Baked Potato

Baked potatoes are a cheap and easy side dish or main meal. However, I especially like a baked potato with the skin slightly crunchy. It was only about five years ago that I figured out how to get the skin crunchy instead of steamed and soggy.

First, clean your baking potato with a vegetable brush. Place the baking potato directly on the oven rack. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour.

Baking potato–cleaned and oven ready

It is not necessary to preheat the oven before placing the potato in the oven. I happen to have a husband who indulges me with the best kitchen equipment I’ll use. I refer to my oven as a “magic oven” because I can set the baking temperature, cooking time, and delay the start time. Usually, I will place the potatoes in the oven before I leave for work in the morning. I set the oven to start baking about an hour before I anticipate dinner time.

If I’m home around 30 minutes into the baking time, I turn the potatoes over. If not, I don’t worry about it. Remove your potatoes from the oven after about an hour. They will be be soft if you squeeze them. Load them up with your favorite toppings. I usually top mine with steamed broccoli or asparagus and cheese.

Baked potato with broccoli and queso

My husband likes LOTS of bacon and butter. In reality, the choice of toppings are endless–pulled pork, taco meat, cubed chicken, chili…

Baked potato

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Who doesn’t love a good warm, creamy dip? This is a dip I love to serve with pita chips.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1  frozen package of spinach thawed and drained or 1 package of fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 can artichokes, drained and chopped
  • 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup Swiss, mozzarella, or provolone cheese
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

Saute the onions and garlic.

Sauteing garlic and onion

Add the spinach. If you are using fresh spinach, cook until it is wilted.

Cooking the fresh spinach

Add the remaining ingredients.

Adding remaining ingredients for the dip

Add the remaining ingredients and stir until everything is blended together.

Blending and melting the cheeses

Serve warm.

Spaghetti Sauce

When I was a child, my favorite food was spaghetti. It was a quick and easy meal for my mother to make. Although I admit to often using spaghetti sauce from a can or jar, spaghetti sauce is actually quite easy to make especially if you use the slow cooker. Be sure to make up plenty because it freezes well.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cans tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or beef broth
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Put all of the ingredients in the slow cooker except the baking soda.

Spaghetti sauce ingredients in a slow cooker
Spaghetti sauce ingredients in a slow cooker

Cook on low for 4 hours. Add baking soda toward the end. This counteracts the acidity of the tomatoes. Use more or less baking soda depending on the acidity of the tomatoes and your preference.

Spaghetti and Meatball
Spaghetti and Meatball

Serve with over spaghetti noodles.

 

3-Ingredient Roasted Parmesan Pesto Potatoes

The only thing I love more than potatoes is pasta. Pasta and potatoes are so versatile, how you you not love them? Lately, I stumbled on a new food blog that I love–twopeasandtheirpod.com. I recommend you explore their website. Since I had recently acquired some fresh basil from the teacher next door, I was looking for ideas for how to use pesto. This recipe is almost too easy.

INGREDIENTS

  • red potatoes
  • pesto
  • grated Parmesan

DIRECTIONS

Cube the potatoes.

cubed red potatoes
cubed red potatoes

Place the potatoes in a bowl and coat with pesto. Place in a casserole dish.

red potatoes coated in pesto
red potatoes coated in pesto

Bake in an oven preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes in oven
After 20 minutes in oven

Sprinkle with grated Parmesan.

Sprinkled with grated Parmesan
Sprinkled with grated Parmesan

Bake for another 15 minutes until golden brown.

Pesto Parmesan Potatoes--Ready to eat
Pesto Parmesan Potatoes–Ready to eat

Pesto

I work with the best people. They make my job worth going to even on days when the lesson flops and I feel like a failure as a teacher. My next door neighbor at work has fresh basil that she shares with me on occasion. I love the smell of basil and because of her generosity I now make my own pesto. I found that it also freezes well, so I recommend that you try this recipe and freeze what you don’t use for later use.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups fresh basil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

DIRECTIONS

Place all ingredients in a food processor.

Pesto Ingredients
Pesto Ingredients

Blend for a couple of minutes.

Pesto
Pesto

Freeze any extra for later use.

Easy Egg Salad

I like egg salad, but I really don’t make it often enough. Here’s a quick and easy recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 boiled eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon dill relish
  • salt and pepper to taste

NIGHT BEFORE

Boil the eggs and  peel them.

