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There is a special fondness for shrimp cocktail in my family… starting from as far back as I can remember…Basically every recipe is the same .. the only difference is the  brand of cocktail sauce you used or how much ketchup you added to the chile sauce! So, when I saw Ina make this on her show one day I mentally filed it away because it amazed me how one simple step can transform such a plain jane dish!  Also, her cocktail sauce is wicked spicy on it’s own so don’t be alarmed when you taste it without the shrimp. Add the shrimp and it works together perfectly!! This picture shows the roasted shrimp cocktail and also Ina’s roasted pepper and gorgonzola bruchetta… I can’t remember if I blogged about it though… it’s awesome too….Enjoy!

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail… I’m tired so here is the link!

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T.G.I.Friday’s Potato Skins

 

 I’m not going to knock the convenience of the frozen food case… but if you have a bit of time these are totally worth the few extra minutes to make from scratch. Coming to us from More Super Secret Restaurant Recipes book, courtesy of mommy in law, is the T.G.I.Friday’s potato skins…

We’ve all ordered them at one point or another… probably bought them from your local grocery in the familiar red and white package. However, making them from scratch (without freezer burn) was sooo yummy! I made them as part of a football lineup… it also included a magical recipe for chili made with beer (I’ve made it multiple times, and yet keep forgetting to take pictures of it).

The recipe in the book was for a “healthier version”… but since I was making it for 8 guys watching football I did away with that… I’ve posted the original recipe and my ‘tweaks’ to make it unhealthier (if that’s a word).

 T.G.I.Friday’s Potato Skins

Source: More Super Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur

Makes 4 appetizer servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium russet potatoes
  • canola nonstick cooking spray (I think I used spray and a bit of oil on the pan)
  • 1 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese ( I used the full on fatty kind and it was gooooood!)
  • 8 teaspoons Hormel Real Bacon Pieces (blech… I chopped up a ton of real bacon and fried the bits until crispy)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh snipped chive
  • 1/3 cup sour cream

How to pull it all together:

  • Pre-heat oven to 400°.
  • Bake the potatoes for 1 hour or until tender
  • When they have cooled enough to handle, make two lengthwise cuts through each potato, resulting in 3 1/2″ to 3/4″ pieces (you know, like a potato skin!)
  • Discard middle slices or save for some other dish, this will leave you with 2 potato skins per potato
  • With a spoon, scoop some of the potato out of each skin being sure to leave @ 1/4″ of potato inside the skin.
  • Turn oven up to 450

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Mustard Chicken Wings

Mustard Chicken Wings

Another great recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks! Good Cooking-the New Basics by Jill Dupleix. So far, everything I’ve made from this book has been fantastic!

I made this dish for the opening day of football season. I may not enjoy watching football but I enjoy watching other people enjoy it and enjoy eating my food. Do you sense the “joy” theme?

Mustard chicken wings, the Cracker Barrel Mac n’ Cheese, and Beatty’s Chocolate Cake…. and some beer…. good day for all!  What I loved about this was that they were real chicken wings… with real meat on them… not like a canary wing you get out of the frozen bag! The only thing I would do differently is probably follow the directions better.. or at least pay more attention before starting. I didn’t realize you needed to put them on a rack over the tray… so mine were not as crispy as I like them to be. I did put them under the broiler for a few and it helped.  They had lots of flavor and that was only having marinated them for a couple hours. Next time I’ll do it overnight!

Give them a try… you will like them and you probably have all the ingredients in your fridge now! So scoot!

  

Mustard Chicken Wings

From Good Cooking-the New Basics by Jill Dupleix

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 8 chicken wings
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • sea salt and pepper
  • 2 bunches watercress
  • 1 orange
  • 4 crisp baby radishes
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • ** I did not make the salad so can not comment on it. Items in green are for the salad.

