Loaded Potato Soup

Our March recipe of the month is Loaded Potato Soup. Potato soup is a favorite in my home. It comes together pretty quickly and it makes a filling meal in one bowl.

My favorite thing about potato soup is that this recipe easily adjusts to make more or less depending on our needs. If I want to have leftovers throughout the week, I double this recipe. I have also found this freezes well, so I sometimes make a double batch and freeze some for a future meal. On the other hand, if you are cooking for one or two, you can cut this recipe in half to make a smaller batch.

My family’s favorite thing about potato soup is that they can add all kinds of toppings. Shredded cheese, diced ham, and soup crackers are their top choices. Though they would also like crumbled bacon, sliced green onions, or our homemade croutons (click this link to find the recipe). You can choose your favorite toppings to make this soup your own.

Find the full recipe for Loaded Potato Soup here: https://spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/recipe/loaded-potato-soup-2/

Enjoy!

Justine Hoover

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

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Pass the Toppings – It’s Chili Time!

Last week Jody showed us how packaged foods are a big source of sodium for most of us and how we can use the Nutrition Facts Label to see how much sodium a food has in it. Another way to stay on top of how much sodium we eat is to cook more at home from fresh ingredients. Canned soup is a staple for many of us. The canned varieties are convenient, but are often high in sodium. As it turns out, homemade soup is usually very easy to make and you can cook it once and eat it for several meals. This week I have done a recipe round-up of my favorite chili recipes on our website. I have to be honest and share that I do not like chili that has a whole bunch of tomato in it. I prefer a little bit of tomato or even none at all, so you will see that reflected in my choices!

  • White Chili: Our recipe of the month is rich in tasty flavor and it keeps great in the freezer for quick meals.
  • Slow Cooker Pork Chili: This recipe is perfect for a day when you want to make a bunch of delicious food and have your home smell amazing. This recipe not only makes chili, but also some extra meat to keep for a future use like Shredded Pork Sandwiches.
  • Winter Black Bean Soup: I realize this is not exactly a chili recipe, but it checks all the boxes for me. It has beans, rich flavor and goes great with toppings like sour cream and limes. Also, you can use either canned or cooked dry beans in this recipe.

I find my favorites tend to be non-traditional chili recipes and our friends in Texas may disagree with what I have labeled as chili. What are your favorite types of chili? Share with us on our social media!

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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Pasta Fagioli Soup

Soup is one of my favorite foods and I especially love hot soup on a cold day. I often associate eating soup with family meals. For me, in the cold of winter, it is easier to slow down, make a big pot of soup and make more time for a family meal. This month, we are each going to share with you a favorite food memory. My favorite is not a single memory, but the combination of many memories throughout my life.

My family not only celebrates holidays together in the fall and winter, we also celebrate many birthdays. It is surprising how many of us were born in the cold weather months. Big pots of soup are often staples at these celebrations because they feed a large number of people and everyone in our family likes soup. I can remember many happy family celebrations sitting around a large table with bowls of soup – broccoli and cheese, potato, chicken noodle, and chili.

Our recipe of the month for December is a new soup I have put into the rotation for our family celebrations – Pasta Fagioli Soup. This soup has a tomato-flavored broth combined with pasta, sausage, beans, and vegetables. The flavor combination is delicious and the soup is filling. If you would like to add this soup to your rotation this winter, find it at the website below. Enjoy!

Justine Hoover

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

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Versatile Winter Vegetable

I moved to Iowa 11 years ago and still have a difficult time appreciating Midwest winters. Although I am not a fan of the snow and brutally cold temperatures, I do look forward to transitioning my family’s meals to dishes that bring us warmth and comfort during the colder months. Many of the comforting foods that are traditional in my family in the late fall and winter are rich and heavy. To add some variety, I have begun to incorporate recipes with winter squash to add in more vegetables throughout the week. Below are a few of my favorite recipes to use winter squash. 

  • Butternut Squash Enchiladas – These enchiladas are a creative way to use winter squash. I loved making these when our daughter was just beginning to try solid foods because the mashed squash was easy for her to eat.
  • Easy Roasted Veggies – Roasting veggies does not require a lot of prep or cooking. Pick out any type of squash to roast or try a combination of a few! I love to roast squash to use as a side dish and will add leftover roasted veggies to quesadillas and quiche.
  • Autumn Soup  – I love a good soup recipe in the fall and winter! This fall inspired soup is creamy and packed with flavor.
  • Wraps “Your Way”– I love using roasted butternut squash as the veggie for these wraps. A warm wrap in the winter hits the spot! Simply add your heated squash to a tortilla with hummus and kale to create a hearty lunch.

Winter squash can seem intimidating if you haven’t prepared one before. Before working with ISU Extension and Outreach, I would walk past winter squash in the produce department because I was unsure how to cook with them. Watch this video for step by step instructions on how to prepare winter squash at home. Grab winter squash next time you pick out produce- you won’t be disappointed!

Cheers to preparing squash this winter!

Katy Moscoso

Katy Moscoso is a Program Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. As a new mom she is always on the lookout for easy, healthy recipes to prepare for her family.

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Split Pea Soup

I am happy to share one of my favorite recipes with you today. I have made this Split Pea Soup recipe since my husband and I were first married. Now, quite a few years later, it made its way on to Spend Smart. Eat Smart.

