Cozy Cooking: Smoked Gouda Potato Pancakes

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! We made it to another weekend- and considering I almost *didn’t* make it to the weekend- I’m very grateful.

Last night, while en route to visit a friend for a pre-birthday dinner celebration since I won’t see them on my actual birthday- I was hit from behind by a woman speeding on the highway who failed to slow down for the line of traffic I had been stopped and waiting in. The collision caused some serious damage to the back of my car, and unbeknownst to me until later on when I attempted to get myself and my vehicle home safely- some even worse damage to my tires.

What made it worse was that when I went to pull over to exchange information and see if she was okay- she went around me and took off. The impact had caused my stuff to go flying around the inside of my car- so I didn’t get a photo of her car, her license plate, etc. It was a hit and run- and now I’m dealing with the fallout, the appraisal process, and a very sore back. I hope wherever she is- she steps on a Lego block.

I digress. I’m thankful it wasn’t worse- and even though I’m in some pain right now- I’m especially thankful it seems to be a superficial injury.

___________________________

We’re expecting a significant amount of snowfall here in New England this coming weekend, which means a couple of things- the supermarkets are going to be like something out a post-apocalyptic horror movie with people fighting for the last of the bread and milk (it’s a Northeast thing) and I am more than likely going to be spending a considerable amount of time indoors while the roads are cleared.

I’ve already done my grocery shopping for the next couple of weeks- so I’m ready for anything- and I know of at least one Winter-friendly, warming dish I can whip up if I don’t lose power! These Gouda-loaded potato pancakes are crispy, cheesy, super filling- and can make even the coldest climate feel a little more cozy and comfortable.

Best of all? They’re super easy and fast to make! I did a trial run of these earlier this week- and they came out fantastic!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 lbs. russet potato, peeled
  • 1 small onion, peeled
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¾ cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Grapeseed oil, as needed
  • Sour cream
  • Sliced green onions

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Coarsely shred the potato and onion on a box grater. Transfer shreds to a piece of cheese cloth and squeeze as dry as possible. Let sit for 2 minutes and then squeeze dry again.
  2. Whisk together the flour, salt and pepper. Toss the potatoes, onions, and cheese in the flour to coat and then the lightly beaten egg and stir until evenly coated.
  3. In a large skillet, heat up a generous amount of oil over medium heat until hot and shimmery. Drop the potato mixture by the tablespoon and flatten.
  4. Cook over medium to medium-high heat until edges are crisp and golden, about 1 1/2 – 2 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until golden, about 1-2 minutes. Drain on a wire rack or paper towels.
  5. Continue pancaking until potato mixture is done. Top pancakes with sour cream, green onions, and more shredded Gouda, if desired.

I could eat these pancakes every day for the rest of my life and never get sick of them. They’re like thicker, cheesier hash browns and are perfect for breakfast, lunch- or dinner!

Prior to the snowfall, I’ll be finishing up some things/loose ends in regards to my car accident and icing/applying a heating pad to my back to alleviate my pain. This coming Tuesday is my birthday- and depending on the weather and if I have a car or not- we’ll see what ends up happening for a celebration!

I hope you all have a wonderful, warm and safe weekend. If you’re from my neck of the woods- be careful driving and shoveling!

See you all next week!

xx

– Ashley –

Comfort Food: Baked Mac-and-Cheese Bites

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you all had a chance to rest, relax, and regroup this past weekend- which I know may have been a little tricky with Daylight Savings Time throwing a wrench into everything.

I’m still a bit off, especially since I forgot to re-set my clock in my car- so when I happened to glance at it when I was halfway to the office this morning- I had a moment of panic thinking that I was somehow (and miraculously) an hour earlier than scheduled.

I’m sure I’ll get accustomed to it by the time Fall rolls around and we have to set the clocks an hour back, of course.

Anyway- this morning I have a pretty fun (and not really appropriate for those avoiding carbs, sorry!) appetizer/snack recipe that adds a fun twist on an old classic. I love pasta, and I love cheese- so homemade mac & cheese is one of my “Cheat Day” indulgences- but I never really get a chance to bake it in a way that gives me some control over portion sizes.

Until now, anyway. All you need are the below-listed ingredients and a mini-muffin tin- and you’re good to go!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 pound small elbow pasta
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2½ cups whole milk
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups grated white cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups grated yellow cheddar cheese, divided

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease two mini-muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the elbow pasta and cook according to the package instructions, about 7 to 9 minutes. Drain.
  3. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute more.
  4. Sprinkle the flour into the pot and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  5. Add the milk and whisk well to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
  6. Season the sauce with the cayenne pepper (if using), salt and pepper. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the white cheddar and 1½ cups of the yellow cheddar. Stir until the mixture is melted.
  7. Stir in the cooked pasta and mix until it is evenly coated with the sauce. Scoop 1½ to 2 tablespoons of the mac-and-cheese mixture into each cavity of the prepared pans.
  8. Sprinkle a few pieces of yellow cheddar on top of each mac-and-cheese bite and then transfer the pans to the oven. Bake until the cheese is melted and the bites become golden, 17 to 20 minutes.
  9. Let the bites cool for 15 minutes before unmolding and serving. Serve hot or at room temperature. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days.

I’m not ashamed to admit I ate way too many of these things when they were done- because they were so delicious and addictive! I also want to mention that I used smoked cheddar in this recipe, which gave these bites a really great and almost unexpected kick of flavor- so if anyone is feeling experimental- it’s a pretty tasty alternative to regular cheddar cheese!

I think when I make another batch of these (which I most certainly will soon!)– I’m going to add pieces of cooked bacon and maybe some diced jalapeño peppers to the mix. This is a pretty versatile recipe that you can play around with and customize- which makes it even better!

Enjoy your day, everyone! Here’s to another beautiful, brilliant week!

xx

– Ashley –

Brunch Bites: Mini Chicken and Waffles

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone- or as happy as Monday mornings can be, really. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and that this coming week is an easy one for each of you!

A lot of people around where I live are still recovering from Winter Storm Riley, which blew through the area Friday night/Saturday morning and caused some considerable flooding like I’d never seen before- as well as some long stretches or power outages. I spent a good chunk of my Saturday morning shuttling friends to places with electricity and heat so they could wait out assistance from National Grid (and the National Guard- who were rescuing people that were stranded in the rising waters!)

I’ll get into the aftermath a little later on this week, since it’s only Monday and I want to keep things light this early in the morning. Yesterday, I made time to have a little pre-Oscars brunch/luncheon with some friends where we watched a couple of the nominated films for ‘Best Picture’ and ate snacks. My snack of choice- a bite-sized chicken and waffles recipe I’d had saved for a couple of weeks and had been waiting for an appropriate occasion to try- was the perfect combination of sweet and spicy, breakfast and lunch, and small- but filling!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • Cooked, fluffy waffles
  • Canola or peanut oil, for frying
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian herb seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1½ pounds chicken tenders, cut into bite-size (about 1-inch) pieces
  • Hot sauce and/or maple syrup, to taste

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. In a deep, medium-size pot, heat about 3 inches of oil over medium heat until it reads 350°F on a thermometer.
  2. MAKE THE WAFFLES: While the oil heats, make the waffles. Let the waffles cool slightly, then cut them into bite-size (about 1-inch) squares and place them in a 250°F oven to keep warm.
  3. MAKE THE FRIED CHICKEN: In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the cornstarch, cayenne pepper, Italian herb seasoning, salt and black pepper to combine. Pour the buttermilk into a shallow, medium-size bowl.
  4. Toss the chicken pieces in the flour mixture to coat. Working in batches, dip the floured chicken into the buttermilk, then return it to the flour and toss to coat.
  5. Working in batches, add the breaded chicken to the hot frying oil. Don’t overfill the pot with chicken, as it will bring down the temperature of the oil. Fry until the chicken is golden brown and floats on the surface of the oil, 3 to 4 minutes. Adjust the heat as needed if the chicken is browning too quickly.
  6. Remove the chicken from the oil and drain on several layers of absorbent paper towels. Let cool slightly, then place a piece of chicken on top of a waffle square and secure with a toothpick.
  7. Serve immediately with hot sauce or maple syrup on the side.

I’d nearly forgotten I had some of these leftover star-topped toothpicks in my cupboard, but they were the perfect decorative piece given the Oscar-themed gathering!

These chicken and waffle bites came out fantastic- and were soft, fluffy, and had just enough of a heated kick to them to balance out the sweetness of the syrup I’d drizzled over the ones I was eating. I’ll definitely be keeping this recipe saved for when it’s football season again- since I know these are going to make a great Game Day appetizer!

Have a great Monday and here’s to a wonderful week, everybody!

xx

– Ashley –

Comfort Food: Cacio e Pepe Pasta

It might not look like much, but cacio e pepe is one of the quickest, easiest, and tastiest pasta dishes you can whip up in under a half hour when you need your fill of carbs for a cheat day or you’re just trying to satisfy a group of people with something packed full of cheese and pepper. Not quite the usual macaroni and cheese dish- and not quite plain cooked, buttered noodles- this recipe falls in-between the two and was my go-to dinner this past weekend when I had limited ingredients prior to stopping by the grocery store but still had to feed a couple of friends who had dropped by unexpectedly.

If you’ve got a box of pasta and some grated cheese on hand- you can make this in no time at all!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 12 ounces spaghetti (I used linguine since I like the texture better than spaghetti!)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ⅔ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper (lots of it), to taste
  • Chopped parsley, for garnish

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. While the pasta cooks, mash the soft butter with the olive oil and pecorino cheese in a large bowl to form a paste.
  3. When the pasta is tender, drain it, reserving ½ cup of the pasta cooking water. Add the spaghetti directly to the bowl with the butter mixture. Toss well to coat, adding the pasta water as needed to make a thick, creamy sauce that coats the pasta strands. Season with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Divide the pasta among four plates. Garnish with parsley; serve immediately.

The cheese, pepper, and even the parsley make this a standout meal. It’s simple, but flavorful- and it’s really filling- so you don’t have to worry about your stomach growling again right after you eat it. Best of all? With the limited ingredients involved in preparing this one- cleanup is a breeze!

xx

– Ashley –

Comfort Food: Buttermilk Skillet Cornbread with Tomatoes and Green Onions

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone! I know it’s pretty hot around here lately (and probably everywhere else, too!) but I’ve got another skillet recipe for you all if you can stand a little extra heat in your kitchen for about 30-45 minutes. I promise that it’ll be worth it, though. This recipe is a good one!

I love cornbread- especially when it’s homemade and served hot- but sometimes it can taste a little dry or bland all by itself. When I saw this slightly modified version, which loads up the classic recipe with a couple of different flavors and textures in the form of some unexpected vegetables instead of just corn kernels- which I’ve seen done in the past- I knew I had to give it a try.

I served this as a side dish with a meal I prepared for friends this past weekend as a substitute for standard dinner rolls, and it went over really well!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 pint assorted cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease an oven-safe 9-inch skillet with nonstick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the cornmeal with the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt to combine. Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk, cooled melted butter and eggs; whisk well.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared skillet and smooth into an even layer.
  4. In a medium bowl, toss the tomatoes with the scallions, olive oil, salt and pepper to combine. Pour the tomato mixture on top of the corn bread batter.
  5. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the corn bread comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

This cornbread was rich and that m word that ends in “oist” that I refuse to say because it’s one of the worst words in the English language- but this WAS that word. The onions and the tomatoes were also still juicy after cooking this up and gave each bite some additional flavors that were much-appreciated. I’d like to try making this again and maybe add some green peppers to the recipe, as well.

I had a small amount left over that I’ll be enjoying for a mid-morning snack in a couple of hours, since this cornbread is appropriate for any time of day!

xx

– Ashley –