Potato Planks

Potato Planks

I am a huge fan of grilled potatoes. I have previously made potato coins, but some fell through the grates and I wanted to try something a tad bit different. So, I decided to try potato planks. I cut the whole potato lengthwise into 4-5 slices. Then I season and the rest is history. I also received a new toy in the mail. A Cast Iron Grill Grate from Craycort at http://www.cast-iron-grate.com.  The cast iron grate replaces the flimsy grate that comes with the grill.  It is sectioned so that you can remove parts to stoke the coals and it is cast iron, to give you the best possible sear on your steaks.

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Hasselback Potatoes

Hasselback Potatoes

As a Midwesterner, I love meat and potatoes.  The combination is amazing!  However, sometimes it gets hard to spice up the combo.  I discovered that the Swedes have been spicing up their potatoes for years.  They fan out the potato and bake it making a mixture between a baked potato and a thick cut chip.  So I decided to tackle the Hasselback potato.  I thinly sliced some garlic, topped it with rosemary and Parmesan and called it a day.  This potato was a hit.  The individual slices made perfect portions for each bite.  The potato was crispy on the outside and had that perfect fluffy texture on the inside.

Hasselback Potatoes

  • 2 large baking potatoes
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup butter, stick
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Scrub two potatoes clean.  If you do not like the potato skin you can peel them as well.  Then cut slits every 1/8 inch into the potato.  Make sure to not cut the potato all the way through.  Leave about 1/8-1/4 inch uncut on the bottom of the potato.

Slice the potato

Slice the garlic into thin slices. You can use a knife or a slicer.  You just want the garlic paper thin.  You also want to slice the 1/4 cup of butter into thin slices.

Slice the garlic thin

Starting at one end of the potato insert a slice of garlic into the last slit. Then insert a slice of butter into the adjacent slit.  Continue alternating garlic and butter into each slit until you have filled up the potato.

Alternate butter and garlic

Repeat with the second potato.

Place the potatoes onto a baking sheet and cover each potato with 1 tbs of olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Then top with the rosemary.

Top with the Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper

Finally top each potato with half of the Parmesan cheese.

Top with the Parmesan

Bake in the preheated 425 degree oven for 1 hour.

Hasselback Potato

Remove and serve.

The Hasselback Potato

These potatoes are awesome.  They look cool, taste great and will definitely keep the vampires away from you. To make this a tad bit more kid friendly, substitute cheese for the garlic slices.  A nice mozzarella would work.

Garlic and Herb Roasted Potatoes

Garlic and Herb Roasted Potatoes

I love potatoes. The fabulous tubers are always on my mind when it comes to side dishes. I was looking through my portfolio of recipes and realized that I have never roasted potatoes. That has to change. So I diced up some potatoes, chopped up some herbs, minced some garlic and made some of the tastiest potatoes around. No joke, they were awesome!

Herb Roasted Potatoes

  • 5 Russet baking potatoes, medium/large
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tbs fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tbs kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wash the potatoes and then dice them into 1 inch cubes.  Try to keep them all around the same size.  They will cook more evenly that way.

Evenly dice the potatoes

Place the potatoes in a large bowl and toss with olive oil.  Then add the herbs and toss.

Toss with the garlic, herbs and oil

Pour the potatoes out onto a large cookie sheet.  Spread them out into a single layer.

Evenly spread out the potatoes into a single layer

Place the cookie sheet in the preheated oven and cook for 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven, stir, spread the potatoes back out into a single layer and then continue to cook for another 20 minutes.

Perfectly Roasted

Stir and place the potatoes into a serving bowl.

Herb Roasted Potatoes

Serve with your favorite meal.

These potatoes were crispy on the outside and nice and soft on the inside.  The herbs were delicious.  As always the garlic amount is a suggestion, you can always add more if you want to scare away some vampires.

Creamed Corn

Creamed Corn

There is no better side dish than corn.  I love corn!  So today I am making some homemade cream corn.  I love this with a nice sweet white and yellow corn.  Unfortunately, when I was trying this recipe out I was unable to get some fresh sweet corn.  The corn at the market was tiny and not sweet at all.  Fortunately, Mr. Birdseye had my back and invented a way to flash freeze corn so that I could have corn all year long.  This recipe works great with frozen corn.

