Smart Cookie College Cuisine: BLTP Wraps

Last week, I made a tasty Easy Blush Chicken Penne Bake to introduce Smart Cookie College Cuisine, a series that provides quick, easy, & inexpensive meals that the college student can make while away at school. With the fall semester quickly approaching, it’s time to bake up another cheap, easy meal to keep your tummy happy at college. This way, you can keep your mind on your schoolwork instead of on your all-consuming hunger.

Get a load of this: BLTP Wraps. They’re a twist (or should I say a wrap) on the classic BLT sandwich. Instead of talking bacon, lettuce, and tomato, we’re talking bacon, lettuce, tomato, AND potato. You see, the main problem with a regular BLT is the lack of substance. Lettuce with a couple strips of wimpy bacon is hardly filling. But adding some starchy potatoes makes these wraps twice as filling as their sandwich sibling. And eating all the juicy bacon, crisp lettuce, fresh tomato, and golden potatoes in a wrap isn’t just more fun than eating it on white bread; it’s healthier too. Plus, tortillas last longer than bread does, so you won’t wind up throwing away your money.

My BLTP Wraps are quite possibly one of the simplest Smart Cookie recipes yet. You only need 5 ingredients, plus they’re so easy that I’m confident a partying frat boy could handle making them. I don’t want to hear any of you undergrads bellyaching about how “you can’t cook,” because these don’t require much actual cooking at all. So As far as prep work goes, all you have to do is pop some bacon and frozen, pre-cut potatoes in the oven. That’s about a thousand times easier than taking finals.

Don’t be deceived by the sheer simplicity of these wraps; they’re addicting and delectable. You get the crunch of the bacon, the crisp of the lettuce, the juiciness of the tomatoes, and the tenderness of the potatoes in every bite. Even if you’re cooking for picky roommates, there’s no way they won’t love these simple but delicious wraps. They’re just like the BLT sandwiches mom used to make…only better!

College student or not, everyone will love such an easy and tasty meal. Enjoy a wrap stuffed with all you favorites without slaving in the kitchen. You can have this meal on the table in under 30 minutes.

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Sweet potatoes would be just as delicious as regular potatoes.
  2. Fresh potatoes are cheaper than frozen, but frozen will save you a lot of time and effort.
  3. Although whole wheat tortillas are more expensive, I do recommend using them because they’re much better for you and they’re heartier. My favorite kind are the 70-calorie whole wheat tortillas by Joseph’s.
  4. A little cheddar cheese wouldn’t hurt in these wraps…
  5. I recommend turkey bacon. It’s much better for you than regular bacon. Or, try a meat-free substitute instead.
  6. Find the diced frozen roasted potatoes I used in the freezer aisle of your grocery store. If you can’t find them, use the potatoes o’ brien.

BLTP Wraps
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 8-12 slices of bacon*
  • 1 bag Ore-Ida Roasted Original Potatoes
  • 2 ripe red tomatoes, sliced
  • iceberg lettuce
  • 4 tortillas (I recommend whole wheat)

*Make 8 slices of bacon if you’d like 2 slices per wrap or make 12 slices of bacon if you’d like 3 slices per wrap.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Lay the bacon slices out in an even layer and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown and crisped to your liking. Remove bacon from tray and lay on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess grease.
  2. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees. Lay the potatoes out in an even layer on the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown, turning halfway through.
  3. Lay a handful of lettuce on a tortilla. Add 2-3 slices of tomato and 2-3 slices of bacon. Top with a hearty pile of potatoes. Fold up the wrap like a burrito and enjoy.

Ultimate Vegetarian Tacos

A lot of people ask me questions like, “What was the hardest thing to give up when you went vegetarian?” or “Do you ever just crave meat?” The answer to the latter is, yes, I do. The answer to the former is the cause of said cravings: tacos.

I was never too crazy about meat to begin with, so going vegetarian wasn’t that radical of an adjustment for me. I did, however, have a passionate, burning love for tacos. Taco nights at my house were like Christmas to me. I specifically recall riding home from Girl Scouts one night and practically jumping out of the car with excitement because I knew there would be tacos waiting for me when I got home. I can’t say what exactly made me so enamored with them; I wasn’t big on ground beef, and there were no potatoes involved (which I was OBSESSED with). So what’s so great about a taco anyway?

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Pierogi Casserole (VIDEO)

I am just about as Polish as they come. People constantly point out my “round polish face,” I’ve been raised on real, homemade potato pancakes, and I have a small tattoo written in Polish. When I was younger, I used to think being Polish was boring. I had friends who were Irish, Scottish, Italian, and even Native American. I felt like Polish was equivalent to a boring white crayon in a box of colorful cultural crayons.

