Squished Potatoes

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Hold on to your hats! This is not a desserts! It is a rare occasion that I post something that is not sweet, but in my defense my Mom made them.

I have seen photos of potatoes like these everywhere, Pinterest, Food Blogs, magazines, etc.  They looked delicious and easy, and in order for me to cook something it has to be easy or I don’t want it.  Weird, as I wold spend an entire day in the kitchen baking something…

The ‘new’ potatoes are starting to arrive on the market, you know the little wee ones with tones of dirt still on them.  My Mom, who is a big of a potato freak, gets very excited when they first arrive.  I was invited to my parents for dinner last week and when she said we were having little new potatoes I told her about this idea.  Now don’t get me wrong, I do love a good potato, but boiled potatoes are just boring!  Much to my surprise Mom loved the idea and we made a batch for dinner.  She was much less thrilled when I announced I would be taking pictures for a post, haha.  It slows things down and I make her stop and wait till i get the right picture.

I never read any of the recipes, just looked at the pictures, so we made this up as we went along.  I called them Smashed Potatoes.

Smashed Potatoes

very small potatoes, preferably new
toppings of your choice! We used bacon and Cheese

1. Wash your potatoes ensuring all dirt is removed

2. Boil potatoes until just cooked, don’t over cook

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3. Drain potatoes and place on a baking sheet

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4. With a potato masher, squish each potato to desired thickness

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5. Top with toppings of your choice.  The possibilities are endless! We used bacon and cheese.  You could use onions, BBQ sauces, spices, herbs, butters, different cheeses, WHAT EVER!

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6. Bake in oven or broil until cheese is melted, or your toppings are done.

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These were delicious!  It was like a cross between a potato skin and a loaded baked potato.  I can’t wait to make them again!

 

Spanakopita/Tiropita

This summer friends of Mom and Dad’s moved onto our road, great people and they make wonderful food!  We have been very fortunate to receive a few wonderful Greek dishes over the past few months.  I have had a lot of tzatziki in my day but theirs, by far, is the best ever! I have no idea how they make it, nor do I want to know, because it would never be the same if I were to try to make it.  It is simply amazing!  Another wonderful delight they make is spanakopita, delicious!  Mom had helped them make a batch one day, so today we thought we would try a batch ourselves!

I kept saying we were making spanakopita, I had always thought that was what they were, but Mom corrected me, what we made was more of a tiropita.  Tiropita is made with layers of buttered phyllo and filled with a cheese-egg mixture where as spanakopita is layers of buttered phyllo with a spinach, onions and a cheese-egg mixture.  Ours was somewhere in-between, mostly cheese with a little spinach, perhaps a ‘Spanatiropita’?

“Spanattiropita”

Let me start by apologizing, there are no measurements.  Mom just ‘adds’ until it is right. So I will guess how much we used, approximate…

Phyllo pastry 2 packages
Spinach (1/2 package of frozen) drained and squeezed dry
Feta cheese (2 cups)
Ricotta cheese (1 cup)
Parmesan cheese (2 cups)
Greek seasoning (1 tsp)
4 eggs
Butter (half pound)
Directions:

1. In a large bowl add eggs and ricotta

2. Add  feta and parmesan, stir

3. Add spinach

4. Add seasoning and combine well

5. At this point you need to prepare your phyllo.  Phyllo is very fussy, you will need to follow the boxes directions on thawing, usually in the fridge overnight.  Keep phyllo covered with a damp cloth so it does not dry. Prepare your work area.  Melt the butter, get a pastry brush, a sharp knife or pizza cutter large working area and a large sheet pan covered in plastic wrap.

6.  Get 2 sheets of phyllo, brush each sheet lightly with butter

7. Cut in half and then in thirds, ending up with 6 strips

8. Place approximately 1 tbsp of mixture at the end of each strip

9. Next you form the triangle, looks tricky, buts it’s not.  Fold over one corner to the opposite side of strip

10. Now fold up

11.  Continue folding on the triangle until you reach the end, may need to tuck in ends.

12. Brush with butter

13. Place on a lined sheet, can be layered with parchment between

14. At this point you can cover and freeze overnight, then place in freezer bags for storage.  Or bake.

15. Pre heat oven 375.  Place on baking sheet.  Bake approx 10 mins on each side or until golden brown

Absolutely delicious!  The phyllo was tender and flaky.  The filling was warm and creamy, the cheese was tangy with hits of spinach. These are nothing like the store-bought or restaurant ones.  Dad said ‘Two thumbs up”.  These are a new favourite. YUM!

