Twice Baked Potato Skins

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Potato skins are perhaps one of the most delicious things known to man, if I do say so myself.  How could you not love a potato stuffed with bacon and cheese and sour cream?  Excuse me, but I don’t hear anyone complaining.

With Superbowl right around the corner, I knew I had to make something that would stand out but was still greasy enough to make it to the game.  And by greasy, I mean delicious.  Greasy does not always equal bad.  Unless you’re on a diet.  In which case, it’s time to splurge a little, okay?

Potato skins actually proved to be a bit of a struggle for me as I was pressed for time in order to also watch a movie in between writing this post and going to bed.  Yeah, I know, my priorities are really straightened out here, but Sunday movie night is important okay?  (Tonight, my bedroom is featuring Peter Pan).

This whole being “pressed for time” thing ended up with me having slightly demolished potato skins because the potatoes did not get cooked quite as long as they needed to be (thanks to my microwave for saving the day).  So they became twice baked potato skins.  You know when bad situations turn into really, really great ones?  Yeah, that’s how twice baked potato skins came to be.  Things happen for a reason, friends.

So therefore, let me prove to you that not everything a food blogger prepares comes out looking all that appetizing and pretty…

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See?  Doesn’t look very appetizing.  But taste wise?

Oh hell yeah.  These things take the cake.

Or the potato.  Whatever floats your boat.

Enough with the cheesy sayings already, Sara.  Show these people how to make these delicious suckers.  (By the way, CHEESY?!  Did you see that?  I’m full of them today).

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Ingredients:

2 small russet potatoes

Olive oil

1/4 lb. bacon

1/2 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, grated

2 Tbs. sour cream + more for topping

1 Tbs. butter

Salt and pepper, to taste

2-3 Tbs. chives, chopped

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Preheat oven to 400* F.  Scrub potatoes thoroughly and dry.  I recommend using 1/2 a potato per person if it’s for appetizers, and 1 potato per person you’re serving this as a meal.  They’re very filling!

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Brush the potatoes with some oil.  Olive oil will be oh-so-fine.

Place them in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until fork tender.

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Meanwhile, chop up some bacon.  I apologize from here on out about the picture situation.  The lighting in my kitchen goes away at about 3-3:30 in the winter, which as many food bloggers know, is a curse.

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Then crisp up that bacon in a frying pan.  Drain on some paper towels when it’s nice and browned.

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Also, grate up your cheese for fun.  (As we all know, grating cheese is not fun so just smile while you work and listen to Tom Petty and it will seem better, I promise).

When the potatoes are good and ready, cut them into quarters.  Scoop out the insides but make sure to leave enough to make a shell to hold everything together, or you will end up with lots of mashed potatoes and no twice baked potato skins.

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Mix about half of the insides with the butter and sour cream.  Mash it all together.

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Then add about 1/2 c. of cheese, about 1 Tbs. chives, and some salt and pepper.

This is when my natural light completely left and I forgot to keep taking pictures.  Sorry for any inconveniences.  Luckily, this recipe is not too complicated!

Brush your potato skins with olive oil or butter and bake in the oven for 5 minutes on each side.  Set your oven to broil.

Fill the skins with about 1-2 Tbs. of the filling and top with some cheese.  Broil for about 2 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Finish them off with some bacon and chopped chives.

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Might I recommend serving them with ranch? (I would).  Why don’t you check out my recipe for The Best Ranch Ever?  I made it specifically for these little guys, and oh my lanta was is so worth it.

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I might go eat some leftovers right now, actually.

Please excuse me.

XOXO Sara

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The Best Ranch Ever

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Seriously.

Drop what you’re doing right now and make this ranch.

It. Is. So. Good.

Is it sad that I literally had to stop myself from licking the mixing spoon?

At lease I didn’t drink it right?

Well, I did consider it.  But I didn’t seriously consider it.  So that makes the whole situation better, yes?  (Yes, Sara.  Whatever helps you sleep at night).

Put this on some iceberg lettuce and you may become the happiest person on the planet, it’s almost guaranteed.  (My family actually calls iceberg lettuce “ghetto lettuce”.  I don’t really know why, all I know is that it’s so good with a spoonful of ranch dalloped on top.)

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Growing up my mom never let my brother and I have ranch with our carrots or other veggies.  I guess the word “let” is not the best word.  She just simply didn’t serve it.  My brother and I were fine eating veggies just by themselves.

In fact, I was never really a fan of salad or other veggies with ranch until a few years ago.

Which absolutely does not mean this will become a regular thing.

Just until the big jar of homemade ranch in my fridge is gone.

