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Don’t Stop the Party

Today’s second 12 Days of Oscar post is the first of this year’s nominated films.  It is also the only one of this year’s nominees with a script I know by heart.  Despicable Me 2 is nominated this year for two Oscars, for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song.  I was actually pretty miffed when Despicable Me got snubbed, so I was so glad to see the sequel get an Oscar nod.  Despicable Me 2 shows us what Gru’s post-supervillain life is like as he parents Edith, Margo, and Agnes and takes on a jelly making endeavor with Dr. Nefario and the minions.  He meets Lucy Wilde of the Anti-Villain League and shenanigans ensue.

As soon as I saw Despicable Me 2, I knew I had to try to recreate the tortilla chip hat full of guacamole that Gru wears at El Macho’s party.  It was easier than I thought to make the tortilla hat, and guacamole is the easiest dip to make as long as the avocados are ripe.  Everything about this guacamole from the presentation to the flavor was a huge hit at our house.

guacamole

 

 

guacamole tortilla hat

Guacamole (with Optional Tortilla Chip Hat)

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 1/4 C. finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 of a jalapeno pepper, minced (add more or less to taste)
  • 1/4 C. chopped cilantro leaves
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • juice of one lime

Directions:

Cut the avocados in half and remove the pit (carefully whack the pit with a knife then turn to easily remove the pit).

Scrape the flesh out of the avocado with a spoon, into a mixing bowl or a mortar and pestle.

Mash the avocado slightly.

Add the onion, jalapeno, cilantro, and salt and stir gently to combine.

Add the lime juice and stir gently again to combine.

To make the chip hat, heat the oven to 400 degrees.  For the rim of the hat drape a 10″ or larger tortilla over an inverted pie plate.  Make the center of the hat by draping a tortilla over a small bowl or custard cup and trimming the excess.  Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes until browned and crisp.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool before filling with guacamole.

Source: guacamole recipe, The Kitchn

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Two Run-Throughs

For those of you playing along at home, today is day two of the 12 Days of Oscar.  The second movie in the series this year was also nominated for but did not win an Oscar.  The 1999 film The Green Mile, based on the Stephen King novel, is a story told in a flashback format.  It follows the story of corrections officer Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) through the summer of 1935 when he witnessed a series of supernatural events after the arrival of inmate John Coffey (Michael Clark Duncan, nominated for Best Supporting Actor).

Soon after John Coffey arrives at the prison, he cures officer Edgecomb’s urinary tract infection.  He later also heals the warden’s terminally ill wife.  When he is asked how he performs these feats, Coffey replies that he has “taken them back.”  For his assistance with the urinary tract infection, Edgecomb’s wife bakes cornbread and sends it in with Edgecomb as a gift for Coffey.

Cornbread doesn’t get much tastier than cornbread made in a skillet.  A good, well-seasoned cast iron skillet makes this quick to prepare and a breeze to remove from the pan.  It’s delicious slathered in butter or honey.  It’s the perfect side for a bowl of chili.  It is sooooooo much better than anything you’re going to make from a boxed mix.  I cooked this with bacon grease, but if you don’t keep bacon grease around you can use shortening in the skillet instead.

skillet corn bread

Skillet Cornbread

Ingredients:

  • 1 C. yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 C. buttermilk
  • 1/2 C. milk
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 C. butter, melted
  • 2 Tbsp. bacon grease or shortening

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, salt, and baking powder.

Combine the buttermilk and milk together in a liquid measuring cup and add the egg.

Stir the egg and milks together with a fork, then add the baking soda and stir to combine.

Pour the milk mixture into the cornmeal mixture and stir with a fork until combined.

In a small bowl, melt the 1/4 C. of butter and slowly add it to the batter, stirring until combined.

Melt the bacon grease or remaining 2 Tbsp. of shortening over medium heat.

Pour the batter into the hot skillet and spread to even out the surface- the batter should sizzle when you pour it in.

Cook the cornbread on the stovetop for 1 minute, then bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown with crispy edges.

Source: slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman

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Light the Fire Within

In women’s Olympic bobsledding yesterday, history was made at the Sochi Winter Games when Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams won silver and Jamie Greubel and Aja Evans took bronze.  This is the first time two U.S. women’s bobsleds have won medals in an Olympics.  Additionally, Williams is now the fifth Olympic athlete to medal in different events at both a Summer Olympics and a Winter Olympics, having won gold in the 4×100 meter relay at the London 2012 Summer Olympics.  Norwegian Ole Einar Bjoerndalen became the most decorated Winter Olympian ever after winning his thirteenth medal, a gold in the mixed biathalon.