My Top 10 of 2011!

Wow! Where did 2011 go?  Seems as I get older the years just fly by.  This year  I did a lot of baking, most were good, some were amazing and a few were total flops!  There were some  new recipes and others were tried and true favourites.  The Daring Bakers took me way out of my comfort zone as I was truly dared with some amazing recipes.  As for the “flops” I posted them too, not everything can turn out well.  I thought I would end the year with a “top 10” list of my favourite recipes of the year.

 10. Perogi Day

Perogi Day was a day I will never forget! Mom, Etta, Jen and myself were at it for almost 12 hours.  We made 9 different flavours, used 25 pounds of potatoes, 7 tubs of sour cream, almost 2 bags of flour and a lot of bacon, cheese and onions.  We ended up with, get ready for it……471 perogies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They were delicious, not sure I will be able to go back to the frozen ones from the store.  It was a great day and the results were amazing! We all agreed that we would definitely do it again, just not anytime soon…

9.  Apple Sauce Muffins

These Apple Sauce Muffins were something I stumbled across when visiting Gramma one afternoon.  They were hot and fresh and delicious!  You can’t really taste the apple sauce, they are a little bit sweet and have an amazing texture.  I think I have made them at least 6 times since then.  A wonderful recipe with simple ingredients, Thanks Gramma! 🙂

8.  Baklava

This one was special for me.  I was asked to be the host of the June Daring Bakers Challenge!  Being host meant that I was able to pick any recipe and have all the members make their variations. I had always said, way back when I joined, that if I ever got the chance to host I was going to pick Baklava.  It was amazing to see the different variety of baklava that were made.  I was a little daring (mean) and had everyone make their own phyllo dough.  Some people enjoyed the process, a lot did not, but all in all it was a wonderful experience.  It was a true honour to be picked to be the June 2011 host.  My baklava was delicious.  I will definitely be making it again but, like many other members, I will probably use pre-made phyllo!

7.  Puppy Chow

Puppy Chow was new for me, I had never even heard of it.  Jen had come over to do some Christmas baking and she brought all the ingredients for Puppy Chow…hmmm.  I was pleasantly surprised!  Unlike the name this is a wonderful treat!!!  Very simple, cereal, chocolate, butter, peanut butter and icing sugar.  It is very addicting!  It was a great gift to give away in little Christmas sacks.  Thanks Jen for a great recipe that I will be using for many years to come.  I may have to come up with a more appealing name….

6. Cupcakes, Cupcakes and more Cupcakes!

This was a scary one! Making 130 cupcakes for Kris and Selena’s Wedding!  I had never done anything like this before.  I mean I had made cupcakes but never 130 in one day!  I was a nervous wreck, as I think the wedding cakes is a huge deal.  Sadly it’s the food aspects that people remember more at a wedding then the actual ceremony.  I thought if they don’t turn out I’d have people thinking “god, their cake was horrible”.  Thank goodness everything went smoothly and the cupcakes were a hit!  So much so that there was not near enough 😦 If there is a next time, I will know people will eat more than one! Thanks Kris and Selena!

5. Bachlorette Cake

When Coralee asked me to make Chrissy’s Bachlorette Party cake I was thrilled!  I had just recently taken the Wilton Fondant course and figured this would be the perfect opportunity to give my new skills a try.  For my first try at creating a formed fondant covered cake, I think it turned out pretty good.  I hope to make more in the future.  Unfortunately I fell ill that night and was unable to make the party, so I didn’t get to try it.  Hope it was good!

4. Wedding CakeS!

No, I did not make a typo in the title I meant for the ‘S’ to be big!  This was by far my biggest baking event ever, let alone in 2011.  I was asked to make the cakes for Jen and Martin’s Wedding.  At first I was terrified and think I even tried to talk her out of it, as I mentioned above, the wedding cake is a huge deal!  When I calmed down I was truly honoured and accepted the challenge.  Jen had a wonderful idea of having a cake on each table.  The cake would then be “the wedding cake”, centre piece and dessert.  It really was a good idea.  It was a ton of work but I enjoyed every minute of it and would do it again in a heart beat!  Thanks Jen!!

