Spinach Colcannon & the Kerrygold Holiday Contest

Back when I worked at Trader Joe’s, I was introduced to Kerrygold Butter.  At first, I didn’t understand why or how one butter could be different from another… but then I tasted it.  Wow.  Kerrygold uses milk from grass-fed cows to produce extra creamy, sweet, and rich butter.  You can absolutely taste the difference.  One of my co-workers from Trader Joe’s, Will, is obsessed with Kerrygold.  When I started my blogger partnership with them, I immediately thought of my friend Will and his love for this special butter.

Will- this recipe is for you!

This version of mashed potatoes isn’t just your normal Thanksgiving style smashed Yukons with some milk and butter.  This recipe was inspired by the Kerrygold butter itself- it is my version of the classic Irish dish Colcannon.  Typically, Colcannon is a mashed potato dish made with cabbage and loads of butter.  In this recipe, I used crumbled bacon, scallions, and in place of cabbage I used tons of fresh baby spinach.

Spinach Colcannon made with Kerrygold Butter

Ingredients:

3lbs Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt

8 Tablespoons Unsalted Kerrygold Butter, plus more for serving

3 slices Bacon, cooked and chopped or crumbled

1 6-oz bag of baby Spinach

3 Green Onions, chopped

1 cup Skim Milk

Sea Salt, Fresh Ground Black Pepper, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder to taste

Directions:

1.  Put the chopped potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water.  Add 2 tablespoons of salt and bring to a boil.  Boil the potatoes for about 15-20 minutes or until they’re fork tender.  Drain.  Put the potatoes back in the pot.

2.  In a glass measuring cup, heat the milk in the microwave about 30 seconds at a time until warm.  Meanwhile, start to smash the hot potatoes with a fork or a potato masher.  Add the butter, a tablespoon or two at a time, mashing into the potatoes.  Now, pour about half of the milk into the potatoes and stir.  Add the chopped bacon, spinach, and green onions.  Stir.

3.  Add more milk if the potatoes are too thick.  It’s all about how you like them to taste!  Add sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder starting with 1/2 teaspoon of each.  Add a sprinkle more until you like the way it tastes.  Serve hot with a pat of butter on top.  Enjoy!

Click here to check out Kerrygold Butter and Cheeses!

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And for your holiday season enjoyment… check out this ah-may-zing song about… you guessed it!!  Colcannon!  Hilarious.

Mexican Shepherd’s Pie & Feb Secret Recipe Club Reveal!

I have a huge blogging announcement to make!  I was recently accepted into the Secret Recipe Club!  This is something I’m very excited about, it will be a great opportunity to make new blogging friends and try out new recipes.  I have been on a waiting list to join for a few months and today is my VERY FIRST REVEAL!

Let me give you a brief run down of the “SRC”.  First, I am assigned a blog.  From that blog, I am allowed to pick ANY recipe they have ever made… and make it myself.  We’re allowed to make changes and swaps to fit our own tastes and diets too.  Then, we write a post about the recipe and our experience making it.  Finally, everyone will “reveal” their blog post about their secret recipe on the same day.  I get to tell the blog I wrote about and then someone who had me will tell me too!  It’s all very bloggerifically exciting.

Secret Recipe Club

For February, my SRC Blog assignment was Food-Ramblings.  Not only is this girl an AWESOME cook, but we have so so much in common.  First of all, her name is Elizabeth.  She makes and talks about some seriously delicious looking recipes but tries to stay healthy, just like me.  She even includes Weight Watcher points on her posts which is so helpful.

She’s truly an inspiration… she lost 30 pounds before her wedding and somehow managed to keep it off!  You go girl!

After reading through tons of great recipes, I decided to go with one that I thought was super creative:  Mexican Shepherd’s Pie.  Gasp.  How delicious does that sound?  Why haven’t I thought of this?!

