Real-Food Remake: Celebration Potatoes (Funeral Potatoes)

There’s a recipe that has been used for generations in my family and the families of many that I know. They are called “Funeral Potatoes”. What a morose name.

They are called that presumably because they are a tradition dish made for luncheons served to the family at funerals. They are the ultimate comfort side dish, easy to make in bulk, filling and satisfying. Every family you know who makes this dish has their own twist. Some people add green onions, some people like bread crumbs or corn flakes on top. In our family, we not huge fans of green onions, and we like a simple cheese topping. The dish itself is basically grated potatoes and onions in a scalloped-potato style cream sauce and baked. Traditionally, the recipe calls for cream of chicken soup and sour cream. Simple.

However, some of us can’t (or won’t) have cream soups, which are absolutely horrible for you. When planning my Easter dinner, I really wanted funeral potatoes, which we typically only eat at my in-laws house, and decided I’d do a Real-Food Remake.

The first step in the tradition recipe is to use frozen hash browns. Frozen hash browns don’t turn color, thanks to an additive called disodium dihydorgen pyrophosphate. It is a chemical additive. Because we avoid chemicals, and because potatoes are dirt cheap (a little pun for your Monday Morning), I make hash browns from scratch. The trick to keeping them from turning colors is getting the excess starch off. After shredding them, put them in a colander and rinse with cold water until the water runs clear. If you are grating them by hand, grate them straight into a colander under running cold water. You’ll see in the pictures that my hash browns are white as white can be, no brown or gray to be seen!

To replace the cream of chicken soup, I made my basic cream of chicken substitute sauce. You can use this sauce in absolutely any recipe that calls for a cream soup. I opted for sweet onion instead of the green, ’cause that’s how we roll. Then, I topped it off with cheese. You can use bread crumbs and dot it with butter if you’d like. This recipe is still full of dairy and definitely high on the fat content, but it’s still a step up from a chemical-filled traditional funeral potato recipe. Because of that, I changed the name to “Celebration Potatoes”. It kinda has a nice ring to it.  Forgive the non-professional looking pictures. My family was VERY patient to sit while I took quick pics of our Easter feast, and I left them in a tad too long, your cheese doesn’t have to be this brown. 🙂

CELEBRATION POTATOES

1 1/2 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp seasoned salt (like season-all…a salt-free, msg free seasoning)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp pepper
4 TBS butter
6 TBS flour
2/3 cup sour cream
5-7 potatoes
1/2 sweet onion
1 cup cheddar or colby-jack cheese, grated

Mix the chicken stock, milk and seasonings in a bowl. In a sauce pan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk quickly. It will be very thick. Cook the flour for one minute. Slowly add in the chicken stock mixture 1/2 cup at a time, whisking well after each addition. Make sure you whisk out the lumps. Cook, stirring frequently, until thick, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, add in the sour cream.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To prepare your potatoes, rinse, peel and grate them. Rinse them under cold water until the water runs clear. Lay them in a 9×13 pan. Grate the 1/2 sweet onion and mix together with the potatoes. Pour the sauce over and mix into the potato mixture. Top with a layer of cheese. Cover with tin foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes, removing the foil during the last 10 minutes of baking.

REAL FOOD ALERT: Check your grated cheese for additives, it’s better to grate your own. Check your sour cream. Always use a “natural” sour cream. Next time you’re at the store, compare the ingredients of the store brand sour cream and Daisy brand, or another natural version. The ingredients should be “Cream” and that’s all. Hash browns: frozen hash browns have chemical additives.

ALLERGY ALERT: to make gluten-free, eliminate the butter/flour step. Instead, put the broth mixture into the saucepan, bring to a boil. Mix 2 TBS cornstarch with 2 TBS cold water and add to boiling liquid. Stir until thick.

 

Advertisements

Sugar Cookies with Sweet Honey Icing

Easter is almost upon us. Maybe this year will be the year that I dig through boxes and find all of the Easter-egg dying kits I’ve bought over years on clearance after Easter.

I always have good intentions.

But, then the holiday is a few days away and I look around my messy house and I think, “Do I REALLY want to gather the kids all in one place allowing them to get creative with DYE? Do I want to take deep breaths through all the arguing: “I wanted the yellow!!!!!!” “But I want a really dark egg, you have to leave it in a long time!” “But I’m making a tye-dyed egg, I need yellow or it will mess up my pattern!” Sigh. Yes. It’s important. Because we’re making memories. Conflict-ridden, hair-pulling, someone-ends-up-grounded-and-something-ends-up-irreparably-damaged memories.

