Roast Beef Hash

I’m incredibly excited about this recipe for beef hash.

I like beef hash, and I don’t always find it when I’m out for breakfast; when I do, so often it’s corned beef hash from a can. I like that sometimes, but it’s so salty! Hash seemed like it should be simple to make, but I never tried to make it until recently when I had a leftover roast that I really couldn’t figure out what else to do with. It was perfect!

I used this recipe as a jumping board. Other recipes added liquid, including milk or cream (I guess to make it more of a gravy?). I resisted initially, but found that adding a little liquid at the end added moisture to the beef and allowed me to scrape up browned bits from the pan. Leftover liquid from your roast is perfect as it should already be seasoned to your liking. I’d need to salt lightly if using broth since it’s often salty (and the liquid cooks off), and I’d need to add some extra salt, pepper, and other seasonings like thyme or garlic if I used water. Mushrooms are optional; they didn’t add much to the dish for me. I wouldn’t forgo the red bell pepper, though – it adds a little more flavor and oomph to the dish. Another thing I like about this recipe – from start to finish, it only took 30 minutes, which is about as much time as I want to spend on a single meal.

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Sweet Potato and Peanut Stew

Now that fall is decidedly here (and winter too, it nearly seems), I can’t put off the urge to bake and make other autumn recipes. I regrettably haven’t had much time to cook within the past couple of months. I decided to take a class on nutrition, and while I’m enjoying learning (and will hopefully be able to apply it to my cooking, in some form or fashion), it sure takes up more time than I thought it would. Add to that a busy few months at work, a regular running schedule, friends’ weddings, concerts, and other fun things, and you can see why I haven’t cooked or written! I hope that I’ll have more time soon, since it’s getting too dark and cold to run in the evenings, and my race is this Sunday.

I made the time this evening to try a recipe I just found yesterday, and I’m glad I did. Sweet Potato and Peanut Stew sounded wholesome and warm, a nice contrast to the cool rainy weather we had today. This recipe is delicious, satisfying, and vegan. It came together easily, and was hands-off while it simmered, meaning I could do other things while it cooked. It was tasty enough that I put off my class reading for a change – I couldn’t wait to share this!

Sweet Potato and Peanut Stew
Sweet Potato and Peanut Stew

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Baked Potato and Bacon Soup

Winter has finally arrived in St. Louis. Yesterday we reached a balmy high of 56F, and Alex and I took our dog for a leisurely walk. Today, we’ve had a few inches of snow, and when I walked my dog, it was 17F and felt like -1.

I decided this winter weather made tonight perfect for soup. As always, I just happened to have some potatoes and bacon around, and thought that a hearty and thick bacon and potato soup was exactly what the change in weather demanded.

I’m a somewhat picky eater, and discounted all recipes involving any kind of cream cheese, shredded cheese, or sour cream in the broth. That essentially brought me to this Baked Potato and Bacon Soup recipe, which I’ve adapted below. I liked the simplicity of the ingredient list – potatoes, bacon, onion, garlic, milk, and chicken broth, with a few seasonings.

Baked Potato and Bacon Soup

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Ginger-Pecan Scones

A few weeks ago I made Ginger-Pecan Scones. I’d meant to write up a post about them a while ago (so that they might be made for Mother’s Day, perhaps?) but I wasn’t able to. Although I’ve been cooking, I’ve also been working on finishing up my class and preparing job applications, so you can guess that blogging is what has to suffer a little. I’m actually heading to St. Louis in about an hour because I get to do something job-related there tomorrow, so I’ll keep this post as brief as I can.

Ginger-Pecan Scones weren’t the easiest scones to make, mostly because they had a lot of additions. They take toasted pecans (which on its own is fairly easy to do), and 3 kinds of ginger – grated, crystallized, and plain old ground ginger. In addition, this recipe makes 12, which means you have to make 2 rounds, which you then cut into 6 pieces. I got a little frustrated while I made these because I just felt like there was too much dough, since I’m used to making 8 scones at a time. I feel a little self-conscious saying that I couldn’t cut it into even 6ths, but I couldn’t. It also felt like a lot of work just to get to the point where I was actually making the dough.

I started by toasting the pecans as I heated the oven. I chopped them once they came out. I had candied ginger that I made a while ago, which I also chopped up to add to the scones; mine was a little hard and probably tougher to cut through than what you would buy. I grated fresh ginger before I started assembling the scone dough. I had all that prep to do before I even started working with flour and sugar!

