Southwest Potatoes with Bacon and Bell Pepper

Southwest PotatoesHowdy gang! Summer is in full swing this week in my part of Texas.  It’s been hot, hot, hot!  In the absence of rain this week we were able to use our beloved grill!  Sunday night the hubs grilled up some blackened chicken and I whipped up a new recipe for semi-homemade southwest potatoes!  There are a few tex mex joints around town that serve a similar side dish.  The dish is simple and has bacon, bell peppers, and other spices.  I wanted to replicate this without doing a ton of work.  I combined some fresh ingredients with one of the emergency instant mashed potato pouches that I had in the pantry!  I try to only use those when I’m strapped for time.  Oh my!  It was delicious!!!  It tasted better than the at the restaurant!

Here’s the recipe:  😀

Southwest Potatoes with Bacon and Bell Pepper

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: EASY
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Ingredients:

  • 3 slices of Thick Cut Peppered Bacon, chopped
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup Yellow Onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup Sharp Cheddar, grated (optional)
  • 1 Packet of Idaho Instant Red Potatoes
  • 2 cups of Water (for the potatoes)

Directions:

  • Cook the bacon, bell pepper, and onion in a skillet in a medium skillet until bacon is fully done.
  • Pour 2 cups of water in the skillet and increase heat to high until water begins to boil.
  • Stir instant potatoes into the boiling water/bacon and remove from heat.
  • Sprinkle cheese over potatoes and cover with a lid.
  • Let sit for 5 minutes.  Serve!

http://www.redbirdrecipes.com

Homemade Butter

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This recipe for homemade butter is a great place to start your journey to making stuff from scratch!  I learned how to do this in the 2nd grade!  If you have some heavy whipping cream and a mason jar, then you can make your own fresh butter!  You can also use a food processor instead of a mason jar to save your arm muscles!

Ingredients:

– 1 cup of Heavy Whipping Cream (VERY COLD)

– 1/2 teaspoon of Salt

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Directions:

Pour the cold cream into the mason jar and add the salt.

Seal the jar tightly with the lid.

Shake continuously, alternating between both hands for 15 minutes.   Or use a food processor!

First you will hear a sloshing sound as you shake.

Next you will hear very little, as the cream has turned to a paste like consistency.  The paste is not butter, so keep shaking.

Finally as you shake, the fat and liquid will separate fairly quickly.  You should hear a thud as you shake, this is a hunk of butter.

So if you have a ball of yellow butter sitting in a milky liquid, you my friend have made butter!

Pour the liquid out and shape the butter to you liking!  You can put it in silicon molds or just place on a dish and set in the fridge to fully solidify!

I think we can all agree that fresh is always the best way to go in the kitchen.  Too often I have people tell me that they “don’t have time” to make stuff from scratch or they think it might be too hard.  Now I will agree some of the things I have been learning to make have taken me over the river and through the woods to arrive at a finished product, but each time I do it, I get faster and faster.  I completely understand feeling too busy to even get normal house chores done, let alone a 3 hour kitchen experiment!  The thing is, you can have time.  Maybe you can’t have as much time as me or those around you, but you can make time.  Not all fresh, made from scratch recipes are going to take hours to complete.  Some are actually quite simple and it might only involve reading a small paragraph!  If there is something you have always wanted to learn in the kitchen, research it.

Take a few minutes each day for a week just to scan/read about the recipe or technique you are interested in learning, or even print info out and keep it with you so that you can research it when you have a spare moment.  Very rarely do I just look something up and go complete it the same day.  I like to read a few different takes on a technique or recipe, maybe even watch a quick video.  Through this research process I am able to figure out just how much time it’s going to take me and then plan for a day to do it.  I’ve waited 2 weeks before trying a recipe or technique I’ve been researching!

Researching prepares you to move faster in the kitchen and to have a stronger understanding of the directions.  Researching helps you understand WHY you are doing certain things within a recipe or technique.  Knowing the whys can make all the difference.  For example, one of my repeated mistakes as a young teenager was not understanding softened butter.  Messing up this step in the cookie making process caused me to be discouraged and caused me to stop trying to make cookies for a long time.  I didn’t know that it was the butter that was messing up my cookies until I started researching about cookies and discovered a helpful chart that explained the perfect softness of butter and how to tell.

