Potts and Pans: Broccoli Cheddar Potatoes
It’s the week before Dead Day, and all I can think about is the stack of final exam study guides, the long list of projects to finish, forms to fill out and summer classes to enroll in, and the overwhelming mountain of dishes in my kitchen from late-night study snacks. It’s the end of the semester, and like most of us, I too feel like I am going crazy.
I admit, it’s 10 times harder to eat somewhat healthy during the last few weeks of the semester. An after class margaritas-by-the-pool date with friends, a quick dash to Late Night after that evening study session in Mullins and the frozen pizza aisle are all looking like more promising sources of nutrition as Dead Day creeps up on us. Yet, I’m trying to keep a weekly menu together, and this recipe is one that is quick, simple and takes very little preparation.
Baked potatoes are filling, easy to make and can be dressed with anything to create a delicious meal. Just pop them in the oven and one hour later, dinner is served. The possibilities are endless when it comes to toppings, but broccoli cheddar is one of my all-time favorites, and this sauce is simply delicious. Serves 2.
2 large baking potatoes
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
4 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 ½ cups milk
1 ½ cups Cheddar cheese, shredded (I used Kraft Triple Cheddar blend)
1 head broccoli
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the potatoes on a baking tray and poke the skin with a fork. Drizzle the potatoes with olive oil and rub the oil over the skins until covered. Season with seasoning salt and place in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour, or until the center of the potatoes are soft.
To make the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan on medium heat. When the butter has completely melted, add the flour and whisk until you have what looks like golden, soft breadcrumbs. Add the milk, and whisk until smooth. The sauce should then come to the boil and thicken considerably. Remove from the heat and set aside. Add the shredded cheese and stir until smooth and creamy (at this point you can add more cheese, if desired). Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
To quickly steam broccoli, cut the head into smaller pieces and place in a large Ziploc bag. Add 2 tablespoons of water and almost seal the plastic completely, leaving one corner open to let air in. Cook in the microwave for 2 minutes, or until the broccoli has softened.
Add the broccoli to the cheese sauce and mix well. Take the potatoes out of the oven and allow them to cool. Cut open, dress with butter and then cover with the broccoli-cheese sauce. Add other toppings such as sour cream, bacon bits or chives.
Baked potatoes are a simple, fast and hearty dinner that can be enjoyed year round. Inexpensive to make, this meal is perfect for those last few days of school when bank account balances are low and stress levels are high. Invite friends over for a study night and get each person to bring a topping, or make this dish for a quick dinner break between library visits. However you choose to spend your last few days before summer, remember to eat well, sleep and keep those stress levels in check.