Mashed potatoes are great, but, in my opinion, smashed potatoes are even better. My son might disagree; he likes his potatoes buttery, smooth and creamy – no skins, no hearty chunks, no bacon bits, no chopped green stuff. Well, he was out of town this week, so I took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy some decadent smashed potatoes. These are super easy (easier than mashed potatoes), and you can really experiment with the mix-ins. I used redskin potatoes, but you can use small white potatoes, Yukon gold potatoes, or fingerlings. Don’t use Idaho, russetts, or baking potatoes because the skins are too thick. For mix-ins I used garlic, bacon, sour cream and chives. You can skip the bacon for a vegetarian version, or use chicken cracklings for a Kosher version (omit the dairy). You can substitute Greek yogurt for the sour cream for a more tangy taste, or use a bit of buttermilk for a Southern flavor. Try different herbs like rosemary or mint, or even mix in some sauteed greens like kale or arugula. I used chives which work as an herb but add an onion flavor; green onions are another one of my favorite mix-ins. So, you get the picture… mix-in what you like, or what you have available. These are a great accompaniment for almost anything: steak, pork chops or loin, ribs, chicken, burgers, grilled sandwiches, or even with eggs for breakfast.
- 2-3 Lbs. Potatoes (your favorite thin skinned variety) – scrubbed clean
- 4-5 Slices of Bacon (thick cut if available)
- 1/4 – 1/3 Cup Sour Cream
- 3-4 Cloves of Garlic – minced
- 3-4 TBS. Fresh Chives – chopped
- Salt and Pepper
Cook bacon until crispy, drain on paper towels and, when cool enough to handle, crumble. Reserve bacon drippings/fat. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender (6-10 minutes depending on size of potatoes). Drain potatoes and return to pot. Add minced garlic, crumbled bacon, and chives. Use a potato masher and smash potatoes, mixing in the other ingredients. Add bacon drippings and mix-in. Add sour cream – adjusting the amount until the desired creaminess is achieved. Season with salt and pepper.
This is one of my favorite pasta salads – it combines two of my favorite dishes: caprese salad and pasta. What’s not good about that? I have served this at several concert in the park picnics, and have taken it to many barbeques gatherings. As you can imagine, this is a super easy pasta salad to assemble, and, if you use store-bought pesto, it’s even easier. You can buy mozzarella that comes in small balls, or you can use fresh mozzarella cut into bite sized pieces. I like to use cherry or grape tomatoes – I slice them in half so that they absorb more of the dressing. In addition to using pesto, fresh basil is a key ingredient in this salad. As with all salads, and particularly pasta salad, adjust the ingredients and seasonings (dressing, herbs etc.) to your liking.
- 1 Lb. Shaped Pasta (Rotini, Ziti, Cavatapa, or whatever you like or have on hand)
- 1.5-2 Cups Mozzarella balls – cut in half (or mozzarella cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
- 1.5-2 Cups Cherry or Grape Tomatoes – cut in half
- 1 Cup Fresh Basil – chopped
- 1/4 -1/3 Cup Pesto
- 6-8 TBS. Olive Oil
- 1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar (use white balsamic if available)
- 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese- shredded
- Salt -to taste (it will take a generous amount)
- Pepper- to taste
Cook pasta according to directions, but only until al dente. Run pasta under cold water to stop the cooking process and drain. Pour pasta into a large serving bowl, add pesto to pasta and mix until pasta is coated to your liking. Mix in tomatoes, mozzarella,Parmesan and basil (adjust amounts as desired). Add olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.
I started making homemade tortilla chips when I started making Chicken Tortilla Soup. As with most things, my kids have decided that store bought tortilla chips just don’t compare to the homemade kind. While the tortilla chips are worth the effort, there is frying involved and whenever there’s frying involved, there’s a mess involved. So I don’t make these chips that often, but when I do, I make sure to make a big batch and we eat them for days.
- 1 Package Fresh Corn Tortillas (sometimes found in the refrigerated section) – cut into quarters, at room temperature
- Corn Oil
In a fryer, or large stock pot, heat about 3 inches of oil to 350 degrees. Add 8-12 tortilla quarters (don’t overcrowd the pot or your oil temperature will drop quickly) and move around gently in oil, flipping when one side is browned. Remove chips from oil, immediately sprinkle generously with salt and allow to drain on paper towels. Repeat process until all tortilla quarters are fried.
To store: line a zipper bag with paper towels and store chips between paper towels.