Mashed Potatoes – Loaded!

No box of potato flakes will ever set foot in my pantry – homemade mashed potatoes are so much yummier & soooo simple to make. I’m all for the standard mash, but sometimes I like to take them to the next level. Enter my Loaded Mashed Potatoes…a whipped, silky, creamy, cheesy accompaniment that easily takes the place of your typical potato side!

Here’s what you need:
  • 6 medium potatoes, cubed (skins optional)
  • 1/2 cup milk – more or less to taste
  • 4 tbsp salted butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

(Stop here – everything above this is my Basic Mashed Potato recipe & can be used without the ingredients below!)

  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked & chopped


And here’s how you make it:

In a medium sauce pot, cover the potatoes with cold water high enough so they’re just covered. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and continue boiling on medium/high for 15 minutes. Drain potatoes & set aside.
Return your pot to the stove & set on a medium/low heat. Add the butter & milk, cooking until warmed – don’t boil the milk! Add the potatoes, salt, pepper, sour cream, cheese, onions, and bacon. With a hand mixer turned off, mash the ingredients together for about 10 seconds. Turn the mixer on medium and whip the potato mixture until light and fluffy. Add additional milk, salt, and/or pepper to taste.
These potatoes reheat really well in the microwave. In fact, I had my leftovers for dinner tonight (it’s a Dinner for One night for me), and this is all I have left to share:

Weekend Favorites: Blueberry Pancakes

Every Saturday morning I ask Mia what she’d like for breakfast, and every time the answer is the same: Blueberry Pancakes. The recipe makes enough for a family of four, give or take, and it’s truly a favorite in our house!

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1/2 pint blueberries
And here’s how you make it:
Place 1/4 stick of butter into a large skillet over medium to medium/high heat. The pan is ready when the butter is melted and starts to foam a little.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. In a separate mixing bowl combine the milk, egg, oil, and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, whisking to just combine.
Pour the batter, about 1/4 cup at a time, into your preheated skillet. Sprinkle each pancake with blueberries to taste. Cook four minutes, or until you see bubbles appear all over the top. Flip the pancakes & cook an additional three minutes. Repeat the process until batter has been used up. Serve hot with butter and syrup.
Things to note:
  • I start with the pan on medium/high to preheat, but once the first set of pancakes has finished, I reduce the heat to medium. After the first set, the remaining batches need less time – about three minutes the first side, and two minutes the second side.
  • These pancakes reheat really well – on Sundays we will take leftovers, wrap them in a damp paper towel, and microwave for about 30 seconds. Yum!

Dinner for One: Garlic Shrimp Linguine with Broiled Buttery Baguette

With busy schedules, I sometimes find myself flying solo for dinner. I don’t know about you, but for me cooking for one started to feel like a drag, and after finding myself eating a bag of microwave popcorn for dinner I thought, “This can’t continue.” Cooking for myself is an interesting thing. The recipe needs to be quick, simple & satisfying, and the ingredients need to be staples in my kitchen, otherwise I won’t can’t find the motivation to start. Garlic Shrimp Linguine fits the bill, especially when you add baguette slices that have been buttered and broiled. Mmmmm…..

Here’s what you need:

  • Linguine – about 1/4 of a small box
  • 8-10 frozen RAW shrimp, thawed & peeled – remove the tail too
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 leaves fresh basil, chopped (you can substitute oregano or chives, or omit entirely – still delicious!)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Diced tomatoes for garnish (when in season)
Have these ready too: A baking sheet covered in foil, a large sauce pan, and a medium sauté pan.
And here’s how you make it:

The trick to making this a quick meal is to get your self set up before actually cooking. Turn your oven broiler on high to preheat & set the oven rack in the middle. Next, fill your sauce pot about 3/4 full of water, cover and set it on high to boil. Place your sauté pan with 2 tbsp of olive oil on a burner at medium-high. Lay your shrimp on a plate; salt & pepper the side facing up, then set aside.
Is your pasta water boiling? Add 3 tbsp salt to the boiling water, and then add your linguine. Reduce heat & continue boiling, uncovered. Set your timer to 9 minutes – you’re going to under-cook the pasta because it will finish cooking later.
Your sauté pan should be nice and hot, but not smoking. (If it’s smoking, reduce the heat a little before adding the shrimp). Add your shrimp, seasoned side down, to the pan – you’ll hear a sizzle! Season the side facing up with more salt & pepper. Don’t touch them or move them around! After 2 minutes, flip your shrimp. Cook for 2 more minutes & then remove to a plate. Set aside. Turn the burner down to low, you’ll need the sauté pan at the end.
Give the pasta a stir!
Cut two 1/2″ slices from your baguette. Lay them on your baking sheet and butter the tops. Set aside.
Drain your pasta. 
Go back to your sauté pan. Turn the burner up to medium and then add 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tbsp butter, and the garlic. Once the garlic starts to sizzle (about 2 minutes) add your pasta to the pan, stirring to coat. Toss in the basil & Parmesan cheese. Add the shrimp back to the pan, toss for an additional 30 seconds, and then you’re ready to plate the pasta!

Last step: put the buttered baguettes under the broiler for a minute, or until golden brown – I set the timer every time I make these because inevitably I forget about them & end up with burnt toast.

PS: Sometimes microwave popcorn hits the spot no matter what you can cook!

Unbeatable Key Lime Pie

I love pies. Specifically, I love tart, creamy, gooey pies. I was on the hunt for a good Key Lime pie, and as all my recipe searches do, this one started with Food Network.

There were easy recipes, difficult recipes, recipes with five stars, and some with none. I sorted by my favorite chefs, and then unsorted. Finally I came across the recipe. Simple without being artificial, short ingredient list (some of which I already had in my kitchen), and oddly enough – from Emeril, whom I don’t typically gravitate towards.

OK – so here’s my take on the recipe….

I kept all the ratios and cooking times the same every time I made this recipe.

There are, however, a few changes I made…none of which affected the integrity of the pie one bit. Here they are:

  1. Use store bought pie crust. I made my own graham cracker crust the first time, but every other time I used a pre-made, store bought crust. No one could tell the difference. I used graham cracker crust and I used traditional pie crust. Both delicious and both store bought! One advantage to the store bought graham cracker crust is that it comes with a plastic lid, making transport a breeze!
  2. Don’t bother squeezing 200 Key Limes for this recipe. Have you ever seen a Key Lime? They’re about half the size of a regular lime and doubly as hard to squeeze. Who wants to mess with that?! I used Key Lime juice that I found in the juice isle of my local grocery store. Delish.
  3. DO bother to squeeze two regular limes, but zest them first! The addition of freshly squeezed lime juice and a tablespoon of lime zest really enhance the pie filling. Plus, you’ll need some lime zest for the garnish.

Don’t freak out about the sour cream. I know you’re thinking, “Whipped cream would be sooo much better,” because I felt that way too. The sour cream is GOOOOD. It’s worth it. You HAVE to use it. Trust me.

Key Lime Pie

And one final note: 
My sister asked me to make her three of these pies for her last birthday. One to eat that day, and the other two to freeze. It doesn’t seem possible, but this pie might actually be better frozen. Try it and see!

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