Simple Skillet Roasted Potatoes

“You learn to cook so that you don’t have to be a slave to recipes. You get what’s in season and you know what to do with it.” – Julia Child

 Truer words have never been spoken, and from none other than the late great Chef and my personal inspiration.   I would like to think that Julia would appreciate this recipe.  As the title indicates, it’s simple.  But more importantly it’s based on technique and open to countless variations.   Just like making an omelette or roasting a chicken, everyone should master the art of roasting potatoes.  Once mastered , you’ll go back to this recipe time and time again, maybe varying the seasoning or garnishing with some different herbs.  The key being you won’t even need to look up the recipe and that…is what learning to cook is all about.

In theory, roasting potatoes should be as easy as boiling an egg or toasting bread, right?  Ironically, I struggled for years to nail down this recipe.  Digging below the surface you find many elements: the perfect size to cut the potatoes, the right amount of olive oil, cooking temp and time.  My goal was always to get them just crispy enough on the outside, tender on the inside.   After much trial and error, I finally got it!  With, of course, a lot of help from  Penzeys Shallot Pepper seasoning and my cast iron skillet.

Three MUST HAVES before we get to the recipe:  I highly recommend the pan of a thousand uses: Lodge 10.25″ Cast Iron Skillet.  A pan that Martha Stewart once proclaimed an “essential kitchen tool”.    You can purchase a new, pre-seasoned skillet on Amazon for a mere $14.88.  Ready to use right out of the box and will just get better with age.  You may certainly roast these on a sheet pan but I find the heat retention of the cast iron makes for the best roasted potatoes.

Along with your cast iron skillet, the second must have is a recent addition to my kitchen :  The Ringer stainless steel cast iron cleaner.  Why did I not know about this sooner?

This super strong, chain mail makes cleaning cast iron a breeze and gets a full 5 stars on Amazon with almost 5,000 reviews and it’s only $13.99!

Last but not least,  the secret ingredient for my perfectly roasted potatoes: Penzeys Shallot Pepper seasoning.

In fact both these seasonings are so wonderful, I am giving them away to one lucky person (see my Dinner Is Served Facebook page) for details.  I use the Shallot Pepper seasoning on everything.  The Mignonette Pepper is a new discovery, and we’re in love with it as well.  A combination of black & white pepper along with some coriander, it’s fabulous on steak and beef roasts.

For my perfect potatoes, though,  the Shallot Pepper is THE way to go.IMG_0023 1

I think new potatoes work best for this recipe, or Yukon Gold.  Russets have a bit of a drier texture although the outsides tend to get more crispy so if you like your roasted potatoes on the crispy side, then russets are the way to go!

Finally note the recipe as written serves about 2 people but of course can easily be doubled or tripled, etc.  They’re a perfect summer side with grilled steaks or chicken and of course in the fall and winter along side roasted meats and poultry.  Honestly I could probably eat a plate full of them alone for dinner and be perfectly content.

I hope you enjoy these potatoes as much as we do!

Until next time, eat well, be well and love lots

Simple Skillet Roasted Potatoes

  • 2 cups red or fingerling potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ to 1 tsp Penzeys Shallot Pepper Seasoning (see NOTE>)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ TBS olive oil
  • 1 TBS chopped fresh parsley or chives

Preheat oven to 420°. Combine potatoes, seasonings and olive oil in an oven proof skillet, preferably cast iron (or a lightly greased 8×8” glass baking dish).  Toss to coat.  Bake in oven for about 20 minutes, then stir.  Bake for another 15-20 minutes until light golden brown on the outside.  Be sure to check on the potatoes at the 35 minute mark!  Give one a taste test and if tender, remove from oven and tent with foil until ready to serve.  Garnish with parsley or chives.

Serves 2

NOTE> If you aren’t using the Shallot Pepper seasoning, you can always season with salt and pepper alone, just keep the pepper to about 1/2 tsp or less, depending on your taste.

