What can I say about mashed potatoes? Besides that they are buttery, delicious, soul-warming, a holiday favorite and really pick me up when I’m having “one of those days.” Other than that, there really isn’t much to say about mashed potatoes.
My mashed potato recipe is based on many tips from many different potato experts. If you want perfectly light and fluffy mashed potatoes, you must first rinse as much starch off of the potatoes as you can before you even start cooking them. Excess starch can sometimes make your potatoes gummy.
Secondly, boiling your potatoes really leaves them water-logged after they are cooked. Because of all of this water, they don’t have a chance to absorb as much butter or dairy as we’d like. Steaming your potatoes is the best way to cook them.
From there, some people swear by their ricer for a perfect mash. Others like whipping their potatoes. Personally, I like hand mashing them because I like tasting a few chunks in my potatoes. Use your favorite method to mash your potatoes!
Ree, The Pioneer Woman, brings up a good point when she says that mashed potatoes can be very labor intensive, especially with everything else going on during a holiday dinner. The good news is you can make this recipe ahead of time and heat it up when you’re ready to rock n’ roll. I got the ‘make ahead and reheat’ part of this recipe from her.
Here’s how to make some mean mashed potatoes:
Start by peeling your potatoes and chopping them into uniform sizes (I like the skin in my mashed potatoes, so I leave some of them on). Then steam them until they are fork tender.
Smash your potatoes then add lots of delicious ingredients like butter. Lots and lots of beautiful, glorious butter.
Serve hot. When making your potatoes a day or two in advance pack them in an oven friendly dish, top with a few “greens” to make those vegetables lovers happy and drop a few more tabs of butter on top. Yup, more butter. Cover and store in the fridge.
When your special day arrives, take the potatoes out of the fridge a couple of hours ahead of time. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, or until warmed through. Enjoy!
Note: If you would like to make these potatoes ahead of time and serve them later, stir finished potatoes well and place in a medium-sized baking dish. Throw a few pats of butter over the top of the potatoes and place them in a 350-degree oven and heat until butter is melted and potatoes are warmed through. When making this dish a day or two in advance, take it out of the fridge about 2 to 3 hours before serving time. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 to 30 minutes or until warmed through.
5 pounds Russet Potatoes
3/4 cups Butter
1 package (8-ounces) Cream Cheese, Softened
1/2 cup (to 3/4 Cups) Whole Milk
1/2 teaspoon (to 1 teaspoon) Salt
1/2 teaspoon (to 1 teaspoon) Black Pepper
Peel and cut the potatoes into 1-inch pieces that are relatively uniform. Rinse in a colander with cool water for about a minute. Add an inch or two of water in a large pot. Bring to a boil and add a steamer basket (if your steamer basket doesn't have legs and submerges into the water, add a wad of aluminum foil to the bottom of the pot so the steamer basket is lifted). Add the potatoes on top of the steamer pot and cook for 25 or so minutes, or until a fork easily slides into the potatoes with no resistance, and the potatoes should almost, but not totally, fall apart.
Drain the potatoes in a large colander then place the potatoes back into the large pot over low heat. This will allow the potatoes to dry a bit in the pot for a couple of minutes. You can simply mash the potatoes in the pot with a hand masher or use a mixer with the whipped beater attachment, either way, mash the potatoes before adding in the other ingredients.
Turn off the stove and add the butter, cream cheese and about 1/2 cup of milk. Continue mashing until everything is combined. Next, add about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of black pepper. Add more milk, a couple tablespoons at a time if your potatoes are too stiff. Note: If you are using a mixer for your potatoes, you want to oversaturate your potatoes a bit. After you mix for another couple of minutes, you will see your soupy potato mixture transform into beautiful, fluffy mashed potatoes.
I know it’s a little early in the year to think about stuffing and the holidays, but with the apple harvest I was craving those warm apple and sage flavors. I couldn’t help myself, I was giddy with apple-stars in my eyes!
Growing up in Wisconsin, the apple harvest was one of my favorite times of the year. It marked the end of the muggy summer and the beginning of the crisp, colorful fall (Colorado doesn’t have anything on those colorful maple leaves in the Midwest!).
As an upperclassman in high school, friends and I would drive to the closest orchard and pick apples for our lunch instead of eating at the cafeteria. It was something that truly made me happy and I will never forget those moments with old friends.
12 cups dry bread cubes (about 16 slices of bread)
3 cups coarsely chopped apples
1 cup toasted slivered almonds
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon sage
In a large skillet, cook celery, onions and apples in butter until tender. Add water and bouillon, cook until bouillon dissolves.
In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Add bouillon mixture and mix well. Loosely spoon into a lightly greased 2-quart casserole, cover. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until heated through.
