Tag Archives: potato

THE Potato Soup

Earlier this year, I decided to try using my pressure cooker for more than rice. I have a stove top model, but I found it isn’t too hard to adjust most Instant Pot recipes (which are EVERYWHERE online) to work in my cooker. On a whim one night, I decided to try a potato soup recipe to use up some potatoes I had left over from a different recipe.

OH MY GOODNESS. I was not prepared for my family’s lives to be changed. My oldest daughter has dubbed this “her” soup and is upset anytime I make any other type of soup. We even went to a restaurant and she ordered potato soup there. Partway through, she turned to me and said, “I still like yours better, Mom.” I don’t know how else to sell it to you. This is good. You should make it. But beware that it may become a frequent find at your dinner table.

THE Potato Soup (serves 6-8)

THE Potato Soup

½ tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
¼ teaspoon black pepper
4 ounces lowfat cream cheese
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups skim milk
1 large can shredded chicken
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Heat the oil in the pressure cooker. Add onions and garlic, cooking for 2 minutes. Add potatoes, 1 cup broth and pepper.

2. Secure lid. Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes. Quick release pressure.

3. While cooking, combine cream cheese, flour, milk, and 2 cups broth in blender until smooth.

4. Once pressure is released, remove lid. Add cream cheese mixture. Cook over medium heat until soup simmers and thickens a little. Stir frequently.

5. Add chicken and corn until heated through. Stir in cheese just until melted. Remove from heat and serve.

Nutritional Information (amount per serving):

Calories: 383
Protein: 20 gm
Fat: 15 gm
Saturated Fat: 7 gm
Cholesterol: 44 mg
Carbohydrates: 45 gm
Fiber: 4 gm
Sodium: 385 mg

Recipe notes: You could use any variety of potato you liked. I did make this one with unpeeled red potatoes. While the adults in our house liked it, the kids found the variation unacceptable. I’ve also added chopped carrots with the onions and garlic for an extra vegetable punch. You can skip the chicken or use some leftover shredded chicken if you have it around. I just like using the canned chicken from Costco. Then pretty much everything except the potatoes is something I always have around.

Source: lightly adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

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Rice Stuffed Tomatoes

One of my husband’s sisters is currently serving a mission for our church in Italy. She’s been gone for almost a year and half and comes home soon. Periodically, while she has been gone, we have tried to make at home or to eat at restaurants more authentic Italian dishes. We’ve tried some pizzas that are pretty far from anything you’ll find at Pizza Hut. We had arancini, which is basically deep fried risotto balls. And recently, we tried this dish. I only include it in the authentic category since the food blogger I adapted this from ate it originally in Rome.

I was very skeptical about this dish going into it. I wasn’t sure about the whole tomatoes. The potatoes seemed like carb overkill since we already had rice. And there just wasn’t enough sauce to seem like this would be good. But it blew my expectations out of the water. It was so incredibly delicious. And despite needing to be baked in the oven, it tasted like summer. I can only imagine how good this will be in a few weeks when tomatoes are really in season. Enjoy!

Rice Stuffed Tomatoes (Serves 4)

Rice Stuffed Tomatoes

8 medium-to-large tomatoes
¾ teaspoon salt, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste)
½ cup arborio rice
6 medium yukon gold potatoes
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning or 2 tablespoons fresh basil or parsley, chopped
½ cup whole wheat breadcrumbs

1. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly coat a baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Cut the tops off the tomatoes. Scoop out the seeds and flesh over a non-aluminum bowl, making sure you get the juices. Do not cut through the bottom of the tomato. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon of salt over the inside of the tomatoes. Place them upside down on a plate to drain for 15 or so minutes. Add any drained juices to rest of tomato juice/flesh.

3. Pulse scooped out tomato juice/flesh in a blender until coarsely pureed.

4. Heat a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Saute onion for 2 minutes, or until it begins to soften. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, cooking one minute more. Add rice. Cook together for 2-3 minutes, until rice begins to toast. Add tomato puree. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover with a lid and let simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Rice should not be fully cooked. Stir in herbs.

