Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Twice-Baked Beef-Stuffed Potatoes

This was inspired by a post on the Dutch Girl's (Kay's) blog....it's a great way to use leftover chili, or stews, or any sort of meat dish that might work as a filling.


Potatoes (russets), well scrubbed and baked
cream or milk
grated cheddar cheese (optional)

Pre-cooked meat fillings:

Fillings can be as simple as chili, or beef or chicken stew.
Or season cooked ground beef with taco seasoning, or curry powder and ketchup, as Kay does, or any seasoning that strikes your fancy!
Even meatballs and marinara sauce!
The sky (and your imagination) is the limit!


Cut hot baked potatoes in half, and scoop out the insides, leaving a shell approximately 1/4 inch thick. Mash the potato insides with a little butter and milk or cream, and add a handful or two of shredded cheddar cheese (or other type of cheese) to the mixture. Salt and pepper to taste, of course. Fill the potato shells about 2/3 full of heated meat filling of your choice, then top with mashed potato cheese topping. Return to the oven to bake for 15 or 20 minutes, until heated through and the tops begin to brown a bit.


Stovetop version of Obama's chili

This is based on the Crockpot version of the Obama family's chili that I first copied from Stephanie's blog. Here I have converted it back to something resembling the original recipe used by the Obama family, although I have definitely increased the spice level. It is still not hot by any sort of normal "chili-head" standards. But use your own judgment when adding spices; when in doubt, start with half of what I recommend and add more slowly until you find the right level for you. Or if you think it's too tasteless and wimpy, add MORE! :)

This makes a LOT of chili, because I'm using my 8-quart Dutch oven. If you are serving a normal-sized family and you don't want a lot of leftovers (we LOVE leftovers), you might want to cut this recipe in half.


2 can kidney beans
3 lbs lean ground meat
(beef, chicken, turkey or a combination)
2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
10 medium tomatoes or 8 large, chopped (include seeds and all)
6 chopped cloves of garlic
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp basil
2 tsp turmeric
2 T chili powder
2 1/2 T Old Bay Seasoning
2 tsp salt
5 T red wine vinegar
Cooked white rice, if desired


Again, you'll need a large Dutch oven, otherwise cut the recipe in half.

I've increased all of the spices from the original recipe, and also increased the amount of ground meat (we like more meat than beans).

First, brown the meat in the Dutch oven on the stove top, and drain well. Add the two cans of red beans, liquid and all; set the heat at medium low and allow to simmer while you chop and add
the tomatoes, garlic, onion, and bell pepper.

Lastly stir in all of the spices and the red wine vinegar. Cover the Dutch oven and cook on medium-low for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally. If the chili seems to have a bit too much liquid, tilt the lid so that some of the steam escapes while cooking, but keep an eye on it.

Serve over white rice, if desired.

Sweet and Spicy Baby Carrots

Here is a veggie dish that my four-year-old just LOVES...he loves most vegetables, but this recipe is one of his favorites. Best of all, it's super simple and FAST!


1/2 C butter (one stick)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tst nutmeg
2 T brown sugar
1 1/2 T agave nectar or 2 T honey
fresh parsley (optional)
4 C baby carrots (the ones in the bag, already peeled/washed are the most convenient)


Melt butter in a medium skillet; add brown sugar, agave or honey and spices and blend together thoroughly. Add baby carrots; cover and cook over medium-low heat for approximately 15 minutes. Carrots are done when cooked through, so that they can be sliced easily with the stirring spoon for example, but are still firm and hold their shape.

Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley if desired before serving.

Gluten Free Potato-Cauliflower Gratin

This is just a variation on Potato Gratin, of course, inspired by the idea from the low-carb community of substituting cauliflower for potatoes. I love both potatoes and cauliflower, with or without cheese, so this is really the best of both worlds, and definitely lower in carbs than if it were made with potatoes alone.


One head of cauliflower, cut into florets/bit-sized chunks
5 medium-sized russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into thick slices or chunks
3 T butter
1 onion, diced
3 T sweet rice flour
1 C heavy cream
1 - 2 C milk
Shredded cheese (Gruyere, cheddar, Gouda, whatever) - approx 3+ Cups
1/2 tsp dry mustard
Lawry's seasoned pepper


Place the potato and cauliflower pieces into a large pot and add enough water to cover; bring to a boil then turn down heat and simmer for 10 minutes. You want the potato and cauliflower chunks to be cooked through but still firm, not mushy. Drain thoroughly and dump the pieces into a large buttered casserole dish or 13" by 9" pan.

While the potato and cauliflower pieces are cooking, prepare the cheese sauce: melt butter in a large skillet and add the diced onion. Saute the onion until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Add a bit more butter if needed, then add the sweet rice flour and dry mustard to make a thick paste. Pour in the heavy cream, stirring vigorously over low heat. This will thicken rapidly; add milk, stirring constantly, a little bit at a time, until the sauce is about the consistency of paint, maybe a bit thinner. Remove from heat and add cheese; reserve some cheese for the top. I tend to use a LOT of cheese, but you can adjust the amount to your personal tastes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the sauce over the potatoes and cauliflower pieces in the casserole dish; top with extra cheese and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 - 35 minutes, until bubbling around the edges and beginning to brown slightly on top.