Shepherd’s Pie has forever been one of my Mom’s favorite meals.  Growing up, we used to make it and mix it all together turning it into one big pile of delicious mashed potatoes, meat, and veggies.  Sometimes, my Mom would let my sister and I put food coloring in the potatoes to make it more fun to eat.  (gross!)

This recipe on Elizabeth’s blog  stood out to me right away and I had to get workin’.  I made this one two or three weeks ago now!  I was just so excited to try it out.

Mexican Shepherd’s Pie

**Recipe only slightly adapted from Food-Ramblings

Ingredients

1.5 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes

1 Tablespoon Onion Powder

1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder

1 teaspoon Sea Salt

1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper

Splash of Half and Half

1/2 Cup Chicken Broth (red. sodium)

1 lb Ground Beef

1 Taco Seasoning Packet

2 Jalapenos, diced

2 Tomatoes, diced

1 can Corn

Cayenne Pepper

1 can Black Beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup Cheddar Cheese (red. fat),shredded

Fresh Cilantro

Directions:

1.  Boil the potatoes in a large pot of salted water until soft and easily pierced with a knife or fork.  While the potatoes boil, cook ground beef with taco seasoning and diced jalapenos.  Drain grease if you have any.

2.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Smash the potatoes with half and half, chicken broth, garlic powder, minced onion, pepper, and salt.  Add chicken broth or half and half little by little if you need it to be more wet.

3.  In a foil-lined baking dish, spray with cooking spray.  Spread half of the potato mixture at bottom of pan.  Next, layer ground beef, followed by the tomatoes, corn, and black beans.  Sprinkle Cayenne somewhere in the middle if you’d like it to be spicier.  Sprinkle cheese over top (I used White and Sharp Cheddar).  Spread rest of potatoes over top.

4.  Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are just starting to brown.  Keep an eye on it!  Sprinkle on some fresh Black Pepper and Cilantro on top.  Serve 🙂

**Elizabeth’s original recipe first of all included a second recipe for Jalapeno Cornbread which I’m dying to try another time!  I made the shepherd’s pie after work one day and didn’t have enough time to try both.  Here are the changes I made:  I used Yukon Gold Potatoes, and less of them with the skins on instead of 2 lbs.  I added Cayenne and Jalapeno (duh).  I also unfortunately didn’t have the 1 cup of skim milk on hand to make the taters so I just used a splash of half and half.  Finally, since I had some on hand, I sprinkled some fresh Cilantro ontop.**

Smash smash smash.

Smash smash smash.

Next, I mixed the potatoes into mashed potatoes with lots of good seasonings and spread half of it into the baking dish.

Next, I mixed the potatoes into mashed potatoes with lots of good seasonings and spread half of it into the baking dish.

Add in some beef, tomatoes, jalapenos...

Add in some beef, tomatoes, jalapenos…

Black Beans, Corn, and some Cayenne for good measure

Black Beans, Corn, and some Cayenne for good measure

Loving two types of shredded cheddah

Loving two types of shredded cheddah

Into and out of the oven it goes... voila!  Amazing!

Into and out of the oven it goes… voila! Amazing!

Close-Up!

Close-Up!

Cross-Section of a Shepherd's Pie... I'm drooling.

Cross-Section of a Shepherd’s Pie… I’m drooling.

Spoon some up and add some hot sauce... call it a night!

Spoon some up and add some hot sauce… call it a night!

We LOOOVED Elizabeth’s Mexican Shepherd’s Pie!  What a GREAT idea!  I loved how she replaced the typical peas and carrots of Shepherd’s Pie with Corn and Beans and exciting flavors which I typically prefer anyway.  YUM!  We ate this for dinner TWICE and a few lunches too… tons of leftovers.

I can’t wait to officially follow Elizabeth’s blog now that she knows who I am 🙂  she has plenty of other amazing recipes I’m dying to try.

shep

In the meantime, PLEASE do yourself a favor and click below to check out these other fabulous recipes that were discovered during this month’s Secret Recipe Club!


Smoked Salmon Hash w/ a Baked Egg and Fried Basil

Please excuse the interruption of this month’s Low-Carb menu, and allow me to introduce today’s post… Smoked Salmon Hash w/ a Baked Egg and Fried Basil.  What a mouthful!

One It’s Good to be the Cook’s awesome twitter followers @StephanieMcSher recommended I try to enter Fabio’s Kitchen Academy Challenge.  Wait a second Stephanie… Fabio?  As in Fabio, my all-time FAVORITE Top Chef contestant?!  AHHH!  I had to check this out.

The Contest-  Create a dish using (not exclusively) the following five ingredients:

Eggs

Olive Oil

Potatoes

Parmesan Cheese

Basil

Oh, there’s one small tiny little factor… the challenge for November ends in ONE DAY!  I put my thinking cap on and started brainstorming.  After tearing up Trader Joe’s like the Tasmanian Devil in a Looney Tunes Short, I bought what I needed and headed home to get cookin’.

Smoked Salmon Hash w/ a Baked Egg and Fried Basil

Recipe by:  It’s Good to be the Cook

Serves:  4

What you’ll need:

3 Russet Potatoes, peeled

1 Sweet Onion

Olive Oil (you’ll need enough to cover the bottom of a large pan + a little bit more for drizzling)

1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic

1 Package Smoked Salmon, maybe 8oz (I used Trader Joe’s Smoked Salmon Pieces since it was going to be cut up anyway!)

Fresh Basil (1/2 cup Chopped plus 8 leaves)

1/2 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs

Fresh Parmesan Cheese, grated (1/2 Cup or less)

Sea Salt, Black Pepper, and Smoked Paprika

4 Eggs

Directions:

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 450.  Cut the Potatoes into small cubes, as evenly as possible.  Throw them into a big bowl with a few shakes of salt and cold water.  Soak for at least 10 minutes to remove some of the starch.  Drain and place on a few papertowels to pat off as much water as possible.  Meanwhile, chop the onion and chop the smoked salmon.  

2.  Meanwhile, heat enough Olive Oil to coat the bottom of a large non-stick skillet (with high sides if possible).  Once the oil is hot enough (test with a drop of water), place the Fresh Basil Leaves in the oil.  Let frizzle in the oil for 30 seconds, then using tongs, flip the basil over and cook for another 30 seconds on that side.  Remove to a paper towel and sprinkle with sea salt.  

3.  Using the basil oil, dump the soaked then drained and dried potato chunks into the oil (carefully!).  Add a sprinkle of Sea Salt, a few grinds of Black Pepper, and a few shakes of Smoked Paprika (will give it GREAT flavor and color!).  Leave the potatoes alone frying in the oil for about 5 minutes, then flip/stir and add the onion right ontop.  Cook for another 5 minutes.  Flip/stir.  Add garlic , flip/stir again.  

4.  Test a chunk of potato with a fork.  It should go in very easily, but taste it to make sure it’s cooked and also for seasoning, you probably need to add a bit more salt (be careful, you’re going to add salty smoked salmon so don’t oversalt).  

5.  Once the potatoes are cooked but not browning, add a handful of chopped basil (between 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup, reserving some for garnish) and your chopped Smoked Salmon.  Flip and stir.  Now you’re going to want to leave it be for 5 minutes to let the cooked potato mixture brown and get a little crispy.  Flip/Stir and wait again for 5 minutes for the next side to brown up.  Once it’s reached your desired crispiness, take the entire mixture and drain in a colander to remove extra grease.

6.  Prepare individual ramekins, crocks or a baking dish* with non-stick spray.  Spoon the drained salmon/potato mixture into the dishes.  Sprinkle a small coating of Panko Bread Crumbs onto the top (don’t overdo it!).  Next, grate some fresh Parmesan Cheese ontop to fully coat the top of the surface.  Season with Sea Salt, Black Pepper, a sprinkle of Fresh Basil, and a pinch of Smoked Paprika.  

7.  Using a spoon, make a small indentation or divot into the center of the surface.  Crack an Egg into a separate dish, then pour onto the top into the divot.  This will keep the egg in place.  Spray with a touch of Olive Oil.  Place in the oven for about 10 minutes, checking after 5.  Keep in the oven until the whites are fully cooked (they will appear WHITE instead of clear).  

8.  Carefully remove the ramekins or baking dish once the egg whites are cooked (leave in longer if you don’t want a runny yolk).  Top with 2 of the reserved Fried Basil Leaves and serve hot!

 

WHEW!!!!!!!!!!  I know it’s a LOT of steps, but it really is easy and sooooo worth it.  This recipe passed not only the Boyfriend Dave test, but the Mom and Sister test too.  The flavors of this dish are so warm with the smoky Paprika and Salmon.  I also loved how the potatoes were nice and soft against the crispy Panko/Parmesan topping and the crunchy Fried Basil.  YUM!

So, there you have it- my very first entry into TC Fan Favorite Fabio’s Kitchen Academy Challenge!  Now it’s up to you to help me win when the recipes are posted on Fabio’s Pinterest.  Stay tuned for info on how to help me win!!!

Could he get more adorable?

Could he get more adorable?

Check out Fabio’s Kitchen Academy Challenge Here!

Now, time for some serious food porn… MMMMMMMMM!

The 5 Ingredients for the Challenge:  Potatoes, Parmesan, Basil, Olive Oil, and Eggs.  MMM

The 5 Ingredients for the Challenge: Potatoes, Parmesan, Basil, Olive Oil, and Eggs. MMM

Sizzlin' Basil

Sizzlin’ Basil

Set aside your fried basil for later... okay maybe snitch one... and make a few extra while you're at it. :)

Set aside your fried basil for later… okay maybe snitch one… and make a few extra while you’re at it. 🙂

This is the size I got my potatoes down to, thanks to my brand new knife :)  What a lifesaver!

This is the size I got my potatoes down to, thanks to my brand new knife 🙂 What a lifesaver!

Here we are with the fried potatoes, onion, garlic, basil, and smoked salmon.  Right now I'm letting it sit to get a little crispy and browned.

Here we are with the fried potatoes, onion, garlic, basil, and smoked salmon. Right now I’m letting it sit to get a little crispy and browned.

This picture is of the SS Hash in my individual baking dish topped with the Panko and Parm.

This picture is of the SS Hash in my individual baking dish topped with the Panko and Parm.

I also made a batch of the hash without the egg to be split into 3 for my family.  For this version, I fried up eggs on the stove and topped each individual serving.

I also made a batch of the hash without the egg to be split into 3 for my family. For this version, I fried up eggs on the stove and topped each individual serving.

The beautiful finished product.  Wow.

The beautiful finished product. Wow.

Close Up!

Close Up!

Seriously... nom nom nom

Seriously… nom nom nom

 

I LOVE me some runny yolk.  On anything... seriously.  Wow.

I LOVE me some runny yolk. On anything… seriously. Wow.

Smoked Salmon Hash

 

 

 

Trader’s Tots

I’ve been on a major breakfast potato kick lately.  I’ve been dying to make my Breakfast Baked Potato again!  Last month, I made the BEST breakfast I’ve ever made (unfortunately, it was when Dave was in Vancouver and I was all alone) using Trader Joe’s Shredded Potatoes.

Last weekend, I decided to try TJ’s Potato Tots instead.  They are awesome.  I cooked up these babies along with some scrambled eggs and bacon.  Potatoes make the whole breakfast process take more time, but they are well worth it.  One of my fav blogs, “What’s Good at Trader Joe’s” gave these Tots 10 out of 10, something i RARELY see them do!

You can cook these in the oven, but I recommend doing them in a skillet with some oil.  I have personally been using Sunflower Seed Oil (also from TJ’s), but Olive Oil or Vegetable Oil will do just fine.

Get the oil nice and hot and carefully add the potatoes.  They might splatter just a little depending on how much ice flakes are on there.  Mine weren’t too bad.  Let them cook in the oil for like 5-8 minutes, then season them with Salt/Pepper/Smoked Paprika/Garlic… anything your little heart desires.  Carefully flip them over and cook the other side for 5-8 minutes.  I seasoned this side as well, but that all depends on how you like them!  I also prefer mine to be pretty crispy so I kept them cooking just a little longer before removing them onto some paper towels to dab off the grease.

These Tots are simple but taste really yummy.  They’re a great shortcut if you don’t have the time to cut up fresh potatoes and deal with all of that kind of stuff (like me!).

One-Pan Hash Brown Breakfast

OMG!  I made the actual best breakfast ever this weekend, and no one was there to witness it! I recently bought a bag of Trader Joe’s Shredded Hash Browns and I’m lovin’ it.  They are reallllly easy to work with.  The ingredients on the bag?  Potatoes.  That’s all!  It is really nice to have the potatoes pre-shredded.  It’s also really cheap.

After my Saturday morning workout, I come home starving.  I like making smoothies or having some yogurt, but on this particular day I was famished… and nothing light was going to do the trick.

I took out the hash browns, some bacon, eggs, and shredded cheese and went to work.

One-Pan Hash Brown Breakfast

Recipe by:  It’s Good to be the Cook

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon Oil (you can use Olive Oil but I’ve been using Sunflower Seed Oil)

1 Cup – 1.5 Cups Shredded Hash Browns (I used TJ’s frozen, or you can make your own)

1/2 Onion, sliced or chopped thin

Sea Salt, Black Pepper, and Smoked Paprika

2 Slices Bacon, cooked

2 Eggs

1/4 Cup Shredded Cheese (I used Red. Fat White Cheddar)

Directions:

1.  Heat the oil over medium-high in a small sized non-stick skillet.  Mix the hash browns and chopped onion together.  Add the frozen hash brown mix to the pan.  Arrange so they are covering the bottom of the pan evenly.  Season with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika.

2.  Let the potatoes be for 5 minutes or longer, until they start to brown on the bottom.  Flip the potatoes (which should now have taken the shape of the pan, almost like a pancake) so you can cook the top side.

3.  Add the bacon.  *I had microwaved mine which makes it really crispy.  If you don’t want to do that, you can fry up the bacon in the pan first, remove- leaving the bacon grease, and only use 1/2 Tablespoon of Oil.  Add the shredded cheese.

4.  Crack one egg at a time over the potatoes.  Cover the pan and let cook.  After about 4 minutes, check on the eggs and slide out of the pan once the egg whites are white and cooked through.

After it was flipped

This was soooooo yummy.  I’m totally into Smoked Paprika now, and it tasted fabulous with the potatoes.  I only discovered Smoked Paprika because TJ’s started selling it ($1.99 I believe btw)… and i love it.  It gives everything a smoked flavor, and almost makes it taste like it came right of a BBQ!  It also helped give the potatoes a really nice looking darker color when they were done cooking.

At first I was bummed the egg didn’t stay completely on the potatoes, but it didn’t matter in the end! SO GOOD!

The eggs cooked perfectly, which is so hard for me to master.  Cooking them ontop of the potatoes, rather than directly on the hot pan prevented the egg whites from being overcooked, while covering the pan helped create steam which allowed the whites cook all the way through without having to flip them.

Look at this amazing bite! I loooooove black pepper, if you couldn’t tell!

Trader Joe’s Shredded Hash Browns

It’s been a while since I’ve introduced you to a new TJ’s item.  These frozen potatoes are so amazing, I had to break out and make a new post!

So, I’m not sure what makes THESE frozen potatoes different than most other frozen potatoes, but what I do know… is that they are delicious.  SO: I looked it up on TJ’s website after writing this… here is what makes them so special:

… is made without artificial ingredients, preservatives or partially hydrogenated oils.

