6 Baked Potato Toppings That Make a Complete Meal!

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!

  1. Chili, cheese, onions
  2. Stew (This is a great use for leftover stew)
  3. Veggies with Sauce (I like the Birdseye broccoli and cheese sauce)
  4. Madras Lentils (and bonus- this is a vegetarian option)
  5. Curry (Some of these curries are vegan!)
  6. 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:

  • Cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Chives
  • Sauteed or grilled veggies

 

Recipe: Beef Stew

Thick, rich, and ready to get in my belly!

I love a good, hearty beef stew. It can take a little effort, but oh, man is it worth it.

I made this last week, and I started off by looking at How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman, which is a great cookbook if you are looking for something beyond the basics of Betty Crocker or Better Homes and Gardens. Each recipe has tons of variations and substitution suggestions to make each dish your own.

This recipe is an amalgamation of Mr. Bittman’s recipe and several additions that give a rich, thick, hearty stew.

Ingredients

  • 2.5-3 pounds of beef stew meat, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 T. cooking oil (I used avocado)
  • 2T butter
  • 2 sweet onions, chopped
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled and cut into coins
  • 1/2t. dried thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/2c red wine
  • 2T. Tomato Paste
  • 3T. All-purpose flour

Directions

  1.  In a large stockpot, heat oil, and cook the beef in batches to brown. If your pot is large, there may not be a need to cook in batches.
  2. After the beef is browned, add the onions, and cook until clear and tender.
  3. Sprinkle flour over the meat and onions, and stir to combine.
  4. Brown the flour gently, this may take a few minutes. Stir frequently to avoid burning. the flour will stick to the meat and onions- this is ok. While string, you may notice the flour forming a paste that browns- this is what you want.
  5. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
  6. Add beef stock and thyme, and stir to combine and continue to stir as the mixture thickens.
  7. As the stock thickens, add wine, tomato paste. Allow the stew to cook on low for 20-30 minutes.
  8. Add potatoes and carrots and cook soup on low for 20-30 minutes with the lid on the stockpot.
  9. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
  10. Continue to simmer as desired, if you want thinner stew, add more stock. If you like a thicker stew, remove the lid and allow the stew to simmer for 10-20 minutes until the stew reaches your desired thickness.

Some notes: I add wine and tomato paste because the acid in both helps break down the collagen in the meat, making it more tender, and giving the stew broth a more luscious mouthfeel. You can do without one or the other if you prefer.

I don’t like peas, so I omit them from my stew. If you like them, add 1/2-1 cup frozen peas about 10 minutes before serving. This keeps them from getting mushy or falling apart.

If you like more of a French-style beef stew, add 1/2-1 cup chopped mushrooms when you add the other veggies.

This recipe makes about 8-10 servings of stew. I like to serve the stew with crusty french bread, or sourdough toast, and of course SALAD. I like a peppery arugula (or rocket) salad with beets, goat cheese, and a simple vinaigrette. That combination really pairs well with the richness of the stew.

And of course, this stew freezes well and tastes better the next day.

Frugal, Tasty Meals with Dinnerly!

To facilitate this review, the awesome folks at Dinnerly provided our family with 3 meals (4-6 servings each). I received no financial compensation to write this review- All opinions are my own.

I’ve reviewed dinner/meal kits before, and my complaint is always that they are so expensive, upwards of $10 per person, per meal. At that point, I better be going out to dinner, and I am not washing dishes! Secondly, the meals are usually not child-friendly, especially if you have a kid on the spectrum (like we do), who also happens to be a vegetarian.

Enter Dinnerly! At $4.49 per adult-sized serving, Dinnerly is so much less expensive than other meal kits. But how? digital recipe cards instead of paper, fewer ingredients per dish (which means less chopping and cleaning), simple packaging, and no fancy marketing campaigns.

The big kid and I looked at the website and he chose two meat-free recipes, and I chose one with meat.

  • Mediterranean Meatball Stew with Carrots & Couscous
  • Coconut Curry Ramen with Snow Peas & Jammy Eggs
  • Baked Squash & Kale Risotto with Parmesan

recipeWhat I really like is that the recipe tells you what is in the kit for your recipe, and what you will need from your own kitchen (and trust me, it’s nothing special or fancy).

