Cheesy Potato Skins

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If you make twice baked potatoes, you get a bonus side dish-potato skins. Once you slice off 1/2″ off the top of each potato, you’re left with a bunch of skins. When I made my twice baked potatoes,  I had 24 skins to be exact. I separated mine into 2 stacks of twelve to freeze. Because they’re baked and cooled, they freeze wonderful. I throw mine in a quart size bag and squeeze as much air out as possible. These can thaw overnight, or if you’re in a pinch, they can thaw in an hour in a bowl of cold water.

I take my skins and brush them with canola or olive oil on BOTH sides. You can be generous or sparing. I chose sparing since I’m going a little on the indulgent side today. I learned this trick from Pioneer Woman. I’m giving credit where credit is due. I broil BOTH sides of the potato until lightly toasted. Watch them closely. Once they’re toasted how you like, top them with cheddar cheese, real bacon bits ( I cooked 3 strips in the microwave), and chives or sliced green onions. Be as generous as you like. Dip these skins in a little ranch, ketchup or sour cream.

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Aren’t you glad you took my advice and didn’t throw away your skins? Now go make twice baked potatoes just so you can have the leftover skins. Or bake some potatoes and slice them lengthwise into 1/2″ slices and purposely freeze for these delightful appetizers.

I’m imagining more possibilities as I type. Top with diced convenience chicken, or cooked taco meat  and lettuce and tomato for a main dish item. Invite someone over and impress them with your freezer side dish. What topping ideas do you have?

This recipe is linked to Tasty Tuesday

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A freezer side dish: 24 Twice Baked Potatoes

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My chicken braid was lonely in my oven so I decided to throw 24 small russet potatoes alongside and cheer it up. I baked them for 1 hour and my plan initiated two different sides which I’ll post separately. Today, I’m sharing how I make my twice baked potatoes using very few ingredients. It’s basically making mashed potatoes with cheese and placing them back inside the skin. It just looks impressive, like you spent a lot of time on it for guests. hint, hint.

I begin by slicing about 1/2″ off the top off each potato. Since these are small potatoes, they didn’t need to cool long to handle. I allowed mine to cool about 5-10 minutes and then I prepared two piles of potatoes, hollowed and the tops for cheesy potato skins. I use a melon baller for this because it’s got a somewhat sharper edge than a kitchen spoon. However, a small kitchen spoon will work. Hollow each potato leaving about 1/4″ inside.

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Place the potato flesh inside a large mixing bowl and proceed to add hot milk (microwave for a minute), sour cream, butter, cheese, salt and pepper.  Mash with a mixer on low-speed for a minute and proceed to mix on high for about 2 minutes. 

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Place potato mixture back into skins using a cookie scoop.  I put all of mine into an aluminum tray for flash freezing (freezing for about 2 hours).

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 Once they’re frozen, I place them in labeled quart size bags (gallon works too) and add this side dish to my freezer inventory.

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Don’t forget to save those skins. Allow them to fully cool and put them in quart size bags and freeze. These will make great potato cheese skins on another night. Just don’t throw them away.

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Printable Twice Baked Potatoes recipe and Cheesy potato Skins

I call these toddler spuds. They’re just the right size a side dish.  However, you could dress these potatoes up with cubed ham, convenience chicken, or frozen broccoli. I suggest bigger spuds for more ingredients. Send these to a neighbor or friend in an aluminum pan labeled with the thawing and cooking instructions along with a bag salad. They’ll think you’re the best cook ever and it’s just a spud.

Tell us your best spud filling ideas. We’d love to be a community of spud lovers.

How to get everyone to drink their spinach

Yep, I can get everyone in my family to drink spinach (except the baby–she wouldn’t drink it in her milk–or would she?;) How? I put a handful of spinach in my smoothies. Remember my kids are not the best vegetable eaters in the world, so I counteract by doing more deceptive cooking and pureeing. Thanks to my new blender, which I received for Valentine’s Day, I’m back in the smoothie bar business.

