Potato Latkes

17 Nov

My mom has been making these potato pancakes for as long as I can remember. And before this recipe, she probably made another version of potato pancakes. Eating potato pancakes (aka potato latkes) is part of our eastern european heritage (we’re Lithuanian).

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Most of the time, I am disappointed with potato latkes when I order them out. So I typically don’t eat them anywhere other than my family’s house. They are usually made with too much “filling” so that its consistency is more cake than potato. They are too thick and greasy and sit like a bomb in your stomach. I don’t know what they add to it to weigh them down, but it’s just not cool. I find myself asking “where’s the potato”?

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This recipe is INSANE though – not only insanely simple, but insanely delicious. It was posted in the New York Times EONS ago and it comes from Simon and Garfunkel. Here is a pic of it!

simon and garfunkel

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When you use a food processor to grate your onions and potatoes, it goes SO much easier and quicker! Also, if you find the mixture to be too wet, drain some of the liquid out of the bowl.

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You want to make sure you use a non-stick frying pan as well – something that will encourage the pancakes to lift up easily. I have made the mistake of using a bad pan and it was a disaster!

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Our family serves these with sour cream. Some people like to eat them with applesauce or ketchup. Whatever you prefer, go for it!

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 The next time you have Jewish friends over, make this for them – they will beg you for the recipe!

Potato Latkes

Ingredients:

  • 4 large potatoes
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tblsp flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Vegetable oil

Directions:

Grate potatoes into the milk. Grate the onion into the mixture. Add flour and salt, mix well.

Spoon mixture one tablespoon at a time into hot oil in a frying pan. You can make the pancakes as little or as large as you like. Make sure that the pancake is flat and not too lumpy or thick.

Brown on one side, then turn and brown on the other. Drain on a paper towel.

Serve hot with a side of applesauce or sour cream.

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Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs

10 Nov

I found this recipe 2 years ago in Bon Appetit magazine and instantly knew it would be a hit.

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It is the perfect cold-weather food for a nice night staying indoors with a fire going and something good on the tv! Or if you are having a casual dinner with a couple friends…..It’s so darn good!!

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This dish couldn’t be simpler to throw together. You brown the meat, cook the veggies, pour in the liquids and the meat, and then toss in the herbs.

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Here is a before shot – this is right before the dish braises in the oven for 2 hours:

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And now here is a shot once the dish comes out of the oven. I cant stand how good this is:

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For some reason, we didn’t serve with mashed potatoes. We were feeling more like potato pancakes instead.

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The best thing about this recipe is that once you do a few mins of prep-work upfront, you just have to let the dutch oven do its magic in the oven for a couple hours. I really urge you to give this a try – it’s an unfancy gourmet dinner that will please everyone!

Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs

Ingredients:

  • 5 pounds bone-in beef short ribs, cut crosswise into 2” pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tblsp vegetable oil
  • 3 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 tblsp flour
  • 1 tblsp tomato paste
  • 1 bottle of dry red wine (preferably a cab)
  • 10 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
  • 8 sprigs thyme
  • 4 sprigs oregano
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
  • 1 head garlic, halved crosswise
  • 4 cups low-salt beef stock

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Season short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, brown short ribs on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer short ribs to a plate. Pour off all but 3 tblsp drippings from the pot.

Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until onions are browned, about 5 minutes.

Add flour and tomato paste and cook stirring constantly until well combined and deep red (2-3 minutes). Stir in wine, then add short ribs with any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil then lower heat to medium and simmer until wine is reduced by half – about 25 minutes.

Add all herbs to the pot along with garlic. Stir in the stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven. Cook until short ribs are tender – about 2 – 2.5 hours.

Transfer short ribs to a platter. Strain sauce from pot into a measuring cup. Spoon fat from surface of sauce and discard. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in shallow bowls over mashed potatoes with sauce spooned on top.

SHARKNADO

3 Nov

For whatever reason, I really enjoy the Halloween pumpkin carving contest at work. I have won the past two years I’ve been there (Check out the pics from previous years). I am not even a creative type of person – I cant paint or draw anything more than a stick-figure.

