Bacon Wrapped Cheddar Smokies Omelet!

When cruising through the aisles looking for some good food to cook up, I saw a lil something I have not had in a long time. Lil Smokies! Lil Smokies are also referred to as cocktail wienees and are essentially, tiny hotdog links. But what caught my eye was the fact that these wienee were cheddar stuffed! So I decided to pick up the bag and make them for dinner along with some other finger foods to make a nice little buffet of finger foods. I was going to do all this.. Until I got sidetracked with some other meal opportunities. Now,  almost a week later, I remembered that I still had those little smokies sitting in my fridge! So I ravaged the rest of my fridge and pantry to put together a motley dish of easy items.

After scavenging, I came up on an onion, some bacon, eggs, a few taquitos and of course, my wienees. The only suitable option I could think of at the time was to wrap the lil smokies up in bacon, saute up the onions, then throw it all together in an omelet and mix up with a few taquitos on the side! 

The first thing I did was cut my bacon strips in half, then I began to wrap the smokies up in the bacon. I then set my oven to 400 degrees and sprayed a baking sheet with a light layer of pam. After, I evenly spaced the wrapped up smokies on the pan and placed in the oven. After roughly 10 minutes they will need to be flipped to ensure the bacon is fully cooked. In the mean time while those are cooking,

I had the luxury of finding some minced garlic in the fridge so I started sauteing my onions by throwing a teaspoon of butter and half a teaspoon of minced garlic onto a pan. While that warmed up on a low heat I diced up about half of my onion. When done, turn up the heat to medium and throw the diced onions in with the melted garlic butter. Allow those to saute for about 6-8 minutes depending.

Once my smokies were done baking and the bacon on the outside was fully cooked, I cut them into smaller halves and thirds so that they would be easy to eat in the omelet. Throw the wrapped smokies and onions into your pan and crack 3 eggs into it. Scramble all of it up and allow to sit and cook for a couple of minutes. This lets the egg firm up and bind all of the ingredients together. Once the egg has been browned up on one side flip and allow to brown on the other side. While this was happening, I put my taquitos in the oven at 400 degrees to crisp up for about 7 minutes.

When it’s all said and done, throw some salsa and sour cream on it and enjoy! I saved a few wrapped smokies to enjoy bythemselves on the side!

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Quesa-dealios

The tradition of the quesadilla has been passed down for many generations in my family. It was personally handed down to me by my grandmother who learned it from her mother in Mexico. Now I am not claiming them to be the best in the world but they are my personal favorite and have gained the respect from many others who have tried it!

Now, most people believe that the only way to make a quesadilla is with flour tortillas, but not I! My family recipe prefers using corn tortillas, oOoOhh! And although the smaller size of the tortilla means a smaller quesadilla, bigger is not always better! The quesadilla is usually a meal to be enjoyed with others, like a lot of appetizers, but going through folding and cutting up the big quesadillas can be a bit of a hassle when making for a large family. And so because quesadillas were usually made as an appetizer or starter course for the whole family, It was more practical to just make a bunch of mini-quesadillas using corn tortillas and stack em up for everyone to grab as they want! This also makes it easy because people tend to like different things with their quesadillas. 

So for my recipe, all you’ll need are some corn tortillas, butter, and your favorite kind of cheese to use! I prefer using a Mexican blend of shredded cheeses or straight mozzarella cheese!

Steps:

*Hint* My personal secret to making the perfectly crispy quesadilla is to properly apply the butter to both tortillas. In order to do this, I drop a scoop of butter and one tortilla and sandwich it together with the other tortilla. Once they are sandwiched I rub them together in a circular motion to evenly spread the butter between both tortillas.

1. Butter the tortillas and set aside.

2. Using medium heat, warm up a skillet or frying pan to use.

3. Once the skillet is slightly warmed up, throw one tortilla in the pan. Sprinkle your cheese on then Cover with the other tortilla.

4. Once the bottom side comes to a nice light, golden brown flip and allow the other side to do the same.

Simple as that! Garnish with your favorite toppings such as salsa, guacamole, or sour cream! Some extremists will put jalapenos in the cheese as it cooks to spice it up a little bit!

Shaking in my boots

Although they have been around for a little while now, the Bisquick Shake ‘n Pour pancake mix in a bottle has recently become one of my breakfast favorites to whip up with that little extra time I have in the mornings. All you need to do is add water to the line on the bottle, then shake it up and it ready to rock, delicious pancake batter! And because I have love having variety in my meals, it is extremely easy to switch some ingredients and make different pancakes every time.