Thanksgiving Mashed Potatoes


Thanksgiving Mashed Potato Casserole - Dinner Is Served 3Thanksgiving has always held a special place in my heart.  A wonderful mix of comfort food, family time.  And chaos.  A little of which is expected but too much can quickly turn the fun family celebration into “next year we’re getting take-out!”   One of the biggest culprits in that mix of kitchen calamity: mashed potatoes.

To be clear, mashed potatoes are a MUST at my family’s Thanksgiving dinner if for no other reason than to serve as a vessel to hold all the delicious gravy.  But that last minute mashing and hauling out of the hand mixer or ricer and “how do we keep them warm while we carve the turkey” conundrum.

The solution?  This incredibly easy make-ahead mashed potato casseroleThanksgiving Mashed Potato Casserole - Dinner Is Served 5 Buttery Yukon Gold potatoes are whipped with a little sour cream and topped with a golden, crunchy Parmesan/Panko topping.  And best of all: IT CAN ALL BE prepped up to three days before so no frantic, last minute mashing!

A couple of recipe notes. You may certainly use any kind of potatoes you wish, although I am very partial to the Yukon Golds when it comes to mashed potatoes.  Purchase the largest ones you can find to minimize the amount of peeling.Thanksgiving Mashed Potato Casserole - Dinner Is Served 1

And speaking of peeling, if you don’t already own a Zyliss Vegetable Peeler, BUY ONE NOW!  For about $9 and free shipping (if you’re an Amazon Prime member), you will get a peeler that will peel vegetables with such ease, you’ll wonder how you ever got along with out it.  WELL WORTH THE MONEY!Thanksgiving Mashed Potato Casserole - Dinner Is Served 2

Another item worth purchasing for this dish and countless others is a jar of Trader Joe’s Seasoning Salt.  It’s wonderfully balanced and adds a nice depth of flavor without overwhelming the dish.Trader Joe's Seasoned Salt

Lastly a plug for using freshly grated Parmesan cheese in all that you cook. If you can spring for the real deal, Parmigiano Reggiano, go for it!  Otherwise there are plenty of domestic brands that taste great (BelGioioso’s Parmesan Cheese is a fave).Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

The more you can do ahead of time, the more you can spend with your family and loved ones and enjoy a chaos-free holiday.  Until next time, be well, eat well and love lots!

Thanksgiving Mashed Potato Casserole*

  • 7 TBS softened unsalted butter + more to grease pan
  • 3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 TBS + 3/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp Trader Joe’s Seasoning Salt (or other brand of seasoned salt)
  • 3/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Dash paprika
  • Chopped chives (optional)

Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish (See Note 1>)  and set aside.

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water by about 1 inch. Add 1 TBS salt and partially cover.  Bring to a boil over high heat then lower heat, uncover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are just tender and still holding their shape.

Drain, then place potatoes back in the pot.  Place pot over medium heat, shaking pan, for about 30 seconds to let some of the excess moisture evaporate.  Remove from heat.

Mash potatoes using either a ricer, potato masher or hand mixer (see Note 2>).  Add 5 TBS of the butter, sour cream, 3/4 tsp each: Kosher salt, Seasoned Salt and white pepper.  Using a rubber spatula, spoon potatoes into prepared baking dish. (Can be prepared up to three days ahead.  Cover and refrigerate.  Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before final baking).

Combine in a small bowl, remaining 2 TBS softened butter, Panko breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese.  Using your fingers, break up butter and combine to form coarse crumbs.  (If making ahead, cover and refrigerate.  Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before final baking).

Heat oven to 400°.  Sprinkle crumbs over the top of the casserole.  Sprinkle a little paprika over top.  Bake until golden and bread crumb topping is golden, about 30 minutes (Note> If you double recipe, it may take up to 40 minutes).

Remove from oven.  Garnish with fresh chives and serve.

