Cowboy Beans

Inspired by Rick Bayless’s Mexican Everyday, these beans are my take on a beloved Mexican restaurant side. These beans were for the older boys first dinner home from school for the summer. Along with Chipotle Skirt Steak Tacos, Mexican rice and Creamy Guacamole Sauce, big servings of Mexican comfort food were devoured at dinner. Smoky, a bit spicy, Cowboy Beans are sure to become a favorite with your family.


Cowboy Beans
Author: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Use this classic Mexican bean side to inspire all sorts of flavor combinations. You could add pickled jalapenos, roasted red peppers, or change things up and make a black bean version. Fresh cilantro would be delicious in either a pinto or black bean version. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 4 slices of Bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces (preferably thick-sliced)
  • 2 tsp Minced garlic
  • 1 (15 oz can) Tomatoes, fire-roasted, drained (use regular tomatoes for less kick)
  • 2 (15 oz cans) Pinto beans (do not drain or rinse)
  • Salt to taste (I love salt and did not find this dish to need any additional salt)
Instructions
  1. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat, add the bacon and cook until bacon is crisp, about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate.
  3. Add the garlic and sauteed for 1-2 minutes, until lightly browned.
  4. Add tomatoes and beans with their liquid and stir to combine.
  5. Simmer over low heat, allowing the flavors to meld, for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in the bacon.
  7. Beans can be made up to 2 days ahead of time. Reheat in the microwave or over low-heat on the stovetop.

 

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Jasmine Rice

Rice is a dinnertime staple in our house. I serve it with all types of meals, but especially with Asian dinners, so Jasmine is the rice I make over and over again. The secret here is the cooking technique. I bake my rice which means hands-off cooking and even more important, it cooks consistently. Perfect, fluffy rice every time!


Jasmine Rice
Author: 
Serves: 8-10
 
Why is this rice so good? The secret to baking the rice is the consistent temp - unlike the stovetop where you can never achieve the same result. Make sure you have boiling water and chicken broth (by the way, the combination of the two makes the rice so much tastier). The boiling liquid to kick start the cooking process. Did you know that rice freezes really well? So, yes this recipe makes a lot, but I toss half of the cooked rice in a Ziploc bag and throw it in the freezer. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 3 cups Jasmine rice
  • 2¼ cups Chicken Stock
  • 2¼ cups Water
  • 4 tbsp Canola oil
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375:
  2. Prepare the rice: Measure rice in a casserole dish.
  3. Make the broth: Pour the chicken broth, water, canola oil, kosher salt, and garlic powder in a small stockpot. Heat on high until boiling. You can also do this step in the microwave! Immediately remove from heat and pour into the casserole dish. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Put it in the oven: Cover tightly with foil and put into the oven. Cook for 50 minutes. Remove from oven, pull back the foil. Two results can happen now - one, if the liquid has been completely absorbed, fluff with a fork and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Two - if there is any liquid left in the pan, then re-cover and put back in the oven for an additional 5 minutes. Then remove, fluff with a fork and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Notes
I always use a aluminum pan when cooking rice. Why? It just conducts heat better than a Pyrex dish and the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
You can use a glass baking dish, just be sure to spray the dish with canola spray before starting the recipe.

 

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Oven-Baked French Fries

We are a household of potato lovers, led and encouraged by yours truly. Roasted redskin potatoes are a dinner staple in our house, but sometimes you need to change it up a bit, so instead of our usual redskin cubes, I made russet fries. A big dinner hit! They crisped up great and sometimes all you need is a little change to mix up your dinner rotation.

I made a double batch and they kept great in the fridge for leftovers a few nights later
Shown here with my Blue Cheese Dip, since I had to photograph them I made a little snack…

Oven-Baked French Fries
Author: 
Serves: 4-6
 
These potatoes were gobbled up by the kids. But you can fancy them up a bit for grown-ups. Try sprinkling them with some grated Parmesan and fresh minced flat-leaf parsley. If you are doubling this recipe to feed a crowd, you could make one tray with simple potatoes for the kids and another for the grown-ups. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs. Russet potatoes, sliced into ½ inch thick fries
  • ¼ cup Olive oil
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 and spray a sheet pan with canola spray (or line with parchment paper for easier clean-up).
  2. In a medium bowl toss potatoes with olive oil, Kosher salt and garlic powder.
  3. Transfer potatoes to the prepared sheet pan. Make sure each potato slice has contact with the baking sheet (it helps with the crisping).
  4. Cook for 30 minutes, then toss with a spatula before increasing the temperature to 425 for an additional 10 - 15 minutes, until golden brown.
Notes
If you decide to double the recipe then you will need two sheet pans. Don't forget to rotate the pans in the oven to ensure even cooking.

