Cashew Chicken Curry

Do you ever plod along, looking for new recipes and then re-making those over and over so much that you forget about those old and faithful recipes sitting lost and frayed in your old recipe binder?  No?  Well I do, and this is one of those.

I have been so into making all kinds of strong curry dishes and Indian foods lately, so was pleasantly surprised when I recently stumbled upon this oldie but goody recipe.  To be truthful, it doesn’t have much of a curry flavor at all; I find the cashew flavor more pre-dominant, but I suppose you could change that with more curry.  I kind of like it the way it is.

Cashews aren’t something we have lying around, they are much too costly here.  And frankly, if they were lying around my house, I would eat them all.  I wish my grocery stores had an aisle that was called “Lesley, don’t go down here, your pants already don’t fit”.  In that aisle would be such food items as any cheese known to man, most red wines on the planet, and for sure, the cashew.

Oh boy, I’m getting distracted.  Back to the recipe.

You can use any chicken that you like.   For this recipe I usually buy chicken thighs.   I don’t buy thighs too often, but when I do find ones that are just the right size, I snap them up.  Too big and they seem to take forever to cook.  Too small and it seems like no meat to eat and a waste of time.  Or, if you want to go crazy, use shrimp instead of the chicken.  I’ve tried it and it’s great also.

I have even taken this sauce and smeared it on breaded chicken which has been added to a sandwich.  Don’t judge me.  It’s gooooood.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 cup plus 1/2 cup roasted, salted cashews
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup plus 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1 TAB ginger root, chopped
  • 1 TAB curry paste
  • 1 TAB brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
  • 1 TAB vegetable oil
  • 2 lbs chicken thighs (about 8)
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth

DIRECTIONS:

In a food processor, blend 3/4 cup cashews until finely chopped.  Add yogurt, 1/4 cup cilantro, ginger root, curry paste, brown sugar, and salt and pepper and process until smooth.

Heat oil in a large skillet.  Add thighs and brown on each side, at least 5 minutes per side. Pour sauce over chicken and add chicken broth.  Combine well and let simmer for about 15 minutes.  (If you find the broth is cooking off, add more broth as you like or even water).  Let sit covered for ten more minutes to rest.  Garnish with more cashews and cilantro and serve alone or over rice.

Italian Garlic Fettuccine

Growing up in Toronto, I had a good friend who for a few years worked at a store that sold fresh pasta.  It belonged to the restaurant of the same name across the street.  When people ate at the restaurant, loving the pasta, they could head straight across the street and buy some of that home-made pasta themselves.

I used to think it was so luxurious and out of my league.  I mean, it was so much more expensive than the dried grocery store noodle.  And while I loved, and will always love pasta, I wasn’t sure I would ever (literally) pay the price for fresh pasta.

Well I did.  But after a few times I thought what I usually do, let’s try and make this.  It was actually not until we lived in Mexico that I tried it for the first time.  I ordered the attachments for my Kitchen-aid mixer and brought them down in my suitcase.  I found a simple egg noodle recipe and subsequently employed child labor one of the first times I did it.

paigepasta

This was at least five years ago.  I must say, I was surprised at how easy it was, although did take a bit of time to do all the rolling.  Because children seem to love fun gadgets, when my daughter saw the attachment whirring, she was intrigued and willing to sit on the counter for hours rolling out pasta.

Ever since that first time I’ve made pasta often and tried different types of noodles once in awhile (like this one).  This latest attempted at noodles was fun and turned out great so I had to share it with you.

basilpasta2

Look at those pretty flecks of seasoning.  Gah.  I love it.

If you don’t have a pasta maker, you could actually roll out the dough yourself and cut with a pizza cutter or sharp knife.  Of course, a pasta-maker does make it uniform and much easier.  You can get attachments for your mixer, or, buy the hand-operated pasta makers that cost about the same price at the attachments.

You can make this earlier in the day, but make sure you cover them so they don’t dry out too much.  And remember, when you are cooking up the noodles, they are al dente in about half the time of grocery store noodles.  Once they float to the top they only need a few more minutes and they’re done.

