Loaded Baked Potato

April_2 Potato

Easy, cheap, sorta healthy, and delicious- loaded baked potatoes have made the rounds through winter and are looking forward to spring.  It’s comfort food but loaded with veggies and protein, fills you up fast and on a budget for sure.


Scrub clean, wrap in foil and bake 1 potato per serving for 45 minutes inn a 375 degree oven.  Should be soft to touch before you remove to eat!  Serve with a pat of butter, 0% Greek Yogurt, sliced green onion, bacon, steamed broccoli florets and cheese.


Food for thought… and Autumn Vegetable Curry


This morning was one of those amazing fall days in Chicago, the kind we all reflect back to when the snow and slush and icy winds start to bring us down.  After an admittedly challenging couple of weeks, there is so much change in the air, not only the seasons.  In times like these it’s important to remember that our lives are only as good as the choices we make, whether they are good choices, hard choices, wrong choices; they all shape who we are, who we will become and the life we will have.

Inspired by two friends today, I took a long break to get outside and bike+ run, not just to work out but to slow down, think, walk, and soak in the great day.  Everyone I passed was smiling, the sun was shining, the lake rippled in the wind and colorful leaves rustled along my path, the skyline gleamed in the contrast of the blue skies, it was as if everywhere I looked, a gorgeous photo presented itself.  It got me thinking about how charmed our lives are, if we can just take a moment to step back and enjoy it.  If the choices we make define who we are, we should make each one count; they should enrich our life, they should inspire us, they should make us happy- it’s our choice, right?  In lou of all the changes a new season brings, our family is faced with all kinds of challenges and choices, our near future of where we will end up is hovering within reach and it’s overwhelming.  It’s helpful to reflect, jot stuff down and just take a moment to put things in perspective.  This is life, it is glorious, we have the ability to make choices and that is pretty great.

Now, to the food!  After all that thought, I bet you are ready to make a choice on what’s for dinner this fine fall evening.  We’ve been loving all the in season produce- fennel, pears, squash and sweet potatoes.  This recipe is another Ellie Krieger gem; we can’t go on enough about how much we love her.  It’s warm and hearty and full of big flavors and so many veggies, you would never guess it’s simplicity could be so good.  This recipe makes a big batch so you can enjoy leftovers over and over!  Enjoy,


1 large onion, coarsely chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1 1½ -inch long piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into chunks

1 ½ tablespoons curry powder

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more to taste

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 cups low sodium vegetable broth

1 cup light coconut milk

1 cinnamon stick

¾ teaspoon salt plus more to taste

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ head of cauliflower, broken into 11/2 inch wide florets (about 3 cups)

1 pound sweet potatoes (garnet yams), peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes

2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch rounds

2 tomatoes, cored and chopped

Zest of 1 lime

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 15-ounce can of garbanzo beans, preferably low-sodium, drained and rinsed

5 cups baby spinach leaves (5 ounces)

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves


Put the onion, garlic, ginger, curry powder and cayenne pepper into the bowl of a food and process until combined. Add the oil and process until a smooth puree. Cook the curry puree in a large pot over a medium heat, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the mixture begins to darken, about 5 minutes more.

Add the vegetable broth, coconut milk, cinnamon, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower, sweet potato, carrot, tomatoes, salt and pepper and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick. Stir in the lime zest and juice, the garbanzo beans and the spinach and cook for 5 minutes more, until the spinach is wilted. Season with additional salt to taste.

Serve garnished with cilantro, over rice if desired.


Makes about 10 cups Serves 4


Per Serving: Calories 420; Total Fat 12 g; (Sat Fat 3.5 g, Mono Fat 4.6 g, Poly Fat 2.3 g) ; Protein 13 g; Carb TK g; Fiber 16 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 780 mg


Excellent source of: Copper, Fiber, Folate, Iron, Magnesium, Molybdenum, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin K Good source of: Calcium, Niacin, Riboflavin, Pantothenic Acid, Thiamin, Zinc


Copyright 2011 Ellie Krieger. All Rights Reserved.


Pot Pies



So as you can tell by now, we hope, we tend to pick recipes that are healthy and crave worthy and we HEART Ellie Krieger.  She always does just this, and these pot pies are SO amazing, they’ve been a staple in our kitchen for a couple of years now.  We finally got actual mini pie dishes, thank you Katie and Aaron, off our wedding registry so here they are to flaunt all their goodness in gorgeous little pie plates.  We used to use 2 cup pirex glass bowls and they can easily be stored with their lids as left over lunch too.  The photo is just from the iPhone and we will be working on getting our in home studio up and running again, ahem.  She uses all green veggies in this- leeks, green beans, peas and parsley- not only are they amazing together, it looks gorgeous too.


