Mandy's Marvelous Meals

Recipes, tips, tricks, and my journey into cooking fabulous food!

Scalloped Potato Foil Packets


Sometimes I feel like we have the same side dishes for all our meals. We have rice or potatoes or pasta plus a veggie or just a veggie. I try to mix it up but sometimes I just run out of ideas or I don’t feel like putting the effort into making an elaborate side. During the summer it is a little bit easier because there are a lot of fresh veggie sides you can whip up pretty easily and of course there’s potatoes…which are great for grilling. However, after making potatoes numerous different ways I was really thinking about making something different. I love cheesy scalloped potatoes, but who wants to heat up the oven when it is 100 degrees outside!?

So I decided to make scalloped potato foil packets to cook on the grill and much to my delight they came out pretty darn good. Foil packets of any kind are great especially if you are only cooking for two…it is also a really good way to practice good portion control. It is best to make individual sized packets…you may be tempted to make one big packet or put a few servings in one packet, but trust me…it will be easier to handle, the food will cook through better and it will just make your life a lot easier. The recipe below makes two foil packets, the measurements are suggestions, you can definitely increase or decrease the cheese to your taste or use whatever cheese you like best.

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Scalloped Potato Foil Packets(Makes 2 servings)

1 medium potato, sliced thin

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup chopped onion

2 slices provolone cheese

½ cup Gruyère or swiss cheese, grated

1 tbsp. parsley, chopped

Salt & Pepper, to taste

¼ cup heavy whipping cream

  1. Using a mandolin, slice potatoes to about 1/8” thick.
  2. Cut two squares of foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Divide the sliced potatoes evenly between the two squares of foil. Top each foil square with garlic, 2 tbsp. chopped onion, ¼ cup Gruyère cheese, salt & pepper, 2 tbsp. heavy cream and one slice of provolone.
  4. Fold the edges of the foil up around the potatoes to make a packet; making sure that nothing can spill or leak out.
  5. Place on the grill potato side down for 20-30 minutes over medium direct heat. Check that the potatoes are tender and cooked through and the cheese is melted before removing from the grill.
  6. Remove from foil and transfer to a plate. Top with parsley and serve.
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Grilling Cheese Anyone???


Last week I mentioned that I had planned to write a post about my recent trip to Whole Foods. I have a love/hate relationship with Whole Foods. On one hand I absolutely love Whole Foods…on the other hand I hate their prices!! I really can’t imagine shopping there all the time. I just cannot bring myself to pay that much for groceries! Nonetheless, Hubby took me there on Memorial Day and I was in heaven! I love the produce and all of the fresh, natural stuff! What I love the most, however, is all the cheese!!! Thank goodness for Hubby’s voice of reason or I could’ve easily spent $200 in just cheese! Not to mention an hour perusing the cheese section. Since it’s only two of us…and we can only consume so much cheese (and even 2 weeks later we’re still using up the two blocks that I bought) Hubby was right to keep me under control. 🙂

My super-cool find this trip to Whole Foods was “Yanni Grilling Cheese”. As you all know by now I love to grill…so anything that has the word “grill” in it will be hard for me to resist. We threw it in the cart and brought it home. I did a quick Google search to see what this stuff was all about and came across a few blogs that mentioned marinating the cheese before grilling it. I thought this seemed like a good idea and luckily for me (because if it came out bad I’d be out $5!!!) it was. It tasted so good and the way it grilled up was so awesome…I don’t even know how to put it into words! Even if you are not a cheese lover like myself…if you ever come across this in a store…you must buy it! You will be pleasantly surprised.

I served this with some smoked ribs and smoked corn salad and since the corn salad had basil I decided to make a basil marinade. The recipe below makes a decent amount of marinade…so if you don’t like to waste things like me you can use it for something else. Since you’re not marinating meat you can re-use the leftover marinade safely. I ended up using it on some chicken breasts, but I was thinking it would probably have made a nice dressing for pasta salad. If any of you decide to use this on anything else let me know how it turns out.

I would suggest marinating the cheese overnight to get a really intense flavor, but even if you only marinate for an hour or so it will still come out with a nice accent to the cheese flavor itself. So here’s to the awesomeness of Whole Foods….even if it does put a big dent in the wallet!

Basil Dressing/Marinade

½ cup fresh basil

2 cloves garlic

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

¼ c. olive oil

Salt & pepper to taste

 

Put all ingredients into a blender and mix until well combined and basil and garlic is chopped.

