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Christmas Eve Recipes: Smashed Potatoes

DSC_6813 [1600x1060]

JeffreyW luckily made some Smashed Potatoes and took a great photo. 

Everything is ready to go, all I have to do is pop the Cornish Game Hens into the oven. Once they are done, I’ll up the temperature to 450 degrees and finish up the potatoes while the chickens rest.

I boiled the potatoes this morning and let drain completely and then refrigerated them until it’s time to crisp them up.

Smashed Potatoes

  • 2 lbs of small red or gold potatoes, no more than 2″ in diameter
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

saucepan, baking sheet

Boil potatoes in salted water until tender.  Drain completely.

Drizzle olive oil on baking sheet – use plenty so the potatoes don’t stick – and arrange potatoes on the pan, leaving room between each so they can crisp up. Using a a potato masher or heavy glass, smash each potato flat. With a basting brush, generously brush oil over each potato. Salt and pepper to taste and garish with fresh rosemary or pieces of minced garlic.

Bake in a 450 degree oven until potatoes are crisped. 15-20 minutes.

See the full Christmas Eve menu here.

festive-holiday-wreaths

 

Christmas Eve Dinner: The Menu

Reindeer Games

I got to meet some of Santa’s reindeer last year

I finished all my shopping today and unless I missed something, I shouldn’t have to cross the threshold of a grocery store between now and Christmas. I’ll put up photos and recipes as I go. My kitchen is painfully small and I like to spend time with my guests, so the menu is pretty simple and I can do a lot ahead of time. This makes sure we have a great meal, I can spend time with my guests and keeps my stress level lower.

On the board:

  1. Roasted Cornish Game Hens UPDATED with recipe here
  2. Smashed PotatoesUPDATED with recipe here.
  3. Cranberry Chutney UPDATED with recipe here.
  4. Spinach Salad
  5. Sundae Bar
  6. Christmas Cookies

The spinach salad works well to provide a nice, fresh vegetable without having to worry about cooking something at the last minute (so it’s fresh and not overcooked). And everyone likes spinach, so it was an easy choice.

I’ll make the Cranberry Chutney tomorrow, since it’s the type of dish that tastes better the next day. It’s a new, untried recipe and this will give me time to make regular cranberry relish if it turns out badly.

I’ll prep the hens the night before and refrigerate, then toss in the oven late afternoon on Wednesday.

The smashed potatoes have to be boiled first, so I think I will do that in the morning, refrigerate them and then do the final stage in the oven while the chickens are resting. And that’s it, dinner is served.

Look what Bixby has to look forward to, these are my three loves (3 of my 4 rescued Danes):

Christmas Dogs 2004 Shelby Einstein Duncan

I tried to get Bixby in a Santa Hat or Reindeer Antlers, but he is still too much of a puppy. I can barely get a photo of him on a normal day, he’ll have none of this “dress me up” nonsense. 90 lbs of WILL right now.

Updates as I do the prep and can get some photos. – TaMara

Christmas balls

 

Tidbits

DSC_9526 [1600x1060]We have a couple of freezers jammed full of items that may not be labeled with all the info you might wish for but usually enough if you have a good memory.  I pulled one crusted zip lock bag with “brisket” scribbled on it and the sammich here is what came of a portion of it.  I smoked a brisket some time ago and this is part of that, there may be more – I dunno.  It made a decent lunch.  On top is some ancient giardiniera that I added some olives to because of reasons.  The sauce is a new to me item from Texas Pete they are calling sriracha-cha.  Works for me.DSC01302 (1600x1200)And a puppy!  I have no info at all on this one, nor the ones to follow in this post.  I ordered a battery powered LED light so Mrs J could have a portable source she could use while at the shelter.  I mounted it on a tiny tripod meant for tabletop photography but it can be easily hand held.  Results so far are encouraging.DSC_9530 [1600x1060]I used some of that duck fat to roast these potatoes, they were pretty good but I’m sure I’ll do better the next time.  The chicken was fried in some of it as well.  The breast came pre-sliced to about 1/4″, I dusted it with seasoned flour and plopped it directly into the hot fat.  I parboiled the potatoes, then tossed them with the duck fat, rosemary, and kosher salt and roasted them on a tray in the oven.  They needed more time to brown but everything else was ready to go so I went with them as they were.DSC01301 (1600x1200)Moar puppeh!  I think the new light is bright enough to bounce off the ceiling there at the shelter.  It does have a frosted plastic diffuser mounted to soften the light, and it can be dialed down if needed.DSC_9541 [1600x1060]Mmm… brisket and egg burritos from this morning.  The last of the thawed brisket with scrambled eggs and cheese.  I like that new sauce, it has more of a cooked taste compared to basic sriracha – the brand with the rooster on the label.DSC01293 (1600x1200)One last puppy to wind this post up.  Remember to look at the shelter’s Facebook page for more info on adoptable pets and (hint hint) contribution links.

