The hot weather finally calmed down but I don’t trust it will stay away for long so I wanted to make this next recipe before summer really sets in. The hour of baking for this recipe means you do not want to prep this in the heat of summer. Many people think you can’t freeze potatoes. I’ve had a failure where all the potatoes turn black and I’ve had mashed potatoes that did alright but were never quite as good as the original without a little work. This recipe for freezer twice baked potatoes is a standout because they taste incredible after being in the freezer. The secret is that you freeze them after only the single bake and then you cook them in the oven right in their frozen state.
I bought a 10 pound bag of potatoes from my local grocery store for only $2. I had used about 2 1/2 pounds of potatoes for other meals so I used 7 1/2 pounds (or 25 potatoes) for this recipe. I’ll share the full 10 pound recipe for you guys so you can just use a bag and not have to do a lot of guesswork. With so many potatoes, you’ll want to rotate the pans in the oven every half hour. I like to put my potatoes on baking sheets according to size so if the smallest potatoes finish after an hour I can just remove the small potato baking sheet and let the larger potatoes keep cooking until they have some give.
I like to make my potatoes a little healthier so I try to use skim milk, laughing cow cheese (the queso and garlic ones are my favorites), and I leave the shredded cheese off my pieces. When I bake them I add cheese and bacon to my husband’s portions and I top mine with sour cream or Greek yogurt after I’ve baked mine. These also taste incredible with some pesto drizzled on top. The possibilities are endless. If you don’t care about those adjustments, regular milk or even half and half work for your liquid and regular cream cheese works perfectly with this recipe. I’ve done it all.
When you store your items, make sure to let them freeze flat first. Then you can pop them in containers. I found these containers at the Dollar Store and I love the flat tops, they’re perfect for easy stacking. I usually fit between 4 and 8 halves in each container. When reheating I cook the entire package on a cookie sheet and eat any leftovers during the week with my lunch. My favorite way to eat these for lunch is to take some chili and pour it over a potato half. It’s perfection.
- 10 lbs large baking potatoes
- olive oil
- kosher salt
- 1 cup butter, melted
- 2 cups skim milk
- 6 ounces fat free cream cheese or laughing cow cheese
- 4 teaspoons salt (to taste)
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper (to taste)
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Clean potatoes and dry. Place them on baking sheets. 10 pounds of potatoes usually requires 3 baking sheets.
- Drizzle potatoes with olive oil and kosher salt.
- Bake potatoes for 1 to 1/2 hours depending on the size.
- Allow potatoes to cool around 15 minutes. While cooling, mix together butter, cream cheese (or laughing cow), salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl.
- Cut potatoes in half lengthwise taking care not to damage the rest of the skins.
- Use a large spoon to scoop out the inside of the potatoes, leaving a thin layer of potato attached to the skin. Put the middles you scoop out into the mixer with your butter cheese blend.
- Once you've scooped out all the potatoes, place the shells back on the baking sheet with the skin side down.
- Blend potato and butter/cheese mix in your mixer. Add milk as needed until potatoes resemble stiff mashed potatoes.
- Spoon the potato mix back into the shells. If you are adding shredded cheese, sprinkle and press onto potatoes.
- Place pan back into the oven and bake 15-25 minutes.
- Cover baking sheet with plastic wrap and place baking sheet in freezer until potatoes are completely frozen.
- Remove potatoes from baking sheet and place in plastic bags or foil containers with baking instructions written on them.
- Preheat oven to 350°F and place potatoes on baking sheet. Loosely cover with foil.
- Bake about 45 minutes. Uncover foil and bake an additional 15 minutes.
I always seem to buy too many bananas. If I buy 6 I eat 3. If I buy 3 I eat 1. I hate letting them go to waste so they always end up in my freezer for a batch of banana bread to be made at some date in the future. This time I wasn’t in the mood to wait for banana bread. Even better, I had some Nilla Wafers in danger of going stale. Still, I didn’t have enough bananas or wafers to make my old school style banana pudding so I decided to work some magic to turn them into a parfait.
You’ll need bananas, Nilla wafers, and french vanilla pudding. It has to be french vanilla because I remember my grandma driving to an extra grocery store because regular vanilla just wasn’t good enough for banana pudding. She’d also demand the pudding be baked and have meringue but I’ve never been a fan or meringue or even whipped cream so I go without. You can do as you wish and maybe you’ll make my grandma happy.
