Braised Red Potatoes with Lemon and Chives

Red potatoes in bowlI had planned to feature something different on my blog this week, but I made this potato recipe, and decided that it had to be my next post.

Let me start by saying that I am a huge fan of four cooking sites, www.americastestkitchen.com, www.finecooking.com, www.foodnetwork.com, and my daughter Kelli’s blog, www.cancookwilltravel.com. The first requires a subscription in order to access all of its content, but I find it to be well worth the yearly subscription prices. The others  are free, and are wonderful. (There are a number of other online resources that I really like, and I’ll reference them when I highlight recipes from those sites.)

This recipe is one that I saw featured on the weekly PBS show, America’s Test Kitchen. I think the concept behind the cooking technique is very interesting, and I am looking forward to trying it with Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and a few other vegetables.  The process used with this recipe involves braising the small red potatoes in water and butter, to which salt, garlic cloves and thyme have been added. Once the potatoes are almost tender, the garlic and thyme is removed, and the water is allowed to boil away until all that is left are the butter solids, which brown and adhere to the cut side of each potato. The finished potatoes are tossed with the garlic cloves, which have been mashed, lemon juice, and chives. Of course, the potatoes are also seasoned to taste with salt and pepper. These potatoes are delicious, and are a nice change from baked, mashed, fried, or parsleyed potatoes.

Here’s my take on the basic recipe, courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen.

Braised Red Potatoes with Lemon and Chives
Author: 
Recipe type: Vegetable
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
This is an interesting technique applied to the cooking of an old favorite, red potatoes.
Ingredients
  • • 1½ pounds small red potatoes, unpeeled, halved (or enough to fit in your 12-inch skillet)
  • • 2 cups water
  • • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • • 1 teaspoon lemon juice (fresh, if at all possible)
  • • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives (If using dried chives, use about 2 tsp.)
Instructions
  1. Fit potatoes, cut side down, in single layer, in a 12-inch nonstick skillet. Add water, salt, butter, thyme, and garlic to skillet, and bring to a boil over medium high heat.
  2. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes are almost tender.
  3. At this point, remove garlic to a cutting board, and discard the thyme.
  4. Place uncovered skillet over medium to medium high heat, and allow the water/butter mixture to boil slowly until the water evaporates and the butter begins to sizzle and brown. Swirl pan frequently, being sure to keep the cut side of the potatoes in contact with the skillet. (This will probably take 15-20 minutes.)
  5. Meanwhile, after the garlic has cooled a bit, mash the garlic until it forms a paste. (I like to do the same thing that I do with raw garlic. Smash the garlic against a cutting board with the flat side of a chef's knife. Add a sprinkling of kosher salt to help break down the garlic. Once a paste has been created, you're ready to proceed.)
  6. Mix the garlic paste in a small bowl with lemon juice and pepper.
  7. Once the water has evaporated from the skillet and the butter has browned, let the potatoes cook a bit longer, until the browned butter bits stick to the cut surfaces of the potatoes.
  8. Remove from heat, add garlic/lemon juice/pepper mixture and chives, stirring until mixed. Serve immediately.
Notes
If you're interested in how this cooking technique was developed, but sure to visit the link that I included above. The chefs at America's Test Kitchen thoroughly test recipes that they develop, and the chefs go back to the drawing board a many times until the recipes are perfected.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 4 oz. Calories: 133 Fat: 6 g. Carbohydrates: 18 Sugar: 1 g Sodium: 328 mg. Fiber: 2 g. Protein: 2 g.

 

 

 

Creamy Brussels Sprouts

Finished Brussels Sprouts

Ok. I know. It’s been a long several months (again) since I posted, and my blog drought wasn’t officially over as I declared back in November. I’ll try to do better in the future. I promise. I’m actually posting another recipe very soon as proof of my new commitment.

When I started my blog, I said that most of what I cook and bake is as healthy as I can make it without sacrificing flavor. This recipe is an exception to that practice, but it’s not something that I plan to eat every day. (I will try to adapt it at some point, maybe trying fat free half and half in place of some of the cream. If that turns out to be successful, I’ll post a footnote to the recipe below.) Because cream is famous for its ability to thicken as it cooks, it is currently the liquid of choice in this recipe. I ran across this dish on Facebook, and its source is http://whatscookingamerica.net/Vegetables/BrusselSproutsCreamBraised.htm. I hope you will try this the next time you’re in need of a new vegetable recipe.

Please note: Don’t discount this recipe just because you think you don’t like Brussels sprouts.  If you like broccoli, cauliflower, and/or cabbage, you might like these. They are creamy, mild, and delicious. (I can’t vouch for the finished product if you use frozen Brussels sprouts, which would be very difficult to quarter without letting them partially thaw first.)

