Tag Archives: railroadwife

Chowder Fries

Besides the scents, visuals and tastes of pumpkin, nothing says Fall more than a warm bowl of soup!  Especially a creamy bowl of New England’s favorite, the clam chowder!  Now yes, I know I live in the south, but I’ve had reoccurring dreams of visiting the east coast to watch the leaves change while sipping on hot cider and bobbing for apples.  Maybe sneak in a visit to ‘creepy’ Salem too…basically every east coast Fall cliché IS on my bucket-list.  One day….

So for now, I light a spiced candle and get out my candy apple red Dutch oven to reinvent the classic into our family favorite, Chowder Fries!  …quick toying with me Fall and just get here already!!

*You can absolutely use vegetable broth instead, but I find that the chicken stock brings a richer flavor.

The Starting Lineup

  • French fries (frozen or scratch made), Old Bay seasoning optional for tossing with
  • 5 Strips bacon, diced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried/ or ground thyme
  • 3 Tbsp flour, all-purpose
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup chicken stock/ or vegetable broth
  • 1 10oz can clams, juices reserved
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup half and half
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Flat leaf parsley (chopped) or green onions (sliced), garnish

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Heat a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven to med-high heat and add in the olive oil and bacon and cook until crispy.  Transfer the crisped bacon to a paper towel lined dish and set aside.  Keep the bacon grease in the pot.

Next, melt the butter into that bacon grease and then add in the onions, stirring often, followed by the garlic.  Sauté for 3-4 minutes until the onions are translucent and finally sprinkle in the thyme and stir together.

*Meanwhile, if making a bag of frozen fries, preheat the oven and line a baking tray with parchment or foil for easy cleanup.  Whether frozen or not, I like to lightly coat my fries in a bit of oil and dusting of cornstarch, toss together.  This creates a great crispy exterior!

To the sautéed butter, onions and garlic, whisk in the flour for about 1 minute till everything ‘clumps up’ and is lightly browned.  To that, slowly whisk in the chicken stock/ or broth, milk, the juice from the clams and toss in the bay leaf.  After a couple minutes of whisking to incorporate, stir in the diced potatoes.

Bring this mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cover for 15 minutes; potatoes are tender.

**Fry or bake your fries during this time.

Once time is up, stir in the half & half, the clams and add in your salt & pepper to taste (I am pretty heavy-handed with that myself).

If eating family style, season the French fries with salt or even better, Old Bay, and transfer to a serving platter.  Ladle the warm and creamy clam chowder over top the hot fries and top with the crisp bacon crumbles and parsley and/or scallions!  Sooooo good!  Enjoy!

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Grilled Brie, Bacon, Arugula and Fig Sandwich (The Figgy Piggy)

This “gourmet” bistro style sandwich will wow your guests, yet is simple and quick for you to whip up!
The unique flavors of the peppery arugula, salty bacon and sweet figs go soooooo wonderfully together.  They stay held together by the mild, creamy melted brie and your last taste bud gets love from the crunchy, slightly sour note of the grilled bread.  So basically, this awakens all your senses, have I sold you yet? 😉
…and if sandwiches aren’t your thing, you can absolutely pile these same toppings onto pizza dough or flatbread!
The Starting Lineup
Loaf of quality sourdough or ciabatta bread (8, 1/2″ slices)
1 pckg bacon, cooked till crisp
1 round brie cheese (1/4″ slices)
2 cups arugula
1 jar Fig Jam/Preserves (i.e. Bonne Maman brand)
2 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp mayonnaise 
Heat a cast-iron pan or griddle to medium-high heat.
On one side of your bread slices, spread a thin layer of mayonnaise (this will create a perfect golden brown crust).  Turn slices over and spread a layer of the fig preserves on each slice.  Next layer on the brie cheese slices, crisp bacon and the arugula.  Top with the remaining bread, fig side down.
Add the butter to your hot pan or griddle and grill each side for about 3-4 minutes, until golden brown and the brie has melted.
Cut each sandwich on the diagonal and serve with a small salad or soup.  Enjoy!

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German Beef Rouladen

This rich and hearty dish may be foreign and unheard of if you are not of German heritage or frequent European inspired restaurants.  Now being German myself and growing up attending Oktoberfest while eating sausages, kraut and warm, soft Bavarian pretzels in loads of beer cheese…I simply adore Rouladen.  Not because we had it often, rarely ever, but because it was mainly served as a Christmas dinner dish or perhaps a Sunday supper if you were lucky.  It’s a special treat, where it takes a bit of thought and tedious work in assembling, twining, searing and braising the beef…but oh-so worth it!

