Bacon Cheese Curly Fries

Curly Cheese Fries

So lets talk sinful today shall we? And what could be more sinful than fried potatoes, melted cheese and bacon? Not much I dare say!

Cheese fries and Potato Skins are some of Jamison’s all time favorites so every one in a while, and in this case it was his birthday earlier this month, I pull out all the stops and make something along these lines. Usually it is more likely to be Potato Skins, but this time I wanted to try to make cheese fries since I never have and I have to say I was very pleased! These fries were just to die for! (Possibly quite literally given all that cholesterol! ;0) These are definitely a sometimes food, but oh what a happy sometimes that is!

What You’ll Need:
4-6 russet potatoes, cut into curls (Note: I have a machine that does the curly cuts that Jamison’s Mom left with me when they were here for Alexis’ birthday. If you don’t have the ability to make curly cuts then you can simply cut the potato into regular fry pieces and fry them that way.)
Seasoned salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups of shredded Colby or Cheddar (Note: I used Colby.)
4-6 pieces of bacon, chopped or crumbled
A fryer and oil for frying (Note: If you don’t have a fryer you can simply heat oil on the stove top in a deep pot with a thermometer.) Ranch and or sour cream for dipping (optional)

Preheat oil to 375 F.

First cut your potatoes and put them in a container so they are readily available:

Curly Cheese Fries: Curly Potatoes Ready to Fry

I like to use a glass bowl.

Once the oil is heated add the potatoes in small batches and fry until just soft and not browned:

Curly Cheese Fries: Ready for Second Fry

This is also known as parboiling. Remove from the oil and drain on a plate or platter that is lined with a paper towel.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Once all the potatoes are parboiled put them back in the fryer in small batches until they are browned. Remove them from the fryer and place on a plate or platter with a clean paper towel and let drain again. Sprinkle the fries with seasoned salt generously.

Once the are drained place them on a baking sheet that has been lined with a silicone baking sheet:

Curly Cheese Fries: Ready to Top

Be sure to spread them out a bit.

Next top with shredded cheese and bacon:

Curly Cheese Fries: Ready for the Oven

Place the baking sheet into the preheated oven and bake for 5-6 minutes until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Notes: You could do a mix of cheeses if you wanted. Monterrey Jack would be fabulous! As would some of the Mexican cheeses. You could also add some chopped scallions to them right before serving, but obviously that isn’t Jamison’s cup of tea.

Blueberry Pomegranate Fizz

Blueberry Pomegranate Fizz

As I’ve mentioned before I love Izze sparkling juice, but between gas prices and rising food costs there isn’t a lot of room in the budget for such luxuries anymore. That doesn’t mean however that you can’t make your own version for a fraction of the price! What’s not to like about that?

A fruit fizz is a wonderful alternative to soda that is healthier too! So why not go all out and combine the juice of two super foods to make it that much better? The fruit gives the drink a natural sweetness, while the sparkling water gives it a fizzy burst. It’s just perfect for a healthy treat on a hot summer day!

What You’ll Need:
3 parts blueberry pomegranate juice
1 part sparkling water

In a large glass pour juice and seltzer over ice and stir to mix. Serve immediately.

Notes: There is no need to add sugar or anything to this mix as the juice is sweetened naturally, though some people do add extra sugar. You could make this a bit of an “adult” treat by adding in some rum or vodka. You could also do this with any other kind of juice that you like.

Cheesecake Brownies

Cheesecake Brownie

Cheesecake and brownies…Who doesn’t like those? Why not combine the two and see what you come up with? This is it! These brownies are rich, decadent and oh so delicious! These most definitely are sometimes food, but oh what a sometimes food they are! In fact they were so good I kept a couple and sent the rest off to work with Jamison for a treat day this morning! They were just that tempting! 😉 Of course I haven’t sent anything for a treat day at Jamison’s office in a while, so this was the perfect excuse!

Cheesecake Brownies: Baked

Seriously these were heavenly, but they’d cause me to have to spend way too much time on the treadmill and in case you didn’t know I despise the treadmill even though I drag myself upon it anyway, but why have to drag myself upon it longer than I have to?!!?!? ;oP

What You’ll Need for the Brownie Layer:
2 sticks of butter
6 ounces of baking chocolate
2 cups of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon of vanilla
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl melt butter and baking chocolate in the microwave on 30 second intervals until completely melted and smooth. Stir in sugar. (Note: It may be a little grainy one you add the sugar, but don’t worry.)