The real secret to making these parfaits taste just like real banana pudding is letting them chill for at least 4 hours. Overnight is even better. That way your vanilla wafers will get that creamy consistency that makes you think you’re in the South, eating nana puddin as I called it as a kid. The wait is long but it’ll be worth it. You can do as you wish and maybe you’ll make my me happy.
- 1 3 oz package instant french vanilla pudding
- 2 cups milk
- 32 Nilla Wafers cookies
- 2 bananas
- Whipped cream or cool whip (optional)
- Use the pudding package and milk to prepare the pudding as directed. Let chill 5 minutes.
- While pudding is chilling, place 8 Nilla Wafers cookies in the bottom of a wine goblet. Repeat with 3 additional goblets.
- Divide half of the pudding between the 4 wine goblets, placing on top of the cookies.
- Cut each banana into 1/2 inch slices. Place half of each banana in each goblet on top of the pudding.
- Spread the second half of the pudding on top of the bananas, dividing evenly.
- Chill for at least 4 hours.
- Top with whipper cream or cool whip and serve.
Do any of you remember those Polar Pizzas or Treatzza Pizzas from Dairy Queen or Baskin Robbins back in the 90s? If you don’t, you missed out. The ice cream pizzas usually had an Oreo or cookie crust, some ice cream, and a batch of toppings that would send you to a sugar coma. I remember my brother getting one at his birthday party and being very jealous that I had just had a homemade cake at my own party a month earlier.
Flash forward to last week when we had 90 degree temperatures at the end of March/beginning of April. My husband and I were spending hours outside building a retaining wall and yet we were too stubborn (aka cheap) to turn on the air conditioner. I was desperate to find a way to cool off and then I remembered those pizzas.
I took some cookie dough and pressed it into a pie pan. I risked a quick bake in the oven and cooked the dough about 15 minutes. After the cookie cooled on the counter, I popped it into the freezer. Just before dessert time I thawed about 5 scoops of ice cream (you might need more if you use a bigger pie pan) and then I smoothed it into the cookie dough base.
To keep with the sugar coma memories of my childhood I drizzled on some Magic Shell and then sprinkled on some mini chocolate chips and some mini-Reese’s Pieces leftover from my Christmas cookies. It was some delicious frozen cookie pie, just like I remembered.
- 1 tube cookie dough (or 16 ounces of your favorite recipe)
- 5 scoops thawed ice cream
- Magic Shell
- 1/8 cup mini chocolate chips
- 1/8 cup Reese's Pieces
- Press the cookie dough into a pie pan, shaping the extra dough along the edges to resemble a pizza crust.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.
- After cooling, place the cookie pie in the freezer for at least 2 hours.
- Thaw ice cream for about 1 hour minutes before your serving time. You can skip this step by scooping the ice cream into a bowl and microwaving about 10 seconds.
- Smooth the ice cream into the center of the cookie pie and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Pull the pie back out of the freezer. Drizzle with magic shell and sprinkle with candies.
- Use a warm knife to cut the cookie pie and serve.
Until last year, I don’t think I’d ever eaten Hot Cross Buns. I’d heard of them but only in the sense that I learned to play that song Hot Cross Buns on the recorder, the piano, the trumpet, and the french horn.Yup, that’s right, I was a total band nerd in my youth.
Last year I was determined to see what the fuss was all about and I was happy with the idea of hot cross buns but I wanted to jazz them up a bit. This year’s recipe came out perfect. I made sure the dough had plenty of cinnamon and orangey taste and I added much plumper raisins to the mix. The best part was the smell, my whole house smelled of spices and sugars all day long.
You can make these tonight and let them do their second rise in the fridge overnight. Tomorrow morning just pull them out of the fridge, take a shower, preheat the oven, and pop them in while you get ready. They taste perfect with some milk or tea and if they make it till Easter they’ll still taste good.
- 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup sugar, divided
- 1 cup warm milk (warm to the touch)
- 1/4 cup butter, cubed
- 1/2 cup baking raisins
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- Rind of 1 orange
- 1 egg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 3/4 cups flour
- 2/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon butter, softened
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (you can also substitute almond or maple extract here)
- 2 tablespoons milk
- In your stand mixer bowl, dissolve the yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar in the warm milk. Let stand for 5 minutes until the mixture becomes frothy.
