Archive for the 'Dinners' Category

Potato Pancakes – not just for Jews, really!

Holidays are never easy for divorced families.  Even when everyone is getting along, the logistics make it hard.  While a joint holiday celebration is often considered the ideal, it can also be very confusing to kids who hope and pray that Mom and Dad will get back together.  Whether your holiday tradition is a honey-baked ham for Christmas, a turkey dinner at Thanksgiving, or Latkes for Chanukah, preserving traditions at your house help make it a home.

Potato Pancakes are great for breakfast, especially with eggs, lunch, or dinner.  They freeze easily, and they  make a potato side with any meat or chicken dish.  The key is to making good ones, like with all frying, is to get the oil hot enough and keep it that way.  Hot oil in the pan means less oil in the food.

Ingredients (makes 8-10, serves 4):

  • 3 cups of peeled, grated baking potatoes (about three medium size potatoes)
  • 1 cup of peeled, grated sweet potato (one medium size yam or sweet potato)
  • 1 cup of peeled, grated carrots (about three large carrots)
  • 1/2 cup grated sweet onion
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Equipment

  • Food processor with grating blade
  • two large mixing bowls
  • colander
  • 10″ skillet
  • spatula
  • vegetable peeler
  • cooling rack

Directions

  1. For this recipe, I use a food processor with the grating disc, but you can grate by hand using a box grater.  I put the potatoes and carrots in at an angle so my grated strings are as long as possible.
  2. When all the ingredients that need to be grated are finished, place them in a colander and put the colander over a larger bowl.  Rinse the mixture and let it drain for 15 minutes.  Don’t throw out the drained liquid but carefully pour off the water  on top and leave the starch in the bowl.  This will work with the flour to hold the pancakes together.
  3. Now, add the salt, pepper, nutmeg and flour to the beaten eggs and beat with the potato starch left over from the bottom of the bowl.
  4. Use your hands to mix the potato-carrot  mixture with the egg mixture.  Everything should be well coated and the potato strings should be well tangled.  Let this sit for 10 minutes.
  5. Heat 1/4 inch of vegetable  oil in a large skillet.  The oil should be at least 400 degrees F.  It will shimmer but not smoke when it is ready.  You can test it with a single strand of potato.  It should sizzle and bubble immediately.
  6. Scoop a quarter cup of the mix and form into a pancake.  Place directly in the oil and be careful not to splash it or burn your hands.  Cook each side for four minutes and don’t touch them in between.  I don’t fry more than three in a skillet at a time so they don’t cool the oil.  If the first one isn’t nice and brown on the down side when you turn it, don’t turn the other for another minute or two as they are not ready.
  7. Remove from the oil.  Let drain over the pan first, and then place on a wire cooling rack with paper towel underneath.  After five minutes, place on a plate with a paper towel underneath.

Serve with Sour Cream and/or Apple Sauce.

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Cheeseburgers grilled on the stove

I love to make cheeseburgers on the grill outside, but during the winter and on rainy days that’s not realistic.   These 1/4 pound “Sliders” are made inside and served on Potato Rolls.  They are easy to make and I prefer to make extra, and freeze a dozen or so before cooking so I can take 4-6 out of the freezer the night before and let them defrost in the fridge.  For traditional sliders, make twice as many from the same amount of meat and use smaller buns.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 1 lb of ground hamburger
  • 4 slices of American or Cheddar Cheese
  • 4 potato rolls
  • 1 bag potato chips
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Lettuce
  • Sliced Tomatoes
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • ¼ tsp Pepper
  • 2 tsp Steakhouse spice mix
  • ½ tsp Worcestershire Sauce

Equipment

  • Stove
  • Large frying pan
  • Spatula
  • Mixing bowl
  • Plate for condiments

Directions

  1. Place hamburger meat in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with salt, pepper and steakhouse spice mix. Add Worcestershire sauce.
  2. Mix meat with your hands and roll into balls on a plate.  They should be smaller than a baseball and larger than a golf ball.
  3. Heat your regular frying pan (not nonstick) on the stove at medium/high heat, about 8 out of 10.
  4. Add 2 Tbs of Olive Oil to the pan and let it get hot enough to shimmer.
  5. Place three balls of meat into the oil and press down to size with a metal spatula.  Let cook for three minutes.
  6. Turn burgers over cook for another three minutes.  Don’t press down with the spatula again so the juices stay inside.  They should be clear as they ooze out of the burger naturally, instead of red, which means the burger isn’t quite done.
  7. Add cheese of choice top of each burger and place lid on pan for one more minute.
  8. Place each burger on a bun and serve with chips and condiments on the table.
  9. Make the remaining burgers as above and refrigerate any leftovers.

Cincinnati Chili

There are as many kinds of Chili as Chili-makers.  But Chili is not always a kid-friendly meal because kids have a much more sensitive palette than adults.  So a Chili that kids might like, will likely taste bland to an adult, and my favorite Chili would send my kids crying to the bathroom.

Cincinnati Chili is a wonderful exception.  This mild, sweet Chili is traditionally served over spaghetti.  The cinnamon and sugar give it a wonderfully complex taste without being too hot.  And it takes hot sauce well, so you can easily add some fire to yours while your kids enjoy theirs nice a mild.

Ingredients

  • 3 large chopped onions
  • 3 lbs lean ground beef
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 Tbs chili powder
  • 3 tsp allspice
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 30 oz. can puree tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz. can tomato paste
  • 2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbs cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs cocoa powder
  • 1 large can Red Beans
  • 1 container Sour Cream
  • 1/4 lb grated cheddar cheese

Equipment

  • Stove
  • a ladle
  • Large frying pan
  • 5 quart pot

Directions

  1. Chop onions into small pieces, about 1/4 inch wide
  2. Crush garlic in garlic press
  3. Add 1/3 onions and all garlic to 2 Tbs olive oil in large frying pan
  4. As onions begin to cook, add meat and crushed garlic.  Cook until juices are mostly burned off.
  5. Add all spices to water, stir and set aside.
  6. Add Worcestershire, cider vinegar and 2nd third of chopped onion to meat and cook for five minutes.
  7. Combine spice and water mix along with tomato puree and tomato paste in a large pot, and cook at medium heat.  As contents are warming up, add meat to pot, stir and cook at low temperature for one hour, covered.
  8. Stir in red beans, with liquid and let simmer for another five minutes.
  9. Boil water for pasta and cook spaghetti until al dente. Strain through colander.
  10. Serve over spaghetti with grated cheese, sour cream and last third of minced onion as toppings on the side.

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