Serves: 6

*Recipe adapted from New York Times

NOTE 1> If doubling recipe, use a 9×13-inch baking pan

NOTE 2> For fluffy, super smooth mashed potatoes, nothing works like a Potato Ricer.   Standard Potato Mashers get the job done, although more likely to leave some lumps behind (which…some people LIKE lumps!).  Last but not least, a sturdy Hand Mixer will get the job done in no time.  Just be sure not to over mix or potatoes will become gummy.

NOTE 3> For a gluten free version, use Kikkoman’s Gluten Free Panko Breadcrumbs.

Thanksgiving Mashed Potato Casserole - Dinner Is Served



Smash Roasted New Potatoes with Lemony Herb Butter Sauce

Smash Roasted Potatoes with Lemony Herb Butter Sauce | Dinner Is ServedI grew up in what I like to refer to as the “Tang era.”   That powdery orange drink was all the rage in the 1960’s and 1970’s. It went to the moon so what’s not to love about it, right?  Unfortunately, Tang was the tip of the convenience food iceberg that consisted of over processed, industrialized food with colors not found in nature. Why enjoy freshly squeezed orange juice when you could be drinking….Tang!

Convenience food was IN, but on the whole, the food landscape during my childhood was pretty bleak.

Those dark days of cooking were eventually salvaged by the likes of Julia Child and Alice Waters who taught us that cooking could not only be fun, but cooking with natural/real ingredients and a handful of solid techniques could be even better.  Thank heavens my mom (who of course gave in to our constant clamoring for Pop Tarts, Snack Pack Pudding and the “Holy Grail” of convenience food: Swanson’s Frozen TV Dinners), regularly prepared dishes from scratch. And her buttery, new potatoes with dill were one of my absolute favorites.New Potatoes

In praise of mom’s Dill Potatoes, I’ve created my own *updated* version here using my latest most favorite smashed and roasted technique for the potatoes and finished with a lemony fresh sauce with honest to goodness real fresh dill and also some chives.  Actually the roasted potatoes are outstanding all on their own.  Just parboiled for about 20 minutes, then gently pressed (perhaps “smashed” is too violent a term here?), brushed with a little olive oil and finished in a 425° oven for about 30 more minutes:

Smash Roasted New Potatoes | Dinner Is Served

Tempted as I was to just stop with the plain roasted potatoes, I felt the need to take it to the next level with some of the herbs that were popping up in my spring garden.

Smash Roasted New Potatoes with Lemony Herb Butter | Dinner Is Served

With some butter of course, and fresh lemon, all gently melted together just to blend

Lemony Herb Butter Sauce | Dinner Is Served

This simple little sauce can be used on just about anything:  Vegetables, chicken, fish, grilled shrimp and pasta.  You can also vary the herbs based on what you have available.  Any delicate herb, like parsley, basil, tarragon, chervil, etc will add a uniqueness to the sauce.

As the French say “master a good butter sauce and you’ve conquered the culinary world.”

Well ok actually the French may not have said exactly that but the point remains that fresh is always best and my mom’s dill potatoes ruled the day.  In total gratitude, I salute you:Smash Roasted Potatoes with Lemony Herb Butter Sauce |  Dinner Is Served

Smash Roasted New Potatoes with Lemony Herb Butter Sauce

  • 2 # red skinned potatoes, scrubbed and left whole
  • 1/8 cup + 1 TBS olive oil
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • Chopped fresh dill and chives (about 1/4 cup in total)
  • 1/4 tsp. flour ** (for Gluten Free – substitute rice flour)
  • 3 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 lemon, zest of
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425°

Place potatoes in a large saucepan with cold water to cover and a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Drain well.

Spray a sheet pan with non-stick spray or line with non-stick foil.  Place potatoes onto pan and using a glass or jar gently press down on each potato so it is slightly flattened and a little cracked. Using the 1/8 cup olive oil, lightly brush the tops of the potatoes and season with salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven for an additional 30 minutes.

