Slow Cooker Smashed Taters

I promised to post this the other day and just barely got a chance to sit down and type it up.

I’d heard about slow cooker mashed potatoes but I’d never tried them. At our Thanksgiving dinners, mashed potatoes are nothing to be experimented with. For nearly thirty years, the mashed potatoes have been done the same way, probably in the same pot. They’re famous, and a family favorite. You just don’t mess with the mashed potatoes!

Sadly, things have changed, as things do. Instead of gathering with extended family at my grandparents’ house, D and I hosted Thanksgiving(!!!!) at our home, with my parents, his parents, and Amy and Nick. As we divided up the cooking duties among couples, I bravely volunteered to attempt mashed potatoes. People weren’t sure. Amy eyed me warily when I volunteered. My mom kindly asked if I would like help. Even I didn’t know if I had gotten in over my head. But, this is the smallest Thanksgiving group we’ve ever had, so if I’m going to ruin Thanksgiving I’d rather ruin it for eight people instead of eighteen. So yeah, I’ll make the potatoes. I can do this!

I decided right away to use the Crock Pot for them because I didn’t think I’d have a bunch of time to hover over the stove, plus using the Crock Pot lets me cook and serve from the same dish. (Hellooooo, convenience!) A lot of recipes I’d seen called for chicken broth. We don’t have any vegetarians in the family (right now), but I didn’t particularly like the idea of non-vegetarian mashed potatoes. I don’t know…that’s weird. So here’s my version of slow cooker mashed potatoes:

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

Not the best food pic ever...

Ingredients:
5 lbs. potatoes, rinsed, peeled, and cut in to 1/2″ pieces
1 c. vegetable broth
2 sticks of butter, each cut in to 8 pieces.

That’s it. I had some sour cream and milk on hand but it turned out that I didn’t need them. Put the potatoes in your Crock Pot (we have a giant one, I hope you do too!), pour the broth over the potatoes, and distribute 1 stick’s worth of butter evenly over the tops of the potatoes. Set the Crock Pot to “high” (4 hours on mine). Put the lid on. Walk away.

I stirred my potatoes about once an hour, just to make sure they all got to spend time in the broth.

After 4 hours, check to make sure that the potatoes crush under firm pressure and drain the liquid. I did a little smashing with a fork and then used a hand mixer for about a minute. The potatoes were so perfectly cooked that they basically melted in to little mashed potatoes the second I turned on the mixer. D asked if it was awesome to pulverize the potatoes with the mixer. It most definitely was. I threw in the second stick of butter as I mixed and they melted away, looking delicious.

I was done at this point. I had perfectly smashed, perfectly potato-y potatoes.

The only problem with them was that about an hour after they cooled (long after Thanksgiving lunch), they got a little dry and lumpy. I don’t mind this, I’m a huge fan of gravy, so for leftovers I just stirred in a little gravy and it was fine. I think stirring in a cup of milk while you’ve got the mixer on would take care of this though (let me know if you try it).

Next time I do this I think I’ll try for loaded mashed potatoes. Instead of just stirring in the butter I’ll add sour cream, cheese, and bacon and then die of deliciousness.

Also, sorry about the poor picture quality, I finally got a phone with a camera but I didn’t get a phone with a good camera. So there’s that.

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Nook-yoo-lar

I don’t have a microwave.  We had a microwave in our apartment.  It came with the apartment, and when we bought the house, we left the microwave in the apartment.  This actually isn’t a huge deal to me – I kind of like it, sometimes.  It forces me to take time to prepare meals and I have found that I am eating healthier with more wholesome ingredients.  All well and good, until

What is it with things that REQUIRE microwaving?  I understand if you buy a microwave dinner or microwave popcorn or whatevs.  Then yeah, you’re gonna need a microwave.  But last week I bought an awesome-looking frozen Shrimp Lo Mein skillet meal.  Skillet meal, here, people.  And D and I have apparently decided to go on Atkins due to our impending family vacation (WOOT!) so I decided to cook the carb-a-licious lo mein last night.

Cue the sad trombone.  Apparently, this skillet meal requires a microwave?  It was divided into like four different packets – one for shrimp, one for veggies, one for sauce, and one with noodles.  And the noodle package says, on the noodle package that was inside of the non-see-thru main bag, “FOR MICROWAVE USE ONLY.”  Well eff you too, dinner!

As I stood there, defeated, trying to figure out another way to heat the noodles while D laughed at me over his already-re-heated pizza, I read more: “Do not immerse in boiling water.  Do not cook on stovetop.”  And with that, I was completely out of options.  Dinner actually won.  I ended up eating a weird thai cup o’ noodles thing that I stole from my parents’ house last week.  Lame.

Gimme Some Of Your Tots!

I would just like to take a moment to express my love for Sonic tater tots.

Yesterday, Liz and I were feeling the effects of Friday afternoon.  36 hours in to the work week, beautiful weather outside, and lots of random weird/sad/exhausting stuff still lingering from Mon-Thurs.  There is a cure for Friday afternoons, however, and its name is Tots.

I cannot describe the Awesome that is Sonic Tots, but I shall try.  The three-to-five minutes that I spent eating the perfectly crispy, slightly salty, and just-the-right-temperature was FREAKING GREAT.  I totally understand why Napoleon put his tots in his pocket and didn’t want to share.  Well, maybe not the pocket part but I definitely understand the not wanting to share.  My time with the tots was the best part of my whole workday.

