Mississippi Style Potato Logs

One of the best things about getting off the highway is finding great food on the road less travelled. In fact, some of the tastiest boudin, barbecued brisket and fried chicken I’ve eaten has come from gas stations across the South.

One of things I’ve found in Mississippi gas stations (and some local fairs like the Okatoma Festival), are potato logs. These are large wedges of baked potato, dredged in seasoned flour and deep fried. You basically get the creamy interior of a baked potato plus the crunchy skin and coating of the best French fry. All in all, they make a really awesome appetizer or side dish.

I tried several versions at home and found I like best Creole Seasoning in the flour (1 teaspoon seasoning per 1/4 cup flour – each large potato cut into 5 wedges used about 1/2 cup flour). I also found that you only need a double dip of flour (toss in flour, dredge in an egg beaten with some oil, and then dredge through the flour again). I found using breadcrumbs was unnecessary and actually a little heavy.

I used peanut oil as that is my go-to deep fry oil but you can use your choice. I fried them after I brought the oil to 325 degrees F in a cast iron skillet. Fry for about 3 minutes per side or until the crust is golden brown. After removal from the heat, drain on a brown paper bag. Salt generously.

These are delicious as they are but, if you like them with a dipping sauce, I enjoyed them with ranch dressing with a little sriracha mixed in. They had a lovely kick.

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Corn and Black Bean Salad

Michelle has some frozen corn in the freezer that we wanted to use up before this year’s crop is harvested. We made up a huge batch of Cuban Style Black Beans and used three cups of the beans and a half a bell pepper along with the corn for this light and healthy summery salad.

If you have fresh cilantro, add a tablespoon of chopped leaves to the corn and beans and omit the dried.

Corn and Black Bean Salad

juice of 1 lime, about 1/4 cup
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried cilantro leaves
2 cups corn cut off the cob (1 10 ounce package frozen corn kernels)
3 cups black beans (2 15 ounce cans)
1 bell pepper, diced

optional, 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

Whisk together the lime juice, oil, sugar, salt, pepper and cilantro in a large bowl. Add in the corn, black beans and bell pepper. Gently stir together to mix. Add the jalapeño pepper, if using. Taste for seasonings and then refrigerate for at least one hour for the flavors to come together.

 

Speedy Apple Sauce in the Multi-Cooker

Michelle has a Crock Pot Express Crock Multi-Cooker (like an Instant Pot). It is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, and also steams, browns, sautés and tutors high school students in calculus. We used it most recently to speed up the process of making applesauce.

As anyone knows who has stood over a skillet, stirring and mashing apples, this handy little device saved a lot of time and effort and we had great tasting applesauce to show for it. Use any combination of apples – I prefer the tartness of Granny Smith but adding red apples to the mix means less added sugar later.

Speedy Apple Sauce

4 Granny Smith apples or tart green apples
2 Gala/Honeycrisp or other sweet, crisp red apples
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Peel, core and cut the apples into 8-12 slices. Place in the electric pressure cooker. Sprinkle over the cinnamon and toss to coat. Mix together the water and lemon juice and pour over the apples. Stir to combine.

Put on the lid and cook on high for 8 minutes. Release the pressure safely. Mash the mixture together and, if it is too watery, use the browning function to cook a bit of the liquid off. Add seasoning and taste. Depending on the tartness of the apples, you may need to add more cinnamon in addition to the brown sugar and pinch of salt. Stir well to combine.

Serve hot or cold. Store any uneaten portion in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Lemon Garlic Roasted Broccoli

I know, I know, another post on vegetables. You think I had turned 50 years old and finally realized I needed to eat (a little) better.

I don’t know about you but I grew up eating limp and soggy boiled broccoli, tossed with butter mask the funky flavor. I graduated to steaming it but would still sometimes overcook it to a sulfuric tasting mess if I got distracted putting the rest of the meal together.

These days, I’ve found that roasting in the oven gives me more leeway before overcooking as it browns before overcooking, so your nose knows. Additionally, the roasting gives it a sweeter, almost nutty flavor.

Tossed with a little garlic and lemon and you have a very tasty side dish!

Lemon Garlic Roasted Broccoli

2 medium heads of broccoli
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Zest of half a lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut broccoli into florets and pile onto a rimmed baking sheet.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic, salt and pepper. Use your fingers to toss, then spread out over tray in a single layer.

