Baked Cheddar Mashed Potatoes

Baked Cheddar Mashed Potatoes 2
I ran my first 5K on Saturday and considering I’ve run only one other time in 2015, I would consider it a success. I didn’t run the entire time but most of it and was able to beat the goal I had set for myself. Plus, it was for a cause very near and dear to my heart so I would be proud no matter what. I’m going to talk about it more on Friday so stay tuned for that.
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Last week we were craving some comfort food so I whipped up some BBQ meatballs (recipe coming soon) and this delicious, cheesy, creamy bowl of goodness. I like potatoes in any form but these may be my new favorite. Joel thought the only thing that would make them better is bacon. Because bacon makes everything better.
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Sharp cheddar is diced small and stirred throughout then shredded and sprinkled on top with some crispy whole wheat panko (that makes them healthy) and parsley. The crispy panko topping gives a nice crunchy texture to the smooth, creamy potatoes.
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A little buttermilk is added to the potatoes to provide some tanginess. I’m kind of addicted to buttermilk in mashed potatoes ever since these bad boys. And adding cheese is always a good choice.
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I know mashed potatoes are more of a winter food but if you are having the weather we have lately, rainy and dreary, these will warm and fill you up.
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Baked Cheddar Mashed Potatoes

3 lbs. potatoes, peeled and diced
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Dice 4 ounces of the cheddar into small, 1/4-inch pieces. Shred the other half. Place potatoes in a pan and cover completely with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes, or until fork tender. Drain potatoes and return to pan.

2. Mash potatoes then add butter, buttermilk, milk, salt and pepper. Stir in the cubed cheddar. Place in a greased baking dish. In a small bowl, mix shredded cheese, panko and parsley. Sprinkle over the potatoes and bake for 15-20 minutes.
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Mini Bagel Bites

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Did you guys love Bagel Bites when you were a kid? I remember my brother and I always got so excited when my mom bought them for us. I don’t even know if they make them still but every time I think of them, it brings me back to my childhood. Whoever thought of turning a boring bagel into pizza is kind of a genius.
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I don’t know about you all but I really struggle with lunches for the kids. I don’t really want to cook a full meal but I also don’t want to do sandwiches every day. A lot of times, we have all the ingredients on hand for English muffin pizzas but recently we had some mini bagels lying around and I thought it would be a fun change. They were gobbled down within minutes and that’s saying a lot considering it often takes up to an hour to get Noah to eat a meal. The kid is just too busy for silly things like eating. He’s also a big snacker so he would rather eat like a bird all day then sit down and have 3 meals. I will be nice to have this one in my back pocket when I need him to focus and eat.
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I have to tell you too, they were equally well received by the 30 year old boy in my house too. Nice to know iconic kid food can span the decades.
Mini Bagel Bites 1
Mini Bagel Bites

4 mini bagels, split in half
8 Tbsp. pizza sauce
8 Tbsp. shredded mozzarella cheese
mini pepperoni, or desired toppings

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place bagel halves, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Spread each bagel half with 1 tablespoon of pizza sauce and top with 1 tablespoon each of mozzarella. Top with mini pepperoni or other desired toppings.

2. Bake for 8 minutes, or until golden and bubbly.
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Hot Black Bean Dip {Football Food}

Hot Black Bean Dip
Those that know me well know that chips are my downfall, my nemesis, that one food I just can’t resist. I seriously have a hard time practicing self control when they are around. Which is why they are only in my house on rare occasions. Football games being such times since they are the perfect snack to inhale while watching the game. And although I would be perfectly happy with a bowl of chips (sea salt kettle chips to be precise), it’s nice to whip up a dip so that I can say I had black beans for dinner instead of just chips……
Hot Black Bean Dip
Tortilla chips are the perfect vehicle for this spicy, smoky, cheesy black bean dip. This dip takes a few steps but it’s very simple and can even be prepared ahead of time then put in the oven right before kick off, giving you time to whip up more delicious food to chow down on during the game. Because I guess eating chips and dip for dinner is not the appropriate adult thing to do.

