Tips for Perfect (and flavorful) Mashed Potatoes

Written by Cheryl Arkison of Backseat Gourmet

Thanksgiving is my all-time favourite holiday. I love autumn immensely, and without the attachment of religious significance it seems like there is less pressure to perform on the holiday. Rather, it is a gathering of souls, all around a table.

In my university days we started a tradition of hosting friends for Thanksgiving, dinner for those of us too far from home and/or too poor to get there. It carried on through grad school and afterwards. Even now, we seem to gather with friends more so than our immediate families. It was always a classic feast, fueled by wine, stories, and laughter. Comfort and peace too.

Regardless of the company, when the Thanksgiving turkey arrives on the table there isn’t a single person who thinks, “Hey, I wish I had a baked potato to eat with that.” No, we all want a pile of mashed potatoes with a pool of gravy to accompany our turkey. Dan Quayle jokes aside.

[Read more…]

Hearty & Healthy: Late-Summer Minestrone

A bout of gray, rainy and downright bone-chilling cold weather recently sent me scurrying into the kitchen faster than a coiffured damsel seeking shelter. With each day looking bleaker than the last, it was obvious that if I was to get truly warmed, it would require spearheading a kitchen project that involved plenty of soul food.

Fortunately, my quest to find the BEST zucchini bread was under way that week, with many batches being tested to ultimately declare a winner and a runner-up. That project kept the kitchen toasty, but it wasn’t quite the satisfying, nourishing meal that I was looking for. Imagine my surprise when I realized I was craving soup. Hot, wholesome SOUP! In August, no less.

Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that I was singing the praises of cold soups? Had the summer really slipped away that quickly? Apparently it had, so I made a massive batch of this late-harvest minestrone using up all the gorgeous late-summer vegetables I had on hand. [Read more…]

Pasta Primavera – All Year Long

The end of summer marks the time that we start scrambling to use up all the fresh produce bursting from our gardens. It can be hard to find ways to use up so many vegetables at one time. That’s why the Italians created Pasta Primavera.

If you’ve got a plentiful array of vegetables that need to be used up then a fresh batch of Pasta Primavera may be just what you need to help clean out your garden.

You can use any vegetables you like in this dish, you will just need to be aware of their individual cooking times and whether they are best boiled or thrown into the skillet to sauté.

Vegetables that are Best Boiled and their Cooking Times: [Read more…]

How to Grill the Perfect Steak

Written by Elizabeth Nyland of Guilty Kitchen.

Today is more of a lesson in the fine art of grilling meat than it is a recipe, so no long lists of ingredients will haunt you this fine afternoon.

One of the most popular questions I get asked by friends, family and readers alike is “How do you tell when meat is cooked?” This is a loaded question. Everyone likes it differently and everyone you ask this humble question to will probably have their own answer.

Here’s mine: Practice.

The actual testing of doneness is crucial, yes, but there are other steps of equal importance. Let’s take a look at them, shall we?

Eight Tips to Grilling the Perfect Steak

1. Always bring your meat up to room temperature before grilling. This ensures even cooking throughout. You wouldn’t jump in a steaming hot shower after running around naked in the cold would you? It might sting a little bit – unless you’re Norwegian…I hear they like doing that.

[Read more…]

Not Just Hot Dogs: 3 Real Food Campfire Meals

This topic is perfect timing for our family, as we’re heading up to the Boundary Waters tomorrow for a much needed family vacation. This is the time of summer when the kids are restless and the parent’s patience is wearing thin. We can only be cooped up for so long before we just need to spread our wings and shake our tail feathers a little bit.

So often I feel like people give up when it comes to camping food. All creativity is thrown out the window, and the hot dog and hot dog bun enter the picture, taking up residence as the only dinner able to be cooked over an open fire. But it’s not.
[Read more…]