Tag Archives: potato

It’s Only a Diary

While the Winter Olympics feature is winding down, today’s post brings us 1/4 of the way through the 12 Days of Oscar.  Today’s film is the third in this series that was Oscar-nominated but did not win.  Renee Zellweger was nominated for Best Actress for her portrayal of the title character in the 2001 film Bridget Jones’s Diary.  In the film we follow nearly a year in the life of Bridget Jones, who chronicles her affair with her boss along with both her disdain for and attraction to Mark Darcy.

In the film, Bridget attempts to prepare a dinner for friends to celebrate her birthday.  Lacking proper kitchen twine, Bridget decides that some blue thread would be fine to tie together some leeks for her potato leek soup.  As Mark Darcy happens in, Bridget realizes the entire soup is now blue and he comes to her aid.  It’s really a charming scene, but I might be biased as I think any scene in that movie has high charm potential.

This recipe doesn’t require twine of any kind, so you’re not in any danger of serving blue soup.  The leeks and potatoes are boiled together in chicken stock, then pureed and stirred with some cream.  This was almost better reheated the next day than it was when we had it for dinner.  M had three bowls, and I’m pretty sure that prior to this she had never consumed a leek in her life.

potato leek soup


Potato Leek Soup


  • 8 C. chicken stock
  • 6 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 4 leeks, whites only, washed and sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 C. heavy cream


Combine the chicken stock, potatoes, leeks, celery, bay leaf, and thyme in a large pot and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil and boil for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are soft.

Remove the bay leaf.

Puree the soup using an immersion blender (you can also do this carefully in a blender by allowing the soup to cool for 5 minutes then putting a small amount at a time into the blender, leaving plenty of empty room in the blender jar, then leaving the lid open slightly to allow steam to escape while covering with a kitchen towel to avoid splatters).

Add the cream and simmer for about 20 minutes until the soup has thickened.

Source: adapted slightly from Robert Irvine

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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


  • 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


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 (Potato, Bacon, and Onion Hash)


  • 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


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.


Potatoes Gratin Dauphinois


  • 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


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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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


  • 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


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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The Golden Road

The Golden Globes entertained me last night on many levels.  Knowing what the big winners are helps me plan my 12 Days of Oscar feature better.  Tommy Lee Jones’ reaction during Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell’s presentation for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy or Musical was the most priceless reaction shot of the night.  I disagree with critics who say that Tommy Lee Jones just doesn’t know what funny is- I think he knows funny, and the presentation wasn’t funny.  The “who are you wearing?” chatter from the red carpet didn’t disappoint.  Yes, awards shows are a guilty pleasure.  I had a good chuckle during Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s opening when Tina Fey referred to The Hunger Games as “the six weeks it took me to get into this dress,” and Amy Poehler said that Life of Pi is what she would call the six weeks after she took her dress off.  I find it hard to believe that either of these ladies would need to starve for six weeks to fit into anything, but it was well-played just the same.

As far as six weeks of hunger in order to slim down, it’s not necessary if you know how to lighten up favorite recipes.  I’m all for lightening up a recipe whenever I can, but I have my limits.  I tend to stay away from low-fat or non-fat dairy (sour cream, cheeses) because I find that when I use the full-fat version, I get better texture and feel more satisfied with the outcome.  I won’t resort to what I call “foods that aren’t food,” that have chemicals and sugars added in order to trick you into thinking you’re eating a healthier version of something.  I don’t ban frying as a cooking method because when it’s done right and enjoyed in moderation, frying isn’t the worst thing for you.  For some dishes, “oven-frying” just doesn’t do it, and those dishes end up in the rotation with more moderation than some others.

For chicken Marsala though, I find that frying the chicken isn’t what makes this dish great.  The mushrooms and sauce actually steal the show, so when I don’t fry the chicken I don’t feel like I’m missing something.  I used half whole wheat flour to dredge the chicken, and there was no taste difference between this and my old chicken Marsala recipe.  Actually, the only differences are that I used some whole wheat flour, eliminated the butter and instead used olive oil spray (I use a Misto, but commercial olive oil sprays are available) to saute the chicken and mushrooms, and made the sauce with a mixture of Marsala wine and chicken broth.  Seeing as how I find Marsala wine to be a little overwhelming on its own, cutting it with chicken broth served two purposes nicely.  The resulting dish was every bit as good as my favorite restaurant chicken Marsala, and by making only a few minor changes, it was better for us and more filling.  I would make chicken like this for other dishes, but because the coating is light I would advise limiting this method to dishes with a thin or light sauce so you don’t end up with all of the coating coming off into the sauce.  I served this over pasta, but I love it over mashed potatoes or egg noodles as well.

chicken marsala

Lighter Chicken Marsala


  • 3 Tbsp. whole-wheat flour
  • 3 Tbsp. white flour
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. chicken cutlets (butterfly chicken breasts and then pound them out to 1/4-1/2 inch thick)
  • 3 C. sliced mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp. thinly sliced shallots
  • 1/2 C. Marsala wine
  • 1/2 C. low-sodium chicken broth 
  • 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaf
  • olive oil cooking spray (I use a Misto)


Heat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a shallow bowl, combine flours and pepper.

Dredge chicken in mixture and set aside.

Lightly coat a large, nonstick skillet with olive oil cooking spray and heat on medium-high.

Add chicken and cook 2 to 3 minutes per side, until golden brown. If the chicken is not cooked through after this, place the chicken onto the prepared baking sheet and into the oven while you prepare the mushrooms and sauce.  If the chicken is cooked through, turn the oven off, place the chicken onto an oven-safe plate, and put the plate into the oven to keep the chicken warm.

Add mushrooms and shallots to pan and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes.

Add wine to pan and reduce to a glaze, scraping any loose brown bits from bottom of pan.

Reduce heat and add broth and thyme.

Cook, stirring, until broth reduces by half.

Return chicken to pan and simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve hot.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Adapted from Women’s Health

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