Even if grilling season is over in your nook of the woods *moment of silence*, you can enjoy these Grilled Portobella Mushrooms with Spinach and Cheese made in the oven!
September? Apples? Pumpkins? Not yet! Let’s GRILL. I’m not putting away the grill until there is snow on it. Deal? Deal. Actually, as I write this, we are in the middle of a big thunderstorm so it appears like tonight is not a grilling night. Minor details.
I am starting to come to terms with summer drawing to an end. E just finished her first week back at preschool and Ben will have students in his building again starting Tuesday. Football season has already begun! Truthfully, fall is my favorite season.
I love visiting apple orchards, picking out pumpkins, drinking hot cider, and hearing the leaves crunch under my feet on walks outside. I mean, who doesn’t love those things? I just don’t love what follows fall here in Michigan — 11 months of winter. Or so it seems.
I’ll be grasping for the grill (or more accurately sending Ben out to the grill with a beer) even when the first snowflake falls. If he’ll let me. We made these mushrooms as a side dish for grilled chicken, but I’ve always been a huge mushroom fan and I could easily make a meal out of these babies with a nice big leafy salad. Perfect for Meatless Mondays, too!
3 portabello mushroom caps
1 tablespoon canola oil
4-ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
Will you just look at these?! Homemade dough, hot ham and cheese, hand-held bliss! OH MY.
I grew up eating microwaveable bricks of dough and cheese, aka hot pockets. How about you? Not ashamed to say that I still love those pockets of comforting cheesy goodness. Not a huge fan of all the junk and artificial flavor packed inside, so I started making my own. We’re talking real ingredients. That you can see, taste, and pronounce. A ham & cheese miracle? I like to think so.
Kevin and I are obsessed with these homemade ham & cheese pockets. In fact, obsessed doesn’t even cut it. Downright addicted. Lately I’ve been freezing all the extras for a quick and easy lunch, snack, meal, etc. We’ve been on the go nonstop with new house stuff, so they’ve been remarkably convenient. Just microwave the frozen pockets for about 2-3 minutes and you’ve got hot and melty pockets with real food packed inside.
They’ll be your obsession too! Have you ever made my homemade pizza crust before? I’m sure you have. It’s one of the most popular posts on SBA! It’s the only homemade pizza crust I use. And it’s actually really simple to make- like, much easier than you’d expect with homemade dough. The reason I ask if you’ve ever made it before is because we’re using the exact same miraculous dough to make today’s homemade ham & cheese pockets. 1 dough = many uses!
For exceptional tasting dough, I always use Red Star Platinum yeast– the reason I always recommend this yeast to you? Like a broken record? Their Platinum is a premium instant yeast, strengthening and improving the quality of your dough and the finished volume. You’ll see and taste the difference. Trust me on this.
The dough is pretty basic– for complete step-by-step photos and explanations for the simple ingredients used, here is my homemade pizza crust recipe page. Lots of thorough info there! You can’t mess it up.
Once you have the foolproof dough made– about 10 minutes prep, 1 hour rise– begin assembling! Here’s how it’s going to go down: the pockets are made by dividing the dough in half. From each half, you’ll get 4 pockets. So this dough (while making TWO pizzas) makes 8 homemade ham & cheese pockets.
Got it so far? Great.Let’s flatten out each piece of dough into 6×4 inch rectangles. They don’t have to be perfect rectangles as evidenced by the ugly shapes above– you’re really just going for a flat surface to top with the ham & cheese.
2 and 1/4 teaspoons Red Star Platinum yeast (1 standard packet)
1 and 1/3 cups (320ml) warm water, about 110°F (43°C)
3 and 1/2 cups (440g) all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 Tablespoon (13g) granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons (30ml) olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon milk
8 slices cheese or 2 cups shredded (I use sharp cheddar)
16 thin slices deli ham or 2 cups cubed ham
In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment,
combine the yeast and warm water. Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes until the mixture is foamy.
If the yeast doesn’t dissolve or foam, your yeast is dead. Start again with active yeast.
Add flour, sugar, olive oil, and salt. Mix by hand or with the dough hook on low speed for 1 minute.
Once all of the ingredients are mixed, slowly knead for 7 minutes by hand or with your dough hook on low-medium speed.
If your dough is too wet, add up to 1/4 cup more flour. After kneading, your dough should be smooth and elastic.
Poke it with your finger – if it slowly bounces back, your dough is ready to rise. If not, keep kneading.
Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large mixing bowl that has been greased lightly with olive oil.
Turn it over to coat all sides. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm environment (about 75°F or 80°F/24°C or 27°C)1 for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Once risen, punch the dough down to release the air. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
Using a sharp knife, slice dough in half. Then slice each half into quarters.
You’ll have 8 pieces of dough, as shown in the photo above.
