Is it frrrrrrreeeeeeezing by you?? I can’t tell you how many screenshots of thermometer apps I’ve seen on Facebook today. We all know it’s 2 degrees out. I found it hard to believe that so many schools and businesses shut down today. So…. it’s a cold day instead of a snow day? Meh, whatevs! It’s probably only 7 degrees in my office (but that’s every day). Gosh, do I sound kind like a grump or what?! I guess I’m just jelly because I would have enjoyed a cold day, too. *sigh* In honor of these sub-zero (well…almost) temperatures today, I decided the best solution is to get loaded (baked potato soup)!!
Gosh. I know, I’m hilarious.
This Loaded Baked Potato Soup is awesome and pretttttttty foolproof. It’s even more foolproof if you have an immersion blender (thanks, Mom) but is still quite simple with a potato masher or regular blender. This soup is so think and rich that you’d never guess it’s actually quite lite!! I leave the skins on my potatoes, because that’s where all of the good stuff (ya know, nutrients and the like) are! If you don’t care for them, feel free to peel your potatoes. The topppings are what make this soup extra fun (if you read my recent chili post you know how I feel about toppings!) – I use bacon, cheddar, and green onions. If you dig sour cream – throw some of that on here, too. I’ve added steamed broccoli on top before, but I was fresh out when I made this last night. I’ve also added some frozen sweet potato chunks to the mix in the past, too. It makes the soup look extra cheddar cheesy without adding the extra cheese!. I didn’t have any of those last night either. But this soup is delicious no matter how you make it! Stay warm!
Loaded Baked Potato Soup
5 russet potatoes, scrubbed clean, chopped into bit sized pieces
1 28oz containter of low sodium chicken broth
1 8oz block of nefchatel or reduced fat cream cheese, cut into cubes
1/2 cup nonfat milk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon garlic powder
Salt & Pepper to taste
Toppings: Cooked Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, Green Onion, Sour Cream, Steamed Broccoli, or Whatever Else You Fancy!
Add the potatoes and the chicken broth to a large pot. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and mashable.
Remove the soup from the heat. Add the cream cheese, cheddar, garlic, salt, and pepper. With your weapon of choice (mine was my immersion blender) carefully puree your soup until all of the ingredients are combined to your desired consistency. I prefer this soup to be creamy, but if you want to leave in some chunks go ahead!
Return the soup to medium heat. Add the milk and stir well to incorporate.
Serve immediately with whatever toppings you like!
Quincy was like “Daaaaad, is there any bacon left?!” He’s too cute sometimes!
I had a fabulous Pre-Christmas weekend with my family (I’ll recap it after today’s recipes!!) But good heavens, I can’t wait to get home tomorrow, hunker down with some Wonton Soup and Sesame Chicken from our favorite Chinese take-out place, snuggle up on the couch, and watch Santa Claus is Coming to Town!! We will also be exchanging gifts with my husband’s family – which they do on Christmas Eve. I will also shamelessly prepare a big pan of break-and-bake chocolate chip cookies to enjoy. This is the way I’ve spent every Christmas Even for quite some time now and it’s traditions like these that I love and I think make the holidays so special?? What do you and your family do on Christmas Eve? What is your FAVORITE holiday tradition?
Now last week I promised I would share a recipe with you that, I’m telling you, is the epitome of ridiculous, cheesy, perfection. To cut through the richness of this AMAZING mac & cheese, I served it with a light kale and pomegranate salad. This salad is pretty fabulous, too, I can’t lie to you. It’d be great as a meal all on it’s on with a nice piece of bread to go with it. It’d also be great with a little crumbled feta or goat cheese in the mix. However, I didn’t think 6 cheeses were necessary on the evening I prepared this! I will share that recipe below, too!!
5 Cheese Pancetta Mac & Cheese
2 lbs cavatappi pasta, or pasta of your choice
1 lb white cheddar cheese, shredded
8 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
8 oz gruyere cheese, shredded
8 oz parmesan cheese, grated
8 oz reduced fat cream cheese, cut into cubes
8 oz diced pancetta
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups fat free milk
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons nutmeg
Begin by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta to package directions.
Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium high heat in a large pot or sauce pan. Add the pancetta and onion and saute until the pancetta is crisp and the onions begin to soften and caramelize, about 15 minutes. Add the remaining butter and flour and stir well to combine. Let the flour mixture cook for about 3 minutes, until the flour begins to brown. Slowly whisk in the 2 cups of milk and reduce the heat to medium low. Add the cream cheese cubes and continue to whisk until the cream cheese melts into the mixture.
Combine the remaining cheeses in a large bowl, and reserve 1/2 cup for topping.
Add the remaining cheeses to the cream cheese mixture and whisk very well until all of the cheese is melted. This sauce will be on the thicker side. Keep whisking. Add the black pepper and nutmeg. Whisk a bit more.
Drain the pasta just shy of al dente and add it directly to the cheese sauce. Fold the pasta into the cheese sauce and transfer it to a large baking dish sprayed with a little nonstick spray. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and place in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes, or until the top is bubbly and brown.
Let sit for about 5 minutes before digging in!!
Kale and Pomegranate Salad
For the Pomegranate Vinaigrette
1/4 cup pomegranate juice
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, grated or minced fine
Salt & Pepper to taste
Combine all of the ingredients in a mason jar or a container with a tight fitting lid. Make sure the lid is secure and shake, shake, shake until everything is combined! Taste and add more salt and pepper to your liking.
For the Salad
2 cups kale leaves, cleaned and chopped into bite sized pieces
3/4 cup pomegranate arils
1 large pear, sliced thin
1 small red onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Combine all of the ingredients in a large salad bowl. Toss well to combine and add as much dressing as you like! This salad is safe to make an hour or two ahead of time, as kale is sturdy enough to hold up to the dressing!!
If you make either of these recipes, please let me know how the come out for you!!!
Now onto my weekend recap!!! We spent Friday night in NYC with Bill and Susan and had a fabulous Italian Dinner at Daniela on 8th Avenue. The muscles were amazing and I ate my fill of them and sopped up the ridiculous creamy tomato broth with the hot, fresh bread they provided. Susan and I went splitsies on Penne al la Vodka, which was perfect – and a linguine dish in a garlic white wine sauce with calamari, muscles, and clams. You couldn’t pick a favorite!!
Of course we stopped by the tree in Rockefeller Center!! The weather was a bit warmer than we anticipated, so there was no snow on the ground. It was lovely to walk around and not freeze, though!!
Here is my obligatory photo with the hubs by the tree!! It’s so pretty. I love it so much.
Saturday, we met up with some of my extended family for dinner at the Palisades Mall and had a fabulous time!! Here are some photos of the action!
A wonderful time was had by all!!! We exchanges cookies and wine (among other gifts) and enjoyed our holiday time together!!
Sunday morning Susan and I met up with our great friend Desirae for breakfast at my most favorite diner. I finally met Desirae’s boyfriend and we discussed our little buns in the oven! I’m afraid I have no photos of that to share, but it’s all good.
Johnny and I ended our weekend meeting up with Melinda and Kyle and our friend Sue, her husband Matt, and their little man Juddah, who is probably the cutest little thing I’ve ever seen!!
Finally, woo this has been a marathon post, I’d like to wish my mother and her best friend Debbie BOTH a very happy birthday!!
I hope you got to enjoy the Beyonce concert over the weekend. I know I did!
Clearly the Super Dome was NOT ready for her jelly.
I understand what that’s like. Heh. Seriously though… I’ve caused a power outage by being too bootylicious….
JK ALL DAY!
That never really happened…
But I do I love Beyonce.
She’s my friend Adrienne’s spirit animal.
You think I’m joking about that…but I’m not.
Alright, alright that’s enough crazy talk for one day. Let’s move on to what’s actually import at here now, shall we?
SUPER BOWL SNACKSSSSS!!!!!!
Now of course, snacks like the recipe I intend to share with you can be enjoyed whenever you see fit. There are certain ones that I save for special occasions and gatherings – like the Super Bowl for example! This is the case for several reasons:
These snacks would be less super and special if you served them all the time.
