Dilled Potato & Zucchini Cakes

Going to one of our local deli’s or to any of our abundance of festivals in Cincinnati, you come to expect a good potato cake.  The love child of hash browns and a pancake, it makes a great savory side dish that’s a little different.  We were blackening some halibut tonight and I wanted to try a rift on the traditional potato pancake with the addition of zucchini as well.  A little dill makes them even better.

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DILLED POTATO & ZUCCHINI CAKES

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Shredded Zucchini
  • 2 Medium Potatoes, Peeled & Shredded
  • 1/2 Cup Finely Diced Onion
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Flour
  • 1 Tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 Tsp. Garlic Salt
  • 2 Tsp. Parsley
  • 1 Tsp. Dill
  • 1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper

Instructions

  • Place zucchini and potato in a strainer and squeeze out as much excess moisture as possible.  Place in a medium bowl.
  • Add diced onion, eggs and garlic salt, dill, parsley & black pepper.  Stir until evenly combined.
  • Sprinkle mixture with baking soda and flour.  Stir until just combined.
  • Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Add two tablespoons vegetable oil.
  • Drop mixture into hot skillet by the spoonful.  Be sure to spread them out enough to make them as thin as possible.  Fry 2-3 minutes until golden brown, flipping once.
  • Continue frying cakes until you’ve used all of the mixture.
  • Serve immediately with sour cream to lightly top.

Crispy edges, savory flavor and a touch of cold sour cream will have your family asking you to make these often.  It’s not difficult to adjust the recipe with other ingredients if you want to change the flavors.  Try substituting shredded apple for the zucchini for a sweet touch – perfect to serve with breaded pork or smoked sausage.  Try some other combos and let me know what you come up with.  Dig in!

Sweet & Crunchy BBQ Potato Chips

I’ve always wanted to make my own potato chips!  And frankly, for as easy as they were, it’s silly that I haven’t up to this point.  Grilling steaks for Father’s Day made for a great excuse to come up with a BBQ potato chip recipe.  It took a little taste-testing, but the recipe below had the right amount of sweet, savory and salty to stand up to the bold flavor of a perfectly medium-rare NY strip!

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SWEET & CRUNCHY BBQ POTATO CHIPS

Ingredients

  • 2 Lbs. Russet Potatoes
  • 1/4 Cup White Vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. Salt
  • 2 Tbs. Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Smoked Sweet Paprika
  • 1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Tsp. Onion Powder

Instructions

  • Peel and wash potatoes.  Slice about 1/8-inch thick using a sharp knife or mandolin (much easier).
  • Place potatoes in a large bowl and cover with cold water.  Toss with your hands, let sit for 10 minutes and then drain.
  • Pour vinegar over potatoes and then cover the rest of the way with cold water.  Allow to soak for 2 hours.
  • In a small bowl, combine salt, sugar, paprika, pepper and onion powder.  You’ve created BBQ seasoning!!  Set aside for when potatoes are cooked.
  • Drain potatoes and dry thoroughly.
  • Fry in small batches in 300 degree vegetable or canola oil.  Stir occasionally for even frying until light golden brown.
  • Remove and allow to drain on wire racks or brown paper.  Sprinkle with BBQ seasoning mixture and then place in a large bowl.
  • Continue with this process until all potatoes are fried, dusted and cooled.
  • Finally, toss the remaining seasoning over the bowl of potatoes and serve.

This is a very simple process that turns out delicious results!  My family said we will absolutely have to make these again in the future.  It was definitely a treat and a great causal side dish to serve with steaks.  The recipe above was easily devoured by a group of 8 people.  You can probably double it and still not have much left over.  Make ’em for your next occasion or when you’re experimenting on a weekend.  Dig in!

Crunchy Asian Slaw

BBQ season calls for coleslaw nearly every time, at least it does in our family!  I love traditional mayonnaise-y versions as well as vinegar-based slaws.  One of my very favorites is one my wife started making years and years ago.  This Asian-inspired version is tangy, crispy and nutty.  I honestly can’t get enough of it!

