Twice Baked Potatoes need little introduction. The basic recipe’s been around forever. But it took my youngest daughter Blair to remind me that I don’t make this straightforward and deliciously simple side often enough.
Blair is a foodie in her own right … has been ever since she took a stance against jarred baby food at the ripe old age of 9 months. She eats everything and anything and is quick to assess when too much time has passed since her last helping of a favorite dish (and there are many)! Last week while digging in the pantry for an afternoon snack, she came across a handful of potatoes just begging for attention … or so she thought. She placed them on the counter and asked me to “please make those yummy potatoes with the mashed potatoes inside.” And so I did. She also pleaded with me to make extras to stick in the freezer for “other dinners.” I did that too. Then it dawned on me that I had never written down my specific recipe and I needed to capture it in writing so Blair would have it when she started cooking on her own. All of that led to this post.
I prepare my Twice Baked Potatoes essentially the same way everyone else does with one exception. I use cream cheese instead of sour cream. It makes them, well, extra “creamy “and “cheesy.” I also personalize them with my own blend of Creole spices. But let me digress from the recipe for a sec to mention that more often than not I use the light or reduced-fat versions of cream cheese, sour cream and cheddar. I know. I know. I should have told you this sooner. But from a cooking standpoint, it doesn’t make that much of a difference and I figured everyone would follow their own preferences anyway. I do, however, list those specific ingredients on the occasions when I think the fat content will affect the taste and texture of a recipe. Oh, and I never, ever use any of those fat-free products. They’re downright foul! Back to the recipe … here are a few more thoughts to share:
- don’t wrap the potatoes in aluminum foil when baking them because the skins will get soggy and never hold up to the dense filling,
- bake an extra potato to add to the filling so you can overstuff the skins,
- if you don’t feel like messing with uncooked bacon, substitute 1/3 cup real bacon bits microwaved on high for about 30 seconds (I take this shortcut all the time when I’m adding bacon to other things), and finally
- my recipe makes 8 small side servings because I cut the baked potatoes in half, but you can change that to 4 heartier servings by removing only the top 1/4 of each potato before scooping out the insides.
Twice Baked Potatoes Recipe
5 medium to large russet potatoes, scrubbed clean
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 strips bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 cup chopped green onions
4-ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prick potatoes several times with a fork. Rub with olive oil and place on a large baking sheet. Bake until fork-tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cool slightly. Peel one potato completely and place in a large bowl; discard skin. Cut remaining 4 potatoes in half lengthwise. Gently scoop out centers into bowl, leaving a thin shell. Place shells in a large baking dish; set aside. Mash potatoes; stir in bacon, 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, green onions, cream cheese, milk, butter and spices. Spoon mixture into shells and sprinkle with reserved 1/4 cup cheddar cheese. Return to oven and bake, uncovered, until potatoes are heated through and cheese is fully melted, 10-12 minutes. Serves 8.
DO-AHEAD TIPS: The potatoes can be baked and stuffed up to two days in advance or individually wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen in a resealable freezer bag for up to 2 months. Before serving frozen potatoes, let them stand at room temperature for 30 minutes (or defrost them in the microwave on the lowest setting for 8-10 minutes) and bake.