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TIP OF THE DAY: Rainbow Mashed Potatoes & Party Bar

The photos could be ice cream or sorbet. But they’re mashed potatoes.

There are few people who don’t like mashed potatoes. Here’s a way to bring them to the next level.

Taste the rainbow with these artful mashes. Mashed potatoes are blended with bold flavors, with vegetable purées providing vibrant colors and tastes.

Serve them as a side or the center of a vegetarian plate. Layer them in stacks with colorful vegetables. Have a great time with them.
 
 
PARTY BAR

Thanks to Potato Goodness for this recipe.

Beautiful for Mother’s Day dinner, we also like them for a DIY party food bar: four colors (five if you add the original, plain version) with a choice of toppings: bacon, caramelized onions, cheese, chives, sour cream, toasted pumpkin seeds and much, much more.

What else to put on a “main meal” party bar?

  • Barbecued pork or pork chops
  • Beef stew/beef bourguignon, chicken stew, pork stew, vegetarian stew (e.g. lentil-mushroom)
  • Chicken, fried or roasted
  • Coq au vin
  • Curry
  • Fish: baked, grilled, pan-sautéed
  • Glazed ham
  • Grilled or steamed vegetables
  • Grilled sausages (“bangers and mash”)
  • Meatloaf or meatballs
  • Roast beef
  • Steak
  •  
    Plus optional gravy/sauce:

  • Chunky tomato sauce
  • Beef or turkey gravy
  • Other sauce of choice
  •  
     
    RECIPE: RAINBOW MASHED POTATOES

    This recipe is ready to party: It makes 24 four-ounce scoops. Cut down the recipe down to meet your needs.

    Prep time is 30 minutes, cook time is 60 minutes. First:
     
    Make The Base

  •  
    Preparation

    1. ROAST the potatoes at 450°F until the skin is crisp and the flesh is tender all the way through.

    2. CUT the potatoes in half and scoop the flesh into the bowl of a mixer with paddle attachment.

    3. HEAT the cream, butter, salt and pepper on the stove until hot. With the mixer on the lowest speed, slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the riced potatoes. Mix on low at first, and then medium speed until the mashed potatoes have a smooth consistency. DO NOT OVER-MIX. You should have 2 quarts.

    4. SET aside. This is your potato “base.” You need to make a batch for each flavor.

    FOLLOWING ARE THE INGREDIENTS AND DIRECTIONS TO MAKE THE VEGETABLE PURÉES FOR EACH OF THE FIVE FLAVORS.
     
     
    1. BEET & DILL MASHED POTATOES

  • 8 medium red beets, trimmed
  • 2 teaspoons fresh dill, chopped
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Water as needed
  •  
    Preparation

    1. TRIM the tops and bottoms from the beets; place them in a deep pan. Add water until halfway up beets. Cover tightly with foil and place in a 400°F oven until fully cooked, about 1 hour.

    2. REMOVE the pan from the oven, carefully remove the foil (watch out for steam), and remove the beets. Reserve the cooking liquid. When the beets are cool enough to handle…

    3. REMOVE the skin. Place the cooked and peeled beets into a blender and purée with the dill, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

    4. POUR 1 quart of purée into a mixing bowl and mix together by hand with a whisk with one of the five portions (2 quarts) of mashed potatoes.
     
     
    2. KALE, SPINACH & BASIL MASHED POTATOES

  • 1 cup basil, packed
  • 1 cup baby spinach, packed
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
  • 6 TBSP Lemon Juice
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE a pot of boiling water and an ice bath, ready to blanch the kale. Place the kale in boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove it from the water and immediately place into ice bath to shock to retain the color.

    2. REMOVE the kale from the ice bath and squeeze all of the water from it. Then chop the kale.

    3. PLACE the garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, parmesan cheese, kale, basil, and olive oil in a food processor, and process into a smooth pesto.

    4. POUR 1 quart of pesto into a mixing bowl and mix together by hand with a whisk with one of the five portions (2 quarts) of mashed potatoes.
     
