Thursday, May 9, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

I'm cheating and totally going to post what I just posted on Facebook. But it's important, and it struck me really hard today that I needed to share this. Maybe one of my readers needed to hear it as much as I did.

I needed to read this today, and I need to try to remember it the next time I feel like life is flying by so fast that I just can't keep up with everyone else. I'm in this race of life as a mom and wife first. That comes before being a friend, a photographer, a piano teacher, a blogger, and everything else I've tried to be successful at. And it's the little moments, spent playing and reading with my kids that I need to work on. Not the elaborate parties, and impeccably decorated house. 

This is a must read, for every mom, dad or anyone who feels like a good read...

And HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! It's the best job I've ever had (and every will) in my life!

http://www.ourbestbites.com/2013/05/a-few-thoughts-before-mothers-day/

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April Fools!

In an effort to stop my kids from pulling their own pranks we do a prank dinner on Dad. Our family nights are on Monday and we usually have dessert so tonight we decided to only have dessert for dinner!



Mmm, Dad, don't those cupcakes and that frothy juice look delicious? They would be IF that is what they were!
In fact, they are mini- meatloaves with mashed potato frosting. That drink, yeah, just try and drink it. It is actually fully set jello. We did a few green beans we pulled out once the joke was out. My two year old kept eating the 'frosting' and saying, 'yummy frosting mommy!'

For my gluten free meatloaf (we have a gluten free guest in the house)
1 1/2 pds ground beef
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup water
1 egg
1 cup rolled quick oats
1/4 cup finely diced onion
2 tsp seasoning salt (we use Lawrys)

Mix together and form in balls. Put each ball in a separate muffin tin and bake for 30 minutes. Take out with a large spoon and let the mini-meatloaf drain on a paper towel for a few minutes. Place each in their own cupcake liner (foil works best - we were out of foil and had to triple up to keep the shape)

For the mashed potatoes -
Okay, I admit it! I used the just add water kind! My kids and I then added 10 drops of blue food coloring to make them look like frosting. Then with a frosting bag we 'decorated' the tops of the meatloaf. The potatoes can be a little hot so let cool or wrap a towel around the bag first.

For the 'fruit punch' -
We got clear plastic cups from the grocery store and made our favorite jello. We blended it to make a frothy top (the girls worried that Dad would guess if we didn't). Put in a straw and let them set up in the fridge. Ta-da, drinks you can't drink!

We initially got the idea from MyLitter.com
The link (and her cupcakes look much cuter - my kids were helping A LOT with the decorating) is http://mylitter.com/recipes/meatloaf-cupcakes-a-april-fools-favorite/


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Eliora's Broccoli Soup With Dumplings

 This is Eliora. She is 11 but she really acts like one of those goofy, fun, 20 year olds who just has it all put together. She is the oldest of 5 girls and she is a HUGE help to her mom. Tonight she asked if she could cook dinner. She also crochets headbands, writes, babysits, and well.....is more productive then most people I know.
She decided to make broccoli soup with dumplings. (My dumpling got mixed in but that is what is on the spoon) She got down all my cookbooks and started flipping through. She liked one of my broccoli soup recipes better but it had chicken. She is not a big meat fan (she declared herself a vegetarian at 4 years old) so she found another broccoli soup recipe and modified the two. Then she found a dumpling recipe and decided to add that so the little girls wouldn't still be hungry later. She showed what she had in mind to me and I took her shopping. I waited by the oranges while she grabbed her broccoli and onions (the only things I didn't have at home). She then decided to grab a bag of frozen seasoned red potato wedges to throw in the oven while cooking. Then she cooked, all by herself. I'm serious, I didn't help her once. I did answer a few questions and explain a few techniques but I never lifted a finger. The soup was gone. It was SOOOOO good.
Yes, she is that awesome. No, it is not my parenting. She was born that way. :)

Eliora's Broccoli Soup with Dumplings (taken from 3 old church recipes)

6 c. fresh broccoli, finely chopped
1 c. onion minced
1/8 tsp garlic powder
4 1/2 c chicken broth
3 bay leaves
1/8 tsp nutmeg
6T butter
1/8 tsp pepper
3 c milk
6T flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 c. medium cheddar cheese shredded

In a large pot combine broccoli, onion, garlic powder, chichen broth, bay leaves, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil. While it is boiling......

