CHEESY BRUNCH POTATOES: They’re Delicious All Day Long!

cheesy brunch potatoes textI’m a fan of potatoes – dressed up or dressed down, they’re pretty much always good. I’m, also, a fan of brunch….only for dinner. So CHEESY BRUNCH POTATOES is an Antonini family favorite evening meal.

Served with a vegetable, salad, and a yogurt shake, you’ve got yourself a fast, filling, and kid-friendly meal.

CHEESY BRUNCH POTATOES – serves about 6 (unless you have teenagers – then it’s 2)

  • 1½ lbs red potatoes (Yukon gold potatoes are fine, too – just not russet)
  • 3 T butter
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1¼ cup jalapeño jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup medium cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2-3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup avocado, cubed

Get a pot of salted water boiling. Cut unpeeled potatoes into 3/4″ cubes. potatoes choppedWhen water reaches boil, drop in potatoes and cook about 5 minutes – just to par-cook them. potatoes boiled(You don’t want them completely cooked or they’ll start to mash when fried.) Pour into sieve to drain.

In a large nonstick skillet (at least 12″), melt butter over medium-high heat. Add potatoes, flipping them with non-metal spatula every few minutes. After about 5 minutes add in the onions (they cook faster than the potatoes – you don’t want to burn them). potatoes onions friedContinue flipping until the potatoes are browned. potatoes onions fried2Turn off flame.

Stir in salt and cheeses to blend. Gently fold in tomatoes and avocado. Add salt and pepper, if desired.brunch potatoes beauty

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RED LENTIL SOUP: A Quick, Guilt-Free Delight!

red lentil soup textIn my ongoing attempt to post bathing-suit friendly recipes, I decided to turn to RED LENTIL SOUP. Enjoy it either as a meal unto itself, or as a starter to curb your appetite before the higher-caloric main course.

We often think of homemade soups as time consuming so, instead, we reach for the can opener. While it’s true that some soups can take hours to steep, this RED LENTIL SOUP is NOT one of them. It can be in your bowl in 30 minutes with very little bother.

NOTE: This soup needs to be seasoned well or it’ll just taste bland. Don’t be afraid of using salt – salt usage in the home kitchen isn’t a problem like it is with fast food or prepared foods.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: If you have garam masala (a spice blend) in your pantry and want to substitute it instead of the ginger, cayenne, cinnamon, coriander, & cumin, then use 2 tsp.

RED LENTIL SOUP – makes about 7 cups

  • 2 T butter
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 1¾ salt, divided
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp dried ginger
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (for recipe click:  Vegetable Stock)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1½ cups dried red lentils, rinsed
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

In large pot, melt butter. Add in onions and 1 tsp salt. Sauté about 5 minutes, until translucent – don’t brown. Remove from heat.

Add in pepper, ginger, cayenne, cinnamon, coriander, and cumin (or the garam masala). Return to heat for 2 minutes to bloom flavors. Stir in tomato paste and garlic, and cook 1 more minute.

Pour in vegetable stock, water, and lentils. Bring to boil then simmer uncovered about 15 minutes – until lentils are soft. Whisk soup vigorously 30 seconds to cream the lentils (don’t use blender or food processor).

Stir in lemon juice, 3/4 tsp salt, and cilantro. Adjust seasoning, if necessary.

FATTOUSH SALAD – Full Of Flavor…With A Crunch!

fattoush-salad-text1Tired of the same old salad?  Try Fattoush Salad. It’s quick to put together (unless you’re compulsive, like me, and make your own pita bread).  Comprised of arugula, cucumber, mint, and cilantro, it’s a light salad that cleanses the palate.

Note:  If you’d like to make your own pitas, click on PITA BREAD for my recipe.

FATTOUSH SALAD – serves about 4

  • 2 pita breads
  • 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into 3/4″ pieces
  • 1/2 c cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 c mint, chopped
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • 1 c arugula, roughly cut
  • 3 T lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic, pressed

Preheat oven to 375º Fahrenheit.

Separate top and bottom of pitas. Cut each piece in half. Brush rough side of pitas well with olive oil. Place on cookie sheet, oiled side up, and bake 10-14 minutes, until crisp. Let cool.

While pitas are baking, wash and chop veggies. Place tomatoes, cucumber, and arugula in a bowl. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together lemon juice, salt, and garlic. Set aside.

When pitas are cool break them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside until ready to serve.

At serving time, add cilantro, mint, scallions, and pita pieces into salad. Pour in the 1/4 cup olive oil and lemon juice mix, and gently toss. Serve immediately.

 

CRISPY EGGPLANT PARMESAN: New And Improved!!!

eggplant parm textPreviously, I posted an Eggplant Parmesan recipe made in the traditional manner:  coated fried eggplant, slathered with marinara sauce, and topped with mozzarella. This was baked to fully cook the eggplant and melt the cheese. What I ended up with was mushy eggplant, soggy crust, bland marinara, and rubbery mozzarella. I knew no different.

Until I watched an America’s Test Kitchen episode where they made Chicken Parmesan. Significant changes were made, thus producing a crispy crust, fresh-tasting marinara, and melty cheese. Of course, I substituted eggplant for the chicken.

What changes, you ask? They used panko crumbs in lieu of bread crumbs for a crunchy coat. They cut the mozzarella with Italian Fontina to achieve a nice melt without being rubbery.  They added the marinara sauce at the end to retain the fresh tomato taste and crispy crust. And, finally, they didn’t bake the heck out of it – in fact, they merely broiled it enough to melt the cheese. Brilliant!!!

NOTE:  A Queen Of Freeze time-saving tip is to double or triple the marinara recipe. Then freeze it in portions for future use. Don’t add the basil before freezing, though – it will lose it’s potency.

CRISPY EGGPLANT PARMESAN

  • 2 eggplants (about 1½ pounds total)
  • kosher salt
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano, divided
  • 1/8 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped (discard stem ends & peels)
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 2 T  fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 c panko crumbs
  • 3/4 c Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 T flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Italian Fontina cheese

Remove ends of unpeeled eggplants and discard. Cut into 3/4″ pieces. Lay rounds on a wire rack and sprinkle 1/8 tsp of kosher salt on each side of slices. Set aside for 20 minutes to allow the salt to draw out water from the eggplant. eggplant salt sprinklePrepare the marinara:  In a saucepan, heat 1 T olive oil. Add in the garlic, 1/4 tsp table salt, 1/4 tsp oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 30 seconds to bloom. Add the canned tomatoes and sugar. Bring to simmer and cook 20 minutes, uncovered. Stir now and then. After 20 minutes, remove from heat and stir in the basil and remaining 1 T olive oil. Set aside.marinaraIn a bowl, mix together panko, Parmesan, garlic powder, 1/4 tsp oregano, and pepper. Pour onto a large plate.

Using a spoon, mix together the flour and egg, smashing out the flour lumps as best you can. Pour onto a large plate.

Wipe down both sides of eggplant slices with paper towel to remove excess salt. Heat several tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium/high heat. Dredge eggplant slices first into egg (both sides),eggplant dipped in eggand then into panko mix (both sides)eggplant dipped in pankoPlace into skillet, frying both sides to golden brown.eggplant friedPlace eggplant on a broiler pan and preheat broiler with rack in upper third of oven.

Combine Fontina and mozzarella. Sprinkle cheese on eggplant. Broil about 3 minutes, until cheese is melted.eggplant melted cheeseTo serve, top with marinara. Sprinkle on additional basil, if desired.eggplant parm cropped