Crispy Oven Roasted Herb Potatoes + Last Minute Thanksgiving Ideas

Crispy Oven Roasted Herb Potatoes


Goodlawd… I love me some potatoes. And in fact, my last meal that I request could possibly be a mountain of Mickey D french fries that is then washed down with a lovely bottle of vino.

I’m so classy.


Crispy Oven Roasted Herb Potatoes

So naturally, I’m obsessed with these easy, crispy, oven-roasted herb potatoes.  They can be prepped in under 5 minutes and since they’re roasted in a hot cast iron skillet, they are wonderfully crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

These little beauties are quite versatile as well. Perfect side dish for a brunch….low maintenance for a weeknight dinner….and fantastically delish to adorn your table for any special occasion/holiday – like Turkey Day!


Crispy Oven Roasted Herb Potatoes

And if you’re anything like me, you’re still trying to figure out what to make for Thursday. But worry not peeps, here are some great ideas if you’re stumped.

First off… Cocktails of course!

My recommendation to kick off the festivities – The Spiced Apple Pie

It’s made of apple cider, spiced rum, nutmeg and all other types of goodness that screams the holidays.


The Spiced Apple Pie

And if your family/loved ones are anything like mine, you’ll need to keep the Appetizers flowing before the masses get h’angry. So for your safety, make a double batch of these fab Crispy Arancini Stuffed with Mozzarella. They can also be made in advance and frozen until you’re ready to fry them up.

So. Dang. Addicting.


Crispy Arancini stuffed with Mozzarella

Next up… Bread time!!! Because in addition to potatoes, bread is my kryptonite.

I’d recommend these Honey Yeast Rolls with Sea Salt. They’re fluffy, slightly sweet and if you happen to have a few leftover (which I doubt!), they make the perfect buns for sliders.


Honey Yeast Rolls with Sea Salt

Another bread option would be Potato Rosemary Rolls which are the truth! Potatoes inside of bread?! Total no brainer. And trust me, your casa will smell like HEAVEN while they’re baking.


Potato Rosemary Rolls

How about a few Side Dishes?

Now I realize there are some people who don’t fancy mashed potatoes. Nobody I would trust, mind you. But for those folks (and for those who just like plenty of options), this Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower will be a huge hit.


Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

And just in case your Thanksgiving table wasn’t decadent enough, this Lobster Macaroni and Cheese  not only kicks up a classic but it’ll have your guests giving thanks to YOU!


Lobster Macaroni and Cheese


At some point, you may want some greens. You know, because greens are good for you. And this Asian Pear and Gorgonzola Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette is not only good for you but will be gobbled up in heartbeat.


Asian Pear and Gorgonzola Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

And now on to the Poultry.

I totally get it. Fixing up an entire turkey can be a bit intimidating. But that’s no reason to totally nix a bird. These little Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Bacon-Herb Butter are a perfect alternative. Game hens cut your roasting time down to about an hour and the meat is wonderfully succulent and juicy.

Did I mention there’s bacon in it?


Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Bacon-Herb Butter

Or you could keep things really simple and opt for a traditional Roast Chicken. Because really, a beautiful roast chicken is bliss.

I almost always default to the grandmaster Thomas Keller’s method. Completely no fuss and I always get perfect results. Crispy skin, juicy meat.


Thomas Keller's Roast Chicken

And finally, Dessert.

Sure there’s apple pie, pumpkin pie (BLEH!) and yadda, yadda, yadda. But how about something a little different?

My Pistachio-Orange Blossom Cake would be a great finale to your Thanksgiving feast. The cake is light and gently perfumed with citrus. The crushed pistachio adds to the scent of the cake and it’s all topped with whipped cream and fresh berries.


Pistachio-Orange Blossom Cake

And because my family is never satisfied with just one dessert, these Pomegranate-Peart Tarts are just the ticket for a low fuss addition to the dessert buffet. Especially since you can cut corners by using pre-packaged puff pastry.



Pomegranate-Pear Tarts

Now, I’m officially starving…. But hopefully this gave you a few ideas to fill your menu for Turkey Day.

And from my tummy to yours – I wish you and your loved ones a wonderfully delicious and comforting Thanksgiving!


