Overstuffed Twice-Baked Potatoes with Broccoli and Cheddar

Now that fall is here, it’s officially comfort food season. After a chilly day, there is nothing better than curling up with some hot chocolate, macaroni and cheese, cookies … basically anything full of carbs!

One of my favorite carbohydrates is the potato. Whether it’s baked, fried, roasted, or tater totted (ha), if it’s a potato, then I’m happy. I especially love twice-baked potatoes. Here is one of my favorite recipes: twice-baked potatoes filled with broccoli and cheese. These overstuffed potatoes are easy to make and delicious, and they can be served as a main coarse (add a salad) or a side dish.

Overstuffed Twice-Baked Potatoes with Broccoli and CheddarOverstuffed Twice-Backed Potatoes with Broccoli and Cheddar

Serves 4 (main dish) to 8 (side dish) people

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium baking potatoes
  • 2 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or other cheese)
  • 16-oz. package frozen cut broccoli
  • salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Using a fork, pierce each potato all over. This will allow built-up steam to escape, and keep the potatoes from exploding in the oven (wouldn’t that be fun?!?). Place the pierced potatoes directly on the oven rack. Bake until tender (tested with your fork), about 45-60 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook broccoli in microwave according to package directions. Set cooked broccoli aside until it’s cool enough to handle, and then cut any large chunks of broccoli into bite-sized pieces.

Cut broccoli into bite-sized pieces.Remove cooked potatoes from oven and set aside to cool. Reduce oven heat to 375 degrees.

When potatoes have cooled, slice off the top third. Remove potato flesh from the top slice and add it to a large bowl and then discard skin. Using a small spoon, scoop flesh from potatoes and add to bowl, leaving a 1/4-inch shell. Set potato skins aside on a greased baking sheet.

Scoop out potatoes.Add butter, Dijon, garlic powder, and sour cream to the bowl. Mash potatoes until well combined. Add 1/2 cup cheddar cheese and mix well. Season to taste with salt.

Mash PotatoesAdd CheeseOops! I didn’t realize until looking at these pictures that I used a jack/cheddar mix, instead of sharp cheddar that was also in my refrigerator. Guess what? No one noticed, and they were still delicious!

Add broccoli to mashed potatoes and stir until well-mixed. Taste again and add additional salt, if necessary.

Stuff each potato skin with 1/4 of the mashed potato mixture.

Stuff potatoes with filling.After the potatoes are stuffed, carefully top with the remaining cheese.

Top Potatoes with CheesePlace baking sheet in oven and bake until cheese is melted and potatoes are heated through (about 25-30 minutes). Enjoy!

Overstuffed Twice-Baked Potatoes with Broccoli and CheddarOverstuffed Twice-Baked Potatoes with Broccoli and CheddarOther ideas for baked potatoes:

  • Top with chili and pepper jack cheese
  • Stuff with black beans, salsa, and monterey jack
  • Pile high with garlic-sauteed spinach, cherry tomatoes, and feta

What is your favorite comfort food?

I’m linking up with Creations by Kara’s Look What I Made Wednesday, Sweet Bella Roos’ Pin It Thursday, and Mommy Hates Cooking’s Make Bake Create.

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Quick & Easy Hummus: 1 Recipe, 3 Ways

Hummus is one of those foods that I like to keep on hand. It makes the perfect snack, and I love to serve it when entertaining, too.

I’m not a fan of most store-bought hummus, however. It just doesn’t taste like the real thing. Plus, why buy from a store, when it’s so quick and easy to make?

Today I’m sharing my favorite hummus recipe, plus two easy variations. You are going to love it!

Quick & Easy Hummus

Quick & Easy Hummus: 1 Recipe, 3 WaysIngredients:

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, lightly drained
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • Salt to taste

Place the garlic clove in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped.

Mince garlic for hummusAdd remaining ingredients to the garlic and process until mixture is completely smooth and creamy. If needed, add a little water to thin the hummus out. Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Quick & Easy HummusI like to serve the hummus drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with a dash of smoked paprika. Pita bread or chips and fresh veggies are the perfect accompaniment.

Variation 1: Black Olive Hummus

Black Olive HummusAdditional Ingredient:

  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped olives (I like kalamata, but other types work, too.)

Add the olives to the completed hummus and process just until the olives are finely chopped. Avoid over-processing: you want to see some chunks.

Variation 2: Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Roasted Red Pepper HummusAdditional Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped roasted red peppers
  • Cayenne, optional

Add the peppers and optional cayenne to the completed hummus and process just until the peppers are finely chopped. Avoid over-processing: like the black olive hummus, you want to see some chunks.

That’s it. In five minutes, you have my favorite hummus! If you are looking for other recipes for easy entertaining, make sure to check out my Creamy Ricotta-Blue Cheese Spread.

OK, who wants to come over? I have a refrigerator full of hummus!

I’m linking up with Mommy Hates Cooking’s Make Bake Create party.

