Potato Smashers for Easy Potato Recipes

Looking for some easy potato recipes?

Potato Smashers are like Potato Skins, covered with crisp bacon and sharp cheddar cheese…but on a grander scale!  You can make these in about 15 minutes and your family and friends will rave!

Print the recipe here:

Potato Smashers
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 8 small new red potatoes, about 2 inches in diameter
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 2 tablespoons Zesty Italian Salad Dressing
  • ½ to 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Place potatoes and water in 2 quart microwavable bowl. Microwave, uncovered, om HIGH for 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Let stand a couple of minutes to cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, cook bacon in large skillet 8 minutes or so..until crisp, turning frequently. Drain on paper towels, leaving the grease in the skillet.
  3. Drain the potatoes, press each potato with the bottom of a small bowl or saucer to flatten to ½ inch thickness.
  4. Heat Italian dressing in the skillet with the bacon grease. Add potatoes; cook 4 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown.
  5. Meanwhile, crumble bacon. Turn the potatoes over; sprinkle with the cheese and bacon.
  6. Cover skillet with lid and cook an additional 2 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Potato Smashers Ingredients 

Place potatoes and water in 2 quart microwavable dish.  Microwave, uncovered on HIGH for 10 minutes…

Microwave Potatoes

Cook the bacon…and save the grease!  You are going to brown the cooked potatoes in that grease in a few minutes!

Cook Bacon

 

Drain the potatoes and “smash” each one with the bottom of a small bowl or saucer..

Smash Potatoes

 

Heat the dressing in a large skillet with the bacon grease..add the potatoes. 

Add Italian Dressing to Potato Smashers

 

Use kitchen scissors to crumble the crisp bacon.

Crumble Bacon with Kitchen Scissors

 

Cook the potatoes 4  minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown.  Turn the potatoes over.

Flip Potato Smashers

 

Top with bacon and cheese.

Top Potato Smashers with Bacon and cheddar Cheese

 

Serve….

Potato Smashers

This is one of my favorite potato recipes!

Video: Potato Smashers

Potato Smashers are loaded with bacon and cheddar cheese.

Scallops A Moscato Scallop Recipes

Scallops 'A Moscato

Looking for scallop recipes?  Scallops A Moscato is sure to please!

Scallop recipes feature this delicious shellfish with a delicate and mildly sweet flavor!

Scallops A Moscato is an easy recipe for scallops:

Cooking with wine can add great depth of flavor to your recipes.  Scallops A Moscato is an example of how somewhat sweet scallops are enhanced with a Moscato cream sauce.  Moscato wine has fruity aromas and delicately sweet, lively flavors.

I used Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Moscato in this recipe.  Learn more about the wine, visit:  www.woodbridgewines.com.

Robert Mondavi Moscato

Scallops 'A Moscato
 
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 pound frozen or fresh Bay Scallops
  • 2 cups Moscato Wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil plus additional 4 tablespoon butter
  • 6 whole peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 oz Garden Blend or Spinach Fettuccine
  • 1¼ cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 eggs slightly beaten
  • 1½ cups grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Thaw scallops if frozen. ( You can thaw the scallops in about 15 minutes by placing the unopened bag in a bowl of cool water)
  2. Pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Heat olive oil and butter in skillet. Add scallops. Cook 3 minutes on each side or until they turn opaque to white in color. Do not overcook. Transfer to a platter and keep warm.
  4. Heat 2 cups of Moscato wine, 2 bay leaves, the whole peppercorns and salt in the same skillet. Bring to a boil and heat until reduced to 1 cup of liquid. Add ¾ cup of cream and the cooked scallops to the reduced sauce.
  5. Meanwhile, cook noodles in boiling salted water. Drain and keep warm.
  6. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in another pan. Add the drained noodles, tossing until hot. Add remaining ½ cup cream. Quickly stir in the beaten eggs and half of the grated cheese.
  7. Turn noodles into hot serving platter. Top with scallops and sauce. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Serve immediately.

