Tag Archives: butter

Crispy Spinach Gnocchi with Sage Butter

 

Do you ever do “clean out the fridge” nights? If not you should think about doing it! Food waste is a very serious issue, and one way to prevent it is obviously to throw less food in the trash.

But if you don’t know what food you have, it can be very easy to forget about it until your produce liquefies or grows a weird-colored fuzzy coating of something you do not want to eat.

Clean out the fridge meals help prevent that!

Basically, just take a look in the fridge. Not just the shelves but also the doors and drawers. And then try to think of a way to use up those food items! Soups are always a good bet, as are casseroles, burritos, omelets, and more.

This one was inspired by 2 baked potatoes, and a half bag of getting-soft spinach. I went to Google for inspiration, as I usually do, and found this recipe for Potato Spinach Gnocchi. I’ve made my own gnocchi before, using both butternut squash and acorn squash, so I knew that veggies are easy to hide in the wonderful pillowy dumplings.

So I decided to add the spinach to create green gnocchi! Because why not. But I also decided to pan-fry rather than boil them, because I was craving a cripsy coating. You can stop at Step 1 and boil, but I’d recommend the frying route.

I also pared down the prep time by microwaving my spinach rather than steaming and draining, and had already cooked potatoes. If I didn’t I would have microwaved them too. All together, this can be on the table in less than 30 minutes!

Not only do these taste a bit like french fries, but they also count as a vegetable and are healthy for you! Win win. Top with whatever sauce you prefer and enjoy.

spinach gnocchi

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 baked potatoes
  • 1 egg
  • ~1 cup flour
  • ~1 cup cooked spinach (fresh or frozen, fresh is about 3-4 cups packed that cooks down)
  • 1 tbsp garlic or 2-3 cloves
  • Optional: 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

Sage Brown Butter

  • 3-4 tbsp butter
  • Handful of sage leaves
  • Sea salt
  • Optional: black pepper, salsa, etc.

spinach gnocchi

Step 1: I started with potatoes I baked the day prior, otherwise bake your potatoes in the oven or microwave. Similarly, if using frozen spinach, thaw it and squeeze out the water. I microwaved my fresh spinach for about 2 1/2 minutes with a cup of water next to it in the microwave.

You can do the mixing and mashing by hand, but I prefer my hand dandy food processor. Mix up the potato well, then add the spinach. Process until well combined. Add the garlic, Parmesan, and flour, and process until a thick dough forms.

spinach gnocchi

Step 2: Using 2 teaspoons, scoop little balls of dough into a frying pan set to medium with olive or coconut oil. Fry for 2-3 minutes, flip, and fry on the other side. My pan held about half the dough, so I moved them to a paper towel covered plate while I cooked the other half.

spinach gnocchi

Step 3: Optional – at this point you can enjoy your fried gnocchi with marinara, pesto, alfredo, or whatever sauce tickles your fancy. Since I have an abundance of sage right now, I made a sage brown butter sauce (like I used on my butternut squash ravioli).

Melt the butter in the pan. When barely bubbling, add the sage leaves, and fry for about 2 minutes, until crispy. Do not over cook or the butter will burn. I also tossed in a teaspoon of my Reaper salsa, for a little bite, and it was just enough.

 

Buttery Garlic Mashed Potatoes

 

Ahhh, the humble potato. This starchy, much-maligned root vegetable that is a darling and then an outcast, depending on which way the media winds blow. The reason Ireland didn’t completely starve to death. The bearer of cream cheese, chives, and chili.

Potatoes are pretty cool.

Origins of the Potatovarieties of potatoes on a map

The potato is the world’s fourth largest food crop, following rice, wheat, and maize. There are many many different types, or cultivars, or potatoes, from blue to red to yellow to the hardy workhorse russet.

The highest potato yields are produced in the United States, in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. Burbank Russet potato harvest begins in late August or early September and ends by the first of November. Idaho’s harvest begins in September after Labor Day and ends by the first of November. Available year round, November to late June Burbank Russet supplies come from storage potatoes.