5. Clean potatoes. Cube into small-medium pieces. Toss with remaining tablespoon of oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper.

6. Spoon rice mixture into tomatoes, but don’t fill it all the way up. Place tomatoes in the baking pan. Arrange potatoes around tomatoes in pan to help keep tomatoes upright. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the tops of the tomatoes.

7. Bake 30-45 minutes, or until tomatoes are soft and potates are tender.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 475
Protein: 11 g
Fat: 8 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 91 g
Fiber: 12 g
Sodium: 599 mg

Recipe Notes: I would stay away from roma tomatoes. Choose more of a slicing type tomato, like beef steak or one the vine. They need to have a flat bottom so they at least kind of say up on their own. If you have a medium or short grain brown rice, that would also work here. You would just need to par-cook it first, as in this recipe. I would cut the potatoes a little smaller than shown in my picture. These took a very long time to cook.

Recipe Source: slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Low iodine adjustment: Use non-iodized salt and homemade bread crumbs (from homemade bread).

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Crockpot Vegetable Pot Pie

Pot pie is not the recipe you expect to appear on a food blog right before Memorial Day. It should be burgers, fries, summery salads, fruity desserts, etc. But I’m sitting in my slippers and wearing a sweatshirt in my chilly house, since I refuse to turn on the heater this late in May. From my friends’ posts on Facebook, many others have a weekend ahead lacking in sunshine and summer.

While I fully intend to do my cookout on Monday (rain or shine), until then, I’m basking in some warm, hearty comfort food. This pot pie is on my list. I made this for company recently, and there were no leftovers with smiles all around on how delicious it was. Honestly, I think I even liked this better than most chicken pot pies I’ve had. So many more flavors with all the different vegetables. Enjoy!

Crockpot Vegetable Pot Pie (Serves 6-8)

Crockpot Vegetable Pot Pie

1 ½ tablespoons + 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 cups diced baking potato
1 ½ cup diced carrot
1 ½ cup diced parsnip
1 cup chopped celery
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 (8-ounce) packages white mushrooms, sliced
1 large zucchini, sliced in half moons
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups skim milk
¾ cup low sodium broth (chicken or vegetable)
2 cups frozen green peas
1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Biscuit topping:
1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ½ tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup low-fat buttermilk


1. Spray a crockpot with cooking spray.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet with 1 teaspoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add potato, carrot, parsnips, and celery. Sauté 5 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker. Add 1 teaspoon of oil to pan and return to heat. When oil is heated, add onion, mushrooms, and zucchini. Saute until beginning to soften, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Add to crockpot. Add salt and pepper to vegetable mixture, stirring to combine.

3. Heat remaining 1 ½ tablespoons oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 ½ tablespoons flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually whisk in milk and broth. Cook 3-5 minutes or until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly. Pour sauce into slow cooker. Add peas and thyme. Stir contents of crockpot to combine.

4. Cover crockpot and cook on low for 3 ½ hours.

5. When vegetable mixture is almost done, make biscuit topping, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and black pepper in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in cheese. Add buttermilk, stirring just until moist.

6. Increase heat to high. Drop biscuits onto filling in 8 equal mounds. Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until biscuits are done. Uncover and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 365
Protein: 13 g
Fat: 13 g
Saturated Fat: 6 g
Cholesterol: 25 mg
Carbohydrates: 50 g
Fiber: 7 g
Sodium: 555 mg

Recipe Notes: I normally don’t like recipes that require any cooking before you put things in the crockpot. But it is nice to get a little bit of color on the veggies first. I’m sure it would still turn out if you skipped that step. Feel free to adjust the vegetable amounts or types. I was probably a little under on the mushrooms – a few were bad in my packages and my husband doesn’t love them anyway – and a little over on the potatoes, carrots, and parsnips. I never have buttermilk; I just make it with skim milk and lemon juice.