Make the Dumplings
2 c milk
1 cube butter
7 eggs
2 c flour
2 tsp salt

Scald milk, add salt and butter. Bring to a boil, add flour, beat until it forms a ball (do while still hot). Begg eggs into mixture one at a time (Eliora used a hand mixer). Set aside for a minute while returning to soup.

Back to Soup!

Remove bay leaves. Drop the Dumpling a large spoonful at a time into the boiling soup. She used only about 3/4 of the dumpling dough because of room. Cover the soup and simmer for 20 minutes. While waiting get out a pot. Add melt butter (from soup ingredients), stir in flour until thick and bubbly. Add milk and whisk until smooth.. Add salt and pepper. Add cheddar cheese. Turn off heat and clean up a little while waiting for timer to go off. (This is also when she got her sisters to set the table). Once the timer beeps remove lid from pot. Check on dumplings. If they taste fantastic then gently scoop them out and onto a plate. Add milk mixture to soup. Stir in well, put dumplings back in and serve!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Rainbow Doodle Cake

This month was my favorite 6 soon to 7 year old's birthday. She wasn't really getting a party this year so we wanted a special cake. I spent a bit of time on pinterest and found this!
 
 
It was made by a lovely lady with the cutest website ever. Lots of tips on baking! The picture above is hers. (used with permission) You can tell she has a few more skills and a way better camera then I do!!
 
 
 Here is our version. It was late at night so the lighting is horrible but it was super cute.  I had never heard of edible markers but seriously, how cool are they?! I really wanted my girl to make cute rainbows and such but she had to draw a Longhorn. She's a bit of a Texas fan. This was my first time working with fondant. It went pretty well except a crack here and there (I left it out too long after rolling it - kids were calling my name) but we cut out some fondant with cookie cutters and let the kids color those to cover the few flaws.
This got a little massacred in the cutting but you get the general idea. The  colors really are that vibrant! The actual cake was good and although my layers ended up larger then hers we just cut thin slices. The cake got eaten over the next two days and not a crumb was spared! I am going to admit to cutting and pasting the recipe. Honestly, it is hers and not mine and if you visit the site she has great tips on Swiss merginue buttercream (it's sad how many buttercreams I could have salvaged if I had read the article first) and on how to fondant.

White Cake (but not really)
2 sticks (226 g) butter, room temp
2 1/3 c (466 g) sugar
5 egg whites, room temp
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 c (375 g) all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 1/2 c (355 g) milk, warmed for 30 sec in microwave to bring to room temp
Red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple GEL food coloring. Liquid will not be vibrant enough!
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Oil and line how ever many 9” cake pans you have (I have three and I just reused them).
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Cream the sugar and butter, then add the egg whites (I cracked them all into one bowl) and add them a little at a time. Add the vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Then, alternating between wet and dry, add the milk and flour mixture in two parts.
Divide the batter amongst 6 bowls (I did it by weight. Weigh your mixing bowl before you begin adding ingredients and then subtract the weight of the bowl from the final measurement after the batter is completed. Divide that number by six and add that weight of batter to each bowl), and then whisk a fair amount of the appropriate food color into each bowl. Keep in mind that the color of the unbaked batter will be the color of the baked batter. Pour into the pans and bake for 15 minutes each.
When you remove them from the oven, let them rest on the cooling rack, in the pan, for ten minutes. Then flip, cover, and stash them in the fridge to cool quickly.
Lemony Swiss Meringue Buttercream
To fill and crumb coat:
9 egg whites
1 ¾ c (350 g) sugar
4 sticks (454 g) of butter, room temp
2 tsp lemon extract
To frost:
5 egg whites
1 c (200 g) sugar
2 sticks (227 g) butter, room temp
1 tsp lemon extract
Cook the egg whites and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved (test by rubbing some between your fingers. If it’s completely smooth, it’s done). Pour into another bowl (a stand mixer is preferable) and whip on high speed until room temp. Then, on a medium-slow speed, add the butter, waiting until each piece is completely incorporated before adding the next. After all the butter has been added, turn the mixer back to high speed and whip until it has come together, about five minutes. Add the extract, beat briefly and then use.
If the buttercream seems soupy after all of the butter is added and does not come together after whipping, refrigerate for 5 to 7 minutes and continue whipping until it becomes fluffy and workable.
Assembly
Stack the layers in your preferred order and fill and frost as you would any other cake.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cheesy Spuds 'N Ham

