Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Perfect Mashed Potatoes ~ Simple ingredients and easy technique yield perfectly mashed potatoes every time ~ The Way to His Heart

Growing up one of my favorite meals was my mother’s roast beef and mashed potatoes. She made this dark gravy that was divine. I still can’t seem to master it, but it’s close enough that it makes me and my daughter happy. While the gravy was great, the mashed potatoes were that much better. I know, I was a child and loved mashed potatoes. Most kids do.What I didn’t realize though was that my mother’s were the best. Yes, I know your mother’s mashed potatoes are great too. Seriously though. I started going over to other friend’s houses and while they were decent, they weren’t my mother’s mashed potatoes. I knew they were great when my friend’s ate at our house and agreed with me.

When I met my husband and moved in with him I was surprised to not find a potato masher or ricer in his cabinets. So, along with buying some other key kitchen and pantry items, I brought home a great potato masher. Great means that it has the square shape holes that really push down and mash the potato, not one of those squiggly line ones. Those are flimsy. Flimsy is no good when you’re about to start mashing a ton of potatoes. I also brought home a large, study whisk. He thought I was ridiculous. Why buy more gadgets and put in more elbow grease than was needed? He had an electric mixer that would mash the potatoes up in no time. That night we made mashed potatoes my way, my mother’s way. It’s been ten years and we’ve never made them any different. He’s even the potato guy. Anytime we make them on the weekend or for holidays, he gets to mashing and doesn’t protest because he knows, these are perfect mashed potatoes!

Perfect Mashed Potatoes ~ Simple ingredients and easy technique yield perfectly mashed potatoes every time ~ The Way to His Heart

So, what makes them perfect? It’s not just my childhood memories that have forged these in my mind as perfect. There are actually reasons. Let’s start with the potatoes. Starch matters. Yukon golds are great because of their starchiness and their buttery taste and nice golden color. Russets work as well, but I always go with golds. Next, cut them up the same size. Simple cooking tip. Equal size means equal cooking time. You don’t want them too large or too small. About 2″ or so is good. Next, salt the water. Same theory as pasta, season from the start! Do not overcook. Sounds simple, but so many people overcook them because they are in a hurry and then you are left with mush that wont ever whip up right. Under cooking leaves you with those little tiny chunks of potato that are hidden within your  mashed potatoes. You’re not fooling anyone, we see them and feel them. It happens, though. What is a perfectly cooked potato? Fork tender, which means the fork tines slide in easily and then pull out, without the potato fall apart in the water. Next, when you start mashing and whisking the potatoes, don’t overwork them. This is why the electric mixers are awful for potatoes. They overwork the starch and it becomes glue. Lastly, nutmeg. I add it, most of the time my husband doesn’t. There is no foul in not adding it, but it really does make your potatoes taste better. Give it a try. You wont taste the nutmeg, it will just enhance the flavor and give it a nice, subtle note, very similar to what it does in bechamel sauce, or what vanilla does in most baked goods, etc. Just try it.

There you have it. A very simple, honest recipe that I’ve been meaning to post on this blog for ages. It uses no fancy tools or ingredients. No need for creams, the milk does its thing. We use whatever we have on hand, whole or 2 percent. While I don’t have the gravy mastered, I can still whip up a mean batch of potatoes!

Perfect Mashed Potatoes ~ Simple ingredients and easy technique yield perfectly mashed potatoes every time ~ The Way to His Heart

 

Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes
  • 2 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg

Peel and quarter potatoes. You want the potatoes to be the same size. Place in a large pot and fill with enough cold water to cover. Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook on medium-high heat until fork tender, about 30 minutes. Do not overcook! The potato should slide off of the fork, but not start to crumble.

Remove from heat and drain potatoes into a colander. If you are making a gravy save the potato water, that starchy goodness is like gold!

