Categories
Main Dish Side Dish

Huge casserole will make you say, ‘Cheese, Louise!’

This over-the-top version of macaroni and cheese makes a huge amount of the creamy, decadent dish.

As the extremely proud aunt of a fantastic three-year-old, I have been around for quite a few meals of macaroni and cheese the past several years.

I definitely can’t argue with her taste in good food. Joey makes fun of me for ordering mac and cheese regularly, and while my niece’s dish of choice is generally a cup of the single-serving microwaveable kind, I tend to opt for a more grown up version.

After I recently saw a recipe online for a batch that claimed to be the “world’s best” and featured three types of cheese, I decided to forgo any boxes of Kraft and try my own version from scratch.

I will warn you, before we even launch into this, that this makes an absolutely huge dish of macaroni and cheese. I would highly recommend halving or even quartering the recipe if you aren’t feeding a crowd or don’t want a lot of leftovers.

The recipe I used comes from the blog “Mom on Timeout.” You can find the original post at https://www.momontimeout.com/best-homemade-baked-mac-and-cheese-recipe/. I ended up adding extra pasta to my version, because it was way too soupy for my tastes. I also added garlic powder and extra paprika.

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Over-the-Top Macaroni and Cheese

This over-the-top version of macaroni and cheese makes a huge amount of the creamy, decadent dish.
Course Main Course
Keyword garlic, gruyere, macaroni, panko, parmesan, sharp cheddar cheese

Ingredients

  • 24 ounces elbow macaroni cooked al dente
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups sharp cheddar shredded
  • 2 cups gruyere shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups panko crumbs
  • 4 tablespoons butter melted
  • 1/2 cup parmesan shredded
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a three- or four-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
  • While the pasta cooks, combine the shredded cheddar and Gruyere in a large bowl and set it aside.
  • When the pasta is finished and drained, add it to another bowl and drizzle it with the olive oil and mix to combine. Set it aside.
  • In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt six tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, and continue to stir for one minute. Whisk in the milk and heavy cream until the mixture is smooth. Continue stirring regularly until small bubbles start to form on the surface. Whisk in the salt, pepper and garlic powder and continue cooking, stirring regularly, for about two more minutes. Reserve two cups of the combined cheddar and gruyere, and add the rest to the pot, a handful at a time, whisking in between additions until the sauce is smooth. Once all of the cheese is melted into the sauce, add the pasta. Stir to fully coat the pasta and dump half of it into the prepared baking dish.
  • Add the rest of the cheddar and gruyere in an even layer and then top with the rest of the macaroni mixture.
  • In a bowl, combine the panko, parmesan, four tablespoons melted butter and paprika, and stir until all of the bread crumbs are moistened.
  • Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture on the top of the dish and bake for 30 minutes or until the topping is browned and the cheese is bubbling.

This was so rich and really delicious, and while gruyere is not a cheap cheese to buy, it really did add some complex flavors I wouldn’t have been able to get with just the sharp cheddar.

Two things I would add as tips are, first, you might want to bake this on a baking sheet in case it spills over. My baking dish was just over three quarts in size, and I could barely fit the entire batch into it.

Second, if you want the best results, shred the cheddar and gruyere yourself. Pre-packaged shredded cheese often doesn’t melt as easily because of additives put in to keep it from clumping together.

I was amazed at the size of this batch of macaroni and cheese by the time I was done. I ended up giving away quite a few helpings so that it would all get eaten.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to enjoy this one with my niece. We’ll have to have a mac and cheese date sometime soon; although, I suspect that my use of “fancy” cheese won’t impress her too much and with her three-year-old appetite, we’re bound to have a lot of leftovers.

This piece first appeared in print on April 22, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Side Dish

Tasty collards will ‘leaf’ you wanting more

Collard greens are slow simmered and paired with bacon to create a traditional southern side dish.

While I have always thought of collard greens as something eaten mainly by southerners, an article from the website “What’s Cooking America” notes that even the ancient Greeks and Romans enjoyed the leafy greens.