Creamed Corn – (From the Neely’s)

  • 1 lb corn kernels, roughly 6-8 fresh cobs
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 1 tbs all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cold water
  • 2 tbs bacon grease or shortening
  • 1 tbs butter
  • salt and pepper

If using fresh corn, cut the kernels from the cob using a pairing knife.  If using frozen corn, skip this step.

Add the corn to the cream mixture

In a large bowl combine the sugar, flour, salt, pepper, heavy cream and water.  Mix well.  Then add the corn kernels.

Melt the bacon grease or shortening

Pre-heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the shortening or bacon grease until it melts.

The corn mixture

Add the corn mixture.  Stir and then turn the heat down to medium/low.

Simmer over the medium/low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens and becomes creamy.  Roughly 30 minutes.

Check the thickness of the sauce

You can check the thickness by running a wooden spoon down the pan and seeing how quickly the liquid fills in the track.  As you can see from the photo, my creamed corn was ready to eat.

Creamed Corn

Right before serving, add the tablespoon of butter.  Pour into a serving bowl and enjoy!

Best Creamed Corn Recipe

This was awesome!  Make sure to taste your corn before making.  Then adjust the sweetness based on the sweetness of the corn.  Not all corn is the same.

Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower

I love cauliflower!  So this recipe is right up my alley.  Roasted cauliflower with the dark crispy edges.  Low in fat and if you use low-sodium soy sauce, low in sodium too.  Amazing!  It is the perfect side dish for any meal.  I paired it with a few NY Strip steaks and some baked potatoes.

Roasted Cauliflower – (From Good Housekeeping)

  • 1 head cauliflower, trimmed and broken into florets
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbs low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed or grated

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Trim the cauliflower and break it up into 1/2 inch to 1 inch florets.  Roughly chop the onion.  Crush or grate the garlic. The smaller the better for the garlic.

Break into Florets

In a large bowl toss the cauliflower, garlic, onion, soy sauce and olive oil together.

Toss with the sauce

Spread the mixture out onto a large sheet pan.

Spread onto a sheet pan

Roast the cauliflower for 35 minutes or until tender and the edges are browned.  Make sure to stir a couple of times during the roasting process.

Perfectly Roasted

Remove from the oven.  Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with your favorite meal.

Roasted Cauliflower

This recipe is so simple, but so delicious.  Simple is better when it comes to vegetables.

Haricots Verts

Haricots Verts

There is no better side dish than a nice plate of green beans.  I wanted to fancy things up so this is my version of Haricots Verts, AKA French style green beans.  These are tasty as they are cooked with garlic and shallot.  They also have a nice little bite from from red wine vinegar.  Although this is not traditional it is my take and they are super tasty.

Haricots Verts

  • 1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 large shallots, diced
  • 2 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Clean and trim the green beans.

Trimmed and rinsed

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Then gently lower the green beans and cook for 5 minutes.

Quickly blanch the green beans

Remove the green beans from the water and place immediately into ice water.  This will stop the cooking and also keep them nice and green.  Brown green beans are sad green beans :(.

Chill to preserve the color and flavor

In a large saute pan, heat the butter over medium heat and quickly cook the garlic for a minute.  Then add the shallots and thyme.  Cook until the shallots are translucent.

Quickly cook

Add the green beans and continue cooking for a couple of minutes.  Make sure the shallots, green beans and thyme are thoroughly mixed.  De glaze the pan with the red wine vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.

The beans up close

These beans are quick and easy.  Plus they are full of flavor.

Money shot of Haricots Verts

A perfect side for that special meal.  These beans were delicious.  They barely made it to the table.

Creamed Spinach for Two

Creamed Spinach for Two

We are closely approaching Valentines Day.  With the state of the economy this year seems like a year for staying in and cooking.  So I have come up with a few recipes for two that will work perfect on your special night.  I am starting with the sides as they are my favorite part of the dinner.  Recently Dana and I went out to a nice steakhouse and had some less than spectacular creamed spinach.  So I decided this would be the first recipe I tackle.

Creamed Spinach for Two – (Adapted from Emeril)

  • 12 ounces fresh spinach, washed
  • 1 tb unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots, one large shallot chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated if possible
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Wash the spinach and then remove any large stems.

Fresh Spinach

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the spinach and cook for 2 minutes.  Remember you will need a large pot as uncooked spinach takes up a lot of room.

Blanche the spinach

Here is an after picture.  You want to blanch the spinach.

Cooked spinach

Empty the spinach into a fine strainer and squeeze out as much water as you can.  I find that a back of a wooden spoon can do wonders in this step.  Then chop the spinach into smaller pieces.

