Easy Recipes for Stay-at-Home-Dads: Kitchen Tool Box Edition and Easy Mashed Potatoes
With all the recipes I have collected, tried and kept (or discarded) I sometimes still wander around our local supermarket in search of foods I have not cooked (as well as for sale items).
Last week, for example, our local meat department was having a sale on tri-tip roasts with a buy-one-get-one-free deal. Now, I’ve cooked rib roasts, rib eyes, bottom roasts, beef brisket, ground meat and about a hundred other varieties of meat on the hoof but I was kind of unsure about what to do with a tri-tip. I then pulled out my iPhone.
Until recently, I had been unimpressed by the legions of friends who had bought iPhones and I usually zoned out when they discussed the relative merits of this or that app. When my wife bought me an iPhone3 for my birthday (my previous five-year-old cell phone had up and died) I began to explore apps, especially those dealing with cooking.
I wanted to spend a little time here discussing a couple of my favorite apps and why they have proven to be invaluable additions to my kitchen tool box. And, for staying around for the discussion, we close with a quick and easy recipe for “instant” mashed potatoes without the use of dehydrated spuds.
Two of my favorite cooking apps are: Allrecipes.com (free or $2.99 for the Pro version) and Weber’s on the Grill ($4.99).
Allrecipies gives you a variety of member-contributed meal ideas and is associated with the Allrecipes.com website (I recommend signing up with the latter to facilitate access to your favorite recipes which you can print out for kitchen use).
The app has a so-called “spinner” option allowing you to enter some variables (meat, chicken, pork and so on) and the amount of cooking time. When you line the options up you are directed to a list of possible meals. For those with a Las Vegas bent, “spinning” the categories can come up with some unexpected recipe ideas.
Using the app’s “search” function you can peruse through different recipes using different meat or poultry types to come up with some new ideas.
When you find a meal you like, you can store it in a recipe folder for later access. Additionally, the “shopping list” function lists the ingredients in an easy-to-use format for shopping use.
The advantage of this app is my previous tri-tip example. Plug in the term and the “search” function gives you cooking options in the store and sets out the additional items you might not have at home to complete the meal.
Additionally, each recipe’s comment section shows how others have put their own spin on the meal. Many of the comments can make a good thing even better or show you ways to cook the meal more easily.
I would first test drive the free app. If you like it, invest the additional $2.99 as I did (the paid app does not have the ads present in the free app and is a bit more user-friendly than the free app).
The Weber app is a compilation of Weber’s better book recipes, most of which were written by Jamie Purviance. Like Allrecipes.com, the app has a “save the recipe” function as well as a “groceries” section for easy shopping retrieval.
It also includes a grilling guide (allowing your input of the cut and type of meat to be grilled and showing the appropriate cooking time); an overview of grilling issues (lighting the fire, how to measure grill heat, etc.); a grill timer and some other bells and whistles that I don’t find too useful but others might.
The Weber books have proven to be a great addition to my kitchen bookshelf and the ability to cart around their contents on my phone, to me, outweighs the app’s relatively high cost.
Cooking with phone apps can be a bit problematic, as you can imagine, (I have not yet dropped the iPhone in the sink but I have gotten enough greasy fingerprints onto the screen to make plastic screen cover replacement an almost weekly event). I usually write down the essential recipe facts and keep the iPhone in the family room when I am cooking.
Now, as promised, a quick and easy way to make mashed potatoes that does not involve using potato flakes or dehydrated packages.
Easy Microwave Mashed Potatoes
This recipe will feed two adults and one hungry kid. We cook the potatoes with the jackets on but if you like your spuds sans jackets you can peel them beforehand.
About a pound of scrubbed potatoes
2 tablespoons of butter
½ cup of milk (we use skim)
After lancing the potatoes several times with a fork, place them in a large glass bowl and cover it with a piece of wax paper (leaving one corner uncovered).
Microwave at high for 15 minutes.
Mash the potatoes as you add the butter and milk.
Total time is about 17 minutes and, believe me, it’s better than the instant stuff we used to use.