"Use your noodle." Yup. I definitely had to do that this week when trying to find pasta dishes. I didn't want to do things that everyone has seen before. Pasta can actually be, albeit delicious, pretty predictable. So as I scanned through a list of pasta recipes at Allrecipes.com, I came across one for Polish pierogies, and immediately said yes! I omitted a couple things and added my own. The only thing that could make them better is bacon, of course! Bon appetit!
-- Jenny

2 cups cold mashed potatoes
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
¼ cup minced parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1-1 ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

3 eggs
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder

     For Filling, saute onion until translucent. Mix mashed potatoes with butter, onion, salt and parsley. Set aside.
For dough, whisk together eggs and sour cream until smooth. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder; stir into the sour cream mixture until dough comes together. Knead the dough (about 6-8 times) on a lightly floured surface until firm and smooth. Divide the dough in half, then roll out one half to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into 3 inch rounds you can use a biscuit cutter or drinking glass. If you can't roll out to 1/8, just do ¼ and after rounds are cut, you can stretch them out a bit.

     Place a spoonful of the mashed potato filling into the center of each round. Top with a small amount of cheese. Moisten the edges with water, fold over, and press together with a fork to seal. Repeat procedure with the remaining dough.

     Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pierogies and cook for 1-3 minutes or until pierogi float to the top. Remove with a slotted utensil to drain. After boiling all pierogies, heat about ¼ cup olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat and fry pierogies lightly and drain on paper towels.

Fresh Tomato & Garlic Sauce:
4-5 fresh roma tomatoes, diced
2 large cloves garlic, diced
2 tbsp tomato paste
½ tsp salt

     Over medium high heat in a small pan, heat tomatoes and garlic. When tomatoes have cooked down, add paste and salt. Cook long enough to mix in tomato paste thoroughly.

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It’s pasta week here on Kitchen Psycho!  I adore pasta, and there are so many things that you can do with it.  For my main dish, I stuck with a classic that’s easy and delicious, shrimp scampi.  I was only cooking for two last night, so adjust accordingly if you’re feeding more than that.  Serve it with crusty bread, a salad on the side, and a nice glass of wine.  Make it tonight!

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Cajun seasoning
1 small head garlic, cloves peeled and finely chopped
3 tablespoons capers, drained and chopped (I used the small ones)
Handful of Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped (regular parsley is fine too)
Juice of half a lemon
2-4 tablespoons white wine
Salt and pepper
4-6 tablespoons butter 
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Half a box of angel hair pasta

It’s important to have everything ready to go when making this dish, because it cooks quickly.  
     Prepare pasta according to directions. 
     Chop the garlic, capers, and parsley. Season the shrimp with Cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add shrimp and cook about 2-4 minutes. Spoon out shrimp and set aside. 
    Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the butter mixture, add garlic, stirring, for one minute. Add capers and sauté, while stirring, for one minute. Add parsley and sauté, while stirring, for one minute. Once again, add shrimp into butter, squeeze in the juice of half a lemon, and add white wine.  Let simmer for a few minutes, remove from heat, and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve over pasta.

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I decided some time ago that I wanted to try these, and I’m so glad I did!  You get salty and sweet all in the same bite.  Bottom line:  these are good, and they’re easy to make.  Make them this weekend!

1-2 medium potatoes
Canola oil
3-4 ounces chocolate, melted (I used dark chocolate)

Scrub, peel, and slice the potatoes as thinly as possible. (I used a mandolin slicer.)  Let the potato slices soak for 10-15 minutes in ice water, then drain and dry them completely.  Heat the oil in a very large, very deep pot until it reaches 300-325 degrees.  Fry the potatoes in a single layer for 3-4 minutes, until golden, flipping if necessary. Put on a paper-towel lined plate to drain.  Salt while hot.  Once the chips are cool, dip them in the melted chocolate.  Let the chocolate harden (I popped mine in the fridge for a bit), then serve.

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     I have been planning to make latkes, or potato pancakes, for a while now, ever since I saw a recipe for them in a Cooking Light issue. But I needed a main dish, so how would I incorporate it? This plate is my answer. Every bite was perfect, in my humble opinion! Simple, beautiful, and delicious!

