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Category Archives: Potato

Sweet and Spicy Pork over Smashed Sweet Potatoes

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Anyone else inherit the same paranoia about undercooked pork that I did? Do you find yourself perpetually overcooking your pork until it practically crumbles and barely resembles meat? You’re not alone. Overcooking pork is a common practice, stemming from the fear instilled in us by our well-intentioned elders, who warned us never to mess around with undercooked pork. Fearing for our lives and horrified at the thought of contracting some miserable illness, we did as we were told and cooked that pork to a dry 170 degrees.

Turns out that nowadays, Trichinella (the parasite of concern in pork) is not so much a problem as it once was. Improved sanitation standards and pig diets have resulted in a much safer pork quality. Furthermore, trichinella is actually killed at a temperature which is much lower than 170 degrees. There’s really no reason to cook your pork to death.

Wouldn’t you rather enjoy a juicy pork chop instead of something akin to cardboard? Well, you’re in luck! Recently, the USDA officially lowered it’s recommended minimum temperature for pork. You can now rest at ease with cooking your pork to a minimum temperature of 145 degrees. Add a recommended three minute rest time for a little carryover cooking and to let the juices redistribute and you’ll have yourself a delicious, juicy piece of pork. (Click here for more information on the USDA’s revised recommendations.)

It’s now easier than ever to remember the safe cooking temperatures for all types of meat. Just three numbers to remember for safe, delicious meat! Pork, beef, lamb, and other whole cuts of meat all have a minimum recommended temperature of 145 degrees. The recommendation for poultry remains unchanged at a minimum cooked temperature of 165 degrees. Ground meats maintain a minimum recommended cooked temperature of 160 degrees. (See my summertime safety note below the recipe.)

The best way to measure the temperature of any meat is with an instant-read meat thermometer, inserted into the thickest part of the meat. If you don’t already own a good thermometer, get yourself one. It is, without a doubt, one of the most useful kitchen tools you’ll own.

I’ve got just the thing to celebrate the new, lowered safe temperature recommendation for cooked pork; a lean pork tenderloin glazed with a sweet and spicy sauce made of honey and sambal oelek (ground chili paste). Check in the international section of your grocery store for the sambal oelek. If you’re unable to find it, a ground chipotle pepper (from a can of chipotles in adobo) would make a good substitute. Our perfectly cooked tenderloin will be served atop a mound of lightly spiced, smashed sweet potatoes and drizzled with a bit of the honey sauce.

Sweet and Spicy Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients

  • 1 1-pound pork tenderloin
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons sambal oelek
  • Salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Remove any excess fat or silver skin from the pork tenderloin. Place the tenderloin on a baking dish. Season with salt.

In a bowl, combine the honey and sambal oelek until well blended. Pour about half of the mixture over the tenderloin. Place the tenderloin in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes, until it has reached an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees. Halfway through the cooking time, pour the remainder of the honey mixture over the tenderloin. Allow to rest for 3 minutes before slicing.

Serve over smashed sweet potatoes. Drizzle with excess honey sauce from the baking dish.

Serves 2-4

For the sweet potatoes: Place 2 large sweet potatoes on a baking sheet. Bake in a 375 degrees oven for about an hour, until very tender. Split the potatoes in half and scoop out the tender insides. Smash the potato with 3 tablespoons of butter and about 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, until as smooth as desired.

**Semi-unrelated Summertime Safety Note**

The recommended minimum temperature of 160 degrees for ground meats includes burgers, despite some people’s preferences for a more rare-cooked burger. The higher recommended temperature for ground meat (as compared to whole cuts of meat) is due to the nature of the product. Whereas bacteria exists mainly on the surface of whole meats, which enables it to be fully killed during the cooking process, bacteria in ground meat has the potential to be spread throughout the entire product. If you prefer your burgers on the rare side, your best bet is to purchase the highest quality meat from a trusted source and grind it in your own, impeccably clean meat grinder.  Irradiated beef, which has been exposed to radiation in order to kill bacteria and parasites is another option for rare-cooked burgers, though personally, the idea of irradiated meat doesn’t sit well with me. I’d much rather just cook my burgers to the recommended safe temperature. Using a ground beef with a higher fat content (80/20) is the best way to maintain a well-cooked, juicy burger.

