Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mashed Potatoes & Gravy!

Today, instead of making a salad, or cooking soup, I thought we would make some mashed potatoes. Pretty much the ultimate comfort food. You can make potatoes with the skin on or the skin off. I made these with the skin off. Mashed potatoes are one of my husbands favorite dishes, and he likes potatoes with the skin off. 
Here's what we need to make mashed potatoes:
Potatoes
Boiling Water
Butter
Beef Base
Flour
Cold water
Boiling Water (again)
I don't know why I put the sour cream in the pic(!!???!!)

There are many different varieties of potatoes to choose from. I chose a russet potato grown right here in Nevada. I like the texture. I thought about buying the Yukon Golds. I have used them in several restaurants in the past. The skins are thin and delicious and they have a natural buttery flavor. But I decided on the russet because it is grown locally, and russets have a high starch content, which help them bake well and yields a light and fluffy mashed.
 
Wash and then dry your potatoes.
Peel your potatoes.
Chop them into bite size pieces. The smaller the pieces,
the quicker they cook!
Boil your potatoes for about 12-15 minutes. Check to see if
they are done by poking a couple pieces with a fork. If the fork
goes thru the piece, your potatoes are done.
Drain your potatoes.
Heat about 1/2 cup of milk to 150 degrees.
Pour some of the milk onto the potatoes, and begin to mash
with a potato masher. Add more milk if needed.

They should look like this. (I wish this was a clearer picture!)
 Maybe a little better.?!

Now lets make the gravy. Here is what you need:

Beef Base
 flour
I followed the directions to make the pint of gravy.
I used:
2 1/2 teaspoons Beef Base
1/4 cup Flour
1/4 cup Cold Water
1 1/2 cup Boiling Water
Put the base and the flour into the pan, and mix together.
Boil water.
While you are waiting for the water to boil
add your cold water.Your base and flour should look like this
after the cold water is mixed in.
Add the boiling water, and stir until smooth.
Bring gravy to a low boil.
Add seasoning. I only added pepper. The base is really
salty already.
Enjoy the mashed potatoes & gravy!

I hope you liked the mashed potatoes and gravy today. We could have done a few things differently if we were so inclined! We could have baked the potatoes instead of boiling them. Baking them, before mashing them, results in a totally different flavor. We could have boiled the potatoes in milk instead of water. The potatoes would have been much richer as a result. If we didn't want to make the gravy, we could have added
garlic or grated cheese to the potatoes.

I usually like to make my gravy to include drippings from the meat instead of using the beef base, but with a dish like meatloaf, there are no drippings that are usable. The juice from the ground beef is too greasy to turn into gravy, and therefore the beef base makes a really good substitute. I used the Tone's brand that I purchased at Sam's Club. It is less than $4.00 for the 1 pound container,and a little goes a long way. I have used beef base in kitchens for years, and it is amazing how many times you will reach for it once you get used to having it around.

Tomorrow we will make our entree~Meatloaf!!!
Join us!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Deep Fried Mac & Cheese Balls!!

Our appetizer today is quickly becoming a restaurant favorite. It is a new twist on an old classic, and I thought it might go great with our traditional meatloaf meal. Here is what you need:

1/2 pound Elbow Macaroni
8 oz Four Cheese Shredded Cheese
1 cup Milk
1 Egg
 Italian Style Bread Crumbs
Flour
2 tablespoons Butter
Salt & Pepper
Oil
Boil water and cook your macaroni.
 Drain Macaroni & set aside
Melt your butter
Add a tablespoon of flour to your butter & mix 
it together. You are making a roux. This is
 the thickener for your cheese sauce.
It should look like this as you are mixing.
Put your milk in a saucepan, heat it on medium low, and add the roux.


