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Searching for The Holy Grail of Donuts: The Mashed Potato Donut

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Actual photo of the finished product (pretty awesome right?)

A few weeks ago, I received an email from my brother with a link to a website and a cryptic message “Is this what we’ve been searching for all these years?”  First, I thought it was one of those spam emails with messages designed to get you to click on the link and second, I couldn’t recall that my brother and I were actually searching for anything.  After I confirmed that the link looked legit, I clicked on it and immediately knew that he had found what we’ve been looking for…mashed potato donuts.  The donut of my youth.  The donut that  my brothers and I feasted on when we visited my grandparents on Chestnut Street in Grand Forks, North Dakota.   That fresh hot round cakey yumminess that we placed in a paper bag filled with sugar coating to our hearts and stomachs content.  

My grandmother’s kitchen was exotic to begin with and couldn’t be more wood_cookstove_cooking_lunchdifferent from the seventies yellow appliance and orange counter top kitchen we had at home. The wood burning stove (similar to the one in this picture) churned out delicious food all weekend long when we visited.  My dad, in particular, looked forward to going home to his mother’s cooking.  I know us kids always hoped for donuts on that long six hour drive from Minneapolis.

And now I discover there is a whole bakery in Portland Maine devoted to the mashed potato donut!  A mere 3 hours from my house; can you say “road trip?” Appropriately called The Holy Donut (as it’s the holy grail of donuts in my humble opinion), the website lists 22 flavors including roasted pistachio and bacon and cheddar.  Why anyone would want to make a “savory” donut is beyond me but who am I to question the brilliance of the person who started a business based solely on the mashed potato donut?  She clearly has her head screwed on straight.

Most importantly, the article contained a link to a mashed potato donut recipe and I knew I was in business.  I had this! So, this past Friday, when most of Massachusetts’ schools were cancelled for snow, I hunkered down with the kids and prepped for donut making.  Soon, my kitchen smelled like the Tom Thumb mini-donut concession stand at the Minnesota State Fair.

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It smelled good.

Hello, Yankee Candle, are you listening?  You need to bottle that scent. No, no need to thank me.  Seeing that scent on the shelves next Fall will be all the thanks I need.

But, smell is not enough.  The proof is in the pudding (er, donut).  After letting the donut cool for the requisite 1/2 second (because who can wait longer for donuts?), I popped a piece in my mouth.  Donut heaven, childhood memories, and pure food bliss wrapped up in one small bite. The light cakey center and taste was just as I remembered.

IMG_5913Truth be told, my donuts looked prettier than my Grandmother’s ever did.  I don’t think she cared much about their appearance and frankly I don’t either.  That mine turned out practically perfect in appearance was just dumb luck.  Or, some wicked killah baking skills…nah, dumb luck.   My husband and kids had never had a mashed potato donut before and they all said it was the best donut they ever tasted.  Of course, my grandmother’s donuts will always be the best donut I’ve ever tasted, but I’m so happy and grateful that I’m able to continue the tradition for my own kids.  And, to answer my brother’s question, yes, we’ve found what we’ve been searching for.

 

Mashed Potato Donuts

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons buttermilk powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½  teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup well mashed potatoes (just the potatoes no cream or butter and use a potato ricer for best results)
  • Vegetable oil for frying

 

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, buttermilk powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  2.  In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine eggs and sugar beating until combined and slightly foamy. Add water, melted butter, vanilla and mashed potatoes. Stir until smooth.
  3.  Slowly add flour mixture and stir until just incorporated.
  4. Divide dough and form dough into two balls. Wrap in plastic wrap then flatten into discs. Refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.
  5. Generously flour a large work surface. Take one of the discs and turn out the dough to coat with flour, sprinkling the surface of the dough with flour to lessen stickiness, if needed. Gently pat the dough to about 1/2 an inch thick. Use a floured 3 inch doughnut cutter to cut out doughnuts and place cut doughnuts and doughnut holes on a floured sheet of parchment paper.
  6. Fill a Dutch oven (I used my dutch oven and it worked great) or large cast iron skillet with 2 inches of oil. Heat oil over medium high heat until 360°F. Drop doughnuts in the oil and fry until a deep golden brown on both sides (about 2 minutes per side). Use chopsticks to turn the doughnuts. Be careful not to crowd the doughnuts in the pan (no more than 2 to 3 doughnuts at a time). Remove doughnuts immediately from the pan using a heat resistant slotted spoon or spatula. Set on paper towel lined baking racks to cool. Once cooled slightly toss in a bag with cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar. Serve immediately.
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Kick Your Next Backyard Barbecue Up a Notch!