Making the scone dough itself wasn’t difficult. Combine the flour, sugar, leavenings, and ground ginger, and cut in butter or margarine with a pastry cutter (which I always use). Add pecans and some of the candied ginger. Mix buttermilk (sour milk), vanilla, and grated ginger, and add that to the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Knead gently, then divide into 2 sections. Form each half into a 6-7 inch disk, and cut into 6 wedges. Transfer to baking sheet (you’ll need two of them for 12 scones, or the scones might be crowded), brush with additional milk, and top with remaining candied ginger. Bake 20 minutes, until scones are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Ginger-Pecan Scones

These tasted pretty good. They felt wholesome and hearty, with the spiciness of the ginger and the nutty flavor of the pecans. They had a great texture. However, like I said, I was frustrated making them. This was in part because I was in a rush, but also I felt like I was handling too much dough at once. If you weren’t feeding many people, I’d suggest making a half batch. I actually had trouble making 6 even wedges, so I might actually make a 2/3 batch, pat it into a slightly larger circle, and cut the dough into 8 wedges. I think the baking time would be similar. They were good scones, and so they were worth making, in spite of my frustration – I’m sure others would expect to spend a little more time on them. I’m pretty sure I’ll make them again.

80: Ham and Potato Cakes

I decided to adapt the Ham and Yukon Gold Potato Cakes recipe to use up a little more of my leftover Easter ham. They’re “adapted” because I had plain ol’ potatoes, regular ham, and onion instead of leeks that it called for. I diced two smallish yellow onions and sautéed them in a little olive oil with the dried thyme. I was in a hurry, so I tried to shred a potato in my little Magic Bullet blender. This yielded pureed potato (no surprise there). So I shredded the rest of the potatoes with a grater, and tossed the ham in the Magic Bullet because I really didn’t feel like chopping it. This yielded nice potato cakes with ham puree.

I fried them in a little olive oil, adding a little more after each batch. I put them on a plate and kept them warm in the oven while I made subsequent batches.

Ham and Potato Cakes

Alex thought these were a little too oniony. It’s possible that I used too much onion, because I didn’t look up a leek-onion substitution ratio. I thought they were tasty, but I think that shredding the ham the way I did negated the whole benefit of having ham in them. I didn’t really notice ham, and the few places with larger bits of ham made me think that I should have taken the extra minute to dice the ham by hand. I liked these but they were vaguely disappointing because of this mistake. I will try these again at some point (maybe even this weekend) to see if having larger pieces of ham makes them stand out.

45: Beef and Potato Salad with Smoky Chipotle

I decided to try something a little different, since I actually had all of the ingredients for it. I don’t like potato salads; I don’t like the mayonnaise in American ones, but I also just don’t care that much for vinegar. The recipe for Beef & Potato Salad with Smoky Chipotle had enough other flavors that I considered it worth trying.

I simmered the beef the day before so that I’d be able to get it ready faster after we got home from work. I added the hot potatoes to the bowl with the shredded beef, did my best to sprinkle vinegar on them (as opposed to dousing some), and added the onion, oil, and chipotles. I didn’t chop the chipotles as well as I should have, but that’s mostly because I had a cut on my finger and didn’t want to hold anything that tightly.

Beef and Potato Salad with chipotle and avocado, in poor light

This was different. I didn’t like the smell of the vinegar as I mixed it, and that affected my enjoyment of the meal. Alex and I agreed that we liked it more when the vinegar flavor wasn’t too strong (likely a failure of my mixing). This was featured in an “avocado” section in Eating Well magazine, but the addition of avocado didn’t really add that much to the dish, in my opinion. I just don’t think that the recipe needs an avocado, even if they’re in season.

This wasn’t bad, and people who like potato salads (read: any taste of vinegar) probably would enjoy it. Alex thought it was different, and it’s true that I usually don’t make things like this. I wouldn’t make it again, but that’s because of personal taste. I wouldn’t discourage anyone else from trying it.

13: Potato Torte with Cabbage and Bacon

This is probably my favorite thing to make with cabbage. I don’t love cabbage, but I’d make it again. (I suppose I do love bacon and potatoes.) It’s actually supposed to be Potato Torte with Cabbage, Bacon, and Cheddar, but since I don’t like cheese, I left it out. This potato torte turned out much better than the potato and sweet potato torte I tried a few years ago.

Alex put cheese on it, and he thought it should go with eggs. I guess that’s what you get with bacon, potatoes, and cheese.

Potato Torte with Cabbage and Bacon