Monday, February 20, 2012

Twice Baked Potatoes

I've made this recipe over and over throughout the years. Making twice baked potatoes is easy, but a little time consuming. If you you like to cook, like I do, you won't mind the effort it takes to hollow out the potatoes and then stuff the goodies back in. If you love to eat but don't love to cook, you can always mash up the potatoes with the good stuff and then plop it into a casserole dish. I must say, however, that the stuffed potatoes are much prettier and it's kind of fun to have your very own twice baked potato on your plate!
To make these potatoes, pick large, smooth baking potatoes and scrub them well, nice and clean. Bake them in your microwave until they are just done, not shriveled and overcooked. Let them cool for a little while on the counter, until you can handle them easily. Slice off the top third of the potato and begin to gently remove the white potato flesh, leaving a quarter inch of shell with the skin. I think a small teaspoon works best for this operation. Take out little bits at a time, being careful to keep the potato shell intact. If you scrape too close to the skin, the potato will collapse, at which point you will have a potato casserole, as mentioned above!
After you have removed all of the potato and put it into a bowl, add in the good stuff:
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
For 2 large potatoes, add 1/3 c. light sour cream, a generous pinch of salt and pepper, 1/3 c. grated cheddar cheese, 1 tsp. melted butter and 1 tsp. minced chives.
Mash everything together, using a hand mixer or an old fashioned potato masher. Be sure to combine everything so that there are no big lumps of potato. You may need to add another T. or so of sour cream, if the mixture seems dry, but you do want it to be thick.
Then, carefully and gently, spoon the potato mixture back into the potato shells. Press it gently into each end first, and then fill 'er up, mounding up over the top of the potato shell. Sprinkle on a little more cheddar cheese, if you wnat to, pressing so that it adheres to the mounded top and sprinkle with paprika, totally optional. My potatoes seemed cheesey enough to me when I made the ones shown below, so I skipped the extra cheddar and just added paprika. Put the potatoes into a baking dish or onto a cookie sheet. I like to use a dish, so that I can be sure that they stand up and won't tip over. Bake them for 30 minutes.
Twice baked potatoes, ready for the oven
If you want to make these for a big group, you can easily make them ahead of time and refirgerate or freeze them. To freeze, put them onto a cookie sheet and place them into the freezer to get hard without adding the final cheese and paprika on top. After they are individually frozen, wrap them in plastic wrap and they will keep beautifully for about a month, or even a little longer. When you want to use them, put them on the counter to thaw for about an hour, then top them and bake as directed.

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