Party (or Funeral) Potatoes

What’s in a name? Well, a lot, but the truth of it is that this hashbrown potato casserole is the same from here to eternity and the only giant difference is what you call it. Personally, I appreciate “party” potatoes. “Funeral” sound too glum, while “casserole” immediately makes me not want to eat it. But when it comes to serving a crowd, I’m all about filling up a big 9×13 dish with a crowd-pleaser like this one. And you know what? This casserole is slightly different from all the rest! Read through the instructions and you’ll see what I mean. It earned a few solid reviews from friends—and husband—last night so I’ll make it again for sure.

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup butter, melted
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 tablespoon chicken base
1 pint (16 ounces) sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 packages (20 ounce) fresh shredded hash brown potatoes
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated

TOPPING
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup crushed potato chips
2 tablespoons butter, melted

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9×13 pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a blender, pulse butter, onion, cream of mushroom soup, and chicken base several times to chop onion. Add sour cream, milk, salt and pepper, and pulse just until almost smooth. Stir in dried parsley.

In a very large bowl, combine the hash browns and cheddar cheese. Add the cream sauce and stir until it’s well combined. Pour into 9×13 pan and smooth the top.

Prepare topping: Mix panko crumbs, potato chips and melted butter in a Ziploc bag until well combined. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the casserole.

Bake uncovered for 1 hour until the sauce is bubbling and the topping is golden brown.

**I omitted the topping entirely and didn’t miss it.

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Creamy Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

mashedpotatoes_makeahead

The blogger-chef notes here that no one wants to be standing over a hot bowl of potatoes while guests are circling the holiday dinner table. There’s always umpteen other things a host needs to be doing rather than making mashed potatoes at the last minute. Thus this slightly unconventional recipe, which, I should add, gave us the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever made, hands-down. It’s a winner, so I’m posting it here. Note: the recipe is not hard at all. It’s lengthy because the method is unusual for most of us.

INGREDIENTS

3-1/2 pounds Russet potatoes
2 cups heavy cream
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
Chives, for serving

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 450°F and adjust an oven rack to the middle position.

Place potatoes directly on the oven rack (alternatively, you can place them on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet). Bake until very soft, 50 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes. (Err on the side of overcooking rather than undercooking them.)

Remove the potatoes from the oven. While they are still hot, cut each potato in half lengthwise. Using an oven mitt or a folded kitchen towel to hold the hot potatoes, scoop out all of the flesh from each potato half into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (*see notes on using a potato ricer, food mill or hand-held electric mixer). The flesh near the skin gets a little tough, so be sure to leave it behind. Break the cooked potato flesh down into small pieces using a fork, potato masher, or rubber spatula. Beat on low speed until completely smooth and no lumps remain, 1 to 2 minutes, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream and 6 tablespoons of the butter to a simmer.

Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and, using a large rubber spatula, gradually fold in the hot cream and butter mixture. It will take a few minutes to mix it all in; keep folding until the potatoes are smooth and creamy. Stir in the salt, then taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Transfer the mashed potatoes to a large microwave-safe bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap (the bowl should be large enough that the potatoes don’t touch the plastic wrap). Refrigerate for up to 2 days. (DO NOT FREEZE)

To reheat, use the tip of a knife to poke about 10 holes in the plastic wrap knife, and microwave at medium-high (75 percent) power until the potatoes are hot, about 14 minutes, stirring halfway through the reheating time. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Transfer the mashed potatoes to a serving dish, top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, and sprinkle with the chives. Serve hot.

Note: For perfectly smooth potatoes, pass the potato flesh through a potato ricer or food mill before adding them to the mixer. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use a hand-held electric mixer but the potatoes won’t be quite as smooth. If you don’t have an electric mixer, pass the potatoes through a food mill or potato ricer and then whip by hand with a wooden spoon.

Cranberry Christmas Cake

cranberry christmas cake

Definitely a recipe to hang on to, this cranberry cake is a winner. Subtle, tart, buttery and sweet, it has a crust on top that makes it a textural delight. Perfect to pair with a cup of coffee at the end of a holiday, or even during a brunch. Delicious.

