Air Fryer Smash Sliders

A few weeks back, I made some cute mini smash burgers at home that, although tasty enough, were a huge pain the butt to make on the stovetop. They had too much clean up time attached after the onions invariably burned while the thin meat patties resting over them steam cooked, and the cheese on top of them finally melted and the bun warmed up. Ugh.

I vowed never to make them that way again. They make a cute pub grub meal, but honestly, I wasn’t into making them the Alton Brown way again. What he does, he does well. But, I’m not Alton. I’m me. And me is really good at figuring out ways to streamline production and assembly methods at work, and at home. Work smarter, not harder!

So with that, I turned to my air fryer. In the back of my head, I was only going to cook down the onions in it (so they didn’t burn) while I pan fried the patties on one side before flipping them and adding the cheese on the second side as the meat finished up.

I ended up poo-pooing the idea of using the stovetop all together when I remembered how fast cooking onions in the air fryer is at 350*F for about 10-12 mins. I could just wait ten minutes and add the patties after removing the onions. From there, 4 mins on the first side, flip, add cheese and cook another 4 minutes while I prepped the buns.

I chose a small dinner roll pack because the grocery store stopped getting the slider buns I was going to buy during the pandemic. I assume the bread maker axed this from their streamlined product line for supply chain issues. Oh, well. The dinner buns were the perfect size in the end.

I laid the onions on a platter in small nests so I could drop a cheesy patty on each when they came out of the air fryer. I placed the tops on each patty so they melded together. On the bottoms, I laid down some somewhat spicy burger/dip sauce I had in the fridge.

We then scraped up each pile off the platter and laid them down onto each bottom, and viola! Done. I really like how these turned out, and how fast they came together. And it was about as much clean up as cooking bacon strips in the air fryer. And none of it irritated me like doing these smash sliders on the stovetop did.

I’m calling this one as a win! Will do smash sliders this way from now on. Recommend.

Easy Breakfast Egg Quesadilla

I found this idea in a Tik-Tok video several months ago, and I have been rocking it pretty steady since. I don’t seem to get tired of it much. Somedays I make a breakfast bowl of ramen instead, but that’s on my days off when I have more time to clean out the fridge for ramen inclusions.

The idea is fairly straightforward and easy. One egg, beaten with seasonings of your choice (S&P/RHCP flakes/Onion Powder is a good combo), poured into to a hot pan with a bit of oil. Tilt the pan so it runs thin over most of the bottom of the pan. As the bottom sets to white, top the uncooked egg top with a tortilla or naan bread. Push it down a bit so the egg sticks to it.

Wait about 30-45 seconds, and then pinch the bread as you pick it up with the attached egg. Flip it over. Here’s where it get interesting.

Depending on what I have in my fridge, I will lay down some cheese grate or a broken up slice of cheese over one side. I top that with something like thin sliced deli meat or leftover chicken I chop fine.

Fold the tortilla or naan over and move the half moon into the middle of the pan. Push down so the meat melts into the cheese. After 30 seconds, kill the heat and flip the quesadilla to finish cooking for another 15 seconds.

Move it over to plate and cut it into 3 or 4 triangle portions. I typically squirt some Ranch or other dip sauce the size of two quarters on the plate for dipping. This fills me up for a few hours due to the three protein sources. I don’t need to go crazy with the portions either.

Enjoy.

Air Fryer Mac & Cheese

Made this one last night. It took way too long and too much futzing with it to get the elbow noodles to finally finish cooking before adding the toppings and finishing it. BUT, I have ideas on how to speed it up for the next time.

After 25 mins, the cheese sauce was like molten lava. But that was ok; I felt it would help the toppings bake up faster, and I was right. Look at those bubbles along the rim of the baking dish in the video below. Love that visual.

Air Fryer Mac & Cheese:
1 1/2 C: Elbow Pasta / Water
1 tub Black Diamond White Cheddar Sauce (my new fave product!)
2+ tbsp Dry Mustard
1 tea: Onion Powder / Paprika
S&P

Stir it all up and put the baking dish inside the basket. Cook it at 360* for about 20 mins, stirring often to pull the protein skin down into the sauce every 4-5 mins. Till and turn the noodles up from the bottom so it all gets an even cook overall each time.

