Twice Baked Potatoes

Twice baked potatoes are nothing else than stuffed jacket potatoes returned to the oven after the inside has been mixed with various fillings such as cheese, egg or bacon. Not only are these potatoes delicious, they are also festive, therefore they can make a hit at Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner, or at any other celebration.

Ingredients for 6 servings:

  • 3 large baking potatoes (choose healthy ones, with nice skin)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 6 bacon slices
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • salt and pepper

Preparation:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Clean and dry the potatoes, then bake them for about one hour.

Fry the bacon slices in a skillet for about 2-3 minutes on each side. When they are nicely browned, remove from the pan and drain them on paper towels. Crumble them and set them aside. It’s nicer to first brown, then crumble the bacon, because if you do otherwise, it will retain too much oil.

When the potatoes are baked, remove them from the oven and let them cool for about 10 minutes, then cut them in halves lengthwise. Scoop the interior carefully in a large bowl, leaving the skin intact. Don’t throw away the skins, we are going to need them later on.

Add sour cream, salt, pepper, butter, half the green onions amount and half the cheese to the bowl with potato flesh. Mix well until the composition gets creamy and uniform. You can use a hand mixer, it’s much faster than the manual way.

Spoon the creamy mixture back into the potato shells. Top with the remaining sour cream, onions and bacon. Return the tray to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Serve hot.

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Beef and Veggies Quesadilla

Ingredients:

  • 4 whole wheat tortillas
  • 1/2 pound lean beef, ground
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (Cheddar, mozarella, goat cheese, Swiss cheese or whatever else you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup baked beans
  • 1/2 cup celery root, diced
  • 1/4 cup carrot, sliced
  • 1 red hot chili pepper, finely chopped (if it’s really hot, you can discard the seeds, then chop it)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Preparation:
Heat the oil in a non-stick pan. Saute the onion over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes. Add the ground beef. Cook it stirring often, until it changes color from pink to light brown. This should take about 5-6 minutes. If the pan becomes too watery, drain it a little. Add the celery root, carrot, baked beans, parsley and red chili pepper. Salt and pepper according to your taste, then cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring well in order to mix the vegetables with the meat.

When you’re almost ready, oil a baking tray and put the tortillas on it. Spread the meat and vegetables mixture over half of each tortilla. Add a layer of shredded cheese, then fold the tortillas. Bake them at 400F for 5 minutes, then flip them over and bake them for 5 more minutes. Slice them into wedges and serve them with salsa or sour cream on top.

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Vegetarian Quesadilla Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 flour tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded cheese mix of your choice (it can be Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Swiss cheese, Italian cheese or whatever your favorite types of cheese)
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup corn, whole kernel (drain it before use)
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup black beans (from can, drained before use)
  • 1 teaspoon chili peppers, very finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Preparation:
Mix the green and red bell pepper with chopped onions, corn, black beans and chopped chili peppers.

Oil a skillet, heat it and place one of the tortillas inside. Heat it for one minute, then turn it upside down and heat it one more minute. Repeat with the second tortilla.

Spread half of the cheese amount evenly over the surface of the tortilla, top it with the mix of corn, black beans, onion, red and green bell peppers and chili peppers, then spread the other half of cheese on top. Cover with the second tortilla. Let it heat for about two minutes or until you start smelling the cheese melting.

Flip over the quesadilla and heat it for 2 minutes more.

Transfer it onto a chopping board and cut it into 8 wedges.

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Macaroni Cheese With Parsley

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb macaroni (penne, shells, fusilli, elbow macaroni or any other type of pasta you like)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 cup mascarpone
  • 1 cup Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • salt, pepper

Directions:
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water with a teaspoon of salt, respecting the cooking time indicated on the pasta pack.

In a pan, heat one tablespoon of butter, add the shallots and saute them until they turn light brown. In another pan, melt the remaining butter and add the flour. Cook it on low to medium heat, stirring continuously. Start adding the milk gradually, stirring well, until the composition becomes smooth.

When the mixture starts boiling, reduce the heat and keep on cooking for about two more minutes. Remove it from the heat, add the cheese and stir until it melts.

Drain the pasta, put it in a pot, then pour the melted cheese over it and stir until it gets evenly coated. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and with parsley and serve hot.

