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Cheesy Baked Potato Soup

2-1/2 pounds baking potatoes (4 potatoes)

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

6 cups milk

1 cup (4-ounces) shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese, divided

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup sour cream

3/4 cup chopped green onions, divided

6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled

Preheat oven to 375°. Pierce potatoes with a fork; bake for 1 hour or until tender. Cool. Peel and coarsely mash potatoes; discard skins. Place flour in a large soup pot; gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly, stirring occasionally. Add mashed potatoes, 3/4 cup cheese, salt and pepper, stirring until cheese melts. Remove from heat. Add sour cream and 1/2 cup green onions. Cook over low heat about 10 minutes until thoroughly heated. DO NOT BOIL! Ladle 1-1/2-cups soup into each of 8 bowls. Top each with 1-1/2 teaspoons cheese, 1-1/2 teaspoons green onions and 1 tablespoon cooked crumbled bacon. Yield: 8 servings.

Spaghetti Carbonara

1 pound spaghetti

1/2 pound bacon

5 large eggs

1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1/3 cup milk

1 cup frozen peas

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In a large soup pot, bring water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, cook bacon in a frying pan until crispy. Remove bacon from pan and blot grease with paper towels. Pour out grease from the frying pan and add peas to pan and cook until warm. Transfer to medium bowl. Roughly chop bacon and add to bowl. Next, add eggs, cheese, salt, milk, and pepper to the bowl and mix until fully incorporated. When pasta is cooked, set aside 1/2-3/4 cup pasta water and drain (leaving pasta wet). Add pasta back to pot and pour egg mixture over hot pasta. Quickly toss well to avoid curdling, adding pasta water until smooth and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Yield: 4 servings.

Saucy Salmon Balls

Olive oil

2 green onions, minced

1 (15-1/2-ounce) can salmon, drained and flaked

1 cup dried bread crumbs

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 egg

1 {8-ounce) container sour cream

Black pepper

Dill weed

1 cup water

1 chicken-flavor bouillon cube or envelope

Fresh parsley sprigs for garnish

In 10-inch skillet over medium heat, cook green onions in hot oil until tender. Transfer onions to large bowl; add salmon, bread crumbs, lemon juice, egg, 1/4 cup sour cream, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon dill weed. Mix; shape into balls. In skillet, over medium-high heat in 2 tablespoons hot oil, cook salmon balls until browned; transfer to bowl. Drain oil from skillet; add water, bouillon and salmon balls. Heat to boiling; cover and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in remaining sour cream, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon dill weed; heat. Garnish with parsley sprigs. Yield: 5 main-dish servings.

Chicken Pot Pie Puffs

2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed

1 cup diced cooked chicken

1 can (10-3/4-ounce) condensed cream of chicken soup

1 can (16.3-ounce) refrigerated biscuits

Cheddar cheese, shredded

Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375°. In medium bowl, combine vegetables, chicken and soup; mix well. Lightly spray an 8-cup muffin pan with cooking spray. Remove biscuits carefully from container. Form each biscuit into a 5-1/2-inch round shape, and place 1 round in each of 8 greased regular-size muffin cups. Firmly press in bottom and up side, forming 3/4-inch rim. Spoon a generous 1/3 cup chicken mixture into each. Pull edges of dough over filling toward center; pleat and pinch dough gently to hold in place. Bake for 15 minutes; add shredded Cheddar cheese over each puff. Bake for an additional 5 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from pan. Yield: 8 servings.

Homemade Submarine Sandwich

(Great for kids and adults!)

1/4 cup Italian vinaigrette

1 long crusty loaf (about 16 inches) French or Italian bread

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 small ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced

4 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced

6 ounces Italian salami, thinly sliced

3 ounces cheddar cheese, thinly sliced

6 ounces boiled ham, thinly sliced

4 ounces provolone cheese, thinly sliced

12 slices dill pickles

1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce

12 small sweet pickled peppers, sliced

Slice loaf of bread in half lengthwise and spread both cut sides with mayonnaise. Layer bottom half of loaf with tomato slices, prosciutto, salami, Cheddar, ham, provolone, and pickles. Top with lettuce and pickled peppers. Spoon vinaigrette over the filling and cover with top half. Press down firmly. Yield: 3 to 4 servings.

Vinegar “Potato Chips”

12 redskin potatoes, scrubbed and thinly sliced

White wine vinegar

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 stick butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375°. Cover and soak potato slices in a good quality white wine vinegar combined with salt for 1 hour. Drain and toss with melted butter. Arrange potato slices in a single layer on baking sheets. Bake 45 minutes or until crisp. Drain. Yield: approximately 8 servings.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cloves

4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Pinch of cardamom

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

2 cups cooked or canned pumpkin

1-1/4 cups vegetable oil

1 (8-ounce) package cheesecake flavored cream cheese

Pumpkin seeds, unshelled (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix ingredients together except cream cheese and nuts. Fill muffin tins (greased or paper cups) half full. Put 1-2 teaspoon cream cheese in the middle, pressing down. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin seeds on each muffin. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the muffin part (do not touch the cream cheese!). Let cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove to racks to cool completely. Do not touch the cream cheese until cooled thoroughly. Yield: 24 muffins.

Dreamy Chocolate Loaf Cake

1 cup flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup cocoa

1/2 stick butter

1 cup boiling water

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix together and hollow out flour, sugar and cocoa. Add remaining ingredients into the hollow, making sure not to “cook” the egg with the boiling water. Stir by hand or mix with beaters until mixed and thoroughly blended. Pour into lightly greased and floured loaf pan. Bake at 350° for 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Yield: 8 servings.

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