Posts tagged Winter
Roasted Ranch Potatoes Recipe

How to Make Roasted Ranch Potatoes

I would basically describe these potatoes as a mashed potato encased in a crispy, ranch flavored outer shell that will explode in your mouth with the force not unlike a cool ranch Dorito chip.  Now we don't eat Dorito's in our house, (not at all saying I'm immune to the deliciousness of a Dorito, just merely trying to keep our house free of processed foods) but we definitely like to eat a crispy, ranch-y potato now and then.  I've been making this roasted potato recipe for a while now, which is NOT AT ALL like a regular old roasted potato.  Boiling the potato first so it gets all soft and then baking it in vegetable oil and corn starch creates a magical effect that is probably a little unhealthy, but unhealthy in a way that is crispy and divine thereby making it totally worth it.  Adding in the ranch seasoning has taken the recipe to a whole new level.  A level that is definitely going to make everyone freak out the next time I make them for a dinner party, which is the goal of my entire life.

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How to Make a Cast Iron Roasted Chicken with Roasted Vegetables // With Video

How to Make a Roasted Chicken and Roasted Vegetable Dinner

It really doesn't get any better than a cast iron roasted chicken with a side of roasted vegetables on a cold wintery day.  I think it's my favorite dinner to make not just because it tastes like warmth and love and cozy cabins, but also because it takes so little effort to prepare.  We have a cabin in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York where we spend our weekends recuperating from the hectic city life and in our freezer we almost always have 2-3 organic whole chickens on hand.  We can pick up the chickens from our local butcher, Fleisher's, who sources organic local chickens year round.  The farm stand down the road keeps all the root vegetables that you can still get in the winter like squash, potatoes and onions.  So on any given winter weekend, you can pretty much count on the Miles family eating this dinner in some variation or another.

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Low Fat Turkey Chili

In the evenings, my favorite thing to do (besides watch terrible reality television and eat fudgesicles) is to surf my favorite blogs.  While perusing the web, I saw that The Pioneer Woman did a post last week on making healthy freezer dinners.  Before my first child, when I actually had an ounce of energy left at the end of the day, I used to make healthy freezer meals for my husband to take to work with him.  He never gets to come home for dinner and I feel really bad that he has to eat take out every single night.  I still don't have a lot of energy in the evenings, but I figure I could skip one night of the Bachelor to get my fudgesicle eating butt into the kitchen and make up a freezer meal.  Cooking this turkey chili is about as easy as it gets.  Just throw everything into the pot and let it simmer for about an hour.  Easy enough.  Portion it out into pint size freezer ziplock bags and freeze flat.  That way you can fit more into the freezer and you or your significant other can easily slip it into a briefcase to take to work.   

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Ham and Beans with Skillet Cornbread

Lately, I have been looking for new family meals that my entire family will enjoy, including my southern husband and my picky toddler.  This recipe was derived from the southern ham and beans recipe but I added my northern twist to it making the beans with ketchup, mustard and brown sugar to give them more of baked bean flavor.  The skillet cornbread is a MUST with this recipe because the juice from the beans is so yummy and flavorful that you have to have something to mop up all that goodness.  Over the next couple of months, I will be sharing many of my original family/ toddler friendly meals with you.   So please stay tuned!

 
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Caramel Fondue

Emily and I had a super funny but also somewhat scary time making caramel together during our fondue party.  Any time you make a sugar recipe, you have to exercise extreme caution, as even the tiniest bit of liquid sugar on your skin can cause a serious burn.  While we carefully made this caramel fondue, we couldn't stop laughing (it doesn't take much), since working with sugar is pretty unpredictable.  You start with a very small amount of water to the amount of sugar used, so at first it didn't seem like the sugar would dissolve in the water.  It finally did melt down and we started to swirl the molten sugar, waiting for it to start to turn golden brown (carmel is just slightly burnt sugar).  We got impatient and maybe swirled a bit too vigorously - at this point the sugar turned to what looks like pebbles.  What probably happened was that the water from the sides of the pan mixed with the molten sugar and cooled it down, this made it seize up.  We pushed through, however, adding a tiny bit of the cream to re-melt the sugar.  As we continued to stir, the sugar finally started to brown and we thought we were in the clear.  "It's working!" we cackled as the caramel took shape.  We were literally screaming with excitement.  "It's working!!!"  We then added the remaining cream (carefully as advised) and the cream started boiling up and the caramel turned into a big blob in the liquid!  Alas, we hadn't been in the clear after all.  A big drip of sugar fell to the floor, but we kept whisking away.  Surely enough, the blob dissolved again and we were left with a silky and DELICIOUS caramel.  We were mad scientists who finally came up with a beautiful creation and we were so proud.  Adding in the tiny seeds from the vanilla beans, we were relieved to see that there were to be no further twists in the plot.  We poured the caramel fondue into a fondue pot and served it to our guests with hand-dipped chocolate covered pretzel rods, green apples, chocolate covered marshmallows, chocolate truffles, homemade pound cake, and sea salt and walnuts for coating.  It was worth risking life and limb - SO delightful.  We ate it all.  With our guests, of course.  

 

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Beef Broth Fondue

Broth fondue can be a bit intimidating, since you're asking your guests to do some cooking of their own.  Hot beef broth over an open Sterno flame is used to cook raw cubes of beef.  This technique is similar to the Japanese dish shabu-shabu that has recently become pretty popular.  Our guests were a little wary at first, but once they realized that the broth really does cook the meat completely, they loved it!  If you keep the meat in the broth for about 30 seconds the meat is medium rare, but if you keep it in longer (as some of our guests did) it will get completely cooked through.  It's important to cut the beef into small pieces to allow them to cook in a reasonable amount of time.  The flavor of the broth infuses into the meat and it is very tender.  For our 70s theme party we decided to serve the meat with A1 sauce and creamy horseradish sauce.      

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Cheese Fondue

A cheese fondue is the perfect way to start a fondue party.  It's a great first course because it's a classic fondue dish that will immediately get your guests into the fondue spirit.  (Although, I'm relatively certain that you could coerce your friends into any spirit with a pot full of delicious melted cheeses.)  Emily and I did a little research on cheese fondues and came up with our own recipe.  We decided to omit the Kirsch (cherry brandy) because we felt it didn't really add that much to the flavor and we hate having to buy a bottle of liquor for a recipe when you only use a few tablespoons of it and the rest ends up sitting in your pantry collecting dust.   The rest of the ingredients are pretty standard for cheese fondue except that we chose to use three different types of cheese.  Really nutty swiss cheeses are delicious so we wanted to have both Comte and Emmental.  And, of course, you have to have Gruyere cheese to make it a traditional Swiss fondue.

 

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Italian Wedding Soup Recipe (Healthy Version)

This recipe was handed down to me from my mother who got the recipe from her mother, Irene Colucci.  Irene Colucci immigrated to western Pennsylvania from Naples, Italy when she was just a child.  Irene (Grandma to me) would always have the ingredients for Italian Wedding Soup on hand so that she was always ready for unexpected visitors.  I find it so heart warming that she would have such a beautiful dish ready to feed a hungry visitor.  Recently, during Hurricane Sandy, I found myself needing to feed some displaced neighbors who were eating meals at our home because they were without power.  Miraculously, I had all the ingredients to make Grandma Colucci’s wedding soup!  I felt I was channeling her spirit that day as I prepared and served my friends.  I hope you can make this soup for friends or unexpected visitors and warm some bellies and hearts this cold winter. 

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