Potatoes a smashing success

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Smashed potatoes have been on my radar for a while. I’ve come across recipes for them several times online, in magazines, and in cookbooks, and have always been interested, but never took the time to make them.

I decided to make my first roasted chicken yesterday, and when deciding what to make alongside it, I remembered the smashed potatoes. They were fantastic. Though they take longer than just boiling or baking, the combination made for these tender potatoes with a slightly crisp exterior. The salt was enough seasoning on them, too. I topped mine with a bit of sour cream, which is also what I do with baked potatoes. They were so good. I’ll definitely be making them again.

Ingredients
15-20 small red potatoes
Olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Sour cream
Green onions, chopped

Boil the red potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place potatoes an inch or two apart on the baking sheet. Place a sheet of parchment paper or foil on top of the potatoes. Smash them by placing another baking sheet on top and pressing down until you feel the potatoes give. If you don’t have another similar baking sheet or other flat surface to use, you can smash the potatoes with the base of your palm.

Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top of each potato. Sprinkle potatoes with salt. Roast for 30-40 minutes, or until potatoes are slightly browned around the edges. Serve with sour cream.

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Surprisingly delicous sweet-and-sour meatballs

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When I went to movie night at my friend’s place a couple weeks ago, one of the things I took was Sweet-and-Sour Meatballs. I got the recipe from AP Food Editor J.M. Hirsch’s cookbook “High Flavor, Low Labor.” Though I’ve had the cookbook for a few years, I had never made these before, but I had tried his hummus meatballs and they were pretty good.

These were great right out of the oven. However, by the time I reheated them at my friend’s place, I found myself wanting some kind of dipping sauce for them. I’d recommend making or buying a teriyaki or sweet-and-sour sauce to go with these.

Ingredients
1/2 small yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons jarred jalapeño slices
1/2 cup apple jelly
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup panko
1 1/2 pounds ground beef

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil, then spritz them with cooking spray.

In a food processor, combine the onion, garlic, and peppers. Process until finely diced, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add the apple jelly, cider vinegar, salt, pepper, soy sauce, and ginger. Pulse until well mixed, then transfer to a large bowl.

Add the breadcrumbs and ground beef, then use your hands to mix them thoroughly with the onion and apple jelly mixture.

Form the mixture into about 30 meatballs, arranging them on the prepared baking sheets. Spritz the meatballs with cooking spray, then bake for 20 minutes.

Appetizer as easy as 1-2-3

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I don’t often have an excuse to make appetizers. I don’t entertain, and usually when I contribute to a potluck or other event, I bake.

A couple of my friends and I got together for a movie night. We each agreed ahead of time to bring a couple food contributions. I made stuffed grapes, meatballs, and strawberry shortcake—because dessert is what I’m good at.

The stuffed grapes are something I learned to assemble last year as an easy appetizer. And really, when I say easy, I mean it. It requires three ingredients and a bit of patience. The funny thing is that, of the three things I took for movie night, these were the favorite. Sometimes simple really is best.

Ingredients
1 bunch red grapes
7-ounce log of goat cheese
1/3 cup pistachios, finely chopped

Remove grapes from stems. Cut the curved edge off the bottom of the grape so it can sit up when placed on a plate. Carve a cone-shaped space into the top. Repeat this step with all grapes.

Take a pinch of goat cheese and stuff it into each grape. Top with chopped pistachios.

Keeping it simple with brussels sprouts and apples

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I’ve only had brussels sprouts a few times in my life. My best friend makes them by shaving them and adding bacon—it’s so good. Since I’m trying to eat more vegetables lately, I’m trying to mix it up more, so I bought my first bag of brussels sprouts at the store last week. It was a Wednesday, so I wanted to do something simple to go with the baked chicken thighs I was baking. I also had a few apples from the farmers market that I wanted to use, so I looked up some recipes that used the two and settled on this one.

Keeping it simple worked. Next time I might be a little more adventurous, but this was a great introduction to cooking them for the first time.

Ingredients
1/2 cup diced apple
8 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
2 tablespoons apple cider
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine apple and Brussels sprouts in an 11×7–inch baking dish. Add apple cider, olive oil, minced fresh thyme, salt, and freshly ground black pepper; toss well. Bake for 25 minutes or until sprouts are tender.

Swapping potatoes for cauliflower

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One of the great things about Facebook is when someone raves about a recipe they’ve recently tried and loved. This happened last week with one of my friends who tried mashed cauliflower. I reached out to her and she gave me the link. Since I don’t have much experience with cauliflower or how to use it creatively, this seemed like a great, simple recipe to try.

I thought using cauliflower instead of potatoes wouldn’t be able to compare to mashed potatoes. I was wrong. Not only did boiling the cauliflower take a lot less time to boil than potatoes would, but the entire recipe took less than 15 minutes. Just make sure you get the cauliflower as dry as possible after taking it out of the boiling water. My friend said she put the cauliflower in a tea towel and wrung it out.

This is a great addition to any meal where you’re short on time.

Ingredients
1 medium head cauliflower
1 tablespoon cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon straight chicken base or bullion (may substitute 1/2 teaspoon salt)
1 tablespoon sour cream
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh or dry chives, for garnish
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Set a stockpot of water to boil over high heat.

Clean and cut cauliflower into small pieces. Cook in boiling water for about 6 minutes, or until well done. Drain well; do not let cool and pat cooked cauliflower very dry between several layers of paper towels.

In a bowl with an immersion blender, or in a food processor, puree the hot cauliflower with the cream cheese, Parmesan, garlic, chicken base, sour cream, and pepper until almost smooth.

Garnish with chives, and serve.