Spanish Tortilla

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Nowadays, our television is set to an endless marathon of Disney Junior and Nickelodeon. It’s had a slow, but profound effect on our sanity level. My husband and I frequently find ourselves giggling aloud over funny scenes in Phineas and Ferb and Spongebob. And I’d be lying if I said we didn’t occasionally record iCarly while we put the kids to bed, so we don’t miss what happens next between Sam and Freddy. We knew we’d gone overboard when we seriously contemplated spending a small fortune on a special Nick Jr. themed cruise to the Bahamas, which would feature special guests from the cast of iCarly and the voice-actor for Spongebob Squarepants. For the kids, of course.

So, yes… We might count iCarly amongst our current favorite shows, right alongside Community, Modern Family, 30 Rock, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. But don’t mock it until you’ve seen it. It’s seriously funny. Or perhaps, with parenthood, we’ve gradually lost our ability to objectively evaluate television comedy. Before you know it, we’ll be blasting the Spice Girls in the car and trying to convince the kids that it’s cool.

Whatever the case may be, I rarely get to watch any of the shows I used to watch in my pre-children days. It’s been years since I sat around watching a marathon of cooking shows on the Food Network, mentally bookmarking recipes and culinary techniques.

But, during my postpartum hospital stay, I had the opportunity to do exactly that. In fact, I watched the Food Network day and night for two days straight. I would have turned it off at night, but I couldn’t figure out how to use the one-button hospital remote and was too embarrassed to ask the nurses about it.

It was refreshing to spend those two days watching cooking shows, instead of children’s television. I left the hospital reinvigorated about cooking and with my mind set on a few new ideas. One of those ideas was so simple, yet something I’d never thought to try; a Spanish Tortilla or Tortilla Española.

A Spanish tortilla is not like the type of flour or corn wrap you’d use for tacos or burritos. It’s an egg based dish, more like an omelet or Italian frittata. It’s typically filled with sliced potatoes and occasionally onion, chorizo, or other fillings.

The main difference between a tortilla and a frittata is in how the eggs are finished. Both preparations begin with the eggs and filling, cooked stovetop in a frying pan. But whereas the frittata is finished in the oven, Spanish tortillas are flipped and finished on the stovetop.

Traditionally, the potatoes in a Spanish tortilla are peeled and lightly fried in a generous amount of oil prior to composing the tortilla. But, due to a grocery shopping oversight, which left me with very little oil on hand, I chose to bake the potato slices, with skins on, until tender. It worked perfectly and significantly cuts down on the oil typically used in the dish.

Serve your Spanish tortilla alongside a mixed greens salad for lunch or as a side-dish at dinner along with some smokey chorizo sausage and sweet corn.

Spanish Tortilla

Ingredients

  • 1 pound potatoes, sliced thin (about 1/8″ thick)*
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3-4 green onions, sliced (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
*Low-starch potatoes, such as Yukon Gold or red potatoes work best, since they will hold up to the precooking without falling apart. I used baby golden potatoes.

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange potato slices in an even layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 15 minutes, until tender, but not mushy. Transfer potatoes to a large bowl. Add the green onions, if desired. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs with the milk and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the potatoes and toss to combine.

In a nonstick skillet, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Swirl the oil so that it coats the bottom and edges. Pour the egg and potato mixture into the hot pan. Gently shake and shimmy the pan to help evenly distribute the potatoes. Cook over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium/medium-low and continue cooking until the eggs appear mostly set, about 15 minutes.