I believe in traditions. But, sometimes, I dislike them. Anything creative I have a hard time with, maybe because want the yellow first. Pumpkin carving is the same way. I want to sit by myself for 2 hours and create a masterpiece, a pumpkin that will have everyone in the neighborhood talking. My kids have the same penchant for creating and perfection that I do. Get three or four of us in the same room creating and things can get complicated.

So, I’ve figured out some ways to make creative traditions fun. First, I throw all expectations out the window: expectations of behavior and of creative outcome. Second, I put anything of sentimental value AWAY and prep well, to minimize destruction. Third, I decide if my creation is important to me. If it is, I allot myself separate time to create, and make sure I remember that the time is to be spent helping the kids create.

I also like to change up traditions. Easter egg dying has been our most conflict-driven tradition, for some reason. Plus, you can only eat so many deviled eggs. So, this year, we stole a Christmas tradition for Easter. Decorating sugar cookies. Every year before Christmas, my mom gets all of the grandkids and has a cookie decorating party at her house. She uses the same recipe she’s been using since we were kids. The original recipe was called “Peanuts Sugar Cookies” because it came with a set of Peanuts Characters cookie cutters (you know, Charlie Brown, Snoopy…). In my opinion, it is the best sugar cookie recipe. I have never found one I liked better. The flavor is pure, the cookies hold their shape well, and they are crispy without being hard (if you are a soft-sugar-cookie person, this is not the recipe for you).

Now…what to do about the Easter egg hunt…

SUGAR COOKIES

1 1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder

Cream together the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla, mix well. Add in the flour and baking powder. Mix just until flour is incorporated. Over mixing will make tough cookies. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours, up to overnight. If you refrigerate it overnight, allow it to thaw a bit before trying to work with it.

preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the dough 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface and cut out as desired. Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, until the edges barely start to brown. Frost and decorate.

SWEET HONEY ICING

2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 TBS milk
1 1/2- 2 TBS raw honey
1/2 tsp vanilla

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and milk until smooth. Slowly drizzle in 1 1/2 TBS of the honey while mixing. Add the vanilla and whisk until smooth and glossy. If it is too thick, add additional honey.

printable version

Baked Valentine’s Donuts

Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that you either love or hate. I have found, since having kids, that even the most commercialized, purposeless holidays can be fun when seen through the eyes of a five-year old. Now if we can just get congress to ban the Kay Jewelry “Open Heart Collection” commercials, life would be great.

This year, I decided that baked heart shaped donuts, filled with strawberry filling would be a fun and tasty way to celebrate with the family. And, no…Jane Seymour is NOT getting any.

BAKED VALENTINE’S DONUTS

Donuts:

3/4 cup warm milk
2 1/4 tsp (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 TBS unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg, whisked
1/2 tsp salt
2 -3 cup flour

Combine yeast and warm milk in your stand mixer bowl, or in a large mixing bowl. Let sit for 5-10 minutes. Gently mix in butter, sugar and egg (make sure egg is well blended before adding). Add flour, 1/2 c at a time. Add salt in with the first batch of flour. Mix thoroughly after each flour addition. Stop adding flour as soon as the dough sticks together. You definitely want as little flour in your dough as possible. using your dough hook, or hands, if you’re more traditional, knead for 5 minutes. Watch the dough. If it starts to stick to the sides, sprinkle a little bit of flour as needed to coax it back into a ball. Again, use as little flour as possible. When I make this, I typically only use 2 cups of flour.

Remove bowl and place in a warm place to rise until double (about an hour, but this can drastically vary depending on all sorts of factors).

Once it has risen, dump it onto a counter that has been lightly dusted with flour. Roll it out to about 1/2 inch thick. Use a heart cookie cutter to cut the dough into hearts. Use as much of the dough in the first cut as possible, then collect the scraps and recut. If you must, you can do it a third time, but the resulting donuts will be tougher than the first.

Place the hearts on parchment-covered baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Let rise again until double, another 45 min- 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 5-7 minutes. Remove when they are light brown on top. Immediately slide to a cooling rack.