Stir in baking powder and vanilla and stir to incorporate into the chocolate mixture. Add eggs and stir until well mixed. Next slowly stir in flour until completely incorporated.

Pour mixture into a 13 X 9 inch dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Set aside.

What You’ll Need for the Cheesecake Layer:
2- 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1 cup of organic cane sugar
2 eggs

Cheesecake Brownies: Ready to Swirl

In the bowl of your mixer mix together cream cheese, sugar and eggs until completely smooth. Drop cream cheese mixture by large dollops on top of the brownie mixture. With a spoon swirl cheesecake into the brownie mixture. (Don’t worry it’s not going to be pretty at this point. It blends more into a swirl once you bake.)

Cheesecake Brownies: Swirled and Ready to Bake

Bake for 30-40 minutes until edges are done and cheesecake center is set. (Note: It may still be a little wiggly. Don’t worry.) Remove from oven and let cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container.

Cheesecake Brownie

Notes: As I mentioned these are very rich, so smaller is better. :o)

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast

Slow Cooker Turkey: Ready to Slice

If you’ve been a reader of Dianne’s Dishes for a while you’ve seen me talk a lot about not heating up the oven that much during the summer. But not heating up your oven doesn’t mean you have to give up foods you would normally cook there, it just means you find a different way to cook them and a slow cooker is a perfect way to do just that!

The other day I got a turkey breast from South Mountain Creamery and I decided to see how it would turn out in the slow cooker. I mean you can cook chicken quite well in a slow cooker so why not turkey? I must say even though in theory I thought it would work I was very pleased with the result! The breast was tender, juicy and overall just very delicious and the whole process was beyond simple! I’ll most definitely be trying this again!

Another good thing about turkey is that you can do many things with the leftovers too! How about Turkey Avocado Salad or Turkey Noodle Soup or Turkey Salad…You can also use turkey in just about any recipe you would use chicken instead. How is that for versatile?

Slow Cooker Turkey

What You’ll Need:
1 turkey breast (Note: I used one that had the bone.)
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Dried rosemary

Place turkey breast into the bowl of your slow cooker. Drizzle with olive oil. (Note: You want a few tablespoons max.) Flip the breast over to make sure you get olive oil on both sides. Sprinkle with sea salt, black pepper and dried rosemary. Place lid on slow cooker and turn heat to high. Cook for 6-7 hours.

Slow Cooker Turkey: Sliced

Halfway through the cooking process flip the breast once. Once cooked bring out of the slow cooker and let sit for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve immediately.

Slow Cooker Turkey: Leftovers!

Notes: Any dried herb you like will work. Thyme would be fabulous!

Cow Drop Cookies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Drop Cookies

These cookies are one of Jamison’s all time favorites. As a child we called them “Cow Drop Cookies” and I’ll let you just imagine why! 😉 I have made these many times over the years and I have even made a gluten free non-oat version in the past since I haven’t been able to locate gluten free oats that don’t cost a bazillion dollars a pound.

See there I go digressing again…Where was I? Oh yes!

A few weeks ago our neighbor did us a huge favor and I wanted to send something home with him for helping us out. My mind immediately set on these cookies! They are quick, easy and beyond delicious and just perfect for when you want to whip something up fast to share! I also sent a batch to work with Jamison the next day, because why not share all around! ;o)

What You’ll Need:
1 stick of butter
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 cup of natural brown sugar
2 heaping tablespoons of cocoa
2/3 cup of half and half
1/2 cup of peanut butter
2 cups of oats
2 teaspoons of vanilla

Melt butter with both sugars, cocoa and half and half in a medium sized pot and bring to a quick boil over medium heat. Boil for five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until the peanut butter is completely melted and smooth. Stir in vanilla and then add oats. Drop by the rounded tablespoonful onto a baking sheet that has been lined with waxed paper or a silicone baking sheet. Let set for an hour or two and serve. Store in an airtight container.

How simple and delicious is that?

Notes: You could use crunchy peanut butter if you liked.

Cucumber Salad

Cucumber Salad

It’s fresh cucumber season! I just love when the cucumbers start coming in. English cucumbers are a nice substitute during the rest of the year, but there is just something about a cucumber fresh off the vine that gets me every time!

This salad is a quick, healthy side dish, or even main course if you like cucumbers as much as I do! It’s perfect for a week night dinner, a picnic or even a snack! It will keep in the fridge for days so you can just grab it whenever you like! If you like cucumbers and Greek yogurt then this is the dish for you!

