Cheesy Potato Cakes

Cheesy Potato Cakes: Ready to Serve

One of my favorite things when I was a kid is when my mom would make potato cakes. She didn’t make them often, but once in a blue moon when we had left over mashed potatoes she make some. I remember watching her make them and thinking one day I’d make them too. I don’t make them that often either, but when I do, I often add in cheese, because cheese and potatoes…what’s not to like?

These potato cakes come together quickly and you can make and “fry” an entire batch in about a half hour. They’re perfect as an appetizer, or even as a snack. If you like cheese and potatoes, this is the dish for you!

Cheesy Potato Cake

What You’ll Need:
2 cups of mashed potatoes
1 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of sea salt (Note: Use less salt if you’re mashed potatoes are heavily salted, more if they aren’t.)
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
1 egg
1 potato, shredded
Olive oil
More shredded cheese for serving
Sour Cream
Chopped scallions

In a large bowl mix together mashed potatoes, flour, sea salt, black pepper, cheese, egg and shredded potato until “dough” forms. This can be a bit sticky depending on the moisture content of your potatoes and humidity and such. You’re going to get your hands dirty, but what’s the fun of cooking if you don’t get a little messy! 😉 Form in to a ball about the size of a plum and then flatten. Repeat until you run out of potato mixture. You can make the patties all at once, or make them as you go, it’s up to you.

Add flattened patties to a skillet that has a thin layer of olive oil heated over medium heat. “Fry” each side until browned. When you flip the first time, flatten the patty a bit with your spatula. I like to flip them a couple of times until they’re done. Place on a tray lined with paper towels after “frying” and sprinkle with sea salt.

Cheesy Potato Cakes: Fried

Serve warm topped with a sprinkle of cheese, a dollop of sour cream and chopped scallions.

Cheesy Potato Cakes: Dig In!

Notes: There isn’t a lot of oil in this, so frying isn’t quite the term, but it serves it purpose. You can add in herbs to the potato cake, such as dill or thyme if you like. They’re also good just plain if you don’t want to add the toppings.

Southwestern Egg Rolls

Southwest Egg Rolls

(Note: I wrote this entry in September of 2015. I’ve been planning this comeback and merging my two blogs for a while and then got side tracked. I still remember this guy and this day. I decided to post the entry as I wrote it. This is one of my and Lex’s favorite snacks. Enjoy!)

It’s been a while. Did you miss me? My last entry was in December of 2014 for the Christmas cookie swap. I’ve taken a hiatus of sorts. It happens. I have wanted to get back to blogging for a while now, but apathy overtook me. It’s hard to believe that at one time I posted an entry every week day, usually 4 recipes per week and links on Friday. I’m not sure how I had the energy for that, especially with a young child.

Now that I’m back, things might be a little different. Dianne’s Dishes is and always will be primarily a food blog, BUT from time to time I’ll be posting musings and antidotes that might not be related to food. I’ve decided to combine my food blog and my personal blog, because well it’s my blog, so I can. 😉 That means today you get this recipe for Southwestern Egg Rolls and my little drive by friendship with an according to him “grumpy old bastard” because it’s two for the price of one day!

So let’s talk about Mr. Grumpy Bastard…

I’ve mentioned before that I suffer from depression from time to time. Lately I’ve been on a down swing; I’ve been tired; no more than that, exhausted, down and more than a bit grumpy. The past few days have been particularly bad, but I put one foot in front of the other and get on with it, because what can you do?

This morning I had to go to Wegman’s to get some cucumbers. Alexis and I seem to go through cucumbers like most people go through water, and a weekend without cucumbers would be a bleak occurrence. While perusing the produce section I saw a very tall elderly gentleman, and trust me if someone is tall to me, they’re actually tall, my father is six foot nine, I know tall. I automatically smiled at him because, I appreciate the tall people.

He smiled back and said, “You have a mess of hair young lady.”

I wasn’t sure what to say to that, because well I do, I have a lot of hair. I’ve always had thick hair and when it’s freshly curled, like this morning, it looks bigger. I’m ok with that, so I smiled at him and said nothing.