Enjoy this one, it's a new family favorite. Sorry, still no pics, but it's pretty too.

CHEESY SPUDS 'N HAM
6 small potatoes, peeled & cubed
3 tbsp. butter
2 c. cooked ham, cubed
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 c. butter
3 tbsp. flour
1 1/2 c. milk
salt & pepper to taste
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 c. bread crumbs

1. Place potatoes into large pot and cover with salted water, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.

2. Preheat oven to 350°.

3. Grease a 1 1/2-quart baking dish.

4. Melt 3 tbsp. butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the ham and onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes.

5. Stir potatoes into ham mixture; transfer to the prepared baking dish.

6. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir flour into melted butter until smooth.

7. Gradually whisk milk into flour mixture; season with salt and black pepper. Continue cooking & stirring until thickened, about 2 minutes.

8. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir cheddar cheese into the white sauce until melted.

9. Pour sauce over ham & potatoes.

10. Sprinkle bread crumbs over casserole.

11. Bake in preheated oven until sauce is bubbly and browned - 25 to 30 minutes.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Homemade Marshmallow Cream and Oatmeal Scotchies!

Christmas is over and we are planning on breaking out the raclette for New Year's Eve before starting the traditional diets on Jan 1st. Before all that gets posted however I thought I would post the favorite two recipes that went on the plates this year.
Best Ever Fudge
(the secrets of creamy fudge? Homemade Cream and brushing down the pan)
Homemade Marshmallow Cream
Ingredients:
3 large eggs whites
1/4 cream of tartar
2 Tb white sugar
1/3 c. water
3/4 c. light corn syrup
2/3 c. sugar (to be used separately)
1/2 Tb vanilla extract

Directions:
Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until light and foamy. Sprinkle in 2 Tb sugar and beat until soft peaks form. Let sit. In a saucepan melt sugar and corn syrup in 1/3 c. water/ Bring to a boil and stirring continually bring to 246 degrees or firm ball stage. Take off heat and slooooowlllly drizzle in egg whites while beating. Beat 5-6 minutes (honestly, I use to stop early but it's better if you do the full time) till stiff, shiny, and beautiful!

My Favorite Fudge Recipe
Ingredients:
1 1/2 c. sugar
2/3 c. evaporated milk
2 Tb butter (real butter)
1/4 tsp salt
7 oz marshmallow cream (you just made enough for 2 batches)
1 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips (the better the chocolate the better the fudge)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts (optional)
 
Directions:
Line a 8 inch dish with parchment paper or aluminum foil. In a medium saucepan boil sugar, evaporated milk, butter, and salt. Now for your secret to perfect fudge. Take a pastry brush and a cup of water. Dip the brush and when the mixture is boiling dip into the cup of water and really wet down the sides of your saucepan. A sweet elderly lady showed me this trick once for making divinity. It gets all the sugar granules that have crept up on the pan and keeps your fudge smooth instead of grainy! Keep stirring and boiling for 5 minutes or until candy thermometer reaches 234-240 degrees. The stirring also helps to keep the fudge from getting grainy or burnt! Remove from heat and quickly stir in marshmallow cream, chocolate chips, nuts and vanilla. Now use those muscles! The better you can beat the fudge the better the texture! Pour into 8 inch dish  and let cool. Enjoy!
 