Flatten each piece with your fingers or use a rolling pin.
You want each piece of flattened dough to be about 6 inches long and 4 inches wide.
They don’t have to be perfect rectangles, as you can see in my photos! Transfer flattened dough to the baking sheets. Place the cheese (I fold the slice in half) and ham (2 slices for each) on top of the dough on one side, then fold the other side over top.
Pinch the edges to seal as best you can. Use a fork to crimp the edges.
Brush the tops and sides of each pocket with egg wash, then slice 2-3 slits in the tops for air vents (use a super sharp knife to do that).
Bake the pockets for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.
Make sure to rotate the baking sheet once or twice during bake time.
Remove pockets from the oven and allow to cool on the pan until ready to handle and serve.
If you’re anything like me you use your crockpot at least once a week during the winter. Heck maybe in the summer as well. Anyhow, mine doesn’t leave my counter during the winter months. Most weeks I use it twice.
This past week I made potato soup. It was exactly what I was looking for. Rich, creamy and filling. Perfect for a cold winter night.
1 32 oz bag Frozen Hash Browns Cubed
1 32 oz box chicken broth low sodium can be used
1 can (10oz) cream of chicken soup do not add water
1 8oz package cream cheese not fat free
3 oz bacon bits
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1-2 pinches salt and pepper to taste
Put the hash browns in the crockpot.
Add in the chicken broth, cream of chicken soup and half of the bacon bits.
Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
Cook on low for 7-8 hours or until potatoes are tender.
An hour before serving, cut the cream cheese into small cubes.
Place the cubes in the crock pot. Mix a few times throughout the hour before serving.
Once the cream cheese is completely mixed in, it’s ready to serve.
Top with cheddar cheese and some additional bacon bits.
You can find complete recipes of this EASY CROCKPOT POTATO SOUP in leahwithlove.com
This soup recipe tastes so rich and creamy, you’d never know it’s low in calories and fat. Well, relatively low when you compare it to other cream-based soup recipes. We’re having soup weather in St. Louis now, so it was time to make a pot of this deliciousness. The recipe calls for 2% milk and light sour cream. If you prefer to use full-fat dairy, go for it!
Bracken and Rachel made this for us when we visited them in Boston, and we loved it. They found the recipe in Cooking Light and it has become a favorite of theirs. The original recipe uses baked potatoes, but I sometimes substitute some of my leftover slow cooker mashed potatoes.
It was a great way to use up leftovers, and it made this soup really fast to make. However, if you want a chunkier soup, the roughly mashed baked potatoes work better.
Update: I recently started making a sour cream substitute out of cottage cheese (tastes like the real thing!) that can be used in this recipe to lower the calories & fat, and boost the protein. You can’t tell the difference in taste, although it does add an extra step.
Slow Cooker (Skinny) Loaded Potato Soup is perfect for Saint Patrick’s Day, but also any time you’re wanting healthier comfort food!
My Mom makes the best soup. Try her Creamy Chicken Soup and you’ll know I’m right! That soup is amazing, and my all-time favorite…the only problem? It isn’t healthy. I’m all for comfort food and I think good food should be splurged on, but when you’re able to eat a bit healthier, that’s never a bad thing.
She came up with this Slow Cooker SKINNY Loaded Potato Soup…and I’m hooked. I’ll splurge on the chicken soup once a month and eat this every other day of the month. It’s so good! Making small changes in the healthy direction doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor. The men in our family all ate this up and couldn’t even tell it was skinny.
We thought this was a cute recipe for Saint Patrick’s Day without being toooo themed. Sometimes the holiday themed recipes get to be a bit too much for me. So I’ll resume those tomorrow. 🙂
6 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
40 ounces low-fat chicken broth
1-teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1-teaspoon Parisien Bonnes Herb or a blend of chives, French tarragon, basil & dill
11/2 cups fat-free half-and-half
11/2 cups low-fat cheese, cheddar or Gruyere work well
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
low-fat sour cream
1-pound turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled
green onions, thinly sliced
Spray the inside of slow cooker with cooking spray and set the temperature to HIGH.
Pour diced potatoes, chicken stock, salt, pepper and red pepper into the slow cooker.
Saute sliced carrots in 2-3 tablespoons olive oil 3 minutes.
Add diced onion to the carrots and cook on medium-high until onion is translucent.
Add minced garlic and saute 30 seconds more.
Add sauted carrots, onion and garlic to the potato broth mixture.
Cook on HIGH for 2-3 hours or until potatoes have softened.
Using a potato masher, mash part of the cooked vegetables while they are still in the slow cooker.
Only mash down on the vegetables 3-4 times.
Add herbs, half-and-half, cheese and chives. Mix well.