Another reason that many ‘non-Germans’ may have not tried this specialty dish is because the ingredients could sound a bit odd together.  I get it.  Rouladen usually consists of bacon, onions, mustard and pickles wrapped in thinly sliced beef which is then braised until the beef is about fork tender.   Yes, we like a bit of ‘saur’ to our meals, but this works wonderfully….and oh that bacon!!  It cooks inside the beef, which in turn actually bastes itself and creates SUCH a rich flavor and tender meat!…drooling now.

*If you cannot find pre-sliced beef (top round/chuck), your grocer’s butcher would be happy to help!  You’ll just have to pound it thin once you get home. 🙂

The Starting Lineup

  • Beef, thinly sliced and pounded 1/4″ thin to about 4″x6″ (chuck roast or top round slices).  I typically use about 8-10 slices.
  • Whole grain mustard/German mustard
  • 1 pckg Bacon (reserve 2 slices and chop up)
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into thin strips or chopped
  • Dill (or German) pickle spears, 8-10 
  • Sweet pickle relish, a couple Tbsp’s
  • Kosher salt & ground pepper
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped (I use the leftover from the Rouladen stuffing)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup Red wine
  • Beef broth
  • 1/4 cup Flour or cornstarch + milk slurry (to thicken)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (optional)
  • *Butcher twine or toothpicks’ to hold beef rolls together

Serve Alongside (optional)

  • Boiled potatoes, seasoned lightly with salt, pepper and dill (russet/peeled)
  • Warmed German red cabbage (jarred is fine)

The “hardest” part of this recipe is the assembling…once you get everything prepped (chopped, diced, rolled and secured) you’re in the clear and can enjoy a German bier while smelling the braised goodness!

When everything is in it’s place, begin by spreading about a tablespoon of the mustard on one side of the thinly pounded beef, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper (easy on the salt).  Next lay 1-2 slices of bacon down lengthwise, followed by the onions, the sweet relish and finally the dill pickle slice horizontal to the length.  Roll up each prepared beef slice around that dill pickle and secure (as best you can) with the butcher twine or a bevy of toothpicks.

In a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch-oven (I used my enameled Lodge cast-iron), add in the reserved 2 slices of chopped bacon and render the fat over medium heat.  When bacon is slightly crisped add in the rolled and secured Rouladen (about 1/3 – 1/2 the batch at a time) and brown all sides to create almost a crust.  Remove the seared beef rolls and continue with the rest of the batch (should take about 20 minutes for all).

To that bacon/beef grease (you may need to add 1 Tbsp more of vegetable oil depending), add in the carrots, onions and celery and allow to sweat down for 2-3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.  Add in the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.  Next, pour in the red wine, again scraping the bottom of the pan for any brown bits…flavor!! and simmer, stirring for 4-5 minutes.

Add the seared Rouladen back into the pot with the veggies/wine and pour in the beef broth till it covers about 2/3rd the way up the meat.  Bring to a boil and then cover and let simmer on low for 1 1/2-2 hours.

Once finished, carefully remove the tender beef rolls to a platter.  Mix 1/4 cup of flour with 1/4 cup milk and whisk into the juices in the pot.  This will thicken and make a gravy.  Now, optional, you can whisk in the sour cream for more richness and a slight tang that the Germans love in their cooking.

To serve:  Thoroughly remove the butcher twine or toothpicks and place Rouladen on a plate, cover with a hearty amount of the gravy and serve with warmed German cabbage and boiled dill-flavored potatoes to help sop up that gravy with!  Prost!!

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Baked Spaghetti Pie

Back when we lived in hot and sunny Arizona, we would frequent a certain Italian food joint that was close to our home.  However, it wasn’t the close proximity that made us end up there, it was my husband’s love for their Baked Spaghetti that brought us.

Fast forward years and years and he still spoke of it…so I began to give it a whirl!  With much success, I give you my version which in using a spring form pan, gives many ooh’s & ah’s at dinnertime!  Looks quite impressive for such an easy recipe!

*If you do not have a spring-form, this recipe works just as well in a casserole dish or deep dish pie pan! 🙂

**Feel free to add in/change ingredients to suit your tastes and what you may have in your pantry and fridge!  I.e. Italian sausage, mushrooms, bell peppers, different cheeses, maybe no meat at all!

