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.

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

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.