Here’s the fun part… Once the eggs are mostly set on the top, you will flip the tortilla. First, use a rubber spatula to gently loosen the edges and ensure that the tortilla has not stuck to the pan. Then, remove the pan from the heat. Place a large plate over the top of the pan. Place one hand on the plate to hold it securely to the pan. Then, holding the pan with the other hand, flip the pan and the plate so that the tortilla falls onto the plate. Finally, gently slide the tortilla back into the pan to finish cooking the other side, about 5 minutes over medium/medium-low heat.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Kielbasa and The Hecklers

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Every year, on a Saturday near St. Patrick’s Day, a 15k run takes place in my hometown. The route of the race takes the runners up the road of my childhood home. For the past few years, my parents have been enjoying this annual spectacle seated on lawn chairs at the foot of my neighbor’s driveway, Bloody Marys in hand. As such, when this year’s big day arrived, my parents made their way over to the neighbors at the appropriate time, took up their annual seats, turned up the music, and awaited the sprinting masses.

This year, they waited for longer than usual for the first of the runners to pass. When, at last, the frontrunners arrived, they turned up the music, cheered and waved their Blood Marys in spirited support. A short time later, they repeated this routine as another pair of runners made their way up the steep, windy road. Moments after that, the third group of runners ran past; a man, two women, and two children. They were struggling their way up the challenging incline of my parents’ road. This was certainly not the type of group you’d expect to see leading the pack during a 15k race, gasping for breath, backs arched in weary fatigue. It was at this point that my parents began to suspect that something was amiss. But, as the group struggled to pass, my parents and their neighbors rose from their lawn chairs, turned up the music, and shouted cheers of encouragement, Bloody Marys raised in supportive salute. You can do it! Keep going! One of the women gave up her struggled run and switched to a walk as she passed.

I know from my running experiences that loud, peppy music and cheers of encouragement can be quite motivating during a race. I’m equally certain that the runners who passed my parents that morning would have been brightened up by their support…had it actually been the morning of the race. But, no…There was no race scheduled for that morning. The race would take place the following Saturday. My parents had not, in fact, spent their morning encouraging racers. They’d spent their morning drinking in their neighbor’s driveway and heckling innocent health-minded joggers.  My parents; the hecklers.  The following Saturday, on the actual morning of the race, they repeated their well-practiced routine.

This story is neither here nor there in regards to the following recipe. But I’ve been giggling for weeks over the thought of my well-intentioned parents harassing random joggers. This is what happens when all of the kids grow up and move out.

Today’s recipe is one-dish meal, which makes me think of camping, for some reason I can’t fully explain. Slices of kielbasa, potatoes, peppers, and onions are tossed in a bit of olive oil and roasted together in the oven; so simple that it’s more of a meal idea than an actual recipe. Enjoy this dish as a family-pleasing weeknight meal or make it for a crowd! It would even make a tasty snack to keep you well-nourished on those mornings where you find yourself heckling joggers from the comfort of your driveway. Serve with a spicy Bloody Mary.

Kielbasa with Roasted Potatoes, Peppers, and Onions

Ingredients

  • 1 Polish kielbasa sausage, cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 3 pounds baby red potatoes, cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine kielbasa, potatoes, peppers, and onions on a baking sheet. Drizzle and toss with olive oil until evenly coated. Arrange the mixture in an even layer on the baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the peppers and onions are tender and the potatoes and kielbasa are golden brown. Occasionally turn the mixture with a spatula to promote even browning as it cooks. Season with additional salt and pepper, as desired.

Serve with a warm, crusty baguette.

Boiled Irish Dinner and Irish Soda Bread

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We’re just days away from St. Patrick’s Day now! Our green clothing has been starched and ironed and my iPod is loaded with my favorite bagpipe tunes. Ok… so, I admit there are no bagpipe tunes on my iPod and I’ve never actually starched a shirt. But, we are ready for our day o’ green! Everyone’s Irish on St. Patty’s Day, so polish your step-dancing shoes, tuck a shamrock behind your ear, and celebrate in Irish style!

When it comes to selecting an Irish meal for St. Patty’s Day, it doesn’t get any more traditional than a boiled corned beef and cabbage dinner. Corned beef seems to be one of those divisive meals. People tend to fall into one of two corned beef camps; the lovers and the haters. You can call me president of the club for corned beef lovers! I love it prepared as a classic corned beef and cabbage meal and I love every possible incarnation of corned beef leftovers that follows.

