Mashed Potatoes – Recipe for Mom’s Crazy Cooking Challenge



I recently joined a challenge that asks us to explore recipes from other bloggers. This first challenge was to make mashed potatoes using a recipe from someone else’s blog.

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I’m pretty partial to my own mashed potato recipe, so it was tough to decide on a different recipe. The only real difference between the recipe I found at Life’s Ambrosia and mine was the use of half and half. Other than that, it’s identical.



My little sous chef helped peel potatoes, in fact, he peeled most of them. I chopped them this time, but he usually does that as well.


We prepped the potatoes ahead of time, so they had to be submerged in water so they wouldn’t turn brown before we used them.



These potatoes are really yummy and creamy. They aren’t complicated to make. I did change it up a bit because I only had heavy cream, but I made the appropriate adjustments. This is the perfect mashed potato recipe….and it’s super easy. One look at these yummy potatoes will make you wish you had made some already.


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Mashed Potatoes
Recipe adapted from: Life’s Ambrosia

Ingredients:
8 russet potatoes – peeled and cubed
6 tbsp. butter
1 cup half and half (or 1/2 cup milk + 1/2 cup heavy cream)
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Place cubed potatoes into large pot of boiling water. Let boil until potatoes can be pierced and broken with a fork. Drain potatoes.

Add butter and half and half to bowl of stand mixer. Place potatoes in bowl on top of butter and milk and let sit for one minute to allow butter to melt.

Turn mixer on medium speed and whip for 2 minutes. Add in salt and pepper during mixing. Taste after 1 minute to determine if you need more salt. Serve immediately – plain or with your favorite gravy.

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Thanksgiving Menu – Simple recipes for those that don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen

I recently had a request from a friend to post a Thanksgiving menu that is super easy, but still really good. I love to torture myself by spending hours upon hours in the kitchen, but I forget that others don’t really prefer that kind of torture. I’m not sure why, but apparently they don’t. I’m sure all of you foodies can relate.

So, what are my favorite, easy recipes for the holidays….here they are:

Appetizers


Pumpkin Dip – Serve with gingersnaps or Nilla Wafers
Chocolate Chip Dip – Tried and true! Everyone loves this one.
Sausage and Cheese Tray – I really hope you don’t need a recipe for this one.
Veggie Tray – See above

Main Dishes
Slow Cooker Turkey – I have been making this recipe for many years. It is perfect for a small family gathering and tastes amazing. I made this when I hosted thanksgiving at my own home.
Slow Cooker Ham – I just made this for the first time a month ago. You will not be disappointed in how great this ham is. No need to even turn on your oven!

Potatoes
Cheri’s Mashed Potatoes – Use the mashed potato recipe from my meatloaf cupcakes post. These aren’t tough to make, but you do have to spend time peeling potatoes. If you don’t want to peel potatoes, then move on to recipe #2.
Hashbrown Casserole – Everyone loves this casserole. It’s easy, cheesy and full of yumminess. I highly recommend these for anyone that needs potatoes and doesn’t want to spend much time preparing them.
Sweet Potato Casserole – I haven’t tried these, but they look easy and they got good reviews.

Vegetables


Green Bean Casserole – This is the same recipe that almost everyone in America uses. You can use any type of “Cream of…” soup. They all pretty much taste the same. This is my favorite Thanksgiving dish!
Roasted Vegetables – Use this recipe to roast sweet potatoes, zucchinis and carrots for a quick and easy veggie.

Desserts


Chocolate Pudding Pie – I make this pie for every holiday. Everyone loves it and it’s EASY!
Pumpkin Pie – This is the recipe from the Libby’s can. You cannot go wrong with it. Buy a premade pie crust in the dairy aisle or buy a frozen one and then pour in the mixture. It doesn’t get any easier then this. Just make sure the pie is cooked thoroughly. Serve with whipped cream!
Chocolate Eclair Dessert – This one is excellent! Make it the night before and it will be perfect by the time you are ready to eat dinner.
Peanut Butter Cookies (chocolate optional) – These are very easy and can be prepared ahead of time.

Noticeably absent from my menu is stuffing/dressing. We have a traditional family recipe that I make every year, but it is not easy and it is not quick. I’m not going to post it with this menu for that reason. I have never made stuffing any other way, so I am leaving it off the list. Feel free to grab a box of Stove Top and read the instructions. I’m sure it’s easy and probably pretty good.

Also absent is cranberries. I have never, ever had a good experience with making any type of cranberry sauce or jelly. They have all turned out terrible. If your family likes the stuff that comes out of the can, I would just keep using it. It’s easy and can easily be found in your local grocery store. I will continue to pretend like cranberries, in any form, are not a traditional Thanksgiving dish.

Remember, this menu is not meant for someone who wants to prepare a complicated dinner with fancy dishes. This menu is meant for those of you that don’t like to cook, or don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, but still want to prepare a delicious meal for your family.

Roasted Red Potatoes – One of the easiest side dishes I make



Is there a website that just sells 1 shoe? There has to be. I couldn’t possibly be the only person out there that has a dog that chews up just 1 of their shoes on a regular basis. I wish someone could explain to me why our dog only chews up 1 shoe and they are only MINE. The children could leave shoes on the floor for a month, but if I leave a pair of shoes out, she takes only one and tears up only the important parts like the tips of the heel or one of the loops for the shoe strings. Why can’t she just chew up the laces??? Anyway, if you find a website that sells single shoes, let me know. I have a closet full of single shoes.

When I first started cooking, I had no idea what “roasting” potatoes meant. I thought it was some complicated cooking technique that was too much for me to handle. Um, wrong! Roasted red potatoes are one of my family’s favorite dishes, and it’s the easiest way to add potatoes to a quick, weeknight meal. These can be prepared in 5 minutes. The thing that takes the longest is baking them. This recipe is very versatile and can be used with veggies as well. I’ve added squash, carrots, sweet potatoes and asparagus and they all taste great. Potatoes take longer to bake, so reduce the cooking time for veggies. I served these with the hubby’s favorite slow-cooker roast beef (recipe coming soon).


Roasted Red Potatoes
Recipe by: The Accidental Cook
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. italian seasoning
2 tsp. salt + more for seasoning
3 cups red potatoes, cubed

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.

In large bowl, mix olive oil, garlic powder, italian seasoning and 2 tsp. salt.



Add potatoes and stir to coat.



Pour potatoes onto prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with additional salt (based on taste).



Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes. Stir potatoes and continue to cook for an additional 10-15 minutes. Cooking time varies depending on the size of your potatoes. The potatoes are done when they are crispy on the outside. Serve immediately.

Special Cupcakes – For dinner???



I knew that I had to make this recipe when my son told me about it, and I knew that tonight would be the night to do it. This is the first night of the World Series, so what better way to celebrate than with cupcakes for dinner! These are special cupcakes. They are meatloaf on bottom with a gooey provolone cheese center and topped with whipped mashed potatoes, cheddar cheese and bacon. Wow…what a combination! These little treats were amazing. They would be really cute as mini cupcakes, but mine were full sized. Try them as a treat for your next baseball or football party. They are pretty simple. Here are my recipes, but feel free to use your favorites.


Meatloaf Cupcakes
Recipe by: The Accidental Cook
Yield: 12 cupcakes
Printable Recipe

Ingredients

Meatloaf:

1.5 lbs. ground beef
1 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped onion (I sauteed mine in butter before adding them)
6 slices provolone cheese

Mashed Potatoes:

8 russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup milk
1-2 tablespoons salt (depends on taste)
Bacon bits for garnish
Cheddar cheese, shredded for garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine ground beef, bread crumbs, egg, milk and chopped onion in a large bowl. Using your hands, mix until well combined.

Press the ground beef mixture into metal muffin pan, filling to the top edge of the pan.

Using a spoon, scoop out a small portion of the middle of the cupcake and reserve the meat that you removed. Take a half slice of provolone and break it up so it fits into the middle of the meatloaf. Place the reserved meatloaf back over the top of the cheese to cover it and make sure the top is smooth and even. Follow this same process with the entire pan.

Place in oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the juices run clear. Remove from oven and transfer to serving platter.

While the meatloaves are baking, add the diced potatoes to a large pot of water. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Boil the potatoes until they are soft and easily split in half with a fork (15-20 minutes).

Strain potatoes and pour them into a large bowl of a stand mixer. Add the butter and let sit for 1 minute to soften. Add 1/2 cup of milk and salt and mix on medium speed until the potatoes reach a whipped consistency. Add more milk if potatoes are not smooth enough.

Place mashed potatoes into a piping bag or into a sandwich bag with the corner cut off. Pipe a heaping pile of potatoes on top of each of the meatloaves and then top with shredded cheddar cheese and a sprinkle of bacon bits.

Serve Immediately.

Homemade Pretzels Recipe – Perfect for your football parties



I love bread! I’m not real picky about the kinds of breads that I like, but the one bread that I do NOT like is marbled rye. I can eat the soft rye with dill dip, but that’s where I draw the line. My mom used to make little, mini pizzas on rye bread squares, and I could never figure out why I didn’t like them. Now I know…the rye bread! I would like to try making them someday with a different type of bread.

Last year was my first attempt at making homemade pretzels. I was a little scared to try them because they seemed time intensive, and I knew that they probably wouldn’t taste as good as my favorite, Auntie Annes. But, we were going to a Superbowl party, and I knew I needed to bring something. Pretzels seemed like the perfect treat.

This recipe is not too time intensive, but any time you are using yeast, you have to be patient. As long as you follow the directions in the recipe, you can’t mess this one up.

These pretzels are really, really, really good. They DO taste like the mall pretzels, and not like the ones you take out of the freezer and bake. You can cut them into little pieces and make pretzel bites out of them as well. You could also sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. The possibilities are endless. So try making these for your Sunday football gatherings. Your friends and family will love them!



Soft Pretzels
Adapted from: Allrecipes.com

Ingredients:

4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups hot water
1/4 cup kosher or sea salt, for topping
1/4 cup melted butter

Directions:

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water by stirring gently with a fork. Let stand for 10 minutes (yeast should be foamy).

In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center; add the oil and yeast mixture. Mix and form into a dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or two tablespoons of water. Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes. You can also do the above steps using the dough cycle in your bread machine. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water.

After 1 hour, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces using a pizza cutter. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape. Once all of the dough is all shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda solution and place on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt.

Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, until browned.

Remove from oven and brush with generous amounts of melted butter.

Homemade Cornbread Recipe – Delicious AND gluten-free



Why does it feel like the colder weather starts as soon as Labor Day weekend ends? I am just shocked that we went from 100 degree weather in Missouri to 70 degree weather so quickly. It would have been nice to have a gradual progression. My body hates cold weather, and I long for the day that I can move somewhere warm like southern Florida or Hawaii. I don’t care if they have hurricanes. We have weather issues here that are just as bad, if not worse. They are called, tornadoes, ice storms, and heatwaves. At least you have some warning with a hurricane. A tornado comes out of nowhere and is one of the most powerful weather forces that I’ve seen. I watched a special on NatGeo recently that shows home video footage from all of the recent tornadoes. It was truly amazing! I think I’m going to move my entire family to the basement just in case. Hey, at least I won’t have to wake everyone up in the middle of the night to go downstairs when a tornado warning happens. It’s called “planning ahead.” I’ve talked about it before…anything that saves me time. 😉

So, because I’m stuck here in this state with rollercoaster weather, I have to adapt to the changing seasons and give in to cooking the colder weather dishes. This past weekend I made homemade ham and beans (recipe here). Everyone knows that you have to have cornbread to go with your beans. I made a yeast cornbread on Saturday (with the hubby’s help) and planned to use the leftover bread to go with the beans on Sunday. This worked fine except the hubby can’t have regular flour, and he really likes cornbread. I decided to make cornbread that he could eat.

Cornbread is something, once again, that I never liked when I was a kid. I always remember it being really dry. I never understood why people liked it so much. But, as I got older, I realized that cornbread didn’t have to come from a box and it didn’t have to be dry. I also discovered the tradition of pouring maple syrup over the top of it, thanks to the hubby’s family. This is exactly the motivation I needed to start making and enjoying cornbread. YUM!

I found a really great recipe for cornbread, and made it gluten-free by using this gluten-free flour. I loved that the recipe called for pouring a syrupy mixture over the top of it after baking. No dry cornbread here! I tasted it, and was somewhat upset that it was going to upstage my beautiful, yeast cornbread. It was WAY better! I don’t think anyone noticed that it was gluten free. I know I had a piece and so did my mom. The hubby ate half the pan. If you are looking for a really good recipe, make this. Don’t be scared because the title of this post says, “gluten-free.” Just make it with regular flour and you will be amazed at how good this recipe is. I know it’s going to be my go-to cornbread recipe.

Here are the step-by-step instructions with photos (full recipe follows):

Preheat oven to 425. Lightly grease an 8 x 8 pan.



In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 1 cup corn meal, 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 4 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt.

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Add 1 cup milk, 1 egg, and 1/4 cup softened butter and beat until combined and smooth.



Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a tester comes out with only a few crumbs. Place pan on cooling rack.



Using a toothpick, poke small holes through the cornbread.



To make the glaze, combine 3 tbsp. butter, honey, and water in a saucepan. Heat over low heat until the butter is melted, stirring to help the mixture to combine.

Pour the glaze over the cornbread and let cool to room temperature.



Slice and Serve



Honey Cornbread
Adapted from: Couldn’t be Parve

Ingredients:

1 C corn meal
1 C flour (regular or gluten free flour blend)
1/4 C sugar
4 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 C regular milk
1 egg
1/4 C butter, softened

For Glaze
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425. Lightly grease an 8 x 8 pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add milk, egg, and softened butter and beat until combined and smooth. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a tester comes out with only a few crumbs. Place pan on cooling rack.

Using a toothpick, poke small holes through the cornbread.

To make the glaze, combine the margarine, honey, and water in a saucepan. Heat over low heat until the margarine is melted, stirring to help the mixture to combine.

Pour the glaze over the cornbread and let cool to room temperature.

Sweet Potatoes aren’t Just for Thanksgiving – Make Sweet Potato Fries!



I always thought that sweet potatoes were somewhat gross. They were something that was served at Thanksgiving and would come straight from a can and then topped with marshmallows that were often burnt. I’m certain that I tried them a few times when I was little because…what child doesn’t like marshmallows? Well, apparently this kid didn’t like them on top of canned sweet potatoes.

I survived the better part of my childhood, teenage years and over 10 years into adulthood, before I decided to try sweet potatoes again. If you live in St. Louis, you have probably heard of Pappy’s Smokehouse. If you haven’t heard of them, it’s time to crawl out from underneath that rock you have been living under. If you have heard of Pappy’s and haven’t been there, go there ASAP. You are missing out on some of the best BBQ you will ever eat. If you have eaten at Pappy’s Smokehouse, then you already know what I’m talking about and are probably headed there for lunch right now.

Pappy’s serves these amazing little things called “Sweet Potato Fries.” I refused to try them the first couple of times that I went to Pappy’s. I would watch in disgust as my coworkers would eat them in front of me. I probably even commented about how gross they were. So sad that I passed on the opportunity to taste something so great all because of my close-mindedness to try new things. FAIL on my part! Oh well, at some point I tried one and thought “What the HECK have I been thinking!” These things are really, really good. I have no idea how they are prepared, and they don’t look very pretty either. But they are amazing!

These sweet potato fries were my inspiration to try making them at home. I have made them twice now, and the first time they turned out really good. The second time they just didn’t come out great. They tasted ok, but they weren’t crispy like the first batch. I have to admit that I used a new, gigantic cookie sheet that someone had given me, and it really didn’t work out well for me. This cookie sheet was so big that the person that gave it to me confessed that she let her children sled down a snowy hill on them. Hmmmm, sounds a little unsafe. I hope it worked better for sledding then it did for my fries!

The baking sheet/sled. It is as big as my oven rack.



Either way, sweet potato fries are really good. Be careful which baking sheet you use and really keep an eye on them because they tend to burn quicker than regular potatoes. They go really well with cheeseburgers, turkey burgers, chicken sandwiches, pulled pork sandwiches, and Ketchup. The hubby thinks that french fries (or sweet potato fries), are just a platform with which to eat ketchup. You can tell where his preference lies! Let me know if you decide to make them and how they turn out. I would be happy to come over and sample them when they’re done!

Sweet potatoes are not attractive, but, to make up for it, they taste good.



Baked Sweet Potato Fries
by: busycookinthelou

Ingredients:

3 sweet potatoes cut into sticks or wedges
1-1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp coarse sea salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Slice sweet potatoes into sticks or wedges. HINTS: Cut off the odd shaped ends if you want a more consistent shape. If you want to prepare ahead of time, place sliced potatoes into a bowl of water.

Place in bowl and toss with olive oil. Spread potatoes on baking sheet, making sure that they are in 1 layer and not overlapping.

Sprinkle with brown sugar and salt and place in oven.

Bake for 20 minutes and then flip them over. Bake another 10-20 minutes until crisp.