Place cheese in glass dish and pour marinade over the top. Cover and marinate for at least 1 hour.

Grill the cheese per the package directions, about 2 minutes per side.

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Bacon, Egg & Hash Brown Skillet Breakfast


My inspiration for this recipe comes from those yummy Jimmy Dean Breakfast Bowls. Hubby & I used to buy them now and then but of course they’re loaded with a ton of sodium and preservatives and who knows what else. Then one day it hit me…”why don’t I just make my own?”

It came out way more tasty (and these pics don’t do it justice…stupid iPhone!) and plus you can add pretty much whatever you want. Typically I use the Jimmy Dean precooked turkey sausage patties, but I like it with bacon as well. Since I had some leftover thick cut hickory smoked bacon from the farmer’s market I used that for Sunday’s brunch.

You can really get creative with this recipe by adding different veggies and different meats and even different cheeses and of course adjust the seasoning to your own preference. It is a great “base” recipe.

You’ll see in the recipe you are instructed to use a mandolin slicer with the julienne blade to cut the potatoes into hash brown pieces.

If you don’t have a mandolin slicer you can just cut the potatoes in cubes (this is what I used to do before I got my mandolin), but if you do I would recommend putting the potato cubes in a microwave safe bowl, filling with water and microwaving for at least 10-15 minutes to soften the potatoes up. If you don’t take the time to do this step, it will take forever for the potatoes to get done in the skillet and you’ll probably just end up burning the outside of the potato and they may not get tender at all…trust me I’ve learned from experience! 🙂 Serve this in a bowl as a meal or with pancakes, waffles or toast.

All this talk about breakfast foods has made me hungry! It may be a “BFD” kind of night…that is, “breakfast for dinner.”

Who doesn’t love BFD??

Bacon, Egg & Hash Brown Breakfast Skillet (Makes approx. 4 – ½ cup servings)

2 potatoes

3 slices thick cut bacon

3 eggs

¼ tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. black pepper

1 tbsp. paprika

½ tsp. onion powder

2 tbsp. olive oil

½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

  1. Wash potatoes and cut them with a mandolin slicer using the julienne blade.
  2. Place the sliced potatoes into a bowl with a lid and add the salt, pepper, paprika, and onion powder. Place the lid on the bowl and shake it up to cover the potatoes with the seasonings. Set aside.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Cook the bacon until crisp. Remove from pan and place on paper towels to drain grease.
  4. To the skillet, add the eggs and scramble, stirring constantly with a rubber scraper. Once eggs are completely scrambled and no liquid remains remove from pan and set aside.
  5. Using the same skillet, heat the olive oil. Add potatoes and cook covered for about 4 minutes. Carefully “flip” the hash browns over and cook (covered) on the other side for another 3-4 minutes or until crisp tender. (*Tip: Resist the urge to “stir” the potatoes frequently. This will cause them to be soggy and they will not get crispy like hash browns.)
  6. Remove the lid and make sure the potatoes are tender and browned. If they are done, add the egg, stirring to break up the egg.
  7. Crumble or cut the bacon into small pieces and add to skillet and stir to mix all the ingredients up.
  8. Finally, add the cheese and allow to melt, stirring occasionally. Once cheese has melted and is well-combined remove from heat and serve.

 

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Grilled Asiago & Parmesan Twice Baked Potatoes


In yesterday’s post I mentioned that I served my grilled lamb chops with a side of grilled twice baked potatoes. So today I am sharing that recipe. It has a unique blend of flavors by using ricotta cheese, asiago & parmesan. Typically you find that most twice baked potatoes are made with sour cream. Grilling them makes the skins super crispy and tasty and the inside ultra creamy! For this recipe I do not typically measure my ingredients so I’ve listed in the recipe below what I feel is a good starting point. It is best to taste as you go and adjust your spices and cheese according to your own taste.

These definitely go well with any meat dish and are a nice change from the usual kinds of potato sides that you come across!