Ingredients

Scallops 'A Moscato Ingredients

Thaw the scallops using this quick thaw method:

Quick Thaw Scallops

Remove to paper towels and pat dry.

Pat Scallops Dry

Saute scallops in olive oil and butter

Saute Scallops

Make the Moscato Sauce

Moscato Sauce

Cook the pasta

Boil Pasta

Prepare the Parmesan noodles

Add Pasta to Moscato Sauce

Serve scallops and sauce over the Parmesan noodles.  Enjoy!  

Hickory Farms Features Vickies Baked Potato Bar Ideas

Baked Potato Bar

Looking for some baked potato bar ideas?

I recently posted  baked potato bar ideas and how to bake the perfect baked potato.  You can check out my post here:  Perfect Baked Potatoes and a Baked Potato Bar.  This is an easy way to entertain because your guests help themselves.  The baked potato bar is great any time of year.  It would be perfect at a BBQ on the patio or for a Super Bowl Party as suggested by Hickory Farms.  It is fun to combine different options on the baked potato bar – depending on the season.  Add piping hot chili as a topper in the cold winter months.  Add fresh chopped tomatoes or green onions when the garden is busting with fresh vegetables.  Hickory Farms suggested adding chopped summer sausage as a topper and I like that idea too.   There are really countless options..just use your imagination for creative flavor combinations. 

My recipe for the perfect baked potato is also easy.  You can bake as many potatoes as your oven will hold!  I love to add the sea salt or kosher salt to the outside of the potato skin before baking because it adds a nice salty flavor and some crunch to the potato.   And, potatoes are loaded with nutrition!   

 

Hickory Farms just featured our Make Life Special Baked Potato Bar ideas in their “Winning Super Bowl Party Foods” post.  In addition to the toppings I suggested, they added their chopped summer sausage — what a great idea!

Check out the Hickory Farms post on Super Bowl Party Foods for some great entertaining ideas:

Hickory Farms Winning Super Bowl Party Foods

Thank you Hickory Farms for the great shout out!

Remember, “Let’s Make Life Special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!”

 

   

Marshmallow Charger Plates for Your Holiday Dessert Table

I have to thank my friend Oma for this great idea for Marshmallow Charger Plates!  She made two of these for her Christmas Party dessert Table last weekend.  Here is the other Marshmallow Charger Plate…

 

She started with a round Styrofoam ring and stuck toothpicks into the ring.  Then she stuck the marshmallows onto the toothpicks.  She placed a plate into the center and the magic of the holidays began!  She served  Dove Chocolate Discoveries Truffle Brownies on one and Strawberry and Brownie Skewers on the other one.  

This added so much fun to the dessert table and was really easy to make! 

Thank you Oma for this great idea!!!

 

Robust Risotto

Risotto originated in Italy and is a rice dish that is cooked in broth to a creamy (dreamy!!)  consistency.  Risotto can be served as a first course – with some crusty bread – as we are doing  here.  As a first course, it is great paired with a Brut Champagne.  Check out this great pairing at Velvet Palate.

Risotto is typically cooked in a meat, fish or vegetable based broth.  This recipe uses chicken broth ( low sodium) .  Many types of Risotto contain Parmesan cheese, butter and onion.  This recipe uses Parmesan cheese, butter and shallots.  Then we ramp it up to robust by adding 1/4 pound diced asparagus, 1/4 pound sliced shiitake mushrooms and Prosciutto (which is a type of Italian bacon).

You have to use a high starch rice to make risotto and this recipe uses Arborio Rice.  This type of rice has the ability to absorb liquids and to release starch and so it is stickier than the long grain rice varieties.  

While there are many variations on Risotto, the basic preparation remains the same.  

  • The rice is first cooked in onion ( or shallots ) and butter or olive oil to coat each grain in a film of fat.  
  • Then, red or white wine is added and has to be absorbed by the grains.  This recipe uses white wine.
  • When the wine is absorbed, the heat is raised to medium and very hot stock ( I used chicken stock in this recipe) is added in small amounts while stirring gently, almost constantly ( this process is what creates the smooth creamy-textured liquid).  
  • At this point, it is removed from the heat and the finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is vigorously stirred in to make the texture as creamy and smooth as possible.  
  • This recipe adds the cooked asparagus and mushrooms at this point and is then topped with the scrumptious cooked prosciutto for a robust and over the top risotto!             

Robust Risotto
 
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken broth, heated
  • 4 ounces diced prosciutto
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ¼ pound asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into small pieces
  • ¼ pound sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1½ cups arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine, heated
  • 1 cup to 1½ cups shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Simmer the broht in a saucepan. Keep warm.
  2. Heat the wine in a separate saucepan and keep warm.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to large pan and heat. Saute the prosciutto for 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. Remove from skillet and set aside.
  4. Add the asparagus and saute 2 minutes. As they begin to get tender, add the sliced mushroom and cook an additional 3 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the liquid is removed. ( do not include any of this liquid or the risotto will not be creamy!). Remove from skillet and set aside.
  5. Add the additional 1 tablesppon of olive oil to the skillet and sweat the shallots and garlic until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the DRY rice and saute until each grain is coated in oil.
  6. Deglaze the pan with the warm white wine and stir until completely absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. Now, start adding the hot broth to the pan in ½ cup increments; simmer and stir frequently until each addition is almost completely absorbed before adding the next, about 45 minutes total.
  8. Lastly, stir in the cooked asparagus, mushrooms and the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Season with salt and pepper, top with cooked prosciutto.
  9. Enjoy!!

Be sure to check out Nicole’s Mushroom Risotto which is a more delicate risotto recipe with a creamy cheesy texture.

This Robust Risotto is a little more time consuming than my other Make Life Special recipes but I was requested to feature this recipe.  I think it is really worth the effort because the layers of flavors in this dish are outstanding.  This really is very easy to make.  Here are the how-to photos:

Ingredients….

 

Crisply cooked Prosciutto ….

 

Heating the liquids….

 

Saute the asparagus and then add the mushrooms….

 

Ladle the broth into the rice…

 

Grate the cheese…

 

Ingredients ready to add to the Risotto mixture….

 

Risotto after it has absorbed all of the liquid…

 

Stir in the cheese, asparagus and mushrooms….

Risotto is great to serve as a first course with crusty bread or as a side dish with pork.

Remember,” Let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!”  

 

Bolthouse Farm’s Holiday Nog

‘Tis the Season!  It’s the Holidays and it’s time to celebrate with family and friends!  Bolthouse Farm’s Holiday Nog is absolutely delicious and is great to keep on hand during this time of year for easy entertaining or for unexpected guests.  

To watch our Video Review , click here:  Bolthouse Holiday Nog 

Bolthouse Farm’s Holiday Nog can be found in the produce section of the grocery store and retails for $ 6.00 per bottle.  The Holiday Nog offers a guilt free option to Egg Nog – with only 80 calories per serving!  It has the same great creamy taste of regular Egg Nog – with just a hint of nutmeg – for a true holiday treat.

You can enjoy the Holiday Nog as is, or spike it with a little Brandy for  festive sipping!  Visit their website for other great ideas :  http://bolthouse.com

I liked Bolthouse Farm’s Holiday Nog so much, it inspired me to remake my Brandy Alexander Recipe into Egg Nog Alexander – with Vanilla ice cream, Brandy and Bolthouse Farm’s Holiday Nog.  You can find the recipe for Egg Nog Alexander under a separate post.

‘Tis the season to be merry, so enjoy some Holiday Nog with  your family and friends!

 

Bolthouse Farms graciously provided samples for us to review and this is my personal opinion which is true and honest.  No compensation received.  

Crock-Pot Seasoning BBQ Pulled Pork Mix Review

Crock-Pot Seasoning Mixes have just been released in stores and what better time of year than fall to review these down-home, comfort food creations!  Any time of year is perfect for crock pot cooking.  In the spring and summer, crock pot cooking helps keep your kitchen cool.  In the fall and winter, crock pot cooking allows you to create delicious soups, stews and main dishes that are full of that wonderful slow cooked flavor.