3. Povitica

This recipe was from the October Daring Bakers Challenge hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk.  She introduced me to something I had never heard of.  Povitica?? I could barely say it let alone make it.  As it was a bread recipe I was very hesitant in even trying it, bread and I do not get along well.  I was pleasantly surprised, it was an amazing dough and so versatile.  I was able to make both savory and sweet loaves out of the recipe.  They were delicious!! This one rang in on my top 3!  I will be making this a lot more in years to come.  Thank you Jenni!!

2. Whoopie Pies!

I was a little late jumping on the Whoopie Pie ban wagon.  Not sure what rock I had been living under but I just heard about these in July.  Apparently they were quite the craze a while ago.  There is even a “Whoopie Pie War” with two States as they both say they are the founder of the Whoopie Pie.  Well, I don’t care who came up with the idea, I’m just glad they did!!  These are little pieces of heaven!  Surprisingly they are not sweet, they have a lovely light texture and a wonderful marshmallow filling.  I have only made the “Classic Whoopie” but I have a book and plan on making many different kinds.  What a wonderful find!

Drum roooooooooooooooooooollllllllllllllllllll…………………….

1. Salted Caramel Shortbread Bars

Without question this was my favourite recipe of the year!  I mean look at at…it’s not only the best tasting dessert bar ever, it’s also a thing of beauty!  This recipe was not even intended for me, haha.  When Jen came over to do some Christmas baking, it was for her to take to her baking exchange.  I had one bite and almost had to sit down.  It is one of those treats that after your first bite you have to stop before you start chewing and your eyes grow twice their normal size as you cant believe this piece of magic in your mouth.  It then turns into an eyes closed slow chew as you take in all the textures and tastes, and then it hits you…the salt!  Your taste buds jump into high gear.  It is like no other dessert experience I have ever had.  Don’t believe me, Try them!!!  Thank you Jen for my FAVOURITE treat of the year!  This recipe will remain at the front of my recipe book to be made time and time again!

I would like to thank my many followers for stopping by throughout the year to see whats up in my kitchen. When I first started this whole blogging thing, I really didn’t think anyone other then family would read.  I was shocked and so happy to see when I had over 20,000 hits!

Thanks again and Happy New Year!  Please come back to see what’s baking in 2012

Perogi Day

A few years ago I had my first homemade perogi, I could not believe how much better they were then the frozen store-bought ones.  It was then that I decided I wanted to try to make them one day, even added them to my “Buck List of Baking”.  Last Christmas when Mom and I got together with Etta to make our Christmas cake we decided our next cooking adventure would be perogies.  We figured we would do it in February.  Well….February past as did March, April and the summer.  Heading into fall I made everyone pick a date we could get together or I knew it would not happen.  October 22 was decided on as Perogi Day.  None of us had ever made a perogi so for most of the day we were flying by the seat of our pants.  I did not get as many pictures as I would have liked, as it was mad kaos for a while everyone was doing something different, it was nuts!  Also, it was a drab, rainy day so the ones I did get didn’t turn out so well. Anyways here was our Perogi Day adventures!

9:00 A.M

I arrive at Mom and Dads, with what I thought was all I needed to bring, I was wrong, had to head home a few times (good thing I live close).  Then had to head to the Store for a couple more things…We are convinced at this point we have everything we need

10:00 A.M

We patiently (well, not so patiently) are waiting for our cooking partners Etta and Jen to arrive.  Got a call at 10:12 SOMEONE ***Cough***Etta***Cough slept in!!!  Not wanting to be too far behind Mom and I got a start on a few things.

11:00 A.M

They arrive and are put right to work! lol First we start peeling a 10 pound bag of potatoes to get them boiling to get our fillings made. Next step is the dough

Now you must remember that none of us have made perogies before and we keep asking each other questions like one of us is going to know the answer.  So I just started answering like I did know the answers, haha.  Once Etta made the executive decision of which dough we were going to make, we were under way

Linda’s Sour Cream Perogi Dough

4 cups Flour

3 eggs

1 cup sour cream

dash salt

water as needed

That was all the information we had.  What the texture was supposed to be, we had no idea.  This was one of those times where we were looking for answers, that no one had, it got quite comical at times.  We even called Linda for guidance, BUT she wasn’t home.  We had to wing it.  This is what we did.

