Garlic + Parm + Potatoes

Mashed potatoes. Come on, who needs a recipe for mashed potatoes? You cook the spuds, add some butter and milk (and sour cream and cheese, if you’re feeling indulgent), and season with salt and pepper. What’s to know?

A lot, according to my latest copy of Cook’s Illustrated. I was reading the article about a French apple tart (looks beautiful, but I think it will take all day just to slice the apples for it!) when I noticed the recipe on the preceding page: Parmesan Garlic Mashed Potatoes. The potato recipe looked significantly less involved than the tart recipe, plus, I had everything to make it. On the menu it went!

It goes without saying that since it’s a Cook’s Illustrated recipe, it’s more involved than your standard potato recipe. I did question some things in the recipe (such as why I have to cut the butter into chunks when I’m melting it anyway…), but since CI has tested for practically every scenario, I stuck to the recipe. For the most part, anyway. I saw no reason to pour the melted butter, garlic and Parmesan cheese from the saucepan into a separate bowl before then pouring it into the potatoes. They may have a dedicated dish crew, but I am not that lucky. :) (I do appreciate all of the testing and science behind their recipes though. I definitely learn something from each issue – even if I don’t get around to making all of the recipes.) 

Extra steps or not, it was worth it. The recipe says it feeds 4-6 people as a side dish, but I could have skipped the rest of dinner and just had potatoes. I hoarded the leftovers. (Sorry to all of my coworkers for making the office smell like garlic!) I licked the spatula and the potato masher clean. (OK, so I do that anytime I make mashed potatoes… let’s not get hung up on the details…) If I were making the potatoes for Thanksgiving, these would definitely be on my short list. But since I’m not in charge of the spuds (to my knowledge, anyway), I’ll just make these for other special occasions. You know, like Tuesday dinners. :D

Garlic Parm Mashed Potatoes

Parmesan Garlic Mashed Potatoes

2 pounds potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/2″ thick chunks (CI recommends Yukon Golds; I just used the white potatoes from my Grandma.)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, mixed with 1/2 teaspoon water
1 1/4 teaspoons garlic, zested/minced into a paste, divided
2/3 cup warm milk
1 1/2 ounces (3/4 cup) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
parsley, for garnish (optional)

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and add water until potatoes are covered with 1″ of water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender (about 15 minutes) and pierce easily with a paring knife. Remove from heat and drain the potatoes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic powder/water mixture and 1 teaspoon of minced garlic to the butter and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in Parmesan cheese, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of garlic and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper.

Place the potato saucepan back on the stove over low heat. Add the potatoes to the pot and mash them. (Cook’s Illustrated recommends using a potato rice, but since I don’t own one, I just used my hand masher.) Stir the butter-Parmesan mixture into the mashed potatoes. Pour the milk into the potatoes and stir until combined. Taste the potatoes and season with salt, if necessary. (I added a scant 1/2 teaspoon to the mixture… significantly less than the 1 1/4 teaspoons that CI recommended.) Transfer the potatoes to a serving dish and top with parsley, if using. Serve immediately. (Unless the rest of your dinner isn’t ready yet. If that’s the case, simply cover the potatoes with foil and place in a warm oven.) 

From Cook’s Illustrated, December 2014

Click here for a printable version.

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Posted by on October 19, 2014 in Side Dishes


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CSA 2014: Week 17

The end is near! Week 18 will be our last “regular season” pick up. (We’ll get one final “late season” share a few weeks after that.) I feel like this week’s share was a nice mix of summer and fall produce. We’re still getting green beans, peppers and tomatoes, but we also have sweet potatoes, kale and squash. I guess you could say it’s the best of both worlds. :)

CSA2014 week 17

Week 17: 

1 bunch of kale
1 bag of mixed salad greens (I have a funny story about those for you…) 
1 bunch of radishes
2 kohlrabi
1/2 lb. of green beans
1 buttercup squash (Any ideas on this one? I was told that it’s similar to butternut, but drier.) 
2 eggplants
6 sweet peppers
sweet potatoes

I’m not sure what I’ll do with everything. Thankfully, most of it keeps fairly well. I have the green beans earmarked for tomorrow’s dinner, and I’ve been adding pepper slices to my lunch every day. I was able to use the salad greens for a dinner with friends, which brings me to my funny story…

After bringing home our produce last week, I stored it in the fridge and went about my business. Friday night, after work, I rinsed the salad greens, spun them dry, and tossed them into a bowl with some cherry tomatoes and Parmesan cheese, and then headed out the door. We were enjoying our dinner, when I looked down at my plate and noticed a GIANT DADDY LONG LEG spider in my salad. EW. (Side note: I hate spiders. I tell Andy all the time that I got married just so I wouldn’t have to deal with the creatures. Anyway…) The spider wasn’t moving, so I discretely flipped it off my plate, figuring I could pick it up in a napkin after dinner. Well, after 15 minutes or so, the spider gets up and STARTS MOVING across the table, where it was noticed by my friend’s five-year-old son. I grabbed his napkin, and using it AND my water glass, smashed the thing. Which obviously brought attention to the situation, and I had to admit that I brought a salad with a bug in it. I bet they ask me to bring dessert next time. ;)

Such are the risks of getting produce from a farm, rather than the grocery store. Sometimes it comes with wildlife.



