Thursday, March 21, 2013

Homage to the Potato (Oh So Simple Microwave Ranch Potatoes)

Hello from some of your favorite Texas cooking sisters!

In keeping with our "Homage to the Potato," I am sharing an original recipe I have been making for my family for several years.  The best part?  (Besides it's potatoes...)  There are only 4 ingredients!!
Who can resist a yummy potato recipe with only 4 ingredients??

 Oh So Simple Microwave Ranch Potatoes

8-10 medium Red Potatoes
Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing mix packet
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup butter

First, you need to wash/scrub down those potatoes.  I mean, they do come right out of the ground!

Now, please forgive me, but I just keep thinking of having young cooks in my home and how they have to be taught everything step-by-step.  If you are a pro and know how to cut up potatoes, skip down a bit, but for some reason I felt the need to show how I cut them up.

First, I slice them in half:
Then, cut those in fourths:
Finally, I cut THOSE in half:
One potato:

10 potatoes in a 2.5 quart casserole dish:

Not gonna lie - I used to get VERY worked up about them all being almost EXACTLY the same size, but then I realized I am no Gordon Ramsey!!  You do want all of your potato pieces to be close the same size so they will cook evenly, but please don't let your OCD overtake you here!

Next comes the hard part - HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA - I crack myself up sometimes :)
You slice 1/4 cup (half a stick) of butter and just place the "pats" of butter around on top
Sprinkle that packet of Ranch Dressing mix over it all (or let your kids).

Then, pour the 1/3 cup of milk over all of it.

DON'T STIR IT - REALLY.  Just cover it and pop it in the microwave.

Depending on how many potatoes you have and how powerful your microwave is, you will cook them for 20-25 minutes on high.  Stir them every 5 minutes.

The potatoes are done when you are able to easily pierce them with a knife or fork, but don't cook them so long that they get "mushy."  Oh, what the heck, TRY THEM - check for doneness the way Gordon Ramsey would tell us to :)  The beauty of the microwave is that you can always pop them in for a few more minutes if you want.

You should have a yummy sauce covering your potatoes.  We have decided in our house that these do not need any extra salt, but of course you may want to add salt or other seasonings to taste.


Yes - part of a balanced diet!  Because you know each of us only ate that small portion - NOT!  We can never get enough of these.  EVERYONE goes back for more!  They also heat up well the next day!

There you have it ~ a Beth Original.
Annette and I hope you enjoy your POTATOES!!
As the Irish would say, May God Be With You.

Homage to the Potato ~ Not Just Another Scalloped Potato

Top O' The Day To Ya!

Hellooo Everybody!  As you can already see, we're keeping with our homage to the potato.  To not have full appreciation for potatoes seems, let's say...almost sinful! ;) Beth and I (Annette) want to make sure to stay true to our Irish heritage.  I'm sure there are quite a few Irish foods we could focus on, but, for some reason the potato just seemed to stand out. ;)
The recipe we will be sharing today is a typical potato favorite, but, I like to think I kick these Scalloped Potatoes up a bit. It's definitely one of my brother, Allen's favorite foods I make. (In all fairness, he's pretty easy to please food-wise). 
WARNING!! This is not the side dish you want to make if you're starting a diet. Just sayin'.
So, let's get this party started!

 Not Just Another Scalloped Potato


4-5 medium to large potatoes
1/2 cup medium onion thinly sliced
4-5 thinly sliced garlic pods (gotta have our garlic)
1/2 Red Bell Pepper-diced small (adds color and a little crunch)
3 Tablespoons butter-cut into small cubes
2 cans Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 cup Half and Half milk
4 Velvetta slices (the kind you make grilled cheese sandwiches with)
1 cup Colby Longhorn Cheese-grated
1  1/2 cups of Italian style Panko bread crumbs with 3 Tablespoons of melted butter mixed together well
1 teaspoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoning Salt
2 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Here comes the story!

First peel your potatoes and cut into medium sized slices.  Place your potatoes into a medium saucepan with cold water and bring to a slight boil.  I like to add a small chunk of onion to the water to infuse the flavor into the potatoes while cooking.  Continue cooking until the potatoes are still a little firm.  Drain the water off the potatoes and discard the onion you used in the cooking process.  Set the potatoes aside for later.

