Silly gadgets and Russian hash browns (kugelis)

Thank you all for your sweet comments on my previous post on weight fluctuations. It was eye opening for me and I’m happy I shared the pictures here on the blog. Even more inspiration!

So let’s get back to food, shall we? Actually I sort of wanted to talk about kitchen gadgets. Gimmicky kitchen gadgets. Do you own any? I’m talking about silly things like Slap Chops (I own one! It’s collecting dust.), avocado slicersmango splitters and the like. Basically anything that a good ol’ knife would do FASTER. And then there is a whole new level of ridiculousness with the likes of egg poacher + english muffin toaster combo, andmarinade express tabletop unit(it’s $300!!). The good news is that some gadgets are AWESOME… even if you can in fact use something simpler to get the job done.

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You are going to laugh at me but I love my strawberry stem remover. Yes, I can use a knife but it’s honestly so much fun using that little guy (and no, I will not be buying the strawberry slicerthat Amazon recommends with it… I do have my limits). And I recently purchased this cupcake corer. It looks gimmicky but I hate doing the job with a pairing knife. I’ll let you know how it goes. Smile

Why am I even talking about kitchen gadgets anyway? Because the shredder attachment to my food processor rocked my world the other day. I sort of want to shred every single food item in the house now just to watch this beast process it into perfect little strips. Three pounds of potatoes processed in less than 1 minute. Box graters are so last year! Winking smile

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The recipe I used my favorite new gadget for was for kugelis, which is a Lithuanian potato dish reminiscent of a large hash brown cake. It took a little work (I wish those potatoes peeled themselves!) but the end result was a beautiful potato bake with a golden crust on the outside and tender potato on the inside. Adam and I both enjoyed it for our “restaurant meal in” (our new thing since our going out budget is tighter… there are no tvs, no computers, just the two of us enjoying a more indulgent meal together – catching up on random stories from the week)… but this would be a great dish to serve for brunch as well. I hope you make it and let me know how it goes! Open-mouthed smile

Kugelis – serves 6-8 (recipe is largely based on the Please to the Table cookbook)

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs potatoes
  • 4 oz bacon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup milk (if you want a richer dish, use all cream)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • salt and pepper, to taste

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Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375*.

2. Fry bacon in an oven safe 10” skillet. Pour out most of the bacon grease, leaving enough to coat the pan. Blot bacon on paper towels then crumble.

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3. Peel potatoes, coarsely grate.

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This is where the food processor is your friend!

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4. Wash grated potatoes in several changes of cold water, then place in a kitchen towel to squeeze water out.

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Nice and dry! Smile Watery potatoes are no good.

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5. Combine potatoes, bacon, milk, cream, and eggs. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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6. Transfer back to the pan and dot with butter.

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6. Bake at 375* for about 1 hour, until the top is golden brown.

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Crusty on the inside…

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…soft and buttery on the inside:

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These potatoes were definitely the star of our steak dinner. I also used these Green Giant green beans for a super quick side veg (*Disclaimer: I received a coupon for a free Green Giant product through the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program).

Quick steam:

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Then a 2 minute sautee with some EVOO and garlic.

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Perfect Smile

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What are your favorite kitchen gadgets?

How to make reduced fat ricotta

Remember when we canceled cable, which then lead to tv withdrawals, followed by tv overdose? I couldn’t take it any longer. I missed the Food Network and just the randomness of tv too much… so we finally got cable back. Surprisingly, I’ve been watching it in moderation. No more tv binges!

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So the other day I happened to stumble upon Anne Burrel’s Secrets of a Restaurant Chef. During the episode she showed how easy it was to make ricotta cheese. I couldn’t believe it. The whole thing literally took less than 30 minutes from start to finish. Of course I had to try it myself… and make it lower fat!

Ricotta is milk and heavy cream (3:1 ratio), curdled by the addition of acid (vinegar in this case… I’ve seen buttermilk used as well). Super easy! I subbed low fat milk for whole milk in Anne’s ricotta recipe and got to work.