“I didn’t mean that in a bad way,” he told me. “Your hair reminds me of my daughter’s hair. She had thick hair.”

“Had?” I asked hesitantly.

“We don’t talk these days,” he told me with a shrug.

“I’m sorry. Might I ask why?” I asked him carefully. I didn’t want to be nosy, but for some reason it seemed important.

“Because I’m a grumpy bastard,” he told me with a sad smile.

Now I don’t go hugging complete strangers…ever, but this guy needed a hug, so I hugged him. I hugged this complete stranger, just because he looked like he needed one. I wasn’t a long hug, but it was a hug nonetheless and he hugged me back, when I pulled back, he patted my shoulder.

“What was that for?” he asked me with a smile.

“It’s Hug a Grumpy Bastard day and I thought I wouldn’t get to participate,” I told him a bit sassily and he laughed.

“Thank you,” he told me a bit choked up and he cupped my cheek and kissed me on the forehead.

I blushed, because well I always blush, I’m the queen of the easy blush, and gave him another smile.

“I think I needed you today,” he told me and he gave me another smile and wandered off.

I realized after he walked away that I needed him today too. It’s funny how that works, like the universe knows what you need and sends it to you. In this case it sent me a grumpy senior citizen, who needed a little affection, and in the process it made me feel a little better about mankind at the same time. Drive by friendships can be just what you need, just when you need them. He and his daughter might have issues, and he might really be a grumpy bastard, but it doesn’t make him any less human, and in that moment he was extremely nice to me, and in the mere minutes we spent together, he made me really smile. Smiling is good. I needed to smile and I think he did too.

Now let’s get on to the egg rolls!

I’ve had this kind of egg roll at various places over the years, and I had always thought it would be fun to come up with my own variety. I had meant to make these for years, but today I felt like experimenting, so I did. I love how they turned out! Alexis really liked them too. We’ll definitely be making these again.

What You’ll Need:
Olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
Roughly 2 cups of cooked chicken, chopped (Note: A little more or a little less won’t make a difference.)
1 – 15.5 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup of frozen corn kernels
¼ cup of flat leaf parsley, chopped fine
A generous pinch of sea salt
½ to 1 teaspoon of black pepper (Note: More if you like pepper, less if you don’t.)
¼ teaspoon of cumin
2 teaspoons of chili powder
A dash of cayenne pepper
Egg roll wrappers
Oil for frying (Note: I used peanut oil.)

Southwest Egg Rolls

In a very large skillet sauté onion in a little olive oil, until slightly browned. Stir in chicken, black beans, corn, parsley, sea salt, black pepper, cumin, chili powder and cayenne to mix. Heat through for 2 minutes or so until mixture is warm. Set aside.

Heat oil for frying. You can use whatever kind of oil you usually fry with. I like to use peanut oil for things like egg rolls. As always, be careful when you’re dealing with hot oil. Make sure you know the smoke point of the oil you’re using, as well as the flash point, and keep a close eye on the temperature. Don’t let it go too hot.

While the oil is heating, assemble the egg rolls.

Place an egg roll wrapper on a flat surface and spoon some filling on to the middle of the wrap:

Southwest Egg Rolls

Next fold up the edges:

Southwest Egg Rolls

Then fold the bottom toward the back:

Southwest Egg Rolls

Wet the back edge of the wrapper:

Southwest Egg Rolls

You can do this with your finger or with a brush.

Then finish rolling the roll:

Southwest Egg Rolls

Place the roll aside and repeat the process until you run out of filling:

Southwest Egg Rolls

Once the oil is heated, gently place the rolls in the hot oil, flipping once, when the edges are browned:

Southwest Egg Rolls

When the other side is browned, and this doesn’t take long at all, just seconds, place them on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain:

Southwest Egg Rolls

It usually takes less than a minute to fry the entire egg roll. Repeat the frying process until all your rolls are done. I like to place them seam side up first, and then fry the non-seam side second.

