Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Potato Skins

Potatoes? check. 
Bacon? check. 
Cheese? check! 
Congrats, you are now going to be making the delicacy known as potato skins. 

Troy and I have been to a few restaurants (TGIFriday's, Huey's) that have these and we decided to see if we could replicate them. The results? Pure deliciousness. These appetizers can literally be eaten as a meal... and one time they were in place of a meal because our main course was ruined (but we'll just chalk that culinary failure up to a learning experience.).

5 medium sized Russet potatoes (we use red potatoes too... just as good!)
10 tablespoons of cheddar cheese
4-5 strips of bacon
1/4 cup of butter
Sour cream*
* delicious optional toppings


1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Cover the potatoes in foil and bake them for one hour.
2. After they have been baked for an hour, take them out and take off the foil. Put them on a cutting board and cut each potato in half length wise and let them cool.
3. Turn your oven to broil. Cook your bacon and pat the grease off with a paper towel. Crumble the bacon strips into small pieces.
4. After the potatoes have cooled (trust me, it is NOT fun to try to cut the potatoes when they are still hot), heat the butter in a mug in the microwave (it takes us about 30 seconds to melt).
5. Using a spoon, scoop about 3/4th of the potato out. So there should be about 1/4 of an inch thick potato skin. After each potato has been scooped, brush the butter on the entire potato. You can use the unused scooped potatoes as an appetizer or for future mashed potatoes.
6. Broil the potatoes on a cookie sheet, cut side up, for 5-7 minutes. Take them out and put 1 tablespoon of cheese (or more) onto each potato skin. Add the bacon on top and broil for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted (this doesn't take long).
7. Take out and devour!

You can dip these babies into ranch, sour cream (yes, please!) and add some chives to the top. They are wonderful. Troy and I are hooked. Absolutely hooked. We will never look back and are just finding reasons for ways to make them.

I'm just glad they are healthy... oh, wait.

But at least they are tasty and impressive!

Upon making these many times, I've learned a few tricks. The first: Always wrap the potatoes in foil. If you don't, they will burn. The second: Use a mug instead of a bowl to warm the butter. Instead of a burning yourself after taking the bowl out of the microwave, you now have a handy dandy handle to use. The third: Well, this isn't a tip but I've never broiled anything before and I was pretty much terrified of it. But basically all it means is that the oven gets VERY hot and the heat comes from the top of the oven only.

We adapted the recipe from this website.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Freezer Stenciling

2 words: 

I know, it makes no sense but let me explain. I saw this idea originally from and well, I fell in love. To summarize, use freezer paper to create a stencil that you will iron on to a shirt/onesie/whatever then using fabric paint, paint over the stencil and dry. Then voila, magic!

After I saw this project, I knew I had to make this for my friend, Alicia's baby, Ethan. I bought the materials thinking I had plenty of time but little Ethan Alexander came 4 weeks early so I had to stop procrastinating!

Here are some more in depth details:

Onesie (or shirt/pants/bag/whatever your heart desires)
Fabric paint (I used the matte Tulip brand paint from Walmart. It costs under a $1.)
Reynolds freezer paper (Reynolds Wrap usually has coupons out in circulars. I printed a coupon off
a paint brush
Image that you want to make in a stencil (This is optional if you want to go freehand. I printed my image from my computer.)
Exacto knife (I bought this for $5 at Walmart in the wedding aisle... weird, I know... I didn't need an exacto knife for my wedding day but that's me.)

1. To start, figure out what you want to go onto your fabric. For baby Ethan, I wanted his onesie to have a jersey feel. So I printed off a big "5" since he was born on April 5th and I printed off his initials, "E.A.J." to above the number.
2. Lay your image on a flat surface with plenty of light. Cut out some freezer paper to cover your image. Put the shiny side of the freezer paper down on the image and you might want to tape it to the image so that it doesn't shift when you cut it.
3. Using your knife, cut out your image from the freezer paper. I haven't used an exacto knife since I was in oh say, 7th grade so I was little bit rusty. You might want to practice first if you haven't used one in awhile or ever. Carefully trace out your image. I did mine slowly. Be sure to be very exact. Anything that is cut out will show up when you paint over the stencil.
4. After you have traced out your beautiful image, cut a piece of freezer paper and put it in the shirt/bag/onesie/whatever. This is so the paint doesn't seep through the fabric. Heat up your iron.
5. Place your image carefully on your fabric. Make sure it's precisely where you want it because once the paint is on, there is no going back! Iron the stencil on to the fabric. Run your fingers over the stencil to make sure every part (especially around the edges of the stencil) is ironed to the fabric. If it isn't completely ironed, the paint can get through.
6. Paint evenly over the fabric. Let it dry for a few hours. I waited a full 24 hours because I was nervous. ha! Then pull the stencil off and you should have your beautiful masterpiece!
7. The final step is key. Grab some fabric, any fabric is fine, and place it over your painted image and iron again. This seals the deal! Most fabric paints say not to wash until 72 hours so just be aware of those fine print details.

After you create your artwork, show off and brag all you want. You created something beautiful- go show it off!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bacon Wrapped Breadsticks

So... bacon wrapped breadsticks either sound terribly disgusting or deliciously delightful. My husband was skeptical and I was curious so I first made these for his 30th birthday party. They are ridiculously easy to make and will be a big hit at any party.

Most recently, I made these for our small group and there were none left over! It's true, I am awesome.

A package of bacon (your choice but I would stick with a thinner bacon)
A package of refrigerated breadsticks (I prefer Pillsbury breadsticks)
Grated parmesan cheese
Garlic Salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray PAM on a cookie sheet. Open the package of breadsticks and lay them on the sheet. Wrap one strip of bacon around each breadstick. After all breadsticks are completed, sprinkle garlic salt and the parm cheese on the top of the breadsticks. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the bacon is done to your liking. Take out and if you desire, you can sprinkle some more garlic salt and cheese on and serve immediately. Yum!

I know - that was tough but you can get through it.

Now you will have as many new friends as you had breadsticks.