The Inca Indians in Peru were the first to cultivate potatoes around 8,000 BC to 5,000 B.C. Then in 1536 Spanish Conquistadors conquered Peru, discovered the wonderous flavors of the potato, and carried them to Europe.  Before the end of the sixteenth century, families of  sailors began to cultivate potatoes along the  coast of northern Spain.  Sir Walter Raleigh introduced potatoes to Ireland in 1589 near Cork.

Eventually, Europeans found potatoes easier to grow and cultivate than other staple crops, such as wheat and oats. Most importantly, it became known that potatoes contained most of the vitamins needed for sustenance, and each acre of land cultivated could provide a year’s worth for nearly 10 people. Talk about an agricultural feat!

In the 1840s a major outbreak of potato blight swept through Europe, wiping out the potato crop in many countries. The Irish working class lived largely on potatoes, so when the blight reached Ireland, their main staple food disappeared. This famine left many poverty-stricken families with no choice but to struggle to survive, starve, or emigrate out of Ireland. Over the course of the multi-year famine, almost one million people in Ireland and Europe died from starvation or disease. Another one million people left Ireland, mostly for Canada and the United States.

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Potatoes arrived in the Colonies in 1621 when the Governor of Bermuda sent two large chests containing potatoes and other vegetables to Governor Francis Wyatt of Virginia at Jamestown.  The first permanent potato patches in North America were established in 1719 in New Hampshire.  From there, the crop spread across the country.

Idaho, the present-day largest producer of potatoes, did not begin growing potatoes until 1836, when missionaries moved west in an effort to teach the native tribes to grow crops instead of relying upon hunting and gathering methods.  However, it wasn’t until 1872 when the Russet Burbank variety was developed, that the Idaho potato industry began to flourish.

The original Russet Burbank potato clone was discovered in the 1870s by Luther Burbank and was called “Burbank’s Seedling”. It developed from a first generation seedling of an open-pollinated cultivar “Early Rose” in Massachusetts. In the late 1800s, he marketed this special seedling to Western states, under the name “Burbank”. The Russet Burbank potato became and still is the major cultivar grown in the USA, especially in the Pacific Northwest. – Read more here.

French Fries were introduced to the U.S. when Thomas Jefferson served them in the White House during his Presidency of 1801-1809.  Collinet, chef for French King Louis Phillipe unintentionally created soufflés (or puffed) potatoes by plunging already fried potatoes into extremely hot oil to reheat them when the King arrived late for dinner one night. To the chef’s surprise and the king’s delight, the potatoes puffed up like little balloons.

In 1853 railroad magnate Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt complained that his potatoes were cut too thick and sent them back to the kitchen at a fashionable resort in Saratoga Springs, NY. To spite his haughty guest, Chef George Crum sliced some potatoes paper thin, fried them in hot oil, salted and served them. To everyone’s surprise, Vanderbilt loved his “Saratoga Crunch Chips,” and potato chips have been popular ever since.

The good historians at “potatogoodness.com” supplies this list of fun facts about the humble, yet oh-so-popular spud.

Did you know…

  • During the Alaskan Klondike gold rush, (1897-1898) potatoes were practically worth their weight in gold. Potatoes were valued for their vitamin C.  And gold, at that time, was more plentiful than nutritious foods!
  • In October 1995, the potato became the first vegetable to be grown in space. NASA and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, created the technology with the goal of feeding astronauts on long space voyages, and eventually, feeding future space colonies.

The Incas had many uses for potatoes other than dinner:

  • Placed raw slices on broken bones to promote healing
  • Carried them to prevent rheumatism
  • Ate with other foods to prevent indigestion.
  • Measured time: by correlating units of time by how long it took for potatoes to cook.
  • Various folk remedies recommend using potatoes:
  • Treat facial blemishes by washing you face daily with cool potato juice.
  • Treat frostbite or sunburn by applying raw grated potato or potato juice to the affected area.
  • Help a toothache by carrying a potato in your pocket.
  • Ease a sore throat by putting a slice of baked potato in a stocking and tying it around your throat.
  • Ease aches and pains by rubbing the affected area with the water potatoes have been boiled in

http://www.potatogoodness.com/all-about-potatoes/potato-fun-facts-history/

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Ingredients:

  • 4-5 large Russet potatoes
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Garlic salt to taste
  • Shredded cheddar, optional

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Step 1: If you really want to, peel your potatoes. I just give them a good rinse, because the skin is where the gorgeous vitamins are most concentrated. Dice the potatoes, and boil them for 15-20 minutes. Drain and put back into the pan.

