Category Archives: Uncategorized

Baked and Smashed Potatoes

This has become our favorite (read, least guilty) way to have a potato. Simple as can be and they give you that terrific crunch that you miss when you try not to eat fried foods.

potato_1

I start with Yukon Gold potatoes. They smash up nicely and have a buttery taste already grown into them so you don’t need to add extra fat.
You can start by baking them, or, to speed things up, I cook them in the microwave until they are fork-tender.
Slice them horizontally, eith just in half, or if you want more crispy, crunchy surface area, in slices about 1/2 inch thick. Please them on a non-stick or misted-with-olive-oil baking sheet.
Press a fork into each in a couple different directions, like you do with peanut butter cookies, or cross hatching a drawing. The goal is to get a bumpy, highly textured surface area.
Spray with olive oil (if you don’t have an olive oil mister, just spend the 10 bucks. it’s worth it), and sprinkle with sea salt. Depending on the rest of the meal, I will also add a pinch of herbs like thyme, oregano, sage, parsley or some cayenne pepper and a dash of cumin. Basically, whatever you’re using to season the rest of your meal, pop a little on the potatoes.
Bake at 425 degrees until they get nicely browned. If you are lucky enough to have a convection oven (thank you, sweetheart!), this is the perfect time to use that feature.

Close your eyes and you’ll never know you’re not eating fully-fatted french fries. Enjoy.

Holiday Dinner at Home

For many years, I hosted large family gatherings for most holidays throughout the year. With my own  family of 5, my parents, my 6 sisters and their spouses, then the growing horde of children that now numbers 23 or more, and often, my in-laws, it was quite a production. No more. It was just too much. The parties were fun, sure, but just so much work that I really didn’t have time to spend with people.

When I got divorced, I took Christmas Eve with my kids and their father got Christmas day. Though they are grown and have homes of their own, we still get together on Christmas Eve for our much smaller family celebrations. Just my sweetheart, my three children, their SO’s and until this year, one sweet little grandson, Aiden. This year he will be joined by his new baby sister, Arya.
We have a meal and a signature cocktail each year and share gifts and laughs and love. This year I will be particularly grateful to have my family around me. Not just because little Arya, but also my son, who sustained a terrible head injury last Spring and has made a nearly complete recovery. We are blessed.

kids crop

Anyway, on to the food. I’ve been quite inspired by my trip to Italy in October and decided to have an Italian theme for dinner this year. Not the traditional fish-and-seafood Italian Christmas Eve; just what I felt like making. So  here’s the plan.

This year’s cocktail: Hot Buttered Rum

And for dinner:
Lasagna
Homemade Papardelle
Bolognese and Alfredo Sauces
Sauteed Escarole
Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Chestnuts and Pancetta
Freshly Baked Bread

Much of this can be done ahead, so the Bolognese is on the stove (recipe to follow), the lasagna will be assembled tonight and the veggies put together in the morning. Bread goes in the oven in the afternoon while I make the pasta dough and the Alfredo will be the only last minute item. I plan on delegating that task to one daughter or the other. Sounds like a plan, hmmm?

And my sweetheart says I always overdo it. Pah! It’s Christmas.

Off My Game

I’ve made three mediocre meals in a row. They weren’t toss-in-the-trash-and-order-Chinese bad, just, “meh”.
I’m not accustomed to “meh”.  I expect more of myself.

Maybe it just need to scrupulously follow recipes for a week or so. Or eat out. Even better.

Meh.

The Most Easy, Most Tasty Bread Ever

bread

I can’t tell you any more than these folks can:

http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/

Just know, it really is that easy.

Best bread you will ever make. No kneading, no shaping, no fuss at all.Try it.

Bacon Jam, condiment of the gods

Bacon what, you say? Yeah, bacon jam. You’ve never had anything like it.

Visit http://www.notquitenigella.com/2009/10/08/bacon-jam-your-wildest-dreams-come-true/ for this fabulous recipe.

this is her photo

I followed the recipe faithfully, adding about a tablespoon of Tabasco to my taste. When it came to the “cook for 2 1/2 hours” part, I plopped the mixture into the crock pot so I didn’t have to tend to it so much.

So far we’ve had bacon jam on toast and Triscuits, in a tuna sandwich, with avocado, mixed into scrambled eggs, as a topper on meatloaf, dolloped on a burger and a baked potato, and if the whole truth be told, right off a spoon when no one is looking.