BEFORE SERVING

Slice each egg in an egg slicer crosswise.

slicing crosswise
slicing crosswise

Slice each egg a second time in the egg slicer lengthwise.

slicing lengthwise
slicing lengthwise
chopped egg
chopped egg

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.

egg salad ingredients
egg salad ingredients

Eat as-is or put on bread for an egg salad sandwich.

egg salad sandwich
egg salad sandwich

Breakfast Potatoes

INGREDIENTS

  • red potatoes
  • cooking oil
  • cajun seasoning

DIRECTIONS

Wash the potatoes and place in the microwave on high for about 4 minutes. Cube the potatoes.

red potatoes--microwaved and cubed
red potatoes–microwaved and cubed

Heat the oil in a skillet. Place the cubed potatoes in the skillet.

potatoes in skillet
potatoes in skillet

Fry for about 5 minutes. Season the potatoes.

potatoes with Cajun seasoning
potatoes with Cajun seasoning

Turn them and allow them to brown on all sides. Remove from skillet and serve hot.

breakfast potatoes--ready to eat
breakfast potatoes–ready to eat

Raw Vegetable Salad

I’m always looking for another salad recipe in the summer. This is partly because I don’t get a lunch break while teaching summer school. Therefore, my lunch is often consumed in 10 minute increments while the students are on break. However, the best reason for finding good salad recipes in the summer is the abundance of fresh vegetables! The salad dressing is the best part of this salad, so be flexible and use it for any sort of fresh vegetable salad you wish. You’ll be pleased with this even if you just pour the dressing over your favorite lettuce.

INGREDIENTS

Salad

  • 8 cups of chopped fresh vegetables
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

For this post I used what I had in the refrigerator at the time…

red cabbage, carrots, celery, broccoli, yellow squash, zucchini squash, bell pepper

Use whatever you have on hand, or go buy your favorite veggies

Dressing

  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons grated onion
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar

Toppings

  • sunflower kernels
  • six slices of bacon, chopped

DIRECTIONS

Chop the vegetables.

Chopped vegetables and cranberries
Chopped vegetables and cranberries

Mix the dressing ingredients.

Salad Dressing for Raw Vegetable Salad
Salad Dressing for Raw Vegetable Salad

Pour the dressing over the vegetables. Stir in the dressing and desired toppings.

Raw Vegetable Salad
Raw Vegetable Salad

 

Middle Eastern Stuffed Squash

This recipe is inspiration from a vendor at the farmers’ market. He had some small round zucchini and yellow squash. Well, maybe they are called something else, but they look like zucchini and yellow squash. In fact, a zucchini or yellow squash could be cut lengthwise and stuffed with this same filling. He told me his wife hollowed them out and stuffed them, so I decided to give it a try with a  Middle Eastern flair. Feel free to substitute some browned extra-firm tofu for the ground beef to make this vegan.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 cup uncooked bulgur
  • 2/3 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 lb cooked ground beef  or 7 oz. extra-firm tofu, browned and crumbled
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
  •  3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup zucchini center
  • 4 round squash
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup vegetable broth

NIGHT BEFORE

Place the bulgur in a small sauce pan with the 2/3 cup of vegetable broth.

uncooked bulgur in vegetable broth
uncooked bulgur in vegetable broth

Bring to a boil. Simmer for about 1-20 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Brown the ground beef. Cut the tops off the squash.

squash with tops removed
squash with tops removed

Hollow out the center of the squash using a spoon.

Hollowed out squash
Hollowed out squash

In a skillet saute the onion, bell pepper and about a cup of the squash flesh that was scooped out.

sauteing the vegetables
sauteing the vegetables

Add the ground beef bulgur, allspice, cumin, salt, and pepper.

ingredients for stuffing mixture
ingredients for stuffing mixture

Mix together for the stuffing.

stuffing mixture
stuffing mixture

Place the squash in a casserole dish. Fill the squash with the stuffing mixture. Mix together the tomato paste, cup of vegetable broth, and garlic powder.

tomato paste mixture
tomato paste mixture

Spoon the tomato paste mixture over and around the squash.

squash with tomato paste mixture
squash with tomato paste mixture

Cover the casserole dish. Refrigerate until ready to bake.

BEFORE SERVING

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the covered casserole dish in the oven and bake for an hour.

Middle Eastern Stuffed Squash
Middle Eastern Stuffed Squash

Serve hot.

White Bean Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

Once again, I was in search of a salad and happened along a recipe for inspiration. This is an easy salad you could take along on a summer picnic. I made it without chicken, but I’ve left it in as an optional ingredient.

INGREDIENTS

Salad

  • 1 (15.5 oz.) can cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 oz. snow peas
  • 2 cups shredded purple cabbage
  • 1 navel orange, halved and sectioned
  • 1 cup cooked cubed chicken (optional)
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts

Dressing

  • 3 Tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Chop cabbage.

shredded cabbage
shredded cabbage

Section and cut the orange.

orange pieces
orange pieces

Wash the snow peas. Combine all of the salad ingredients except the peanuts.Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Pour the dressing over the salad and refrigerate overnight. Stir and top with peanuts before serving.

White Bean Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
White Bean Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette