Potatoes are delicious and versatile. One of our favorite family recipes is these nomtastic cheesy potatoes!
6 – 8 large potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces (preferably russets)
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons AP flour
1.5 cups whole milk
4 cups cheese (I like medium cheddar, but you could use colby, or a sharper cheddar)
1/2 cup bacon bits (I use Kirkland brand from Costco)
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
One sleeve of Ritz crackers, crushed
Parboil potatoes, 6 to 8 minutes, drain.
While potatoes are cooking, in a pot, melt the butter. Sprinkle melted butter with AP flour and stir until a paste forms over a low heat. The paste should brown slightly- DON’T BURN IT!
Pour milk into the flour/butter paste and whisk briskly. You do not want lumps. Cook over low heat until the mixture thickens. This may take a few minutes. As the mixture thickens and there are no lumps, add the cheese slowly, about 1/2 cup at a time, until it is incorporated/melted into the sauce. Once the sauce with complete, remove from the heat.
Mix drained potatoes with sauce, add bacon pieces
Pour into a greased baking dish (I use 11 x 9 baking dish)
Top with half a cup of cheese, and crushed Ritz crackers.
Bake 30 to 45 minutes at 350°.
Serve with steamed veggies, or a green salad. I also like this with crusty French bread. This makes a great side dish, or contribution to a potluck.
You can omit the bacon if you are vegetarian.
You can swap out the bacon for 1 cup cooked, chopped ham or chicken if you want to make this a hardy main dish.
Potatoes have gotten a bad rap over the past ten years or so. Potatoes are not the enemy that they have been made out to be. They aren’t an empty vessel to top with copious amounts of butter and sour cream (although that sounds pretty tasty).
In terms of nutrition, potatoes have a lot going on for them. 1 medium-sized potato contains:
25% Daily Value of Potassium
18% Daily Value of Fiber
70% Daily Value of Vitamin C
30% Daily Value of Vitamin B-6
12% Daily Value of Magnesium
Now that you know that potatoes are a healthy food choice, let’s talk about incorporating them into some healthy meals!
Here are six of my favorite baked potato toppings that make a plain ol’ potato a meal!
Grilled Chicken, broccoli, and alfredo sauce (BJ’s restaurant has a potato with this combo and it is SOO good and filling)
Leftovers of most varieties make great baked potato toppings. One of our favorite camping meals with a baked potato bar. Make up a mess of baked potatoes and heat up and set out any of the above in addition to:
This is one of my favorite recipes to make and freeze. It makes a great meal to take to someone who is sick, bereaved, or just had a baby.
I discovered the recipe while I was pregnant with Lil’ Man and craved soup. I’ve tweaked it a bit from the original that I discovered online to fit more of our families tastes and sensibilities (the original recipe called for a lot of butter, half and half, and pork Italian sausage).
It’s gluten free naturally, and can be easily made vegetarian. I’ll include substitutions under the recipe.
Creamy Tuscan Soup
(Zuppa Toscana Copy Cat from Olive Garden)
1 lb turkey Italian sausage, crumbled (not in the casing)
1½ tsp crushed red peppers (that’s 1/2 packet of the pepper flakes that come with take out pizza)
1 large diced white onion (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup bacon crumbles (I like the ones from Costco)
2 tsp chopped garlic
4 large cartons of chicken broth (your favorite brand/variety)- it’s about 12-ish cups of liquid. You could also do boullion cubes and water if you prefer.
1 can evaporated milk
3 large potatoes sliced (skin left on)
1/2 bunch Kale or spinach, roughly chopped
Cook sausage in a large stockpot, crumble it up as you cook it.
Once sausage is cooked, add bacon, onions, and garlic, and cook until onions are soft and clear (about 10 minutes).
Add the broth, and cook on medium until the soup boils.
Lower stove to low add sliced potatoes and cook over low heat until potatoes are tender, about 30-45 minutes.
Stir in the milk, red pepper, and the kale/spinach and cook on low for 10-15 minutes, until kale/spinach is tender.
Makes about 10-12 servings.
To make this dish vegetarian, use soy italian crumbles and vegetable stock.
To make this dish vegan, use the variation above, and also substitute the evaporated milk for your choice of non-dairy milk.
As you store this soup in the fridge, it will become spicier, so I recommend no more than 2 days in the fridge before freezing it.