Tuesday, October 23, 2012

(Lightened Up) Potato Cakes

Growing up, my father was always the breakfast man in the house. Every Sunday morning when I woke, I was greeted with an aroma of fresh coffee, eggs, and bacon.  On occasion, he would change things up and make an egg bake, pancakes, french toast, or my all time favorite: German potato pancakes. If you haven't had this classic German dish before, I strongly suggest keeping an eye out for them on a breakfast menu somewhere and giving them a shot. I eat mine with sour cream on top, but you, of course could do whatever your pretty little heart desires.

To this day, I cannot perfect my father's recipe. Every single time I try it's a complete disaster! In fact, each time I make them, I tell myself, "This is it. You're going to get it this time." Then it turns ugly and I pack away the recipe until I can conjure up enough courage to try it again. If you're feeling frisky, you could always try to make them yourself. This recipe at Epicurious is similar to the one my dad follows.

Until I get that traditional recipe under wraps, I have found the non-traditional recipe below. It's a bit heartier and thicker,  but it is outright delicious none-the less.

(Lightened Up) Potato Cakes 
Serves: Eight (8)

3 slices reduced fat, center-cut bacon, chopped (optional.)
3 large yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (approx. 2.5 Lbs.)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/4 cups plain panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese
3 scallions, finely chopped, (optional.)

Preheat oven to 425°F

Cook bacon until crispy and chop into medium to small sized pieces.

Place the potatoes and garlic in a large pot and cover with water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are fork tender, about 20 minutes; drain. Return the potatoes and garlic to the pot and mash with yogurt, broth, salt, and pepper, until smooth.  Stir in 1/2 cup panko, the cheese, scallions, and bacon. Shape into eight (3 inch) patties. Place the remaining 3/4 cup panko in a shallow dish and dredge the patties into  the crumbs.

Place patties onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Turn over each patty and continue cooking an additional 10-12 minutes. Both sides should be golden brown and crispy, but cooked through.

Serve warm.

Make it vegetarian and skip the bacon!

Serving suggestion, as seen in above picture:
Toss arugula in one tablespoon of honey mustard and top potato cake with mixture and an over easy egg.

Source: Slightly modified version of Bobby Deen's Lighter Smashed Potato Cakes

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

SodaStream: My favorite new gadget

I try very, very hard to NOT to be a gadget person. I hate clutter and unnecessary kitchen items. My philosophy is a more, "back to basics" approach. You don't often hear, " I have to have that," come out of my mouth when it comes to the latest and greatest kitchen gadgets.  That however, did not apply to the Sodastream. I had to have it. HAD TO! The pros were obvious. I would no longer have to:
  • Drink a diet soda loaded with aspartame (my number one priority.)
  • Haul it
  • Buy in bulk, (when I saw a good sale this was common.)
  • Store it
  • Haul garbage bags full of empty cans to the recycling landfill.
I am sure what you REALLY want to know is does it taste good? I worried a little too.  I'm a  girl who can tell the difference between a Coke and Pepsi so I wasn't sure if this would fly in our home. I thought it was perfect, but knowing Todd's adoration of diet coke, I knew his opinion would be the deal breaker. One night, I nervously poured him a glass of the Sodastream diet coke and patiently waited for his response and doubted that he would like it. To my astonishment, he LOVED it. I too, was immediately hooked. In the last three months, I have purchased the diet coke, coke, coke zero, diet pink grapefruit (my favorite,) diet lemon lime, diet ginger ale, and used it just as soda water. All of them have been great and taste just like the main brand named sodas, if not better!

Here's how it works:
You can purchase a starter kit for  $59.99-$79.99 depending on which model you prefer. (They are usually marked higher than that, but don't pay full price as they are always on sale.) In the starter kit, you receive a  C02 tank, the re-usable 1 liter bottle, the soda maker, and a variety of soda syrups to try.

Many main stream stores like Kohls, Target and Bed, Bath, and Beyond carry the Sodastream sodas. They come in 16.9 oz bottle and that makes the equivalent of 33 cans!

When you run out of a C02 cartridge,  bring it to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and replace it for $15. (Note, you have to tell them it's a replacement. A new one will run you $30.00, but the replacement is $15.00. They usually have the replacements at the register.)

