Muffins, Pasta, and the Best Mashed Potatoes Ever!

Here are our meals from this past week. Enjoy!

* For Sunday brunch we had Yogurt Spiced Muffins. These came from the November 2008 issue of Food and Wine magazine and they were really good. They contained yogurt in the batter, and the spices were very “fall”: cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.
* This next dish is called Christmas Pasta by Rachael Ray. I found it in her book, “365: No Repeats”, and it is so named because apparently she makes it every year at Christmas. I’m not totally sure what makes it Christmas-y, but I do know what made it delicious: MEAT!! This is a basic rigatoni with meat sauce, but the sauce called for beef, veal and both hot and sweet Italian sausage. Very hearty and yummy! Pasta with meat sauce is really one of my favorite meals, it has been since I was a kid. I have a recipe for it that I love, but I also enjoy trying other people’s recipes for it. So this was really fun!
* Next up we have a California BLT Sandwich, courtesy of Ina Garten in her book “Barefoot Contessa at Home.” Avocados made it Cali. This was so good, I can’t even begin to tell you. Now I absolutely love a good BLT sandwich, and this one didn’t disappoint. Adding avocado just took it over the top, it was wonderful! I paired it with some Onion Rings that came from one of the Top Chef books that I have. I’m on a search for the world’s most perfect onion ring, and thus far I haven’t found it at home. Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse makes the best I’ve ever tasted, but thus far I haven’t found a recipe that replicates it at home. This particular onion ring was a batter, and it combined buttermilk and beer, so I thought that would make it special, but it was just a garden variety onion ring. Certainly not bad, but not outstanding either.
* This is an Eggplant and Tomato Soup. It came from “Cooking from the Hip” by Cat Cora. It was so simple to make, with very few ingredients, and tasted so good!
* This is a Shrimp Salad with Homemade Chili Powder. I had some dried chilies that needed to be used up, so I toasted them over low heat with some cumin seed, coriander seed, and whole allspice, then ground them in a coffee grinder. The chili powder itself was amazing! So much better than the jarred kind from the supermarket. This salad fell a little short of delicious though, thanks to the dressing I attempted to create. I tried to make a homemade chipotle aioli, with chipotle in adobo, lime juice, and egg yolks, as well as some honey. I tried it and it was way too sweet, so I added more chili heat. Well, combine that with the chili powder crusted shrimp, and this was blow-your-head-off hot! We could barely finish it! I will definitely use the chili powder again and again, but that dressing definitely needs a do-over.
* This brings us to Date Night!! We had Beef and Sausage Meatloaf with Pancetta Tomato Sauce, and Happy Accident Mashed Potatoes. This was delicious! I realized when menu planning that I hadn’t made meatloaf of any kind in over two years, so that needed to change. The mashed potatoes are my own creation, and I can say with no ego, that they are among the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever eaten. I use Russet potatoes, just boiled until cooked through then drained. I then pull out my secret ingredient, a potato ricer. This is the best kitchen utensil ever! It makes for the silkiest, creamiest potatoes with NO LUMPS!! I combine the potatoes with about half a container of sour cream, about 2 ounces of cream cheese, and about 1/2 a cup of buttermilk. Stir in chives before serving. They are so good!! The reason they are called Happy Accident is a funny story: when Matt and I were first married, I decided to make some basic mashed potatoes with sour cream. I asked Matt if we had any sour cream and he said yes. I took that to mean we had a full container. We didn’t. We had about half a container. And it wasn’t enough. So, I was about to scrap the whole thing when I found a little bit of leftover cream cheese. I added that in, and yumminess resulted! We’ve been making them that way ever since.
For dessert we had a Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting. This was good, but I messed up on the frosting and it tasted a little odd. It came from “Barefoot Contessa at Home.” I completely forgot to add the confectioner’s sugar to the frosting. Must’ve been that second glass of wine, I don’t know. The texture of it was fine, but the taste was a bit off. Oh, well, lesson learned!

About jwall915

I love to cook and I love to travel! This blog explores my love of both. I share recipes and restaurant reviews, and I blog the trips I take.
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One Response to Muffins, Pasta, and the Best Mashed Potatoes Ever!

  1. Julie says:

    I forgot to mention: the Sausage Meatloaf came from Rachael Ray's "Express Lane Meals" book. She says to mold the meat mixture into 4 individual loaves, so they will cook in under half an hour. But I don't really care for that, so I made it the traditional way as one large loaf and then sliced it. Quite yummy!

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