Super Secret Hash Brown Recipe

Em already shared the delicious Cheater Croque Madame, which are absolutely fabulous, so I thought I would share the secret to the Super Secret Hash Browns. Hash browns can be tricky to make. You need to reach the perfect level of crispy-ness without being dry and the perfect amount of done-ness without being greasy. When I would make Breakfast Smash(which I am sure will show up as a post someday) I would use our potato ricer to drain all the liquid out of the potatoes and then fry them up in bacon grease. It was just about the healthiest thing you can eat. And while it was super tasty it was also super greasy.

Em loves these hash browns.

Then came along this recipe. These are the best fries you will ever eat. Not even joking. I make very few adjustments to her recipe when making the fries. We look for excuses to make these fries. But this post isn’t about fries, it is about Hash Browns.

These hash browns aren’t your shredded hash browns, these are more of a country potato style hash brown. The most important steps are the soaking in water, the drying off and the amount of oil. Without those you don’t really have tasty hash browns.

Just to give you an indication of how good these are: When they are halfway done and I pull them from the oven to flip the potatoes Em becomes the Yum Monster. This consists of her jumping up and down and growling YUUUUUUUUMMMMMMMM!!!! Seriously.

Super Secret Hash Browns

Serves approx. 2 per potato

1 potato

some oil(we use olive)

salt and pepper

warm water

This is the order I do things in… I am sure you can preheat the oven first, especially if your oven is slow to heat. First peel your potato. Then chop into fry shapes. Then cut that into cubes. Place in a bowl that will hold them and some water. You will be using the same bowl to toss them in oil so maybe a bigger bowl is better.

Add warm to hot water to the bowl and let soak while you oven preheats(10-30 minutes). Drain the potatoes, dry out the bowl and the pat the potatoes dry. Place the potatoes back in the bowl with about 1tbsp of oil per potato. Shake it around until the potato bits are covered in oil. Set aside.

Take another 1-2 tbsp of oil and pour it on a baking sheet. Spread around with a brush and sprinkle salt and pepper on the oiled pan. A good trick for sprinkling without clumping: Sprinkle about a foot and a half abve the pan. Add potatoes in a single layer to the baking sheet and cover with aluminium foil.

Here is where it gets tricky. Bake for 5 minutes, remove foil. Bake for another 5 minutes. Rotate pan, bake another 5 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven. Flip over all the potatos, I use tongs and a spatula. Return to oven for 5 minutes, rotate pan. Bake for the final 5 minutes making sure the potatos look amazing.

Eat. Enjoy.


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Cheater Croque Madame

I have a habit of fancying it up in the kitchen.  Since I rarely get the opportunity to cook for someone other than myself or Joe, I can’t seem to help myself when I manage to wrangle an audience.  Part of the problem with this habit is that I’ll often make something brand new for guests, a fact I ignore until we’ve all sat down together and people are getting ready to take that first bite.  Then I throw in a quick disclaimer like: “I’ve never made this before, so if it’s terrible…Sorry!”.  I’m sure it inspires much confidence in my kitchen competence.

Usually though, I’m lucky.  Except for this one time with chili.  But that wasn’t the recipe’s fault – it was the product of not knowing the difference between a bulb and a clove of garlic.  An important lesson was learned THAT night.  Anyhow.

This is a variant on the full-scale, non-cheater version of croque madames that I made on Sunday.  That recipe will find its way along soon enough I’m sure, because man oh man, it was super good.  If you’re not familiar with croque madames (and I wasn’t before I gave them a whirl on Sunday and served them to my unsuspecting guests) they are usually comprised of a white sauce, swiss cheese and ham sandwiched between two pieces of bread and then topped with a fried egg.

While I loved the traditional croque madames – the simplicity of this spin on the recipe has its merits.  I skipped the sauce, substituted an english muffin for the bread and left the whole thing open-faced.  Think of it as a fancy, healthier version of the egg mcmuffin.  And it takes no time at all to put together.  Start by gathering your ingredients: eggs, english muffin, cheese, ham.

Stack your cheese on top of the english muffin half, then cover with ham.  Nice and easy.

Pop the stacks in the oven to become all melty and toasty.  Fry a couple of eggs in the meantime.  When your eggs are done, remove them from the oven and place the eggs on top.  Aaaaaaand devour!  This was lunch for Joe and I today…but you could totally eat both halves all by yourself.  No judgment.

These would make an easy weekday breakfast if you have a little extra time on your hands (maybe one less snooze cycle’s worth).  You could even get all the stuff prepped the night before.  I love it as a light lunch or dinner, too.  Or as a snack.  Really?  I just wouldn’t say no to one of these any time.

Cheater Croque Madames

serves 1 or 2

2 eggs

1 english muffin, split

2 slices of ham

2 slices of gruyere cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper (probably not strictly necessary, but your future self will thank you when they don’t have to scrape melted cheese off of the pan).

Place the english muffin halves on the pan.  Cover each half with a slice of cheese, and then ham.  Slide them into the oven once it is preheated.  Let cook for 7-10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.

In the meantime, fry two eggs – seasoning with salt and pepper as the cook.  Remove the english muffin stacks from the oven and place a fried egg on top of each.  Serve immediately.

Note: I think bacon would be a worthy substitute for the ham, if you’re so inclined.  Also, any cheese could work well here.  I’d imagine a sharp cheddar would be delicious – or even a pepper jack.  Use what you have on hand and make it no fuss.


