Spicy Scalloped Potatoes.

There is no photo to accompany this post because, well, this was not an attractive recipe. My shoddy photography skills would have made it even worse.  And since these turned out to be really delicious, I don’t want to scare you off with a hideous photo.

At the age of 39, I realized that I have never made scalloped potatoes. I skimmed through a bunch of recipes, settled on one that didn’t sound bland, and decided to make it – with a few changes along the way.

This came out delightfully spicy (which I like!) but you may want to adjust your ingredients to make it more, or less, spicy. If you don’t like any spice whatsoever, well, you may want to look for a different recipe.

Spicy Scalloped Potatoes

Ingredients:

4 tbsp unsalted butter
4 tbsp  all-purpose flour
4 1/2 cups warm milk
2 cup shredded habanero cheese (or other spicy, melty cheese!)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground pepper
3 lb white potatoes
2 cups chunky salsa (hot!)
1/2 cup drained pickled or marinated jalapeno pepper slices (like Cowgirl Candy!)

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan, over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
  2. Whisk in the warm milk and continue whisking constantly for 3 to 5 minutes – or until beginning to boil and thicken. Add more flour, slowly, if needed to thicken.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the cheese, salt, oregano, cumin and pepper. Set the pot aside for a bit.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  5. Peel and thinly slice potatoes. Use a mandoline if you’re afraid of losing a finger.
  6. Arrange about one third of the slices into a thin layer in the bottom of a greased 9×13 baking dish.
  7. Spread half of the salsa on top of the potatoes.
  8. Repeat steps 5 and 6, making happy potato and salsa layers, then layer the remaining potato slices on top.
  9. Pour the cheese sauce over top to cover evenly and reach the sides and bottom of dish.
  10. Sprinkle with jalapeno pepper slices.
  11. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Uncover and bake for another 30 minutes or until lightly browned. The potatoes should be tender.
  12. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Notes:

You can make this more, or less, spicy by choosing cheeses and salsas that are more or less spicy. You can also skip the jalapeno slices on top for less kick. I have no idea why you would want to make it LESS spicy, but, hey, it’s your dinner.

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Bacon Cheddar Biscuits.

Cheddar AND Bacon!

Cheddar AND Bacon!

For some inexplicable reason, I find biscuits difficult to make. They come out too dry. Too bland. Not puffy enough. (Or all of the above.)

My husband loves biscuits.

Of course.

I stumbled across a recipe that sounded easy and I tweaked it a bit for our own tastes. And it is SO GOOD that I’m sure no one in the house would complain if I made them every day. They’re easy, but they’re also crispy and buttery and very, very tasty.

Bacon Cheddar Biscuits

Makes about 20.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups of flour
1 1/2 tablespoons of white sugar
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of cold butter, cut into chunks
1 rounded cup of shredded old cheddar cheese
1/2 cup of precooked, crumbled bacon
1 cup of whole milk
1 egg, beaten

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. In your food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Toss in the chunks of butter and pulse into the chunks turn into crumbs.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the egg and the milk.
  5. In a large bowl, dump the contents of the food processor. Stir in the bacon and the shredded cheese.
  6. Pour the egg/milk mixture into the large bowl and stir.
  7. It will be sticky. Very, very sticky. Use your hands to gently combine everything, if needed.
  8. Lightly flour your counter and scrape the dough onto it. Using your hands, press the dough down until it’s about 1/2 an inch thick.
  9. Use a round cutter (I use a 2″ one) to cut out the biscuits. Place them on the baking tray, about an inch apart (they don’t expand much outward, but they do grow upward).
  10. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, or until they’re crisp and lightly browned.
  11. The original recipe said they could be frozen. I refuse to believe that there could possibly be any left over for that.

Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups.

My middle son has declared that this is his favourite dinner. I am pretty sure that he’s made that same declaration about a few other foods. At any rate, the entire family enjoys this and we usually only have a roll or two left when we’re finished.

Spinach! Lasagna! Roll-up!

Spinach! Lasagna! Roll-up!

For a long time I was ridiculously afraid to use the lasagna noodles that you need to boil – I always bought the “oven ready” kind. This meant that I didn’t experiment with recipes like this one. I regret all those years – now I have to make up for it by eating this recipe at least once a month.

Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups

Makes one large 9×13″ pan of roll-ups!

