Funeral Potatoes

Funeral Potatoes | Pinky's Pantry
No, nobody died. So why “funeral potatoes” you ask? Well, you know how people always bring food to a wake or a funeral when someone passes away? Funeral Potatoes are one of those dishes that’s frequently brought to that somber gathering. Hence, the name.
Funeral Potatoes | Pinky's Pantry
It’s basically a simple potato casserole made with frozen hash browns. There are many versions of the recipe floating around out there. This is how I make mine. It’s super easy to prepare and everyone always likes it. The best part is, it’s not just for funerals. You can serve it any time of the year. It makes a great side dish for a busy weeknight dinner with the kids. I’m actually making it for Easter Sunday brunch this year.

FUNERAL POTATOES

  • 1 bag (28-32 oz.) frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
  • ¼ – ½ cup butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 can (10½ oz.) cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can (10½ oz.) cream of potato soup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 cups French’s crispy fried onions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Take hash browns out of the freezer and set them on the counter to thaw a little while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. This makes them easier to mix.
  3. Melt ¼ cup butter in a skillet. If you want more buttery potatoes, you can melt up to ½ cup.
  4. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent but not brown.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the sauteed onions, soups, sour cream, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and parsley, if using.
  6. Stir in the hash browns until well-combined.
  7. Spread mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish.
  8. Sprinkle French’s fried onions on top.
  9. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until sides begin to bubble and top is golden brown.

TOPPING VARIATIONS:  Toss 4 tbsp. melted butter with 1½ cups panko bread crumbs, or crushed crackers, or crushed cornflakes, or crushed potato chips.

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Cheesy Bacon Tater Tots

Cheesy Bacon Tater Tots | Pinky's Pantry
Did you know that February 2nd is National Tater Tot Day? It’s an easy day for me to remember because it’s also my only brother’s birthday. Tater tots are an iconic American food that was created in the early 1950’s. The founders of Ore-Ida were trying to figure out what to do with all the little leftover pieces of potato that they had tons of everyday. They chopped up the potato pieces, mixed them with flour and seasonings, then forced the mixture through the barrel of an extruder, slicing off little one-inch pieces as the mixture came through. And so the tater tot was born.

Actually, when the little potato nuggets were first created, they didn’t have a name for them so the owners of Ore-Ida decided to have a name-the-product contest among their employees. The name “Tater Tots” was submitted by a young mother named Clora Lay Orton. Everyone loved the name and she won the contest.

It’s hard to believe that when the inexpensive tater tots were first sold in stores in 1956, they didn’t exactly fly off the shelves. Today, Americans consume approximately 70 million pounds of them per year! It’s safe to say the lowly tater tot has finally found its place in society, from school cafeterias to the ever popular food truck. It’s certainly found its way to our dinner table!

CHEESY BACON TATER TOTS

  • 1 bag frozen tater tots
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup ranch dressing
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 6 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
  • 2 stalks green onions, chopped
  1. Bake tater tots according to package directions.
  2. While tots are baking, combine sour cream and ranch dressing in a bowl.
  3. Drizzle sour cream mixture over baked tater tots.
  4. Sprinkle cheeses over the top.
  5. Place under broiler until cheese is completely melted.
  6. Remove from broiler and top with crumbled bacon and green onions.
  7. Return to broiler for 2-5 minutes to warm up the bacon.
  8. Serve hot.

Santa Fe Chopped Salad with Cilantro Citrus Vinaigrette

Santa Fe Chopped Salad | Pinky's Pantry
This is a healthy and delicious salad. The dressing has very little oil which makes it less fattening than other dressings, albeit rather thin. If you want a thicker, creamier dressing, try adding a half cup of plain greek yogurt.

Sometimes I add crumbled bacon to this salad which makes it really yummy. After all, everything is better with bacon, right? For a heartier, more filling salad, you could toss in some chopped grilled chicken.

This salad makes a great accompaniment to barbecued meat or chicken. It’s delicious alongside a pot of pulled pork or a smoked beef brisket. And it’s perfect to take to a potluck or a picnic.
Santa Fe Chopped Salad | Pinky's Pantry

SANTA FE CHOPPED SALAD

  • 1 large head romaine lettuce or 2 romaine hearts, washed and roughly chopped
  • 2 small (2.25 oz.) cans sliced black olives, drained
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 can (15.25 oz.) whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1½ cups loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup tortilla strips
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • half of a small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  1. Place chopped lettuce in a bowl.
  2. Arrange remaining ingredients in rows on top of lettuce.
  3. Just before serving, drizzle with Cilantro Citrus Vinaigrette.
  4. Toss and serve.

Cilantro Citrus Vinaigrette | Pinky's Pantry

CILANTRO CITRUS VINAIGRETTE

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, loosely packed
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • juice from 2 limes (about 3½ – 4 Tbsp.)
  • 2 Tbsp. honey or agave nectar
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ⅛ tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil (can substitute canola oil)
  1. Place cilantro, orange juice, lime juice, honey, cumin, salt and pepper in bowl of food processor or blender and pulse until well-combined.
  2. Then gradually stream in the oil while processing until oil is completely incorporated. Dressing is thin and light.

Tomato Bisque with Crispy Mozzarella Cubes

Tomato Bisque | Pinky's Pantr
Today was a scary day at work. I arrived at the office to be greeted with the news that our Vice President had called an impromptu “Organizational Announcement” meeting. Everyone was to report to the meeting at 9 a.m. sharp. The VP’s announcement was that they were going to be outsourcing some of our jobs and some people would be laid off at the end of this year. So sad. It’s hard to understand the business decision to cut costs by sending our work abroad, but it’s harder to accept when good, hardworking employees of long standing are laid off without a qualm. I’m one of the lucky ones who gets to keep her job but my heart breaks for my friends who don’t.

I think comfort food is called for tonight. And what could be more comforting than a yummy bowl of tomato soup? Add a grilled cheese sandwich and you’re instantly transported back to those carefree childhood days when it seemed like nothing could go wrong. This soup is delicious and very easy to make. Instead of grilled cheese sandwiches, I gave it a different touch by making Crispy Mozzarella Cubes to serve with it. Yum! Now if only the job situation at work were as easy to fix. Sigh…..

TOMATO BISQUE

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes in puree
  • 1½ cups chicken broth
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper, to taste (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (optional)
  1. In a medium pot, heat the oil.
  2. Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until translucent.
  3. Add the garlic and thyme, stirring until fragrant.
  4. Add the tomatoes, broth, and honey, and stir together well.
  5. Season with salt and pepper if desired, and bring to a boil over high heat.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
  7. Remove and discard thyme sprigs.
  8. Puree soup with an immersion blender. If you want it chunky, puree only half the soup.
  9. Stir in the cream, adjust the seasonings, and continue to cook for another minute or two.
  10. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with parsley, if desired.

CRISPY MOZZARELLA CUBES

  • 1 block of mozzarella cheese (size depends on how many cubes you want to make)
  • flour
  • egg
  • panko bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Heat 2 inches of canola oil in a deep frying pan on the stove.
  2. Cut mozzarella cheese into cubes as small or large as you like. I like a good-sized cube so I cut them about 1½ inches big.
  3. Place about 1 cup flour in a pie plate and season lightly with a little salt and pepper.
  4. Beat 1 egg in a shallow bowl and season lightly with a little more salt and pepper.
  5. Place about 1 cup panko bread crumbs in another pie plate.
  6. Take a mozzarella cube and coat it first in flour, then egg, and finally bread crumbs. Repeat with remaining cubes. If you run out of flour or bread crumbs, just add more, and beat another egg if you need to.
  7. Carefully drop each coated mozzarella cube into hot oil.
  8. Deep fry until golden brown.
  9. Transfer briefly to paper towel lined plate to drain.
  10. Serve hot.

