Stuffed Potato Skins.

Mmmmm. I love when amazing recipes are born of leftovers. What to do with leftover Christmas ham? This is a totally sumptuous and indulgent use of that holiday bounty, and it’s worth it in every way. My stuffed skins are the lovechild of a twice-baked potato and a potato skin, with the best of each coming together in this dish. It’s the steamy meatiness of a twice-baked, with the crispiness and the magical fillings/toppings of potato skins. Make this now or forever regret missing a wonderful food opportunity!

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INGREDIENTS

8 medium baking potatoes, washed
canola oil
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
1 tbsp butter
3-5 tbsp milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp seasoning salt (I used Bridgeport seasoning from the Spice House)
1 1/2 cups ham, diced (great for any holiday’s leftovers!!)
salt and pepper to taste
5 scallions, chopped

Just the Recipe link: Stuffed Potato Skins

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Rub each potato lightly with oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake until fork-tender, about 40 minutes.

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While the potatoes cook, get the toppings/fillings ready. Shred the cheese, dice up the ham, and chop the garlic and scallions.

When the potatoes are done, slice them in half long-ways and use an oven mitt hold them while you scoop out the middles. You want each potato to have enough room to stuff with filling, but enough potato remaining inside so that it still holds its shape. Put the potato meat that you scoop out into a large mixing bowl. Place the empty potato skins back in the pan, drizzle with olive oil, and put back in the oven to crisp up a bit more, about 10-15 minutes (or longer, if you want the skins really nice and crispy. I didn’t have the patience to wait!).

Now, mix up the filling. Stir together the potatoes with the sour cream, milk, butter, garlic, seasoning salt, ham, salt, pepper, and 1 cup of the cheese.

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Take the skins out of the oven and stuff with the filling.

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Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.

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Bake until the cheese is melted and the skins are even crispier. Sprinkle with scallions. These go great with sour cream and/or ketchup. Enjoy!

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Cream Potatoes Anna.

Pommes Anna is a classic potato dish in French cuisine. It’s usually made with butter, but, taking a page out of chef Laura Calder’s book, I used half and half. It’s melty and creamy. It’s herby and warm. It’s the perfect side to any kind of meat, but especially pork chops. Or chicken breasts. Or steak. Or buffalo. Or zebra filets. Okay fine, everything! And pommes Anna is fun to make too. Lots of layering and a bit of flexibility with herbs and spices. These were very calming to make, and the finished product proved a satisfying reward after having spent the morning tiring out a new puppy. Please welcome Penny the Black Lab Puppy, a much-loved new addition to our family!

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She tried her hardest to get at these potato goodies while I was shooting them, but only managed to snag my red and white checked towel in her little mouth, prancing away as she tripped over the dragging ends of it. What a little troublemaker.

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INGREDIENTS

4 potatoes (small-ish – this recipe makes 2 ramekins, so adjust accordingly), peeled and thinly sliced into discs
1/2 cup half and half or heavy cream
rosemary and thyme, chopped
pinch of paprika
salt and pepper
butter or non-stck spray

Just the Recipe link: Cream Potatoes Anna

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Place the potatoes in a large dish and toss them in the half and half. Let them soak about 15 minutes.

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Meanwhile, break out the parchment paper. You’ll need to trace a sheet of paper that will fit into the bottom of whatever baking dish you’re using (I used two ramekins, so I cut two circles to fit into the bottom). Then, you’ll need a slightly larger sheet of parchment paper to fit on top of the dish, covering the assembled potatoes. I find it easier to just cut all the parchment paper pieces at once and then set the top pieces aside. Butter or spray the bottom piece(s) and place into the bottom of the pan, butter side up.

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Next, take the potatoes out of the cream and start layering them into your dish. Make a single layer of potatoes, then sprinkle with a bit of the salt, pepper, paprika, rosemary, and thyme. Keep alternating potatoes and seasonings until you use up all the potatoes.

