Bacon Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I was so excited about the Daring Baker sugar play that I forgot to come back and tell you about my Thanksgiving experiment!  When my mom was here we went out to eat so many times that I don’t even remember where it was now, but somewhere (maybe Chili’s?) I had dinner with bacon mashed potatoes and they were so good I wanted to try it at home. Of course I did this on the day I baked the ham and I was doing a little advance prep work for a Breakfast Casserole, so I was also browning some sausage to put in the fridge for another day, and it seemed like we were sampling from all over the pig! The Husband wondered what kind of bizarre menu planning mood I had gotten into, because he didn’t see any vegetables in sight but saw three kinds of meat in progress, and meats that I don’t tend to use frequently at that! Poor man never knows what he’ll encounter when he comes into the kitchen.

For my version, I used about 6-8 lbs of potatoes, half Yukon Gold and half round white (a result of partial bags I had on hand rather than a particular desire for this ratio), peeled, cut, and boiled.  Meanwhile, I browned several strips of bacon and crumbled them.  I tossed most of the bacon grease and, in the same pan,  gently sauteed three crushed gloves of garlic until they were fragrant.  I beat the potatoes with my hand mixer with some butter and milk as I usually do.  Once the potatoes looked relatively smooth, I stirred in the bacon and garlic with a little bit of chives.

It’s not how I’ll make mashed potatoes every time, but it was a tasty treat for a special day.  Tartlet 1 really liked them, but I think Tartlets 3 & 4 prefer plain mashed potatoes.

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Feeling Kneady

I was doing a little planning ahead today, making some rolls in advance of a meal delivery for Son of Matt and Air In later in the week (3M was born on Christmas Eve), and went back to the November Daring Baker Challenge: potato bread. I love this recipe, in case you couldn’t tell. I’ve already made it a couple of times since the challenge, making more focaccia.

Back in November, though, I saw Glenna’s soft, little buns and was envious. (Be nice!) I made mine larger than hers, my first pan quite a bit larger, but I’m happy to report they had that same wonderful soft texture. Whoohoo! What beats soft buns? 😉 Next time I’ll probably stick to smaller ones.

I’m learning a little here as I make this recipe over and over. I’ve used Fleischmann’s yeast in a jar generally in the past, but my most recent batch before this one used little packets from Hodgson Mill and I liked the smell/flavor better. Everything seems so variable with yeast bread — different temps, humidity, etc affect the results, but I think I need to learn more about the little yeasty beasties themselves. I used to think there was just one variety of beasties for bread and different types for brewing, etc, but it seems like there must be some differences in sources for baking and, apparently, how they go about their impolite business burping in the dough. I welcome information! 🙂

Note to self: this batch used Yukon Gold potatoes in the food mill, AP flour & WW flour (no bread flour), and Fleischmann’s yeast; tops spread with butter while warm.

Warm Comfort for a Cold Night

Sorry to have slipped off the edge of the Earth (we live in Illinois, of course it’s flat!). I didn’t mean to abandon you for so long. We ate some New Year’s leftovers and I haven’t been generating anything spectacular — meatloaf and mashed potatoes, egg rolls that were originally intended to be part of the NYE menu, meatball sandwiches, pasta, and the lack of dessert matches the bleak January weather. I thought I’d look in my draft folder to see if I had anything to offer and, lo and behold, it was the very same thing I had just made again — potato leek soup! Here are the leftovers from the December pot:

And here is the pot from yesterday:

They are actually a little different. I think I have some sort of genetic propensity toward the ‘a little of this, a little of that’ method of soup making. Frequently when I make soups I use chicken broth for part of the liquid and then use milk or tomatoes to finish. I rarely use cream in creamy soups, opting instead to use chicken broth and Lactaid milk. It definitely makes a thinner soup so sometimes I add a little flour to thicken it slightly. For the first soup pictured above, I used chicken broth and a little flour with the milk; for the second picture, I didn’t have any chicken broth on hand and just used straight Lactaid 2% milk.

Basic Potato Leek Soup

1/2 – 1 lb bacon, chopped & browned
2 leeks, sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 lbs potatoes, chopped
chicken broth and/or milk
salt & pepper to taste

Cook bacon (tip:if you do it in a separate pan, your soup will end up lighter colored–that’s what I did for the first pot, but for the second I was lazy and did it all in one pan).

In a large pot, sautee leeks with cooked bacon, adding a little bacon fat if needed. Add garlic and stir for a minute or two.

Add potatoes and enough chicken broth or milk to cover. Cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender. Adjust liquid with milk or milk/flour mixture to desired consistency.

Super Simple Spuds

I make these pretty often. They frequently accompany the citrus chicken in meals for new parents and I serve them with beef, lamb, pork, crab, just about anything. The kids love them (not only b/c there’s sugar in the seasoning!).

Wash the spuds and cut into quarters, eighths, strips, cubes, whatever you want.

Place in a zip bag with a splash of extra virgin olive oil and packet of Italian Seasons Vinagrette Mix. Toss to coat.

Spread evenly on a foil lined baking sheet.

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Bake at 400-425F until golden/done (20-30 min, depending on size and quantity).

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Recipe of the Day — Praline Sweet Potatoes

Saturday I wanted to try to recreate MN’s spicy lasagna but I was without internet access and I know now that I missed out on many of the ingredients so it’s not too surprising that it didn’t turn out the same! 🙂 But I was concerned the kiddos wouldn’t like it so I also made a pan of regular lasagna but then I still had more noodles and cheese so I also made an 8×8 pan and froze it . . . so since Saturday we have been gnawing away at two 9 x 13 pans of lasagna . . . it will probably be a year before I make lasagna again!! (We have had a few things to break up the monotony — small group we had baked chicken and spuds, student feast we had tacos, and I used my leftover red beans to make chili for lunch today — but two 9×13 pans of lasagna is a LOT of lasagna!)

So I haven’t been making many new dishes this week to post their recipes. But Thanksgiving is coming up, so I thought I should post this Praline Sweet Potato recipe b/c it is *SOOO* good. I’m NOT a fan of sweet potatoes but I LOVE this stuff. It is so good and so rich that it also works as dessert — a crustless sweet potato pie. I picked this recipe up from allrecipes.com a few years ago. I usually only make a half recipe for us b/c the kids don’t like it and the full thing is too much for two adults.

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Praline Sweet Potatoes

4 c. mashed sweet potatoes
½ c. white sugar
2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
4 eggs, beaten
½ pint heavy cream

Praline topping:
½ c. butter
1 c. packed brown sugar
½ c. flour
1 1/4 c. chopped pecans

Butter 2-qt casserole dish. Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a mixing bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, sugar, vanilla extract, eggs and cream. Blend well and spread evenly in casserole dish.

Prepare the topping by combining the butter, brown sugar, flour and pecans. Mix until crumbly and sprinkle over sweet potato mixture.

Bake for 30 minutes in preheated oven.

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The praline topping will make a pretty thick layer. This works best if you use a 9×13 pan and not a deep 2-qt casserole.