Drain the spinach

Melt the butter in medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Cook the aromatics

Then add the spinach.  Cook until you see some liquid starting to be released from the spinach.  You will notice that the mixture will become a little easier to stir.  Then add the cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and cook until the cream is reduced by half, about 4 minutes.

Add the cream and reduce

Remove and serve with your main dish.

Creamed Spinach

This creamed spinach was awesome.  As good or better than any I have ever eaten.  Cook this for your special someone and it will be a good night.

Baked Sweet Potatoes

Baked Sweet Potatoes

The past two weeks has been a little rough.  I had my tonsils taken out and I have been unable to get out of bed let alone cook.  However, there were a few good days in which I was able to make a few little things for my caretakers.  My Mom came to visit to help me out while I was under the weather.   The last week of my CSA gave me a bounty of sweet potatoes. So I decided to bake a couple for my Mom.  I was unable to eat them, but they smelled really good.

Baked Sweet Potatoes

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • pinch cinnamon
  • pinch nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

These start out just like my perfect baked potato.  Wash the sweet potatoes.  Then coat them in olive oil and top with 1 tsp of kosher salt each.  Bake salt side up in the oven for 35-45 minutes.  This will depend on the size of the sweet potato. When a fork can be easily inserted remove from the oven.

Top with salt

Cut a slit halfway through each potato.  Then insert 1 tbs of butter into each potato.  Next top each potato with 1 tbs of brown sugar and a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Fill with butter, brown sugar and spices

Place the potatoes back into the oven for another 5-10 minutes or until butter and brown sugar melt.

Time to eat

Serve as a side for your favorite meal.

Asparagus Frittata

Whenever I have a ton of left overs and I want to clear out the fridge I try to find something new and exciting to try. I love eggs and they go with almost any flavor. You can make them sweet in desserts or savory in a quiche. So I wanted to use eggs and the asparagus, tomatoes, and onions that I had left over from this last weekends barbecue. The only thing that came to mind was a frittata.

Layered with onions, asparagus and tomatoes this was a great dish.
Layered with onions, asparagus and tomatoes this was a great dish.

It is amazing how great of a dish you can make just using simple ingredients.

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Truffled Asparagus

Truffled Asparagus

A couple of weeks ago, Dana traveled to Italy for a friends wedding. When she returned she brought me some summer truffles.  Yep, good ole truffles.  So I decided to makes some truffled asparagus with one of the truffles.  I must say, this was the best gift anyone could give a food loving person.  Thanks Dana!

Truffled Asparagus

  • 1lb fresh Asparagus
  • 1 truffle (5-8 gram), you can substitute a tsp of truffle oil
  • 2-3 tbs olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Rinse off the Asparagus and trim the ends.


Spread the Asparagus out in a single layer on a sheet pan.  Drizzle the Asparagus with olive oil.  Season with the salt and pepper.

Drizzle with olive oil and season

Place the Asparagus in the preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.  Cook until desired consistency.  I like the Asparagus to be soft with a little crunch.

While the Asparagus cooks, slice the truffle.


Since I do not have a truffle shaver, I used my Global knife to make paper thin slices.  A little truffle goes a long way.

Shaved Truffle

Plate the Asparagus and then top with shaved truffle.

Asparagus with truffles

This was the ultimate side dish.

Truffled Asparagus

Who doesn’t love asparagus with truffles?  The best part is that the truffles are so flavorful that you do not need a intense preparation for the asparagus.  Simple is best in this situation.


Homemade Hashbrowns

Homemade Hashbrowns

Last week I got a couple dozen potatoes my from CSA.  I love potatoes and farm fresh ones are absolutely the best.  Since I had so many fresh potatoes lying around, I wanted to make some nice hashbrowns for breakfast.  Hashbrowns are hard to make as fresh potatoes have so much starch in them that the potatoes seem to stick together.  I always used to end up with a sticky mess of potatoes.  However, I have figured out the secret and I have listed all of the steps below to make crispy and amazing hashbrowns.

Hashbrowns – (serves 4)

  • 6-8 potatoes
  • 3 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper

The key to perfect hashbrowns is perfectly cut potatoes.  I have found that using a food processor with the shredding attachment is the way to go.  If you don’t have one, try a box grater.  It is a bit of work, but the results are fantastic.  Once you have the potatoes shredded let them soak in a bowl of water for 20 minutes.

