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Super Honkin’ Kicked Up Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes

Alrighty!  Here we go!!!  Finally, at long last, a new recipe!  Well, new to y’all…..not so new to my family and me.  I’ve been making these potatoes for years!  We loved “Twice Baked Potatoes,” but I wanted something a little more substantial, so I started playing around with some ideas.  And that’s how these Super Honkin’ Kicked Up Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes came to be.  Trying saying that name 3 times really fast!  Betcha can’t do it! 

Let’s make some!  They’re a little time and labor-intensive, but OH, SO WORTH IT in the end!  Here’s what you’ll need:

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Potatoes, of course!  Get some big ones!  Those little squirrely ones just won’t hold up to the Super Honkin’ part of this recipe!  Some green onions, red bell pepper, a can of whole kernel corn, frozen broccoli, garlic, fresh peppercorns, sour cream, Jane’s Krazy Salt and cheese of choice.

Start out by scrubbing your potatoes and sticking them in the oven to bake.  I like to bake them naked…..just lay them on the racks of the oven like this:

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Now while they’re baking, let’s mix up the goodies that will go into the potato mixture later.

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Trim up the green onions and get them ready for slicing.  I take the “hairy” end off each one and then the cut tips of the greens.  I also peel the most outside layer of the onion off.  There’s no rhyme or reason as to why I do that particular step other than I have major OCD issues and think it MUST be done.  You’re welcome to skip that step if you aren’t obsessive/compulsive!  :o) 

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Now give them a little diagonal slice like this.

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Now cut the pepper in half and scoop out the insides.  Remove all the seeds and discard them. 

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Slice each half into thin strips like this.

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Slice the strips until you have a small dice like this.

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Go ahead and throw them into a bowl together.  They’re going to be good friends!  See!  Don’t they look pretty together?! 

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Open and drain the can of corn.  Now add it to the peppers and onions in the bowl.  If you prefer, you could use a can of cream corn instead of the whole kernel. 

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Go ahead and throw the bag of broccoli in there now.  Use as much or as little as you think your family will like.  My family LOVES broccoli.  So I use the whole bag not matter how many potatoes I’m making.  This time, I used chopped broccoli.  I had company coming with kids younger than mine.  So I used the smaller cut broccoli to make it a little easier for little people to eat.  Usually, I use broccoli florets so there are large hunks of broccoli in there.  Ankle Biter #2 could eat his weight in broccoli!

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Now give it a good mix.  Looks how gorgeous that is!  Couldn’t you just swan dive into it!?

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Throw in some fresh-cracked pepper.  I sure wish these screens had a scratch and sniff feature because you can’t even wrap your head around how amazing this smells!

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And some Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt………….that’s some GOOD stuff right there!

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And what would this world be without a big scoop of minced garlic!?  So toss some of that in too!  Give it a good stir and just set it aside until the potatoes are done.

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Cut each potato in half length-wise.  Notice I’m holding the potato in a pot-holder.  You’ll need to do this step while the potatoes are hot or they’ll get gummy on you.  So I highly recommend using a pot-holder or a towel to hold the potatoes or you’ll have some seriously charred flesh!

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Not the best picture ever, but I can’t hold a potato in one hand, a spoon in the other and take pictures with my toes.  I’m just not quite that dextrous.  So Ankle Biter #1 had to help his ole mom out with this one.  Scoop the potato out leaving a little potato around the edges so it will hold its shape.

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Collect all the potato’s innards in a large bowl.  No sissy bowls for this.  You’re going to need a BIG one! 

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Here’s what your potato shells should look like.  Line them up on a baking sheet for stuffing.

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Get your trusty potato-masher and have a go at those tater innards!  You don’t want the consistency of mashed potatoes.  Leave a few lumps, but not huge chunks.

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Now add the sour cream to the smooshed potatoes.

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Stir until all the sour cream is combined well with the potatoes.

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Dump in the bowl of veggies you prepared earlier. 

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Give it a good mix.  Man alive, this stuff is GOOD!

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Dump in about 2/3 of the bag of cheese.  Reserve some of it for the tops of the potatoes.  Now give it a good mix.

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Start stuffing the potatoes.  Be generous!  You’ve got plenty!  Really mound it up!