Ingredients:
1 pkg lasagna noodles (I like the spinach ones best)
2 small containers of ricotta cheese
3 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated parmesan
2 eggs
2 bricks of frozen spinach, thawed and drained (microwave!)
6 cups of your favourite pasta sauce
pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the full package of lasagna noodles and cook them until they’re soft – not mushy! Drain them, rinse quickly with cold water, and set aside.
  2. While the noodles are cooking, combine the thawed spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, eggs, pepper, and parmesan cheese in a large bowl. Mix! Stir! Combine!
  3. Preheat the oven to 400F. Spray the inside of a 9×13″ pan with some non-stick spray.
  4. Take one cooked noodle and lay it flat on the counter. Coat it nicely with the filling, then roll it up! Place in the pan. Repeat for all as many other noodles as you can fit into the pan.
  5. Pour the pasta sauce over the noodles – use a spoon to make sure all the surfaces are covered.
  6. Cover the dish in tin foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven, discard tin foil, allow to cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

Notes:
I make this based on this recipe – we like our filling to be extra, uh, filling, so we doubled the original and added extra mozzarella cheese for good measure. I also use more sauce on top to prevent the noodles from drying out.

Violet’s Cheatie Kringles.

The cheatiest Kringle EVER.

The cheatiest Kringle EVER.

My husband hails from Wisconsin which is the Land of Kringle. He requested Kringle for Solstice this year (we don’t celebrate Christmas). The last time he asked for a Kringle I just mail-ordered it – a process that turned out to be ridiculously complicated. We live in Canada, you see, and there are rules about how things can be shipped and extra costs for pastries (or something) and, in the end, it was stupidly expensive.

I figured it couldn’t be that hard to make one at home – I mean, it’s food. And, if it didn’t turn out, I’d just get out ye olde credit card and buy one from Wisconsin.

My first attempt was awful in terms of what you’d expect from a Kringle. I’m not from Wisconsin and even I knew it wasn’t authentic by any stretch of the imagination. I had my suspicions after viewing the recipe, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to try.

Nope. There’s a reason that recipe isn’t posted here.

In order to make the official O&H version, I discovered that I would need to spend 3 days in the process. I intend to attempt this during the Christmas holidays – when I have 3 days off in a row and the patience to spend rolling things out. When that happens, I’ll post again to let you know how it turns out.

In the meantime, however, I made the easiest cheatiest Kringle EVER and my beloved husband really liked it and, so, I am going to share the recipe. If you can call something that uses frozen pastry a recipe.

Violet’s Cheatie Kringles

Makes 2 Kringles.

Ingredients:
1 box of frozen puff pastry (contains 2)
8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
1 can of pie filling (your choice of flavour)
1 egg
2 tablespoons white sugar (or coarse, if you’re fancy)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Thaw your puff pastry per the directions on the box. I used President’s Choice brand and thawed it on the counter, at room temperature, for about 2 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Using a mixer, combine the softened cream cheese with 1/4 cup of white sugar. Mix until it’s light and fluffy and happy.
  5. Lay the pastries flat. Divide the cream cheese mixture in half – spread one half down the centre of each pastry (in a strip that’s about 2 inches wide)
  6. Spread pie filling on top of the cream cheese. It’s up to you how much pie filling you decide to use – go nuts or be conservative.
  7. Fold one length of the pastry over top of the filling. Fold the other side of the pastry on top of that. Repeat with the second Kringle. Fold the ends of both Kringles underneath. (I feel like I have made this step very confusing. Have I?)
  8. Brush the tops of both Kringles with the beaten egg (you won’t need the whole thing) and then sprinkle with white sugar. Bonus points if you had some fancy, coarse sugar sitting around for this.
  9. Bake for about 25 minutes – or until everything is nice and browned. I turned mine halfway through to keep things even.
  10. Cool the Kringles for about 15 minutes. While they’re cooling, combine the icing sugar with the 2 tablespoons of milk and the vanilla extract.
  11. Drizzle the extract over the cooled Kringle.
  12. Cut ’em up and eat ’em.

Notes:
Make your own icing sugar by tossing a cup of white sugar into the blender and pulsing until it’s powdery. This stuff tastes WAY better than the icing sugar you buy in the store – did you know they put corn starch in there to keep it from clumping? Ew.

Spinach and Black Bean Enchiladas.

Perhaps it’s becoming obvious that I love spinach? Maybe you’ve noticed that I quite enjoy recipes that include black beans? Here we go again..

Oh, enchiladas!

Oh, enchiladas!

Gooey, spicy, tasty enchiladas with homemade sauce. Ridiculously easy to make and only 20 minutes in the oven. The recipe looks long but most of it is spices – because you can never, ever have too many spices.