 

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Smashed Redskin Potato Casserole

I love potatoes…they are my carb obsession. Potatoes + butter + sour cream = heaven. This potato casserole is so good, and perfect for a get-together with friends and family because it re-heats beautifully.


Smashed Redskin Potato Casserole
Author: 
Serves: 8-10
 
This is a traditional smashed potato casserole. Make it your own by adding the spices and seasonings that your family loves. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 3 lb. Redskin potatoes, scrubbed
  • 1 stick Butter, unsalted, softened
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp Garlic powder
  • ¾ cup Milk, 2% or whole, warmed
  • 1 cup Sour cream
Instructions
  1. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with warm water. Bring to a boil, and maintaining a gentle boil, cook for 20 - 30 minutes, or until cooked through. You can check them by piercing with a fork or skewer.
  2. Drain in a colander and return to the pot and heat over low heat for a few minutes to dry off the potatoes.
  3. Add the butter, Kosher salt and garlic powder to the pot and mash with the potatoes until well combined.
  4. Mix in the milk and sour cream. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 day. You can rewarm, covered in a 300 degree oven until warmed through. This is very forgiving, I have heated as quickly as 30 minutes, or forgotten about it and served it after an hour - and it's great both ways.

 

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Old Bay Potatoes

How I LOVE potatoes! They are just my favorite food (and of course a carb downfall), but you only live once and everything is good in moderation. I am always working on new potato recipes and of course anything with potatoes, cheese, bacon and butter is going to be a winner, including this spicy potato casserole that’s perfect for an afternoon of football. It’s an ideal year-round side for pulled pork, brisket, ribs and burgers on the grill.


Old Bay Potatoes
Author: 
Serves: 10-12
 
Just like a mashed potato casserole with some kick to it! There is a good bit of butter here, but consider this a special treat...definitely not an everyday dish! Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 1 package Crab boil mix (I like Old Bay or Zatarain)
  • 3 lbs Red skin potatoes, skin on, cut into ½ inch slices
  • 1 (16 oz) Bacon, thick sliced
  • 1 Red onion, medium, diced
  • 2 Tbsp Minced garlic
  • 1 stick Butter, unsalted, room temperature
  • 12 oz Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 cup Sour cream
  • 2 Scallions, minced green parts only (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Fill a 5-6 quart pot about ⅔ full of water. Add boil seasoning mix and stir to combine. Add potato slices and bring water to a boil. Cook the potatoes until fork tender, 20 - 25 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, place bacon in a large skillet and cook until crispy, 10 - 15 minutes. Remove bacon to paper towels to drain, leave bacon grease in the skillet. Once bacon is cooled, crumble into small bits.
  4. Add red onions to the skillet and cook until almost caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes longer.
  5. Drain potatoes in a large colander and set aside. Do not rinse!
  6. In a large bowl place the butter, red onions and garlic, ½ of the crumbled bacon, ⅔ of the cheddar cheese, the Kosher salt and the sour cream. Mix thoroughly until well combined. Carefully fold in the potatoes and gently stir to combine.
  7. Place potato mixture in a oven-safe casserole dish and top with remaining cheddar cheese and bacon. Add scallions if using.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes, or until heated through. Serve immediately.
Notes
I always like to have do-ahead dishes for entertaining, but because of the sour cream in the dish, you can’t really re-warm in the oven. However, there are several make-ahead components.
The potatoes and crab boil mix can be prepared, drained and placed in Ziplock or Tupperware overnight in the fridge. The same goes for the bacon and the red onion / garlic mixture.
Before assembling the dish, warm both the potatoes and red onion / garlic mixture in the microwave.

