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Crock Pot Success!

If there was a popularity contest among kitchen appliances, I really doubt the crock pot would win. It’s not pretty, like the stand mixer. It doesn’t chop/slice/dice/mince/blend everything like the food processor. It doesn’t clean up after you like the dishwasher.

In fact, the crock pot would probably be the last one picked, usually through no fault of its own. I mean, there are a lot of not-so-good crock pot recipes out there. You know the type: You put ingredients in the crock pot before work and leave, thinking that you’ll be rewarded with a delicious meal at the end of the day, only to come home to an overcooked, tasteless pile of mush. Disappointing and wasteful. (Also disappointing: Crock pot recipes that only cook for 2-4 hours. I’m gone from 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. How on earth is that supposed to help me?)

This recipe, though, is not one of those disappointments, at least for me. It’s easy to put together (a must when you have to assemble it at 6:30 in the morning), and it tastes good 10 hours later. I always add potatoes, since they’re my favorite part of the traditional “pot roast.” When I remember, I add some minced garlic as well, since you can’t go wrong with garlic. 🙂

PotRoast

Pot Roast with Potatoes, Carrots and Onions

1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoon water
8 medium carrots, peeled (or well-scrubbed) and cut into 3″ pieces
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
2 medium onions, each cut into 8 wedges
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 3-lb. beef Chuck roast
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper

In a large (5-6 quart) crock pot, whisk together the cornstarch and water. Add the vegetables to the crock pot and season with salt and pepper.

Place the roast on top of the vegetables. Spread the minced garlic on top of the roast, then sprinkle the roast with salt and pepper. Drizzle Worcestershire sauce on top of the meat.

Cover and cook on low for 10 hours. (Martha says you can cook it on high for 6 hours, but I’ve never tried it. Like I said, I’m gone all day.) Transfer the roast and vegetables to a serving platter. If desired, strain the pan juices through a fine mesh strainer and serve alongside the meat and vegetables. (I take the lazy easy way out and simply drizzle a few spoonfuls of the pan juices over my plate before digging in.)

Adapted from Everyday Food Magazine, October 2008

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2016 in Beef, Main Dishes, Uncategorized

 

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Why Didn’t I Think of This Before?

I didn’t plan on writing about these. In fact, they weren’t even on my mind when I put the potatoes in the oven. Potato skins (tasty as they are) are one of those things that I don’t make at home. In my mind, they’re one of those things that you order with wings when you’re out at your favorite sports bar. But then, as I was preparing my favorite potato soup, I noticed that I had a giant pile of potato skins. Lightly salted, cooked potato skins. Perfect for topping with cheese and bacon.

Why hadn’t I noticed this before? (Think of all of the missed opportunities!) 

Since I made this up on the fly, these aren’t exact measurements. Call it a guideline, rather than a recipe. I’m including my baking directions, but if you have a baking method that you prefer, by all means, use that. The goal is to have baked potatoes that are cool enough to handle so you can de-skin them. Once the potatoes are baked and skinned, it comes together very quickly. Perfect for Sunday afternoon snacking, if you ask me.

Potato Skins

 

Baked Potato Skins

5 large white potatoes
olive oil
kosher salt
shredded cheddar cheese
green onions, sliced
fresh parsley, finely chopped
bacon, cooked and crumbled

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Scrub the potatoes and lightly prick them with a fork. Place potatoes on a baking sheet and lightly drizzle them with olive oil. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt and bake until tender, about 1 hour. Remove the potatoes from the oven and let them cool until you can handle them. (I used my oven’s “time bake” feature for this. I popped the potatoes in the oven before church, set the timer, and came home to perfectly done spuds. It’s almost as good as the crockpot for hands-off effectiveness!) 

When the potatoes are cool, slice them in half and gently peel the skins away from the cooked potato. Reserve the potato for another use. (May I suggest soup?)

Arrange the potato skins in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese, green onions, parsley and bacon. Broil until skins are crispy and cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

A Beth’s Blue Plate Original

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2014 in Appetizer

 

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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. 😀

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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Back in the Swing of Things

I’ll be the first to admit that I couldn’t wait to get back into my kitchen after vacation. Having all of my knives, my oven AND running water was like a dream come true after two weeks of boiling water over a camp stove before washing the dishes.

This chowder was the first new dish I made after we got back. I’d had it on my “to try” list for quite a while, but somehow, I never got around to actually making it. (Probably because we devour our sweet corn before it has a chance to become an ingredient.) And since we came home to some very fall-like weather, soup seemed like the perfect way to get back into the kitchen. Let’s do a quick recap of what this recipe has going for it:

  1. It uses up stray CSA ingredients. (We only had three ears of sweet corn… this kept us from fighting over who would get the third ear.) 
  2. It’s quick and easy.
  3. It’s filling, without being too heavy of a soup. I only made half a batch (which is what I’m sharing below), and we got two days’ worth of lunches out of the deal!
  4. It knocks one more recipe off my ever-growing “things to try” list.
  5. BACON. Enough said. 😀

ShrimpChowder

Corn & Shrimp Chowder with Bacon

3 ears of sweet corn, husked
4 slices of bacon (OK, so I used the full amount of bacon. That just ensures that there will be 2 slices to actually go in the soup, since it’s inevitable that some will mysteriously disappear before the soup is done.) 
4 scallions, thinly sliced, green and white parts separated
2 medium red potatoes, cut into 1/2″ chunks
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 pound large uncooked shrimped, peeled and deveined
salt and pepper, to taste

Stand an ear of corn up in a large, wide bowl. Using a paring knife, cut the kernels off the cob. When the kernels have all been sliced off, take a spoon and scrape the pulp into the bowl. Repeat with the remaining ears of corn.

