The Mashed Potato Diaries – #TaterRage #iluvtaters

mashed potatoes

Creamy, dreamy fluffy mashed potatoes – there is no better comfort food in the world. Seriously, starch and fat all folded into a billowy mountain of goodness just can’t be beat.

In fact, about a week ago, one of my Twitter friends bragged about being awesome at making smashed spuds. I couldn’t take that lying down and mentioned I was pretty damned awesome at making them too. Then another mashed potato fan joined the fray. It was probably the most animated conversation I’ve had on Twitter. Not sure what that says about me, but I do love me some mashed taters, so who cares?

We mused about having a contest but got stuck on how to compete in the virtual world. So, for those who are interested here’s my best recipe:

2 pounds whole Yukon gold potatoes
1 stick of butter
2 cloves of diced and lightly sauteed garlic
½ cup warmed half & half
½ cup sour cream
2 TBSP of mayo
Salt & pepper to taste
Paprika

Peel and quarter potatoes and steam in steamer for approx 20 minutes until just tender.

In a saute pan, saute the garlic until golden, not brown or it will be bitter.

In a large bowl, add potatoes, sauteed garlic, butter, salt & pepper. Work the butter into the potatoes with a masher. Slowly fold in sour cream and mayo. A little more mashing to blend. Pour in warmed half & half, as you blend with hand mixer on low. Mix only long enough to create a fluffy mound. Don’t over mix or you’ll end up with a gelatinous mess. Sprinkle with paprika and serve hot.

Variations:

For a mashed potato meal, add a ladle of chili for chili-mash

For a California flair, add shredded jack cheese and ripe avocado slices

For a classic American kick, add shredded sharp cheddar and real bacon bits – heat under broiler for a couple of minutes for a nice crusty top.

For Midwestern mashed potatoes, instead of gravy top them with creamed corn.

For dirty mashed potatoes leave the skins on.

If that isn’t enough for you, here are 50 mashed potatoes recipes to check out.

What’s your favorite smashed tater recipe? Feel free to share below in the comments.

Writer Chick

Copyright 2014

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Is it soup yet? Writing and eating a winning weekend combination

soup

While I’ve been busy banging out the third book in my series, I haven’t paid much attention to anything else. I am actually starting to name the dust bunnies, that magically appear under the bed, in the corners of my room, the kitchen…I may have even seen one in the car (that reminds, must take car to car wash).

However, no matter how single-mindedly focused I am on finishing this dang book, I still have to eat. And since the weather in sunny California has gone from brain cell destruction hot to lovely fall weather I started hankering for soup.

Soup is good. Soup is fun. Soup is a meal in a pot. Plus you can eat it with one hand, while typing with the other. So between chapters I whipped up a giant pot of my Roast Beef Veggie Soup. Technically I used the crock pot because the oven is on the fritz but it came out great.

In case you’re hungry for soup, or just hungry, below is the recipe. I like to let it sit for 24 hours so that the flavors marry nicely, but last night I didn’t wait. It’s good no matter when you eat it.

Roast Beef Veggie Soup

Ingredients:
1 – 3-5 lb roast (any type will do, although one with marbling, like chuck roast gives it more flavor)
1 – large bell pepper, chopped
1 – large yellow onion, chopped
3 – cloves of garlic minced
½ lb of sliced fresh mushrooms
3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary (or 2 tbsp dry)
3-4 sprigs fresh oregano (or 2 tbsp dry)
3-4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp pepper
1- large can of tomato sauce (29 ounces)
4- cups of water
1- small can of tomato paste (5 ounces)
1- bottle of cheap red wine (Trader Joe’s “2 Buck Chuck” works great)
1 can of beef broth (16 ounces) or 4 bullion cubes in 2 cups of hot water, dissolved
1- 2 lb bag of mixed vegetables
2 lbs of chopped seasonal vegetables of your choice (no potatoes)

