The Opinionated Foodie: The Love (or Not) of Food and Everything That Goes with It


Facebook Food Porn Strikes Again: Ranch Potatoes
January 7, 2014, 1:58 am
Filed under: Food I Make, Food Made by Other Food Folks | Tags: , ,

I ask you: Does the world need another potato recipe? Another potato casserole recipe? With bacon? And cheese? And the cliché can of cream of mushroom soup?

I declare that the world does not.

However, here’s one I am sharing with you that is so eloquently called Ranch Potatoes. It popped up on my newsfeed on Facebook last week when its recipe and convincing picture were liked or shared with at least four of my friends. Feeling the peer pressure that I had to try it since so many of my friends were trying it and I didn’t want to be the weird friend, I made it for supper.
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The recipe was easy enough to follow-this is Facebook, not Julia Child. I had all the ingredients on hand (and I think I usually do) so that was no problem either.
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Everyone at my table (who just so happened to be my closest of all my friends) liked it. I apparently was the only one who found a twang in several of my bites. I thought with those that my face was going to draw inside out. Whew. It was rough, but these potatoes were a hit with everyone else.
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So here it is, Foodie Friends. Yet another way to serve potatoes that may or may not make your face draw up. You’re welcome.

Ranch Potatoes:
Six large potatoes, washed, peeled, cubed
One packet of dry ranch dressing mix
One can of undiluted cream of mushroom soup
1 1/4 cups of milk
1 1/2 cups of shredded Cheddar cheese
One packet of real bacon bits-I didn’t use the whole package.

In a large pot, cover the potatoes with water and boil until they are just soft-about fifteen minutes. When they are done, butter or grease a large casserole dish and pour the potatoes in the dish. Mix the dressing mix, soup, milk, and one cup of the cheese together. Pour over the potatoes. Top the casserole with the rest of the cheese and the bacon bits.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.



Onion Tarts and Sam’s Club Samples at Book Club

For this month’s bookclub, I was so totally swamped with family and friends celebrations, cooking, caroling, decorating, helping abandoned animals from those sad commercials, and doing my Christmas service work, that I totally forgot to read the book!

Of course, that is not true. I was just lazy all the way around, because there is no lazy like Christmas break lazy and Christmas break lazy don’t stop.

Everyone who read the book which was basically everyobe except me, though, liked it fine. The book was The Winters in Bloom by Lisa Tucker. I loved her book Once Upon a Day, but I just didn’t get motivated enough to read this one. Actually, I wasn’t motivated to much at all like get dressed or brush my teeth on most days.

I did cook one thing and prepare something else for bookclub, though. Go me!

So, we had been to Sam’s and one of the many samples that I was abusing to fill Miss Helper up for free was multi-grain crackers with prosciutto on top. They weren’t too bad; she said that were good, so I had one myself. I bought the ingredients and remade them at bookclub. Simple.

I also made an onion tart, or at least that is what I am calling it.
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I found the recipe in a magazine, but then I reworked it. I liked it a lot, but I do love onions. And cheese. And tarts.
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All the way around, it was good. We also ate some chicken salad stuffed in tiny little tomatoes, sausage balls, salmon on crackers with a dill sauce, and a reuben dip that was divine. It was a good bookclub, even if I have no clue what the book was about.
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Onion Tart:
1/2 stick of butter
One three pound bag of sweet onions, peeled and sliced
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
One frozen piecrust, thawed
1/2 cup of Parmesan-I used the kind on the green container, if you know what I mean
1 egg, beaten

In a large skillet, melt the butter and then add the onions. Let them get a little tender, and then add the garlic. Cook the onions and garlic over low heat for a long time, about 45 minutes or until the onions turn golden brown. Meanwhile, line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Roll out the piecrust with a rolling pin and shape into a rectangle the size of the cookie sheet. Transfer the piecrust to the cookie sheet. When the onions and garlic are done, add half of the Parmesan and mix. Spread the onion mixture on the piecrust leaving a rim of piecrust around the edges. Fold those edges over and brush the edges with the egg.

