America’s Test Kitchen Twice Baked Potatoes

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This is from America’s Test Kitchen Healthy book.  When you have some calories to burn, this is a very tasty recipe.  Follow the directions exactly.  I used Idaho potatoes.  Add some dried chives or chopped scallions for color, or even parsley, like I did, when I ran out of chives.  Be sure to scoop out everything but an 1/8″ of potato for the best flavor.  If you leave too much potato in the shell, you will miss some of that creamy incorporated flavor throughout.  

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 russet potatoes (about 8 oz each), scrubbed and patted dry
  • 1 tsp. canola oil
  • 1 T. unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, minced (I used powder, it was fine)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (I used powder, it was fine)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, (about 4 oz.)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature (can be lowfat)
  • 1/4 cup skim or 2% milk
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard (powdered)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 scallions, sliced thin

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper-middle and middle positions.  Heat oven to 400° F/ 
  2. Rub potatoes with the oil, place on upper oven rack, and bake until the skins are crisp and deep brown, and a skewer easily pierces the flesh, about 1 hour – after flipping them over halfway through baking.
  3. While the potatoes bake, melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and cook until softened and lightly browned, 5-7 mins.
  4. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 secs.  Transfer to a bowl and cover to keep warm. (SINCE I DIDN’T USE RAW ONION AND GARLIC, I JUST MELTED THE BUTTER, ADDED THE GARLIC/ONION POWDER, AND ADDED IT TO THE NEXT STEP).
  5. Transfer the potatoes to a wire rack and let cook slightly, about 10 mins.  Increase the oven temp to 500° F.
  6. Cut each potato in half lengthwise through the narrow curved side.  Using an oven mitt to hold the hot potato, scoop the flesh from each potato half into a medium bowl, leaving 1/8″ thickness of flesh in each shell.  Transfer the shells back to the wire rack.
  7. Mash the potato flesh with a potato masher or fork until smooth. 
  8. Stir in 1/2 cup of the cheddar, sour cream, milk, dry mustard, onion/garlic mixture, 3/4 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper.
  9. Spoon the mixture into the potato shells, mounding it slightly at center.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup (or more) of cheddar.
  10. Bake potatoes on middle rack until shells are crisp and the cheese is melted and spotty brown, 10-15 mins.
  11. Sprinkle with scallions/parsley/chives and serve.

Chef John’s Crispy Onion Rings (That Stay Crispy!)

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This was one of those magical cooking moments.  Don’t ask me why a person, me, who can’t be around raw onion could eat cooked onion rings, but it was great, crispy, and better than a restaurant!  My husband cooked these while I was in another room.  They were extremely crispy and stayed that way hours later.  They were the best I’ve ever tasted.  We didn’t have club soda so we used chilled beer, it worked fine.  The panko really works here, don’t substitute it!  A+!

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons dry potato flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 cup chilled club soda
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs, or as needed
  • 2 cups vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 large onions, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices and separated into rings
  • fine salt to taste

Directions

  1. Whisk together flour, cornstarch, dry potato flakes, and cayenne pepper in a large bowl. Whisk in club soda to make a smooth batter.
  2. Place panko bread crumbs in a shallow bowl.
  3. Heat oil in a deep fryer or large saucepan to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  4. Place a few onion rings at a time into the bowl of batter and turn to coat all sides with batter.
  5. Remove onion rings from batter and place into pan of panko bread crumbs; turn to coat completely with crumbs.
  6. Cook a few rings at a time in the hot oil until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Transfer to a cooling rack set over paper towels to drain. Season with salt to taste and serve.

Broccoli-Cheddar Soup

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This was a great test for my new Christmas gift, an immersion blender.  I didn’t have to transfer the hot soup to a blender and I did it right in the pan.  For this recipe, I’m glad I got two heads of broccoli to be safe.  I did not have to add additional water in the second-to-last step, but you should monitor it.  This is a true keeper!  I threw out my old recipe for cheesy broccoli soup!  I wouldn’t substitute milk for the half-and-half, this recipe needs its fat and creaminess.  I served with sourdough on the side.  ENJOY!
INGREDIENTS:
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 7-inch sourdough bread boules (round loaves)
  • 4 cups broccoli florets (about 1 head)
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 2 1/2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated sharp white and yellow cheddar cheese, plus more for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Whisk in the flour and cook until golden, 3 to 4 minutes, then gradually whisk in the half-and-half until smooth.
  3. Add the chicken broth, bay leaves and nutmeg, then season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until thickened, about 20 minutes.
  4. (OPTIONAL): Meanwhile, prepare the bread bowls: Using a sharp knife, cut a circle into the top of each loaf, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Remove the bread top, then hollow out the middle with a fork or your fingers, leaving a thick bread shell.
  5. Add the broccoli and carrot to the broth mixture and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.
  6. Discard the bay leaves. Puree the soup in batches in a blender until smooth; you’ll still have flecks of carrot and broccoli. Return to the pot. (Or puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender.)
  7. Add the cheese to the soup and whisk over medium heat until melted. Add up to 3/4 cup water if the soup is too thick.
  8. Ladle into the bread bowls and garnish with cheese.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

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I finally found a good recipe for baked sweet potato fries and I will not lose it!  We halved this recipe and it was a perfect amount for two people.  Go by weight versus number of potatoes as they vary greatly in their sizes!

