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Lovely Roasted Potatoes

I love, love, love roasted vegetables from a pan.

And my husband is such a good sport.  I know he loves them, too.  Without fail, when there’s extras on the pan after we’ve all eaten some, I ask, “Would you like some?” He always replies, “I know how you love them, so you can eat them.” Y’all, that’s L-O-V-E.

In fact, the very first recipe I ever wrote was roasted carrots here.  And I wrote it out because I made it regularly, served to people, and they all said… UMMM HOW DID YOU DO THIS MARVELOUSNESS? (I know, not a word.)  So the truth is that the concept, overall, works for all root vegetables.

Lovely Roasted Potatoes - Foodies Gone Real

Come winter… we eat roasted carrots and THESE roasted potatoes at least once a week. Sometimes more often. Reasons are as follows, in order of importance:

  1. They’re freakin’ awesome
  2. They are SO EASY
  3. They are so cheap
  4. You can multitask (work on other dishes) if you please

And it bears repeating… they’re freakin’ awesome.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 small chopped hardy potatoes – think red, fingerling, yellow – NOT mashing kind (no russets!)
  • 3tbl+ Olive Oil
  • Dried herb of choice – 2tsp+
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste (my favorite part of the process, anyway!)

*NOTE: If you’re going to opt to use fresh herbs – which is an excellent choice! – I recommend reading the roasted carrot recipe here for measurements. It converts nicely to the roasted potatoes just fine.

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 425*.

After your potatoes are washed and chopped, drizzle your 3 tablespoons of olive oil over your pan.

Dump your potatoes on the pan, and swirl, stir, etc… goal is to get them semi coated. If your potatoes aren’t all coated, add a little more oil.

A good dose of salt, pepper, and your herbs.  When you pull these out to test for doneness, you are also going to test for seasoning – hence the “2tsp+”.  Start with two teaspoons, and if you feel it needs more later, knock yourself out.  Our family’s favorite herb/spice for this is dried thyme. LOVE it.  Pictured here, though, I am using a combination of rosemary and thyme.

Stir/swirl again to coat all the potatoes with the spices/seasonings.

Lovely Roasted Potatoes

You’ll see here I’m baking them along with the Simple Mustard Chicken.  These two dishes go very well together!

Lovely Roasted Potatoes - Foodies Gone Real

Cook the potatoes for a total of 20 minutes, testing at about 15 minutes.  At the 15 minute mark, you’re going to use a spatula to turn/stir so the bottoms of the potatoes don’t over-brown. (Not that I mind the browning. Frankly, I love it.)  This is when you test the seasoning level.  If you bite into a potato and it’s crunchy… likely going to need more than another 5 minutes.  If it’s firm, or almost done, another five will help it evenly brown.

I don’t like to hold to specific times on recipes… it’s misleading for the following reasons:

  1. Gas and electric stoves heat differently
  2. Even different gas stoves heat differently
  3. The type of pan you’re using affects this. For example, a dark metal is likely going to brown it faster, stoneware (think pizza stone) might take longer, especially if not yet well-seasoned

So… you’re going to have to use a little bit of your best judgment here.

Lovely Roasted Potatoes - Foodies Gone Real

Once done… serve up, and serve up fast. Because, they’re worthy of it. But… just being real here… they taste just as awesome at room temperature. Or even cold. Yes… I’ve even eaten them cold out of a container from the fridge (on the rare occasions it’s not all eaten at dinner!).

Bon Appetit!

Lovely Roasted Potatoes - Foodies Gone Real

 

Simple Mustard Chicken

Sometimes, I just buy chicken breasts without a plan.

I’ve had to extend a BUNCH of grace to myself in the kitchen (read here). Unpredictable pain and the fatigue that settles in afterwards will do that. I am getting better on that front – read about that here – but it’s still something heavily managed.  Girlfriend’s gotta have major flexibility in what she’s planning.  (Haha… there’s a pun there… if you’re looking for it and you’re up-to-date on the health issues in the previous post!)

This means, many times, I cook up a storm in the kitchen. I’ll make a bunch of things at once to carry us over in the event my health issues or our schedules don’t align.  So, yeah. Buying chicken breasts without a plan.