And if for some totally indescribable reason you don’t like chips (I’m not sure we can be friends anymore), this dip is also very tasty atop crispy baked sweet potato fries.
Hot Black Bean Dip
Hot Black Bean Dip
recipe slightly adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 (15½-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed well, divided
2 canned chipotle chiles, minced + 3 tablespoons adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce)
¾ cup water
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained and chopped
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1½ cups frozen corn, thawed
6 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1½ cups), divided
6 ounces sharp Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (about 1½ cups), divided
¾ cup chopped cilantro, divided
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and spray a baking pan (I used an 8×8) with non-stick spray.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil. Once hot, add the onions and salt, cooking until softened and translucent (about 4 minutes).Add the garlic and chili powder and cook another minute. Stir in 1 can of black beans, chipotles and adobo sauce, water and tomatoes. Simmer until the liquid has reduced by half, 2-3 minutes.

3. Transfer the black bean mixture to a food processor or blender then add the vinegar. Process until smooth then pour into a large mixing bowl. Mix in the remaining black beans, corn, half of the cheeses, 1/2 cup cilantro and pepper. Dump into prepared pan then top with the remaining cheese. (At this point you can cover and refrigerate until you are ready to bake and serve – if you do this add 5-10 minutes to the baking time). Bake for 15 minutes, or until bubbly and golden. Top with remaining cilantro for garnish.

Cheeseburger Quesadillas

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Besides cooking and photography, one of my big hobbies is crafting. I guess I have a love for creating and capturing. Recently I have been working on a quilt that I have grown to love; every time I pick it up to work on it, I adore it even more. I know quilting is an uncommon hobby for a 20-something but I am kind of addicted and I’m not afraid to say it. Call me granny if you wish but I’m creating awesomeness around here. The concept of this quilt started at Christmas when Joel’s mom was given 12 quilt squares made by her grandma and great grandma. She wasn’t planning on doing anything with them so she offered them to me to create something with them. After several months of brainstorming, I came up with a concept and created 18 of my own quilt blocks to go along with the vintage ones. Each and every square has a different fabric yet they look like they were made for each other. Along the border are names, places, dates and special family jokes quilted to evoke memories each time it’s used. It’s a quilt decades in the making and something I am so proud to have had a part of creating.
heritage quilt
Just like this quilt, I love dreaming up and creating in my kitchen. The quilt nourishes my soul and these cheeseburger quesadillas nourish our bellies. They come together in less than 30 minutes and will definitely be a crowd pleaser. Even my impossible 4 year old ate these without complaint and he almost never eats meat. I’m telling you, tortillas are magic makers in getting your kids to eat. The fact that they taste like a rich, meaty cheeseburger helps too.
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Cheeseburger Quesadillas

8-12 whole wheat tortillas
1 lb. lean ground beef
4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. mustard
1 Tbsp. worchestershire
S&P
1-1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar (1/4 cup per quesadilla)

1. In a skillet over medium heat, cook ground beef until cooked through. Drain grease then stir in ketchup, mustard and worchestershire.

2. Meanwhile, preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Lay a tortilla in the skillet then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cheese, desired amount of ground beef (we divided this to make 6 quesadillas but if you want yours a bit meatier, add 1/4 of the ground beef mixture), bacon and another 2 tablespoons of cheese then top with another tortilla. Cook until brown and crisp then flip and cook other side until golden. Remove from skillet and cut with a pizza wheel. Serve with pickles on the side.
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Meatball Pizza

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So remember when I made spaghetti and meatballs for you last week? A big ‘ole delicious batch. But have I ever told you how much I dislike leftovers? They are ok for a day but after that no bueno. I just hate eating the same thing over and over. And Joel now has lunch provided for him at work so that means there are even more leftovers for me to eat. The smart thing here would have been to freeze half the batch for another time but alas, that didn’t happen so I got creative instead.
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I always have pizza dough in my freezer for quick weeknight meals. Lately I have been creating lots of delicious and non-traditional pizza’s so why not make one with leftovers for the ultimate quick and easy meal?
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And that’s exactly what I did after 2 days of spaghetti and meatballs for lunch and dinner. I’m pretty sure this was the first time I was thankful for leftovers because it turned out so tasty. I’m pretty sure I’ll be making extra meatballs from now on just so I can make this pizza.

