Baked Mashed Potatoes

In our house, we have a predicament.  I love mashed potatoes.  Zack doesn’t.  For this reason, I try to make them in as many different ways as possible in the hopes that I will find some that he loves.  So far, no luck.

However, I loved these.  It takes forever to make them, but totally worth it in my opinion.  They were so creamy and amazing!

Give them a try if you are tired of the same ole mashed potatoes!

Baked Mashed Potatoes

– 6 large potatoes, peeled, thickly sliced (about 2 3/4 lb)

– 1 medium onion, chopped

– 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened

– 1/2 c butter, softened

– 1/2 c sour cream

– 1 large egg, beaten

– 1 3/4 t salt

– 1/2 t black pepper

– 1 t paprika

Combine potatoes, onion and enough water to cover in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium.  Simmer until potatoes are tender; about 20 minutes; drain well.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 3-qt baking dish.

Combine potato mixture, cream cheese, butter, sour cream, egg, salt and black pepper in a large bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer set at high speed until mixture is smooth.  Spoon potato mixture into prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle with paprika.

Bake until heated through, about 30-35 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Potatoes may be prepared up to 2-3 days ahead and refrigerated, covered, until ready to bake.

Old Fashioned Mac & Cheese

There is nothing more delicious than mac & cheese.  It is the perfect side dish for any occasion – from a formal Thanksgiving dinner to a outdoor barbecue with friends.

Zack LOVES macaroni and cheese.  He said “yeah, you can go ahead and make this everyday if you want.”  He’s so funny!

I’m including two different variations that are both really good but a little different.

The second version is much more aesthetically appealing, but they are both delicious! Art Colleges could teach you more about aesthetic appeal.

Old Fashioned Mac & Cheese

– 2 T butter

– 2 T AP flour

– 2 1/2 c milk

– salt & pepper to taste

– 3 c shredded cheddar cheese, divided

– 2 c elbow macaroni, cooked

Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Mix in flour.  Gradually add milk, stirring constantly.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook over medium heat just until mix starts to boil and thicken.  Add 2 1/2 cups cheese; stir until melted and smooth.  Mix in macaroni, transfer to a greased 2 quart casserole dish.  Top w/ remaining cheese.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until bubbly.

Serves 4-6.

Another Variation of Mac & Cheese (Better)

– 2 1/2 c elbow macaroni

– 1/4 c butter

– 1/4 c AP flour

– 1/2 t salt

– 1/4 t pepper

– 1/4 t ground mustard

– 1/4 t Worcestershire sauce

– 2 c milk or half & half

– 2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook and drain macaroni as directed on package.

Meanwhile, in 3-qt saucepan, melt butter over low heat.  Stir in flour, salt, pepper, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly, remove from heat.

Stir in milk.  Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.  Boil and stir 1 minute; remove from heat.  Stir in cheese until melted.

Gently stir macaroni into cheese sauce.  Pour into ungreased 2-qt casserole dish.  Bake uncovered 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.

Mixed Vegetable Pilaf

One of my good friends is a vegetarian.  She really likes promoting vegetarianism, so she gave me three cookbooks of hers to look through.  I think it’s awesome when people can commit to vegetarianism (and even Veganism!) but I cannot.  I love my poultry too much.

Anyway, these cookbooks were really cool.  I got lots of healthy recipes out of them.  This was one of them.

The only thing that I would change about this is I would decrease some of the liquid.  I thought it would all cook down, but by the time it was finished, the rice was still kind of soupy.  It’s just a personal preference, but I like my rice more dry.

Look at all those yummy veggies!  Carrots, zucchini and mushrooms!  Mm, some of my favorites.

This dish makes a great side for virtually any meal.  You could even eat it as an entree for a light dinner.

Thanks, Demeter, for lending me your cookbooks 🙂

Mixed Vegetable Pilaf

– 2 T butter

– 1 c sliced, fresh mushrooms

– 1/4 t dried basil leaves, crushed

– 1 can (10 1/2 oz) chicken broth

– 3/4 c water

– 1 c regular rice, uncooked

– 1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced

– 1/2 c shredded carrot

In 10-in skillet over medium heat, in hot butter, cook mushrooms and basil 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add broth and water.  Heat to boiling.  Stir in rice.  Return to boiling.  Reduce heat to low.  Simmer, covered, 15 minutes.