Zucchini Crumble Bars

Zucchini Crumble Bars | Pinky's Pantry
I make these bars a lot during zucchini season. The zucchini is like a “surprise ingredient” that fools everybody. They all think it’s apple and don’t believe me when I tell them it’s zucchini. These bars are delicious, and best of all, are so easy to make. My family loves to eat them warm with a scoop of ice cream. Give them a try and see if they don’t surprise you, too.
Zucchini Crumble Bars | Pinky's Pantry

ZUCCHINI CRUMBLE BARS

For the Filling:

  • 8-10 cups zucchini, peeled, seeded and chopped (about 4-5 lbs.)
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch dissolved in 2-3 tbsp. cold water (this is called a slurry)
  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook zucchini, lemon juice, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg, stirring occasionally until zucchini is crisp-tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  2. While stirring constantly, pour in slurry (cornstarch water mixture). It is important to keep stirring as the slurry will thicken the mixture very quickly.
  3. Continue to cook and stir, 1-2 minutes more, until mixture is thick and glossy.
  4. Remove from heat and set aside.

For the Crust:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups cold butter, cut in cubes
  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Set aside about 3 cups of the crust mixture for topping.
  5. Press remaining crust mixture into bottom of prepared baking pan.
  6. Pour zucchini mixture over crust, spreading evenly to edges.
  7. Crumble remaining crust mixture over zucchini mixture.
  8. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until top crust is golden brown.

Cool Veggie Pizza

Cool Veggie Pizza | Pinky's Pantry
This is an old Pampered Chef recipe that I learned to make many years ago when The Pampered Chef was still in its early years. The company operates on the same principle as Tupperware — people host a party where the company’s products are demonstrated and sold. I attended a Pampered Chef party where this dish was served and loved it so much that I made it myself for the party I subsequently hosted. It’s been a favorite with my family ever since. A lot of times, I make the recipe healthier by substituting reduced fat crescent rolls, fat-free cream cheese and/or lite mayonnaise.

Anyway, it’s the last day of Nurses Week tomorrow so I’m making this to take to the office. I know the nurses will love it, especially since I’m making the healthy version. Did I ever mention that I work with a bunch of nurses? Well, I do. So healthy food always goes over big at our office potlucks.

COOL VEGGIE PIZZA

  • 1 can refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 1 box cream cheese, softened
  • 1½ tsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed and minced fine
  • 1 tsp. dill weed
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups chopped assorted fresh vegetables (any combination of vegetables you like such as broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, green or red bell peppers, tomatoes, green onions, mushrooms, carrots, zucchini or yellow summer squash, etc.)
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Unroll crescent roll dough onto a cookie sheet and pinch seams together to seal.
  3. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.
  4. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  5. Combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, garlic, dill weed, salt and pepper together in a small bowl.
  6. Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly on top of cooled crust.
  7. Coarsely chop your selected vegetables.
  8. Sprinkle a layer of each vegetable over pizza crust.
  9. Cut into squares and serve.

NOTE:

  • If you don’t like dill, you can substitute Italian Seasoning mix. You can also omit the garlic if you want to.
  • My favorite combination of veggies that I use whenever I make this pizza is:  zucchini, mushrooms, green and red bell peppers, tomatoes and green onions.

Spanakopita

Spanakopita | Pinky's Pantry
I learned to make this dish many years ago, way before I even got married. Spanakopita is a Greek spinach pie that’s traditionally folded into little triangles and eaten as a snack or appetizer. This recipe veers from the traditional in that it’s made into a casserole making it a lot less work than folding up a stack of little triangles. The combination of spinach and feta cheese is delicious, and the many layers of crispy phyllo dough make it seem like you slaved for hours over the stove. It’s a great side dish to serve at a dinner party or to take to a potluck. It looks impressive and tastes it, too!
Spanakopita | Pinky's Pantry

SPANAKOPITA

  • 2 lbs. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and water squeezed out
  • ½ lb. butter, melted
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 lb. cheese (combine ½ lb. crumbled feta cheese and ½ lb. cottage cheese)
  • 2 tbsp. minced onion
  • 1 tsp. chopped parsley (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ lb. fresh or frozen phyllo dough (comes in flat sheets called “leaves”)
  • ½ cup melted butter for brushing
  1.  Combine the first seven ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Butter the bottom of a 9” x 13” pyrex glass baking dish.
  3. Place 4 phyllo leaves on the bottom of the baking pan, brushing each leaf with melted butter before placing the next leaf on top.
  4. Pour one-third of the spinach mixture on top of the buttered phyllo leaves.
  5. Top with 4 more phyllo leaves, brushing each leaf with butter.
  6. Continue layering until all the spinach mixture is used up.
  7. Top with a final layer of buttered phyllo leaves. If you want a thicker, flakier crust, you can add more phyllo leaves. Just be sure to brush each leaf with butter.
  8. Bake at 375º for 30 minutes or until top crust is golden brown.