This recipe makes 18-22 egg rolls.

Notes: If you want to make this recipe vegetarian, you can add a second can of beans and leave out the chicken. Serve with sour cream and/or salsa.

The Best Sausage Balls You’ll Ever Eat

The Best Sausage Balls You'll Ever Make

If you’ve been around Dianne’s Dishes for a while, you know I’m all about making things myself, and not using mixes or pre-made things. That being said, some times, thinking out of the pre-made box is harder than others, this time however, that isn’t the case.

Most of the time when you come across a sausage ball recipe, it calls for baking mix. Some baking mixes aren’t bad, you actually turn the package around and it’s made with flour and things you recognize, however most of them contain chemicals and stuff I surely don’t want to eat, I don’t know about you.

This recipe uses flour, along with the ingredients you would have in your standard biscuit recipe, minus the milk and butter, to make a sausage ball that is simply fabulous. Most people have these things in their cupboards right now. So grab some sausage, cheese and cream cheese, head in to your pantry and grab some dry ingredients and let’s make some sausage balls!

What You’ll Need:
1 pound of sausage (Note: I prefer the hot variety. Look for a brand without MSG.)
1 – 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon of organic cane sugar
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
4 cups of cheddar, shredded
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In the bowl of a mixer, mix together sausage and cream cheese, until smooth.

Next add sugar, baking powder and salt and process until mixed in.

Now it’s time to add the cheese. With the mixer running, slowly add cheese, until incorporated in the sausage/cream cheese mixture.

After the cheese is thoroughly mixed in, slowly add in flour until a crumbly dough forms. Depending on humidity, and moisture content in your sausage and cheese, this could be really crumbly, or more doughy. It’s all good. Don’t sweat it if it isn’t exactly what you had pictured. You’re going to shape the balls with your hands, and it all comes together.

Once the dough is made you want to make “balls” roughly the size of a walnut and place them on a large baking sheet.They can be close, but make sure they aren’t touching. To make the ball roll a small about of dough between your palms until a ball forms. Remember when this is over to wash your hand thoroughly, you are dealing with raw pork here.

Once you have used all of your dough, place the baking pan in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown.

The Best Sausage Balls You'll Ever Make

Notes: Let’s talk cheese! You can do a mixture of cheese in these. I like to use cheddar or Colby, but you can also use Monterrey Jack for all or part of the cheese. A friend of mine likes to add in some pepper jack. It’s all a matter of personal taste.

Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Stuffed Squash Blossoms

I’ve always been curious about squash blossoms, but I had never tried one. I’ve never had the nerve to take them off of my own squash plants, preferring to let them become their destined squash. A couple of summers ago I got some blossoms at the farmer’s market with the intention of stuffing them, but they got pushed back to the abyss of the refrigerator and I forgot about them, until they turned up on my next fridge clean shriveled and beyond use. That little foray in to squash blossoms was the end of my curiosity until I saw them again recently at a local farmer’s market. This time however I would be scrumptiously victorious!

Edible flowers have always amused me. When Alexis was three, she became obsessed with them. At the time we lived near a Whole Foods, and they usually had packages of them in their produce section, so we’d pick one up from time to time. A particular favorite of both of ours were Nasturtiums, which sort of have a peppery taste about them, and also violets, which tend to be a bit sweeter. I also have fond childhood memories of eating rose petals from my mom’s roses with my sister. I even introduced this tradition to Alexis on one of our trips to Tennessee. If you’re curious about some of the flowers that can be safely eaten, Wikipedia has a nice section on the topic.

Squash blossoms are a lovely, golden yellow color and are slightly sticky to the touch. Sometimes when you purchase the blossoms, they will have small squash attached to the end, but most of the time when you buy the blossoms, you’ll get just the blossom. You can eat them raw, use them in stir fry, or as I have done, you can stuff, bread and fry them. Any way you make them though, they’re a fun little treat.