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CRUNCHY ASIAN SLAW

Ingredients

  • 1 Lbs. Bag Cabbage/Slaw Mix
  • 2 Packages Beef Ramen Noodles
  • I Cup Salted Sunflower Seeds
  • 1 Cup Slivered or Sliced Almonds, Toasted
  • 1 Bunch Green Onions, Chopped

Dressing

  • 3/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1/3 Cup White Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Envelopes Beef Flavor Packets (from ramen)

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Instructions

  • In a dry frying pan, lightly toast almonds over low heat until slightly browned.  Remove from heat and cool.
  • In a large bowl, mix together slaw mix, almonds, sunflower seeds, green onions and crushed ramen noodles.
  • In a small bowl, combine dressing ingredients and whisk together until dissolved and smooth.
  • Pour dressing over salad ingredients and toss to combine.
  • Chill for 2-4 hours and serve.

This is an easy and delicious version that goes well with any grilled protein.  Try it as a perfect acidic side dish to fatty short ribs or pork shoulder!  Do you like thinks a little spicy?  A thinly-sliced or finely-diced jalapeño or serrano pepper would be great here.  I also like to add a little sriracha for a kick.  Either way, I hope you love it too.  Dig in!

Cheesy Twice Baked Potatoes

I was fixing beef filet and shrimp for my wife’s birthday dinner last weekend and wanted to have potatoes as a side.  And while I love loaded baked potatoes, it’s sometimes easier and requires less stuff on your dinner table if you stir all the toppings into twice baked potatoes.  These turned out to be a family favorite in a hurry!

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CHEESY TWICE BAKED POTATOES

Ingredients

  • 5 Medium Russet Potatoes
  • 6-8 Strips Crispy Cooked Bacon
  • 2 Cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 3/4 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 Tsp. Salt
  • 1 Tsp Black Pepper

Instructions

  • Throughly wash your potatoes and bake directly on the top rack of your oven for 60-75 minutes at 425 degrees.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool enough to handle.
  • Cut potatoes in half lengthwise.  Scoop out center leaving just enough potato in the skin to hold it together.  Place scooped potato into a medium size mixing bowl.
  • Place the skins on a baking sheet.
  • Add heavy cream to potatoes and use a hand mixer to combine until mixture is fairly smooth.  There will be some lumps – like all delicious mashed potatoes!
  • Chop cooked bacon and add to the potato mixture along with half of the cheddar cheese, salt and pepper.  Stir together with a wooden spoon to prevent the mixture from becoming too gummy.
  • Fill each potato skin with a scoop of the mixture until all of it is used.  They should be filled just to the edge, but not heaping.
  • Top each potato with remaining cheddar cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly.
  • Serve immediately.

You can definitely make these ahead of time and bake in the evening or the next day.  You’ll need to extend to the baking time though to allow them to warm through.  Serve these on their own or with sour cream and chopped green onion as garnish.  Maybe you’ll whip up a batch for your picnic this weekend – try using 10 small russets instead to make 20 halves.  I know you’ll love these and your guests will too.  Dig in!

Loaded Ranch Roasted Potatoes

Want to serve loaded baked potatoes to a crowd without everyone having to top their own spud?  This tasty recipe requires just a little prep and feeds a lot of people.  Delicious loaded crispy potatoes with a hint of ranch flavor will be sure to satisfy your family and friends at your next gathering.  They’re equally perfect with steaks on the grill or as appetizers for a party or the big game.

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LOADED RANCH ROASTED POTATOES

Ingredients

  • 6-8 Medium Russet Potatoes (depending on size)
  • 2 Tbs. Canola Oil
  • 1 Envelope Ranch Dressing Mix
  • 2 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 3/4 Cup Bacon Bits
  • 4 Green Onions, Chopped
  • Sour Cream (for topping)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Scrub potatoes thoroughly under cold water and set aside to dry.  Cut into 2-inch cubes, leaving skin on.
  • Place cut potatoes in a large bowl and drizzle with canola oil.  Toss to coat.
  • Sprinkle ranch dressing mix over potatoes and toss again to evenly coat.
  • Spread potatoes in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  The spray will prevent sticking due to the ranch mix – DON’T SKIP THIS STEP!
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender and lightly browned.  Remove from oven.
  • Sprinkle baked potatoes with cheddar cheese and bacon bits.  Return to oven for 5-10 minutes until cheese is fully melted.
  • Remove from oven and top with chopped green onion.
  • Serve immediately.