Source: slightly adapted from Cooking Light

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If you asked me if I liked minestrone five years ago, I would have answered in the negative.  Outside of chili, tomato based soups just weren’t my thing.  Then one balmy June evening in Chicago, I went over to my best friend’s house to relax.  I was in the middle of moving and hadn’t been able to make myself dinner.  Rather than grab fast food, I just grabbed a bag of microwave popcorn to take with me.  When I asked her if I could make my “dinner”, she frowned and proceeded to take me back to her kitchen and ladle me up a big, steaming bowl of this minestrone.  I honestly didn’t want to eat it, but felt it would be rude not to, so I dug in.  My world was forever changed.

This minestrone is different than any most of you have had before.  There isn’t any pasta.  There are potatoes.  There are ridiculous amounts of vegetables, including cabbage.  And uncharacteristically for me, these vegetables are all cooked until very well done.  But this is the best minestrone I have ever tasted, hands down.  And as an added bonus, it tastes even better if it sits for a day or two in the fridge or longer in the freezer.  So go make a big pot today and save some for next week or next month!


Minestrone (Serves at least 10)


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced celery
1 clove minced garlic or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 (14 ounce) can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed well
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 (14 ounce) cans no salt added diced tomatoes
7 cups beef stock
2 cups diced potato
2 cups diced zucchini
2 cups shredded savoy cabbage

1. Heat oil in large stock pot. Add onion and cook until golden (about 5-7 minutes). Add celery and carrots; cook for about 5 minutes. Add garlic; sauté for 1 minute more.

2. Turn heat to low. Add beans, bay leaf, thyme, and Italian seasoning. Toss and let cook for 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juice and beef stock and bring to a boil.

3. Add in potato, zucchini, and cabbage. Turn down to a simmer. Let simmer for 2 hours. Remove bay leaf and thyme sprig before serving.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 102
Protein: 3.5 g
Fat: 3.2 g
Saturated Fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: less than 1 mg
Carbohydrates: 16 g
Fiber: 4 g
Sodium: 634 mg

Recipe Notes: You can use chicken or vegetable stock instead, but the flavor is definitely not as good. I also do not recommend a low sodium stock. I have a hard time finding savoy cabbage sometimes. I have used a napa cabbage with decent results. You use about half of either cabbage for the soup. I know it seems a really long time to cook the vegetables, but it helps the flavors blend. I have simmered this in the crockpot for 2-3 hours on high. It works, but doesn’t yield quite the same results. This really does freeze exceptionally well. I know the sodium is a bit high in the nutrient analysis. I have done several things to try and cut the sodium, but this is as far as I can go without sacrificing flavor.

Source: adapted from my friend’s mother-in-law’s recipe

Low-iodine adjustment: Use no salt added stock and no salt added beans. Add at least 1 teaspoon of non-iodized salt with stock. You may need to taste and adjust seasonings.


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Thanksgiving Leftovers

Does anyone else enjoy the leftovers almost better than the actual Thanksgiving meal? It just isn’t Thanksgiving without the leftovers. That being said, I’m over it within 3 turkey sandwiches. Here a couple other ideas to spice up your leftover routine.

Thanksgiving Pizza


This is more of a general outline than an actual recipe. Start with pizza dough, parbaking per the instructions. After parbaking, spread on a thin layer of cranberry sauce. Top with leftover mashed potatoes, leaving a few mounded areas. Add shredded turkey, scoops of stuffing if desired, and any remaining vegetables. Lightly cover with shredded cheddar or colby cheese. Drizzle gravy over the top. Bake until heated through and crust is browned.

Turkey Noodle Soup


Don’t throw out your turkey bones! You can freeze them if you want to make soup later. But cooked down, they will give up plenty of meat and tons of flavor to make the best batch of soup ever. This is the only way my mom made “chicken” noodle soup when I was a kid.

