Mimi’s Fried Squash

Last weekend my grandparents came down to see the house, since they havent yet and we cooked dinner for them and just kind of hung out and then David and I picked my grandma’s brain for some of her old family recipes. She makes some of my favorite side dishes, like most souther grandmas! Things like macaroni salad, cucumbers in vinegar, creamed corn, annnnd the famous fried squash and onions, which I suggested we have as a side dish to our tasty meal so she could give me a little lesson. Its not that I can’t sauté up some summer veggies on my own but she gets them just the right amount of crispy and delicious so I was looking for a few tips on improving upon any failed attempts I have made in the past, annnnd a little help with some of the side dishes, and she definitely delivered! If you’re looking to make some hearty southern fried squash, here is my attempt to rehash Mimi’s hands on lesson in the kitchen.

Ingredients: 

  • 2-3 large squash sliced (or quartered, whichever you prefer)
  • 2 onions halved and sliced
  • vegetable oil
  • flour

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Slice the squash and onions and mix them together in a large mixing bowl. then spoon flour on top of the ingredients and mix well.

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Mimi says the best method is to hand toss it, starting form the bottom and folding the flour through the mixture until all the pieces are coated. Also, make sure none of the pieces stick together since you want all the sides coated pretty well. While you’re doing this put enough vegetable oil in a large pan to coat the bottom

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Continue to let the oil heat until you can flick flour in it and it sizzles and crisps right up, then you know you’re cookin’! Start with the pan on high and if needed you can reduce the het throughout, but you never want to be below about a 7 unless your stove is unusually hot and fast cooking.
Next, add large handfulls of the squash and onions to the pan, making sure to distribute them evenly across the bottom.

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Then make sure that they are all pressed flat to the bottom and there are no air pockets and that something is always touching the bottom of the pan to get crispy and delicious.  Once everything is spread evenly, let the mixture simmer for a bit to let to bottom get nice and toasty. you can check occasionally by pulling up the sides with a spatula because it starts to stick as you cook it.

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When you feel that the bottom is pretty browned, slide the spatula underneath to lift and flip large sections of the squash and onions all at once, so they are kind of stuck together.

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Continue this process until they are relatively browned on all sides and the squash are cooked all the way through. This takes about 30 minutes. As you finish, tilt the pan at an angle and pull all the squash and onions to the top side to drain off as much of the oil as possible and then move the drained veggies to a serving bowl.

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Then its time to eat! Its best to make sure these finish just as you are getting ready to eat, as they are not as good cold. AND, if you have left overs like we did, you can reheat them by throwing them into a warm pan with no oil for a few minutes until they heat all the way through. Microwaving is definitely NOT your friend here. But MMMMM are these good! Hope I can pull it off on my own next time!

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Double Tasty Twice Baked Potatoes

This past weekend David and I had a delicious dinner with my aunt, since we hadn’t seen her in a while, which I always think is ridiculous since she lives right down the road, but for some reason matching schedules turns out to be a lot harder than it really should be. Enough about this scheduling struggle bus I have been riding, lets talk about this delicious meal we made! As always we wanted to try something new and diferent and we hadn’t made pork tenderloin in a while, so we ended up doing this awesome pork tenderloin, and we were going to make mashed potatoes, but again, we wanted to try something different, so we tried these awesome twice baked potatoes, these are a little different than your typical twice baked potatoes, they actually use a mix of russet and sweet potatoes and that makes it so much more awesome!

Ingredients:

  • 2 large russet potatoes
  • 1 small sweet potato
  • ½ pound bacon
  • 2 ounces Mascarpone cheese
  • 5 scallions chopped (reserve about a tablespoon of green portion for garnish)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup shredded sharp yellow cheddar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  •  ½ teaspoon white pepper

