JOPLIN, Mo. —
I have always said potatoes are my favorite food. I don’t hesitate to order them mashed and baked at the same time, or have a pile of fries for dessert. I always like to have a few red potatoes and russets on hand because they each serve up better in different dishes.
Red potatoes have less starch and more sugar so they are great for boiling, which leads to better soups and potato salads. Its thin skin is usually left on as it is often cooked whole. The skin adds fiber to your dish as well as a little color. While new potatoes can be either red or russett, we more commonly associate red with new potatoes. They are harvested as new when the plants are blooming instead of when the plant has died back. Digging them up in this younger state gives you smaller, rounder potatoes. Avoid those with lots of sprouts growing out of the eyes. While growing a red potato requires no more care than the russet, buying red potatoes will cost you a little more at the grocery store.
Russet potatoes, with their thick brown skin, are high in starch, which makes for perfect light and fluffy mashed potatoes. They also are the potato of choice for French fries and a baked potatoes. With russets, as with any potato, avoid any green spots -- this signals exposure to light, which can also mean they are mildly poisonous. Simply cut out the green and throw it away.
One potato that has received some attention recently is the Yukon gold. It’s a cross between a North American white and a wild South American yellow-fleshed potato, and it has no shortage of fans. With its eye-free skin and yellow-tinted flesh, this versatile spud has medium starch content and is suitable for just about any preparation. It is touted as superb for mashing, roasting, boiling, frying and anything else you can do with a potato. I’ve tried them once and wasn’t a big fan, but perhaps I just used the wrong recipe. I need to give them another chance because I feel like I’m missing something.
I’m excited to join Carol Parker Tuesday at noon on KSN-TV. We will be looking at some great Fourth of July food ideas that are tasty and fun.
Good thing from last week: Berry almond chicken salad from Wendy’s. Order the salad and get the dressing they offer with it. The berries are fresh and the chicken is perfect. A great way to fill up at lunch or dinner.
Last weekend, my daughter, Sarah, and I fixed dinner for a little party in honor of my nephew, Preston Roets, and his fiancee, Christy Hartner. They are such a nice couple, and it was a nice evening. Most of the meal was fixed in five slow cookers lined up on the counter. The creamy red potatoes were so easy. Using my trusty mandolin, I sliced instead of quartering the potatoes. Doing so will cut down on the cooking time if you are in a hurry. I may have printed the chicken recipe before, but it’s worth repeating. I usually double the recipe and use one can of cream of mushroom soup and one can of cream of chicken soup just because I prefer that mixture.
Thanks to my husband, Chris, for performing mallet duty on about 26 pieces of chicken. He helped make this a good dish for a crowd. Roll up the chicken ahead of time and you can tend to other things while dinner cooks in the slow cooker. Just don’t forget to remind your diners that there’s a toothpick in the chicken!
Choose either crunchy or creamy peanut butter for the apple peanut crumble. It’s best served warm with some vanilla ice cream.
All these recipes are from the “Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook.” I’m squeezing in a Yukon gold recipe that is supposed to be the best of the best with rave reviews. Try it and see what you think. Keep cool and happy eating.
Creamy red potatoes
2 pounds small red potatoes, quartered
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 can cream of potato soup
1 envelope dry ranch salad dressing mix
Place potatoes in slow cooker. Beat together remaining ingredients. Stir into potatoes. Cover. Cook on low 8 hours or until potatoes are tender. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Chicken cordon bleu
3 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 large Swiss cheese slices, halved
3 large, thin ham slices, halved
2 tablespoons margarine
1 can cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup
3 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Cut breasts in half. Flatten each half with a wooden mallet. Cover each half with half slice of cheese and ham. Roll up and secure with toothpicks. Brown each chicken roll in margarine in skillet. Transfer to slow cooker. Combine remaining ingredients; pour over chicken, making sure chicken is fully covered. Cover; cook on low 4 to 5 hours. Makes 6 servings.
Apple peanut crumble
4 to 5 cooking apples, peeled and sliced
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking dry oats
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons peanut butter
Ice cream or whipped cream
Place apple slices in slow cooker. Combine brown sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cut in butter and peanut butter. Sprinkle over apples. Cover and cook on low 5 to 6 hours. Serve warm or cold, plain or with ice cream or whipped cream. Makes 4 to 5 servings.
Creamy mashed Yukon golds
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup milk, hot, but not boiling
Cover potatoes and garlic with water by at least one inch in saucepan. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to boil. Lower heat to maintain steady simmer. Cover pan partially and cook until potatoes are tender -- pan and dry over medium heat, stirring, until potatoes leave a light film on pan bottom. Use ricer or mash until smooth. Using a wooden spoon, beat in butter then beat in hot milk in 1/4 cup increments. If too thick, beat in a little cooking water. Season with salt and pepper. Yields 4 to 6 servings.
Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.