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It’s summer and this is the year you’re going to host a backyard BBQ that will have people talking for years to come.  Of course, you need great food and drinks.  But what about the entertainment?  Forget ladder golf or even the now popular corn hole bean bag toss.  That’s for amateurs.  I’m talking kick ass activities that will astound your guests with your level of creativity.  Well, look no further.  I’ve got a boatload of ideas for you and I can’t take credit for coming up with a single one.  You don’t know how much that pains me!  All of the ideas below came out of one backyard barbecue I attended last weekend.  ALL OF THEM.

The main reason for the party was to hold a rain gutter regatta for my son’s Cub Scout den.  If you’ve never heard of a rain gutter regatta, neither had I but I suspected it would be fun because it was for Cub Scouts.   After one year as a Daisy leader for my daughter, I’m realizing that Boy Scouts has their shit together and Girl Scouts …does not.  I think my friend’s daughter (who’s in Girl Scouts) said it best, “I wish we got to do fun stuff like they do in Cub Scouts.”  But, I digress.

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Rain Gutter Regatta:  There’s an easy to assemble official Cub Scout boat kit that you put together ahead of time.  Paint the boat, decorate the sails (think themes like Pokemon, Legos, or princess) and you’re good to go.  The race is simple you blow on your boat (with or without a straw to assist) and you can’t use your hands to propel the boat.  My daughter killed it in a few races handily beating some of the older cub scouts.  She’s as full of hot air as her mother (beaming with pride right now).

So, you would think planning and setting up the rain gutter regatta would be a lot to do and that would be a fun single activity for any backyard party, you’d be wrong….infomercial dead wrong.  I didn’t know it yet but this was going to to be a backyard party game extravaganza.  Smartly, the party host asked each family to come up with one party game (and bring any necessary supplies).  Next on the list:

beach ballGigantic Beach Ball relay: two person teams have to take a beach ball down the course using only their bodies not their hands. You can buy these balls at Oriental Trading or Amazon for about $10. Note: these balls provided “hours of fun” between games with kids rolling around on them all over the yard.

Water Balloon toss: Self explanatory and one of the best games ever if you have the patience to blow up all those balloons.

Human Tic Tac Toe:  You draw a tic tac toe board with chalk on the grass or driveway.  You have a X team and a O team.  When the team decides where they want to move, a team member takes that place circling hands above head (for an O) or crossing hands above head (for an X).

Rocket Balloons:  My new favorite thing.  You blow up a bunch of rocket balloons and then everyone lets go of them at once.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.  rocket balloonsThe kids LOVED it (and the balloon make a funny noise when they fly which made the kids squeal).  Of course, if you own an air compressor like this party host, blowing up the balloons was so easy.

T Shirt Relay Race:  Another great Boy Scout game where you have to work together.  You form two lines.  The shirt is given to the first person in each line.  The first person puts the shirt on and then holds hands with the next person in line.  Keeping their hands together, they have to work the shirt off the first person and onto the second person.  Then the second person grabs hands with the next and so on.  There is definitely a learning curve.

Candy Bar Bingo:  A crowd favorite.  Every kid has to bring a candy bar to “exchange” for a bingo card.  The candy bars become the prizes.  You play bingo until the candy bars are gone.

Outdoor Movie:  We watched Hotel Translyvania to end the evening.  Everyone brought their own lawn chairs.  Bug spray was liberally applied, bags of popcorn handed out, and glow in the dark necklaces to add a party atmosphere.  No detail was left out.  Tip:  You can buy large bags of popcorn from your local movie theater pretty cheaply.  If you are not lucky enough to own an entire outdoor theater complete with inflatable screen and inflatable couches (like the hosts at this party), you can get a digital projector for under $200, hook it up to a DVD player and a white sheet and you’ll still be the hit of the neighborhood for summers to come.

The gauntlet has been thrown down.  Are you ready to kick your next backyard barbecue up a notch?  I know I am.  Maybe some of you already super charge your barbecues with fun activities.  I would love to hear from you!!!!  Please share them in the comments section.

P.S.  Thanks again to the hosts for last weekend’s party (you know who you are)!

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Best Dessert Drink: Key Lime Pie Martini

© Flavia85 |  Stock Free Images

© Flavia85 | Stock Free Images

Now that summer is officially here and no, I don’t care what the calendar says about the official start of summer, summer starts Memorial Day weekend.   So, time to start thinking about those refreshing summer cocktails.  One of my favorite indulgences in the summer (okay, maybe year round) are dessert cocktails.  It’s dessert, its a cocktail what’s not to love?  One of my favorite finds was this recipe for a Key Lime Pie martini.  Other recipes call for half and half or heavy cream but I think the cream of coconut is what makes this deelish.  I hope you enjoy and may all your summer days be filled with fun, laughter and truly great martinis!

