Thursday, February 21, 2013

Crock Pot baked potatoes with chili toppings

Sizzlin' slow cooker February has been a total hit in our home and for our taste buds so far, if I may say so. Soups, stews, lasagna, and even Indian food have all been ready come dinnertime with minimal human effort.  Thanks for the scrumptious meals, Louie!

But, as I reviewed the dishes I've made in the Crock Pot, I realized that all had a broth or sauce for a base. As I've learned in the past few weeks, you can cook almost anything in the slow cooker as long as there is some kind of liquid to keep the contents from drying out.

For example, I've made pulled pork by simply tossing a pork tenderloin in the crock pot, covering it with water, and cooking on low for 8 hours before draining, shredding, and mixing with our favorite Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce.  Easy peasy!

Again with the liquid, though.  So, I couldn't help but wonder if it were possible to slow cook something without a broth or sauce.

How about some run of the mill spuds?

Turns out the Crock Pot can make perfect baked potatoes.  All you need to do is wrap each tater in foil, place it in the bottom of the bowl, and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours.  That's it.

No, really, that's it!

Between you and me, I spent almost that long trying to decide what to put on top of the baked potatoes.  When all was said and done, these were certainly no run of the mill potatoes.

They were fluffy and tender baked potatoes topped with chili fixin's!  Kidney beans, salsa, sharp cheddar cheese, and chopped green onions.  Talk about elevating an ordinary potato to extraordinary levels!

After I devoured my chili baked potato and was doing dishes, my mind was flooded with ideas for later potato toppings.  Traditional sour cream and chives!  Marinara sauce, shredded mozzarella, and pepperoni!  Diced ham and gooey melted brie!  Shredded chicken and BBQ sauce!

Okay, settle down now, Katy.  There are more than enough potatoes in the world to satisfy each and every craving you have.  Maybe...

Two years ago: Warm spinach and corn salad with lime dressing
Three years ago: Double chocolate cookies

Slow Cooker Baked Potatoes with Chili Toppings
-serves 2

A few notes: Unlike some of the other slow cooker recipes, this is particularly time sensitive in that that potatoes should not be left in much longer that indicated.  I left one of the potatoes in for two hours longer (with the Crock Pot set on "warm" rather than "low") and ended up with a slightly browner potato that we did not eat.  Just be mindful of your tots, folks!

2 russet baking potatoes, rinsed and dried well
1 cup red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup prepared salsa (I used Tostitos chunky mild)
Grated sharp cheddar cheese, for topping
Chopped scallions, for topping

Pierce each potato several times with a fork and wrap each tightly in foil.  Place in the bowl of a slow cooker set on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until fork tender.

In a small bowl, combine beans, spices, and salsa, and microwave to warm.  Remove potatoes from foil and cut lengthwise to open.  Top with half of "chili" mixture and cheese; microwave for a few seconds to melt cheese if desired.  Finish with green onions and serve immediately!

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