Baked Potato Skin Appetizers with Bacon and Cheese

Who doesn’t love potato skins?  Look to buy small potatoes.  They bake in about 45 minutes and are easy to manage when eating.  Make the skins and bacon ahead of time and bake right before you want to serve.  Save the leftover potato flesh for skillet potatoes

Start by baking 12 small potatoes at 375′ for 40-45 minutes.  

Cook the bacon until crispy.  Drain over paper towels and cut into small pieces.  Set aside.

Once the potatoes are done, cool until you can handle them.  Carefully scoop out the flesh of the potato.

Brush canola oil on the potato skins to coat.  Once they’re all coated with oil, season generously with kosher salt.   Bake in 375′ oven for 14-16 minutes.

The leftover potato flesh will be good for 7 days in the refrigerator.

Top the hot skins generously with cheese and cooked bacon.  Bake at 375′ another 5-7 minutes.  Serve with sour cream and sliced green onions.  Enjoy!

Potato Skin Appetizers
 12 small potatoes, baked, halved, and hollowed out
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons canola oil
½ lb. bacon cooked and cut into small pieces
8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup sour cream
½ cup thinly sliced green onions

1) Preheat oven to 375’. Bake potatoes for 35-40 minutes.

2) While the potatoes are baking, cook the bacon until crispy. Drain on paper towels and cut into small pieces. Set aside.

3) Remove potatoes from the oven and allow to cool until you can handle them. Cut in half and remove the flesh of the potato.  Save the flesh for breakfast potatoes.

4) Brush the inside and the back side with a thin layer of canola oil. Season the inside of the potato skin generously with kosher salt.  Place on a foil lined cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and generously top with cheese and bacon. Bake an additional 8-10 minutes.

5) Remove from the oven and top each skin with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of green onion. Serve immediately.   Makes 24.

Corn Tortilla Encrusted Tilapia with Avocado and Corn Salsa…..

I have been making so many sweets lately, I decided to mix it up a bit with a little lighter fare! 

This is a very simple and delicious way to serve tilapia.  Feel free to use just about any mild white fish.   I use a food processor to pulverize fresh corn tortillas.  Baking at a high temperature crisps the coating without frying, it’s fantastic!  Serve with simple rice pilaf and steamed snap peas, let the fish and the salsa be the star of the meal.   If entertaining, prepare the salsa and have the fish oven ready in the refrigerator.  The fish cooks in only 12 minutes.

Corn Tortilla Encrusted Tilapia

With Corn, Avocado Salsa

For the salsa:

1 ½ cups frozen white corn, thawed
1 small red pepper, seeded and diced
1 medium avocado, cubed
½ cup seeded and diced cucumber
4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 limes, juiced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced (optional)
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

For the Fish:

4 large tilapia fillets
Salt and pepper
1 ¼ cups flour
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons water
5 small corn tortillas, pulverized in food processor

1) Into a medium size bowl, combine all of the salsa ingredients, mix well and put into an airtight container and refrigerate.
2) Preheat oven to 425’. Line a cookie sheet with Reynolds non stick foil. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the cookie sheet and evenly spread the oil over the foil. Set aside.
3) Tear the tortillas into small pieces and place into the food processor. Process until the tortillas resemble coarse bread crumbs. Place into a bowl for coating fish.
4) Into a second container, add the flour. Into a third container add the eggs and water, beat well.
5) Season the fillets with salt and pepper. Then dip into the flour, shake off excess. Dip into the egg, then into the tortilla crumbs, pressing the crumbs into the fish. Place on prepared cookie sheet. Drizzle with a very small amount of olive oil. Bake for 12-15 minutes.   Serve with salsa.


Buffalo Wings….

I absolutely love spicy chicken wings.  Try making these, they’re baked!  Believe me, they come out very crispy, you would never know that they were not fried.  The sauce is outstanding.  Be sure to serve with my Light Bleu Cheese Dressing, and crunchy carrot and celery sticks, fantastic!  Enjoy!
Oven Fried Buffalo Chicken Wings

For the chicken:
2-3 lbs. chicken wings
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For the sauce:

½ cup Open Pit Original BBQ Sauce or your favorite sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
¼ cup Red Hot Sauce
2 teaspoons butter

1) Preheat oven to 400’. Non stick foil line a cookie sheet with sides. Set aside.
2) Cut wings into pieces at joints (discard the little flapper portion) and place on prepared cookie sheet. Generously season wings with salt and pepper. Sprinkle flour over wings and toss to coat. Arrange on cookie sheet so they’re not touching. Drizzle the vegetable oil over the prepared wings.  Bake for about 50 minutes or until wings are very crispy.
3) While wings are baking, add all sauce ingredients to a large sauce pan. When the wings are almost finished baking, warm sauce over medium heat and mix well.  Remove from heat.
4) Remove wings from oven right onto a paper towel lined plate. Add the hot wings to the sauce pot. Toss to coat. Serve immediately with bleu cheese dressing and celery and carrot sticks. 