Oatmeal Scotchies
 

 
I don't make these often. Something about these cookies makess me to lose all will power and self control. The butterscotch mixed with the oatmeal and cinnamon is the ultimate combination. My husband gets teased about liking butterscotch (I don't know, the guys in our family are wierd) but one taste and no one teases anymore.

Oatmeal Scotchies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or grated peel of 1 orange
3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
1 11-oz. package butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350° F.
Combine, flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract in large bowl. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats and butterscotch chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Yep, it's pretty simple and easy.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for 1 - 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Banana Muffins

We have been making and eating fudge and I still have all those delicious ingredients for the plates to take to the neighbors but sick kids and Christmas shopping has gotten us a little behind. Last night we did take our browning bananas and make the best ever
Banana Muffins!
I got this recipe years ago from allrecipes.com It is my favorite and I have tried a few! It was submitted by Lisa Kreft. You can find the link here!
 Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter melted
Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease 12 muffin tins or line with muffin cups. In a large bowl mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. (For this one I add these one at a time to the bowl after creaming all the other ingredients together. I start with the teaspoons and go to the flour with the mixure on high) In separate bowl beat bananas, sugar, egg, and butter. (The bananas are my kids favorite part. We keep them in the peels and my kids mush them lightly instead of mashing them. Then we peel and put them in the bowl.) Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture and spoon into the muffin tins. Don't put in oven yet!!

Crumb Topping:
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon cold butter
Directions:
Mix together brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in butter with two forks until it resemebles cornmeal (small crumbs).

Spoon crumb topping over muffins, place in oven, and bake for 15-18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean!

Enjoy~
We woke up this morning to discover that our elf was enjoying the muffins as well.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Fancy Dinner Part 2 - Steak, Hollandaise, Asparagus

All the girls in our family agreed that our fancy mousse made in the morning needed a fancy dinner to surprise Daddy. We had previously decided to make rolls, steak strips, asparagus, and hollandaise sauce. Mmmmm
Taste of Home Easy Potato Roll Recipe

There it was, in my fridge, staring at me. The scooped out leftovers of the Potato Skins made here. What to do, what to do. Potato Rolls!

Ingredients:
2 pks active dry yeast (1/4 oz each)
1 1/3 cup water (used separately)
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed potatoes
2 1/2 tsp salt
6 cups flour

 Add yeast to 2/3 cup of water. Make sure water is 110-115 degrees. My mom can do this by feeling it on her wrist. I turn on the hot and put a meat therm. under it.
 Yeast should start to fizz and bubble. It is okay to stir it gently to get it all in the water. I use to be scared to do that.
This is my oldest girl mashing our scooped out insides a bit. Not pictured is the sugar. It is measured at 2/3 cup and in my kitchen aid. Next add your 2/3 cup shortening and cream. Add eggs, potatoes, salt, yeast mixture and 2 cups flour. Whisk till smooth. Add remaining 2/3 cup water and replace whisk with dough hook. Gradually beat while adding remaining flour. Don't worry about kneading this dough (I have learned the hard way that not all dough has to be kneaded) but keep it up until you have a soft dough that forms into a ball. Add up to 1/2 cup more flour or Tablespoons of water if needed. Put your ball of dough into a bowl and cover for one hour. Punch down and cut into 15 pieces. My girls helped roll pieces and put them in a dish. Cover and let rise again, about 30 minutes.
Once risen they should look something like this. Give them a quick brush with olive oil or melted butter. Bake in a 375 preheated oven for 20 minutes. I turn mine around halfway through since my oven browns the back half faster.
 While the rolls are cooking we looked up our recipe for mock hollandaise sauce. I'm pretty sure I found this on allrecipe.com a long time ago but sadly did not credit the cook. It is not nearly as good or thick as the original but nice in a pinch and much easier. (I made homemade with my brother over Thanksgiving. It's kinda sad that he's a better cook than me!)
Blender Hollandaise Sauce
 
Ingredients -
Remember the egg yolks you didn't use in your mousse from earlier today? You're gonna need them. Yep, all 6
1 squirt Dijon Mustard
1 Tb lemon juice
2 dash hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
3/4 cup melted butter
 
Blend egg yolks with mustard, Dijon, lemon juice, and hot sauce. Pour melted butter into blender in a steady stream. Put blender in a bowl of hot tap water to keep warm.
 