So until tomorrow…

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Ingredients:

1/2 c. mayo

1/4 c. sour cream

1/4 c. buttermilk (1/4 c. milk + 1/4 Tbs. white vinegar)

1/2 tsp. dried chives

1/2 tsp. dried parsley

1/2 tsp. dried dill

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. dijon mustard

1/2 tsp. white vinegar

Salt and pepper, to taste

Mix ingredients together in a bowl and whisk with a fork until there are no more lumps.

Refrigerate in a jar or covered bowl until ready to serve.

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It doesn’t get any easier than that, folks.  If you want it to be super flavorful, you may consider doubling the spices.  Make it and then adjust according to taste.  It really isn’t a finicky recipe.

Have a great Sunday, my dear readers.

XOXO Sara

Healthy Coconut Curry Chicken

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I have a confession.  Indian food is probably my food of choice should I ever have to choose one food to eat for the rest of my life.

And maybe some ice cream and something with cheese on it.  But Indian food would definitely be in my top three choices of what to eat for forever and ever.

I just find it the most flavorful, colorful, beautiful food and it can be made healthy so easily!  How can you not love that?

(And plus, this only took me about 25-30 minutes to make so that was super cool).

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Also, today I was looking at previous posts I pinned on Pinterest and guess what?!  I have a few posts that have gone crazy on Pinterest with almost 500 repins if not more!  I can’t get over it.  It makes me so happy that people are looking at my blog and makes me even more happy that people are actually trying my recipes.  When I started my blog, I never expected any of this to happen as I just wanted to write and make food and keep my recipes in one happy little place.  So basically, thanks to my readers.  I appreciate you more than you’ll know.

Ingredients:

1 lb. chicken, thinly sliced

Salt and pepper, to taste

Onion powder, to taste

Drizzle olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can light coconut milk

2 Tbs. yellow curry (look for sweet yellow curry if you don’t want it to be spicy!)

1/2 tsp. coriander

*1 tsp. garam masala*

1/4 tsp. ceyenne pepper (optional, if you want spicy)

1/2 Tbs. brown sugar

1 c. frozen peas

1/2 Tbs. cornstarch mixed with a little water

Heat olive oil over medium heat.  Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, and onion powder.  Cook until browned.  Add garlic and saute until fragrant.  Add coconut milk, curry, coriander, garam masala,  optional ceyenne, and brown sugar.  Stir in peas.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Mix in slurry and simmer until slightly thickened.  Serve over brown rice.

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The result is a slightly spicy, slightly sweet, super flavorful curry.

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And maybe just a little bit of heaven.

*Gluten Free: This recipe is gluten free!

*Vegan: Replace chicken with tofu.

*Vegetarian: Replace chicken with tofu.

*Paleo: This recipe is paleo.  Just make sure the coconut milk does not have any weird additives.  I have read that cornstarch is a little controversial in the paleo world, so if you are on the “nay cornstarch” side, I would use arrowroot.

*For a recipe for garam masala, check out my other fave Indian recipe Indian Butter Chicken.

And to check out my most popular pinned posts (that’s a mouthful!) check out these links:

DIY Painted Wine Glasses

Coconut Oil Hair Treatment

Healthy Caesar Dressing

Skinny Brownie Batter Dip

And once again, thank you.

XOXO Sara

Light Skillet Lasagna

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Do you ever wish you could just always eat lasagna?  I am one of those people who has that wish.

Until I eat the leftovers for three weeks and then I take that whole statement back and regret ever making a whole pan of lasagna for just myself.

Which is why this easy skillet lasagna is just unbelievably wonderful and ever-so-helpful.

I started this whole idea of a skillet lasagna when trying to make a lightened up lasagna soup that is so popular on Pinterest and such.  However, the finished product ended up having a broth that made me feel like I was drinking tomato sauce.  Which just grossed me out for some unknown reason.  I had to try something different to satisfy my lasagna craving.

Enter skillet lasagna idea.

Plus I’m back on my healthy eating thing since the excuse “well it’s the holidays” does not apply for another ten/eleven months.  So also enter the healthy idea.

Yes I realize lasagna is not healthy and cheese is not healthy but being happy is and cheese and lasagna make me happy.  Life is too short to eat like a cow.

End rant.

Begin lasagna.

