Black ‘n’ Blue Cheese Burger Stuffed Baked Potato

Do you remember those divided plates you used to have when you were a kid?  They had cartoons in each section like this one from Sesame Street…

I may have to buy this... I love it.

I may have to buy this… I love it.

To this day, this is how I prefer to eat my food.  Divided.  Separated.  Nothing touching.

What I’ve realized is that you are either the type of person who likes messy meals, the kind where you can smush all their food together, “it all goes down the same tube, of course”… OR … you like your food separated.  You like to experience each flavor on its own before even considering mixing them together.  If you’re that person, you know you’re looking at that Sesame Street plate and thinking about getting one just like I am.

With all of that being said, I believe I have one exception:  I love a good stuffed baked potato.  The baked potato is the perfect vessel for any type of food smush.  It just tastes so good when you put loads of toppings on there and get it all mashed together with the insides.

It’s totally not like me, but for you, baked potato, I will make this exception.

My latest stuffed baked potato creation was inspired by one of my favorite burgers:  the Black & Blue.  Spicy Blackened seasoning combined with Creamy Blue Cheese is just heavenly.

Black ‘n’ Blue Cheese Burger Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Makes 2 Servings

Ingredients: 

2 Russet or other Baking Potatoes

8 oz Lean Ground Beef (I used 90/10)

2 Tablespoons (divided) Blackened Seasoning*

1/2 Onion, sliced thin

1 Jalapeno, cut in half and then into thin slices

1 Tablespoon Butter

1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1-2 oz or 1/2 cup Blue Cheese Crumbles

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil Mayo

1 Tablespoon Fat Free Sour Cream

1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder

1/4 teaspoon Onion Powder

Garnish:  2 Tablespoons Butter Substitute, Freeze Dried (or fresh) Chives

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Scrub your potatoes under cold water and then pat them dry.  You can rub them with a little olive oil and sea salt if you’d like.  Cut a line down the middle using a sharp knife so the potato doesn’t burst while it’s cooking.  Place directly on the oven rack (you can place foil on the rack below to prevent mess) and cook for about 45 min.  You can tell the potato is done when you squeeze the middle of the potato.  It will give in very easily when it’s done cooking.

2.  Meanwhile, caramelize your onions and jalapeno.  Melt the 1T of butter and olive oil in a medium-sized pan over medium heat.  Add the onions and jalapeno strips.  Cook over medium or medium low, stirring occasionally until they become caramelized.  

3.  Take the ground beef and if it’s frozen, scrape into pieces with two forks in a large pan over medium heat.  If it’s raw, chop while it’s cooking in the pan.  Once the meat is chopped, add the blackened seasoning.  Start with 1T and stir into the beef.  Once the beef is cooked through (no longer pink), taste a piece and add more blackened seasoning to your liking.  

4.  Combine the Blue Cheese, Mayo, Sour Cream, Garlic Powder, and Onion Powder in a small bowl.  Stir and set aside in the refrigerator.  

5.  Assemble the Stuffed Potato:  Open the potato by squeezing on both ends (wearing an oven mit!)  You can add a dab of butter or butter substitute onto the potato.  Add half of the ground beef, then half the onion mixture, and a big dollop of the blue cheese sauce.  Top with chives if you’d like.  

*You can use store-bought or try this homemade recipe.  I made it for another dish a month ago and put the rest in a ziplock which is what I used

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Told ya it was smush!  MMM!!

Told ya it was smush! MMM!!

This is definitely one recipe I can get behind mixing everything together.  It was so good and really messy.  I served these colossal potatoes with some fresh broccoli to make me feel a little healthier.  Adding green to something unhealthy totally erases calories.  Duh.

Check out these other fab Stuffed Baked Potatoes too!  … they’re kinda my thing.

 

Buffalo Chicken Soup

We’re a little spicy food obsessed over here in the It’s Good to be the Cook family… if you couldn’t tell.

The latest and greatest creation, also which has now been named one of Dave’s “Top 5” favorite dinners (whoa!) is this Buffalo Chicken Soup recipe.  It’s got all of the good stuff you’d normally find in and around and dipped with wings put together in a warm, hearty soup.