Add your cheese & mix until smooth.
It should look like this. If your cheese sauce is stringy,
add a squeeze of lemon juice, or some other acidic food
like orange juice. Just a small squeeze.
Add the cheese sauce to your macaroni. Mix well.
It should look like this. Let it cool down.
 I used this mini muffin pan to size my mac & cheese balls.
Fill them like above, or about this size. After your
cheese balls are formed place the pan in the refridgerater
While your cheese balls are chilling, heat up the oil in a 
saucepan until it reaches a temperature of 325 degrees.
That is the probe from my thermometer in the pan.
This is the other end of the thermometer. This thermometer is the one
I posted about this past Saturday. It is such a great item to have.
Pour some of the breadcrumbs in a bowl.
Put one egg in a bowl and add a little water. You are 
making an egg wash. Beat the egg mix.
Take the cheese balls out of the fridge, and form into balls.
Dip the balls into the egg wash, (sorry, no pics) and then roll the balls 
into the breadcrumbs.
When your oil is to temperature, drop your cheese balls
in to the oil, and begin to cook. Make sure to move 
them around in the oil, so they cook evenly. When they 
are brown, they are done.
Drain the cheese balls on paper towels.
Serve with ketchup.
Enjoy!

There are several different ways to make these cheese balls. You could add onion, or chopped bacon to the macaroni when you add the cheese. You could use a different type of cheese such as cheddar, or even a spicy
pepperjack. That would be good! You could also use a different dip. I used ketchup, but ranch, or salsa, or even marinara would taste great.

Thank you for joining me today. Tomorrow we will make the mashed potatoes & gravy for our
meatloaf meal.

See you tomorrow!
What would you like to make?



Monday, May 16, 2011

This Weeks Menu & Grocery List

This weeks menu is more of a traditional "meat & potatoes" meal. It is one of my husbands favorites. I am more of a chicken eater myself, but I can tell you that I used to sell sooooo many of these entrees. I used this entree recipe in three different restaurants, and it was always a hit!  I hope you like this menu. Next week I think we will go for something a bit lighter, and with a southwestern flavor!!

Here's our menu:

Appetizer~Fried Mac & Cheese Balls
Soup/Salad~No soup/salad but, Mashed Potatoes with Gravy
Entree~Homemade Meatloaf
Side Dish~Green Bean Almondine
Dessert~Chocolate Pots De Creme

Here's your shopping list:

Fried Macaroni & Cheese Balls
elbow macaroni
cheddar cheese
milk
Italian Style Bread Crumbs

Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
potatoes
butter
beef base
flour

Grandmas Meatloaf
1.5 pounds ground beef
onion 
ketchup 
saltines 
egg
salt & pepper
garlic powder

Green Bean Almondine
Fresh Green Beans
Slivered Almonds

Chocolate Pots De Creme
semisweet chocolate (you can use chips or a baking bar)
half & half
eggs
sugar
rum (optional)
salt

This is gonna be good!
See you tomorrow for fried mac & cheese!




Sunday, May 15, 2011

Do I Really Need That?

Today's gadget in question is the thermometer. Do you need a thermometer when you are cooking? Of course you do. You need them to bake meats, cook syrups, fudge, and lots of candies. But what kind of thermometer do you need? Here is the thermometer I have.

I love this thing!!
I can use it for temping meat in the oven, & cooking 
candies on the stove.The two best features of the
thermometer are the timer and the beeper for the temperature. 
When I make brittle, for example, the syrup has to boil to a 
certain degree and it takes about 20 minutes. I simply set
the timer and the beeper for the temp,
and I know that if I get distracted, like I often do,
the beeper will keep me on my toes. 

This thermometer is also digital. 
This is a must for the perfectionist in me.  I have been know 
to agonize over the little red marks on my old thermometer,
trying to gauge the exact temp,matched up with the exact line, 
to get the perfect temperature I am seeking.

So, I am concluding that although all thermometers will help you
in recognizing the correct temperature for your food, this thermometer
will help you be a better cook.


Thanks for listening. I will see you tomorrow to
discuss next weeks menu and the grocery list.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dessert That Is Light & Yummy!


I probably have the worst sweet tooth of anyone I know. (I think I have mentioned it before!) But sometimes I just want a little sweetness, and sometimes I try to eat right. This dessert is sweet, and good for you. And it looks cute.
Here is what you need:
Strawberries~sliced into bite sized pieces
Bananas~sliced into bite size pieces
Strawberry/Banana Yogurt
Heavy Whipping Cream
Sugar
Toll House Toppers

I picked up these tiny, cute, trifle glasses at Walmart. I think they 
make the perfect presentation for our desert.
Start by placing a small layer of yogurt into the bottom 
of the glass. Place 4 or 5 slices of strawberries on top 
of the yogurt.
Add another layer of yogurt, and then a layer of sliced bananas.

