82°F
weather icon Clear

Top perfectly baked potatoes with your favorite flavors

Updated May 14, 2021 - 9:49 am

Remember baked potatoes? I was chatting with friends about food (because what else do I talk about?) and none of us could remember the last time we had stuffed baked potatoes for dinner. We’ve been so busy with our quinoa we forgot about the king of carbs. Good carbs, naturally.

The humble potato is seriously underrated. Besides being a low-fat, low-cholesterol source of carbohydrates and protein, baked potatoes also offer vitamin C, vitamin B6, iron, calcium and more potassium than a banana. The bad nutritional wrap comes from the usual array of toppings. (Looking at you butter, sour cream and bacon.)

I’d like to encourage you to add a baked potato night to your meal repertoire. Besides being the perfectly versatile blank canvas for any kind of topping you can imagine, they’re totally cheap. And that’s how I roll.

Before we top them, we must bake them. It makes such a difference when the skins are crispy and the insides are fluffy. This means you’re using russet potatoes.

Here’s how to perfectly bake a potato.

My personal preference is to bake them in the oven. Preheat your oven to 400 F. Thoroughly wash your potatoes to remove any pesticides that may remain on the skin. Poke them with a small knife a few times to help the steam escape, if you don’t, they can explode. It makes a terrible mess but at least it smells good (wonder how I know that?). Rub them with olive oil and season with salt.

Place your potatoes directly on the upper oven rack with a baking sheet on the rack below to catch any drips. Bake them for 45 minutes to an hour or until a knife inserted into the potato meets no resistance.

To cook a baked potato in the microwave, poke holes, rub with oil and season with salt. Place the potatoes on a microwave-safe plate and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the potatoes over and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Repeat until your potatoes are cooked.

If you’re short on time, you can start them in the microwave until they’re nearly done and finish them in the oven for 20 minutes.

Here’s a recipe that’s everything you want for dinner. A complete meal that’s delicious, comforting, quick and easy to make. I call it Inside Out Shepherd’s Pie. Usually, Shepherd’s pie is a hamburger and vegetable casserole topped with mashed potatoes and cheese. Here we prepare the filling and place it on a baked potato. It’s much easier than mashing potatoes.

INSIDE OUT SHEPHERD’S PIE

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 1 hour

What you’ll need:

4 baking potatoes

1½ pounds ground beef

1 cup onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

1-2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, to taste

1 14.5-ounce can or 1½ cups beef broth

1 14.75-ounce can creamed corn

1 12-ounce bag frozen mixed vegetables, thawed

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Here’s how:

Get your potatoes cooking using your preferred method.

Meanwhile, in a skillet on medium-high heat brown the ground beef until mostly cooked; drain the excess fat. Add the onion, garlic, salt and pepper to taste. When the beef is cooked, add the tomato paste, Worcestershire and broth, stirring to combine.

Add your corn and vegetables, and let this simmer, getting all cozy until the potatoes are cooked. It’s going to be saucy because no one likes a dry potato. Adjust seasoning to taste. This is when I pour myself a glass of wine.

When the potatoes are cooked, place them close together in a pie plate or baking dish. Cut them open part way, fluff the insides and spoon the filling inside the potatoes. Divide the cheese between the stuffed-up spuds and return to the oven, or microwave, to melt the cheese. Serve a side salad and dinner is done.

Here are more great flavor combinations for inspiration.

Pizza: Make pizza sauce by combining 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce with 1 teaspoon each garlic powder and Italian seasoning and 2 teaspoons of sugar or sweetener of choice. Scoop the insides out of four baked potatoes. Mash with pizza sauce and some shredded mozzarella, then stuff back into the skins. Top with sliced pepperoni, more mozzarella, Parmesan, and broil to melt.

Broccoli, ham and Swiss: Scoop the insides out of four baked potatoes. Mash with butter, then add diced ham, shredded Swiss cheese and steamed broccoli. Stuff into the skins, top with more cheese and broil to melt.

I hope this inspires you to pick up potatoes next time you shop. As a wise person once said, “Potatoes give us French fries, chips and vodka. It’s like the other vegetables aren’t even trying.”

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is a recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Würst Festival brings food, fun downtown

Members of Boulder City Sunrise Rotary invite the community to join them for a day of food, fun and festivities at the 26th annual Würst Festival on Saturday in Bicentennial and Wilbur Square parks.

Thunderbirds amaze spectators with acrobatics

Many oldtimers fondly remember the comic book and television versions of “Superman,” and the astonishment of the anonymous characters when they saw something foreign flying overhead — “It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman!”

‘Xeric’ plants, trees require less water

Thanks for sending me pictures of your plants. Many homeowners don’t know the names of plants in their yards or landscapes. Most can look at a plant and know if it is a tree, shrub, or flower but not its name much less how often it should be watered and with how much.

Family tradition highlights importance of Constitution

For more than 10 years, the Mitchell-Stankovic family has created a display at the Boulder City Library to commemorate Constitution Week, which will be observed Sept. 17-23.

Weather, location affects fruit production

Q. I have a Washington navel orange and Flordaprince peach tree planted this spring that a local nursery claimed was eight to 10 years old. The peach tree produced lots of small fruit. The orange tree produced tons of flowers but fruit that dropped from it after it flowered. The trees don’t look so good now. Your opinion please?

Nevada’s Yesteryear: Mines spurred trains’ construction

Mining was the main reason Nevada was developed as a state, what with the very rich Comstock Lode at Virginia City and numerous other communities and camps such as Delamar and Pioche. Mining was equally important in California as well and had been since the gold rush there of 1849.

Monsoon season creates perfect conditions for flies

Anyone watching HBO’s sci-fi series “Westworld” must be particularly creeped out by our current fly infestation, especially since the show filmed on location at Hoover Dam and Black Canyon this year. For folks not hip to this dystopian neo-Western, flies represent, well, pretty much the end of mankind as we know it.

Aviation heroes land at Chautauqua

Boulder City Chautauqua will be soaring to new heights and “Pushing the Envelope” when it returns later this month for performances at the pavilion at Boulder Creek Golf Club.

Many work on your be-fun-half

With nice weather right around the corner, many nonprofit organizations are busy planning their fundraising events to help fund their annual programming. These events are dual-purpose. First, they provide needed revenue to the organization so they can continue to do great works for us in Boulder City, therefore adding to our quality of life. Second, special events draw guests from around Southern Nevada into our community and provide needed revenue to the businesses in our community. When the business core is healthy, we see benefits citywide.

Mural brightens King’s walls, tells city’s history

The halls of King Elementary School are now a lot more colorful as a new mural welcomes students and visitors through the office entrance. Done by Boulder City local artist Connie Burnett Ferraro, this mural shows the history of the community and Southern Nevada in general. Things such as the Hoover Dam, bighorn sheep and a TWA plane (which Ferraro says is her favorite) are all present.