Crispy Oven Baked Cheese Fries

So I have a thing for french fries. But not just ANY fries. You can’t just hand off a limp strip of under-cooked potato and call it a french fry. I’m talking about crispy, and I mean crisp, fries are my thaaang. When they’re the best of crispy and soft at the same time, and homemade with lots of love.

Like these incredible crispy cheese fries right here. So finger-lickin’-good! They’re like the new and improved potato wedges, 2.0 version or something. And they’re so easy too! Like I could do it in my sleep over and over and nail it every time.

And guess what? My particular favorite (and the most surprising) thing about them, they’re super crispy and yet they aren’t fried.  No sir-ee Bob. They are baked, oven baked to perfection, until they are crispy, crunchy on the outside and delightfully tender inside. Baked until they taste fried, but aren’t.

 So go get ready. Just a few simple steps and you’ve got yourself finger-licking heaven on your hands.

Crispy Oven Baked Cheese Fries

 Crispy Cheddar Oven Fries

6 medium red potatoes, scrubbed with the skin left on and any bad parts removed
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
3/4 cup your favorite grated cheese, we prefer a sharp cheddar but Parmesan would also work really well
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp Italian seasoning

Directions

1. Cut potatoes into wedges and put the cut wedges into a large bowl.
2. Add the olive oil, bread crumbs, grated cheese, and seasonings to the bowl with the potatoes.
3. Gently toss everything together until all wedges are evenly coated.
4. Lay the prepped potatoes out onto a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil (dull side up), parchment paper, or a silpat.
5. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, or until they’re golden brown and crispy.
6. Cool for a few minutes before serving.

Pizza Pinwheels

Have you hopped on the Greek yogurt band wagon yet? You’ve at least heard about it, I’m sure. Greek yogurt is great. It’s great for you, and packed with protein. Did you know that in roughly the same amount of calories, Greek yogurt is able to pack up to double the protein, while cutting sugar content by half? No? See, this is one of the major reasons that within the past couple years, Greek yogurt has managed to elbow it’s way onto refrigerator shelves everywhere. If you’re wondering what makes it different, besides just the nutrition info, from it’s ‘regular’ counterpart, the Mediterranean version has been strained of it’s whey giving it an undeniably tangier and less sweet, as well as creamier, taste. We’ve gone exclusively Greek in the yogurt department. But we haven’t stopped there. Greek yogurt opens up tons of options in the recipe department. We love swapping it for sour cream in recipes, and even for cream cheese and mayonnaise. There is so much untapped potential there. Chobani has even created a handy conversion chart so there’s no guess work involved.

chobani conversion chart

When I was contacted by them a few weeks ago, I knew it wasn’t going to be a chore to come up with something snazzy to share with you guys that featured Chobani’s Greek Yogurt. Without further adieu, we’re bringing you these Pizza Pinwheels that are #madewithChobani.

 Pizza Pinwheels

Pinwheels are a great option for a variety of needs. Lunches? Check. A denser snack? Check. An alternative to your traditional pizza night? Check. Initially, the sons were suspicious. One bite was enough to woo them though. The seasonings are perfect. The creamy yogurt pairs perfectly with some of our favorite fixings, packing more protein into every bite while leaving the extra calories behind.

Pizza Pinwheels

Pizza Pinwheels 2

4 ounces fat free cream cheese, softened
1/4-1/3 cup plain Chobani Greek yogurt
2 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup diced black olives
1/4 cup diced green, red, or yellow peppers
1/2 cup pepperoni
3 medium tortilla shells

Directions

1. In a small bowl, add the cream cheese, yogurt, oregano, and garlic powder. Stir until everything is evenly incorporated and the mixture’s nice and creamy. Next, stir in the cheeses. Using a knife or spatula, gently spread the cheese mixture evenly ever the flat tortilla shells. 2. Once you’ve spread your cheese mixture out, evenly sprinkle the olives and peppers over the cheese mixture. Finally, create a layer of pepperoni over the sprinkled toppings on each tortilla. Gently roll the tortillas up tightly (like a jelly roll), making sure everything stays inside. Wrap the tortilla roll up in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. 3. Remove from the refrigerator and remove the plastic wrap. Cut each tortilla into roughly 8 pinwheels. Serve with toothpicks if desired. Makes roughly 24 pinwheels.

*Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post, and all opinions expressed are my own.*

Baked Chili Lime Nacho Mozzarella Sticks

These make a perfect appetizer or (in the sons case) an after school pick me up. They have an awesome chip-like exterior courtesy of the baked egg roll wrappers, and they’re oozing, gooey, melted mozzarella from their middles. Thought nachos couldn’t get any better? Did you think a plain, fried mozzarella stick was where it was at? This fun, easy hybrid is going to take your tastes buds to a whole new world of flavor.

Chili Lime Nacho Mozzarella Sticks

 Baked Chili Lime Nacho Mozzarella Sticks

recipe originally from Carl’s Bad Cravings

24 mozzarella sticks
24 egg roll wrappers
1/4 cup water (you won’t use it all)

Chili Lime Olive Oil

1 tbsp lime juice
¼ cup olive oil
½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

Directions

1. Freeze unwrapped mozzarella sticks for 90 minutes.
2. Whisk together the Chili Lime Olive Oil ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
3. Working with one at a time, place a mozzarella stick diagonally in the bottom third of the egg roll wrapper. Brush the edges of the wrapper with water. Fold the bottom of the wrapper up tightly over the cheese, then proceed to roll the up the cheese, folding in the edges of the wrapper as you roll. You want the edges to be tightly sealed so the cheese doesn’t spill out when cooked. Take care not to tear the wrapper. If you’re confused, no worries! The egg roll wrapper packaging should have pictures demonstrating the steps in order.
4. Place the wrapped mozzarella sticks on a baking rack on a foil lined baking sheet. Brush wrapped mozzarella sticks with the Chili Lime Olive Oil, stirring to make sure you get the spices that have settled. Note that the mixture will thicken as flour from the wrappers deposits into the oil.
5. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Broil for 3-5 minutes, or until golden, then flip mozzarella sticks and continue to broil until other side is golden.
6. Serve with your favorite salsa and enjoy!

Greek Chicken Burger Sliders with pickled onions & Greek yogurt sauce

Greek is one of our (the hubs and I’s) favorite kinds of food. The sons are a bit more leery of the foreign flavors. On those rare evenings he and I are able to get out alone, we’ve been known to hunt down new Greek places to try. Our favorites are usually the little hole in the wall joints, that are almost always the most authentic. I especially love coming home and trying to replicate the flavors and dishes we’ve found.

A lot of the ingredients in these sliders we often find in many of the Greek wraps we’ve tried, along with either grilled chicken, grilled gyro meat, or Kafta (spiced lamb). It may not be a silver platter, but I love the way these flavors are bundled together and served on a slider bun. For these, the buns ARE the silver platter.

 Greek Chicken Burger Sliders with pickled red onions and a lemonmint yogurt dressing 3

Another thing to love (especially with 4 hungry, hungry hippos boys to feed)? These dense burgers are protein packed, making every bite count, and exploding with flavor from healthy condiments and ingredients.

Greek Chicken Burger Sliders with pickled red onions and a lemonmint yogurt dressing

Healthy! With mint, parsley, feta, bell peppers, they’re then topped with pickled red onions and a tangy Greek yogurt sauce. Holy yum!

Greek Chicken Burger Sliders with pickled red onions and a lemonmint yogurt dressing 2

Don’t be overwhelmed when you glance at the recipe or ingredients list. Yes, it does look like a lot. Yes, it is a lot. BUT, moving in the steps as we’ve broken them down keeps it from being overwhelming. And then end result is so worth it. And, it can even be made ahead of time if your dinner hour is usually the dinner rush.

These are totally unique little burgers, that deliver an awesome flavor combo. It will be an instant hit with whoever eats it, whether it’s for a regular dinner, a pretty party app that’s packing a flavor punch, or something you plan to debut at your first summer BBQ.

Greek Chicken Burger Sliders

Greek Chicken Burger Sliders with pickled red onions and a lemonmint yogurt dressing 3

recipe originally from The Nutmeg Nanny

For the quick pickled red onion:
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tsp brown sugar
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 thinly sliced large red onion

For the Greek yogurt sauce:
1 (6 oz) plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp finely minced parsley
1 tbsp finely minced mint
1/2 tsp kosher salt

For the chicken burgers:
1 lb ground chicken
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tbsp finely minced mint
1 tbsp finely minced parsley
1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
baby spinach, optional
6-8 slider buns

Directions

For pickled red onion:
1. In a small bowl whisk together vinegar, brown sugar, salt and water. When the sugar & salt are totally dissolved in the mixture, add the onion and let it sit on the counter for at least an hour.

