Green Mashed Potatoes

St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, but you still have time to whip up a festive side dish with this Green Mashed Potatoes recipe. Making these literally takes 30 minutes or less from start to finish, and the result is a pretty delicious and fun side dish that will complement with virtually any dinner. Hope you enjoy this easy, tasty side that will likely be on your menu rotation long after St. Patty’s has passed!

Green Mashed Potatoes

2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1.5-inch pieces

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 coarsely chopped scallions

3/4 cup heavy cream

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

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     Combine the potatoes and garlic in a saucepan. Add enough cold water to the saucepan to measure 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce the heat to medium. Cook, covered, for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender but not mushy.

Heat the butter in a saucepan until melted. In a separate saucepan, heat heavy cream. Combine the melted butter with 3 coarsely chopped scallions in a food processor. Process until pureed and stir into the hot heavy cream. Cook until reduced by 1/4, stirring occasionally. Drain the potato mixture. Spoon into a bowl. Add the hot cream mixture gradually and mash until blended. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Serve immediately or place the covered bowl over a saucepan of simmering water water to keep warm.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Cream Cheese Brownies

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Since Valentine’s Day is on the horizon, I thought it would be a nice treat to make these Cream Cheese Brownies for my husband. He’s quite the brownie connoisseur, but I thought this recipe looked like it was rich enough (10 eggs and 1 1/2 cups of butter is pretty decadent!) to impress him. Turns out, I was right. He ate one right after dinner and has requested that I put several aside for him to enjoy over the next few days.

These brownies look complicated at first glance, but really the most time-consuming part is waiting for them to cook. I adapted the recipe below a little, but it was still delicious. First of all, I left out the nuts since neither of us cares much either way for nuts in our brownies. Also, since I don’t have a double boiler, I just cooked the chocolate/butter/water combo for the brownies in a sauce pan. This makes 15 HUGE brownies, so they’re perfect for sharing!

Bon appetit!

~ Kendra

Cream Cheese Brownies 

Brownies

1 1/3 cups butter

8 oz semisweet chocolate

3/4 cup chocolate chips

2 tbsp water

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

6 eggs, beaten

2 cups chopped nuts

Cream Cheese Topping

16 oz cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

4 eggs

1/4 cup butter

2 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Glaze

1 cup chocolate chips

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp water

2 tbsp corn syrup

For the brownies, combine the butter, semisweet chocolate, chocolate chips and water in a double boiler. Cook over hot water until blended, stirring frequently. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla, stirring until blended. Remove from heat. Cool slightly.

Combine the sugar, flour, salt and baking soda in a bowl and mix well. Stir in the eggs. Add the nuts and mix well. Combine with the chocolate mixture and mix well. Spread the batter in a 9X13-inch pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

For the topping, beat the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, butter and vanilla in a mixing bowl until smooth. Spread over the prepared layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the edges pull from the sides of the pan.

For the glaze, combine the chocolate chips, butter, water and corn syrup in a saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat until blended, stirring frequently. Drizzle over the hot baked layer. Let stand until cool. Cut into bars.

Makes 15 brownies.

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Yummy Sorbet for the Summer

Mango Peach Sorbet in Austin Entertains–Super easy recipe!!  It only took me 20 minutes to prepare.  The recipe calls for you to strain the puree mix, but I found that pretty much all of the mix went through the strainer.  It took about 5 hours until it was frozen—mostly frozen that it.  It took much longer to get frozen in the middle.  I really like the recipe because it’s a healthy summer dessert that you can whip up in less than 30 minutes.  It’s also perfect for the summer because the peaches in the hill country are just wonderful.  I actually recently took a trip to Fredericksburg and bought a massive box full of peaches.  These locally ripe peaches are perfect for this sorbet.  This colorful dessert is a great treat for the kiddos or you can bring it out as an intermesso for a dinner party.  It’s all about the presentation–the options are endless!

-Elizabeth Elias, Cookbook Committee

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Hazelnut Raspberry Cookies: I love sugar!

My confession: I love sugar. I love sweets. I love cookies. But, I rarely bake them. It’s not that I don’t make them; they just don’t usually make it to the oven. I know, I know, salmonella. Eeek! But if you had seen some of the poor excuses for cookies I have tried to bake before, you would settle for eating the dough right along with me.

The first task with this recipe was to toast the hazelnuts. I had to Google ‘How to Toast Hazelnuts,’ but I think the method I used worked out fine. 350 degrees. Sheet pan. 10-12 minutes. Then, transfer nuts to a clean tea towel, fold the towel around them, and scrunch (best word I can come up with). The idea is to rub the nuts against each other and the towel to remove the dark outer skin. I’ll be honest; this took longer than I thought it would. Scrunch for a while, then pull out the ones that have been successfully skinned. Repeat. And repeat. And repeat.