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Step 2: Using a fancy potato masher (or a simple spoon, fork, your hands, a wooden spoon…) mash up the potatoes. This part will take a little elbow grease, but think of how toned your bicep (at least, one of them) will be afterwards!

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Step 3: Add in the butter while the potatoes are still hot. Continue mashing, and add in the sour cream and milk. If you like your potatoes super runny, add more milk. If you like them thicker, use less. Mash until your desired consistency (I love just a little bit of chunks still left).

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Step 4: If using, sprinkle on some sharp cheddar cheese, and add garlic salt to taste. (Add some, mix it well, taste a little spoonful. Then add another 6 tablespoons, stir again, and taste…repeat as necessary)

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Your potatoes are ready to roll! Top with some fresh chives or herbs, more garlic salt, chili, gravy, sauce, whatever…

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These are an amazing, down-home side dish. Goes great with meatballs, meatloaf, ribs, steak… pretty much any meat thing. If you make a whole lot extra, you can use the leftovers to top shepherd’s pie, or use it as a filling in classic potato pierogi.

 

Buttery Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 4-5 large Russet potatoes
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Garlic salt to taste
  • Shredded cheddar, optional

Instructions

  1. If you really want to, peel your potatoes. I just give them a good rinse, because the skin is where the gorgeous vitamins are most concentrated. Dice the potatoes, and boil them for 15-20 minutes. Drain and put back into the pan.
  2. Using a fancy potato masher (or a simple spoon, fork, your hands, a wooden spoon...) mash up the potatoes. This part will take a little elbow grease, but think of how toned your bicep (at least, one of them) will be afterwards!
  3. Add in the butter while the potatoes are still hot. Continue mashing, and add in the sour cream and milk. If you like your potatoes super runny, add more milk. If you like them thicker, use less. Mash until your desired consistency (I love just a little bit of chunks still left).
  4. If using, sprinkle on some sharp cheddar cheese, and add garlic salt to taste.
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http://www.budgetepicurean.com/comfort-food/buttery-garlic-mashed-potatoes/

 

Homemade granola bars + Make your own vanilla extract

As a simple on-the-go breakfast, post-workout snack, or get-you-through-the-afternoon munchie, I love granola bars! Endlessly varied in terms of type of nuts, berries, chocolate, flavors in them, they are always in my pantry in multitudes.

Usually I buy whatever is on sale, say $1-2 for a box. I have a rotation and favorites, but am not brand loyal by any means. But even at $1 for a box of 6, it can get expensive. So I figured, I already have lots of different types of nuts and dried fruits, and oats. It can’t be hard to make my own.

After googling a bit, I found this recipe for home made granola bars, which is close to what I had on hand. But I didn’t want the chocolate part (shocking, I know!) because I’d be storing them in my book bag and gym bag and don’t want to deal with melty chocolate all over my workout shoes or laptop. So as usual, I took the framework of the recipe and made it my own with what was on hand and the pan size I was working with. The results were splendid!

Ingredients:
3 cups oats
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup craisins (dried cranberries)
1/4 cup smashed pistachios (I shelled them, put them in a ziplock baggie and smashed them up with a spoon. For reals.)
1/2 cup smashed up candied peanut halves (also ziplock pulverized)
1/4 cup chia seeds (bought a few months ago and had no idea what to do with them… perfect.)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey
4 tbsp butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Step 1: Mash up the nuts, then mix together oats, dried fruit, nuts, seeds and olive oil. Stir to coat well, then bake in a flat oven safe pan at 350 for about 10 minutes, to make everything brown and toasty.