2. Store leftovers in the fridge with a little bit of the pickling juice.

For Greek yogurt sauce:

1. In a small bowl add everything and mix together. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.

(Keep in mind the burgers contain feta cheese which will add a bit of salt to the finished sandwich)

For chicken burgers:
1. In a large bowl add ground chicken, cheese, mint, parsley, red bell pepper, salt and pepper.

2. Using your hands, mix everything together until thoroughly combined. Divide meat mixture into 6 – 8 slider sized burgers.

3. Over medium heat, cook on the grill until the inside of the burger is no longer pink. {If you do not have a grill you can pan fry the burgers in one tablespoon of olive oil.}

4. To assemble the burgers add Greek yogurt sauce to the top and bottom of the bun, add burger, baby spinach (if using) and a few pickled red onions.

Hot Ham & Cheese Sliders

These sliders. If you’ve seen them floating around the web, but haven’t given them a try yet, now’s the time to get to it. They really are that good. After my first bite, I could’ve kicked my own self for dragging my feet for so long.

Ooey, gooey finger-lickin’ good. Yes, that’s exactly what these sandwiches are. Prepare for the deliciousness. I think we can all agree that when cheese is involved with any meat, it’s pretty much a wonderful thing. Ham and cheese may be a beloved classic, and most definitely a wonderful thing, but add in the poppy seed mustard butter onion sauce thing and it’s umm, wow! The sauce is what really knocks this one out of the park.

 Hot Ham & Cheese Sliders

So they’re yummy, and super simple to assemble, two things that don’t always go hand-in-hand in the kitchen. Doesn’t that just make them perfect for even your busiest days or nights?

The sons’ and the hubs drool over these things now, even the leftovers (if there are any the next day, which is rare). Are you thinking it sounds great, but bummed because you don’t have tiny any pretty petite buns on hand? If you’ve got some kind of larger bun, you’re in luck. I’ve made these on kaiser rolls, dinner rolls, and once even on hamburger buns with the same drool-worthy results.

Game day, brunch, a regular party, dinner, even a hot lunch. Whatever the occasion these bad boys will be the stars of the show.

Don’t want any pressure? Great. The sandwiches can be made up to a day in advance. Just don’t fix and sauce ’em until you’re ready to heat and serve. Otherwise, you’re going to end up with mush. And I haven’t met a ‘mush’ yet that I actually liked.

Hot Ham & Cheese Sliders

Hot Ham & Swiss Cheese Sliders

24 Hawaiian rolls or slider buns
24 pieces of ham, regular or honey flavored
24 slices of Swiss cheese
2/3 cup mayonnaise

Poppy Seed Mustard Sauce:
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1½ tbsp yellow mustard
½ cup butter, melted
1 tbsp minced onion
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce

Directions 

1. Spread the mayo onto both sides of the center of each roll. Place a slice of ham and a slice of cheese inside of each roll. Close the rolls and place them close together into a large baking dish, or onto a heavy cookie sheet.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients until evenly combined. Pour the sauce as evenly as possible overtop all of the sandwiches. If you don’t want to use all of the sauce that’s ok. Just make sure to use enough to cover the tops of the rolls. Let sit 10 minutes or until butter sets slightly. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is nice and melted. Uncover and cook for 2 additional minutes or until tops are slightly browned and crisped. Serve warm.

Christmas Tree Pull Apart Bread

Are you like me? Are you filled with Christmas spirit all month long? Do you try to bring a Christmasy something into each day and/or meal for your family? Well, if you don’t I highly recommend it. If you do, you can probably vouch for how a little bit here or there, magically gets everyone in the Christmas mood. It’s like magic, and as a Mom, it’s a beautiful thing to behold. There’s no question we all love bread in th is family, and I try to have some sort of option (if it’s appropriate) with our dinners. Knowing I’m trying to slip a little holiday cheer into pretty much anything and everything right now, I figured why make dinner rolls or a plain loaf of bread, if I can put a pull-apart Christmas tree on the table?

