Broccoli Stuffed Loaded Potato Skins with Avocado Cream

It’s January! For many people, that means a [re]commitment to healthy eating. Sticking with a healthy diet can be hard. Since I am all for moderation of all things, instead of strict denial, I like to find healthier versions of my favorite treats. These potato skins are a prime example.

Broccoli Stuffed Loaded Potato Skins | thepajamachef.com

The regular version is loaded up with tons of cheese, sour cream, and bacon. This version, à la Ellie Krieger, features broccoli, Canadian bacon, avocado, and cheese. The perfect substitute! And perhaps, even better than the original?

Broccoli Stuffed Loaded Potato Skins | thepajamachef.com

While I love the usual loaded potato skins [and ate my fair share in college], this version with broccoli and avocado is just fabulous. They’re more filling and more of a meal-appetizer than an appetizer-appetizer. Make sense? I had forgotten just how good Canadian bacon was… salty and a little more gourmet than regular bacon. Gourmet may be a bit of an overstep, but I love its juicy, smoky sweetness. It pairs SO well with that avocado cream, which MIGHT be my new favorite thing! It’s like guac, but creamy and with just a hint of lime. The only change I might make to this dish would be to chop the broccoli up a little more after steaming it, but that’s just a minor thing.

Broccoli Stuffed Loaded Potato Skins | thepajamachef.com

This app is perfect for a football party, or just a casual night at home in your cozy slippers. :) Enjoy!

two years ago: Perfect Black Beans 
three years ago: Triple Chocolate Oat Cookies

Broccoli Stuffed Loaded Potato Skins with Avocado Cream [from Comfort Food Fix by Ellie Krieger]
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Ingredients:

  • 4 small russet potatoes, scrubbed and dried
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli florets [4 ounces]
  • 2 ounces Canadian bacon, diced
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated

for avocado cream

  • 1 avocado
  • 2 scallions, chopped [green and white parts separated]
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pierce potatoes with a fork 8-10 times each, then wrap in paper towels and microwave until fully cooked, about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside until cool enough to handle, then cut in half lengthwise.

Scoop out all but an 1/8 inch of the potato flesh, reserving for another use. Brush the inside and outside of the potatoes with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place skin-side down on a baking sheet and cook until crispy and golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, making the filling. Steam the broccoli until crisp-tender. Add the Canadian bacon to a skillet set over medium-high heat and saute until crisp, about 4 minutes. Divide the broccoli and cheese equally amongst the potatoes

Lower oven temperature to 400 degrees and return potatoes to oven, baking for about 5 minutes until cheese is melted.

To make the avocado cream, place all ingredients except green scallions in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, top potato skins with Canadian bacon, avocado cream, and green scallions.

Time: 45 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings.

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Quinoa Black Bean Burritos with Southwest Sauce

We eat a lot of black beans around here–as a simple side with tacos, on salads, with rice. For some reason though, it’s rare that the black beans themselves are the star of the meal. And why not? They are so good and so filling! These Quinoa Black Bean Burritos with Southwest Sauce are the perfect example of that.

Quinoa Black Bean Burritos with Southwest Sauce | thepajamachef.com

I honestly wasn’t expecting much of this meal, but it was so phenomenal that I just had to share. Quinoa and black beans are a natural combination, and when flavored with garlic and taco seasoning, are pretty amazing. I also added some cheese because duh. Cheese. It’s all melty and wonderful. You could certainly add the cheese separately to the burrito, but I kinda liked the gooey factor when it was stirred in with everything else.

Quinoa Black Bean Burritos with Southwest Sauce | thepajamachef.com

As good as the burrito filling is, adding some guacamole and a quick Southwest Sauce makes this burrito. For sure. The sauce’s intriguing ingredients–salsa, mayo, lime juice, maple syrup, and spices–sound a bit off, but trust me. It totally works! This sauce is tangy, sweet, and has a tiny kick–but no real heat. You could spice this up if you wanted though! These Quinoa Black Bean Burritos make a wonderfully easy vegetarian weeknight dinner, and the leftovers last for days. Serve it with a side salad and chips and salsa for a complete meal. My kind of recipe! You can bet this will be part of our regular rotation from now on. Enjoy!

a year ago… Summery Squash & Chicken Lasagna
two years ago… Watermelon Coolers
three years ago… OTT: Brown Sugar Bacon Twists 

Quinoa Black Bean Burritos with Southwest Sauce [adapted from Food.com]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed [I used 1/2 cup each red and white quinoa]
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups black beans [or a 15 ounce can], drained and rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 teaspoons taco seasoning
  • flour tortillas
  • chopped avocados or guacamole [I made a simple guac--1 mashed avocado, lemon juice, cilantro, salt, pepper]

for Southwest Sauce

  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise [I think sour cream or plain yogurt could be substituted too]
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder

Directions:

Place quinoa and broth in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook at a simmer until all liquid has been absorbed–about 12 to 15 minutes. Then, add black beans, garlic, cheese, and taco seasoning and stir until cheese has melted. Simmer for 4 to 5 minutes or until heated through.

Meanwhile, prepare Southwest Sauce. Whisk together salsa, mayonnaise, maple syrup, cumin, lime juice, and chili powder. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. If salsa is chunky, you may want to smooth sauce by pureeing in a blender or food processor.

Serve by spooning quinoa black bean mixture in a large flour tortilla. Top with avocados or guacamole, then roll shut. Drizzle Southwest Sauce on top immediately before serving.

Time: 30 minutes.

Yield: 6-8 servings.

Linked up with Foodie Friday and Weekend Potluck.

Roasted Chickpea, Carrot, & Radish Salad with Lemon-Dijon Dressing

Last week was my spring break, and Ben and I took a quick four-day/three-night trip down to Cumberland Gap, TN.

Cumberland Gap Trip | The Pajama Chef

It’s just a short five hour drive from Bloomington, and if you’re not familiar with this area, three states come together in the park–Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky. We had never been before but had a blast. Even though winter is still lingering, hiking up in the woods and trails was just beautiful. The toughest hike was a 7 mile round trip hike up to White Rocks, a site that was a landmark to pioneers making the westward trek demonstrating that the Cumberland Gap pass was just a day’s walk ahead. Up top in the White Rocks area it was frosty, snowy, and terribly cold. I was so glad I chose to wear my vest instead of leaving it in the car!!

Cumberland Gap Trip | The Pajama Chef

Aside from hiking, we had fun just hanging out together… reading, relaxing, and exploring a few of the nearby towns. We stayed at the Olde Mille Inn Bed & Breakfast, which I highly recommend if you’re ever in the area. It is so cute, and even though it was built in the 1800s, everything was very modern and comfortable inside. I never wanted to leave our room! It was so nice, and the breakfast everyday was amazing. Upside down pancakes, sausage gravy & biscuits, french toast, and the best steel cut oats I have ever had! We were the youngest guests by a longshot [at least 30 years] but breakfasts were served together, and it was really fun to chat with the other guests. Can I just say that I love southern accents? :)

Cumberland Gap Trip | The Pajama Chef

We ate lunch everyday at this adorable cottage turned coffeshop–Gap Creek Coffee. My favorite drink was their Peanut Butter Cup. PB in coffee sounds a lil weird, but you can bet I’ll be looking for that on coffeshop menus in the future. Our dinners were nothing compared to the other meals of the day, but we did enjoy some good Tennessee BBQ! This area of the country definitely wasn’t gourmet restaurant central, but the area’s natural beauty sure made up for it!! Be sure to visit Cumberland Gap if you can! We’d love to go back someday.

Cumberland Gap Trip | The Pajama Chef

Before we left, I made this wonderful salad as an excuse to use up as much of my produce as I could before going out of town. But seriously, you shouldn’t wait til you need to use things up… adding hot roasted, crisp veggies and chickpeas on cold salad greens is my new favorite thing!

Roasted Chickpea, Carrot, & Radish Salad with Lemon-Dijon Dressing | The Pajama Chef

The contrasting temperatures are just perfect! I didn’t really measure the seasonings used to roast the chickpeas, carrots, and radishes but just used a little cumin, garlic powder, black pepper, ginger, and allspice to make a spicy-sweet spice mixture to rub on with EVOO.