Every time we make these they are a huge hit!  Serve with sour cream for topping.  Want to mix it up a little bit?  Try substituting 3 Tbs. of taco seasoning for the ranch and use a combination of cheddar and pepper jack cheese.  Serve with jalapeños and hot sauce – instant fiesta!  I’d love to hear what combinations you come up with.  Try them for your next Sunday supper or for a Masters watch party this weekend.  Dig in!

Arugula Salad

Sometimes simple is best.  I love all kinds of salads, but this is an easy no-fail salad that is perfect with any meal, to dress up a sandwich or top a pizza.  Just a coupe of ingredients highlight these peppery greens with almost no work at all.

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ARUGULA SALAD

Ingredients

  • 6 Cups Arugula
  • 3 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbs. Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper
  • Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

Instructions

  • Place arugula in a large bowl.
  • Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over the greens.  Add salt and pepper.
  • Toss lightly to coat evenly.
  • Refrigerate up to 1 hour or serve immediately with freshly grated parmesan.

Voila!  The “little black dress” of salads is now your go-to for almost any occasion.  It’s perfect served to start a meal, as a brunch side with an omelet or quiche or just on its own with a perfectly grilled piece of fish.  Simple ingredients, easy to make and oh-so-delicious.  Dig in!

Rustic Roasted Mushrooms w/Tomatoes

When I’m cutting back on the carbs for a meal, I like to use hearty vegetables to take the place of the potatoes and pasta I love so much.  So forgoing the baked potato with our ribeye steaks tonight I opted for this Italian-inspired baked mushroom and tomato dish.  A friend of mine, Todd – a fellow food connoisseur, made a similar dish almost 7 or 8 years ago for a dinner party and I haven’t forgotten about it.  I know you’ll love the combination of sweet tomatoes, nutty mushrooms and salty parmesan breadcrumbs.

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RUSTIC ROASTED MUSHROOMS W/TOMATOES

Ingredients

  • 2 Quarts Button Mushrooms
  • 12 Small Campari Tomatoes or 15-18 Large Cherry Tomatoes
  • 6 Tbs. Olive Oil, Divided
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Tbs. Italian Herb Seasoning (dry works well here)
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Salt
  • 1 Tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Cup Dry Breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan

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Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Wash trim and quarter mushrooms.  Place into a large bowl.
  • Wash and dry tomatoes.  Slice each one in half and squeeze gently to remove the seeds.  Add to mushrooms.
  • Pour 4 Tbs. olive oil over vegetables.  Add minced garlic, italian herbs, salt and pepper.
  • Toss gently to evenly coat vegetables and place into a 2-quart baking dish with high sides.
  • Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.
  • Combine breadcrumbs, parmesan and remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil in a small bowl.
  • Sprinkle this mixture over mushrooms and tomatoes and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until topping is browns and veggies are bubbling.
  • Remove from oven and serve immediately.

There’s a lot of liquid rendered from this dish so it’s best served with a slotted spoon.  If you want to take advantage of all that liquid, you can also toss in 1 1/2 cups stale bread cubes before baking.  Think of all that Italian-herbed earthiness soaked up in tender bread!  Of course that defeats the purpose of going no-carbs.  Either way, you’ll forget all about the missing potato and savor the flavor of this rustic side dish.  I can’t wait to put a few over-easy eggs on the leftovers tomorrow.  Dig in!

Mixed Potato Home Fries

I’m breaking in my new cast iron skillet lately.  I thought there was a good chance to test out the crisping capability with a batch of home fries for breakfast.  While the recipe is simple there are a few keys.  Definitely use a cast iron skillet for perfect heat and crispy edges.  Using a combo of canola oil and butter will also help to brown and flavor these.  Finally, mix it up a little bit by using both sweet and russet potatoes.