4 pork chops, pan-seared and salted to taste
9-10 carrots, size as pictured
2 cloves garlic, finely grated
3 cups potatoes, grated and drained
1 jalapeno, diced
2 leeks, thinly sliced
1/4 cup flour
1 egg
olive oil, for frying
½ cup sour cream
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup diced Italian parsley

   Arrange carrots on a baking sheet, and grease each one with a bit of olive oil. Scatter grated garlic over the top and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.
   In a large bowl, combine potatoes, jalapeno, leeks, flour, and egg. Fry ¼-cup portions of the mixture (be sure to flatten them a bit) in a skillet over medium-high heat, using about 2 tablespoons of olive oil at a time. You can probably fit three into the skillet at a time. Drain on paper towel and salt to taste.
   Blend sour cream, lemon juice and parsley. Refrigerate until ready.
   Plate pork chop, latke, sour cream and carrots. Enjoy!
(I also drizzled the plate with some oil from a jar of sun-dried tomatoes...)

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     For some time, my sister has raved about an appetizer she gets at a local restaurant.  She’s described it as potato chips topped with roasted red peppers, chives, and a blue cheese sauce.  It sounds fantastic, and since I’ve never actually been there to try it, I have no idea what it’s like.  
     I decided to do my own version.  I added some bacon and green onions to it, because it seemed like the right thing to do, and I made my blue cheese sauce with cream, beer, and garlic.  This is seriously one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.  If you don’t make it, you will be missing out on something really fantastic.  Try it soon!


3 small russet potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced 
Canola oil
3 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 red bell pepper, roasted and diced
3-4 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup beer
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 to 1/3 cup blue cheese crumbles
Salt and pepper to taste

     Soak the potato slices in ice water for 15-20 minutes.  (This helps get some of the starch out so that they’re crispier.)  In a large, deep pot heat several inches of canola oil to 325 degrees.  Dry the potato slices well (this will keep it from spattering and keep you from getting burned) and fry them in the hot oil in a single layer (you’ll have to do multiple batches) for 3-4 minutes, flipping them if necessary.  Put on a paper-towel lined plate to drain; salt them immediately.

     In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, melt the butter.  Whisk in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Whisk in the cream, beer, and garlic.  Let it come to a boil and turn down the heat.  Simmer until thickened slightly, 2-3 minutes.  Add the blue cheese and stir well to combine.

     Arrange chips on a plate.  Top with the bell pepper, green onions, crumbled bacon, and blue cheese sauce.

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I came up with the idea for these several years ago.  They are filling and super versatile; simply vary the cheese and toppings however you want.  Try them tonight!

3-4 medium baking potatoes
Olive oil
1 pound ground beef (you could also use ground turkey)
Salt and pepper
Worcestershire sauce
Grill seasoning (I like Montreal Grill Seasoning)
2-3 tablespoons butter
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese (I like extra-sharp)
Toppings: diced raw onion, shredded lettuce, diced dill pickle, diced tomato

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Clean the potatoes well and rub the skins with a little olive oil.  Put them on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until they are tender when pricked with a fork; it will take an hour to an hour and a half depending on the size of the potatoes.  Remove the potatoes from the oven and let them cool.  When they are cool enough to handle, cut them in half and gently scoop out the potato flesh into a large bowl, making sure to leave the skins intact.  I find that if I leave a small amount of potato in the skin, it helps it hold its shape. 

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook the ground beef until crumbled and browned all the way through, about 10 minutes.  While cooking the beef, season it to taste with salt and pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and grill seasoning.

Add the butter and a splash of milk to the potatoes and mash with a potato masher.  Mix in the ground beef, 1 cup of cheese, about half of the crumbled bacon, and salt and pepper to taste.  Spoon the potato mixture back into the potato skins and top with the remaining cheese.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, until heated through.  Top the potatoes with remaining bacon and desired toppings.

NOTE:  You could do so many different things with these.  For a spin on a mushroom Swiss burger, use Swiss cheese and add sautéed mushrooms to the toppings.  If you like Tex-Mex burgers try Pepper Jack cheese and include guacamole and jalapenos in your toppings.  Get creative!

