Rustic potatoes

In an effort to reduce carbohydrates at holiday meals, I look for alternative ways to serve potatoes.  Everyone seems to love a potato as a comfort food, and my family is no different. In the past five years, I have made an effort to try different types and sizes of potatoes to see if they would be disappointed not having the traditional large slices of potato casseroles or baked potatoes.  To my liking, everyone seems to enjoy these smaller roasted potatoes.  I season them differently, but always roast my potatoes in the oven. Personally, I love them.

Here is how I made my potatoes for Easter this year.  The secret is to find very small potatoes.  I used Baby Boomers from the Little Potato Company.  And, they were delicious.

Prepare a small baking sheet with spray Olive Oil and season the potatoes with Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, parsley flakes, and Italian herb seasoning to taste. I also give the potatoes a spray of the Olive oil as well.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Roast them for 30 minutes and check half way through to make certain they are evenly roasting.  Delicious and easy !!

In this photo, you can see the size of the potatoes compared to the carrots also prepared at this holiday meal.

Easter green beans

Many of you are not fans of green beans, but I found a recipe that even a green bean hater enjoyed.  I was inspired by the blog Once Upon a Chef and adapted her recipe a bit for my own family this past week. Of course this technique could be tried any time of year, but it is certainly one to remember for those holiday meals.

What I like about the technique is that it starts with French green beans.  That is a special type of very thin green bean, which I am able to find at only some markets. Packaging may say Haricots Verts or Petit green beans.  If you try this recipe with frozen green beans or thick green beans, don’t expect the same result or even worse, your green bean haters will emerge again at the table.

To make the recipe, gather olive oil, red onion, 1-1 1/2 cups water, about 8 ounces of thin green beans, salt and pepper to taste.

Using a saute pan, heat the olive oil and saute the thinly sliced red onions until soft and lightly browned. While they are cooking, clean the ends of the beans and place into the pan when the onions are ready.  Salt and pepper to taste, and continue to stir them until they begin to slightly cook as well.  I probably sautéed them for 3-4 minutes.

Next, add 1/2 cup of the water and continue to cook on medium heat, never leaving the green beans.  This is a dish that needs constant attention.  The object is to continue to cook until the water is gone. Then add more water and continue until all of the water has been cooked through the green beans with no water left when the beans are done.

This technique will take about 8-10 minutes total time.  Test the beans to make sure they are done cooking.  Check to see if they are easily pierced with a fork, and look cooked through, hot, but not limp and watery at all.

Transfer to a serving dish and be amazed at the flavor and seasoning.

Baked Easter carrots

These carrots are perfect any time of year, though I recently prepared them for Easter. I happened to find red carrots at the market, and they seemed to add an extra sweetness to the dish.  I would recommend them highly.

Here is how I prepared the carrots. I used two bunches of red carrots and trimmed the greens down to fit on a baking sheet, after peeling them. I prepared the sheet pan with spray Pam with olive oil and seasoned the carrots to taste with sea salt and black pepper.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a sauce pot on the stove, I added 2 tablespoons margarine, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tablespoon honey, 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, and 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar. Bring up to temperature to melt the margarine and incorporate the ingredients.  Pour over the carrots on the sheet pan.

Bake for 30 minutes until tender.  I checked them and rotated them after 20 minutes.  If the carrots are very thick, they could be sliced again to help with the roasting time.

These were very tasty served with our Easter ham.

Zucchini and Corn casserole

Are you searching for a new side dish that incorporates vegetables in a different way?  I think I found one from the Six Sisters.  If you are not familiar with them, there are just that, six sisters with busy lives and families.  Some of their recipes are just fantastic.  This one I happened to find in magazine published last Fall 2016. (Six Sisters Stuff)  As usual, I adapt the recipe for our taste, but followed the same preparation technique, and the casserole was very tasty.

Here is how I prepared this side dish.  Gather olive oil, 1/3 red onion, garlic in a tube, 2 medium to large zucchini, cubed, one bag frozen corn, 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella,  1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, and salt plus black pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  On the cooktop, saute oil, onion, garlic to taste, and cook until the onions become tender.  Add in the zucchini and continue to cook for 8-10 minutes until the vegetables are browning.  Add corn, cheese, salt and pepper.

