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.

Herb Potatoes

Try this easy way to make a small serving of red potatoes which are full of flavor and quite tasty.  No one will have to be committed to eating a large potato, and they look very nice side by side in a chafing dish for serving with a buffet.

I used small red potatoes, but any small size fingerling potato would work as well for this recipe.  The key to the recipe is slicing the potatoes in half and roasting for 30-35 minutes cut side down.

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I set my oven to 425 degrees and just sprinkled the potatoes with a dash of sea salt.  After roasting, I mixed 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese with 2 tablespoons softened margarine and a mixture of oregano, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper.  Any green herb mixture will do to liven up the potatoes.

Finish the dish by broiling for one minute.

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Baking Spring vegetables

 

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Roasting vegetables can move beyond winter side dish favorites.  By choosing spring vegetables, this dish can transform a meal presentation with color and style.  The secret is finding a spring mix of colorful carrots.  At Trader Joe’s, I was able to find a bag of “organic carrots of many colors”. Along with the other vegetables, the carrots alone transformed the color of the dish.

 

Choose a variety of vegetables which are cut about the same size for even roasting.  I roasted for 30-35 minutes in a 375 degree oven.  If you have a hotter oven, these vegetables will also roast well but decrease the time based on how many of each vegetable is chosen.

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Here is how I baked my mix of vegetables:  Cut in half 6 small red potatoes, use 4 colorful carrots sliced on an angle, one cleaned and sliced leek, one sliced shallot, and 1/2 cup of frozen or fresh peas.  Mix all of the vegetables except the peas in a large roasting pan.  In a bowl, mix 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, one cup of vegetable broth, 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, and ground pepper to taste.  Mix well.  Pour over the vegetables in the pan and sprinkle with dried basil.  Bake and stir half way during the cooking process.  Add the peas to the mixture at that time.  Serve with meat, chicken or fish.

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Jamie Deen’s meat and potatoes

Here is a classic recipe for those men in your lives that are looking for a meat and potatoes dinner.  It is easy and quick and comes together with prep and baking time combined at 60 minutes.

It is easy to adjust the ingredients depending on how many men and how hungry you expect them to be at dinner time.

The recipe comes from Jamie’s Good Food cookbook, which has been a great success for me.  Every one of his recipes seems to work perfectly.  I used a smaller amount of ingredients as I don’t have many men to feed.  Here is how I made the baking pouches.  I used Martha Stewart’s foil and parchment wrap, which is amazing. I blogged about the product on May 6, 2012 on this blog. I purchased it on amazon.com, and am still using my box.  It seems to last forever.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl, mix 3/4 pounds ground beef, with 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, one egg, and 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add minced garlic if desired. Combine well and form into two patties. As an option, could also add 1/8 cup of chili sauce or ketchup.

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Prepare the foil and parchment wraps.  Foil on the outside and parchment on the inside, or use Martha’s wrap. Place into a baking sheet pan.  Into another bowl add 1 tablespoon olive oil to 1/4 bag of small-sized carrots, 1 sliced white onion, and 2 Yukon baking potatoes which have been sliced lengthwise.  Mix well and season to taste with herbs or salt and pepper.

Place the vegetable mixture first into the pouch wraps and then top with the meat patty. Seal the pouches and roast for 40 minutes or until the meat is cooked through and the vegetables are fork tender.

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Open and serve.  Simply delicious for a meat and potatoes meal.  This is a once in three-month meal for us, as we limit our red meat intake.

Perfect for a cold winter night.

 

 

Smashed potatoes with chives and Parmesan cheese

Just before the holidays I tend to experiment with new recipes.  I certainly don’t want to try a new dish on guests.  So, I usually make a list of ideas and menus to prepare within six weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.  This year, I concentrated on several side dishes from Ina Garten’s cookbooks.

All of the recipes were delicious, and I would make them again. I just opted for different choices for this year’s holiday menus.

These smashed potatoes are from Ina’s “Make it Ahead” cookbook that was published this year.  For this recipe, the potatoes are first boiled, then smashed, and then roasted in the oven.  The potato texture is what makes this side dish so tasty.  There is a strong contrast from the soft potato taste with a crispy outer layer.  Superb!

To make the potatoes:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place desired number of small Yukon Gold potatoes in a pot.  Cover with cold water and boil for about 20 minutes. Drain and place the potatoes on a sheet pan. They will not be fully cooked.

Mash with a potato masher to about 1/2 the size of the starting potato.  Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.

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Roast for 30 minutes in the oven until nicely browned.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and roast for another 3 minutes to melt the cheese.

Garnish with chives and parsley to serve.  Serve hot from the oven.

On the evening that I prepared these potatoes, we also enjoyed roasted kale.

 

cherry street market –a wonderful fall experience

Last Friday, we took a relaxing Fall drive Up North to Traverse City Michigan.  I certainly do love Northern Michigan and will never give up an opportunity to experience wonderful food, shopping, and of course the Lake.  The weather was lovely and the air was filled with the crisp cooler weather that has rolled into our state.  I enjoyed every minute of the day, especially my stop at the Cherry Street Market in Kalkaska. ( http://www.cherrystreetmarket.com/)

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The vegetables and fruits were overflowing the shelves into bushels and pecks for sale.  The apples, squash, concord grapes and pie pumpkins were beautiful.  I love everything about a farm market.  I love that it is outdoors. I also love that the produce looks and tastes better than anything available at any local grocery store.  The romaine lettuce is deep green.  The corn is super sweet.  The apples are crisp and perfect without any blemishes. I love that I don’t have to “pick through” the pile, because every specimen of fruit or vegetable is picture perfect.  The freshness factor is overflowing.

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I purchased two large bags brimming with fruits and vegetables for $17.  This amazes me, as produce is so expensive at the grocery store. The abundance is breathtaking and the atmosphere is charming.  I love the harvest season and everything about farm produce.  I encourage everyone to have a small garden.  For those items that cannot be grown at your home due to hours of sun available in your yard, or even just space, I encourage supporting local growers in your area.  I have never been disappointed with the quality or the selection at the end of a growing season.

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twice baked potato casserole

The chill is in the air.  Potato season is back.  Some of the best comfort foods feature potatoes, and this recipe should be classified as an all-time comfort food recipe.  It comes from Gooseberry Patch, which is a collection of recipes from home cooks around the country featured into categorized recipe books.

Twice baked potatoes are often served as individual portions, but this recipe suggests removing the potatoes, adding the usual ingredients, and then simply baking into a casserole for serving. The recipe was very easy.  I did not use bacon, which is a typical stuffed potato ingredient, but it can easily be added to the recipe.  In fact, I am sure it would make the recipe even more tasty.  I would use pre-cooked bacon crumbles found in the salad dressing aisle at the market.

To make this recipe:

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Choose 4-5 Idaho baking potatoes, wash and poke with a fork.  Bake for 60-90 minutes at 400 degrees, based on their size until done.  Slice the potatoes in half, remove the pulp into a bowl and mix with the following ingredients:  salt, pepper, 1/4 cup margarine, 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup sour cream, and 6 chopped green onions. Add other ingredients to personalize for your family–green or black olives, white cheddar cheese, bacon, chives, other herbs from the garden, and even browned mushrooms.

Using a hand-held mixer, cream into mashed potatoes.  Prepare a ceramic baking dish with Pam cooking spray.  Spoon the mixture into the dish.  Top with 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese and extra green onions or chives.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes until brown on top.    This recipe will serve 6-8 along with a dinner entrée.

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