March 3, 2011

What to do with Potatoes?

Potatoes.  They're cheap, and like a lot of people, I need cheap ideas for dinner.  So when my grocery budget is spent and I look in the pantry to see a big bag of potatoes, here's what I do with them.  I make Dirt Cheap Potato Soup, Garlic Parmesan Potato Wedges, or good old fashioned Mashed Potatoes.

Dirt Cheap Potato Soup
(adapted from "Peppery Potato Soup" in The Best Slow Cooker Recipes cookbook)

The thing we love about this recipe is that we can make a whole crock pot of soup for approximately $1.50, and it makes about 8 servings.  That's like 19 cents a serving!  Delicious and dirt cheap--a wonderful combination.

4-5 potatoes, halved and thinly sliced
4 cups chicken broth (or two 14.5 oz cans)
1 large onion, quartered and sliced
1-2 stalks celery, sliced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup half-and-half
1 Tbsp butter (optional)

1. Combine broth, potatoes, onion, celery, flour, pepper, and salt in slow cooker; mix well.  Cover and cook on LOW 6-7 hours. (Or, if you're short on time, just switch the slow cooker to high and half the cooking time.)
2. Stir in half-and-half.  Cover and continue to cook on LOW for one more hour.
3. Remove slow cooker lid.  Slightly crush potato mixture with a potato masher (or a whisk if you don't have a potato masher).  Continue to cook, uncovered, for another 30 minutes or until soup is slightly thickened.  Stir in butter, if desired, just before serving.
4. Eat, and revel in the fact that you just fed your family for pennies.

Garlic Parmesan Potato Wedges
(adapted from Parmesan Potato Wedges in the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook)

This one is a favorite of my husband.  It makes a surprisingly filling snack or side dish.

3-4 potatoes, cut into wedges (usually I cut them into 6 or 8 wedges per potato, depending on the size of the potato)
1 Tbsp oil or melted butter (olive oil tastes the best if you've got it)
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic salt
Parmesan Cheese (to taste)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees (F).
2. Wash and cut potatoes into wedges, leaving skins on.
3. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine oil (or melted butter), Italian seasoning, and garlic salt.  Toss potatoes in oil mixture until evenly coated.
4. Line a small baking sheet (with sides) in aluminum foil and spread coated potatoes evenly across the pan.  Bake for 30 minutes at 425 degrees, flipping over the potatoes after the first 15 minutes.  Not crispy enough for you?  Just keep them in there for a few minutes longer.  The longer they cook, the crispier they will be.
5. Remove potatoes from oven and let cool for a few minutes.  They will be very hot.
6. Grab some napkins and enjoy.

Mashed Potatoes 

Nobody makes better mashed potatoes than your mom, so think of her while you eat this comfort food.

4-5 potatoes, diced
2-4 Tbsp butter (depending on how flavorful versus how healthy you want them to be)
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Dice the potatoes.  No need to skin them--they're healthier that way.  Put diced potatoes in a large pot with enough water to just cover the potatoes.  Boil potatoes for about 15 minutes or until they're tender.  Drain water.  If you overboil, you'll have mushed potatoes, rather than mashed, and nobody likes that except for maybe babies.
2. Either using a hand masher or an electric mixer, mash potatoes.  Add butter, and keep mashing/mixing until all of the butter melts.  Add milk, sour cream, and salt and pepper, mixing until you achieve the desired consistency.
3. Eat!

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