You Had Me at Potatoes

Valentine’s Day is the one-time Jeremiah and I stay in. We hate the crowds and waiting past your reservation time for a table. We eat out enough so we don’t feel like we need to mess with it on Valentine’s Day. Instead, it’s the one night we prepare an all-out meal and sit down at the dinner table to eat it.

This year, the plan was for spaghetti. In fact, I’ve turned Jeremiah into someone who prefers to eat my Great Grandma Reith’s spaghetti sauce over anything you can get from a jar or at a restaurant. That was the plan.

On our way home, we stopped at Sprouts to grab some bread. Unfortunately, finding bakery bread has turned into a nightmare because everything in that area seems to have barley. Since I’m allergic, it’s getting way harder to make garlic bread ourselves.

While in the store, Jeremiah spotted some lobster tails on sale for $4.90 each. That’s crazy ridiculously cheap! We know from our trip to Maine why they are so expensive. A change of dinner plans occurred. “Why don’t we have lobster tails?” said Jeremiah. I said, “We’ve never made them. Do you know how to cook them?” Jeremiah used his phone to research a recipe. It looked simple and quick enough. Then, the next question was what we would eat with them? That’s when I throughout this recipe from our wedding cookbook for cheesy potatoes. Needless to say, what should have taken less than 20 minutes to make for dinner, turned into a late-night Valentine’s Day dinner. We even grabbed something in the McDonald’s drive-thru, which we never eat, to hold us over.

Jeremiah goes way back with the Fox boys (brothers – Kelly and Travis). Kelly and Travis grew up with the Slater clan. From what I understand, I think their dads met through work and became good friends. I also learned that Jeremiah’s mom used to babysit the boys when she did home daycare. The Fox’s grandma told me at our wedding that she considers Jeremiah almost be like a grandson because he spent so much time with her when they were kids.

According to Erin, these potatoes are the reason her husband Kelly married her. Jeremiah says Kelly was smitten on her from the moment he met Erin.

This recipe is similar to my mom’s cheesy potatoes. I like Erin’s recipe through because it feels a little less rich and just the right amount of cheesy to make this side dish a little more often. My biggest pet peeve is when someone says they made cheesy potatoes and you can barely taste the cheese. Not the case with this cheesy potato dish at all.

And on a side note, we probably ate a lobster dinner complete with cheesy potatoes, garlic bread, and monster cookie cheesecake for less than $8 a serving. If you add in a glass of local vineyard wine, it probably came out to $12 a serving. In fact, that’s cheaper than we spent on a fast-casual dinner at Chipotle of nights ago. And it’s definitely cheaper than if we had gone to one of our favorite steakhouses.

fullsizerender-12Cheesy Potatoes by Erin & Kelly Fox
1 stick of butter
1 can of cream of chicken soup
8 oz. sour cream
2 c. cheddar cheese
1 – 1lb. package of shredded hash browns
Garlic salt and black pepper to taste

Melt butter. Add cream of chicken and sour cream. Add garlic salt and pepper. In an extra-large bowl, pour mixture over hash browns. Add cheese and combine. Pour into sprayed 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake for 45 – 60 minutes at 400 degrees.

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Purple Potatoes

The first time I ever saw purple potatoes was in Harvesters warehouse. They were a project for the volunteers to sort and repackage. I think we sent them out on a mobile food pantry. I wondered, “How do you cook them?” and “What do they taste like?” I’m sure the Nutrition Department didn’t have a recipe for them.

My boyfriend Jeremiah is trying to watch his carb intake. Jeremiah discovered that purple potatoes are a good option for someone trying to watch their carbs. They have half the carbs of regular potatoes (37 carbs vs. 17 carbs). He says, purple potatoes have less starch, potassium, and are high in antioxidants. You can’t cook them like regular potatoes though. He found this recipe online and we made it for dinner last night. To my surprise, they were really good. In fact, I think I like them better than regular au gratin potatoes.

