2 Alexia Seasoned Waffle Fries

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, I was able to try a product from Alexia All Natural Foods.

I chose their seasoned waffle fries.  All natural, the ingredients include canola oil, sea salt, onion powder, black pepper, garlic, and paprika.  1 cup of these fries are 160 calories with 7 grams of fat with no transfat and ony .5 grams of saturated fat, due to canola oil.  These potatoes pack in 2 grams of fiber and 0 sugars.  To find a store near you that carries Alexia's products, visit here: Where to Buy Store Locator.

The directions say to put a single layer of potatoes in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.  I didn't have a whole lot of time and we were really hungry ... so I did what my mom has done for years with frozen french fries ... put them under the broiler.

I put the potatoes 6" from the broiling element for 6 minutes on one side, then flipped the potatoes over to bake an additional 6 minutes, shaving half of my baking time!

The fries were hot, crispy and had a very mild flavor, which surprised me.  I expected them to be as spicy as seasoned curly fries, but the flavor was way more subtle.  This is great news for families with kids who may not like overly spicy fries. 

Alexia is "Reinventing a Classic" and you can cast your vote for the next french fry flavor on the Alexia Foods FaceBook page.  Click on the Reinvent a Classic tab and cast your vote!


15 Cupcake Genius

My sister in law's family gave me this Cupcake Genius for Christmas.  They purchased it from Avon, but you can also get it here

It is a traditional cupcake sized pan that includes a unique metal frame with silicone tips that allow the batter to bake around, forming a space for filling.

After making my Hostess Copycat Cupcakes, hollowing them out by hand and eating the insides, I was excited and ready to try this out!

It seems simple enough ~ you need to spray the tips and remembered this kitchen tip to put the frame inside the dishwasher and spray...talk about easy clean up!

Line the baking pan with cupcake liners, fill 2/3 full and snap on the metal frame.

Bake as directed, take out of the oven, and wait 5 minutes.

The frame came off easily and didn't destroy any cupcakes in the process...

Filled it with creme (included in the Hostess Cupcake recipe) ... and yes, that is a Ziploc baggie with the tip cut off.  Worked perfectly!  Your choice of fillings are endless: whipped cream, caramel, nuts, fruits, pudding, jelly or candy.

Covered it with chocolate ganache and swirled some more creme on top ... ta da!

Let's take a peek and see how much filling is inside ...

 What a fun surprise!  What would YOU want to find inside your cupcake?


5 Smokey Chipotle Flour Tortillas

My friend, who taught me everything I know about Hispanic cooking, was raving about some chipotle tortillas that she found at the store.  I was surprised that she didn't make her own tortillas.  She confessed that she didn't like to make them, as her grandmother would make her re-roll them out if they weren't perfectly round.

Not perfectly round? Hey, mine are not perfectly round either ~ I call 'em "rustic" tortillas!

I then wanted to make my own chipotle tortillas ~ and share them with my friend.  

I found powdered chipolte and gasped at the price.  Then found this can ... for under $2.

These are whole smoked jalapeno peppers marinated in a seasoned tomato sauce, or adobo sauce. It is very spicy...

I used my immersion blender to puree it smooth.

Using the same method for freezing tomato paste, I measured teaspoonfuls onto a plastic lined baking sheet and froze them for a few hours.  After freezing, I put them into a freeze safe bag. 

When it came time to making the tortillas, I adapted this recipe and put the frozen chipotle sauce into the hot, nearly boiling water, which dissolved quickly.

I love using my wooden French rolling pin.  I think using it makes it easier to roll out the tortillas.

These tortillas are thin, soft and have just the right amount of smokey 'kick.'  If you want them spicier, by all means, add more chipotle sauce to the hot water.

These are perfect for any Mexican style meal or sandwich wraps.  Give it a try!

Smokey Chipotle Tortillas
(4x6 recipe download)     (full page printable recipe)

This post is shared with BYOB with Girlichef!


2 Hassleback Potatoes with Herb Sour Cream

This is a potato that makes a great presentation. These baked potatoes were poplularized in the Hasslebacken Hotel in Stockhom, Sweden.  If you love crispy roasted potatoes, you will enjoy this side dish.

The important things to remember are to not slice all the way through the potato, and to watch it as it bakes, or the garlic will burn....

The recipe uses a tip to use a wooden spoon to slice the small potatoes and wondered how I would be able to slice these Costco sized potatoes ~

Then I remembered that my marble rolling pin had a wooden holder/stand.


Start slicing in the middle of the potato, working toward the ends.

You can brush, drizzle or toss your potatoes in any variety of melted butter, olive oil and spices. 

I baked this potato at 400° for one hour ~ definitely too long and burned my garlic.  I think 45 minutes would be plenty.

The herbed sour cream was really good, definitely worth making again.  I served this with a T-bone steak, topped with bernaise sauce.

Hassleback Potatoes & Herb Sour Cream
(4x5 recipe download)     (full page printable recipe)


10 Mini Cherry Pies: Lessons Learned

When a neighbor requested some mini pies, I scrambled online to find some mini pie pans.  I finally found some at the Kitchen Collection outlet store in my neighborhood.

Psssst ..... I've discovered a new pie crustA fool proof pie crust that is so flaky and so good.  I got so many comments on how flaky this crust is.  The secret?  Vodka.

I do not drink alcohol and prefer to use alcohol free wines in my cooking.  However, the creators of this recipe say that subbing alcohol for half of the water in this recipe contributes to the flakiness.  When the oven heat hits the crust, the alcohol evaporates, creating pockets of air that are the hallmark of this crust.

So, I donned a trench coat, hat, and sunglasses and went to the liquor store to purchase vodka.  Well, at least I put on the sunglasses, even though I really wanted to be incognito.  I nervously walked through the door and was visually bombarded by hundreds and probably thousands of bottles in front of me.  How can I possibly find the vodka?

A quick glance told me that all the wines were in front of me, laying on their sides.  I scanned the liquor located on the back wall.  I really, really, didn't want to ask anyone for assistance.  Luckily, I found the clear bottles of vodka on the bottom shelf.

Okay, which is the cheapest?  I didn't care which brand.  This was for baking, not drinking.  I found a $3 bottle and quickly took it to the register.  Luckily, I was next in line.  The clerk didn't even bat an eyelash while ringing it up and put the bottle in a small brown paper bag.

I mumbled a quick "Thanks" and hurried out into the parking lot.  When I sat down in the car, I felt a huge sense of relief.  "Now that wasn't so hard, was it?" I thought to myself.  

I was impressed by Duncan Hines Wilderness (Comstock) pie fillings that I used for a previous post.  I found this cherry pie filling at Walmart to make these mini pies.  One can easily made 4 of these pies.  You can see that I need a little work on my lattice design. 

The pies easily came out of the non-stick pans but this one collapsed because I had not rolled the crust thick enough.

This one?


Finding the mini pie pans, buying the vodka, and using a canned pie filling was worth it.  My family even ate the "scrambled" cherry pie. 

In honor of George Washington's birthday today, no cherry trees were harmed in the making of these pies. 

Happy Baking!


4 Copy Cat Recipes

Some of my favorite and most popular recipes are the ones that are "copycat" recipes.  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, is it not?

While I enjoy making these recipes, I still frequent these restaurants from time to time to enjoy a day off from my kitchen with the company of hubby and friends.


Browned Butter Myzithra Cheese ~ Spaghetti Factory

Chicken Gnocchi Soup ~ Olive Garden

Onion Straws ~ Ruby Tuesday

Outback Bread ~ Outback Steakhouse 

Chicken  Nuggets ~ Chick Fil A

Pork Barbacoa ~ Cafe Rio

Cilantro Lime Rice ~ Cafe Rio 

Spice Shortbread Cookies ~ Little Dutch Boy Bakery


6 Johnny's French Dip Au Jus

There is something warm and comforting about a classic French Dip sandwich.  Perhaps it was something I ate in the junior high cafeteria ... I'm not sure. 

My sister in law requested some Italian Torpedo Rolls to make corned beef and sauerkraut sandwiches over the Super Bowl weekend.  I opted to make French Dip sandwiches.

I've purchase au jus dry mix in the packages, but I always ended up with a lot of au jus left over.  I saw Johnny's concentrated au jus sauce and was intrigued that I could make as much or as little au jus as needed. 

The recipe?  Two parts water, one part concentrate.  Once this is opened, it needs to live in the fridge.

I used to heat the roast beef in the microwave.  I always ended up with shriveled pieces of meat.

Not any more.  Now I put the cold slices into the au jus to warm them up. 

While the meat is warming up, I butter the torpedo roll and toast it under the broiler. 

Then I add a slice of provolone cheese ...  After that is bubbly and brown, I assemble my sandwich.

You could add sauteed onions and peppers, if you wish. 

The verdict?  As written the au jus was a wee bit strong.  I added a couple of tablespoons of water and it was perfect. 

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