Perfecting hash browns has been a goal of Dave and I for years.  Every time we’re motivated enough to make a nice big breakfast on the weekends, we try a different way to hash-brown.  We’ve sliced them thin like chips, we’ve chopped them up into chunks, and we’ve even shredded our own potatoes, but it never works well.  They end up in a huge clump, not crispy, too crispy, too greasy, etc.

With these potatoes, we made the perfect hash browns this weekend.  I’m telling you, perfect.  All I had to do was heat up my new cast-iron skillet, add some Sunflower Seed Oil (you can use any kind, but this is the new one I have… from TJ’s actually!) heat it up & add the potatoes w/ some salt and pepper.

The key here is to let the potatoes be.  Don’t move them around, don’t chop them up… just let them cook.  Once the bottom is nice and crispy, flip them around and cook the other side.  That’s all you need to do.  They turned out freakin’ fantastic.

I give these an A+!  OH, I forgot to mention… they’re only $1.69 for a 20oz bag!

Yummy!

There they are all crisped-up on the left side. We had a delicious breakfast with a tomato omelet, bacon, and some fresh multi-grain french bread!

Grilled Chicken, Veggies, & Roasted Potatoes w/ Dill

So, it’s almost the 4th of July!

Is everyone’s grill-mode on full swing?

Since we’ve been hardly home this summer, and super busy when we are… I haven’t been grilling enough.  It’s depressing.

I was really happy this week when Dave offered to grill up some veggies & chicken for us while I roasted potatoes in my new Dutch Oven.  (Okay, he came into the house and I told him he was grilling… but he did it without complaining!)

Grilled Chicken & Veggies

Ingredients:
2 Chicken Breasts (ours were 8oz each)
1/2 Cup Lawry’s Herb & Garlic Marinade
2 Zucchinis, halved
1 Onion, sliced into thick rings
Olive Oil sprayer
Salt, Pepper, Paprika
Directions: 
  1. Marinade the raw chicken breasts for a half hour covered in the refrigerator , turning halfway through.
  2. Cut your veggies, spray with just a touch of olive oil and season.
  3. Turn on your grill to medium-high.  Both veggies and chicken take a while so they can go on at the same time.
  4. Flip the chicken once it looks like it’s halfway done, then carefully flip the veggies.  Grill until they’re both cooked (chicken should be 165 degrees inside).  I like the veggies a little bit burnt!

    It’s simple and you can top off the chicken with any flavor sauces when it’s done grilling with this!

    This is the sauce we picked to top our veggies and chicken with tonight.

I also was able to try out a new recipe in my brand spankin’ new Dutch Oven that Dave bought me for my b-day!

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes w/ Garlic & Fresh Dill

Recipe by:  It’s Good to be the Cook
Ingredients:
1lb Fingerling Potatoes, rinsed
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
8 Cloves Roasted Garlic (or minced garlic if you don’t have roasted)
1 teaspoon Minced Garlic
2 Tablespoons Fresh Dill, chopped
Sea Salt & Black Pepper
Directions:
1.  Heat the dutch oven on the stove over medium-high heat.  Melt the Butter.  Add the potatoes, salt and pepper.  Cover and cook for 30 minutes.
2.  Open lid and stir the potatoes every 7-10 minutes or so.  You can check the done-ness of the bigger ones by sticking a fork in it.  It’s done when it goes in and out easily.  
3.  Add roasted and minced garlic.  Stir.  Cook for 5 more minutes or until the potatoes are done (depends on the size!)
4.  Remove from dutch oven and strain away any excess butter.  Toss with dill, and serve with extra salt/pepper if desired.

Potatoes were so good!

Add some hot sauce and you’ve got yourself some dee-licious potatoes!  YUMMY!  The roasted garlic becomes almost sweet, and is a great addition to this dish.  We buy a little container of it at our local italian marketplace.  It’s cheap and you can use it on so much (smashed on bread… mmmm).

The finished product. I was so full after!