Tag Archives: potatoes

Inspiration and the Waffle Iron

26 Mar

Inspiration. It comes from many places. A sweet smile from your child. The scents wafting out of a bakery. An impassioned speech from a respected figure. A plate with artfully arranged food.  Walking through a museum. Beautifully arranged flowers brightening a room. Inspiration, when it comes, affects us all differently.

Admittedly, I am a bit quirky, so when I get inspired it usually sends me into the kitchen. My kitchen represents an ideal arena for self expression, and allows creativity to be channeled in wonderful ways. Take, for example, a recent weekend morning. Inspiration came in the form of wonderful weather, the promise of a great bike ride, and a powerful hunger.

fullsizeoutput_3dc8

The morning was a lovely temperature and getting outside to enjoy the budding day was in order. So Denis and I decided to take a long trail ride on our bikes. But first we needed to power up with a breakfast that would provide much needed energy for our ride. Eggs, Canadian bacon, and hash browns sounded delicious.

The thing is, I am not a big potato fan-unless it is breakfast. I just adore hash browns. They are crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and just plain yummy. But they can be a pain to make, and take a bit of talent to make well.

I’ve tried pulling out my cast iron skillet, oiling it up, shredding potatoes, seasoning them, they frying the heck out of ’em. That was my best attempt at delicious home made hash browns. And they were just so so. Then inspiration hit in the form of my trusty old waffle iron. And I made the Best.Hash.Browns. Ever.

IMG_1544

This is how I started-my waffle iron, potatoes, and some cooking spray. I also had salt and pepper on hand as well. I plugged my waffle iron in and set it to preheat at a medium temperature. While that was heating up I pulled the preshredded potatoes out of the freezer and quickly defrosted them. I squeezed out the excess water.

IMG_1545

When the waffle iron was good and hot I sprayed it with a generous amount of cooking spray. I then placed roughly 2 handfuls of shredded potatoes on the bottom plate of the waffle iron. I sprinkled salt and pepper on top, then placed the top plate over the potatoes.

The potatoes started sizzling away. Denis was busy working on the eggs and Canadian bacon while I fussed over the hash browns. Since this was an experiment with no recipe, I was not sure how long to let the potatoes cook. I watched them closely. After about 6 minutes I gently lifted the top of the waffle iron to take a peek at breakfast project. What did I find?

IMG_1549

Perfection. Absolute deliciousness. I used a spatula to remove the “potato waffle” from the iron. It slid off the iron and onto a plate with ease. The waffle iron made amazing breakfast potatoes. This paired with our eggs and bacon very well. The trail ride, with inspiration from the breakfast, was a rousing success.

Will I try this again? You bet! But next time I will mix in some diced bell peppers and maybe even some cheese. I can’t wait for my next inspiration!

Advertisements

Bland Beige

22 Mar

I love to cook.  But its hard to hit it out of the ballpark every time you go to bat.  I’ve had some famous flops.  A fallen cake.  A kale fail.  A burnt grilled chicken.  Even with my resources, a well stocked pantry, and a fridge and freezer with great leftovers, I blow it.  The other night was once such miss.

I think about a lot of things when composing a meal.  When meal planning, I consider nutrition content, leftover potential, budget, who will be at the table, and what the meal will look like on the plate. No one wants to eat something looking like dog mush, even if the flavor is fantastic.  But I had come home from work late and in a rush to get a good meal on the table.  Into the oven went some lightly seasoned chicken to bake.  It would be ready in about half hour.  Out came some leftovers to round out the meal.

Being busy and distracted, I didn’t go through my typical due diligence getting a meal onto the table.  What leftovers did I pull out to accompany the chicken?  Mashed potatoes, creamy mushroom sauce (perfect to jazz up the baked chicken) and roasted cauliflower.  Sounds good, right?  But put it on a plate, a beige plate at that, and its flat.  No panache or pizzaz.

I will show it to you, but promise not to laugh.  Like I said, everyone misses now and again.  What have your misses been?

My beige dinner.  Delicious but blah.  Especially on a beige dinner plate.

My beige dinner. Delicious but blah. Especially on a beige dinner plate.

 

CSA

5 Oct

The first fall CSA box was ready this week.  What a wonderful fall bounty to kick off the fall farm season! It is time to continue making comfort food, switching from summer light and airy salads to more chowders and hearty pasta sauces.  And my fall CSA is feeding directly into that.  What is a CSA you say?  Well only the best thing since sliced bread!  If you aren’t involved with a CSA, now is time to get involved.

A CSA is a way to support a local farm that participates in Consumer Supported Agriculture.  Participating in a CSA is a fantastic way to become engaged with local farms. Supporting local organizations through attending and purchasing from local farmers markets is a wonderful connect to the community, and participating in a CSA is an extension of that support.

The farm that I support with the CSA program offers either a half or whole share per season, and there is a financial commitment.  You pay for your seasonal share ahead of time.  The amount of produce in the share is the difference in size.  Fall is very busy for my family, so this fall I opted for a half share.  What does that mean?

A share is a portion of local produce that the farm is seasonally harvesting.  With a CSA, the member goes to the farm or designated community location once a week to pick up their share of fresh produce.  The produce is fresh, local, and intended to be used within a few days.  By the time the produce is used, its time to go back to the farm for another share.

This week, my share included cucumbers, turnips, potatoes, an acorn squash, corn on the cob, and the bonus of a late season watermelon.   Last night, I used the potatoes and turnips to make a potato turnip gratin.  My children had not ever had turnips before, and making a warm hearty potato dish with turnips added was a great way to introduce the vegetable to them (for the record, the boys loved it, my daughter not so much…).

I used the cucumbers to make some refreshing cucumber water to keep in the fridge.  With the acorn squash, I simply cut it in half, scooped out the seeds and baked it in a 400 degree oven.  I put a little butter, brown sugar and maple syrup in the center before baking.  Easy and delicious.  I served it along side a baked chicken.  It is fun to be creative with the ingredients.

I can’t wait to see what is in my CSA share this week.  I pick my share up on the actual farm that grows and harvests the produce.  Leaving my office during a busy day, driving 10-15 minutes down the road to the farm, and having a chance to talk to the farmers while getting my share is something I look forward to all week.  My family is excited to see what I bring home, and we have a blast with the ingredients.  Best of all, I get a chance to support local farmers and have fresh, healthy seasonal produce.

If I am delayed and don’t make it to the farm one week to retrieve my share, it is donated to the local community food pantry or food bank.  Look for a CSA in your community and let me know what you come up with!

My CSA share this week.  I am having a blast experimenting.

My CSA share this week. I am having a blast experimenting.

Sweet fragrant and decadent  late season watermelon was a bonus this week with my CSA share.

Sweet fragrant and decadent late season watermelon was a bonus this week with my CSA share.

And Go!

4 Jun

Its 6:14. P.M.   Time (or past time!) to start dinner.  Well, it is a little late tonight, but I am busy mom that works outside the home in addition to managing my family.  This will have to do.  Whats for dinner?  A wonderful home cooked chicken dinner.  Chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans.  And ready in a snap.  Here we go.

I cut the red potatoes into quarters, put them in a large sauce pan and covered them with water.  I tossed in a teaspoon of salt, and put the pan on the stove.  I turned the burner to high until they started boiling,  then down to medium heat.  I covered the pot, but left a crack in the lid for the steam to vent.  15 minutes and they would be done.  By the way, potatoes can be “rustic” and don’t always need to be peeled, especially if short on time.  Mashed potatoes are delicious with the skins mixed in.

Next, I took boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut them in half (okay, I call chicken breasts like these  Dolly Parton Chicken…) and sprinkled them with a little salt and pepper.  I sprayed a large skillet with non stick cooking spray and put it on a medium high heat.  I let the pan heat up for a minute and then in went the chicken.  6 pieces in all.  I am feeding myself and my three teenagers.  It is 2.17 pounds of chicken, and I hope it calms the beast of a stomach within my teenagers!

Then I put a time saver move into play,  but a nutritious one and necessary at this point. I opened 2 cans of green beans and poured them into a microwave safe bowl.   I added about 1 tablespoon of butter and a healthy grind of some fresh ground pepper.  I put them into the microwave for 4 minutes.

In the meantime, I drained the red potatoes.  (There is a lot of steam when you do this.  If you kind of put your face over the potatoes, but not too close, when you drain them into the sink. I call this my “busy moms mini facial”. Ha!).   I put them back on the stove with no heat under them.  The residual water needs to evaporate for a minute. Then, I added about 1/4 cup skim milk, about 2 tablespoons of butter, a few tablespoons of fat free sour cream, and some horse radish for a punch of flavor to the potatoes.  I used my hand mixer to smooth them out a bit.  I finished by added some salt and pepper.

When the chicken was done, I oozed a bit of flavorful barbecue  sauce onto the breasts.  The cover went on the pan, I removed them from the heat, and let the flavors take hold.

While the meal was cooking, I called my kids into the kitchen to set the table so it was ready when the food was.   They also put some nice music on.  They helped get the food to the table, and dinner was served.   And the rule in my house?  Whoever cooks dinner is off the hook for dishes!

That’s it.  Dinner is ready to come to the table in less time than driving to the local fast food place.   In a snap my family had a good home cooked meal to share.  We also always enjoy dinner time to catch up about school, new movies, and what friends are up to.   It is a great time to connect as a family.  And it is easy, nutritious, and budget friendly!