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Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon and Tomatoes

Macaroni cheese is such a great dish! Not only the basic mac & cheese recipe is delicious, but also its variations are really good. For example, bacon and tomatoes give it an awesome flavor, turning it into a complete meal for the whole family.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4-5 bacon slices (about 1/2 pound)
  • 2 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded (you can use a mix of various cheeses if you want)
  • 2 average size tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a big pot, cook the pasta in boiling salty water, as per instructions on the pack.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and brown the onion for about 2-3 minutes. Cook the bacon until it becomes crispy, then remove it from the pan. Add flour, salt and pepper to the browned onion, then gradually add the milk, while stirring frequently. Bring it to a boil, them lower the heat and let it simmer for 3-4 minutes. Remove the pan from heat, add the cheese and stir until it melts and blends into the mix.

Drain the pasta very well, return it into the pot, then add the cheese mixture and the crumbled bacon to it. Blend well and transfer in a greased casserole. Bake it uncovered for 15-20 minutes, then arrange the tomato slices on top of the food and put it back in the oven. Let it bake for maximum 10 minutes more. Serve hot.

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Crockpot Macaroni And Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons white flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 3 cups milk
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups Cheddar cheese, grated
  • paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:
In a pot, mix the flour with dry mustard, salt, pepper and milk. Cook it on stovetop, on low temperature, stirring frequently, until it thickens. Remove from heat. Add the butter and 2 cups of Cheddar cheese. Stir well, until the cheese melts.

Cook the macaroni in salty, boiling water according to the instructions on the pack, but 1-2 minutes less. You want the pasta to be cooked “al dente”. Drain it well. Mix it with the cheesy sauce.

Butter the slow cooker dish on the bottom and on the sides, then place a layer of macaroni, followed by a layer of extra cheese, then repeat until you finish the macaroni. Sprinkle with paprika. Set the slow cooker on Low and cook the macaroni and cheese for about 3 hours.

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Macaroni And Cheese With Cream Of Mushroom Soup

Ingredients:

  • 300 g macaroni (elbow, fusilli, penne etc)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (or 1 pack instant mushroom soup)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup chopped ham
  • 2 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded (you can use any cheese mix you wish)
  • salt, pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook the pasta al dente, which usually means 1-2 minutes less than the time indicated on the box. Drain well.

In a pot, heat the cream of mushroom soup until you bring it to a boil. Remove from heat, add the cheese and stir until it melts. In case the sauce is too thick, you can add 2-3 tablespoons of milk. Add the garlic, chopped ham, salt and pepper, then pour it over the macaroni. Stir well, until the pasta gets covered in cheese sauce.

Put in in a baking dish, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and bake in the oven preheated to 350 F. After 10-15 minutes of baking, remove the dish from oven and cover it (either with a lid or with aluminum foil), then bake it for 15 minutes more.

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Creamy Mac And Cheese

This is maybe the easiest macaroni and cheese recipe ever. Although it doesn’t have those special flavors one would get when adding improvements such as multiple cheese types, bacon, broccoli or spices, it’s still an awesome dish, one of those comfort foods that warmed up our childhood. This is how my grandma used to make macaroni and cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound macaroni
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 large can condensed milk
  • 1 small bag grated Cheddar cheese

Directions:
Boil the macaroni as per pack instructions. Drain well. Melt the butter in a small pot, add milk, stir well, then add the cheese. Pour everything over the macaroni, mix and heat in the oven until bubbly. Serve hot.

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Healthy Mac And Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is a relatively fatty meal, especially if you like it cheesy and creamy. Nonetheless, you can turn it into a healthier meal by replacing some of the ingredients with low-fat ones. Here’s a recipe which I think is worth trying:

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup low-fat Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup evaporated skim milk
  • 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • salt, pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Boil the macaroni as per instructions on pack, but 1-2 minutes less.

Heat the milk, then gradually add the ricotta, the Cheddar and the cottage cheese, stirring well, until they melt. Remove from heat, then add the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir well, then pour over the drained macaroni. Put the cheesy macaroni in a baking dish, cover it and and bake it for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan then bake it uncovered for 10 more minutes or until the top gets a nice brown color.

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Easy Stovetop Mac And Cheese

This is a simple macaroni and cheese recipe which can be ready in as little as 30 minutes. It’s a great idea for an easy, yet delicious dinner. This recipe serves 3-4 persons.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Cook the macaroni as per instructions on the pack. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan over low heat. When butter is melted, stir in flour and salt, then add the milk. Keep on stirring and cooking until the mixture becomes bubbly. Add the cheese, stir and cook until it melts. Drain the cooked macaroni, add to the cheese mix and stir well.

Serve hot with freshly ground black pepper on top.

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