All in all, I LOVE this product. I have ZERO complaints. I no longer have to carry soda in and out of the grocery store and then find somewhere to store it.  My recycling is 3/4 less than it used to be. But the best part? We are no longer consuming diet soda that contains aspartame.

Do you own one? Do you love it? I would love to hear your thoughts!
If you have any questions about it, feel free to ask!


Note: This review is based solely on my own opinion as a consumer and I was not in any way asked by Sodastream to write this, or any store mentioned in this review.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Individual Apple Blueberry Crisps

Apples are so bountiful right now and are all around delicious. A week or so ago, I cut them up, added some blueberries and made a phenomenal low calorie treat. (I am in no way a nutritionist or licensed to tell you that these are in fact healthy, but they seemed that way...)

The best part about this recipe is that they are SUPER easy to make. I am willing to bet that even my friend Krystle can make them and she has a hard time boiling water. (That was only put in here in hopes of a laugh. Love you Krystle!)

Individual Apple Blueberry Crisps
Serves: Six (6)

Four (4) large apples, peeled and diced into chunks (I used honey crisps.)
6 ounces fresh or frozen blueberries
2 teaspoons corn starch
1/2 cup crisp topping (to mix in with berries; recipe follows.)
2+ Cups additional crisp topping for the tops of the ramekins; recipe follows.

Crisp Topping: 
5 ounces all-purpose flour; approximately 1 cup
2/3 cup sugar or Truvia
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 ounces unsalted butter, cubed and chilled.

Crisp Topping Directions:
Place flour, sugar, and cracker crumbs in large bowl and combine. Work the butter into the dry ingredients with your hands until it is crumbly. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week and use as toppings for cobblers, crisps, or grunts.

Apple Blueberry Crisp Directions: 
Preheat oven to 350°

Place the diced apples and blueberries into a mixing bowl and add in the sugar, cornstarch, and 1/2 cup of the crisp topping. Stir to combine.

Divide the fruit mixture evenly between six (6) 4.5 oz. ramekins. Divide the remaining crisp topping and top each ramekin with crisp topping. Place the ramekins onto a baking sheet and bake on the middle rack for 30-35 minutes or until they are bubbling and the topping is golden brown.

Allow the crisps to cool before tasting them. (Don't forget to add a scoop of ice-cream on the side... if that's your thing.)

Does this recipe look a little bit familiar? Maybe a tiny bit? It's ridiculous close to this one I posted awhile back!

Friday, October 5, 2012

"Fried" Green Tomatoes

I have been holding off on this recipe because it is another "fried" recipe and I am not usually a "fried" kind of gal. So then, on my second batch, I BAKED them.

Voila!! Now you have a recipe that can be made the healthier way, or the other way. (They were both delicious!)

I must admit, I have long been a fan of the movie with Kathy Bates, but the actual thought of eating fried green tomatoes never appealed to me. This past year I saw them at the state fair and thought, "really!? What is the big deal! " Well, I decided to find out.

The minute I took that very first bite, I knew I was in love. They are scrumptious!! Salty, crunchy, and  slightly sweet!! Todd and I actually fought over the last one. (I won.) 

Get curious and try them!

"Fried" Green Tomatoes
Serves: 2-4

3-4 large/medium green tomatoes
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup buttermilk. (I used 2%)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Ranch dressing, for dipping

Preheat oven to 425°F

Slice tomatoes in 1/4" slices; set aside

Pull out three shallow bowls. In one, lightly beat egg and buttermilk.
In the second, add 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and in the third, combine the remaining 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder. Stir to combine.

Using a fork, dredge each tomato slice in plain flour first, then in egg mixture, and then in cornmeal mixture.

Place tomatoes on to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cook for 10 minutes or until the tops appear crispy. Using a pair of tongs or a fork, flip the tomatoes over, being careful not to pull of the coating. Once all tomatoes are turned over, continue to cook for another 10 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. Remove from oven and add salt and pepper while hot!

Serve warm with a dipping sauce of your choice, or by themselves!

Alternative Frying Method. 
Heat 1/2-3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil in a dutch oven and heat to 350°F
Once all the tomatoes are dredged in coating, work in small batches and fry tomatoes until golden brown and crispy and place on paper towels to dry. Sprinkle with Salt and pepper and enjoy while hot.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!!