For the U.S., the tradition of cooking collard greens with pork—often using a ham hock to simmer in the broth—came from Africa as southern slaves honed the technique of cooking collards with the food scraps given to them for sustenance.

Collard greens, which are in the cabbage family, have a taste similar to kale or mustard greens. They have a deep, earthy flavor, and they’re especially good when you cook them down with plenty of pork fat. They’re not healthy that way, but they’re definitely delicious.

I recently decided to give collard greens a shot in my own kitchen and decide to use a recipe from the blog “Cooking with Pennies.” You can find the original post at https://www.spendwithpennies.com/collard-greens/. I added lots of extra garlic in my version.

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Collard Greens

Collard greens are slow simmered and paired with bacon to create a traditional southern side dish.
Course Side Dish
Keyword bacon, collard greens, garlic, onion

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 8 slices bacon cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 small onion diced (I used yellow.)
  • 1 pound collard greens
  • 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Wash and drain the collard greens and remove as much of the stems as possible, leaving the leaves in large, two- to three-inch pieces.
  • In a very large skillet with a lid or deep stock pot, melt the butter over medium heat and then fry the bacon until it is crispy.
  • Add the diced onions to the bacon and saute for three to five minutes or until they’re starting to soften.
  • Mix in the garlic and collard greens. Once everything is well combined, pour in the broth and place the lid on the pan.
  • Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 40 minutes or until the greens are tender. Stir them every 10 minutes or so to keep anything from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • Add salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

While this recipe didn’t follow the tradition of boiling a ham hock with the greens, the bacon added plenty of great flavor. I served these with some fresh cornbread, too, and sopping up the juices from the pan—often referred to as “pot-likker,” according to “What’s Cooking America,” was amazing.

And I learned you don’t have to be southern to enjoy collard greens. They have travelled all over the world throughout history, and while this particular recipe probably doesn’t count as adding vegetables to your meal, I still highly recommend them.

As Paula Deen once said, “I figure it’s almost like a balance. We’re eating these wonderful collard greens and turnip greens, which are so medicinally good for you, and OK, so what if it has a little ham hock in it?”

This piece first appeared in print on April 8, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Appetizer Side Dish Snack

Dip into something awesome for game day

Cheesy bean dip elevates boring canned ingredients into something truly spectacular for your snack table.

Until the Chiefs became a part of the post-season, the best part of Super Bowl Sunday for me over the years has been the snack table.

From the days when our church youth group would watch the games while playing a football-themed bingo game to ones with friends gathered in our living room, there has always been a fabulous spread of great food to eat along with the fellowship the game brings.

Of course, it goes without saying that this year’s game will be very different than last year’s Chiefs victory. Last year, our house was packed with people, everyone screaming and yelling when the final seconds ticked down on the game clock, and we all realized we were the Super Bowl champs.

This year, there will likely be more yelling and screaming, and hopefully that will come along with another Lombardi Trophy, but it will be a much quieter din without the crowd of friends and family around us.

Despite the lack of a crowd, Joey and I will still be enjoying some favorite snacks, though, and after I test-drove this one for the AFC Championship game, I have to share it with you.

This comes from Lauren Allen over at her blog, “Tastes Better From Scratch.” You can find the original post at https://tastesbetterfromscratch.com/cheesy-bean-dip/. I doubled the seasoning in my version below and substituted refried beans for whole pintos.

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Cheesy Bean Dip

Cheesy bean dip elevates boring canned ingredients into something truly spectacular for your snack table.
Course Appetizer
Keyword bean dip, cheese, cream cheese, Greek yogurt, salsa, sour cream, taco seasoning

Ingredients

  • 2, 15- ounce cans of refried beans
  • 4 ounces cream cheese softened (I used fat free)
  • 2/3 cup sour cream or plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 packets 1/4 cup taco seasoning
  • 1/4 cup salsa any kind. I used a tomatillo salsa.
  • 1 to 2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese divided

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • In an eight-by-eight-inch baking dish, combine the refried beans, cream cheese, sour cream, taco seasoning, salsa and about 1/4-cup shredded cheese.
  • Mix it well so that the ingredients are evenly distributed, and then spread it evenly in the dish.
  • Top with as much cheese as you like and bake for 25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and just starting to brown around the edges.
  • Serve with tortilla chips or as part of a taco bar.