Over the years, I’ve prepared corned beef in a number of different ways. I’ve tried the slow-cooker method. I’ve baked it. I’ve braised it. I love it no matter how you prepare it, but in my stubborn Irish opinion, I firmly believe that boiled is best. On top of producing an incredibly tender brisket, the added bonus is that it couldn’t be any simpler to prepare. It’s a full meal, boiled in a pot.

Enjoy your boiled Irish dinner with a fresh slice of Irish soda bread and a tall glass of your favorite Irish libation. Have one for me while you’re at it!

Boiled Irish Dinner

Corned Beef with Cabbage, Potatoes, and Carrots

Ingredients

  • 1 Corned Beef Brisket
  • Carrots, peeled and chopped (or substitute baby carrots)
  • Red potatoes, chopped
  • 1 head of cabbage, cut into wedges

Directions

Place the corned beef brisket in a large pot. Sprinkle with the packet of seasoning included with the brisket. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the brisket. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 3-4 hours, until fork tender. Add the cut potatoes and carrots to the pot during the last 20 minutes of cooking time and the cabbage during the last 15 minutes. Remove the corned beef from the water and cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting against the grain. Remove the cabbage, potatoes, and carrots to serve on the side.

Corned Beef Tip #1 – Remove excess exterior fat before slicing and serving for a more appetizing presentation.

Corned Beef Tip #2 – Your tender corned beef is likely to fall apart while you slice it. This works fine when served as a corned beef dinner, but if you’d prefer to thinly slice the brisket for sandwiches, allow the corned beef to cool in the refrigerator before slicing and reheating. Cooled corned beef slices easier than hot corned beef.

Irish soda bread makes the perfect accompaniment to a boiled Irish dinner. Soda bread is in the family of breads known as quick breads. It’s a no-yeast-required bread, which gets its rise from the reaction between baking soda and acidic buttermilk. It can be prepared with or without caraway seeds, raisins, or other dried fruits. My personal preference is seed-free, but loaded with raisins, served slightly warm with a generous smear of butter.

Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients

  • 4 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2″ chunks
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter. Stir in the raisins. Stir in the buttermilk and egg until a sticky dough begins to form. Once the dough becomes too thick to stir, use your hands to knead the dough until well blended. If the dough is still too sticky to handle, add up to 1/4 cup additional flour. Form the dough into a round loaf and place on the prepared baking sheet. Use a knife to cut an ‘X’ in the top of the loaf. Bake for about an hour, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Serve warm or at room temperature with butter.

*Recipe adapted from a combination and modification of the Food Network Irish Soda Bread recipes found here and here.

Fishcake Friday

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During this time of year, when many people choose to abstain from meat on Fridays, pizzerias and fish fry shops revel in the boost in business. You can often tell it’s Lent simply by counting the number of billboards advertising the best fish fry special in town. Suddenly, every restaurant’s specialty is fried haddock.

For my family, Fridays during Lent usually meant one of four things; pizza, fish sticks, my Daddo’s tuna burgers, or fishcakes. Fish sticks have never been a favorite of mine and I didn’t really learn to appreciate pizza until my college days, when my upstate New York classmates taught me to dip it in bleu cheese dressing. For me, my Friday favorite was always a toss up between the tuna burgers and the fishcakes.

The fishcakes, which my dad prepared for us, came from a recipe passed down from my grandmother. As my dad explains it, this is a meal which was designed to stretch the food budget for a family of eight. One pound of salt-preserved cod is combined with mashed potatoes and a few simple seasonings to form a dozen delicious fish cakes! Served over a heaping pile of spaghetti, this budget-friendly recipe makes a hearty meal for a big family!

Salt cod, or baccalà, can usually be found near the seafood section of your grocery store. Try asking at the seafood counter if you don’t spot it!

Codfish Cakes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound salt cod (baccalà)
  • 4-5 potatoes, chopped*
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 Tablespoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Additional salt, if desired
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • Shortening or Vegetable Oil

*You can adjust the quantity of potatoes based on how fishy you prefer your cakes.

