A Home Cooked 4th!

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I wasn’t planning on making potato salad, but when buying grass fed beef (trust me, it tastes sooo much better) for burgers, I saw a bag of potatoes and figured why not!  It’s not hard to make and if you know your way around the kitchen, you really don’t need to refer to a written recipe.

Knowing I wanted to get an early start, so everything could be nice and chilled for later today, I started at about 7:45 and was out of the kitchen with potatoes and eggs cooked, and dishes done by 8:30.  That’s with all of my usual distractions including making and drinking coffee, and taking photographs, too.  Here’s my morning prep:

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Scrub and chop your potatoes. I leave the skins on because there are more nutrients there.  (Totally staged shot, because I’m left handed. HaHa)

 

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Put eggs in a pan of cold water with about 1t of salt & 1T of vinegar (makes for easier peeling). Bring to boil and then remove from heat. Let sit for 20 minutes off heat.

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Add chopped potatoes to cold salted water and bring to boil.

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Bring potatoes to a rolling boil; reduce heat and cook for about 5 more minutes. Taste for desired doneness.

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Drain eggs; run under cold water and place in ice bath to halt cooking.

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Drain potatoes into a colander and rinse with cold water to stop further cooking.

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Wash up your dishes. I like to clean as I cook so there is not a big mess in the kitchen.

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Have a refreshing beverage, you earned it!

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I’m having cold brew iced tea.

 

Next steps for later in the day.

Potatoes and eggs are cooked and cooled! Now it’s time to gather our ingredients and make some potato salad – – –

Time to practice our knife skills – –

Peel and chop the eggs:

 

The ingredients are chopped,  so now we need some seasonings – –

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French seasoning mix, Italian dressing, mayonnaise, salt & pepper.

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Oops, almost forgot the dill.

 

Let’s mix it all together – –

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Add potatoes to large mixing bowl and season with the Italian dressing – about 2T

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Add and stir in the chopped ingredients. The eggs to the left are for Deviled Eggs.

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About 1/3 cup of mayonnaise

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Time for the herbs! Season with salt & pepper to taste.

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Mix well, place in lidded container, and refrigerate.  Correct seasoning prior to serving.

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Clean up the dishes and you’re done!

 

It took me about 35 minutes to chop, mix, season, and clean up. If I hadn’t been taking photographs during the process, it would have take less time. Added bonuses to your time spent in the kitchen – – tastes better than store bought, you can control the ingredients, the satisfaction and pleasure of making good food!

 

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Don’t forget to give your kitchen supervisor a treat.

 

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My Sweet Tooth

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Sometimes I try to ignore my cravings for something sweet, especially if it is baked and chocolate flavored!  Over the weekend my cravings for got the better of me so I pulled out my Fat Witch Brownies cookbook and it fell open to page 67.  I’ve never made this recipe before, so maybe it was meant to be, or maybe it was the “witch.”  Ha!Ha!

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Page 66 & 67 of Fat Witch Brownies cookbook

The “Intense Chocolate Brownies” were as the name implies, intense with the flavor of chocolate!  Of course they can’t be bad for you because the recipe uses unsalted butter, unbleached flour (please don’t buy bleached flour – it really is not good for you), 70%  cacao bittersweet chocolate, just the right amount of sugar.  Since these brownies are homemade they contain no preservatives or artificial ingredients, just lots of love.

Now, I didn’t have bittersweet chocolate on hand, but I did have some organic cocoa (purchased from Thrive Market) so with a little on-line research on making substitutions, I was ready to bake!  It really doesn’t take long to make brownies from scratch, and the recipes from Fat Witch are pretty straight forward and uncomplicated (unlike others I have tried).  Best of all I didn’t have to use my mixer, so clean-up was easier!

Even though I didn’t follow the recipe exactly – using cocoa powder and half whole wheat and half unbleached flour – the end result was delicious!  The brownies were moist, with a rich chocolate flavor and just slightly crumbly.  Since there are only two humans in my household, and I’m the big brownie eater, I am still enjoying these treats.  Being the caring parent of two cats, I don’t let them eat chocolate even when they start begging for a taste!

If you have any leftovers after making some, just make sure to store in an air tight container.

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Finished product – Cooling and waiting to be devoured!

I’ve never been disappointed with any of the recipes that I’ve made from my Fat Witch Brownies cookbook.  As a tea lover, I even tried the Earl Grey Brownies, which were delightfully different.

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Fat Witch Brownies by Patricia Helding

Hope you will try your hand at making homemade treats.  If you like chocolate, Fat Witch has some free recipes available on their website, or if you live in New York City, you can stop by the shop and buy some freshly made goodies.

Happy baking & eating 🙂

Happy New Year 2015

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It’s 2015 and I haven’t made a resolution – – not sure that I am going to make one this year. That doesn’t mean I don’t have goals, it just means that I’m not sure resolutions are successful.

Even though I haven’t made an “official” resolution, my goal to make yummy and healthy (mostly) food still continues.  Cooking for two people is a challenge. Most recipes are written to serve four or more.  Plus, I get tired of leftovers and like to cook new dishes.

For a New Years Day brunch, my original plan was to make a New Orleans inspired dish, since my husband is from that area of Louisiana.  My first choice was Bananas Foster French Toast from a recipe in Taste of Home magazine, but the bananas weren’t cooperating (still too green). So, after searching through other recipes, I decided on Pecan Praline French Toast. It may not be 100% healthy, but it certainly qualifies as delicious!  Here’s my version – –

Pecan Praline French Toast with Apples

Serves 4 – 6

1/2 loaf of French bread (I used a day-old baguette)

1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar (I like the taste of dark brown sugar; if you don’t, use a total of 1/2 cup light brown sugar)

1/4 cup firmly pack light brown sugar

3 T butter

1 T Maple syrup

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1/2 apple, peeled, cored, and sliced

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup milk (I used 2%)

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (I had it on hand – you can also use 1/2 cup of milk in total)

1 T granulated sugar

1/2 t ground cinnamon

1/2 t vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Lightly grease an oven proof dish. I used a round flat-bottomed ceramic baking dish from Pampered Chef. You could also use a cast-iron skillet or any other dish of your choice.

2. Melt butter (microwave on 1 minute works great!). Add the both of the brown sugars and the maple syrup. Stir until combined and pour into your prepared dish.

3. Sprinkle sugar mixture with the pecans and arrange the apple slices on top of the nuts.

4. Slice bread into 1 inch pieces and arrange over the pecan and apples. Cut, as necessary, slices to make one layer of bread in your pan.

5. Using a whisk or fork, mix together the eggs, milk, cream, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Pour mixture over the bread. Cover dish and chill bread overnight (or at least 8 hours).

6. Remove bread refrigerator and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until the top is a golden brown.

7. To serve, run a knife around the edge of the bread and invert onto a serving plate.

Pecan Praline French Toast with Apples

Pecan Praline French Toast with Apples

This recipe makes its own syrup – – see photo – – and if you want, serve with additional maple syrup. For a delicious brunch, add your choice of sides. I decided on bacon (who doesn’t love bacon) and a fruit salad (the healthy part).

Peach, Asian Pear and Cranberry Salad

Peach, Asian Pear and Cranberry Salad

The original version for 8 to 10 people was published in Southern Living [February 2011] and you can find their version here.

Let me know if you try this recipe and what you think. My husband went back for seconds – – so I know he thought it was yummy and then told me that I started a new tradition today – – “full breakfast every morning.” Good thing I knew he was just joking.

May 2015 be filled with blessing and joy for you and yours!

The Pampered Chef Mini-Baker