Roasted Chickpea, Carrot, & Radish Salad with Lemon-Dijon Dressing | The Pajama Chef

The dressing is a very basic lemon-olive oil-dijon mustard mixture, which paired so well with the light greens and crispy toppings. I thought about adding some vinegar to make more of a vinaigrette, but decided against it. You certainly could if you wanted, though–I just liked the tartness of the lemony dressing with the vinegary tang.

Roasted Chickpea, Carrot, & Radish Salad with Lemon-Dijon Dressing | The Pajama Chef

This is just a great salad! I meant to add some cheese, nuts, or avocado as my inspiration recipe suggested… but I forgot about the cheese and nuts after the roasted veggies came out of the oven, and my avocado was nasty inside. Sad day. But the good news is that none of those things are needed for this awesome salad. It’s a crunchy, hearty, flavorful salad that I am sure you will just adore!! Enjoy! :)

Roasted Chickpea, Carrot, & Radish Salad with Lemon-Dijon Dressing | The Pajama Chef

Roasted Chickpea, Carrot, & Radish Salad with Lemon-Dijon Dressing [adapted from Baker by Nature]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 1 15 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
  • 3 large carrots, scrubbed and chopped into 2-inch pieces
  • 8 radishes, scrubbed and sliced into thirds
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • cumin
  • garlic powder
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ginger
  • allspice
  • baby spring mix

for Lemon-Dijon Dressing

  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • crushed red pepper

for topping, optional

  • avocado
  • feta or parmesan cheese
  • nuts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a large baking sheet, combine chickpeas, carrots, and radishes. Pour olive oil over top, then season with cumin, garlic, black pepper, ginger, and allspice. I didn’t measure these, but was heavy on the cumin, garlic, and black pepper, and a little lighter on ginger and allspice. Use your hands to mix oil and seasoning on chickpeas, carrots, and radishes. Bake for 30 minutes, turning once or twice.

Meanwhile, make the dressing. Whisk lemon juice, oil, mustard, and garlic powder together in a bowl or shake together in a jar. Season to taste with crushed red pepper.

After everything is roasted, combine baby spring mix with roasted chickpeas, carrots, and radishes as desired. Drizzle with Lemon-Dijon Dressing, and top with feta or parmesan cheese, nuts, and avocado if desired. Serve immediately.

Time: 40 minutes [10 minutes active].

Yield: 2 large salads or 4 side salads.

Linked up with: Weekend Potluck.

Chipotle Black Bean Soup with Avocado Cream

I am SO ready for spring. It’s been cold all week, and then last night we got several inches of snow. Not as much as some parts of the country, but still… I am over winter. Entirely. My sister thinks winter is the greatest, and even planned her wedding for December hoping for snow [and there was… see!]. In that case, snow was cute and pretty and fun. In this case, in March, snow is not fun. In my opinion, the only good part about this sort of weather is that it is perfectly aceptable to wear cozy warm sweaters, ridiculously old and soft sweatpants, and boots everyday. Not necessarily altogether now, but you get my drift. And for dinner, it is perfectly acceptable to have soup almost every night. At least, until your husband tires of it. Thankfully, he didn’t tire of soup before we enjoyed this fabulous Chipotle Black Bean Soup with Avocado Cream created by Joanne. I already have one black bean soup recipe that I adore… now I have two! One vegetarian, one meatatarian.

Chipotle Black Bean Soup with Avocado Cream | The Pajama ChefMy go-to black bean soup is thick and chunky with black beans, onion, and spinach, and gets most of its flavors from a variety of spices and chicken broth. This recipe is much simpler, and, as the name implies, heavy on the chipotle flavor. Heavy on the awesomeness, more likely. The actual soup recipe only has six ingredients: chorizo, carrots, onions, chipotle peppers, vegetable broth, and black beans, so the chipotle flavor really does dominate. Chorizo and chipotle peppers are a fabulous combo, but I wasn’t initially sure how the carrots would work in the mix, but it turns out that carrots with a bit of spice are pretty phenomenal.