Pour potatoes back into the pot and add butter. With a good potato masher, one that has the square holes not those wavy lines, mashed that butter into the potatoes. Mash until you have removed all of the chunks. Add milk, remaining teaspoon of salt, pepper, and nutmeg and whisk to allow some air in and potatoes become fluffy. I whisk until you have nice, fluffy looking potatoes but there is still some heft to them. Over whisking will make them thin and runny.

The Way to His Heart

 

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Slow Cooker Beef & Broccoli

Slow Cooker Beef & Broccoli ~ A no fuss meal that is healthier than takeout and rivals the taste ~ The Way to His Heart #copycatrecipe #chinese #slowcooker

I’ve been on a Chinese take-out kick lately. The problem is my husband doesn’t want it that often and my kids only like to eat from the buffet because they can have a little bit of everything. I know I can make it at home, but there is something comforting sitting at my counter eating something I haven’t made while everyone else is playing since I fed them beforehand. It’s a little oasis for me!

Alas, one can only indulge so much. So to satisfy the cravings and save my waistline and wallet, I make it myself. I love this slow cooker method because it’s super easy. Granted, you can fake this in a skillet and it doesn’t take as long if you forgot to get everything into the slow cooker in time, but sometimes, heck most times, just before dinner is the witching hour here. There are just nights where all I can get done is putting a pot of rice on the stove so the slow cooker saves me. That way I can work on homework, the crazy dogs, the toddler meltdowns etc. I’ve made this recipe even simpler by cutting out steaming the fresh broccoli. There is no need. Thirty minutes in the slow cooker is plenty of time to cook it and if you are using frozen, why defrost? Again, thirty minutes is plenty of time to defrost and cook! I call defrosting the meat a win each day. Defrosting veggies,etc. no thanks!

Slow Cooker Beef & Broccoli ~ A no fuss meal that is healthier than takeout and rivals the taste ~ The Way to His Heart #copycatrecipe #chinese #slowcooker

Slow Cooker Beef & Broccoli

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs flank steak, thinly sliced and chopped into 2″ pieces
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 4 cups broccoli florets, fresh or frozen
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch
  • 4 Tbsp cold water

Grease the inside of a slow cooker. Add steak, beef broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, and garlic. Cover and cook on high for 2 to 3 hours or low for 4 to 5 hours. Make sure you check along the way if you can, no matter what slow cooker I use, it always seems to cook faster!

In a small bowl, stir corn starch and water into a slurry. 30 minutes before serving, add to the slow cooker along with your broccoli. There is no need to defrost the broccoli if you are using frozen. Cover and allow to cook for 30 minutes.

Serves 4

Adapted from le creme de la crumb

Sriracha Boneless Wings

Sriracha Boneless Wings ~ These extra hot and spicy wings are given a fresh zest with lime and cilantro ~ The Way to His Heart #gamedayfood #appetizers #wings #thewaytohisheart #sriracha

This past weekend that big game that most everyone watches was on. While our team wasn’t playing in the Super Bowl, we still decided to make some yummy food because it was an excuse to snack on tasty appetizers and snacks that we wouldn’t otherwise do. Even though it was just my husband and I, and the little guy who refused to go to sleep, I’m glad we opted to make a few fun foods because the game was just okay and most of the commercials were lackluster.

When I told my husband I was thinking of making some chicken tenders, because we like to go right for the meat and not deal with the bones, I asked him to pick a sauce. I knew what I wanted wouldn’t be his favorite, to be posted on the blog soon. I should have known he’d find something with Sriracha sauce in it. The guy loves sriracha sauce. I even got him one of those little Sriracha 2 Go containers for Christmas, well Santa did. Sssh.

Anyways, this sauce and these boneless wings did not disappoint. I’m a known wimp so I could merely take a small bite drenched with ranch dressing. They definitely pack some heat. But before my mouth went on fire, I could definitely taste the fresh flavors of the lime and cilantro which is rare in a “hot” wing sauce. My husband loved the wings and the sauce and also noted that these were a bit different. Double coating the tenders also gave a great crunch that complimented the saucy tenders. Usually, they just end up soggy, not with these! These will definitely be made again when it’s time for a big game or to make some food for the guys.

