Monday, September 28, 2015

Fat...the good, the bad, and the misconceptions

We have all heard of butter, margarine, shortening, and oil. These are all fats of one kind or another. Some of these fats come from animals, like butter and lard. And others come from vegetables, like corn oil and canola oil. And still others come from fruit and nuts, avocado oil and grape seed oil. 

Some fats are called saturated. These are typically from animals and when eaten in abundance can raise cholesterol levels. Unsaturated fats typically come from plants and are better for lower cholesterol. There is a lot of chemistry involved in understanding how saturated and unsaturated fats affect the body. I'm not going to go into that here, but you can get more information at this site.  


For many years we were told that eating fat is bad. Many diets insisted that no fat be eaten. Such non-fat diets actually had it wrong. While it is true that eating too much saturated fat is harmful, our bodies, in fact, need fats. Here's why:
  • Fats in our diets are needed as a source of energy. This energy is vital to our life functions. The body stores extra calories for future use. 
  • Fatty acids are essential for growth development and cell function and must come from outside sources, more specifically from food.
  • Our nerves and brains rely on myelin, which is a fatty material that wraps around the nerve cells. Our brains contain essentials fats for proper functioning.
  • All of our body's cells need to contain some fats. That is an essential part of proper functioning.
  • Fat is needed for transporting vitamins A, D, E and K through our bloodstream to where they are needed.
Clearly, it is quite essential that we must have fat in our diets in order for our body to function effectively and efficiently.

Now that we know just a bit about the importance of fat as part of what we consume, let's talk about cooking with fat.

I do a lot of baking and when it's time to consider what fats I use in my pie crust or cookies or anything else, I make a effort to stay away from any over processed oils. These definitely include shortening and margarine. These are commonly understood to be trans fats. Wikipedia define trans fats as: Trans fats, or trans-unsaturated fatty acids, trans fatty acids, are a type of unsaturated fats that are uncommon in nature but became commonly produced industrially from vegetable fats for use in margarine, snack food, packaged baked goods and frying fast food starting in the 1950s.

In lay person terms trans fats are simply liquid vegetable fats that are processed to be solids. Hydrogen is added to the liquid oil. These oils are called hydrogenated. Here's a site that goes in-depth of what hydrogenated oils mean to consumers.

So, if I have a recipe say for cookies and the ingredients include butter and shortening, but I want to stay away from shortening, I have a decision to make. If I use all butter, which is possible, my cookie will have a crisper, harder feel to it. That's not a bad thing. I like crispy cookies. 

But in the case of today's recipe, I want a softer, chewier cookie with crispy edges. My recipe calls for butter and shortening. What to do? What to do?  Here's what's to do. I'll use coconut oil! Hurray!!!

The health benefits for using coconut oil are impressive.

  • It can help fight diabetes.
  • It helps stimulate your metabolism.
  • It helps platelets function for your heart.

Just as an aside, if you want to know more about other benefits of coconut oil, go to Pam's Clairalience Blog.  There's lots to learn there.

Today I am making Snickerdoodle Cookies. These are yummy cookies that are rolled in cinnamon sugar before baking. You needn't worry about the coconut oil. It won't make the cookies taste like coconut, even if you want it to. I, personally, don't care for coconut, but I love how these cookies turned out.  In fact, I'm eating one as I'm typing this :)

So let's get started:


What you need:
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

What you need to do:
Heat your oven to 350 degrees.  Mix 1 1/2 cup sugar, butter, coconut oil and eggs in large bowl.  Combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir flour mixture into egg mixture.  Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours or over night.  

Mix together the 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon.  Form dough into balls, about 1 1/2 inch. Roll balls in cinnamon-sugar mixture to coat.  Place on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.  

Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Cool on rack.

Learn all you can about oils and how they fit into your culinary experiences.  There's lots to know and enjoy.

Now, go out and make something good!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Going to Seed!

Let's talk about seeds.  There are literally dozens of seeds we eat all the time and we don't even think about them as seeds.  For example, when you eat peas you are actually eating the seeds of the plant.  They live and grow in the pod of the plant.  Did you know that string beans are really the pod that holds its seeds?  They have been developed so the pod is fleshy and are picked before the seeds are fully mature.  With other beans like, navy, black eyed peas (which are actually beans), pinto beans, etc., we do not eat the pods which are too hard.

But wait a minute; didn't I start by talking about seeds?  Yes, and let me clarify.  Beans are considered seeds.  They grow in a pod and that makes them a sub-type of seeds.  So, beans are seeds.  But not all seeds are beans.  For example, the seed of an apricot is its pit.  Sunflower seeds are housed in a hard pod, but are not beans.

