Baby Twice Baked Potatoes

I got the idea for this when I was doing research for great lunchbox ideas, and thought it would make a great lunch for Number Two. Of course, these little stuffed potatoes would make a good side for any meal, but for those who are packing lunches for older kids and/or adults, this is a yummy addition to any recipe list.

I totally winged this, so I don’t really have any measurements. But you can easily see that it’s not necesssary anyway. There’s really no way to mess this up. I used what I had on hand, but there are so many options as far as what you can put into your little stuffed potatoes, such as sour cream, chives, broccoli or other veggies.

baby bakers

Baby Twice Baked Potatoes

Small, yellow potatoes

Grated or shredded cheddar cheese*

Bacon Bits or crumbled (turkey) bacon

Salt & Pepper

1. Bake potaotes until tender and allow to cool slightly.

2. Cut of tops and scopp out potato, placing into a bowl.

3. Mash up the potato with a fork and combine with cheese (*any cheeses you like) and bacon crumbles. Salt & Pepper to taste.

4. Spoon filling gently back into potato skins and mound high.

5. Bake again until lightly browned on top and potatoes are set.

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FEATURED ON WHAT’D YOU DO THIS WEEKEND? #44

FEATURED ON TASTY TUESDAYS #39

Thanksgiving Roundup

Turkey is the standard fare for a Thanksgiving table, but whether you roast a bird or make something else the center of your meal, you’re going to need side dishes and desserts. Some people stick with the traditional dishes like mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. But if you’re looking for some new ideas, check out this roundup.

side collage

1. Thyme and Maple Roasted Acorn Squash

2. Pesto Parmesan Green Beans

3. Carrot Mash Bake

4. Cheesy Pesto Bread

5. Parmesan Tomatoes

6. Spinach Squares

7. Oven Roasted Okra

8. Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

9. Bacon & Spinach Mashed Potatoes

10. Butternut Squash Pasta Bake

11. Caprese Quinoa Bake

dessert collage

1. Mini Apple Tart Tatins

2. Pots au Chocolate de Creme

3. Caramel Praline Tart

4. Butternut Cake

5. Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pies with Pie Spice Cream Cheese Frosting

6. Apple Butterscotch Cake

7. Carrot Cake Roulade

8. Vanilla Coconut Rice Pudding

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Turkey & Black Bean Burgers with Avocado-Corn Salsa

I was looking for a good, quick dinner idea one night and remembered I had this recipe on file for a black bean cake. What I ended up with is a little more of a burger because I added ground turkey meat, but add some of that salsa and you’re gonna love it with or without the meat. Also, I should mention that the original recipe called for shredded pepper jack cheese (1 1/2 cups) to be mixed into the black bean mixture, which I didn’t do, but that sounds like an awesome addition!

bl bn burger

Turkey & Black Bean Burgers

1 lb ground turkey (or chicken or beef)

1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained

2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

1 T taco seasoning mix

1/2 cup Panko

1 large egg, slightly beaten

Salt & Pepper, to taste

1. Combine all ingredients using hands and form into patties.

2. Heat a little bit of oil in a skillet over medium high heat.

3. Gently place patties into hot skillet. They will be fragile. Allow to sear on one side so they will flip easily.

4. Cook through.

5. Serve with salsa.

Avocado – Corn Salsa

avocado, skinned and diced

1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed

1 tomato, diced

1 tsp fresh cilantro, chopped fine

lime juice

salt & pepper

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FEATURED AT TASTY TUESDAYS #39

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmigiana Sandwiches

I’ve been working nights so slow cooker suppers have been a life saver when it comes to making sure my boys get a good meal. Needless to say I’ve been scouring the net for new crock pot ideas. I came across this idea and fell in love with it. Anything I can throw into the slow cooker and know that the boys are going to like it, works for me. All they had to do was assemble their sandwiches when they were ready to eat.

chixparmsammy

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmigiana Sandwiches

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 cans (15 oz. ea.) tomato sauce

1 can  (15 oz.) diced tomatoes with juice

12 oz. tomato paste

2 cups sweet, yellow onion, finely diced

1 T (or 2 cloves) garlic, minced

1/2 tsp dried parsley

1/2 tsp oregano

2 bay leaves

4 T fresh basil, chopped fine, or 1 tsp dried

salt & pepper, to taste

sliced or shredded mozzarella cheese

grated Parmesan cheese

6 hard rolls

1. Start slow cooker on low heat and spray with cooking spray. Place chicken inside.

2. Mix together tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, paste, garlic, onions, and herbs. Stir until well combined. Pour over chicken and turn to coat.

3. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook on low 6 hours.