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Butter the top piece(s) of parchment paper and place firmly on top of the potatoes. If you’re using ramekins, place them in another larger pan.

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Place a heavy pan on top of the potatoes; this weighs them down and bakes them into a creamy potato cake. Yum. Bake until super tender and let cool before turning out into a beautiful, delectably melty potato cake.

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Enjoy! Oh and P.S. – happy Mayan end of the world day! See you all tomorrow….or not?!

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Chicken and Rice Soup.

I started out the week feeling a bit under the weather. On Monday, I got home from after-work cocktails, ate a quick dinner, and got right into bed. Still not at my best on Tuesday, I went right home after work and decided to jump on my sickness problem with an good old-fashioned remedy: I poured a glass of red wine and made this soul-warming soup…which I ate in bed under my cozy comforter while watching the Cubs lose another game. I’ll be sure to make a note here if I make a miraculous soup-driven recovery, but either way, mannnn was this soup good. Most soups with this much flavor take at least an hour or two to cook, but this one only takes about 45 minutes total! Lightly spiced chicken, rice, and veggies in a warm, comforting broth: just what a sick girl needs.

INGREDIENTS

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/4 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp powdered ginger
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp coriander
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup brown rice
1 tsp butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium potato, diced
6 cups stock or broth (I used homemade chicken stock)
1 1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried marjoram leaves

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350. Season the chicken breast with cumin, ginger, red pepper flakes, coriander, salt, and pepper. Wrap it in foil and bake until just cooked through, about 25 minutes.

In a small pot, cook rice according to package directions. We want the rice slightly “al dente,” since it will be going in the soup pot after it’s cooked.

In a Dutch oven or large soup pot, heat butter and add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and potatoes. Cook about 3 minutes, until starting to soften.

Pour in stock or broth and season with parsley, marjoram, salt, and pepper (be generous with the pepper!). Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer about 20 minutes.

When the chicken is cooked, shred or cut it up into bite size pieces and add it to the pot. Cook an additional 10 minutes or so.

Garnish with fresh parsley and prepare to be comfort-fooded.

Hasselback Potatoes with Jalapeño Leek Scrambled Eggs.

On Sunday morning, I set my friends Jalapeño and Leek up on a blind date. They’ve never met before, but since they’re so great separately, I thought I’d introduce them and see if they had any chemistry. It was a little risky, because they tend to roll in pretty different circles: hot and bold Jalapeño usually hangs out with Onion, while Leek has a more mellow friend in Bell Pepper. But I was hoping to play off a bit of an opposites-attract dynamic to see if this odd couple would get along. And while I’m not sure they’ll be going steady any time soon, it’s safe to say they had a Casablanca moment: I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

INGREDIENTS:

2 small potatoes, washed and sliced accordion-style (lots of little slits, without cutting all the way through the base)
olive oil
paprika, salt, pepper, parmesan to taste
1 leek, sliced and washed
1 jalapeño, minced
1 egg
1 tbsp heavy cream, half and half, or milk
cheddar cheese, grated (optional)
parsley, chopped, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Rub the potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika, salt, pepper, and parmesan. Bake until browned on the outsides and completely softened on the insides.

Just before the potatoes are finished cooking, heat a bit of olive oil and a bit of butter in a pan over medium low. Add the leeks, stir, and cook 1 minutes. Then stir in the jalapeño. Cook until softened and just starting to turn a bit golden. Set aside.

Crack your egg into a ramekin and add cream/half and half/milk and more salt and pepper. Scramble.

Then add a bit more butter and olive oil to your pan and pour in the egg. Sprinkle over your grated cheese, if you’re using it, and give it about 45 seconds.

Then add the jalapeño and leeks back to the pan and stir into the eggs. Cook until done.

Garnish with parsley and serve! Of all the plates in all the kitchens in all the world, I’m glad this dish walked into on mine.

Coq au Vin.