Step 2: In a pan over medium heat, stir together butter, brown sugar, honey and vanilla. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Pour over the granola mixture, and stir well to coat everything. Bake at 300 for 25-30 minutes, until warm and brown. Remove from the oven and let cool or stick in the refrigerator for a little while. Cut into bars the size you like.

I used a 9×13 pan, and as such I got 16 bars. They are very soft, so I put them in the fridge for about an hour before I cut them up.

I individually wrapped each bar in a plastic baggie, and am storing them in my pantry. They are delicious! The honey makes it so sweet, I don’t think you’d need chocolate anyway. Probably could even have done without the extra brown sugar.

I love these because I can use whatever dried fruits or nuts/seeds I have available. The next batch will include dried apricots and plums. You better believe sometime into the fall I will be making some bars with pumpkin seeds in them! I think I’m going to try experimenting with peanut butter in the honey instead of just butter too.

These are vegetarian, and could easily be made vegan as well. If you go easy on the oil/honey they are quite healthy and filling. And very inexpensive! Buy whatever fruits/nuts/seeds you like on sale, oats are cheap in bulk. This batch probably cost me $5 total?


Speaking of  inexpensive baking, did you know you can make your own vanilla extract from just vanilla beans and vodka? Seriously, that’s it.

A bottle of vodka on sale was about $7, the beans were a bit pricey at $4 for 2. But that’s $11 for about a gallon of vanilla that I can use pretty much forever. If I invested a bit more I could even jar it myself and give it as gifts or sell some. When you get low you just add more vodka and maybe after a year another bean or two. Jackpot.

100th post: Pheasant is pleasant

 

I know I started this blog as a poor college kid. And trust me, I still enjoy mac-n-cheese, ramen noodles, and hot dogs. There will still be simple recipes with 3 ingredients or less. But as I’ve progressed through my Masters and am now in PhD school, my tastes have evolved and I like to expand my horizons. Thus I decided at least once a month I will try making something I’ve never had, slightly exotic dishes.

For June, as my 100th post, I give you, roasted whole pheasant! The ~3lb bird itself was $25, but the brine and the accompanying roasted veggies were less than $10, so it’s still not bad for a super cool and fancy meal for two plus leftovers. Also you then have forever bragging rights.

Brine:
8-10 cups water (enough to cover the bird)
3/4 cup salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp whole cloves
3 cloves crushed garlic
2-3 bay leaves
Juice of 1 whole lemon
Juice of 1 whole lime

Step 1: Add salt and maple syrup to water, bring to a boil so all salt and syrup dissolves.

Step 2: Let cool to room temp, add spices and juices. Place the whole pheasant in the brine. Mine was frozen so I thawed it in the fridge overnight, but you can put it in there frozen whole too. Let the bird soak a minimum of 4 hours up to overnight. The longer it soaks, the saltier and more flavorful it will get. Mine soaked overnight, about 20 hours total.

Step 3: Take the bird out of the brine and drip dry it. Rub it all over with butter, including loosening the skin and rubbing butter underneath, directly onto the flesh if you can. Optional: place spices from brine over the bird or add fresh.

Step 4: Place a quartered onion and/or halved apple inside the cavity of the bird. Place it in a buttered or sprayed oven-safe pan and tent tin foil over it.

Step 4: Roast the pheasant at 400 degrees for ~1 hour. Then lower the oven to 350, remove foil and roast an additional 30-50 minutes, until no longer pink and juices are clear. I’m sure there’s a temperature recommendation too but as I have no meat thermometer, I just looked and said, yup that looks done and delicious.

For vegetables:
1 yellow potato
1 normal russet
(I wanted one purple too but the grocery didn’t have them)
1 onion, sliced
1-2 cups baby carrots
Garlic salt

Add the cut veggies in a sprayed pan to the oven for the final 30-50 minutes of baking. Add some bringing liquid if you like for extra flavor. Sprinkle with garlic salt when done.

And so you see, you can make a magazine-looking-worthy meal with very little work. If a busy, poor PhD student can do it, you can too! And trust me, brining overnight is definitely worth it! The meat was salty and tender, not at all tough or dry or gamey. I would highly recommend trying this.