Thanksgiving Shepherd’s Pie

I don’t have a picture of this one. But my sister-in-law does it every year. Place shredded turkey in the bottom of a casserole dish with corn, peas, carrots, or whatever vegetable you have handy. Pour on gravy to moisten. Top with a layer of stuffing, then a layer of mashed potatoes. Bake until heated through. It’s amazing.

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving! See you next week when the mayhem is over!

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Ham and Spinach Gratin or “It’s Not Quiche”

A few years ago, I received both volumes of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  Honestly, most of my attempts to make recipes from them have not been huge successes.  Even the infamous potage parmentier did not turn out very well.  This gratin recipe – essentially a crustless quiche – is the exception and has become a staple in our house.

This recipe is necessary in your repertoire for several reasons.  First, it is incredibly easy.  This is the first recipe I actually braved cooking after I had a baby.  That easy.  Second, it is very adaptable to whatever you have on hand.  Change up the meat, vegetables, and cheese to your liking.  Third, it looks and tastes fancy, even though it isn’t.  We eat breakfast for dinner one night a week, and this takes it a whole new level compared to my usual pancakes.


Ham and Spinach Gratin  (Serves 4)


1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 ounces ham, sausage, or bacon, diced or crumbled
5 large eggs
1/4 cup skim milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
2 cups shredded potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes if fresh)
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375. Place pie pan in oven with butter to melt while preheating.

2. Heat olive oil in medium skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until beginning to become tender. Add meat; cook until heated (ham) or cooked through (sausage or bacon). Set aside.

3. Whisk eggs with milk and seasonings in a medium bowl.

4. Drain thawed spinach well, squeezing in paper towels to remove excess water. Squeeze freshly shredded potatoes or thawed frozen potatoes also.

5. Add onion/meat mixture, spinach, potatoes, and cheese to eggs, stirring just to combine. Remove pie pan from oven. Pour in egg mixture. Return to oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, until eggs are cooked through. Let cool slightly before serving.

Nutritional Information (Amount per Serving):

Calories: 308
Protein: 17 g
Fat: 16 g
Saturated Fat: 6 g
Cholesterol: 254 mg
Carbohydrates: 25 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 486 mg

Recipe notes: I cut down on the butter A LOT from the original recipe. I also added the spinach. Any seasoning combination of herbs and spices works. I’ve mainly used white cheeses, such as mozzarella and Swiss, but you could use one that matches your flavors of the other mix-ins. It is very important to drain the spinach and potatoes well. Also, sweet potatoes do not work well in place of the white potatoes. Your potatoes may turn a little brown/red after grating. That’s ok.  I have mixed all of the ingredients in a bowl and then refrigerated it for a couple hours before pouring in a hot pan and baking.  It worked well, although I don’t know if it would work well overnight.

Source: Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I

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Quick Corn Chowder

Even though the weather is warmer, my family still enjoys soup for dinner. Especially vegetable soups. This is a classic recipe from my mother-in-law that is my husband’s favorite. My little girl is also a huge fan.

This soup is so quick and simple. I usually try to have all the ingredients on hand as a back-up meal or quick lunch when we need it. It’s a filling meal, but also doesn’t feel too heavy or rich, which lots of chowders do. Even though this meal has few “fresh” ingredients, it still tastes fresh, and it fits for spring or summer.

I also tried making bread bowls this time. They turned out really tasty and were pretty easy, too. I’ll post the recipe for that soon.


Corn Chowder (Serves 6)


1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2.5 cups frozen corn
1 lb frozen hashbrown potatoes
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup grated cheddar or colby cheese

1. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium to medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add flour, garlic, and pepper. Stir constantly until mixture starts to lightly brown, only 1-2 minutes.

2. Stir in chicken broth and water. Make sure to stir well so there are no lumps of flour.

3. Stir in corn and hashbrowns. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5-10 minutes stirring occasionally. You want to simmer this just until everything is warmed through and soup has thickened.