This was absolutely amazing. I know it isn’t a health food by any stretch, but by using fat-free refried beans, fat-free cream cheese and non-fat Greek yogurt to make this, I felt a lot better about placing a big scoop on my plate during the game.

And it certainly did not taste low-fat, either. The variety of cheese gave it fantastic flavor, and the leftovers quickly disappeared over the next few days, as we integrated them into tacos for lunch.

It won’t be the same to watch the Super Bowl without a crowd of friends this year, but I’m hoping that a few fun dishes on the coffee table might make up for it. Of course, another Chiefs victory wouldn’t hurt, either.

This piece first appeared in print on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Main Dish Side Dish

Yummy Puerto Rican food will help you have a ‘rice’ day

Puerto Rican rice and beans are full of rich flavors, and while they may use some ingredients not standard in a stereotypical Kansas kitchen, they are definitely worth a try.

Often, I launch this column by telling you a story that ties into whatever the week’s recipe is going to be. This week, however, I wanted to talk ingredients, because if you’re like me, this recipe is going to be a bit of a scavenger hunt through your local grocery store. 

My sister-in-law makes amazing Puerto Rican dishes for us when she comes to visit, and after eyeballing this recipe for Puerto Rican rice and beans, I decided I had to take the plunge.

The first ingredient that might stump some but is actually a staple in my pantry is Sazon Culantro y Achiote packets. Sazon is the brand, and the “Culantro y Achiote” means coriander and annatto in Spanish. I use a packet in with my taco seasoning regularly, so if you buy some for this recipe, I highly recommend using the remaining packets for that.

The next is adobo seasoning, which is just a seasoning mix that generally has a mix of spices from black pepper and paprika to oregano and onion powder. If you can’t find it, try looking for a homemade recipe online. It would be pretty simple to replicate.

One that did leave me scratching my head is pigeon peas. I was only able to find them at a larger grocery store in the “Hispanic Foods” section. They are a legume and are definitely more bean-like than green-pea-like. If you can’t find them, substitute a can of black-eyed peas instead.

The final ingredient that might be different for some is basmati white rice. It’s more expensive than traditional white rice, but it cooks differently, so substituting one for the other would likely mess up cooking times and liquid ratios. I have another recipe I’ll share with you soon that uses basmati rice, so if you’re worried about having a bag of it sitting in your pantry gathering dust, stay tuned.

So, now that we’ve covered the bases, it’s time to jump into this delicious dish that, honestly, I wish I would have doubled. It was great.

I found this recipe on the blog “Ambitious Kitchen.” You can find the original post at https://www.ambitiouskitchen.com/video-moms-authentic-puerto-rican-rice-and-beans/. I changed the ingredients just a bit but also tried to clarify the directions in my version below.

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Puerto Rican Rice and Beans

Puerto Rican rice and beans are full of rich flavors, and while they may use some ingredients not standard in a stereotypical Kansas kitchen, they are definitely worth a try.
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Puerto Rican
Keyword adobo, basmati rice, cilantro, garlic, green bell pepper, onions, pigeon peas, pinto beans, tomato sauce

Ingredients

Beans Ingredients

  • 2 cups dry pinto beans
  • 8 cups vegetarian broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 of a large yellow onion diced
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro minced
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce divided
  • 2 packets Sazon Culantro y Achiote
  • salt to taste