What You’ll Need:
1 small package of button or baby bella mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 – 10.5 ounce package of goat cheese
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme, chopped
1 cup of panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup of parmesan cheese
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
Extra virgin olive oil

In a medium sized skillet, sauté mushrooms and garlic in a little extra virgin olive oil, until tender. Set aside.

In a glass bowl add goat cheese and microwave on high for 10 seconds, to soften. Stir in mushroom/garlic mixture, thyme, a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper until well incorporated. Set aside.

Add about an inch of olive oil to a deep skillet and heat over medium heat until hot.

While your oil is heating, mix breading and then stuff/bread your blossoms.

To make the breading, in a pie dish stir together panko crumbs and parmesan. Depending on how salty your parmesan is, you might want to add a bit of sea salt too. The easiest way to decide is to take a taste of the breading/cheese mixture and see if it needs a bit of salt. You can also add in some black pepper if wanted.

Beat your eggs in a separate dish.

You can stuff the blossoms one of two ways…

First you can fill a pastry bag with the mushroom/cheese mixture and gently pipe the mixture down in to the blossoms until each one is relatively full…

Or you can gently tear the blossom down one side and put a dollop of the mushroom mixture in each, then wrap the blossom back together, using the cheese mixture to stick it closed. This is the method I used.

Once the blossoms are filled roll the blossom in the beaten egg to coat and then roll the egg washed blossom in the bread crumbs until completely covered.

Place breaded blossom in the oil and cook for about 20 to 30 seconds until the side in the oil is browned. Then slowly and gently rotate the blossom in the oil until all sides are browned. It takes 1 – 2 minutes per blossom depending on its size. I usually brown 4 “sides” and once it is browned all over place cooked blossom on a paper towel lined plate to drain and then serve while still hot.

Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Notes: You could play around with the goat cheese mixture and add onions or other herbs. You could add a mixture of cheeses, blue cheese would be heavenly. You could also replace the goat cheese with cream cheese if you liked. It’s a fun dish to play around with. If you have any of the cheese/mushroom mixture left over, it makes a good spread on bagels.

Stuffed Mushrooms

pf9e

What You’ll Need for the Stuffed Mushrooms:
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 a red onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 – 16 ounce package of frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of finely ground black pepper
1 – 3.5 ounce container of crumbled goats cheese
1/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
2 large packages of button mushrooms, stems removed
1 cup of seasoned breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 400 F.

In a large pan saute onion until caramelized (about 5-10 minutes):

pf6

Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add spinach, sea salt, black pepper, goat cheese and Parmesan and stir until cheese mostly melts:

pf8

Remove spinach mixture from heat and set aside for a moment.

Remove stems from your mushrooms and place them in a baking dish:

pf7

The stems usually just pop right out. If you find one that won’t, gently use a knife and remove them. (Note: You can reserve the stems to make mushroom broth later.)

Place a dollop of the spinach/cheese mixture in the center of the mushroom:

pf9

And then top with a bit of the bread crumbss:

pf9a

Repeat process until all the mushrooms are filled. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown:

pf9c

Serve immediately.

Notes: You can make the filling ahead of time and store it in the fridge for a day or two before making the stuffed mushrooms. If you have any filling left you can also use it as a dip. The mushrooms can even be frozen after they are baked by placing them on a baking sheet and then freezing for 3 or 4 hours. Then they can be removed to an airtight container and frozen for several months. To reheat place them on a baking sheet and place in the oven at 400 for about 10-12 minutes.

Squash and Zucchini Fritters

Squash and Zucchini Fritters

Once in a while I think to myself “Self you haven’t fried anything in a while!” and I make grand plans to start frying. Then I actually do start frying and I remember how much work it is! Yummy yes, but easy no! My fryer is one of the larger ones, but that still doesn’t mean that the capacity is that great and things can go slowly. So on the rare occasions I do pull out the fryer it’s fun for a few minutes anyway frying up tasty little treats.

When we first started getting zucchini and squash coming in I thought it might be interesting to combine the two and makes some fritters and let me tell you these did not disappoint! I froze most of these, so I have some for later, but the few I did enjoy really hit the spot! It’s a relatively simple mix, but it definitely gives you bang for your buck!