We’re nearing the end of the Winter Olympics, and today’s installment brings us to the 2012 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Skeleton was an Olympic event for the first time since 1948, as was the women’s bobsled competition. The U.S. men’s bobsleigh team won two medals, the first U.S. men’s bobsleigh team to win medals in the event since 1956.  In figure skating at the Salt Lake City Games, two gold medals were issued following a judging scandal.  Figure skating pair Sale and Pelletier from Canada and Russian pair Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze  were both awarded gold medals in the event. 

Our Salt Lake City food connection is a dish that is affectionately called funeral potatoes.  This cheesy, creamy potato dish is frequently prepared by LDS Relief Societies to either be served at a post-funeral luncheon or sent over to the grieving family.  The dish is frequently served at plenty of other gatherings as well but many of the recipes I found also included an expression of gratitude for the multiple pans of funeral potatoes that someone had prepared for such an occasion.  It’s very easy to see how this is incredibly comforting, and because they are simple to prepare, it’s easy to see how these would be popular for any pot-luck occasion.  Recipes for these potatoes often include canned condensed soup (cream of chicken or the like), and I’m not a fan of that ingredient.  This variation has all of the creamy “guilty pleasure” quality without any of the icky canned soup.

funeral potatoes

Funeral Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 C. flour
  • 1 1/2 C. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 C. milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 C. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 26 oz. bag frozen hash brown potatoes
  •  1/2 C. sour cream
  • 2 C. corn flakes, lightly crushed
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, melted

Directions:

In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter.

Add the onion and cook about 5 minutes until it softens and is translucent.

Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for about a minute.

Combine the chicken broth and milk in a liquid measuring cup and slowly whisk into the flour mixture.

Add the salt and pepper, and stir to combine.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low.

Simmer, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cheese until smooth.

Mix in the frozen potatoes, folding to completely combine with the cheese mixture.

Stir in the sour cream.

Combine the corn flakes with the melted butter.

Spread the potato mixure evenly into a glass 9×13 inch baking dish and top with the cornflake mixture.

Bake for 45 minutes until hot and bubbly around the edges.

Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Source: slightly adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

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Dancing on Snowflakes

At the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics yesterday, the U.S. gained a third gold medal for snowboarding when Kaitlin Farrington won the women’s halfpipe competition.  She beat Australia’s Torah Bright who took home silver this year, and U.S. teammate Kelly Clark who won bronze in the event.  In pairs figure skating, Russian pair Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov finished the short program on Tuesday night by setting a new world scoring record.  On Wednesday, they remained in first place and brought the pairs figure skating gold medal back to Russia.

Today in the Winter Olympics feature, we’re going back to Innsbruck, Austria.  As I mentioned before, Innsbruck hosted the Winter Games in 1964.  Twelve years later, the Winter Olympics were held in Innsbruck again.  For the first time, ice dancing was an Olympic competition.  This was also the first Olympics where a figure skater performed a back flip as part of his routine.

If we didn’t already know it from the Sachertorte, grostl proves that Austria has some outstanding cuisine to accompany its Olympic history.  Grostl is a favorite in the Tyrol area and it’s easy to see why.  This simple combination of bacon, onion, and potato is possibly my new favorite breakfast food.  Grostl does require potatoes that are cooked in advance and cooled.  To make this without prepping ahead of time, I recommend steaming the potatoes for 20 minutes, then putting them into the refrigerator while you cook the bacon.  My potatoes were a little colder than room temperature after doing it this way, and the finished product was great.  The traditional method of serving grostl is to top a portion with a fried egg, so that the yolk runs into the grostl.  Lane had no complaints about this method; I kept my eggs on the side.  The kiddos devoured this, and I’m putting it on the breakfast plan again soon.

grostl

Grostl (Potato, Bacon, and Onion Hash)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. canola or sunflower oil
  • 1 lb. thick cut smoked bacon, cut into 1/4″-1/2″ wide lardons
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. (a little over is fine) cooked potatoes, cooled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 tsp. caraway seed
  • 1 1/2 tsp. hot sweet paprika (or use sweet paprika mixed with a pinch of chili powder)
  • handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the bacon and onion to the skillet and fry together for 10 minutes until the bacon is cooked and the onion is golden.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon mixture from the skillet onto a plate.

If there is more than 4 Tbsp. of grease in the skillet, I suggest pouring some of it out before proceeding.  This isn’t necessary, just recommended.

Add the potatoes to the skillet and cook for 10 minutes, until the potatoes are golden.

Add the caraway and paprika, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the bacon and onion back into the skillet and stir to combine the mixture.

Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring, until the mixture is heated through.

