Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cheesy Potato Bar & Easy Pumpkin Molasses Beans

I'm not much of a chips person. Never have been. I am more of a potato person. My family loves chips, so sometimes I serve nachos. But I would much rather have my refried beans on top of chopped romaine lettuce. Not because I know it's healthier, but because I really am not a big chips eater.

I love a good potato. Never get tired of them. Baked, steamed, boiled, sauteed, there are so many ways to eat a potato.

I got caught up in making a fancier version of apple crisp yesterday, and realizing I didn't have a lot of energy left to make dinner, I decided to throw some potatoes in the oven.

They could bake, while I finished the apple crisp.

I am so glad I don't have to rely on dairy cheese to please family and friends. Thank you, basic cheese sauce.

That everyone seems to just love.

I was gonna' make a fancy pumpkin molasses baked beans recipe. There was too much going on. So I opened a can of organic baked beans, instead. Threw in some pumpkin to make it festive. Adjusted the seasonings to taste.

My pictures aren't fancy today.

You know those days where everything around dinner seems to be chaos? Where everyone's needs are suddenly voiced, and there are a million things that need to be taken care of, all at once?

Well, last night was one of those nights. It was busy, but I loved it. My sister loved it. We grew up in a family of seven kids, so a little bitty chaos kinda' feels like home.

Needless to say I was lucky to get a picture. At all. Mom world.

I served up some potatoes for my kids, and poured cheese sauce on top. After fixing up my own plate I looked up. I couldn't believe it.

Their potatoes with cheese had been completely devoured. I had to smile, albeit an inward smile so they couldn't see that I was happy. Children are always suspicious if Mom is happy that they ate something.

It must be healthy.

For the Baked Potato Bar, you will need:

2-3 baked potatoes for each person (I baked about 12 potatoes, but I wish I had baked more. We are pretty good at eating them for leftovers.)
1 Recipe Basic Cheese Sauce

Steamed vegetable, some good options are (pick your favorite(s)):
Green beans

Optional Toppings:
Green chili
Tofu Sour Cream
Green onions, chopped
Red pepper flakes, if you like it hot

For the Easy Pumpkin Molasses Baked Beans:

1 15 oz can of organic baked beans (check to make sure it is vegan)
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/3 cup pumpkin puree

Heat on the stove and mix together well. Serve hot.


A trick I learned with baking potatoes.

I used to buy those little pre-cut foil pieces, until I ran out. I didn't use them enough, so I didn't want to buy them again.

I do not like tearing foil. I do not like wasting excess foil. Maybe that's just me.

If you take a large piece of foil, and fold it into fourths, it creates a crease.

Tear along that crease and it will tear evenly. Ta-da! No wasted foil, and perfectly shaped little foil squares.

Wrap your potatoes in the foil squares, and place directly on the middle oven rack. Bake for about 45 minutes at 400 degrees. I used gold potatoes. If they are a larger kind of potatoes, like russet, they may need to bake for longer.

I thought I would go ahead and add the Basic Cheese Sauce recipe here, so you wouldn't have to go to other pages to get it.

A potato bar is another great way to use it.

Simple Cheddar Cheese Sauce
From Neva Brackett's, "Seven Secrets Cookbook."

Note From Ashlee: I've had quite a few taste testers try this cheese sauce. Family and friends have all stated that it tastes exactly like the dairy nacho cheese sauce. Or better. It's ALWAYS been gobbled up. Sometimes I have to go back and make a second batch. Amber has incorporated it into her home, and met with great success. Her kids STILL don't know it's dairy free.

If you follow the directions EXACTLY, you will find yourself with a really good cheese sauce. Best for Mexican types of dishes, but also good on kids' pizza.


1 cup raw cashew nuts
2 cups water
1/2 large or 1 small red bell pepper, or 1/4 cup canned pimentos or roasted red peppers (I ALWAYS use the jarred, roasted red bell peppers, also called pimentos.)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 tablespoons food yeast flakes (nutritional yeast)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Blend smooth (about 2 minutes) and then bring to a boil, stirring until thick. Use for pizza, lasagna, burritos, etc.