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A Beginning

This site has been a long time in the making.  It was dreamed up by Joe several years ago, when it became too clear to ignore any longer: we had a habit of making things.  And we weren’t picky about what it was we were making.  Dessert, bags, scarves, cereal, cards, photographs, invitations, planters, graham crackers.  If it was something that could be done with our own two hands, we didn’t see why it shouldn’t be.  So we kept making, building, eating and gifting things, all the while discussing this site and what we could do with it.  It always seemed like an insurmountable project, which is funny coming from two people that felt it was perfectly reasonable to attempt installing their own wood floors, regardless of their inexperience.

For me, it finally boiled down to this: everything starts somewhere.  We could dream and worry forever without ever just diving in and giving it a real shot.  So here we are.  My first post on the first day of the year.  Once you know me better you’ll realize that it was no coincidence.  I have an affinity (some people would say problem) for organization and tidiness.  It seemed neat and orderly to begin this way.

Joe and Em’s is all about creating a handmade life.  As I make New Year’s Resolultions, I’m also making lists of things that I hope this space will play host to this year.  This includes food, crafts, and home projects.  All the things I spend hours thinking about and planning.  So here they are:

Things to Cook/Bake:

  • Alfredo Sauce
  • Snickerdoodles (I’ve made them before, I’m hoping to make actual cookies and not flat crisps.  I’m on a quest for 3D cookies!)
  • Vanilla
  • Scones
  • Frozen Yogurt
  • Mint Chocolate Chip Icecream
  • Yogurt
  • Fried Chicken
  • Creme Fraiche (I don’t even know what this is, so I’ll also have to figure out how to use it.)
  • Coconut Hot Chocolate
  • Italian Ice
  • Coconut Butter
  • Cheese

To Craft:

  • eReader Sleeve
  • Mini Quilt
  • Screen Printing
  • Knit Cowl
  • Button Jewelry
  • Fabric Flowers

House Projects:

  • Creating a craft closet (where there was once a holy mess of stuff)
  • Creating a studio space (where there was once a garage…and another holy mess of stuff)

I’m sure there will be other things as I am constantly accosted by inspiration, but for now, these are the things noted on my 2012 agenda.  I hope that you will come along for the journey.  I wish you a bright and beautiful New Year!

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Today Em and I had a Frank discussion. You know what those are, a discussion where you both pretend that you are some guy named Frank. Nothing was really accomplished but it was a lot of fun. Actually we had a frank (notice the lower case ‘f’) discussion about creating and what role we want creating to take in our lives.

I luck out because what I need to be creative is as simple as a pencil and a piece of paper. Or even simpler a piece of burnt wood and something to mark on. I prefer to make my marks with ink/marker on bristol board but that is only because of my dream of being a comic book creator. Em’s creative bliss truly is traditional black and white silver gelatin printing. Which unfortunately requires at the least a dark room, and at the most a really nice dark room. She compensates by taking digital photos and the like but truthfully she loves traditional black and white photography. And who can blame her.

Luckily for us, we also like other methods of creating things. Knitting, crocheting, cross stitch, playing video games and sewing are just a start to our creation addiction. Em likes to bake, I like to help bake and eat what has been baked. We both like to cook and eat what we cook. This means that on any given day we get to create something. Not we have to create something but we get to. This means that this blog will never be on a schedule or even about the same thing from post to post, it does mean that we will post what we want, when we want and we will try to do it in amusing and fun ways. If it ever leads to us having to create instead of getting to, then the fun is gone.

Check back often to see what we are creating. Let it begin.

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Coming Even Sooner!!!

Hey… its me… Joe. If you have been checking this site as often as I have you are probably wondering where we have been and when we are going to launch this crazy idea. I don’t have an exact date but I will say that it is soon. We both got super busy recently and kind of left this project on the back burner, but never fear we are back and ready to do this crazy thing.

Everyone can thank Em for rekindling the flame of this idea. She recently started taking pictures as she cooks, like the biscuits she is making right now, and is composing blog posts to go along with them. This of course means that I probably need to get my act together and start taking pictures when I do stuff as well. And so I will.

Keep checking back and make sure you follow us on twitter.

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Welcome to Our Life

Welcome to Joe and Em’s Handmade Life in the Real World. We are two awesome people living in Colorado who just happen to like making stuff with our hands. We sew, bake, cook and attempt to make as much as possible ourselves. We have been living a semi handmade life for a while now and are trying to increase the amount of handmade work that we use around the house and in our lives. One of the joys of the handmade life is that you know exactly where whatever you are using/eating is coming from. The problem with living the handmade life is that you never have enough time to make everything that you need/want. That is where we come in. We are a busy couple with both work and school, and we are going to try and live a more handmade life. This means that we will be spending a lot of our time behind sewing machines or in the kitchen, but this is a sacrifice we are willing to make.

So what might you find at Well from Em you will probably see a lot of posts about recipes that we have recently tried, orginization tips, craft projects that have been recently finished as well as most of the photos taken for this site. From Joe you are going to see a lot of sewing projects, probably some wood working projects and he is also a pretty good assistant in the kitchen. Joe and Em work together on pretty much every project and so there will be very few posts that don’t involve both of them.

Em’s posts will be showing up on Tuesdays and you can catch Joe’s on Thursdays. Stay tuned as we hope to start this little adventure soon. Oh, and once we get started any handmade items that we have lying around will be available at Joe and Em’s Five and Dime Store.

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