The first night we ate them, I served then with olive oil, garlic, cherry tomatoes, and basil, but the next day I simply tossed them with oil and garlic. And maybe topped with a little cheese.

noodles

When a noodle is the star, the sauce can be soft and simple.

Happy noodle making!

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup dried Italian seasoning (you could use just basil or oregano)
  • 4 eggs

DIRECTIONS:

In a food processor, add the flour and salt and combine for 5 seconds.   In a blender, combine eggs and garlic until garlic is pulverized.  Add egg/garlic mixture and seasoning to food processor with about 6 TAB of warm water.  Using on/off turns, combine until mixture comes together and starts to pull away from edges.  If necessary, use more water, 1 TAB at a time.

Gather together and knead dough for about 5 minutes, sprinkling with flour if necessary.  Let rest, covered, for about an hour.

Cut dough into about 12 even pieces.  Adjust pasta roller to widest setting (mine is a 1).  Roll through four times.  Adjust setting to next level and repeat.  Repeat until you receive the desired thickness.  (I only go up to a 4 or 5 out of 8 because we like our noodles a little thicker).  Hang on drying rack, a hanger, or lay flat on well floured tray and let stand an hour, turning it once to make sure it doesn’t stick.

Cut into desired noodle (I prefer fettuccine) and let dry again, covered, until ready to eat.  Prepared noodles can rest on the counter up to four hours.

 

Skor Fudge Brownies

I remember the first time I made these brownies.  It was winter in Toronto.  I was newly married and baking in my little two-bedroom apartment.  The recipe looked delicious and easy, my kind of recipe.  I sprinkled the brownies with the Skor bits, baked a little more, then smeared over the chocolate, and set it aside to cool.  An hour later, the chocolate was still very warm.  Another hour later, same thing.  Finally, I’d had enough.  I mean, how long is a girl supposed to wait for a brownie?   I took real action and I put the brownies on the balcony outside, which was colder than my fridge and freezer combined, and voila, the chocolate was chilled within 15 minutes.  Perfection.

Do you have Skor bars where you live? When we’ve met a lot of our American friends they did not seem to know, but knew of the Heath bar.  I looked up some information online but couldn’t find anything definitive whether one was Canadian or American. Of course I can’t find them here in Mexico.  That is why one of the treats that I ask people to buy me is those packages of Skor bits that you get in the fun baking aisle in your Canadian grocery store.   Boy, do I miss that aisle.  It’s hard to get inspiration when the only things in the baking aisle here are the basic necessities.  When I go back to Canada, the grocery store is one of the first places I visit, and I sure do take my time.

This recipe originated from a very familiar food magazine if you’re from the province Ontario, in Canada.  If you are from Ontario, you will be very familiar with the free and beautiful magazine that the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) hands out for FREE (yes, you read that right) a few times a year.  They highlight spirits and liquors and wines and beer of course, but along with those come some of the best recipes I’ve tried.

I have made a few adjustments to this out of necessity.  I usually buy chocolate bars and chop them and use that instead of the chips.  I did some research lately about chocolate chips though: they aren’t made to melt, they are made to withstand the heat of baking, so if you’re just going to melt chocolate, it’s better to use something that likes to be melted.  Chocolate chips work fine, I just prefer dark chocolate bars.

Another thing I can’t buy here is unsweetened chocolate.  So I use cocoa and butter to substitute.  Basically,one ounce of unsweetened chocolate is 3 TAB cocoa and 1 TAB butter.  So for this recipe I’ve also done the math for you if you can’t find or don’t have unsweetened chocolate but have cocoa and butter, it’s up to you.

Also, if you can’t get Skor bits but rather only get the Skor bars, or have Heath bars, you can use about 5 chocolate bars, chopped, and reduce the chocolate to 3/4 cup.

Lastly, get it to chill quickly, or else you’ll have fingerprints of warm, smooth chocolate and brownie crumbs all over your house.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup butter, cubed
  • 6 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped OR 1 1/3 cups cocoa and 6 TAB butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 pkg Skor bits
  • 1 cup chocolate, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350.  Line the bottom and sides of a 13×9 baking pan with tin foil.

