The Cooking Widow brings you Twice baked Potatoes….Yum.

I get bored making the same old stuff sometimes, so I decided to try my hand at twice baked potatoes. I was presently surprised to find out they were way better than the store bought and were super easy to make. Here is what you need:

3 Potatoes – I prefer the larger baking potatoes, but you can see form my photo, that is not what I used (just had plain old odd sized potatoes)

1 package Idahoan Baby Reds mashed potatoes (or whatever flavor you prefer) – I know sometimes people want it be all homemade potatoes, but I have tried it both ways and this is the best. Try it.

¼ c Butter (1/2 stick)

Garlic to taste – I usually use the chopped (in a jar because I always have it). I use about 1 Tablespoon.

1C. Cheddar cheese (or whatever you like)

Sprinkle of Paprika

Poke your potatoes with something sharp and microwave for about 8-9 minutes. You want them done but not smushy.

Place in the fridge until they are cool enough to handle.

Make your Potatoes as directed, but shorten the amount of water needed by ¼ cup and add the garlic to the water (I sometimes use milk instead of water for richer potatoes).

Once they are complete, stir in about ¾ c cheddar cheese and set aside.

Take your potatoes and slice them in half lengthwise. Scoop out the inside and put it in with the prepared mashed potatoes. I use a grapefruit spoon to scoop them out, since it is a spoon and serrated. Makes it very easy if you have one.

Arrange the potato shells in a baking dish.

Put the butter in the potatoes and get out your mixer. Once the potatoes are all mashed to a consistency you like, gently scoop the mixture back into the potato shells.

Sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese and then paprika.

When you are ready to bake these, place in a 350 degree oven for about 35 minutes. I sometimes make them a day before or the morning of and leave them in the fridge until I am ready.

Happy Cooking.
Happy Eating.


The Baking Widow brings you the “No Crack” Cheesecake

I love to make cheesecake but hate when it cracks. I have perfected making the no crack cheesecake. I made one today. I don’t need to cover up the crack with cherries or nuts and it tastes super yummy. I will tell you how to make a no crack cheesecake and share my recipe with you.

Cheesecake usually cracks because it is overbaked. So , to keep it from overbaking, the first ten minutes of baking are at 500 degree F and then we bake at 200 degreed F until the internal temp of the cheesecake reaches 150 degree F. This takes about 1.5 hours.. Once the cheesecake is removed from the oven, we let it cool for about ten minutes and then run a knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen. That way if it sinks any it won’t be held up by the sides and crack.

Graham Cracker Crust
1 Cup graham cracker crumbs
2 T Sugar
6 T. melted butter (save one for the inside of the pan)
Mix together graham cracker crumbs, sugar and about 5 T of melted butter. Press in spring form pan (I used a 9” pan). Bake at 325-degree F for about 13 minutes until the edges brown a little. Place on rack to cool.

2 ½ lbs cream chees (5 8oz. packages)
1 ½ C sugar
1/3 c Sour Cream
1T Vanilla Extract
2 Large Egg Yolks
6 Large Whole Eggs
Increase oven to 500 degrees F. Beat cream cheese on low for about 1 minute, med speed, scrape down bowl. Slowly mix in sugar and incorporated for about 1 minute. Scrape down bowl. Add salt, sour cream and Vanilla until incorporated, about 1 minutes. Add two eggs yolk, mix for one minute on med speed. Then add two eggs at a time mixing on medium speed for about one minute, scraping in between each addition.

Brush side of spring form pan with remaining butter. Bake for 10 minutes at 500degree F, then reduce temp to 200 degree F until internal temp reaches 150 degree F. This will take about 1.5 hours. Do not open the oven until you check the temperature for the first time.

When done, cool on rack for about ten minutes. Take a knife around the inside edge of the pan and then continue to cool until it can be placed in the refrigerator. Release from spring form when totally cool. Run the knife around the edge again before releasing from pan.