In a separate non-stick skillet get your Olive Oil to a simmer.  Add your Bell Pepper, Sliced Onion and garlic and saute until vegetables are translucent. 

Then add your Cream of Mushroom Soup and Half and Half Milk until slightly warmed.

In a 2 quart baking dish spray with Pam.  Put just a little of your liquid mixture in the bottom.  Place half of your potatoes in your baking dish (be sure and be gentle so you don't break up your potatoes).  Tuck in your small cubes of butter in between the potatoes. Take your 4 Velvetta slices and break them up and place them on top of the potatoes. 

Pour Half of the liquid mixture with the sauted vegetables on top.  Put the remaining potatoes on with the rest of your liquid sauce.  Cover with the cup of Colby Longhorn cheese.

Now for my favorite part! :)

Take your Panko bread crumbs, Paprika, Lawry's Seasoning Salt and 3 Tablespoons of melted butter and mix them together well.  Sprinkle this crumble on top of the dish and distribute evenly.  This gives the whole thing that little somethin' somethin'!


As I told you previously this is not a dish you make when you are watching your waistline.  This is the dish you make when you are having special company over or just want to make a home run with your family and friends. It's wonderful! It also will feed quite a few people and is great to warm up for another dinner. This is definitely one of those recipes you put a lot of your love into.

Well, Beth and I hope you all have a wonderful rest of your week!  We want to thank you for sharing this time with us!  Until next time...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Homage to the POTATO (Baked Potato)

Top O' The Mornin' To Ya!

Annette and I are going to take this week to pay homage to the mighty potato, as a small way to honor our Irish heritage.  You don't have to be Irish to love the potato, but we seem to love them an extreme amount! :)  We love them every single way you can cook them, so we are going to pick some of our favorite ways (maybe this will turn into more than a week...) and share them with you.

We are going to start with the most basic - the Baked Potato!  There are several ways to make them:

Baked Potatoes

Beth and I know that showing how to make a baked potato seems a little...let's just say easy, but, let me explain.  Many times over the years different people have asked me, "How do you make such awesome-perfect baked potatoes?"  I have to admit it did make me scratch my head a bit. ;) But here goes and don't dare let me hear (key word-hear) you laugh over this.  Let's say this is for the new cook.

First, you have to be choosy when picking your "perfect" potato.  I try to look them over really well to make sure there are no bad spots on them.  Note:  I usually make 1 extra potato in case there's a spud that has that hidden imperfection. I scrub them really well as some love to eat the skin and I'm kind of, let's say a "clean freak".  Then I put a little softened butter in my hands and coat the entire potato with it. (Makes the skin soft).

Next, I cover the potato with aluminum foil.  I cook this beauty at 450 degrees for about 2 hours and 15 minutes. I know that sounds like a long time, but, I forgot to say we typically choose LARGE potatoes  - might as well go all the way if you're gonna do it. ;)  To make sure it's cooked to perfection take a thin towel and squeeze it lightly on both sides to make sure it's soft to touch.  That's it!  Perfect Baked Potato!  Finally, load that baby with all your favorites! I love butter, sour cream, and cheese at the very least.


BTW ~ for all of those healthy peeps out there who have sworn off white potatoes, Baked Sweet Potatoes are just as easy! (Not so Irish, but wanted to give a healthy(ish) option)
Wash them and poke some holes in them.  Pop them in the middle of a 375 degree oven.  Place them directly on the rack with a piece of foil on the rack below.  Bake until the potatoes are easily pierced with a knife or until "squishy."  It should take about 60 - 70 minutes.
Annette/Beth special note here:  Notice the lower temp and shorter cook time = never as big on the sweet potato as the white potato - did we mention we're IRISH? 

I mashed mine with butter and sprinkled a little kosher salt on top - OH YUM!!! (Of course you can add brown sugar if that is your thing, but it was as sweet as candy without any added sweetener.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Best Ever Meatball Sub

Hello and Howdy!

Sorry Annette and I have been gone for so long.  It doesn't mean we're not thinking of you, but it does mean sometimes life gets a little busy...We know you get that!

We'll try to get a few new recipes and ideas up this week to make up for lost time. 