 

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Pan-Fried Potatoes

Jeff always finds it funny that for someone who really tries to watch her carbs, I am obsessed with potatoes. I just love them – baked, roasted, mashed, stuffed…you name it, I want it. I have been making my roasted potatoes for years, they’re probably one of my top 5 most beloved recipes of all time. The challenge I’ve found this summer, is that while I am lucky enough to have 2 ovens, the second is one of those half ovens, not particularly helpful when cooking for a crowd. I just don’t always have the oven space to devote to a tray of potatoes – which meant I needed to develop a stove top recipe. I am thrilled with how these potatoes turned out – delicious and so easy. Perfect for a quick weeknight dinner…or in my world they’re perfect anytime.

Pan-Fried Potatoes

Pan-Fried Potatoes
Author: 
Serves: 6-8
 
It's super important to not crowd your potatoes, so if you don't possess a mammoth 14 inch skillet like the one pictured here, then you have two choices. Either make the potatoes in two batches or halve the recipe. I know it's tough to do, but try to resist the urge to move the potatoes or flip them - you want to develop that delicious crust. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs Potatoes, unpeeled and cut into a 1-1½ inch dice (I used redskin)
  • ¼ cup Olive oil
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. You need a 14 inch skillet to hold all of these potatoes.
  2. Add potatoes to the skillet, making sure they are in one layer with each potato piece in contact with the skillet (that's how you get the crispy side) and sprinkle with Kosher salt and garlic powder.
  3. Cook, without moving for 8-10 minutes, or until the potatoes have a nice crispy crust on the bottom.
  4. Flip potatoes over and continue to cook without moving for an additional 5-6 minutes.
  5. At this point, you can adjust the heat down to low if you think the potatoes are getting too brown. You can start moving them around the pan, until they are browned on most sides. This will take approximately another 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and serve.

 

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Hasselback Potatoes

In our house, I have made my roasted potatoes twice a week for years – and I sometimes get a little tired of them. So, when I saw a recipe for Hasselback Potatoes, I was SO excited. The same flavor and texture as my roasted potatoes, but they look fancy? Yes please! These do take a little more work, not the the mindless chopping of roasted potatoes, you do have to pay attention while slicing, but it’s totally worth it. By the way, the kids, all of them, loved these potatoes!!!

How these beauties look when they come out of the oven...potato perfection!
How these beauties look when they come out of the oven…potato perfection!

Hasselback Potatoes
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
I cannot say enough about making these for your family, we make potatoes A LOT in our house and it's so nice to have another way to make them. These are definitely do-able for a weeknight dinner, but you need to allow a few extra minutes to carefully slice them. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 1½ cup Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt
  • ½ tbsp Garlic powder
  • 6 Russet or Redskin potatoes, medium sized
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Stir together olive oil, Kosher salt and garlic powder in a small bowl.
  3. Place a potato between the handles of 2 wooden spoons. Slice the potato into thin slices, leaving ¼ inch at the bottom unsliced; the spoon handles will prevent you from slicing the potato all the way through. When you are finished slicing each potato the slices will fan out slightly. Repeat with each potato. (You could also use wooden chopsticks or skewers)
  4. Place the potatoes on the prepared baking sheet and brush with the olive oil mixture, making sure to get in between each slice. Bake for about 1 hour, until crisp and golden brown.
Notes
Fresh herbs would work beautifully here, I did not include them in mine because I was trying to make something everyone would eat - including my picky eaters - and they did! If you want to include herbs - I would recommend adding 1-2 tablespoons - thyme, oregano, rosemary or any combination would be delicious.

 

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Mac n Cheese

You will never find a lot of recipes with butter on my site, I personally LOVE butter, but most of my cooking leans towards a cleaner and healthier style. That said, I also believe that when you are going to indulge don’t waste fat or calories on anything but the best. This mac n cheese is amazing – enjoy every buttery, cheesy bite!

Mac n Cheese

Mac n Cheese
Author: 
Serves: 10-12
 
This is a home run side to serve to kids. It is close enough to the yellow box version to feel familiar...no strange or fancy ingredients in this mac n cheese! Try the mac n cheese with my barbecue chicken, it's a great family meal! Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 1 (16 oz) pkge Elbow macaroni, cooked according to the package directions
  • 1 cup Butter
  • 2 (8 oz) pkges Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 Eggs, large, lightly beaten
  • 1 (12 oz) cans Evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl combine the cooked macaroni (must be hot), butter and 1 (8 oz) package of cheese plus ½ of the second (8 oz) package of cheese. Stir thoroughly to combine and pour into the prepared baking dish.
  3. In a medium bowl lightly beat the eggs, then add evaporated milk and Kosher salt. Stir to combine. Pour into the baking dish and carefully press down with a spoon on the macaroni to make sure all of it is covered by the egg mixture.
  4. Sprinkle last ½ of the (8 oz) package of cheese on top of the baking dish.
  5. Spray a piece of aluminum foil with non-stick cooking spray and tightly cover the baking dish.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes covered, then remove aluminum foil and continue baking for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven when the cheese is slightly browned.
  7. Let rest for 5-10 minutes and serve.