This recipe is EASY for those nights without a plan. Aside from the fact it’s crazy easy to prepare, it never takes long to cook.

Confession: this is based on a recipe that once existed – where? I do not know.  I know I scoured my pinterest boards, googled, and everything… and I ended up making my own recipe for this over the last few years since I can’t seem to locate the original. So while I cannot take credit for the creative idea for this dish, I can for instructions, measurements and pictures – that is all my own.

INGREDIENTS:

4 cuts of boneless (here is 1 breast cut to tenderloin and 3 thighs)
1/2 c whole grain mustard (dijon will work ok, too)
salt & pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Grease your pan. If you use well-season stoneware, you won’t need much. Otherwise, do it well. Or grab some parchment paper. I usually drizzle, then use my hand to finish spreading. (Olive oil is a great moisturizer! And it now means other stuff won’t stick to my hands as I continue to work with the chicken.)

Simple Mustard Chicken - Foodies Gone Real

I found this awesome mustard at Aldi’s. Man, I love that store. You can find neat stuff there. (Read my ramble on good finds at Aldi’s, here.)

Simple Mustard Chicken - Foodies Gone Real

Use a spoon, spatula, and probably a finger or two to smear the mustard all over both sides of the cut of chicken.

Note about the cuts: I’ve never tried drumsticks, but I gotta imagine you’d have to lower the temperature and cook for much longer – bones do that, ya know.

Salt and pepper the chicken.

Simple Mustard Chicken - Foodies Gone Real

I wish it looked as good as it tasted.

Cook in oven at 425 degrees for a total of 15 minutes – I recommend flipping the cuts at about 10 minutes.

Simple Mustard Chicken - Foodies Gone Real

The mustard does something wonderful about keeping the moisture in, I love it. They also come out nice and golden.

I served this with roasted potatoes (recipe soon!) and green beans cooked with bacon. (You can do those green beans up with a easy step, here! Veggies never go wrong with bacon!)

Simple Mustard Chicken - Foodies Gone Real

All of these three items cook simultaneously in about the same time – aside from preheat, I don’t think I spend more than 15 minutes active cooking all of this and voila! Masterpiece!

Simple Mustard Chicken - Foodies Gone Real

Perfect… and simple.

Simple Mustard Chicken.

Is it Cottage or Shepherd’s Pie?

Most people call this dish “Shepherd’s Pie”. Period.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

There are food purists out there that will argue you on this, though… and here’s the real titles, as far as my research shows:

COTTAGE Pie= beef

SHEPHERD Pie = lamb

FYI… This is cottage pie.

This is common fare for us in the winter, and especially in the month of March around St. Patrick’s Day.  I know, I know… shouldn’t it have been corned beef and hash? Alas, this is probably where the other parts of my genetic make-up take over. Can’t stand corned beef.  So I this is a classic dish, British-Isles-Ish, that I feel good about eating on March 17th.

And yes, I’m late posting it. But I’m making it again in a week or so… so see. You don’t have to only eat it for St. Patrick’s Day.

I also love it for the following reasons:

  1. Cheap. It can be as cheap as you need it to be… however…
  2. You can definitely “take it up a notch.”

I would argue that “taking it up a notch” doesn’t really keep true to its roots in the British Isles, BUT, it does seem to better appease our American taste buds.

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds Ground Beef
Potatoes – about 4-6 russet potatoes, preferably, peeled and chopped
2 tbl butter, 1/2 c milk (for making mashed potatoes)
2-3 tbl Butter (for saute veggies, as needed)
Sprinkle of ground sage
1 tsp thyme
1 Onion (small), chopped
4 Carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cups Peas
Splash of whiskey (for deglazing, but you could use additional broth instead)
1/4 c broth (or water)
Salt/Pepper

TAKIN’ IT UP A NOTCH…

One small can of tomato paste
Shredded cheddar cheese – about 1/2 cup

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 400*.

Brown your beef and chop your veggies.  This is almost always my first step, because I like to use the fat leftover from your beef to saute the veggies… I’m big into waste not, want not.

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While your beef is browning, bring a pot of water to boil for your potatoes.  Once it’s boiling, drop in your peeled chopped potatoes.  You are making mashed potatoes to top off the pie.

