Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mashed Potato Cakes

I cobbled together a few recipes, a little of this and a little of that, and ended up with something pretty good!!


3 cups leftover mashed potatoes
1 egg
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded (I used a Cheddar-Jack mix)
salt and pepper to taste (about a teaspoon of each)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
oil for the griddle

I used a 2-burner griddle to make this go faster. This recipe made about 15 potato cakes.

Mix potatoes, egg, cheese and seasonings (not bread crumbs) in a large bowl. Form into patties and dredge in the bread crumbs. They don't have to be completely coated. Fry on a heated, oiled griddle until brown on both sides. Keep warm in the oven until all the cakes are done.

Note:  these are even better when you use a good sharp Cheddar. They're not the prettiest side dish in the world, but they're very tasty.

Menu Plan for the week of March 22, 2009

SUNDAY: Grilled chicken, mashed potato cakes, mixed vegetables

MONDAY: Ranch-breaded chicken, corn, mac & cheese

TUESDAY: Maple-mustard pork ribs in the slow cooker (a new recipe. Not so great.)

WEDNESDAY: Chicken enchilada soup, salad (that was some REALLY good soup!)

THURSDAY: Chick-Fil-A (yeah, I got lazy)

FRIDAY: baked tilapia, wild rice, salad

SATURDAY: spaghetti

Sunday, March 22, 2009

We have more common sense than magazines think

I was flipping through an old issue of All You magazine and found a recipe for side-dish potatoes that I thought I might try.

I had to love the "kitchen tips" that went along with the recipe, though.
Work in advance. You can make the potatoes through step 2 up to a day ahead (don't preheat the oven). Cover and refrigerate the potatoes. The day of the party, pipe and bake the potatoes, allowing an extra 5 minutes of baking time.

Did they honestly think that they had to warn someone not to preheat the oven if you were preparing this recipe ahead of time? How clueless do they think their readers are?

I can't decide if I should be insulted, or if I should laugh at how clueless the recipe editor was.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Menu Plan: the 2-week-at-a-time version

Here's what we ate for dinner last week.

MON 9: turkey pot pie

TUES 10: tacos

WED 11: turkey chili blanco

THURS 12: spaghetti & meatballs

FRI 13: pizza (takeout)

SAT 14: family reunion at my sister's house; I brought vegetable platters & cole slaw

SUN 15: Spanish Garlic shrimp, rice

MON 16: chicken lo mein (was supposed to be something else, but 2 of Big Brother's friends were still here so I needed something I could expand!)

TUES 17: pot roast, noodles, gravy, vegetables

WED 18: New England Boiled Dinner because I refuse to serve corned beef on St. Patrick's Day just out of spite. It's not an Irish meal!

THURS 19: spaghetti

FRI 20: I want to try this meatless paella

SAT 21: Spaghetti Dinner at our church

Friday, March 13, 2009

"Almost Like Cracker Barrel" Sourdough Bread

My latest effort in sourdough breadmaking is enough like Cracker Barrel's bread that I won't need to buy theirs anymore.

This is a bread machine recipe.

About 8 hours before you want to bake, take your starter out of the refrigerator and toss a pinch of sugar in there, and then stir. Cover loosely. Stir the starter again just before using it.

Put in your bread machine pan:

1/2 cup warm water
1 cup starter
2 1/2 TBL oil (I use light olive oil)
1 tsp salt
2 TBL sugar
3 cups flour

Use the dough cycle. Shape the dough and place in an oiled loaf pan. Allow to rise at least 2 hours.

Bake at 375 for 35 minutes.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Thrifty Thursday: Turkey Stock!

Thrifty Thursday is hosted at Amanda's Cookin' each week!

I made a turkey dinner on Saturday for my younger son's birthday. After I carved the turkey, I let the carcass cool off, then broke it apart. You can do this with your hands once the carcass gets cool. Then I saved it in a covered pot in the refrigerator.

Today I took all of those pieces and put them into the strainer insert for a 12-quart pasta pot (it's like a colander, but cylindrical). I added a bag of "past their prime" baby carrots, a handful of parsley, and some salt and pepper. Then I filled the pot with water and simmered 4 hours.

After that it was easy enough to remove the strainer and I was left with over 8 quarts of fabulous turkey stock. Some of it went into the white chili we had for dinner, and the rest is for the freezer. (We used cubed leftover turkey in that chili instead of chicken. It tasted great.)

So here's my Thrifty Thursday tip: don't waste poultry bones when you can use them for stock!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Pokemon Cake

For Little Brother's birthday I made a Pokeball cake and cupcakes. These were really easy and required a minimum of decorating skill. That's good, because I was not feeling super-well, so I wasn't up to a big challenge.