The directions are great for those who don’t have a lot of cooking experience. My 8-year-old was able to read the steps and follow them. He helped me cook the Risotto, and he measured, stirred, poured, and ripped up the kale into bite-sized pieces.

The 4-6 adult-sized servings are pretty generous, by the way. With every meal, there were closer to 7 servings. I always serve side dishes with the main dish. Most nights we had salad or some kind of veggie side dish. When we had ramen, I picked up a bag of pork potstickers from 99 Cents Only for the grown-ups, and also made a miso dressing coleslaw. If you want to stretch meals further, I suggest adding sides, or maybe sneaking in some extra veggies (I added 1 cup of peeled, diced crook-neck squash to the Mediterranean Meatball Stew).

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Tamari Sauce for Ramen

Some of the recipes needed a little “kick”- especially the ramen- so we added ginger, red chili flakes, and a bay leaf to the broth. BUT, since everyone has different levels of spice tolerance, Dinnerly Kits are a great place to start if you want to explore different flavors and cultures without having the buy a bunch of new and/or different spices. For example, the ramen kit comes with two of these cute little packages of Tamari sauce. I did clean one of them out when I was done and now it’s in the kid’s toy kitchen.

Everything is pre-measured and ready to go, even the spices. This is another reason I love Dinnerly- It cuts down on food waste.

75557570_10157525826901061_3062456495460319232_n75443029_10157525826876061_5954310997228388352_nThe veggies are all super fresh and ready to be cut up! The risotto came with two little cubes of parmesan cheese, that my 8-year-old grated and sprinkled like a pro!

I made the Mediterranean Meatball Stew with Carrots & Couscous and took it to a friend for a night in. It was cheaper, healthier, and tastier than stopping to grab takeout. It was so tasty and filling.

If you want to check out Dinnerly, they have been nice enough to create a promo code just for my readers! The code to use at check out is hewesfamily15, and it’s active through the first week of December and only valid for first-time users. The coupon code is worth 15% off! To get started, visit Dinnerly here.

I think Dinnerly would also make a great gift for a family that just has a baby,  or someone who might need a little love.

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Butternut Squash & Kale Risotto
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Coconut Curry Ramen
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Meatball Stew and Cous Cous

Hearty French Beef Stew Recipe!

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Who needs a filter when you’ve got steam?

Earlier in the week I made beef stew. It was so good that I had a hard time waiting the full 10 hours until dinner  to dish myself up a bowl! I cooked it on the stove, but it can definitely  be cooked in a crockpot after the initial browning of the meat.

I based my recipe on my mom’s boeuf bourguignon recipe, but I omitted the bacon, as we didn’t have any in the house.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups white onions, diced
  • 3/4 cup each carrots and celery, diced
  • 1 cup white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced (tops only, stems may be discarded or saved for a later use)
  • 2 T. Air Dried Shallots
  • 1 T. Minced Garlic
  • 4 T. Butter or Olive Oil (your choice), divided
  • 2 lbs. Stew Beef, cut into bite sized pieces (chuck roast works great)
  • 1/2 c. AP Flour
  • 6 cups beef stock
  • 1 Bottle Red Wine (approx. 4 cups), your choice.
  • Spices: 1 Bay leaf, 1 T. French Tarragon, Pinch Rubbed Sage, 1 T. Thyme, Salt, Pepper

Directions:

  1. In a Large Stock pot, melt 2 T. butter/heat olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms. Cook on medium/low heat, stirring occasionally until onions are clear and veggies have sweated.
  3. While veggies are cooking, rinse meat and toss gently in AP Flour to coat.
  4. After veggies are cooked, scoop out of pot and set aside, add remaining butter/oil, and brown beef over medium heat.
  5. Add cooked veggies back in and stir/scrape browned bits off the bottom and sides of pot.
  6. Turn heat up to medium/high and add in about half the wine. Scrape off as much of the browned bits off the bottom and sides as you can as the wine cooks.
  7. Add remaining wine, stock, and herbs. Cover pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally. If you wish, you can transfer everything to a crockpot and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
  8. Serve with hot, buttered bread, and a green salad. It is soooooo good. If you have leftovers (hahahaha), it is great re-heated and served over rice or buttered noodles.