The most important thing to know about seeds is that they hold the entire building block of the plant they come from.   The next most important thing to know is the nutritional value that seeds play in our life.

Here's a breakdown of how seeds can fit into your daily nutrition:

  • Chia seeds are high in iron, foliate, calcium, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids and soluble fiber. Now don't go and scrape your chia pet for the seeds. Purchase fresh seeds and blend them in your smoothie or sprinkle in salad.
  • Hemp seeds are a great complete protein and have lots of fiber. They are a good source of fatty acids that can reduce inflammation and support brain and cardiovascular health. Not to worry, though. While a part of the cannabis family, hemp seeds do not contain THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. You won't get high by chewing on these seeds.
  • Pumpkin seeds (Pepitas) are powerhouses of vitamin B, iron, magnesium, zinc and protein. The amino acid in pumpkin seeds is call tryptophan, which helps lower anxiety. And the fatty acids help keep blood vessels healthy. Add them to your trail mix or roast them as a healthy snack.
  • Sunflower seeds are a wonderful source of foliate which promotes a healthy immune system, not to mention being a great source of vitamin E. Toss a few in your next salad or grab a handful as a quick snack. 
  • Flax seeds are such a great source of fiber. They help in lowering cholesterol, make you feel fuller longer, and can help in stabilizing blood sugar levels. Flax seeds need to be grinded before eating them, otherwise the seeds will simple pass through your system. Add some ground flax seeds to yogurt, oatmeal or smoothies. Once ground, flax should be refrigerated in an air tight container.
  • Cardamom seeds help the body eliminate waste through kidneys, helps to sooth mouth ulcers and infection, not to mention bad breath (halitosis). It can combat nausea, heartburn, bloating, gas and constipation. Remember when using cardamom as a spice that a little goes a long way.
There is more to say about cardamom.  In fact, it is the seed of today's recipe.  So let's learn a bit more about this exotic spice.

Cardamom Seeds
Cardamom is a native to the Middle East, Africa and Scandinavia.  It grows in a pod that is not edible, but it is best to purchase your spice in their pod and grind them fresh because they loose much of their flavor rather quickly. 

Cardamom has a strong taste, and, as mentioned earlier, a little goes a long way.  This is good, because it is more expensive than other spices.  It has a unique, spicy taste with a hint of sweet.  It can be used in all kinds of recipes.  I've included a site for you to visit will more information.

Our recipes for today are for the hot drinks that get us in the mood for fall and cool nights and chilly breezes.

Recipe number 1 is hot chocolate:

What you need:
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoons Dutch cocoa
dash of salt
1 cup whole milk
dash of ground cardamom

What you need to do:
Add sugar, cocoa, and salt to your mug.  Heat milk in microwave or stove top just until hot. Do not boil.  Add milk to your mug and stir to combine completely.  Sprinkle a dash of cardamom on hot chocolate

Recipe number 2 is Cardamom Coffee:

What you need:
Fresh ground coffee
3-5 cardamom seeds (for a 12 cup coffee maker)
cream (optional)
sugar (optional

What you need to do:
Using your coffee grinder and grind the cardamom seeds.  Add ground cardamom to your ground coffee and brew as you normally do.  Pour yourself a cup of coffee and add cream and sugar, if using.

So drink a cup of coffee or cocoa and get comfortable with a book or your favorite classic movie and enjoy.

Now, go out and make something good.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

When A Dish Just Isn't Right...

Have you ever looked at a picture of a recipe and said…"OOOOH,  I have to make that," only for it to be the worst thing in the world to eat or it is just ok.  Your taste buds are already and excited for something that looks so good only for it to fall short. I did that the other day. Saw this hamburger potato bake and said…"well lets give this a try". Of course I had to make it my own since I am trying to watch what I eat and to lay off the red meat. I substituted a few things and even jazzed it up a bit.

So here is what I made and the recipe that still needs a ton of work.

Ingredients I used.
3 lbs of sliced potatoes par boiled.
1 1/2 lbs ground turkey
1 cup onions chopped.
1 cup mushrooms sliced
Garlic to taste
Seasoning salt
1/4 cup chopped basil
1/4 cup chopped chives
½ cup sour cream
1 cup milk
1 stick butter, melted
½ cup cream
2 eggs
4 cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded.