4. Add in milk and grated cheese. Stir and continue to cook until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving)

Calories: 284
Protein: 9 g
Fat: 12 g
Saturated Fat: 7 g
Cholesterol: 31 mg
Carbohydrates: 38 g
Fiber: 3 g
Sodium: 470 mg

Recipe Notes: I cut the butter in half from a standard roux for this recipe. It works well, but it is a bit thicker than a normal roux. This just means you have to stir a little more to prevent lumps when adding the liquid. I usually eyeball the corn and potatoes, but I did my best to measure the amount I put in. If it looks a little skimpy on the corn or potatoes, feel free to add a little bit more. I prefer the cubed potatoes (“southern” style), but shredded also work. You can also cut up a fresh potato and add that, but you will need to cook it for a bit longer. This soup also tastes great with some chopped up broccoli florets thrown in. The nutrition information does not include serving it in a bread bowl.

Source: adapted from my mother-in-law’s recipe

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Aloo Gobi

I have to admit, I’m always a little nervous to try new things when I go to an Indian restaurant.  If I don’t like it, I’ll feel like I wasted money.  When we lived in Chicago, my husband found an “all you can eat” Indian restaurant that was very unique.  It had a few items on a buffet (lentils, rice, dessert), but most of the food was brought out to you in small portions, and you could ask for more of any item you liked.  Almost a dietitian’s dream buffet, because if you have to ask, you’ll likely stop eating sooner.  I also loved the small portions because I then had room to try 19 different dishes!  My favorite find in the bunch – aloo gobi.  It is a yummy curry made of cauliflower and potatoes. I knew I had to try and make it at home.

This is a great vegetarian dinner that leaves you feeling full and your house smelling delicious.  Also, it is cooked in 1 pan and will feed an army.  I usually serve mine with brown rice and maybe naan if I’m feeling industrious.


Aloo Gobi (serves 6)

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups water (see note)
1 large head cauliflower, chopped into small florets
1 teaspoon ginger powder or 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 to 2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
2 cardamom pods, smashed or 1/3 teaspoon ground cardamom
3 plum or roma tomatoes, diced
1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen peas

1. Heat oil in large (12″ or larger) skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until beginning to soften. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

2. Add potatoes and water. Cover, bring to a simmer, and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

3. Add the cauliflower, ginger, garam masala, curry, cumin, turmeric (optional), mustard, coriander, and cardamom. Simmer, covered, for about 5 more minutes.

4. Stir in tomatoes, garbanzo beans, and peas. If pan is out of water, add about 1/2 cup more at this point. Continue to cook, covered, over medium-low to medium heat for 10 minutes (or until cauliflower cooked to your preference), stirring occasionally.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 274
Protein: 10 g
Fat: 7 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 47 g
Fiber: 10 g
Sodium: 166 mg

Recipe Notes: The original recipe did not have garbanzo beans. It included tofu. I prefer the garbanzo beans, as it is something I have on hand (and my husband doesn’t like tofu). Chop your cauliflower into SMALL florets. If they are big, it will take a very long time to cook.  This recipe is one of the few places I like my veggies cooked well, not just “al dente”.   The original recipe only called for 1 cup of water – but I find that isn’t enough. You can start with just 1 cup and add more later if you like.

I know it is a long list of spices, but there is wiggle room if you don’t want to buy all of them. I never add the turmeric, as it is mostly to give it color. I often forget the cardamom and coriander, and it still tastes great. The original recipe only called for garam masala OR curry powder, but that wasn’t enough for me. When it comes to the adding the spices, I would add the minimum amount and then increase if it doesn’t look or smell right. I often eyeball the spices (I did measure this time), and add more based on smell – it should smell like curry. That being said, we like spicy food, so I usually add closer to 2 teaspoons of curry.

The original recipe says 6 servings. If you serve it with rice, this could easily feed 8 people.

I did not include rice in the nutrition analysis.

Source: adapted from epicurious.com

Low iodine adjustment: Use no salt added beans or cook your own garbanzo beans from dried.

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