1. In large bowl measure flour

2. in a medium bowl lightly beat eggs

3. Add sour cream and stir

4. Add to flour

5. Stir until all comes together, then knead with your hands

6. Wrap in plastic wrap and let sit in fridge for at least half hour

Through out the day Etta made 13 batches of dough! 13!!!

Fillings

For the fillings we didn’t follow a recipe we just went with flavours we like.  Half way through the making of the fillings we realized we didn’t have enough potatoes so out I went to get another 10 pound bag plus we used 5 pounds that Mom had

We made…

1. Homemade Mac n’ Cheese

2. Potato and Cheese

3. Cheese (Ricotta)

4. potato, Cheese and onion

5. potato, Cheese and Bacon

6. Cheese and onion

7. potato Cheese and Garlic

Rolling the Dough

(This was my job, rolled all 13 batches!)

So, now let me go on a bit of a tangent.  For months I search and search for perogie makers, and I mean searched!  I had always seen them, until I wanted one.  A few months ago I finally found them, so I bought 2!  It was at this point I bring out the little contraption thinking it was the best thing ever invented, the bottom cuts the perfect sized, then it folds and seals….

Beautiful! a perfect perogi! BUT it took forever! We quickly realized looking at the 7 bowls of fillings that this little contraption was worthless, we would be here for days!  So this my friends was the one and only, admire its beauty, I was quite proud 🙂

We then decided we would set up and assembly line.  Etta was making the dough and on clean up.  I was rolling and cutting the dough.  Jen was filling the dough and Mom was sealing the perogi.  We had quite the set up.

While we were rolling and stuffing and sealing, and rolling and stuffing and sealing and rolling and stuffing and sealing, Etta made a perogi casserole.  We all thought it sounded wonderful, so we gave it a go! There are zero pictures of this process as I was busy rolling and did not notice or even know this was happening 😦

PEROGIE CASSEROLE

15 lasagna noodles
4 cups cottage cheese (or ricotta if you can’t handle the idea of cottage cheese!)
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. onion powder
2 cups shredded cheddar
4 cups mashed potatoes
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 cup butter
1 large onion, chopped
sour cream

1. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain.

2. Line bottom of casserole dish with 5 noodles.

3. Mix ricotta cheese, egg, and onion powder in bowl.

4. Spread over noodles.

5. Cover with another layer of 5 noodles.

6. In same bowl mix cheddar cheese with mashed potatoes. Add onion and black pepper. Spread over noodles.

7. Top with a layer of the remaining noodles.

8. Saute chopped onion in butter until transparent and soft. Pour over casserole.

9. Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Let stand 10 minutes before cutting. Serve with sour cream (optional).

The casserole was ok.  Probably would not make it again.  If I did I would use different ingredients, reduce the amount of onions and add bacon.

6:30 P.M

Finally finished rolling (at this point the rolling-pin felt about 30 pounds), stuffing and sealing

25 pounds of potatoes, 7 tubs or sour cream, almost 2 bags of flour and a lot of bacon, cheese and onions we ended up with, get ready for it……471 perogies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Finally done rolling and stuffing and sealing.  These trays are double and some tripped stacked

7:00 P.M

We got most things cleaned up and sort them out for everyone to take home and get into the freezer, but WAIT, we need to try them.  A few times throughout the day we kept bringing up that perhaps we should try a few to see if they were any good.  It would be a bugger if we got them all done and they were horrible!

Time to try a few…

Saute onions and bacon to serve with perogies

The Verdict

These were quite possibly the best perogies I have had.  The dough was wonderful, tender with a wonderful flavour.  Our fillings were bang on.  Not sure I could pick a favourite.  We decided all that work was well worth it and we will do it again.  We also decided that it was way to much work so we wont be taking requests, hahaha.  We will be savoring these ones, which is going to be hard as they are soo good.

9:00 P.M

Finish helping get the house back in order and finally arrived home.  A full 12 hours and I am pooped!