- Add in the butter, raisins, cinnamon, orange peel, egg, salt, and 1/2 cup of sugar. Use a spoon to mix gently until smooth.
- Place the mixer bowl onto the mixer base with the dough hook attached. Slowly add in flour while mixing on a low speed until the dough begins to pull from the sides of your bowl. Move your mixer to speed setting 3 and let your dough hook knead the dough for 5 minutes.
- Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise until doubled. In a warm environment this should take about 60-90 minutes.
- Punch down your dough and divide into 12 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball and place in a 13x9 inch glass pan.
- Cover and let dough rise until doubled again, about 45 minutes to an hour. If you are preparing this recipe at night, place the dough in the fridge to rise overnight instead. The cold will slow down the rise of your dough so it shouldn't rise too much.
- Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until golden. Let the buns cool in the pan on a wire rack.
- Combine the powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla. Slowly add milk until the mixture reaches piping consistency. Using a Ziplock bag with the corner cut off, pipe an "X" on top of each bun.
Today is National French Bread Day. I’m sorting of doubting this is the kind of day you can ask off for work but it is a good excuse to eat some bread. I’ve been slowly going through Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and it’s fascinating but I wanted to start with a much simpler bread recipe that you can actually serve up tonight.
For this bread I made some slight tweaks to a recipe from Jamie Cooks it Up! eventually ended up with a bread I could make in 90 minutes. It’s a little longer than a typical dinner takes to throw together but a lot of it is hands off. If you have a Kitchenaid mixer you got for a wedding and just use it to make cookies, this is the time to break it out.
- 1/3 cup lukewarm water
- 1 Tablespoon yeast
- 1 Tablespoon shortening
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 2 Tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 cup cold water
- 5 - 6 cups flour
- 1 egg
- 1 Tablespoon water
- Measure out 1/3 of a cup of water that's warm to the touch. Pour it in a small bowl and proof the yeast in the water. see more details on how to proof yeast
- While yeast is proofing, mix together shortening, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Make it crumbly, then pour it in Kitchenaid mixer. Add the dough hook to your mixer.
- Boil 1 cup of water (or run on high for 3 minutes in the microwave) and pour into mixer. Immediately add cold water.
- Pour proofed yeast mix into your mixer and begin to stir on low.
- Slowly add one cup of flour at a time. You want the dough to be wet but not sticky. I used 5.5 cups for mine but in summer you may need all six due to the humidity.
- When the dough starts pulling from the sides of your mixer, put your mixer on high and let it run for 8 minutes. (You may want to grease the bottom your bowl before putting in the mixer stand because kneading can make it get stuck. Trust me on this.)
- Turn off the mixer, remove the bowl, cover it with a towel and let the dough rise for 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 170 degrees
- Separate dough into two equal halves
- Roll one half into a small rectangle. Fold in half length-wise and pinch sides together. Roll into another rectangle, you'll notice this one is slightly longer than your last. Again, fold over and pinch. Roll into one last rectangle. Start rolling the long side to the other long side, like a cinnamon roll. Pinch and seal, then place on a jelly roll pan. Repeat with second dough ball.
- With a sharp knife, slice bread 4 times diagonally. You don't want to go to deep; just skim the surface.
- Whisk egg with tablespoon of water. Brush it on your bread, making sure to brush inside the cuts.
- Place the bread in the oven for 15 minutes at 170 degrees.
- Turn the oven up to 400 degrees. Leave the bread in the oven while the temperature rises and even after it reaches the new temperature. The goal is to have the bread in the oven for 5 minutes past your initial baking time.
- Lower temperature to 350 and leave bread in the oven for another 10 minutes.
- Check if bread is done by tapping with your finger. If bread sounds hollow, it is done!
Last year for Easter my mom left town for a family wedding. Not wanting my brothers and dad to starve or eat pizza, I decided to cook my first Easter dinner. I made a ham, a potato casserole that I’m sure every family has their version of, some carrots, and a dessert. One dish that went over very well was the deviled eggs I made. My mom got home from the wedding and found a plate of leftovers waiting for her sans deviled eggs and just yesterday she complained that everyone ate them all before she got to try them.