Grilled Asiago & Parmesan Twice Baked Potatoes

2 potatoes

1/4 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 cup freshly grated asiago cheese

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 slice thick cut bacon

2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Prepare potatoes by washing and scrubbing with a vegetable brush.
  3. Bake potatoes in preheated oven for 45 minutes-1 hour (or until fork inserted into potato goes in easily).
  4. Remove potatoes from oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Cut a small circle in one side of each potato and scoop out the insides. Place the insides in a mixing bowl.
  6. To the potato insides, add the salt, pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika and ricotta and mix on medium speed until smooth.
  7. Add the asiago and parmesan cheeses, mixing again until well combined.
  8. Add the potato cheese mixture back into the potato shells.
  9. Wrap each potato in foil and place on the grill over medium heat for 10 minutes.
  10. Place the bacon on the grill as well and cook until crisp. You can add this at the same time as the potatoes over indirect heat and they will both be done at the same time.
  11. When potatoes are done, remove from foil and carefully scoop back any filling that may have melted out and over.
  12. Crumble the bacon and add evenly over the potatoes.
  13. Finally, top each potato with the chopped fresh parsley.

 

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Slimmed Down Sensation: Cheesy Chicken Quesadilla


This is a really quick, filling, and downright delicious low-cal dish! I often make this for dinner or make it at night and pack it in my lunch…it’s actually not so bad reheated in the microwave. I serve it with a salad or a very large side of seasoned steamed green beans. In the picture below, I used Mission 96% Fat Free wheat tortillas, but the low carb whole wheat tortillas are actually better in regards to calories and carbs and are less WW points.  I picked these up because they were on sale :).

Also pictured is my really old school kitchen scale (purchased at the Dollar Tree for $1!!). This scale has served me well for many years and I am sad to report that it just broke on Sunday! It has now been replaced by a more upscale digital version. I had to replace it quickly since a scale is one kitchen gadget I cannot live without.  If I have learned anything about eating healthy…even when you’re not trying to lose weight, but want to maintain that girlish figure…it is that you should always measure your food. Portion control is so important and especially crucial for losing weight. I know you have heard this before, but I am telling you as someone who has learned from experience. I didn’t always measure everything because I thought I had pretty good judgment of what the serving size of something should be…and with practice I actually do have good judgment, but nothing compares to actually measuring it out. I now even keep measuring cups and measuring spoons at work for times when I eat things that can be kept at the office (i.e. salad dressing, cereal, milk, etc.). Yes, my co-workers look at me like I’m weird, but I don’t care! This time around on WW I religiously measure and/or weigh everything! So far this seems to be working out quite well as I’ve been losing weight at an average of 2 lbs. per week.  Save using your “best judgement” for eating out.

Some of you may wonder, “Should I measure fruits and vegetables?” I typically do not measure veggies because on WW you can basically eat as much as you want, but it is good to know what an actual “serving” of veggies is. For instance, did you know that a serving of asparagus is only about 6 stalks? I sure didn’t…I probably usually eat 20 in one sitting! But veggies have been my savior this time around in my weight loss quest. I fill up on a huge salad or a large side of veggies along with my other food at both lunch and dinner so that I am not hungry. As far as fruit goes, yes it is a better alternative to picking up that candy bar, but it still has sugar, so I do measure my fruit. Remember, the dietary guidelines for fruit is 2-4 servings per day and a serving is considered ½ cup or 1 whole apple, banana, orange, etc.

Ok, ok…that concludes my advice for this post….let’s get back to the good stuff! This amazingly large and yummy quesadilla!

Word of caution…this will be sloppy when eaten!

Cheesy Chicken Quesadilla (Makes 1 serving; 5 or 6 WW points plus, depending on type of tortilla used)

1 Whole Wheat Tortilla

1 wedge Laughing Cow Light Queso Fresco & Chipotle Cheese

2 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast cooked, shredded

½ cup fat-free salsa

1 tbsp. black beans, drained and rinsed

2 tbsp. fat free cheddar cheese, shredded

  1. In a bowl, combine the salsa, chicken and black beans. 
  2. Spread the Laughing Cow cheese over the tortilla. 
  3. Spread the salsa/chicken mixture on half of the tortilla and top with the cheddar cheese. 
  4. Fold over the other half of the tortilla and press down gently, being careful not to push out any of the filling. 
  5. Heat a skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Place the quesadilla in the pan and carefully turn over after 2-3 minutes, or until the bottom of the tortilla is browned and crisp. Cook on the other side for another 2-3 minutes until heated through and the bottom of the tortilla is brown and crisp. (Alternately you could bake this. I usually make mine in my Nu-Wave oven and it comes out just as crispy and delicious!)
  6. Remove from pan and using a pizza cutter, carefully cut the quesadilla into 4 pieces. 
  7. Serve with extra salsa and fat free sour cream on the side. Don’t forget plenty of paper towels!
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