I think the Crock-Pot Seasoning Mixes are really exciting!  They are a big time saver for a busy cook and allow you to create easy and creative main dishes with only a few ingredients.  There are currently three mixes that are available:

  • BBQ Pulled Pork
  • Savory Pot Roast Mix
  • Hearty Beef Stew Mix

The BBQ Pulled Pork was first on my list!  As many of you know, I have deep Southern roots and BBQ is near and dear to my heart. ( In fact, I was shocked when I moved north and discovered that there is not one BBQ barn, shack, or restaurant within a 60 mile radius of here!)

I made the BBQ Pulled Pork exactly as the directions on the packet suggested.  I used a  3 pound Boston Butt roast along with the Crock-Pot BBQ Pulled Pork Seasoning Mix, 1/2 cup ketchup, 1/2 cup dark  brown sugar, 1/3 cup cider vinegar and 1 cup water.  I cannot even begin to describe the wonderful aromas that came drifting out of my kitchen as the pulled pork cooked away in the crock-pot all day!

At the end of the cooking time, I “pulled” the pork……

……and served it up on buns!

I LOVED the flavor of this pulled pork!  It reminded me of BBQ I used to eat in the South —-sweet yet spicy.  I will definitely make this again ( and again ) when I’m in the BBQ mood. 

The Crock-Pot Seasoning Web Site  has additional recipes you can make that are creative uses for these mixes.  I can’t wait to try their recipe for BBQ Apple Pork Chops!  Thick pork chops cook in the slow cooker with onion, apples, apple juice, white vinegar, mustard and of course the Crock-Pot BBQ Pulled Pork Seasoning Mix.  It looks absolutely wonderful!  I’ll be reviewing the other mixes as well, but for now…..I’m thinking about having another Pulled Pork Sandwich!

Note:  I received the Crock-Pot BBQ Pulled Pork Seasoning Mix to use in the review.  No compensation was received.  These are my true and honest opinions. 

Praline Topped Brie

Praline Topped Brie is a decadent appetizer that can be whipped up in 5 minutes and is sure to impress your guests!  What could be better than the gooey savory flavor of warm brie hot out of the oven – topped with the sweet delight of orange praline topping!

To view the YouTube step by step cooking tutorial for this recipe, click here:  Praline Topped Brie


Praline Topped Brie
 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • 8 oz OR 13 oz round of brie cheese
  • ½ cup orange marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup pecans, chopped and toasted
  • Crackers or toasted baguette-style French bread for serving
Instructions
  1. Place pecans in 350 degree oven for 5 minutes to toast.
  2. Trim top rind from brie round .
  3. Place brie in baking dish.
  4. Mix the orange marmalade and brown sugar together in a small bowl, Spread on top of the cheese.
  5. Sprinkle with toasted pecans.
  6. Bake in a 350 degree oven about 15 minutes or until cheese is slightly softened and topping is bubbly.
  7. Serve with crackers or bread slices.

 

Place the pecans in a baking dish and lightly toast in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes.

Trim the top off of the brie round.

Place the round in an ovenproof baking dish.

Mix the orange marmalade and brown sugar together in a small bowl.

Spread the topping on the brie.

Sprinkle with toasted pecans.

Bake in a 350 degree oven about 15 minutes or until cheese is slightly softened and topping is bubbly.

Remove from oven and serve.

Praline Topped Brie hot out of the oven:

Serve with crackers or hot bread.  Enjoy!

Remember, let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  

 

Mushroom Bacon Toasties

Mushroom Bacon Toasties are a delicious appetizer made with mushrooms, bacon, a herb cream cheese mixture on cocktail rye toast and topped with Parmesan cheese.  Enjoy these with a great bottle of wine at your next party!!!  The Velvet Palate has paired this appetizer with the 2004 Legon Reserva.  You can click here for their wine tasting notes and information on this wine.