 Christmas Tree Pull Apart Bread 1

At the grocery store, I had seen a tree-shaped cake pan, and I thought it would be pretty cool for baking bread. Then I thought about it some more and figured that I could make a free-form tree shape instead. Making and then using cheese-filled dough balls, the sons and I created a Christmas tree shape with our loose interpretation of a star on top. We needed some green and used some dried parsley flakes for that, but if you’re feeling more traditional sprinkle some rosemary on top. Rosemary’s much more Christmas tree like in texture anyway. I figured at least a few of our seems would leak filling during baking, but wasn’t overly concerned. The sons decided that it worked perfectly because our tree had snow on it too!

Christmas Tree Pull Apart Bread

 Christmas Tree Pull Apart Bread

1 can (13.8 oz) refrigerated pizza crust, or pizza dough
4 oz cream cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella
2 tablespoons butter
1/4-1/2 tsp garlic powder
2-3 tbsp dried parsley or fresh rosemary
1 cup warmed marinara sauce for dipping

Directions

1. Lay out, or roll out depending on if you’re using refrigerated pizza crust or actual dough, pizza dough onto a cutting board and stretch to a 10 x 15 inch size. Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into 28 equal squares. In a bowl, combine cream cheese and shredded cheese, stirring until evenly combined.
2. Add roughly one tablespoon of the cheese to each dough square. Seal the seems and then gently roll the dough in your hand to form a ball. Place the dough balls on a cookie sheet in a Christmas tree shape as shown in the picture above. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 – 17 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
3. In a small pot, melt the butter and stir in the garlic powder. After removing the pull-apart bread from the oven, brush the top with butter and sprinkle with your herbs. Serve pull apart with warm marinara sauce for dipping.

Sparkling Cranberries

I only just made these candied cranberries for the first time this past week and I may now be completely obsessed. If I indulged in these little bursts of love earlier in life, I was either too young or had consumed one too many mugs of eggnog to remember. First time or not, I was sold.

 Sparkling Cranberries 2

These pretty cranberries may look like they might be just for decoration, but they’re not – they’re like eating candy. Good for you candy! Put them out as part of your holiday spread this year and surprise your guests with their perfect blend of sweet and a little part tart.

Sparkling Cranberries

Sparkling Cranberries

recipe originally from Kleinworth & Co.

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
2 cups cranberries
3/4 cup granulated sugar

Directions

1. Rinse cranberries & set aside.
2. In medium saucepan heat 1 cup water & 1 cup sugar until sugar is dissolved & liquid is warm. Do not boil.
3. Remove from heat & allow to come to room temperature. (cranberries will pop if the syrup is too hot)
4. Once syrup is cool- pour over cranberries & place something on top of the cranberries to hold them down in the syrup since they will naturally float.
5. Cover & refrigerate overnight.
6. Once your cranberries have soaked for allotted time – strain out cranberries in colander & reserve syrup for other recipes.
7. Pat cranberries dry with paper towel. They should be tacky not wet.
8. Work in batches of 3-4 cranberries at a time – roll in small bowl of granulated sugar to coat.
9. Allow sugar to harden onto cranberries on a baking sheet for several hours.
10. Store at room temperature.

French-Style Deviled Eggs

What is it about deviled eggs and parties? The two just seem to go hand in hand. Parties, and family get-togethers. The two occasions the sons know we’re guaranteed to have them at. This version of the classic features ingredients that remind me perfectly of a quality French vinaigrette. Dijon mustard, red wine, and shallots together in one dish … oh yes! Plenty of bold flavors that work well together….and a variety of textures so you don’t get bored! Not that you would get bored when you’re eating it at a party, but that’s beside the point.

As the holiday season continues, the sons’ will continue to enjoy this family fav. I will enjoy it as well, as long as the windows are open. I smell enough phantom (and real farts) from them, without the added sulfurous mix of boiled eggs. Even son # 2 who previously hated deviled eggs and avoided them at all costs, while the other sons’ were  busy fighting over who’d claimed his uneaten share, will enjoy them. The first time I made these, he ate 5 of them! Even he couldn’t get over it.