Strawberry Filling:

3 cups strawberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup sugar
1 TBS cornstarch
2 TBS cold water

Puree the strawberries in a blender or food processor (be sure to thaw them first if you are starting with frozen). Add the sugar. Pour into a saucepan and heat over medium heat. Combine the cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl. Stir the strawberry mixture until sugar is fully dissolved. Add the cornstarch mixture and stir over medium heat until thick and jelly-like. Pour into a container and refrigerate until chilled.

To assemble:

Take a donut and poke a hole in one side with a small knife or skewer. Carefully move the knife/skewer around the inside of the donut to allow room for the filling. (A clean finger does this well, if that doesn’t gross you out)

Scoop some filling into a zipper-topped bag. Cut a small portion off the corner, insert into the donut and squeeze the filling into the donut.

Spoon some powdered sugar into a fine-mesh strainer, lightly dust the donuts by tapping the side of the strainer as you pass over them.

printable version

Boston Cream Donuts…Baked!

Hmmm…Doughnuts…Donuts…. Either way, they are tasty balls of fried dough, made tastier when filled or frosted or dunked.

SOME people, however, have a hard time stopping with one, two, or four doughnuts, which has made BAKED raised donuts a popular trend amongst the scratch bakers.

So, I figured, if I’m going to take the time to make a yeast donut, and save calories by baking it, I have caloric wiggle room to add a cream filling and chocolate frosting, eh?

Thus is born the baked Boston Cream Donut…

BAKED BOSTON CREAM DONUTS

Donuts:

3/4 cup warm milk
2 1/4 tsp (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 TBS unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg, whisked
1/2 tsp salt
2 -3 cup flour

Combine yeast and warm milk in your stand mixer bowl, or in a large mixing bowl. Let sit for 5-10 minutes. Gently mix in butter, sugar and egg (make sure egg is well blended before adding). Add flour, 1/2 c at a time. Add salt in with the first batch of flour. Mix thoroughly after each flour addition. Stop adding flour as soon as the dough sticks together. You definitely want as little flour in your dough as possible. using your dough hook, or hands, if you’re more traditional, knead for 5 minutes. Watch the dough. If it starts to stick to the sides, sprinkle a little bit of flour as needed to coax it back into a ball. Again, use as little flour as possible. When I make this, I typically only use 2 cups of flour.

Remove bowl and place in a warm place to rise until double (about an hour, but this can drastically vary depending on all sorts of factors).

Once it has risen, dump it onto a counter that has been lightly dusted with flour. Roll it out to about 1/2 inch thick. Use a glass or round cookie cutter to cut the dough into circles. Use as much of the dough in the first cut as possible, then collect the scraps and recut. If you must, you can do it a third time, but the resulting donuts will be tougher than the first.

Place the dough circles on parchment-covered baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Let rise again until double, another 45 min- 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 5-7 minutes. Remove when they are light brown on top. Immediately slide to a cooling rack.

Filling (Pastry Cream):

2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
2 TBS butter
1 tsp vanilla

Stir together the milk and 1/4 cup sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Over medium heat, bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, mix together the egg and egg yolks. Add the cornstarch and 1/3 cup sugar to the eggs and mix until smooth. When the milk has come to a boil, slowly pour a few tablespoons of it into the egg mixture.* Mix well and pour a little more hot milk in with the eggs. Mix well. Pour the egg mixture into the pan with the milk and slowly return to a boil, whisking frequently to keep the bottom from burning. When the mixture becomes thick, remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Pour into a bowl and place plastic wrap to the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Place in the refrigerator until chilled.

Frosting:

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Pour cream into a sauce pan. Heat over medium heat until hot, but do not bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips. Stir until smooth.

To assemble:

Take a donut and poke a hole in one side with a small knife or skewer. Carefully move the knife/skewer around the inside of the donut to allow room for the filling. (A clean finger does this well, if that doesn’t gross you out)

Scoop some filling into a zipper-topped bag. Cut a small portion off the corner, insert into the donut and squeeze the filling into the donut.

Dip the top of the donut into the bowl of chocolate.

Enjoy. With friends…or family…or hot chocolate.

*This is called “tempering” the eggs, slowly bringing them up in temperature so that when you add them to the milk, they don’t cook so quickly that you have scrambled eggs in your pastry cream.

printable version