If you have unsweetened chocolate: Combine butter and chocolate in a saucepan.  Place over medium heat and stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat.

If you have cocoa and butter:  Melt 1 cup plus 6 tablespoons butter in medium saucepan.  Add cocoa and stir until smooth.  Remove from heat.

Stir in sugar, then eggs, and vanilla.  Stir in flour and salt to make a smooth batter.  Pour into prepared ban and smooth.  Bake for about 15 minutes or until top is almost set.  Sprinkle Skor bits over the top and return pan to oven for another 5 minutes or so or until a toothpick inserted comes out with a few moist crumbs.  Place pan on a cooling rack and sprinkle with chocolate.  Let stand for about five minutes as chocolate melts.  Spread evenly.  Let cool until chocolate is set.  Remove foil from pan and cut into bars.

Adapted slightly from:  Food & Drink

Middle East Salad

I know salads are good for you.  I know I should eat them more.  I just hate the work that goes into them.  It seems you wash, and chop, and slice forever.   Especially here in Mexico, where you need to wash your vegetables and fruits very carefully.  The stores sell disinfectant drops here that most people use: dilute in water and then let your veggies soak for about a half hour then air dry.  It can be time consuming.  And patience is not one of my best qualities.

This salad doesn’t require a lot of cleaning or chopping and I love it.  I love it even more the next day.  My loves-to-cook childhood friend gave me this recipe.  At the top of it she typed “I just finished making this and remembered that I mentioned it to you before”.  I must have hounded asked her a few times for it.   I’m grateful she’s patient with me and likes to share.  Fun fact, she also still will organize my house when she visits to make it more efficient.  My clothing gets color-coordinated in my closet and my kitchen may get straightened up.  There’s no way I take offense to this, she’s good and it and loves to do it.  I won’t stop that kind of passion.

Sometimes I feel guilty when something that is so simple tastes so great.  I need to stop that.  I came home today and made this in about ten minutes.  My teenage son, who was making himself bacon and cheese quesadillas, looked over at my salad and said “well that looks good, can I have some of that?”  Score for vegetables!

What’s best is it tastes even better the next day.  Make extra for lunch and you’ll be saving money and eating right.  Maybe just keep those raw onions out, unless you enjoy working alone!

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 TAB olive oil
  • 2 TAB red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp dijon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 can chickpeas or lentils (lentils tend to go mushy overnight, I prefer the chickpeas)
  • 1/2 cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced or whole
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

DIRECTIONS:

Combine first five ingredients for salad dressing and whisk well.  In a large bowl, add chickpeas, tomatoes, and cucumbers.  Pour dressing and toss.  Add onion, dill, and feta and salt to taste if necessary.  Toss, refrigerate, and cover if not inhaling right away.

Mexican Gnocchi

I will admit, although living in Mexico, I don’t often make Mexican food.  Why should I, when the abuela’s (grand-mother’s) down the street who have been doing it for 70 years can do it better than me at crazy cheap prices?  (When I see what some of you ‘up north’ pay for tacos, it makes me cry).  Interestingly, we live in one of THE most expensive parts of the country.  When you visit Mexico City and it’s suburbs, the tacos are better, fresher, and even cheaper than they are here.  Every corner has another mom and pop establishment in which the smells wafting through the air will transform any ‘I don’t eat street food’ critic into a believer.  I’m sure they’re even cheaper in other parts of the country.

I will also admit that I find it kind of annoying when I see Mexican versions of dishes that claim to be ‘authentic’ that actually aren’t very Mexican.  For example, they don’t use cheddar cheese here people.  So when you see a “Mexican” dish that has cheddar, it’s the furthest thing from authentic.  Sour cream? Nope.  Here we buy something called ‘crema’ in little boxes.  It’s much thinner than sour cream when at room temperature, but quite similar after the box is opened and is has to be refrigerated.  It’s less sour than sour cream also.  It’s very popular here and can be found even at the local corner stores.  Hard shell tacos? You do know that I’ve never seen one in 9 years of eating here.  This country is all about it’s soft corn hand-made tortillas.  And the one that surprises people most: taco seasoning.  They don’t sell it here.  It’s a treat from home when it shows up.  Here they use good old fashioned spices.