You can find complete recipes of this SLOW COOKER SKINNY LOADED POTATO SOUP in thecookierookie.com
Given the amount of love and affection you, my dear friends, paid to the buffalo chicken rolls I baked last week, and given that creamy homemade macaroni and cheese is one of those dishes we’d all love to eat competitively at a state fair, I figured it wise to combine the two.
Now, I’ve done a lot of this sort of ‘if ‘X’ is great, and ‘Y’ is also fabulous…why not pair ‘em?!’ The minor problem that arises from this kind of query is that I’ve ended up alone in my kitchen dipping salty kettle cooked potato chips into peanut butter and slathering jam on top of grilled cheese sandwiches a time too many.
This one, though, well this is a good one. And it makes sense. Now, there are a few considerations I took before tossing the cheesy macaroni, buffalo chicken, and blue cheese together. First, though many people claim to love buffalo chicken and blue cheese, they may not actually love real crumbled blue cheese.
I find that lots of folks much prefer blue cheese dressing, which has hints of traditional blue pungency and bite, but is a world milder. I’d even bet that most folks wouldn’t notice if you swapped ranch dressing with the blue cheese in the cup where they’re dipping buffalo chicken tenders.
The point is this: blue cheese is fabulous and lovable, but it’s not universally beloved. I find that it’s a bit too potent to mix into the sauce for your mac and cheese, but is just lovely when crumbled into the hot dish. This way, while you’re chewing away on creamy mild macaroni, you get a burst of blue cheese every now and then. It’s a very nice change in taste and texture.
The second consideration: I don’t love the idea of blending the hot sauce too evenly into the creamy cheddar sauce that I’ve coated my macaroni with. Hot sauce is naturally bold, and its flavor will overpower all others while you’re eating. So just as I prefer crumbling blue cheese on top of the dish rather than mixing, I like to take a similar approach to the spicy chicken. I fold it ever so gently into the saucy macaroni.
Altogether, these simple recipe considerations make the flavors of the dish pop. The eating experience feels more satisfying because of the differences and uniqueness of each bite. Some forkfuls combine creamy macaroni with a hot kick of buffalo chicken, some are sprinkled with sharp blue cheese. Each great on their own, and even better together.
Here’s how to whip it up yourself:
Bring a pot of water to a boil, add about 5 cups dry elbow shaped macaroni, cook for about 8 minutes (or until softened to your liking), drain, and set aside.
A tip: Generally 3/4 cup dry pasta will yield 1 cup cooked.
While the pasta is cooking, make your cheese sauce.
Combine 1 cup cold milk with 1 tablespoon cornstarch in a small saucepan.
Whisk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, stir in 1 tablespoon butter until smooth, and then add 3/4 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese.
Stir until the mixture is well blended and silky smooth.
Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked macaroni and stir to combine.
In a separate bowl, stir together hot cooked chicken (diced into bite sized pieces) and 1/2 – 2/3 cup hot buffalo wing sauce. I recommend Frank’s Red Hot brand.
This is a perfect dish to use leftover cooked chicken, but if you need to cook some: Place 1 lb of chicken breasts in a pot, fill it with enough water just to cover the chicken, set it on the stovetop over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is opaque and cooked through.
To test for doneness, you can pull one of the chicken breasts out of the water, slice into it and check to be sure the inside is no longer pink. Then, drain the chicken and let it cool enough so you can handle it and cut it into chunks.
8 ounces dry elbow macaroni (enough for 4 cups cooked)
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
1 cup 1% milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon butter
3 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese (¾ cup)
2 ounces crumbled blue cheese (½ cup)
½ – ⅔ cup hot buffalo wing sauce (I like Frank’s Red Hot)
Poach the chicken: Place the breasts in a large saucepan or dutch oven, in a single layer, and fill with just enough cold water to cover the chicken by 1 inch.
Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes depending on how thick the breasts are (check the chicken after 10 minutes).
When done, the breasts should be completely opaque on the outside and register 165 degrees on meat thermometer.
Cut through the center of one to check doneness so that you don’t accidentally remove all the chicken too soon.
Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let cool slightly until before shredding with two forks. Once shredded, stir in the hot sauce, adding as much or as little as you like depending on your spice preference.
Cook the elbow macaroni according to package directions.
While the macaroni cooks, make the cheese sauce: In a small saucepan, whisk together the milk and cornstarch.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat slightly to a simmer. Stir in the butter.
When the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon,
add the cheddar cheese and stir until the cheese has melted and the mixture is silky and well blended.
You can find complete recipes of this Healthy Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Blue Cheese in andiemitchell.com
I could hardly wait to share these stuffed peppers. They are absolutely delicious! The filling tastes just like a cheeseburger.