 

 

Key Lime Pie Martini

Ingredients:

2 shots vanilla vodka 
1/2 to 1 shot key lime juice (available with lime juice in juice aisle of most coco lopezgrocery stores)
2 T cream of coconut (coco lopez lite available in the drink mix section of most grocery stores)
1 shot pineapple juice
graham cracker crumbs (available in baking aisle)

Run lime around rim of cocktail glass and dip in crumbs.

Add rest of ingredients to martini shaker, add ice and shake. Pour into graham cracker rimmed glasses and you have dessert perfection in a glass.

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A “Deelish” CranApple Martini

 © Cartoon |  Stock Free Images

© Cartoon | Stock Free Images

Embracing your single state of mind means making time to do the things you love with friends and family.  I personally love to play mixologist and use my friends as martini guinea pigs.   I’ve had some hits and some misses but I always have my favorite CranApple martini as a back up.

This is my go-to cocktail.  Not too sweet and not too tart.  The KEY is using apple vodka.  It really brings this cocktail to the next level.  Plus, you don’t have to go for the expensive flavored vodkas.   The cheaper versions are just as good.

 

1 oz apple vodka

1/2 to 1 oz sour apple pucker schnapps (depends on your desired level of pucker)

1 oz cranberry juice

Add vodka, sour apple pucker, and cranberry juice to an ice filled martini shaker.  Shake and strain into a cocktail glass and serve

Note:  I’m a big believer in playing with proportions.   A tish more of this, a dash more of that…perfecto!   When it comes to cocktails there is no limit to the amount of experimentation you can do!

 

 

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Host a Theme Dinner Party instead of “Potluck”

dinner partyHello Spring, you’re finally here!  I think many of us tend to hibernate  a little during the winter and friendships have a way of getting put on the back burner.  It’s time to forget about that dreaded cleaning (who thought of that idea anyway?) and celebrate the friends in our life by hosting a dinner party.   I’m a recent convert to the theme dinner party idea but I’ve already embraced it wholeheartedly.   My prior dinner parties were of the potluck variety.  Someone would offer to bring a salad, someone else a dessert or an appetizer or two.  Thus, a meal was made.  An easy meal, a fine meal, and always a delicious meal but not a very cohesive meal.  So, I decided to try the notion of a theme dinner party.

Step One:  Choose your Theme

You can choose any theme but I was drawn to the idea of picking a celebrity chef and having each guest execute on one of that chef’s dishes.  I chose  Curtis Stone.   You know, that HOT Aussie host from Top Chef Masters.  Yes, I’m aware that being genetically good looking does not equate with being a great chef but what can I say, I liked his vibe (which is not a euphemism for something else by the way).  And, it turns out I was right because his food was amazing!

Step Two:  Compile and Distribute Recipes

I decided that, as  host, I would provide the main entree.  I compiled a list of  recipes from various websites.  I chose some easy to execute recipes along with more challenging ones for the adventurous wannabe chefs. I let each  guest choose a recipe making sure I evenly balanced the number of appetizers, salads/sides and desserts.

Step Three:  Cocktail Selection

Arguably, the most important step.  Choose a signature cocktail for the evening.  Maybe tie it into the theme itself or the time of year.  Either way, it will make the meal feel cohesive.  My favorite website for cocktail inspiration and recipes is Sandra Lee’s Semi Homemade Cooking website at  http://www.semihomemade.com/cocktail

Step Four:  Welcome Your Guest to a Dining Experience

Distribute the finalized menu ahead of time–style it like a three course prix fixe menu at a nice restaurant.  The theme dinner party becomes a dining experience rather than just a dinner party.  It has a beginning, middle and an end.

There were definitely some stand out recipes at my Curtis Stone party.  I’ve included one of my favorites below:

Grilled Flank Steak with Chipotle Chili Paprika Rub and Chimichurri
Recipe by Curtis Stone
Servings: Serves 4
Ingredients
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp. crushed red chili
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 dried chipotle chili , stem and seeds removed
  • 1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 4 (6- to 8-ounce) flank steaks
  • Olive oil for grill
Directions
Preheat a grill or grill pan on medium-high heat. Using a sharp knife, chop the chipotle chili as fine as possible, trying to break up any large pieces.In a medium mixing bowl, combine the chipotle with the paprika, oregano and sugar and mix thoroughly. Lay the steaks out on a plate and season with salt and black pepper on both sides. Season generously with the spice rub as well on both sides. Brush the grates of the grill with a bit of oil, and grill steaks for 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until medium rare (135° internal temperature with a thermometer).While the steaks are grilling, combine the garlic and herbs in a mortar and pestle or food processor and grind into a paste. Add the crushed red chili, lemon zest and vinegar and mix well. Slowly drizzle in the oil while mixing and season to taste with salt and pepper. Reserve for serving.Remove steaks from the grill to a plate or rack and allow to rest for 3 to 4 minutes. Serve steaks with the chimichurri sauce.

 

 

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