So basically, these really need to be a part of your life, like, immediately. Especially the holiday party, get together with all the relatives-ing part. Just make these ahead of time so nobody chokes on a thick cloud of air freshener. Although, if your family’s anything like ours, there’s always that one relative who everyone will suspect anyway 😉

French-Style Deviled Eggs

 French-Style Deviled Eggs

recipe adapted from Left Side of the Table

6 eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp grainy Dijon mustard
1 tsp lemon juice (optional)
2 tbsp minced shallots, or minced red onion in a pinch
salt and pepper, to taste
fresh thyme, optional

Directions

1. First thing to do, hard boil eggs. Place the eggs carefully in a pot. Fill with cold water about an inch over the eggs. Bring the eggs to a boil. Once water is boiling, cover and remove from heat. Let sit for 12 Minutes. Then transfer the eggs to a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
2. Carefully peel your eggs, and remember it can sometimes be hard and if they don’t peel perfectly that’s OK.
3. Using a sharp knife, cut the peeled eggs in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to carefully remove the yolks, and set them aside in a small bowl. Place the egg whites onto a platter, or other kind of serving dish.
4. Add all ingredients, except the thyme garnish (if using) to the egg yolks. Using a fork, smash and stir all ingredients together until fully incorporated. Lemon juice is optional, because it can make the filling a bit more runny than normal. Make sure to smash the yolks completely.
5. For a fancy, clean look use a clear plastic ziploc bag to pipe the filling into the eggs. Place the filling in the corner of a bag, and cut the edge (about 1/2″) off the bag. Fill each egg. If you don’t want to use a bag, simply spoon in the filling. Garish each egg with a small piece of thyme on each and use extra thyme to decorate the plate. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

No Knead Crusty Artisan Bread

I have been in search of the perfect Crusty Bread recipe. You know, the kind you find in great Italian restaurants that have a gorgeous crackly crust and a chewy inside, perfect for dipping in olive oil? Well here she is folks.

 No Knead Crusty Artisan Bread

The dough comes together in minutes and requires only four ingredients and hardly any effort on your part. FOUR! All she needs is a little time to become something wonderful. This is the easist bread you’ll ever make. For anyone who’s terriefied of baking bread (once upon a time I was too) this is your new BFF. Seriously, this is THE easiest bread I think you can make.

No Knead Crusty Artisan Bread 2

This recipe is adapted from Jim Lehay’s minimalist approach to bread baking: let time do the work. Throw your ingredients together tonight and be enjoying fresh baked bread tomorrow. And what isn’t more comforting that the smell of fresh bread floating in the air as the days and nights get colder?

No Knead Crusty Artisan Bread

No Knead Artisan Bread

3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup water

Directions

1. In a mixing bowl add the dry ingredients. Using your hands, or a fork, blend the dry ingredients.
2. Pour in the water and mix. Pull together the dough using your hands or a wooden spoon.
3. Scrape any excess flour from the bottom and sides of the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well incorporated and form into a ball. Don’t worry the dough is supposed to be stringy.
4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on the bowl to avoid the dough from drying out. Allow to rise in a warm dry, and draft free place for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.
5. Dust a large piece of parchment paper, measuring about 24 inches with flour to prevent the dough from sticking. Scrape the risen dough onto the floured parchment paper.
6. Sprinkle some flour on the dough to prevent it from sticking to your hands.
7. Lightly pat down the dough with your hands to form a piece of dough measuring approximately 10×10 inches.
8. Fold the both side edges to the center of the dough take the top edge and fold into the center, doing the same with the bottom edge of the dough.
9. Turn the dough and place the folded side of the dough on the parchment paper and dust with flour to prevent sticking .
10. Loosely wrap the dough in the parchment paper and place on a baking sheet and cover it with a tea towel again.
11. Transfer to a warm and dry place and allow to rise a second time for 2 hours.
12. Place the cast iron Dutch oven with its cover, on the second rack from the bottom of your stove’s oven. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Dust the smooth side of the risen dough with flour to prevent it from sticking to the bottom while baking.
13. Once the oven has heated up. Remove the pot from the oven and take the cover off. Place the dough, folded sides up and cover. Bake for 30 minutes at 500ºF
14. Remove the cover and continue baking at 375 for an additional 15-30 minutes.

Crispy Asian Glazed Brussels Sprouts

Didn’t think sprouts were for you? Crispy, caramelized Brussels sprouts are tossed in a sweet and slightly spicy Asian glaze for the ultimate side dish. After one taste of these Crispy Asian Glazed Brussels Sprouts, you’ll be shocked at how good those old fashioned veggies can actually taste.

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