I’ve made them healthier by using extra lean ground beef, brown rice and lite cheese. Such a satisfying dinner, you’ll be stuffed! Each serving has 349 calories, 12 grams of fat and 8 Weight Watchers SmartPoints.
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 pound extra lean ground beef (96%), see shopping tip
1 cup onions, diced
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (for gluten-free use Lea & Perrins
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon mustard (I used a spicy brown mustard)
1 tablespoon pickle relish
⅓ cup tomato sauce, can or jarred
3 tablespoons water
1 cup lite cheddar cheese, mozzarella or blend, shredded (I used Trader’s lite Mexican blend)
4 large red bell peppers, yellow or orange (each about 3½ inches high and 3½ inches wide)
Cook rice and set aside. Cut off the top of 4 bell peppers about 1-inch down from top.
Clean out seeds and membranes. Throw away the tops.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large nonstick pan, brown ground beef and onions.
Season beef with a little salt and pepper.
Be sure to break up ground beef into small pieces as it cooks.
Stir in Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, mustard, pickle relish, tomato sauce and 3 tablespoons water.
Mix well. Stir in ¾ cup shredded cheese and cooked rice.
Mix well and continue to cook until heated through.
Add 1-2 more tablespoons of water, if getting a little dry. Remove from heat.
Stuff each bell pepper with ground beef mixture, top each stuffed pepper with 1 tablespoon shredded cheese.
Place each in a 9-inch baking dish.
Pour 1 cup water in bottom of baking dish.
Cover dish with foil and bake for 40-45 minutes.
If peppers are not soft enough, cook about 5 minutes more.
You can find complete recipes of this Skinny Cheeseburger Stuffed Peppers in skinnykitchen.com
Taco Potatoes are crazy good. I love everything about this fun and delicious meal. Taco potatoes take ordinary baked potatoes to new heights! Seasoned ground beef, cheese, lettuce, sour cream and salsa. Everything you love about a taco all over a potato.
This recipe was too easy, and so good! My kids loved them, my hubby loved them, and obvi I did, too… or I wouldn’t be blogging about them. 🙂 I’m a potato-loving freak, and this fun way to eat them makes me love em’ even more!
4 – 6 medium Russet potatoes
1 pound lean ground beef
1 (1 oz.) packet Taco seasoning
Preheat oven to 400° F. Wash potatoes in water, pat dry with paper towels.
Poke a few holes in each potato then wrap each in foil.
Bake potatoes for 1 hour.
Carefully remove hot potatoes from oven and set aside to cool slightly.
In a large skillet, brown and crumble ground beef over medium-high heat.
Drain grease, if any.
Add taco seasoning to beef and amount of water packet calls for.
Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove foil from potatoes then cut a slit in the top to open.
Fill each potato with ground beef and all of your favorite taco toppings. Enjoy!
On Fridays, I teach cooking classes to two kids in our neighborhood. They are pretty knowledgeable-so my job is easy:) I think it is fantastic that they want to learn how to cook at such a young age-they are in the 3rd and 4th grade. Since we don’t have any kiddos yet, I am glad I get to work with these kids. We have a great time in the kitchen.
On Friday we made homemade soft pretzels,the traditional salty ones and cinnamon and sugar pretzels. We made a cheddar cheese sauce to go with the savory pretzels and a vanilla cream cheese frosting for the cinnamon sugar pretzels. The kids were pros! They did a great job rolling out the dough, twisting, boiling, and baking the pretzels.
For fun, we also made pretzel bites. everyone loved these. They are perfect for dipping and snacking. I think I will make these again on Sunday for our big Super Bowl party…and you should make them too!
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
3 quarts water
1/2 cup baking soda
1 whole egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
Coarse sea salt
For the cheese sauce:
½ Tablespoon unsalted butter
½ Tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ cup milk
8 ounces Cheddar cheese, grated
For the Pretzels:
Combine the 1 1/2 cups water, sugar, yeast, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the dough hook until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Add the salt and flour and mix on low speed until combined.
Increase the speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes.
If the dough appears too wet, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a flat surface and knead into a ball with your hands.
Oil a bowl with vegetable oil, add the dough and turn to coat with the oil.
Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Bring the 3 quarts of water to a boil in a small roasting pan over high heat and carefully add the baking soda.
It will boil over, so add slowly and be careful!
Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface.
Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, about 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 ounces each.
Roll each piece into a long rope measuring 22 inches and shape.
Cut the dough into one inch pieces to make the pretzel bites. Boil the pretzel bites in the water solution in batches. We did about 15 bites at a time. Boil for about 30 seconds.
Remove with a large slotted spoon. Place pretzel bites on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
Make sure they are not touching.
Brush the tops with the egg wash and season liberally with the salt.
Place into the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.
Remove to a baking rack and let rest 5 minutes before eating. Serve with cheese sauce.