What You’ll Need:
1 cup of stone ground yellow corn meal
1 cup of unbleached all purpose flour (Note: You could also use white whole wheat flour.)
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of baking powder
2 tablespoons of organic cane sugar
2 eggs
1 cup of buttermilk
1 small sweet onion, chopped (Note: I used a Vidalia, but a yellow or white onion will be fine too.)
1 large zucchini, shredded
2 small yellow squash, shredded
Oil for frying

In a large bowl stir together corn meal, flour, sea salt, baking powder and sugar until well mixed. Add eggs and buttermilk and stir until incorporated. Add onion, zucchini and squash and stir to mix. Your mixture should look roughly like this:

Squash and Zucchini Fritters: Batter Before Resting

Set bowl aside for 25-35 minutes and let the batter “sweat” until it looks like this:

Squash and Zucchini Fritters: Batter After Resting

Preheat oil to 375 F.

Once oil is heated drop batter into the hot oil by the spoonful. (Note: I like to use a soup spoon.) Let brown on one side and the flip. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until golden brown all over.

Once browned remove the fritters from the oil and place on a baking sheet that has been lined with paper towels:

Squash and Zucchini Fritters

Repeat the process until all of the batter is used. You can keep the ones that are finished warm in a 200 F oven while the others are cooking.

These are really great as is, or dunked in a little ranch dressing!

Let’s take a look at the inside:

Squash and Zucchini Fritters: The Inside

Little bits of zucchini, squash and onion throughout! Yum! The perfect fritter!

OR

I got bored with the frying thing toward the end (See told you above didn’t I? ;)) and started to wonder what the batter would be like in muffin form. I preheated the oven to 375 F and about 17 minutes later I ended up with this:

Squash and Zucchini Fritters Become a Muffin

So if you’d prefer a method other than frying, how about making them into muffins? Worked perfectly!

Notes: You could use only squash or only zucchini if you preferred. Shredded carrot might be nice too, or how about some fresh corn kernels?

Dill and Cheddar Potato Cakes

Dill and Cheddar Potato Cakes

Living in a house with Jamison mashed potatoes are often on his menu and most of the time that means left over mashed potatoes too. For a while now I’ve wanted to make some Potato Cakes. I’ve tried it in the past and never just quite got the process down. This time however they turned out great!

I decided to give the Potato Cakes a little kick and threw in some dill and cheddar. The flavors just melded so well! Topped with a little sour cream and it was the ultimate indulgence! True this is not something you would make and eat everyday, but it’s just perfect for when you want something warm and scrumptious! If you like potatoes and cheese this is the ultimate comfort food!

What You’ll Need:
2 cups of mashed potatoes
2 eggs
1/2 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon of dill
A pinch of sea salt
1/2-3/4 a cup of shredded cheddar
Olive oil for frying

Dill and Cheddar Potato Cakes

Heat a pan over medium heat until hot. Spritz with some non-stick spray and then add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Place dollops of potato mixture into the pan. When side down has browned flip the dollop over and flatten it. Cook until both sides are golden brown and place on a plate with paper towels to drain. Add more oil between batches if needed.

Serve immediately plain or a dollop of sour cream.

Dill and Cheddar Potato Cakes

Notes: You could add in finely chopped onion if you liked. You could also leave out the cheese and dill.

Corn Fritters

Corn Fritters

I have to admit I had never tried corn fritters before Saturday on our “fry” day, but I was sold after one bite! This recipe is adapted from one from Paula Deen and I have to give Miss Paula props because she is most definitely the Queen of all things fried!

We ended up making some Ranch Dressing to dip them in and the combination was just wonderful together! If you’ve never had a corn fritter before they are similar to hush puppies, but they have corn kernels incorporated in the batter. The combination just goes so well together. I’ll definitely be making these again in the future!

What You’ll Need:
1 1/4 cups cornmeal
1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/4 cup organic cane sugar
1 cup milk
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 package of frozen corn

Preheat oil to 325 F.