Chipotle Black Bean Soup with Avocado Cream | The Pajama Chef

What really makes this soup pop though is the avocado cream. It’s like a creamy guacamole… but is all in all pretty healthy since the cream comes from avocado and Greek yogurt. It’s jazzed up with lime juice and cilantro, and I added a dash of crushed red pepper. Umm, yum. The whole soup, avocado cream and all, is pretty spicy but nothing I couldn’t handle. I thought it got even better, and almost a little sweeter as it sat in the fridge for a couple days. Like many dishes, the flavors improved over time. I wish I could have had a big bowl for dinner last night in the snow, but alas… I had to settle for Panera instead [tomato soup + fuji apple chicken salad!]. Panera’s good, but homemade’s better. Enjoy!

Chipotle Black Bean Soup with Avocado Cream [adapted from Eats Well With Others]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 10 ounces chorizo
  • 4 large carrots, diced
  • 2 large onions, diced [I used 1 red and 1 white]
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo, minced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cups cooked black beans

for the avocado cream

  • 1 small ripe avocado, cut in half and pit removed
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • crushed red pepper

Directions:

Heat a large [4+ quart] saucepan over medium heat, then add chorizo to the pot. Break it up with a wooden spoon, then cook through. If the pan looks really greasy, wipe out some of the grease with a paper towel, then add carrots and onions, and cook until soft. Stir occasionally. Stir in the peppers, then cook for a minute until fragrant.

Add the vegetable broth and black beans to the pot, then cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, then simmer for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare avocado cream by combining the avocado, Greek yogurt, cilantro, and lime juice in a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth, scraping the sides as needed. Season with crushed red pepper as desired.

Puree about 1/3 of the soup with an immersion blender if desired [I forgot to do this], then serve soup topped with avocado cream.

Time: 45 minutes.

Yield: 5-6 servings.

Linked up with: Weekend Potluck.

10 Minute Lunch #5: Black Bean Wraps

So…. I totally realize black bean wraps are nothing new, nothing exciting, nothing original. You can probably google a bazillinon kajillion different variations right now. Or you don’t even have to, because who really needs a recipe for a simple black bean wrap?

The truth is… you don’t. And the truth also is… I don’t have and/or use one either.

But guess what? I’m sharing this non-recipe anyways… for a couple reason. First of all, I realized over the long weekend that I hadn’t shared any of my 10 Minute Lunches with you in way too long. Like, two months too long. Whoops. :( And secondly, I eat this easy black bean wrap [or a variation thereof] for lunch quite often and find it quite tasty [especially when there are no leftovers that sound good or I'm not feeling particularly inspired and needalunchlikenow.] Since I assume I’m not the only one who ever finds themselves in that situation…uninspired, hungry, pressed for time. If that’s you, then this go-to non-recipe recipe for black bean wraps is for you.

Maybe this is a little simplistic, but so what? It’s packed with flavor, texture, and tons of good-for-you nutrients and protein. Simply top a whole wheat tortilla with Mexican-spiced smashed black beans and lots of fresh veggies for a lunch that you’ll be looking forward to all morning long. I used spinach, red onion, bell pepper, avocado, and tomato, but feel free to use whatever strikes your fancy. Top your wrap with some cheese and you’re good to go! This lunch is filling, portable, inexpensive, and packed with fresh flavor. You can heat it up or eat it cold, depending on your preference and work situation… it’s great either way. I hope you love it as much as we do!

What are some of your go-to non-recipe recipes?

Black Bean Wraps
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • desired seasonings: garlic powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, oregano, crushed red pepper, etc. + lime juice [I used ~ 1 1/2 teaspoons total, plus a splash of juice]
  • whole wheat tortilla
  • baby spinach
  • red onion, diced
  • avocado, sliced
  • roma tomatoes, sliced
  • red bell pepper, sliced
  • grated cheese [I used cheddar + pepperjack]
  • salsa or sour cream, as desired

Non-directions:

  • Mash together black beans with seasonings and a little lime juice.
  • Place baby spinach on a whole wheat tortilla, then top with black bean mixture. Add red onion, avocado, tomato, bell pepper, and cheese along with salsa or sour cream if desired.
  • Roll up and enjoy!

Time: 5 minutes.

Yield: 1 delicious lunch! [or more if you multiply the black bean mixture]

Linked up at Successful Together.