Place into a ceramic casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Serve while hot.

Any leftovers can be stored very easily with a new product I found at the home and housewares show.

Lidlover lids can be used with ceramic, stainless, glass, bamboo, plastic or even with plates.  They can be used to cover dishes in the oven up to 400 degrees.  They are BPA free and made of high quality food grade silicone. More about the product can be found on their website at http://www.LidLover.com

Watch for these products coming this year to stores.  Additionally, they will be featured on QVC this May. I have been using them for the past few weeks and they are an amazing new product.

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Fancy potatoes

With many entertaining occasions coming up, it is always fun to incorporate new techniques in serving everyday foods.  In this instance, an everyday baked potato becomes something much more visually attractive.  And, as a benefit, the cooking time is greatly reduced.  Thanks to the Companion Group from California, an easy tool makes a more difficult task quite simple.  I have made Hasselback or Hedgehog potato in the past, but a new tool makes the precise cutting technique much easier, resulting in a more attractive outcome for the potatoes.

The slicing rack has a wooden base which cradles the potato and allows for a secure nest for slicing through the equally spaced stainless steel guides.  The rack prevents the accidental slicing through the entire potato.  Potatoes can be traditionally baked in the oven or wrapped and baked on the grill.

I baked my large Idaho baking potato at 400 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes.  Potatoes can be spread with butter, margarine, olive oil and salted before baking, or left plain. Typically a large potato would take 1 to 1 1/2 hours to bake thoroughly, so this is a great time saver.  The crispy skin with the creamy potato center is just delicious.

Potatoes can be served with a choice of toppings.  This amazing new tool can be found online at The Companion Group website or at amazon.com

Mushroom casserole

Spring is coming to Michigan.  At least I am hopeful.  Soon all types of mushrooms will be available at the market.  So this is a perfect time to share my recipe for a mushroom casserole.  If you are searching for a great side dish or something for a meatless Monday, I recommend this casserole.  Any kind of mushroom would work and I have made this dish with a variety of types of mushrooms as well.  This is a great recipe that can be doubled as well to make a larger casserole for guests.

Recently, I used these ingredients: 1/2 package of egg noodles, 1/2 box white mushrooms plus 1 jar of sliced mushrooms, 3 Tablespoons margarine, salt and pepper to taste, and one 8 ounce block Swiss cheese, grated.

To make the casserole:

Cook the noodles according to the package and drain.  Saute mushrooms in the margarine in an open skillet.  Prepare a ceramic baking dish with a Pam spray.  Divide one-third of the noodles into the dish and season them to taste with salt and pepper.  Add 1/2 of the Swiss cheese and one-third of the mushrooms.  Repeat the layers and bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Serve alongside chicken, fish or by itself with a side salad. Quite tasty.

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Twice Baked Potatoes

Instead of the typical baked potato, or even hasselback potato, I decided to try a recipe for twice baked potatoes. I adapted the recipe to make it my own, and served this with a classic spiral ham with champagne glaze. It was very tasty and a big hit with my small family. This is a recipe that can be changed based on your own family’s tastes and preferences.  The recipe can also be increased based on the number of guests at your table.

Here is how I made this recipe–gather these ingredients:  3 baking potatoes, 1 cup shredded cheddar, 1/2 cup milk, 1/4 cup light sour cream, 4 chopped green onions, 1/4 cup soft margarine, 2 cooked and chopped bacon strips (optional)

Next, pierce the skins of the baking potatoes with a knife.  Bake at 425 degrees for 70 minutes.  Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise, and scoop out the pulp into a small bowl. Mash the potatoes and add salt and pepper to taste, 1/4 cup softened margarine and 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese.  Mix well and then add milk and beat until fluffy.  Stir in the sour cream and add 1/2 of the green onions.  Spoon the mixture into a ceramic pie plate that has been prepared with baking spray.  Sprinkle the last of the cheddar cheese and onions on top of the dish.  Top with chopped cooked bacon if desired.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 25 minutes.