Thanks Mom, Etta and Jen, it was a fantastic day, lots of laughs and good times.  Looking forward to our next cooking adventure, hopefully we can start on time 😉

French Toast Cassarole

I saw this recipe in our local newspaper and thought it looked tasty.  I love french toast, but I normally dip it in Ketchup, yes ketchup!  When you eat eggs and toast or have a toasted western do you dip it in syrup? no! you dip it in ketchup! So far me and my Dad are the only ones who think this way.  Anyways…..no ketchup in this one but thought I would give it a try.

Ingredients

1 loaf bread

8 eggs

2 cups half & half

2 cups milk

1/4 cup maple or pancake syrup

2 tsp 1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground allspice

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup golden corn syrup

1/4 cup butter, melted

Directions

1. Cube loaf and spread over the bottom of a greased 13 x 9” (3.5 L) baking dish.

2. Whisk eggs in a large bowl.

3. Add half & half, milk, syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice; whisk until combined.

4. Pour mixture over bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

5. Just before baking, combine brown sugar, corn syrup and butter; whisk until blended. Drizzle over bread mixture.

6. Bake in a preheated 350F (190C) oven until puffed and golden brown, about an hour.

7. Cut into pieces and serve drizzled with syrup.

This recipe didn’t turn out great but I think it was my fault.  I cut the recipe in half because it was going to make way to much, but I think I may have not halved one of the liquids.  It was very wet and gooey.  The top was burning and the middle seemed still raw…

The top crunchy part was quite tasty.  I think I will give it another try being very careful with my measurements.

Cheese Manicotti

For a while now Mike has been asking me to make him Cheese Manicotti that I made quite a while ago, I keep saying I’m going to but never do.  Well, today was the day.

Cheese Manicotti

2 Eggs — beaten

2 cups Shredded mozzarella cheese

1 1/2 cups Ricotta cheese

1/2 cup Grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup Snipped fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon Dried oregano — crushed

1 dash Pepper

As many lasagna noodles as needed, I used 10 1/2

Directions

in a medium mixing bowl stir together eggs, half the mozarella cheese, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, parsley, the 1/2 teaspoon oregano, and dash pepper.

Spoon onto pasta and roll

Pour half the tomato mixture into a 2-quart rectangular baking dish.

Arrange stuffed manicotti in the baking dish.

Pour remaining sauce over rollss. Sprinkle remaining mozarella cheese atop.

If desired, cover and chill manicotti for up to 24 hours.

Bake the stuffed manicotti, covered, in a 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until heated through

They were pretty good.  Normally I would make my own sauce as well but, quite honestly, I just didn’t feel like it today.

I used lasagna pasta because I like to use whole wheat pasta and they don’t sell whole wheat shells or tubes here.

Homemade Mac n’ Cheese

Is there anything better than Cheese?  To me it just seems to make the world a better place.  As I am sure you assumed, Cheese is one of my downfalls and my comfort food.  Once in a blue moon I will make this homemade Mac n’ Cheese recipe, it is ooey and gooey and just to die for! It is especially nice on a really cold winter day.  But really I eat it any time!

This recipe is adapted from a  Milk Calendar years and years ago.

Stove-Top Macaroni and Cheese

ingredients

1/2 lb. elbow macaroni (approx. 2 cups)
1 1/2 cups milk
3 cups FRESHLY grated Cheddar Cheese (the older the better)
2 Tbsp. butter
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. dry mustard powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
Pinch nutmeg (optional)( I don’t use it)
Dash each Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco Sauce (optional)(I don’t use it)

Method

Cook macaroni in a large pot of boiling , salted water according to package directions.

Meanwhile, combine milk, cheese, eggs, flour, mustard, butter and pepper

When macaroni is cooked, drain well.

Return macaroni to the pot and place on medium.

Add the cheese sauce mixture.

Cook gently, stirring constantly, until mixture is creamy , smooth and thick – about 3 to 5 minutes.

Serve immediately. **** this is where I really stray away from the recipe!

Pour the Mac n’ Cheese in a 9×13 inch pan, cover the top with crumbled plain chips or cheese crackers (any of your favourites will do)

Bake at 350 until macaroni is set.

Remove from oven and let rest a few minutes.

Enjoy!