Instructions: 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place russet potatoes and sweet potato on center rack of oven and bake 30 minutes. (Place sweet potato on a small sheet of foil to catch drips). Open oven, flip potatoes and prick with a fork. Bake for another 30 minutes. Sweet potato may need another 15-30 minutes – bake until soft. Remove potatoes from oven to cool.
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Turn oven down to 375 degrees. In a skillet, cook bacon until crispy. Drain the bacon on paper towels and discard fat. Chop bacon into small bits. In a bowl, mix together half of the chopped bacon, the Mascarpone cheese, scallions (except for reserved tops to be used later for garnish), butter, shredded cheddar cheese, salt and pepper.
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Lay baking potatoes flat and cut in half horizontally. Scoop out each potato down to the skin (but leave enough potato so it keeps its shape) and place the filling in a large mixing bowl. Remove skin from sweet potato and place in the bowl with the scooped-out russet potato filling.
IMG_2765Roughly mash both potatoes with potato masher. Add bacon and cheese mixture and stir until smooth.  Place mixture into a 16-inch pastry bag with a star tip.

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Fill each potato with mixture dividing evenly between the halves.

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Sprinkle remaining chopped bacon on each filled half and place on sheet pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until mixture is hot and just golden brown.

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Top each with chopped scallion greens and serve immediately.

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Oven Roasted Red Potatoes

After our weekend at home David and I returned to Charlotte, with lots of left overs, so when we got together to cook dinner one night, we had most of the meal set and just needed to add a good side dish to complete the meal. My Dad had made a ribeye on the green egg that weekend so we had that as meat, then I sautéed up some veggies, so we could do something different than a salad, and I was then on the hunt for some kind of starch dish that would go well with the meal. I mean obviously when you think red meat, you think potatoes, so I remembered this roasted potato recipe I found from Paula Deen a few weeks ago, and thought I would give it a try. It was super easy, and probably the best roasted potatoes I have made to date, probably because I actually had time to roast them for the entire amount of time that they needed. 

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lb small new red potatoes (about 15), scrubbed and dried
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4-6   cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
kosher salt
pepper

Instructions:


After washing the potatoes, pare a narrow strip of peel from the middle of each potato.

In a large bowl mix the oil, garlic, and rosemary; add the potatoes and toss well.  Then season vegetables with kosher salt and pepper, then transfer the potatoes to a shallow baking pan.

Then, roast at 350 degrees until potatoes are tender when tested with the tip of a knife and serve hot

Mimi’s Macaroni Salad

This is one of my FAVORITE treats from my childhood, and my adulthood, and just in life in general.My mom and my grandma have been making this for so long I can’t even remember life without it!  Its so easy to make and honestly, its not summer until I have had my first bowl of macaroni salad. When David and I went to the farmers market the other weekend I knew that was the perfect time to get all the fresh ingredients I would need to make this top notch summer treat, especially since it is so quick, and easy with only 4 ingredients, you read that right, 4 ingredients. So lets hop to it, so you can drastically improve you summer menu options!


Ingredients:
a few fresh tomatoes chopped
2 fresh green peppers chopped
1 lb of macaroni cooked and cooled
Mayonaise (regular or light or miracle whip) to preference
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
Cook the pasta and let it cool, while you are doing this chop the veggies. Then mix the tomatoes and peppers in with the pasta and top with mayo. I know my dad likes a little more but sometimes I prefer a little less, so its all a matter of preference here. Other options are to just add some olive oil, or a red wine vinegar or something if you and your family are not mayo people OR you are trying to keep it healthy, but this is a great summer treat, especially as these vegetables start to come into season!

Clean out the Cupboard Pasta Salad

My aunt made this a few nights ago when we had dinner at my apartment and it was delicious! She just throws things together at the last minute and they always turn out, its ridiculous! But this is a great and easy pasta salad to make to help you clean out those remaining items in your kitchen cupboards and fridge.

Ingredients:
2 cups of uncooked pasta, whatever is in the cupboards (rotini, orzo, bowtie, etc)
1 cucumber, diced
Fresh Mozzarella Cheese broken into pieces (or you can use feta or blu cheese, or whatever you have in the fridge)
1 large tomato diced.

Dressing:
2 T of balsamic vinegar
3-4T of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste
dried herb of choice (Parsley, Oregano, Basil)
1/2 T of honey

Instructions:
Cook pasta and prepare vegetables, mix dressing ingredients and combine them in a bowl, toss lightly, chill for 30 minutes, then serve

Easy and delicious, and a great way to get rid of whatever you might have a little left of in the cupboards before it goes bad!