When I was playing around with fusing Italian with Mexican, I just went to the grocery store and bought what is cheap, local, and popular.  That meant white onions, cilantro, corn, Manchego cheese, and jalapeno.  I played around with all these ingredients and added them to gnocchi that someone had given me.  I don’t eat a lot of gnocchi, but what I do like about it is that you don’t need a lot and it seems to go far.

Of course, what’s local to me, may not be local to you.  I am in no way recommending that you go and spend more money on ingredients than you have to.  If you can’t find Manchego, use mozzarella, if you like your pasta stringy.  If not, use another cheese (gasp, yes, even cheddar), it’s your meal, do what you want!   I won’t fight you on this because it’s obvious this isn’t ‘authentic’ anything; it’s a fusion of countries and flavors and cultures.  But sometimes, that’s the best!

This is a fast and easy meal that you can easily change up and I promise won’t disappoint.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 TAB vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 jalapeno, diced
  • 1 (19 oz) can black beans, drained
  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 cup corn (optional)
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 1/2 lbs gnocchi
  • 1 cup Manchego cheese (or mozzarella if you want stringy, cheddar if not)
  • cilantro, chopped, for garnish
  • 1 package taco seasoning OR 1 TAB chili powder, 1 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp each garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, and salt

DIRECTIONS:

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and cook for about 5 minutes or until translucent.  Add ground beef, in batches if necessary so it browns properly, and cook until no red is left.  Add spices, tomatoes, and beef broth and cook for a few minutes until simmering.  Add corn, beans, jalapeno and simmer another 10 minutes or so.

In the meantime, put a pot of water to boil. Cook gnocchi until they float, drain.  Toss with sauce and add cheese.  Add salt to taste if necessary, garnish with cilantro, and serve immediately.

Thai Ginger Carrot soup

This soup was a recipe that I made and sold when we had our little cafe here in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.  It was very cost-efficient, I could always find the ingredients, and it froze beautifully.  While I love a brothy soup, I also love how thick this is, without being full of heavy cream.  And never mind that colour!

I find a lot of recipes online that I have to adjust because I cannot find all the ingredients for them here.  Or, if I can, I don’t feel like searching for them only to find them today and not tomorrow.  Even when ingredients seem that they’ll always be there, sometimes they’re not.  For example, this week I couldn’t find icing sugar anywhere.  Icing sugar? Really?  Argh.  It’s like there was an icing sugar convention and every bag in town was bought for desserts and displays.

That’s not what cooking is about to me.  I want it to be delicious, beautiful, different, but I just don’t have the time to spend hours going from store to store, wondering why they had an ingredient last week, but not this.  I would love to spend hours scouring farmers markets, trying all those beautiful options out there, but they don’t exist here.   So, I make the best of what I have, literally.

While I don’t need to be warmed up here very often in the Caribbean, you might need to be, and this soup with do the trick without all those extra calories.  Double it, freeze the leftovers, and warm it up again when you get home late because of a snowy day.

It will warm you and brighten your table.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 TAB sesame oil
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped (I use the Mexican white onion here, but a vidalia would be lovely)
  • 4 garlic cloves, diced
  • 3 inch ginger root, diced
  • 2 lbs carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 thai chili pepper, chopped (I use whatever chili pepper I can find)
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can coconut milk

DIRECTIONS:

Heat sesame oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic, ginger, carrots, and pepper.   Cook, stirring frequently until hot and fragrant, about five minutes.  Add stock.  Simmer, covered, until carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.

Let cool a little before pureeing in a blender, or use an immersion blender if you have one.  Add coconut milk, puree again.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Blueberry French Toast

Who doesn’t love brunch? Isn’t it just the most leisurely of meals? What time should it start? Doesn’t matter.  What time should people go home? Doesn’t matter (unless they’ve over-stayed their welcome).  Should you serve coffee or mimosas?  Both, please.   For some reason, it seems to be a meal that we don’t often get to enjoy unless we’re on vacation or it’s a weekend where we don’t have a thousand errands to run.  Brunch is a table in which there is a taste for every person around it.