This year I felt a lot of pressure to come up with an idea that would really set me apart. I saw a couple “cute” ideas on Pinterest, but I sat on it for a while because I knew that once I found the right kernel of an idea, I would be able to roll with it.

And on a Monday morning, there it was…..my mom called me at work saying that she had just seen the Today Show or Good Morning America (it’s all the same thing) and saw a cute idea: A pumpkin carved as a shark with a foot coming out of its mouth. There was my kernel.

I mentally prepared all week to carve a shark pumpkin with a bloody foot coming out of the shark’s mouth. But on Friday as I was driving home from work with a couple sketches, my idea blew up:  SHARKNADO.

I couldn’t find ANYONE ELSE online who had carved a sharknado pumpkin. And the pumpkins that were carved like sharks were either too intricate, the wrong angle, or just not good…..So I went rogue. I found a video online for someone who made a sharknado costume – and used that as my guide (who knew the sharknado costume was popular this year??).

Here it is in all its glory – SHARKNADO!!!!!!! I have closeups of the top and the bottom of the shark as well so you can see the details. I still cant believe I made this…..creating something felt pretty darn good 🙂

Oh, and I WON FIRST PLACE!!!!! 🙂 🙂

Sharknado

bottom of sharknado

Top of sharknado

Now the pressure is on for 2014……..oh boy! Can I win one more time?

Rosemary Lemon Shortbread Cookies

13 Oct

I came across this recipe in People Magazine. I know it sounds crazy, but sometimes you can really get some good recipes from People Magazine.

Every once in a while, I try one out and see what happens.

This is a keeper!!!

It tastes so elegant and gourmet. I love how you can see the lemon and the rosemary in the dough.

All I had at the time were star cookie cutters (and xmas stuff but that wouldnt have been right!).

And apparently I didnt have many sprinkle options either 🙂

These cookies are SO good! They are a fabulous twist on plain sugar cookies or rollout cookies. Definitely recommend!!!

Rosemary Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tblsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 tblsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups flour

Directions:

In a mixer bowl, beat butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add zest, rosemary, egg, vanilla, and salt and mix for 1 minute. Scrape down bowl. At low speed, add flour and mix just until combined; do not overmix.

Roll dough out between two large sheets of parchment paper to ¼ inch thickness. Chill dough for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Roll dough out on clean surface and cut out using your favorite cookie cutter. Place onto baking sheet. Top with sprinkles and bake for 16-18 minutes or until edges are golden.

Spicy Cheddar Cheese Straws

6 Oct

These lil babies are a surprising treat for the person who bites into them.

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My mom has been making them for quite some time – but those times were far and few in between. As I was perusing the Family Cookbook, I came across the recipe and remembered how tasty they were.

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They are really like a spicy cheese cracker. You can make them into any shape you like – I like to keep them in a narrow triangle shape.

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You are also supposed to put some seeds on top before baking. But I had forgotten to get them at the store. So I went naked with my cheese straws. No cheese straws were harmed – they still came out delicious.

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You don’t need to provide any dip or cheese to accompany these crackers. They are good enough on their own 🙂 Of course if you want to dip, be my guest!

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Spicy Cheddar Cheese Straws

Ingredients:

  • 1 10-oz block Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces and softened
  • 1tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp dried crushed pepper
  • 2 tblsp half-n-half
  • Seed mixture (see below)

Directions:

Pulse the first 5 ingredients in a food processor at 5-second interval until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add half-n-half and pulse 10 more seconds or until dough forms a ball.  (Note –dough may be wrapped in plastic wrap or Ziploc bag and chilled up to 3 days)

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare dough and divide in half. Roll each half into a 9-10 inch round. Transfer rounds to parchment paper-lined baking sheets.

Whisk together 1 egg white and 1 tsp water just until foamy. Stir together ¼ cup roasted salted pumpkin seeds, ¼ cup roasted sunflower kernels, 2 tblsp toasted sesame seeds, and 2 tblsp black sesame seeds. Brush rounds with egg white mixture and sprinkle with seed mixture.

Cut each round into wedges of random sizes, using a fluted pastry wheel. Separate wedges about 1 inch apart. Bake 16-18 minutes, cool on baking sheets on wire racks, 30 minutes.