In a large saucepan or stock pot, cook the bacon slices until crisp. Remove from the pan and allow to drain on a paper towel. Crumble slices into bite-sized pieces.

Drain off some of the bacon grease, leaving about two tablespoons in the bottom of the pan. Add the white parts of the scallions and the chopped potatoes to the pan with the bacon grease and cook over medium high heat. Cook until potatoes begin to soften, about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes, or until it begins to brown (but not burn).

Pour the milk into the saucepan, whisking constantly. Stir in 1 cup of water, the Old Bay and thyme. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until potatoes are cooked, about 10 minutes.

Add the corn, shrimp and scallion greens to the pot. Cook until shrimp are opaque and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove pan from heat. Ladle soup into bowls and serve garnished with bacon pieces.

From Everyday Food, July 2009

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2013 in Seafood, Soups & Stews

 

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Crinkle Cut Potato Love

I may have said this before, but potatoes are one of my absolute favorite foods. Mashed potatoes. Twice baked potatoes. Roasted red potatoes. Grilled potatoes. French fries. Loaded baked potatoes. Hash browns. Any way you slice it, they’re heaven on a plate, in my opinion.

And since I’ve already mentioned my love of waffle fries, it should come as no surprise that I was thrilled when my mom sent me my own crinkle cutter for my birthday. After all, crinkle cuts are the next best thing to waffles, right? 🙂

I sliced the potatoes into pieces that were between 1/4″ and 1/8″ of an inch thick, with a few stray thicker slices (because consistency isn’t my thing…), and they roasted up in about 20 minutes, making them the perfect weeknight side. And thanks to a few tips I’ve picked up, I ended up with crispy roasted potatoes. Not quite french fries, but close enough for me!

CrinkleSpuds

Crinkle-Cut Spuds

4 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425. Using a pastry brush, spread 1 teaspoon of olive oil on a large rimmed baking sheet.

Meanwhile, slice potatoes into thin (between 1/4″ and 1/8″ of an inch) slices. Place the slices in a large mixing bowl and cover with cool water. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes, then drain off the water. Rinse the potato slices to remove the extra starch. Place the potatoes on a clean cotton towel and pat them dry. Wipe out the mixing bowl and put the potato slices back in the bowl.

Drizzle the remaining two teaspoons of olive oil over the potato slices and toss to coat. Sprinkle the spices over the potatoes, then toss to coat again. Spread the potatoes out on the baking sheet in an even layer and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes, stirring once about halfway through the baking time.

Serve immediately.

A Beth’s Blue Plate Original

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2013 in Side Dishes

 

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CSA Week #17

This might be one of my favorite weeks! After all, potatoes are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy, right? (What? That’s not how the saying goes? Hmm. Could have fooled me.) 

 

Besides those five wonderful potatoes (How do I decide what to do with them? French fries? Twice baked? Scalloped? I digress…), we received a bag of beets, three tomatoes, a cabbage and a striped acorn squash.

The cabbage is destined for a cabbage/bacon/noodle dish that we really enjoy. (It’s a recipe from my sister-in-law, and it’s definitely a keeper! Thanks, Kim!) I made a stuffed acorn squash with our last one, and I just might do that again. (Psst… did you know that you can microwave the squash in the first step of the recipe? Saves a TON of time!) Our meatless meal for next week will be bean and cheese quesadillas, so the tomatoes might wind up there. 

Since I’m indecisive, give me some suggestions for those spuds! Do I bake ’em? Roast ’em? Mash ’em? Help a girl out! (And while you’re at it, come join me at InHerChucks’ “What’s in the Box?” link party! I’m sure someone there has a good idea for spuds!) 

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Soup’s On!

It’s definitely a soup kind of day here. You know the type – chilly, cloudy, with precipitation that fluctuates between rain, snow and sleet. Not at all what you want to see in mid-April, but apparently the weather and the calendar aren’t on the same page. So, in the spirit of “when the weather life hands you lemons, make lemonade,” I’m going to make a batch of soup tonight.

Baked Potato Soup

Baked Potato Soup

3 bacon slices
1 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 cups chicken broth or stock
2 large potatoes, baked, peeled and cubed
1 cup half-and-half
shredded cheddar cheese, minced parsley, green onions, red pepper flakes and sour cream for toppings
Note: If you don’t have bacon, just substitute some olive oil for sauteing the onions and garlic. It’ll work just fine.

In a large stock pot, cook the bacon. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.Crumble into bite-sized pieces.

Discard some of the bacon grease, leaving about a tablespoon or so in the pot. Add the onion and garlic to the pot and saute until soft. Stir in the flour, salt, pepper and basil. Continue to stir and slowly pour in the stock, stirring constantly. Bring the broth up to a boil and cook for a few minutes, stirring often. Add in the cream and potatoes. Heat through, but do not boil. (If desired, extra cheese can be added to the soup with the cream.)

Serve with shredded cheese, parsley, green onions, sour cream, bacon crumbles and red pepper flakes.

Adapted from All Recipes

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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