Sweet, Sweet Sunday

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, and just like any other neighborhood…and just like any other neighborhood, the produce bin neighborhood has several families.

Although these families are primarily designed for crop rotation, these families will be a great asset as we start discussing the fruits and vegetables segment of the Raw Foods Pyramid…

…and since we talked about broccoli as being a crucifer…(no, George Bush, not Lucifer….I thought that this might be a good time to go ahead and introduce you to the rest of crucifer’s tribe.

 

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 THE ASTERCEAS FAMILY

This, at least to me, seems to be the miscellaneous category where those vegetables do not belong to any other family all hang out…If you’re a farmer, and know differently, then tell me…but for the purpose of making vegetables in the Raw Foods Pyramid easier to categorize, I’m using this family for my “junk pile.”

Members of this family include…

  • artichokes
  • lettuce
  • tarragon

 

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CHENOPODIACEAE FAMILY

The chenopodiaceae family are typically plants without petals, such as…

  • beets
  • spinach
  • Swiss chard

 

 

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CRUCIFER FAMILY

The crucifer family consists of those vegetables with four petals arranged in a cross shape …with six stamens, including two smaller ones, such as…

  • arugula
  • Asian greens
  • broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • Chinese cabbage
  • kale
  • kohlrabi
  • mustard greens
  • radishes
  • turnips
  • watercress

 

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CUCURBITACEAE FAMILY

The cucurbitaceae family, also known as the gourd family, includes those plants that typically run rampant, climb, or have spiral tendrils. Each of these plant produces their fruits on a long vine with seeds running through the center, usually protected by a hard rind.

This family not only has vegetables as members, but has also welcomed melons and some other large to join their gang…and includes…

  • cantaloupes
  • cucumbers
  • gourds
  • melons
  • pumpkins
  • squash
  • watermelon
  • zucchini

 

 

 

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FABACEAE FAMILY

The fabaceae family, also commonly known as legumes of pulses, includes…

  • beans—all beans…including fava beans, lentils, soybeans
  • peas
  • peanuts

 

 

 

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LAMIACEAE FAMILY

The lamiaceae family are those highly fragrant plants that are often used to make essential oils and herbal teas, such as…

  • lavender
  • lemon balm
  • marjoram
  • mint
  • oregano
  • sage
  • thyme

 

 

 

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LILIACEAE FAMILY

The liliaceae family includes plants with leaves that usually have vertical and very long leaves and flowers with six colorful petals, including…

  • asparagus
  • chives
  • garlic
  • leeks
  • onions
  • shallots
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    NIGHTSHADE FAMILY

The nightshade family includes…

  • eggplant
  • peppers, both sweet and hot peppers
  • potatoes,  but not sweet potatoes
  • tomatoes

 

 

 

 

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POACEAE FAMILY

This family consists of nearly 12,000 species of  “grasses” or grains that are so very important to our every diets, including…

    • barley
    • corn
    • rice
    • rye
    • wheat
    • A few examples: corn, rice, wheat, barley, oats, rye, and millet.

 

 

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ROSACEAE FAMILY

The Rosaceae family consists of herbaceous, woody plants with alternating leaves and pink flowers, such as…

  • apples
  • blackberries
  • cherries
  • pears
  • plums
  • raspberries
  • strawberries

 

 

 

 

 

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UMBELLIFERAE FAMILY

The umbelliferae family consists of those vegetables that produce the vcegetable part that we eat under the ground. Members of this family include…

  • carrots
  • parsley
  • dill
  • cilantro
  • fennel
  • celery
  • parsnips
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Broccoli…The What

Another vegetable with high antioxidant properties is broccoli.

Broccoli is the most common member of the family tree called cruciferous vegetables, a family that includes Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale, cabbage., collards, kale, mustard greens, and turnip greens. You may hear this family referred to as either the “mustard family” or the “cabbage family.”

Broccoli firsts started out as a type of wild cabbage way back during the Roman times, when it was enjoyed immensely by the Romans.