The key to my deviled eggs is that I hate pickle relish. I don’t want it touching my eggs. The second worst thing about deviled eggs is that they can be very bland so I wanted more of a kick than the sprinkle of paprika on top of them. I had some horseradish leftover from a steak and potatoes dinner I had made and I wondered if the combination of eggs and horseradish might work out. Spoiler alert: It did.
- 1 dozen eggs
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon ground mustard
- 1 tablespoon horseradish sauce
- Hard boil your eggs the day before and let them cool down in your fridge overnight.
- On Easter morning, peel the eggs under running water.
- Cut each egg in half lengthwise and remove the yolks.
- In a small bowl, place the yolks, mayonnaise, ground mustard and horseradish sauce. Mix with a whisk or a mixer.
- Spoon or pipe the mix back into the eggs.
- Sprinkle with paprika and chill in fridge until guests arrive.
Happy Pi Day! Pi Day is of course one of the high holidays for nerds. The other is Mole Day (October 23) and that is best celebrated by dressing up in a mole costume and singing a special song in its honor. You’ve never heard the line “that’s 6 with 23 zeros at the end…Much to big a number to comprehend” or danced to it either? Well, fine then, we’ll just stick to Pi Day and its glorious pies made in the holiday’s honor.
Today’s pie isn’t anything fancy. When I was a kid and I would visit my grandma, she’d make it for me and my brother. As a kid I had never seen such a tall pie and it was solid chocolate. My grandma called it dream pie and the first time we ate it my brother had a nightmare that night so he called it nightmare pie for quite a while. The other name we called the pie was pudding pie but being a kid and not being trusted in the kitchen, I had no clue why it would be called dream pie or pudding pie. Here’s a hint.
For this recipe you need a magic ingredient called dream whip (a whipping stabilizer), pudding of your choice, a 9 inch pie crust and milk. That’s it. It’s so simple.
At the beginning you only mix a cup of milk with the dream whip and magically you already have a very fluffy looking base. Then you add in pudding and some more milk and you have a giant fluffy mixture that you just spoon into a pie shell. The hardest part of this recipe is that you have to let the pie chill for 4 hours. It’s super simple and straight from the box so while my grandma never told me her “secret” recipe, I just had to find dream whip on the shelf in the pudding aisle to discover her secret.
- 2 envelopes (1 package) Dream Whip
- 2 3/4 cups milk
- 2 (3.4 oz) packages Jello instant chocolate pudding
- 9 inch graham cracker pie shell, baked
- If your pie shell requires baking, bake it and cool following the instructions.
- With a mixer blend 1 cup of the milk and the 2 packs of dream whip.
- Beat on high for 6 minutes until the mix has peaks.
- Add the powdered pudding and remaining milk. Mix on low until combined, then on high for 2 minutes.
- Spoon the mix into the pie shell. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.
Happy 100th birthday to the Girl Scouts! I was a Girl Scout for only 3 years but I’m still friends today with several of the girls who were in my troop.
In honor of the Girl Scouts reaching such an old age, I created a cocktail in their honor. I wanted a chocolate milkshake with the taste of mint cookies and for fun I threw in some rum. It was a great combination. I used chocolate ice cream but for a stronger mint flavor you could use vanilla ice cream. You could even go the mint chocolate chip route but I didn’t want the taste of Thin Mints to compete with the taste of the ice cream. The only thing that went wrong with this cocktail was that my eyes were bigger than my stomach. That’s what I get for drinking before 5 o’clock. I’ve adjusted the recipe so it makes two small cocktails, one for you and one for another Girl Scout.
If you haven’t seen Girl Scout cookies in your area yet try the Girl Scout Cookie locator. I live in a rural community without many young people so I’m always having to hunt down Girl Scouts but now I just plan ahead and combine a cookie run with a trip to the hardware or grocery store. You could always cheat like I do in the off-season and buy the Keebler Fudge Shoppe Grasshopper cookies. They aren’t quite as minty or as crunchy and they’ll do when I run out of a frozen supply of Thin Mints but I always revert as soon as it’s cookie season.