Crispy Oven-Roasted Herb Potatoes



2 pounds small Yukon gold or red potatoes, washed and dried
¼ cup melted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ tablespoon finely minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
kosher salt
black pepper
¼ cup chopped parsley
1-2 wedges lemon

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Place a large cast iron skillet in the oven while it preheats. (If you do not have a cast iron skillet, you can use a sheet pan)

Depending on the size of your potatoes, cut them into halves or quarters so that they’re even sized. Place the potatoes in a large bowl and toss them with the melted butter, olive oil, rosemary, thyme, garlic and pepper flakes. Season them well with the kosher salt and black pepper.

Once your oven has reached temperature, carefully take out your cast iron skillet (be careful, it’s hot!). Spread the potatoes into an even layer and place back into the oven. Roast the potatoes for about 30-40 minutes until they’re crisp on the outside and tender on the inside when pierced with a paring knife. Be sure to flip the potatoes a few times during the roasting process to ensure even cooking.

Once done, remove the skillet from the oven. Toss the potatoes with the chopped parsley and squeeze fresh lemon over them. Enjoy!

*For some added zing, whisk in a few tablespoons of Dijon mustard into the melted butter before tossing them into the potatoes for roasting. YUM!*

Appetizers/Small Plates · Pork · Sunday Family Dinner

Croquetas de Chorizo & Our Tapas themed Family Dinner

Croquetas de Chorizo

Truth be told, my sibs and I have had to handle our share of road bumps these past few years. Things way out of our control—which is a real pain for a family full of Type A personalities.

We’re cute–but Type A through and through.

May 2013 Sunday Family Dinner-Tapas

So we started our monthly Sunday Family Dinners.

It gave us an opportunity to spend the day shopping for groceries, catching up, venting to each other, sipping cocktails, teaching the kids kitchen tips, gorging on food and well–just spending quality time together.

May 2013 Sunday Family Dinner-Tapas

We began by just throwing together menus of dishes we liked to eat and now it’s morphed into different monthly themes covering cuisines around the world. We’ve thrown caution to the wind creating dishes we’ve never attempted before with just the shells of recipes and our kitchen instincts. Pretty extensive menus if I do say so myself.

May 2013 Sunday Family Dinner-Tapas

We’ve had a lot of memorable times through our Sunday Family Dinners from a full-on Cajun Seafood Boil in the backyard to a small kitchen fire from roasting our Porchetta to a Japanese Spread that would probably even make my favorite sushi chef, Tenchu, smile.

May 2013 Sunday Family Dinner-Tapas

And before we knew it, our 1 year anniversary of Fam-Din had arrived. Unfortunately our brother and his fam couldn’t fly back from NY but our sis P was able to make the trip down.

To celebrate one year of delicious eats and new foodventures, we put together a scrumptious Tapas Dinner.

May 2013 Sunday Family Dinner-Tapas

We started off with a few pitchers of my Red Wine Sangria that had steeped overnight. This liquid goodness is no joke, Friends. Sweet, fruity, and packs a punch!


Next on the menu were Spanish Chorizo Stuffed Mushrooms.

Chorizo Stuffed Mushrooms

Spanish Chorizo gets its hue and rich flavor from the smoky Spanish paprika.

Chorizo Stuffed Mushrooms

Then came the Grilled Flank Steak drizzled with an herbaceous Salsa Verde.

Flank Steak with Salsa Verde

And then there were Baby Octopus seasoned with Spanish paprika, lemon zest, parsley and olive oil.

Baby Octopus with Paprika and Lemon

Did you know that when simmering octopus you should throw a wine cork in the pot to help tenderize it while still maintaining its toothsome texture? Supposedly it has something to do with the enzymes breaking down the octopus tissue.

Is it true? Um…not 100% sure but if European grandmas have been doing this for centuries–who am I to disagree?

Baby Octopus

Then we had the sleeper dish.

The dish we all underestimated and didn’t think much of until we took a bite– Saffron Clams. HOLY COW!

Of course big seester cooked the clams perfectly so that they were still wonderfully tender but it was the broth that was the kicker. Mind-blowingly fragrant and multi-layered from the saffron threads, white wine, lemon and herbs.

Total underdog and one of the MVPs of the night.

Saffron Clams

And what’s a Tapas dinner without Paella? This is a tried and true recipe we’ve done many times before but it’s just so-darn-wonderful!


And you know who prepared the Paella?

My 14 & 13 year old nieces– Nina and Nini!

Yup, I’ll wait while you scroll up and take another look at the Paella photo………..

Impressive, right?

May 2013 Sunday Family Dinner-Tapas

And because we all have quite a sweet tooth—other big seester made homemade Churros con Chocolate.

Crispy fried dough dunked into a rich chocolate sauce? YES, PLEASE!!!

Churros con Chocolate

As for me, my other contribution to our dinner were crispy Croquetas de Chorizo –because I’m the family’s Potato Monster.

Croquetas de Chorizo

To make these Spanish themed croquettes, I start off by mashing up a few boiled Russet Potatoes.

May 2013 Sunday Family Dinner-Tapas

After adding some spices, herbs, and other goodies, I begin forming the little potato logs and stuff them with Spanish Chorizo and cheese. Depending on how you get your Spanish Chorizo, you can either cube it, slice them, or even mince them up.

Croquetas de Chorizo

After the croquetas have been formed, toss them in the refrigerator so that they can chill and firm up. This helps them keep their shape during the frying process.

Croquetas de Chorizo

Next, enlist your 8 year old niece (like Maya) to help you dredge the croquetas. After they’re well coated, fry them until golden brown.

Don’t worry, I fried them 🙂

May 2013 Sunday Family Dinner-Tapas

Once golden brown, serve them up with this floral and rich Saffron Aioli.

Saffron Aioli

Was our Tapas Dinner delicioso? Absolutely!

But the best thing about it (other than hanging out with the Fam while sipping Sangria) is that the kids played such a huge role in the preparation of our dinner. Although it’s bittersweet to see them grow up so quickly, we’re all so proud of them!

May 2013 Sunday Family Dinner-Tapas

Moral of the story? When life gives you lemons–cook every delicious thing in the world with your family.

I can’t wait for what the next year has to come.

Now if I could only convince one of my seesters to let me to dig a hole in their backyard to make an imu to roast a pig. Wouldn’t that be rad??

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Red Wine Sangria
Appetizers: Croquetas de Chorizo with Saffron Aioli
Tapas: Baby Octopus, Grilled Flank Steak with Salsa Verde, Spanish Chorizo Stuffed Mushrooms, Saffron Clams, Paella
Dessert: Churros con Chocolate


Croquetas de Chorizo
Makes approximately 16 croquetas


3 medium sized Russett potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
3 eggs, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons finely minced Italian parsley
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika, divided
¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
¼ teaspoon white pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon onion powder
8 ounces cured Spanish Chorizo, diced
4 ounces shaved Manchego or Parmesan cheese
vegetable oil
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup flour
1 cup bread crumbs
chopped chives, to garnish

Add the potatoes to a large pot of water. Partially cover the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Carefully drain the pot and mash the potatoes (or put them through a ricer). Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

Beat one egg together with the olive oil. Add the mixture to the mashed potatoes with the parsley, 1/8 teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon white pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Mix until combined.

Take about a golf ball sized amount of the potato mixture into one hand. Flatten it out into your palm in an even, oblong shape that is about ¼ inch thick. Add a few pieces of the chorizo and cheese in the center. Mold the potato mixture into a log shape, folding the sides to enclose the filling. Place the croqueta on a large platter and repeat the process until all of the croquetas have been formed. Cover the platter with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

Fill a large, heavy bottom pot with 2 inches of vegetable oil. Heat until the oil reaches 350 degrees F.

In a shallow dish, whisk together the remaining two eggs. Place the breadcrumbs and flour into two separate shallow dishes. Season the flour with the remaining kosher salt, paprika and black pepper.

Take one croqueta and dredge it into the flour. Gently shake off the excess flour before dipping it in the egg wash. Roll the croqueta in the bread crumbs and gently shake off the excess. Set aside. Continue dredging the croquetas until you have enough to fit in the frying pot.

Fry the croquetas for 3-4 minutes, turning them from time to time until they become golden brown. Remove the croquetas and drain them on a rack or plates lined with paper towels. Optional: Once they come out of the fryer, sprinkle the croquetas with additional paprika. Continue the process until all of the croquetas have been fried. Garnish with a sprinkle of fresh chives and serve with the Saffron Aioli.

Seafood · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Muggles’ Fish and Chips

Muggles' Fish and Chips

11+ years…..

11+ years I’ve been engrossed in the world of Patronus charms, invisibility cloaks, house elves, and Quidditch.

11+ years I’ve arrived in costume at stores for their early book release parties, stood in line for midnight movie premiere showings, and took online quizzes to find out which House I would be “sorted” in (Gryffindor, of course).

Muggles' Fish and Chips

So as the final movie installment of the Harry Potter saga comes to a close this Friday in the States, I find myself mixed with feelings of utter glee and sadness. Kind of like at your college graduation…..excited for closure yet somehow saddened to see it end. Bittersweet.

As a tribute (damn, that J.K. Rowlings is brilliant), I wanted to make something “British” to send off some of my favorite characters. And of course, the first thing that came to my mind was Fish and Chips. Cliche? Maybe, but I love Fish and Chips 🙂

Muggles' Fish and Chips


These Fish and Chips from America’s Test Kitchen are easily some of the best I’ve ever had. The cod remained moist and flavorful through the frying process and the batter was utterly crispy—-even after 20+ minutes out of the fryer. I decided to serve this classic with a kicked up version of tartar sauce that was amped up with prepared horseradish. But if you’re not a fan, feel free to omit as you see fit.

And why did I call it “Muggles’ Fish and Chips“? Simple really….because THIS muggle made them!

But trust me on this, these Fish and Chips are so delish that even “He Who Must Not Be Named” would change his ways after taking a bite. Well….at least he would stop and think twice. 🙂

Here’s to an incredible adventure that has inspired millions of children (and adults!) across the world to become excited about reading and believing in MAGIC…..


Muggles’ Fish and Chips
Serves 4


Fish (From Americas Test Kitchen):
1 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Cornstarch
1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Paprika
1/8 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
Table Salt
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 1/2 Pounds 1-inch-thick Cod Fillet or Haddock, cut into eight 3-ounce pieces
1 1/2 Cups Beer (12 ounces), cold

Chips (From Americas Test Kitchen):
3 Pounds Russet Potatoes, peeled, ends and sides squared off, and cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch by 1/2-inch fries
3 Quarts Peanut Oil (or canola oil), plus 1/4 additional cup

Tartar Sauce:
1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon White Wine Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Caper Berries, roughly chopped
1/2 Tablespoon Prepared Horseradish
2 Teaspoons Dijon Mustard
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste

Prepare tartar sauce by whisking all the ingredients in a a bowl until fully incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Place cut fries in large microwaveable bowl, toss with 1/4 cup oil, and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high power until potatoes are partially translucent and pliable but still offer some resistance when pierced with tip of paring knife, 6 to 8 minutes, tossing them with rubber spatula halfway through cooking time. Carefully pull back plastic wrap from side farthest from you and drain potatoes into large mesh strainer set over sink. Rinse well under cold running water. Spread potatoes onto kitchen towels and pat dry. Let rest until room temperature, at least 10 minutes and up to 1 hour.

While fries cool, whisk flour, cornstarch, cayenne, paprika, pepper, and 2 teaspoons salt in large mixing bowl; transfer 3/4 cup of
mixture to rimmed baking sheet. Add baking powder to bowl and whisk to combine.

In heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, heat 2 quarts oil over medium heat to 350 degrees. Add fries to hot oil and increase heat to high. Fry, stirring with mesh spider or slotted metal spoon, until potatoes turn light golden and just begin to brown at corners, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer fries to thick paper bag or paper towels to drain.

Reduce heat to medium-high, add remaining quart of oil, and heat oil to 375 degrees. Meanwhile, thoroughly dry fish with paper towels and dredge each piece in flour mixture on baking sheet; transfer pieces to wire rack, shaking off excess flour. Add 1 1/4 cups beer to flour mixture in mixing bowl and stir until mixture is just combined (batter will be lumpy). Add remaining beer as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition, until batter falls from whisk in thin, steady stream and leaves faint trail across surface of batter. Using tongs, dip 1 piece fish in batter and let excess run off, shaking gently. Place battered fish back onto baking sheet with flour mixture and turn to coat both sides. Repeat with remaining fish, keeping pieces in single layer on baking sheet.

When oil reaches 375 degrees, increase heat to high and add battered fish to oil with tongs, gently shaking off excess flour. Fry,
stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer fish to thick paper bag or paper towels to drain. Allow oil to return to 375 degrees.

Add all fries back to oil and fry until golden brown and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to fresh paper bag or paper towels to drain.
Season fries with salt to taste and serve immediately with fish, fresh lemon, and tartar sauce.

Side Dish · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Rosemary-Garlic Hasselback Potatoes

Rosemary-Garlic Hasselback Potatoes


My love for Potatoes knows no boundaries. In fact, I’m even contemplating the idea of dedicating an entire month of posts to different potato recipes of the world. Mmmm……..Yum.

Needless to say, I’ve never met a potato I didn’t like. Especially when they’re all dolled up like these lovely Hasselback Potatoes.

Rosemary-Garlic Hasselback Potatoes to be exact.

Now say that three times fast.




Rosemary-Garlic Hasselback Potatoes


Originating from Sweden, these potatoes are meant to mirror the fan shape created by accordions. But don’t let their looks fool you as they’re super easy to make and can dress up any dinner plate.



Rosemary-Garlic Hasselback Potatoes


In addition to the elegant look, there’s also some brilliance to the way these potatoes are sliced. With the additional crevices that are exposed to the heat, the exterior becomes deliciously crispy while the interior remains super tender.

As for these potatoes, I chose to pair them with both rosemary and garlic but the options are endless. Parmesan cheese, chives, bacon…….so many choices, so little time 🙂


Rosemary-Garlic Hasselback Potatoes
Serves 4


4 Medium Sized Yukon Gold Potatoes, washed and dried
½ Cup Olive Oil
4 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
3 Whole Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced
Sea Salt and Black Pepper

Place oil and rosemary in a small saucepan and heat on medium-low for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place one potato on a cutting board. Starting from one end of the potato, make slits about 1/8 inch apart but do not cut all the way through the bottom. You can also place the potato in a wooden spoon before you make the slices. The spoon will act as a “guard” to help you not slice all the way through the bottom. Repeat with the remaining potatoes.

Carefully slip one slice of garlic in between every few segments of the potatoes until all the garlic has been evenly distributed. Place potatoes on a baking sheet and brush them all over with the rosemary infused oil. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Bake the potatoes for 30-40 minutes, depending on size. Interior should be soft and exterior should be slightly crisp.

Serve warm.

Appetizers/Small Plates · Side Dish · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Oven Baked Potato Chips…..and an Interview.

Oven Baked Potato Chips

One of my greatest vices are Potato Chips.

Sour Cream and Cheddar, Kettle, Spicy Jalapeno.….I love them all. Salty, crunchy—and they’re so freaking addicting.

I’m not embarrassed to admit that I can polish off an entire bag by myself in one fell swoop. And I’m not talking about one of those small snack-bags either 🙂

These Oven Baked Potato Chips are an easy and “healthier” way for me to fulfill my chips cravings. This is a basic recipe but would be great with the addition of herbs or even Parmesan cheese–YUM! Just be sure to keep a close eye on them while they’re baking as some can brown faster than others.

On another note, I recently participated in a fun event with Gordon Attard from Pimp That Food. Check out my interview with him as May’s Food Blogger of the Month. Thanks Gordon!

Food Blogger Interview


Oven Baked Potato Chips
Serves 2-3


1 Large Russet Potato
Sea Salt
Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Using a mandolin or very sharp knife, thinly slice the potatoes. Use paper towels to dry off any excess moisture from the potatoes.

Cover a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the potato slices in one layer on the baking sheet. Spray the slices with cooking spray.

Bake the potato slices for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. You may need to flip the slices every few minutes to evenly bake them. Keep a close eye on the potatoes, as some will crisp up faster than others. Once browned, remove them from the oven and immediately sprinkle them with sea salt.



Saag Aloo (Spinach and Potatoes Curry)

Saag Aloo (Spinach and Potatoes Curry)


The third installment of my Indian Foodventure—–Saag Aloo or Spinach & Potatoes Curry.

Saag is a typically made with spinach or other leafy greens and is cooked down with spices until it reaches a smooth texture. Often you’ll find Saag prepared with Paneer–a fresh Indian cheese. Paneer isn’t difficult to make and comes together with only a few ingredients. However, it does take some time for the curds to come together and firm up. As such, I opted to prepare my Saag with fried Aloo (potatoes)—which is another common pairing.


Saag Aloo (Spinach and Potatoes Curry)


I adapted a recipe from Saveur by replacing the paneer with fried potato cubes and reducing the amount of heavy cream by 2 tablespoons. The final product resulted in a delightful vegetarian dish with great flavors from the garam masala. Absolutely a winning recipe!

A little side note: This is definitely one of those dishes that may look a tad unappetizing but is darn tasty! 🙂

Monday’s Post: The conclusion of our Indian Foodventure– Channa Masala (Spicy Chickpea Curry)


Saag Aloo (Spinach and Potatoes Curry)
Adapted from Savuer


1 Large Russett Potato, peeled and cubed
1 Inch Piece Ginger, peeled and chopped
3–4 Cloves Garlic, peeled and chopped
1 Serrano Chile, stemmed and chopped
8 Cups Spinach, washed, trimmed, and finely chopped
1/2 Teaspoon Garam Masala
1-2 Pinches Cayenne
1/4 Cup Water
4 Tablespoon Heavy Cream
Kosher Salt
Vegetable Oil to fry Potatoes, plus 1 Tablespoon

Heat a large skillet with vegetable oil. Using a paper towel, dry the potato cubes. In batches, fry the potato cubes until golden brown all over, about 4–6 minutes. Transfer potatoes with a slotted spatula to a plate covered with paper towels and set aside. Season with kosher salt.

For the spinach, put ginger, garlic, chiles, and 1/4 cup water into a blender and purée to a smooth paste. Place a large skillet with 1 Tablespoon oil on the stove and heat over medium-high heat. Add ginger–garlic paste and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon for about 30 seconds. Add spinach and cook until leaves wilt. Continue to stir often. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until spinach is very soft, about 10-15 minutes.  Stir in garam masala, cayenne, and cream.

Add fried potatoes to the spinach and cover skillet. Continue cooking until liquid thickens and spinach is silky soft, about 15 minutes more. Check for seasonings and add additional kosher salt or cayenne as needed. Serve with Naan or rice.


Corn Chowder and a Photo Quandry

In the age of Digital Cameras, photography novices (and I mean ME!) rely on taking hundreds of shots in hopes of getting 1 or 2 photos we like. It’s so easy to snap a photo, take a quick peak, delete, re-shoot….repeat.

Sure, I play around with aperture settings, ISO, composition, blah-blah-blah. But most of it’s trial and error. This especially occurs when I shoot food photos. I often torture loved ones by making them wait until I’ve snapped the thousandth photo before they can dig into their plates. It’s a sad thing.

So I decided to challenge myself the other day……. take only ONE shot of a dish. One quick click without any do overs.

The subject of the photo—a Corn Chowder to take the chill off the cold days we’ve been having.

Sadly, it definitely wasn’t a great photo.  But alas, I had to stick to my guns—- though I had a quandary on my hands. Even though the photo was BLEH the Corn Chowder turned out so darn tasty and tummy warming. If I scrapped the photo, I would have nothing to show you Friends.

Alas….here it is….


Corn Chowder



Not my best work but I’m a work in progress. And although I’m glad to have challenged myself, next time I will continue to click away. Let’s face it….that’s why I bought a digital camera in the first place 🙂


Corn Chowder
Serves 4


3 Cups Russett Potatoes, diced
1 Cup Corn Kernels
½ Cup Carrots, finely diced
½ Cup Celery, finely diced
½ Cup White Onion, finely diced
2 Whole Garlic Cloves, finely diced
3 Strips Bacon, finely diced
2 Dried Bay Leaves
1 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme Leaves
1 Quart Low Sodium Chicken Broth
3/4 Cup Heavy Cream
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper

In a heavy bottom pot, cook the bacon slowly until crisp and the fat has rendered out—about 8-10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate covered with a paper towel.

In the same pot with the bacon grease, add carrots, celery, and onions and cook until they are translucent. Add the garlic, thyme, potatoes and cook for 2 or 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add chicken broth and bay leaves. Bring liquid to a boil and then cover and lower heat to a steady simmer.

Continue to simmer until the potatoes become tender—about 15-20 minutes. Once this has been achieved, use a wooden spoon to smash some of the potatoes against the sides of the pot to release some of the starch into the liquid. Stir in the corn and cream and continue to simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves and discard. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle the tops with the crisped bacon.

Beef · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Ribeye Steak and Frites

Ribeye Steak & Frites


I love steaks—-I am, after all, my mother’s daughter.

But I don’t eat it very often and I sure as heck don’t make it enough. Which is really unfortunate because it’s so easy and makes your home smell delicious. In fact, it took longer to bake my frites than it did for me to prepare and sear my Ribeye Steak.

So next time, forgo the bougie steakhouses. You’ll save a few bucks and no one will look at you weird if you’re wearing your pajamas at the dinner table. 🙂


Ribeye Steak and Frites
Serves 2


2 Ribeye Steaks, approximately 1.5 inches thick and at room temperature
1 Cup Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
1 Large Russet Potato, peeled and cut into ¼ inch long strips
2 Tablespoons Fresh Garlic, minced finely
1 Tablespoon Shallots, diced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme Leaves
¼ Cup Red Wine or Beef Stock
¼ Cup Heavy Cream
1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil, divided
Kosher Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with in 2 tablespoons of oil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Spread them in one even layer on a baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes. Stir every 10-15 minutes to ensure all sides are baked even.

While the frites are baking, rub the steaks with the remaining oil. Heavily season all sides with salt and pepper. Heat a cast iron pan to high heat. Add the steaks to the pan and sear each side for 2-3 minutes. You want to develop a golden brown crust. Move the pan to the oven and bake until the internal temperature reaches 130-135 degrees (medium rare) or 140-145 degrees (medium). Remove the steaks to a clean plate and tent with aluminum foil. Allow the steaks to rest for 5-10 minutes.

While the steaks are resting, melt the butter and olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute the mushrooms and shallots until they are golden brown. Add thyme leaves, wine, and cream. Cook until the sauce reduces by half. Season with salt and pepper.

Plate the steaks with a few spoonfuls of the mushroom sauce and frites.


Beef · Vietnamese

Thịt Bò Xào Khoai Tây (Vietnamese Stir Fry Beef and Potatoes)

Thịt Bò Xào Khoai Tây (Vietnamese Stir Fry Beef and Potatoes)

Growing up, our normal dinners would include several family-style dishes to be eaten with rice (cơm). We always had some type of soup (canh), vegetable dish, and a protein dish. This is what standard Vietnamese meals were for us and were referred to as “ăn cơm” or “to eat rice”.

Of course there were dishes that my siblings and I all dreaded…..Canh mướp đắng (Bittermelon Soup) being one of them. But then there were some that were general favorites……Mực nhồi (Stuffed squid), Tôm lăn bột (Battered fried shrimp), and of course Thịt Bò Xào Khoai Tây (Stir Fry Beef and Potatoes). In fact, the latter was my personal favorite.

What I loved most about this dish was the “gravy” that it produced…..which is ironic because it’s the gravy-like sauces of many Chinese dishes that turn me off from that cuisine! But somehow, this beef gravy was liquid gold as a kid and when you mixed it up with your rice–delish! In fact, I would always request that my mom make sure that the dish had lots of “gravy”.

The key to making a killer Thịt Bò Xào is a high quality beef—ribeye or filet mignon was my mom’s personal choice. Since the meat needs to be cut so thin and cooked quickly at high heat, other cuts aren’t as successful. It may seem a tad pricey for a beef stir fry but when you take into account how many people this dish will feed, it’s well worth the extra few dollars. And when you bite into the meat, you’ll be pretty darn happy with the tenderness of it. As for the added bit of cornstarch and butter at the end (optional), it will assist in making the coveted gravy.

And when that gravy is soaked up into the potatoes—SOOO GOOD! It won’t be long before Thịt Bò Xào Khoai Tây is your favorite dish when you “ăn cơm”.

Tip: My local Vietnamese grocery store sells ribeye packages that are already thinly sliced. But if your store doesn’t or you can’t convince your butcher to slice it for you, pop your beef into the freezer for a few minutes before you start slicing it. Slightly chilled meat is a lot easier to make thin slices out of—just be sure to use a super sharp knife.


Thịt Bò Xào Khoai Tây (Vietnamese Stir Fry Beef and Potatoes)
Serves approximately 6-8


1 Pound Thinly Sliced Ribeye Beef
1 Small Yellow Onion, quartered
1 Large Tomato, sliced into wedges
1½ Cups Mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely minced
1½  Teaspoons Cornstarch
3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil, plus additional to fry potatoes
2-3 Tablespoons Maggi or Soy Sauce
Fresh Cracked Pepper
2 Large Russet Potato, peeled and cut into ¼ inch wide strips
1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter, optional

In a bowl, mix together beef, garlic, cornstarch, and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Season with freshly cracked pepper and set aside.

Heat 2 inches of oil in a heavy pot until it reaches 375 degrees. Carefully add a handful of the potatoes into the pot stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown–about 7 to 8 minutes. Drain the potatoes on paper towels and keep warm on a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven while frying remaining batches.  *If you prefer to bake your potatoes, toss the potatoes strips in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Spread them in one even layer on a baking sheet and place in a 450 degree oven for 40-45 minutes. Stir every 10-15 minutes to ensure all sides are baked even.

Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large wok over medium heat. Add onions and mushrooms and cook until both have softened but not browned, approximately 4-5 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Push the items to the side of your wok (or remove to a plate if your wok is not large enough) and add the beef. Quickly stir fry the beef for 1-2 minutes or until lightly brown—this should not take a long time since the beef is so thin.  Stir in the onion/tomato/mushroom mixture and combine well. Add the butter (optional) and remove from heat. Stir in Maggi  (to taste) and additional cracked black pepper.

To serve, place potatoes in a layer on a plate. Pour beef stir fry over the top and garnish with additional cilantro.

Side Dish · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Potato Mushroom Gratin–PERFECT for Thanksgiving!

Potato-Mushroom Gratin

Okay…you caught me. I mentioned this dish during my 2009 Thanksgiving post. But it is SO DELISH and EASY that I had to spotlight it again…and this time, on its own!

This Gratin is rich, earthy, and utterly satisfying—PERFECT for the holidays. And the best thing yet, you can make it days in advance and just pop it in the oven to warm up before serving. Nguyen-Win Situation! Kudos Bruce Aidells, this one is a keeper!



Potato-Mushroom Gratin
From Bruce Aidells


5 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
2½ Pounds Medium Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled, cut lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices
1½ Teaspoons Coarse Kosher Salt, plus additional for mushrooms
¾ Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper, plus additional for mushrooms
1¼ Cups Heavy Whipping Cream, divided
1 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese (about 3 ounces), divided
2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Thyme
6 Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced
12 Ounces Fresh Crimini Mushrooms, sliced

Preheat oven to 375°F. Brush 13x9x2-inch glass or oval ceramic baking dish with 2 tablespoons oil. Arrange 1/3 of potatoes, slightly overlapping, in dish. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pour 1/3 cup cream over; sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese. Repeat layering 1/3 of potatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/3 cup cream, and 1/4 cup cheese 2 more times. Bake uncovered until potatoes are tender, adding cream by tablespoonfuls if dry, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven; maintain oven temperature.

Sprinkle thyme and garlic slices over gratin. Toss mushrooms in medium bowl with 3 tablespoons oil; sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper. Arrange mushroom slices atop gratin around edge of dish. Drizzle with 1/4 cup cream; sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese. Continue to bake uncovered until mushrooms are tender and potato edges are golden brown, about 20 minutes longer. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool 1 hour in dish; cover and chill. Before serving, cut gratin into 10 pieces. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet. Cover with foil and rewarm in 350°F oven, 10 to 15 minutes.