INGREDIENTS:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled if desired.
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • Snipped fresh parsley (optional, I did not use)
  • Coarse salt (optional)
  • OPTIONAL: You can add 2 cloves garlic, minced or 1/4 tsp. garlic powder with the oil.  I added a few dashes of garlic powder

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.  If desired, line two baking sheets with foil.  Lightly coat foil with nonstick spray, set aside.
  2. Cut sweet potatoes lengthwise into 1/2″ thick strips.
  3. Place potatoes in large bowl. 
  4. In a small bowl combine oil, salt, and pepper.
  5. Drizzle oil mixture over potatoes, tossing to coat. 
  6. Arrange sweet potatoes in a single layer on prepared baking sheets.
  7. Bake for 15 mins, turn potatoes over, bake for 10-15 more minutes or until golden brown. 
  8. If desired, sprinkle with parsley or coarse salt. 

 

Martha’s Sweet Potato Casserole

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This is a really neat recipe.  You get that mashed sweet potato flavor with spices, added sweetness (optional), and beautiful golden marshmallows.  Next time I will half it for my family of three because it makes a lot (I forgot); it serves about 8 people.  The cinnamon and brown sugar are ingredients I added because I thought it’d be better with them.  I used about 3 large sweet potatoes, but weigh them please!  If you need a great masher that’s easy to clean, look here:  OXO Masher.  ENJOY!!!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-in. chunks
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup whole milk (I used 2%)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Place sweet potatoes in large saucepan or pot, and cover with cold water by 1 inch.  Salt generously.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 15-20 minutes.
  4. Drain, and return to pan.
  5. Heat over medium, stirring, until liquid has evaporated and a thin film covers the bottom of pain – about 2 mintues.
  6. Remove pan from heat, add milk, butter, nutmeg, and optional cinnamon and sugar.
  7. Mash until smooth, season with salt and pepper.
  8. Transfer mixture to a 2-qt. baking dish. (To make ahead, refrigerate up to 1 day).
  9. Top casserole with marshmallows, bake until center is warmed through and marshmallows are lightly browned, about 15-20 minutes.

Pumpkin Cookies

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These are a great pumpkin treat for this time of year AND they get a vegetable in you and/or your children.  What is interesting is that they are not overly sugary, they almost taste a little too healthy without the icing, but they are great!  Baking on parchment paper is always something I recommend.  I froze the remainder since it made 2 dozen cookies.  This is from the book “The Food Allergy Mama’s Baking Book” by Kelly Rudnicki.

 

COOKIE INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • One 15 OZ. can pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Classic icing recipe below

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, thoroughly combine the shortening, sugar, applesauce, and pumpkin.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt with a wire whisk.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the shortening mixture and stir until just combined.
  5. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Use a cookie scoop to place batter onto the prepared sheets. 
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.
  7. Remove from the oven, and cool on a wire rack. 
  8. Frost with icing recipe below.

ICING RECIPE:

  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon good-quality vanilla extract
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk, as needed to thin icing.

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Blend all ingredients together in a small bowl with a wire whisk.
  2. Drizzle over cookies or dip each cookie into icing bowl. 

Homemade Red Pasta Sauce

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I finally found a pasta sauce recipe that didn’t fail me, thanks to a recipe from my friend, Albert.  (Thanks, Albert!)  A few months ago I tried another from-scratch pasta recipe and sadly, it all ended up in the garbage disposal, it was inedible after all those hours of work!  This recipe involves the blender and simple simmering and reduction.  You can change up the spices as you like.  I used fresh oregano and basil from the garden.  I added garlic and onion powder and some generic Italian type seasoning.  For not having any preservatives or chemicals, this is a WIN!  Mix with some whole wheat pasta and you have a healthy side to your meal.    

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4-5 medium tomatoes
  • salt & pepper
  • fresh or dried spices, as desired (such as oregano, basil, Italian seasoning, garlic/onion powder, etc)

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Begin by cutting out a tiny amount of the tomato: cut out the top woody party of the tomato and a thin layer including the stem.
  2. Roughly chop remaining tomatoes and put in blender.
  3. Add salt/pepper and basic spices that you chose. 
  4. Pulverize in blender until smooth.
  5. Transfer to skillet and reduce this pink, liquidy mixture until it turns into a pasta sauce consistency, watching not to let it burn, about 20-30 minutes.

 

 

Crispy Rosemary Potatoes

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This is a very tasty recipe for baked rosemary potatoes.  My husband and I loved this recipe and will make it again.  It’s from the cookbook “Cook This!  Not That!”.  Fresh rosemary is best here.  Makes 4 servings. 

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. red potatoes, cut into 3/4″ chunks
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Toss the potatoes with the oil, rosemary, and a generous amount of salt and pepper.
  3. Spread out evenly on a baking sheet.
  4. Roast until brown and crispy on the outside and tender inside, about 30 minutes. 

Zucchini Parmesan Chips

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This is a great, healthy recipe off of Foodnetwork.com.  You simply slice up your zucchini, toss it in olive oil, and then cover it in your mixture of Parmesan/bread crumbs/salt/pepper.  Only at the last minute did I realize that it said freshly grated Parmesan like from a Parmesan brick of cheese.  Since I didn’t have that,  used the Parmesan in the container and mixed in some shredded mozzarella cheese; it still was tasty!  I will try it again with the preferred ingredient.  The near burnt cheese flavor was divine.  I used a metal baking pan with aluminum foil coated generously with cooking spray, nothing stuck!  I had to lessen the time slightly.  I had to make more Parmesan mixture as it wasn’t enough and/or I put too much mixture on, but it was worth it.
Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • 2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound total)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan (3/4-ounce)
  • 1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Slice the zucchini into 1/4-inch thick rounds. In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini with the oil.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the Parmesan, bread crumbs, salt, and a few turns of pepper. Dip each round into the Parmesan mixture, coating it evenly on both sides, pressing the coating on to stick, and place in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Bake the zucchini rounds until browned and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove with spatula. Serve immediately.