After the beef is browned, use a slotted spoon to remove.  If you can do it quickly, you don’t need to reduce to heat (keep the fat simmering).  Then, plop in your onions, carrots, sage, and thyme.  You may need to add more butter to prevent sticking.

After they’ve sauteed for about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper generously, but if you plan to use salted broth for deglazing and/or later in the recipe, just go easy if you don’t like things over salted.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

Once the onions and carrots are tender, put the beef back in with the onion, carrots and herbs, and splash your whiskey (you can use broth if no whiskey).  Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits at the bottom of your pan.  This makes the food divine.  I do not joke. Do not skip this step of deglazing!

I like to think using whiskey makes it more authentic. I mean, we ARE trying to tie ourselves to Irish, roots, aye?

Now add your peas. Fry up for a few minutes until they start to thaw.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

Add your meat and broth (or water) Bring to a boil and you want to ensure your peas are cooked all the way through if you’re using frozen (which is pretty much what I always do).  If you used canned you probably don’t want to cook as long as they don’t turn to complete mush.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

Once the liquid is reduced some, peas are cooked, dump your veggie beef mix in the largest pan you have.

Now, about this time, those potatoes are tender and falling apart in your pot.  Strain them, mash ’em up with butter and milk.

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This is the only tricky part to the recipe: Dollup the potatoes around the beef and then spread it out, as if frosting a cake.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

Cover your dish and cook for about 20 minutes.  Peek at it.  If you’re using a clear glass dish, you should see the liquid boiling inside.  This is a good sign.

Uncover the dish, and put it back in the oven.  Let it cook for another 5-10 minutes.  This is really for however crispy/browned you want your mashed potatoes.  (The good news of course is that all the ingredients are actually cooked before you put it in the oven.  It’s entirely safe to eat, if you like.  This is just more about “melding the flavors.”)

TAKING IT UP A NOTCH:

Right before putting your beef+veggie mix into the pan, mix in one can of tomato paste.  Probably not authentically Irish, but I llllooovvveeee the flavor it adds.

After you’ve spread the mashed potatoes on top as described above, sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese on top of the potatoes and then cover.  When you remove your cover/lid/foil during the bake process, you can watch the cheese to how melty/brown you like.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

For THIS time, I added the cheese.  We can’t go wrong with cheese in this house.

This is what it looks like, pulled out of the oven after a total of 25 minutes (5 uncovered).

fter you've spread the mashed potatoes on top as described above, sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese on top of the potatoes and then cover.  When you remove your cover/lid/foil during the bake process, you can watch the cheese to how melty/brown you like.

This is what it looks like served, and about to be devoured, like the true Irish woman I am. I adore potatoes (check out this and this and this if you don’t believe me). I love them sooooo much.

Cottage Pie - Foodies Gone Real

 

 

Cinnamon Granola a.k.a. Best Granola of Your Life

We love cereal in this house.

Cinnamon Granola - Foodies Gone Real

But I am faced… EVERY SINGLE FREAKIN’ MONTH making the same choices everyone else makes: spend less on food and eat ingredients that aren’t as beneficial, or spend more on food and sacrifice something else.  Sometimes, I don’t have a choice. Medical bills from ongoing issues (story here), car repairs you don’t expect, the vacuum cleaner breaks. You know, life. And then it means we have to eat cheap because if I don’t have the money, I DON’T HAVE THE MONEY.

And you all know what I’m talkin’ about.

Now, I have my methods around this. First off, Aldi’s, y’all. ALDI’S. This store saves me. In the perfect world I would be a perfect locavore. But… when it feels like everything breaks in your home at the same time and the family still has to eat… Aldi’s. I’ve told you all before how this store makes up for my imperfect life.

So back to my cereal… the ingredient lists are mostly disheartening.  And if the ingredient list is not disheartening, then the price tag is… I can guarantee it. Do I sacrifice ingredients or my money?

My work around: granola.

Oats are CHEAP. I throw in nuts when I have them (a.k.a. can afford them) but you can easily sub in more oats instead. Run out of milk already? Sub in more water. I use coconut oil (back to finding something awesome at Aldi’s!) but you can put in whatever oil/butter you have on hand.  You can make this what you want and as expensive OR cheap as you desire.