Directions

Soak the salt cod in cold water (refrigerated) for 6 -24 hours. Change the water once, about halfway through. (The longer the fish soaks, the less salty it will be.) Gently simmer the fish for 10-15 minutes. Remove the fish from the water and set aside to cool. Save the water. Add the potatoes to the hot fish water. Boil until fork tender. Strain and mash the potatoes with the butter. Flake the fish, while carefully checking for bones, and add to the mashed potatoes. Add the onion, parsley, black pepper, paprika, and additional salt (if desired). Knead the mixture until well combined. Form the mixture in large 2-3″ balls, then flatten into thick patties. Coat both sides with flour. Heat shortening or vegetable oil* over medium heat. Cook the patties in the oil for 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Serve over spaghetti with tomato sauce or stewed tomatoes.

*My grandma says it should be shortening, but I admit to using vegetable oil. Shhh…don’t tell my grandma!

Makes 10-12 Fish Cakes


In Like a Lamb Shepherd’s Pie

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They say that March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. This year, March came in like a lamb…a very chilly lamb, but a lamb all the same. The thermometer may have registered a cool 23 degrees and the ground is still covered in white, but the sun was shining and the air was calm; a rare occurrence ’round here during the winter. I sense that spring is just around the corner. But that might just be wishful thinking!

In honor of our lamb of a first day of March, it seemed appropriate to make a nice shepherd’s pie for dinner; a perfect comfort meal for a sunny, late winter day. Traditionally, shepherd’s pie is made by layering ground lamb, in a seasoned sauce, with vegetables and a layer of mashed potatoes; a well-balanced meal in a baking dish! This Irish-inspired dish makes a perfect one-dish meal any night of the week or would make a fantastic substitute for corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day!

Many variations of shepherd’s pie call for ground beef as a substitute for lamb. Technically, that wouldn’t be a shepherd’s pie at all, but rather a cottage pie. Shepherd’s herd sheep; not cattle. And shepherd’s pie is made with lamb; not beef. If your grocery store does not regularly carry ground lamb, you have a few options. First, try asking at the butcher counter to see if they would grind a lamb shoulder for you. Many accommodating butchers would be happy to do this for you. If you’ve got a KitchenAid mixer with a food grinder attachment, another alternative is to grind your own lamb. Finally, I’ve read that you can grind meat by pulsing it in a standard food processor, though I’ve never actually tried this particular strategy. If all else fails, substitute ground beef and call it cottage pie instead! It will still be delicious!

Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup carrots, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup onions, finely diced
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (plus more, if desired)
  • Pepper
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas, warmed
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn, warmed
  • 2 cups creamy mashed potatoes*
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Additional cheddar cheese and parsley, for garnish

*Prepared using your favorite mashed potatoes recipe or boil 4-5 Russet potatoes until fork-tender. Blend with butter and milk until creamy. Season with salt and pepper.

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add carrots and onions. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the ground lamb. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until fully cooked. Sprinkle the flour over the meat. Stir to combine. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the beef broth and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a simmer. Cook for about 2 minutes, until a sauce thickens around the meat. Season with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, combine the mashed potatoes with the cheddar cheese.

To assemble the pie, spread the meat and sauce into a baking dish. Top with a layer of peas and corn. Spread a layer of mashed potatoes on the top. Garnish with a sprinkle of cheddar and fresh parsley. Bake for about 15 minutes, until it bubbles around the edges and the top is lightly browned.

Game Day Menu Ideas

Growing up, my family never watched football. We were more of a hockey and baseball kind of clan. But every year we had a big ole Super Bowl Sunday party. I was infinitely envious of my younger sister, whose birthday happens to fall right around the Super Bowl, for she had a guaranteed birthday party each year, long after the rest of us had been weaned off of annual birthday celebrations.

In college, I briefly and half-heartedly tried to get into the whole football thing. I watched games on TV with my new college friends and looked to them to explain the ins and outs of the activity I was so hopelessly clueless about. But, my interest in football was short-lived. Not long after that, I met my husband, who’s more of a guitar and drum kind of guy than a sports fan. So, football remains largely absent from my life.

But in true, inherited non-football-fan fashion, my husband and I are throwing a Super Bowl party this year. Our game day menu is still under construction, but will almost certainly include some adaptation of these Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins and a decadent German Chocolate Cake in honor of my sister’s birthday. (Those recipes to follow after the Superbowl!)