     
    3. RED PEPPER & CARROT MASHED POTATOES

  • 4 red bell peppers, roasted, skin removed
  • 8 medium carrots, cooked (1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons garlic
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 ounces water (more as needed)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PEEL the carrots, slice ½”, and cook in boiling water until very tender. Strain from the water and add to the blender with the roasted red peppers, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Purée until smooth.

    2. POUR 1 quart of squash purée into a mixing bowl and mix together by hand with a whisk with one of the five portions (2 quarts) of mashed potatoes.

     

    Rainbow Mashed Potatoes

    [1] Top dish: Kale & Spinach Pesto, Tomato & Basil mashed potatoes. Bottom dish: Red Pepper & Carrot, Beet & Dill, Butternut Squash & Sage (photo courtesy Potatoes USA).

    Mashed Potatoes
    [2] Pureéd vegetables are blended into plain mashed potatoes (photo courtesy Copper Pot).

    Mashed Potato Bar
    [3] A mashed potato bar. Keep the potatoes warm in slow cookers or hot plates (photo courtesy Betty Crocker).

    Mashed Potato Martini
    [4] Everyone creates his/her own garnished mashed potatoes (photo courtesy Just A Pinch).

    Baby Beets
    [5] Like beets? They create a beautiful blend, paired with their classic partner, dill (photo courtesy Burpee)

    Beet Mashed Potatoes
    [6] Beet mashed potatoes are also a go-to for Valentine’s Day dinner (photo courtesy Love Beets).

    Fresh Dill
    [7] Dill is the perfect herb complement to beets (photo courtesy Paper Chef).

     
    4. TOMATO & BASIL MASHED POTATOES

  • 4 cups sundried tomatoes in oil
  • 3 tablespoons garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup basil, packed tight
  • Water as needed
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the tomatoes with their oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and basil in blender and purée on medium speed until smooth.

    2. POUR 2 cups of sundried tomato purée into a mixing bowl,
    and mix together by hand with a whisk with one of the five portions (2 quarts) of mashed potatoes.
     
     
    5. BUTTERNUT SQUASH MASHED POTATOES

  • 2 butternut squash, medium-large
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 10 sage leaves
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PEEL the butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and membrane and cut into 1” pieces. Place into a mixing bowl and toss with olive oil.

    2. ROAST in oven at 400°F until tender, but no browning occurs. Remove from the oven and keep warm.
    Add the butter to a saucepan. Brown over medium heat on stove with the sage, until the sage is crispy. Remove from the heat, set aside, and keep warm.

    3. PLACE the cooked squash, brown butter with sage, salt, and pepper into blender and purée. Pour 1 quart of squash purée into a mixing bowl and mix together by hand with a whisk with one of the five portions (2 quarts) of mashed potatoes.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Recycle Plastics

    Gallon Of Milk
    [1] Look around your kitchen to see what can be recycled (photo courtesy Plastic News).

    Yogurt Cup
    [2] Yogurt cups (photo courtesy Yellow Images).

    Plastic Water Bottle
    [3] Water bottles are one of the biggest contributors to landfill (photo courtesy Free Images Live).
     
    Resin Codes
    [4] Resin codes, established by the ASTM International Resin Identification Coding System. Here’s what they mean.

     

    On this last day of Earth Month, we’re taking the opportunity to discuss recycling plastics, an anti-environment scourge of the kitchen.

    Here’s the scoop:

    All potentially recyclable plastic contains a triangle with a number inside (photo #4).

    Those numbers are resin identification codes, which tell what kind of plastic the item is made from. The codes were created by the ASTM International Resin Identification Coding System.

    Plastics recycling opportunities vary by municipality. Not all recyclable plastics can be processed by all communities.

    And not all plastic is recyclable.

    To impede the effort, some plastics manufacturers omit the triangle.
     
     
    WHAT YOU CAN DO

    1. PARTICIPATE: It may take some extra work, but keeping plastics out of the landfill by recycling them will make you feel better. Pat yourself on the back every time you have a yogurt or a soft drink.

    2. RESEARCH: If you’re not already familiar with your municipality’s recycling opportunities, check its website. Or, search online for your local recycling program.

    3. UNDERSTAND: If your plastic’s triangle has numbers 1, 2 or 5, great: These are the plastics with the greatest recycling demand in the U.S.

