Sunday, January 21, 2018

Ina Garten's Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

This week we got around four to five inches of snow. That may not sound like much accumulation to some of you, but here in Kentucky that is enough snow to shut down school for a full five days! We love it when this happens because we have the perfect excuse to relax and be cozy, without interruption, for days. This gives us plenty of time to cozy up with our blankets and catch up on movies/shows, play board games, cook up tasty goodies, and go sledding. I love winter. I love how nature forces you to stay in and slow down.

Of course, reality has come knocking on the door because school is back in session tomorrow. This means our cozy time is over and it's time to get back to the grind. Today will be a flurry of activity. There will be plenty of hussling around as clothes need to be washed and laid out, backpacks and binders prepared, last minute assignments completed, and lunches prepped.

With all the hussle and bustle I wanted to make something quick, using ingredients I already had on hand. A quick look through Ina Garten's recipes revealed this recipe for her Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes. This is the perfect recipe since I have some leftover buttermilk from the muffins last week. Plus, I don't have to run to the store for anything...major score!

Ina's Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes are heavenly. The potato ricer (pictured above and below) is the best tool I have found to achieve the desired fluffy and light texture. Mashed potatoes have a way of warming your soul. The perfect comforting indulgence. This is much needed for my kiddos as they have not had a full week of school since the middle of December! This week is going to be hard on them as they get back in the swing of things. So, to cater to them, we had a very kid-friendly meal of chicken tenders, Ina's Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes, and green beans. It was a thumbs-up from everyone. I can definitely see myself making these mashed potatoes again!  

These Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes are also for my dear friend Deb, of Kahakai Kitchen, who is feeling under the weather. She loves mashed potatoes. Thinking of you, Deb, and hoping you feel better soon!

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
Adapted from Food Network
by Ina Garten
Serves 5 to 6

1-1/2 pounds boiling potatoes
1/4 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large pot, bring 2 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to a boil. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut them into 1-1/2" cubes. Add them to the boiling water and bring the water back to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes fall apart easily when pierced with a fork.

Meanwhile, heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan, making sure it doesn't boil. Set aside until the potatoes are done. 

As soon as the potatoes are tender, drain them in a colander. Place a food mill fitted with a small dish/blade over a heatproof bowl. Pass the potatoes through the food mill, turning the handle back and forth. (Alternatively, you can use pass the potatoes through a potato ricer- which is the method I prefer and used for this recipe). As soon as the potatoes are mashed, stir in the hot milk mixture with a whisk or rubber spatula. Add enough buttermilk to make the potatoes creamy. Add salt and pepper, to taste. If needed, you can place the potatoes over a pan of simmering water for up to 30 minutes to keep them warm, adding a little extra hot milk to keep them creamy.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Nigella Lawson's Very Versatile {and Delicious} Granola Muffins

This week I wanted to make Jamie Oliver's Granola Dust so I could use it in these muffins, but the week totally got away from me. Job searches, snow, ice, and having the kids home from school dominated most of my week. This makes me sad because it's Granola week at I Heart Cooking Clubs and granola is one of my favorite things.

Since I didn't make it to the store, I made my own granola dust by crushing up some Oats 'n Honey granola that I had in my pantry. This granola dust comes in handy to help make a batch of Nigella Lawson's very delicious, and very versatile, Granola Muffins. I made them and shared them back in 2010 (pictured below) and have thought about them fondly ever since.

Back in 2010, I made a simple version of this muffin with oats 'n honey granola and a drizzle of honey on top. This time around, I'm using a much heartier oats 'n honey granola and decided to jazz things up a bit by adding in some dried cherries, sliced almonds, and coconut chips for flavor, texture, and color. I fell in love with these muffins 8 years ago and I am even more in love with them today. 

These muffins are so versatile and delicious. There are a full two cups of granola, along with a hefty dose of brown sugar, so you really get the flavor of both. I think these muffins would be great with a maple granola, cinnamon granola, and especially peanut butter granola (maybe a few chocolate chips too)! I've made the oats n' honey version twice and I must admit that I like this jazzed up version with the add in's even better. My favorite addition was the dried cherries, simply because of their chewy texture and pop of color.

These are the perfect treat to wake up to! I like to serve them with a drizzle of honey, but honey butter would be great as well. These muffins are great served with some fruit and/or yogurt and are a great grab-and-go breakfast. Try them and I bet you'll love them too!