What could be bad?? (Not rhetorical… the answer is NOTHING!  🙂 )

Buffalo Chicken Soup

Recipe based on:  Bake Your Day

Serves:  4

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup uncooked Orzo Pasta
  • 2 teaspoons EVOO
  • 1/2 Sweet Onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 Carrots, peeled, and cut into half moons
  • 2 stalks Celery, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Ranch Dressing Seasoning Mix (you can get in the salad dressing aisle in little $1 packets)
  • 1 teaspoon Freeze-Dried Chives (my new fav thing ever)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh Cilantro, divided
  • 32 ounces Low-Sodium, FF, Chicken Stock
  • 1 cup Frank’s Buffalo Wing Sauce*
  • 1/2 cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded (red. fat)
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 2 cups Cooked Chicken Breast, shredded/”pulled” **
  • ¼ cup blue cheese crumbles
Instructions:
  1. Cook orzo according to package directions until about half way done. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven (yay I got to use mine!!). Sauté yellow onion, garlic, freeze-dried chives in the olive oil for 5 minutes until the onions soften up a bit.  Stir so the garlic does not burn.
  3. Add carrots, celery, ranch mix and 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro. Stir and saute until the carrots are starting to soften.  **Meanwhile, this is a good time that you can cook your chicken if you haven’t yet! I just cooked it in a sprayed pan with some salt and pepper sprinkled on.**
  4. Once the veggies are nice and soft, add chicken broth, buffalo sauce, cheddar, parmesan and shredded chicken (i shredded with two forks). Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until the carrots are fully tender.  Bring to a boil, add the orzo, and stir until the orzo is cooked through.
  6. Serve in a big bowl with a sprinkle of blue cheese crumbles and cilantro.

I decided to plug this recipe into my nutrition calculator that I just LOVE… just to see how “bad” this was.  You’ll be happy to hear this soup clocks in at UNDER 400 CALORIES!!  3-4 Buffalo wings generally bring in about 500 calories and (my favorite) Buffalo Chicken Dip can bring in almost 300 calories in 5 Tablespoons without including chips!  This soup is a great alternative without losing any flavor!  YUM!

…I may have to replace my famous Buff Chick Dip with this soup for the Superbowl this year!

Everything gettin' all toasty in my new dutch oven!!

Everything gettin’ all toasty in my new dutch oven!!

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YUM!  The blue cheese gets all melty when you mix it in.

YUM! The blue cheese gets all melty when you mix it in.

Buff Chick Soup

You may also like…

Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Baked Potato

Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Baked Potato

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo Spiced Peanuts

Buffalo Spiced Peanuts

Chicken Tomato Soup w/ Gorganzola

Oh right, I forgot about you.

It’s again been way too long since I’ve last blogged about all of the fabulous things I’m cooking up.  Life has been crazy with the Holidays, moving, New Years, Stella, and just all around too busy for blogging (and even sometimes too busy for cooking!).

Last night, I came home from work and was determined to put something together that was easy enough to share with you.

I turned to my handy dandy cookbooks of recipes I’ve saved to try, and picked out this soup recipe from an old Cooking Light magazine.  It’s rare that I follow recipes word for word, but for this recipe I did- just another reason it’s so easy.

Chicken Tomato Soup w/ Gorganzola

Original from:  Cooking Light 

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon Olive Oil

1 teaspoon Minced Garlic

1 cup Celery, diced

1 teaspoon (ish) Crushed Red Pepper

3/4 lb (I used 2 Breasts) Shredded Cooked Chicken**

1 can Diced Tomatoes, undrained

14 oz Fat Free Low Sodium Chicken Broth

1/2 cup Gorganzola Cheese, crumbled

Directions:

1.  Heat Olive Oil in a large non-stick saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add Garlic and saute for one minute.  

2.  Add Celery, Crushed Red Pepper, and Cooked/Shredded chicken.  Cook for 6 minutes stirring until it’s heated through.  

3.  Add tomatoes and broth.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 8 minutes.  Serve and sprinkle with Gorganzola.

**I wanted to mention that this recipe is super simple but it does ask for pre-cooked chicken.  I didn’t see this and had to turn off the oil/garlic while I cooked my chicken real quick.  I wanted to make sure you noticed this!**

Yummy Hunk O Blue Cheese!

Yummy Hunk O Blue Cheese!

This soup was great for leftovers too!

This soup was great for leftovers too!

 

So, the soup was surprisingly awesome.  I was skeptical at first, thinking it was too simple, but the broth is REALLY good!  I couldn’t believe I didn’t need any other seasonings besides the red pepper.  The only thing I’d say is that this took no time to cook- so be hungry when you get started!  I also would add more Gorganzola next time (I think I WAY underestimated!).  YUM!

I hope you all had a very happy new year, and I can’t wait to get my life together so I can bring more recipes and restaurant reviews to you!

Here are some other recipes you may like:

Creamy Tomato Balsamic Soup

Creamy Tomato Balsamic Soup

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

Spinach, Pasta, and Pea Soup

Spinach, Pasta, and Pea Soup

Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Baked Potato

I have a new obsession:  Shredded Chicken.