While the potatoes are roasting, melt the butter with the remaining 1 TBS olive in a skillet over very low heat until just melted.  Add remaining ingredients until just blended then take off heat.

Spoon sauce over roasted potatoes and sprinkle with some additional fresh herbs just before serving.

Serves 4-6

Sauteed New Potatoes with Sugar Snap Peas & Chives

Sauteed New Potatoes with Sugar Snap Peas & Chives | Dinner Is ServedFor me, Spring does not officially start until the chives appear in my little backyard garden. I can’t even remember how long ago I planted them, but it has to be at least 15 years ago by now. Through every harsh winter, rain soaking spring and blistering hot summer, they not only survive, they flourish.  Some years they flourish too much, and I find myself late summer, yanking rogue plants that pop up everywhere, while uttering some choice words.

But for now, they’re precious and welcome. As is this dish, which celebrates the best of spring with new potatoes, crispy green sugar snap peas, a touch of bright lemon and of course chives.

Sauteed New Potatoes with Sugar Snap Peas & Chives | Dinner Is ServedIn fact, these sugar snap peas are so beautiful, I think they deserve a moment all to themselvesSugar Snap PeasPreparation is fast and incredibly simple. Just simmer some new potatoes in lightly salted waterSauteed New Potatoes with Sugar Snap Peas and Chives| Dinner Is ServedA last minute saute brings everything togetherSauteed New Potatoes with Sugar Snap Peas & Chives | Dinner Is ServedCan you imagine this served with your Easter ham? It’s also the perfect accompaniment to my Sautéed Lemony Pepper Chicken.  Or if you’re in a seafood state of mind, try it alongside my Broiled Scotch Salmon.

Spring has officially sprung here in Chicagoland my friends, and I am looking forward to many months of grilling, farmers markets and sunshine.  And a final word of advice on the chives: seriously, snip off those purple flowers and add them to your salads. They’re beautiful AND you won’t have 10,000 seedlings to pull in August.


Sautéed New Potatoes with Sugar Snap Peas & Chives

1 1/2 # red new potatoes, rinsed and scrubbed

10 oz. fresh sugar snap peas

2 TBS olive oil

1/4 cup fresh chopped chives

1 tsp lemon zest

Fresh coarse ground pepper and Kosher salt

  • Cut the potatoes into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Place in a medium pan and cover with cold water. Add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Then reduce heat slightly and simmer for about 15 minutes or until just barely tender. Drain and set aside.
  • While potatoes are cooking, remove strings from sugar snap peas (if necessary).
  • Heat a large non-stick skillet for about 1 minutes over medium heat. Add olive oil and sugar snap peas. Add a pinch or two of salt and saute over medium heat until just crisp tender, about 2 minutes.
  • Add potatoes to skillet and saute until just heated through, about 1 minute longer.
  • Season to taste with additional Kosher salt and several grinds of pepper.
  • Just before serving, sprinkle with lemon zest.

Serves 4 as a side dish

Grilled Potato & Zucchini Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Grilled Potato & Zucchini Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette | Dinner Is ServedI appear to have a complete obsession with potatoes lately.  For the life of me, I can’t tell  you why they have been popping up here on my blog page with such regularity other than the fact that I have always loved potatoes and keep coming up with new and different ways to enjoy them!  I also love grilling summer vegetables, so it just seemed natural to bring these two together with some fresh herbs and a tangy mustard vinaigrette dressing.   I also wised up and FINALLY (after, what, 20+ years of serious cooking), purchased a gorgeous, stainless steel Weber® grill pan.  I can already tell we’re going to be best friends for life:

Grilled Potato & Zucchini Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette | Dinner Is Served

I also made a decent sized batch of my favorite Mustard Vinaigrette dressing using a nearly empty jar of TJ’s Dijon mustard.  Just add the ingredients to the jar (minus the mustard of course because it’s already in the jar) and give it a few good shakes.  This vinaigrette will keep for a good two weeks in the fridge and is perfect not only for salads, but grilled vegetables and as a marinade.