Here is what I did...
  • Par boil the potatoes.  Don’t over cook them.  They will cook more in the oven.
  • Saute the onions, mushrooms, garlic, basil, chives, seasoning salt, pepper and salt.
  • Brown the ground turkey.  Once browned add the onion and mushroom mixture.
  • In a bowl combine the milk, creamer, butter and eggs. Mix well.
  • In a 9 x 13 pan layer the ingredients.   Place half the potatoes on the pan, then 2 cups of cheese.  Next add all the ground turkey mixture. Next add the rest of the potatoes. Over the top of the potatoes pour the milk mixture. Add the remaining 2 cups of cheese to the top.
  • Back at 400 for 45-60 minutes. You want the cheese to start browning in the top.

Pretty easy recipe but here was the problem. The milk and eggs mixture did not work. First it was too boring and had no taste. If that wasn’t bad enough the eggs cooked and were like scrambled eggs and the milk and cream curdled because the oven was too hot and there was nothing to bind it so it wouldn’t do that.

The good things were the turkey was tasty and how can you mess up potatoes?  I would keep them as is. However you could add other spices if you like. Remember to always experiment from time to time with spices.  

So it is back to the drawing board with this one. I think it is worth a second attempt.  It looks tasty and I like all the ingredients in this dish. Though these are simple ingredients they can be the hardest to make the flavors pop like you want them to. My mistake was not going with my gut on this one. I knew that sauce was questionable. Remember, you know more than you think and when you think it is wrong it probably is.

Now go out and make something you love for yourself or for a loved one!

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Bell of Peppers, sweet bells

Have you ever notice just how beautiful sweet bell peppers are? They can be a deep green, a vibrant red, and bright orange, a velvety yellow and even pale white or eggplant purple. Likely the most common are green, red, orange and yellow. Most of the differences in the color of bell peppers depends on the degree of ripening. The green bell peppers are essentially unripe, being picked before any other color appears. If the peppers are allowed to ripen, they usually turn yellow/orange and then red. However, some growers have used cultivars that encourage peppers to be a certain color. Cultivars are a particular variety of plant selected for specific characteristics. But regardless of the color, they all come from one species of plant, namely, Capsicum annuum. 

So what's really the difference between the different colored bell peppers? To begin with, the taste is different. Green bells have a very distinct taste that is more bitter than the others. The reds are the sweetest. Another difference is the nutritional benefits. Greens have an abundance of chlorophyll. Yellows have more lutein and carotenoids. Orange peppers have more alpha, beta, and gamme-carotene. Reds have more lycopene, beta carotene and astaxanthin. But no matter which color you eat, nothing beats the bell pepper as a source of Vitamin C. Green peppers alone have twice the amount of Vitamen C by weight than citrus fruits. Red bells have three times as much as the green peppers. These bell shaped power houses also contain Vitamin A, and B complex. They are low in calories and contain minerals such as iron, copper, zinc, potassium, manganese, magnesium and selenium, not to mention fiber.

While bell peppers are really good for your nutrition, as a pepper causing any kind of heat they just can't measure up. The Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) measures the level of heat produce in peppers. Currently the hottest peppers are the Caroline Reapers with a SHU of 1,600,000 - 2,000,000. To put this in perspective, a jalapeño pepper has a SHU of 3,000 - 10,000. And our gentle bell pepper has a SHU of zeri. 

The small but deadly Caroline Reaper
But not to worry, the beautiful and nutritious fruit known as a sweet bell......wait a minute. Yes, I said fruit. The bell pepper is considered a fruit. The general rule of thumb when defining fruits and vegetables is if there are seeds and the seeds are surrounded by the flesh of the plant, it's a fruit. Of course the strawberry is the exception to the rule. (I know. There's one in every crowd.) 

Originating in the Central American regions, peppers were spread to the rest of the world by the Spanish and Portuguese explorers during the 16th and 17th centuries. And today they are considered an important commercial crop grown in many parts of the world.

You can readily find many of the beautiful colored bell peppers in your local grocery and your local farmers' market. When picking out your peppers make sure the flesh is firm and not wrinkly. There should be no spots at all and the color must be vibrant. It should have a good weight in your hand. 

When you get ready to use the bell peppers in your cooking, you will want to follow the instructions on how to cut them. I've included a video for your convenience. 

Now that you know more about the sweet bell pepper, I want to introduce you to the mini bell pepper, which will be part of today's recipe.  