In the meantime, if you’re in search of a few new ideas for your game day celebrations, check out these previously posted Gourmand Mom recipes:

Spicy Beef Chili

White Chicken Chili

Sweet Honey Cornbread

Jalapeno Poppers

Spinach Dip and Fried Wonton Chips

Chicken Wing Dip

Homemade Pizza Dough

Blue Cows in a Blanket

Creole Deviled Eggs

Fresh Tomato or Corn and Chipotle Salsa

Steak Bordelaise Pizza

Buffalo Chicken Pizza


Broiled Flank Steak with Pomegranate-Balsamic Reduction

Our garbage disposal threw its hands up and surrendered to the land of broken appliances. We fought it for awhile, clinging to the hope that our dear friend would stay with us. But, its conviction was strong and we’ve had to say goodbye. It’s funny, because I never had a garbage disposal growing up, yet I’ve somehow become so very attached to the one in our home that I hardly know how to function in the kitchen without it. A new, super monster of a disposal is waiting to be installed, but in the mean time, we’ve been learning to throw our scraps in the garbage.

No one has benefited more from the broken garbage disposal than our giant labrador disposal. We do not feed him people food. No, he just helps himself. And so, during he night, while the rest of the family is sleeping, our labrador sticks his giant head into the garbage bag and enjoys a midnight snack. His most recent snack included tender pieces of broiled flank steak drizzled with a pomegranate balsamic reduction and served with garlic-sauteed broccoletti and roasted sweet potato wedges. He greeted me in the morning with the enthusiastic tail wags of gratitude.

Interested in pleasing your canine friend? Here’s how it’s done…

P.S. Humans will also enjoy this tasty meal.

Broiled Flank Steak with Pomegranate Balsamic Reduction

Ingredients

  • 1 Flank Steak (about a pound)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 3/4 cup Pomegranate Juice
  • 1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar

Directions

Preheat broiler. Season the steak with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Place it on a baking sheet and broil a few inches below the broiler, for 10-15 minutes, depending on your desired doneness. Allow the steak to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

For the reduction, combine pomegranate juice and balsamic vinegar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Continue boiling until the mixture has reduced by 3/4. Spoon the warm reduction sauce over your cooked slices of steak.

Garlic Sauteed Broccoletti

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of Broccoletti (or broccolini, rapini, rappi, broccoli rabe)
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 teaspoons Garlic, minced
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Insert the broccoletti and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Strain. In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the broccoletti to the pan and toss in the olive oil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.

Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges

Ingredients

  • 3 large Sweet Potatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Cajun Seasoning

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Thoroughly wash the sweet potatoes and cut in half across the middle. Place in a microwave safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for about 5 minutes. The potatoes should still be quite firm at this point. (Microwaving the potatoes for a few minutes will help to reduce the roasting time and makes the potatoes softer and safer to slice into wedges.) Allow the potatoes to cook for a minute, then slice each potato half into wedges. Toss the wedges in olive oil until well coated and season with cajun seasoning. Arrange the wedges in a single layer on a large baking sheet and bake for about 30-35 minutes, until tender and lightly browned.

Serves 4 Humans (with enough leftovers for one large dog)




**Top Secret Family Recipe**

There’s something special about secret family recipes. I’d be willing to bet that every family has got at least one. They are the recipes which are passed on from one generation to the next, the recipes which are prepared on special occasions, the recipes which make you think of home. Perhaps it’s a certain cookie recipe which is baked every Christmas; the one all of your friends and neighbors look forward to. Maybe it’s a special blend of spices which makes your chili stand out. Or it might be a Strawberry-Rhubard Pie which won your Great Aunt Ethel the grand prize at a state fair back in 1920. Whatever it is, these family recipes hold a special worth. They evoke memories and a family pride, which contribute an immeasurable level of value to an otherwise ordinary recipe.