Stir in zucchini and carrot.  Cover; simmer 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Let stand, covered 5 minutes before serving.  Makes about 5 cups or 6 servings.

Potato Wedges

Back in my VERY unhealthy eating habits days, I could scarf down an order of potato wedges from KFC.  They are so crispy and delicious…and horrible for you.  Imagine my excitement upon finding a recipe for baked potato wedges!

Zack loves the KFC ones just as much as me, so he was pretty excited for these too.  They definitely did not disappoint.  They were crispy and crunchy and oh-so-delicious.

Plus, the chipotle seasoning gave them a nice kick.  These do call for a lot of butter, so they aren’t really that healthy, but compared to deep fried, they are great.

Potato Wedges

– 2 large Russet potatoes

– 1 stick butter

– 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

– 1/2 cup flour

– 1 teaspoon paprika

– 1 teaspoon seasoned salt (I used Chipotle seasoning)

– 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Scrub, peel and cut raw potatoes into one inch thick slices.  Melt butter and dip potato slices in it.  Combine remaining ingredients.  Roll potato slices in flour mixture or shake in bags.  Bake 35-40 minutes at 425 degrees.

Creamy LIGHT Mac & Cheese

Zack’s mom saw this recipe in one of those health-food/lifestyle magazines and knew that I enjoyed trying to make common foods healthier, so she shared it with me.

Let me just say, this was the most expensive dish I’ve possibly ever made.  The cheese alone was over $20.  I’m not one to splurge normally (I buy store brand stuff whenever possible), but I really like macaroni and cheese, so I decided to give this a try.

The reason it’s healthier is the main ingredient – butternut squash.  Before this dish, I had never even touched a butternut squash!  They are so oddly shaped that I tended to avoid them.

This mac & cheese is also pretty labor intensive.  There’s a bunch of steps that you have to follow and it ends up being really time consuming.

The bottom line is – although this mac & cheese was pretty good (not great), I probably would not make it again.  Give me the occasional splurge on regular, unhealthy macaroni and cheese.

I do have to say, this dish turned out quite pretty and if you didn’t know it was made with squash, you wouldn’t be able to guess.

Creamy LIGHT Mac & Cheese

– 3 cups cubed, peeled butternut squash (about 1 1-lb squash)

– 1 1/2 cups fat free chicken broth

– 1 1/2 cups fat free milk

– 2 garlic cloves

– 1 teaspoon salt

– 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

– 2 tablespoons fat free Greek yogurt

– 1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese

– 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano Cheese

– 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiane cheese, divided

– 1 lb uncooked whole wheat pasta

– 1/2 cup Panko

– 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

– 1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine squash, broth, milk, and garlic in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Place the hot squash mixture in a blender.  Add salt, pepper, and Greek yogurt.  Remove the centerpiece of the blender (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender.  Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters).  Blend until smooth.  Place blended squash mixture in a bowl; stir in Gruyere, Pecorino Romano, and 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiane.  Stir until combined.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt; drain well.  Add pasta to squash mixture, and stir until combined.  Spread mixture evenly into a 13 x 9 inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add panko, and cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from heat; stir in remaining 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  Sprinkle evenly over the pasta mixture.  Lightly coat topping with cooking spray.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until bubbly.  Sprinkle with parsley, and serve immediately.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet potatoes are so, so good.  When Zack and I lived in an apartment, I would buy sweet potato fries from the freezer section (GASP! I know!). The thought of doing that now is embarrassing.  Making your own makes them a thousand times better.

Don’t judge these entirely from the pictures, though.  Try them for yourselves.  The dark parts are not burned, they are just cooked thoroughly.  The dark parts make them crispy and delicious.

Cooking at such a high temperature (450 degrees) means you really have to watch them, so that they don’t burn, but believe me, it is worth the diligence.

Sweet potatoes complement the fall season so well.  Just another reason to eat some!

