Archive | November 2011

Twice-baked potatoes

My last post of twice-baked sweet potatoes had me thinking about twice-baked potatoes.  I love twice-baked potatoes – and aside from the amount of time they take, they are really very easy.  You can mix anything into the middle that you want – I usually keep it pretty simple.  What follows is my basic recipe.

4 mid-sized potatoes
1/3 c. sour cream
1/2 c. shredded cheese, plus extra for topping
4 Tbsp. butter
1/4 small onion, minced
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. salt

Wash and prick potatoes and then bake in the oven or in the microwave (I have a potato setting on my microwave, but it is usually about 15 minutes, or almost an hour in the oven).  Slice the tops off and scoop out the potato flesh, leaving about a 1/4 inch so your potato boats are sturdy.  Place the potato flesh into a bowl with the sour cream, 1/2 c. of cheese, butter, onion, salt and pepper; mash well and spoon back into potato boats.  Top with cheese and bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven (or until cheese is melted, bubbly, and brown).  Serve hot.


Twice-baked sweet potatoes

This is a recipe inspired by some of my favorite flavors and one of my favorite ways to prepare regular potatoes – twice baked.  Since the sweet potato packs the biggest nutritional punch for your money in the produce department, this is another great way to get them into your meal rotation.  It does take some planning ahead, since they take a while, but they are well worth it.

4 small to mid-sized sweet potatoes
1/2 a stick of butter (4 Tbsp.), sliced
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
miniature marshmallows

Wash and poke potatoes with a fork to pierce the skin.  Either bake in the oven for 45-60 minutes or microwave until cooked through (I have a potatoes setting on mine, but it’s about 15 minutes).  Remove and slice off the top of each and scoop out most of the innards, leaving a boat (with about 1/4 inch of the flesh so your skins don’t fall apart).  Place scooped out potato into a mixing bowl with butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, and salt.  Mash well so ingredients are well mixed and butter is melted.  Scoop back into potato boats (it will be heaping full).  Carefully press marshmallows into the top of the refilled potatoes and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until marshmallows are browned and form a delicious, gooey crust on top.  Dig in and eat!

Hot ham and cheese party sandwiches

I made these for my son’s second birthday party and they were a huge hit – everyone was asking me for the recipe.  Hint: make extra – they are a bazillion times more delicious as leftovers!

1 stick butter
2 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1-12 oz. package of King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
1/2 lb. black forest ham, finely sliced
4 oz. Monterey Jack cheese
2 tsp. poppy seeds
raspberry preserves

In a microwave safe dish, cube butter and add Worchestershire sauce, sugar, and mustard.  Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring often, until melted and well combined.  Leave rolls connected and slice through entire “loaf” to create a sheet of tops and bottoms.  Generously baste both sides of the rolls with the mustard glaze; layer with ham and cheese.  Place top sheet of rolls on top and baste tops with glaze.  Sprinkle with poppy seeds.  Bake in 350 degree oven, tightly covered, for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven, carefully slice, and serve hot!  Serve with warmed raspberry preserves on the side.

Oven stew

This is one of my favorite recipes from when I was growing up.  It is simple and tastes phenomenal.  I usually serve it over cooked egg noodles.  It does take some planning ahead as it has to cook for 3 hours.

1 lb. stew meat, trimmed
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 packet Lipton’s beefy onion soup mix
2 c. water

In a 2-quart greased covered-casserole dish, whisk together cream of mushroom soup, beefy onion soup mix, and water.  When thoroughly combined, add in stew meat, making sure to break up into individual pieces.  Cover with foil and then casserole lid.  Bake at 350 for 3 hours.  Serve hot.

Note: I don’t like cream of mushroom soup, so I always make this with cream of chicken soup.  It doesn’t taste weird, I promise, lol.