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Ingredients:

1 lb. turkey sausage (hot or mild)

1/2 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic

14 oz. can tomato sauce

14 oz. can diced tomatoes

2 tsp. Italian seasoning

1/2-1 Tbs. brown sugar (depending on acidity of sauce)

*About 12 whole wheat lasagna noodles, broken in bite sized pieces*

1/2 c. low fat ricotta cheese

1 c. part skim Mozzarella, grated

1/4 c. Parmesan, grated

Parsley, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

Turn your broiler on (if you have the option for high or low, choose high but make sure to really pay attention to it!).  Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. *Alternatively, you can use regular lasagna noodles, gluten free, sliced zucchini, or other whole wheat small pasta*.  Add sausage and onion in a skillet and cook until sausage is browned and onion is soft.  Drain fat, if any.  Add garlic and saute until fragrant.  Add tomato sauce, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and brown sugar.  Mix together.  Bring to a simmer.

Drain noodles.  Do not rinse.  Add to the pasta sauce.

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Mix together.  It will look something like this.

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Spoon ricotta cheese over the top.  You can choose to spread it on or not.  I chose not to because I like large bites of ricotta.

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Sprinkle with parsley.  Take a blurry picture if you must.  Let the mixture heat up over medium heat for a little while.

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Sprinkle Mozz and Parm over the top.

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And then some more parsley and maybe another blurry photo.

Remove from heat and put it on the middle rack of your oven under the broiler.  Broil until it is heated through and cheese is melted and bubbly and even slightly browned if that’s your thing.

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And then eat a generous serving with some whole wheat French bread and a salad.  Your family will thank you.

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All in all, this only took me about 30 minutes to make total.  Which is super awesome for a super delicious and filling meal.  (And leftovers are pretty cool too).

Make this for your family this week and let me know how it goes.  You won’t regret it!

*Gluten Free: Use sliced zucchini/eggplant or gluten free pasta instead of lasagna noodles.

*Vegan: Replace sausage with mushrooms or other veggies such as eggplant or zucchini.  Replace cheese with tofu and veggies.

*Vegetarian: Replace sausage with mushrooms or other veggies such as eggplant or zucchini.

*Paleo: Replace pasta with zucchini or eggplant, sliced.  Replace cheese with mushrooms, peas, and other veggies.

XOXO Sara

Lightened Up Skillet Cheesy Sausage Pasta

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Hello hello!  Is everybody having a fabulous Thursday? Luckily for you, there are only 2 more hours until it is Friday! (On west coast time.  If you’re beyond that, congratulations!  You made it!  If you are hours behind, you can do it!)

I always like to start a day with a few words of encouragement, if that’s what you want to call that little number.

School starts back up on Monday which is giving me mixed feelings because how fun is college aside from all the school-y stuff?!  (Yes calculus tests, I’m talking to you).

But with the start of a new semester, I will now get out of my lazy funk of not working out and eating whatever I want.  You know, after I recover from my surgery (no intense physical activity for at least 3 weeks, doc?  You got it).

Although I have been doing pretty well with my “eating well” thing I have going on, tonight I couldn’t resist (and frankly, didn’t want to cook) and ended up ordering Chinese takeout.

I know, I’m being lazy.  And I’m going out tomorrow (Friday tradition).  If I go out on Thursday, I’m being lazy.  But on Friday?  Being lazy is my tradition.  Don’t mess with the traditions.

Do you guys forgive this food blogger?  Can you move past it and learn to love me again?

What if I share the recipe for this pasta….?

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Now we talkin.

I saw this recipe ALL OVER PINTEREST.  Everywhere.   For a good month.  I couldn’t escape it.

And even though I normally tend to avoid Pinterest trends, I decided to give this a go.  (It’s not that I have anything against Pinterest trends.  I guess I’m just too hipster.  Foodie hipster?  New blog name?!)

Of course though, I had to ruin all of the fun of pasta and lighten it up.  Because I couldn’t be too mainstream (foodie hipster strikes again) and it was just in my good nature to provide people with this kind of recipe.

The pasta turned out pretty good too.  Definitely not my fave, but pretty tasty and easy for a weeknight meal when I don’t have all the time in the world to cook.

Read on good friends…

*I could not find the original source for the recipe.  There’s a ton of bloggers who have posted this on their blog with no source.  If this is yours, let me know!  I will give appropriate credit where it is deserved.  I did make some changes to the recipe to “healthify” it and also a few more just because I felt like it.  I will post original content in parenthesis.*

Ingredients:

Drizzle of olive oil

1 lb. smoked turkey sausage, cut into rounds

1 onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced (not in OG recipe)

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

2 c. low sodium chicken broth (or regular chicken broth)

14 oz. no salt added diced tomatoes (or Ro-Tel)

1/2 c. milk (or heavy cream)

8 oz. whole wheat Fusilli (or regular penne)

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 c. part skim Cheddar-Jack cheese (or 1 1/2 c. regular Cheddar-Jack cheese)

2 Tbs. chopped parsley (or 1/3 c. chopped scallions)

Heat oil on medium high heat.  Add sausage, onion, and bell pepper.  Saute until the sausage is browned and the onion and bell pepper are soft.

Add garlic and saute until fragrant.

Add the chicken broth, tomatoes, milk, pasta, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer.  Let it simmer until pasta is al dente (could take up to 20 minutes for whole wheat pasta).

While the pasta is cooking, preheat the broiler.

Remove the skillet from the heat when pasta is tender, and top with remaining cheese and parsley.  Broil for a few minutes, until the cheesy is bubbly and slightly browned.

Serve with a nice light salad and enjoy!

Serves about 4

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What I liked about this pasta was that it was satisfying but still light and not overwhelming.  And it was awesome with a small green salad on the side.

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Look at that hot mess.  That’s the kind of hot mess you want.

Trust me.

XOXO Sara

Five Cheese Rigatoni

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I love pasta.

I absolutely love it.

Especially when it’s covered in rich, delicious cheese.

Today I had to have a little last minute surgery and anesthesia makes me crave meals like this.  You know, after I get over the “oh-my-god-I’m-going-to-throw-up-and-also-I-feel-like-I’m-dying” feeling.  If you’ve ever been on anesthesia and not reacted well, you probably have some kind of clue to what I’m sayin’.  And if you haven’t, consider yourself lucky.  You are not missing anything (I swear)!

But on the bright side, I’m feeling much better, doped up on Loritab, and am on my way to enjoying a nice big bowl of cheesy pasta in the very near future.

Life is great, isn’t it?

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Ingredients:

8 oz. rigatoni pasta

1/4 c. butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 c. whole milk

6 oz. cottage cheese

1 c. cheddar cheese, grated

1 c. mozzarella cheese, grated

1 c. Swiss cheese, grated

1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated + more for top

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. onion powder

Dash paprika

Dash ceyenne pepper

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/4 c. Panko bread crumbs

1 Tbs. butter, melted

Boil pasta according to directions until it is al dente (normally about 8-9 minutes).  Drain and set aside.  Preheat oven to 350* F.

Meanwhile, melt the butter and brown the garlic until fragrant in a medium sauce pan.  Add the flour until it forms a roux.  Stir in the milk and all five cheeses.  Allow the cheeses to melt (the cottage cheese will not melt, but will make it super creamy and delicious, trust me).

Add garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, ceyenne, salt, and pepper.  Stir well.  Add pasta and mix to coat.

Butter an 8×8 casserole dish and add pasta, spreading it smoothly.  Combine panko and melted butter.  Sprinkle the bread crumbs and extra parmesan on top of the pasta.  Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly.

Serves 2.

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Revel in happy, pasta related bliss.

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You can do that, right?

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I have faith in you.

XOXO Sara

Lazy Chocolate Mousse

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You read that right.

Lazy chocolate mousse.  Because what’s better than a simple delicious recipe?  Nothing.

Especially when you decide to have a dinner party, make a four course meal for ten people, and just want to whip up dessert in a few minutes (literally).

Because that’s normally how I do dinner parties.

This recipe is nothing fancy, but it is light and tastes kind of like chocolate pie without the crust.  I would even go so far to putting this into a pie shell.  No one can stop me.  Sara does what Sara wants.

…most of the time.

Ingredients for Mousse:

2 c. heavy whipping cream

1 c. powdered sugar

1/2 c. cocoa powder

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tsp. unflavored gelatin

A few tablespoons water

Sprinkle gelatin in a small bowl and add enough water to cover it.  Mix together and put it aside until it sets.

Meanwhile, combine whipping cream, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract.  Whip on low-speed until soft peaks start to form.  Then set aside.

Microwave the gelatin for about 10 seconds or until it is completely melted.  Let it cool slightly and then add to the chocolate mixture.  Whip on medium high-speed until stiff peaks form.

Pipe or spoon into parfait or martini glasses.  Alternatively, you can pipe it into mousse glasses like I did 🙂

Refrigerate until ready to use.

Ingredients for Whipped Cream:

1 c. heavy whipping cream

1/2 c. powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine ingredients in a bowl.  Whip on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form.  Pipe on top of chocolate mousse.  Sprinkle with cocoa powder or chocolate curls.  Serve immediately.

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I served this with beef bourguignon (because apparently I had some sort of French theme going on).  My guests were very happy people and everyone left with very full tummies.

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And no one would ever know that it was lazy chocolate mousse 😉

XOXO Sara