What You’ll Need:
4-6 cups of sliced cucumbers
1/3 cup of fat free Greek Yogurt (Note: If you’ve been here before you know I like Oikos, if you haven’t then that’s what I use! ;oP Fage will work too, but the flavor of the Oikos is much better in my opinion.)
1/4 cup of fresh dill, chopped
1/4 cup of fresh chives, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
A tiny pinch of sea salt

Cut cucumbers and place in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.

Cucumber Salad

Mix together yogurt, dill, chives, black pepper and sea salt until well incorporated. Add yogurt mixture to cucumbers and toss to coat. Chill for at least 1 hour and then serve.

Notes: I really like this with cucumbers only, but if you wanted to you could add in some bell peppers and/or red onion.

Strawberry Lemonade Punch

Strawberry Lemonade Punch

Normally for a birthday party or something of that nature I make Banana Punch. Banana punch was the go to recipe when I was growing up for parties, showers, etc. But this year for Alexis’ birthday party I had a bunch of lemons and strawberries on hand, and in the spirit of not buying more stuff I decided to make something different and the results were stellar! You could even make this an adult punch by adding a little rum if you liked…The possibilities are endless! ;o)

What You’ll Need:
6 cups of frozen strawberries
The juice of 12-14 lemons
4 cups of organic cane sugar
Seltzer water

Strawberry Lemonade Punch: Ready For The Freezer

Place frozen berries in batches of about a cup into a blender and blend until completely chopped. A few larger pieces here and there are not a big deal. Pour into a very large bowl. (Note: It would be MUCH easier in a food processor than a blender, but sadly I still haven’t replaced my processor that died horribly. If you have a food processor then by all means use it instead! It will make the process MUCH easier and if you’re using a food processor you don’t even have to freeze the strawberries!)

Stir in lemon juice and sugar and let sit until sugar dissolves. Place into small airtight containers and freeze until solid.

Strawberry Lemonade Punch: Ready For The Freezer

Thirty minutes before you want to serve pull out one or two of the frozen containers and let thaw a bit. Place the still slightly frozen mixture into a punch bowl and cover with seltzer water and then serve.

Notes: You could do this with blueberries or peaches or pineapple or any other type of fruit that you like!

Mint Chocolate “Chip” Ice Cream

Mint Chocolate "Chip" Ice Cream

Here we are…A week later at the end of Ice Cream week and to round out the end of ice cream I give you Jamison’s all time favorite…Mint Chocolate “Chip”! And why is the “chip” in quotes you ask? Because I actually used shredded or shaved chocolate instead of chips to give them a bit more of a melty quality than a frozen quality. Don’t you love how I just make words up like that? Melty…Well it should be a word! 😉

For several years Jamison had to forgo ice cream. He was diagnosed with IBS a few years ago, but we recently discovered that it was more aptly Celiacs instead of IBS and it turns out that is a common misdiagnoses. Anyway, when he was still eating gluten he had a definite lactose intolerance. We never really found a soy or rice ice cream that he really cared for. He could eat the lactose free vanilla milk version, but I was never able to find a mint chocolate chip lactose free version for him to enjoy. Once we figured out the gluten thing and he has started to heal now he can have some dairy and that meant I got to try my hand at his favorite type of ice cream!

Mint Chocolate "Chip" Ice Cream: Ready For The Freezer

Verdict? Jamison really liked this version! His only beef? “It wasn’t green!” (You see what I’m working with here people! ;)) In my opinion it was really good as well and this is coming from someone who isn’t a fan of mint chocolate chip ice cream to begin with! We’ll most definitely be making this again and no it won’t be green! 😉

Ice Cream Week 2008

This wraps up Ice Cream week and it has worked out so well I think we may have more themed weeks in the future! 😉

What You’ll Need:
1 pint of heavy cream
1 pint of half and half
1 – 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar (Note: Jamison likes thing SUPER sweet. You could easily get away with 1/4 cup of sugar instead.)
1 teaspoon of peppermint extract
2 – 4 ounce bars of Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate baking bars, shaved or grated (Note: I used my box grater.)

Note: This recipe is designed to fit this ice cream maker. You could easily double or triple it or whatever to fit in a larger machine.

Mint Chocolate "Chip" Ice Cream: Soft Serve Stage

Mix together heavy cream, half and half, sweetened condensed milk, sugar, peppermint extract and shaved/grated chocolate. Place mixture in the bowl of ice cream maker and freeze according to your machine’s directions. Once the mixture hits the soft serve stage you can serve immediately or place in the freezer in an airtight container to harden fully.