Cinnamon Granola - Foodies Gone Real

INGREDIENTS:

  • 10 Cups of Rolled Oats
  • 1 Cup of Slivered Almonds
  • 1/2 Cup of Melted Coconut Oil
  • 4 Cups of Warm Water (just not ice cold…. does funky stuff to that oil)
  • 1 Tbl Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Cup of Whole Milk
  • 1.5 Cups of Sweetener of Choice
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tbl Cinnamon (or Pumpkin Pie Spice is great, too!)
  • Good Dash of Salt

TOOLS:

  • Large Bowl for Mix, one that you can seal up for several hours (cling wrap is fine)
  • Dehydrator OR You can use the oven (see instructions further down on this)

DIRECTIONS:

Okay, so are you ready for this: MIX ALL THE INGREDIENTS THOROUGHLY.  Let it sit on your counter at room temperature for about 7-8 hours. (You can let it sit for longer if you need to!)

YES.

You read that right.  That’s all you gotta do before the cooking.

I recommend covering it… but really just to ward of bugs and hands who want to taste it early.

Cinnamon Granola - Foodies Gone Real

Now onto the cooking part:  You’ll need to cook this one of two ways:  either a dehydrator on its highest setting or an oven.   I’ve made it both ways, my preference is a dehydrator.  I own this dehydrator and L-O-V-E it.  You can buy it new, you can also buy it used. I mean… I am talking about saving money here. I asked for one for Christmas a few years ago and my dear, sweet husband who knows his wife’s heart found a used one, in good condition, on ebay.  You do what you gotta do.

1) You can leave it in a dehydrator for days and it won’t go bad.  Don’t have time to deal with it right then? It’s fine.  Leave it (you’ll just keep using electricity).
2) It doesn’t burn.
3) No stirring required or watching.
4) It takes about 6 hours at the highest temperature on the dehydrator.

If you use an oven, preheat to 350* and spread it as thin as you can across at least two cookie sheets. You have to watch it, take it out and stir frequently. (And taste frequently!) This method will work, it’s just more time intensive.  You can’t put it in and walk away like you can with the dehydrator… you need to stir it about every 15 minutes until it’s just starting to crunch when you taste-test it.  In my experience this can take an about an hour, but will depend on how thin you spread your granola across baking sheets.

You can store your in an airtight container… for a couple of weeks.

Here’s how I usually do it: I start the granola in the morning sometime.  In the evening, I put it on the dehydrator.  The next morning… viola. Breakfast ready.

No yucky ingredients.  I mean, you know exactly what’s in it.  You’ve got around 12 cups of crunchy goodness for breakfast. Depending on appetites and family size, this can carry you for quite some time!

We eat it like cereal… but is great with the traditional yogurt, too. Enjoy your money-saving treat as we do.  My girls say it’s the best granola of their life.

Cinnamon Granola - Foodies Gone Real

 

 

 

 

DISCLOSURE: There may be affiliate links within this post. I never recommend anything arbitrarily and receive small financial benefit. If I choose to recommend something, it’s of my own free will and volition and MORE because I think you’ll benefit from hearing about it more than me gaining the $$. 

Ramen, a Slurpy Soup

So, I love soups.  I would eat them every day.  I love broth ones, porridge ones, creamy ones.  In a box with a fox, in a house with a mouse.

My wonderful, long-suffering Italian husband… he’ll eat them. He’s a good sport. But he doesn’t love them.

I love Asian food.  I’m a military brat who spent a total of 6 years of her childhood on Okinawa (and some other random places, too). I grew up in a home that appreciated this “ethnic” food, and we ate it frequently.

My wonderful, long-suffering Italian husband… he’ll eat it. He’s a good sport.  But he doesn’t love it.

UNTIL.

Homemade ramen soup.

Ramen, A Slurpy Soup - Foodies Gone Real

He actually asks for this. I’m not entirely convinced it’s because it has a pasta-like carb in it ;-) but for us… happy medium when I’m craving Asian and he’s not feeling so tolerable to my other dishes. Like cabbage stir-fry or fried rice.

Now, my disclaimer is this: there is probably going to be some ramen purist out there that will claim I didn’t do this the correct way.  You’re probably right.  There’s likely many restaurants out there that could make this more authentically.  However… this foodie is on a budget. With legit health concerns over the food I eat. So I think this is a balanced compromise.