Ingredients

3 eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
12 oz fresh cranberries

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With a mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar until slightly thickened and light in color, about 5-7 minutes. The mixture should almost double in size. The eggs work as your leavening agent in this recipe, so do not skip this step. This mixture should form a ribbon when you lift the beaters out of the bowl. Add the butter and vanilla; mix two more minutes. Stir in the flour until just combined. Add the cranberries and stir to mix throughout.

Spread in a buttered 9×13 pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until very lightly browned and a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean. (I baked mine for 43 minutes.) Let cool completely before cutting into small slices. I cut mine into fairly small pieces, about 1″x2″, so that they could be easily eaten at a party. Enjoy!

Apple Bread

applebread

This recipe from Genius Kitchen is just what you need for a cozy fall (or winter—it’s snowing here!) day. It’ll warm up your house, your heart, and your belly. Yum. I’ve tweaked the recipe some, so refer back to Genius Kitchen’s page for the original. This yields two loaves, as all good quick bread recipes should.

INGREDIENTS

3 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 t ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups diced apples (large dice is nice), no skins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon flour

DIRECTIONS

Mix flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, salt and baking powder together.

Beat eggs and add sugar and oil. Add vanilla and dry ingredients. Stir in apples.

Mix walnuts in a tsp of flour and add to batter. Pour into 2 greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Slow Cooker Tomato Soup

This recipe, from Damn Delicious (a wonderful resource), makes a great soup that, I think, is incredibly flexible. I’m posting the recipe as is–which is how I made it, uh, mostly–and will post my own recipe notes down below. If I make it again I absolutely will tweak it.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled plum tomatoes with basil
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

FOR THE PARMESAN CHEDDAR CROUTONS

  • 4 cups (1-inch) French bread cubes
  • 1 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray.
  2. To make the parmesan cheddar croutons, spread bread cubes in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet; sprinkle with cheeses. Place into oven and bake until crisp and golden, about 10-12 minutes, stirring halfway; set aside and let cool.
  3. Place tomatoes into a 6-qt slow cooker. Stir in tomato sauce, vegetable broth, garlic, onion, bell pepper, tomato paste, oregano, sugar, salt and pepper until well combined. Crush the tomatoes into chunks using the back of a spoon.
  4. Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours.
  5. Puree with an immersion blender until desired consistency is reached. Stir in heavy cream and basil; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Serve immediately with parmesan cheddar croutons.
**Notes: I added a full pint of heavy cream to the recipe and appreciated that level of creaminess. Next time I will omit the red bell pepper as I think pepper overpowers tomato soups. You can monkey around with the spices just as you would with a canned tomato soup. It can handle more basil, oregano, maybe some onion powder and Italian spices. I also like adding parmesan cheese to my soup before serving. Final note: I didn’t think the croutons were worth the effort. I did use a wheat French bread, but overall the taste was pretty bland. If I were to make them again I’d look up crouton recipes and mess with something to make them more flavorful. However, my favorite thing to eat with tomato soup is grilled cheese. Always. Great soup, with a really lovely texture. If you’re going for flavor alone though, this doesn’t taste that different from canned soups.

Just Like Chipotle’s Corn Salsa

My husband loves Chipotles’ corn salsa and now I think I might, too. This recipe, via how sweet it is, is delicious.

(Makes a big bowl)

1 12-ounce bag of frozen sweet yellow corn, defrosted and drained
2 medium-sized jalapenos, seeded and chopped (leave in some seeds for more heat if desired)
1/2 red onion, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
3/4 cup fresh cilantro, torn or chopped
the juice of 2 (juicy!) limes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix, mix, mix. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Add more cilantro, jalapeno or lime according to your tastes!

Zesty Slow Cooker Chicken BBQ

Easy and quick recipe for the cook who is feeding a crowd. And if you’re not feeding a crowd, then you’ll be able to feed your family the rest of the week. Sandwiches, salads, with corn on the cob—yum! From allrecipes.com.

  • 6 frozen skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 (12 ounce) bottle barbeque sauce
  • 1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Directions

  1. Place chicken in a slow cooker. In a bowl, mix the barbecue sauce, Italian salad dressing, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over the chicken.
  2. Cover, and cook 3 to 4 hours on High or 6 to 8 hours on Low.