Early on, my husband and I both drove long distances to and from work each day, so we were always very hungry and not interested in doing much cooking in the evenings. We would make Split Pea Soup on the weekend and the two of us had several weeknight meals for the following week. During that time, I enjoyed how this soup is actually even better as leftovers than it is when it is freshly made. In recent years, our commute time has decreased, giving us more time to make meals in the evenings. Now, after making this soup, I immediately divide it in half. Our family eats half of it for one or two meals and I freeze the other half for a quick meal on another night.

One thing to remember about this soup is that it thickens as it cools. This does not bother me because I enjoy thick soup; however, my husband prefers thinner soup. So, if you prefer a thinner soup like he does, you may want to add some water or broth when you reheat it.

To find the full recipe, visit Spend Smart. Eat Smart. at the following link: https://spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/recipe/split-pea-soup/

Enjoy!

Justine Hoover

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

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Chicken and Rice Soup

Welcome to the last month of 2020 and the last recipe of the month for this year – Chicken and Rice Soup. When we start working on these recipes several years in advance, we never know what might be going on when the recipe is finally published. This recipe turned out to be very timely – just as 2020 has been a struggle for so many of us, this recipe was a struggle to get published.

This recipe started as a vague idea. My husband prefers chicken and rice soup to chicken noodle soup, so that seemed like a good place to start. Once this recipe began to take shape, it started having problems right away. I had trouble getting it to meet our nutrition guidelines, the cooking time was not working out right, and it kept coming out too thick or too thin. On top of that, my family was getting very tired of eating chicken and rice soup. Once I got to the point of scrapping the whole recipe, my colleague Julie stepped in and volunteered to start testing the recipe with her family. Between Julie and I (and our very patient families) we finally made this recipe work.

Now that I am a few years removed from the struggle of this recipe, I can tell you all of the things I love about it:

  • It cooks in the slow cooker or the stove top. You can choose the method that works best for you.
  • It is an entire meal in one bowl. It is filled with vegetables, whole grains, and protein.
  • It freezes well. I have some of this soup in my freezer right now so that I can warm it up for lunch on a cold day.
  • It tastes really good. This is the most important thing, in my opinion.

I hope you give this recipe a try as we finish out 2020.

Enjoy!

Justine Hoover

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

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Fall Favorites

Fall has always been my favorite season. I love watching the leaves change color, being able to swap out my shorts for cozy knit sweaters and taking in all the fun fall activities. 

One of my family’s favorite activities is going to the orchard. Our two-year-old loves picking apples for us to bring home which means I need a variety of fall recipes to make sure the apples we pick don’t go to waste. Apple Cinnamon Bread, Hurry Up Baked Apples and Homemade Applesauce are some of our go-to recipes for apples. I love the aroma of cinnamon and cooked apples throughout our home during this time of year.

After visiting the orchard, I love coming home and warming up with a comforting meal. As the weather begins to shift and the air becomes crisper, I find myself reaching for more soup and slow cooker recipes. Below are a few of our favorite recipes to make after our visits to the orchard. Add some warm bread on the side for a nice, hearty meal.

After enjoying your favorite fall activity, try one of my family’s go-to fall recipes to bring you some extra comfort and warmth during this season.

Happy fall!

Katy Moscoso

Katy Moscoso is a Program Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. As a new mom she is always on the lookout for easy, healthy recipes to prepare for her family.

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

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What are Lentils?

Have you heard of lentils? Do you cook with them? I did not grow up eating lentils, so I did not know what they were until I started working for Iowa State. I learned that lentils are tiny, disc-shaped legumes. Legumes are plants that have seed pods, like beans and peas. In the kitchen, lentils are used as a quick-cooking and inexpensive plant protein that is tasty in main dishes or as a side dish.

If you are interested in learning more about lentils or cooking with them, we have you covered here at Spend Smart. Eat Smart. We have some great ways for you to use lentils in your kitchen:

Watch the video below to see my son, Kenny, and I make a batch of lentils for lunch. We served them wrapped in tortillas with shredded cheese, vegetables, and sour cream. They were a hit! Enjoy!

cooking with lentils

Justine Hoover

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

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Jody’s Top Picks

Last week Justine started our series on our favorite Spend Smart. Eat Smart. recipes. Today I’m excited to share a few of my family’s favorites. I have to admit, it took me a bit to decide which ones I wanted to share. I have a number of them saved under My Recipes on the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. app. To save a recipe, just find it in the app and click the heart icon near the top. It will be saved in your My Recipes list for easy access. Here are just a few of my top picks.

Main dish: Tamale Pie– This one wasn’t hard for me to choose as my favorite. I tell everyone about this recipe and make it often. It is easy to make and has great flavor. The leftovers (if there are any) are good too! 

Salad: Chicken Salad-I often make this using canned chicken so it comes together quickly. It’s good for a quick lunch or supper.

Soups: Mexican Chicken Soup– My family eats a lot of soup and this one is a favorite. The ingredients are ones that I can keep on hand, so I can make it if I need a last minute meal. 

Desserts: Peanut Butter Balls-My 6-year-old daughter LOVES these. She asks to make them weekly. I like to make a larger batch and freeze them. We eat them for dessert and as snacks. 

Snacks: Berry and Greens Smoothies-I make a batch of these to freeze and we eat them for breakfast. I like to take one to work with me and have for a mid-morning snack. 

If you haven’t already downloaded the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. app, do it today and start creating your list of favorites!

Peanut butter balls

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys spending time in the kitchen baking and preparing meals for her family. She does lots of meal planning to stay organized and feed her family nutritious meals.

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