Food prep here is quick and silly simple.  Just par boil some potatoes for about 15 minutes

Grilled Potato & Zucchini Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Drain and while the potatoes are cooling, cut up some fresh summer zucchini, or any other kind of squash of your preference.  Toss with some olive oil, garlic salt and pepper:

Grilled Potato & Zucchini Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Cut up the cooled potatoes and repeat with the garlic salt, pepper and olive oil.  Then onto the grill it goes, until lightly charred.  Toss with just enough of the dressing to flavor the salad and serve immediately warm, or you can also serve at room temperature.

Grilled Potato & Zucchini Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Served this last night with a fabulous Red Wine & Coffee Marinated Sirloin Steak from Fine Cooking Magazine and a nice Cotes du Rhone from Trader Joes (2013 Laurent DuBlanc).  All in all, one fine meal.   I love you, potatoes and new grill pan.  BFF’s 4EVER ♥

Grilled Potato & Zucchini Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

For the vinaigrette:

1 TBS Dijon mustard

3 TBS white wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar

1 medium garlic clove, crushed

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and coarsely ground pepper to taste

For the salad:

1 3/4 pounds of new potatoes, scrubbed

2 medium zucchini squash

Fresh herbs (basil, thyme, tarragon or parsley)

Garlic salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Extra Virgin olive oil

Place all the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a glass jar.  Cover and shake until emulsified.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place the potatoes in a sauce pan with cold water and a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until just barely tender, about 15 minutes.  Drain and rinse under cool water.  Set aside to cool.

While potatoes are cooling, slice zucchini crosswise into 1 1/2-inch pieces, then cut each piece in half.  Toss with some olive oil,  garlic salt and pepper.

Cut small potatoes in half or quarter if large.  In a separate bowl, toss with olive oil, garlic salt and pepper.

Preheat a grill pan for about 10 minutes over medium-high heat.  When hot, add zucchini and potatoes.  Grill, turning occasionally, until lightly charred, about 10 minutes.

Remove from grill and place in a serving bowl.  Toss with a few TBS of the vinaigrette and some fresh herbs.  Season with additional salt and pepper and serve immediately.  Or, cover loosely and serve at room temperature.


Serves 6

Pesto Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Pesto Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Gardens are funny things.  You check in on them every day (as you should), making note of what needs to be pruned, fertilized, or various weeds that threaten to take over.  And then one day out of nowhere, you’ll notice that HOLY COW…you suddenly have an abundance of something and you need to use it immediately!  Anyone who has grown cherry tomatoes or zucchini know this phenomenon well.

Such was the case with my sweet basil this year.  It took off in the blink of an eye.  Mind you, I am not complaining one bit.

Sweet Baril

The obvious comes to mind of course: pesto.  But  I’ve already give you: Ultimate Basil Pesto.  I’ve also done a very awesome Grilled Pesto Chicken and Tomatoes.   Are you tired of pesto yet?  Yep, I thought not.  So let’s go another round, this time with roasted potatoes.  Specifically, some very fun and colorful ones like this:

Fingerling Potatoes

Roasted initially with a little olive oil, salt and pepper:

Roasted FIngerling Potatoes with Pesto | Dinner Is ServedWhile the potatoes are roasting, just throw together a very simple pesto sauce made with fresh basil, garlic, shallots and olive oil (no pricey $$$ pine nuts in this recipe):

Pesto Roasted Fingerling Potatoes | Dinner Is Served

Which, when combined, look like this:

Pesto Roasted Fingerling Potatoes | Dinner Is Served

Can we pause a minute to admire the glory that is basil pesto? ——– Ahhhh.   So anyway, after an initial roasting, the potatoes are tossed with this piquant mixture then roasted a bit more.  Your kitchen will smell like heaven on earth at this point.  Just sayin.   Then just before serving, the final touch of awesomeness: some freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano:

Pesto Roasted FIngerling Potatoes | Dinner Is Served.

 If you’re wondering whether you have to use multi-colored fingerling potatoes for this recipe, the answer is a resounding “no”!  You can use anything you have or like, although I do happen to think that thin-skinned potatoes are the real ticket to success with this kind of roasting.  As for things to serve with this dish, the possibilities are endless.  Basically whatever comes off your grill this summer (steaks, beer can chicken, sausages, ribs…) will go will be happy sharing a plate with these savory spuds.

One final note before I get to the recipe, which I promise I will do.  Try making them ahead of time, reserving a little of the pesto.  Just before serving, toss with the reserved pesto and parmesan cheese.  So simple and delicious!


5 TBS olive oil

2/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves

1 large or 2 medium shallots, peeled and coarsely chopped

2 large or 3  medium garlic cloves, peeled

Nonstick vegetable oil spray or nonstick aluminum foil

2 1/2 # fingerling potatoes, scrubbed

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Blend 2 1/2 TBS olive oil, basil, shallots, and garlic in a food processor until smooth.  Season pesto to taste with salt and pepper (can be made up to a day in advance.  Cover and refrigerate).

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick spray or line with nonstick foil.  Toss the potatoes with remaining 2 1/2 TBS olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl to coat.  Transfer to prepared baking sheet.  Roast potatoes until almost tender, about 35 minutes.  Pour pesto over potatoes and toss to coat.  Continue roasting potatoes until golden brown and tender, about 15-20 minutes longer.

Transfer potatoes to a serving bowl.  Add cheese and toss.

Serves 6

Potatoes Baked in Salt, with Garlic & Rosemary Butter

Potatoes Baked in Salt with Garlic & Rosemary | Dinner Is Served

This past month my paying job and social calendar have prevented me from cooking creatively and posting on my blog.  Not to complain about the paying job or social life, mind you!  I actually enjoy what I do five days a week and am blessed to work with some of the best co-workers on the planet.  However it’s busy season in the field of graduate medical education so my days are long and the weekends have been booked, and I’m tired.  The most I have been able to do is throw some steaks on the grill and bake some potatoes last weekend for Father’s Day.

Ok so they weren’t your average “throw them in a 400° oven for an hour” baked potatoes, let me just say.  They were fan-flipping fantastic, blog worthy baked potatoes, they were.

The credit for these best ever baked potatoes ever goes to Chicago Tribune columnist, John Kass, who took a break from Chicago politics and wrote a column on this unique baking method in November, 2012.  In turn, Kass credits America’s Test Kitchen‘s Julia Collin Davison, who he refers to as the “Goddess of Baked Potatoes.”  John made some changes to the ATK recipe.  As he states in his column “…every cook futzes with another’s recipe.”   And I, in turn, futzed around with Mr. Kass’s recipe.  The true magic here lies in not the measurements but the technique itself.

Potatoes Baked in Salt with Garlic &amp Rosemary Butter |  Dinn

They are indeed as the title indicates, russet potatoes baked on a bed of Kosher salt with a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and whole garlic.  Finished with a heavenly roasted garlic, rosemary butter, which I kicked up with a little truffle salt.

Roasted Garlic Rosemary Butter

There is a science behind why this method works so well.  Why the outside stays crisp and the inside melts in your mouth.  I’m sure America’s Test Kitchen tested a thousand different methods before coming up with this one, singularly perfect way to bake a potato.  Thank god for food nerds.

If you’re concerned that these potatoes will turn out “salty,” let me assure you that if you just brush off the bit of salt that sticks to the bottom of the potatoes, they are not salty at all.  If you’re like me and think the best part of a baked potato is the skin, you’re in for a treat.  My only reservation about this method was that it seemed like a waste of perfectly good Kosher salt (I am solidly in the “no food shall go to waste” camp).  Then I remembered that I like to clean my cast iron pans with a little Kosher salt, and the leftover salt from the potatoes is perfect for this application.