 Add a layer of strawberries.

Add another layer of yogurt, and then a layer of whipped cream.

Remember when we made this in a past post? If you need some info go to
http://thefreshmancook.blogspot.com/2010/07/incredible-delectable-homemade-whipped.html
Add your toppers and enjoy.
Shaved chocolate would be great on top also!
Enjoy your light dessert!

Tomorrow we will discuss if you need a thermometer.
Thanks for joining me this week.
See you Saturday! 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Corn on the Cob~ It's our side dish!

I love corn on the cob! Don't you?  It's the perfect accompaniment to so many entrees. This corn I used was not the best.  It is a little early in the season in North Carolina for corn. But it wasn't bad.
 Here's all you need:
Ears of Corn
Butter
Salt & Pepper
Put a pot of hot water on your stove. I like to add just a pat of butter to the water.
Bring it to a boil.

While you are waiting for the water to boil, shuck your corn,
and scrub the kernels down to get rid of the silt. (little string)
 Boil your corn for 10-15 minutes. The longer
you cook, the softer your corn. Take your corn out of the
water with tongs, and shake the water off.
Serve with butter, salt & pepper.
When corn is at the height of its season, you really don't
need butter or salt or pepper. It's so good just boiled & eaten.

So, pretty simple, huh?
Thanks for stopping by, see you tomorrow for dessert!!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Our Main Course for Today~The Philly!!

It's hard to beat a philly steak sandwich. I mean, it has everything~tender, juicy, thinly sliced steak, sweet, sweet, sauteed onions, cheesy, chewable, provolone cheese, an oh so soft, and beautifully lightly browned sub roll, and sweet, creamy, philadelphia cream cheese. WAIT! What!..........Oh yeah!
There is nothing better than a philly with cream cheese lightly spread on the bun. The first time I was served a philly with cream cheese was at the Palace Saloon in Fernandina Beach, Florida. It is the most beautiful place, and is also Florida's oldest continually running saloon. But the last time I was there I was told they do not serve food anymore. So Sad!! Well, now it is up to us to keep this tradition alive. Just try it. I know you will like it!!

Here's what you will need:

1/2 pound sirloin sliced very thin
medium onion cut into small slices
provolone cheese slices
super soft deli roll
cream cheese~whipped or regular

 Slice your sirloin very thin, If you are having trouble getting it as
thin as you want it to be,heres a little trick.  Put it in the freezer for
about 30 minutes.This will enable you to have
better control as you are slicing.
Slice your onions into thin rounds, and then cut them in half.
Once they reduce in size by sauteing, they are the perfect bite size!
Start by cooking your onions. I like to saute on medium high heat 
with a little butter. If you saute on too high of heat, your butter will burn.
Go ahead and add your sirloin just as your onions start to saute.
Move your onions and sirloin as they cook.
This is what it should look like when fully cooked.
Drain any excess juice.
Add your Provolone Slices to your meat while it is in the pan.
If you don't have a lid for your pan, you can improvise.
 I used another similar size pan to make my lid.
I have even used cookie sheets when I don't have anything else.
There is no wrong way. You are just trying to melt your cheese.
Prepare your sub roll with the Philly cream cheese. Now, I know
some people like mayo on their philly. So put it on!
There is no wrong way to enjoy the food you like!
You can add tomato and lettuce if you would like.
It's all good!
Use a spatula to put your meat on your roll.
Dig in!

There are some variations you can use to make your philly cheesesteak
more appealing to you. You can saute red, green, and/or yellow peppers
to add to you sandwich. If you want to do this, then put the peppers
on to saute before the onions. Let them cook a little and get a little
soft before adding the onions and meat. Peppers take a little
longer to cook. You can also add mushrooms.Put them
 on to cook early like the peppers. 

Thanks for joining me today. Tomorrow we will make our side dish!
See you then!!