Rice Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 of a large yellow onion diced
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • Reserved tomato sauce about 1/2 cup
  • 2 packets Sazon Culantro y Achiote
  • 1/4 teaspoon adobo seasoning
  • 15 ounces pigeon peas undrained
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups basmati white rice
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  • The night before you make this (or about eight hours before), combine the dried beans, vegetable broth and bay leaves in a Dutch oven with a lid. Bring the mixture to a boil, remove the pot from the heat, place the lid on top, and let the beans soak at least eight hours.
  • When you’re ready to start cooking, bring the beans back to a boil and then reduce to a low boil, leaving the lid on the pot. You’ll let them simmer for one to two hours or until they are tender. When they are tender, remove the bay leaves but do not drain the liquid.
  • While the beans are cooking, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add in the onion and green pepper, sauteing until both are soft. Add in the garlic and cilantro and saute for a few minutes until the garlic just starts to brown. Add one cup of the tomato sauce and the Sazon packets, stirring to combine. Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture cook for a couple minutes. If the beans are not tender yet, remove the mixture from heat. If they are, go ahead and add it to the beans.
  • Once the tomato mixture is added to the beans, cook over medium-low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • For the rice, while the beans simmer, in a medium-sized pot with a lid, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add in the onion and green pepper, sauteing until both are soft. Add in the garlic and cilantro and saute for a few minutes until the garlic just starts to brown. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the rest of the tomato sauce, Sazon packets and adobo seasoning and let cook for about two minutes. Stir in the undrained pigeon peas and three cups of water, and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir in the rice, place the lid on the pot, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked through.
  • Once the beans and rice are finished cooking, add salt if desired, and then serve the beans and rice together in a bowl. Garnish with fresh cilantro, if you want to.

This was amazing, and it reheated famously as leftovers. The flavor profile was great. We ended up pairing it with some smoked pork loin that Joey whipped up, and it was a fabulous meal.

Plus, I learned about some new ingredients and got a chance to explore my grocery store a little bit more. It’s always easier to be adventurous when adventure tastes this good.

This piece first appeared in print on Jan. 21, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Side Dish

Don’t get cheesed by too many leftovers

Cheesy mashed potatoes is a great way to elevate leftover mashed potatoes after a big meal.

I’ve heard a lot of folks complain over the years that they never know how many spaghetti noodles to cook when making pasta.

A friend of mine literally just throws in an entire box every time she makes spaghetti and ends up with leftovers that last forever.

That hasn’t been an issue for me, now that I figured out how to use the holes on my spaghetti server to measure it out, but I still have a major portion control problem for another dish: mashed potatoes.

I never know how many potatoes to toss into the pot when I make mashed potatoes. It doesn’t matter if I’m just making them for Joey and myself or a crowd, I never manage to make the amount I need. Instead, I end up with loads and loads of leftovers.

For Christmas this year, Joey and I cooked enough food for a small army when we had his folks and aunt over to our house to celebrate the holiday. When we were all finished feasting, the serving plates all still looked full—especially my big bowl of mashed potatoes.

Over the years, I have transformed leftover taters into everything from fried potato cakes to potato soup, but this week, I tried something completely different that I absolutely have to share with you.

This recipe comes from “Taste of Home” magazine, and you can find the original recipe on their website at https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/cheesy-mashed-potatoes/. I added garlic and onion powder to my version, and of course, I used leftover mashed potatoes instead of making some fresh for this dish, but you can do it either way.

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Cheesy Mashed Potatoes

Cheesy mashed potatoes is a great way to elevate leftover mashed potatoes after a big meal.
Course Side Dish
Keyword cream cheese, garlic, Greek yogurt, mashed potatoes, sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream

Ingredients

  • 6 large potatoes cut into one-inch pieces
  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese plus more for topping
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 6 to 8 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 large egg
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Boil your potatoes until they are fork tender, drain them, and then mash with a potato masher until nice and fluffy. (Or skip this step if you already made mashed potatoes and are using leftovers. Just heat them up in the microwave.)
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and prepare a two-quart baking dish by spraying it with cooking spray.
  • Stir the rest of the ingredients into the potatoes until everything is well combined.
  • Spread the mixture into your prepared dish, cover it with an oven-safe lid or aluminum foil, and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the dish is heated through and the potatoes are a little browned around the edges.
  • Top with more cheese, and if desired, pop it under the broiler for a couple minutes, uncovered, until the cheese is nice and bubbly.
  • Serve while it’s nice and hot.