Posted by on October 12, 2014 in Uncategorized


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My Kind of Ice Cream

Andy and I are on the same page about a lot of things in life (which is how it should be), but we are definitely a house divided when it comes to ice cream. He prefers vanilla bean over any other flavor, ever. The only time I want vanilla ice cream is if someone is making root beer floats (and then that’s just because I don’t like root beer). Vanilla = boring. Even if I’m having pie. I’ll take a scoop of something interesting (chocolate, moose tracks, etc.) with my peach pie, thank you very much.

In spite of my personal feelings toward vanilla, it’s the flavor that gets made most often at our house. (That’s a testament to how much I love my husband and friends who rave about the vanilla ice cream. You’re all welcome.) This weekend, though, I’d reached my limit. A girl can only stand so much vanilla, after all. So when I had the chance to make a birthday dessert for a friend who prefers chocolate, I was all over it. We had a cookies and cream cake with chocolate frosting (and yes, it was as good as it sounds) and chocolate ice cream. And wow, was it good. Rich chocolate flavor. Perfect, creamy texture. Melt-in-your-mouth goodness. I may have taken a spatula to the bowl to get the last little bits of ice cream.

This recipe is a little more involved than the vanilla bean ice cream, simply because it’s an egg-based/custard recipe, rather than the Philadelphia-style vanilla. I’ve decided, however, that I prefer the custard ice creams just because the texture is so much better. I also think they freeze better (creamier and less icy) than the Philadelphia style ice creams. Even with the extra steps of separating eggs and cooking the custard, I’m tempted to just keep making this one and forget about the vanilla. (Until a birthday rolls around for a vanilla fan, that is.) ;)

Chocolate Ice Cream

Chocolate Ice Cream

2 cups of heavy cream, divided
3 tablespoons dutch cocoa powder
5 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
5 egg yolks
1 cup whole milk or half and half
3/4 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, whisk together one cup of cream and the cocoa powder. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally to make sure the cocoa dissolves. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the mixture simmer for 30 seconds. Take the pan off the burner and add the chopped chocolate, whisking until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the remaining cup of cream.

Pour the chocolate mixture into a large glass bowl and set a fine mesh strainer over the top. Set aside.

Combine the milk, sugar and salt in the same saucepan that you used for the chocolate mixture. Warm the milk mixture over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks in a glass measuring cup. Add about 1/2 cup of the warm milk to the egg yolks and whisk to combine. Pour the egg yolks into the saucepan, whisking constantly. Cook the custard until it thickens and coats the back of a metal spoon, stirring constantly.

Pour the custard through the strainer and into the chocolate mixture. Add the vanilla extract. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator to cool. When the mixture is thoroughly chilled, freeze it in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Store the ice cream in a freezer-safe container until you’re ready to enjoy it.

From Annie’s Eats, who adapted it from the Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Click here for a printable version.

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Posted by on October 5, 2014 in Dessert, Ice Cream


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CSA 2014: Week 15 & 16

Look! Only two weeks worth of veggies this time. I’m practically caught up. Ha!

Week 15: I was pretty pumped – leeks AND sweet corn? I had a hard time deciding what to do with the leeks, but I finally decided on these leek toasts. (In case you’re wondering, they’re ideal football food – portable, not too messy and good fresh out of the oven or at room temperature. We enjoyed them while the Cowboys embarrassed the Saints Sunday night.) We ended up just eating the sweet corn right off the cob, with butter and salt. Why mess with a good thing?

We also receive loads of cherry tomatoes, potatoes, sweet peppers, green beans, celery and a few sprigs of fresh parsley. The puzzling item of the week – the 3/4 of a pound of serrano peppers. I have NO idea what to do with all of them. Any ideas? My current plan is to deseed them, then chop and freeze them for use in chili, etc. over the winter. However… that might be a lifetime supply of hot peppers for me!

CSA2014 week 15

Week 16: Holy huge cabbage, AGAIN. This one clocked in at 7 pounds, 10 ounces. I need cabbage suggestions… we can only eat so much cabbage and noodles and coleslaw. Any ideas?? We also have more tomatillos, fresh greens, zucchini, sweet peppers, banana peppers, green beans, two acorn squash and more cherry tomatoes. I am really looking forward to making stuffed squash with the acorn squash. It’s one of our favorite fall dinners. I will probably pickle the banana peppers, unless I can talk Andy into my favorite pizza combination – pepperoni, pineapple and banana peppers.

CSA2014 week 16

And there you have it! We have a few more weeks left in our CSA, so I plan to enjoy every bit of it before the inevitable (a.k.a. winter) happens.


