Here’s the thing about buying a 10 lb sack of potatoes. Turns out, it’s a whole lot of potatoes. I used maybe four on the Potato Pizza, which meant, I had a whole bag of potatoes left – and frugal Betsy isn’t about to let those puppies go to waste.
I’m going to warn you right now, this is an incredibly LONG blog post. So I’ll do a quick summary of things I learned tonight if you’re interested in just reading this – and then abandoning the page. I won’t blame you. No hard feelings. Here’s what I now know:
- If a potato has a growth, it’s no big deal, you cut it off and then you eat it. It’s gross, but it’s true and apparently totally socially acceptable.
- Potatoes take FOREVER to cook.
- Seriously, if you’re going to use a recipe with a whole lot of chopping – you should own a cutting board. And some suitable knives.
- Having 7 people around to help chop/dice/measure/grind and whatever else you need makes the entire process go so much faster.
- Actually, having 7 people around while doing anything is just more fun.
With my sack of potatoes, I started searching Pinterest for a creative way to use them. And, if I do say so myself, I think I settled on a pretty darn awesome way to fully use every part of the potato. Not only would we use the insides (how tradition) – but we were going to shake things up and use the skins too! Thanks to the amazing Pioneer Woman we had Potato Skins and then a lovely lady named Tracey got us to the Twice Baked Potato Casserole.
As much as I think a meal of potatoes might be perfectly reasonable, the rest of the world tells me I need to add a protein (overrated). Fine. So I added a tried and true Meatloaf Cupcake recipe. The original plan was to top them with mashed potatoes – call them mashed potato cupcakes and stick with the theme. But enough was enough. Two potato dishes was plenty. And these Meatloaf Muffins were delicious enough to stand on their own.
The overall plan was: Clean potatoes, throw potatoes in oven, make meatloaf, take potatoes out – cut & scoop out the inside, bake the skins, make the casserole and then finish the skins.
Amazing news: The plan worked. I might have started the potatoes a little earlier. Because they take an entire day to bake (not really, but they DO take an extremely large amount of time). But other than that, I actually felt like I had baking logistics down pat. That doesn’t just happen. Normally I’m the girl who can’t figure out to get eggs, bacon and toast all cooked and finished at the same time.
So I forgot to add the green onions and the sour cream. But I tell you what, cheese and bacon was plenty excellent!
So start with the Potato Skins...
- 8 whole Russet Potatoes (or 400 – whatever you have)
- 4 Tablespoons Canola Oil
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- Salt To Taste
- 1-1/2 cup Grated Cheddar Cheese
- 8 slices Thick Cut Peppered Bacon, Fried Until Almost Crisp And Chopped (or the cheap bacon, that worked too – and turns out – you can microwave bacon – 3 minutes, flip another two minutes and you’re good to go)
- 2 whole Green Onions, Sliced
- 1/2 cup Sour Cream
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Scrub potatoes clean and allow them to dry (dry huh? well, missed that line, that explains a few things…). With a paper towel (or just with your hands) rub the skin of the potatoes with 2 tablespoons canola oil so that they’re nice and moist.
Place potatoes on a baking sheet and bake until skin is crisp and potatoes are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the pan and allow to cool until you can handle the potatoes.
Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out the insides (move to another bowl for your other and get ready to mash!), leaving a little bit of potato in the skins. Melt the butter with 2 tablespoons canola oil, then brush both the outside and the inside of the potatoes. Sprinkle the inside lightly with salt. Place potato halves face-down and return to the oven for 5 to 8 minutes. Using tongs (fingers, fork, spatula), turn the potatoes over and continue to bake until the edges of the potatoes start to turn golden brown.
Remove from oven. Sprinkle the insides of the potato skins with cheddar, then sprinkle on the chopped bacon. Return to the oven long enough for the cheese to melt, about 3 to 4 minutes.