I mixed this up for our New Year’s Eve meal, and it was like I made a completely new dish, even though it started with leftovers. These were phenomenal with tons of cheesy flavor, and the added garlic was awesome.

Also, since we ended up with leftovers of these, I can tell you they reheat really well, and they go nicely with leftover ham, too.

Unfortunately, this probably hasn’t taught me any lessons about overdoing it with my mashed potatoes in the future, especially since I can’t say no to cheese, but at least it makes our leftovers a little less boring.

Now, if we can figure out what to do with my friend’s spaghetti problems, we’ll be in business.

This piece first appeared in print on Jan. 7, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Side Dish

How ‘yam’ I still surprised at this point?

Garlic parmesan roasted sweet potatoes are perfect for those who are tired of marshmallow-covered sweet potato side dishes.

I managed to hit the local grocery store at just the right time a few nights ago to score a couple huge steaks on a great sale.

I was pumped about my luck, and I decided to grab a few sweet potatoes for a side dish to go along with them for a killer meal.

When I got home, I proudly presented my purchase to Joey, who immediately looked at the sweet potatoes on the counter and said, “Oh! Are you going to make those savory sweet potatoes again?”

So, yes, in the short time since I discovered the recipe I am sharing with you this week, I have already made this twice, and since there are still two more sweet potatoes in my kitchen, I have a feeling I will be producing this a third time in the very near future—not that I’m complaining.

I have always been a huge fan of sweet potatoes in any form, and Joey likes them but tends to hate how much sugar gets dumped in for a lot of side dishes. This recipe, then, was right up his alley.

The recipe I tried, by Christina Cherrier, comes from the site “Eat Well 101.” You can find the original post at https://www.eatwell101.com/garlic-parmesan-roasted-sweet-potato-recipe. I added extra garlic and herbs, as well as more parmesan, in my version below.

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Garlic Parmesan Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Garlic parmesan roasted sweet potatoes are perfect for those who are tired of marshmallow-covered sweet potato side dishes.
Course Side Dish
Keyword basil, garlic, oregano, parmesan, parsley, sweet potato, thyme

Ingredients

  • 2 sweet potatoes peeled and sliced thinly
  • 4 to 6 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter melted
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup parmesan cheese grated or shredded
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon thyme

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and prepare about an eight-inch baking dish (preferably one with a lid or you can cover it with aluminum foil) by spraying it with cooking spray.
  • Add all of the ingredients (leave out a bit of parmesan to sprinkle over the top of the dish) to the bag, and shake to coat the potatoes as evenly as possible.
  • Arrange the slices so they just slightly overlap in a spiral pattern in your baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan cheese over the top.
  • Bake, covered, for 30 minutes, checking every 5 minutes after that to see if your potatoes are fork tender.
  • When they are done, remove from the oven and serve.

Remember that the thicker your potato slices, the longer they will take to bake. Mine ended up being done at about the 40-minute mark.

These are absolutely delicious and a nice departure from a lot of the traditional ways sweet potatoes are served. They have a ton of flavor, and they also reheat really nicely.

With our leftovers, I added in some crumbled sausage and a couple runny eggs for a delicious breakfast.

Eventually, Joey did acknowledge that I got a great deal on my steaks for dinner, and he was pretty excited about them, as well. But if I had to make a wager, I know what he would claim as his favorite part of the meal.

Well, at least he likes his veggies.

This piece first appeared in print on Dec. 17, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Dessert Side Dish

Candied pecan casserole makes for sweet memories

The only thing missing from this candied pecan sweet potato casserole to turn it fully into a dessert is a graham cracker crust.

For the last few years, some dear friends of ours invited us over for “Friendsgiving” at their home around Thanksgiving time.

It’s always been a great time to get to know new folks and share in a huge potluck meal.

Of course, this year, that meal couldn’t happen, but instead, Joey and I might have begun a new Thanksgiving weekend tradition. I call it “Strunksgiving.”