But first, my original inspiration for making dinner on this particular night was a recipe I have had my eyes on for like, a year.  What’s really weird is that the post on The Girl Who Ate Everything came out exactly 2 years ago today!  I was finally all ready to make her Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese when I spotted a big bag of potatoes.  I totally forgot I even had them.  Hm… what can I do with the potatoes?  I got it:  Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Baked Potatoes.  YUP- that’s it!

The inspiration! From The Girl Who Ate Everything- one of my favorite blogs

So, for this recipe… you really only need to use one chicken breast for every two servings (potatoes) if you’re using the normal sized chicken breasts.  If you use the thin sliced cutlets, you probably want to use one chicken per potato.  Everything else has no measurements because you can really do whatever you want with it!

Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Ingredients:

Baking Potato

Chicken Breast

Carrot

Celery

Cilantro & Green Onion

Hot Sauce- Frank’s… duh

Butter

Blue Cheese

Blue Cheese Dressing (I super-duper recommend THIS dressing… it’s NOT bad for you at all and it tastes amazing)

Directions:

1.  Wash the potatoes and pat them dry.  Cut a line down the middle (lengthwise) so the potatoes don’t burst.  Put them right in the oven that’s preheated to 400 degrees.  Don’t use any oil, salt, foil, etc.  Just stick them in there, cut-side-up and bake them for an hour.

2.  Meanwhile, cook the chicken breasts either by boiling them or sprinkle a touch of salt and pepper and heat them on a cooking spray coated grill pan.  Remove from heat and cool.

3.  Now, chop up some celery and carrots.  I used a handful of baby carrots and two celery stalks.  Put aside. 

4.  Take the chicken and shred them using two forks.  Put the shredded chicken in a medium-sized saucepan with a Tablespoon of butter and as much hot sauce as you’d like.  I probably started with 1/4 cup.  Let the butter melt and mix everything together.  Keep on warm/low heat.

5.  Remove potatoes from the oven.  You’ll know when they’re done when a fork can easily go in and be removed.  Squeeze each end of the potato to open up the cut you did earlier.  Stuff with a spoonful or two of the chicken, then put on some celery and carrots, and a teaspoon of Blue Cheese Crumbles.  Repeat.  Now garnish with some Cilantro and Green Onion, Hot Sauce and Blue Cheese Dressing.  

Shredded chicken soaking in the butter and hot sauce mixture

This is the Blue Cheese Dressing I was telling you about- I really like it, and they have a few other flavors too. It’s in the refrigerated salad/dressing section

Steamin’ hot!

I want another now! So yummy!

So, this ended up being a great idea, right?  OMG.  YUMMMM.  First of all, it tasted just as good as it looks in these pictures.  For real.  Also, I had so much chicken leftover, that I was able to use it in two other meals I made that week.  Shredding the chicken makes it look like there’s so much more… and I guess it makes it last longer too.  The sauce can also get all nice and soaked up in the chicken.  This one’s a winner, and I’ll DEF be making it again.

Now, if I can only get my act together to make that Buff Chick Macaroni and Cheese!

SBS Salad

“It’s a salad… only bigger… with lots of stuff in it”… Elaine Benes said it right when she made the “Big Salad” a hit back in the ’90’s.  In my house, “big salad” night is always quite the production.  Everyone is in the kitchen, rinsing, chopping, and even sometimes cooking to prepare their own version of the big salad.  You can always find bacon in my Dad’s, onion in my Mom’s, and blue cheese in mine.  We all have our favorites and this dinner is an easy one to personalize.  

If you didn’t catch these before, check out two of my favorite salads:  The Fajita Salad & the Mish-Mosh Salad.  We had just gone food shopping this week so our fresh ingredients were plentiful and this salad turned out beautiful!  I love when I manage to get so many colors in one bowl.  

I call this one (oh, and naming them for the blog makes the entire process so much more fun) the SBS Salad and boy was it delicious!!

SBS Salad (Strawberry, Blue, & Shrimp)

Recipe by:  It’s Good to be the Cook
Ingredients:
2 Cups Romaine, chopped
5 Shrimp, cooked, chilled, chopped
2 Tablespoons Blue Cheese Crumbles
3 Strawberries, washed & sliced
1/2 Carrot, shaved with a vegetable peeler
2 Tablespoons Purple Cabbage, sliced
1 Hot Cherry Pepper, seeded & sliced
1 Tablespoon Sliced & Roasted Almonds
5 Yellow Grape Tomatoes, sliced in half
5 Fat Free Croutons
2 Tablespoons Ken’s Light Asian Sesame (my FAV dressing)

I’m pretty sure that this salad is better than Elaine’s at Monk’s!  YUM!  

What’s your favorite “big salad” topping?  

