Thursday, May 19, 2011

Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes

I've been on a cooking hiatus recently... I've been eating out way too much and if I've learned anything from my hiatus it's that I truly do love home cooked food more than I love anything from a restaurant. Especially anything from a chain restaurant. So I need to get back into my home cooking routine.

On that note, I ate tuna and grapes for dinner which means there isn't anything exciting to post because I'm pretty sure no one wants to see pics of my canned tuna. So in honor of the rainy day we had I'm going to post my favorite comfort food recipe...mashed potatoes! And the best thing about these mashed potatoes is that you can make them the day before you need to serve them. And the other best thing, I've never met anyone who hasn't loved them!

Before the recipe, one quick note... This is comfort food at it's finest which means it has a lot of not good for you stuff in it. So instead of feeling guilty, save these for a holiday or a rainy day and enjoy!!! I'm telling you, these creamy mashed potatoes are guaranteed to make your heart happy!


5 pounds Russet Or Yukon Gold Potatoes
¾ cups Butter
1 package (8 Oz.) Cream Cheese, Softened
½ cups (to 3/4 Cups) Half-and-Half
½ teaspoons (to 1 Teaspoon) Lawry's Seasoned Salt
½ teaspoons (to 1 Teaspoon) Black Pepper

Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces that are generally the same size. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. When they’re cooked through, the fork should easily slide into the potatoes with no resistance, and the potatoes should almost, but not totally, fall apart. 
Drain the potatoes in a large colander. When the potatoes have finished draining, place them back into the dry pot and put the pot on the stove. Mash the potatoes over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape, before adding in all the other ingredients. 
Turn off the stove and add 1 ½ sticks of butter, an 8-ounce package of cream cheese and about ½ cup of half-and-half. Mash, mash, and mash some more! Next, add about ½ teaspoon of Lawry’s Seasoning Salt and ½ a teaspoon of black pepper. (If you're feeling really crazy add in some cheese too! Like sharp cheddar, parmesan, etc. Cheese makes anything better!) 
Stir well and place in a medium-sized baking dish. Throw a few pats of butter over the top of the potatoes and place them in a 350-degree oven and heat until butter is melted and potatoes are warmed through. 
Note: When making this dish a day or two in advance, take it out of the fridge about 2 to 3 hours before serving time. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 to 30 minutes or until warmed through.

You're going to LOVE these!!! Try them out on your next family get together or just because you had a crabby day. 

Much Love,

Saturday, May 14, 2011

RECIPE REVIEW ~ Jalapeno Pop'ems ♥♥♥♥♥


Bacon-Apple-Jalapeno Pop'ems* 

Recipe courtesy of Aarti Sequeria from Food Network.

   ♥♥♥♥♥ - 5 of out 5 hearts for me!!!  

These were wonderful.

The only substitution I made was that I used Oscar Meyer Lower Sodium Turkey bacon and I did have to cook them for an additional 10 minutes to get the bacon a little more crisp.  These were absolutely delicious!!!  I will for sure be making these again!  The ingredients are simple, inexpensive and as a member of Weight Watchers® these are a great appetizer for my calorie budget.  I'm not gonna lie - I ate 10 of these suckers as my dinner tonight, and it was only 7 WW points!!!  What a bargain!


*Recipe below has been copied and pasted from Food


  • 1 (8-ounce) package light cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 large granny smith apple, cored and minced
  • 3 large scallions, roots sliced off, green and white parts minced finely
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 20 jalapenos
  • 20 strips thin-sliced bacon, chopped in half
  • Special equipment: 40 toothpicks


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment.

In a large bowl, stir and break down the cream cheese until smooth. Add the apples and scallions, plus as much salt and freshly ground black pepper as you like.

Don a pair of plastic gloves so you don't burn your fingers or your eyes like I did. Slice each jalapeno in half lengthwise, and then either slice out the membranes or use a measuring spoon to scoop them out. Discard the seeds.

Either using a teaspoon or a small icing spatula, fill each jalapeno half with the cream cheese mixture; fill until just over the rim of the jalapeno. Wrap each pepper with a bacon half and secure with a toothpick. Line up the pop 'ems on the prepared baking sheet and pop into the oven until bacon has browned on the bottom, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes (which will be as long as you can resist them). Enjoy with a cold beer! Aaah!


It's that time of year....berry time!!!  Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries...any type of berries...I love them all. ♥

Here are two recipes passed onto me by two of my fellow produce co-opers and friends,  Jill Smith and Erin Foster.  After you make these super easy and delicious berry recipes you just may not ever buy syrup or salad dressing again.  :)

JILL'S BERRY SYRUP  Makes 1 cup of syrup

6 oz. blackberries (or whatever berry you like)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar (or 1/4 cup agave nectar)

In a saucepan combine ingredients.  Smash blackberries with a fork and bring to a boil.  Reduce to medium heat and cook for about 8-10 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool for about 5 minutes.

I'm not a fan of the seeds in my syrup so I like to strain it.
Serve warm over pancakes!!!  Heavenly!!!

Makes approximately 4 cups (When I made it I cut the recipe in half, but I bet it would freeze just fine)

1 quart strawberries
1 3/4 cups white balsamic vinegar
2 T fresh garlic, minced
3 T sugar or sugar substitute (I used agave nectar)
2 T poppy seeds (optional)

Blend all ingredients in a blender (I use my Magic Bullet) and store in the refrigerator.  Serve over fresh baby spinach, with chopped apples, pecans and feta cheese. 

Apple, Onion & Brie Panini

Makes 4 sandwiches  (10 WW points each)


1 tsp. olive oil
2 - large granny smith apples (quartered, cored and sliced)
1/2 large sweet onion (sliced)
1 sprig rosemary
12 oz. beer (any beer will work, I used a pumpkin spice ale - you can also substitute with broth)
6 oz. brie cheese
8 sliced 100% Whole Wheat Bread


Place oil in a large skillet set to medium-high heat.  Saute' onions and apples for approximately 5 minutes.  Add beer and rosemary spring; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until onions and apples have cooked down and there is no liquid left, approximately 35-40 minutes.  Be sure to stir occasionally.

When it first starts to boil.....
....after about 35 - 40 minutes of simmering.

When the apples and onions have finished cooking; remove rosemary sprig and set aside.  Top four slices of bread each with 1 & 1/2 ounces of brie.  Then top with 1/4 cup of the apple mixture and then the remaining slices of bread.  When your panini press preheated, lightly spray with olive oil and grill your sandwiches until the cheese starts to melt.  Approximately 3-4 minutes.

One of my favorite breads for a panini is the Food For Life - Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted grain bread.  Locally you can find it at Dierbergs in the organic refrigerated section.  There are several different types, but I really like the Sesame.

Before they turn into sweet melty goodness.  :)

I think they are done!!!!   


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Make your own....Fat Free Potato Chips in under 8 minutes!!!

I thought that may catch your attention!!! 

You probably have everything you need right now to make your own healthy potato chips at home and you didn't even know it.  All you need is a potato, knife, and a microwave.  Optional items to make it just a tad easier and a bit tastier would be parchment paper and seasoning of your choice. 

STEP #1 - Slice your potato:   The thickness is going to make a difference on how long it takes to cook them properly, but the most important thing is to try and get them cut at the same thickness.  I like mine cut to about 1/8th of an inch or so.

If you have a mandolin it is a great tool to use for this.  I do have one, but honestly it's kind of a pain in the rear to get out and use.  So, if I'm only making enough for one meal or a snack, I just use a knife.  If I'm going to make a big batch I go ahead and get out my mandolin. 

STEP #2 - Microwave:  Place the slices in a single layer onto parchment paper, season according to your taste and place into your microwave.  Zap'em for about 6 minutes.  Check for crispness.  They will need to be browned in order to get crisp.  You may need a rotate a few from the middle to the outer edge so they evenly cook.  If they aren't quite done pop'em in for another minute or two.  It's important to watch them carefully at this want dark brown...not black.

So, be sure to watch them carefully, especially the first few times you make them.  Once you get to know your microwave and how long it will be a breeze!

Now go.....CRUNCH AWAY.....GUILT FREE!!!!

Our picnic tonight was: Grilled Turkey Burgers, Homemade Chips & Fruit Salad
(Oh and juice for the boys and a brewsky for mom & dad)
Potatoes, Fruit Salad, Tomatoes, Lettuce & Homemade Pickles (made from fancy cucumbers) all courtesy of the Community Helpings Coop!!!  

To find out if Community Helpings Co-op has a delivery near you, please visit

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My Uncle Bob's Favorite Green Beans

I made these green beans for the first time on Christmas Eve and they were a HUGE hit! My Uncle Bob told me no less that 7 times that they were the best green beans he'd ever had. They are super easy, super delicious, and super healthy! Seriously, try them...

Also, they were the first recipe I've ever used a shallot in! If you've never cooked with a shallot before it's a cross between an onion and garlic. It's in a bulb like garlic, but the taste and smell is more similar to an onion. But the bonus of shallots is that they don't make you cry while cutting them up and they don't give you bad breath. Bonus!


  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the cooking water
  • 1 pound fresh green beans
  • 1 large shallot
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Bring a medium pot of cold water to a boil over high heat and salt it generously. Trim the stem end off the green beans. Peel and finelychop the shallot.
Drop the green beans into the boiling water and cook, uncovered, until crisp tender, about 4 minutes. Drain in a colander set in the sink and rinse with very cold water until cool. Drain well and pat dry with paper towels. (The vegetables can be prepared up to this point, up to 4 hours ahead.)
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add theshallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot is just golden, about 2 minutes. Add the green beans, increase the heat to high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are heated through, about 4 minutes. Season with the 1/2 teaspoon salt and some pepper and serve immediately.

Best side dish ever! Enjoy!
Much Love,