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See, like this?  Don’t be stingy!  You’ll have more than enough to really pile them high!

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Give the potatoes a good sprinkle of cheese and stick them back in the oven just long enough for the cheese to melt.

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Now dig in!!!!!!!!!

It’ll take you a little time to make these, but they are SO worth it!  And if you want to make them a complete meal in themselves, add some of last night’s grilled chicken into the potato mix.  Just diced it up and toss it in when you add the veggies.  Leftover ham or grilled pork chops would also be good.  You can’t really go wrong with it! 

If you like asparagus better than broccoli, substitute that!  Roasted red peppers as opposed to raw red peppers would be amazing!  Change it up to suit your fancy! 

I served it alongside Smoky Mountain Chicken (recipe will be available here in a few days!) and a Wedge Salad.  But it makes a wonderful accompaniment to most any grilled or baked meat.  And if you don’t want to take the time to do all that potato baking, scooping, and refilling you can just peel some potatoes, boil them like for mashed potatoes and just add the ingredients and bake in a casserole dish.  Or………you can fake this one really well!  Make up some instant mashed potatoes using sour cream and then add all these other goodies, top with cheese in a casserole dish and bake.  Nobody will ever know you didn’t peel potatoes until your little fingers nearly fell off the bone! 

These potatoes are a HUGE summertime expectation at my house.  When we grill, they make frequent appearances!  I hope you all enjoy them as much as my family does!

Scalloped Cabbage a la Candy

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Hello friends!

It’s been a while!  Life has gotten in the way of my cooking and my blogging.  There’s a little thing called work.  And 2 little things called Ankle Biters.  And 1 huge thing called “the tyranny of the everyday.”  Oh yeah, and then there’s also that little thing called “remodeling hell”…………cuz I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOO there!  My kitchen is STILL not finished!  ACK!

But enough of all that whining.  We’ve got cooking to do together!  It’s been way too long since we’ve done that.  Speaking of cooking together, that brings me to the recipe I want to share with you today.  Ladies and Gentlemen, today I give you Scalloped Cabbage a la Candy!

Candy is a dear, precious friend that I made via Moms Online.  We’ve traded recipes and kitchen secrets for years now.  And I’ve had the distinct pleasure of visiting with Candy numerous times in person. 

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Here’s Candy, me and Candy’s mom a couple summers ago when they were traveling through TN on their way to visit family.  Candy is an absolute computer GENIUS!  She has the ability to correct my computer just by me having a thought to call her.  NO JOKE!  My new laptop was acting wonky and no matter what I did, it wouldn’t act right.  I picked up the phone, called Candy and left her a voicemail to call me back.  It cringed in fear of Candy and begin functioning correctly immediately.  This has happened a number of times!  No kidding!  Not that any of that has a thing to do with cooking…………..

But here’s the thing……..Candy and I never get to visit long enough to actually get to cook together.  That makes me sad because based on this recipe and some others Candy has shared with me over the years, I know she’s a PHENOMENAL cook!  And we would have an incredible time in the kitchen together!  Someday…….

Ages ago, Candy shared a recipe with me that I knew I would love before I ever made it!  She talked about making this Scalloped Cabbage dish and my mouth watered!  I LOVE cabbage……..pretty much anyway you can think of!  And the first time I made it, my family went WILD over it!  Now granted, I took a few personal liberties with Candy’s original because y’all know I can never leave well enough alone. 

So without further ado, let’s make some!  Here’s what you’ll need:

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A head of cabbage, an onion, some garlic, flour, margarine/butter, milk, pepper and a spicy processed cheese (like Mexican Velveeta, but I used the Kroger brand) and some chips.  Chips?  Huh?  Oh, just you wait!  It’s awesome!  Really!

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Start by cutting the cabbage head into roughly 1″ pieces.

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Put it in a large pot, cover with water and boil 10 minutes.

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While the cabbage is par-boiling, dice up an onion. 

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Melt butter or margarine in a pan.  Pick a pan that’s big enough to make your sauce.

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Add some minced garlic to the melted butter.  You don’t want the temperature to be too high or your garlic will burn. 

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Add the onions and stir.  We’re not cooking the onions here, just “sweating” them out a little.

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Now add a little fresh cracked pepper to the onions and keep stirring. 

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See the color on the onions here?  They’re perfect!  So go ahead and add the flour to the mix.

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Now give it a stir.  Most of the butter will soak up the flour.  That’s cool!  It’s supposed to do that!  We’re making a “roux.” 

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A who, you say?  A “roux.”  It’s French.  (HI SARAH!!!!)  When you mix the same amount of butter and flour together, you have a roux (pronounced “roo.”)  It’s the base for lots of traditional sauces.  Once the butter soaks up all the flour, you’ll add some milk to the mix and whisk.

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Whisk until the milk is completely incorporated into the roux making a thick sauce.  It should be smooth………well, as smooth as it can be with the pieces of onion.  The point is that the sauce itself shouldn’t be lumpy.  If the only “lumps” are the pieces of onion, you’re good!

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Now cut the cheese into chunks…….it just makes it easier for the cheese to melt if it’s not in huge pieces when you put it into your sauce.

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Now add the cheese to the sauce and cook on low heat until all the cheese is completely melted.

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Your sauce is ready!  So let’s get the cabbage ready.  Drain it well.  You don’t want any of the cooking liquid to water down that amazing sauce!  So make sure the cabbage drains as much as possible.

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Add the drained cabbage into the sauce and give it a good toss making sure all the cabbage is coated with the cheese sauce.

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See?  You want it completely immersed in all that glorious sauce!

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Pour cabbage and sauce into a WELL-sprayed casserole dish.  This sauce is so cheeeeeeeeeeesy that if you don’t spray your pan with non-stick cooking spray before you add the sauce, you will be sorry!  You’ll be like Lisa Douglas from Green Acres……tossing your pots and pans and dishes out the kitchen window! 

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Remember those chips?  Put some in a ziplock bag and crush them up.  Don’t snarl up your nose!  Trust me here!  Have I ever caused you to go astray before?  Of course not!  Go ahead!  Crush ’em!  I’ll wait.

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That was therapeutic now, wasn’t it?!!?  Now sprinkle the crushed chips on top.

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Like this!  Now go stick it in a preheated 350° oven and leave it alone for half an hour or so.

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And when it’s done, you’ll have this ooey, gooey, fabulous chees-ified cabbage goodness.

Scalloped Cabbage a la Candy

*  1 head cabbage

*  1 onion, diced

*  1 Tbsp. minced garlic

*  freshly cracked pepper to taste

*  1/2 cup flour

*  1/2 cup butter or margarine

*  2 cups milk

*  1 pound peppery cheese product such as Mexican Velveeta

*  2 cups crushed chips

I’ve had folks ask me for “something different” so many times.  So here you go!  Here’s something different for you!  I served this with that pot roast I posted a couple weeks ago.  I’ve also made it to go along with chicken and pork chops.  And if you added a little cooked ground beef to it, you could have a complete meal, easy!  It’s just a new idea for a side dish to put beside your meatloaf or fried chicken instead of that tired, boring old slaw! 

Give it a try!  I think you’ll love it! 

And Candy, THANK YOU for a wonderful recipe and for being such a precious friend!  You’re a true gift from God and I could never tell you enough how much I appreciate Him sending you to me!  I love you!  Keep those recipes coming, friend!

Cranberry Glazed Carrots

Have I mentioned how much I love the holidays?  Yeah, um, well, I DO!  I think the holidays are God’s way of letting me have something to look forward to after I’ve endured another hateful October.  I’ve always loved them, but after both my parents died, the holidays are really the only things that get me through October each year!  One of the things I do to make the holidays special is cook………that shocks y’all, right?  Knocked you plum out with that startling announcement, didn’t I? 

So I start planning menus weeks in advance.  I search for new and different recipes.  Several years ago, my friend Leigh shared the recipe I’m going to share with you today.  THANKS LEIGH!

The Ankle BIters and Tall Skinny Man ADORE carrots…….just about any way I ever fix them!  Personally, I like them in a roast or roasted by themselves.  This particular dish doesn’t appeal to me at all.  But they LOVE these!  So I thought I’d share them as a possible side dish for YOUR holiday table. 

Cranberry Glazed Carrots

*  1 lb. baby carrots

*  2 Tbsp. butter

*  1/4 cup brown sugar

*  1/4 tsp. nutmeg

*  1/2 cup jellied cranberry sauce

Boil carrots until crisp-tender.  Drain well.  Return to pan and add all remaining ingredients.  Simmer in sauce 20 minutes.  Serve hot.

They make such a pretty dish on your holiday table!  I hope you enjoy them as much as TSM and the Ankle Biters!  Happy Thanksgiving!  It’s getting awfully close now!

Wedge Salad

Well, it’s been a while again!  Sorry!  I would absolutely love to be here every single day sharing a recipe with you.  But unfortunately, I can’t seem to find a way to make a day have 87 hours in it instead of 24.  Wouldn’t that be nice!? 

So it’s Labor Day weekend………and I’m off for a few days.  WOO HOO!  That gives me a few minutes to sit here and enjoy sharing a recipe! 

Once in a while, I crave a good steak.  And for the past few days, it’s been “once in a while!”  So yesterday morning, I set off in search of a good steak!  Turns out one of our little podunk grocery stores, which still uses a real, honest-to-goodness butcher,  had New York Strip Steaks on sale at a way honkin’ insane price!  $5.98 a pound as opposed to around $9-12 a pound they usually are.  So I scooped some of those bad boys up and trotted to the house with them! 

But you can’t just have steak!  You’ve got to have something to go with it!  So Unk decided we needed to have a Wedge Salad.  I love to make Wedge Salad.  And honestly, that was what I was already thinking of doing before I even asked anybody else what we should have with the steaks!  So Wedge Salad, coming right up!

What is Wedge Salad?  Well, it’s um, a bunch of stuff cut into wedges!  It’s simple really!  Put whatever you like in it that you can cut into a wedge.

You start with a head of iceberg lettuce.  Yes, I KNOW it has absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever.  But you know what?  You can’t cut any of those fancy fru-fru lettuces and greens into nifty wedges.  You just can’t.  So work with me here!  Go buy some funky no-nutritional-value iceberg lettuce and just make the salad!  It’s good!  I promise!

Cut the lettuce head in half and cut the core out.  Then cut each half into 4 wedges.  Place those on a large platter.  Then just start adding wedges of whatever you feel like adding.  Yesterday’s Wedge Salad at my house got wedges of tomatoes, baby carrots, cucumbers, marble cheese and pepper jack cheese.  Just arrange the various wedges all around and on your lettuce wedges.  When everything was arranged, I added some chopped up bacon and some whole green onions to the top. 

It looks a little something like this:

 

Then I made some “homemade” Ranch dressing.  I started with a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix, but I seriously doctored it.  I added fresh cracked pepper, fresh minced garlic and fresh chives from my herb garden out back. 

It’s nothing fancy.  But it sure is tasty!  You can do with it whatever you like.  I was going to add some wedges of cantaloupe too, but they’re just a little too spendy right now.  So no ‘loupe this time.  Wedges of pineapple or honeydew or any number of things would be delish too!

Give it a whirl!  See how you like it!  And I’ll try to come back soon with another try-me!

Zucchini Gratin

So I mentioned that there are three little French girls running the hillsides around these parts right now.  I promised them I’d make their favorite veggies for dinner last night.  One’s favorite was potatoes so I made Springs Smashed Spuds for her.  I’ve shared those here with you before.  The other’s favorites were tomatoes and zucchini.  So I did the Oven-Fried Green Tomatoes that I’ve shared with you and I invented a new zucchini dish because…………….well, because I just did. 

I’m not a huge fan of zucchini.  I can eat it.  But I don’t love it.  I don’t ever wake up in the morning and say, “Hooooooooo boy!  I sure got me a hankerin’ for some zukes!”  Nope, not so much.  So I struggled a little bit with figuring out what to make other than just frying it like I would yellow crookneck squash, which she’s already tried while visiting. 

So my little head began to spin and out popped Zucchini Gratin.  I basically made Au Gratin Potatoes, but used zukes instead.

Zucchini Gratin

*  4 zucchini, sliced thin

*  1 large onion, sliced thin

*  2 cups fresh parmesan cheese, grated

*  1.5 cups half and half

*  1 cup flour

*  fresh basil and garlic to taste

*  Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt

Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Layer 1/3 of the zucchini in the bottom of the dish, top with 1/3 the onion slices.  Sprinkle liberally with Jane’s Krazy Salt.  Sprinkle with fresh basil (chiffonade the basil—if you don’t know what that is, lay each leaf on top of each other in a stack.  Roll the leaves into a “log.”  Slice very thin strips off the “log”.  VOILA!  Chiffonade!) and garlic.  Sprinkle with flour and cheese.  Repeat each layer until you get to the top.  If you want a more “firm” dish, add more flour and less half and half.  Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 1 hour or until zucchini is tender.  Top with additional parmesan cheese if desired.  Or top with Italian-flavored Panko crumbs.  Either way would be wonderful.  I honestly didn’t think of the panko when I made this yesterday or I would’ve done that! 

Laura apparently LOVED this dish.  I think I saw her dip back in the dish about 3 times after the first time!  :o)  So I was pretty happy that she was pretty happy about her zukes! 

As a matter of fact, I think everybody rolled away from the table!  :o)  Last night’s menu included Bison Stroganoff with Whole Wheat Egg Noodles, Green Beans (courtesy of my SIL), Springs Smashed Spuds, Maple-Citrus Glazed Baby Carrots, Zucchini Gratin, Oven-Fried Green Tomatoes, Broccoli & Cheese, homemade yeast rolls with Orange Honey Butter and leftover desserts from the night before. 

So there ya go!  Go forth and pick some zukes and fresh basil and go to town!  Personally, I’ve got basil out the wazoo!  It’s growing absolutely buck wild for me this summer!  So I’ve been using it a LOT!

Enjoy!  Have a great day!  And come back and tell me what magnificent thing you made for your loves this week!

Making Use Of Leftovers

So I grilled some chicken breasts on Sunday and slathered them with my somewhat “famous” BBQ sauce and we had a boatload of them leftover.  Well, I’m a cheap heifer and can’t stand the thought of losing the money I paid for those chicken breasts should they go to waste. 

So while I was at work Monday, I pondered the recycling of said BBQ Chicken breasts.  And here’s what I came up with………..Salad.

Salad, you ask?  Because many of you know that I am the anti-lettuce due to it causing me to need to die should I consume it.  But it seems that spinach does NOT cause the same evil effect.  And I had a large bag of baby spinach just hanging around in my fridge.  So I started dreaming up nifty things to put in the salad. 

Since it was BBQ Chicken and I had a teeny bowl of whole kernel corn left from the same dinner, I decided it was going in the salad too.  And I absolutely can NOT have salad of any type without onion, so red onion went in as well.  Then a whole bunch of other goodies ended up in the bowl!

Here’s what I ended up with for this salad:

BBQ Chicken  & Spinach Salad

*  Baby Spinach (or your green of choice)

*  Leftover BBQ chicken breasts, sliced

*  1/2 can black beans, drained and rinsed

*  1/2 can whole kernel corn, drained

*  1/2 red bell pepper, sliced

*  1/2 English cucumber, sliced

*  1/2 red onion, sliced

*  1 tomato, cut in wedges

*  1 handful bleu cheese crumbles

*  8 slices bacon, chopped

*  3 slices leftover grilled pineapple, cut in chunks

*  dressing of choice (suggestions:  bleu cheese, ranch, poppyseed, catalina)

Crazy combinations for the most part, but they worked.  My SIL proclaimed the salad the best ever.  She practically licked the bowl clean after dinner!  LOL 

Since it was such a thrown-together leftover meal, I didn’t think to take any pictures of it.  😦  Sorry!  It really WAS a great salad! 

I made mine on the healthier side.  It had no bacon or bleu cheese.  And I doubled up on the cucumber, onion and red bell pepper for mine since I love those things so much.  I’m back in the Weight Watchers saddle trying desperately to re-lose what I had already lost.  And I’m happy to report that the scale, who has been my nemesis for the last year, FINALLY decided to go in the right direction!  I am down 9 pounds.  Only 8,432 more to go to get back down to my lowest Weight Watchers weight!  Not that any of that has anything whatsoever to do with using up leftovers…………

Sorry for chasing that little rabbit!  I hope you enjoy my “invention” from our BBQ Chicken leftovers.  Have a great day!

Let’s Talk Food Again

Y’all, my sincerest apologies for leaving you high and dry.  I can’t even begin to tell you how busy life has been with work!  It’s been absolutely insane!  Then add baseball on top of that and it seems like I haven’t had a second to even take a deep breath! 

But I’m off this week……the product of all that work lately.  I’m off taking “flex” time because I’ve worked overtime so much lately that I had enough time to take 4 full days off (with a few hours leftover even!!!!)  So I’m home this week, just relaxing!  Ahhhhhhhhh!  Can you hear the relief in me????  It feels good to not have to travel and to think so hard this week!

So now that I’ve got a few minutes, let’s talk about some food again.  I’ve missed that so much! 

Yesterday, I told you a little bit about Evie, my dear, precious sister-friend.  And I told you that the first time we met in person, I was very newly pregnant with Ankle Biter #2.  What I DIDN’T tell you is that I was so exhausted in those first few weeks of pregnancy, what with being pregnant AND chasing around a profoundly ADHD 2.5 year old, that I didn’t feel much like cooking.  So one night while Evie was visiting, I “invented” some potatoes.  I didn’t feel like peeling potatoes, so I seriously doctored some instant potato flakes and made what would become affectionately known as “Springs Smashed Spuds.”

I was almost ashamed to serve them because………POTATO FLAKES!  Come on!  ME?  But Evie had an absolute FIT over them!  She honestly took what was left home on the plane with her!  No joke!  Carried them on the plane, with her carry-on luggage, back to Colorado!  She did that with some home-made chicken and dumplins too! 

Anyway, I have revised those initial “potatoes,” if we can loosely call them potatoes!  LOL  Now that I’m no longer pregnant and no longer chasing around a 2.5 year old profoundly ADHD child, they’re made with REAL potatoes!

In honor of Evie, I thought I would share the “real” Springs Smashed Spuds with you.  The reason they’re called “Springs Smashed Spuds” is because Evie lived in Colorado Springs and “Springs” just fit so well with smashed spuds.  Somehow “Evie’s Evil-icious Eeek-Evoking Excellent Tubers” just didn’t have the same ring to it.  So Springs Smashed Spuds were born!

And here they are:

Springs Smashed Spuds

*  6-10 potatoes, peeled and cubed for boiling

*  3 cloves of garlic, minced

*  1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix

*  salt and pepper to taste

*  1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley or 1 Tbsp. dried parsley

*  1 stick butter (real butter, not margarine)

*  1 cup sour cream

*  1 can French Fried Onions (you choose which size depending on how much crunch you want)

*  2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

*  8 slices bacon, chopped

*  1 bunch green onions, chopped

Boil potatoes until tender.  Roughly smash them with the butter and sour cream while potatoes are still VERY hot.  Add salt, pepper, ranch dressing mix, garlic and parsley to potatoes.  Stir until well blended.  Generously spray a deep baking bowl with non-stick cooking spray.  Spread half the potato mixture in the bottom.  Top with half the cheese, chopped bacon, green onions and French fried onions.  Add remaining potatoes and top with remaining cheese, bacon, green onions and French fried onions.  Bake in a preheated 350° oven until cheese is melted and potatoes are bubbly.  Dig in!

I hope you enjoy these as much as Evie did.  While she was sick, I flew out to Colorado a few times.  I made them for her every time I went.  She could eat very little, but she always had a little saucer full of these ‘taters.  It blessed my heart beyond measure to be able to feed her even a few bites of “comfort” food. 

Have a great day!  Go hug someone you love and make sure they know how deeply you love them!  Family and cherished friends can’t be replaced.  They need to know how much they are loved!  So don’t let the sun set on this day without telling the folks you love how much they mean to you.  They can be gone in an instant and the opportunity is gone with them.  So with that said, I love you people!  Many of you reading have been with me through thick and thin!  Literally AND figuratively!  I love you from the very bottom of my heart.  Know that!