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by: Emily St. John Mandel

Monday, July 14, 2008

Twice-Baked Garlic Loaded Potatoes

I have been making this recipe for a while. It started when I half-hearted started using weight watcher recipes. I found this because as a foodie I am drawn towards potatoes! You cook them - I'll eat favorite is the fried potatoes that my grandpa used to make me (that his sister now makes me identically). But I like them mashed, fried, french fried, baked, hash browns, au soup...yummmmmmm!

So I've been wanting to make this for a couple of days and finally pushed myself into the kitchen and started the oven.

Twice-Baked Garlic Loaded Potatoes

4 large baking potatoes, scrubbed
1 garlic bulb, point sliced off
1/2 cup skim milk
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 slices of microwave ready bacon (the pre-cooked kind is easiest).
pinch of paprika

Preheat oven to 425 degrees with rack in middle position. add potatoes onto a cookie sheet. Place garlic bulb cut side up in a piece of aluminum foil and close. Set garlic on cookie sheet and place in oven to cook for 50-60 minutes (until potatoes are tender and garlic is browned and softened. Let potatoes and garlic cool until comfortable to handle (about 15 minutes).

Halve potatoes lengthwise; scoop the pulp into a large bowl, leaving the skins intact. Squeeze out garlic into the same bowl add milk, Parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper into potato mixture. Stir and mash with a fort to desired texture then spoon back into potato skins; sprinkle with a bit more cheese and paprika.

Return to oven until heated through and cheese is melted (tops are slightly browned). Top with crumbled bacon and serve!

Now the Weight Watcher version uses 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth and 1/2 cup non-fat sour cream and the Parmesan just on top. 4 large baking potatoes would serve 8 with 3 points per serving...not including the extra cheese, milk or bacon of my recipe...but mine is a meal...yum!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Chinese Potstickers and Fried Rice

I have now made this recipe twice and it is quickly becoming a family favorite. The first time I made this because my husband and I were watching a random episode of Throw down with Bobby Flay and the competition in this particular episode was on Chinese dumplings, also known as Pot-stickers. Jeremy and I looked at each other and both craved them at the same time. The first time I made these I think I under stuffed them and I chose to boil them instead of pan-fry them. They turned out like a strange squishy ravioli with the wrapper part way to wiggly for my taste. Jeremy loved the flavor and proclaimed them tasting just like the Panda Express ones we had not long after.

Well yesterday I had another craving to make these treats. I wanted to better the recipe and have another go at making them properly. Jeremy quickly said, "Yes" to me making them and so we zoomed around the grocery store picking up the filling ingredients. To the produce department to by a small head of cabbage, a few green onions, a package of bean sprouts, a package of shredded carrots, ginger root, and two packages of dumpling wrappers (next to the wonton wrappers - but circles instead of squares). As I was gathering the last of the ingredients (a pound of ground chicken) I mentioned that fried rice goes really well with these, so we zoomed to the frozen food section to pick up a bag of peas and carrots. With everything else at home we headed there.

The other thing I wanted to change about the first time I made these is I made Jeremy wait way to long to eat (I started filling dumplings at like 4:30 or 5 and we didn't end up eating until 8:30-9p.m.) So I started around 2:30-3p.m. and we ate at about 6p.m. The recipe made about 90 dumplings, so I cooked half of them and froze the other half for later use!

Original Recipe of Dumplings

This is what I did:

1 lb. ground chicken
1/2 cup of cabbage, chopped fine
1/4 cup green onions, minced
1/4 cup bean sprouts, chopped
1/4 cup shredded carrots, chopped
1/4 cup ginger root, minced
1/4 cup bamboo shoots, minced
1/4 cup water chestnut, minced
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil
pinch of salt and pepper
dash of white pepper

Wrappers - 2 packages round pasta wrappers (the original recipe link tells how to make your own dough wrappers.)

3 parts soy sauce
1 part sesame oil
1 part vinegar
1 Tbsp ginger root, minced
1 Tbsp green onions, minced

Mix everything for filling and then take about 1 Tbsp of filling and place in the center of a single wrapper. fold the wrapper over and pinch in the center. pleat the edges over on one side all the way to the end, return to the other side of center and pleat it to the end of the other side. Seal edges with a bit of water on the tip of your fingers run across the pleats. Set on a grease plate and repeat until filling or wrappers are gone.

Now because there are only two of us, I took half of the dumplings and froze them before they were cooked. I placed the dumplings on a cookie sheet (not touching each other) and placed them in the freezer. After frozen through, place them in a freezer bag and back in the freezer for later use!

Pan frying them: coat the bottom of the pan with oil and set dumplings down in a single layer on medium-high heat. Fry until bottoms of dumplings are golden brown. Add 1/3 cup water (pan will sizzle), cover with vent for steam to escape. Once water has halved, turn heat down to medium. Once water has evaporated, uncover and let dumplings cook for 1 - 2 minutes more.

While the water was cooking down, I made a pot of rice.

Fried rice recipe:

2 cups jasmine rice
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
dash of white pepper
1 10 oz bag of frozen peas and carrots
4 eggs + white and pepper
2 tsp table sugar
3 3/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil

Bring water to boil, add rice, oil, and salt. Cover and bring to a boil again. Let water cook down.

...Now this is where I pause in my directions: I used the pan I fried the dumplings in for the eggs and the fried part of the rice...

scramble eggs, then add a bit more oil to the pan and add the rice, sugar, peas and carrots, soy sauce, sesame oil, and dash of white pepper, salt and pepper. Fry until desired quality. Serve warm!

Second time around critic:
Very good, filling was much more satisfying, and the pan fry made the dumplings crunchy enough to give eating them an extra depth! Frying the rice in the dumpling pan added a nice flavoring for rice and pulled the meal together.

I served the dumplings and rice with the dipping sauce and a pot of Ceylon Orange Pekoe Tea and a fortune cookie each.

My husband's reaction: so good he had two helpings and I had to cut him off.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fan Tan Rolls

Sunday I made another round of Foccacia Bread (sadly forgetting to take pictures of them). After that I decided to try my hand at making rolls. I picked Fan Tan Rolls. My Great Uncle had these at his house when we visited him at the beginning of June. He served them with home-made raspberry jam. I wish I had more of that home made jam...

This is how they turned out! Don't they look good?

2 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
1/3 cup table sugar
2 packages active dry yeast
2 tsp salt
6 1/2 cups of flour
2 eggs
1/3 cup shortening
butter, melted (for brushing on dough)

combine water sugar and yeast and stir until dissolved. Add salt and 2 cups of flour. Beat for 2 minutes with electric mixer then add eggs and shortening. Beat for another minute and then work in remaining flour (4 1/2 cups). Cover and let rest in bowl for 20 minutes. This makes the dough easier to handle.

1. Divide dough in half and roll each into 9 inch square. Brush with melted butter; cut into six
2. Stack strips on top of one another. Cut into 1 inch widths. Place in greased muffin pans, cut
side up.
3. Cover and let rise in warm place for 40-45 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes.
Brush with melted butter for last five minutes of baking.

What I would do differently Next time: I'm not sure I would actually put six strips together in a muffin pan...maybe four instead. This one, as you can see, exploded! Still yummy but way over proofed. Probably was too hot in the house and didn't need the full rise time.