I’ve owned two Cuisinart blenders and they have both burned out. One was new and one was used. The new Cuisinart blender did very well and pureed spinach and ice wonderful. The second used one which had a lower voltage and did not do as well. My hubbie bought a Kitchen Aid this third time around and I used it three times the day after Vday. Now you can see why the Cuisinart might have burned out after several years. I do some serious blending and pureeing around my house with four kiddos. I know a Vitamix would crank out some serious whole food smoothies, but that’s a hopeful purchase one day.

Here’s the easiest recipe in the smoothie business. My three year-old calls thems smovies, so move over regular smovie and get ready for the new healthy one.

I use the basic recipe which consists of sliced frozen bananas, frozen strawberries and orange juice. You can substitute fresh fruit and add crushed ice during summer months when fruit’s in season. I like to use up my brown bananas and slice and freeze them individually for smoothies. This makes the smoothie sweeter without having to add any extra sweetner like raw sugar or honey-but use it if you have to. Use whatever fruit you have on hand-fresh or frozen strawberries-go with the season.  I also add a handful of superfood, spinach. Popeye would agree with me. My kids never complain when I have a super blender that makes it silky. I use the entire leaf, stem and all 🙂

You can substitute milk in place of oj if you prefer a frosty consistency rather than a slushy. Try it both ways for fun!

I used to call this the Tinkerbell Smoothie when my daughter was very young and then we called it the Incredible Hulk smoothie when my son came along. Smoothies may have a slightly green tinge, depending on the amount of spinach you add. That’s why we called it Tinkerbell for girls and Incredible Hulk for boys. It’s just a fun name if they ask why it looks a little green, plus you can talk about all the wonderful powers of the characters.

I’ll share my peanut butter banana chocolate smovie with spinach, of course, later this week 🙂

Printable Tinkerbell or Incredible Hulk Smoothie recipe is linked to Frugal Friday

What’s your favorite smoothie? Have you thought about duplicating it at home? Better yet, have you thought about making individual freezer bags with directions to add  liquid ingredients. This is my next freezer to do. No one has to ask you how to make them. They just add the liquid amount on the bag. Pop the bag back into the freezer for the next refill. Smoothie bar is open!

Double Bubble it-Black Bean Casserole

 

Don’t you need a night off from cooking? Sure, we all do and this casserole is so easy to whip up from pantry staples, like corn, black beans, tomatoes. Mix in some mexican cheese and voila, you have a meatless mexican meal to serve a king.  We make this NO COOK recipe in freezer cooking class and the ladies go home and stash one in their freezer. It’s beneficial to make two casseroles; I call it “double bubble”. Eat one for dinner and freeze the other. This is an easy casserole to freeze because there is no browning meat or boiling pasta, which makes it QUICKER to throw together. So why not make three if you plan ahead and buy the ingredients? Some of you meat eaters out there might want to throw in some cooked taco meat or chicken, but it really tastes hearty without. Black beans is always a protein winner.

Plan ahead and make a this casserole one night this week and freeze an extra for a meal later this month. Pair it with a salad and/or cheese quesadillas for the kiddos and take a night off (or 2 nights if you’ve frozen an extra)

Printable Recipe Mexican Black Bean Lasagna

Brown Fried Rice is freezer friendly

Though I’m Asian, rice is not a frequent side dish at my house. I’ve just learned how to make it over the years. Remember I did work at Makados in college. I’m trying to fix this dish more often so my kids will enjoy their ethnic roots.

This recipe is also freezable after it has cooled and refrigerated. You can bag it in a labeled quart size bag and it will lay flat in your freezer ready for your next stir-fry meat, like Asian Honey Sesame Chicken, our family favorite.  You reheat the 24 hour thawed rice in a microwave safe dish. Add a tablespoon or two of water to moisten it prior to reheating.

I think it’s pretty healthy considering it has carrots, garlic, peas and onions. You could always cut back on the oil, but the sesame oil really gives it a lot of flavor and don’t forget to saute your garlic. The most  important step is to make your rice and refrigerate it prior to frying it.  Cold rice without the moisture is the key to making great fried rice.  You can use what you have by cooking white rice if you like, but try brown some time. It has a nutty, heartier flavor.  Your home will be infused with the smell of Asian flavors and your neighbors might come running.