In a large bowl stir together cornmeal, flour, sugar and salt until well mixed. In a separate bowl beat together milk and eggs. Next add the egg mixture to the cornmeal mixture and stir to incorporate. Stir butter and corn into the batter and mix well.

Drop batter by the spoonful into the preheated oil. Cook the fritters until golden, turning once or twice to make sure it browns on all sides. Drain the fritters on paper towels and serve alone or with Ranch Dressing.

Corn Fritters

Notes: Leann and I talked about it and we think it might be nice to add some chopped onion into the mix as well. I think buttermilk would be a good addition in place of regular milk as well.

Fried Dill Pickles

Fried Dill Pickles

When I first heard of fried dill pickles a few years ago my first reaction was “Why???” I mean I love dill pickles in and of themselves, but fried? Then I actually tried one I was extremely surprised that they were pretty good. My sister loves them. When we told her we were doing a “fry” day she immediately asked both of us “You’re making fried dill pickles right?” So we made some fried dill pickles, because what the pregnant lady wants, the pregnant lady gets! (Pregnant and dill pickles…Oh the stereotypes! ;))

The batter for this version came completely out of my head. When I was thinking about making them I thought it would be nice to add dill into the batter to amp up the dill flavor. Leann and I both were very pleased with the result! We nibbled on quite a few as they came out of the fryer. Katherine liked them dipped in Ranch Dressing, but Leann and I both thought they were best on their own without any sauce. The things people do with dill pickles! 😉

What You’ll Need:
Sliced dill pickles (or what they call “hamburger chips”…I actually just sliced whole dill pickles myself.)
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of dried dill
A pinch of black pepper
1 egg
1 cup of buttermilk

Preheat oil to around 350 F.

If you are using “hamburger chip” dill pickles drain them and set aside. If you’re slicing them yourself slice and set aside.

Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl and stir to mix. Add egg and buttermilk and stir until a thick batter forms. If you need to add a bit more milk don’t worry about it, it all depends on ambient humidity and such. If you need to add a bit more flour add it a tablespoon at a time until it’s thick enough. You want the batter to be slightly thicker than pancake batter. When you insert a pickle into it it should stand up without really falling over.

Dip pickles into the batter and then place them in the fryer in a single layer. Turn them as they cook to ensure that they brown evenly on each side. You want them to be golden brown. Remove from the oil when they are slightly browned (they’ll continue to brown a bit after you remove them from the oil) and drain on a paper towel. Serve alone or with Ranch dressing.

Notes: No notes for this one…It is a stand alone kind of thing!

Tempura with a Soy Yogurt Dipping Sauce

Tempura

What You’ll Need for the Tempura:
1 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup of panko bread crumbs
1 egg
1 – 1 1/2 cups of ice water
Veggies of your choice (We did mushrooms, sweet onions, zucchini and squash. I had planned to do sweet potato and asparagus, but the process of frying everything we wanted to try took longer than we thought it would initially so we nixed those two as we went along.)

Preheat oil while you are preparing the batter and your veggies. I fried these around 350 F.

Wash mushrooms and dry them. Slice onions into rounds like you would for onion rings. Slice zucchini and squash into rounds. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl mix all ingredients together until batter forms. Dip veggies into the batter and place in the hot oil. Turn several times while frying. Remove when they are slightly golden.

Notes: The dipping sauce for tempura usually is rather salty so salt is not added to the batter. If you need to add more water do. It’s all about humidity and such when you’re dealing with flour. You want a slightly thick batter like you would make for pancakes that isn’t overly runny. You can also use this method to make shrimp tempura.

What You’ll Need for the Dipping Sauce:
1/2 cup of less sodium soy sauce
1/4-1/3 cup of Greek yogurt (Note: I used the fat free version.)
2-3 tablespoons of sesame oil

Whisk together ingredients and serve immediately with tempura.

Notes: The sesame oil gives the sauce a nice, nutty flavor, but if you don’t care for sesame oil you could use