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I'm a little schizophrenic in the kitchen. I've been so excited for Potato Week, because I have such great ideas... At first, I was planning on a Sweet Potato Souffle, but as I searched the web for recipe ideas, it occurred to me that I could do something so much simpler, and possibly a more popular choice among our blog lovers! This one hearkens back to the week when I made Chocolate Hazelnut Ravioli (http://www.kitchenpsycho.com/1/post/2011/08/chocolate-hazelnut-ravioli-dipped-in-white-chocolate-pumpkin-seeds.html). Instead, I chose to use a sweet potato pie mixture. The family is in LOOOOVE with this one! I hope you can try it soon!
--- Jenny

1 ½ cups mashed sweet potato, room temperature
2 tablespoons softened butter
¾ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, scrambled for egg wash
1 package wonton wrappers
peanut or vegetable oil

Mix sweet potato, sugar and spices well. Spoon a small amount onto the center of a wonton wrapper. Using another wrapper, wash the sides with egg and place over the top of the other wonton, making sure the sides are well fixed. Fry on medium high heat for 5-8 seconds per side, or until golden brown. Drizzle with Cinnamon Caramel Sauce.

Cinnamon Caramel Sauce (inspired by recipe from Southern Living, 2006) 1 ¼ cups sugar
1/3 cup water
¾ cups whipping cream
1/3 cup butter, cut into pieces
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ tsp cinnamon

Combine sugar and water in a large heavy saucepan; cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high, and boil gently, without stirring, until syrup turns a deep amber color, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush and swirling pan (about 8 minutes). (Swirling the pan, instead of stirring, promotes more even cooking.) Gradually add cream (sauce will bubble vigorously). Add butter; stir gently until smooth. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla and cinnamon.

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I'm a frequenter of garage sales. I once filled a 1200 square-foot house with about $3000 of  upcycled and on-sale stuff, including the living room set, and an antique armoire! At one little Friday morning adventure, I found a sixty year-old Irish cookbook, and inside, were all these great recipes... One of which was for Potato Scones. It's pretty straightforward, but I thought it could use a savory kick. So I added bacon crumbles and rosemary. It's filling, aromatic, and wow! I'll be making these again!
-- Jenny

2 cups mashed potatoes, room temperature
1 cup flour
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
5-6 pieces bacon, fried and chopped
1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
In a large bowl, combine potatoes, flour, butter, salt and baking powder. (I used my hands to mix thoroughly.) Fold in bacon and rosemary, and form into 7-8 pieces, about ½” thick. They can be any shape – round, rectangle, triangle... Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Cool on place or wire rack, butter, and enjoy!

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I really love cannolis, but didn’t feel like buying or making the shells for them.  So, I decided to do a dip instead with the filling.  This is a great dessert dip.  Serve it with graham crackers (regular or chocolate) or strawberries. Or, you can just do what I did, and eat it with a spoon!  Enjoy!

1 (15 oz.) container ricotta
3 tablespoons marscapone cheese, softened (you could also use cream cheese)
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons bourbon (optional)
½ bag mini chocolate chips
Mix all ingredients well with a mixer.  Keep chilled in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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Like so many of my ideas, this one came to me at the last minute.  At first, I was going to do wontons, but I kept thinking about how those would be hard to photograph, and then it hit me…I could do wonton cups!  So, I started throwing some things together, baked them, and they are amazing!  The only thing I wasn’t happy with was that the wontons didn’t crisp up enough on the bottom.  I think it would be best to prebake the cups for 10-15 minutes, and then add the filling and bake for the remaining time.  Make them this weekend.  You won’t be disappointed!!

½ red bell pepper, diced
½ small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
½ cup freshly grated Romano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Wonton wrappers
Finely chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Press the wonton wrappers into a mini muffin pan.  Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, add the bell pepper and onion, and sauté for about 4-5 minutes.  Add the garlic, and sauté for 1 minute.  Take off of the heat and let cool slightly.  In a medium bowl, add the ricotta, rosemary, basil, bell pepper mixture, cheese, salt and pepper, and mix well.  Put about a teaspoon of filling into each cup.  Bake for 20 minutes.  (For crispier cups, bake the wontons for 10-15 minutes, then fill them and bake for the remaining 5-10 minutes).  Sprinkle with fresh parsley after you remove them from the oven.

Yield: 18 appetizers

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