Baked Cheese Balls

Ingredients:

  • 7 ounces Swiss cheese, grated
  • 7 ounces all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Preparation:

Bring the water to a boil, then add the salt and the butter. When the butter melts, remove from heat and add the flour. Mix well. Add the grated cheese and the eggs. Mix everything very well, until you get a homogeneous composition. Let it cool for about one hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Put baking paper on the bottom of an oven tray. With your palms, start forming balls from the mixture. Put the balls on the baking paper, making sure there’s enough room around them, so they don’t get it touch with each other.

Bake the cheese balls for 30 minutes. You can serve them either hot or cold. Suggestion for serving: place several lettuce leaves on a big platter and arrange the cheese balls on top.

This recipe makes about 40-50 cheese balls.

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Easy Cheese Straws With Caraway Seeds

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound feta cheese, grated
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1 pound all purpose white flour
  • 1-2 egg yolks (for glazing the cheese straws)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 pound butter
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt

Preparation:

Mix the flour, grated feta cheese, yogurt, butter and baking powder, until you get a firm dough. Cool it in the fridge for 1 hour. Divide the dough in 4 parts. Roll each of them until you get a 1/8 inch thick sheet. Try to shape it rectangular, if you can. If not, it’s not a problem, use a knife to cut the round edges and mix them into another dough ball.

In a small bowl, separate the egg yolks. Save the whites to use for other foods. With a pastry brush, glaze the dough sheet generously. Spread caraway seeds all over it.

Cut the dough sheet in stripes about 1/2 inch wide. The length can be anything you wish.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Put baking paper in a tray, then transfer the dough stripes on it, carefully not to break them.

Bake the straws for 10-15 minutes. Watch them closely after 10 minutes, because it’s easy to overcook them.

Serve them at room temperature. If you have any of them left (although I doubt that) you can store them in the fridge and eat them the next day.

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Oven Baked Jacket Potatoes

Delicious, very filling and inexpensive, jacket potatoes are one of my favorite foods and one of the potato recipes I cook quite often. I usually have them in restaurants, but I don’t shy away from cooking them at home, either. Baking the perfect jacket potatoes is not so much of a challenge. All you need is an oven, some tin foil, a fork and, of course, the potato. Other ingredients are optional, so you can make up your own recipe, as you’ll see in a moment. As of the cooking time, if you go for the microwave method, you can expect your meal to be ready in as little as 15 minutes. However, if you prefer the classic oven baking, that would take at least 90 minutes.

I like the jacket potatoes with cheese filling and with mayonnaise on top.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Take two medium-large potatoes. Wash and dry them. Prick them all over with a fork, then wrap them in tin foil. Bake them in the oven for 90 minutes.

Now you can either cut them open and add the fillings of your choice or you can go for the stuffed jacket, which means scooping the insides of the potatoes, mashing them with crumbled cheese and butter, then putting the filling back in jackets. You can also add small cubes of ham or bacon. Sprinkle cheese on top and return to the oven for two minutes more. Serve immediately. Stuffed jacket potatoes are awesome with a topping of mayonnaise or sour cream and with freshly ground pepper.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium-large potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup cheese, grated or crumbled (choose your favorite cheese, all of them are as good)
  • 1/2 cup diced ham or bacon (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream or mayonnaise
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Homemade Mashed Potatoes Recipe

As life goes pretty hectic these days, we’ve got less and less time for activities like cooking. Some people can’t even find the time to eat properly. We need everything fast and easy, otherwise we lose interest. If you ever tried the instant mashed potatoes that can be found in supermarkets, then you surely know that’s not “the real thing”. It’s a huge difference in taste between instant and homemade mashed potatoes. Believe it or not, there’s not so much difference in the cooking time needed, if you don’t take into account the boiling time.

Take 5-6 medium potatoes. Make sure they are all pretty much the same size, because you want them to get cooked at the same time. Choose only healthy potatoes, with nice skin, without sprouts. Wash them very well.

Put the potatoes in a large pot with water, add a tablespoon of salt and bring them to a boil. Cover the pot and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Check the potatoes with a fork to see if they are done. If the fork goes easily, you’re ready.