The Starting Lineup

  • 16oz spaghetti noodles (boiled 8-9 minutes/drained)
  • 24-32oz jar marinara sauce
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 container ricotta cheese
  • 2-3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning blend
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, shredded/grated
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh basil, torn (optional garnish)

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.  Bring a stock pot of salted water to a boil (for the noodles) while you have a large skillet browning the ground beef with the chopped onions, minced garlic and olive oil.  *Feel free to add a pinch of salt and Italian seasonings of your choice if desired.

Once the noodles have finished (slightly under cook them at about 8-9 minutes, as they’ll finish in the oven), drain and toss in a large bowl with the beaten eggs, parmesan cheese and teaspoon of Italian seasoning.  Set aside.

As the ground beef becomes browned, pour in the marinara sauce of your choosing and stir together.

Now I used a lightly greased 10″ Spring-form pan for this (what you would typically make a cheesecake in), however, you can also use a deep dish pie tin, a 2-quart casserole dish, etc.  Just make sure to spray with a bit of non-stick.  **With the spring-form pan, I wrapped the bottom in foil just to ensure no leakage, which I didn’t have anyway.

First layer in the egg coated noodles and then top with dollops of the ricotta cheese.  Pour the meaty red sauce overtop, finally topping with the shredded mozzarella cheese.   Place your prepared spaghetti pie, covered, into the oven for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil cover and let bake another 10 minutes.

Once finished baking allow to rest for a good 5 minutes before slicing into.  If desired, top with a bit more parmesan cheese and freshly torn basil.  Enjoy!

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Seared Filet with Roasted Butternut Squash & Blue Cheese Ravioli

My husband and I do not get a lot of “date nights” as we have two young boys, rarely a babysitter and he has the craziest schedule working for the railroad.  No set schedule actually.  All that combined leads me to craving fancy-dressed, wine-filled nights out even more!  That being said, I knew I could do it!  Not the literally leaving my house to enjoy a quiet kid free atmosphere, but create that upscale dining experience here at home!

I already knew I could make a fantastic steak, so I wanted to try my hand at homemade pasta.  Like REAL homemade pasta, no attachment to my Kitchen-Aide or anything.  So out came my flour coated rolling pin and I finally attacked the somewhat scary mound of welled flour and eggs.  You know what?  It wasn’t that hard.   I’ve been scared all these years for nothing!  Now, if I’m making a crockpot meal asking for the filled pasta, then frozen is fine, but for this meal all the slight extra work was sooooo worth it!!

So please, next time you can’t get away, or maybe your budget is a bit tight, please give this a whirl!

The Starting Lineup

Dough

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
    3 eggs
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Filling

  • 1 small butternut squash
    2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
    1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon butter
    1 tablespoon olive oil 
    5-6 sage leaves, minced

Protein (optional)

  • (2-4) Filet mignon or Ribeye Steaks
  • Fresh ground black pepper and kosher salt
  • 2 vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick), softened

 

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Roasted butternut squash and blue cheese filling!

 

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To begin…..

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Next, (this is a great tip!) prick your butternut squash with a fork all over.  Cut off the ends of the squash and place on a plate in your microwave for 4 minutes (if you don’t, this vegetable is extremely hard to cut).  Using a vegetable peeler, remove the skin and then cut in half length-wise.  Discard of the seeds and then cut into rough cubes.  Place on a baking sheet drizzled with olive oil, salt & pepper and place in the oven for 30 minutes until fork tender.

Meanwhile…..

Mound the flour on a clean work surface and make a well with a fork in the center, creating almost a “volcano” in appearance.  In the well, crack the eggs and add in the salt and oil.  Using your fork, slightly beat together while gathering a bit of flour at a time until it forms a dough ball.

Using your hands, start needing the dough until it forms a perfectly smooth ball with a shiny appearance (10 minutes).  Add more flour if it seems sticky or a tbsp. at a time of water if it feels too dry.  Wrap your dough ball with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 20-30 minutes.

Now that your butternut squash is roasted, transfer to a large bowl along with the blue cheese crumbles and the salt & pepper.  Mash together with a fork to your desired consistency. Cover and set aside.

