Tag Archives: comfort food

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Whenever we had steak growing up, which was a special treat, we nearly always had twice baked potatoes to go with it. I absolutely love them, but I’m always looking for ways to make classic comfort foods a bit healthier. I decided to try making twice baked potatoes with sweet potatoes. Because the flavors are so different, however, the normal bacon, cheese, sour cream, butter mix-ins just didn’t seem to work. So here’s my take on healthier (and slightly more gourmet) twice baked potatoes.

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

5 medium sweet potatoes
¾ cup sliced mushrooms
2 cups fresh spinach
1 cup sliced onions
3 slices precooked bacon, crumbled (this is a healthier option than regular bacon—turkey bacon works too)
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
2-3 oz crumbled reduced fat blue cheese
1 tsp sugar
1½ tbsp olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes or until fork tender.

2. While the potatoes bake, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add sliced onions and cook until translucent. Sprinkle in the sugar, stir, and continue to cook the onions until they are brown and tender. Once done, put the onions in a bowl and set aside.

3. In the same sauté pan, heat the rest of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and spinach and cook until soft and wilted. Add the vegetables to the same bowl as the onions.

4. Remove the potatoes from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Once cool enough to touch, slice each sweet potato in half and scoop out the insides, keeping the skins intact. Put the scooped out potato into a large mixing bowl.

5. Add the onions, mushrooms, spinach, yogurt, salt, and pepper to the scooped out potatoes and mix well. Fill each of the potato skins evenly with some of the mixture. Top each one with blue cheese.

6. Return the potatoes to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Chicken and Dumplings

Growing up in southern Virginia, this comforting dish was a staple at our dinner table the moment the temperature dropped. I consider myself something of a connoisseur when it comes to chicken and dumplings, so when I came across a healthier version in Cooking Light, I wasn’t expecting much.

How could this low-cal version possibly compare to my beloved (and now closed *sniff sniff!) Rodman’s Bones & Buddy’s? I’d say it compared pretty well! I made a couple of changes to the original recipe to make it a bit easier and to up the veggie count. You need to try this one before the winter’s out—trust me, you won’t be disappointed (Mom, I’m talking to you!).

Chicken and Dumplings
Adapted from Cooking Light 

1 cup chopped onion
1 tsp minced garlic
¼ cup dry sherry
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
4 cups fat-free, low sodium chicken broth
1 can condensed, reduced-fat, reduced-sodium cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
4 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, green beans, and corn)
¼ cup water
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 cups Bisquick mix
2/3 cup skim milk

1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray.  Add onion and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes.

2. Stir in the next five ingredients (sherry through soup) and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and bring back up to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 35 minutes.

3. Stir in the frozen vegetables.

4. In a small bowl, whisk together the water and the cornstarch, and then add the mixture to the pot, stirring well.

5. In another bowl, mix together the Bisquick and the milk. Drop the dough in spoonfuls into the pot.

6. Bring the chicken mixture to a simmer and continue to cook for 20 minutes, turning over the dumplings and stirring occasionally.

7. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes or until the dumplings are done. 

Southwestern Mac and Cheese

It’s no secret that kids love mac and cheese, but it’s not exactly a well-balanced, healthy meal on its own. So I’m always looking for ways to sneak in the good stuff under cover of cheesy goodness. I recently used the sun-dried tomato mozzarella Laughing Cow Light cheese in pasta and added spinach and chicken to make it a meal.

Below, I use the Queso Chipotle variety to make a yummy southwestern mac and cheese. You can use whatever veggies and/or meat you want to really make this a meal your family will love!

Southwestern Mac and Cheese

12 oz veggie pasta
4 wedges of Laughing Cow Light Queso Chipotle cheese
¼ cup skim milk
1 cup corn
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup canned or fresh chopped tomatoes
2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
Olive oil

1. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Drain and set aside.

2.  In a large sauté pan, heat about a ½ tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until nearly done. Stir in the mushrooms and continue cooking until the chicken is done all the way through.

3. Turn the heat to medium-low and add in the pasta, corn, black beans, tomatoes, cheese, and milk. Combine all the ingredients and continue stirring until the cheese has melted and everything is heated through.

Note: You can save a bit of time by using frozen, cooked grilled chicken strips, such as Tyson Grilled and Ready Chicken. You will still need to sauté it until it’s heated through, but it should only take 2-3 minutes.