Coq au vin, unlike revenge, is a dish best served hot. It’s a classic in French cuisine, with tender, fall-off-the-bone chicken in a rich, savory wine sauce with a hint of tomato, speckled with mushrooms and shallots and bacon. These flavors are just amazing! It’s a perfect dish for dinner parties, but this time, I’ve made it to have for lunch at work during the week. Lucky me. Totally impressive but actually very simple to execute, this recipe is definitely one worth mastering.

INGREDIENTS

3 lb chicken (I used 4 legs and 2 breasts)
salt and pepper to taste
1 pad butter
olive oil
4 strips bacon, cut into small strips or lardons
3 shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
8 oz. mushrooms, rough chop
1 cup stock, plush a splash (I used homemade chicken stock)
1 cup white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1/2 cup canned crushed tomato
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp flour (thicken with potato flour for a gluten-free sauce)
chopped parsley for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Rinse and pat dry chicken, then season with salt and pepper.

Heat butter and olive oil in Dutch oven or other large soup pot. Working in batches, brown chicken on all sides and then transfer to a plate.

In the same pot, cook the bacon. When the bacon is crisp, add shallots and garlic and cook until soft.

In a separate pan, saute mushrooms in olive oil until soft. Set aside.

Deglaze the chicken pot with a splash or two of stock and stir.

Then place chicken back in the pot. Pour wine and the rest of the stock over the chicken and add mushrooms, crushed tomato, and bay leaves. Cover pot with lid and simmer for half an hour.

When chicken is fork-tender, remove from pot. Remove the bay leaves at this point, too. Place half a cup of the sauce into a small bowl and stir flour into it with a fork. Bring the pot of sauce/gravy to a low boil and whisk the flour-thickened portion into it. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Spoon sauce over chicken and serve with rice or potatoes, and garnish with parsley. Makes for luscious leftovers too!

Borsch.

Borsch is so misunderstood. It’s a classic in Russian/Ukrainian cuisine, but despite my Russophile tendencies, I avoided borsch for years because I thought it sounded so…awful. But college is a time for experimentation, right? So during my senior year, I finally gave borsch a try, and it totally won me over! It’s a super hearty vegetable and beef stew that gets its characteristic garnet color from its most notorious ingredient: the beet. If you’re not a beet lover, you’ll probably still like borsch (it’s really good, I swear!),  just make sure to puree the cooked beet and tomato mixture before adding it to the broth pot. Old-world peasant cooking at its finest!

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 lbs. stew beef, cubed
3 bay leaves
small onion, chopped
3 small red beets, scrubbed clean and cut into bars
14 oz. canned crushed tomatoes
1 tsp vinegar
2 carrots, peeled and cut into bars
2 celery stalks, chopped
large onion, chopped
2 medium potatoes, cubed
1/2 medium head cabbage, shredded
butter
olive oil
salt
pepper
2 cloves garlic, diced

DIRECTIONS

Fill a large pot or Dutch oven 3/4 of the way full with water and add beef and bay leaves. Bring to a boil.

When boiling, turn down to medium low heat and simmer. Skim off the fatty, foamy impurities that rise to the top.

When you’ve gotten most of the fatty bits out of the broth pot, add the small onion. Cover and simmer for an hour. Then remove the bay leaves.

Meanwhile, add butter or olive oil to a pan and heat over medium. When hot, add beets, crushed tomato, and vinegar. Stir well and simmer for an hour.

Fifteen minutes before the beets are done cooking, start the other veggies. Heat butter or olive oil in another pan over medium flame and add large onion, carrot, and celery. Cook for 15 minutes.

After you start the onion-carrot-celery mixture, turn up the heat on the broth and bring it back to a boil. Add potatoes and cabbage to the broth pot.

When the beets and tomatoes have finished cooking, add them to the broth, along with the sauteed veggies. Add salt, pepper, and garlic, stir well, and simmer for at least half an hour.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and garnish with fresh chives or dill. Priyatnogo appetita!