Summer is great because the corn harvest is sweet and cheap. I’ve cooked my corn many ways – in the husk, without it, on the grill, in my oven, in a pot… I love it all. One thing is certain though, you must, I repeat MUST soak your corn in water with a bit of sugar in it. This will help all the natural sugars come out in your corn when you cook it.
This particular time I had a craving for Parmesan Chili corn. This corn sounds more intense than it actually is. Not one flavor overpowers another. Everything simmers together as the corn plumps and cooks, it’s a magical thing. And yes, you read the ingredients list correctly, I used mayo. Not butter. I know, I know, crazy talk right?
The mayo acts as a binding agent for all the seasonings. As the corn cooks, the mayo practically evaporates and you’re left with delicious chili and Parmesan flavors that stick to each kernel. If you’d try the same thing with butter, everything on your sweet corn will drip right off into a charcoal abyss and that, my friends, is no bueno.
Try this out for yourself and tell me what your taste buds say.
I woke up today especially groggy eyed and hungry. I needed something to eat that would stick to my ribs and satisfy that bottomless pit of a stomach I have.
I previously purchased local goat cheese and put this recipe together with leftover scraps of potatoes and a lone squash that had sat in my crisper for a week. It was relatively easy to make overall except I could not find my mandoline for the life of me. Instead, I patiently sliced each vegetable to a uniform size and imagined where my mandoline could be. Maybe it decided to take a vacation. Or maybe one of those darned gnomes grabbed it (they are always taking things from my kitchen or laundry basket). Maybe I lost it during the move. We may never know.
There isn’t a ton of cheese or cream in this so the fresh vegetables are the star. This kept for days and worked great for brunch or as a side dish too. It wasn’t too heavy but it did fill me up enough to make it to lunch. Enjoy!
Use a mandoline or chef's knife to slice the squash and potatoes into very, very thin slices, 1/8-inch or less. Toss the sliced vegetables with the olive oil in a large bowl.
Pour a small drizzle of olive oil in a casserole dish (around 8 or 9 inches square) and spread it around the bottom and sides. Place 1/3 of the squash and potato slices in the bottom of the dish—no need to layer them squash-potato-squash-etc.—then season with salt and pepper. Top with half of the goat cheese, scattered evenly in large chunks. Repeat with another 1/3 of the vegetables, seasoning again with salt and pepper and topping with the other 1/2 of the goat cheese. Finish by layering on the final 1/3 of the vegetables and seasoning with salt and pepper.
Pour the milk over the entire dish. Top with the mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake 15 more minutes, until the top browns. Scatter on the fresh basil, if using.
Quinoa is magical, isn’t it? It fills your belly but it doesn’t fill your waste-line. Quinoa is one of those healthy grains that you can manipulate to make it your own too. I like to cook mine in broth and add fresh herbs and veggies. This salad is tasty at any temperature too – great for those outdoor parties where you don’t necessarily have access to a stove or oven.
My porch garden is doing surprisingly well this year, considering the hot summer we are having. These guys are in full bloom.
And I’m using them in full force. This summer salad is fresh and easy and great for those times when you come home from the farmer’s market and realize that you can’t recall anything that happened in the last two hours but somehow came home with bags and bags of produce.
Did you have a fabulous holiday? Majority of the firework shows around Colorado were cancelled due to all the wildfires that are still raging on in these parts. I feel for all of those families who have lost their homes.
On a lighter note, we didn’t have a fireworks show here but that didn’t stop us from getting together with close friends and eating some great food. Being the foodie I am, BBQs always get me thinking about the epic battle between creamy and vinegary cole slaw.
I’ve never really been impressed by cole slaw before. Typically when I’m served a side of it (usually in a small plastic container) the slaw is creamy in style but watery and flavorless. This sweet-sour slaw is not your run of the mill cole slaw. It’s packed with tangy flavors that’ll squeeze your taste buds so hard it’ll hurt – and you’re gonna like the way it hurts. It’s the first cole slaw I’ve had that really torques my jowels.
We got this recipe from a friend who really enjoys grilling and cooking with big, bold flavors. Enjoy this slaw at your next get together as a side dish or on top of your favorite pulled pork sandwich.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (corn oil or salad oil mix are okay too)
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
For the slaw:
1 pound green cabbage (about half a medium cabbage)
1 large carrot, peeled
1 small white onion
1/2 bell pepper, any color
3 red radishes for a pinch of heat (optional)
In a large enough bowl to house all of the slaw, whisk together the dressing. Make sure all of the lumps are whisked out.
