for approximately 10 minutes until it is warmed all the way through. Have your cooking oil hot and ready. Remove one piece at a time from the boiling water and coat in olive oil. Use the bottom of a glass liquid measuring cup or a drinking glass to smash the plantain (no need to be overly forceful). 

Place directly into hot oil and fry until medium golden brown. Repeat until all pieces are done. 

Serve alongside the spreads and toppings below!

Black Bean Spread
1 can black beans
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic paste (or minced garlic)
salt and pepper

Blend in a blender and heat thoroughly. Salt and pepper to taste.

Guacamole Spread
1 avocado, removed from skin, pit removed
2 tsp lime juice
1 1/2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together, mashing with a fork to break down big chunks. Salt and pepper to taste.

Simple Salsa
1 tomato
1/4 tsp garlic paste (or minced garlic)
1 small handful cilantro (stems removed)
3 Tbsp chopped onion
1 small jalapeno

Blend all ingredients in a blender on low. Salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy! XOXO~

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Banana Nut Muffins

These. Are. Yummy. 

Some of the old recipes that have been passed down to me don't exactly have heart healthy in mind so occasionally I come across one that I can't resist trying to reinvent. This is one of those crossover recipes that was born out of inspiration and experimentation. The end goal is to match the flavor of the original while upping the level of nutrition by revamping the ingredients. This particular recipe is one of my favorites and a staple of my childhood. I started with my Nannie's Banana Nut Bread and began the process of swapping this and that. Here are some of the changes I made: swapped half of the flour for raw oats, swapped the oil from vegetable to coconut oil and cut the amount in half  (I used yogurt to make up for some of the moisture), swapped most of the white sugar for brown sugar. These are not necessarily low calorie (240 cals each), just more health conscious. They are a fantastic breakfast muffin as the whole oats hold you over longer than plain white flour (which has virtually zero nutrition that fuels your body) but they also cure those late night sweet tooth cravings. I even made a batch of mini muffins that I can snack on here and there when I don't need a whole meal. A mini muffin for a mini-meal!

1 1/2 cups all-purpose white flour
1 1/2 cups raw rolled oats
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 cups bananas (chopped fine but not mashed)
1/2 cup crushed pineapple with juice
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, non-fat
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup nuts
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mix well but do not beat. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray and fill muffin tins to just under the brim. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center (of an inside muffin) comes out clean. Makes 20-24 regular muffins.

Enjoy! XOXO~

Friday, January 10, 2014


This has long been my husbands favorite omelette, he even suggested that I should call it "Drew's World Famous Omelette" at which point I explained to him that it could only be named that if Drew had actually created it....which he didn't. He also came up with a slew of other names for it that he refused to let me ignore, the favorite of which was "Pastromelette" which did make me giggle for the few seconds before it became an eye-rolling episode due to the series of monikers that followed...all of which included the word "Pastromelette." He was insistent that the word he "invented" be used to name his favorite breakfast item...I'm giving him this one (choose your battles, right? lol)

I ate a similar version at a friends house years and years ago (and this was before I ended my childhood feud with vegetables) and it was so incredible that I saved it for a special occasion to share it with the hubby. For his birthday that year I planned a surprise brunch with his closest friends and blew his mind with it. The way that the vegetables are cooked down together before being piled onto one of my favorite cheeses in the world and folded up snugly into a thin airy egg blanket makes for the perfect omelette. Prepare to be amazed...

4 oz beef pastrami, deli sliced
2/3 cup zucchini, small diced
1/3 cup onion, small diced
1/3 cup green bell pepper, small diced
1/3 cup red bell pepper, small diced
1/3 cup yellow bell pepper, small diced
1/3 cup mushrooms, small diced (optional)
3 eggs, whole
3 egg whites
1 Tbsp milk
1 tsp Tapatio hot sauce
3 slices Muenster cheese, deli sliced
salt and pepper

Drizzle a small amount of olive oil in a medium/large skillet and combine all of the vegetables and pastrami. Cook over medium heat until vegetables are tender and onions are translucent. Remove from pan and set aside. Rinse skillet and spritz with olive oil to keep from sticking (a non-stick pan will work best). Turn heat to medium. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, milk and Tapatio for 20-30 seconds. Continue to whisk as you pour half of the mixture into the pan to form a thin layer of the aerated egg mixture. Allow the egg to cook until the egg is cooked most of the way through and you can use a large spatula to lift the edge without issue. At this point place 1 1/2 slices of the cheese down the center of the egg and top with half of the veggie/pastrami mixture. Make sure to keep the cheese and veggies in the center so that you can fold the sides of the omelette in. Take the skillet to the plate you are serving on and carefully lift one end out and let the omelette slide out lengthwise onto the plate. Serve with some avocado slices and additional hot sauce if desired.

Enjoy! XOXO~