Pot Pies, Serves 4

Recipe provided courtesy of Ellie Krieger. © 2008-2009 In Balance, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


  • 1-1⁄4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1⁄2-inch chunks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 leeks, bottom 4 inches only, trimmed, washed well, and chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped (about 1⁄2 cup)
  • 2 medium white potatoes, left unpeeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
  • 1⁄2 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and chopped into 1⁄2-inch pieces ( you can also use frozen= faster)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1-1⁄2 cups nonfat milk
  • 1⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup peas, thawed if frozen
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed ( 7 or 9 work well)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cooking Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat 4 individual-size baking dishes with cooking spray.
  2. Season the chicken with 1⁄4 teaspoon of the salt and 1⁄4 teaspoon of the pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown, about 2-1⁄2 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
  3. Add 2 more teaspoons of oil, the leeks, and celery to the pan and cook, stirring a few times, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the potatoes, green beans, garlic, and the remaining 3⁄4 teaspoon salt and 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper and cook for 2 minutes more, stirring to combine everything. Add the milk. Stir the flour into the broth until dissolved and add to the pan. Cook, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in the chicken, peas, parsley, and thyme. Spoon the mixture into the baking dishes.
  4. Put the remaining 1-2⁄3 tablespoons oil in a small bowl. Unroll the phyllo dough and cut it into quarters. Place a quarter-sheet on top of each baking dish and brush with the oil. Repeat layering with all three layers. Tuck the edges of the phyllo into the dish rim. Sprinkle the top of each pie with the Parmesan.
  5. Place on a baking sheet and bake until the filling is bubbling, about 30 minutes. Serve hot.



Potato and Leek Bisque

This is a gem of a recipe from our very new Eating Well Cookbook!  It’s a great velvety smooth, thick, rich creamy potato soup ( think delicious mashed potatoes!)- next time we’ll keep some potatoes chunky and add some peas and lean ham to give it more stew texture and mix this up a bit.

Potato-Leek Bisque
8 servings, about 1 cup each

adapted from Eating Well

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 pounds leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
3 cups nonfat milk
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground white pepper, or to taste
2 ounces grated Parmesan
Thinly sliced fresh chives for garnish

1/4 cup minced pitted Kalamata olives
3 anchovies, minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
8 slices baguette, toasted


1.To prepare bisque: Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leeks and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender but not brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Adjust heat as necessary and add a bit of water if needed to prevent sticking. Set aside 1/3 cup of the leeks in a small bowl.

2.Add garlic and red pepper flakes, stir for a minute then add potatoes, milk and broth to the pot. Bring to a simmer (do not boil) and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are very tender, 15 minutes.

3.To prepare croutons: Meanwhile, add olives, anchovies and black pepper to the reserved leeks; mix well. Divide evenly among the toasted baguette slices.

4.When the potatoes are tender, remove from the heat. Puree the soup with an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.) Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, lemon juice and white pepper. Divide among 8 soup bowls and float a crouton on top of each. Garnish with chives and Parmesan, if desired.


Fancy Frozen Pizza

Almost every Friday, we pick up a frozen pizza.  Now this isn’t glamorous, but it’s our way of “eating in” instead of out, to save money, and also to just relax after a long week.  The last thing we ever want to do is make an extravagant dinner with a sink full of dishes to clean after a week of long days and work overload.  That being said, we go back and forth between $5 take and bake pizza from Dominick’s or frozen ($7.50) Home Run Inn pizza.  To fancify, we’ll chop up fresh garlic, basil, tomato, sometimes red peppers and mushrooms too… pop it in the oven and finish with fresh grated parmesan, a glass of wine ( or a cold beer depending on the day) and a new movie in your very own living room, snuggling with the people ( and kitties) you love 🙂  ooooo Fridays, gotta love em! 

Basil Pesto Potato Salad

Pesto Potato Salad with Green Beans
Bring a dish to pass!  The idea of taking along the perfect tasty dish to a party to share with other people can be daunting.  I didn’t want to bring just any old potato salad.  We have TONS of bright green basil growing thick and fast at home… enter: the search for an interesting Pesto Potato Salad… this one I came by on my favorite food blog- Smitten Kitchen.  It adds green beans ( also in season!) along with green onion and champagne vinegar- unique and a great idea, plus it keeps the salad this uniform bright green palette!  I altered the recipe to suit what I found at the store ( 3 lb bag of potatoes not 4) and added my own little spin on homemade pesto.  All I can say is this: we didn’t bring home any leftovers…
What is your favorite thing about potato salad? What is your favorite summer produce? 

Pesto Potato Salad with Green Beans

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Serves 10

3 pounds small red-skinned potatoes, quartered twice
12 ounces green beans, cut into one-inch segments
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
3 cups loose packed basil
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
6 tablespoons (or more to taste) mild vinegar, such as champagne, white wine or a white balsamic
1/4 cup chopped green onions (scallions)
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 10 minutes. Add beans; cook four minutes longer. Drain well and let cool, then transfer potatoes and beans to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, discard the stems from the basil and wash and dry the leaves. Puree them in a food processor with garlic, drizzling in enough olive oil that it gets saucy. Add in toasted almonds and grated cheese, pulse till smooth.  Season the pesto with salt and pepper.
Toss the beans and potatoes with pesto. Stir in vinegar, green onions and season with salt, pepper and/or additional vinegar to taste.
I made this the night before serving, stored in the refrigerator.  It was delightful!