As mentioned  in this post, I’ll eat a Croque Madame at every brunch, lunch, breakfast, dinner.  I’m a savory girl.  But I have many a friend who love the sweet: the pancakes, the waffles, the sweetened whipped cream.  And I want need to make my people happy.

The last time we held a brunch at our home, I wanted to do something a little different, a little more elevated.  So I fiddled around with a fancier french toast.  I started off with some croissants from our French bakery, prepared them like french toast, and added a sweetened cream cheese with fresh blueberries inside and out.

frenchtoast3

Yum.  It was the perfect amount of sweet, combined with that beautiful, flaky croissant.  It took the same amount of time as any other french toast or pancake recipe, definitely less time than waffles, and it provided a ‘wow’ factor when brought out.

I like blueberries with this, but you can try any other berry.  If you use strawberries, just slice them so they fit nicely in the croissants.

Enjoy this while you have the most relaxing of meals, the brunch.  What other things would you like to see on the blog that can elevate your brunch?  Let me know below!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 good-quality croissants
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 8 oz package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 TAB honey
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl, whisk or cream together cream cheese and honey until smooth.  Set aside.

In a shallow dish, combine cream, milk, egg, and cinnamon and whisk well.  Slice croissants in half.  Heat a little vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Dip both sides of croissants into milk mixture and fry each side, about 2 minutes each, trying not to flatten croissant.  Remove from pan to plate.  Repeat with other croissants.

Smear cream cheese mixture evenly on bottom of four croissants.  Add blueberries.  Top with top part of croissant and a little more cream cheese mixture if desired and blueberries.

Serve immediately with warmed maple syrup.

 

 

pierogi

Ukrainian Pierogies

I have been watching my mother and Baba (grand-mother in Ukrainian) make pierogies for as long as I can remember.  My mother has told me she remembers watching her dad eat up to 66 at a time!  Those were different times, when people actually needed to consume more calories because their employment was usually physical labor.  I think if I consumed that many at one sitting, I would explode.  And I am definitely a glutton when it comes to pierogies.

Don’t get offended by this, but I have to say it: my Baba’s and mom’s pierogies are the best.  I think it’s one of those things that because eating this food item holds so many wonderful childhood memories, nobody else’s pierogies can beat it.  Don’t get me wrong, I will eat pierogies at any chance they are presented to me, and some other friend’s Baba’s have come close, but the clear winner usually rests in my mom’s freezer.

When we had the shop here in Mexico, I started attempting my mother’s pierogies.  One occasion when we were home for a visit, I asked if she could make the dough so that I could try and measure it out so I could make it back in Mexico.  “But I don’t measure”, was her reply.  “I know, but I’d like to try and measure what you’re doing so I can copy it”.  She looked very concerned that my measuring would get in the way of her super soft dough.

It didn’t.  I had a lot to learn.  The first year I tried on my own, I found that some batches were so tough I couldn’t roll them out.  I tried to convince myself it was okay, but when I actually ate a few perogies with said dough, I could barely get my teeth through it.  Clearly, a soft dough matters.  But I kept trying until I got the hang out it.

Growing up, we had strict rules about pierogi night.  They were cooked and served one way and one way only: boiled, tossed with onions in a ton of oil, served with salt, pepper, and sour cream.  There were no sides. There was no dessert.  They were only to be fried the next day, if you were fortunate enough to have leftovers.  Frying them the day of was unheard of and if you mentioned it, you would have gotten a dirty look and perhaps asked to exit the kitchen.   Don’t mess with family tradition.

My mother used to leave them all on the counter, dusted with flour, using about 3,000 tea-towels.  These days, we freeze them individually as we go along, which gives us more for a later time.  I still force ask my mom to make the dough, she even rolls and cuts out the shapes, but we fill and pinch.  That way we can get 300-400 or so done in a day which is GREAT for a freezer.

perogiefreezer

In the past few years, my mother started adding sour cream to her dough; she is sure that it makes it much softer and easier to work with.  And, as hard as this is for me to believe as it is NOT how it was growing up, she now fries bacon along with the onions when she serves them.  This fact actually hurt my brain when it first happened, but I never refuse bacon, so I kept my mouth shut.