Broccoli did not gain popularity until the 1920’s, even though it had been ntroduced to the United States during colonial times,

The word “broccoli” is derived from an Italian word meaning “branch” or “arm,” which is a perfect description of its blossom-bearing, cross-shaped stems that resemble mini trees

There are several different types of broccoli, including…

  • Broccoflower,…a pale green hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower..
  • Broccolini ,,,baby broccoli that is a hybrid of broccoli and Chinese kale
  • Broccoli raab… this vegetable does not have the tree-like “heads” we’re used to, but instead has the same florets but on longer and thinner stems. I
  • Broccoli rapini,…this vegetable has fewer florets and a mustard-like flavor Chinese

Most broccoli grown in the United States comes from either California

China is the country that produces the most broccoli per year, over 8 million tons per year.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Blackberries…The How

Shopping for Blackberries

When shopping for blackberries, remember that the blacker the color, the riper and sweeter the blackberry will be.

The perfect blackberry has a “deep”-flavored and is very juicy.

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Storing Blackberries

Blackberries are highly perishable and delicate. They can turn soft, mushy, and moldy within 24 hours after bringing them home from the store, so you will want to either use them that same day or freeze them.

Once you do bring them home, check for any soft, overripe berries…as well as any squished or moldy berries. Gently blot the berries that you’re keeping with a paper towel and place them in a covered container in your fridge.

Do not wash the berries until you’re fixing to…_(yeah, I am from the Deep South)…to either eat them or cook with them.

To freeze blackberries…which is honestly the best way to use them to make smoothies…flash freeze them by first arranging the blackberries in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Then put the cookie sheet with the berries into the freezer. Freeze them until they are solidly frozen. Then put them to an airtight container or Ziploc bag, label, and date…..yeah, I do know that you can also buy prepackaged frozen berries, but we’re trying to avoid processed foods, remember?)

 

 

 

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Recipes

Blackberries have been used to make wines and cordials as far back as 1696..so they must taste pretty darn good, right?.

And of  course you could eat the blackberries that you have bought all by themselves, but why stop there, when you could use your blackberries to make great desserts such as cobbler, jelly, and smoothies. 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Blackberries—The Why

Blackberries have been used by many different ethnic groups of people for many different purposes….at least since the time of the ancient Greeks.

Blackberry tea made from the leaves, roots, and bark was used to treat oral problems, such as bleeding gums, canker sores, sore throats, anf mouth ulcers.

The roots have astringent properties that have been used to treat digestivce problems—such as diarrhea and stomach ulcers.

Blackberries have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral properties.

So let’s first look at the nutritional value in half a cup of blackberries.

 

 

 

 

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Nutritional Value

A half cup serving of blackberries roughly contains about 430 calories.

This same half cup also contains about half of a gram of fat, zero cholesterol, a miligram of sodium, about ten grams of carbohydrates.

Blackberries contain significant amounts of both soluble and insoluble fiberactually five grams of dietary fiber, or 25% RDV. Blackberries are also a good source of pectin, a type of soluble fiber that helps lower cholesterol levels.

As far as vitamins, this same half cup of blueberries contains…

  • Vitamin A…214 IU
  • Vitamin B1…thiamine…2%…0.020 mg
  • Vitamin B2…riboflavin…2%…0.026 mg
  • Vitamin B3…niacin…4%…0.646 mg
  • Vitamin B6…2%…0.030 mg
  • Vitamin B9…folate…6%…25 μg
  • Vitamin C…25%…21.0 mg…It has been documented that as far back as 1771 to treat scurvy.
  • Vitamin E…8%…1.17 mg
  • Vitamin K…19%…19.8 μg

In addition to these vitamins, blackberries also contain many minerals that we need, such as…

  • Calcium…3%…29 mg
  • Iron…5%…0.62 mg
  • Magnesium…6%…20 mg
  • Phosphorus…3%…22 mg
  • Potassium…3%…162 mg
  • Sodium…0%…1 mg
  • Zinc…6%…0.53 mg

 

 

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Antioxidants

But out main concern right now is antioxidants…and how we can get the most antioxidants into our daily diet…

And before you start adding antioxidants to your diet, you must first know what antioxidants are…


The word “sntioxidant” doesn’t actually refer to one particular chemical, but instead refers to a process that your cells perform called oxidation.

A few examples of antioxidants are vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and the minerals selenium and manganese.

 

Each of the antioxidants is its own individual and does a different job than all the other antioxidants, but together they form a team that fights free radicals, those chemicals that can damage your cells and the genetic material inside them.

Although there are hundreds and possibly thousands of substances that can act as antioxidants, each with its own role in the cooperation of other antioxidants to help the body work effectively, let’s take a look at a few of the more “popular” ones…

 

 

1.Beta-carotene…Beta-carotene is a pigment—which can be yellow, orange, or red—is found in many vegetables and fruits…including carrots, squash, and spinach. Beta-carotene is important for your vision.

2. Flavonoids. There are more than 4,000 of different flavonoids found in fruits and veggies. Every plant contains a different flavonoid combination. Flavonoids are important in protecting you from heart disease, cancer, arthritis, aging, cataracts, memory loss, stroke, inflammation, and infection. Flavonoids can be found in green tea, grapes, red wine, apples, chocolate, and berries.

3. Lycopene...Lycopene help protect your body from cancer—specificaxlly prostate, lung, and breast cancer. Good sources of lycopene include cooked and processed tomatoes, such as the pasta sauce you used last night of your spaghetti.

 

4. Omega-3 Fatty AcidsOmega-3 fatty acids help protect against heart disease, stroke, arthritis, cataracts, and cancer. Omega-3 fatty acids are commonly found in salmon, tuna, sardines, and walnuts…

5. Omega-6 Fatty Acids...Omega-6 fatty acids help improve eczema, psoriasis, and osteoporosis. Omega-6 fatty acids can be found in vegetable oils, nuts, and poultty.

6. Selenium,,,Selemium helps your thyroid work and also can help protect against cancer—especially lung, colon, and prostate cancer. Sources of selenium include onions, garlic, and soybeans.

7. Vitamin C.…Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is another essential antioxidant that possibly helps prevent cancer—epecially stomach cancer, lung cancer, and cancer within the digestive system. You can get more vitamin C into your diet by eating green vegetables, tomatoes, and citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits.

8. Vitamin EVitamin E fights off free radicals that attack fats in your cell walls….and also keeps LDL cholesterol from hardening your arteries. Good sources of vitamin # include whole grains, vegetable oils (olive, sunflower, canola), nuts, and green leafy vegetables

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Attain and Maintain

We all know that eating vegetables is so very important…in fact, how many billions of times did we hear out mothers tell us to “eat your vegetables” as we were growing up.

Yet 84% of Americans do not eat the recommended four daily servings of vegetables each day…including yours truly.

But instead of taking days and days to blog about the details of all the remaining leafy greens, let’s simply take a look at why you should consider adding leafy greens, and other vegetables to your breakfast planning…assuming that you do eat breakfast in the first place.

But how many of us are actually eating breakfast, and how many of us think of veggies as the shining star of the breakfast buffet? Who want veggies when there are tastier things such as donuts and bagels within arm’s reach also?

Eating leafy greens and veggies first things in the morning allows you to run out the front door…or garage door…and down your driveway with a grin on your face….

Well, actually not that…

But eating leafy greens and other veggies for breakfast can play an important role in helping you attain and maintain a healthier lifestyle.

Eating a healthy breakfast that includes leafy greens, and other vegetables, will…

  • add vitamins and minerals to your diet
  • curb morning carb cravings
  • encourage you to use veggies in your other meals also
  • help you meet your daily fiber, protein and protein needs
  • help you stay alert and full of energy all day long.
  • keep you from feeling less hungry later and running to the nearest vending machine or fast food place

Half the battle of being able to grab and go as far as breakfast is concerned is to plan ahead.

Look here at my previous post for a list of breakfast ideas and recipes.

But what are some more ideas for breakfast…and what are some ways to add veggies to your breakfast repertoire?

Keep reading!!!

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Visions of Veganism—Butter

Butter is important in baking because it gives your foods color, flavor, and acts as an emulsifier.

Yet butter is one of those products that is looked down and frowned upon my vegans…

So what I am supposed to use instead so that I can make my sour cream pound cake where my vegan daughter can eat it also…after all this pound cake does call for two whole sticks of butter…definitely a Southern recipes, right?!

 

1.Applesauce…Applesauce can be used in baking…(more on this next post)…Applesauce can be usedf as alternative for butter. Applesauce makes your baked goods have a very  moist. texture.  Other “politically correct” options worth checking into include avocado and nut butter…(more on these later also)…

 

2. Coconut Butter or Margarine…These both can be used in recipes instead of butter. Neither of them contain cholesterol. Choose coconut  butte if you want your cookies, cakes, and so forth to have a  richer flavor, margarine adds a milder taste. Two goo options are Artisana Foods Coconut Butter and Earth Balance Soy Garden Buttery Spread..

 

3, Coconut Oil…Organic coconut oil often gets a bad rep, but if used in moderation this is a good alternative. Coconut oil usually works great  for nearly all baking needs as a substitute for butter.

.Coconut oil has a fairly mild, neutral flavor and is much more cost effective than most other vegan butter substitutes. When substituting coconut oil, you will want  to use the coconut oil as a solid at room temperature and substitute it cup for cup.

To use coconut oil as a substitute, replace the original ingredient amount with 3/4 coconut oil and 1/4 water. Mix the coconut oil and water together before adding to your recipe.

 

4, Homemade Vegan Butter…Trtue vegans that have enough,  if not perhaps too much,  time on their hands often try making their own homemade vegan butter This can be quite a time-consuming project though.

Non-Hydrogenated Butter Substitute….such as Earth Balance Buttery Sticks or a similar vegan butter substitute…

How many of us keep these products on hand on a regular basis…or else are also avoiding over-processed foods…or refuse to pay the extra money to buy these products.

 

5. Oil…Oil is typically not a good ingredient in baking recipes because it has low nutritional value and too many calories….but if the recipe the recipe that you are making does call for oil instead of butter, choose a “neutral” oil, such as rapeseed oil, so that the oil does not leave a strong, strange flavor.

You could also try EVVO…extra-virgin olive oil…but this will probably give your baked goods a funky taste.

 

6. Vegan Margarine…Margarine is another option for a butter substitute. You can find vegan margarines in almost all supermarkets these days…

Most vegan margarines are soy-based, but be careful because often these soy-based margaines contain whey, which is a dairy product and totally defeats your efforts in turning a recipe into a vegan recipe.

Margarine can also be bad for your health due to the hydrogenation….so bad that you would actually be better off using butter instead….if you’re going vegan primarily for health reasons and can do so without a “guilty conscience.”

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making Marvelous Muesli

So now that we know what muesli is…how do we make our own…and what do we do with it once we have it made?!
Making your own muesli is super easy and takes only about five minutes to go…a perfect combination of nuts, seeds, and oats that is perfectly healthy and perfectly filling.

 

 

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The Math

Making your own muesli is also more of a mathematical formula…than a method that must be mastered….a matter or proportions and personal preference…
Typically you will want to use about…
  • 4 cups grains
  • 1 1/2 cups nuts/seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit

Start with a ratio of four parts grain + one part nuts/seeds + one part dried fruit.

Keep in mind that the more fruit you add, the sweeter it will be. The more nuts you throw in, the more expensive your grocery bill. Remember, also, that the grains will become soft when combined with milk or yogurt. Muesli with extra nuts will be overly crunchy; muesli with lots of fruit will be very chewy.

 

 

 

 

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The Grains

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Nuts/Seeds…1 cup

 

Nuts and seeds—such as…
  • Brazil nuts
  • cashews
  • chia seeds
  • coconut flakes
  • hazelnuts
  • macadamias
  • peanuts
  • pecans
  • pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • pistachios
  • poppy seeds
  • sesame seeds
  • sliced almonds
  • sunflower seeds
  • unsweetened coconut flakes.
  • walnuts

will give your muesli a delicious crunch,,,not to mention te fact that nuts and seeds will make your muesli even healthier because they contain omega-3 fatty acids and protein.

Choose any nut, seed, combination that you like…or omit them altogether if you’re allergic to them or simply don’t like them.

 

Before mixing your ingredients together, also take the time to toast your nuts in the same way that you do your grain. This will not only give the nuts a little extra crunch, but also make them more flavorful.

Don’t add oil or any other liquid to the pan when toasting your grains and nuts. Toasting the nuts release their oils, so anything added will make your muesli taste a little greasy.

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The Fruit…1C

 

The third ingredientw that you will want to add to your muesli—now that you have stirred together your grains and nuts/seeds, is/are fruit(2)…Dried fruit will add both sweetness and chewiness to your muesli.

This can be any fruit that you like…as long as it’s dried and not fresh. Adding fresh fruit will make your muesli too soft and cause it turn bad much more quickly.

There are no set-in-stone rules as far as what fruits to add…simply choose whatever fruits that you and your family like.

A few ideas as far as what fruits you could add…as long as they are dried or dehydrated…are…

  • apple chips
  • apricots
  • bananas
  • blueberries
  • cherries
  • cranberries
  • currants
  • dates.
  • figs
  • mango
  • papaya
  • raisins
  • strawberries

Here are a few things to remember…as far as adding fruit to your muesli…

  • Add only enough d  to make your granola taaste seweter…but nout so much that your granola is too sweedt.
  • Avoid dried fruit that contains added sugar.
  • Chop up your dried fruit into bite-sized pieces before adding to your muesli.
  • Do not add any additional sugar to your muesli. You shouldn’t need it…and as we already know…it’s not good for you.
  • Experiment until you find the “perfect” recipe.Avoid dried fruit that contains added sugar.
  • Make sure that any dried fruit that you use does not contain dded sugar.
  • Save fresh fruit for when you actually get ready to eat your muesli.

 

 

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 The Spices

If you would like your muesli to have even more of a taste that your family will enjoy, feel free to add spices.  Spice (that are often used to make your muesli more flavorful include cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, and ginger,

Store a cinnamon stick, a few whole cloves, or a vnanilla bean with your muesli to infuse different flavors.

 

 

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Stirring Your Muesli

Now that you have put all of your “stuff” into a container, put the lid on the container and shake until everything is combined.

 

 

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Storing Your Muesli

Store the muesli in an airtight glass jar or plastic container. Your muesli will stay good for  up to two months as long as it stays dry.

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Serving Your Muesli

 

The easiest way to enjoy your muesli is to add milk or stir it into some yogurt.  Waiting for about ten minutes to half an hour before eating it will soften up the grains a little.

You could also soak your muesli in milk overnight….at a 1:1 ratio. To make overnight oats, combine 2/3C muesli wotj 23C milk in a small lidded container. Refrigerate overnight. Enjoy cold in the morning.

A third option is to heating your muesli in the microwave before serving.

 

Soaking or cooking your muesli will break down the oats, making them easier to chew and digest…and making the muesli more nutritious becsuse the nutrients—such as the fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants. vitamins, protein, omega 3 and minerals found in muesli—are more easily absorbed by your body.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Every Mom Knows the “Best” Thing of Waking Up Is Definitely NOT Coffee

  I am so not a morning person…definitely NOT a morning person.

In fact, I am so not a morning person that the Friday before the “resident fivec year old” starts kindergarten, we are moving right smack dab across the street from his elementary school…

So close in fact that you can spit at the front door of the school from my own front door…(not that I ever would even really try)…and so close that if I make the school crossing guared cookies or brownies once a week, I might get curbside service.

Why am I so excited about moving so close to the school?

Because I obviously can sleep later…and because so many of the mornings that my own girls were little…I would have to rush around in the morning trying to get them ready to go to school…and so many times they went to school without having eaten breakfast.