Boiling potatoes

Boiling potatoes for a simple mashed potatoes recipe

Remove the pot from heat. Take the potatoes one by one, cut them in half and peel them. Beware, they are very hot, so you’ll nee to use a fork to get them out of the water. As you peel the potatoes, put them in a bowl, add 2 tablespoons of butter, some salt and optionally some freshly ground black pepper. Cover the bowl to keep it warm until you’re done with all potatoes.

Boiled potatoes

Boiled potatoes peeled, salted, with added butter, ready to be mashed

With a wire masher, start mashing the potatoes, gradually adding warm milk until you’re happy with the consistency of your mashed potatoes.

Mashed potatoes

Mashed potatoes almost done

This is one of the simplest potato recipes and it’s an awesome side dish for steaks, sausages, stews and for all meat-based dishes in general.

Fried Pork Chops with Mashed Potatoes

Fried Pork Chops with Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 medium potatoes (Yukon Golds or russets)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup warm milk
  • salt, pepper to taste

If you’re really in a hurry, you can speed up cooking by peeling and dicing the potatoes before boiling them. However, boiling the potatoes unpeeled results in a better taste, therefore I reckon it’s worth the pain of prolonging the preparation time a bit.

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Twice Baked Potatoes

Twice baked potatoes are nothing else than stuffed jacket potatoes returned to the oven after the inside has been mixed with various fillings such as cheese, egg or bacon. Not only are these potatoes delicious, they are also festive, therefore they can make a hit at Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner, or at any other celebration.

Ingredients for 6 servings:

  • 3 large baking potatoes (choose healthy ones, with nice skin)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 6 bacon slices
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • salt and pepper

Preparation:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Clean and dry the potatoes, then bake them for about one hour.

Fry the bacon slices in a skillet for about 2-3 minutes on each side. When they are nicely browned, remove from the pan and drain them on paper towels. Crumble them and set them aside. It’s nicer to first brown, then crumble the bacon, because if you do otherwise, it will retain too much oil.

When the potatoes are baked, remove them from the oven and let them cool for about 10 minutes, then cut them in halves lengthwise. Scoop the interior carefully in a large bowl, leaving the skin intact. Don’t throw away the skins, we are going to need them later on.

Add sour cream, salt, pepper, butter, half the green onions amount and half the cheese to the bowl with potato flesh. Mix well until the composition gets creamy and uniform. You can use a hand mixer, it’s much faster than the manual way.

Spoon the creamy mixture back into the potato shells. Top with the remaining sour cream, onions and bacon. Return the tray to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Serve hot.

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Scalloped Potatoes Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium baking potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup diced ham
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

Preparation:
Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add salt, pepper and flour. Stir frequently, until you get a smooth mixture, then start adding the milk, little by little. Bring it to boil and cook for about one minute. Set aside.

Oil a baking dish, then arrange one layer of potatoes on the bottom. Cover with half of the chopped onion, add half cup of diced ham, then pour one third of the milk sauce over it. Add a new layer of potatoes, the rest of chopped onion and ham, then cover with the remaining sauce.

Cover the dish and bake it in the oven for about 90 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with dried oregano, then return to the oven and bake it uncovered for 10 minutes.

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Peanut Butter Quesadilla Recipe

Quesadillas are the Mexican equivalent of sandwiches, so there’s no wonder I’ve got so many inquiries from my friends to publish a peanut butter quesadilla recipe. Here’s a simple one, but remember that anything you’d put inside a sandwich is perfect for a quesadilla as well. The difference is that you’ll put those goodies inside tortillas instead of bread slices or rolls.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large tortilla (10 inch)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons quince jelly
  • 1 teaspoon butter

Directions:
Melt the butter in a pan over low to medium heat. Spread the peanut butter on the tortilla (on one side only). Fold the tortilla so that the peanut butter is inside. Put the folded tortilla in the pan and brown it for about 2 minutes on each side. Beware not to burn it, so don’t exceed 2 minutes and make sure the heat is set to medium.

Slice the browned tortilla into wedges. Serve it with quince jelly. Your kids will love it!