Note: These muffins may vary in color depending on the granola you use. The version I made and shared here today was much darker than my original version. This is ok! Also, Nigella suggests baking these for 25 minutes. My first batch in 2010 took 28 minutes. This batch took 15 minutes (I think my new oven runs hot). Of course, muffin size plays a role in baking time, also. Check your muffins periodically to ensure they are baked to your liking.

Granola Muffins
Adapted from Nigella Lawson
Recipe found online New York Times Cooking
Makes 12 muffins

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups granola
Optional: dried fruit, nuts, honey, etc.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper muffin cups or grease the tins and don't use paper muffin cups (either one works). Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a wide-necked bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, sugar, and oil. Pour this into the dry ingredients and mix lightly to combine.  Fold in the granola and mix lightly to combine. Fold in the granola and then divide the muffin mixture between 12 paper cups (or greased tins). Bake for 25 minutes, by which time they should have risen and become golden brown (mine baked about 15  minutes). Remove from oven, let cool, on a wire rack. 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Tuscan Mashed Chickpeas {#Foodgoals}

I love the first few weeks of January when everyone is sharing their new year's resolutions. There is a certain kind of hope in the air. The kind that says I can do anything I set my mind to. You can almost feel the slate being cleared. A fresh start for everyone!

I always make several different types of resolutions. My biggest resolution this year has to do with my family. I've learned that if we want quality family time then we've really got to carve it out for ourselves, otherwise, life gets way too busy. This year our biggest goal is to spend more quality time together as a family (without phones or electronics).

For Stirring the Pot I set three #Foodgoals. The first is to share my mom's recipes in order to preserve them for the future. The second is to teach my daughter how to cook a few dishes and also to share her experiences. The last resolution should be simple, but it's something I just forget to do, and that is to share ALL of my dishes (even the dishes I don't put on my blog) on my Instagram page. This is just a fun resolution so that I can look back over the year and see everything I made all in one place. I'm looking forward to sharing all these kitchen adventures with you and know that I am much more likely to stick with these resolutions if I share them with you!

This week I'm lightening things up with this healthy Tuscan Mashed Chickpea dip. If you've followed me here for anything length of time, then you know that hummus is a real favorite of mine. Now, I'm not suggesting that hummus isn't healthy, because it definitely can be. What I am going to say is that it can be full of oil and/or tahini which makes it a bit heftier in the calorie department.

These Tuscan Mashed Chickpeas are mashed with chicken broth instead of oil and are therefore noticeably lighter than your traditional hummus. Now, Ina does tell you to drizzle oil here and there and you can do that and feel good about it. I chose to drizzle just a tiny bit to keep things light. 

Think of this as a fresh alternative to hummus, chunky in texture and bright in flavor. I personally loved the touch of tomato and Parmesan cheese and found it to be a welcome change. You can certainly serve this on grilled country bread, but I enjoyed this best with some Triscuit crackers and also with carrots and celery. I think this would be great served in lettuce cups or wraps and I also think this would make a great spread for a sandwich! I'd definitely make it again.

Tuscan Mashed Chickpeas
by Ina Garten
Serves 6-8

2  (15.5 ounce) cans chickpeas
1/2cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for serving
2 ripe medium-size tomatoes, seeded and small-diced
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste
To serve: grilled country bread, crackers, and/or veggies

Pour the chickpeas into a colander and rinse them under cold running water. Drain well. Place the chickpeas in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the chicken stock and pulse until the chickpeas are coarsely chopped but not pureed.

In a medium saute pan, heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the tomatoes and saute for 3 to 4 minutes until the tomatoes are softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the chickpeas, stirring to combine with the tomatoes and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until heated through. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan, parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper and taste for seasonings. Pile in a serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil and serve warm or at room temperature.

IHCC: Lighten It Up!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Top Ten Favorites of 2017

Two thousand seventeen was delicious, but these are the recipes that were held in the highest regard, requested repeatedly, and created more than once. They are in no particular order, but there was one surprise favorite that reigned out above all the rest.

Click on the recipe titles to be directed back to the original post and feel free to leave a comment with your favorite recipes from 2017!

Let's get started!
  Winter Citrus Tart with Rosemary Whipped Cream
 Sometimes the recipes you're not quite sure about are the ones that make the biggest impression. I wasn't sure about pairing oranges with puff pastry, but I was won over by the beauty of the dish, so I decided to make it. It was love at first bite! A juicy and fresh citrus tart with bright flavors layered on a light and flaky buttery dang good! Best of all, this is SO easy and can be thrown together in a matter of minutes, with ingredients that are very easy to keep on hand. Do yourself a favor and make it this winter. I guarantee you will love it!