4. Shred the chicken using two forks. Replace back into slow cooker and stir everything well.

5. Slice hard rolls and lightly toast, if desired. *They’re awesome with a little bit of butter. Use tongs or slotted spoon to portion out the chicken onto the rolls, tapping off excess sauce. Top with cheeses.

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FEATURED AT SHOW STOPPER SATURDAY: SLOW COOKER

Harvest Pumpkin Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting

A bit more cake-like as opposed to a brownie, these lightly spiced pumpkin squares make an excellent dessert alternative for the Fall. Only 15 minutes prep and 20 minutes baking time, you could be indulging in less than an hour :)

pumpkin brownies

Harvest Pumpkin Brownies

1 can (15 oz.) solid packed pumpkin

4 eggs

3/4 oil (canola, EVOO, whatever you use)

2 cups flour (I used my 1/2 & 1/2)

2 cups sugar

1 T pumpkin spice

2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1. In large bowl, beat pumpkin, eggs, oil and vanilla until blended.

2. Combine dry ingredients; gradually stirring into pumpkin mixture.

3. Pour into greased 15×10 pan and bake at 350* for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out of center clean.

4. Cool on a wire rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting*

6 T butter, softened

3 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp milk

1/8 tsp salt

1 1/2 – 2 cups powdered sugar

While the brownies are baking make this frosting. (*This frosting recipe was very good, but I recommend my regular cream cheese frosting recipe as it has less butter and more cream cheese.) 

1. Using a mix master, beat cream cheese, butter, vanilla and milk until smooth.

2. Gradually stir in the powdered sugar until smooth and desired consistency.

3. Refrigerate until ready to use.

4. Frost cooled brownies.

5. Enjoy!

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FEATURED ON A BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL LIFE: PUMPKIN

FEATURED AT THRIVING ON THURSDAYS #95

FEATURED ON PROJECT STASH PARTY 11-27-13

FEATURED AT FULL PLATE THURSDAY 11-28-13

White Chicken Enchiladas

Has anyone else noticed that I haven’t done Mexican in a while? Weird, right? Well, this recipe totally makes up for it. In fact, it’s now my favorite enchilada recipe of all time. Seriously, this was {squeeeeeeee – worthy} awesome :)

white chix2

White Chicken Enchiladas with Green Chile Sour Cream Sauce

10 soft tortillas

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or chopped

1 pkg taco seasoning

2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

3  butter

3 T flour

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup sour cream (or greek yogurt)

1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles

1. Preheat oven to 350*. Grease a 9×13 baking dish.

2. Mix chicken, taco seasoning, and 1 cup shredded cheese together. Divide evenly between tortillas. Roll up and place in pan.

3. Make a roux by melting the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then add the flour and whisk until well blended. Cook 1 minute.

4. Add in the chicken broth and whisk until smooth. Cook over medium heat until thickened.

5. Stir in sour cream and chiles. Take the saucepan off the heat so the sour cream doesn’t boil and curdle. Stir until everything is combined and smooth.

6. Pour sauce over the enchiladas and top with the remaining shredded cheese.

7. Bake for 25 minutes. Broil another 3 -5 minutes to lightly brown the cheese.

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Eat Healthy for Less Money

Yes, you really can eat super healthy without it breaking your wallet. How? First of all, know your food. It’s trendy to buy organic, but it’s also wasteful if you buy something that really isn’t organic, or doesn’t need to be. For example, don’t buy an organic pineapple when you’re just going to cut that thick outer skin off, right? I mean, let’s be realistic. Buy organic fruits and veggies that don’t have skins you’re going to cut or peel, or skins that don’t keep out pesticides.

If you’re eating clean and/or organic then you probably aren’t buying boxed foods anyway, but fyi, there’s really no such thing as 100% organic processed and boxed foods- so don’t be fooled by marketing.

organic

Here are some super healthy foods that won’t break the bank:

1. OATS

Cost: about $3 pound

Benefit: Oats are rich in avenanthramide, an antioxidant that protects the heart. Other oat accolades? The superfood lowers cholesterol and has been shown to possess disease-zapping antimicrobial activity, making organic oatmeal the perfect affordable breakfast item for cold and flu season.

2. DRY BEANS

Cost: about $2 per pound, depending on the variety

Benefit: Forget expensive steak and sausage. Dry beans and dry lentils pack a healthy low-fat, plant-based protein punch. Known as a “perfect food,” just one cooked cupful can provide as much as 17 grams of fiber. Beans are also loaded with protein and dozens of key nutrients, including a few most people fall short on—calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Studies tie beans to a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and breast and colon cancers. Soak beans overnight and rinse them well to eliminate most of the flatulence-causing compounds.

