Loaded Baked Potato Soup

 

I love soup.  I love baked potatoes.  So it’s no surprise that I really love loaded baked potato soup.  It’s really easy to make and doesn’t take very long.  The recipe below is adapted from The Pampered Chef – they want you to make it all in the microwave, and you can do that, but know that it won’t save you any time.  I made mine on the stove because I don’t actually have a big enough dish that’s microwave safe! (the one thing I don’t like about melamine).

 

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

 

  • 3 large baking potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 3 cups milk (more if you boil potatoes in milk)*
  • 4 oz cream cheese*
  • 2 Tbsp butter*
  • 4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded*

Optional toppings:

  • green onions, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • additional cheese
  • bacon, crumbled*
  • sour cream*
  • whatever else you put on a baked potato!

*To make this recipe low-fat, use fat-free milk, nonfat or reduced fat cream cheese, and a low-fat spread with no trans fat (if it says “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredients, throw it away!).  Also either eliminate sour cream and bacon, or use turkey bacon and low-fat or nonfat sour cream.  And if you can find it, Weight Watchers has reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese (or maybe it’s a Mexican blend; I can’t remember).

 

1. Boil and mash potatoes (takes about 20 minutes).

2. While potatoes are cooking, whisk cream cheese until smooth, then slowly add 3 cups milk and continue to whisk until smooth.

3.  Once you’ve mashed your potatoes, add milk mixture and butter and heat, stirring until smooth (it will be very thin, but don’t worry).

4.  Add shredded cheese and stir until melted.

5.  Serve with whatever toppings you want!

 

Note that you can add salt and pepper to the whole pot, but I never do – just like with my turkey chili, I know that no matter how much salt or pepper is already in the recipe, my husband and I always add more.  Plus, when it comes to salt, you get the most bang for your buck when you add it right at the end.  So try making this recipe without any salt and you’ll find out that you really don’t need very much (if any – I didn’t add salt to my last bowl and I didn’t miss it).

 

Try it!

Easy Delicious Shrimp

 

 

 

My husband and I love shrimp.   We hardly ever eat it though, because I am bad at cooking it!  Whenever I try to fry or grill shrimp, I inevitably overcook it, resulting in tough, chewy shrimp.

 

One of my Facebook friends reposted this super easy recipe for shrimp, and guess what – it works!  Delicious, perfectly cooked shrimp.  As far as I’m concerned, I will never pan-fry shrimp again.

 

In case the link above doesn’t work, this is all you have to do:

 

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Line a baking sheet with foil.

3. Melt a stick of butter and pour it in the pan.

4. Slice a lemon and layer layer it over the butter.

5. Arrange fresh raw shrimp over the lemon slices.

6. Sprinkle Italian seasoning over the shrimp.

7. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

 

Voila!  Mine even looks like the “real” thing:

Panko Chicken

 

If you like crispy chicken but are trying to stay away from fried foods, this is for you!  It has my very Southern husband’s stamp of approval, and that means a lot (if you know much about Southern cooking you understand this).

 

I got this recipe from Cook This! Not That but it’s really basic so I’ll share it here.  All you need is:

 

– chicken, whatever kind you like (Justin and I love the Foster Farms chicken breast tenders)

– egg whites (2-3 per pound of chicken)

– salt and pepper to taste

– panko bread crumbs (1 1/2-2 cups per pound of chicken)

 

What is panko?  Basically it’s bread crumbs, Japanese style.  They are crispy and crunchy.  You can find them at your grocery store shelved either with the Asian foods or in the baking aisle (the aisle with flour and sugar; I call it the baking aisle).  This is what my box looks like, as well as what the uncooked crumbs look like:

 

 

 

All you have to do is:

 

Step 1.  Salt and pepper the chicken to taste

 

Step 2.  Dip the chicken in the egg whites

 

Step 3.  Salt and pepper the panko crumbs

 

Step 4.  Coat the chicken in the panko crumbs.  When I make breaded anything, I put the crumbs in a freezer bag, then add the meat, seal the bag, and shake.  Like so:

 

 

Step 5.  Place the breaded chicken on a baking sheet and bake at 450 for 10-12 minutes or until the panko crumbs are golden-brown and the chicken is no longer pink in the middle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yum!  Eat it with your favorite sauce.  Cook This! Not That has a recipe for chipotle-honey sauce, but I prefer honey-mustard and Justin likes barbecue sauce (and we highly recommend Sweet Baby Ray’s).