These are definitely worth the effort!  They can be made ahead and flash frozen to use later – or bake now and enjoy!  

Click the link to view the YouTube How-to Tutorial for this recipe:   Mushroom Bacon Toasties 

 

Mushroom Bacon Toasties
 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Ingredients
  • 20 cocktail size rye bread slices
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • ½ teaspoon Herb de Provence
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 3 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Heinz 57 sauce
  • 4 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Brush both sides of the cocktail size rye bread with the 4 tablespoons of meted butter. Bake ate 350 degrees for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
  2. Blend the cream cheese, Herbs de Provence, garlic salt and chopped fresh parsley together and spread evenly on the cooled toasties.
  3. Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Add the mushrooms, bacon and onions and saute until mushrooms release liquid and the bacon is cooked. Add the steak sauce. Divide mixture among the toasties.
  4. Sprinkle with cheese.
  5. At this point you can flash freeze to bake later or bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until bubbly.
  6. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

20 cocktail rye bread slices

4 tablespoons melted butter

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 teaspoon Herbs de Provence

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

3 tablespoons butter

8 ounces fresh mushrooms, finely chopped

3 slices bacon, diced

1/4 cup onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoon Heinz 57 sauce

4 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

Brush both sides of the miniature rye bread with melted butter.  Bake 5 to 6 minutes at 350 degrees.  Remove from oven and let cool.

Blend the softened cream cheese, Herbs de Provence, garlic salt and chopped fresh parsley together and spread evenly on the toasties.

Spread evenly on the cooled rye toasties.

Melt butter in skillet.  Add mushrooms, bacon ( I use kitchen scissors to easily dice the bacon ), and onions and saute until the mushrooms release their liquid and the bacon is cooked.  

Add the steak sauce.

Divide mixture among the toasties.

Sprinkle with the Shredded Parmesan cheese.

At this point you can flash freeze to bake later or bake now at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until bubbly.

Remember, “Let’s make life special  by sharing great food with our family and friends. Enjoy!”

 

 

Quick Chicken Corn Chowder

Fall is in the air and it’s time to get a big pot of Quick Chicken Corn Chowder simmering on the stove!   

Chowder is typically a thick, rich soup that is made with cream.  This Quick Chicken Corn Chowder is chocked full of vegetables and meat to make a delicious and warming meal on a chilly Fall or Winter evening.  You can have this on the table in less than 30 minutes—-that’s less time than it takes to get a carry-out pizza!   

To view the complete video recipe, click here:   http://youtu.be/OKAjAlvFRPE

To print the recipe with all of the how-to photos, click here:  Quick Chicken Corn Chowder

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup chopped onions

1/4 cup chopped celery

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped or 2 tablespoons canned chopped jalapeno peppers ( not pickled)

2 tablespoons flour

3 cups milk

2 cups chopped deli rotisserie  chicken

1 1/2 cups frozen corn

1 can cream style corn

1 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

1 /8 teaspoon salt

Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add onion, celery and jalapeno; cook for 3 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.

Add flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  

Stir in milk and blend well.  Add remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.

Serve up a big steaming bowl of Quick Chicken Corn Chowder topped with crumbled pieces of my Microwaved Bacon ( See Success Secret under a separate post).

Remember — Let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!

 Happy Fall…Y’all!


Quick Chicken Corn Chowder
 
Recipe type: Soups
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup chopped onions
  • ¼ cup chopped celery
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped OR 2 tablespoons canned chopped jalapeno peppers ( not pickled )
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups milk or a combination of milk and half and half
  • 2 cups chopped deli rotisserie chicken
  • 1½ cup frozen corn
  • 1 can cream style corn
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon ground red peppers
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery and jalapeno; cook for 3 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.
  2. Add flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  3. Stir in milk and remaining ingredients.
  4. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Enjoy!

Make Life Special
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Phone: 217-556-8297 Website: http://www.makelifespecial.com