Printable fried rice recipe

Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas

This is a recipe I’ve made for years and years, because it’s so easy and I always have the ingredients on hand. I can whip this up for lunch or dinner without any thawing, can you believe it? Most of the ingredients come straight from the pantry, like the beans and corn. However, corn can come from the freezer too, it’s actually healthier. Most of us have shredded cheese and some produce lying around.

This is a “use what you’ve got” recipe. It’s very hearty with the black beans and it doesn’t require meat, but feel free to throw in some thawed cooked taco meat or cooked shredded chicken if you desire. But, please do try this without it and see if you miss the meat. Also, you can use whatever size tortillas you have on hand. I use the taco size, because that’s what we have. Enjoy this easy recipe on a night when you thought you had something planned and have no dinner ideas or forgot to thaw something out. There’s no exact measurements, because it depends on the size of tortilla you’re using. You could say a few tablespoons if you want a measurement. Be sure to use your leftover black beans and corn for a salsa or taco salad or place them in a small freezer bag and save for the next time you make this recipe!

Tuck this away in a safe place…

Ingredients:

1 can black beans, rinsed (you can also substitute refried beans)

1 can corn, rinsed or frozen corn

Shredded cheese, Mexican variety, Colby Jack, whatever you have on hand

optional items:

sliced green onions

sliced black olives

chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned, drained) or pico de gallo

Serve with sour cream, guacamole or salsa or all.

Directions:

Brush tortilla with butter or olive oil or spray.  Spread black beans, corn and cheese on one side of tortilla. The cheese helps the beans and corn stick together so be generous. Sprinkle with desired “add ins”. Don’t add too many tomatoes because the extra moisture makes the tortilla soggy.  Fold over and grill both sides until crispy. I use our Panini sandwich grill because it gets hot quickly and grills on both sides at the same time. A large skillet or griddle will work just fine. If you like a drier product leave out the tomatoes or salsa and simply serve it on top when they are done.  Cut with a pizza wheel and enjoy hot with sour cream, guacamole or avocado and salsa.

What’s your favorite quesadilla?

Hibachi zucchini and onions

When I was in college, I worked at a Japanese steak house. For those of you who know me personally (I’m Korean) , it appears I would fit right in. I wore the silk kimono and flip flops and waited on tables of ten to twelve people. I usually wore my hair in a bun to fit the look and those who didn’t know me at the restaurant thought I was an authentic Asian. However, I was adopted at age one and grew up in NC for most of my life. I actually have a southern twang, some might say. I would walk out to my tables to greet them and the eager customers would all lean in awaiting my broken English. Instead, they heard, “Are ‘yall ready to order?” Talk about twenty-four surprised eyes and some dropped jaws. Of course, I always had to explain my family history at each table.

My Mikado’s experience gave me hands-on ideas for many Japanese meals. Funny thing, around our house, we eat a little of everything. I actually enjoy Mexican quite a bit. However, I often make this easy side dish just like the steakhouse I used to work at.

You start by cutting your zuchinni in half and then cut your half into rectangles like you would see when you eat out. Then I prepare an onion in a similar fashion and cut them into strips. The seasoning is quite easy and very tasty. I place a small amount of canola oil (it smokes less than olive oil)  and sesame oil in a medium high pan (1-2 tablespoons depending on how many veges you have prepped). I saute the vegetables in the oils and season with freshly ground pepper and sesame seed. The oil and the seed give this side dish an authentic taste. When I serve this with Asian honey chicken, I often omit soy sauce for less sodium in our meal. If I’m serving this as a traditional side (not with Asian entree), I’ll splash on some soy sauce.  This method can work for any stir-fry veges.

Now don’t ask me about the shrimp sauce. It’s bad for you ;(

2 medium size zucchini, cut in strips

1 small onion, cut in strips

1 Tablespoon canolia oil

1-2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 Tablespoon sesame seed

freshly ground pepper to taste

splash or two soy sauce, optional (yummy without)

Stir fry veges in hot oils until crisp tender. Add pepper, sesame seed and soy sauce, if desired. Serve hot.

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