NOTE:  You may use fresh spinach if desired. Just chop it up.

Classic Coleslaw

Classic Coleslaw | Pinky's PantryA friend of mine told me that she read somewhere that the way to keep your coleslaw salad from becoming runny and water-logged is to toss your shredded cabbage in a colander with 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup salt, and let it sit for about 5 minutes. This is supposed to draw the excess moisture from the cabbage. Then you give it a really good rinse under cold running water and spin it in a salad spinner to dry well. The cabbage stays nice and crisp and the salad doesn’t end up swimming in a bowl of soupy dressing.

Sounds totally plausible, doesn’t it? So I decided to give it the old college try. Well, all I can say is…….. don’t go off and start doing something else so you forget about your cabbage and it ends up sitting in the sugar/salt mix for about 40 minutes instead of the 5 it was supposed to…….. not unless you want to end up with a colander of limp, shrunken, gray-green little strings. Yikes! Anyway, if someone else out there tries it and it works, you’ll have to tell me all about it. Then maybe I’ll try it again. For now, I’m sticking to making coleslaw the old-fashioned way.

CLASSIC COLESLAW

  • ½ head green cabbage, sliced thin
  • ½ head red cabbage, sliced thin
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and julienned
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. celery salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped (optional)
  1. Place shredded cabbage and carrots into a salad bowl. If you’re short on time, you can substitute 2 (16-oz.) bags pre-shredded coleslaw mix.
  2. Whisk remaining ingredients together in another bowl.
  3. Pour dressing over the cabbage, tossing to combine well.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

NOTE:  If you don’t like red cabbage, you can omit it and use one whole head of green cabbage instead. Also, if you don’t have celery salt, you could substitute 1 tsp. salt plus ½ tsp. celery seeds in its place.

Cornbread Trifle

Cornbread Trifle | Pinky's Pantry
I needed a side-dish to take to a barbecue. Well what could be better than cornbread and a veggie salad? Enter Cornbread Trifle. This recipe has a lot of my favorite components for barbecue side dishes. Plus it looks so beautiful all layered up in your trifle bowl. It’s guaranteed to wow everyone with its gorgeous looks and just wait till you taste it! It’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser for sure!

This recipe makes a lot so you’ll need a large trifle bowl. Otherwise, be prepared to have some leftover veggies (which are great tossed with chopped lettuce and ranch dressing the next day).

CORNBREAD TRIFLE

  • 1 box cornbread mix (I used Krusteaz Honey Cornbread mix)
  • sour cream (amount according to milk called for on cornbread package)
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1-2 jalapeño peppers, depending on how spicy you want it
  • 1 lb. thick sliced bacon
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup ranch salad dressing
  • 1½ cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ small red onion or sweet vidalia onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cans (15-oz. each) whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 can (15-oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 8 ozs. smoked gouda cheese, grated (If you can’t get smoked gouda, you could use smoked cheddar or even just plain sharp cheddar cheese)
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced

Make the Cornbread:

  1. Preheat oven as per package directions and grease an 8 or 9-inch baking pan.
  2. Cut off the stem end of the jalapeños, then remove the inner membrane and seeds.
  3. Finely mince the jalapeños.
  4. Prepare batter following the directions behind the box, but replace the milk with sour cream to make the cornbread moister.
  5. Add ¼ cup milk and the minced jalapeños to the rest of the ingredients for the cornbread batter.
  6. Bake according to the time and temperature directed on the package.
  7. Turn out onto wire rack and allow to cool completely.
  8. Cut cooled cornbread into approximately 1-inch cubes.

Prepare the Bacon:

  1. Lay the bacon slices on a foil covered sheet pan.
  2. Bake at 400ºF for 15 minutes or until brown and crispy.
  3. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and cool.
  4. Stack the crispy bacon and cut them into ½-inch pieces.
  5. Set aside ¼ cup of bacon pieces for garnish.

Make the Dressing:

  1. Place the mayonnaise and ranch dressing in a bowl.
  2. Whisk together until smooth and well blended.

Prepare the Veggies:

  1. In a bowl, combine tomatoes, bell peppers, onion, corn, black beans, and cilantro.
  2. Stir to combine well.

Assemble the Trifle Layers:

  1. Place half the cornbread on the bottom of a large trifle bowl. Press down lightly.
  2. Top with half the veggies.
  3. Next half the cheese.
  4. Then half the bacon. Don’t touch the ¼ cup you reserved for garnish.
  5. End with half the dressing.
  6. Repeat the layers a second time ending in dressing.
  7. Garnish the top with the green onions and reserved ¼ cup bacon.
  8. Chill in refrigerator at least an hour before serving.

[Adapted from 52 Ways to Cook]

Japchae (Korean Glass Noodles)

Japchae | Pinky's Pantry
One of No. 1’s best friends growing up was a little Korean boy named Eugene. He was a good, polite boy and so smart. His mother was a sweet, soft-spoken woman who worked for a bank and who cooked wonderful Korean dishes. I love Korean food. I always wish I could’ve asked her to teach me how to make some of their dishes but the opportunity just never came up. Thankfully, the Bay Area abounds with Korean restaurants.

Whenever we go to a Korean restaurant, I always order Bulgogi – Korean barbecue beef. It’s my favorite and it always comes with a serving of these noodles on the side. Japchae is a Korean noodle dish made from sweet potato noodles called dangmyeon. It’s hugely popular in Korea. I love it. It’s delicious and a lot easier to make than it looks.
Japchae | Pinky's Pantry

JAPCHAE

Steak:

  • ½ lb. rib eye steak
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. mirin
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  1. Slice steak very thinly. It’s easier to do this if steak is partially frozen.
  2. Combine ingredients for steak marinade in a small bowl.
  3. Add steak to marinade, stirring to coat well.
  4. Set aside to marinate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Sauce:

  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  1. Mix sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.
  2. Set aside until ready to use.

Noodles:

  • 1 pkg. (500g) Korean sweet potato noodles
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned
  • ½ large onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 ozs. fresh shitake mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced
  • ½ red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 4 ozs. spinach, washed and dried
  • salt, to taste (optional)
  • 1 green onion stalk, green part only, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
  • canola oil for frying
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. When water is boiling, add noodles and boil for 7-8 minutes or until cooked to desired tenderness.
  3. Drain into colander and run cold water over noodles to stop them from cooking.
  4. Snip noodles with kitchen scissors in a few places so they’re not too long.
  5. Set aside to drain well.
  6. If you want little strips of scrambled egg, beat the egg in a small bowl.
  7. Heat a teaspoon of canola oil in a wok or large frying pan.
  8. Pour in egg, swirling pan from side to side to spread thinly.
  9. Cook on one side, then flip over to cook other side.
  10. Remove from pan, slice into thin strips, and set aside.
  11. In same pan, stir fry marinated steak until just cooked.
  12. Remove from pan and set aside.
  13. Stir fry carrots and onion until onion is translucent.
  14. Add mushrooms, bell pepper and garlic, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes more.
  15. Add the spinach and toss to combine, cooking until slightly wilted.
  16. Return the meat to the pan, then add the noodles and sauce.
  17. Toss all together until heated through.
  18. At this point, taste noodles and season with salt if necessary.
  19. Transfer to serving platter and sprinkle with chopped green onions and sesame seeds.
  20. Serve hot or cold. Can be reheated in the microwave.

NOTE:

  • You can use any cut of well marbled meat if you don’t want to use rib eye. Just make sure to slice it very thinly.
  • If you want to make this dish vegetarian, omit the beef entirely.
  • If you can’t find fresh shitake mushrooms, you can substitute dried. Just soak them in a bowl of hot water for at least 30 minutes to reconstitute. Remove the mushrooms from the water, squeeze them a little bit to remove excess water, then trim off the tough stems and slice the caps thinly.
  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an air tight container for up to 2 days.
Japchae Noodles | Pinky's Pantry

These are the sweet potato noodles I used. I bought them because they were on sale. They were very good.