Baked Mashed Potatoes

I’ve been cooking a lot lately (with new tools & appliances from Christmas!); I just haven’t been writing about it yet. I always have a hard time eating healthy this time of year because all I want to do is eat noodle soup or other forms of comfort food. A few weeks ago I found a healthier-ish potato recipe (nothing added other than protein). It was supposed to be stuffed potatoes with ham, thyme & cheese.

Apple Smoked Cheese is my favorite

Apple Smoked Cheese is my favorite

What I Used:

  • 2 potatoes
  • 2 slices of ham
  • half of the cheese
  • olive oil
  • half & half (calls for milk & butter, but I forgot the butter and milk always goes bad if I buy it for one recipe)
  • salt

Rub the potato with olive oil and pierce with a fork. Microwave on high (~10 minutes) until tender (I was starving and definitely didn’t microwave mine long enough).

Cooked Potatoes

Cooked Potatoes

This is where you’re supposed to scrape the potato out of the skin and put it in a bowl and save the skins for later. I, however, completely mutilated the skins at which point I just threw them away and started thinking about how I could salvage this recipe. Mash the potatoes and mix with the ham & cheese.

Ideally the cheese would be shredded, but cut into small pieces worked for me.

Ideally the cheese would be shredded, but cut into small pieces worked for me.

I preheated my oven as high as it would go (450 degrees). I mixed together the mashed potato, ham, cheese, half & half and salt. I wish more than anything that I had a potato masher, but I don’t, so I mixed it all together with a fork. (Also, how do you like my new collapsible mixing bowl?!) It should not be entirely lump free. This is where you’re supposed to spoon the mixture back into the skins. Instead I put everything into the pan and baked it for ~5 minutes.

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes

This was delicious. I cannot wait to make it again, and I have frozen broccoli waiting in my fridge to add to it next time.

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Broccoli Cheddar Casserole

Like I’ve said before, I’m a sucker for unhealthy food, with a desire to be healthy. Finding healthy foods, that are simple and that I can cook sometimes makes life challenging. But I am excited for crock pot season to start. This casserole is healthier than what most likely first popped into your mind.

I started by cooking the quinoa earlier in the day at work. Qunioa adds protein and more natural carbs than rice does. (This is traditionally made with rice.) I only had tri-colored, but I don’t believe this changes the flavor.

Quinoa

Quinoa

If all was right with the world, I would have been able to make a “cream of anything” soup. However, when I cook, I tend to eat later than I’d like, so to add an extra step is not ideal. Someday I will be able to do this, but to use cream of broccoli soup on a rare occasion is not my worst dietary habit (IMO). I combined the soup, mayo, nutmeg, cheese, Truvia (that’s what I have, not Splenda) and milk. I only have soy milk now, because it does not spike my blood sugar like cow’s milk does. I decided not to add pepper. I have a cheap pepper mill, which does not grind it very well. I end up with giant chunks of pepper, and for someone who is not the biggest fan of pepper, this can definitely ruin a lot of bites of a meal.

Freshly shredded cheddar cheese

Freshly shredded cheddar cheese

Soup Mix

Soup Mix

I bought frozen broccoli, so cooked that in the microwave, then added it to the soup mix with the quinoa. I would love to be able to use fresh broccoli, but I didn’t think of it during the day when I could’ve cooked it.

Broccoli

Broccoli

I put it all together in my pan, then added more shredded cheese to the top.

Ready to be cooked

Ready to be cooked

After cooking for 35 minutes

After cooking for 35 minutes

Avocado Chicken Enchilada Dip

Once again, my recipe is coming from Pinterest; I know you’re surprised. I cooked with tortillas once before, but I don’t use them a lot, so they end up going to waste. I still wanted to try this recipe because it combines so many things that I love.

Enchilada Dip - Briley style

Enchilada Dip – Briley style

I am going to warn you, this was not my favorite recipe. It tasted good, but the consistency was a little off. I think that has to do with cooking everything in the same place, rather than the ingredients. It is a recipe I want to try again, but in a kitchen. I started by cooking the chicken in coconut oil. I bought it for another citrus flavored recipe, and I think it’s healthier than other fats. However, it creates a lot of extra liquid when cooking chicken.

Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil

I did not have garlic, so I warmed the butter and then added the flour. Keep in mind there was still some coconut oil in the pan. I cooked the flour, then added the chicken broth mix.

Chicken broth, cumin, salt & pepper

Chicken broth, cumin, salt & pepper

I added the sour cream to the chicken broth & flour mixture. I only had black bean salsa, and wasn’t sure how it would taste in this recipe, so I didn’t use salsa or cilantro (this seems to be one of the hardest things to find in the grocery store). I also couldn’t remove it from heat, but I did turn the heat off. I left the sauce where it was in the pan, then added the chicken and avocado. I stirred that together, then added the shredded cheese to the top.

Chicken, avocado & cheese added to the sauce

Chicken, avocado & cheese added to the sauce

I baked until the cheese was bubbling and then I used tortilla chips for dipping. Like I said before, the consistency was off. Maybe I’ll be able to experiment and find a recipe with the chicken, avocado & cheese, but without a flour based sauce. I think that is what made the consistency not something I enjoyed.

Cooked and bubbly

Cooked and bubbly

Chips and dip

Chips and dip

Orange Chicken

I am not on any strict diet, but I do try to focus on eating healthy, natural ingredients. I’m also a sucker for everything opposite. When I saw this orange chicken recipe on pinterest, I knew I needed to try it. Even if it wasn’t exactly what I order from restaurants, it was certainly delicious.