Inside the potato and cheese filling, my mother also used to buy a chunk of pork fat, or what she used to call ‘shvsrke’. Since we would never be able to find that here in Mexico, she will just save the bacon fat and add that, even using diced up pieces of bacon for the filling.  The fat gives it a distinct flavor.  Try to ignore the fact that it’s not healthy and just do it.  Just this once.  And every time you make them.

These amounts won’t match perfectly, you will have leftover filling so you may want to make another batch of dough.  You can half both amounts, it’ll still turn out the same.

They take some time, but they are worth it.  And just think, you don’t have to make appetizers or dessert because nobody’s stomach will be able to handle all that food.

Oh, and do your guests a favor, tell them to wear their stretchy pants.

DOUGH INGREDIENTS:

  • 9 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cups (unflavored) cooking oil
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup sour cream

POTATO FILLING:

  • 2 kgs potatoes
  • 907 gram block of cheddar, grated
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/2 lb bacon, diced

TO SERVE:

  • onions
  • vegetable oil
  • bacon

DIRECTIONS:

Filling: Peel potatoes and boil until soft, then mash.  Add cheddar cheese, salt and pepper to taste.  Fry onion in vegetable oil and add to mixture.  Fry bacon and add to mixture, even adding some or all of the grease from the bacon.  Set aside to cool. (This can be prepared the day before, the colder the mixture is the easier the dough is to fill).

Dough: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Knead five minutes by hand until smooth.  Rest at least 30 minutes, covered.

Flour your working surface well. Roll out dough until about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut circles to size you desire.  We usually use the open end of a drinking glass that’s about 3 1/2″ wide.  Put filling in middle.  Bring one end of circle, pinching as you go.  Pinch tightly, or else they may open when boiling.  They do not need egg wash to seal if you are pinching well. Set aside, not allowing one to touch the other, on a floured baking sheet.

Fresh pierogi can sit, covered, for a few hours.  Or if you prefer, freeze on the sheet until each pierogi is hard, then transfer to a freezer bag.

Set a pot of well-salted water to boil. While waiting for water, fry bacon in a skillet and set aside.  Fry onions in oil and once slightly golden brown, return bacon to pan and stir.  Remove from heat and add to serving dish.

If boiling frozen pierogies, do NOT thaw.  Place them into pot and bring back to a hard boil.  They are ready when they rise to the top.  Drain and toss immediately with fried onions and bacon in serving dish.

Serve with salt, pepper, and lots of sour cream.

 

Mashed Potato Pancakes

One dish that I grew up eating a lot was potato pancakes.  My mom would grate the potatoes, add seasonings and flour, fry them off, and serve with sour cream.  I loved them.  I enjoyed the crunch of them.

Then I made these.  I can’t say I like them better, they’re just different.  They are so soft and billowy.  And best part is you’re using up leftover potatoes in a delicious way.  And frankly, I make my mashed potatoes like I make my pasta, always too much.  Why can’t I just go with my gut? Why do I always toss in a few more strands of pasta, or a few more potatoes?  I guess my motto is better too much than not enough.

This is another one of those ‘loose’ recipes, mostly because everybody’s mashed potatoes are different.  Mine were veeeeeeery smooth so I needed more flour than normal.  You can tell when you are mixing them in the bowl.  Once they start pulling away from the sides, they have enough.  Your best bet is to make a tester pancake and fry it up.  If it falls apart, you need more flour.  You can also adjust the seasonings at this point too.

These taste best served right away, they are a little more crispy on the outside and warm on the inside.  I usually only fry up as many as people are ready to eat so I don’t have to worry about what to do with the leftovers that I made from the leftovers that I had.

I used cheddar in this recipe, but try a stringy cheese like mozzarella and serve it to your kids as a snack.