3. GARLIC

Cost: $1 per bulb

Benefit: This onion relative contains more than 70 active phytochemicals, including allicin, which studies show may decrease high blood pressure by as much as 30 points. High consumption of garlic lowered rates of ovarian, colorectal, and other cancers, according to a research review inThe American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. To boost garlic’s health effects, be sure to crush the cloves and let them stand for up to 30 minutes before heating them. Extend the life of your garlic by storing it in a paper bag in the refrigerator

4. CAYENNE PEPPER

Cost: about $3 per jar

Benefit: If you can handle the heat, this powerhouse pepper is worth your while. The heat in cayenne peppers come from a phytochemical called capsaicin, which can help clear congestion, fight cholesterol, melt away body fat, and jump-start your metabolism. Sprinkle it over veggies and beans to sneak it into your diet—just a half a teaspoon is all you need.

5. CELERY

Cost: $1.99 per bunch

Benefit: Eating four sticks of celery a day can produce modest reductions in blood pressure, thanks to the vegetable’s rich supply of phthalides, phytochemicals linked to cardiovascular health. Single? Celery is loaded with androstenone and androstenol, pheromones that help attract women.

6. TOMATOES

Cost: $1.50 per pound

Benefit: Tomatoes are our most common source of lycopene, an antioxidant that may protect against heart disease and breast cancer. Stock up at farmer’s markets or from your own garden while you can. Canned tomatoes (a cheaper option when fresh tomatoes are out of season) can expose you to the harmful plastic chemical BPA, which is used in the epoxy coatings that line cans. When fresh tomatoes aren’t available, or aren’t good, look for jarred or boxed varieties, or buy Trader Joe’s.

7. ONIONS

Cost: $2.99 per two-pound bag

Benefit: This bulb boasts far-reaching health benefits, including immunity-boosting compounds that can help prevent everything from the common cold to cancer. Onions are also rich in quercetin, a flavonoid shown to keep your blood healthy. It’s also a must-have for natural allergy prevention. Tip: Store your onions somewhere cool and dry, such as a dark cabinet or unused closet, and that two-pound bag will last for months.

A few other tips about eating healthy for less money:

1. Don’t buy precut fruit or veggies. It may be convenient in terms of your time, but definitely not convenient for your wallet. Precut pineapple costs twice as much as buying a whole one, which you can easily cut up yourself.  Prep these items at the beginning of each week and refrigerate for easy grab and go.

2. Instead of prepackaged (brown) rice, make your own in large batches and freeze in portions.

3. Buy and prepare in bulk. Just like the rice, you can save money by buying meat and veggies and starches in bulk, preparing them and then freezing it in portions. I recently bought a HUGE bag of kale greens from Sams Club for only $3 dollars cooked it down to make 3 quarts of greens. Eat what you want and freeze the rest.

4. Buy cheap. This means if there is a sale on apples, buy them up. But don’t let them go to waste. Invest in a dehydrator.

5. Stop buying drinks. Seriously there’s nothing healthy about soda pop anyway and “diet” drinks are full of poison. If you’re going to eat or drink anything with sugar, just make it real sugar. All those horrible sweeteners are toxic. The only things I buy are coffee, tea bags and organic sugar. I make a 3 QT pitcher of semi-sweet tea about every other day. Invest in a water purifier and get used to it. Water is good.

5. Stop eating out. Honestly it’s just not that easy to eat healthy if you’re eating in restaurants all the time. We eat out only a few times a month, and while I try to stick with healthy menu options, I don’t feel bad about ordering a cheeseburger when it’s once in a while. If I have to eat on the run my number one choice is a Chick-fil-A grilled chicken wrap without any dressing.

6. The number one way to cut your spending is to plan your meals. Just take a little time once or twice a month, write down your families’ favorite meals, search the web for some great recipes, and decide on a meal for every night of the month (unless you know for sure you will not be eating at home on a particular night). If you end up not using a recipe one night, it’s okay, just put it back into the rotation for another day. This way you’ve got all your meals covered and you won’t be tempted to eat out and spend money. Now make your grocery list and set a day or two aside and do some bulk cooking/prepping if necessary. The meal plan also helps so you know a day or even a week ahead of time what needs to be prepped so that everything is ready to go each day. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting ready to cook dinner at 5 or 6 pm and finding your meat is still frozen or you don’t have all the ingredients you need. Check out this link for my favorite meal planning template at The Nourishing Home.