Makes 24-32 triangles

Moroccan Farro with Kale, Pomegranate, and Almonds

22 Sep

I got the dreaded “you need to bring a side dish” assignment again for our summer Sunday dinner a couple weeks ago. I searched through my files for something that sounded good, knowing I wanted to stay healthy.

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I found this recipe in my email. It was from my co-worker, Brian! It utilizes farro – a grain made up from different wheat species. Oddly enough, the exact definition is not too clear. It is a dried grain that you cook in water until soft, but it still has a crunch!

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This dish is interesting because you cook the farro with allspice added to the water. So it has a semi-sweet taste. And that’s before you add the rest of the ingredients! This dish is also perfect for the fall – the flavors are so exotic.

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The health factor in this salad is amazing – healthy grain, kale, raisins, almonds, and pomegranates! I believe there are some superfoods in there for sure!!

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Pomegranates aren’t in season during the summer unfortunately, so I substituted some craisins. It worked out well!

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It tastes exotic and delicious. There is a satisfying crunch as well. And it is truly an intensely healthy side dish to accompany any meal! We paired ours with salmon/shrimp and grilled romaine.

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Moroccan Farro with Kale, Pomegranate, and Almonds

Ingredients:
1 1/2 C Farro ( or wheat or rye berries)
3 C water
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt

4-5 Cups chopped Lacinato Kale ( one bunch)
6 cloves sliced garlic
1 T fine chopped ginger
1/3 C golden raisins.
3 T olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
apple cider vinegar
1 T honey
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 C chopped parsley
1/2 C sliced almonds
1/2 C fresh pomegranate seeds

Directions:
In a small pot bring farro, water, salt and allspice to a boil. Cover and turn heat down to low and simmer for 45 min’s or until farro is tender and water is mostly gone.

In the mean time, saute ginger and garlic on med low heat in 3 T Olive oil. When lightly browned add chopped kale. Cook slowly on low heat, stirring often for about 5 min. Add 1/3 C golden raisins. Let simmer on lowest setting until kale is tender …about 15min.

Seed your pomegranate.

When farro is tender, pour it all into the sauté pan with the kale. Its ok if there is a little water still in the farro. Pour it all in. Add the salt, spices, honey, vinegar and sliced almonds. Let flavors meld for a few minutes on low heat. Just before serving toss in the fresh parsley and pomegranate.

Israeli Couscous Salad

18 Sep

So I’ve been in Maine for the past few days with my mom eating TONS and tons of lobster……..13 to be exact 🙂 More on that later. Here – look at this:

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My mom’s been making this summery side dish for years and years. I have always liked it, but didn’t pay much attention to it until last year.

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And then I started making it myself this year. It is not only a cinch to throw together, but it’s soooooooo delicious. I don’t even know what it’s officially called – we just call it “Israeli Couscous” which is so generic.

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The main ingredient is Israeli couscous. Israeli couscous is a toasted pasta shaped like little balls. It is made from wheat flour and then roasted in the oven. It was meant to be a rice substitute for a select population in Israel back in the 1940’s and 1950’s. It cooks a little longer than couscous, but a little less than pasta.

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When you add everything together, it tastes so fresh and has a bit of a crunch from the pepper. It is addictive.

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Oh, and I always toss in more ingredients than the recipe calls for – I usually put in 3 chopped peppers, double the cilantro and green onion, and definitely add more fruits and almonds! And you cant double the ingredients without increasing the amount of dressing. You get the point….more is better with this recipe.

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This stuff is so darned good. As Robbb says when I make this salad –  “I could eat this everyday”!

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Israeli Couscous

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked Israeli couscous
  • 1 red or yellow pepper, chopped
  • ½ cup snipped dried apricots, craisins, or raisins
  • 2 Tblsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 cup poppy seed dressing
  • ½ tsp shredded lime peel
  • Dash hot pepper
  • ¼ cup toasted slivered almonds

Directions:

Combine all ingredients for the salad.

Then combine the dressing – lime peel, hot pepper, and poppy seed dressing.

Pour dressing mixture on top of salad and mix. Sprinkle almonds on top.

(See how simple that was??)

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