Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Loaded twice-baked potatoes with broccoli, beef & cheese

With tangy, hearty, cheesy ooey gooey loaded twice baked potatoes, of course!  

But, before I get to that, let me give you a little tour of my new kitchen.  After a long day of shopping on Sunday until I literally almost dropped (candles and towels are surprisingly heavy in large quantities), I was excited to cook my first dinner here.  Look how shiny and bright it is!  Helloooooo natural light.  (It's so so much better for pictures, btw!)

I totally love everything about this kitchen.  The counter space, the multitude of cabinets, and -- goodness -- a dishwasher!

Even the marbled counters.  No more putrid green backdrops for pictures.

So, while learning and remembering where I put all of my kitchen tools, I decided to make a dinner that Matt would love.  You see, he has a thing about requesting certain foods.  "You know, you never really cook with potatoes."  "Of course I do!"  Turns out that I actually don't cook with potatoes very often.  Making a big batch of mashed potatoes for one, or even two, is a little excessive.  And a plain baked potato is a bit boring.  Except when you bake that potato twice and stuff it with cheese, ground beef, sour cream, broccoli, and even more cheese!

I feel like I've encouraged playing with and stuffing food before.  No? Yes? Maybe? ... it'll come to me eventually.  :)

Once I dug in, I was in Heaven.  The broccoli provided a subtle snap to the incredibly hearty beef and potato filling.  And the gooey cheese?  We needn't discuss it.  Because if, by now, you don't know the delights of melted cheese, I'm not sure if we can be friends.

I kid, I kid!  Well, sort of.

And, because adding toppings to an already-great stuffed potato only improves the deliciousness, I had to follow Matt's lead and try topping it with a dollop of Baconnaise.  Um... off the hook awesome!  (If, like me, you've searched for this high and low, check your local Wal-mart.  After months of seeking, I finally found it there!)

One Year Ago: Mushroom and spinach quesadillas

Loaded Twice-Baked Potatoes
(adapted slightly from EatingWell)
-serves 2 as a stand-alone meal, or 4 with a side

A few notes: One (1 half shell, that is) of these super-stuffed potato was enough for me with some broccoli on the side, but two was the magic number for Matt's manly appetite.  Adjust accordingly.

2 medium russet baking potatoes
8 ounces lean ground beef
1 cup frozen broccoli florets, cooked, drained, and finely chopped
1-ish cup shredded cheddar cheese, "ish" because more is always better
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons chopped chives

Pierce potatoes all over with a fork.  Place in the microwave and cook on medium, turning once or twice, until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, brown the beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Add broccoli to the meat.

When the potatoes are finished cooking, carefully slice them in half lengthwise.  Scoop out the insides into a medium bowl.  Place the potato shells on a large plate and set aside.  To the potato insides, add 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese, sour cream, salt, and pepper and mash with a fork.  Add chives and the potato mixture to the broccoli and meat.  Stir to combine.

Evenly divide the potato mixture among the potato shells, packing if necessary, and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.  Microwave on high until the filling is hot and the cheese is melted, 2 to 4 minutes.  Serve and enjoy!

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