It’s like mashed potatoes. But it’s better and it’s covered in cheese and bacon. There’s no losing here.
Twice Baked Potato Casserole
2 lb russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (or all of the insides from the other potatoes)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup milk (don’t use almond milk – just use extra butter, extra sour cream and you’re good to go!)
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (I actually had fresh garlic, so we used that and it was amazing)
dash cayenne pepper
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded and divided
3 scallions, thinly sliced
4 slices bacon, cooked until crisp then crumbled
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray (I used a rectangular dish that’s about 11×7 inches).
Add the potatoes to a large saucepan and cover with cold water (don’t forget to salt the water) (um, or forget. that works fine too). Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes until fork tender then drain. Return the potatoes to the same pot and add the butter, milk, sour cream, Greek yogurt, salt, garlic powder, and cayenne. Use a hand mixer to beat the potatoes just until all of the ingredients have been incorporated and they’re light and fluffy (do not overbeat) (or use your hands… and a masher). Season to taste. Stir in about 3/4 of the cheese, the scallions, and the crumbled bacon until evenly distributed.
Transfer the potato mixture to the prepared dish. Sprinkle the reserved cheese over the top. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the potatoes warmed through. Garnish with additional scallions and bacon before serving.
Yum. And fair warning – these suckers are a wee bit spicy. But good spicy. You’ll probably like it.
And last but not least… Meatloaf Muffins!
- ½ medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- ½ green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 t. minced garlic
- 2 t. crushed red pepper
- 1 T. Italian seasonings
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 lb. 99% ground white turkey
- 1 lb. 96% lean ground beef
- 1 cup dry oats
- 4 egg whites
- ½ of a large can spaghetti sauce
- 1 T. Balsamic vinegar
- ½ of the spaghetti sauce from above
- 3 T. Balsamic vinegar
- 1 t. crushed red pepper (or more to taste)
- ½ t. cayenne pepper
- 1 T. Honey
1. Turn the over to preheat at 375 degrees. Chop all the veggies (onion, celery, pepper, carrots) and put in large sauté pan with garlic, crushed red pepper, Italian seasonings and salt/pepper. Add ¼ cup water. Allow to boil at medium heat, stirring every several minutes until translucent, but not over cooked (takes about 5 minutes).
2. In a large mixing bowl place meat, oats, egg whites, ½ of the can (1 cup) of spaghetti sauce and balsamic vinegar. Mix very lightly with your hands, but do not over-mix, meat could get tough. Add veggies and mix. Spray pan with non-stick Olive Oil spray, and separate evenly into muffin pans. Bake 17 minutes.
3. While the loaf is in the oven, make the awesome sauce. Use the sauté pan from before: place all ingredients together and allow to boil, reduce heat to low to simmer; stirring occasionally until meat mixture is done. Pour evenly over meatloaf when it comes out of the oven.
I cropped out the bottle of Pam and dish soap from the bottom. But the sour cream on the table stayed. Obviously.
It was great. All of it! The best part? The meatloaf muffins are great for freezing… and now I’ll be eating meatloaf for lunch and dinner the rest of the week! Win!
Okay, I lied, the best part might have actually been that all of these ladies came to cook, laugh, drink wine and share a meal with me. Seriously, how lucky am I?
Answer: totally lucky. And after a great meal, we all settled down and watched Pitch Perfect. Again. It may or may not have been the 4th time this week. But guess what, I still love it. How could you not? Singing, dancing, jokes all around. If you haven’t seen it, go watch it. Now. It’s excellent.
So if you’ve stuck through this terribly long post, I’d strongly encourage you to try out any and all of these tasty treats. Especially for a large group. Because it’s a whole lot of food! Plus, dining alone just isn’t as much fun!
Next week… I’m thinking Peanut Butter Chicken? Or Chili and Cinnamon Rolls. I know, I know, the anticipation is probably killing you. But, you’ll just have to practice some patience, you’ll know when I know…