Researching helps your first attempts to have higher success rates.

You have got to start somewhere!  I encourage those people that “have no time” to try 1 new thing in the kitchen each month, just 1!  You’ll be surprised how fast your experience will start to build as the year goes by!  Why not start with this 15 minute butter making tutorial? 🙂

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Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Potato Casserole

IMG_1116Do I have any potato lovers out there?  As we say down in the south, “bless your heart” if you are not a lover of the potato.

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Potatoes

Today I want to share one of my new recipes with y’all that is sure to send your taste buds into a tizzy!  Potatoes are one of the finest comfort foods in my opinion.  There are so many varieties and so many different ways to cook and flavor them!  Potatoes are one of those blank canvas foods.  Anyways, with this recipe I chose to paint my potato canvas with cream cheese, roasted red peppers, Parmesan cheese, and butter.  The molten cream cheese mixed with the Parmesan dance with the roasted red peppers in a delicious waltz of flavor!  I highly recommend this dish for family gatherings and holiday dinners!  It is a nice change from the cheddar and bacon flavored casseroles out there.  Try it out!

Ingredients:

-5-6 red potatoes, partially peeled, thinly sliced

-dash of black pepper

-1 clove of garlic, minced

-2 tbsp butterRoastedRedPeppers

-3 tbsp of jarred roasted red pepper strips

-3 tbsp fresh scallions, chopped

-8 oz package of Cream Cheese

-1/2 cup milk

-1/2 cup Parmesan, grated

Toppings:

-1/4 cup Parmesan, grated

-1 tbsp fresh scallions, chopped

Creamy

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375°.IMG_1104

Grease a square casserole dish.

Roughly peel the potatoes leaving some of the skin intact.  Carefully slice potatoes into thin 1/8 inch slices.  Sprinkle a dash of back pepper on the potatoes and set aside.

In a skillet, melt the butter with the garlic on medium heat.

Cut the cream cheese into 4 quarters.

After the butter has melted, add the cream cheese and milk.  Carefully stir and combine the mixture together until it is a creamy mixture.  Extra milk can be added if it is too thick.IMG_1111

Stir in the Parmesan, scallions, and red peppers.

Add the potatoes and stir until they are evenly coated with the cream cheese mixture.

Pour the potato mixture immediately into the greased casserole dish.

Top with the Parmesan and scallions.IMG_1112

Bake in the oven uncovered for 30 minutes, then cover with foil and continue cooking for another 15 minutes.  Total cook time is between 45-55 minutes.

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Here I served the casserole alongside a Grilled Lemon Pepper Salmon Filet.

Tex Mex Creamed Corn

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My hubby claims he does NOT like corn.  However, he has no problem whatsoever shoveling in the majority of this dish in one sitting.  I personally love corn, it takes very little effort to bring out the natural sweetness of this crispy fruit.  Frustrated with my husband’s distaste for this wonderful yellow delight, I threw together my own quick version of creamed corn with a touch of heat.  It was a success and has become a frequently requested side dish in my kitchen.  It’s a very basic recipe that can be thrown together in a hurry without tasting like it was thrown together.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

-2   8 oz cans of sweet golden corn

-1/2 diced small yellow onion

-1/2 diced red bell pepper (green will work but red is sweeter and marries well with the sweetness of the corn)

-1 clove garlic

-4 slices of can or jarred jalapenos, chopped (yes that’s right 4 slices, NOT 4 whole jalapenos)

-5 tbs of unsalted butter, margarine, or Country Crock Light Vegetable Spread

-salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

In a pot sauté the onion with the butter on medium heat.

In a food processor, puree 1 can of corn, garlic, red bell pepper, and jalapenos.

Stir in the pureed mixture to the onions and add the other can of corn.

Place lid on the pot and simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes or until corn is tender.

Salt and pepper to taste.  (I find it perfectly wonderful without salt)

 

Notes*  This is one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day because the flavors are more blended.  Also if you want the traditional tastes of creamed corn just omit the bell pepper and jalapenos! 🙂

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