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

– 2 medium sweet potatoes

– 2 teaspoons olive oil

– 1/4 teaspoon salt

– 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Peel potatoes and cut into matchsticks about 1/4″ to 3/8″ wide.  Place potatoes in a large bowl.  Add oil, salt, and pepper and toss until coated.

Spread potatoes on baking sheet in a single layer and bake for about 10 minutes.  Rotate baking sheet and gently turn over potatoes.  Continue baking about 1o minutes or until crisp.  Watch potatoes and turn frequently to prevent burning/sticking to pan (a little black on them does not make them taste burned – just gives them more flavor).  Serve immediately.

Whipped Sweet Potato Casserole

One of my favorite things about fall is definitely sweet potato dishes.  Up until last year, I was avidly against sweet potatoes.  I thought they were weirdly colored and refused to even try them.

However, one wonderful day I tried a sweet potato fry and was instantly hooked.  Those things are delicious.  Since then, I’ve tried various sweet potato dishes and have not found one that I didn’t love.  I still have a strong aversion to pumpkin food, but I am trying to be brave and try a pumpkin dish.  Maybe one day.

The recipe says that it makes 10 servings, but I find that very hard to believe, so keep that in mind.

I had a handful of large marshmallows left over from a pie I made a while back, so I stuck those on there, too.  It gave the dish a cool 3D effect.

This dish really couldn’t be any easier to make, either.  Saying it took 10 minutes to prep is a stretching it.  Maybe 5 minutes.

Whipped Sweet Potato Casserole

Prep: 10 minutes.  Total: 30 minutes.  Makes 10 servings, 1/2 cup each.

– 3 cans (15 oz each) sweet potatoes, drained

– 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted

– 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

– 1 tsp. ground ginger

– 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

– 3 cups mini marshmallows

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat potatoes, butter, and spices with mixer until well blended.

Spoon into lightly greased 1 qt casserole dish; top with marshmallows.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until potato mixture is heated through and marshmallows are lightly browned.

Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs are another one of those staple picnic foods.  My dad is a big fan of them and Zack likes the whites.  I don’t like them, though.  I’m not a big fan of mustard (unless it’s honey mustard!).

About a month ago, Zack and I went to my dad’s house and I cooked him dinner.  I decided to try my hand at making some deviled eggs for them.

They are the easiest side dish ever to make.  Just a few ingredients and a little bit of prep work and boom you’re done!

Deviled Eggs

– 6 eggs

– 2 tbsp mayo

– few grains of pepper

– 1/2 tsp prepared mustard

– 1/2 tsp salt

– 1/4 tsp paprika

Hard boil eggs. Cut into halves lengthwise and remove yolks. Mix  yolks and other ingredients together and refill egg whites.

Enjoy 🙂

Old Fashioned Potato Salad

Potato Salad is the ultimate cook out food.  I don’t think I’ve ever been to a cook out that didn’t serve this side dish.  It’s a southern staple.

However, I had never made it before.  Cook outs are a summer thing, so I knew that the one Zack was having at work would be my last chance to make some this year.

I found a recipe that seemed easy enough and decided to try it out.

Every bit of it got eaten at Zack’s cook out.  People were raving about how good it was.  I don’t like potato salad, so it didn’t appeal to me, but that’s besides the point.

I like that you slice an egg and sprinkle with paprika for the top.  Makes it look decorative and fancy.

Old Fashioned Potato Salad

Prep: 15 minutes.  Total: 1 hour 5 minutes, including cooling.  Makes 12 servings.

– 2 lb red potatoes (5-6 large) peeled, cubed

– 1 tsp. salt

– 3 hard boiled eggs, divided

– 1/2 cup mayonnaise

– 2 ribs celery, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

– 1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

– 3 tbsp. yellow mustard

– 3 tbsp. sweet pickle relish

– 1 tbsp. sugar

– dash paprika

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water in large saucepan 10-15 minutes or just until tender; drain.  Cool.

Meanwhile, chop 2 eggs; slice remaining egg.  Mix mayonnaise, celery, onions, chopped eggs, relish, mustard, and sugar in a large bowl.  Gently stir in potatoes.

Top with sliced egg and paprika.