Unfortunately, I still had, like, four hours left in my workday, during which I was slightly better than useless.  Worth it!

Awesome Blossom, hold the “Awesome” (And the “Blossom,” Apparently)

So if you know me in real life – which, let’s face it, you probably do – you are no doubt aware of my ridiculous addiction to a certain chain restaurant that features giant peppers on the ceilings.  Yes, I mean Chili’s.  It was where D and I had “kind of our first date” and where Kate and Other Meredith and I spent hours (and hours and hours) complaining about bridezillas and flirting with waiters after long days at the DB.  Pretty much any time D and I didn’t feel like cooking we would just call in an order to go (That’s not sad, you’re sad.  Shut up!).  I blame Chilis for 55% of the weight that I actually carry on my body (the rest is skeleton and brain).  But the time has come to write the Chili’s breakup letter.  That’s right – it’s over.

Chili’s, how can you change my amazing turkey sammich from a turkey and swiss with garlic mayo stuff to whatever it is that you’re serving now?  Just slapping turkey between two pieces of bread is not acceptable.  Especially when it’s “rosemary bread.”  What the hell?  Why is there bacon on this?  And why is it sweet??  Something is clearly wrong.

Now what’s really sad (even for me) is that I keep forgetting how mad I am at Chili’s and going there anyway.  I’ve gotten that weird freaky sweet turkey sandwich TWICE now and both times I’ve been like “DAMMIT.” when it shows up because I forgot.  Sure, D gets bacon out of the deal, but what about my dinner?  Yuck.

So last time I went I vowed to try something new and I got some new salad thing, which turned out to be that crap white lettuce with some tangerines on it.  Impressive. Wait, what’s the opposite of impressive?

Anyway, the last straw is that the broccoli cheese soup(!!) and the Awesome Blossom(!!!!!!) are no longer on the menu.  Sorry, Chili’s, I can’t support an Awesome Blossomless world.  Two words: Lame Sticks.
Also, they put corn in their side salads now.  I don’t know about the rest of the world but for me that’s…unnatural.  And for Chili’s, that’s saying something!

So yeah, add “Chili’s” to the list of stuff I’ve quit.  (It’s item #2 under “The Bridal Shop.”)  And the temperature in hell dropped a few degrees…

Ravioli Caper = UNACCEPTABLE!

I consider myself a little bit of a humanitarian.  I generally brake for pedestrians, occasionally hand my spare change to bums who haven’t yelled at me before and while I have on occasion been known to steal a person’s shoe(s) off of their feet and then attempt to throw said shoe(s) up on to a second floor balcony, I usually do not.  I’m all for completing superhuman feats to raise money to fight terrible diseases, I believe that we are all born as equals and should treat each other as equals, and I am extremely sad that there are people who probably live in my neighborhood who can’t afford to meet the basic needs of their families.

Having said that, you can’t steal my flipping lunch and expect me to be ok with that.

Let me take you back, long, long ago, to a time called “Wednesday.”  I arrived at work early, lovingly placed my frozen ravioli meal in the freezer in the front break room, and continued with my day, confident with the knowledge that I would have a hot, cheesy lunch a few hours later.  I won’t even milk the fact that I spend my days at work actively working to protect vulnerable children and adults.  Nope, won’t milk that one at all.  Anyway-

Lunch time rolled around and I clocked out, put my plastic fork in my pocket, and made my way to the break room, anticipating what was sure to be a delicious (and low-calorie!) lunch.  Except when I opened the freezer, my ravioli wasn’t where I’d left it.  Confused, I moved some things around.  Nope, definitely not there.  So I checked the other freezer, in case I’d accidentally smoked some crack and forgotten that I’d a) smoked crack, and b) put my lunch in the other freezer.  Nope, no ravioli.  As I stood there in the break room, lost and confused, a wave of realization washed over me: some mothereffer had stolen my freaking lunch.

Seriously, Lunch Thief?  This is how you behave?  Stealing people’s food that they are obviously expecting to eat from the freezer, without so much as a courtesy note?  A hastily-scribbled “Thanks for the ravioli!” Post-It left on the freezer would have been sufficient.  At least then instead of thinking of Lunch Thief as a weasel who is too lazy to get their own lunch I would think of Lunch Thief as a kind of ballsy and smart-ass lunch room Robin Hood.  I could respect a lunch room Robin Hood.  Weaselly Lunch Thief, though?  Can suck it.

Part of me hopes that Lunch Thief gets the help they need – be it financial help or help for the crazybrain.  The other part of me hopes that Lunch Thief burned their thumbs on the plastic ravioli container and that it didn’t taste all that delicious after all.

As for me, since I’d already clocked out my options were limited, but Jenn and I managed to book it to Wendy’s and I got one of those Baja Wrap thingers that are actually pretty good by fast food standards.  Also props to Jenn who talked me down from posting a Passive Aggressive Note on the refrigerator door that probably would have gotten me fired.  But Lunch Thief, you’re on notice!  I’m happy to assist if you need help buying your own food, but be careful what you steal out of the break room refrigerators, I’ve been known to confuse soap for peanut butter and make some extra funky sandwiches.  Hell hath no fury like a woman without lunch!