    What this means is, there is a secondary market for these recycled plastics. The money companies pay for them helps to offset the costs of municipalities’ recycling equipment and processing.

    Examples include butter tubs, laundry detergent bottles, milk jugs, soda and water bottles and yogurt cups. Rinse or otherwise clean them before recycling, and remove any paper labels if you can.

    4. AVOID: Plastics made with resins 4, 6 and 7 are often not recyclable, so check your local website.

    Examples include some clamshells, disposable plates and cups, meat trays, plastic bags, pouches and squeeze bottles.

    Also avoid including plastics with PVCs. Examples include blister packs, packaging for cosmetics and some food wrap. Because of its chemical composition, PVC can contaminate large batches of plastics in the recycling system, that would otherwise be recyclable.

    Shopping bags and other soft plastics like plastic wrap and bubble wrap can’t be recycled, because they can jam sorting machines.

    5. BEST PRACTICE: Do your best to purchase non-plastic options. It’s tough because our society has gone whole-hog for plastic solutions. We pretty much have to buy plastic to hold our garbage.

    But two easy fixes are:

  • Bring your own reusable, fold-up fabric shopping bags to the store.
  • Also get fabric bags for produce.
  •  
    On behalf of Planet Earth, we thank you for your assistance.
     
     
    MORE ON RECYCLING

    Here are the “recycling mistakes” to avoid.

    Here are details on the resin codes, and what your plastics are made from.
    ________________

    *Plastic resins are created by heating hydrocarbons in a process known as the “cracking process.” Here’s more about them.

     

      

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    PRODUCT: Stirrings Sugar-Free Cocktail Mixes

    Sweet cocktails are delicious, beguiling, and…packed full of sugar.

    Stirrings, a pioneering producer of quality cocktail mixes, offers a solution with two new five-calorie cocktail mixers:

  • 5 Calorie Cosmopolitan Mixer
  • 5 Calorie Margarita Mixer
  •  
    Now you can enjoy these two top cocktails with no added sugar, no preservatives and no guilt.

    Instead of sugar (or corn syrup), the cocktail mixes are flavored with a natural-tasting blend of sucralose and acesulfame potassium.

    Otherwise, the ingredients you expect—cranberry juice in the Cosmo, key lime juice in the Margarita, are all natural, and there are no preservatives.

    How about 5 Calorie Mixers for Mother’s Day:

  • To serve guests.
  • As gifts for cocktail-loving moms.
  •  
    A 25.4-fluid ounce bottle is $6.99.

    Head to your nearest Stirrings retailer (here’s a store locator) or buy them online directly from Stirrings.

    Then…bottoms up, with far fewer calories!
     
     
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPE OFNON-CALORIC SWEETENERS

     

    Stirrings 5-Calorie Cosmopolitan Mix

    Stirrings 5 Calorie Margarita Mix
    [1 & 2] The new five-calorie cocktail mixes. Top, Cosmopolitan; bottom, Margarita (photo courtesy Stirrings).

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Sushi & Salad

    Sushi With Salad
    [1] The Full Circle sushi roll from Bamboo Sushi in Portland, Oregon, places a salad in the center of cut sushi rolls (photo courtesy Bamboo Sushi).


    [2] Dress the salad with yuzu, if you can. Yuzu is a delicious citrus that combines the flavors and aromas of lemon, lime and grapefruit (photo courtesy J. Patokal | Wikipedia).

    Yuzu Juice
    [3] You can find yuzu juice at Asian markets. It is worth every cent (photo Pinterest).

     

    Sushi is one of our favorite foods. Occasionally we make it from scratch; but more often we enjoy it at restaurants, and even get take-out sushi from local markets. Often we get seaweed salad to round out the dish.

    So we were especially charmed when we saw this Full Circle Roll from Bamboo Sushi in Portland, Oregon, featuring:

  • A center of spicy tuna and tempura green onion…
  • In an uramaki (reverse roll) topped with plain tuna and black sesame seeds…
  • Arranged on the plate in a circle…
  • With a yuzu vinaigrette-dressed watercress in the center of the circle…
  • Topped with fried onions and citrus ginger.
  •  
    We’ve been making it for lunch and light dinners, and especially enjoy it with a cup of genmaicha tea, which is green tea mixed with tiny kernels of kernels of toasted and popped brown rice, giving the tea a nutty, toasty flavor.

