Baked Potato and Veggie Casserole

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I made this last night, tweaking (of course!) from another recipe I found somewhere that wasn't quite what I wanted.  The finished product was good and worth recommending.  This is a hearty vegetarian casserole that would work great for potlucks as well as at home.


5 pounds of organic potatoes:  You can use russet or thin-skinned varieties like I did

approximately 3-4 cups of veggies, such as
--cubed or shredded zucchini
--diced carrots
--corn (non-GMO only)

a half-cup (or more) diced onion

a half-cup thinly sliced celery

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 1/2 cups either plain yogurt, Greek yogurt, or sour cream

half cup organic milk

1 cup Parmesan cheese

8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1.5 teaspoons ground mustard

1.5 teaspoons garlic powder

half teaspoon onion powder

2 dashes cayenne pepper

1.5 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon course ground pepper


Scrub and bake the potatoes.  Generally 350-400 degrees for an hour will get the job done.  Don't forget to poke each one with a fork or knife so they don't explode all over the inside of your oven!

After baking, let the potatoes cool so that you don't burn your little fingers while you make this yummy dinner!

After taters are cooled, dice them up into smallish chunks, maybe around 3/4 of an inch.  Think of potato salad sized chunks.  Think of a forkful of casserole, and know what size makes sense for eating with ease.  :)

In a large (I mean it) mixing bowl combine the diced potatoes and all the veggies.

In a separate, smaller mixing bowl combine the yogurt/sour cream, milk, cheese, and all the spices and seasonings.  I will say that if you're aiming for something lower in calories, you could go halfsies on this sauce.  However, it will not be as creamy and wonderful and you will probably wish it was!

Mix it up good and then pour it over the potatoes and veggies and combine it til it looks beautiful.  Like this:

Get a 9x13 pan and oil it up nicely.  Pour in the casserole goodness and bake it at 350 degrees for about an hour.  When it's done it'll be nicely browned around the edges. Looks something like this:


Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

I found the original inspiration for this recipe here.  However, I've tweaked it some and for ease of sharing I'll post the recipe I'm using right here.

This salad looks lovely since it's colorful, you could totally tweak it with other summer veggies from your garden, it can be vegetarian or vegan, and would be great for taking to a potluck or cookout.  I have added some of this salad to big bowls of organic greens as well.  It works by itself or as a salad topper.

Did I mention that it's super duper easy to make, too?  You can't go wrong with this one.  (Unless you think green olives are "stinky" like my boys do.  Then you will not like this.  But for parents of children with an aversion to stinky olives, this is great, because nobody else will eat this up when you aren't looking!)

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups or more of cubed tomatoes
  • 1 cup of cubed cucumbers
  • 1/2 cup sliced green or black olives
  • 4 ounces feta cheese (about a half cup)  (or leave it out to have this be vegan)
  • 1 cup (or less) raw cashews
  • 1 tablespoon of the olive juice from the jar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  1. Combine the water and quinoa in a medium sized pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and let cook for about 15 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water. Fluff with a fork.
  2. Well the quinoa cooks make the dressing. Combine the olive oil, olive juice, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the cubed tomatoes and cucumbers and the sliced olives. Add quinoa and mix well. Drizzle the dressing on top and add cashews and feta cheese.  (or don't.)
  4. Toss everything together. Serve immediately or store in the fridge until serving.

Banana Chocolate Chip Brownies

I make these anytime I have bananas that have aged past the point where I'd be willing to use them in smoothies.  This is quick and easy to put together, and the kids like it!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Get a 9x13 pan to be non-stick.

Combine in a mixing bowl:

half-cup butter or coconut oil
1 cup coconut sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed bananas (or just throw in 1-2 smooshy bananas and let your mixer do the work)
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder without aluminum
half teaspoon baking soda
half teaspoon sea salt
half teaspoon cinnamon or ground cloves
half cup of one of these: chocolate chips, raisins, dried cranberries, pecans, walnuts

Mix it all up and then smooth it out into your pan.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Easy!

