More Onions?

Do you ever wonder why so many of our recipes here at Spend Smart. Eat Smart. have onions in them? Just last week I shared our August recipe of the month, Cool Cucumber Salad, which is another recipe with onions in it. Below I share my top three reasons for including onions in recipes and my top three onion-containing recipes.

I include onions in recipes because:

  1. Onions add flavor. Cooked or raw, onions add flavor to recipes without adding salt or special ingredients.
  2. Onions are inexpensive and available year-round. Since they are easy to store, onions can be found at a reasonable price any time of year.
  3. Onions freeze well. I do not enjoy the tears that come with chopping onions, but I do like that I can chop a large amount of onions at one time and store them in the freezer. Then, when I need onions for a recipe, I just reach into my freezer and dump in some onions.

My favorite onion recipes are:

  1. Chicken Fajitas – I love onions and peppers cooked together in a skillet.
  2. Chicken and Rice Soup – This is a recipe where I rely on my frozen, chopped onions.
  3. Cowboy Caviar – The flavor and crunch of a fresh onion is a perfect complement to the milder beans and corn in this recipe.

Here at Spend Smart. Eat Smart. we think onions are a pretty great vegetable and we encourage you to try using one in your cooking this week. If you would like to know more about how to chop an onion, check out the short video above.

Enjoy!

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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Cool Cucumber Salad

When the weather gets hot, I rarely feel like cooking a meal. I want to be able to reach into my refrigerator for something that will cool me off and fill me up. Our August recipe of the month is Cool Cucumber Salad and it is a cool recipe for a hot summer day.

The base for this recipe is chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions. Stir in some feta cheese, oil, lemon juice, and ground black pepper and you have a side dish or a whole meal. I like to let this salad cool in the refrigerator for a few hours before eating it to let the flavors come together. I also tend to have more cucumbers than the recipe calls for, so I double or triple this recipe depending on how many cucumbers I have. This recipe can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days.

The three vegetables in this recipe are currently in season so they are plentiful in gardens, farmers markets, and stores. If you have a lot of any of these vegetables, check out our produce basics below for information on how to store, clean, and use them.

Try a bowl of this salad for lunch or dinner on a hot summer day, I think it will be just what you need to cool off and fill up.

Enjoy!

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

More Posts - Website

Potato Recipes: Healthy, Cheap and Tasty

Do not forget about potatoes when you are looking for a healthy and cheap meal that will fill you up.  I especially like baked and roasted potatoes and try to cook extra so I have a good start for another meal later in the week.

This month’s featured recipe is Loaded Potato Soup.  When you use already-cooked potatoes, you can have this soup on the table in less than 15 minutes.  The recipe calls for peas, but you can substitute other frozen vegetables such as corn, broccoli or mixed vegetables.

The key to this soup and other great potatoes is to BAKE them.  Do not steam them by wrapping them in foil to bake in the oven or paper towels in the microwave.  Check out our video for step by step directions for the Best Baked Potatoes.

Loaded Potato Soup

Ingredients

  • 4 Best Baked Potatoes or 1 1/2 pounds potatoes, cooked
  • 1 tablespoon tub margarine
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper (optional)
  • 2 cups Homemade Chicken Broth, or one 14.5-ounce can low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup nonfat milk
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 slices (3 ounces) American cheese
  • Optional garnishes: Sliced green onion, bacon bits, and/or shredded cheese

Instructions

  1. Remove skins and mash potatoes into small pieces to make about 3 cups; set aside.
  2. Melt margarine in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onion and green pepper, if desired. Cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the broth and heat to a boil. Stir in milk, potatoes, peas, and pepper; heat through, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the cheese slices, cooking and stirring about 2 minutes until cheese melts. Add more milk if soup is thicker than you prefer.
  5. Add garnishes, if desired, and serve immediately.

 

What’s Good about Hash Browns?

Are they inexpensive?  For sure.
Are they healthy?  That depends.

  • If your hash browns swim in oil as they are prepared and then get smothered in cheese … NO.
  • If they are low in fat and sodium … YES.
  • If they have added vegetables … EVEN BETTER!  We’ve explained exactly how to make them that way on the SpendSmart. Eat Smart recipe page.

The Healthy Hash Browns recipe  calls for Best Baked Potatoes, because one secret to great hash browns is starting with great baked potatoes. We do this by baking the potatoes, unwrapped, at a high temperature. (Save the foil for another recipe!)

You can keep baked potatoes for up to three days.  Make sure you let them cool, then place them in a plastic bag and refrigerate.  (If you put them in hot, they will sweat in the bag. Soggy is not good. Dry is not either, so do use the bag.)

TIP – Keep baked potatoes in mind when you already have your oven heated to 425°F. You’ll save energy  if you do not heat your oven just for the potatoes.

In fact, you can do even more than make hash browns with your extra baked potatoes…

  • Add to scrambled eggs with some diced ham and fresh spinach for a yummy egg dish
  • Warm and top with leftover chili, cooked vegetables and cheese, or spaghetti sauce
  • Create a soup with vegetables, legumes, and a low fat vegetable broth.

 

Healthy Hash Browns

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
  • 4 cups diced Best Baked Potatoes, skins on
  • 1 onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a deep 12-inch skillet over medium heat.
  2. When the oil is hot, add the potatoes, onion, carrot, and minced garlic (if using). Cook about 5 minutes or until boom is golden brown. Flip or stir and continue cooking a few minutes.
  3. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder (if used).

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