Bake for 15 minutes at 400. Then, sprinkle the remaining Parmesan on top and bake for 15 minutes more. Broil for 3 or 4 minutes if necessary to get the edges brown.

This does not have to be hot to be good, but it was really good while it was hot.



The Feast of the Seven (Give or Take) Fishes: Our Family’s Progressive Dinner 2013

Ah, the annual Christmas progressive dinner. The dinner in which my two older sisters and I get to make food for our families and each other in an attempt to make a merrier Christmas while traveling around the countryside and trying not to overeat at the first stop.

It is tougher than it sounds.
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This year, our progressive dinner was at one stop only and the theme was seafood. We transformed my living room into a dining room and the dining room into the living room so all eighteen of us could sit at one table. Other than rearranging most of my house, I was the appetizer, so my job was easy.

The appetizer sister gets to sit back, serve small bites, and relax. Meanwhile, the other two sisters worry about something burning and/or not being cooked right at her house and the thought that everyone might eat too much at the first stop thus leaving a lot of food at her house with no one to eat it.

Again, tougher than it sounds.

An issue for me was that we went out of town the day before the party for Christmas with my husband’s family, and I arrived home four hours before the party started. Yikes.

Luckily, my food was easy enough to get a lot done ahead of time.
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I served shrimp with a spicy homemade cocktail sauce and pickled okra. I liked it a lot, and it was pretty festive with the red and green in a little glass. It was also dang easy. The only thing I had to do was boil water for the shrimp, mix the sauce, and assemble the little boogers.
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We also had Miss Kay Robertson’s shrimp salad from her Duck Commander cookbook. Since I was low on time, I made the decision to save all the shrimp I had for my other dishes and supplement the salad with two bags of frozen crawfish tails that I warmed up in butter before I added it to the salad as Miss Kay said to do. It was pretty good. It was creamy and crunchy.
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The last thing we passed around was The Pioneer Woman’s Skewers of Glory. Glorious might be a stretch, though. I precooked the bacon a little, used canned pineapple to make things easier, and I assembled the skewers when I got home.
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I was disappointed in the marinade, which was mostly at the bottom of the pan and not on the skewers, and the time it took to get the dish done. I cooked my skewers at least twenty minutes longer than PW said to and that’s even with the fact that I had precooked the bacon. Not fun when people are waiting for their first course.

Still, it was another memorable miracle of a dinner. Our main course was salmon served with a dill sauce that I will think about for ages, roasted vegetables, and rice. Devine. Dessert was an angel food cake.

Everyone ate too much, and we laughed too hard.

A good time was had by all.

Homemade Shrimp Cocktail
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup pickle relish
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 T Worcestershire sauce

Combine all and chill. In a small glass (I used tasting cups), layer the cocktail sauce, then the okra, then fill to the top with small shrimp.



Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Snow Weekend Eating and Cooking

This has been the best weekend ever. The last time I was outside of my house was Thursday at 3:45. It is now Sunday afternoon. So, so lovely.

We have worn almost the same clothes since arriving home from school. I have just about finished two books, watched hours of Say Yes to the Dress, played games, watched Christmas movies, and cooked.

It has all been lots of fun.
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Our first snow-weekend meal was fondue. We were in Nashville for Thanksgiving, and we stopped by Trader Joe’s on our way out of town to mingle with the yuppies and grab some unique eats. I tried to hang like a yuppie, but all my clothes matched and I left my sunglasses in the car so I couldn’t wear them in the store. So embarrassing.

I got some kale, seaweed, and a bag of almonds as big as my head for my brother-in-law; I am sure it is a gift that will keep on giving. (Shout out there to Mark and Cousin Eddie!) I also got all sorts of weird cheeses, so peppermint pretzels that I didn’t share, and this tub of fondue which we ate with leftover Conecuh sausage and some crunchy bread. Delish!
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After we ate, I made the usual joke about how we were now fondone. Mr. Picky just rolled his eyes at me.