When I went to the store, I just stumbled upon the Bisquick Shake ‘n Pour on the shelves and realized that there were so many options that I could pick up now, that would still be good in my fridge or pantry for a week after. I love all types of pancakes but my top 3 are Blueberry, Chocolate Chip, and Banana Nut. Sooo, I went to the fruit section and got some blueberries and bananas, then went back to the baking aisle and grabbed a bag or Hershey’s Chocolate Chips, an crushed walnuts and finished in the dairy section with some butter and whipped cream! All of these can be kept in the fridge or pantry for at least a week on the fruit and months on the chips and nuts.

Following the instructions on the bottle, you simply mix up the batter and pour it into a buttered pan and brown up on both sides. It is extremely easy to add any of your favorite additions to the batter as soon as you pour it into the pan. I decided to go big and make some of all three at once which was actually extremely easy because everything was ready to go. Simply throw a handful of your ingredients in the batter as it forms on the pan and you’ve got an IHOP inspired breakfast in under 20 minutes!

Spuds and Buds

One of the my favorite, and yet under appreciated meals to eat is the baked potato. Few things can compare to the heartiness that a fully loaded baked potato offers. Also, because of how versatile the potato is, so many different and great flavors can be combined to make it your own unique meal! 

Not only do potatoes have great flavor, but they also have great nutritional value as well! The potato is mostly easily digested carbohydrates and starch which are great sources of energy for the active lifestyle. In addition to the health benefits, potatoes are also cheap filling meals! The prices usually vary from store to store but you can expect to get potatoes for a mere 35-75 cents a pound, which leaves you extra scrill to pick up your favorite toppings to load on top of the potato! Now I’m sure you’re used to wrapping it up with some tin foil before you toss it in the oven which gives you a softer mushy skin and potato. I like to cook it without the foil and smother it with olive or grape seed oil to give it that nice crunchy outer skin with a slightly firmer potato. My usual favorites are warm butter, sour cream, chives, and bacon bits! When feeling crazy I’ll throw in some cilantro and make it a fiesta spud or some chili and ground beef and have the Midwest potato.

The best part of the potato is that it is so easy to make, and so easy to change into a completely different meal every time. The steps are simple:

Steps:

1. With a stiff brush, scrub and wash the potatoes under warm water

2. Using a fork, thoroughly perforate the outer skin of the potato. Then coat the potato with olive oil or for a healthier option use grape seed oil. End by sprinkling coarse grained kosher salt on top.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place the racks in top and bottom thirds.

4. Place potato, or potatoes, directly on the rack in the middle of the oven, then place a baking sheet or foil on the rack below to catch the drippings.

5. Let bake for about an hour or until the skin is nice and crispy and the inside feels soft.

6. When removing be careful because it will be super hot. When serving, perforate a line hotdog style across the potato then squeeze the potato in from he ends and it will pop right open and release some steam.

It’s super easy to throw a few of these in the oven and hang out with your friends for an hour while the potatoes cook. And for those who don’t have an oven or cannot wait long enough for it to bake in the oven, here’s a link for a microwave recipe that works really well too!  http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/microwave-baked-potato/detail.aspx

All you can afford

Once again, I have embarked on an adventurous road trip into the sunny state of California! And during this road trip my food cravings have brought me to one of Riverside’s premier sushi bars, OOKA Sushi!. Now I actually learned about this place on accident, but it was easy to tell from the atmosphere, that the locals would have pointed me in the same direction.

The service was nice, the sushi was great, and the atmosphere was exciting. But.. the prices were what you might say, steep! And unfortunately for me, I forgot that the great state of California does not traditionally feature the “All you can eat,” option at their sushi restaurants. Now a la carte sushi is no cheap meal when you consider that approximately 2 to 3 rolls equals one full meal at around 10-15 dollars per roll! And when you add in some miso soup and some quail egg shooters, you’re looking at a hefty bill.  It was for this reason, that I decided to take my stand against the sushi bars without all you can eat!

The average sushi roll tends to be about 8-10 pieces made with only 2-3 pieces of fish or other seafood per roll. That is not nearly enough to satisfy a whole dinner meal for a hungry college student let alone any hungry individual! I always believed that one of the best aspects of the Japanese cuisine and culture was that they wanted you to eat until you were completely satisfied! When this aspect of the meal is missing, I feel that it actually takes away from the eating experience as a whole! Now I’m not saying that it isn’t possible to enjoy sushi without going all you can eat, but you surely can’t enjoy your full moneys worth unless you go big and eat until you can’t eat any more!