Adam Strunk and his fiancee, Sam, have been a part of our “COVID bubble” over the past few months, as we’ve been careful to maintain very little contact with folks. During the summer, Adam and Joey spent several weekends hanging outside, smoking a variety of meats, and when Thanksgiving rolled around, they decided to try a turkey.

That idea ballooned into all of us adding side dish after side dish to the menu, ending up with enough food to feed an army. As I often do to my friends, I made Adam and Sam into my guinea pigs and decided to try some new recipes, one of which was a sweet potato casserole that may as well have been on the dessert table.

The recipe I tried comes from the blog “Creme de la Crumb.” You can find the original at https://www.lecremedelacrumb.com/candied-pecan-sweet-potato-casserole. (I doubled the vanilla in my version below.)

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Candied Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole

The only thing missing from this candied pecan sweet potato casserole to turn it fully into a dessert is a graham cracker crust.
Course Dessert, Side Dish
Keyword brown sugar, marshmallows, pecans, sweet potato casserole, sweet potatoes

Ingredients

Base Ingredients

  • 5 pounds sweet potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup butter melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup milk

Topping Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup butter melted
  • 1 cup pecans chopped
  • 3 cups mini marshmallows

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, and set it aside.
  • Place the cubed sweet potatoes into a stock pot and just cover them with water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 12 to 15 minutes or until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.
  • Drain the potatoes and dump them back into your stock pot.
  • Mash them, and then stir in the eggs, vanilla, melted butter, brown sugar, salt and milk until everything is well combined.
  • Spread the potato mixture evenly into your prepared dish.
  • In a small bowl, create the topping by combining the brown sugar, flour, melted butter and pecans. Stir until they’re well combined and sprinkle the mixture over top of the potatoes.
  • Bake uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes, until the topping is caramelized a bit.
  • Remove from the oven and spread the marshmallows over the top. Bake for another five minutes. (If your marshmallows aren’t as browned as you like after five minutes, flip your oven over to the low broil setting and let the casserole cook under the broiler for a couple more minutes.)
  • Serve hot.

If you enjoy sugary sweet potatoes, this is the dish for you. The brown sugar and marshmallows contribute their traditional sweetness, while the pecans offer up a nice, extra crunch to take it all over the top. I actually halved this recipe and made it in an 8-inch dish, and it was a great amount for us.

It got two thumbs up from the tiny assembly.

We had a wonderful time with just the four of us, with great conversation and way too much overeating, but we decided before the pie was served that we were definitely making a regular tradition of sharing a meal together. It looks like “Strunksgiving” is here to stay.

This piece first appeared in print on Dec. 3, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Air Fryer Appetizer Side Dish

Fryer lets you ‘air’ in the side of less oil

Air fryer potatoes are seasoned simply and made using very little oil.

When I first moved out on my own, one of the first items I acquired for my kitchen was a deep fat fryer.

I’m a sucker for anything fried, but I could eat French fries every day and never get sick of them. Joey makes fun of me, because if there is any kind of variation of fries on a menu, he knows I’m probably going to get it.

Philly cheesesteak fries? Yep. Chili cheese fries? Of course. Fajita steak fries? Yes, please.

Of course, using a deep fryer on the regular is a pretty terrible idea, so my well-loved appliance finally went in the donation pile in September. It was time to say goodbye and not give into deep frying temptation.

But then I got my hands on an air fryer, and while I have managed to stay away from the French fries for the most part, getting to make “fried” foods with very little oil has been extremely appealing.

This week, Joey and I were collaborating on a meal. He was cooking the main dish, and I took on our side. After glancing a few times at the bag of yellow potatoes on our counter, I decided it was time to use the air fryer, but since Joey was making pork chops, I figured fries weren’t quite fancy enough, so I turned to the Internet.

The recipe I tried comes from the blog “40 aprons” by Cheryl Malik. You can find the original at https://40aprons.com/air-fryer-potatoes/. I changed up her seasonings a bit.