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Mixture before and after. See the curdles forming? I let it simmer for quite a bit (probably 20 minutes) but there was still a lot of liquid.

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I don’t know if that’s normal but it didn’t seem like more curdles were forming with more time so I decided to go ahead and move on to the straining stage.

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15 minutes later…

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Homemade ricotta!!! Party smile

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Deciding what was for breakfast couldn’t have been easier!

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Ricotta + sour cherry preserves = heaven!

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This ricotta was a bit drier than the whole milk stuff but I just loved the mild taste of cream in each little curdle. Adam and I snacked on it straight out of the bowl last night. The stuff is crazy addictive!

PS – Does the background in the photos look familiar?

PPS – I have a new recipe up on Russian Bites. Check it out Smile

And now a question for you… What should I do with the strained out whey? I can’t bring myself to throw it away. I’m sure I can make something genius with it… help me!

New and old favorite recipes

How many of you have cooked a delicious meal, vouching to make it again… soon, only to forget of its existence days (or months later)? As someone known to live in the black & white world, I’m either not into cooking at all (bring on snacks, takeout and meals out!) or trying to make as many recipes as humanly possible in one night and/or weekend. I rarely, very rarely repeat recipes. That gives me the ability to test out more of the inspiring recipes I am constantly exposed to. The flip side, of course, is that those old favorites get forgotten. And it’s a shame. This is why I have decided that each new favorite recipe must be photographed and shared with you all on Healthy and Sane (check out the favorite recipes category on the right for previous favorites). I’ll get a chance to have a go-to place to find them again and you get to hopefully discover some new favorites of your own. Win-win!

So here we go – 3 new favorites from the past few weeks

Healthified zucchini bread from The Sweets Life

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I made 2 loaves of this bread last weekend and have been enjoying a slice (or 2) each morning with some Greek yogurt and a cup of coffee. I can’t imagine a better breakfast to wake up to! This bread/cake is slightly sweet, moist and full of cinnamon flavor. And who doesn’t love hidden veggies for breakfast?

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In the perfect world, I’d start my morning with the above zucchini bread and have these grilled pork chops with peppers and capers from Mario Batali’s Italian Grill cookbooksince these were the best pork chops I’ve ever made!!

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The secret is brining the pork chops overnight (actually since salt is a preservative, I left them in the brine for a few days since I was too busy to cook – extra bonus points for ease!). You know how salt makes you retain water and bloated? Well brining does the same for meat. The water retention makes them super juicy!

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These peppers with capers were fantastic as well – smoky and briny. Yum! And no, these aren’t onions – they’re purple peppers from the farmers market. Cool, right? I have not made one thing out of that cookbook that I wasn’t completely head over heals for. LOVE.

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How about something packed with veggies for dinner? When I saw Ranjani blog about this grain salad with corn and poblano peppers, I knew those wheat berries all the way in the back of my pantry had to come out of hiding.

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I will take advantage of the last days of summer, fresh corn, heirloom tomatoes, local hot peppers and all! Smile

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I went light on the olive oil, used goat cheese instead of queso fresco (when is goat cheese not the way to go? amiright??), added chickpeas for extra protein… and apparently forgot the toasted pumpkin seeds. Oops. (I didn’t miss them though)

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I loved the chew from the wheat berries, the sweetness of the corn, spice from the 2 kinds of chili peppers and the wonderful garlic infused olive oil dressing the grains. It’s fantastic room temperature but even better warmed (the goat cheese gets all melty and seductive. Do it!)

Oh and as proof that I’m committed to reinstating some old favorites – here is an oldie but goodie. My favorite chocolate chip cookies. Everyone needs a go-to choc chip cookie recipe. Could this one be yours?

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Get a little closer…

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Hungry yet?

That’s a whole lot of favorites. What are your favorite recipes? Do share. And yes, I want details!! Open-mouthed smile

PS – A new post on a summery Russian dessert is up on Russian Bites. Check it out!

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