This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook, try new recipes,
learn from your mistakes, be fearless and above all have fun! -Juila Child

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Cranky Christmas Cook

Yes, this was me today, a crusty old cranky cook, but only when I was informed that we are to make twice baked potatoes for a Christmas family get together. The crankiness comes from knowing that this yummy side dish is actually a pain in the biscuits to make, not to mention time consuming and a bit frustrating getting baker potatoes to cooperate. In remembering my last run in with them, I seriously doubted our ability, sanity and the potatoes' worthiness to be baked and baked again for that matter. But as my mom informed me, don't stress out, stop being cranky, don't worry about the potatoes, we are not in any hurry to get them done in an instant. That's good because these, you cannot do in an "instant", nor do they come that way. I realized after my rant that my mom and I were thinking two different ways of making these delicious potatoes. She's thinking all easy and fun, I'm thinking time consuming, stressful, mess! lol I was remembering the canoe method, where, after baking the potatoes you cut the top off making a canoe type shape (a very difficult, daunting way of making twice baked potatoes). My mom was thinking of the cut the potatoes in half lengthwise method (a total easier and faster, fun way). As you will see in the recipe below, these are not as difficult as they seem; and do not use the canoe method as it's just too much to bear. These potatoes are so delicious, our crowd at the Christmas gathering today scarfed them up so quickly, we actually ran out of them!
Today, we made enough for 12 people, the recipe below serves 4 with each serving being a half of the potato, make more or less depending on your crowds appetite and the size of the potatoes.

Easy as Pie Twice Baked Potatoes
Serves 4       Preheat Oven to 375°F

  • 2 large baker potatoes, scrubbed and dried and pierced a couple times with a fork
  • 1/4 cup chopped bacon and 1 TBS chopped onion cooked together and set aside to cool
  • 1 TBS unsalted butter1/2 cup soured cream
  • 1/4 cup half & half  or milk1/8 tsp nutmeg 2/3 cup shredded medium or sharp cheddar cheese1 TBS salt free seasoning such as Mrs. Dash Original Salt Free Blend
  • Place the potatoes directly on the rack in the center of the oven and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until tender. 
  1. Remove potatoes from the oven, and turn the heat down to 325°F.
  2. Mom's tip: Hold the potato with an oven-mit or towel, and cut in half length wise, (this makes it way easier to scoop out and fill up the potatoes). With a spoon, carefully scoop out most of the potato into a bowl, taking care to leave enough of the potato in the skin so the shells stay together. Do this with each potato half. Another tip: to  make this task not so frustrating as I usually do with my picky self, don't worry if when scooping out the potato the skin tears a little because when the potato is filled up with the mixture below, you won't even notice the tear.
  3. Mash the scooped out potato with fork or potato masher, along with the butter, half & half or milk and sour cream. Stir in the nutmeg and salt free seasoning. Stir all together with a hand or stand mixer until smooth and fluffy. Fill the potato shells with the whipped potato mixture mounding it slightly and place them all onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle the bacon and onion mixture, then the cheese on top and press down slightly so it stays on the potato. 
  4. Bake the potatoes until heated through, about 20 minutes.
  5. Serve immediately with a big smiling face and non cranky attitude!