Most of you are probably familiar at least with what an empanada is – it is a folded pastry pocket with either a savory or sweet filling.  I discovered these while I was studying in Argentina and I love them.  Unfortunately, the only empanadas I have been able to find stateside here are nothing like the ones I grew to love while in Argentina.  Therefore, I was left to come up with my own.  I totally cheat and use crescent rolls.  Sue me.  Also, this recipe uses chicken, but these are equally delicious with ground beef.  The recipe originally calls for sliced green olives, but I omit those.  If they tickle your fancy, feel free to use them.

2 tubes crescent rolls
1 (rotisserie) chicken breast (from the deli), cooked and shredded
2 hard boiled eggs, diced
1 Tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp. smoked paprika
2 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, slightly beaten with 1 tsp. water (egg wash)

In a saute pan, melt butter; add onion and cook over medium-low heat until translucent and season with salt and pepper.  Add in chicken and stir to heat through.  Remove from heat and stir in paprika, cumin, cinnamon, and hardboiled eggs.  Spoon 1-2 tsp. of mixture into center of crescent roll triangle; fold over to create a pocket and press with a fork to seal the edges.  When all pockets have been formed, brush lightly with egg wash mixture.  Bake at 375 for roughly 20 minutes, until crusts are golden brown.  Serve hot.

Pumpkin chiffon cake

I am not a fan of pumpkin pie (*GASP*!), so I was excited to find this recipe.  I love pumpkin, but the custard of the pumpkin pie is just really too rich and heavy for my tastes.  I made this last year for Thanksgiving in lieu of a pie.  I was worried my dad would miss his usual pumpkin pie, but he loved this cake!  This gives you the same pumpkin flavor and spice from the traditional pie, but it’s a much lighter dessert option.

1 c. flour
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice (recipe follows)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
4 eggs, separated, plus 5 egg whites, at room temperature
1 c. canned pumpkin puree
confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, 3/4 c. sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, and salt.  In a medium bowl, combine the egg yolks and pumpkin puree.  Stir the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture until smooth.  Using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the remaining 9 egg whites at medium speed until foamy, about 2 minutes.  With the machine on, gradually add the sugar, increase the speed to high, and whip until stiff but still moist, about another 2 minutes.   Fold the whipped egg whites into the pumpkin batter carefully in four parts – fold each portion of whites in until no white streaks remain, being careful not to deflate the egg whites.  Gently transfer batter to a greased and floured Bundt pan.  Bake until springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 55 minutes.  Remove to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.  If using a tube pan, invert pan after 5 minutes and allow to cool 90 minutes before removing from pan.  Dust with confectioner’s sugar to serve.

Poppy-seed pull apart loaf

One of my favorite taste memories as a kid is this delicious bread loaf my grandmother’s best friend used to make and bring to get-togethers.  Of course, as a child, I didn’t like onions, so I tended to pick those out, but now, I love them!  I hope this savory side brings a note of warmth and love to your meals, too.

1 (large) loaf French bread
1 stick butter, softened
2 tsp. prepared (Dijon) mustard
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
1/4-1/2 cup minced onions
1-8 oz. package of sliced Swiss cheese

Begin by slicing a loaf of French bread, being careful to not slice all the way through.  Mix butter, mustard, poppy seeds, and onion in a small bowl and place a heaping teaspoon of the mixture in between each slice.  Place half of a Swiss cheese slice in between the slices and wrap in foil.  Bake on a sheet pan in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Serve hot.

I also found a recipe using these same flavors in a quick bread.  I have yet to try it, but I will post it here in case some of you get around to it before I do.

3 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1/3 c. butter
1/3-1/2 c. onion, minced
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 c. milk
2 tsp. prepared mustard

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a food processor; pulse a few times to combine.  Cube butter and add to processor bowl and pulse until mixture is crumbly.  Add onions, Swiss cheese, poppy seeds, eggs, milk, and mustard, and pulse until just combined.  Spoon batter in a greased and floured 9×5 inch loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  If bread starts to brown too much, tent loosely with foil after 50 minutes.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan.