Sunday, November 17, 2013

Restaurant-Style Loaded Smashed Potatoes

Loaded mashed potatoes are the favorite side dish at steakhouses. They're smooth, buttery, and full of all of your favorites. My favorite thing about them is that every spoonful is different! Sometimes you get a hint of sour cream, other times a bite of bacon.

These red potatoes are smashed, not mashed, with the skin intact. This not only saves you the step of peeling, but adds a rustic feel. And double bonus—you don't even need to boil these! Just nuke them in the microwave and you're good to go. Another shortcut is to use precooked and crumbled bacon.

Although this is my basic recipe, I like to fool around with it, sometimes adding cheese or omitting the french fried onions. Get creative with your add-ons—you really can't go wrong here! I like to reserve some of the toppings for garnish. Double the recipe if you need more than 4 servings because trust me, everyone's gonna want seconds!

Restaurant-Style Loaded Smashed Potatoes
Adapted from Pioneer Woman

  • 5 whole large red potatoes, quartered
  • 1 stick butter, softened And cut into pieces
  • 4-5 slices bacon, cooked And crumbled (or precooked crumbles)
  • 2 whole green Onions, sliced
  • 3/4 cups sour cream (light is fine)
  • salt/garlic salt/seasoned salte (to taste-add plenty!)
  • fresh ground pepper (to taste)
  • 1/2-3/4 cups french fried onions
Nuke potatoes in a large bowl in the microwave for 10-20 minutes or bake in the oven until fork-tender. Smash with a potato masher leaving chunks intact. Immediately add softened butter, green onions, bacon, and sour cream and stir with a rubber spatula. 

Add salt and pepper to taste. Add french fried onions and fold in. Serve hot, sprinkling on a little extra french fried onions, bacon and green onions.

My mom and I took a trip to Ellicott City a few weeks back. It's an adorable town in Maryland filled with antique shops. These days we can't seem to resist dining at Tersiguels while we're there! It's the loveliest french restaurant you've ever set eyes on, and the food is to die for! We filled our bellies with the fluffiest sourdough bread with butter, fish soup, chicken salad, sparkling cider, and coconut sorbet topped with an elephant ear! The grand finale was when our waiter presented us our frozen dessert sitting atop an ice sculpture! What a presentation!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie

Pumpkin pie is my dad's dessert of choice on Thanksgiving. Plain Jane pumpkin pie.

Not chocolate pumpkin pie—not caramel pecan pumpkin pie—and certainly not salted caramel apple cheesecake pie. And I respect that, I really do. Thanksgiving comes but once a year and the man wants his pie.

But if your family doesn't include a pumpkin purist, I suggest you switch it up with this delectable treat this holiday season! It combines some of the best flavors that fall has to offer and pairs perfectly with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. This fabulous layered concoction includes a tall, tasty graham cracker crust, caramel, pecans, apples, cheesecake and whipped cream. So yeah, it goes without saying that it's fantastically delicious.

Plus, it's make ahead, which comes in handy for the holidays. Make it a day or several days ahead of time and just leave it in the fridge to chill while you roast your turkey and such.

Yes, it's a bit labor intensive, but you can take a few short cuts and save yourself some time and effort. Use jarred caramel (they have salted caramel at Trader Joe's) and Cool Whip if you'd like.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker


For the Crust:
  • 1½ cup graham cracker crumbs (or about 12 full graham crackers, finely crushed)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup butter, melted

For the Caramel-Pecan Layer:
  • ¾ cup caramel sauce (I used Trader Joe's salted caramel)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

For the Apples:
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

For the Cheesecake:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Whipped Cream: (Optional- or use Cool Whip)
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar

For the Garnish:
  • caramel sauce 
  • chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Make the Crust: Whisk together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add the melted butter and use a fork to combine. Dump the crumbs into a 9-inch springform pan (or a 10-inch pie plate if you don't have one) and press them into an even layer over the bottom and two-thirds of the way up the sides of the pan. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes and cool for at least 10 minutes.
Pour the caramel sauce over the bottom of the crust, gently spreading it into an even layer. Sprinkle the chopped pecans evenly over the caramel layer. Refrigerate while you prepare the apples.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Make the Apples: Melt the butter in a large skillet over low-medium heat and add the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt, stirring to combine. Cook the mixture until it is gently bubbling, about 1 minute. Add the apples to the pan and toss to coat with the butter mixture. Cook until the apples are very tender and almost all of the liquid evaporates, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then add the apples on top of the caramel-pecan layer. Return the pan to the refrigerator.
For the Cheesecake: Using a stand or electric mixer, beat the softened cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until completely smooth. Add the egg and beat. Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract, and beat until completely smooth, another 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the cheesecake batter over the apples in the pan, smoothing into an even layer. Bake until the cheesecake is set and doesn't jiggle in the middle, about 30 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Make the Whipped Cream: (Optional: Use Cool Whip, if wanted) Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment or a hand mixer, whip together the heavy cream and powdered sugar on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form.
Garnish & Serve: Drizzle with caramel and sprinkle with chopped pecans. Refrigerate!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Baked Apple Pancake with Cider Syrup

I like to make a fuss over birthdays. It's sad to eat a mediocre meal on a special day, so I do a little something extra for breakfast as well as dinner. But I also want to avoid spending the entire day slaving at the stove and making mounds of dishes.

This baked apple pancake was a simple way to kick start a special day. It tastes much like a dutch baby and is loaded with cinnamon apples! And get this, you don't even need to peel them! Unless you have one of those nifty apple peeler/slicer thingies, peeling is a total drag.

So get this—the baked pancake itself is actually light! Cut into six slices, it's a mere 166 calories. Now, the cider syrup—not as light, I admit. But a little goes a long way with this stuff! And what it may lack in lightness it makes up for in dreaminess! You guys, this a fabulous fall breakfast.

Baked Apple Pancake with Cider Syrup
Adapted from Pinch of Yum

Servings: 6 (or 4 for bigger slices)
Calories: 166
Fat: 6.6 g
Carbs: 23 g
Protein: 6.4 g
Sugar: 11 g


Apple Pancake
  • 1-2 large apples (unpeeled)
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk (I used 1%)
  • 2/3 cup flour (all-purpose, whole wheat, bread flour, or combo)
  • 2 tbsp applesauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
Cider Syrup
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

Start by making the syrup. Bring the apple cider, 1 cup brown sugar, and cinnamon sticks to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes, until reduced by about ⅓. Don't expect it to get thick—it's meant to be pretty thin, kinda like maple syrup. Set aside and let cool.

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Arrange in the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate sprayed with baker's spray (the stuff with flour in it) or grease it with butter. Be generous here! (I wasn't and it gave me a little trouble coming out)

Whisk the rest of the ingredients until just combined and pour the mixture over the apples. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until top is browned and set. Remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes.

Using a knife, loosen the edges of the pancake from the pie plate. Invert onto a serving platter and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Drizzle with the cider syrup and serve more on the side!

Virginia is gorgeous in the fall. The leaves are changing but the weather is still so pleasant! Gradon and I rode our bikes around town today and sat on a bench admiring UVA campus. Work and school has been busy, so we've really taken the weekends to relax. Last weekend, we visited a pumpkin patch and took a hayride around a local farm. We ate chili dogs, fed the goats and enjoyed the wide open spaces. It's so nice to get outside this time of year!