Parmesan Potato Soup with Bacon

DSC_9465 (1600x1060)This turned out pretty well.  The bacon made that a foregone conclusion but the Parmesan was an experiment gone good.  I simmered potato pieces in chicken broth until they were soft and then pureed everything in the pot with an immersion blender.  The bacon crisped up in a separate pan and was added after the blender did its job – save a little for garnishing at the table.  There’s some milk in there to thin it, lots of grated Parmesan and some cheddar I had leftover from burritos.  Seasonings include dried thyme, oregano, fresh ground black pepper and salt.  I used the same microplane grater I grated the Parm with on a little bit of carrot that you can see in the photo if you look hard.DSC_9462 (1600x1060)Since I am  lunatic I took the chance to add a little color to the plate with a healthy slug of my hot sauce.  It was good but I wouldn’t let the lack of it dissuade me from demolishing a future bowl of this soup.

Thanksgiving Files: Hearty Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I was looking through the archives trying to decide which recipes to repeat and this one caught my eye, mostly because I had totally forgotten this cooking method. So reposting as an idea for your holiday dinner. For all the Thanksgiving recipes, click on this link: Thanksgiving Files.

I’m never going to turn away mashed potatoes.  Ever.  But I do have a favorite style – unpeeled and hand mashed potatoes.  I love creamy ones too, but with a good gravy, the hearty ones really hold up.

A while I ago I wrote about a mistake I made cooking potatoes and how I used a recipe I remembered from a few weeks before to save them.  Well, I decided to try it for real this time.  I could not track down the recipe, but did the best I could with what I remembered.  I must have remembered pretty well.  They turned out great.

This recipe uses unpeeled potatoes, but you can peel them and whip them for creamy mashed potatoes suitable for the fanciest Thanksgiving table.  And don’t be startled, but you don’t boil the potatoes either, you cook them in cream and butter. Yummy.

Hearty Garlic Mashed Potatoes

  • 1/4 cup half & half
  • 1/4 cup water or broth
  • 3 tbsp to 1/4 cup of butter
  • 4-6 small garlic gloves, peeled and minced
  • 6 to 8 medium potatoes (russet or yukon gold work best)

4-qt saucepan

Add half & half, water, butter and garlic cloves to the pan and turn heat to low and let butter melt and liquid heat.  Meanwhile, scrub potatoes well and cut small (not diced, but smaller than 1-inch cubes).  Add to liquid and turn heat to high.  Stir constantly until liquid begins to boil, turn heat down to medium-low, cover and let cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 20-30 minutes.  Keep an eye on them and turn the heat lower if it looks like they might stick – if you feel like you need more liquid, add half & half.  There is so much water in the potatoes, this technique works really well.  And the potatoes are extremely creamy because you haven’t soaked them in water.  When they are tender, turn off heat and mash to desired constancy.

Originally posted November 2011

Slow-Cooker Tangy Pot Roast

Marinated Pot Roast Final

New puppy or not, gotta eat. Chuck roasts were on sale this week, so I bought a five pound one, cut in half and marinated one half and froze the other. I threw the corn in the slow-cooker during the last 15 minutes an it was perfectly steamed.

Recipe is here: Tangy Pot Roast

More Grilling Fun

DSC_8609 (1600x1060)The ribeye was seasoned with salt and pepper and left to come to room temperature before grilling, the asparagus marinated in olive oil, balsamic glaze, minced garlic, and lemon juice.  The potatoes were tossed with oil, garlic, kosher salt, and fresh cracked pepper.  I started the potatoes first in one of those perforated veggie grilling trays, then the steaks went on, and finally the asparagus for a quick grilling while the steaks were resting.DSC_8606 (1600x1060)Mrs J made the caprese salad using our cherry tomatoes and basil.  We didn’t have a really good. fresh mozzarella but what we did have worked well enough.DSC_8605 (1600x1060)

Dinner Menu: Hot Orange Chicken, Potato Wedges and Mocha Cake

Potato Wedges1a

As promised, this week’s menu. Kind of hodge-podge. I love spicy, citrus flavored chicken and this one is quick and easy. The potato wedges are a breeze and the Mocha Cake is the simplest chocolate cake to make, a cousin to yummy Lava cake.  Enjoy.