Oven French Fries….

Who doesn’t love french fries?  Hard to believe that it takes a few basic ingredients to make these.   Crispy oven french fries that actually taste like a potato, how original!  My kids go crazy over these.  Season them however you like.  Load up on the garlic or make them spicy with a few pinches of ground cayenne pepper.  Either way, guilt free french fries.  Zero trans fat.  Zero unpronounceable ingredients. Zero deep frying.  Enjoy!
Oven French Fries

4 large russet potatoes with skins or 2 lbs. potatoes
2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
½ teaspoon granulated garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons dried parsley

1) Line a baking sheet with 1” sides with Reynold’s non stick foil. (this is key) Set aside.
2) Wash potatoes and slice into ½” fries. Place in a large bowl and cover with water. Allow to soak for 20 minutes to an hour. (This removes much of the starch and allows for them to get crispy while in the oven.)
3) Preheat oven to 425’. Thoroughly drain potatoes in a colander, shake them up to release as much water as possible.
4) Put potatoes into dry bowl. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of oil over, toss. Sprinkle garlic powder, salt, and pepper over potatoes and toss to coat. Sprinkle flour over potatoes and toss to evenly coat.
5) Spread out over cookie sheet without overlapping. Drizzle remaining tablespoon of oil over potatoes.
6) Bake for 25 minutes, remove from the oven and carefully give them a turn. Place back into the oven for an additional 15-20 minutes or until browned to your liking.

Sprinkle parsley over potatoes. Serve immediately.

Crispy Oven Fried Chicken…..

Everyone LOVES fried chicken!  This is the easiest way to make a very authentic tasting “fried” chicken.  It takes minutes to prepare and it will certainly become a family favorite!  Serve for Sunday supper or bring to potlucks!  This will be your “go to” chicken recipe. 
Easy Oven Fried Chicken

1 whole cut up chicken, or 2-3 lbs of chicken pieces of your choice with bone and skin
Kosher salt & pepper
Dried thyme
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
Olive oil
1) Preheat oven to 400’. Line a cookie sheet (with sides) with Reynolds non stick foil.

2) Rinse chicken and drain well. Season each piece generously with salt, pepper, and thyme. Drizzle chicken pieces with one tablespoon of olive oil, toss to coat. Dredge each piece of chicken in flour and shake to remove excess flour. Place on foil lined sheet. Using a basting brush, baste each piece of chicken with drippings in pan after about 30 minutes of baking. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes. Enjoy!

Unbelievable Oven Fried Chicken…..

This chicken is excellent.  I love it because it has amazing flavor and isn’t deep fried.  Marinating in the buttermilk gives the chicken great flavor and very moist chicken.  You can also use chicken pieces with skin and bone, just increase the baking time to one hour.    You will have enough of the spice mixture to make the chicken 3 more times, very convenient. 

Spice mixture:

2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sweet basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon cayenne

Mix all ingredients together and store in an air tight plastic container. Yields ½ cup.

For the chicken:

2-3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons spice mixture
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon Lawry’s seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1) Place chicken breasts in a large zip bag, add buttermilk & marinate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

2) Preheat oven to 375’. Line a cookie sheet with Reynolds non stick foil and coat foil with about 2 tablespoons canola oil.

3) In a medium size bowl, mix all dry ingredients together and blend well. One piece at a time, allow buttermilk to drain off chicken and dredge in spice/flour mixture making sure to coat well. Place on prepared cookie sheet.

4) Drizzle about one tablespoon canola oil over chicken pieces. Bake for 30 minutes, with a pastry brush blot chicken pieces with drippings from the bottom of the pan. Bake another 10 minutes.

Parmesan Encrusted Chicken

Make this for dinner and it will be in the regular meal rotation in your house.  Oven baked and crispy like fried chicken or chicken strips, your family will absolutely flip!  Make with chicken tenders or cut the chicken breasts into strips.
Parmesan Encrusted Chicken

1 ½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed (you can also use chicken tenders, or boneless thighs)
1 cup plain dried bread crumbs
¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup flour
2 eggs
2 tablespoons water
Salt & pepper

1) Preheat oven to 400’. Line a cookie sheet with Reynolds non stick foil.
2) You will need three containers for coating the chicken. Into the first, mix the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese, set aside.
3) Second, beat the eggs and water, set aside.
4) Third, the flour.
5) Trim your chicken of any excess fat. Season generously with salt & pepper.
6) In this order, coat the chicken: First in flour, then the egg mixture, and finally the bread crumbs. Be sure you have evenly coated each piece.
7) Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the foil lined sheet & place breaded chicken on sheet. Lastly drizzle a bit more oil over chicken. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.

Serve with a Simple Garlic and Cheese Pasta and a simple salad. YUM!

Note: If the chicken breasts are very large, you can slice horizontally, carefully holding the top of the breast with your hand and slicing through the center. You must use a very sharp knife, and be careful. You now have “cutlets,” they will take less time to bake.