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
Remove roast from wrapper, rinse and pat dry. Tear fresh oregano into small pieces, pull leaves of rosemary from stems and put in small bowl with garlic, olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper, mix well. Use this mixture as a rub and rub into roast thoroughly. Place roast in shallow roasting pan, top with chopped pepper, onion, mushrooms and any remaining rub mixture. Pour ½ to 3/4 of the bottle of red wine over roast and vegetables. Seal with aluminum foil and place on center rack. Roast in slow oven for 4-6 hours until fork tender. Note: do not check roast frequently, if at all as it will dry the roast out if you do. Once the aroma of the roast beef has filled the kitchen, it’s probably ready. Check with fork, if it cuts easily, it is ready, if not, reseal and cook for another 45 minutes and continue until roast reaches fork tender stage. (Note: you can also do this step using a crock pot but you won’t get the same caramelization on the roast and veggies.)

Once roast is done, remove from oven and remove aluminum foil. Let roast sit for 15-20 minutes. With a fork, shred beef and allow drippings and marinade to be absorbed by meat. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, remove beef from refrigerator, and set aside. In a large stock pot combine the remaining red wine, tomato sauce, tomato paste, beef broth and water. Bring to a simmer. Slowly add in roast, including all drippings, and savory vegetables it was prepared with. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Add frozen vegetables to broth, stir well and bring to a simmer. Add fresh vegetables to broth and bring to a simmer, stirring well. Adjust seasonings to your preferences, if broth is too thick, add water or more red wine to your consistency preference. Cook soup on very low heat for 4-5 hours. Once soup is done, I suggest you let it sit for at least 45 minutes so that the flavors marry. Ideally, you should let the soup sit for 24 hours (in the refrigerator), for the most flavorful results.
This soup is very hearty and needs only a good crusty bread or crisp green salad to make it a meal. I promise it is the best beef vegetable soup you’ve ever had.

Writer Chick

copyright 2014

Comfort Food – Theme Friday

The Comfort Food Café, stood in blistering sun, in need of a paint job and a new sign. But inside, oh my, what delights awaited the weary traveler who wandered off the interstate in search of sustenance. Like me.

It was the hottest day of the year and the blacktop on the interstate gave off wavy steam, as I imagined my tires melting and becoming one with it. The old chevy’s air conditioning crapped out years before and I never thought to fix it until days like today. Of course that took money—a commodity I rarely possessed for any length of time. In fact, I and my humble belongings were moving to Florida, lured by the offer of a lucrative job.

My goofy mutt Beau stood on his hind legs and leaned over the seat, panting in my ear. “Yes Beau, you’re thirsty. I hear you.” Beau barked once and wagged the stub of his tail. “I’ll bet you could use a Big Mac too, eh?” Which set him off to hopping around the back seat and giving his chewie what for.

The standard highway sign read ‘food and gas’ and we took the exit that would lead us, I hoped to some version of civilization. Coming to a stop at the bottom of the ramp I instantly knew that Beau was out of luck. Apparently Comfort, Texas had yet to be invaded by the fast food giant. I eyed my pooch in the rear-view mirror. “Maybe we should drive a little further?” But Beau already had his head out the rear window, tongue lolling out the side of his mouth, the stub signaling his vast approval of Comfort.

I had nothing to lose and I was pretty certain I could at least find an iced tea and a hot dog at the gas station. We drove through open country, occasionally passing an abandoned factory or feed store, but the signs pointed us forward, assuring us that we should keep going. Eventually, I began to see small houses, mom and pop businesses on either side of the road and finally a gas station—although it was an unknown brand. When I pulled the chevy under the canopy an old fashioned clangy bell sounded and I could swear Gomer Pyle loped out to greet me.

“Afternoon, ma’am,” he said real slow and started to clean my windshield. “Fillerup?”

“Sure,” I said and looked around. “You have anything to eat around here?”

“We got a soda pop machine and a chip rack,” he said now moving to the rear windshield.