 

Creamy Brussels Sprouts
Author: 
Recipe type: Side Dish (Vegetable)
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
This is a creamy, mild version of braised Brussels sprouts that I think is delicious.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. trimmed and quartered fresh Brussels sprouts (about 1¼ lbs. before trimming)
  • 3 T. unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp. salt (I prefer Kosher or sea salt.)
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 1 T. lemon juice (fresh is best)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Melt butter over medium high heat in large skillet, preferably non-stick.
  2. Add salt and Brussels sprouts to the butter, and cook, stirring occasionally, until some begin to caramelize.
  3. Stir in cream.
  4. Bring to a boil, stirring to coat the Brussels sprouts with the cream. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover the skillet, and let simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until Brussels sprouts are tender. Stir occasionally.
  5. When the sprouts are tender, stir well, taste for seasoning, and add pepper and salt (if necessary). (The cream will thicken considerably, and will change color slightly, going from white to a very light tan.)
  6. Serve immediately.
Notes
One-fourth of the recipe has a WW PP value of 7. (This includes ¼ of the cream sauce.) One-sixth of the recipe has a WW PP value of 5. As I said in my introduction, this certainly isn't a dish that I would eat every day, but it is a treat to have occasionally.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ¼ recipe Calories: 242.3 Fat: 25 g. Saturated fat: 15.5 g. Unsaturated fat: 8.2 g. Trans fat: 0 g. Carbohydrates: 4.1 g. Sugar: 0.6 g. Sodium: 175 mg. Fiber: 1.0 g. Protein: 2.1 g. Cholesterol: 89.3 g.

 

 

Cabbage Soup with Hamburger

Well, here I am, finally back to blogging. several months since I’ve posted anything, but I’m declaring my blog drought officcabbage soupially over.

Last week, with very cold (January-like) weather in the forecast, I decided that I needed to make a healthy soup that would warm me up. I saw a recipe on Facebook that I kept going back to look at, and I finally decided to take the plunge.  (For the original recipe, as well as many others, check out Deb Fowler Nicholson’s Facebook page.)  The original recipe is made in a slow cooker, but I chose to make mine in my enameled Dutch oven on the top of the stove. That way, I was able to control the cooking process more easily, as well as adjust seasonings as needed. My family (especially my daughters and I) love cabbage, and we love soup, so how could a cabbage/hamburger soup miss? I’ll save you the suspense. My soup turned out to be just what I wanted. It’s a simple, hearty vegetable soup that’s heavy on healthy veggies and lean ground beef, yet low on fat, sodium, and carbs. (My family loves to spice things up a bit, so we usually add a bit of jalapeño Tabasco or Frank’s Hot Sauce to our bowls of soup.) This one is a keeper, and I’m sure will be served numerous times this winter.

4.7 from 3 reviews
Cabbage Soup with Hamburger
Author: 
Recipe type: Soups
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12-18
 
This is a hearty vegetable-based soup that is satisfying and great on a cold fall or winter day.
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs. lean ground beef (I used 93/7.)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 c. celery, chopped
  • 2 c. onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. (or to taste) red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. dried basil
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (I used the ones with garlic, basil, and oregano, and chose the no added salt variety because of the sodium in the beef broth.)
  • 6 cups reduced sodium beef broth
  • 1 medium head green cabbage, coarsely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Brown the ground beef, and then drain it well, and wipe out the pan.
  2. Heat oil in the pan, and then add the red pepper flakes and the garlic, stirring for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the celery, onions, and green pepper, sauteing until softened.
  4. Stir in the oregano and basil, and then add the remaining ingredients, including the browned ground beef..
  5. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer.
  6. Cook for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked.
  7. Adjust seasonings.

 

Lime, Shrimp, and Avocado Salad

IMG_2161Now that summer is nearly upon us, I thought I’d share one of my favorite salads. It’s almost a meal in itself when the temperature soars and I want a light meal. In addition to the ease of preparation and the freshness of the salad, it’s a healthy meal choice, which is important to me.

In the early 1970’s, I spent two summers in Monterrey, Mexico, where I was introduced to the lime juice-marinated seafood appetizer known as ceviche.  I was hooked for life on it, but seldom have the real thing here in the Midwest.  Although this isn’t actually ceviche, this salad has the clean, crisp, cool flavor that’s similar to what I love.  (If you’re ever in Branson, MO, there’s a Mexican restaurant called Cantina Laredo at Branson Landing that serves a good ceviche salad. It has shrimp, scallops, and fish, often mahi mahi, in addition to the vegetables, and goes a long way toward satisfying my urge to relive some of my favorite meals that I had in Monterrey.)

