Category Archives: Food

Easy Mashed Potatoes

A picture I shared in a recent post on cooking a whole turkey breast side down led to some questions about how I make mashed potatoes.

Turkey Dinner

A friend asked, “What’s the brown things in your mashed potatoes.”

I explained that it was the potato peel and that I liked to make them without skinning the potatoes.  This lead to more questions.  I figured if one person was interested that you might be as well.

So here it is.  My…

Easy Mashed Potatoes

You’ll need:

* A 5 pound bag of potatoes

* Salt

* A brick of cream cheese (non-fat or reduced fat works well)

* Milk

* Lawry’s Season Salt

Mashed Potato Ingredients

You start by washing the potatoes.  Cut them into quarters, removing any bad spots, and place them in a pot.

At this point I like to rinse the potatoes.  Then I fill the pot with enough cold water to cover the potatoes.  Then I stir in some salt.  I never measure but I’d guess that I use about a tablespoon or so.

Potatoes in a pot

Cover and cook on high heat until it starts to boil.  You’re going to want to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t boil over.  Otherwise you’ll have a mess.  I know this from personal experience.

Once it’s boiling good remove the cover and reduce the heat to medium-high and set a timer for 15 minutes.  When it goes off stick a fork or knife into one of the chunks.  If it pierces without any effort the potatoes are done.  If not, give it a few minutes and check again.

When the potatoes are fully cooked, drain them in a colander, and return to the burner… but keep the heat off.

Cooked potatoes ready to mash

Here’s where you’ll use a potato masher to mash them up.  Once you’ve got a good mash going, mash in the brick of cream cheese, and a little milk.

How much milk you use is a personal preference.  If you like stiff potatoes use less milk.  The key is to add the milk a little at a time. Remember, you can always add more.

With everything mashed together, I then switch to a wooden spoon to stir in the seasoning salt.  Again, how much you use is up to you.  I tend to under season figuring people can add more at the table if they choose.

A batch this size gives our family enough for a meal with leftovers to freeze!

By leaving the skins on you cut the prep time down significantly and, I’m told, increase the nutritional value.  Our family doesn’t mind the skins in the mashed potatoes.  In fact, we actually prefer it this way!

That’s how I make mashed potatoes.  Does it differ than how you do it?  Have you ever tried making them with the peels on?

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The Great Turkey Experiment

If you follow this blog with any regularity it shouldn’t surprise you that I like to cook… and that I like to experiment when cooking.  I’m always on the lookout for new things to try.

When cooking for a crowd, however, I play it safe.  No need to risk something not turning out right.  That’s why I’d never experiment cooking a turkey on Thanksgiving day any other way then how I’ve done in the past.

Today was different though.  We had a 12 pound turkey my wife’s company gave her for Christmas.  She didn’t get to have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner because of retail work hours… so tonight was her Thanksgiving dinner.

Since I was cooking for just our family it was time to try cooking the turkey a different way.  I had read about cooking a turkey breast side down but had never done it.

The theory is all the juices flow down into the breast making it flavorful and juicy.

I don’t own a roasting pan and rack.  In the past I’ve always borrowed them from my mother-in-law.  I improvised today resting the turkey on 8 washed whole potatoes in the largest pan I had.  I figured it would keep the meat from resting directly on the pan.  It worked perfectly!

Turkey on Potatoes

After rinsing and patting the turkey dry I stuffed the cavity with chunks of white onion and carrot.  Then I did something that I hadn’t done before… I used aluminum foil to cover up the cavity opening.

I had read this would seal in the aromatics and flavor the bird from the inside out.

A little butter basting and sprinkling of seasoning salt and it was ready to position the turkey in the pan breast side down.

Turkey cooked breast side down

More butter basting, seasoning salt, and a temperature probe inserted into the breast and it was ready for the preheated oven.

The first 30 minutes were at 400 degrees then I backed it down to 325.  Two hours in it was golden brown so I pulled it and tented the whole thing with foil.

Roasted turkey

It took 3 hours to bring the temp to the desired 165 degree internal temp.

It smelled amazing!  It was hard to let it rest for a half hour without sneaking a taste.

Turkey tented in foil

So how did it turn out?  Was the meat juicy and flavorful?  Would I cook a turkey this way again?

It was delicious!  The meat was extremely juicy.  Probably the juiciest one i’ve ever cooked.  I would definitely cook a turkey this way again with one difference.

Turkey Dinner

I’d flip it breast side up for the last 30 -45 minutes.  The breast side didn’t get browned and there were indents where it had rested on the potatoes.

They weren’t deal breakers or effect the way it tasted but I think if flipped for the last little bit it would have browned and the indents would have cooked out.

All in all it was a great experiment and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it this way again for a crowd on Thanksgiving.

What are your best turkey cooking tips?  Leave a comment and let me know!

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The Perfect Tuna Noodle Casserole

One of the things I love about colder weather is crock pots and casseroles!  A favorite of mine is tuna noodle casserole.

Tuna Noodle Casserole - Top View

The first few years of our marriage my wife and I spent perfecting our tuna noodle casserole recipe.

After several years of trial and error we finally came across the perfect tuna noodle casserole recipe for our family.  It’s one every member of our family loves!

Tuna Noodle Casserole on Plate

Rather than keep it in secret I’m going to share it with you!

Our Family’s Favorite Tuna Noodle Casserole

1 – box spiral pasta cooked al dente

2  – 5oz. cans tuna, drained

26-30 oz – Cream of Mushroom soup (1 large can or 3 small cans)

1/2 cup – Mayonaise

1/2 cup – Sour Cream

1/4 cup – Milk

1 tsp – Salt

1/2 tsp – Dillweed

Crushed Potato Chips.

Directions: Mix everything but the chips and put into a casserole dish.  Top with crushed potato chips.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  The first 15 minutes covered.  The last 15 minutes uncovered.

That’s how our family likes our tuna noodle casserole.  It’s perfect for us. No peas.  It’s creamy and delicious!

How does our tuna noodle casserole recipe compare to yours?

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