My boys love a good meatball sub, so when I heard, "This is the BEST meatball sub EVER!" from my guys, I knew I had to blog about it.  It is nothing fancy at all I realize, but that's what Annette and I are all about.  We like to take a few ingredients and make a yummy favorite.  That way we can give you ideas and maybe you will take them and make them your own. 

Best Ever Meatball Sub

You will need:

French Bread (I use whole wheat loaves from Sam's.)
Italian Style Meatballs (Better yet, make your own if you have time.)
A jar of your favorite Pasta Sauce (Note: I think this one was on sale?)
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (Best part)
Shredded Parmesan Cheese

First, cut out a triangular pyramid shape from the top of your bread (oh yeah, Math terms), and place it/them on a baking sheet lined with foil.  Just angle your knife and go for it - nothing perfect here.  I sliced one in half, because I knew I would only need to eat half (even though I wanted a whole one...).  Also, feel free to "dig out" some of the bread if you want less bread.

Sprinkle with a bit of Parmesan cheese and pop in the oven at 350 for about 5 minutes to warm/toast your bread.  You can make it as toasty or "not toasty" as you would like.

Meanwhile, in a covered saucepan, heat meatballs in the pasta sauce.
Insert mental image here, as your author failed to take a picture...???

Add your meatballs and sauce to that crevice in your bread:

Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese:

Sprinkle with Mozzarella Cheese (oh, how I LOVE cheese):

Pop it under the broiler in your oven or back in the 350 until the cheese is melty (uh, yes, "melty" is a word).

Add a fresh, healthy salad and Voila!

Now I'm sure Annette would have added some cute garnish like fresh chopped parsley or some such thing, but this was one of those "on a whim" kind of recipes so no time for all that - lol. 

The thing that makes these "Best Ever" is the design - LOW MESS = NO MEATBALLS or SAUCE ON YOUR CLOTHES!!! Yippee! 

I hope this inspires you to try your hand at a meatball sub or other hot sandwich of your own.  Let us know if you come up with something we need to try.

Shrimp Pasta with Lemon & Garlic Sauce

Well Helloooo Everybody!

It's been several days since we've connected, but, so excited to share this new flavorful and super easy recipe.  Most of us are very busy working, taking care of our homes, families and hopefully relationships in general.  This recipe I'm sharing today is what I call a "semi-homemade" creation.  Sandra Lee used to have a show on The Food Network called Semi-Homemade that I just loved. She took ingredients that you find on your grocery store shelf and combined them with her own cooking flair.  So I told myself... "Self! ;)You can make your own semi-homemade recipes occasionally to be cost efficient and make a quick meal."  My family and I just loved this recipe! I hope you all do as well. So here goes.

Shrimp Pasta with Lemon & Garlic Sauce


3 Boxes Pasta Roni (Garlic & Olive Oil Vermicelli)
2#'s Pre-cooked Shrimp (I use the Med to Lg that have been peeled and deveined)
4-5 large Garlic Pods (thinly sliced) (told you Beth and I love garlic)
2 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Kosher Salt (the only kind we use)
2 Large Lemons (sliced to squeeze)
The Zest of 1 of the Lemons
2 Tbsp Fresh Parsley (finely chopped)
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese shredded small (I use the kind in the small tub)

Now the story...

Cook the Pasta according to the directions on the box.  In a separate non-stick skillet get your butter melted and heated to medium. Put your garlic into your melted butter and saute until slightly browned. Now put your shrimp, freshly squeezed lemon, lemon zest and Kosher salt into the butter and garlic mixture.  Toss all the ingredients together until the shrimp is heated through.

Be careful not to cook for too long as your shrimp is precooked and will turn out tough.
Now plate your pasta (I put a little more lemon juice into the cooked pasta just because we really like the lemon flavor) and sprinkle your Parmesan cheese and Fresh Parsley on top.  Take your shrimp mixture and spoon over the top of each plate using some of the sauce that has been sauteing with it. 


I really think you will all love this recipe.  Beth and I like anything that has lemon, garlic and cheese in it.  Just sayin'! ;) We also like simple and quick meals.

We've really missed connecting with everyone, but, as you all know sometimes life get's REALLY crazy busy!   Please have a wonderful and blessed week!  Try to take some time to not only have dinner and conversation with your family, but, also do a little cookin' with them too.  It's the best of memories you build with your kids, family and friends when you cook and eat with them. Until next time...