Top with the fresh parsley and serve.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: slightly adapted from BBC Good Food

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Bugler’s Dream

Yesterday in Olympic news, it was a Dutch sweep in the men’s 500m speed skating competition when skaters Michael Mulder, Johannes Smeekins, and Ronald Mulder won medals in the event.  U.S. skier Julia Mancuso won bronze in the ladies’ super combined Alpine skiing event, the first U.S. Alpine skiing medal of the Sochi Games.  The U.S. women’s hockey team beat Switzerland 9-0 to advance to the semifinals.

Day five of our Winter Olympics feature brings us to the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France.  These were the first Winter Olympic Games to be broadcast in color.  Luge and bobsleigh events had to be determined after the third round instead of the fourth, because the tracks were exposed to too much sun in addition to an unseasonable temperature increase.

Grenoble is located in the Dauphine region of France, for which the dish potatoes Dauphinois is named.  There are many variations to this side dish- whether or not to include nutmeg seems to be a hot debate- but they all start with thinly sliced potatoes baked in cream or milk.  If you add cheese, the dish becomes what is known as potatoes gratin Dauphinois.  I first made these without cheese and while it was a perfectly acceptable side dish, it didn’t have any real wow factor.  After consulting a second recipe from Julia Childs I added some Swiss cheese and these same sliced potatoes, more or less cooked the same way as the first recipe I used, became the comfort food to end all comfort food.  I recommend a mandoline for slicing the potatoes evenly as evenly slicing the potatoes is the best way to ensure that they cook evenly.

dauphinois

Potatoes Gratin Dauphinois

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. starchy potatoes (I recommend Yukon gold or Russett)
  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1 C. grated Swiss cheese
  • 1 C. boiling milk or cream

Directions:

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Peel the potatoes and slice them into slices 1/8 inch thick.

Place the potato slices into a bowl of cold water until ready to use.

Rub the 1/2 garlic clove on the bottom and sides of a baking dish (9 x 9 or similar).

Smear 1 Tbsp. of the butter on the bottom and sides of the baking dish.

Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan.

Meanwhile, drain the potatoes and blot them dry with a clean kitchen towel.

Spread half of the potatoes in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

Spread half of the salt and pepper, cheese, and butter over the potato layer.

Spread the remaining half of the potato slices over the first layer and sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper.  Top with the remaining cheese and butter.

Pour the boiling milk over the top of the potato layers.

Place the baking dish in the upper 1/3 of the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, the milk is absorbed, and the top is golden brown.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: Julia Child

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Sideshow

It’s funny how little time I spend planning side dishes, because I’m convinced that if the kiddos could they’d make an entire meal of them.  While I have days where I wonder why I challenge their logic on the matter, I always come back to planning an entrée then picking a starch and vegetable.  Okay, it isn’t always a starch and a vegetable but more often than not, there is a starch from column A and a vegetable from column B making its way onto the dinner plate.  That isn’t to say we don’t have some great side dishes with our meals.  We definitely do, and these roasted potatoes are a fine example of that.

I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s.  I don’t do all of our shopping there, but when I have errands to run that bring me near the Trader Joe’s closest to us, I stop in for a few favorite items.  One of those favorite items is a bag of what they market as “Teeny Tiny Potatoes,” a bag of these adorable fingerling potatoes that beg to be drizzled with olive oil and roasted.  That’s exactly what I did with them.  You don’t need to make a special trip to Trader Joe’s for these potatoes.  I have found baby  or fingerling potatoes in my local supermarket, but they are a little larger than these so you might have to roast them a little longer.  Alternately, you can cut up a Russet or Yukon gold potato into one-inch cubes and roast them just like these.  They might not be as “fun” as “Teeny Tiny Potatoes,” but they will be equally delicious.  No matter which potato you start with, this is an easy side dish that will take care of itself in the oven while you prepare dinner.  I like to leave this at shallots, salt, and pepper.  The shallots get nice and crispy lending this a great texture.  If you like, you can add dried or fresh herbs as well.

roasted shallot potatoes

Roasted Shallot Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. bag Trader Joe’s Teeny Tiny Potatoes (or 1 lb. other baby or fingerling potatoes, or Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes cut into 1 inch cubes).
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Place the potatoes into a large mixing bowl.

Add the olive oil, shallot, and salt and pepper to the bowl and stir to evenly coat the potatoes.

Spread the coated potatoes evenly out over a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.

Roast the potatoes for 40-45 minutes, until they are easily pierced with a fork.  About halfway through cooking, flip the potatoes with a spatula.

Makes 3-4 generous side servings.

Source: Diana Dishes original

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