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Creamy Ricotta-Blue Cheese Spread

I love to entertain, but I tend to get a little type-A about it. It’s fun to put out an impressive spread, serve tasty wine, and show off an impeccable apartment. Unfortunately, that usually means scrambling beforehand, because let’s get real: my apartment is never spotless, and it’s a lot of work to prepare a great meal.

Lately, I’ve been doing things a little differently. I like to start things off with a great dip or spread, served with fresh veggies and crackers. Then I follow things up with an easy dinner (like pizza made with premade crust) and finish with a dessert from the bakery. How simple is that?

Here’s a recipe for one of my favorite dips.

Creamy Ricotta-Blue Cheese Spread

Creamy Ricotta-Blue Cheese SpreadIngredients:

  • 1 15-oz. container ricotta
  • 4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • Salt, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

Ricotta blue cheese mixture.Mix well, breaking up any large chunks of blue cheese.

Serve with crackers and veggies. The spread is also delicious spread on toast for a snack (my favorite way to eat it).

Creamy Ricotta Blue Cheese SpreadEasy EntertainingCome back next Monday. I’m sharing another recipe for easy entertaining: my favorite hummus!

What is your favorite easy recipe to serve guests?

I’m linking up with Sweet Bella Roos Pin It Thursday and Tater Tots and Jello’s Link Party Palooza.

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Treat Yourself: Spicy Chocolate “Cookies”

I have a massive sweet tooth. Unfortunately, I can’t be trusted around a lot of sugar, so in an effort to eat somewhat healthy, we don’t keep a ton of sweets around our apartment.  I love it when my husband brings home a treat though!

The other day, he surprised me with a package of Emmy’s Choco Chili Macaroons. I’ll admit that I was a little skeptical at first (raw and vegan do not always equal super yummy), but the macaroons were really delicious, and the ingredients were pretty healthy, too. If you see them anywhere, definitely pick up a package.

Anyway, my mind immediately started spinning, and I set about recreating the macaroons.  Here is my version – I’m calling mine cookies. Give them a try. You’ll love these lightly sweet treats. They make a great, healthy snack (as long as you don’t eat the whole batch in one sitting).

Spicy Chocolate Cookies

Spicy Chocolate CookiesMakes 18

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • pinch salt
  • cayenne
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (melted, if solid)
  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla

Combine almond meal, shredded coconut, cocoa powder, and salt in a small bowl. Add a few dashes of cayenne, to taste (I added 7).  Mix well.

Add the coconut oil, honey, and vanilla. Stir until combined. It will have a slightly crumbly texture, but shouldn’t be totally dry or too soft.

Mixing Spicy Chocolate Cookie IngredientsRefrigerate for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove the mixture from the refrigerator and form your cookies. Take about a tablespoon of the “dough,” and press it firmly together and gently form it into a small cookie, smoothing out any jagged edges. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Shape Spicy Chocolate Cookie Dough into Cookies

Spicy Chocolate CookiesThat’s it – enjoy! Store the cookies in the refrigerator to keep them nice and firm.

Notes: If your mixture is too dry and won’t hold together even after you refrigerate it, add a little extra coconut oil.

Almond meal is made from almonds that are ground into a fine, floury texture. You can purchase almond meal (or flour) at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods or the natural foods section of many other grocery stores. If you can’t find it anywhere, make your own by grinding blanched almonds in a food processor until very fine.

Spicy Chocolate CookiesDo you have a favorite healthy snack?

I’m linking up with Creations by Kara and Style Elixir’s Fab Favorites.

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Lifesaver Recipe: Easy One Pot Pasta

Do you ever find a recipe so good that you make it over and over? This One Pot Wonder Tomato Basil Pasta is one of those recipes for me. The first time I tried it, I loved it so much, that I made it again later that same week.

What I like so much about this recipe is that it’s very easy, I usually have the ingredients on hand, and most importantly, it’s super delicious. Basically, you throw all the ingredients into one pot – including the pasta – and cook everything together. It’s the perfect meal to make in summer when you don’t want to be standing over a hot stove.

One Pot Pasta with Fire-Roasted Tomatoes, Olives, and Feta

The recipe is easy to customize, as well. For the pictures shown, I used fire-roasted tomatoes in place of regular diced tomatoes, and I added about a cup of olives. I didn’t have fresh basil, so I used dried. When the pasta was cooked, I tossed everything together with some feta. It was so good!

One Pot Pasta with Fire-Roasted Tomatoes, Olives, and Feta

Here are some other ideas:

  • Use a large package of cherry tomatoes in place of the canned tomatoes.
  • Try other pasta shapes. I’ve used shells, and they worked great.
  • For a puttanesca style sauce, leave out the basil and oregano and add a 1/2 cup quartered kalamata olives and 2 tbsp. capers.
  • Replace the basil and oregano with dried thyme and add a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas.
  • Add a jar of marinated artichoke hearts to the pot along with the other ingredients. Toward the end of the cooking process, stir in a bag of baby spinach leaves.

The possibilities are endless!

Do you think you will try this recipe?

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