Eila’s Mini Loaded Potato Skins

photo-4-136_featuredwebLooking for a fun, easy-to-eat appetizer to serve to your Super Bowl fans? This week our friend Eila Johnson, The Full Plate Blog, shares a crowd pleasing big game recipe . . . These mini loaded potato skins are hearty enough for the most macho, and can be made healthy enough for those trying to stick to their New Year’s resolutions. “When I serve a baked potato bar as dinner for my family, I set out a bunch of different topping options… with these bit-sized appetizers, I fill some with everything from fresh veggies to bacon. I’ve recreated that colorful array of topping options with these mini potato skins,” says Johnson.
Mini Loaded Potato Skins
(Makes about 40 pieces)

  • 28 oz bag baby Yukon Gold or red potatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese (divided)
  • 1 cup Stewart’s store-made fresh salsa*
  • ½ cup bacon bits (or crisp cooked and crumbed bacon)
  • ½ cup organic sour cream
  • ¼ cup fresh chives, minced

*Stewart’s own salsa is found by their store-made prepared foods, to the left of the deli counter
Preheat oven to 400°F. Drizzle olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Roll the potatoes around on the sheet so they are lightly covered in oil. Bake the potatoes until just tender, about 20 minutes; flipping halfway so one side doesn’t get too browned. Then cool potatoes completely. {While the potatoes are cooking, you can cook/crumble your bacon, unless you are using bacon bits, which are ready to go.}
Once cool, slice each potato in half lengthwise, and then carefully hollow out each one, using a melon baller or small spoon to remove 2/3 of the flesh, placing it in a medium mixing bowl. {Reserve potato ‘innards’ for another use.}
Sprinkle ¼ cup of the shredded cheese, equally divvied up among all of the potato skins. Next, fill the hollowed skins with Stewart’s Fresh Salsa. Then divide a sprinkling of bacon between each of the skins. And finally, sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of shredded cheddar among the tops of the potato skins.  {Potatoes can be made ahead to this point. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. Bring to room temp before baking.}
When ready to serve, return the potatoes to the 400°F oven and bake until the filling heats through and cheese is melted, 7-10 minutes. Serve warm or room temp with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of chives.
New Canaan mom, Eila Johnson, writes the full plate blog. The site, which was named to Forbes’ Top 100 Sites for Women, Forbes’ Top 10 Parenting and Homemaking Sites, and was ranked in the Top 5 “Foodie Mom Blogs” on a major parenting site in both 2012 and 2013, teaches busy parents how to make simple, nourishing recipes for their families and friends.
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Simple Beef & Kidney Bean Chili

chili8-3-710This week we are featuring a seasonally-apropos Beef Chili recipe by The Parsley Thief. Seek comfort from the cold with this simple and delicious take on beef chili and with the NFL playoffs in full gear and the Super Bowl right around the corner this recipe doubles as a great big game crowd pleaser!
Simple Beef & Kidney Bean Chili
I have been searching for a really simple & delicious crockpot chili recipe for a long time now. Not something exotic, or gourmet. Just super basic.
This is the recipe I was looking for. And, with Super Bowl Sunday around the corner, I figured now would be a good time to post it. You can play with the spices as much as you’d like. I kept them pretty low key, as I was serving this to the whole family & I wanted everyone to enjoy it.
If you don’t have a slow-cooker, you can cook the chili in a stockpot over low heat for 2 hours. It will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days {it tastes even better after sitting a day, or more}. It can also be frozen for up to a month.


Begin by finely chopping 2 medium onions, cutting 1 red bell pepper into 1/2″ chunks & mincing 6 cloves of garlic. Heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a large stockpot, over medium heat & add in the chopped veggies, along with a whole bunch of spice. You’ll need a 1/4 cup chili powder, 1 tablespoon of cumin, 2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon of dried oregano & 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. You can adjust the heat of the chili by omitting, or reducing the red pepper flakes & cayenne…or, adding more, if desired. Saute the veggies & spices until they are beginning to soften & brown {about 10 minutes}.










Add 2 pounds of ground beef, raise the heat to medium high & cook, until no longer pink {about 5 minutes}. Transfer to slow cooker.



Add in 2 {15 ounce} cans of red kidney beans {drained & rinsed},


1 {28 ounce} can of fire roasted diced tomatoes and 1 {28 ounce} can of pureed tomatoes. Give the mixture a stir & cook for 4 hours on high.


Serve with lots of yummy condiments. Such as, fresh diced tomatoes, diced avocado, sliced scallions, chopped red onion, chopped cilantro & shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese.

Simple Beef & Kidney Bean Chili

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated magazine; March 2003
Serves 8-10
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2″ chunks
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pounds ground beef
2 {15 ounce} cans red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
1 {28 ounce} can fire roasted tomatoes
1 {28 ounce} can pureed tomatoes
kosher salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, oregano & cayenne pepper. Saute until the vegetables begin to soften & brown {about 10 minutes}. Add in the ground beef & cook until it is no longer pink, breaking it up as it cooks {about 5 minutes}. Transfer the beef mixture to a slow cooker. Add in the kidney beans, diced tomatoes & pureed tomatoes. Stir & cook for 4 hours on high. Season with kosher salt & pepper, if needed & serve with optional condiments…Such as, diced fresh tomatoes, diced avocado, sliced scallions, chopped red onion, chopped cilantro, sour cream, Monterey jack, or cheddar cheese. The chili is best made a day ahead & can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen up to 1 month.
Click here for the printable recipe.

Super Bowl Side – Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread

iStock_000021952159Small (1)Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread

Lisa Corrado, a long-time resident of New Canaan, is the owner of Lisa Corrado Nutrition  and author of a Moment in a Busy Life blog. This week, she shares a great cornbread recipe that will be perfect for your Super Bowl Chili. You can make this cornbread as hot or not as you like. Heck, leave the jalapeños out if you want. What she loves about this recipe is that it is much lower in fat than regular cornbread and very delicious. It freezes well too.
Serves 8 – 10
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 eggs
¾ cup plain nonfat yogurt
½ cup sweet potato purée (try baby food)
1/8 cup canola oil
2 jalapeños chopped (remove seeds for milder heat)
1 cup shredded part-skim sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
Preheat oven to 350º. Prepare an 8-inch square or 9-inch round baking pan by spraying with cooking spray, or lightly oiling with oil. In a large bowl, beat the brown sugar, eggs, yogurt, sweet potato and oil until frothy. Stir in jalapeños and ½ cup cheese. Sift the dry ingredients together into a smaller bowl. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just mixed. Pour into prepared baking pan. Top with remaining cheese. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve hot or at room temperature.