We Need A Break From Winter Break

I hope you had a fantastic holiday season!  I know our family has. We’ve been blessed.  Many different Christmas parties, New Year’s Eve, and different family visits have kept us busy.

It was all exciting and fun but it had us out of our regular routines.

Bed times shifted (often in different beds) and meal times were different than what we’re used to.  It’s left us with a lot of great memories but kind of exhausted… which is funny since it was Winter break, after all.

It’s almost over, though.  One more day.  Which is good because I think everyone in our family is ready to get back into a regular routine.  We do better with a little more structure in our lives.

We need a break from our Winter break!

How about your family?  Do you need a break from Winter break or would you like another week of it?

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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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Aebelskivers… A Delicious Family Tradition

Every family has their own special memories.  Those things that instantly make everyone smile and tell their own stories.

One of those things in my wife’s family centers around a recipe for Aebelskivers.  They’re a traditional ball shaped Danish pancake.  You make them on the stovetop in a special pan.

Aebelskiver pan - emptyUntil I met my wife I had never heard of Aebelskivers but over the course of our marriage I’ve heard how great they are many times.

My wife remembers her Grandma making them for her as an after school snack.  One of her cousins won a blue ribbon making them at the Iowa State Fair.

Getting an Aebelskiver pan and making them is something my wife has always said she was going to do… but just never did.

A month or so ago I saw some discussion on Facebook between my wife and some relatives about Aebelskivers.  That’s when I got the idea to give a pan to make them to my wife for Christmas.

I emailed one of the cousins who said she had their Grandma’s recipe asking for it.  She sent it… but did one better.  She sent a scan of the handwritten recipe from their Grandma!

How cool is that?  I printed the recipe card out on photo paper and gave it to my wife as part of her Christmas presents… along with everything needed to make them.

We got busy and finally got around to making them today as we celebrated Christmas at my in-laws.

I have to say it was pretty neat seeing three generations (my Mother-in-law, wife, and daughters) in the kitchen making Grandma’s recipe.

There was lemon rind grating.

Microplaning a lemon

Flour sifting.

Sifting flour

And mixing…

Mixing aebelskiver batter

to make the batter just like Grandma made.

Aebelskiver batter

Then it was time to fill the pan.

Filling an aebelskiver pan

It was the first time anyone had made them without Grandma’s help and we weren’t quite sure exactly when to flip them… but we figured it out fairly quickly.  There were only a couple that came out to doughy in the middle.

Aebelskivers cooking on stove

My oldest daughter plated them up and sprinkled on some powdered sugar.  Then the moment of truth.  The tasting!

Aebelskivers with powdered sugar

Would they be as good as my wife remembered?  Would the Aebelskivers live up to the hype or would they be a let down?

I can tell you that without a doubt they were delicious!  Just like my wife remembered.

A few of them we even put a chunk of fresh strawberry in the middle. Those were my favorite.  I’m thinking sometime we might try making them with a little dab of jam or applesauce in the middle.

I’m glad this is one tradition that will live on in the family and hope that my daughters have fond memories of Aebelskivers just like their Mom.

Somewhere up in Heaven this morning my daughters’ Great Grandma was looking down with a huge smile on her face… and probably a few words of correction when my youngest sent flour everywhere using the sifter for the first time.

What food is a tradition in your family?

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If you’re interested in getting an Aebelskiver pan of your own, this is the one we got.  It’s from Nordic Ware and came with a recipe book.  I purchased this pan because I was fairly certain it was one that one of my wife’s cousins recommended.

It worked well on my Mother-in-laws smooth surface cooktop but I think it will work even better on our gas range where we can control the heat easier.  Before wrapping it to give to my wife I put it on our stove and it fit our cooking grate perfectly.

 

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