Mini Bell Peppers
These little sweeties are grown for the specific size, flavor and look.  They come in red, yellow and orange.  They are about three inches in length and have a crisp texture.  They have very few seeds and have a thinner skin than their larger counter parts.  They are good for eating raw, grilled, and cooked in your favorite recipes.

I will be stuffing the mini bells and serving them as appetizers.  So let's get to the recipe.

What you need:
10-12 mini bell peppers
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons pesto
1/3 cup frozen peas, thawed
salt and pepper to taste

What you need to do:***

Cut the end of the peppers (the end with the stem) and take the seeds out.  Set aside. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a medium size bowl.  Make sure everything is well blended.  Filled each pepper with the cheese mixture.

***You can either serve these as a cold or hot appetizers.  If you choose hot, then place the filled peppers on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

You can't miss when eating bell peppers.  Their beauty, versatility, and nutrition make them necessary in your culinary experience.

Now, go out and make something good.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Squash... you know fall is right around the corner!!

The list of all the types of squashes are pretty extensive.  So today we will talk about a few of the common ones you will see at your local market. 

I didn’t grow up liking squash.  It was always served with brown sugar and butter on it. ISH!!!   All three are great to eat but not together!  That would be a NO!  It wasn’t until recently where I began to roast it and make it into a soup that I have learned to like the rich taste of squash.

So lets start from the beginning.   Squash is native to America.   The word squash comes for the Nahahiganseck Sovereign Nation word “askutasquash” meaning “a green thing eaten raw”.

Lets clarify something about squash.  Squash is not a vegetable.   It is a fruit.  The botanical definition says fruits have their seeds on the inside.  Like tomatoes, squash is a fruit. However it is normally serves and a veggie and will be found in the veggie section of the grocery store.

Then there is the Summer and Winter term attached to squash.   Summer Squash has a thin skin and can bruise easily and contain more water then Winter Squash.   Normally they can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week before they will become soft in areas.  Yellow Summer Squash and the many varieties of zucchini are the most popular of the summer squashes and are fairly easy to grow.  If you grow them yourself, one plant is all you need. Otherwise you will be taken over by them easily and quickly.   It can get crazy pretty quick if you don’t keep your eye on them.  Keep in mind the flower of the zucchini is eatable and very tasty.

Winter Squash has a hard and thick shell that cannot be eaten like Summer Squash.   The thick skin provides protection and longevity to the eatable part of the squash.   As long as you keep the squash in a cool, dry dark place they can be stored for at least three months if not longer. Try to keep a 4 inch stem on the squash when storing.   This helps them retain their moisture.

There is so much info available on the internet about squash and all its varieties it is crazy.   So we are going to stick with the basics. BUT I encourage you to try a variety that you have never seen or eaten before when you come across them.   You will be happily surprised!!!

So here are a few you might know depending on where you live…

Acorn – Named because it shape is similar to an acorn.   The most common variety of the acorn is green with a patch of orange on it, but as the picture shows other varieties are popping up.  The average size of an Acorn squash will be between 1-2 pounds.   Acorn squash is normally baked and many times stuff with some sort of stuffing.  Easy to make a meal of it.

Butternut – Has a sweet and nutty flavor.  As it ripens it become sweeter and the pulp inside becomes a deeper and richer orange color.  Normally the seeds and skin of the squash is discarded but Butternut Squash the seeds and skin can be eaten.   The seeds can be eaten raw or cooked and the skin is normally eaten when it has been cooked.  When my mom would ask me to get squash for her it was understood it was Butternut Squash.  It was her favorite to cut in half, remove the seeds and roast in the oven with butter, salt and pepper.

Banana – I don’t know about you but I have never heard of a Banana Squash but I am now intrigued by it.  It starts out growing straight and elongated.  As it grows it develops a slight curve to it.  The skin is smooth with a pinkish- orange color to it.   The pulp inside is orange in color.  The average size is about 10 pounds, 2-3 feet long and 8 inches around.  However they can grow to 40 pounds easily!   I don’t know about you but 10 lbs is plenty big enough.

Buttercup – this squash gets it name from it looks.  It resembles and upside down acorn squash that has been squished.   The pulp of this squash is sweet and nutty with a consistency of a baked potato.   It is not a moist squash so the best way to prepare is by steaming or baking. The green outer skin is tough and uneatable.