This recipe is quick to make, and really hits the spot. Since my family is fond of it, too, I’m sure “Lime Shrimp and Avocado Salad” will be on the menu often this summer.

Here’s a tip about cutting up jalapeño peppers (as well as any other peppers that you might be reluctant to handle).  I don’t like to wear disposable gloves while working in the kitchen, and thought long and hard about how I could work with peppers, yet have as little contact with the seeds and membranes (where the heat mostly lies) as photo(5)possible. I decided to try cutting off the “cheeks” of the pepper. (The “cheeks” are where you will find the majority of the pepper’s flesh.) I hold the pepper stem side up, and slice from the stem to the tip, leaving the membranes and seeds mostly attached to the top of the pepper. The photo to the right shows the “cheeks” and the rest of the pepper.  This technique works with all of the peppers that I use. (I can’t vouch for its success with super hot peppers, such as habaneros, because I seldom use them. In fact, I haven’t used any of the extremely hot peppers since I first tried this method.)

 

Lime, Shrimp, and Avocado Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Salads; Light Meals
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
This is a cool, crisp salad that's chock-full of fresh flavors. It even tastes healthy (as it is).
Ingredients
  • ¼ c. thinly sliced red onion (Cut the onion slices in half or chop them if they are too long to be eaten politely.)
  • ¼ c. fresh lime juice (about 2 medium limes)
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 10 oz. cooked, shelled, and deveined shrimp, large or jumbo, if possible. (More shrimp can be added.)
  • 5 oz. diced avocado (1½ to 2 medium)
  • 1 medium fresh tomato, diced (123 g.)
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeds and membrane removed, finely diced
  • 1 T. fresh cilantro (chopped)
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine red onion, lime juice, olive oil, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Set aside for at least 5 minutes in order for the flavor of the onion to mellow.
  2. Chop the shrimp, and then add it to a large bowl. Gently stir in the avocado, tomato, and jalapeno.
  3. Stir in the lime juice mixture, and then add the cilantro. Add more salt and/or pepper to taste.
  4. Serve cold.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 147 Fat: 7 Sugar: 0.4 Sodium: 162 Fiber: 2.6 Protein: 16 Cholesterol: 138

 

 

 

 

New Vitamix + Cold Weather = Potato Soup

It seems only natural that I would want to make potato soup on a cold and snowy (LATE MARCH!) day last week.  I don’t have many memories of my grandmother cooking very much, but her old-fashioned potato soup is a lifelong comfort food for me.  She didn’t turn it into anything fancy, but that’s ok because I’ve always liked it like that.

Vitamix Potato SoupFor years now, I’ve made an effort to make food that is healthy (for the most part, anyway), so I’ve tried to do the same with this potato soup. Until today, I’ve always made it on the stove, but I decided to put my new Vitamix 7500 to the soup-making test. The motor is powerful and the blades are relatively long, so the Vitamix is able to make hot soup because of the friction that is created as the blades rotate. The basic Vitamix user’s guide has a recipe for potato soup with chicken and spinach, so I decided to try to make it without chicken or spinach. (I told you that I wanted comfort food.)

My first attempt at potato soup, while definitely edible, didn’t quite meet my expectations, so I tried again after lunch. What follows is closer to the end result that I wanted, but I’ll probably continue to tweak it.  Since I’m trying to put my Vitamix through its paces, I thought I’d share my first soup experiment.

Here’s what I did:

First, I added the liquids to the 64 oz. Vitamix container, as is always the suggestion. After that, I added a small onion (about 5 oz.) and a small stalk of celery, both of which I cut into large chunks. (I doubt if that step is necessary, given the fact that I blended it all for 5 minutes.)

I then turned on the power, started my Vitamix at variable speed 1, and gradually increased it to speed 8. At that point, the mixture blended for 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, I scrubbed and microwaved 19 oz. of Idaho russet potatoes. When they were finished, I added 6 oz. of the potato, skin and all, to the mixture in the blender container. I ran the Vitamix for another minute on speed 8.

While that was happening, I ran the remaining potatoes under cool water so that they would be cool enough to remove the skins without getting 3rd degree burns. (I already have enough scars from almost 60 years of cooking. I know. I was a baby when I first began my culinary adventures.)  As soon as the potatoes were peeled and cut into large chunks and the Vitamix had steam coming out of the lid when the plug was removed, I added the potatoes to the container. I pulsed the mixture on variable speed 3 twice, and then checked to be sure that the chunks of potato weren’t too large to eat in polite company. I also seasoned the soup to taste with salt and pepper. (I used about 1 tsp. sea salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper.)