We start this soup like any other soup or stew-like food, like my chicken soup, chili, or even stroganoff – frying the onions in butter. You can create no better base than this!

INGREDIENTS:

butter, for sauteing
1 small onion, or about 1 c. chopped
1 medium carrot
1 pound of ground pork… as best sourced as you can afford
1 clove garlic (or two!)
1/2 c. san-j soy sauce (I can’t recommend any other brand)
1 tsp. ground ginger
dash red pepper flakes
ground pepper to test
5 cups water (or broth)
1 cup frozen peas, optional (but delicious!)

Note on the veggies: by all means… feel free to increase them. I often do, to increase vegetable intake

Other items:
ramen noodles
hard-boiled egg, at least 1/2 per person
chopped scallions or chives
diced carrots, mushrooms… lots of topping ideas. We usually stick to green onions, but if you know you have a favorite asian topping, I promise you can add it and it will be fine!
And… I recommend chopsticks :)

DIRECTIONS:

Do your thing with the butter, onions and carrots.  I would recommend using a big pot or dutch oven.  Also, side note, this smells like heaven. If you were slightly hungry before starting, now you’re likely salivating.

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Remove the vegetables (I use a slotted spoon) once they are softened (they don’t have to be mushy… you’re going to boil it later) and brown the the ground pork.  DO NOT SALT IT. If you’re a home cook and you’ve done browning meat any length of time, a lot of recipes call for salting it.  You will regret it because of that soy sauce that’s coming on later.  However, feel free to go nuts with the pepper. The soup can be as spicy or peppery as you want, so do this as what you feel is appropriate for your tastes.

Ramen, A Slurpy Soup - Foodies Gone Real

Now that the pork is browned, add the veggies back in.  Sprinkle on the ginger and red pepper flakes.  Stir and let it saute for just a minute.  Now you may add the soy sauce.

Use the soy sauce to scrape up the browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot … this is also called deglazing.  You want the brown bits because it adds flavor. I promise it’s true, because the depth is not as great if you tried to clean it off (and not use it) and then continue cooking with a clean pot.

Add your water.  You could use broth… wouldn’t hurt.  However, if it’s salted you might run into issues make the soup too salty.

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Throw in your peas if you’re using … and begin the boil.

Now while this is boiling, I recommend doing the following:

  1. get your hard-boiled eggs ready, if necessary
  2. get your ramen noodles ready
  3. chop your garnish

I know there are guides out there for how to boil eggs. I just use this sucker (check it out here). Love it. Had it for years and it was a cheapy kitchen spontaneous buy.

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You want to boil the soup for about 10 minutes, (this is about cooking the veggies the rest of the way), then let it simmer for another 15 minutes or so.  Just honestly, you could rush this. Or draw it out.  Whatever you are working with in time. I wouldn’t recommend letting it simmer for an hour or anything… I think the peas and carrots would go to mush. Unless you like that kind of thing… then knock yourself out.

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Now here’s how it’s going to vary… prepping whatever ramen you’re using. I use gluten-free ramen noodles. I’m still not over this… my ITALIAN HUSBAND LOVES THESE THINGS. 1) They’re Asian and 2) they’re rice (not wheat). My noodles call for me to boil them for a very short amount of time, then run then under cold water. I just have to tell you… if you buy them and they say to run it under cold water…. DON’T SKIP IT. It prevents them from cooking further and not turning gross and mushy. The benefit of the soup still simmering is that once I drop the noodles in, it rewarms them! It works beautifully.

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Because I have to limit my carb intake, I do not put 4 servings of ramen noodles in the big pot once they’re done.  I ladle out the soup into individual bowls then put in the cooked pasta as per our carb preferences.  (You can buy a big pack of these noodles here.)

And then… top it.  That egg, y’all. THAT EGG. And those scallions. I really wouldn’t skip these garnishes!

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Isn’t this soup great and forgiving? it really is what you want it to be. Maybe that’s why my Italian husband loves it, too.

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DISCLOSURE: There may be affiliate links within this post. I never recommend anything arbitrarily and receive small financial benefit. If I choose to recommend something, it’s of my own free will and volition and MORE because I think you’ll benefit from hearing about it more than me gaining the $$.

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