How to pull it all together:

  • Trim the chicken wings and pat dry. Mix the honey, mustard, lemon juice, sea salt, and pepper in a bowl, and toss the wings well until coated. Let marinate 30 minutes.
  • Heat the oven to 400°. Place the wings on a rack set above a foil lined pan (to prevent the drips from burning) and bake until sticky and golden, about 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, trim the watercress, wash, and spin dry.  Peel the orange thickly, removing the white pith, and cut into sections.  Finely slice the radishes. Toss the watercress, orange, and radishes in the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  • Serve the hot wings with the orange and watercress salad.  ** Again, I didn’t make the salad… salad doesn’t really mesh with beer and football you know? :o)

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close up bruschetaKACHOW!!  That is what can be said about this…. take a look at the big tray I made… between 6 people it was gone… very quickly!

So easy to make….and not a bank account killer either… really very reasonable! Which is good because this recipe was chosen as the first Barefoot on a Budget Challenge.  I made a ton of it and although I didn’t save the receipts (I’m bad I know!) it fed a lot of people for not a lot of $$.  This was the appetizer we did for our Memorial Day BBQ. It was so good… try it!

pepper bruscheta

 

Bruschetta with Sauteed Sweet Peppers and Creamy Gorgonzola

Source: Ina Garten

Serves: Makes 18 rounds

Ingredients 

  • Good olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • 2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Baguette
  • 3 ounces creamy Gorgonzola or other blue cheese, at room temperature

How to pull it all together:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the peppers and cook until soft, about 12 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the sugar and continue cooking for 2 more minutes. Stir in the capers and basil, and season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Set aside. (I added some additional Italian Seasoning as I had a bit left that I wanted to get rid of)
  • Slice the baguette crosswise into 18 thin round slices. Brush the bread rounds lightly with olive oil on 1 side. Arrange them in rows, oil side up, on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and toast in the oven until lightly browned, about 7 to 10 minutes.
  • Top each toast round with a teaspoonful of the pepper mixture. Place 2 small pieces of Gorgonzola on top.
  • Return the toast to the oven for 1 to 2 minutes and warm through. Serve immediately.

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goats-cheese-tartHave you ever done something and been really, truely impressed with yourself?  That is how these tarts will make you feel!  They are so unbelievably easy to make, yet look like they were so involved that Julia Child would have struggled!
Anyway, this was a March selection for Barefoot Bloggers, chosen by Anne of Anne Strawberry

This is part of the line up I made for our last weekend in the U.K.  We had our friends down for the weekend from London and this was our starter.  Good thing they arrived early as we had  a rich, heavy menu and it was important to spread the food out so as not to pop by dinnertime!  Although the finished product looks so impressive and difficult to make, it couldn’t have been easier.  Give a woop woop for frozen puff pastry! WOOP WOOP!  Yup… that is the secret.  Frozen puff pastry… roll it out… put a bowl on it to make the circle…. run a butter knife lightly to make the border… prick it with a fork.. fill it with stuff… bake it… voila! Done!  Pat yourself on the back!

Here is the recipe:

Tomato & Goat Cheese Tarts

Source: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

Serves: 4 individual tarts

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
  • Good olive oil
  • 4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler
  • 4 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese (recommended: Montrachet) ( I used fresh goat cheese from the Broadstone Farmer’s Market and seasoned myself)
  • 1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices ( I used a few grape tomatoes on each as the big tomatoes were nasty looking in the store)
  • 3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves

How to pull it all together:

  • Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 11 by 11-inch square. Using a 6-inch wide saucer or other round object as a guide, cut 2 circles from the sheet of puff pastry, discarding the scraps. Repeat with the second pastry sheet to make 4 circles in all. Place the pastry circles on 2 sheet pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.
  • Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry circle. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border.
  • Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle, again staying within the scored edge. Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. The bottom sheet pan may need an extra few minutes in the oven. Serve hot or warm.raw-pastryuncooked-tartonion-filling

 

 

 

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