Ravioli with Balsamic Brown Butter
I still remember the day I took these leftovers to work. I put my container in the microwave and within seconds the nutty aroma of the balsamic brown butter filled the air. EVERYONE was lured in by the scent and several people were standing over my shoulder. Soft, fluffy, cheese-filled ravioli with a nutty brown butter sauce and crunchy toasted's heavenly. It's so heavenly I wrote it a love letter.
This brunch dish is a flavor and texture explosion. Oozing yolk meets crunchy herbeaceous breadcrumb topping and that's just the beginning. This is a dish that belongs on everyone's brunch menu.

Engagement Roast Chicken {aka The Very Best Roast Chicken}
This is THE BEST ROAST CHICKEN recipe is the history of ever! No other words necessary.

Anytime I make a cheese sauce containing flour it is usually slightly grainy - not this one! Try this recipe, and buy a really good English Cheddar, and prepare for your mind to be blown. This is one luscious and velveety cheese sauce. You will be slathering it over everything.

I doubted this recipe a couple times along the way, but my oh my...this is hands down the very best tomato sauce I've ever had. Maybe I had some really great homegrown tomatoes or maybe it was roasting the tomatoes that made it so good. Either way, this was hands down the best and will be my one and only in the future.
If I had to chose my top favorite recipe of 2017, this Butternut Squash & Ricotta Bruschetta would be the ultimate winner! Crusty and creamy, spicy and sweet, it strikes the perfect balance for me. Suprise yourself in the best way possible and make this dish asap. Your tastebuds will thank you!
 Cavatappi with Kale Ragu
 Put down the Pasta Bolognese. This Cavatappi with Kale Ragu will blow that bolognese right out of the park. If you're under the impression that kale ragu cannot compete with a hearty meat sauce then you're definitely wrong! This kale ragu is cooked down with some Parmesan cheese, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes and it has a glorious way of turning pasta into a majorly satisfying and comforting meal. I like this dish so much I've tried several versions, all just as delicious as the last.
Who doesn't love twice-baked potatoes? Who doesn't love mini food? These Mini Twice-Baked Potatoes may be a labor of love, but they are a welcome sight at the dinner table and are sure to bring smiles to all. Ignore the chores and make these instead. All hearts deserve some good old-fashioned comfort food like mom and grandma used to make.
Last, but not least, if you love all things spicy, then this Green Chie Whipped Cream Cheese is good on just about anything! I used a spicy serrano for this recipe and the heat level was perfect for us. Heat isn't the only flavor here, there is a fair amount of garlic, which makes this one flavorful spread. We enjoyed this spread on some of our favorite bagels from Panera and everyone swooned with delight. This spread disappeared in record time and has been requested repeatedly.
I can't wait to see all the tasty dishes in store for 2018! Happy New Year to all! 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Herbed-Baked Eggs {#Foodgoals}

I began 2017 with two #Foodgoals. The first goal was to cook simple recipes featuring quality ingredients. The last goal: cook with lots of eggs. So, 2017 began with Heidi Swanson's Poached Eggs in White Wine and things were off to a fun, and tasty, start.    

I shared forty-one recipes this year and all of them were simple, using 10 ingredients or less, with most being under five ingredients or less. Of those recipes, six recipes featured eggs, so about 15% of my recipes showcased the incredible edible egg. Funny enough, there were many times I wanted to share more egg dishes but felt as if I were sharing too many. Looking back, I could've shared a few more.

I'll be doing a roundup of my Top Favorite Recipes in 2017 later in the week, but for now, I'm going to round up all my egg dishes.  The year started with Heidi's Poached Eggs in White Wine, then after that I made Giada's Baked Gruyere and Sausage Omelet, followed by Jamie Oliver's Mexican-Inspired Breakfast Bowl, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Swiss Chard, Green Onion & Cheese Tart, Giada's Pan-Roasted Asparagus with a Crispy Fried Egg, and ended the year with Ina Garten's Herb-Baked Eggs. (click on the recipe titles to be directed to the original post) 

Out of all six egg dishes, Giada's Pan-Roasted Asparagus with a Crispy Fried Egg was hands down my personal favorite. I love flavor profile in this dish, along with the healthy dose of veggies, and the texture from the crispy egg and breadcrumbs. If I had to choose a second favorite, it would be Jamie Oliver's Mexican-Inspired Breakfast Bowl, simply because I tend to favor a Mexican flavor profile. The other egg dishes were all delicious, and I'd make them all again but let's face it...we all have our personal, and biased, favorites.

