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Archive for August 8, 2013

FOOD FUN: Potato Smashers

Potato smashers—tasty and fun to smash. Photo


The name “smashed potatoes” has already been claimed for roughly mashed potatoes with the skins on. So this recipe is called Potato Smashers.

We love smashing the potatoes (or the kids will enjoy doing it for you). And the prep time is just 5 minutes, cook time 30 minutes.


Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 5 small Yukon Gold potatoes and 5 small red potatoes or other type of choice (fingerlings, russets, white)
  • 1 pint mini bell peppers (red, orange and yellow*)
  • 8 sprigs cilantro, picked from stems
  • Cooking spray
  • Salt, chili powder and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Garnish: 4 tablespoons of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • Optional: for heat, blend red or green jalapeños with the bell pepper slices
    *You can use conventional bell peppers, but the minis save slicing time.


    1. PLACE whole potatoes into a microwave-safe covered dish. Do NOT puncture for steam escape. Microwave on HIGH for 3 to 4 minutes.

    2. CUT peppers into small (1/4-inch) slices. Spray a nonstick pan with cooking spray and heat to medium. Add peppers and sauté until they start to brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

    3. REMOVE potatoes from microwave and, using a layer of paper towels to cover the potatoes, smash them on a cutting board until 1-3/4-inch thick. You can use the side of a coffee cup or a flat cooking utensil to smash the potatoes.

    4. SPRAY sauté pan with cooking spray; heat on high and add smashed potatoes. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until potatoes start to brown.

    5. PLACE potatoes on a plate and layer with sour cream or yogurt, peppers and cilantro. Dust with salt, chili powder and pepper to taste. Serve warm.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Turn Leftovers Into Ragout (Stew)

    The term ragoût (rah-GOO) may sound fancy, but it’s the French word for stew. When you make a quick-and-easy version from leftovers, it’s certainly more tempting-sounding than “leftovers stew.”

    The word origin is a bit more glamorous: ragoûter, meaning “to revive the taste.” And yes, it’s etymologically related to the Italian ragù, a sauce for pasta and other foods.

    The basic method for ragoût involves slow cooking over low heat. But forget the slow cooking, and throw leftovers into a pot to create something new and tasty, meat-based or vegetarian.

    The ingredients can include anything you’ve got, with poultry/meat or vegetarian. Almost about any vegetable can be added. If you don’t have leftover veggies, steam some carrots and potatoes or whatever you have and toss them into the pot.


    Turn leftovers into ragoût. Photo courtesy
    Spice Islands.

    Check the fridge for:

  • Beans, grains and legumes
  • Meat, poultry, tofu
  • Potatoes, rice and pasta
  • Vegetables
  • Optional garnishes: grated cheese, fresh herbs

    Combine beef broth with soup concentrate
    for an “instant” stew base. Photo courtesy
    College Inn.


    Check the spice rack for anything that appeals to you, from classics like oregano and thyme to assertive like chili flakes or curry. Think of a few dashes of a “surprise” sweet spice, like allspice, cinnamon or nutmeg. And don’t forget the herbs.

    The next step is to make the sauce, from:

  • Packaged beef stew seasoning mix and water (check the spice section in the store; McCormick makes one)
  • Tomato juice or vegetable juice (you can combine with broth)
  • Soup concentrate (cream of mushroom or other vegetable, minestrone/vegetable, tomato, etc.)
  • Stock or canned broth
  • Wine
  • Worcestershire sauce
    The art is in mixing the different ingredients and reducing them to a stew-like consistency (otherwise, you’ve got soup—which is also a great use for leftovers). Your own palate and eye will guide you.



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