 

I’ll post the nutrition facts later; I need to consult my recipe book because I don’t think the numbers on the Cook This website are correct.

Turkey Chili

I have to start this post by admitting something that will make you laugh at me: the first time I had chili was in college.  When I was younger I didn’t think I would like it so I just never tried it.  And the day I did, I fell in love.

Chili is great, but I bet you never thought of it as particularly healthy, did you?  Well, if you made it yourself, it could be.  And Cook This, Not That! tells you exactly how to do it.  I’ve given you the link to the book because if you’re going to buy a cookbook, it should be this one.  It is chock full of information – not just recipes, but actual facts about the foods we eat and what’s good or bad about them.  You will learn all about what kind of fats are the healthiest, which ingredients and condiments to buy from the grocery store, what you should look for in nutrition facts and ingredients labels, creative alternatives to the basic sandwich – oh yeah, and more than 350 amazing recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert – and it’s all HEALTHY!  By “healthy,” I don’t mean that you substitute tofu for meat or applesauce for butter.  I mean you make food the way it was meant to be made, without the extras and additives that restaurants and frozen dinners put in.

I make turkey chili about once a month, mostly during months that have an “r” in them (what’s life without whimsy?).  You can find the recipe, along with many others from the book, at the Cook This site on Men’s Health.

Okay, so chili doesn’t photograph well.  But here are the reasons why this chili recipe is way better than yours other chili recipes:

1) Turkey – besides being lower in fat, ground turkey has a much more appealing texture in chili. I made this recipe once with ground hamburger (we’re talking free-range, locally butchered cows) instead of turkey and it was a little too chewy.  The turkey almost melts in your mouth.

2) Chocolate – unless you’ve tried it, you don’t know how good it is.  I use cocoa powder instead of baking chocolate but it’s basically the same thing.  A little unsweetened chocolate adds layers of depth and richness to this recipe.

3) Salt – when you make food yourself, you get to decide when to put the ingredients in as well as how much of them to use.  Here’s a secret: always save salt for last.  You’ll put less in, which means you’ve reduced the sodium in the meal without even trying.  This time I just didn’t put any salt or pepper in the pot at all, because the first thing my husband does with his chili is add salt and pepper.  Admit it: your husband does it too, before he’s even tasted the food (or maybe it’s you or your kids who do it, but somebody in your family does, I promise).

4) Beans – this recipe uses white beans and pinto beans.  Now, I don’t know much about the differences between various types of beans, but I know that at Walmart, I can get pinto beans and white beans with reduced sodium – meaning the sauce they pack them in isn’t saturated with salt.  Make sure you rinse your beans very thoroughly before you add them to the pot – let’s just say it will dramatically reduce the typical bodily reaction to beans.

5) No weird additives. As always, making food yourself eliminates the presence of the ingredients whose names you can’t pronounce or that are just plain unnecessary.  Check out the stuff that’s in Hormel canned chili: Hydrolyzed Soy, Corn, and Wheat Protein, Modified Cornstarch, Autolyzed Yeast, Monosodium Glutamate– I made that last one bold in case you didn’t catch it.  MSG is a common additive in canned foods; its basic function is to turn off the “I’m full” switch in your body so that you think you’re still hungry and keep eating.

This recipe also calls for beer, which I can’t personally vouch for – we don’t like the taste so I’ve never added it to the recipe.  If you like beer or if you ever cook with it, though, try it.

Finally, the nutrition facts (I’ll try to give nutrition information for all recipes, if I have it):

330 Calories

6 g total fat

1 g saturated fat

490 mg sodium

You can’t beat that.