Many thanks to Mr. Kass and the Goddess of Baked Potatoes for sharing this method and for elevating the humble baked potato to blog-worthy status.

Potatoes Baked in Salt, with Garlic & Rosemary Butter*

4 baking potatoes (see Note>), scrubbed and dried

2 1/2 to 3 cups Kosher salt

3 large sprigs fresh rosemary

2 heads of fresh garlic

Olive oil

4 TBS unsalted butter, softened

Truffle salt and black pepper (optional)

Equipment needed:

1 baking pan (ideally 9×13)

Aluminum Foil

Preheat oven to 450°.  Spread salt in an even layer in pan and lightly place the 4 potatoes atop the salt.  Important -> do not pierce the potatoes!  Add two sprigs of rosemary along the sides of the pan.  Cut a section off the top of each head of garlic and place at opposite corners of the pan.  Cover the entire pan with foil, crimping the edges to ensure a tight seal.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and raise the oven temp to 500°.  Remove rosemary sprigs and discard.  Remove garlic heads and reserve.  Lightly brush the tops of the potatoes with olive oil (do not move the potatoes).  Return pan, uncovered, to the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Meanwhile strip the leaves from the remaining sprig of fresh rosemary and finely chop (I usually end up with about 1 tsp).  In a bowl, combine chopped rosemary and softened butter.  Squeeze some of the garlic from the reserved heads of baked garlic and add to butter.  How much garlic and fresh rosemary you add is up to you (this is where the “futzing” comes into play).  Throw in a dash of truffle salt if desired and a grind or two of black pepper.  Mix well.

Remove potatoes from oven and pick each one up with a towel, gently scraping salt off the bottom of each.  Discard salt or save for another use.  Place each potato on a plate and break open the top with a fork.  Place a spoonful or two of the butter and serve.

Serves 4

Note> Brown skinned Idaho russet potatoes work best for this recipe.

* Recipe from Chicago Tribune’s John Kass and America’s Test Kitchen

Sauteed New Potatoes with Rosemary & Olives

Sauteed New Potatoes with Rosemary & Olives | Dinner Is ServedI may have just had these for breakfast.

Ok so I really did have these for breakfast this morning.  And also for dinner the other evening.  You see, these three ingredients (potatoes, rosemary, and olives) make me go weak in the knees.  Combine them all into one and resistance is futile.

Not to disparage classic roasted potatoes, but these are even better.  The potatoes remain perfectly tender and just slightly crispy on the outside.  And the rosemary stays fresh and bright.  The olives…oh my.  The icing on this cake, I tell you.

Speaking of rosemary, this poor plant of mine is currently sitting in a sunny window in my living room, looking pretty frazzled and definitely nowhere near as robust as when this photo was taken last summer. #iamsodonewithwinter2013-01-28 08.59.03A final few notes about this dish.  Feel free to jazz it up with a little crumbed feta cheese.  Serve it alongside almost anything (sauteed fish, chicken, lamb chops, steak..)  It can also be held at room temperature for a bit, making it a nice “make ahead” side dish.

And as previously mentioned, served cold for breakfast is pretty darned good as well.  Enjoy!

Sauteed New Potatoes with Rosemary & Olives| Dinner Is Served

Sauteed New Potatoes with Rosemary & Olives

  • 4 medium sized red potatoes (about 3/4 lb.) slices 1/4-inch-thick
  • 1 1/2 TBS olive oil
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary (each about 3-inches-long)
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 3 TBS roughly chopped parsley
  • 1 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring the potatoes to a boil in enough salted water to cover them by 1-inch.  Reduce the heat to a brisk simmer and cook until tender, but not falling apart, about 5 minutes.  Drain on paper towels to remove excess moisture.

In a heavy, medium skillet, heat up the olive oil until shimmering.  Add the potatoes and rosemary and cook, flipping occasionally, until the potatoes are tender and browned, about 4 minutes.  Add the olives, parsley, balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper.  Gently stir to combine and warm.  Serve immediately or hold at room temperature for up to an hour.