Purple potatoesStacey’s Famous Purple Potato Gratin from AllRecipes.com
4 slices of bacon, chopped
1 leek, sliced
8 purple potatoes, thinly sliced
3 T. flour
½ c. milk
6 oz. crumbles goat cheese
¾ c. grated parmesan cheese

Cook the bacon in a pan. Spray a 2 ½ qt. baking dish with non-stick spray. Coat the potatoes in flour. Layer the baking dish with potatoes, leek, bacon, and goat cheese. Pour milk over ingredients. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese before serving. Makes four servings.

Notes:

  • We substituted shallots for leeks in this recipe.
  • We used skim milk and it was just fine. Please note though that you must spray the pan as this dish does not have a lot of fat.
  • Before adding the milk, Jeremiah also added 2 T. of butter cubed onto of the potatoes.
  • The original recipe calls for the leeks to be sautéed with the bacon. It also suggests mixing the cheese and milk together. Then, melting it together before pouring over the potatoes.

 

Baked Garlic Cilantro Fries

I’ve figured out, I really can’t eat plain fries anymore. I recently took my nephew to BRGR and said “we should order the truffle fries”. As a 16 year old, I think he was a little scared because he asked if we could order regular fries. Although we intended to share, we both gravitated toward our personal picks. This is for my friends with adult palates.

Cilantro FriesBaked Garlic Cilantro Fries on Pinterest
2-3 potatoes
1 T. olive oil
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. sea salt
pepper
1/8 c. cilantro

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line cookie sheet with foil and place a wire cookie rack onto it. Cut potatoes and soak in cold water for a few minutes. Dry. Toss in olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Once fries are done, toss in cilantro.

Notes:

  • If you don’t use a wire rack, flip fries half way through baking.
  • Shortcut recipe, use coating on pre-made frozen fries. I baked 20 minutes and it was probably a little too long.

Crack Potatoes

Thanks to Dan Quayle, does anyone else have a fear of misspelling potato/potatoes every time they write it? Maybe it’s just me since I was in elementary school when that infamous news story broke. I also spent way more time watching news at as a kid than most children. I remember how exciting it was to go to journalism school and find a bunch of other media geeks.

This is another one of my Pinterest recipe finds. Although these potatoes are quite tasty, I don’t know that they are as addictive as the author named them. I think my mother’s recipe for cheesy hashbrown potatoes are better. But it was nice to try something a little different.

Crack PotatoesCrack Potatoes
2 (16 oz.) containers of sour cream 
2 c. cheddar cheese
2 (3 oz. bags) of bacon bits
2 packages of powder ranch dressing mix
1 large (30 oz.) bag of hash browns, shredded

Combine the first four ingredients. Add hash browns. Pour into a 13 x 9 pan and bake for 45-60 minutes at 400 degrees.

Notes:

  • I used one light and one fat free sour cream containers.
  • I used half 2% cheddar cheese and half fat free cheese.
  • I bake three slices of low sodium bacon for this recipe. That’s less than the recipe calls for.
  • I halved the recipe and baked it in my bubble and brown casserole dish. It still took 60 minutes to cook.

Top 10

I was thinking about a recipe the other day that was one of my best. I thought I would share with all of you – the best of the best. Below are my top 10 in no particular order.

spaghetti1. Grandma Reith’s Spaghetti Sauce – I lied, this is probably my favorite recipe.
2. Mom’s Cheesy Hash Brown Potatoes – This is the best cheesy potato recipe and I’ve sampled quiet a few.
3. Concord Lutheran Church Cookbook Meatballs – These go great with the potato recipe.
4. Chicken Penne Pasta with Salsa Con Queso – This recipe has a nice little kick.
5. Chocolate Crinkles – My mother made these when I was a kid but I love my recipe even more. These are probably my signature item.
6. Grilled Shrimp & Basil Orzo Pasta – Fresh basil and feta cheese nicely accent this dish.
7. Canyon Chicken – Chicken, ranch, cheese, and bacon. You can’t go wrong this recipe.
8. Lasagna Twist Around – Reminds me of my Grandma Reith Spaghetti Sauce.
9. Aunt Linda’s Slushies – I’ve made and drank a number of drinks over the years. This is my absolute favorite.
10. Cheesy Potato Soup – It’s as close as you can get to the O’Charley’s soup. I miss that restaurant so much.

