crispy roasted potatoes


potato wedges

You know a side dish is good when your family asks you to make it with every meal.  We could be having spaghetti and they want these potato wedges.    It’s actually my husband who is doing most of the asking, but the kids certainly agree that these little guys are addictive.  I also like that it has basically replaced the bag of frozen fries.  Just like my rant earlier in the year about over-indulging in snack stand french fries during baseball season (bacon-wrapped potatoes), I was beginning to feel reluctant to buy those bags of steak fries at the store to accompany a meal.    We went through that stint of buying the sweet potato fries – trying to pass them off as healthier in our minds, but in the end it is still a bag of frozen fries.  These wedges are so much better for you and so easy to make.  I found the recipe in Cook’s Illustrated,  and I have learned that it is pretty hard to mess up.  So easy in fact, that my husband, not so innocently, said that I should make them for Thanksgiving this year.  Now, I know he loves them, but he was just conjuring up past Thanksgivings, and all of our mashed potato mishaps.  Cheap ricers gone wrong, burners not bringing the water to boil, vegetable peelers breaking, over salting, you name it.  But I had an industrial ricer sitting on top of my fridge, waiting to step in and save the day.  Plus, once I told my husband that he would have to share the wedges with 10 people instead of just three, he quickly changed his mind.  Mashed potatoes came back onto the Thanksgiving menu real fast.

golden potatoes

sliced potatoes

crispy roasted potatoes  (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)

3  TB canola oil
cooking spray
2  (24 oz) bags small golden potatoes, each potato sliced into four wedges
4  TB cornstarch
1 1/2  tsp garlic powder
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
pinch crushed red pepper flakes

seasoned potatoes

get started on the crispy roasted potatoes:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Slice the potatoes.  On a large baking sheet lined with foil, coat with cooking spray.  Add oil to baking sheet and place in oven.  While pan is heating up, place potatoes in a large bowl and toss with cornstarch and remaining ingredients.  Carefully remove preheated baking sheet from the oven, and tilt sheet to evenly coat with oil.  Place potatoes, mostly cut side down in a single layer, and roast until browned on all edges, turning halfway through, for about 30 minutes.  Add kosher salt and pepper to taste if needed.

roasted potatoes

note:  potatoes feed 6-8 hungry people.  We like to add grated cheese to them when they come out of the oven.  Feel free to adjust the seasoning or add other spices to the cornstarch.  It’s all good.

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balsamic tomato salsa


balsamic tomato salsa

Stewed tomatoes.  I was cleaning out my pantry, and came across a can that I must have mistakenly bought.  I just stared at it.  Trying not to be wasteful, I stood there thinking of how I could use it but something in my genetic make up won’t allow it.  My mother, however, (insert the saying “bless her heart” HERE), seemed to think that they went with every skillet dinner we had growing up.  I just couldn’t get past the weirdly shaped, skinless, lifeless chunks.  They looked like someone beat the life out of them and then canned them up because no one else wanted them.  I love tomatoes any other way – sliced, diced, raw, sauced – oh wait, that’s me!  So anyway, they often got picked around at dinner.  Now, as an adult, I am laughing at myself because I still can’t open a can of stewed tomatoes.  I just can’t.  But who needs them?  Like I said, there are so many ways to eat tomatoes.  This recipe can go a few ways.  It can be a jalapeño type salsa made with lime juice or red wine vinegar, or turn it into a salad with feta and orzo.  But the number one tip is to us the best ingredients you can since everything is fresh.  I also  prefer to use grape tomatoes since they hold their shape better when mixing everything together, but use diced if you prefer.  This one was made to go with a swordfish dinner we were having.  It was so good, that I had to break it out again from the fridge a few days later, and have some as an appetizer.  Love you mom!

swordfish and tomato salsa

mixed salsa

balsamic tomato salsa

1/2  pint of organic red grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2  pint of organic golden grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2  pint of kalamata olives, sliced (or any combination of olives)
1/2  English cucumber, peeled and diced
6  scallions, sliced
2  Fresno chilis, sliced
10  basil leaves, julienned
3  TB Aged balsamic vinegar (not your run of the mill balsamic vinegar)
1  TB extra virgin olive oil
pinch crushed red pepper
kosher salt and ground black pepper

yellow grape tomatoes

diced cucumber

fresno chilis

ingredients

get started on the salsa:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Add the pinch of crushed red pepper.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Mix gently.  Serve at room temperature or chilled.

basil leaves

salsa

zucchini and summer squash salad


squash salad

Ah yes, there are those foods that garner immediate food porn photos, the dramatic drooling and the obvious filling of one’s plate.  Then there is squash salad.  Recently, when planning an informal dinner party at the house, I told my husband that I would be making a squash salad.  Talk about a lukewarm response, followed by “…and?”.  That made me really want to try this and see if it could pass the party test.  I had a similar recipe from Tyler Florence (not personally…though, that would be SWEET)  which sounds a bit fancier – Zucchini Carpaccio.  I never made it because of how it sounds – blah.  This recipe came from Cooking Light, and intrigued me a little more – probably because of the ricotta salata and prosciutto.  Needless to say, it was a hit, and as a bonus, it’s a fairly guilt-free food.  My husband gave me the nod to add it to my index of party foods.  The following weekend, I bought the ingredients to make it at a friend’s BBQ.  But there I was again, in the kitchen, and when asked what I was making, I hesitated since it doesn’t grab your attention like other party favorites.  I went with the very formal name of “shaved summer squash with prosciutto crisps”.  Call it whatever you want, the plate will be empty sooner than THEY thought.

summer squash

shaved summer squash salad (adapted from Cooking Light)

1  medium zucchini
2  medium yellow squash
pinch of kosher salt
cracked black pepper
2  TB thinly sliced basil or mint
2  TB extra virgin olive oil
1  tsp. grated lemon rind
2  tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
3  slices prosciutto, chopped
1/3  cup crumbled ricotta salata or feta cheese

shaved summer squash

pile of squash

get started on the salad:

With a good vegetable peeler, shave the zucchini and squash into strips.  Discard the strips from the center that have a lot of seeds, if you wish (compost!).  Place zucchini and squash in a medium bowl and toss with salt and pepper.  Combine basil, olive oil, lemon rind and juice and stir with a whisk.  Pour over zucchini and squash and toss to coat.  Heat a small non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add prosciutto and sauté for 2 minutes, or until crisp.  Place salad on a platter and top with crumbled ricotta salata and prosciutto crisps.  Add additional olive oil or lemon juice to your liking!

prosciuttocooked prosciutto

note:  this feeds about six as a family style appetizer.  As a salad, it would feed four people.

summer squash salad