  1. Hot Orange Chicken
  2. Potato Wedges
  3. Tossed Salad w/Pineapple chunks
  4. Mocha Cake

Hot Orange Chicken

  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sage
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander (cilantro)
  • ¼ tsp orange zest
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded*
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch

bowl

skillet or wok

Mix the first 6 spices in bowl and rub chicken with it.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Heat oil in skillet or wok over medium-high heat.  Add chicken and cook until golden on all sides (5 minutes).  Add water, cornstarch, lemon and orange juice and let simmer 7 to 10 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.  Remove chicken, keep warm.  Bring liquid to a boil, cook 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until reduced by half.  Spoon over chicken and serve.

Potato Wedges – easy to do, quarter potatoes, rub with olive oil, salt and place in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 425° until tender.

Mocha Cake

  • 1 cup flourMocha6b
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla

====

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup very hot coffee (see notes)

8×8 inch baking dish

Preheat oven to 350°

Combine flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa, baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt.  Combine milk, oil and vanilla, mix well and add to flour mixture.  Stir well.  Pour batter into baking dish.  Combine sugar and cocoa (from bottom list) and sprinkle over batter.  Pour hot coffee over batter – DO NOT stir.  Bake for 30 minutes or until center springs back when touched.

NOTE: if you don’t want to use coffee, use boiling water. If you want stronger coffee flavor you can use ½ cup hot espresso and ½ cup boiling water.

Friday Recipe Exchange: Corned Beef Cabbage Dinner

Corned Beef by JeffreyW

Corned Beef by JeffreyW

Well look at that, it’s Friday and St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have already begun. I think that means we’ll revisit last year’s recipes, because I was at the store yesterday and briskets were half priced and I bought two, a tip and a flat. I’ll be doing the slow-cooker method first. Then I’ll think about grilling or pressure cooking the other. Corned beef is really one of the perfect foods to do in a pressure cooker. You get a nice, tender beef and instead of mushy, colorless vegetables, you get perfectly cooked vegetables infused with that great corned beef broth flavor.

Tonight’s featured recipe uses a bit of dill pickle juice in place of some of the water and a touch of spicy brown mustard. But I saw recipes that used chicken broth, sherry or beer in place of some of the water. I think you should experiment and use what sounds good to you. I really  like dill pickle juice. And I have become a big fan of Napa cabbage with my corned beef.

A lot of recipes call for 3-4 lbs of corned beef. When I was shopping, 4 lbs was the smallest piece I could find, most were 5-6 lbs. You may have to cut a piece in half, but since both the pressure cooker and slow-cooker recipes are easy, you don’t need to save corned beef and cabbage for a special occasion. Just freeze the other half for another day.

And the best part of a corned beef and cabbage dinner? Making Reuben’s with the leftovers. My mom makes the best ones, but I one up her by grilling mine Panini-style. Yum.

Are you a corned beef and cabbage household? Reuben fans? What other recipes do you have for the leftovers? Any good hash recipes? Doing anything special to celebrate your Irish (adopted or otherwise) heritage this weekend?

Now for the recipes:

JeffreyW tackles corned beef  leftovers – see his gallery of Corned Beef Sandwiches here. (lots of yummy pictures at those links)

My family weighs in on their favorite ways to fix corned beef, including grilling. (click here)

And, in case you missed it, my vacation plans now include cooking lessons in exchange for a nice place to stay: Have Frying Pan, Will Travel.

Now tonight’s featured recipes:

Pressure Cooker Corned Beef Dinner:

  • 3 to 4 lbs corned beef, trim the fat to about 1/4 inch
  • Water
  • Spices included with corned beef or the following: 1 tbsp black peppercorns, 1 tbsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp fennel seeds,
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed – opt
  • 1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 – 6  medium to large potatoes, cut into four to eight pieces, peeling optional
  • 4-6 carrots, sliced in half and cut into 2” lengths
  • Cabbage, cut into 4 to 6 pieces

pressure cooker and cooking rack

Remove the corned beef from the brine (discarding the brine), rinse thoroughly and place in the bottom of the pressure cooker, fatty side up. [You don’t really want to brown this beef, because it’s been brined.] Sprinkle spices over the top of the beef. Add enough liquid (water or water and a combination of ONE of the following: pickle juice, chicken broth, beer or wine) to come to the top of beef, about 3-4 cups usually.  Cover and bring to pressure and let cook for 1 hour. I use the cold water method to depressurize (that is when you run cold water over the pan in the sink, otherwise you can remove it from the heat and let slowly depressurize).