How easy is that? In no time you’ve got Mint Chocolate “Chip” Ice Cream!

Mint Chocolate "Chip" Ice Cream: A Bite

Notes: You could use any type of chocolate that you like. Jamison’s favorite is milk chocolate so that is what I used. Dark chocolate would be heavenly in this as well. You could also add some chopped peppermint to the ice cream if you liked, but that would have weirded Jamison out even if it was green! 😉

Peach Ice Cream

Peach Ice Cream

As a child when we spent summers at the lake it was rustic. We’re talking no electricity, outhouse, everything you needed you had to take with you…That rustic! And to be honest there were times that I dreaded having to go out there and camp. It was isolated, it was lonely and if you didn’t take a friend along it could get down right boring! But at other times lovely memories were formed that will last a lifetime.

One of the things we used to do that I remember fondly was make old fashioned ice cream. And as you’ll note above I mentioned no electricity so I’m talking the hand cranked kind. My father did most of the cranking, but my sister and I chipped in here and there. I’m not sure what was worse…The cranking or the waiting? Or maybe it was a little bit of both!

As far as ice cream went there were two basic flavors that we mostly stuck to and that was vanilla and peach. Normally the peach version would be made with canned peaches and I remember thinking as a child “I wonder what that would be like with fresh peaches?” You see I’m a bit of a fruit snob. I like fresh fruit, or dried fruit. Pretty much the only fruit I’ll eat willing out of a can are pineapple and mandarin oranges, but truth be told I prefer those both fresh too, though I can tolerate them in canned form. So the first time I made peach ice cream myself I broke out the fresh peaches!

This ice cream is just perfect for when those peaches are juicy right off the tree! I also like big chunks of frozen peaches in my ice cream, but you can dice them smaller if you want. The peach gives the ice cream a fruity sweet kick, all while being smooth and mellow. When Alexis was smaller this was her favorite all time ice cream. Now it’s chocolate, but hey there’s nothing wrong with chocolate either! 😉

Ice Cream Week 2008

Note: This recipe is designed to fit this ice cream maker. You could easily double or triple it or whatever to fit in a larger machine.

What You’ll Need:
2 large peaches, diced
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar
1 pint of heavy cream
1 pint of half and half
1 – 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk

Peach Ice Cream: Peaches and Sugar

Chop peaches and place in a bowl with sugar. Let sit until syrup forms. (Note: This usually takes about an hour or so at room temperature, but you can do it in the fridge overnight if you like.)

Add remaining ingredients to the bowl of peaches and stir to mix.

Peach Ice Cream: Soft Serve Stage

Place mixture in the bowl of ice cream maker and freeze according to your machine’s directions. Once the mixture hits the soft serve stage you can serve immediately or place in the freezer in an airtight container to harden fully.

Notes: You can substitute any fruit for the peaches if you like.

Key Lime Ice Cream

Key Lime Ice Cream

I love Key Lime! Take a look around the blog and you’ll find No Bake Key Lime Cheesecake, Key Lime Milk Chocolate Chip Bars, my choice for Tuesdays with Dorie the Florida Pie, Key Lime Parfaits and Key Lime Cheesecake. Stick around for a while longer and inevitably you’ll see Key Lime again!

I’ve always wanted to make a Key Lime ice cream. My sister and I have talked about it for years, but we never got around to making it. Finally I took the plunge and I have to say it’s every bit a delicious as I thought it would be. It’s cool, sweet, yet tangy and oh so lovely. If you like Key Lime then this is the ice cream for you!

Oh and don’t forget to stop by this weekend…Ice Cream Week isn’t over yet! I’ve got two more recipes to share and I’ll be posting one on Saturday and one on Sunday! 😉

Ice Cream Week 2008

Note: This recipe is designed to fit this ice cream maker. You could easily double or triple it or whatever to fit in a larger machine.

What You’ll Need:
1 pint of heavy cream
1 pint half and half
1 – 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup of double strength key lime juice
1/4 cup organic cane sugar
Zest of two lemons or limes (Notes: I used lemon zest since it was what I had on hand, but either will do.)

In a large bowl add all the ingredients and stir to mix. Since this mixture isn’t heated no need to chill.

Place mixture in the bowl of ice cream maker and freeze according to your machine’s directions. Once the mixture hits the soft serve stage you can serve immediately or place in the freezer in an airtight container to harden fully.

Key Lime Ice Cream: A Bite

Notes: You could do this with lemon juice if you liked for a lemon version. Or you could use orange juice/zest for an orange twist.