French Fries for Adult Tastebuds

I think I once heard that President Obama’s food weaknesses is for French fries. I don’t think he is alone. Although I really don’t enjoy fries at most places, I do on occasion crave McDonald’s French Fries. I get really frustrated though when my craving is disappointed by cold and/or over cooked fries. I don’t understand how this happens since a machine does the process and they are always busy.

I ran across this recipe designed to satisfy the taste buds of a more refined pallet in current issue of Simple and Delicious. It reminded me of those wonderful rosemary fries they serve at Smashburger so I thought I would give it a try. Enjoy!

Seasoned Fries by Maribeth Edwards
6 c. frozen shoestring potatoes
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt

Place fries on a foil lined cookie sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 8 minutes. Sprinkle with seasoning and cook 3-4 minutes longer.

Notes:If you aren’t making fries for six people, just put leftover seasoning in a Ziploc and refrigerate until the next time you bake them.

From Scratch

When I was a kid, my dad had a very limited list of things he could cook. Potato Buds were one of those items. For that reason, I’ve never really felt the need to cook mashed potatoes from scratch.

While looking for a potato recipe to use up some spuds starting to spout, I ran across this recipe from Kraft Food and Family 2009. It seemed like the perfect dish because I had just made a few other recipes with the ingredients needed. I hope you enjoy this lower fat version of mashed potatoes.

Tracy’s Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes
4 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes (about 10 potatoes pealed and cubed)
1 c. light sour cream
1/2 c. (4 oz.) cream cheese 1/3 less fat version
2 tsp. onion powder
1 slice cooked bacon, crumbled
2 green onions

Cook potatoes in a pot of boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain water. Place potatoes back in pot and use a mixer on low until creamy. Add sour cream, cream cheese, and onion powder. Blend until mixed and smooth. Pour into 2 quart baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Top with bacon and scallions and return to over for another 15 minutes.

Nutritional Facts(make 16 servings –  1/2 c. each): 120 calories, 3 g. fat (2 g. saturated fat), 10 mg. cholesterol, 60 mg. sodium, 20 g. carbs, 2 g. fiber, 3 g. protein, 6% vitamin A, 15% vitamin C, 4% calcium, 0% iron.

Notes:

  • I made this with reduced sodium bacon.
  • I didn’t have scalions so I added fat free cheese. For future reference, I think it does need the green onions to add flavor.
  • I halved the recipe and baked for 30 minutes, added cheese and bacon before cooking an additional 12 minutes.
  • According the author of original recipe, you can make this ahead (without onions and bacon) and refridgerate for up to 2 days. Just let it sit out about 30 minutes before you make. You can also freeze it for up to one month before baking.

Beefy Cheese Soup

My mother hated potato soup as a child. It is my understanding that she was forced to sit at the dinner table until bedtime on the nights my grandma made it for dinner because she refused to eat it. One of the reasons my mother said she didn’t like it was because she hated warm milk. That said, she will drink hot chocolate made with dried milk.

This potato soup recipe has meat and cheese. You can’t go wrong with that. I’m pretty sure I got this recipe from Misty’s Facebook Recipe group a couple of years ago. I hope you enjoy this hearty soup as much as I do.

Beefy Cheese Soup
1/2 lb. ground beef
3/4 c. chopped onion
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried parsley
3 T. butter
3 c. chicken broth
4 c. cubed potatoes
1/4 c. flour
2 c. cubed cheddar cheese
1 1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. sour cream

In a large pot, cook beef and onion until over a medium heat. Stir in basil and parsley. Add potatoes and broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10-12 minutes. Melt butter and flour into soup. Add milk stirring until smooth. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Stir in cheese. When cheese is melted, add sour cream and heat through. Do not boil.

Notes: To make it a little healthier, I used low fat sour cream, 2 percent cheese, low sodium broth, and skim milk.