Diced Chicken

Diced Chicken

I had to adjust this recipe since I only have one place to cook. I do have two different pans though. I started by cooking the chicken first. Since I don’t have a traditional kitchen, AND my bathroom is currently under construction, I could not drain the chicken while cooking. It took me a little longer to cook it, but I don’t believe it affected the taste at all. Once the chicken had cooked, I started cooking the orange sauce. Also, I don’t like spicy foods, so I did not use the chili garlic sauce.

Orange zest, orange juice, ginger & soy sauce

Orange zest, orange juice, ginger & soy sauce

Thickening

Thickening

As the sauce started to thicken, I added the chicken to the sauce and let it all cook together. Once the chicken was coated, I poured it over rice I had cooked earlier in the day.

Orange Chicken

Orange Chicken

Pizza Fondue

Sometimes, all you need is a little comfort food with a twist.  I have to say that I was a little skeptical of this recipe, but I have not been disappointed from this source yet, so I figured I’d give it a go.  It also didn’t need a lot of ingredients, and can be easily adaptable to what I like/dislike.  The recipe says to use a 2-3.5 quart crock pot, and mine is a 2 quart.  I actually didn’t have to downsize this recipe though (Although I could’ve; I’m going to be eating it for a long time.)

What you need:
1 jar spaghetti sauce with meat
Meat Sauce2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon cornstarch or instant tapioca I used tapioca because that is what I already had.
Pizza Fondue
1 cup mozzarella cheese
Pizza Fondue

I want to make myself sound super awesome for making this, but it’s so simple.  Put everything except the cheese into the crock pot. Cook on low heat for 2-3 hours and add the cheese for the last hour.  Dairy products have the ability to go bad if cooked in a crock pot for too long, which is why they are generally added with just an hour left.  The recipe called for grated mozzarella cheese, but I prefer this kind, so I ripped it up and dumped it in.  It made for clumpy cheese which was fabulous.  I could’ve used more cheese, but I am a cheese lover, so this is not surprising. I ate mine with toast and it hit the spot.  I had a ton leftover and I was eating it for a long time.  I think the next time I will try to add some vegetables (probably frozen ones that can be cooked in the microwave).

The ingredients before cooking.

The ingredients before cooking.

All cooked and ready to eat.

All cooked and ready to eat.

Teriyaki Noodles

One of the first recipes I made in my oven included steaming broccoli.  Even though the oven does not include pasta in it’s list of capabilities, I knew that if it could boil water to steam broccoli, then it should be able to boil water to cook pasta as well.  I noticed in the baking pan that there is a fill line and it is slightly more than 1 cup.    When I went to the grocery store, I wanted mac and cheese to have on my shelf as a backup.  Unfortunately those require a lot more than 1 cup of water to cook.
Teriyaki NoodlesThis requires only one cup of water, so I knew that I could attempt it.  When I steamed the broccoli, the recipe told me to turn the oven to 350 degrees to boil the water.  I did that again with the top heat off, and I checked the water every so often because it is hard to hear the water boiling when the oven is closed.  Having the oven closed is the same effect has having the top on a pot of water; it helps speed up the process.
Teriyaki NoodlesI chose not to include oil in the making of the noodles this time.  When I stirred in the noodles & spices, I also had to even it all out so that all the noodles were immersed in the water. Once I was finished with that, I turned the temperature down to 250 degrees and set the timer for seven minutes.  The noodles did not seem to be fully cooked at that point so I added another three minutes and at that time, they were tender. I stirred the noodles, let them sit with the oven open and then enjoyed a bowl of noodles.
Teriyaki NoodlesThis was quick & easy and all I needed to have on hand was the package of noodles.  I plan on keeping a few of these packets on my shelf from now on for a quick & easy dinner that tastes good too.

Welcome

I am not quite sure when I started to enjoy cooking, but at some point in my life it became something enjoyable for me.  I always enjoyed cooking for friends in college when taste was all that mattered.  As I’ve grown up, I’ve focused on adding health to the taste.  I’ve cooked for myself, my parents, my extended family, friends and roommates.  I now find myself living in an apartment without a kitchen.  I am a nanny, so I have access to a full kitchen during the day, but that has it’s own limitations. I have a few electronic appliances in my apartment that are my go-to’s.  I like to keep things simple because I also have to wash my dishes in my small bathroom sink.  I do in fact love my apartment though.

This blog has been inspired as I searched for a cookbook about cooking simply for one and the search was fruitless.  I saw one titled something like “Crap. I’ve got a kitchen.”  I know that I am the exact opposite of this, and in case there are any more of you out there, I hope I can give you hope.

In general, this will be focused mostly on my dinners.  My breakfasts consist of toast with either peanut butter & banana or cream cheese, cinnamon & blueberries.  My lunches consist of cooked vegetables which contain any of the following: corn, tomato, onion, mushroom, pea, & broccoli.  I also add cheese or fish to this mixture.  I like to make one “big” dinner per week and supplement it with leftover variations along with salads and frozen dinners throughout the rest of the week.

Enjoy, and take a look at what I’ve done with a kitchen 🙂

Green Beans & Potatoes

Recipe from Sam Talbot

Recipe from Sam Talbot

Cowboy Soup

Recipe from Rachel Ray

Recipe from Rachel Ray