Serves 4 as a side dish

Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes on the Lighter Side

Yesterday, I more or less had dinner done at 8:30 in the morning.   With my favorite slow cooker pot roast simmering away, I was able to turn my attention to the long list of things to do on my day off.  The savory aromas of the pot roast, a welcome reminder of the dinner that would be on the table at 5:30pm.

But then there was the matter of the potatoes.  My daughter just had to have cheesy potatoes.  Which presented a problem, because I had no clue what she meant by cheesy potatoes.   Did I make them in a previous life?  Did a friend’s parents make them for her at some point and not give me the recipe?  Was this an entire fabrication?

Moments like this are when a well stocked pantry and the internet come in handy.  I had potatoes and a block of cheddar cheese and a gallon of milk.  I also had a recipe from one of my favorite food contributors, Ellie Krieger, from Food Network, that I was able to rework for the ingredients I had on hand.  And the best part?  Ellie was able to work her magic by making a light version of scalloped potatoes with NO BUTTER and 1% milk (are you listening Paula Deen?)

Enthusiastic thumbs up from all family members and didn’t put me over my calorie count for the day.  Cheesy potatoes?  Oh yeah, I got that one down now!

Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes on the Lighter Side


  • Olive oil spray
  • 3 pounds yellow potatoes, like Yukon gold, unpeeled, sliced into 1/4-inch slices OR 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 3 cups cold milk (1 percent low-fat)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large or 2 small sprigs thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese + 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, combined (or you may substitute 1 3/4 cup shredded gruyere cheese)
  • Freshly ground nutmeg
  • Dash hot sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt + 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 TBS chopped flat leaf parsley


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 2 quart, shallow baking dish with olive oil spray.

Put the potatoes into a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool slightly.

Put the milk and flour into a large saucepan and whisk until the flour is dissolved. Add the garlic and thyme and heat over a medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil and is thickened, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat, discard the thyme sprig, and stir in the salt, white pepper, a dusting of nutmeg and a few dashes of hot sauce.  Add 1 cup of the cheese and stir until melted.  Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary.

Arrange half of the potatoes in the baking dish. Pour over half of the cheese sauce. Add the remaining potatoes and top with rest of the sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.  If desired, add a few more sprinkles of Parmesan cheese.  Bake for 25 minutes, until bubbling. Put under the broiler and broil on high until the top is browned, about 2 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Serving size: about 1 cup

Roasted Spiced Sweet Potatoes

Well now isn’t this silly.  The one photo I chose above all to represent my food blog, was the pic of my roasted sweet potatoes.  I love the color, the contrast, the simplicity.  I should also mention that sweet potatoes happen to be one of my most very favorite things to eat on this planet.  You would think that surely I posted the actual recipe on my blog, wouldn’t you?

Negative.  Not a sweet potato recipe to be found.  Until now.

So here it is, in all its simplistic splendor. Exotic spices play off the sweet and tender potatoes.  A sight to behold, so feel free to present them at Thanksgiving or pair them with beef tenderloin for New Years Eve.  And yet they’re equally at home as a part of a weeknight family supper.  Kid tested and approved.  Healthy.

They’re at the top of my list.  And of course, will remain at the top of my food blog page.  Sweet.

Roasted Spiced Sweet Potatoes

1 tsp. coriander seeds

½ tsp fennel seeds

½ tsp dried oregano

½ tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp Kosher salt

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled

3 TBS vegetable oil

Put rack in middle of oven and preheat to 425 degrees.

Coarsely grind coriander, fennel, oregano, and red pepper flakes in coffee/spice grinder or in mortar with pestle.  Stir together spices and salt.  Cut potatoes lengthwise into 1-inch-thick wedges.  Toss with oil and spices in a roasting pan and spread over one layer.  Roast for 20 minutes.

Turn wedges over with a spatula and roast until tender and slightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes longer.

Serves 4 – 6