Bake for about 20 minutes until the tips of the florets are slightly browned. The broccoli should be tender crisp and cooked through.

Remove from the oven and immediately drizzle over the lemon juice and butter. Toss to combine. Scatter lemon zest over and serve.

Easy Cowboy Beans

I was grilling up some St. Louis style ribs and needed a side dish. I first considered baked beans but no joy in my pantry. I then thought of another style of beans I could make instead – Cowboy Beans.

I didn’t have any dried pinto beans in the house, so I modified my recipe for Frijoles Charros (AKA Cowboy Beans) to use what I had in the pantry – canned pinto beans and tomatoes, dried herbs and some leftover ham. This is a terrific change to the usual baked beans – a little spicy with the onion, tomato and ham giving the broth depth. They go really well with ribs or carne asada.

Easy Cowboy Beans

2 slices of ham, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 to 1 teaspoon chipotle powder, depending on preferred heat level
1 teaspoon dried cilantro
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed (don’t throw out the can)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, fry up the ham. Once cooked, add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the saucepan and sauté the onions for 5 to 10 minutes or until softened and golden. Stir in the minced garlic and cook until fragrant about 3 minutes. Pour in the tomatoes and cook until they start to break down, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle on the seasonings and stir until combined and fragrant. Add in the beans and fill the bean can with water and stir that in, too.

Transfer to an oven safe casserole. Cook uncovered in a 350 degree F oven for an hour or until some of the liquid has been absorbed. I like mine to be a bit soupy but, if you want less liquid, stir and cook 15 minutes more.

Taste for seasonings and serve.

I take any leftovers and put them in the blender to make a bean puree that I then use as a replacement for refried beans with quesadillas or fajitas (or sometimes just eat with tortillas or chips as a dip).

 

Yummy!

Stovetop Mac and Cheese

I spent the afternoon at the Fairgrounds Race Course New Orleans, where my quasi cousin, Nancy, had a horse racing. Here is a picture of He’s Dann Good (number 6) going full out but too far back to be in the money.

Unfortunately, none of my horses won, placed or showed. As it was a bit windy, I went home needing to warm up with some comfort food. For me, that means lots of melty cheese. I made a stovetop version of mac & cheese that is very creamy and delicious.

I recommend going to the deli section of your grocery store to get a block of white American cheese. It gives the perfect texture to the dish. For the rest of the cheese, I went with Gouda to bring it up to a pound of cheese but cheddar is equally delicious.

For me, this is a main course that serves three to four. If you’re using this as a side dish, you can serve at least six.

Stovetop Mac & Cheese

2 large eggs
1 12 ounce can evaporated milk
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard, dissolved in 1 teaspoon water
1/2 lb elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons butter
10 ounce block American cheese, grated
6 ounces Gouda or sharp cheddar, grated

Whisk together in a small bowl the eggs, 1 cup milk, hot sauce, salt, black pepper and mustard mix. Set side.

In a large pot, place 2 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Add in the elbow macaroni and a generous pinch of salt and cook until tender but still firm, about 9 minutes. Drain and return to the pot.

Toss the butter in the pot with the macaroni and melt over low heat. Add the egg mixture and stir constantly for 3 minutes or until it has thickened slightly.

By the handfuls, add 3/4’s of the cheese and stir until melted, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining milk and cheese and cook, stirring constantly for 5 to 10 minutes. Mac and Cheese should be smooth and creamy.

Serve immediately.

Reheat over the gentle heat of a double boiler.

Update – I made this with half American and half Provolone cheese and it was awesome! 12/28/2018

Creamed Corn without the cream

As much as it might surprise regular readers of my food blog, I don’t always have cream in the house. I do have whole milk, though, so I was able to do a cheat on one of my corn recipes.

Using corn that Michelle cut off the cob and frozen in pint bags, I made some delicious creamed corn. It was thick and rich and no one missed the cream.

Creamed Corn

2 cups corn off the cob (2 cans)
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup whole milk, divided
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In a medium skillet, combine corn, butter and 1/2 cup milk. Place over medium heat. Add the flour to the remaining 1/2 milk and whisk to combine. Pour flour mixture into the corn and stir well. Add in the salt and pepper and bring to a simmer, stirring regularly, making sure to scrape the bottom so the milk doesn’t burn.

After about 10 minutes, the mixture will have thickened. Taste for seasonings and serve.