 

Onion Rings and Mozzee Sticks!

While browsing around the web the other day, I encountered a video of chef Carla Hall, on ABC’s “The Chew,” boasting that she had the crunchiest onion rings you could get. After watching the video, I decided to make my own onion rings! But I didn’t stop there. I also decided to use that same recipe to make mozzarella sticks!! Carla led me to a great secret when making batter, which is Instant mashed potatoes. Yea, really, Instant mashed potatoes add a nice flavor and thickens up the batter nicely. I spiced up her recipe a little bit by adding finely crushed Maui Onion Chips and Tangy Buffalo Doritos chips to the breading!

Now when making onion rings you need only a few basic ingredients to make a delicious crunchy batter. I usually like to use Panko bread crumb when making batters because the Panko does a great job of adhering and coating the food. I then like to flavor it up withe the finely crushed chips because they add great crunch, flavor, and texture to the batter. Once you have all the ingredients, the steps of deep frying are fairly easy! All you need to do is to start with dipping in plain flour, then move to the batter, then into the Panko chip combo, then to the fryer! So here goes my recipe for home-made onion rings and mozzarella sticks!

Ingredients needed:

Flour

Cornstarch

Club Soda

Panko bread crumbs

Your favorite kind of potato or tortilla chip

Sliced Onions (sliced into rings) duh

String Cheese

Red Cayenne Pepper

Instant Mashed Potatoes (Secret ingredient)

Vegetable Oil

Steps:

1. Start by whisking together some of the flour, the cornstarch, the instant mashed potatoes, the cayenne pepper, and the club soda. The batter should thicken up just a little  so that it will still make a nice smooth even coat. Then mix up  the Panko and crushed chips to make your breading. Also, start heating up a pot of  vegetable oil to 365 degrees.

2. Now dip your rings into the flour first, then into the batter making sure it is completely coated. After it is coated, dip it fully into the bread crumbs making sure it has a even coat all the way around it!

3. Carefully drop the fully breaded item in the heated oil and allow it to brown up on both sides then using a metal slotted spoon or deep fryer basket spoon remove it.

4. For the mozzee sticks, simply cut the string cheese sticks in half and repeat the same process!

They will be hot out right out of the fryer so set them aside and give them a minute to cool down but the sooner you dig into these crunchy finger foods, the better they are! I enjoy dipping them in ranch, honey mustard, and barbecue sauce!

The Splits

My favorite course of the meal is always, and has always been, dessert! Dessert is the sweet taste of victory after plowing through all the previous courses that stood in your way. Dessert is also my favorite because of the variety and creativity that can be found in the dish. So many delicious foods have great uses in desserts that you can combine odd or different flavors that will compliment each other great.

One of the easiest ways to create new flavors with dessert are to take the classics, and switch out the main ingredients for similar but different items. The ice cream sundae has so many different combinations and flavors that it can practically taste any way you want it! There is the Hot Fudge sundae, the Strawberry sundae, the S’mores sundae, the Turtle sundae, and the list goes on and on but the basics remain the same. Ice Cream, Sauce, and Nuts. The variety of those you can choose and combine make the sundae the perfect dessert for creativity!

Another one of my favorite desserts to switch up is the Banana Split. The banana split is traditionally made with a vanilla ice cream and the 3 sauces of chocolate, strawberry, and pineapple, splitting a banana in half. One of the best ways to make the banana split your own is to switch out the banana itself! Using peaches or apples (or any fruit your want) you can switch up the split to give it a whole new flavor. Another great idea is to switch up the sauces and ice creams with the bananas! My specialty combo is a scoop of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream with marshmallow sauce and whipped cream!

It’s fun to mix up the classic desserts and make new combos that show some creativity and imagination in the most imaginative course of food, the sweets!