At that point, the soup was ready to pour into serving bowls, top with some crumbled bacon and some chives.  My soup was pretty good for only the second attempt.

5.0 from 2 reviews
My New Vitamix and Potato Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Snowy day + new Vitamix 7500 = Potato soup
Ingredients
  • ⅔ c. skim milk
  • 1 c. vegetable broth
  • 1 c. whole evaporated milk
  • 1 small onion (about 5 oz.)
  • ½ small stalk celery (about ½ oz.)
  • 19 oz. Idaho russet potatoes, scrubbed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional:
  • crumbled bacon
  • chives
  • shredded cheese
Instructions
  1. First, add the liquids to the 64 oz. Vitamix container, as is always the suggestion.
  2. Add onion and celery, which I cut into chunks. (I doubt if that step is necessary, given the fact that I blended it all for 4 minutes.)
  3. Turn on power, starting at variable speed 1, and gradually increase to speed 8. Blend for 4 minutes, or until steam escapes from lid plug.
  4. Meanwhile, bake potatoes until tender. (I microwaved mine.)
  5. Cut off a chunk of potato (skin included) that weighs about 6 oz.
  6. Drop the chunk of potato through the lid plug while the Vitamix is running.
  7. Process for another minute.
  8. Meanwhile, run cold water over the remaining potatoes until they are cool enough to slip the skins off.
  9. Cut potatoes into large chunks.
  10. Turn off Vitamix while adding potatoes to the container.
  11. Pulse on variable speed 2 two or three times, until the soup is as chunky or smooth as desired. (I like mine chunky.)
  12. Pour into two bowls, garnishing with bacon, chives, and/or cheese.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1½ c. Calories: 312 Fat: 9 Saturated fat: 5 Unsaturated fat: 3 Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 46 Sugar: 9 Sodium: 888 Fiber: 3 Protein: 14 Cholesterol: 33

 

Welcome

range

Kenmore Elite Induction / Convection Range

Welcome to my blog! Curious about its name? (No, I didn’t misspell Electric.)  As long as I can remember, I have been one of those people whose interests have covered a wide range of things (hence the name). First and foremost, I LOVE to cook and bake, and, when in the right mood, I love tackling complicated recipes that yield great “You made that from scratch?!” moments.

Three women were very influential in my love of cooking.  Many years ago, I happened to catch a television show called “The French Chef,” and I became a lifelong fan of Julia Child’s. I watched her shows whenever I could, and her cookbooks found their way into my extensive collection. Julia became my culinary idol, and for many years I have cooked with an autographed postcard from her framed and overlooking my stove. (I had to buy the postcard on Ebay, but it doesn’t really matter. I wish it had been inscribed to me, but that’s the way it goes. I only paid $8 for the card, and am glad that it found its way to someone (me) who truly appreciated it.)

My other two major influences in my love of cooking were my mother and my sister. Both have passed away now, but they continue to inspire me. Mom was the best cook I’ve ever known, and she began teaching me to cook when I was very small. (I was able to show my great-aunt, who wasn’t much of a cook, how to cook cauliflower and how to make basic mornay sauce when I was about 2 1/2 years old.) Together, Mom and I made homemade marshmallows, gumdrops, pate-a-Chou, cream puffs, noodles, buttercream and 7-minute frostings, and our fantastic Hungarian casserole, to name a few of the gastronomic delights that we created. My sister (Madge), who loved to travel and who often took me with her, encouraged me by example and by suggestion to try my hand at international fare. Legendary among our creations were our cheese and onion enchiladas with homemade cornmeal/flour crepes/tortillas and delicious chunky tomato enchilada sauce. (The basic recipe came from a 1959 Betty Crocker cookbook that my sister had received as a wedding present that year.)

As much as I love going all out and cooking and baking decadent recipes, I try to find ways to cook and bake delicious, yet healthy foods. As a long time member of Weight Watchers, I love the fact that anything at all can be part of a healthy diet. The key is portion size and moderation, which works for me. (Ok. I admit. It works for me MOST of the time.)

I also love reading (especially on my Kindle Paperwhite), music (talk about eclectic taste!), the ocean, rocks and minerals, photography, olives (you read it right), movies, a wide range of television shows, travel (although it is often vicarious in nature), news and politics (which I will keep out of my blog), technology, large and small kitchen appliances, gadgets, and numerous other things. Because of my eclectic range of interests, I can honestly say that I have not been bored since I was a toddler waiting for my brother to get off of the nursery school/kindergarten bus. (In retrospect, I’m fairly certain that I could have used those hours spent at the window in more productive ways.)

Thank you for wading through my Welcome. I hope you enjoy my blog.