Soak the Potatoes

Make sure to change the water twice.  Soaking the potatoes will help remove the excess starch from the potatoes.  If you skip this step the potatoes will stick together and create clumps.

Next drain the water and wring out the potatoes.  To do this, I layer up a couple of paper towels and then use them to filter out the water.  Squeeze hard to get all of the water out.  The dryer you can get the potatoes the better.  Dry potatoes make crispy hashbrowns.

Squeeze out the water

I have found that cooking hashbrowns on an electric griddle or fry pan creates the best results.  Set your pan to 350, and add the oil.   You can use a fry pan, but try to get the pan to a constant temperature around 350 degrees.  I find that this is usually around medium/high on most stove tops.

Season and fry up the potatoes

Once the oil is hot add the potatoes and then season with the salt, pepper and paprika.  If you don’t have smoked paprika, regular can be substituted.  Smoked paprika will give you a nice smokey flavor and just a tad bit of heat.

Stir the potatoes on the griddle and let the cook for 8-10 minutes or until the potatoes soften.  Then arrange the potatoes into a single uniform layer.  Cook for 3-5 minutes.

Crispy and delicious hashbrowns

When golden brown, flip the potatoes and cook until the other side is golden brown.  This will be another 3-5 minutes.

The ultimate breakfast

This will give you the perfect hashbrowns.  Crispy edges with a nice soft center.

Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad

Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad

I am a huge fan of grilling.  The only problem is that most sides are not grilled.  This salad solves that problem.  The corn is fire roasted on the grill so you can make it right along with your steak or barbecue dishes.  In addition the grilled corn adds a bit of smokiness to the salad to make a complimentary flavor to your barbecues.  This is a great side dish for your summer picnic or barbecue.

Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad – (adapted from MyRecipes)

  • 2  cups  fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)*
  • 1  (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1  cup  chopped tomato
  • 1/3  cup  lime juice
  • 1/4  cup  red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2  jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2  teaspoons  hot sauce
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground coriander
  • 1/2  teaspoon  pepper

Shuck the corn and place it directly on the grill over high heat.

Grilling Corn

Turn the corn every once in a while until the corn is blackened in sections and fully cooked.

Grill the corn until golden and roasted

Cut the corn off the ears by placing a small bowl upside down in a larger bowl.  That way you can cut the whole ear without your knife touching the bowl while still catching all of the kernels.  There is nothing worse than doing a kernel hunt in your kitchen.  Those little buggers go everywhere.

Cut the kernels off of the ear of corn

Combine corn and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Add the remaining ingredients

This is a great salad.

A great salad

This is a must have at any picnic or barbecue.

Drunken Noodles

Drunken Noodles

Last week I got a bounty of vegetables from my CSA (community supported agriculture).  I got broccoli, cucumbers, eggplant, corn, zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes, basil and Thai basil.  Looking at those ingredients I decided to make drunken noodles.  While I wouldn’t be able to use all of the veggies, I could use a large amount along with the Thai basil.

Drunken Noodles – (adapted from Food.com)

  • 8 ounces flat rice noodles
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 cup diced tofu
  • 3 tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 small eggplant, diced
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced (roughly 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 3-4 Thai chilies or 1 jalapeño, sliced
  • 1 cup broccoli, sliced
  • 1 cup Thai basil

The first step is to soak the noodles according to the direction on the box.  Each brand is different and there a million ways to cook them.  For the most part, you soak them in hot water for a period of time.  Mine called for a 10 minute soak in hot water.  I was also only able to find thing rice noodles.  Traditionally drunken noodles is made with wide rice noodles.  If you can find them, use them.

Soak the noodles

Dice up the veggies.  This meal is very quick so you want to make sure that you have all of the ingredients ready.  Make sure to drain the tofu.  The dryer the tofu the better sear you will get on it.

The prep

Next create the sauce.  Combine the soy sauce, oyster sauce and brown sugar.  Set aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok.  When hot add the tofu.  Sauté’ for a minute and then set aside.

Fry the tofu

Add the garlic and sauté for a second and then add the eggplant, broccoli, onions and chilies.  Sauté for 2 minutes, or until the broccoli starts to soften.

The veggies

Add the tomatoes and Thai basil, just mix in.

Tomatoes and basil

Add the sauce and noodles.  Mix until combined and hot, roughly 1 minute.

Drunken Noodles

Serve with a lime wedge and a few sprigs of Thai basil for garnish.