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Air Fryer Potatoes

Air fryer potatoes are seasoned simply and made using very little oil.
Course Appetizer, Side Dish
Keyword air fryer, garlic salt, potatoes, rosemary

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary

Instructions

  • Cut the potatoes into about one-inch pieces. You don’t need to peel them unless that’s your preference.
  • Toss the potatoes in the oil and seasonings until they’re well coated and add them to the basket of the air fryer.
  • Cook the potatoes on the “fry” setting at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring the potatoes halfway through. Once the potatoes’ outsides are browned and they are fork tender, remove them from the air fryer and serve immediately.

Making these potatoes was really simple, and the flavors and texture were out of this world. The potatoes were soft and creamy on the inside and crispy on the outside. It was awesome. Plus, it was so much quicker than making them in the oven, and it didn’t heat up my whole kitchen in the process.

This recipe will definitely be going into my recipe box to make again sometime, and even though they weren’t French fries, they still earned my vote.

I guess I’ll just have to admit I don’t just have a French fries obsession—it’s probably just potatoes in general. But, just like with my deep fat fryer, I’ll have to keep myself in check to keep myself eating healthy.

This piece first appeared in print on July 23, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Appetizer Main Dish Side Dish

This will make you ‘patty’ yourself on the back for a dinner well done

Jamaican beef patties are full of authentic flavors without the hassle of traditional techniques.

A few weeks ago, I was a bridesmaid in a good friend’s socially distanced wedding, and in preparation for the big day, I did something I have never done before: get a manicure.

I opted for French tips—a layer of very light pink on the bottom and white for the ends of each nail. It ended up being a pretty decent experience, and I especially appreciated the level of cleanliness and mask wearing the nail salon used.

So, for the last few weeks, I’ve had fancy fingernails, something that’s definitely different for me. I’ve also been amazed at how well they’ve held up. Well, that is until this week’s recipe, when I gave them the ultimate test: exposure to turmeric.

I don’t know what the name for a manicure with light pink on the bottom and orange-ish yellow on the tips is, but I’m sure it isn’t French.

The good news? This recipe was so worth it.

This comes from the blog “Host the Toast.” You can find this recipe at https://hostthetoast.com/3-bite-jamaican-beef-patties/. I didn’t change much outside of using heaping spoonfuls of the listed spices.

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Jamaican Beef Patties

Jamaican beef patties are full of authentic flavors without the hassle of traditional techniques.
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Caribbean, Jamaican
Keyword ground beef, habenero, onion, puff pastry, Scotch bonnet

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 green onion stalks chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 1 Scotch bonnet pepper or habenero pepper finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 rounded teaspoons thyme
  • 1 rounded teaspoon all spice
  • 1 rounded teaspoon curry powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry thawed
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon turmeric

Instructions

  • Set the puff pastry out about an hour before you’ll need it to let it thaw.
  • In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and cook the onions and pepper until everything is soft and cooked through.
  • Add the beef, thyme, all spice, curry powder, salt and pepper, stirring regularly until the beef is cooked through. If there is excess fat in the pan, drain it off before the next step.
  • Mix in the breadcrumbs and then pour in the beef stock. Mix to combine thoroughly. If the mixture is very wet, add more breadcrumbs, and if it is very dry, add a little more beef stock or water. The goal is for the mixture to hold together well but still be moist. Remove the beef mixture from the heat and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and prepare a muffin tin by spraying it with cooking spray.
  • Place the pastry sheet on a floured surface and roll it out to expand it by a couple inches on all sides. Sprinkle the entire sheet with turmeric and rub the turmeric around on the sheet to get a good coating.
  • Cut the sheet into 12 even pieces, and place the pieces, turmeric side down, into the muffin cups. You’ll want to make sure there is some dough hanging over the edge of each cup so you can pull it around the filling and seal it.
  • Divide the meat evenly into each cup, and then seal each one by pulling the sides of the dough up and pinching them together. If it is not sticking well, try using a little water along the seams.
  • Flip the sealed beef patty over so the seam is on the bottom.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until the beef patties are golden brown.

I actually opted for two habenero peppers for my version, because the ones at my local grocery store were so small, and they were a perfect amount of heat.