But the effort was worth it. The smell from the nuts is wonderfully rich and so familiar. It took me a while but I finally figured out that the rich hazelnut scent from the dough reminded me of those gold foil wrapped chocolate and hazelnut truffles. Ah . . . the satisfaction of finally figuring that out!

The recipe indicates you should roll the dough out to 1/8 of an inch and my poor estimation skills could be a reason my execution of the recipe only yielded 24 cookies and not 48. (It wasn’t because I ate half the dough, honest!) And, I think I used a 3 inch cookie cutter, but they seemed like awfully large cookies, especially once they were sandwiched together.

They are beautiful cookies and I think you could certainly used shaped cookie cutters and really any preserve besides raspberry. The recipe said that they keep up to two weeks in the refrigerator which might make them a great cookie to make around the holidays!

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New Year Means a Better Way of Life

I started 2012 with a the thought to make this year one of the best.  It all started by hitting the gym harder this time around because this new year means a new me–literally. I have challenged myself to lose a few pounds, so I decided to do a cleanse but not by drinking lemon juice for two weeks. I love food way too much.  My cleanse began by eating more of the rainbow.  Seriously,  have you ever looked at your plate to see what the colors are? I sure did and wow! A what up call! I thought I was a healthy eater but the colors on my plate were all white and not enough green.  Since I am on the JLA cookbook committee I loathed about cooking a dish I couldn’t eat, but would watch in pure disdain as my husband thoroughly enjoyed the meal. I was wrong there is a god in the cookbook work.  I stumbled across Green Beans with Shallots and Red Peppers in Austin Entertains page 34. Now if that doesn’t shout rainbow on my plate then I don’t know what does.

The recipe called for blanching the green beans which is a great health tip but I opted to roast the beans.  I set my oven to 385 degrees.  Cleaned the beans and added, salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and in the oven they go for about 30 minutes.  In a sauce pan, I added a dash of olive oil, garlic (I always add garlic even though the recipe didn’t call for it) and the julienned shallots.   They cooked on medium heat till they were almost brown and then I added the julienned red bell peppers. I started to smell something burning and realized the beans were ready so I took them out and wow talk about a transformed vegetable.   Blanched green beans no more.  I am roasting veggies from now on. I combined the beans in the pan with the red bell pepper and shallots and a delicious dish that even my husband wanted seconds of.  I think my 2012 is off to a good start. I just hope all of my cookbooks have a god that will have mercy on me as I embark on this new me.

Emily Doran, Cookbook and PR Committees

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Sea Bass Habanero

Sea Bass Habanero on page 120 of Austin Entertains caught my eye as something simple but yet healthy and it didn’t disappoint one bit.  I whipped this recipe up one Sunday evening before one of the many awards shows this winter.  This recipe is quite easy, but I made a few adjustments along the way. First of all, I would suggest using coarse pepper when seasoning the seabass.  It adds so much more flavor.  I would sear the seabass a bit longer than 1 minute on each side–more like 3 minutes per side.  I added a little bit more lime than it called for.  I would also cook the seabass with the broth longer than the recipe calls.  This dish has incredible flavor and looks beautiful when plated up.  It’s a great dish for the winter time and something I would definitely cook again.  Bon Apetite!
Elizabeth Elias, Cookbook Committee

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Thumbprint Cookies, Easy as 1-2-3

My biggest downfall as a Cookbook Chair is ignoring the Celebrates Children section in Austin Entertains.  Fortunately, upcoming issues of LeagueLines and CapitalLines will feature the section, which means I need to do my homework.

I must admit that the Celebrates Children section is a bit intimidating to me.  The closest thing I have to a child is my pink sock monkey and my imaginary child, Poppy Priestner.  (Many of you are familiar with Poppy.)  I do not consider myself a grown-up, believe I am child and enjoy the food that children love: pizza, queso, cookies and mac-n-cheese.  Why have I steered clear of the children’s section of Austin Entertains?  The recipes are allegedly simple and the food is very Holly-friendly.

Today, I made the thumbprint cookies and they were as easy as 1-2-3!  Since I am not a cook, I rarely have the right ingredients on hand, but I opened my pantry and found ALL of the ingredients for the thumbprint cookies: sugar, flour, butter and jelly, DONE!  Keep in mind, it mentions that one might roll the dough in pecans, but I am not a pecan eater so I decided against this step.

I mixed the ingredients, sampled the dough and popped the cookies in the oven for their first 5 minutes of baking.  One ball of dough baked a little too thin, but other than that, so far so good.  Next, I took a small spoon and made a “thumbprint” in each barely baked ball and dished cherry jelly into the center.  I returned the dough to the oven for an additional 12 minutes.  That’s it, they were done.  They didn’t look the way they should but I blame user error.
The cookies will be served to the Cookbook Committee at this evening’s meeting, along with La Crema Chardonnay.  It doesn’t get much better than this

Holly Priestner, Cookbook Chair

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