Gypsy Saloon

What every girl needs sometimes is a GIRLS NIGHT!  Lucky for me, one of my girlfriends Colleen is in agreement that every good girls night should start with some GOOD FOOD!

Colleen took me to a small bar in Conshohocken called The Gypsy Saloon.  We got there pretty late, so there was already a DJ blasting some dance music.  There were still a few tables left for dinner service, so we picked one in the corner so we could chat.

With the exception of the LOUD music, the place was awesome.  It took us forever to decide on what to order since everything on the menu sounded delish.  We started off with drinks and an order of the Island Grill’s Crabby Fries.  The fries were unbelievable.  I actually can’t stop thinking about them!  I’m afraid to say it but they are better than Chickie’s and Pete’s FAMOUS Crab Fries.  They’re that good!  The fries were perfectly hot and crispy, and they were tossed with huge pieces ofOldBay sautéed crabmeat.  Colleen had been here before and made a special request to add the “Italian Fondue” side of cheese dip that comes along with the other type of fries.  MMM!

Unbelievable Old Bay Fries WITH tons of Crabmeat

For our main dishes, Colleen ordered the Blue Cheese Flatbread and I ordered the Blackened Salmon.

The size of the serving of salmon on my dish was huge!  It was blackened and served over lobster mashed potatoes and sautéed baby bok choy.  They also topped it off with a reduced balsamic drizzle which was a nice tangy counter to the overpowering flavors from the blackening seasoning.

Blackened Salmon w/ Lobster Mac & Cheese and Baby Bok Choy

Colleen’s Blue Cheese Flatbread was mouthwatering.  Literally- I was still on my no-cheese diet and refused to try it.  I LOVE blue cheese and this flatbread had my name written all over it!  The flatbread was smothered with melted blue cheese and topped with caramelized onions and roasted red grapes- how interesting!  Colleen said it was really yummy.

Blue Cheese Flatbread with Roasted Grapes

I loved girls night, and we plan to have another one soon (so we can try Gypsy Saloon’s signature Lobster Mac & Cheese) !!

Blue Cheese Spinach Orzo

Dave and I have been watching a lot of Restaurant Impossible lately.  Robert Irvine is insane… but I think he’s the best!  What I want to know is… with the amount of time he spends renovating these restaurants- how on earth does the man stay in such amazing shape?!  He’s huge!  After watching an episode one night, I was inspired to try one of his dishes on the Food Network website.  His recipe for Blue Cheese & Spinach Orzo won out, and this would be the first time I ever tried making orzo!

Look at those guns!

Blue Cheese is one of my favorites.  Over the past 2 or 3 years, my dad has been addicted to blue cheese, Roquefort in particular.  We always have a nice big hunk in the fridge, and it’s become a staple in my dinner salad.  It just doesn’t taste right without it!  With blue cheese on the mind, this recipe seemed perfect to try out.  The recipe looked like it would make way too much so I made some modifications.

Blue Cheese & Spinach Orzo

Ingredients:

1 ½ tablespoons Butter

1 ½ tablespoons Flour

½ cup Skim Milk

4 Servings Orzo (go by serving size on box), cooked

½ Cup Reduced Fat Gorgonzola

1 tablespoon Roquefort Cheese

Pinch Pepper

Pinch Salt

1 bag Fresh Spinach

1 cup Grape Tomatoes, halved

The funny thing is, I started prepping the ingredients for this dish before realizing I had to make a roux!  This is another first for me in this recipe.  I was nervous but I followed his instructions (as carefully as if he was standing over my shoulder in my own episode of Restaurant Impossible) and it turned out great.

Directions:

Put the butter in a saucepan and heat on the stove (medium high).  Once the butter melts, turn the temperature down and add the flour.  Stir continuously to create the roux, which should be pale blonde in color.  Once you reach that point, reduce the heat even more (low) and add the milk, stirring into the roux.  Continue to stir until the roux has thickened.

Now, add your blue cheeses a little at a time, until it is well blended.  Season with the salt & pepper as you desire (light on the salt, because blue cheese is salty!) and remove from the heat.  Continue to stir.

Once the sauce is prepared, add your cooked orzo, your fresh spinach, and the chopped cherry tomatoes- I used orange grape tomatoes… they looked amazing in there!  Incorporate all the ingredients into the sauce.  Your orzo is now ready to serve!  Good ol’ Robert Irvine says this recipe should have a shelf life of 5 days, so double it up and have leftovers!

This recipe was so simple, even though I had to make my first roux.  I also loved the colors that the spinach and tomatoes added to the dish.  I hope that I can find those orange grape tomatoes at the market again- they were so yummy (see I told you I love them now)!

The finished product!

Happy Friday, everyone!