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Traditional Quiche Lorraine

Quiche is a dish originating from France, specifically from a region called Lorraine. This is why it is mostly known as Quiche Lorraine, although it is popular not only across all France but also in many countries, from Portugal to New Zealand. The traditional quiche Lorraine contains bacon and heavy cream, but if you want a low-fat variant, you can use ham and yogurt instead.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pie crust
  • 6-7 bacon slices
  • 3 free range eggs
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of nutmeg

Directions:
Pre-heat the oven to 400F and bake the pie crust for 30 minutes. Dice the bacon. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the diced bacon and brown it for 5-6 minutes.

Beat the eggs, add the heavy cream, the milk, the salt and the pepper. Mix everything well, then pour the custard over the pie crust. Take care not to completely fill the baking dish. There should be about 1/4 pan height free space for the mixture to expand.

Bake the quiche over 300F for about 30 minutes. Spread nutmeg on top. Let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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Tomato Soup Recipe

Tomato soup is considered one of the most popular comfort foods in the US. It can be made from scratch, but it is also available in shops in powder form. Although instant powder soup is very fast to prepare, it may contain food additives and preservatives, which make it not so healthy. Besides, a homemade soup made with fresh, high quality ingredients will always taste much better.

Ingredients for 4-5 servings:

  • 7-8 medium size, ripe, fresh tomatoes
  • 1 medium size yellow onion
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 4 cups chicken broth (for a vegetarian version of this tomato soup recipe, use vegetable broth instead)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Peel and slice the onion. Core and chop the tomatoes. Peel and crush the garlic cloves.

In a pot, melt the butter, then add the onion, garlic, Stir, cover and cook over low temperature for about 5 minutes. You don’t want the onions to go brown. After 5 minutes add the garlic, stir, then add the tomatoes. Gradually add the chicken broth and simmer with the lid on for about 20 minutes.

Puree the soup using a food processor or a blender. Return the purred soup into the stockpot, add salt, peppercorns, bay leaf and fresh basil and bring it to a boil.  Serve the soup hot. Croutons are a nice addition.

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Baked Macaroni And Cheese

Baked macaroni cheese right from the oven

Baked macaroni cheese right from the oven

Ingredients:

  • 300 g pasta (spirals, elbow macaroni or any other type of short pasta)
  • 300 g hard feta cheese, grated
  • 100 g Emmental, Gouda or Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 100 g sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk

Directions:

Get 300g (about 10 ounces) macaroni. I used spirals for this recipe, but any other type of short pasta will do.

Spiral pasta

Spiral pasta

You’ll also need a block of feta cheese (at least 100g or about 3-4 ounces weight):

Feta cheese

Feta cheese

Boil the macaroni as per instructions on the pack. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the water to prevent the pasta from sticking. Since we are going to bake it later on, there’s no need to strictly respect the cooking time. Just make sure to, at least, cook it “al dente”. Here’s my cooked pasta, draining over the kitchen sink:

Macaroni boiled "al dente"

Macaroni boiled "al dente"

While waiting for the macaroni to cook, grate the feta cheese in a big bowl.

Grated feta cheese

Grated feta cheese

You want a big bowl because you are going to add the boiled pasta later on. Set aside about 1 tablespoon grated feta.

In the big bowl of grated feta add two eggs and mix everything very well.

Cheese - egg mixture

Cheese - egg mixture

In a separate bowl, beat the two remaining eggs together with the sour cream and the milk.

Drain the macaroni very well and let it chill out.

Meanwhile, put the butter in a Pyrex dish and let it melt on low heat, making sure it spreads evenly on the bottom of the dish.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Add the pasta to the feta cheese-egg mixture and mix it very well with a fork. Spoon the mixture into the Pyrex dish and shape it flat. Pour the egg-sour cream-milk mixture evenly on top, then sprinkle the dish with the remaining grated feta.

Macaroni cheese ready for baking

Macaroni cheese ready for baking

Bake the macaroni cheese on low to medium heat for about 30 minutes. Take the dish out of the oven, sprinkle the grated Emmental cheese on top, then bake it on medium to high temperature for 15-20 more minutes or until you see it getting a nice light brown, crispy crust.

This is how the macaroni and cheese looks when it's done

This is how the macaroni and cheese looks when it's done

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