Nifty Twice Baked Potatoes

Also called “Potatoes on the half shell” by some folk. Not me. But some.

These are not just ordinary. They are ‘nifty’ and I will tell you why.

In a minute.

First, do you not love twice baked potatoes? I have never met anyone who did not just love them.  I have seen them for sale, wrapped up in cellophane in a deli’s window case. They are notoriously wonderful. Not just your everyday mashed potatoes. Those tend to be more watery. Not plain baked potatoes either, not that those are bad.

No, these are baked potatoes mashed with plenty good stuff. Oh, like milk and salt and pepper.

And butter.

And bacon bits.

And green onions.

And sour cream.

Or cream cheese.

Or cheddar cheese. Definitely topped with some kind of cheese.

Anyway, all this came about because I got a Pampered Chef box in the mail today. Whoo-hoo! Love getting boxes from them. And these were free products from our new spring line that I had earned by just having 2 parties in Dec. (Who says I just had 2?) Thank you all my hosts! You are the bees knees!

Well, these spring products are not to be revealed until March, but I am going to give you a sneak peek at one nifty item that worked amazingly well. I think we bonded and are going to be great friends after this.

It’s just a little thing too. Its called a ‘Scoop Loop’ and I am afraid you cannot get it just yet. But soon my friends, soon.

What could this little tool be doing?
What could this little tool be doing?

Back to potatoes. Easy stuff this. Just bake your potatoes like usual. Depending on the size of your potato and if you microwave it or bake it. I suggest baking until you can squeeze it from the outside, with a good potholder of course, and it gives nicely. Then set it aside to cool, just a bit.

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Now I usually lay the potato out the long way and slice some off the top, then scoop out the filling of dry fluffy potato and put it into a bowl.

But I went to dinner at a friend’s house and her potatoes were lined up like a bouquet in a baking pot. I loved it and decided to do mine likewise. (Although I think hers turned out prettier, my guys didn’t care a fig. They just dug in and wanted to eat them.)

Is this stuffing the potatoes at top mock speed? Or is it my son making crazy with the camera so he could get back to his online video gaming?
Is this stuffing the potatoes at top mock speed? Or is it my son making crazy with the camera so he could get back to his online video gaming?

This is what makes these so nifty. This and the cool tool I am using.

So I cut the potato in half, right through its belt line. Mr potato head! Then I scoop out the fluffy innards with this nifty new tool. Wow!

Really, wow!!

So easy. So clean. It just pulled out the potato in seconds. No, nanoseconds. Cleaned it out perfect. Into the pot went the potatoes. Then the salt, pepper, milk, sour cream, bacon bits, green onions, some cheddar. I think that’s it. But why stop there. You could put in um, bell pepper? Or ham? Roasted garlic? Or if you are in San Francisco you might put in chopped kale? Or roasted eggplant. I  wouldn’t. But people from San Francisco might.

The point is, the potato is a blank canvas upon which you can add your favorite things. Or go easy with chicken broth instead of dairy. Or go wicked with blue cheese. Parmesan anyone? Black beans? But please, no quinoa. I have to draw the line somewhere.

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Mash up the potato with all the goods, then spoon it back into the waiting potato shells. Top with more cheese and pop back into the oven until hot through and melty.

I decided to use my deep covered baker because I knew it would be deep enough and the lid would come in handy to keep the whole thing warm. Thats the beauty of stoneware. It keeps your food warm and fresh. I tucked a crushed  piece of parchment in there to hold the little beauties up while they heated.

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That way I can roast the asparagus in a hotter oven while I get the rest of dinner ready, and I know they won’t get cold.

It is St. Valentines day after all and I want dinner to be extra nice. I DO NOT want to go out to dinner on 1) a Friday night and 2) Valentines night. I will leave that to the young daters and proposers. We can go out to dinner another night and pretend. Besides, hubby has had a busy week and I am just getting back on my feet too.

So, where was I. Oh yeah. Potatoes and stuff. Like Chocolate chip cookies with walnut cookies for dessert. It was going to be chocolate cake, but after the cookies, I thought, just how many sweets do we need around here? (Okay, more…) Besides, I wanted to sit on the sofa and watch “While you were sleeping” with Sandra Bullock before she went into space and got bombarded with space debris! Yikes.

Ready for launching onto the dinner plates.
Ready for launching onto the dinner plates.

If you really do want to see this nifty new tool and the other new spring products in a sneak preview, there is only one way. We, some other consultants and I, are having a taste testing open house on Monday the 24 of Feb. We are making new recipes from the new Seasons Best and are inviting some people to come do a taste test for us. There will be new products to play with, kitchen tools to practice with. (Ever want to play with the Ultimate Mandolin? And get it right? Or the non-cutting can opener? Or the manual food processor?) There will be prizes of course.  But you must know the secret knock. So I guess you will have to contact me. Email or call or Facebook. Then I can fill you in on the details.

Bring a  friend/hubby/daughter/sister/pal, whatever. Of course, I will be there and I am your friend. But bring someone to talk to in the car. Someone to watch your back while you go sneaking on thirds of that dip I am bringing.

And no, you cannot take home my Scoop-loop, as much as you will fall in love with it, just-no.

Another indispensable tool, my kitchen spritzer filled with olive oil. Used like a can of non-stick but without the propellent and chemicals.Now instead of drizzling the oil over the spears, I just mist them with the olive oil. Less waste, more even distribution. Then during the last 6-7 minutes I use another mist and some Parmesan sprinkled over. Don't forget the pink salt.
Another indispensable tool, my kitchen spritzer (new glass ones)  filled (and refilled)  with olive oil. Used like a can of non-stick but without the propellent and chemicals.Now instead of drizzling the oil over the spears, I just mist them with the olive oil. Less waste, more even distribution. Then during the last 6-7 minutes I use another mist and some Parmesan sprinkled over. Don’t forget the pink salt.
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