 

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Springtime Risotto

Years ago I discovered the most amazing fact – risotto is so much easier to make when you start it on the stovetop and move it to the oven. I first tried the technique in one of my favorite “winter” cookbooks, Martha Stewart’s Favorite Comfort Foods. I loved the results so much, that any time I make risotto, whatever time of year, I always start use the oven technique and then adapt my flavors and ingredients to the season.

Springtime Risotto

Springtime Risotto
Author: 
Serves: 8
 
This really is a true foundation recipe. Get comfortable with the technique and then make this recipe your own – herb combinations, different vegetables, cheese choice – this dish can go in so many directions and be so great! I always find I want risotto leftovers – it makes a great breakfast or lunch too. I recently made this for Jeff and me to go with grilled lobster tails and grilled asparagus. I still made this much and enjoyed amazing lunches with leftover risotto and grilled veggies for a few days. If you don’t want this much just halve the recipe. Happy Cooking!
Ingredients
  • 4 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 Red onion, minced (I throw mine in the food processor)
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup White wine (see note)
  • 4 cups Chicken stock, low-sodium
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup Butter, unsalted
  • ½ - 1 head Spinach
  • 2 tbsp Fresh herbs, any combination or just one (I used thyme and chives, but use your imagination)
  • 1 Lemon zested and juiced
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. In a Dutch oven, heat canola oil over medium heat, add onion and cook, stirring until the onion is softened, 5-8 minutes.
  3. Add rice and stir until coated with oil, 2 additional minutes.
  4. Add wine and cook, stirring often until most of the wine is absorbed, 3-5 minutes.
  5. Add chicken stock and kosher salt, stir to combine, cover pot and transfer to the oven. Bake for 25 minutes. Make sure all of the chicken stock is absorbed and the rice is tender if not return to the oven 5-10 additional minutes (check pot after 5 minutes).
  6. Carefully remove from the oven and add spinach, fresh herbs, lemon zest and juice, butter and cheese. Stir to combine. Put top back on the pot and let the pot rest for 5 minutes while the butter and cheese melt and the flavors meld. Enjoy!
Notes
When cooking with wine, do not use those awful cooking wines they sell in the grocery store! They are full of additives and don’t resemble wine in the slightest. If you don’t have leftover wine sitting around, use this trick of mine. Buy the 4 packs of sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio and use those for cooking. Each mini-bottle in the ones I buy is 1 cup, so I don’t even need to measure them out. And they stay fresh until you need them. Just don’t buy chardonnay – the oak notes in some chardonnays would not work in this recipe.

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Roasted Potatoes

How do you make terrific roast potatoes? The secret is in the two different temperatures! This recipe will become a family favorite – they go with everything and kids love them! I am not exaggerating to I say that I make these twice a week – all the kids request them and they work, whatever time of year. In the winter roasted potatoes are my go-to starch with roast chicken, meatloaf, all types of yummy comfort food. In the summer I change it up to burgers, grilled chicken…you name it, roasted potatoes are on the table at my house!

Roasted Potatoes

Roasted Potatoes
Author: 
Serves: 6-8
 
The high temp crisps the potatoes and then the lower temp cooks them through. Once you are comfortable with this technique you can experiment with lots of different seasonings - and make this your own special signature side. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 2 ½ pounds red skin or yukon gold potatoes (about ½ of a 5 lb bag)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  2. Cut the potatoes into pieces that should be about 1 - 1½ inch in size.
  3. Toss with olive oil, garlic powder, Kosher salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Place on a baking sheet, making sure the cut-side of the potato is on the baking sheet. (this makes sure you get that crispy crust)
  5. Roast at 425 for 30 minutes.
  6. Reduce temperature to 375 degrees and continue to cook for 30 minutes.
  7. Potatoes are finished cooking when the cut side of the potato is golden brown.
  8. Remove tray from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes.

 

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