If you aren’t a Thin Mint person, I’ve been seeing plenty of Girl Scout-themed desserts this year. There’s SugarDerby’s Do-Si-Dos and Tagalong Bundt Cake, aBitterSweetWife’s Samoa Caramel Bark, My Baking Addiction’s Tagalong Peanut Butter Parfaits, and these incredible looking Samoas Cupcakes by Sweet Pea’s Kitchen.
What’s your favorite Girl Scout cookie?
- 6 Thin Mint Cookies
- 3 Scoops Ice Cream
- 2 Shots of Rum
- 4-6 oz Milk
- Whipped Cream
- Choose 2 tumblers to serve your cocktails in. Use 1 to measure out a full tumbler of milk.
- Add the milk to a blender with cookies, ice cream, and rum. Blend until smooth.
- Pour shake into tumblers and add whipped cream.
I haven’t talked a ton about my husband Daniel but here’s one thing you have to know about him: he loves salad. He eats salad with Chinese food, he layers it on his lasagna, and I have to buy lettuce in bulk at Costco. In an effort to appease his salad love, I concocted the idea of a cobb salad with all his favorite things on it. In addition to salads, Daniel loves ham, sandwiches, bacon, ranch, hard-boiled eggs, and cheese. This is how the club cobb salad was born.
You’ll want to cut up a mix of salad greens into finely chopped pieces. Mine had spinach, arugula, and romaine lettuce in it. Then form rows with all your ingredients. I used cheddar cheese, sliced deli turkey, hard-boiled eggs, diced ham, bacon, monterey jack cheese, grape tomatoes, and green onions. They key to this salad is lining up the ingredients in rows so it looks pretty. When you’re ready to eat just toss it up and serve with a good dressing. I like honey mustard but my husband is more of a ranch person. Serve it with some toast and you’ve got yourself a club sandwich in a salad.
- 6 cups finely chopped mixed salad greens
- 1 dozen grape tomatoes
- 1/4 cup chopped bacon bits (homemade or store bought)
- 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup shredded monteray jack cheese
- 1 cup diced ham
- 2 hard-boiled large eggs, separated, the yolk finely chopped and the white finely chopped
- 8 slices turkey deli meat
- 2 tablespoons diced green onions
- If you are making fresh bacon bits then cook your bacon and crumble it. Set aside.
- Fill a large bowl or platter with fresh salad greens.
- Arrange the ingredients in lines starting from the center. Use tomatoes, bacon bits, ham, egg whites, and turkey forming a mirror image from the center.
- Layer the egg yolks on top of the egg whites and place cheeses over the bacon and turkey.
- Sprinkle on the green onions to taste.
- Serve with either a ranch or honey mustard dressing.
If you’re in St. Louis, you’ve probably played in a trivia night or two. Outside of St. Louis I’ve discovered that most people have no clue what a trivia night is. Usually trivia nights include 10 or so rounds of 10 questions with the event working as a fundraiser for a cause. There are usually raffles, giveaways, and a group of about 50 or more tables competing.
My friends and I have an annual tradition. We go to our old high school’s trivia night to raise money for each year’s grad night program to promote a safe night without drinking for all the kids. The event provides free sodas and you can buy drinks and all the tables bring their own food. My friends and I tend to take that food part as a challenge. We bring pizzas, tacos, chips, deli sandwiches, a fruit tray, dip, cheese and crackers, and plenty of yummies for everyone. This year I made a S’mores snack mix. I’m pretty sure one person wanted to steal it from me and eat it all night long with a glass of milk. Who can resist Golden Grahams, a chocolate syrup, and marshmallows together? Thankfully it was good enough to help cope with our crushing loss this year. Let’s just say the categories included retirement community card games and knowing the price of toilet paper at a grocery store. Sorry people, I’m in my 20s and shop sales.
- 12 oz box Golden Grahams cereal
- 3/4 cup Dark corn syrup
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 11 1/2 ounce bag milk chocolate chips
- 1/2 bag of 11 oz bag of mini marshmallows
- Pour box of Golden Grahams into a large bowl.
- Over medium heat, stir together corn syrup and butter until evenly combined. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips until smooth.
- Pour the chocolate mix over the Golden Grahams and stir together. Once well combined, add your half bag of mini-marshmallows.
- Spread the mix into a sheet cake pan using your hands. Smash it as flat as you can and let rest for 2 hours.
- After 2 hours, break the mix apart into smaller bites and enjoy.