Lite Cheese Option: Use only 1/2 cup cashew nuts plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch.

*Makes 3 Cups*


Total side-note.

Remember how we kept trying to get a decent appraisal on our house so we could buy the old cottage with 7 acres across the street? We switched banks, and got a great appraisal. We close with the bank on Friday.

Paul came home from work yesterday and showed me a typed note that had been fixed to the cottage gate.

It was from an "area scout." She wrote that they are filming a movie with Ed Harris and Eva Longoria, and that our cottage was the perfect location. Left her number, and asked that the owner of the cottage would please call her.

So Paul called her. $1,000 dollars a day, they want to give us. To use the property for five days.

I am not even kidding. No joke.


  1. NO WAY! That is so crazy about your house. Also, I didn't know you're moving into a little cottage. Are you posting pictures, because I'm a total real estate gawker. I love oodling over design & architecture.

    We had some people pay us $500 for using our house for a day. It turned out to be a bit of a mess, but hey, we got $500 out of it.

    1. What kind of mess happened with them using your house? $500 sounds pretty good!

      Oh, and we are NOT moving. Paul has been wanting to buy this cottage so he could rent it out to renters. The amount of rent they would pay would cover the mortgage cost of half of our home and the full mortgage for the cottage across the street. He did all the calculations and already has renters clamoring to live there. So buying this place will actually save us money. If all works out right. Paul is kind of a financial genius. Which is good because I am not.

      I will see if I can get some pictures this weekend. But you might be disappointed because I really don't think the place is very pretty. It is very old, and a bit run down because of the previous owners.

  2. Get OUT. How cool is that? I was wondering how that appraisal thing turned out. I agree with Janae, I want to see pictures!

    I never thought of using the sauce on potatoes, but now I can't wait to try it!

    1. As soon as we have ownership of the place on Friday, I will be allowed to wander the grounds freely and take pictures. I'll try to be a good girl and get some posted.

  3. WHAT! Maybe you will get to meet Eva Longoria, have Paul write that up into the contract and get pictures!!! You should make a vegan meal for Eva and get a picture of her eating it LOL just kidding. That is the craziest story! I remember growing up we all ate mashed potatoes with cheese sauce bechamel and broccolli, I LOVED it! I will have to try this cheese sauce that way.

  4. Just a note, did you know that Eva Longoria has a cookbook? She is a healthy foodie, too. Now you have something in common :)

    1. You know, I didn't even know who Eva Longoria was? Or what she looked like? I had to look her up on Google. I have had thoughts along the lines of being able to meet her. But then I think, "Do I really want my picture taken with a super-model actress? So I can stand next to her and be compared to her?" I don't know. I am a girl, so yes, these are the kinds of thoughts I have.

      Eating potatoes with broccoli and cheese sauce totally brings back so many happy memories! I am right there, with you Aimee. Maybe that's why this meal has brought me so much comfort over the last couple of days. It reminds me of home.

  5. I can't believe that! I just told Brandon and the boys and they can't believe it either!

    I made cheese sauce so many times for mom for dinner, I eventually had the recipe memorized! Now I forgot it though, I ran out of patience trying to melt the cheese just right so it wouldn't clump, and gravy too!

    I have made the 7 secrets cheese sauce and was very impressed with it! I was so scared to make it and then when I did it was so easy! I feel so crazy, how can I be so afraid? I have been cooking since I was 12! But yes it is a new way of cooking and you have to keep it a secret otherwise people will know you as an absolute nutcase! And start to avoid the subject of food with you.....
    I must be a nutcase because I love cheese made out of nuts right?

  6. I love how many recipes you have on here! Now I have really no excuse to be afraid of trying a new way to cook-slowly but surely!!!