These snacks will make you super popular among all of your friends, family, and consumers of said snacks. You don’t want people knocking down your door for them all the time.
These snacks are not all that healthy and, as such, should be enjoyed in moderation. (If – ya know – you’re into the healthy sorta thing.)
Two of my personal favorite snacks for special occasion/sporting event and the like are pigs in a blanket and jalapeño poppers.
Pigs in a blanket, because, well, they’re adorable! The crispy-flaky-pastry-crust wrapped around the savory little hotdog is such fun! I have a hard time resisting mini things in general and pigs in a blanket are no exception!
Jalapeño poppers are another one of my most favorite things. I love spicy things. I love cheesy things. Together – ugh – haha – I start to have a hard time with the whole “moderation” thing. Personally I prefer cheddar poppers to cream cheese ones…but I wouldn’t say no to either!
What I’m about to present to you is one of my favorite recipes I’ve ever made evereverever. It’s the love child of the pig in a blanket and the jalapeño popper…and it’s totally flippin delicious. I call them…
PUDGY PIGGY POPPERS
1 pack of your favorite hot dogs (8 dogs – big guys! DO NOT use mini dogs for this recipe unless you have LOADS of patience. I don’t.)
2 tubes of crescent roll dough (I always use the Pillsbury Reduced fat ones – because why not reduce the fat where ya can…ya know?)
1 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened (Again…I use reduced fat…do whatever makes ya happy!)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup picked jalapeños, chopped (Jarred or canned. Whichever you can find. I’ve used fresh peppers before, too. It’s delicious either way. I’d only use about 3 fresh peppers.)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine the softened cream cheese with the cheddar, jalapeños, and garlic until everything is thoroughly combined.
It will look something like this.
Take your hot dogs and cut a deep slit from one end of the dog to the other, being careful not to slice it completely in half.
Using a spoon (or your hands…or both) fill each slit with the cream cheese mixture.
It’s kind of messy, and it’s okay if they’re overflowing a bit!
(That photo…not all that appetizing looking…but I urge you to proceed!)
Pop open your crescent roll dough (1 tube at a time) and separate your triangles and slice each in half (You should get 16 out of each tube).
Cut each hot dog into quarters, being careful not to squeeze out too much filling!
To construct your piggy poppers, take one quarter of a dog and place it – cheesy side down – onto on of your crescent wrappers.
Try to stretch the dough around as much of the dog as possible and roll it up.
Place seam side down on a baking sheet and repeat until all of your dogs are wrapped.
Place in the preheated oven at and cook until golden brown – about 12 minutes.
PATIENCE now, my friends, as the cheesy filling is super hot right now.
Let cool for about 10 (okay, who am I kidding, more like 5) minutes before DEVOURINGGGG!!!
These guys right here…they’ll change your life. One delicious bite at a time.
Pretty bold statement – eh. How can I be SOOOOO absolutely certain that this is the ONLY bean dip recipe you will ever need??? Three reasons.
#1. It’s freakin’ delicious.
#2. It’s so easy to throw together a trained monkey could do it. #3. It’s only FIVE ingredients!
(Heh, can you tell where I grocery shop?)
Oh yes, you heard (well..erm…read) right. FIVE ingredients for the best bean dip ever. Those seven and eight layer dips, sure, they’re tasty. But who wants to go out and buy ALLL of those ingredients for one little dip??? Not I, I say. This dip is so simple it hardly constitutes a “recipe” but I’ll provide you a formal one anyway because I’m nice like that. 🙂
Cheesy Black Bean Dip
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (8 oz) block 1/3 less fat cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups salsa (whatever ya like, I prefer hot salsa but not everyone in my house can take the heat)
shredded cheddar or mexican cheese blend
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, add the cream cheese and salsa and mix until it’s combined. Add the black beans and mix until combined.
Transfer the mixture to a baking dish (or you can mix it right in the baking dish, too, if you hate to clean up like I do!). Top with as much cheese as you like and as many jalepenos as you like!
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted, brown and bubbly on top.
Serve with tortilla chips, or whatever dipping implements you like best!!