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    Entries in cheesy goodness (30)

    Friday
    Jan252013

    Baked Potato Bites

    Seeing as how I have them listed as my favorite food, it’s about time I made something baked potato related.  And with just over a week left until the Super Bowl, I thought I’d make it another fabulous finger food recipe. 

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    • 4 good sized russet potatoes
    • 2 Tablespoons butter
    • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon pepper
    • Cheese
    • Sour Cream
    • Chives

    These come together really quickly, so go ahead and preheat your oven to 400°.  After that, wash your potatoes, scrubbing them thoroughly, dry them, and put them aside.  Melt your butter.  It shouldn’t take more than 10 – 15 seconds in the microwave.  Add the olive oil.  (hint: 4 Tablespoons = ¼ cup, so if you melt your 2 tablespoons of butter in a measuring cup, you can just add olive oil up to the ¼ cup mark) 

    Add the salt and pepper.

    Stir that all together and pour about a tablespoon of it onto a sheet pan. 

    Spread that around to coat the pan. 

    Now for the potatoes.  Cut off both ends and discard them. 

    Slice the rest of the potato into ½ inch slices. 

    Place the slices into a plastic bag and pour over the remaining butter mixture. 

    Inflate the bag, and shake until every slice is coated on both sides. 

    Dump the slices onto the prepared pan. 

    Spread them out leaving a little space between each one. 

    Bake them for 15 minutes.  When you pull them out, they won’t be changing on top yet, but they should be just starting to brown on the bottom. 

    Go ahead and flip them all over and then it’s back into the oven for another 15 minutes.  They should be looking and smelling fabulous. 

    Flip them over again, and top each one with a little bit of grated cheese.  I like to use a really sharp cheddar, but you can really use whatever you like.  Just make sure you don’t get carried away with it.  These are supposed to be finger food so you don’t want them totally covered with melted cheese.  (Is this the part where I admit to being wrong when I said there's no such thing as too much cheese?) 

    Back into the oven just until the cheese is melted.  It’ll only take 3 or 4 minutes. 

    You may have noticed that I’ve only got 8 slices on the pan for this step.  I put the rest aside to cool and then into the fridge.  You can do the same, and when you’re ready, just pull them out of the fridge and heat them for a few minutes in the oven before adding the cheese. 

    Once the cheese is melted, move the potatoes to whatever you’re going to serve them on. 

    Top each one with sour cream.  I piped mine on just for that added touch, but a dollop would work just fine. 

    Sprinkle on some fresh chives and you have baked potato perfection in a bit size (well, maybe 2 bites) package. 

    Crisp and buttery on the outside and lusciously soft within, topped with salty cheese, tangy sour cream and just a touch of oniony chive, it’s everything you love about a baked potato, but easier, faster, and well… better. 

    Ravens or 49ers?  Who do you think is going to win? 

     

    Tuesday
    Jan152013

    French but not Fried

    And you thought I was nuts making a whole crock pot full of caramelized onions.

     

    One of the best ways to use up those deliciously dark alliums is in soup. Particularly one that also uses up stale bread.

    French onion soup seems like a treat a lot of the time. It's usually in the realm of restaurant fare only, which is strange given how easy it is to make. Particularly if you make the components in the crock pot and then freeze them until you want soup.

    A few weeks ago I dumped a frozen pound of stewing beef into the crock pot, covered it with water, and let it cook while I was at work all day. I had no idea what I was going to do with it when I got home, but I figured the meat would be ready, at least.

    Turns out, I also ended up with a crock pot full of beef broth. Well, into the freezer with that!

    Really, if you don't know what to do with something, toss it in the freezer. You'll find it one day and be totally inspired. And if you tend to forget what's in there, you can always keep a list on the door.

    So, I had a few things in the freezer, and I wanted something fancy looking for dinner.

    French Onion Soup

    • 3-4 cups beef broth
    • 1/2 c white wine (if you want)
    • a sprig of thyme
    • a bay leaf
    • black pepper
    • about a cup of caramelized onions
    • a few slices of stale-ish bread
    • ementhaller or swiss cheese

    You can use some kind of already prepared broth for this if you'd like, but please simmer it with the herbs for at least a few minutes. I mean, you have to bring it to a boil anyway, you might as well toss more flavour in at the same time.

    Get your oven broiler going and slice the bread if it isn't already.

    But before you do, move one of the racks up. I prefer to use the second highest spot.

    Combine the broth, booze, and herbs in a pot, and bring to a boil.

    Exactly half a cup. I don't need to measure.

    Let them simmer for asshort or as long as you'd like. I suggest about a half hour. The onions will need that long to thaw anyway.

    Once the onions are thawed and the broth is hot and simmered, divide them up between your bowls.

    Dinner for two in Corningware. I do have some oven proof bowls that were leftovers from the restaurant my parents owned, but they were smaller than the ramekins, and I wanted lots of soup. Any oven proof dish will work. And the look of the bowl won't change the flavour of the soup. I dare you to make it in a loaf pan.

    Trim the bread slices to fit the bowl as best you can and lay them out on a baking sheet. Toast each side under the broiler for a few minutes. Just golden. You can do this in a toaster, but I wasn't sure about the size and shape and didn't want to have to go digging in there with a fork.

    Have your cheese ready to go. Grate it if it's a block, or tear it if it's slices. We had slices because we'd just made another epic sammich.

    Set the toasty bread on top of the soup, cover it with cheese, and put it under the hot broiler right away.

    In no time at all the cheese will be a gooey golden lovely coat on top of the bread that's already half soaked with delicious beefy oniony broth.

    And dinner is served. And since that bottle of wine is already opened... may as well pour yourself a glass.

    Have you ever served soup in a loaf pan? What kind of serving dish have you had to improvise?