Here’s the recipe:

Spinach and Black Bean Enchiladas

Ingredients:
Enchiladas
15 oz. can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups of corn
1 block of frozen spinach, thawed
2 tsp. cumin
3 cups shredded spicy cheese (habanero!)
8 tortillas (whole wheat or white will work)

Sauce
3 cups low (or no-) sodium vegetable broth
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. chipotle chili powder
salt and pepper (to taste)
3 tablespoons of corn starch (+ water)
1 cup of shredded cheese to top

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the sauce ingredients, other than the corn starch and cheese, in a large sauce pan. Whisk over medium heat until the tomato paste has been fully dissolved into the liquid. Adjust spices to your preference!
  2. In a small jar with a lid, combine 3 tablespoons of corn starch with enough cold water to create a liquid. Shake the jar until the corn starch is fully dissolved.
  3. Slowly pour the corn starch into the sauce while whisking everything together. Continue to heat the mixture until the sauce has thickened. (If needed, add more corn starch.)
  4. Let the sauce remain on a low heat on the stove while you prepare the enchiladas.
  5. Preheat your oven to 375F.
  6. Combine all of the enchilada ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix well.
  7. Spoon some filling into the middle of the tortilla and roll it up like a burrito! Repeat for the remaining filling and tortillas.
  8. Spray a 9×13″ baking pan with nonstick spray and add one cup of the sauce to the bottom, spreading it evenly.
  9. Place the rolled-up enchiladas into the pan with their folded sides on the bottom.
  10. Pour the remainder of the sauce on top of the enchiladas and sprinkle with 1 cup of shredded cheese.
  11. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Remove from the stove and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Note: I find that the recipe often makes 10 enchiladas, so I just cram the extras into the pan. Leftovers are ‘okay’ but not fantastic – they can be reheated in a microwave or toaster oven.

Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese.

jalapeno

I  love jalapeños.

I love macaroni.

I love cheese.

I do not love the way any of the photos I took of this dinner turned out, so you’ll have to use your imagination.  Picture a bowl filled with perfectly cooked pasta, coated in a creamy sauce, dotted with jalapeños. Imagine eating something that has the flavour of a deep fried jalapeño popper, but without the deep frying.

The recipe can be tweaked depending on your personal preferences for heat. Add more, or substract some, of the jalapeños. Use regular shredded mozzarella in place of the habanero cheese if you want to tone down the heat!  We use low-fat or “light” versions of the ingredients whenever possible – the recipe turns out just fine with low fat and with the full-fat ingredients, so use whatever you prefer. Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave.

Here’s the recipe:

Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese

Makes enough for about 12 servings for normal people – or one dinner plus a bit left over for our family of hungry wolves.

Ingredients:
  • 24 oz. uncooked whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 2 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups milk (we use 1%)
  • 8 oz. cream cheese (light)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan (light)
  • 1 cup sour cream (light)
  • 8 oz can sliced jalapeños, drained and diced (or leave them large if you prefer)
  • 2 cups shredded habanero pepper cheese (or your preference)
Instructions:
  1. Cook your pasta in a big pot of boiling water.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, grab a second pot and prepare your sauce. Heat the vegetable oil up, add garlic, and stir it around for a minute or two. Add the milk, cream cheese, and parmesan – use a whisk to get everything well-mixed.
  3. Once the cream cheese has fully melted and the mixture is hot, turn the heat to low and add the sour cream.
  4. Add the jalapeños into the sauce, stirring to combine and warm them.
  5. Drain the cooked pasta and return to the pot (remove from heat). Pour the sauce onto the noodles, stir until well mixed, then add the shredded cheese and stir until melted.

Stromboli.

Easy, tasty!

Easy, tasty!

One of our family’s favourite dinners is Stromboli. No one ever groans when they see it on the table and everyone eats several pieces. My husband takes leftovers to work for lunch!

In a nutshell, Stromboli is bread dough that’s rolled up with some salami and cheese. Brush on some olive oil, sprinkle on some Italian seasoning, then bake for about 25 minutes.

My oven has a proof setting – so the two rises don’t take much time – and I rather enjoy the process of making the dough and kneading it. You can use store-bought dough if you were in a rush, but this is far tastier. We used store-bought once and haven’t done it again!

Here’s the recipe. I always double it (did I mention we love this?) and I leave off the banana peppers. We’ve used provolone cheese, mozzarella and, most often, we end up going with Swiss.  Mmmm.