Saying that, Ina's Herb-Baked Eggs wins the award for being the most versatile egg dish in my roundup, and for that reason, it will be made over and over again in my kitchen. There are endless possibilities!

Ina's recipe consists of a handful of ingredients: eggs with a touch of cream, butter, garlic, parsley, thyme, and rosemary. Now, this version is perfectly delicious if you're in the mood for a mild egg dish. It was very satisfying with pieces of crusty toast, had a hint of garlic and herb flavor, and it was the epitome of easy to make. In fact, the ease of this dish makes it perfect for entertaining.

However, I think the fun of this dish is the endless possibilities! You can add just about anything to the baked eggs. Pieces of cooked meat (whatever you have leftover in the fridge: pot roast, sausage, bacon, ham, etc.); veggies of any variety (I'm mostly thinking a spinach and artichoke version would be the best); a variety of cheeses; a spicy version with chorizo, jalapeno, and red pepper flakes served with a warmed tortilla, or any other way you chose! You name it, you can make it! 

So while the other two egg dishes may have been my personal favorites, they were in no way my family's favorites. Since Ina's Baked Eggs can be customized to suit everyone's individual taste, and is about the easiest egg dish that can be made, this recipe is likely to be the real winner of the bunch!  Therefore, I encourage everyone to give it a try, making it your own with your favorite ingredients!

Happy New Year! I'll be back in 2018 with my Top Favorites of 2017, new #Foodgoals, and also to round out my 10th year of Stirring The Pot! Beginning January 2019, Stirring the Pot will turn 10 years old! Back in 2009, when I first started Stirring the Pot, I never imagined I would continue the blog this long and still be going strong ten years later. Very exciting!

Herb-Baked Eggs
Adapted from Food Network
 by Ina Garten
Serves 2-3

1/4 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
6 large eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper, to taste
Toasted French bread or brioche, for serving

Preheat the broiler for 5 minutes and place the oven rack 6 inches below the heat.

Combine the garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and Parmesan and set aside. Carefully crack 3 eggs into each of 2 small bowls or teacups (you won't be baking them in these) without breaking the yolks. (It's very important to have all the eggs ready to go before you start cooking.)

Place 2 individual gratin dishes on a baking sheet. Place 1 tablespoons of cream and 1/2 tablespoon butter in each dish and place under the broiler for about 3 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Quickly, but carefully, pour 3 eggs into each gratin dish and sprinkle evenly with the herb mixture, then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Place back under the broiler for 5 to 6 minutes, until the whites of the eggs are almost cooked. (Rotate the baking sheet once if they aren't cooking evenly.) The eggs will continue to cook after you take them out of the oven. Allow to set for 60 seconds and serve hot with toasted bread. 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Weeknight Bolognese {Perfect For A Busy Christmas Eve}

When I'm looking for a helping hand this is my go-to dish. Ina makes a Weeknight Bolognese with a jar of crushed tomatoes and a few herbs and seasonings. While I'm sure her version is perfectly delicious, and easy, I use a jarred tomato sauce my family loves. This is a dish you can have on the table in the time it takes the pasta to cook. Even better, this dish is one of our all-time favorites so it's a win-win all around.

I make this dish with whatever I have on hand. More often than not I will use either ground pork or Italian sausage for my bolognese.  If I don't have that I'll go with ground beef or even ground lamb.  I also think this dish is perfectly good without the meat (even though it's not technically a bolognese then). If it's summertime and the herbs are fresh I throw those in. If not, I use an Italian seasoning blend that I love. We always spice ours up with plenty of red pepper flakes and I'll admit that I probably use a little more than the 1/4 cup of heavy cream Ina calls for in her recipe. I think the whole point is to make it your own.

For example, I rarely have red wine on hand since I prefer white, so I will usually sub a veggie, chicken, or beef broth in its place. Sometimes I add cheese to the sauce and sometimes we just serve it on top. Sometimes we don't even use Parmesan and opt for those cute little baby bocconcini (baby mozzarella balls). If so, I like to toss them into each bowl right before serving so they don't melt away in the hot pan.