Mass Cooking 1: Chicken and Broccoli in a Cream of Mushroom sauce from resident chef Dobes of Evans Mansion

Every once and a while you gotta cook for a lot of people. It SUCKS. And everyone hates taking on the challenge of feeding large groups of people because it usually requires tons of time and labor to make a decent meal.  It also usally involves spending hours in the kitchen while every one else is mingling and partying. It doesn’t always have to go down that way! Today I got the chance to work with the live-in chef of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Mr. Doble, where he shared with me a simple and moderately less time consuming meal to make for a group of 25+ people. The first step involves planning out your dish. Because we are making it for lots, we decided to make a dish that can be made in bulk, so that we can fully prepare and cook it within a reasonable time.
One of Dobes’ favorite dishes to make that can easily be adapted to feed a large group is a Chicken and Broccoli in a Creamy Mushroom Sauce dish. The ingredients that who will need include:

Approximately 1 Chicken Breast per person
Fresh Chopped Broccoli
Canned Cream of Mushroom sauce
White Rice
Garlic
Butter
Step 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using the large pan you will cook it all in, place enough butter on it to coat the whole bottom then allow it to melt in the oven as it is preheating.
Step 2. Place chicken breasts on pan and fully coat with melted butter, then allow to cook in the oven for 30 minutes.
Step 3. In a pot, bring the cream of mushroom sauce up to a boil. While this is cooking add desired amount of minced garlic and salt and pepper. (To Taste)
Step 4. In a separate pot, add rice and water and bring up to a boil allowing the rice to fully cook. Again add salt to taste.
Step 5. Once the chicken breasts are done cooking, remove pan and place the chicken aside. Then empty the pan of all the fat and dripping from the chicken. Place chicken breasts back in pan and add the cooked broccoli.
Step 6. Once the cream of mushroom has been heated up, simply drizzle and spread it on the chicken and broccoli combo.
This dish is very simple and takes less than an 45 mins to make if you have the space in the oven. This dish by itself is a delicious and somewhat healthier meal that you can make after a long day. The beauty of it though, is that it can easily be prepared for large masses of people! Try it out by your self and keep it in mind next party, event, or pow wow you need to cater for!

No Right way to do it

When it comes to making great food, there’s never a “right” way it has to be done! Some people may argue that there is always a right way to do something, but in my eyes, cooking is not one of them! Cooking is about exploring tastes and making meals that satisfy your hunger! It doesn’t really matter how you get it done, as long as it ends up the way you want it!

I like to use some unconventional techniques and items when I’m in the kitchen (mostly because I have a fake kitchen with super old school appliances and such) but I find that to be more creative, and sometimes I think it contributes to how well the food tastes. I think that the best meals, don’t only come from a 5 star restaurants. They come from the heart. When you actually show care in what you are cooking it can be tasted in the meal. Your mother always makes the best home cooked meals, because she is making them with love. My mother cooks for the family, and she knows that she is the one bringing everyone together, so I can see it clearly that she wants to make everyone happy and that can only come from the heart.

So I say do whatever you want in the kitchen! Get creative and mix up your dishes and try weird combinations without fear! No matter how crazy it may seem, if you are motivated the right ways in the kitchen, most likely you will be able to make some delicious tasting foods you didn’t even think possible!

Grilled Chazee’s

The simple grilled cheese sandwich has been around for decades and continues to live on as one of those nostalgic pastime foods for many generations. It has even grown into its own industry in varying parts of the world. In America alone there are  hundreds of grilled cheese restaurants and food trucks that specialize in only grilled cheese sandwiches. And because of the simplicity of ingredients, the grilled cheese has great potential for customization.  By simply changing up the breads and cheeses used in the sandwich you can create completely different and unique tastes.

One of my favorite ingredients to throw in a grilled cheese sandwich is fresh sliced roast beef. Getting some packaged roast beef from the grocery store and some Kraft singles make for a bomb lunch time sandwich.

Ingredients:

2 Slices of your preferred bread. I usually go with some old fashioned white.

2 Slices of Kraft Singles American cheese. If you have more expensive tastes you can go big with some Pepperjack or Sharp Chedder.

2 Slices of Deli Roast Beef. The easiest option is to pick up the nice prepackaged bags at a grocery store.

1 tsp of Butter or Butter-like spread

Steps:

1. Butter one side of  each slice of bread

2. Layer your sandwich with a slice of cheese, then both slices of roast beef, and then  lastly the the second slice of cheese.

2. On a low-medium heat, fry up the sandwich using a pan.

3. Once the bottom starts to get a nice golden brown color, flip the sandwich and golden up the other side.

4. After both sides have crisped up and the cheese has fully melted inside the sandwich take out of the pan and put on a plate.

5. Cut the sandwich in half diagonally (because that’s how real connoisseurs do it) then enjoy the sandwich, that’s all there is to it.

It’s a quick easy sandwich and no matter how many times you make it you can find a new way to enjoy it. I take whatever ingredients I got left over in the fridge and throw them in there sometimes when I’m really desperate, but hey, it makes it new every time. And remember, the classic grilled chazee is always a suitable sandwich if you don’t have anything to spice it up.