Here’s to not wasting leftovers!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups cold mashed potatoes
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)
  • 1/4 cup flour (and more)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Vegetable oil for frying

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl mix flour and baking soda.  In a large bowl with the leftover mashed potatoes, add cheese, green onions, bacon, and eggs and stir to combine.  Add flour mixture.  If potatoes are not coming together, add more flour, a little at a time, until the potatoes will form a small pancake shape.

Heat oil in a medium size skillet over medium-high heat.  Form potato pancakes and fry until golden brown on each side, about 2-3 minutes each side.  Do not over-crowd the pan or flip pancakes too soon or they will may crumble.  Remove from and drain a minute or so on paper towels.  Serve immediately with more sour cream and green onions.

Makes approximately 24 small pancakes.

 

Rum Raisin Ice-Cream

Anyone remember watching The Newlywed game?  Three recently married couples answer questions about each other hoping to win cash.  Questions are asked as one newlywed leaves the room and when they return, the answers must match to score points.  Couple with the highest points wins.

Ever try playing this game? It’s a lot of fun.  Especially if you’re NOT a newlywed.  You would think you’d have all the answers down pat, but somehow, there’s an awful lot you don’t know about your spouse, or events that you remember differently.  What’s also fun is watching the couples who get a little too upset if the answers don’t match.  (I’m pretty sure it’s ended up in a tense drive home, with a further quizzing of each other so they’re better prepared for next time).

My husband and I have played this a few times in our 20 years of marriage and I will admit, I think we’ve only won once.  What I did learn in it though, is that there’s always something I didn’t know or that I could learn.

One of those things is what my husband’s favorite things to eat are.  I mean, I know the main things he loves, we have been cooking and eating together for over 20 years, but once in awhile, he’ll mention something I’ve never heard before.  Probably because I’m just a terrible listener we don’t have access to those ingredients here in Mexico.  (I’m not sure what my excuse was before we moved here).  It was a few years into me making ice-cream from home that I discovered his favorite flavor was Rum Raisin.  How did I not know this previously?  Was I too busy making ice-cream for the shop and everybody else?  Poor guy.  That had to be remedied.

I am not a raisin lover but I am a fan of dark rum.  Especially since rum is sooooo cheap here.  And, I’ve discovered that alcohol in ice-cream makes it a lot creamier and easier to scoop, which is a huge bonus in home-made ice-cream.   Usually home-made ice-cream is as hard as a rock because it doesn’t have all those fancy preservatives in it to keep it scoop-able.  So here’s a tip, if you’re making a flavor that doesn’t have alcohol in it, add a little vodka: nobody will know it’s there and it’ll make the consistency more like store-bought ice-cream.

I almost never buy ice-cream any more because I enjoy making it and it’s 100 times better than anything you can buy, for half the price.  Spend the money on an ice-cream machine, trust me, you won’t regret it.  Also, I’ve shown the recipe made with a mixer, hand or stand.  To be honest though, I’m often too lazy to go two-doors over to my mom’s house and grab her stand mixer, so I just do it all by hand now.

I’ve done all the ‘cook over the stove, strain through, cool in ice-bath, refrigerate over-night’ recipes, but frankly, nobody in my house wants to wait that long.  So I stick to my basic vanilla recipe and just change the add-ins.  Also, for this recipe, my husband didn’t like how big the raisins got after soaking with the rum, so I sliced them in half, or chopped them as best as I could before adding them.  (I had to make up for all those years of neglect, after all).

So before your next social gathering where you could possible be quizzed on your spouse’s likes, do a little test run.  You’ll never know what you’ll learn!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup dark rum, divided
  • 1 cup raisins

DIRECTIONS:

In small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup rum and raisins.  Bring to a boil and let simmer for a few minutes.  Take off heat, cover, and let stand at least an hour.  Strain, but keep any extra liquid.  Slice raisins if you prefer them smaller.

Beat eggs in mixer until foamy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add sugar, beat another minute.  Turn speed down and add cream, milk, and vanilla. Add 1/2 cup dark rum and any leftover rum from raisins.  Add to ice-cream machine and churn for about 25 minutes or until it looks like soft serve.  Then add raisins and churn a few more minutes until combined.

Transfer to freezer safe container and cover.

Makes about 2 litres.