    We still buy the seaweed salad, and layer it on the plate under either watercress or arugula salad—creating a seaweed salad “surprise.”

    The only problem: This dish is so refreshing, we want to eat two of them!
     
     
    MAKE YOUR OWN

    Our market not only has a good sushi selection, but also sells tuna and salmon in sashimi slices, so it’s easy for us to pull the dish together.

    If you don’t have the same access to ingredients, you can buy sushi-quality tuna or salmon from a reliable fish market, and:

  • Slice and roll like rollmops, with your choice of rice*, other grain, or cucumber slice inside.
  • Simply lay the slices on a plate in a sunburst pattern, with the salad in the center.
  •  
     
    LOVE SUSHI?

    Learn more about it—and see delicious sushi pictures—in our Sushi Glossary.
     
     
    ________________
     
     
    *Sushi rice is made with a premium grade Japanese short grain white. The cooked rice is mixed, while still hot, with a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar and salt. The vat of rice is fanned to cool it off.

    If you try to mix the rice vinegar mixture into regular cooked rice, it will approximate the flavor of sushi rice, but the rice won’t stick together as the short-grain rice does.

     

      

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    RECIPE: Vegan Butternut Squash Tacos Al Pastor

    Here’s a treat for Cinco de Mayo that happens to be vegan: Tacos Al Pastor

    Al pastor is a dish from central Mexico that is an adaptation of shawarma, the spit-grilled meat brought by Lebanese immigrants to Mexico. Shawarma is similar to Turkish döner kebab and the Greek gyros.

    The dish— Mexican street food—is made from thinly sliced pork that has been seasoned with chiles and pineapple, and roasted on a vertical spit.

    This vegan version from McCormick replaces the meat with nutty, roasted butternut squash and a slew of seasonings.

    The tacos are layered in corn tortillas with pineapple, crunchy cabbage or radishes, a squeeze of fresh lime, and an optional onion garnish.

    Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 35 minutes. Calories per serving: 130.
     
     
    RECIPE: BUTTERNUT SQUASH TACOS AL PASTOR

    Ingredients For 10 Tacos

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons McCormick ancho chile pepper
  • 2 teaspoons McCormick garlic powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons McCormick ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons McCormick oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon McCormick ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon McCormick smoked paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon McCormick ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon McCormick coarse-ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 pineapple, peeled, cored and sliced into rings
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice, divided
  •  

    Butternut Squash Tacos
    [1] Butternut squash tacos with a layering of flavors (photo courtesy McCormick).

    Butternut Squash
    [2] Butternut squash (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

  • 2 cups shredded green cabbage (cups—substitute thinly-sliced radishes)
  • Corn tortillas, warmed
  • Optional garnish: chopped white onion and or thinly-sliced radishes (if radishes are not substituted for the cabbage)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE one oven rack in lowest position and another rack in highest position. Preheat the oven to 450°F.

    2. MIX the oil, spices, 1-3/4 teaspoons of the salt, and the pepper in a large bowl with wire whisk. Add the squash and toss to coat evenly. Arrange the squash in single layer on parchment-lined shallow baking pan. Set aside.

    3. ARRANGE the pineapple slices in single layer on a separate parchment-lined shallow baking pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the lime juice.

    4. PLACE the pan with squash on lowest oven rack. Place the pan with pineapple on highest oven rack. Roast 30 to 35 minutes or until squash is tender and lightly browned, stirring the squash and flipping the pineapple halfway through cooking. Meanwhile…

    5. TOSS the cabbage with the remaining 2 tablespoons of lime juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl. Set aside.

    6. REMOVE the squash and pineapple from the oven and let them cool slightly. Chop the pineapple into bite-size chunks.

    7. TO SERVE: Layer the squash and pineapple in warm corn tortillas. Top with the cabbage or radishes and the chopped white onion.
     
     
    MORE WAYS TO USE RADISHES

    Serve them at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Plus a recipe for Cucumber Radish Salad.
      

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