Leftover mashed potato cakes

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If there are two things you can take away from my cooking style by reading this blog, they are: 1. I enjoy recipes that are tweakable/adaptable/otherwise easy to play with; and 2. It hardly bears repeating, but…potatoes.

It should hardly be surprising, then, that I’m sharing these leftover mashed potato cakes with you. In addition to fulfilling the criteria above, they’re tasty, and they put leftovers to use. So, win/win/win/win.

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Mushroom-brussels sprout hash.

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I have a new breakfast-related goal. Okay, two breakfast-related goals, which are actually in diametric opposition to one another. One is to stop eating so much bacon (ugh), and the other is to develop seasonally-appropriate hashes (which, let’s be honest, will probably all feature bacon). I’m a little late on this one, given that it’s technically spring (even though it was 28 degrees this morning and we’re supposed to get snow tomorrow, despaaaaaiiiiiir), but I’ve been loving brussels sprouts lately, and the mushrooms in my fridge were on the verge of going bad, and letting mushrooms go to waste is a sin.

Brussels sprouts have been a much-maligned veggie in popular culture, for some reason I can’t seem to fathom. I never had to eat them as a kid – and perhaps I’d understand if I had been forced to eat them for dinner all the time – but I worked them into my repertoire last year, and Colin and I are both pretty big fans. I mean, when you combine roasted vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper, it’s hard to go wrong. And they’re adorable! They’re like baby cabbages!

That’s right, I’m a grown woman gushing over cruciferous vegetables. Come. at. me.

Really, the only bad experiences I’ve had with brussels sprouts are when they’re eaten raw. This winter, I made two different kinds of brussels sprout salad, and both times they filled me with nothing but abject sadness. Fool me once, Pinterest, shame on you. Fool me twice…

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Broccoli salad.

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I don’t know about you, but I thoroughly enjoy salad bars. I like piling a random assortment of vegetables, fruits, dressings, nuts and seeds on my plate. It’s so much more fun than getting a regular salad assembled by someone else. I mean, maybe I don’t want just Caesar salad. Maybe I want some Caesar salad, and a spoonful of Waldorf salad to go with it. If I want to plop some baby corns or cherry tomatoes on my mixed greens, I can do that. And if my favorite salad bar staple, broccoli salad, is there, then awww yeah.

Sadly, broccoli is not one of the shining stars of the vegetable aisle. Admittedly, I didn’t like it when I was growing up – and I wasn’t one of those kids who eschewed her vegetables at every turn. I generally ate my peas and string beans without a fuss, and considered carrots and cucumbers to be pretty neat snacks, but unless broccoli was slathered in Velveeta, I wanted no part of it – and even then, I’d bite the florets off the stalks, leaving those behind…possibly concealing them under some mashed potatoes.

But now, I can get down with broccoli. Especially if it’s tossed together with some other veggies, bacon, cheese and a creamy dressing.

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Attack of the mac.

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A couple of my coworkers and I came up with a brilliant idea a couple of weeks ago. I’m not entirely sure how we got on the topic of macaroni and cheese, but we decided that, since it’s so versatile and so well-loved, it might be fun to have a macaroni and cheese contest in the office.

Because I’m a little obsessive, I decided to dedicate an entire Saturday to testing out three different mac and cheese recipes. I think it’s safe to say that Colin appreciated this display of insanity … even if it meant that the two of us passed out in cheese-and-bechamel induced comas on the couch by 10:30. Adulthood!

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Grilled cheesiest.

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When I went to Tampa last spring, my coworker and I got lunch at this cute little cafe, L’Eden, while we were killing time before checking in to our hotel. I had a mozzarella, brie and goat cheese panini, and was instantly smitten. It was one of the best paninis I’d ever had…and then I made an amped-up version of it this week, thanks to having plenty of leftovers from Colin’s slightly cheesetastic birthday dinner.

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Just imagine it. Creamy. Smoky. Tangy. Salty. Crispy. Just a little sweet. Buttery. In your mouth. All at the same time.

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Seriously. Look at that. Look. at. that. It is the cheesiest of grilled cheeses that I have ever made. And friends, I am a grilled cheese enthusiast. I make grilled cheeses a lot. I think I’ll make one for lunch, now that I’m thinking about it. Oh well. It’s not like it’s even really summer anymore. Cue the violins and sad trombones.

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Pizza pizza.

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Last weekend was Colin’s birthday, and much to my delight, he told me he wanted me to make him something awesome (“how is this different than any other night I make dinner?” I asked, probably more menacingly than I had intended), which is way better than agonizing over the perfect gift. Although, not to toot my own horn, I’ve picked out some pretty clutch gifts over the years. He’s easy to shop for, which is why I keep him around rules.

You’re probably expecting this post to feature some of the delightful recipes I whipped up on Sunday, right?

Well … sorry. I was too focused on making everything perfect and in a timely fashion, and didn’t take any pictures. Actually, I took one picture, of my homemade Montreal steak seasoning. But that’s it. Yup, I’m a terrible food blogger. In my defense, two of the recipes have already been featured here (although this time I tried a slightly different tomato soup recipe because hey, it’s fresh tomato season), one course was a cheese/charcuterie plate, and one side was steamed green beans. (Beans + water + heat. Done.) So really, the only thing I could have shared with you that would be worthwhile was… erm, well, the main course. I wish I had photographed it, because Colin said it was one of the better steaks he had ever tasted.

I know, right? Terrible, terrible Lauren. But I have another flank steak in the freezer, so sooner rather than later (hopefully), I’ll make this again, and on that evening, I won’t be spinning around my kitchen like a top that is also somehow on crack. So please don’t be peeved … especially because the recipe I’m about to share with you more than makes up for this oversight. Also, it’s pizza. That also features bacon. So really … you can’t be that mad.

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Deakfast: Brinner’s infinitely cooler cousin.

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As my extreme detesting of eggs probably indicates, I am not really a breakfast person. I almost never make breakfast, despite Colin chanting “make me breakfast!” at least once a week, because making breakfast for Colin generally means making some lackluster eggs that are probably either overcooked and dry or undercooked and salmonella-tastic, a few strips of bacon (the only thing I eat, healthyyyyy) and occasionally toast. And why am I going to task myself with scouring dried egg and bacon remnants from my cookware when I’m not even getting something that remotely qualifies as a meal out of the deal? I know; I’m selfish. 

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I do enjoy pancakes, but they can be time-consuming, and since between the two of us, no more than five pancakes get consumed, I’m saddled with about twenty billion leftover pancakes neither of us ever want to eat. And I love hash browns, but I usually lack two important elements for making hash browns (cheesecloth and patience), I’ve stopped setting myself up for disappointment. I also enjoy breakfast sandwiches (sans eggs, of course), but half of the time, if I order one (pork roll and cheese, no eggs, PLEASE no eggs seriously god please), the bleary-eyed short order cook throws some eggs on there because everyone else in the universe orders pork roll, egg and cheese sandwiches and (s)he probably hasn’t had enough caffeine to process this whimsical request. So again, I’ve stopped setting myself up for disappointment.

(Seriously, with the eggs, I feel like Graham Chapman in the Monty Python ‘Spam’ skit, except it’s not as funny because there are never any singing Vikings or cross-dressing Brits.) It’s damn near impossible to find a meal on a breakfast menu that doesn’t include eggs or isn’t slathered in a metric ton of whipped cream and fruit preserves — and NO ONE sees the problem with this.

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