Some families guard their secret recipes with their lives, much like Colonel Sanders guards his secret blend of herbs and spices or Spongebob protects the secret crabby-patty ingredient. Try asking for the recipe and they evade your request, changing topics or vaguely agreeing to send it to you at some unspecified future time. Or perhaps they agree to share the recipe, but it’s done in a whisper, as if Great-Great-Grandma Jones is going to rise from her grave at any moment. Secret family recipes are a special sort of recipe.

As you may expect, my family has its own share of secret recipes. The one which I most strongly associate with home is my dad’s recipe for Connecticut Supper. It’s been my dad’s signature recipe for as long as I can remember. Even now, when we go home for a visit, my dad eagerly prepares Connecticut Supper or he retrieves a tin from the freezer, saved for that very occasion. Either way, it’s almost always waiting for us. It feels like home.

My dad can’t recall the exact origin of the recipe, though he’s pretty sure it was originally found in an old Betty Crocker cookbook circa 1970’s, or something of the like. As far as the name, there is no explanation for that either. It is what it is; Connecticut Supper. And Connecticut Supper is a beefy, cheesy, potato-laden casserole which is pure cold-weather comfort food. This is a Sunday dinner type of meal; a one-dish meal, bubbly hot out of the oven and perfect for a crowd.

Now, we’re all friends here, so I’m going to trust you with my family secret. This is just between us. Shhhh…

**CONFIDENTIAL**

Connecticut Supper

Ingredients

  • 2 large Onions, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 2 pounds Stew Beef, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1 cup Water
  • 2 cups Mushrooms, sliced*
  • 2-3 Potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup Sour Cream
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 3/4 cup Milk
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 10 ounce bar of Sharp Cheddar, grated
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cup Wheaties, crushed

*My dad recommends finding your mushrooms at the grocery store, not from your lawn.

Directions

Heat oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 5-7 minutes until the onions are tender and lightly browned. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Add the beef to the onions. Cook for a few minutes, until the beef is lightly browned. Pour the water over the mixture. Cover and gently simmer for about 50 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour the beef, onions, and cooking liquid into a large (13×9) baking dish. Arrange the mushroom slices in an even layer over the beef. Arrange the potatoes in an even layer over the mushrooms. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, cream of mushroom soup, and milk. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spread the mixture over the potatoes. Top with cheddar cheese, then crushed Wheaties. Bake for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

**CONFIDENTIAL**

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What’s your family’s secret recipe? Will you share it with me?

Smoked Salmon Potatoes Au Gratin

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I’ve got a tasty little twist on potatoes au gratin for you today. Typically, potatoes au gratin is composed of thinly sliced potatoes, baked in seasoned cream until it’s hot, bubbly, and delicious. Sometimes, cheeses such as gruyere or cheddar are added for a super yummy flavor and an extra golden crust. Potatoes au gratin makes a really delicious side dish and works great for large groups and dinner parties.

There’s a passionate love triangle going on in my little twist on potatoes au gratin. You see, I decided to throw in some smoked salmon. Well, smoked salmon and cream cheese are sort of madly in love with other, so I added some cream cheese too. Turns out that cream cheese has also got a little thing for potatoes. And don’t tell the cream cheese, but I swear I saw the potatoes winking at the salmon. The result is a harmonious marriage of flavors; creamy, savory, and thoroughly satisfying.

Smoked Salmon Potatoes Au Gratin

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds Russet Potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 ounces Smoked Salmon, chopped
  • 1 bar (8 ounces) Cream Cheese, chilled and chopped into small pieces
  • 3 Green Onions, sliced
  • 2 cups Half and Half
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • Pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use the side of a knife to smash the garlic clove. Rub the cracked clove of garlic on the sides and bottom of a 13×9 baking dish. Then, rub the inside of the baking dish with butter. Arrange about a third of the sliced potatoes on the bottom of the baking dish. Scatter 1/2 of the cream cheese, salmon, and green onions on top. Arrange another layer of potatoes. Scatter with the remaining cream cheese, green onions, and salmon. Top with the remaining potatoes. In a bowl, whisk together the half and half with the salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the potatoes. Push down gently on the potatoes to ensure that the top layer is lightly covered with the half and half. Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Approximately every 15 minutes, use a spatula or spoon to push down on the top layer to moisten it with the cream and prevent it from drying out.

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