Sriracha Boneless Wings ~ These extra hot and spicy wings are given a fresh zest with lime and cilantro ~ The Way to His Heart #gamedayfood #appetizers #wings #thewaytohisheart #sriracha

 

Sriracha Boneless Wings

Ingredients

For the chicken batter:

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ chunks
  • Oil for frying
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup Sriracha chili sauce
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • finely grated zest of 1 lime
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. In a small bowl whisk together the egg and milk. Dip each piece of chicken first in the egg mixture, and then roll in the flour mixture. Repeat so that each piece of chicken is double coated. Refrigerate the breaded chicken for 20 minutes or longer for a crispier coating.

Heat oil in a large, deep skillet to 375 F. Fry the chicken in the hot oil in batches until the outside is nicely browned and fully cooked, 165 F., about 5 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels.

While the chicken is frying, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the garlic and stir in the sriracha sauce. Remove from heat. Stir in the lime zest and cilantro.

Toss the chicken pieces with the sauce and serve immediately.

Serves 6

Source: Hot Sauce Daily

Silky Chocolate Pudding

Silky Chocolate Pudding ~ A decadent dessert that's so easy to make you'll wish you had skipped the box all of these years ~ The Way to His Heart #dessert #makeahead #pudding

We’re escaping the cold Maine weather in a week and heading down to Florida. This means many things. I’m a very busy mom packing, getting things ready for the house/pet sitter, getting things ready for the blog, all of the Valentine’s school activities etc. Since we are leaving on Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d make a nice dessert this past weekend to celebrate a little early. My mind immediately went to all of these wonderful, complicated and decadent desserts and then I realized just how busy I am. I figured you all may be busy as well. Looking for a sweet dessert that is easy to make and that everyone will love. Who doesn’t love chocolate pudding? Well, my husband doesn’t really love it, but he loved mine. Not sure if it’s because I’m his Valentine, it’s just that good (I think so), or it was there. Either way, everyone gobbled it up.

I also think pudding is just so comforting in the winter. It’s filling without making your stomach feel super full, which is a con in my book if you are making this for an intimate Valentine’s dinner. Enjoy it warm and it’s perfect for a snowy day.

Silky Chocolate Pudding ~ A decadent dessert that's so easy to make you'll wish you had skipped the box all of these years ~ The Way to His Heart #dessert #makeahead #pudding

I used semi-sweet chocolate because I knew the kids would enjoy it more, but using all bittersweet or a mixture of both is great. There’s also a note at the bottom of the recipe for a wonderful, simple, adaptation as well. I made it festive by tinting the whipped cream, placing two dollops of whipped cream on the pudding and using the back of the spoon to shape it into a heart. Voila! Dessert is served. This was really, really, delicious. I had more the following day, just a spoonful after working out ya, oops. I swear it got better overnight. It was supposed to be just a spoonful but I was amazed at how awesome it tasted and I had half a bowl. Sigh. Back to the elliptical.

Silky Chocolate Pudding ~ A decadent dessert that's so easy to make you'll wish you had skipped the box all of these years ~ The Way to His Heart #dessert #makeahead #pudding

Silky Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 6 oz semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Combine cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Slowly, with a thin stream, whisk in the  milk until incorporated and smooth. Place over medium-low heat and whisk occasionally, scraping the bottom and sides. After 10 minutes, and when the mixture has begun to thicken and coat the back of a spoon, add the chocolate and continue stirring for another 2 to 4 minutes or until chocolate is fully incorporated and the mixture is quite thick. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla.

Distribute among individual cups or one large serving bowl and chill until it is cool and set, about 2 to 3 hours.  To avoid the skin on top of the pudding, place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the pudding before refrigerating.

Pudding keeps for 3 days.

*For an extra chocolate boost, replace one ounce of semisweet chocolate with unsweetened chocolate.

Serves 4 to 6

Source: Smitten Kitchen, adapted from John Scharffenberger

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