The thing I love so much about twice-baked potatoes is that you can basically do anything you want with them. If you want to add three kinds of cheese, you can. If you want to add a pound of bacon, you can. If you want to add bacon and ham and cheese and sour cream and butter and more bacon, go for it. Just don't blame me if your arteries explode from all the deliciousness.
I used red potatoes this time because I prefer the flavor, but regular russet potatoes are easier to work with because of their thicker skin. Regardless of the type, leave a quarter-inch or so of the potato in the skin when you hollow it out--it will give the "shell" more stability.
If the potatoes are large enough, one per person plus a vegetable on the side is plenty for a meal. Half a potato works well as a side dish. You could also use several small potatoes and make appetizers.
Serves: 2 (entree) or 4 (side)
Time: 1 hour
2 large potatoes
2-3 T. butter
2-3 T. milk
1/4 to 1/3 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar)
1/4 cup chopped cooked ham or bacon
1 small green onion, thinly sliced (OR 2-3 T. chives, chopped)
1. Prepare potatoes: Clean with vegetable brush under running water. Remove any eyes. Pierce on both sides with a sharp fork. Microwave in 2-minute increments, turning over each time, until easily pierced with a fork. (Two large potatoes should take about 6-8 minutes.) Cool for 10-15 minutes. Slice in half lengthwise; allow to cool until potatoes can easily handled.
2. Using a spoon, carefully hollow out the potato halves, creating four shallow "bowls." (See note above.) Using a potato masher, combine scooped-out potato, butter, and milk until smooth. Stir in cheese, meat, and green onion or chives. Season with pepper to taste.
3. Spoon mixture back into potato skins. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake in a small cake pan or casserole at 350 F for 15-20 minutes, until heated through.
Variations: Try mixing sour cream into the potato filling for a creamier consistency. Experiment with different kinds of cheeses, including Parmesan or blue cheese. Top with chopped steamed vegetables, such as broccoli, after baking. The possibilities are endless!