Recipe: Hasselback Potatoes by Mr. Chef

As the lucky recipient of Mr. Chef’s iterations of Hasselback potatoes, we couldn’t wait to share the deliciousness of this recipe. Beware: you may be used to our quick, delicious, and nutritious options and this is not how Mr. Chef operates; he pours a half-hour into making a salad and a few hours of labor and slow-cooking for a curry soup. What can we say? Opposites attract. If you have the patience of a saint or an oyster, give it a try. The pearl is worth it.

Ingredients:

Russet (or other) Potato – one per customer
Olive oil (or butter, for non-vegan customers)
Herbs – rosemary or thyme preferred – to taste
Vegan feta OR goats cheese (again, that would be non-vegan)
Oregano – a must in my mind


Step-by-step instructions: 

1. Make an oil/butter infusion: low temp heat oil/butter with herbs for as long as you can bear
2. While that’s going,
    a) put a potato on a cutting board, put chop sticks (or some other “stop” on the cutting board along its longest dimension
    b) Slice along the longest dimension to make a flat surface for the potato to stand firm while
    c) begin cutting at 1/8″ or 1/16″ intervals straight down (the thinner the better!).  The chop sticks prevent cutting it into separate slices.  The goal is to slice downward finely but not to cut the potato into slices – keep it whole.
    d) This will represent a lot of slices – as always, prep is the labor-intensive part.  Be careful to keep the blade perfectly perpendicular to the cutting board as you slice.  This might tax your knife skills a bit.  It’s worth it.  Carry on.
3. Cover potato(es) with oil/butter infusion, place in pre-heated oven at ~430 degrees Fahrenheit.  A parchment paper-covered flat baking sheet is best.
4. Wait an excruciatingly long time, like an hour or perhaps more depending on the volume of potato(es).
5. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly, apply vegan or anti-vegan cheese.  Cover in oregano.  Try to sort of “push” herb topping into the crevices formed by slicing.  Serve.

The outside should be crispy, with a circular gradation into the center becoming almost as smooth and soft as mashed potatoes.  While eating, the layers should fold into interesting patterns as the knife/fork scoop them up.

I’d never eaten one but discovered it while researching thanksgiving sides.  I am somewhat obsessed now.  It won’t be on the menu this year because it takes so long and requires a cooking temperature way over what’s recommended for a turkey.  Maybe save this for a quiet night in when time is no object.  But do it!

Recipe: Dairy-free Hot Chocolate ☕

Ready for a treat that won’t take you off track from your new year’s goals? Enter a healthier hot chocolate made with less added sugar, plant-based milk, and with the warm spice of cinnamon.

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

Ingredients

1 cup non-dairy milk (we used hazelnut but for extra creamy texture, try coconut milk)

1 tbsp cacao powder

1-2 squares of dark chocolate (85% or 90% cacao content for less added sugar)

1 cinnamon stick

1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

Heat 1 cup of non-dairy milk in a small saucepan. Whisk 1 tbsp of cacao powder in the hot milk and bring it to a boil. Then add vanilla extract and let it simmer for a few minutes on low heat. Pour into a cup and add 1-2 squares of dark chocolate. Stir and enjoy!

Recipe: DIY 2-ingredient Vanilla Extract 🎀

The difference between an ‘okay’ baked good and a spectacular one can be as simple as using a high-quality, concentrated vanilla extract. By making your own, you control these aspects instead of dealing with imitation or watered-down vanilla with synthetic ingredients. Give us the good stuff!

Being a ‘planner’ type, starting to create and buy holiday gifts in July is not unprecedented. This year, we were curious about making our own vanilla extract since we use it in coffee, our 5 Spice Hot Choffee, baking and pretty much everywhere. How hard could it be? Spoiler: it’s so easy and also rather fun. We decided to make 12 bottles and gift them to friends and family. You can do the same. While this recipe doubles as a gift idea, it triples as a way of making the most divine vanilla bean sugar (more on that later).

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

Makes 12 bottles

Ingredients & Items needed

2 packs vanilla bean pods (the 2 packs will yield 40 pods and this ensures at least 3 pods per bottle)

10 liters of 80-proof vodka (we bought the 1.75 liter gluten-free, non-GMO Blue Ice Potato Vodka brand and took home 6 of these puppies)

12 swing-top bottles (33oz size)

Funnels, if you don’t have them already

Instructions

Use clean or sterilized bottles (because there are plastic pieces attached, we skipped that step and did a normal cleaning of the bottles and waited for them to dry). Slice vanilla bean pods lengthwise (to expose more of the bean to the alcohol) and put 3-4 in each bottle. Then, using your funnel, carefully pour the vodka into each bottle, dividing evenly between the 12.

If all of this feels too much, here’s the store-bought organic vanilla extract we’ve historically used that sparked the idea for this recipe.

Let’s talk numbers and value.

The vodka, depending on brand quality, varies in price. Our total ran about $180 for the 6 bottles, $40 for the organic vanilla beans, $30 for the swing-top bottles and about $7 for the funnels. That’s about $21.42 per bottle and you’re getting about 29oz ounces in each bottle, more than 3x the amount of the 8oz versions in the store that go for almost $40. In fact, let’s get granular: the store-bought version linked above is $4.65 per fluid ounce whereas ours is $0.74. The value of each bottle, considering the more concentrated and higher-quality ingredients used – in addition to the labor of love involved, is well over $135. That’s vanilla gold right there.

Make the recipe suit you! Smaller bottles (8.5oz vs. 33oz) would drastically bring down the amount, and cost, of alcohol and vanilla bean pods needed.

Tips & best practices: each bottle should have about 3-4 pods for maximum flavor. Start early for next year – similar to wine, vanilla extract tastes better as it ages. Give the vanilla beans as little as 8 weeks to infuse or wait 6-12 months for the richer flavor to emerge. Keep in a cool, dark place and shake bottles once a week.

We love doing calligraphy, but there are plenty of ways to create your own custom stickers for your gift bottles. Enjoy!

Recipe: “The Blood of Care Bears”

In the quest for unending youth and beauty, legend has it that Countess Elizabeth Báthory would bathe in the blood of her human servant girls (over 600 are said to be victims of this female serial killer).

What have we done to the cherished Care Bears of your childhood? Worry not – Cheer Bear, Bedtime Bear, Good Luck Bear, and Love-a-lot Bear have not been mammocked or torn asunder. Their plush limbs have not been forced through our juicer; however, the color you see may belie that.

Thus, we have named this drink “The Blood of Care Bears” (though, as you’ll see, we much prefer the youth- and energy-enhancing properties of food). Your quest to become an enchantress can begin with your shopping cart.

Sidenote: juicing fruits and vegetables leftover at the end of the week is one of our favorite strategies to help prevent food waste, which is a major problem here in the U.S.

Have fun with it!

Prep time: 10 minutes for rinsing produce, chopping (if necessary) and set-up of juicer

Servings: about 2, 16 oz glasses

Ingredients

4 small beets

1 heart celery

1 whole cucumber

1/2 bunch of parsley (optional)

4 carrots

1-2 pears (depends on level of sweetness you desire)

1″ ginger root (it has some kick!)

Instructions

Remove seeds from fruit. With juicer set up, follow manufacturer’s directions for inserting fruits and vegetables carefully. The order recommended is generally softer produce followed by harder produce (so ending with ginger and beets). Juice until your heart’s content or you run out of produce. Fresh juice is best consumed immediately after juicing, though it may last 24-48 hours in the fridge.