Productive Morning in the Kitchen

Monday, June 24, 2013

Some days I get into the kitchen with a plan and it is a beautiful thing.

After my delicious morning smoothie I got to work:

I'm making homemade yogurt in the crock pot.

I made a batch of refrigerator oatmeal for my boys.

One pan of Banana Chocolate Chip Brownies.  (I had two elderly bananas that needed to be used up.)

A batch of Mediterranean Quinoa Salad.  (My go-to lunch and dinner this summer.  Throw it on a salad or eat it alone!)

5 pound of organic potatoes are baking in the oven.  Later today they will be turned into a delicious vegetarian casserole.

One pitcher of healthy lemonade.  (Today I also added lime juice.  So nice!)

And I had a whole lot of abandoned aging clementines that nobody is eating, so I decided that we would turn them into juice.  Voila!  Gorgeous and delicious.  I have drawer space now for something else that people actually do want to eat, and will have no trouble getting takers to drink the juice.

It feels good to have a plan, to use what I have on hand, and to piggyback various projects upon each other so that clean-up and appliance use is shared and maximized.

For instance:

--the Banana Choc. Chip Brownies called for butter, but I have quite a bit of coconut oil on hand, so I used that instead.

--the organic potatoes really needed to hurry up and get used, so I planned to make a casserole with them today.  (recipe here)

--I accidentally over-bought organic milk, so turning half a gallon of it into yogurt helps preserve it for another use.

--the clementines were actually given to us, but were getting old and the kids weren't enjoying the texture that much.  Since I already had the electric citrus juicer out, we decided to also use it for the clementines.  One of the kids came along and volunteered to do the juicing, because, you know, that's a fun thing!  :)

--the quinoa salad helped me use up one garden-fresh tomato and the last half of a cucumber.

--the oven was in use for baking the brownies, and then went on to bake the potatoes as well.  (only one pre-heating time needed, and there will be plenty of time for the taters to cool down before I take them on to the next step later today)

I love, love, love to use up the food I already have on hand!  Am I the only one who would enjoy successfully clearing the shelves of the freezer and pantry and not having to go to the store for a long, long time?!

Refrigerator Oatmeal in Large Quantities

You may have already seen the awesome, beautiful varieties of refrigerator oatmeal that are featured on The Yummy Life.  Fridge oatmeal has been a huge hit with my boys.  It has been a wonderful item to have on hand for breakfast and snacks all the time.

One thing that I did not find very convenient for me was to make the oatmeal right inside the jars.  It was hard to mix up, and seemed to not be as convenient as it sounded like it would be.  For my family I make a bunch most days, so I figured out the portions to get it done the quick-and-easy way.  This is my base recipe, and then you can tweak it for various flavors as you like.

In a mixing bowl combine:

2 cups yogurt  (I buy organic milk and then make my own yogurt in the crock pot)
2 and 2/3 cup milk (you can use rice, almond, hemp, oat, coconut, or dairy milk)
12 teaspoons chia seeds
8 teaspoons honey or coconut sugar (or to taste)

And then you build from there.

The most common one that I make includes two bananas, cubed up smallish, plus a variety of freeze-dried fruits that we have on hand.  Most commonly we use mango, pineapple, and pear.  The freeze-dried items soak up some of the moisture, as do the chia seeds, so the end product isn't runny or soupy. This also allows me to get away with using my homemade yogurt instead of thicker Greek yogurt that would cost a lot more.  Even without freeze-dried foods, you can go ahead with the regular yogurt, possibly cutting back the milk to just 2 cups.

Once the base of yogurt, milk, chia, and sweetener is done, I find that I can just wing it with how much stuff I add to it.  Also, I've found that the full half-pint jar can be a little too much for some in my family, so I tend to fill the jars about 3/4 of the way.  I get 9-10 jars out of this recipe.

Have you ever tried refrigerator oatmeal?  What variety do you love the most?