Perfect Bite

Yesterday, I made a meal for an injured friend. At the onset of her Baltic cruise, she fell on her back and remained inside her inside cabin for the duration of the cruise.  The story gets worse, but you get the idea.  Anyway, my meal.  I wanted to keep it simple and “comfort foody.”  I chose gravy and turkey breast (roasted in gravy with mayo smeared all over it), a slightly spicy and really gooey squash casserole, and crock pot mashed potatoes with butter and cream cheese.  Can you picture all that on the plate–a study in whitish-grey?  It comforted about as much as a Robert Rauschenberg white painting.  And, frankly, it looked just as unappealing.  Too late to revamp (or too lazy), I decided to mock my aesthetically-challenged meal and added rolls, apple pie, and daisies to complete the look.

That night, my husband and I ate the other half of the main meal.  After serving our portions on bright blue plates, I couldn’t stand the blahness of it and threw in sugar snap green beans at the last minute.

OMG it was so yummy. Except for the last-minute green beans.  In fact, they really didn’t fit in at all. It would have been better tasting as an all-white creation.  Rauschenberg redeemed.

This brings me to my culinary epiphany: Why shatter the perfect velvety bite of cheesy casserole, gravied turkey, and mashed potatoes with crunch and…nutrition?

Crockpot Garlic Smashed Potatoes

  • potatoes—however many you want and a mixture of sweet & white
  • garlic cloves, minced—amount depends on your taste and # of potatoes
  • shredded onion—amount depends on # potatoes
  • cracked pepper to taste
  • chicken broth   For 8 potatoes, I use about 2 cups.
  • cream cheese—as much or as little as you like but don’t omit
  • butter—as much or as little as you like but don’t omit
  • whole milk or cream (optional)—unnecessary if you whip well.

Quarter potatoes to the same size. Place potatoes in a 4-6 quart slow cooker. Add garlic, onion, pepper, and broth and mix to coat. Cover crockpot and cook on high for 2 ½ –  4 hours until potatoes are tender.  Stir a bit here and there to incorporate the liquid into all of the potatoes.  Check every hour for doneness.

Mash potatoes roughly with a potato masher. Stir in cream cheese and butter. Whip and see if you want to add milk or cream. You can serve this right away or keep in the crockpot for up to 2 hours on warm.

If you have a new hotter cooking crockpot, check this after 2-1/2 hours. You might also want to stir the potatoes after 1-1/2 hours to prevent over browning or burning.

This can be transferred onto an oven-ready serving dish, sprinkled with shredded Gruyère, and broiled on low for 10 mins.

Summer Squash Casserole   Makes 6 servings

  • 5 cups summer squash, sliced    I suppose you could mix with zucchini.
  • 1  sm. can chopped green chilies
  • 2 TBL flour
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • ½  cup yellow onion, shredded    I use a box grater.
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, roasted & diced
  • 1 cup Gruyère, shredded
  • 1/3 cup salsa verde

Preheat oven to 400.

Coat 9 by 13 inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Mix squash, onion, chilies, peppers, scallions, and half of the cheese in pan.  Sprinkle with flour & toss to coat. Cover with foil. Bake the casserole until it is bubbling and the squash is tender, about 35 minutes.

Spoon salsa verde  and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese on top.  Bake, uncovered, until golden, about 30 minutes.

Turkey Breast

  • Turkey breast
  • Low-fat mayonnaise
  • Turkey gravy or broth (chicken or turkey)

Thoroughly dry the turkey breast.  Place in a sprayed roasting pan. Slather with low-fat mayo—on top of and under the skin.  Pour turkey gravy or broth around bottom  Cook at 350 for an hour, basting frequently.  Cover with foil if desired brownness is already achieved. Turn down to 250 and continue roasting until your trusty thermometer indicates doneness.  Let it rest.  Make gravy with the defatted liquid.  Save half the gravy for the next time and serve the other half.

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