Spanish Style Red Snapper

This fish dish (aha, that rhymed) was such a hit right off the bat that none of us can wait until I make it again. Even Number Two had two servings! Similar to a Veracruz-Style fish but without any jalapenos or raisins, but you could easily add what flavorings you think you’d like. I wasn’t too keen on the raisins, but if I’d had any pepper I probably would have added them. Either way, this came out awesome.

redsnapper

Spanish Style Red Snapper

4 lbs red snapper fillets

1/4 cup EVOO

1/4 cup onion, finely chopped

2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced

1 (15 oz) can of diced tomatoes

1/3 cup chicken broth, divided

1/4 cup sliced green olives, pitted

2 T drained capers

1 tsp oregano

2 bay leaves

1. Preheat oven to 425*. Grease baking dish and pour 1/3 cup of chicken broth into the bottom. Arrange fish in pan (skin side down) and set aside.

2. Drain tomatoes but reserve the juice. Using a masher or fork, crush tomatoes to a coarse puree (is ok if it’s still a little chunky). Drain again and reserve all the juices together.

3. Heat oil in heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and stir for a minute. Add garlic and stir another 30 seconds. Add tomato puree, bay leaves, oregano, and reserved juice. Combine and cook for a few minutes.

4. Add broth, capers and olives. Salt & pepper to taste. Cook a few more minutes until thickened or mixture is heated through.

5. Spoon over fish and bake for about 18 minutes, or until fish is just opaque in the center.

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Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies

Number Two has been asking for chocolate chip cookies for a while now. When I saw this recipe for a soft, chewy cookie that uses cream cheese, I thought I’d give them a try. (Recipe adapted from Averie Cooks)

Umm……so yeah, these are pretty awesome. I’m not even gonna sell it to you because you’re gonna want to go make some of your own. Trust me.

crmchzchoccookies

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened (use regular block cheese only)
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used my 1/2 & 1/2 flour mixture)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt, optional and to taste
1 pkg chocolate chips or chunks (I used milk chocolate)

crmchzcookies2

  1. Using a mixmaster, combine the butter, cream cheese, sugars, egg, vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed until well-creamed, light and fluffy, about 5 minutes (or use an electric hand mixer and beat for at least 7 minutes).
  2. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, optional salt, and mix until just combined, about 1 minute.
  3. Add chocolate chips and chunks, and beat momentarily to incorporate, or fold in by hand.
  4. Form 2-inch rounds and place mounds on a large plate or baking sheet. Flatten mounds slightly with your palm, cover with plasticwrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 5 days, before baking. Do not bake with warm dough because cookies will spread and bake thinner and flatter.
  5. Preheat oven to 350*, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place mounds on baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just beginning to set. Do not bake longer than 10 minutes as cookies will firm up as they cool. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing and transferring to a rack to finish cooling.

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FEATURED ON SHOW & SHARE WEDNESDAY #63!

November Menu ~ 2013

I have to admit I’ve been slack. While the rest of the blogging world has gone Halloween and pumpkin crazy I’ve been completely denying that it isn’t September anymore. Is it just me or is time speeding up? I seriously wasn’t mentally prepared for Fall, which is CRAZY because it is my favorite time of year. While I am enjoying the cooler weather and the pumpkin lattes :) I have not done much cooking, and definitely haven’t done any pumpkin or apple baking. So this month’s menu is full of new recipes I plan to get to, with a few oldies but goodies scattered in for those days I just can’t spend all day in the kitchen. Keep an eye out for red links to appear as recipes are posted.

novmenu

Recipes already linked:

Dolly’s Polish Cabbage Soup

Baked Chimichangas

Chicken Stroganoff

Poor Man’s Mongolian Beef

Ultimate Baked Beans

Baby Portabella, Wild Rice & Turkey Soup

Black Bean Risotto

Vegetarian Enchiladas

Chicken Tarragon

Cheesy Rice Fritters

Crock Pot Pinto Beans

Mexican Rice

Oven Roasted Okra

Tomato Tart on Cornbread Crust

Blueberry Cobbler

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Pineapple Galette

Caramel Praline Tart

Main Dishes:

White Chicken Enchiladas with Green Chile Sour Cream Sauce

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmigiana Sandwiches

Turkey Cutlets with Tomato Cream Sauce

Favorite Chicken Enchiladas

Skinny Veggie Lasagna

Spanish Style Red Snapper

Sunday Chicken

Easy Pad Thai with Chicken

Chicken Enchiladas with Avocado Cream Sauce

Breakfast & Lunch Boxes:

Oatmeal, Flaxseed & Blueberry Muffins

Fruit and Nut Fritters

Turkey Bacon & Cheddar Cheese Muffins

Pumpkin French Toast Bake

Pizza Quesadillas

Apple, Goat Cheese & Honey Tarts

Chocolate Pumpkin Protein Bars

Desserts:

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies

Harvest Pumpkin Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Gingersnap Parfaits

Apples with Caramel Cream Cheese Dip