 
 Asparagus
For some crazy reason my kids love asparagus. I think it is best slightly crunchy and not mushy. To do this wash your asparagus and break off the lower tougher end. It should snap off easily. Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add asparagus and reduce to a simmer. A simmer is when the bubbles are just wanting to break into a boil but can't seem to muster enough energy. Parboil 2 minutes and immediately get those babies out of there.

 
 As soon as asparagus is done put it into a water bath. It slows the cooking down and keeps them firm.
Since the oven was still occupied by my potato rolls I decided to pan fry the 1/4 inch thick sirloin steak. Add a little olive oil to the bottom of the pan and turn to medium high heat. Season with whatever you have on hand. I used Adam's Reserve Sear N Crust. Cook 7 minutes on one side, flip, season 7 minutes on the next side. Grilling is really the way to go for steak but if you are pan frying keep checking it. If you push on the top and it feels like the fleshy part of your hand below your thumb it is medium rare - which I think is perfect.
Make sure to get those rolls out of the oven!
 
 At the last minute I fried a few leftover sausages we had. I have to admit to eating a few bites off my plate before remembering to take a pic. There was more green on that plate I promise! The girls loved the rolls and I forgot how much they fill you up! Daddy was surprised and everything was perfect. I do admit that we just couldn't finish the mousse after a meal like this. Everyone ate about half a cup and we put them back in the fridge to be finished tomorrow.


Fancy Dinner Part 1 - Chocolate Mousse

Alright, I am officially hogging the blog but remember yesterday when I bought all those scrumdidilyumptious ingredients? I also have a few leftovers I need to use. Today I started to put them into action. Since I don't want to kill ya all at once I thought I'd post tonight's dinner and then go over the Christmas plates tomorrow (unless someone else wants to post - I really don't want to be an all out blog hog!)
Part 1 - Make Dessert First (Dinner Coming Tonight with Part 2)
Every night we read to my kids. Right now Dad is reading the latest Percy Jackson but last night he had a meeting so I picked up my daughter's Dealing With Dragons by Patricia Wrede. If you haven't read any of her four Dragons books I highly recommend them (just don't read her 5th short stories - it's a little more adult). In the book we got to the part where the princess Cimorene must make dessert for dragons and doesn't have the time to make her signature Cherries Jubliee (going to have to try that someday). She decides to make mousse instead. As I was reading this out loud, talking about the folded cream and chocolate it was told to me that all this time my kids thought she was making chocolate mice. Today, since I had chocolate and cream on hand, we decided to show them what chocolate mousse really is. We decided to go with Bobby Flay's version

Ingredients -
(to make 7 crystal goblets)
10 1/2 oz of bittersweet chocolate (we used Nestle semi choco chips) (1 cup is 8 oz)
28 oz cold heavy cream
6 large egg whites
1 oz sugar ( 2 Tbsp is 1 oz)
Note ~ I have found that recipes often use measurements I don't have. To know what is what I found a conversion chart I liked and printed it off. It is now taped to the inside of my kitchen cabinet. I also have a small, inexpensive food scale. I love it.

 Melt your chocolate in a double broiler over simmering water. If you don't have a double broiler simply put an oversized metal bowl over a pan of simmering water. Older kids can help stir the melted chocolate. Once melted remove and let stand.
 Beat cream into a frenzy! Okay, it's actually soft peaks. Pick up the whisk and if the peak top falls over it is soft. I like using a kitchen aid for this. It is a lot faster. The recipe calls for the bowl being over ice. I just put my kitchen aid bowl in the freezer this morning and then once done transferred the whipped cream to another bowl.
 Separate your egg whites from your yolks. I like to pretend I am Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina when I do this. Crack, new egg! If you have never done this before there are awesome directions here:
Save the yolks for the hollandaise sauce we will make this evening!
Beat those eggs whites into another frenzy - once again so much easier with a kitchen aid but patience and a hand blender works. When the soft peaks form add the 2 Tbs or 1 oz of sugar. Keep whipping till you get hard peaks. My kids got a lesson on what peaks are.
 