When you hit the 20+ mark, taste the noodles to see where their doneness is. If you need more liquid to get them softer, add 1/4 cup of water or heavy cream. Continue cooking it another 5 mins. Before adding the toppings, make sure the pasta is el dente. And then, add:

1+ C Marble Cheddar, grated
1/4 C Italian Seasoned Breadcrumbs

Bake the dish with the toppings about 4 more mins. The dish was super hot, so I pulled the drawer out and scooped the mac out with a serving spoon directly. I didn’t even bother trying to get that hot dish out of the basket. It wasn’t necessary to do so.

I will post an update to the time saving changes after I make this again next week.

French Onion Soup Mac & Cheese

I saw this video from Sam The Cooking Guy making his version of this same dish, and thought, I can make that faster using canned soup. This was a lovely tasting change up on the classic pasta dish. One I liked enough to want to make again in the future.

French Onion Soup Mac & Cheese:
2 C Small Pasta
Salt

1 1/2 – 2 C Cheddar Cheese, grated
1/2 C Panko Breadcrumbs
1 1/2 tbsp Dry Rub (of choice)

1 can Onion Soup, hot
1/3 C Pasta Water, reserved

Scoop the cooked pasta into a large bowl to mix with everything else, including some reserved starchy water from the pasta pot. Top with some green herbs or green onion chops, as well as some cracks of pepper.

Quick Butter Chicken

This isn’t my recipe, it’s Arron & Claire’s, and it’s a keeper. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s tasty. In short, this recipe gets the job done on nights where I am craving Butter Chicken and don’t have a jar sauce on hand in my pantry. Luckily, I stock all of the ingredients to make it when push comes to shove. 🙂

Quick Butter Chicken:
4 Chicken Thighs, bite size cubes
1/3 C Plain Yogurt
1 tbsp Garlic, minced (or 1/2 tea Garlic Powder)
1/2 tbsp: Garam Masala/Cumin/Ground Ginger/Chili Powder
S&P

Oil
1/2 C Yellow Onion, diced
30 g Cashews, rough chopped (opt)
3 C Passata Sauce

5 tbsp Butter
1 tbsp: Ginger, grated/Chili Powder/Cumin/Ground Coriander/Garam Masala
1/2 tea: Sugar (or a pinch of carrot, grated)/Salt

2/3 C Water
1 C Heavy Cream (18 – 35%)
5 tbsp Butter
1/4 tea Chicken Stock Powder

Mix the cut up meat in the yogurt mixture and rest it for 20 mins as you prep everything else. When ready, get your skillet heated up. After 3 mins, add some neutral oil and drop the meat in carefully in small batches. Brown the chicken to take advantage of the maillard reaction. All of that browning = flavour. (The meat will finish cooking as it rests in the hot sauce later.) Rest rest each browned batch in a bowl with paper towels set inside as you work.

In a bigger skillet, or a big pot, heat up some different oil and dump in the diced onion to soften. Add the cashews. Sautee for a minute before adding the passata sauce. Stew that together for 5 mins before adding the meat in. Stew the sauce another 5-8 mins to cook the meat through.

At the end, add the water, butter, heavy cream and chicken stock. When you’ve stirred it all together, plate some of the meat in shallow bowls off to one side, top it with a ladle of sauce, and drop the starch of choice (cooked rice, mash potatoes or naan bread chunks) over the sauce. Serve with a dollop of sour cream if desired, topped with some chopped cilantro leaves.

Tilapia & Chopped Corn Salad

As the last breath of summer days gasp out (for me, at least), I’m still obsessed with my corn salad. Today I made what might be the last one of the season (we’ll see), and I paired it with some delicate tilapia white fish. Perfectly seasoned and cooked, it flaked into lovely chunks easily before I tossed it with my beloved chopped corn salad for a nice summer lunch with the husband.

I swear, this is going to be the last meal I request on my deathbed. 🙂

Meat & Potato Bombs

I lost the YouTube video link, but thankfully I scribbled down some notes as I watched it. I didn’t think much of the recipe’s concept, but I do love piping mash potatoes, so I gave this one a whirl.