As I’ve grown up, I’ve realized how important is it to embrace who you are. Plus, I learned how awesome it is to be Polish; I mean can you really argue with a culture that’s known for its pierogies? There have been a few times in my life when I was lucky enough to enjoy fresh pierogies, handmade from scratch. It’s not an everyday affair because the pierogi-making process takes quite a bit of time and effort. Unfortunately, the only person willing to do so is my grandmother. God bless her. When you taste one of her tender homemade pierogis fresh from the frying pan, you wonder how you ever went on for so long eating the pasta imposters from the freezer section of the grocery store.

Now, I’m a college student, so the chances of me churning out homemade pierogi any time before summer break are slim to none. So what am I to do when my Polish roots start craving some pierogi? The answer is simple: make Pierogi Casserole.

This dish is a blessing. It lets me have all the goodness of a pierogi in casserole-form. It’s essentially a pierogi that’s been deconstructed, stripped down to its individual elements and put back together to resemble some sort of lasagna. Only this is much better than lasagna. We’re talking a rich, mashed potato filling that’s stuffed with melted cheese, fried onions, and butter then layered with lasagna noodles. So, you’ve got that classic pierogi filling and the pasta shell that cradles it, broken down to exist as a layered casserole. It’s a pan-full of heaven: mounds of cheesy, starchy, buttery goodness. Is it indulgent? Yes. Is it good for you? That’s debatable. No, it’s not great for you physical health, but comfort foods such as this do wonders for the mind.

Grab a plateful of this Polish pierogi dream and treat yourself. The best dishes are worth a bit of over-induglence.

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Serve with some veggies to balance out the meal.
  2. This recipe is easily doubled to serve a crowd.
  3. Make-ahead dish alert: assemble the casserole earlier in the day, then bake when you’re ready to eat.
  4. You can use a different kind of potato if that’s all you have, but the Yukon Golds are highly recommended. They’re so buttery, tender, and delicious, perfect for this casserole.
  5. Note: You can easily cut down the butter in the mashed potato mixture to 1/2 or 3/4 of a stick.
  6. Check out my video to watch Reese and I whip up this delicious casserole!

Pierogi Casserole
Recipe adapted from How Sweet It Is

serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 8 medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into fours
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 oz. velveeta cheese, cubed
  • 1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 pound lasagna noodles
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter (note: you can cut down the butter used in the mashed potato mixture to 1/2 or 3/4 of a stick if you like)
  • 1/4 cup milk or cream

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Peel potatoes and chop into quarters. Set them in a large pot and cover with water, allowing it to come to a boil. Boil potatoes until tender, about 30 minutes. While potatoes are boiling, cook pasta according to directions, and once drained mix with two tablespoons of butter. Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt two tablespoons of butter and saute chopped onion until soft and lightly golden.
  4. Drain potatoes and mash with one stick of butter, garlic, and cheese. Make sure no lumps remain. Add milk to loosen, if desired. Fold in onions.
  5. Spread out 1/2 the pasta in a large baking dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, cutting down noodles as necessary. Spread 1/2 the mashed potato mixture over top. Top with the remaining noodles and another layer of mashed potatoes. If desired, top with more cheese and onions. Cover and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. For the last ten minutes of cooking, remove the cover. This is best when served immediately, but still tastes good after being in the fridge for a day or two.


Fontina Potato Soup & Introducing Smart Cookie Chatter

Attention, my little cookies! Want to be a part of next week’s video? I will be featuring a new segment called Smart Cookie Chatter in which I answer all of your questions. The topic this week is “desserts,” but no questions are really off-limits. Submit your questions/comments below or on The Smart Cookie Chatter Page (or you can email them to thesmartcookiecook@yahoo.com), and your question may be featured in next week’s video! I want to hear your questions!

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A very common soup nowadays is good old Baked Potato Soup. You can hardly blame it for being so popular. How could any one not like thick, creamy soup filled with melted cheese and chunks of potato? It’s an obviously delicious soup, but it’s been done so many times. Because I possess such a passionate love for potatoes and because Baked Potato Soup is my favorite, I knew it was time to try a new twist.

This Fontina Potato Soup is sort of like the Italian cousin of the Baked Potato Soup you’ve become accustomed to. Instead of Cheddar or American cheese, this soup has melty* Fontina and tangy Parmesan blended in. Then, instead of chives or scallion, I employ fresh, aromatic Rosemary and Thyme to infuse this soup with wonderful flavors. Of course, with this soup being of Italian heritage, there has got to be garlic. And just for safe measures, strong and tasty shallots join the cast of characters as well. If you make this soup, I ensure you that there will be no shortage of flavor here. After becoming so accustomed to mild and yummy Baked Potato Soup, this kicked up version will give you the wake up call you didn’t know you needed.