Delicata – as its name suggest it is a more delicate squash.  Its outer skin is thinner, which causes it to have less of a shelf live then the other winter squashes.   It is also more difficult and expensive to transport so it is not as readily available as the butternut squash.  Though it is a more delicate squash it is easy to grow.   The ideal time to plant the seeds are after the last frost.   Though it is harvested in fall and available in the winter the squash is considered a summer squash because of its outer skin.   However it is normally considered a winter squash because of when it is available.  The seeds of this squash can be eaten but only after they have been roasted.   It is a versatile squash that can be roasted steamed, stuffed…etc. 

Hubbard – This is one of the largest winter squashes.  It can range between 8 – 20 pounds and the color ranges from orange to a grayish blue.   The outer skin is very tough and can be difficult to cut. The pulp of the squash is yellow being both savory and sweet.   It is best used as a puree for pies or mashed.  However people will sauté it and use it in casseroles.   This particular squash has a long shelf life… 6 months.

Kabocha – This is known as the Japanese pumpkin.   After doing some research I realized I had it a few times and never realized what it was.  It is normally overlooked and that is very sad because it is a very versatile squash.  It is sweet in flavor, sweeter than the butternut squash.  The pulp of the Kabocha is bright oranges and is high in beta-carotene, a good source of iron, Vitamin C and B.   It can be roasted, steamed, pureed, added to soup as a thickener and stuffed like so many of the others.

Spaghetti – This squash is unique.  The pulp color ranges from ivory, yellow and orange in color.  When raw it is similar to other squash but when cooked the pulp turns into ribbon strand that look like spaghetti.  Roasting is the best way to cook.  Stuffing the cavity with you favorite spaghetti sauce is a healthy alternative to Italian spaghetti.

Sweet Dumpling – not much is written about this little guy.  It grows to be about a pound in size.   The skin is white with green stripes and the pulp inside is orange in color and when cooked it is sweet and tender.

Turban – This is one of the more decorative squashes.  It is more bland in flavor but because it yields beautiful colors it is often used in Autumn decorations. It has a Turban like top which is where it gets its name and will have a green , orange and yellow on its outer skin.  When cooked the pulp has floury texture and many times it is used in soups.

Pumpkin – Okay, what can I say about pumpkins that you don’t already know?   We are actually going to save pumpkins for a future blog that will be coming soon.  Way too much to tell about pumpkins!

Ok, finally after all that here is a recipe for some tasty squash soup.
Creamy Squash Soup

Here is what you need...
Butternut squash
Acorn Squash
Buttercup Squash
Note: you want about 8 cups squash
1 cup chopped Fennel
1 cup chopped Onion
1 tablespoon minces Garlic
1 teaspoons Turmeric
1 teaspoon Celery Seed
1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 teaspoon fresh minced Ginger
1 cup Creamer
1 cup Milk
1 cup Buttermilk
1 cup Veggie Stock

Here is what you do...
  • Cut all the squash in half, remove the seeds.
  • On a baking sheet add olive oil, salt and pepper.  spread evenly on the pan and place the squash pulp down and bake at 400 until soft.
  • Bloom the garlic, turmeric, ginger and nutmeg in some olive oil.
  • Slice the onions and fennel and add to the seasoning.  Saute until tender. Set aside.
  • When the squash is cooked, scoop out the pulp and place in a food processor.  Add the sauteed mixture to the squash and puree until smooth.
  • Place puree is a large sauce pan.  Add buttermilk, milk, stock and creamer. 
  • Heat through and serve with a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche and serve.
Now go out and make something tasty for yourself or for someone you love!   Enjoy!

Monday, September 7, 2015

One potato, two potato, three potato, more....and more.

There are literally hundreds of kinds of potatoes grown in the United States alone.  Essentially all these potatoes fall into seven different types.  They include russets, reds, whites, yellows, blue/purples, fingerings, and petites.

The misunderstood potato has often been cited as high in calories, but the truth is that a potato only has about 100 calories.  It's all the other stuff we like to put on potatoes that gets us in trouble.  You know, like butter, sour cream, bacon, etc...

The potato is such a versatile stem.  You can:

·         fry it, as in French Fries
·         bake it, as in loaded bake potato
·         mash it, as in twice baked potatoes
·         boil it, as in tossed with butter and parsley
·         shred it, as in hash browns
·         roast it, as in roasted potatoes with turmeric and curry
·         tot it, as in tater tot hot dish
·         soup it, as in Creamy Potato soup (today's recipe)

Why are potatoes so popular?  It turns out that if you combine potatoes with milk or butter (for you mash potato lovers), you create a dish that you could live on because potatoes with the peel have more potassium than a banana, more vitamin C than an orange, and more fiber than an apple.  That, along with the vitamins A and D of the milk balances it out.