You need:
3 cans frosting (one chocolate, 2 white)
2 cake mixes, prepared as directed
1 bag Valentine M&Ms (you need red and white M&Ms. Well, actually only white ones, unless you are using red to put numbers on some of the cakes like I did. You get to eat all the pink ones.) If you don't have white M&Ms, get some little gumdrops and use the white ones. Or white chocolate chips, upside-down, would work too.
Icing bag and frosting tip (I used a #3 tip, I think.)
1/2 bottle red food coloring (not those wimpy little vials that come in packs of 4. A BOTTLE.)

I baked 24 cupcakes, 1 9X13 and 1 "dome" in a small Pyrex dish. The batter for that came out of the 9X13 batch. I'm not the biggest fan of baking spray (usually I use solid shortening and flour for cakes) but I had a free can of Bakers Joy and this stuff was fabulous in the Pyrex.

The 9X13 was frosted in chocolate (Middle Sister did that part) and then I put the "dome" on top of that.

Then I mixed up my red frosting. Note: if tinting an entire can of frosting, use a mixing bowl. Don't try to mix it in the can. My table is still a little pink in spots. I did the whole can because there will be another party soon and this way I wouldn't have to mix colors again. I used half a bottle of red coloring for the whole can. The color WILL get more intense over time; when I finished mixing it, it still looked a bit pinkish. So does my thumb, come to think of it.

Put a little of the chocolate frosting into the icing bag for trimming out the Pokeballs.

ALMOST half of each cupcake, and half the dome, should be red. I left a little semicircle uncovered and then did that part in white. Next time I will do the white part and learn.

Trim it with the chocolate and then top with the white M&M.

Fancy birthday cakes on the cheap. My 7-year-old was thrilled.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Menu Plan for Last Week and a hint of what's coming up

Last week I forgot to do the menu plan. Here's what we ate.

SUNDAY: Red Lobster for my father-in-law's birthday

MONDAY: Pork paprikas.

TUESDAY: Taco mac & cheese. The mac part was great & everyone wants it as a standalone dish. I will post that recipe later.

WEDNESDAY: Chicken and dumplings.

THURSDAY: Hawaiian Chicken with pineapple.

FRIDAY: Cheese ravioli with marinara.

SATURDAY: Turkey dinner, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, Granma's rolls.

What's coming up!

SUNDAY it will just be the kids as we are going to a church dinner for the parish volunteers.

I have a good amount of leftover turkey including the carcass, so there will be turkey soup happening sometime this week--or at least turkey stock.

I need to make a big batch of spaghetti sauce this week. We are completely OUT of spaghetti sauce. (The horror!)

I had an unfortunate, inadvertent freezing-of-the-red-bell-peppers that should have been on the vegetable platter for today's dinner. They're sliced but no good for eating raw or stir-frying. They'll be fine for chili or something else like that. So I need to either figure out a way to cook them in something this week, or just freeze them until I think of what to make with them. Maybe they'll be good in the Crockpot Jambalaya recipe I found on Family Corner.

Unfortunately, cucumbers that have been inadvertently frozen are not good for anything, as far as I can tell. Ick. Ever try to peel a partially-frozen cuke? I don't recommend it.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Thrifty Thursday: March 5

Thrifty Thursday is hosted weekly at Amanda's Cookin'

Today's Thrifty Thursday tip is a turkey tip! Yes, I know it's not Thanksgiving, but my kids all love turkey, and I'll be making one this weekend.

You don't have to buy an expensive turkey to get a moist, juicy bird. Here's an easy way to get great results on the cheap. BUT it takes a little planning ahead, because the bird has to be completely thawed a whole day before you want to roast it.

1. Go to your nearest Big Box Home Improvement Store (orange or blue, doesn't matter) and buy a 5-gallon bucket with a lid. Wash it out.

2. Buy a store-brand frozen turkey. Nothing fancy needed.

3. Defrost the turkey.

4. Wash the turkey inside and out and make sure you remove all the giblets and other miscellaneous-in-a-bag that comes with the turkey.

5. Put the turkey in the 5-gallon bucket with the tips of the legs sticking up.

6. Sprinkle a cup of kosher (coarse) salt all over the turkey.

7. Pour water over the whole thing and keep adding water until the cavity is filled and there's plenty of water on the outside of the turkey too. Add lots of ice cubes, and cover.

8. Let this sit at least 8 hours or up to 24.

9. Remove directly to your roasting pan. Don't wash the turkey again. It was clean before you did the brining part.

10. Roast as usual!

Now if you want to get all complicated, Alton Brown does a brined turkey with lots of spices and stuff. But unless you have all of those in your house already, it's not a thrifty turkey. This way works just as well.


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