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Posted by on October 1, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Fall Wonderfulness (a.k.a. Our Apple Crisp)

Last weekend, Andy and I picked 130 pounds of apples. Yes, 130 pounds. Clearly, we have zero restraint around fruit. (After all, we’re the same people who picked 50 pounds of strawberries and bought 30 pounds of blueberries earlier this year.) Thank goodness that apples have a pretty long shelf life. And while a lot of those apples will end up in sauce, a fair amount of them will wind up in Andy’s other favorite* dessert: apple crisp.

Over the last seven years, we’ve refined our process and created the perfect system for cranking out batches of crisp. Andy peels, cores and slices the apples. While he’s busy filling the baking pan, I mix up the crumb topping. (Yes, I clearly have the better end of the deal. Don’t tell him though.) Once the pan is full, I toss the apples in cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle on the topping. If we time it right, I can mix up a batch of crumb topping while I’m prepping dinner, which means that the crisp goes in the oven just as we’re sitting down to eat. The result is warm apple crisp for dessert, and if Andy’s lucky, there’ll be vanilla ice cream to go with it. :D


*His favorite, right after vanilla bean ice cream and chocolate chip cookies, anyway.

I’ve made this more times than I can count, and this is the first time I’ve bothered to write down the recipe. This is another one of those recipes that I do by “feel” – if it looks like it needs more oatmeal, brown sugar or cinnamon, I add some. Feel free to do the same. :) 

Apple Crisp 

8-10 cups of sliced apples
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
1 cup old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375. Spread the apple slices in a 9″ x 13″ baking pan. Sprinkle the granulated sugar and about 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon on the apples. Gently stir to combine.

In a medium bowl, mix the oats, flour, brown sugar and remaining cinnamon. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the oat mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the apples. Sprinkle with extra cinnamon if desired.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the apples are tender and the topping is golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve warm or at room temperature.

Barely adapted from A Taste of the Country, Fifth Edition

Click here for a printable version.

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Posted by on September 30, 2014 in Dessert


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CSA 2014: Weeks 8-14

Oh my, I have been slacking on sharing our CSA goodness. Seven weeks without a CSA update? Yikes. To make matters worse, I don’t even have pictures of weeks nine and 10, since we were out of town, but my friend Laura was kind enough to pick up my veggies and enjoy them.

So, without further delay, here’s a look at our veggies for the last two months:

Week 8: Most of this went on vacation with us – except for the kohlrabi, which keeps exceptionally well in the fridge. Seriously. I think we ate it just last week.

CSA2014 week 8

Week 11: The watermelon and sweet corn were welcome additions to our Labor Day cookout. I stuffed the peppers with a Mexican-flavored risotto (thank you, SK cookbook!) and stored the beets in the fridge. (Thankfully, they keep just as well as kohlrabi!)

CSA2014 week 11

Week 12: The week of the melons. We had a cantaloupe and an Asian melon, which tasted a little like a honeydew. We also had an eggplant, which meant trying a new recipe, and we ended up loving it. (I think it was the feta, more than the eggplant…) More peppers, corn and tomatoes too.

CSA2014 week 12

Week 13: I weighed the cabbage. 6 lbs., 10 oz., in case you were wondering. Sounds like a birth announcement, doesn’t it? I have been making lots of coleslaw, and I’m pretty sure that I’ll make a batch of cabbage and noodles soon too. More peppers, which make an excellent snack in our lunches. More sweet corn and tomatoes. Another zucchini, which found its way into double-chocolate bread. Thank you, King Arthur Flour. Honestly, though, I was most excited about the green beans. It’s the simple things in life, right?

CSA2014 week 13


Week 14: LEEKS! Tomatillos! Sweet Potatoes! AND sweet corn! (Seriously… mid-September, and I’m still getting sweet corn? I’ll take it.) As soon as I saw the tomatillos, I knew exactly what I was doing with them. Making these enchiladas. I’ll use the poblano instead of hatch chiles (because I have never seen them here in Wisconsin). I think I’m going to try a new recipe with the kale, and I did something new with the corn tonight.

CSA2014 week 14


And there you have it. I’m all caught up… just in time to get more veggies on Wednesday. :)



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Posted by on September 22, 2014 in Uncategorized


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What We’re Eating 9/8 – 9/12

Last week, I put a great menu together, including two new recipes. I was excited. I was organized. I was going to conquer the mountain of vegetables in my fridge. And then, Andy went out of town for work, leaving me with leftover pizza, brats and risotto. Needless to say, last week’s menu didn’t happen.

So, let’s try this again.

Monday 9/8 – Leftover chili (Andy will be at a cookout at church, so it’s just me for dinner) 
Tuesday 9/9 – Thai chicken wraps, corn on the cob
Wednesday 9/10 – Kale pesto pizza
Thursday 9/11 – Grilled pork chops, roasted kohlrabi and beets
Friday 9/12 – Dinner with friends! (I think I’m supposed to bring a salad… I should verify that.) :)

We’ll see if I have better luck this week!

Editor’s Note: WordPress tells me that this is my 200th post. Crazy stuff. Can’t believe that people are actually reading my ramblings. :)

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Posted by on September 7, 2014 in Uncategorized




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