 Pour your beautiful chocolate into a bowl (lovin' my spatula right about now) and add all your whipped cream at once. Fold (don't stir!). When just combined (you still see streaks) add your whipped egg whites. Fold a little more vigourously. Let the kids help and pass the spoon around to lick. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.


Your end result should not look like this. What can I say, it happens to the best of us. Actually, the mousse tastes fantastic - like chocolatey air. Our mousse however separated and didn't combine quite as much as I would have liked. I looked it up and we didn't let our chocolate cool competely. We figured we would just add a small slab of white chocolate and let everyone think it is suppose to be lighter in color!
 
Now, remember that I like working with leftovers? I have all those insides of my potato skins sitting in my fridge with 6 egg yolks. Tonight for dinner we will be having easy sirloin strips, potato rolls, and asparagus with easy blender hollandaise sauce. Stay tuned!! 


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Texas Football

This morning I went to the store and bought a whole lotta butter, chocolate, sugar, cream, and various ingredients for yummy recipes to eventually take to the neighbors for Christmas. (Those delicious delicacies coming soon!) In Texas however, even while the lights are twinkling and the temperatures are dropping, we cannot ignore our football.

In our house we are usually college level fans but since this was rumored to be a heck of a game, and my hubby needs something to talk about the next day at the watercooler we decided to tune in.
Oh sad, sad day.....yes, the score was not nice but at least we were able to enjoy some football food while we wept.....

We have many recipes for game day but since this was a last minute decision and the game came on about the time the kids were getting ready for bed I stuck with an old favorite.
We call them Potato Skins
Yes, they are basic and most of you probably already know how to make them but honestly, when is the last time you actually did?
Ingredients:
5 pd bag potatoes - I had large reds in my pantry but russet is a popular choice or baby reds
~1 pd cheddar cheese (varies) - my favorite is sharp cheddar
3 oz bag bacon bits (I like the real ones)
butter or Extra Virgin Olive Oil
garlice powder
sour cream
avacado
salt and pepper
baby red tomatoes
 
Scrub your potatoes, stick them with a knife or fork about 4 times and pop them in the microwave. My microwave has a potato sensor button but you can start with 10 minutes, test them out (knife should slide through like butter) and keep adding minutes from there.
Hold potatoes with a paper towel because those babies are hot! Slice lengthwise and scoop out leaving about 1/4 inch all around. Combine oil, salt, and pepper and brush inside and out. If you prefer buttery goodness skip the oil  brush with melted butter and garlic powder. Place on highest rack and bake 10 minutes.
Carefully remove from oven and fill the insides with shredded cheese and bacon bits. Sneak a few of the bacon bits. Return to oven for 5 minutes. Check and see if cheese is melted to your satisfaction.
Can you smell them??? Ohhhh, they smell delicious. Now is the fun part. Once the cheesy goodness is out of the oven you get to eat as is or experiment. We have made varying plates in the past that added guacamole, shredded rotisserie chicken, pulled pork, BBQ sauce, sour cream, salsa, tomatoes, avacado....the ideas are endless. My favorite is to add a chunk of avacado, a dab of sour cream, and a slice of a baby red tomato. I think those particular toppings add a freshness to the dish. (pic at top)

My hubby likes them just like this. Loaded down and ready for the game!
 
~Just an note! For gameday we like to lightly salt our avacados and tomatoes. I know, I know, not healthy at all but that's not the point. Just eat all salads the next day to balance. Also, did you really think I ate all 5 pds of those potatoes!! As I mentioned in my previous post, I love things that freeze well and these surprisingly do! I am trying out freezing them with the cheese this time (I'll let you know) but usually I freeze them before adding the topping. Then all I have to do is reheat for about 10 minutes in the oven the next time with the toppings added and they taste great!