Thursday, August 18, 2011

I'm not dead...

but school started back, so that kinda explains why I haven't posted in a while.

Tomorrow is Friday, so hopefully I'll get in the kitchen this weekend and come up with some stuff to post about.  This week, believe me, nothing we've eaten is blog-worthy (unless you dig cheerios and store-bought blueberry muffins).

Friday, August 5, 2011

Things to do with Leftover Mashed Potatoes V.2

What else can you do with mashed potatoes?

Tonight, I was feeling a little down and icky, so I decided to use some of my stash of leftover mashed potatoes to make potato soup.  I've never done that before, but after finishing my experiment, I think it will be my go-to potato soup method from now on.

So- I chopped up half a medium Vidalia onion and sauteed it in my soup pan over medium heat.  I used a mixture of a little butter, a little olive oil and a little bacon drippings.  Butter- because I love the richness and texture it adds to creamy soups.  Olive oil- because it has a high smoking point and I always use it for sautéing.  Bacon drippings because they give great flavor and it's just what you're supposed to do when making potato soup.  Period.

After the onions had been going a few minutes, I added about 2 cups of the leftover mashed potatoes and stirred them around until they were soft and heated through- probably 5 minutes or so.  Then I poured in enough unsalted chicken stock to make however much soup I wanted.  I know- it's so aggravating when you're reading a recipe and the person doesn't give you at least an approximate amount.  But I'm telling you- when you cook in the real world, you don't always know how much to use.  Get over it.  Just eye ball it!  It's soup for crying out loud.  I used a whisk to make sure I blended everything until it was smooth.  I also had a lonely leftover baked potato in my ice box, so I fished him out and chopped him into chunks and threw him in the soup.  I left his skin on and everything.  I though it would be nice for there to be some potato chunks in the soup along with the soft onions.  I let it come to a soft boil just to heat the potato chunks all the way through.  I turned the heat down to low and added about half a block of cream cheese.  I know there was already cream cheese in the mashed potatoes themselves, but I've never once tasted something and thought, "Wow- there's too much cream cheese in this!"  Plus, I was going for a really velvety smooth texture.  I whisked some more until the cheese was melted and smooth.   To finish the soup, I added about a quarter of a cup of heavy cream.  At the table I added chopped chives.

The bowl in the picture also got a pretty chive, basil and oregano bloom garnish.  Seriously, this was probably the best potato soup I've ever eaten.  And it took about 10 minutes to make.  Does dinner get any better than that?  Oh yeah- I also served this with a big hunk of home made bread- slathered in butter, of course!

Things to do with Leftover Mashed Potatoes

One of the few dishes Devin ever requests is potato pancakes.  There are probably as many recipes and techniques for making them as there are people who like them.  In my family, we always use leftover mashed potatoes, instead of grated potatoes.  I have all ideas we do that because the first time my Daddy ever made them, he was trying to use up leftover mashed potatoes- and we liked them so much he continued making them that way.  Fast forward 30 or 40 years, and I'm making them the same way.

I basically tweak my buttermilk pancake recipe, which was given to me by Devin's mother.  I start  by nuking (normal people probably just call it microwaving) however much mashed potatoes I have leftover (or however much I want to dedicate to breakfast).  This loosens them and makes them easier to mix with the other ingredients.  I add 2 eggs, about a teaspoon of baking soda, a little salt, a little pepper and enough buttermilk to make it all soupy.  Then the judgement call comes in.  You have to add some flour or they won't come out right.  But how much flour you add depends on lots of things.  How humid is it?  Is it raining?  How much mashed potato did you use?  How much buttermilk?  See?  It's not an exact science.  I usually add enough flour to make it the consistency of thick pancake batter.  After you do it once, you'll get it.  Oh- and use plain all purpose flour NOT self rising.

My preferred method of cooking these is on my round cast iron griddle pan, but you can use a regular non stick skillet or an electric griddle.  I use butter to fry mine, but you can use vegetable oil, or if you're crazy, cooking spray (where's the fun in that?).  I usually use about a quarter cup of batter for each pancake.  I have no idea how many a batch makes, because I never make the same size batch.  If you have pancakes leftover, you can wrap them up and put them in the ice box for the next day.  I imagine they would freeze pretty well, too.

Devin likes to put maple syrup on his.  That gives me the heebie jeebies.  I eat mine with sour cream, or sometimes ketchup.

Mashed Potatoes

I should start a series on 100 things to do with leftover mashed potatoes.   I'm betting if I really put my mind to it, I could come up with almost that many things.

Whenever I make mashed potatoes I ALWAYS make more than I need.  Around my house, the leftovers are more sought after than the original dish- the same thing happens with lasagna.  Anyhoo....

My basic recipe for mashed potatoes hardly ever changes.  I peel however many russet potatoes I think I'll need.  This particular time we were having a guest for dinner, so I bought 4 really large russets.  I fill my spaghetti pot (I think normal people call them stock pots) with water and put it over high heat.  I throw in 4 whole bay leaves and 2 or 3 peeled and smashed cloves of garlic.  I cut the potatoes in largish chunks and put them in the water.  I bring the whole thing to a calm boil, throw in some salt, and let it go for about 20 minutes.

Now, if I'm feeling lazy, I'll just drain the potatoes, pick out the bay leaves, throw them back in the same pot, add 1/2 a stick of butter and about 4 oz. of cream cheese and mash them with my potato masher.  If I have company coming, I'll drain the potatoes, pick out the bay leaves, throw the potatoes and the garlic into my kitchen aide, add the butter and cream cheese (and sometimes a touch of heavy cream if they need loosening up) and, starting on low speed with the paddle attachment, mash them in the mixer.  They get smoother and creamier using the mixer method.  Either way they taste good.

I went one step further down the road to deliciousness this last time and used my chive garlic butter instead of plain, unsalted butter.  Holy cow- they were ridiculously good.

So- the next morning I had an entire container of glorious leftover mashed potatoes.  But whatever shall I do with them?

Day 5 of the Photo Challenge

Someone I love......  Isn't he cute?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Day 4 of the Photo Challenge...

Day Four of the challenge... favorite color.  This is a close up of the table runner we have on our buffet in the hall.
I think I'm officially caught up now!

Day 3 of the Photo Challenge...

Day 3.... clouds.  I took this picture last year in Denver from the science museum.

Day 2 of the Photo Challenge

Photo for day 2....what I wore.  Because of the continual effort to reduce the box farm I'm being forced to live in, my outfit today was filthy by the time I got around to taking a picture.  Therefore, I decided to spare you, dear reader, from the traumatic experience of seeing it.  But here it is, safely tucked away in the dirty clothes hamper.

This photo is for the challenge over at Oh So Lovely.....

Here's the badge thingie....

We're Here! And already we're up for a challenge....

Ugh!  I HATE moving.  I despise it.  Especially in the hottest part of the summer.

We're finally all moved in.  Now we are surrounded by boxes.  My kitchen and pantry are almost set, and as soon as that's done, I will be able to function.

To further my attempt to become a better blogger, I've decided to participate in a little blogging event.  It's really a blog photography challenge, so I'll hopefully improve my skills along the way.  The event is being hosted by Sherry over at Oh So Lovely.

Each day, for the entire month of August, I will post a different picture.  I'm already a few days behind, so tonight I'm hoping to catch up.  This should help me keep up with my promise to post more often.

Here's my first post: a self portrait.

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