Comforting and cheesy, this creamy soup will fill you up with its wonderful richness and warm you from the inside out. When winter calls, Fontina Potato Soup answers. It’s a hearty, filling soup that’s bulked up with potatoes aplenty. I don’t skimp on my taters, you guys. Don’t be fooled by the fact that this is soup; it will fill you up and shoot waves of comfort all the way down to your bones.

If you like traditional Baked Potato Soup, you will love this flavorful, cheesy cousin. Even if you aren’t a fan of the classic version, you’ll find love in a bowl here. It’s so different from what you’re used to, and yet still bears the comforting qualities of traditional Baked Potato Soup. When you crave creamy, cheesy, warm goodness, this soup is the way to go. It’s got so much going for it that you just can’t go wrong.

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Confession: this recipe stemmed from my need to use up the mounds of residual Baked Fontina Dip that I had leftover from Superbowl weekend.
  2. Serving this soup with some bread for dipping is a must.
  3. Don’t like the herbs I used? Try Basil or Parsley instead.
  4. No, the world will not end if you use Russets instead of Yukon Gold potatoes. But humor me for a second: Yukons have this incredible, buttery flavor and tender texture that I think makes them superior to other varieties and perfect for this soup. Also, you will want to use less if you choose Russets because they are typically bigger than Yukons.
  5. Asiago would be a delicious twist in place of Parmesan cheese.
  6. USE FRESH HERBS. Forget you even own dried herbs. They don’t exist, and they are not an acceptable substitute. You will never get the amazing flavor and aroma provided by fresh herbs.
  7. Same goes for fresh garlic!
  8. I will, however, forgive you if you forgo the shallot for a regular onion. Note, however, that you will want to use much less than you would a shallot because regular onions have a much stronger flavor.
  9. The most annoying thing about making soup is the prep work. Cook your potatoes, chop your herbs, and shred your cheese beforehand so, when you’re ready to cook, the rest is a breeze.

Fontina Potato Soup
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 7-8 Yukon potatoes
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped or grated
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1 tbsp. + I tsp. cornstarch, dissolved in cool water
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 4 cups shredded Fontina cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp. fresh chopped thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh chopped rosemary
  • hunks of good bread, for dipping (I recommend Italian or sourdough)

Directions:

  1. Place potatoes on a microwave-safe plate and cook in microwave on high for 10 minutes or until fork-tender. Set aside.
  2. In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add garlic and shallots and sautee until translucent and aromatic, about 2 minutes.
  3. Whisking constantly, add the flour and cornstarch. Continue whisking, making sure the roux is free of lumps, until it turns a light blonde color, about 1-2 minutes (you want to cook out the “floury” taste). Pour in milk, whisking constantly until mixture is free of lumps. Cover and let simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
  4. When soup is thickened, whisk in the cheeses until completely melted. Stir in the salt and herbs then taste test to decide if you want more cheese or herbs. Add more as desired.
  5. Stir in the potatoes and serve. Garnish with fresh herbs, if desired.

*Melty – (adj) Well-melted; ooey-gooey.


No-Bake Twice-Baked Potato Mash

Confused? Don’t be. This is exactly what it sounds like: a bowl of fluffy mashed potatoes, plus all of the fixings of a twice-baked potato, only there’s no twice-baking involved. You see, on special occasions, my mother makes classic twice-baked potatoes. They’re delicious, a family favorite, and a special treat. She was planning on making them for Christmas dinner, but there was one problem: no oven space. We had so much crammed into that microscopic oven that it would’ve been impossible to bake the potatoes. As stress started to mount, I suggested an alternative: No-Bake Twice-Baked Potato Mash.

These are essentially twice-baked potatoes without all the work. They’re mashed with milk and butter until creamy, then stuffed with sharp cheddar cheese, garlic, and fresh chives, just as your classic twice-baked potato would be. The skins are left on, since twice-baked potatoes are always served in their natural shells. You get your fluffy, flavorful filling, your earthy skins, your melty cheese, and your overall comfort. What you don’t get is a headache or hours spent in the kitchen. These are basically deconstructed twice-baked potatoes, everything you love without all the effort.

If twice-baked potatoes you desire, but cooking them makes you tire, then this potato mash is the solution you seek. They’re fluffy, decadent, cheesy, and delicious; a perfect way to impress your dinner guests without breaking a sweat.

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