But no, seriously, we love to try and cook as clean, organic and healthy as possible. We have become much more aware on how to do it on a budget since I am currently unemployed. Let me tell you, it is possible and so worth it. You just feel better! This is the point where all military spouses rejoice, forget about the commissary annoyances and feel thankful to grocery shop for great fresh food at a slight discount and tax free... or at least that is how it is at our commissary at the USAFA.
So! What about our adventures this weekend? We had a wonderful Korean meal at Happy Time Dine In in CO Springs (definitely a must go if you are in the area) on Friday night! The food was all extremely fresh with the right amount of spice and plethora of different sides. Their kimchi is really to die for. Ok, I'll stop salivating and move on. After we stuffed our faces there, we were invited into the home of some our new friends! What a blessing! Saturday, we found ourselves out to lunch while the pups got a much needed bath after the dog park and again today after church, we were out to lunch again at a hole-in-the-wall mexican joint that wasn't too bad. Tonight, it was time to make something simple, fresh and filling at home.
After reviewing my meal plan for the next week, I knew what I wanted to make. I recently pinned a few recipes through a great page, "Bless this Mess" that I found here. I chose to do the simple oven baked potatoes and a strawberry cucumber spinach salad with a greek yogurt dressing. Can I say I have a healthy obsession with greek yogurt? So, this was perfect!
I started with the base recipe for these perfect oven baked potatoes! I have never baked potatoes without foil but I was really pleased with the result. It left the skin of the potato perfect and delicious and I usually don't got for the skins. So, that says a lot. I embellished this recipe with some healthier topping options! Let's get started!
What you'll need:
Desired amount of medium-smaller sized potatoes
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (you could do some coconut oil, I may try this next time)
Ground Black Pepper
Unsalted Butter (I chose organic)
Fat-Free Plain Greek Yogurt
Fat-Free Crumbled Feta Cheese
Green Onions (thinly sliced green/white portions)
First, I will suggest moving your oven shelving towards the bottom. I placed a baking sheet on the lowermost rack to catch anything that may fall from the potatoes. Why may you ask? Well, you are placing your potatoes straight on the rack above the baking sheet. I had never done this but trust the base recipe! Now, Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
I grabbed 4 russet potatoes. I picked two medium sized potatoes and then to smaller because I knew they would be the perfect size for lunch. After giving them a good scrub down, per the recipe, I stabbed the potatoes a few times with a fork to allow steam to escape while cooking. I then used my hands to slather a light coating of olive oil on the potatoes and followed that with salting both sides.
When your oven is hot and ready, set those potatoes on the rack above the baking sheet and let them cook for an hour. I originally set my timer to 45 minutes but I found my medium sized potatoes weren't quite done yet. An hour seemed to be the magic number.
Look at those golden beauties!
After the potatoes are done (they will have a slight give when you squeeze the sides), remove your baking sheet and then your potatoes (I set them on the baking sheet). Carefully, I made a thin cut down the middle of each potato and gaven them a good squeeze to reveal the moist potatoey goodness ready for toppings!
I put a small pad of the organic unsalted butter inside the potato, a scoop of nonfat plain greek yogurt (my go-to alternative to sour cream), a palm full of crumbled fat free feta cheese and followed with a sprinkling of the green onion slices.
Let's backtrack a little now and we will join the yummy potatoes later! While my potatoes were cooking away on the oven rack, I began to execute the original recipe for the Strawberry Cucumber Spinach Salad with Greek Yogurt Dressing. I kept it pretty true to the recipe but I made used some ingredients in larger quantities.
Here's what I used for the salad:
8 oz of Fresh Spinach (washed and dried)
8 oz of Fresh Sliced Strawberries
1/2 of a Large Cucumber Sliced into Half Moons
2-3 Green Onions sliced thinly (white and green)
1/2 cup of Raw Almonds
For the dressing:
4 TBSP Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt
3 TBSP Lemon Juice (I used organic)
2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 TBSP Fresh Basil finely chopped (from my garden, SCORE!)
2 TBSP Honey, to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste
A dash of pure vanilla (I added this)
I constructed my salad first! I am very methodical in my salad building, always. I like nice even layers of ingredients. So, I laid down a base layer of spinach and topped it with 1/4 of the strawberries, cucumbers, almonds and green onion slices. I repeated that four times to fill my bowl. You may use a different ratio depending on the size of your bowl! Now get to slicing your cucumbers, strawberries and green onions!
Away from the recipe, I did chose to not toss my salad in my dressing because I knew I wanted some left overs and no one likes really soggy spinach leaves a day after. So, I made my dressing in a bowl with a whisk. I combined my ingredients in the following manner: First I added my greek yogurt and lemon juice and whisked until it was a smooth consistency (left picture). Then I added my 2 TBSP of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (right picture) and whisked until it was smooth.
Nothing like whisking like you're mad. haha
As I was whisking my life away, I felt like I was being watched. By who?
Max & Lucy, chefs in training or opportunists?
Amidst my admirers, I used probably one of my most favorite kitchen tools in the world to finely chop my fresh basil from the garden, herb scissors. Seriously, if you don't have a pair, get them! They make your life so much easier. I found mine at Sur la Table!
Add in your basil (love the smell) and whisk until the basil is uniform into the greek yogurt mix. Next, add in your honey, salt and pepper to taste. This is where I decided that I needed a little something extra into the mix, so I grabbed my pure vanilla and gave a small dash. As soon as I did it, I thought I may regret it but it took the very fresh, lemony dressing to a little bit richer place!
The salad and dressing are just waiting on you and those potatoes cooking away. They are beautiful components to a simple but great meal!
Now, we will go back and remember those delicious potatoes that we constructed and reveal the final product!
My husband kept raving about the salad! He LOVED it and he's not too much of a salad eater! Also, he was surprised and could barely tell the difference when I told him that the "sour cream" on the potato was actually plain fat-free greek yogurt! So I consider this meal a win-win!
Maybe you'll make this fresh meal very soon? I guarantee you'll choose this as a go-to quick summer meal that makes about an hour and 5 minutes from total prep to table! Enjoy!
Live. Laugh. Love. Cook!