Now, we are not recommending you live on a diet of potatoes alone, especially when there are such great vegetables and fruits available.  But you can't argue with the fact that potatoes are the most universally grown crop in the world. 

As a crop, potatoes come in forth to corn, wheat and rice.  China grows the most potatoes.  Americans eat 142 pounds of potatoes a year. 

More interesting facts:

  • The word potato comes from the Spanish word "patata."
  • The potato is the most universally grown crop in the world.
  • The potato is a member of the nightshade plants and it's greens are poisonous.
  • The Inca people of Peru were growing potatoes in the Andes Mountains as far back as 200 BC. They used the potato to treat injuries. They also thought it made childbirth easier.
  • Potatoes were introduced to Britain and Ireland in the late 1500s. It didn’t go so well at first. Many people blamed them for diseases and condemned them because they weren’t mentioned in the Bible.
  • Both Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette wore potato blossoms to spiff up their outfits. (Partly to boost the crop’s popularity in France.)
  • Potatoes were often eaten aboard ships to prevent scurvy because they are loaded with vitamin C.
  • The first “French fry” was allegedly first served in the United States by Thomas Jefferson at a presidential dinner.
  • Potatoes were the first food to be grown in space. In 1996, potato plants were taken into space with the space shuttle Columbia.
  • Potatoes are environmentally friendly. They’re easy to grow and don’t require massive amounts of water, fertilizer or chemicals to thrive.
  • Potatoes can be used as batteries.  The highest voltage from a potato battery was 538.1 Volt DC achieved in Germany in July 2009.

Potatoes are becoming more and more important in the developing world. That’s because they’re an easy crop to grow. They yield more nutritious food, more quickly and on less land than any other crop.

There is much to enjoy about the homey spud. It is comforting and nutritious and now is the time to get this vegetable into our recipe. But just one more fact, the potato is not a root as is commonly thought. The fact of the matter is that a potato is a stem of the plant as seen in the diagram. 

So let's get started cooking spud stems, shall we?  By the way, the word "spud" comes from the word used for a small spade.  Therefore, a small potato became a "spud."

Cheesy Potato and Bacon Soup

What you need:

4 slices smoked bacon, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried parsley
3 lbs red potatoes, peeled and chopped to bite size pieces
4 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup 1/2 n 1/2 or milk
1 1/2 cup shredded cheese **

What you need to do:

In large pot or dutch oven, fry bacon until crispy.  Remove bacon and most of the grease.  In same pot saute the onions, bell peppers, garlic and parsley.  When vegetables are soft, add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Add salt and pepper and potatoes.  Turn down heat to medium and cook the potatoes through.   Turn heat to low and add 1/2 n 1/2 along with the cheese.  Stir until cheese is melted.  Taste for seasoning.

Serve hot with rolls and butter.

**You can use any kind of cheese that melts well.  To add a little snap use pepper jack or asiago.  I used three kinds of cheese:  cheddar, fontina and pepper jack....yummy!

Find the potato you like and have fun with all kinds of recipes.  They are versatile and oh so yummy.

Now, go out and make something good.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Hasselback... Everything

Hasselback Potatoes were created in the 1940s in a Stockholm restaurant where it was first prepared and served.   Because potatoes are a favorite worldwide it is no surprise the dish became popular.  Hasselback potatoes are also known as accordion potatoes.

Hasselback potatoes is a dish and not a kind of potato.  It is common to leave the skin on the potato but it can be removed.  The potato size and shape does matter.   Too small of a potatoes like fingerlings are not ideal for this technique.   Too large and it no longer is a serving size for one person.   You want a medium size that is oval in shape.

There are many recipes and helpful hits on creating Hasselback potatoes.  Here are a few links to check out.

Potatoes are not the only thing you can "hasselback".   You can try chicken,apples, pears...etc.   We tried Hasselback Caprese Salad. It was very tasty!!!
Hasselback Caprese Salad

Here is what you need
One tomato for each person you are serving.
Mozzarella cheese ball
Balsamic Vinegar

Here is what you do
  • Slice your tomato creating 6 or 7 openings.  Be sure not to cut through the bottom of the tomato.
  • Cut mozzarella ball into 1/8" slices and place in the opening you created in the tomato.
  • Place a basil leaf next to the mozzarella
  • Drizzle the vinegar on top.
  • Salt and pepper optional
Serve as a side dish with you favorite entree or eat as a meal like I did with this tomato.... it was a big tomato!

Now go out and make something tasty for yourself or the ones you love.