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MIXED POTATO HOME FRIES

Ingredients

  • 1 Large Russet Potato
  • 1 Large Sweet Potato
  • 1/2 Medium Yellow Onion, Diced
  • 2 Tbs. Butter
  • 2 Tbs. Canola Oil
  • 1 Tsp. Sweet Smoked Paprika
  • 1 Tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp. Pepper

Instructions

  • Peel potatoes and dice each into 1/2 inch cubes.
  • Put oil and butter in skillet and warm over medium heat.
  • Mix up potatoes and diced onion and then place into warm skillet.
  • Sprinkle salt, pepper and paprika over ingredients.
  • Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes.  Potatoes will be soft and everything will have brown crispy edges.
  • Serve immediately.

Breakfast, brunch or dinner, these home fries will be a hit with you and your guests.  The recipe above serves 4, but you can easily double it for a larger serving.  If you like, the addition of a half red or green pepper diced in this recipe is excellent as well.  Maybe you’ll try it and use it as a base for a hash?  Try diced ham and a few fried eggs over the top.  Any way you fix it, it’ll be delicious.  Dig in!

Scalloped Potatoes With Crispy Shallots

Growing up my mom always made scalloped potatoes that came from a box and tasted like the freeze-dried potatoes and fake cheese they were – sorry mom!  I honestly never really liked them much, but came to like good scalloped potatoes and various versions of potato casseroles through my adult years.  I came up with this easy recipe that gives a creamy salty casserole a little punch from some crispy oniony/garlicky shallots.

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SCALLOPED POTATOES WITH CRISPY SHALLOTS

Ingredients

  • 3-4 Lbs. Russet Potatoes
  • 1 1/2 Cups Half and Half
  • 2 Tsp. Salt
  • 2 Tsp Black Pepper
  • 3/4 Cup Grated Romano Cheese
  • 4-5 Shallots, Thinly Sliced
  • 2 Tbs. Butter
  • 1 Tsp. Sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Peel potatoes and slice in 1/4-inch slices on a mandolin or with a knife.
  • Grease a 2-quart baking dish and cover bottom with a single layer of potatoes.  Pour 1/4 cup of half and half over potatoes and then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Top with 1/8 cup of cheese.
  • Continue this process with six successive layers of potatoes, half and half, seasoning and cheese.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes at 375 degrees.
  • While baking, melt butter in a saucepan and add thinly sliced shallots.  Sprinkle with sugar.
  • Cook shallots, stirring occasionally, over low heat for 30 minutes or until brown and slightly crispy.  When finished, set aside.
  • Remove foil from potatoes and return to a 400-degree oven for 15 minutes until potatoes are tender, bubbly and slightly browned.
  • Removed from oven and evenly coat top with crispy shallots.
  • Let stand 10-15 minutes before serving.

I recently made this recipe with grilled pork chops, but it is excellent with beef, chicken or some crispy breaded fish.  You’ll love the nuttiness of the romano cheese while not being overwhelmed with a ton of stringy cheddar or other variety.  The shallots also add some depth of flavor and a little texture to this creamy spud casserole.  And trust me, it’s way better than the box stuff your mom used to fix!

Sweet Roasted Carrots

The carrot is an often uncelebrated vegetable that’s a staple of crudite platters and cream cheese frosting-covered cakes, but I don’t see them enough as sides at home or in restaurants.  With countless varieties there are flavors you can develop lending them to taste like parsnips or sweet potatoes.  I like to let them speak for themselves though and add just a few ingredients to bring out their natural flavor.  A hint of sugar helps to enhance their sweetness and depth of flavor.

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SWEET ROASTED CARROTS

Ingredients

  • 1 Large Bunch Organic Carrots (About 2 Lbs.)
  • 2 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Salt
  • 1 Tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Peel carrots, trim ends and cut them on a bias into 2-inch chunks.
  • Place carrots on a large baking sheet with plenty of room – they should not be touching each other.
  • Drizzle carrots with olive oil and then sprinkle with salt, pepper and sugar.
  • Toss in pan until thoroughly coated with all ingredients.
  • Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes until the carrots are slightly browned and fork-tender.

I think you’ll like how this recipe turns out because it’s simple, but has rich flavor.  I have substituted sugar in this recipe, roasted them with the other ingredients and then tossed the finished product with honey and grated fresh ginger.  There are tons of great fall flavors that you can also work into this recipe.  And don’t forget to try this roasting method with your other favorite veggies!  Dig in!