Thursday, March 10, 2011


The last few weeks have been crazy busy. My little mind has been struggling to keep up with everything that has been going on. Here's a quick recap of just some of the things taking up my time and energy:
  • Snow, ice, and a wind...but in February and March, that is to be expected on the prairie. Old Man Winter often shows us one last hurrah before spring takes over.
  • A husband that was away for most of a week...which is totally awesome for him, because he so seldom does get time away from the farm.
  • Full-time cooking duty at the farm (because the regular cook, my Hubs, was away). 
  • Hubs' birthday...which we spent apart because he was out of town, and I was trying to pick up some of the slack at the farm.
  • Clean-up of some nasty messes...plaster dust here at home, because I FINALLY got back into the demolition for the renovation of my den/office (Do you really know how hard it is to clean up plaster dust? It permeates everything and floats in the air for days.) and mold at the farm because we learned that the new windows and siding on the house there have made things a little too air-tight.
  • Road trips for supplies...with a little sushi and Mexican food thrown in.
  • A cooking class featuring Indian foods. I had hoped that the elusive secret ingredient of a favorite Butter Chicken recipe would be revealed, but alas, the search continues.
  • Planning for the return of the shearing crew; having the schedule changed; and changed again; and changed yet again...I STILL don't know for sure when they will be here, but part of my menus are in place for when they do arrive.
  • Hosting a birthday dinner for my father-in-law's 80th birthday. (Menu of Chicken Fried Chicken, Garlic Smashed Potatoes, Buttermilk Gravy, Corn in Butter Sauce, Biscuits, Tossed Salad, and Strawberry Shortcake for dessert.)
  • Organizing an Open House reception and family gathering for said birthday (with the help of my sister-in-laws and their families).
  • Major surgery for my sister-in-law...which, thankfully, went well.
Of course, along with all of that there is the normal course of life that on a good day often overwhelms me. (I think that my middle name might be Slacker.) Needless to say, there hasn't been much new or interesting On My Plate.

One night, I did toss together some Spinach Twice-Baked Potatoes. This is a bit of a recap too, as I have already included the recipe here on the blog with the menu for my Prime Rib Dinner. However, this time, I stirred chopped fresh spinach in with the warm, mashed potato filling. Potatoes and spinach pair so well together, and I personally love this easy way to add a nutritional boost to a meal. No, I am not claiming that twice-baked potatoes are a health food, but in my opinion, the leafy, green, nutritionally-dense spinach balances a little of the butter, sour cream, and cheese. And, balance (even slightly flawed balance) is good...especially when things are crazy busy.

4 large baking potatoes, scrubbed well
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed OR 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
¼ cup butter
¼ cup sour cream
½ cup warm milk, approximately
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
1 pinch cayenne

Cut a small slit on top of each potato, and place in a 400 degree oven for 1 hour or until baked through.
Cut each potato in half, lengthwise, and scoop flesh into large bowl.
Place the potato shells on a baking sheet.
If using frozen, squeeze the spinach to drain the water; it needs to be fairly dry.
If using fresh, chop the spinach.
Set aside.
Mash the potatoes in the bowl with the butter, sour cream and milk, salt, pepper and cayenne. (I leave mine a little chunky, as Hubs prefers smashed to mashed.)
Fold in the spinach and 1/2 the cheddar cheese.
Fill potato shells with this mixture.
Top with remaining cheddar cheese.
These potatoes can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator for a day prior to baking.
Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until heated through and the cheese on top has melted and browned a little. (Serves 6-8)

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