But this year…especially now that I am older and wiser…is gonna be difference…

I am going to make sure that breakfast is a priority…

How do I play on making breakfast more of  a priority?

By planning and cooking as much as possible ahead of time…and making my own products so that if they don’t get eaten, I have the frustration of having made it, only to be thrown away…isntead of getting to blame the Kellogg’s or Post company because their product was simply not something that my kids liked.

In other words…I went to all the time and trouble to make this for you…and how dare you not like it or appreciate all that time and effort…

Anyone else ever felt that way?!…

Be honest…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

A Watched Pot Never Boils

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Meat and Taters Around the World—Sweden

Getting my five year old ready to start “real school” in the fall has reminded how there’s always one of THEM in almost any crowd…

The sibling that gets your mom the most expensive gift of any other sibling

The nerd in the class that always aces the test that most of us have just failed

The homeroom mother eight months pregnant, kid in tow, perfectly organizing the homeroom Christmas…or whatever the heck THEY acknowledge the holiday as this week…party

The relative that brings the fanciest side dish to the Thanksgiving side dish to the annual “let’s all get together and pretend like we all like each other once a year” ordeal…

Your sister in law was so proud of her mashed potatoes…until you showed up with your twice-baked potatoes…

But lo and behold…here comes THAT sibling…the one you’ve competed with and lived in the shadows of your entire life walking in fashionably late with nothing but…

HASSELBACK POTATOES

We can all thank Leif Elisson for being the overachiever in his cooking school and creating these potatoes back in 1953…when he was a chef in training at the famous restaurant at the Hasselbacken Hotel in Stockholm…an elegant hotel that first opened in 1748.

By the way the word Hasselback actually translates  “Hazel Hill.”

In fact, they can’t be possibly be as hard as they look like they would be to make if the Swedes enjoy them not only for “red calendar day” events…but also for breakfast, appetizers, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

They are basically a baked potato…so I’m not gonna go into depth as far as cooking them…already talked about that in this previous post…

These just go extra by requiring that you make a special series of deep parallel cuts along the top of the potato so that it opens into their expected fan shape….and then so that you can showboat various toppings on top.

Surprisingly these potatoes only take a little more effort than a regular baked potato…and can make such an impact when served alongside a special dinner—such as a holiday roast, date night steak, or Easter ham.

The perfect Hasselback potatoes have perfectly crispy, crunchy, and golden edges of French fries on the outside…the soft, buttery, creamy goodness of mashed potatoes on the inside….and the perfect amounts of cheddar, Parmesan cheese, fresh chives, sour cream, bacon, crumbled feta, spring onions, etc. 

 

 

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PREP

Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet or a 9×13-inch pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Arrange a rack in the bottom third of the oven and heat to 425°F.

 

 

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SLICE

The one thing that separates a hasselback potato from a plain everyday baked potato is the way it is cut.

So settle on bringing mashed potatoes or twice-baked potatoes to the party until you master the technique.

First of all, it is important that you choose a good quality knife to cut your potatoes—one with a thin blade that is very sharp…(and have the number to the nearest CareNow clinic close at hand.)…

Slice a thin layer from the bottom of the potato to keep it from rolling around.

Place a potato between the handles of two wooden spoons or two chopsticks. This creates a “guardrail” that should help keep you from slicing the potato all the way through….the most important thing to not do whenever making this dish…(other than cooking them too long and burning both your potatoes and perhaps even your house.)

Another option to help guide you as you are making your cuts is to rest the potato in a large serving spoon.

Cut thin parallel slits about every 1/4″ across each of the potatoes, leaving 1/4″ at the bottom intact. The thinner the slices, the better the end result.

Push the knife straight down into the potato. Once your knife hits the chopsticks or edge of the spoon, stop slicing. Once again, it is important to make sure that the slices stay connected at the bottom of the potato.

Don’t worry about your slices being perfect, they will end up great regardless.

If all else fails, and you still suck at this, then order yourself a Hasselback potato cutting board…they’ll still be impressed…

Repeat with the remaining potatoes, sertting each on the prepared baking sheet once sliced.