“Anyplace nearby I could get some lunch?” I asked, fascinated by his efficiency with a squeegie.

He looked up and grinned, exposing crooked but very white teeth. “Sure over to the Comfort Food Café.” He even pointed—a little startling since the place was right next door. It’s dull brown exterior seemed to make it appear and disappear at will.

“Ah,” I said. “How much do I owe you?”

“Don’t worry ‘bout it—we’ll settle up after you eat.” Gomer was smiling at Beau and my pooch acted like he knew Gomer all his life. “Nice dawg. Whacha call ‘em?”

“Beau,” I said mystified by their sudden love affair.

“Well, you can take ol’ Beau in the café with you. Marly don’t mind.”

And so off we went to an old diner in the middle of nowhere to eat God knows what.

Unlike the exterior, inside the café everything was lively. Country music wailed from the jukebox, waitresses shuffled between customers, and fry cooks moved to syncopated sizzle of cooking food. Nothing had smelled better to me in my life.

“Have a seat, hon,” a young waitress said and swooped by with arms loaded with plates.

Beau and I took a load off in a booth in the back and in a nanosecond, Marge appeared, pad and pencil at the ready. “What’ll you have, hon?”

I looked for a menu but there was none. “What have you got?”

“Whatever you want, hon. You like comfort food?” she asked.

“Sure, who doesn’t?”

“That whatever comfort food you like we’ve got,” she wasn’t kidding.

“Well…ah…” I had no experience with so much choice in a diner.

“Okay,” Marge said, “I’ll make it easy for you. We’ve got pie, cookies, cake, ice cream, pudding, grilled cheese, tuna melts, mac’n’cheese, hotdogs, hamburgers, chili fries, pizza, peanut butter ‘n’ jelly, tomato soup, chips, popcorn, rice crispie treats, mashed potatoes and gravy, baloney sandwiches, fudge, milkshakes, coke, sweet tea, waffles and white toast. We ain’t got no salads, no lean meats, no diet plates, no veggies other than the taters, no milk, no juice and nothing healthy.”

I got the idea that Marge had given that spiel many times to many a tourist much to their surprise, shock and delight. A free pass to eating bad. I ordered before she changed her mind or I woke up.

Soon my table was knee-deep in grilled cheese, chili fries, chips, homemade pudding, a chili dog and several types of cookies – oh and fudge. And Beau and I ate til we were ready to bust. Whatever we couldn’t eat, Marge wrapped up for the road. “I have to say Marge that was the best meal I ever had.”

“Well good hon, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I suspect you needed it, huh?”

Suddenly Marge looked a lot like Mother Theresa to me—wise and with eyes that could see through to your soul. I nodded. “Yeah, I guess I did.”

She patted me on the back and leaned down. “It’ll pass, hon. You wait and see. It’ll pass.”

I felt tears rising and turned my head. “Sure,” I said staring at the old cigar store indian standing in the corner, “things always do.” I dug for money in my jeans pockets.

Marge shook her head. “Keep it, hon, your bill’s been paid.”

“What?” I stood up as though that would help me identify my benefactor.

Marge pushed my doggie bag into my hands. “You have a safe trip now, you hear? I come back and see us if you’re ever back this way.” And I’m not sure how but Beau and I were outside and walking back to the chevy.

Gomer was nowhere to be found and I owed him for a tank of gas. I left a twenty on the counter inside and we climbed back into the chevy. Suddenly Gomer was at my window handing me a twenty. “You have a good trip you hear?”

“But what about the gas?” I asked.

“My pleasure ma’am. You and Beau take care, you hear?” And again Gomer went to the paralell uinverse from whence he came.

Beau and I went off to Florida but it didn’t work out and we headed back to California. But try as I might, I never again could find the Comfort Food Café and the magical people who lived there.

copyright 2010

What food is comforting Christine?
What comfort is Clancy getting from food?