We loved these, and the spice combination was fantastic. To go along with our Jamaican beef patties, I decided to slice up a ripe plantain, fry it in some oil and sprinkle it with salt. It was fantastic.

So, my days of fancy nails are over, I’m afraid, although it’s a slow process for me to figure out how one removes gel nail polish, which is apparently much different than the polish I grew up with.

But at least while one set of fingers soaks in acetone, the other can be holding onto a delicious treat.

This piece first appeared in print on July 9, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Main Dish Salad Side Dish

Making a cold version of tacos isn’t mission im’pasta’ble

Taco pasta salad has lots of taco flavors—from fresh spinach and tomatoes to cheese and salsa—while being versatile enough to be served cold, warm or hot.

I was unloading some groceries a few evenings ago, and Joey came to inspect what I was pulling out of the bags.

Noting that there was a salsa I don’t normally buy, a container of tomatoes and a box of pasta, he immediately asked what new recipe I was trying for dinner.

After being the guinea pig for this column for eight years, he knows an experiment when he sees one.

“It’s a pasta salad,” I told him.

His eyebrows raised. The word “salad” generally comes with things he hates—mostly raw onions and mayonnaise.

“No. This is a taco pasta salad,” I quickly amended.

His eyebrows did not go down. He was not convinced, but he said he’d trust me on this one and waited, eying me suspiciously from the dining room, while I put together my new concoction.

I found this idea when I was looking for a good summer dinner dish, and this recipe is actually a combination of two others, one from Beth Pierce over at “Small Town Woman” and another from Rebekah Garcia at “Amanda’s Cookin’.” And then I added in my own ideas to make one, delicious pasta salad. You can find the two inspiration recipes at https://www.smalltownwoman.com/easy-taco-pasta-salad/ and https://amandascookin.com/taco-pasta-salad/.

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Taco Pasta Salad

Taco pasta salad has lots of taco flavors—from fresh spinach and tomatoes to cheese and salsa—while being versatile enough to be served cold, warm or hot.
Course Main Course, Salad
Keyword cheese, ground beef, pasta, salsa, summer, tacos, tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces rotini pasta or another small pasta, like macaroni
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 10 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes halved
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 ounces pepper jack cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 15 ounces black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh spinach leaves cut into ribbons
  • 10-14 ounces mild guacamole salsa or your favorite kind

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain it, rinse it, and set it aside.
  • In a saute pan, cook the ground beef over medium heat until it is cooked through, breaking it apart as you go. Thoroughly drain all the grease from the pan.
  • Add the halved tomatoes to the hamburger, stirring regularly, until they begin to release their juices slightly—about three to five minutes—and stir in the taco seasoning and salt and pepper. Once the seasonings are well combined with the meat and tomatoes, remove the mixture from heat and let it cool a bit as you prepare your other ingredients.
  • In a large serving bowl, combine the pasta, beef mixture, cheese cubes, beans and spinach, along with about 10 ounces of salsa. Stir until the salsa coats everything well, and give it a taste. If it seems too dry or needs more flavor, add more salsa until you get your desired consistency and flavor.
  • Serve immediately at room temperature, serve cold out of the fridge, or heat the mixture in the microwave to serve warm.

On our initial eating of this, we had it at about room temperature—basically the temperature it was when I finally finished mixing it all together.

For leftovers, I ate it cold and loved it. Joey warmed his up and also thought it was pretty good. It would also be delicious to serve it with some avocado cubed up in it, but I think that might be best for serving it cold or room temperature rather than heating it up.

I don’t think I totally sold Joey on the notion of taco pasta salad, but I’m going to vouch for it being pretty darn good. It had some great taco flavor but was also a cool, summer dish, which was really nice for a hot day.

I also thought this would be a nice one to use for a barbecue or picnic, since it doesn’t matter too much if the dish stays cold or gets warm.

I probably should be a little insulted that Joey doesn’t fully trust me after all of these years, but after some of my recipe fails throughout our relationship, I can’t say that I blame him. I think I’d be inspecting any grocery bags coming into the house, too.

This piece first appeared in print on June 25, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.