Meatball Pizza

2 disks whole wheat pizza dough
Leftover meatballs and sauce
2-4 ounces shredded sharp cheddar
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Preheat pizza stone for 30 minutes.

2. Roll pizza dough disks together into a 12-inch round then place on preheated pizza stone. Slather desired amount of pizza sauce over crust and top with cheeses. Thinly slice 4-5 meatballs and layer on top of cheese.

3. Bake pizza for 10-12 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Roasted Garlic Chicken Bacon and Gouda Pizza

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Have you had enough of all my talk about roasted garlic yet? If you have, so sorry but here’s one last recipe for awhile. I told you I was going to share this with you last week but life happened and this didn’t.

This pizza has some of my very favorite things in life, chicken, bacon, cheese and of course the garlic. Seriously, how could it not be good?
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The pizza feels lighter than most since there’s not really a sauce but I’m sure it’s not (calorie wise) due to all the deliciousness. Joel missed not having sauce so he drizzled it with ranch for a spin on a chicken bacon ranch pizza.
Roasted Garlic Chicken Bacon and Gouda Pizza 1
Another thing I love is black pepper and I just happened to find a black peppercorn smoked gouda that was an amazing addition to this creation.
Roasted Garlic Chicken Bacon and Gouda Pizza 4

Most of the prep for this pizza can be done ahead of time (think pizza dough in the freezer, cook bacon and chicken the night before, shred cheese) so you can just throw it together when you are ready to eat. I love that with a little planning and prep work we can have fresh, homemade pizza on a busy weeknight. And fancy pizza at that. Especially seeing that my boys are “fantastic lovers of pizza.” Yep, the 3 year old came up with that. How could you not serve pizza?

Roasted Garlic Chicken Bacon and Gouda Pizza

1/2 whole wheat crust recipe (2 disks)
2 heads of roasted garlic, mashed very well
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large chicken breast, grilled and cut into small bite size pieces
6 strips of bacon, crisp and crumbled
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1 cup shredded smoked gouda

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Roll out pizza crust to desired thickness and place on a pizza stone.

2. Mix together roasted garlic and olive oil then spread evenly over the crust. Top crust with chicken, bacon and cheeses.

3. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden and bubbly.

Three Cheese Fondue

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Fondue is usually our go to meal on evenings when Noah spends the night at my parent’s house. He’s a cheese and carboholic but I’ve just never felt comfortable letting him eat something with so much wine in it. Poor guy would be ticked if he knew what was going on when he wasn’t around.

I’ve made many different fondue recipes, I’ve never actually made the same one twice. That is, until now. This will most definitely be my go-to recipe going forward. I am not a fan of swiss cheese so after trying several different versions of the classic fondue, I decided it was time to switch up the cheese and break tradition.
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This fondue recipe combines smoked gouda, extra sharp cheddar and parmesan to create the ultimate ooey, gooey dip for all your favorite accompaniments. Some of our favorite dippers are chicken, steak, crusty French bread, ciabatta, steamed broccoli and lightly sautéed zucchini. Soft pretzels are also pretty darn amazing if you are really feeling wild.

Three Cheese Fondue
recipe adapted from Nugget Market

1/2 lb. smoked gouda, shredded
1/2 lb. extra sharp cheddar, shredded
1/4 cup parmesan, shredded
2 cloves garlic
1 cup white wine
¼ cup cornstarch, enough to coat the cheese
Kosher or sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Grated nutmeg to taste
Shot of hot sauce
Assorted dippers such as bread, chicken, steak, broccoli, zucchini, soft pretzels, carrots

1. Smash the garlic cloves and rub inside of fondue pot or heavy saucepan; then discard the garlic.

2. Put saucepan on the stovetop over medium heat (or heat fondue pot to medium heat) and add the white wine, scraping with a wooden spoon to dissolve the garlic residue. Toss the gouda, cheddar and parmesan in a bowl with cornstarch, add the cheese to the saucepan or fondue pot and melt; stir to prevent scorching. When melted, add the nutmeg and hot sauce. Adjust seasoning to taste.