I do feel like pasta choice is important here. While you could use any pasta in a pinch, this is best with small shapes like shells, or orecchiette, where the bits of meat and sauce can get inside of the pasta for the ultimate bite.

This quick bolognese is the perfect dish for my family this Christmas Eve. It's something we all know and love and it helps get me out of the kitchen faster so I can drink hot chocolate and watch Christmas movies with the family.  

A Very Merry Christmas to all!

Weeknight Bolognese
Adapted from How Easy Is That?
by Ina Garten
Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons good olive oil, plus extra to cook the pasta
1 pound lean ground sirloin
4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
1/2 an onion, minced*
1 tablespoon dried oregano*
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1-1/4 cups dry red wine, divided*
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes*
2 tablespoons tomato paste*
salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound dried pasta, small shells or orecchiette
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed*
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg*
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

*Notes: You can speed things up by using your favorite jarred sauce and using an Italian seasoning blend in place of the herbs and seasonings listed above. I do this on busy weeknights and also in the winter when fresh herbs aren't readily available. If you don't have the wine on hand, feel free to sub a good quality broth in its place.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground sirloin and cook, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the meat has lost its pink color and has started to brown. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 more minute. Pour 1 cup of the wine into the skillet and stir to scrape up any browned bits. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, and pepper stir until combined. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a tablespoon of salt, a splash of oil, and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the box. 

While the pasta cook, finish the sauce. Add the nutmeg, basil, cream, and the remaining 1/4 cup wine to the sauce and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. When the pasta is cooked, drain and pour into a large serving bowl. Add the sauce and 1/2 cup Parmesan and toss well.  Serve hot with Parmesan on the side.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Ina Garten's Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Every Christmas my daughter and I make Hershey's Peanut Butter Blossoms, a classic peanut butter cookie with a Hershey kiss placed on top. My mom would make Buckeyes, a sugary peanut butter ball dipped in chocolate. We would always laugh because these are by no means traditional Christmas cookies, but for us, it was all about the peanut butter and chocolate. Always.

This year things are so different. My daughter and I muddled our way through putting the Christmas tree up, something we always used to do with my mom. I was so proud of my daughter the way she strung all the extra lights and fussed over the branches, studying for openings and fixing them, like my mom always did. She even remembered the special way my mom hung the angel, using a ruler to anchor the angel to the tree, and I watched as she stepped back several times to make sure she was straight. We took special care to hang all the ornaments that we had made over the years, the same ones my mom had painstakingly saved, in all the places my mom liked them to be, right at the top of the tree. Front and center.

When we were finished we each went to our rooms and I cried. I was so very thankful for my daughter. She did all the things my mom used to do. All the things I'm not any good at. The things I didn't think I could do on my own. My extremely sassy 16-year-old, who constantly has headphones in her ear, saved Christmas; and, there wasn't a sassy bone in her body while she did it. I was so proud of her and I wanted to tell my mom how Olivia saved Christmas. I wanted to see that smile on my mom's face, the one she reserved for times like these when she was bursting with pride.

I don't know if we have it in us to make the Hershey's Peanut Butter Blossoms or the Buckeyes like my mom always did. If not this year, I know we will next year. But for now, we made something completely different. We made Ina's Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies and they were delicious. Who doesn't love a peanut butter cookie with lots and lots of chocolate chips running throughout? Fluffy and chewy and full of chocolate, these were a hit at my house, and they definitely satisfy our peanut butter and chocolate craving. I know my mom would approve!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
by Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Parties!
Makes about 4 dozen

1/2 pound butter, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature*
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup peanut butter*
2-1/2 cups all-purpose
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt*
1 pound semi-sweet chocolate chips*

Notes: My grocery didn't have extra large eggs so I used two regular large sized eggs with perfect results. You could easily use crunchy peanut butter, but I prefer creamy. These cookies needed a bit more salt and were bordering on needing a touch more granulated sugar. I'd taste your dough and add accordingly. One classic-sized bag of chocolate chips isn't enough. You'll need about one and a half bags.

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer (this is some hefty dough), cream butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time. Add the peanut butter and the vanilla and mix. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and add to the batter, mixing only until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Drop the dough on a baking sheet, using either a 1-3/4" ice cream scoop or a rounded tablespoon. Dampen your hands, flatten dough lightly. Bake for exactly 10 minutes (your time may be different). The key is to remove the cookies when they still look slightly wet on top and a little underdone. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.