Baked Potato Skin Appetizers with Bacon and Cheese

Who doesn’t love potato skins?  Look to buy small potatoes.  They bake in about 45 minutes and are easy to manage when eating.  Make the skins and bacon ahead of time and bake right before you want to serve.  Save the leftover potato flesh for skillet potatoes

Start by baking 12 small potatoes at 375′ for 40-45 minutes.  

Cook the bacon until crispy.  Drain over paper towels and cut into small pieces.  Set aside.

Once the potatoes are done, cool until you can handle them.  Carefully scoop out the flesh of the potato.

Brush canola oil on the potato skins to coat.  Once they’re all coated with oil, season generously with kosher salt.   Bake in 375′ oven for 14-16 minutes.

The leftover potato flesh will be good for 7 days in the refrigerator.

Top the hot skins generously with cheese and cooked bacon.  Bake at 375′ another 5-7 minutes.  Serve with sour cream and sliced green onions.  Enjoy!

Potato Skin Appetizers
 12 small potatoes, baked, halved, and hollowed out
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons canola oil
½ lb. bacon cooked and cut into small pieces
8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup sour cream
½ cup thinly sliced green onions

1) Preheat oven to 375’. Bake potatoes for 35-40 minutes.

2) While the potatoes are baking, cook the bacon until crispy. Drain on paper towels and cut into small pieces. Set aside.

3) Remove potatoes from the oven and allow to cool until you can handle them. Cut in half and remove the flesh of the potato.  Save the flesh for breakfast potatoes.

4) Brush the inside and the back side with a thin layer of canola oil. Season the inside of the potato skin generously with kosher salt.  Place on a foil lined cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and generously top with cheese and bacon. Bake an additional 8-10 minutes.

5) Remove from the oven and top each skin with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of green onion. Serve immediately.   Makes 24.

Skillet Potatoes….

Ever have leftover baked potatoes and don’t know what to do with them?  Well, this is the most delicious solution I can think of!   The next time you make baked potatoes, make a few extra.  (ALWAYS refrigerate leftover potatoes!)  Simply remove the skins and coarsely slice them up.  Enjoy as a side dish to most any roasted or grilled meats or make your own breakfast skillet.

Skillet Potatoes

2-3 large baking potatoes, skin removed and sliced

2-3 tablespoons canola oil

1/2 small onion, thinly sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish with green onions

1)  Heat non stick or cast iron skillet over medium heat until very hot.  Add the oil and the onion,  cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add potatoes.  Resist the temptation to stir often.  You want to let them sit in the pan long enough to get brown before turning.  Use a large spatula to give them a flip.  Cook until they get nicely browned.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Garnish with sliced green onions.

*Add peppers and mushrooms if you like.

Perfect Scalloped Potatoes…..

If you’re serving a ham for Christmas dinner, I would like to recommend the perfect potato accompaniment.  I got this recipe from my friend Mickey so I’ve always called them “Mickey Potatoes.”  They’re the perfect combination of Gruyere Swiss cheese, heavy cream, and yukon gold potatoes…absolutely the best potato I’ve ever had!  The beauty of this dish is they’re actually better the next day so you could prepare them completely ahead and simply warm in the oven before serving.

Ah, what else to serve with ham.  Well, you need something green.  Have you tried my Pan Roasted Brussel Sprouts?  Omit the bacon if you wish and substitute a tablespoon of olive oil in lieu of the bacon fat.   Brussel sprouts hold up nicely when rewarming, so you could certainly make these ahead as well and simply microwave before serving.

I am ready to decompress with a relaxing and delicious Christmas dinner, how about you?

Have a great week!

Twice Baked Potato Casserole….

Often times, potatoes on sale in the bag have varied sizes in them. What to do with the small potatoes? This is the perfect recipe for small potatoes you wouldn’t necessarily bake or stuff. I like that that small potatoes don’t require an hour of baking time like the large ones. You don’t have to be particularly careful when scooping out the flesh of the potato like when you are making a typical twice baked potato. The not so perfect skins line the bottom of the dish. If you’re like me and love the skins, you are going to love this recipe!

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

2 lbs. small or medium baking potatoes
2 tablespoons butter + 2 teaspoons for buttering the baking dish
¼ cup sour cream
½ cup milk
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
8 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons fresh chives or green onions thinly sliced

1) Preheat oven to 400’. Butter a 2 quart baking dish with 2 teaspoons butter, set aside. Bake potatoes for 30-40 minutes, or until soft.
2) Remove from oven and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.
3) Line your hand with a clean kitchen towel to hold the warm potato. Cut potatoes in half and scoop out center and place into a medium mixing bowl. Line your baking dish with the potato skins on the bottom and partially up the sides. (You will have an over abundance of skins, if you really love them, break them into small pieces and throw them into the bowl with the flesh, remember the skins contain most of the vitamins!)
4) Add 2 tablespoons butter, sour cream, milk, salt, and pepper to the potatoes in the bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat for about 30 seconds. If too thick, add more milk. Fold in half of the cheese. Carefully pour potatoes over skins in baking dish. Spread evenly. Add remaining cheese. Bake at 350’ for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Top with chives or green onions.

*If you choose to make these potatoes ahead and go from refrigerator to oven, bake in preheated 350’ oven for 30-35 minutes.
*These do NOT freeze well.
*Feel free to top with crumbled bacon:-)

Loaded Potato Soup

Comfort anyone?  This is the perfect soup to serve to get rid of a “chill.”  This hearty and elegant soup is simple and uses very basic ingredients.   Serve with Irish Soda Bread. (recipe below)  Add a splash of half and half or cream if you wish.  The bacon is optional, but I hightly recommend it!  This soup tastes much like a loaded baked potato, it’s fantastic!

4 strips bacon
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary or 1 tablespoon dried
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
3 large cloves garlic, crushed or finely minced
3 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into ½” cubes
4 cups homemade chicken stock or low sodium canned
4 cups low fat milk, warmed
¾ cup all purpose flour
Cheddar cheese
3 green onions, thinly sliced

1)  Place a soup pot over medium heat and allow pan to get hot.  Cut bacon into small pieces and add to pan; cook until  nicely brown.  Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on paper towel, set aside.  Remove all but about 1 tablespoon bacon fat, add butter and  onion and cook 5-7 minutes. Add fresh herbs, salt, pepper, and garlic. Cook another minute. Continue with medium heat through the entire recipe.
2) Add diced potatoes and broth to the pot.   Bring to a low bubble and cook for 22 minutes, or until potatoes are soft. Taste a potato to be sure.
3) Warm milk in the microwave until warm. (not hot) Whisk flour into warm milk a little at a time.
4) Once potatoes are soft, mix the milk/flour mixture one last time to be sure it’s incorporated and add to the broth/potato mixture all at once. Stir often until the soup comes to a bubble and allow to cook for a few mintues longer.   Taste, adjust seasoning if needed.  Ladel into large serving bowls and garnish with cheddar cheese, green onion, and bacon.  Serve with a salad and a couple of slices of Irish Soda Bread and you have a very delicious and statisfying dinner!

*tip* when you whisk flour into warm milk it prevents lumps from forming.
**tip*  if you’d like to omit the bacon , simply add an additional tablespoon of butter.