Decide how you want to cut the cabbage, carrots and onions (chopped, grated, or hashed) and do it. Add the vegetables to the bowl with the dressing. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour to extract the flavors from the celery seeds and the vegetables. They will give up some water so don't worry if the mixture seems a bit dry and strong at first. Mix it up occasionally so the dressing doesn't pool at the bottom. You can add more seasonings if you prefer. Mix and serve.
Warning: These onion straws are deliciously addictive! These crispy morsels make me want to scream because I can’t get enough of them! I could eat them as a snack, an appetizer, a side dish, or on top my favorite stuffed burger. Too darn good.
You’ve been warned. Thank you for listening.
Making these onion strings are super simple too, which adds to their appeal. Follow these quick steps and make these already, okay? Then ship me a big box of them. You’re the best!
2 cups buttermilk (or regular milk with some lemon juice added)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 quart canola oil
black pepper, to taste
Slice the onion very thin. Place in a baking dish and cover with buttermilk. Soak for at least an hour. Combine dry ingredients and set aside.
Heat oil to 375 degrees. Grab a handful of onions, toss them in the flour mixture, shake off excess and add them to the hot oil. Fry until golden brown. Remove the onions and place them on dry paper towels. Repeat with the other onions and nibble on the first batch while you wait.
How was your Memorial Day Weekend? Did you get some BBQ in your belly? Chlorine in your hair? This weekend was, after all, the un-official kick-off to summer.
My weekend was simple. I got a few errands done, spent some time with some good people, ate some fantastic food, and whittled away at the apartment project. Oh and I almost forgot, I re-potted my plants too. My little seedlings are growing up so fast! I’m such an herb nerd.
In other news, I fell in love… with a sweet potato! Up until this point, I hadn’t really tried a sweet potato. Don’t judge me!! As a kid, my family would always serve a big bowl of canned yams and it left a weird impression on me. I never gave the sweet potato or yams the chance they deserve.
Lo-and-behold I bought one this weekend, baked it and I’m a fan! Deemed my new favorite snack. This recipe is so easy and tasty AND healthy! Whoa… my head is spinning. I’d better sit down and eat another sweet potato before I pass out.
Pre-heat the oven to 350° to 375°. Wash the potato lightly to remove dirt without breaking the skin then dry with a paper towel. Pierce the skin a couple of times with a fork to allow steam to escape and prevent possible bursting in oven.
If you wish to eat the skin (as I do), the skin may be coated lightly with some butter or a vegetable oil. DO NOT wrap in foil as you will get a soggy potato (the steam didn't escape) instead of the desired texture.
Place potato(s) on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 45-55 minutes (depending on the size of the potato and your taste in doneness). 50 minutes is perfect for eating by itself. 55 minutes for mashing. Flip the potato over halfway through cooking to distribute the butter/oil better.
Test potato for doneness by squeezing gently...if done the potato will be slightly soft.
Serve immediately with butter, cinnamon, chopped pecans, or brown sugar, etc.
French fries are my guilty pleasure, especially when it comes to steak fries. I can’t resist! Imagine it – a salty, crunchy basket of hot steak fries sitting on the table in front of you. Can you smell them? So can I! I admit, homemade fries never seem quite the same when they aren’t deep-fried, but these baked steak fries are AWESOME! Plus, you’ll have complete control over the seasoning and you will save on the sodium content by making them at home too. All great things!
For the seasonings, I always throw in garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and basil. Everything else I toss in the bowl is on a whim. I included all the spices that I’ve used in the past in this recipe. Use some or all of them!
Note: It’s very important to toss the potatoes at the 20 minute mark. You’ll get crispier steak fries this way.
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon individual spices (I like to use 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, then 1/4 teaspoon chile powder, cumin, basil, salt, and a dash of rosemary)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Mix desired spices in a large bowl. Add olive oil and combine.
Cut potatoes into 1/2-inch thick wedges, skin on. Add potatoes to seasonings and toss to coat.
Lay some parchment paper on a baking sheet (or aluminum foil and spray with non-stick spray). Arrange potatoes on foil in a single layer. Bake at 400 for 40 minutes, flipping the potatoes over at the halfway point. Serve hot.
I love a good ol’ fashioned green bean. Whether steam them or bake them into a casserole, green beans have always been a favorite around my household.
I remember my mom would come home from work with boxes of canned corn and you guessed it, green beans. The rural folk she worked with would sell their produce at her warehouse and she bought cases from them every year. They were convenient when we needed an easy side dish.
Although my mom doesn’t do a lot of culinary exploring – I finally introduced her to orzo this last Christmas – I believe she would enjoy this salad.