Tough crowd.

For dessert, we had the necessary snow cake. It was the reason for the snow, I am sure. It just melts like snow in your mouth and lasts the whole snow weekend.
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I also made a potato soup that was a recipe of a friend’s friend. To. Die. For. I didn’t have Velveeta, so I used four cups of shredded Cheddar instead, and it was still fabulous. We ate it twice, and then I threw the rest out so I could use my large pot for chili. That did not go over very well when Mr. Opinionated went looking for it. I thought I was going to be thrown out in the snow. Yikes.
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I was spared when I promised to make it again someday. Whew.

The chili was okay, but it was beanless. Beanless chili is unheard of around here, but apparently I am expected to have beans even when the road looks like a mirror because it has so much ice on it.

Again, tough crowd.
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Today I made Grandma’s chicken and dumplins. This is the food that should be made for anyone who has to get out in weather like this. I promise you that a bowl could put hair on your chest and keep you warm for a month. It made up for the beanless chili.

Next, I am going to try to make buckeyes. Depending on if we have school tomorrow or not, who knows what else is coming out of my kitchen.

One thing’s for sure, it better have beans in it if it is supposed to.

The potato soup recipe which I halved:
10 cups cubed and peeled potatoes
3 cans of chicken broth
2 cans of water
1 stick of butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 T chives
1 T parsley flakes
1 1/2 t both salt and pepper
1 package real bacon bits

1 cup flour
2 cups milk

1 pound Velveeta, cubed
16 oz sour cream

In a large pot, combine all of the first eleven ingredients. Cook until the potatoes are tender-about fifteen minutes. Combine the flour and milk. Add flour and milk to the soup and bring to a boil. Stir often. Remove the pot from the heat, add the Velveeta, and allow to sit with the lid on for several minutes for the cheese to melt. Add the sour cream and stir to incorporate the cheese and sour cream.



The Sandwich King’s BLD Sandwich

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It took me months to make this one. The short ribs in this BLD are not an every day thing around here, and they may not be an every day thing anywhere for all I know.
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All I know is that I saw the episode where Jeff Mauro makes this sandwich, and I had to try it, but the short ribs were dang hard to find.
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I tried this recipe once with pork ribs. It was good, but by the reviews I read about this sandwich, I knew it could be better.
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One day at Sam’s while I was perusing the meat, I found them-beef short ribs. I wanted to shout, “Look! I found them! Beef short ribs!” I restrained myself, believe it or not.
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It was exciting, though.
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So I bought them up and brought them home. I followed Mauro’s recipe almost exactly, but I still had to add some beef broth during the cooking since I thought they looked a little dry. I never did get my gravy thick like his, I didn’t have any horseradish mayo, and I thought that the meat tasted a little too bayleafy.
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Still, with an egg on top on a toasted bun, it was the best sandwich ever.
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Ever.
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I can only hope that it doesn’t take me another series of months to taste this sandwich again. It was too, too good.
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Thanks, Sandwich King.
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Insane: Hershey’s Ultimate Chocolate Brownies

So, the food porn trend has crossed over from Pinterest to Facebook.

Yes, nowadays, you can not be nosey and stalk “friends” on Facebook without being bombarded with pictures of food in its most provocative of displays whereas such a thing was once only found on Pinterest. Sheesh.

Such is the case with how I came across this recipe. There I was, minding my own business looking at what everyone else was doing on Facebook when a picture of these brownies appears. I could not look away even though I knew I should have. Shameful, I know. They had to be mine.

Now, I think most people “share” recipes on FB just to make them look like they can cook, but I think a few people can really do the deed and throw down the recipe. I tried this one, and it was worth it. I think anyone with enough cocoa powder can pull this one off.