And we are glad I did. We loved it. I have plans to turn this into a Shepards Pie meal. I also want to try stuffing an egg yolk under the mash next time.

This recipe is good for 8 bombs, but you can easily cut it in half for a lovely dinner for two, or for a solo dinner + a lunch for the next day.

Meat & Potato Bombs:
400 g Ground Meat (of choice – I used turkey. It might have been chicken. I forget.)
1/2 Yellow Onion, diced or grated
2 Garlic Cloves, minced or grated
1 tbsp AP Flour
3 tbsp Neutral Oil
1 Yolk
S&P
Parsley, chopped

Mix this by hand to form the patties. Place on a small sheet tray or a big plate and wrap to chill 30 mins. In the meantime, work on the mash. Preheat oven to 350*.

2 Medium Sized Yukon Potatoes (you can use Russet instead), 1″ x 1″ cubes
1 tbsp Salt

From cold water, bring the potatoes in water to a boil with the salt in. Let it boil until the edges of each cube look slightly fuzzy. It should be about 10 mins or so. Drain and process the potatoes into a medium size bowl using a ricer. This tool gives the smoothest mash needed for piping.

40 g Butter
1/2 C Milk
50 g Cheddar Cheese, grated
Pinches of Salt & Nutmeg (if you like it; I don’t)

Warm up this in a small sauce pan as soon as you drain the potatoes and start ricing. At the same time, warm up some pasta sauce. (Jarred is fine, or make a fast pasta sauce using the following.)

Take the bombs out of the fridge. After all the ricing is done, add the dairy mixture. Fold in gently.

100 g Passata Sauce
30 g Olive Oil
1/4 tea Italian Seasonings (rubbed between your fingers first)
S&P

Lay a scant bit of pasta sauce on bottom of a small baking dish or a skillet that is oven proof. Set it aside. Place the bombs over the pasta sauce. Use a finger to indent the middle of the bombs a bit.

Set up a piping bag with a star tip inserted in the bottom hole. Spoon mash into the bag and pipe it over the bombs starting in the middle, moving out to the edge while circling it into a hive like shape.

Spoon the rest of the pasta sauce between the bombs. Cover the pan’s handle with a sheet of tin foil if it’s plastic in nature to protect it. Otherwise, pop the dish or skillet into the oven.

Bake for 30 mins. Longer if you want more colour on the tips of the mash potatoes.

Serve with a side of your choice.

Eggplant Parm For One

Made this for today’s solo lunch. I love eggplant parm. I often do it over pasta or on a bun, but this is the first time I left the starch vehicle out. Just the filling, kids! I highly recommend to using Balsamic drizzle over top if you have it on hand.

Eggplant Parm For One:
1 mini Eggplant, halved, scored down the middle twice on each side

2 tbsp Olive Oil
2 Garlic Clove, minced
1/2 tea Italian Seasons
S&P

Brush the eggplants with half of this mixture before placing on a parchment lined sheet tray and popping in a preheated 400* oven to bake for 25 mins.

3 tbsp Salsa
2 slices Provolone Cheese, cut into small squares
1/4 C Parm, grated
1/8 C Breadcrumbs

Mix salsa with the provolone in the leftover oil mixture. Top the baked eggplant halves with this mixture. Top with the parm cheese, and then with the breadcrumbs.

Pop back into the oven for another 8-10 mins, or until browned to your liking.

Toppers: Basil that’s been cut julienne and Balsamic drizzle (or a small bit of salt).

Enjoy!

Baked Brie Pasta

A new version of the internet infamous Baked Feta Pasta is floating around called Baked Brie Pasta and I thought I would try it. I figured, I like brie, and pasta. It should be a natural.

Right?

Turns out, I don’t like baked brie. I like raw brie on deli sandwiches and nothing else. Blech. I’ve never not finished a plate of pasta outside of the few times I tried baked ziti (it’s god awful in its blandness), This pasta drizzled with oooey-gooey baked brie is going on my rarified list of pasta no-gos.

But, by all means, if you like baked brie, this recipe was otherwise easy to make and tasted fine. I would make this pasta again (and probably will next week), just minus the brie.

I do like the presentation of the baked brie. I thought that turned out well if nothing else did. 🙂