Sometimes it’s hard to come up with new ways to serve vegetables. This recipe from Family Fresh Cooking is a new favorite for green beans. The toasty walnuts and cheesy crumbles really compliment the green beans while the quinoa fills the tummy. Plus as an added bonus, this salad tastes great cold or warm.
1 cup dry Quinoa (any type), prepared to package directions
1 pound fresh Green Beans, washed with trimmed ends
a few pinches of fine Sea Salt
1/4 cup toasted unsalted Walnuts, plus extra for topping
drizzle of Walnut Oil or Extra Virgin Olive Oil
a few ounces of crumbled Blue Cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with the rack in the middle. You can use a toaster oven for this small of an amount. Toast the dry nuts for about 10 minutes until slightly browned and fragrant.
Fill a large pot 3/4 full with cold water. Add a few pinches of salt and bring to a boil. Prepare an ice bath full of water to dunk beans in when they have finished cooking. This will set the color and keep them crisp.
Add the beans to the water and make sure they are fully submerged, add some more warm water if needed. Boil beans over medium high heat for about 2 minutes. They should be bright green and tender enough to be speared with a fork. Taste test to be sure 🙂
Drain beans in a colander and immediately put them into the ice bath. Swish them around in the bath until cool. Remove and dry on a paper towl.
Chop beans into little bite sized pieces. Toss with oil and nuts and some blue cheese. Add the quinoa and toss to combine. Top each serving with extra nuts and cheese. Serve at any temperature.
This week Mister, friend and I attended our first trivia night at T.G.I.Friday’s. Hopes of winning any prize were low. The “Triple Trouble” team could barely keep up with the regulars. We were doomed – or so we thought. We distracted ourselves with food and drink while we guessed majority of the questions. Little did we know that things were about to change.
To our surprise, the final trivia topic was just what every nerd hopes for – a video game round. We answered the bonus question (What is the street address of the Simpsons?) and the video game speed round (name these consoles) correctly and the rest was history. We won one for all the nerds in the world that night.
During our quizzical roller-coaster ride, we gorged ourselves silly on half priced appetizers. These green beans were one of our favorites. I was inspired to make them at home.
Making these were more challenging than I had originally thought but like the trivia game, I was in it to win it!
Trial 1: Coat with corn starch, fry, eat.
Result: The green beans did not have any batter on them.
Trial 2: Coat with wet batter, fry, eat.
Result: The green beans were raw, but the batter was pretty dern tasty.
Trial 3: Flash fry the green beans, coat with wet batter, fry again and eat.
Flash frying the green beans first worked the best. The beans were fully cooked and the batter stuck to the beans. Then the second fry created the perfect batter. We have a winner!
I didn’t have any fun sauces laying around so I made a Dijon honey mustard by mixing them together in equal parts. Muy yum.
Crispy Fried Green Beans with Dijon Honey Mustard Sauce
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yields: Serves 4-6
1 pound fresh green beans, ends trimmed off
1/4 cup corn starch
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
Vegetable oil for frying
Rinse, trim and dry the green beans on a paper towel. Heat the vegetable oil over medium heat (should be around 375 degrees F).
In the mean time, combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add water until the consistency is batter-like (not too thick and not too runny). You will probably have to use your fingers for this.
Once the oil is hot enough, add your green beans and stir them in the hot oil for a spell. Remove them once they are wrinkly, about 30 seconds. Allow the beans to cool, then batter them and let the excess drip off the bean. Fry the beans by placing them in the oil one at a time. Fry until golden brown, about 30 seconds. Do these in batches. Allow the fried beans to dry for a minute on a paper towel, then serve with your favorite sauce (I mixed dijon mustard and honey 50:50 for my sauce).
Wet corn starch is an extremely freaky substance, we used to call this "Oobleck" in elementary school.
Trivia fact for the day: Sheb Wooley’s PURPLE PEOPLE EATER was recorded on this day in 1958. You know, “It was a one-eyed, one-horned, flyin’ purple people eater.” – that one! As a tribute to Sheb’s quirky song, here is a delicious purple inspired dish that is great to take with you on a picnic or to make for any get together.
Note: I realize some of you expected a tantalizing recipe for People since that is, after all, what the Purple Eater eats, but I let my judgment get the better of me. Darn my morals!
A festive and out of the ordinary side dish that can be served at room temperature.
2 pounds small purple potatoes
1 purple onion, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Bring a pot of cold, salted water to a boil. Boil the potatoes until fork tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Drain, then rinse in cold water, then cut into quarters.
Place the warm potatoes in a large bowl and toss with onion, celery, dill and parsley. In another bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, celery seed, cayenne, vinegar and lemon. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Add the dressing to the vegetable mixture. Toss gently to coat, taking care to not mash the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.