From TicklingPalates.com

Ingredients:
All purpose flour – 1/2 cup
Cocoa powder – 1/3 cup
Baking powder – 1/4 tsp
Sugar – 1 cup
Butter – 1/2 cup
Eggs – 2
Salt – 1/4 tsp
Vanilla extract – 1 tsp

For the frosting:
Butter, at room temperature – 3 tbsp
Hershey’s semi-sweet baking melts, chocolate–12 chips The original recipe calls for cocoa powder, but I didn’t have enough.
Honey – 1 tbsp
Powdered sugar – 1 cup
Milk – 1 tbsp
Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
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My version of her instructions:
1. In a bowl using a wisk, mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
2. In another mixing bowl stir together softened butter, sugar, and vanilla. Add eggs and beat with a whisk until combined.
3. Add flour mixture in batches to the butter mixture until completely mixed.
4. Line a 8 inch round cake pan with parchment paper. 5. Transfer the batter to the pan.
6. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
7. Remove the brownies from the pan, and let the brownies cool.
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For the frosting:
8. In a mixing bowl beat together butter, melted chocolate baking melts, honey, and vanilla with a wisk.
9. Add powdered sugar and milk and beat well to a smooth spreading consistency.
10. Slather this frosting on the cool brownies and level smoothly.
11. Cut into pie shaped slices and serve.
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Mr. Picky and I didn’t wait very long for these brownies to cool. He had his with no frosting and loved it. He called it, “Pizza Brownies,” combining two things he loves very, very much.

I had mine with frosting and all. The only problem here is that this makes a tiny, tiny amount of brownies. I don’t think they will last long at all. Next time, it would be worth it to double the recipe to have extra to share.
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Original recipe @http://www.ticklingpalates.com/2013/08/hersheys-ultimate-chocolate-brownies.html



Seriously? This Is Getting Ridiculous: The Pioneer Woman’s Blue Cheese Steak

The PW is coming out with a new cookbook in the fall!

I am not sure if excitement is appropriate though.

The PW’s book is all about celebrations. That could be a great thing, as I see it. Paula Deen’s cookbook about celebrations, Paula Deen and Friends is one of my favorites. I have many tried and true recipes from it. Of course, all that was before Paula went and destroyed her career the old-fashioned way-by crying on national TV. Still, I like the recipes, so celebration recipes may be a plus for PW.

Also, the last PW cookbook was full way too many animal/kid pictures. I could just imagine the cat hair in my food as I looked at Miss Kitty while cooking. Same thing with all the dogs. And the kids. Blech. Plus, all the dang cows. Do you know why we call Beef beef? Because calling it cow is a little too uncomfortable. Know what? So is looking at beautiful pictures of them while cooking them. Too close to home, my friend.

Another thing, I have tried too many recipes from PW #2 that have not turned out like I (and hopefully PW) had planned. Case in point:

Rib-eye Steak with Onion-Blue Cheese Sauce.

My spin on this little recipe here went like this:

I decided to follow PW bit by bit except for one thing-the onions. Instead of one onion in a skillet, I made two on the grill along with the steak.

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Lovely. We grill onions all the time. I followed everything else to a T. I added the cream and the seasonings. I had high hopes.
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I also tweaked the steaks just a small bit. Instead of smearing the butter at room temperature, I melted it first. No big deal.
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At the end of the grilling time, I added the blue cheese to the sauce as the steaks were all but done.
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How was it?

Now, I love blue cheese. This was not quite what I expected, however. One could argue that I fixed the dish wrong because it was prepared totally on the grill.

One could also be wrong.

I used two onions over very high heat. I allowed it to bubble as the recipe said. So the sauce should have been thick like the non-cat photo of the sauce, right?

It wasn’t. It was a thin, liquidy, blue cheese gravy-type thing. Not what I had planned.

Taste-wise, it wasn’t bad, but the runniness nullified the deliciousness. A good steak needs very little help from a sauce. I can make a great steak without the extra work of making a sauce that may or may not be worth the effort.

So, the new PW cookbook is something I will purchase with caution. She’s just burned me one too many times with recipes that aren’t worth the pictures of her dogs.

On the bright side, cookbook number three might be the charm. We’ll just have to wait and see…

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