With your dough ball, unwrap pasta and cut into four sections. You will work with one section at a time. Wrap the remaining three up in plastic in the mean time. Flour your work surface liberally. Roll out dough with a floured rolling pin, working from the middle and rolling out. Try to get the thinnest and longest piece of dough you can. Keep rotating and turning the dough to prevent sticking. Once your dough is rolled very thin, place a small amounts of the filling {about a teaspoon} onto the dough about 1 1/2-2 inches apart. Fold the top of the dough over the filling. Press the top piece of dough over and around the filling to remove any air bubbles. Now using either a ravioli stamp, pastry cutter or a pizza cutter, cut into perfect squares {you will need to crimp the edges with a fork if using a pizza cutter}. Place on a floured tray and cover with a tea towel as you make these. Form any leftover dough into a ball and place in the plastic wrap to rest. Continue this pattern until all the raviolis are filled and cut out.

To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Drop in your raviolis (4-5 at a time) and stir gently. Raviolis will be finished cooking once they float to the top. Drain.  Once finished add to a warm sauté pan of melted butter, oil and sage that is slightly crisped.  Toss gently to coat.

Now you can eat these delish ravioli’s as is or pair with a great steak!  If you choose the steak route, here is my favorite way..

Set the steak out of the fridge to come to room temp for 20-30 minutes {I did so while I’m preparing the ravioli’s} and heat oven to 400 degrees, rub the steak all over with oil and coat in freshly ground pepper and kosher salt.  Heat your cast iron pan on med-high heat till about smoking.  Add in the butter and then the steaks, let cook (do NOT move) for 4 minutes on each side.  Transfer the skillet with the seared steaks to the oven and let cook for 5 minutes (for medium-rare).  Remove the steaks to a platter and cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  {Here is where I cooked and sautéed the ravioli’s.}  ***Make sure you have a well ventilated kitchen as cast irons smoke something crazy.  You can absolutely grill your meat too if preferred.

So, whether you decide to make this a vegetarian inspired meal or are a true carnivore like myself, you will not be disappointed!  Serve with a great red and you have a true 5-star restaurant meal!  Enjoy!!

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Italian Sausage Stuffed Peppers

A dinner of “stuffed peppers” often gets a bad rap.  My friends and family either love it…or hate it.  My guess on the nay-sayer’s is due to the peppers that I have devoured in my life have just been, well..bland.  Ground beef or turkey, rice, maybe some chopped veggies.  Did I mention they’re often dry too??  Well my Italian version is anything but!

The simple garlic, onion and tomato sauce (plus sneaking in that zucchini) keeps it from turning dry and I always choose the ‘hot’ Italian sausage for the slight extra kick!  Do you have kids?  Well still get the ‘hot’, trust me, it’s not that spicy, just flavor!  Last, but definitely not least, that layer of fresh mozzarella cheese puts the average pizza slice to shame!!

Now you can these eat on their own or perhaps with a side salad or even that dry rice, BUT..since we’re cooking with those Italian flavors, why not place your finished product atop perfectly al dente pasta!  Garlic bread too, perhaps?….

The Starting Lineup

  • 3-4 bell peppers, seeded and halved
  • 1 package Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced and quartered
  • 14oz Italian finely chopped tomatoes (I prefer Cirio Italian with basil)
  • Mozzarella cheese slices (Fresh)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper 

Garnish/Side (optional)

  • Pasta noodles, cooked al dente
  • Reserved leftover sauce from the meat mixture
  • Chopped basil
  • Shredded parmesan

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Preheat your oven to 375 degrees while bringing the olive oil in a large skillet to medium heat,  *Spray a 9×13 oven proof baking dish with nonstick spray.

In your hot skillet, add in the sausage (out of its casing) and cook completely through while chopping up with the back of your spoon.  Once cooked, remove the sausage and drain all but 1 tbsp of the oil/grease.

Now add in the diced onion and sauté for 5 minutes, followed by the zucchini for 2 minutes and finally the garlic for 1 minute.  To the sautéed vegetables, pour in the finely chopped Italian tomatoes (careful for splatter!) and add the cooked sausage back in.

Your filling is done!  Spoon equal amounts into your halved and seeded bell peppers and place into the 9×13 baking dish.  Top each with a healthy amount of cheese.  PLEASE do not scrimp on this!  *If I purchased the larger package of mozzarella, I have been known to place a slice in the bottom of each pepper before I fill, followed by more on the top!  Yes!!

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Cover the baking dish and peppers with foil and pop in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes.  Uncover and let the cheese bubble for another 5 minutes, remove from the oven and let rest.  *My husband loves his mozz topping to be on the browned side, so I will place our right under the broiler for mere 2-3 minutes.

