Bacon & Maple Roasted Carrots

Frozen vegetables. They are quick, easy, mess free and who isn’t a fan of foods like that? For those who work all day long, come home to a house full of kids or pets, having the time to cook a full meal by scratch is just impossible.  For years I have always worked hard at making sure the main part of our meal (the protein) was home cooked, but I rarely paid attention to those pesky vegetables I always cook.  Being able to pull a bag out of the freeze, pop it into the microwave, cook them for 5 minutes, and when the microwave dings you have instant vegetables — was amazing.

However, lately my husband and I have been trying very hard to stay away from frozen vegetables when making our dinners.  In general we have been working very hard to stay away from processed and already prepared foods.  (Mark has been super sad that we have not restocked his supply of pizza rolls in months, but he finally admitted the other day that he actually does not miss them!)  Not that frozen vegetables are horrible, fresh vegetables just taste so much better — and in reality, cooking my own vegetables has not made cooking dinner any more complex than it was before — but it does make the end result taste so much better!!

Bacon & Maple Roasted Carrots

Bacon & Maple Roasted Carrots
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2 pounds of Carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1/4″ thick slices
4 slices Bacon, cut in half
1/4 cup Pure Maple Syrup
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and make sure your rack is positioned in the lower third portion of the oven.

Place the carrots and bacon on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with the maple syrup, salt and pepper. Toss well to combine.

Bake the carrots until the bottom of the vegetables begin to caramelize and turn brown, which will take 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully toss the vegetables. Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake an additional 10-15 minutes, until the vegetables are browned on both sides.

Discard the bacon strips and serve immediately!

Source: adapted from Martha Stewart.

Loaded Baked Potato Salad

This past Sunday I was honored to co-hosted a Couple’s Bridal Shower for my dear friends Jessica and Brian.

Photo by Darryl Quinton Evans.

Photo by Darryl Quinton Evans.

After years of having a long distance over-seas relationship, next month they will finally get their chance to say “I Do” and become husband and wife!  I am so excited for the two of them to have their “Happily Every Ever” and start their lives together!

For a month I had been jotting down ideas for the menu.  My goal was to have a menu which was simple, yet delicious.  I also wanted to try and use bacon as much as possible.  Why?  Well both Jessica and Brian share a love of bacon!  Okay, okay, okay…. I am guilty of loving bacon just as much as they do!   After sifting through ideas, we settled on having gourmet sandwiches with sides such as Bacon & Cheddar Deviled Egg Salad, Garlic Humus, and Potato Salad; along with White Chocolate Truffle Cupcakes and a Chocolate Sour Cream Bunt Cake for dessert.  The more I thought about potato salad, the more I wondered how I could “spice up” traditional potato salad and use bacon.  Then I recalled a dinner Mark and I had with them a month ago, and I thought about this amazing loaded baked potato Jessica had eaten.  Suddenly it hit me!  Why not make a loaded baked potato but as a potato salad.

I cannot even come close to describing how amazing this potato salad was!  There was not a drop leftover at the end of the bridal shower, and I had dozens of request for the recipe   I cannot wait until I have an reason to make it, it is that delicious.  I suggest serving this potato salad warm or at room temperature; however, I am sure it would be just as good cold!

(Note: This recipe serves approximately 15-20 people, so just cut it in half if you need to serve fewer people. I also prefer to leave most of the skins on the potatoes as it gave a real “loaded baked potato” taste.)

Loaded Baked Potato Salad

Loaded Baked Potato Salad
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4 pounds Russet Potatoes (peeled if preferred)
1 1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1 cup Sour Cream
2 cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup Freshly Chopped Chives
1 pound Thick Cut Bacon, cooked and crumbled
Black Pepper

Cube the potatoes into 1/2″ cubes and place into a large pot. Cover the potatoes with water, and on the stove bring the pot to a boil. Boil the potatoes until they are fork tender, which will take approximately 15-20 minutes. (You need to keep an eye on the potatoes. If you cook them too long you will end up with more of a mashed potato consistency when you mix them.)

When the potatoes are ready, drain them in a colander and allow them to cool slightly, about 5-10 minutes. (Allow the potatoes to cool completely if you plan to serve the salad cold!)

Put the slightly cooled potatoes into a large mixing bowl. Add the mayonnaise, sour cream, cheddar cheese, chives and bacon to the top of the potatoes. With a spatula, gently fold the mixture until the potatoes are well coated. Add salt and pepper to taste.

You can save a small bit of the bacon, cheddar cheese, and chives to sprinkle on the top if you desire!

Inspired by: Jessica’s loaded baked potato at dinner!

Savory Roasted Sweet Potatoes

These are so addictive!

Sweet potatoes can be a tad bit intimidating; however, once you know how to make them you will never have an excuse to not cook sweet potatoes again. There are so many different things you can do with sweet potatoes!! Earlier I wrote about the Spicy Cajun Sweet Potatoes fries I made, and eventually I will tell you all about the amazing sweet potato casserole I made this past Thanksgiving!

I hope you enjoy these as much as we did!

Savory Roasted Sweet Potatoes
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2 Sweet Potatoes, peeled & chopped into 1/4″ pieces
1/4 cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Rosemary, chopped (more if you desire)
1 tablespoon Garlic, minced
Kosher Salt, to taste
Black Pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

On a baking sheet spread out the sweet potatoes and sprinkle on the rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper. Drizzle the olive oil on the top and using a large spoon stir the mixture together until the sweet potatoes are well coated.

Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Gently stir the potatoes every 15 minutes. Serve immediately!

(Serves 4)

A Meghan’s Original!