Top with whatever you like or nothing at all.

Happy Baking
Happy Eating.

Best steak rub/Burger seasoning

I spend a lot of my time watching cooking shows. There are tons of seasoning mixes that you can buy at the store, but most are not cheap. I have found that I can make a steak/burger seasoning at home that adds awesome flavor, but doesn’t take away the flavor of the meet.

As with all my recipe’s, I will give approximations of what I use, but it can be adjusted for whatever your preference is. There is one odd ingredient, but I don’t suggest leaving out.

¼ cup powdered beef bullion (Wylers and Knorr makes this. Brand doesn’t really matter. It is really the salt component)
1 Tablespoon Onion Powder
1 Tablespoon Garlic Power
½ teaspoon paprika
1 Tablespoon of finely ground coffee (I know, sounds weird)
¼ teaspoon of cayenne
1 Tablespoon black pepper

Mix together and put in shaker. I put on both sides of meat while I am cooking. Try it. Makes even burgers taste better.

Happy Cooking.

The Secret to the Best Sausage Gravy……

So, Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I like everything about it. One of my favorites is sausage gravy. I can’t eat sausage gravy in the restaurant because it all tasted awful to me now that I figured out how to make it. Mine is way better (Sorry Bob Evans) I am not a measurer, because I like to make the amount that I need. But I will give you the best approximations. Sausage gravy is not exact. Some like more pepper, some like it thicker or thinner. It just depends what you like.

1 lb. breakfast sausage (if it is just my daughter and I, I use ½ lb.)
3 + cups of milk. Depends if you like thinner or thicker and how far you want to stretch your sausage
Pepper to taste – I use a lot of fresh cracked pepper
3 heaping Tablespoons of cornstarch
Beef Bullion to taste (at least one teaspoon to start with. It also depends on brand, some is stronger than others)

1.) Brown your sausage until there is no pink.
2.) Add milk – medium to high heat. Remember to stir, milk can scorch
3.) Add Pepper
4.) Add Beef bouillon. Use Beef. Using pork or ham flavor, tastes weird. I know it sounds weird to add beef flavor, but try it.
5.) As it heats, taste and add additional pepper and bullion to taste.
6.) Mix corn starch and about ¼ C milk in small bowl or cup. Stir til incorporated
7.) Once mixture begins to boil, add corn starch mixture and continue stirring. It should thicken quickly. You can add milk to thin or more cornstarch/milk mixture to thicken if need be. Up to you.

Dump over biscuits or hash browns… Enjoy

Happy Cooking.

Super Yummy-Pierogi Casserole Mmmmm

If you love Pierogi’s you have to try this. Pierogi’s are yummy, but so time consuming to make. Pierogi casserole is way easier to make and tastes just as yummy. We had this for dinner tonight along with steaks. It was awesome. So, when I cook, measuring is not something I always do.

So, in order to make Pierogi casserole, you will need the following ingredients:
9 lasagna noodles, cooked
4 cups of mashed potatoes – I have to admit, I use instant. I have made it with “Real” ones, but, the instant ones (I use Instant Idaho reds) are already pre seasoned and taste way better in this casserole.
3 medium onions, chopped coarsely
1 stick of butter
8 ozs, Shredded cheddar, or more depending on what you like.
1.) Cook Onions with stick of butter
2.) Make mashed potatoes following package directions. I added some chopped garlic to the water for a little added flavor.
3.) Once onions are cooked and potatoes are ready, Mix them together.
4.) Spray your pan with Cooking spray, mostly so tit is easier to clean. Spread s small amount of mashed potatoes on the bottom of you pan (9×13 works perfectly, but an eight in square works great but you will need to trim your lasagna noodle).
5.) Then begin layering noodles, potatoes and cheese. Make sure to finish up with cheese on top.
6.) Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, until bubbly. Enjoy.
Be creative, add bacon or whatever you like. There are no rules when cooking in my kitchen.