If desired, while the peppers are in the oven, prepare the pasta noodle side and dress in any reserved sauce from the meat mixture.  *I make sure to keep those juices exactly for this reason!

Garnish your plate with a bit of extra chopped basil, perhaps grated parmesan, and you have certainly elevated those hum-drum stuffed peppers!!

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Brown Sugar & Dijon Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry-Serrano Sauce

Through all trial and no error, I am fairly certain I have just created a new holiday tradition in my home..We will be eating my new recipe of “Brown Sugar & Dijon Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry-Serrano Sauce” for Christmas from here on out!   Slightly sweet, a slight bit o’ heat, slighty tangy and a touch of classic savory, this one hit all of the notes in just the right way.  Plus, given that pork tenderloin is an inexpensive cut and just a few other handy ingredients are needed, one can make this festive meal quickly while saving a bit more for extra stocking stuffers!

Through great luck (and all of that “hard work of being a food blogger” ;) I have been fortunate enough to be a recipient of a large package of perfect Cape Cod Select Premium Frozen Cranberries on my doorstep!  This box addressed to me, “Railroad Wife in Texas”, on frozen ice and all, was just screaming to NOT be made into your average pie, relish or smoothie..but into a savory entree!  When one thinks of cranberries their mind often goes to that bowl at the end of the table that all too often gets neglected…not here my friend!  This is front and center and oh so delicious!

To pick up your very own bag of Cape Cod Select Premium Frozen Cranberries, you can go online to http://www.CapeCodSelect.com to order online/find your location or head to my favorite local pick up at:

Central Market

4651 West Freeway

Fort Worth, Texas 76107

Follow my friends Cape Cod Select at:

https://www.facebook.com/capecodselect/          

https://twitter.com/CapeCodSelect

https://plus.google.com/b/112667579999356431188/+CapeCodSelectEdgewoodBogsCarver/about/p/pub

https://www.pinterest.com/capecodselect     

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp2g4eev6wgHxzYHUFhEMzg

                                                                                                                                             
*If you want an extra kick of spiciness, you can keep all of the seeds and pith in the serrano or hey, even add two of them to the sauce!!  I’m partial to the extra heat, but when my littles enjoy it I will keep it mellow.  The sacrifices I make as a momma….


The Starting Lineup

Pork Tenderloin

  • 1 lb pork tenderloin (about always comes in two pieces)
  • 1/4 cup Brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Thyme
  • 1/2 tsp Sage
  • Kosher salt & pepper, to taste
  • Canola oil

Cranberry-Serrano Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups Cape Cod Select Premium Frozen Cranberries (divided)
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 serrano, minced (I seeded only half)
  • 1 2″ piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 lime, zest
  • Kosher salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped  

Let us begin!  Preheat your oven to 425 degrees WITH a cast-iron pan INSIDE the oven.  (You can also use a glass or ceramic baking dish, i.e. Pyrex casserole dish.  You just want it hot!!) 

While the oven (and pan) is preheating, coat the pork with a mixture of the brown sugar, Dijon mustard, thyme, sage, salt & pepper.  (The coated pork can stay out and go straight into oven or place in a bag and marinate for 2+ hours).

When the oven is hot and ready, carefully (with an oven-mitt) remove the cast-iron pan/casserole dish and drizzle in the canola oil, followed immediately with the pork tenderloin(s).  It WILL sizzle, drizzle with a bit more oil and place back into the oven.

Roast for 15 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 400 degrees and roast for another 10-15 minutes (internal temperature of 145 degrees).  Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes, slice and serve with your favorite sides.

Meanwhile…..that most delicious Cranberry-Serrano Sauce!!…

 

In a large sausepan over medium-high heat, saute the diced red onion in 1 tablespoon canola oil until soft.  Next, stir in 1 peeled and grated 2-inch piece of ginger along with 1 diced serrano chile (seed if needed and/or add two depending on heat level) and cook for 30 seconds. Pour in 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup of sugar; cook until the sugar dissolves.  Once thickened and “syrupy”, add in 1 cup of the cranberries and cook until the berries pop and the sauce thickens (10 minutes).  Finally pour in the remaining cranberries and cook for 1-2 minute.  Transfer the sausapan off of the heat, stir in the honey, the grated lime zest, salt and pepper. Let cool a bit, then stir in 1/4 cup chopped cilantro.

Once your pork has rested, sliced and placed onto a serving platter, drizzle the Cranberry-Serrano Sauce overtop and accompany with delicious homemade mashed potatoes and a flavorful roasted vegetable.

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