The key to getting the perfect corned beef and vegetables with the pressure cooker is to cook them separately. Prep the vegetables during the last 15 or so minutes of beef cooking time. Once the beef is done, put it on a cutting board, cover loosely in foil and put a towel over the whole deal.

Remove all but enough liquid to come to the bottom of the cooking rack when placed in the pressure cooker. Place potatoes first on the tray, then carrots and then cabbage, cover and bring to pressure. Cook for about 12 minutes. The vegetables will be fork tender, not mushy and the beef will be fully rested. Slice, plate and serve.

For the slow-cooker:

Place rinsed beef in the bottom of the slow-cooker, sprinkle spices, add liquid to come to the top of the beef,  and cover. Cook on low for 4 hours. At the 4 hour mark, add potatoes and then carrots. Cook additional 4 hours, adding the cabbage during the last 30 minutes. With the exception of adding the vegetables, try to resist the temptation to open the lid. You need it to stay covered to properly cook. Let the meat rest, covered with foil for about 15 minutes before carving.

There you go, some easy ways to put together a nice corned beef dinner.

Interestingly last year there seemed to be a green cabbage shortage. I went to three different grocery stores and they were completely sold out. I didn’t want to use red cabbage because I don’t really like it. I decided to use Napa cabbage and really liked it, much more than green cabbage, it’s sweeter and has a more delicate flavor and now it is my cabbage of choice.

Enjoy your weekend and watch out for leprechauns… – TaMara

UPDATED: Dinner Menu: Cajun Catfish and Buttered Potato Pie

Buttered Potatoes2

UPDATED: Added a photo and oh, my, what did I ever do without a mandolin all these years? Took me about 10 minutes to make this recipe from start to finish. Lots of butter and I added crushed roasted garlic and brushed a little olive oil on the top layer. I had forgotten how good these ‘taters are, and with the ease of prep, I’ll make them more often.

Trying out my new mandolin and these pan-fried potatoes were first on my list.  And catfish is always a favorite. I just picked up a new jar of Lucille’s Cajun Spice, so the menu became pretty easy after that. You can substitute any fresh fruit, but I thought pears because I received the Harry and David gift basket. Yum. No citrus drop cookies though, so I guess I’ll have to make more of my own.

And if you really think I’m making broccoli tonight, you haven’t been reading this blog very long. But you should, because, you know, it’s good for you. ;-)

I’ll update with photos of the potatoes if I get the chance.

On the board tonight:

  1. Pan-fried Catfish
  2. Broccoli
  3. Buttered Potato Pie
  4. Sliced Pears

Pan-fried Catfish*

  • 4 catfish fillets – approx. 6 oz each
  • olive oil
  • 1 tsp to 1 tbsp Cajun spice (according to your taste preferences)

large skillet

Brush catfish with oil and season with Cajun spice.  Lightly oil pan, using high heat fry 3-4 minutes on each side.

*if you don’t think you’ll like catfish, you can substitute salmon, whitefish, trout, or even boneless chicken breasts (requires longer cooking time).

If you can’t find commercial Cajun spice mixture, you can mix together equal parts of the following  and store in an airtight container:  paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, lemon zest, black pepper, red pepper, allspice, thyme, ground cloves, mace, cayenne, and crushed bay leaf.

Buttered Potato Pie

  • 4-6 medium potatoes
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • ½ onion, sliced in thin ring
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp minced parsley

large skillet

Peel & slice potatoes thinly.  Heat 2 tbsp of butter in skillet.  Arrange onions on the bottom of the skillet, then layer potatoes slices overlapping in a ring on the bottom of the pan.  As you make each layer, drizzle remaining butter over the top and season with salt & pepper.  Invert heat-proof plate, or I use a metal pie pan, over the potatoes, weight down with heavy heat-proof object (like a can of water).  Sauté over medium heat until potatoes are molded and golden brown.  Remove the plate. Transfer the potatoes to the 400 degree oven and cook until caramelized and cooked through, about 30 minutes, pressing the potatoes occasionally to compress and shaking the pan to keep the potatoes from sticking to the bottom. Cut into four wedges and serve with parsley garnish.

Shopping List

  • 4 Pears (or one large can sliced pears)
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 4 catfish fillets
  • 4-6 medium potatoes
  • ½ onion
  • Parsley
  • 1 stick butter

Also: olive oil, Cajun spice, salt, pepper

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