Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Guest Post: Making Memories, Making Potato Skins

Today's guest post comes from Krystal Cooks. In addition to being a good friend, Krystal is a busy mom and a great cook! She's the girl who throws together delicious food from scratch and shrugs it off as no big deal. Her blog does all the work of trying popular recipes and rates them on ease, cost, mess, and taste. I am pretty excited that the post she decided to feature is one of my all-time favorite foods!

Raise your hand if you’ve ever read Like Water for Chocolate. If your hand isn’t up in the air, go get yourself a copy. I read this book way back as a sophomore in high school and it still creeps into my mind every once and again. This book speaks a lot about why I like cooking so much. It’s not about finding the most delicious food or the food with the most tradition steeped in its making – it’s more about what that food represents and the memories and parts of ourselves it carries with it. It means enjoying the good times and remembering the better times. I enjoy cooking because it means friends; it means family.

 So, if you haven’t heard, there was a Superbowl. And if you haven’t heard, it was kind of a ridiculous match. But lets not talk about that anymore, mmkay? Instead, lets talk about how nice it is to have another reason to get together with friends and share good food and good company – to try a new recipe and create a new memory. We spent time with some of E’s family – some of my favorite people to spend time with. E’s cousins have a little boy, Caden, who is just a couple weeks younger than Little K. The two boys were so well behaved and absolutely adorable together. It was the first time the two kids actually played together. They chased each other and played hide and seek and even tried their hand at playing Chopsticks on the piano.
 Amongst all the fun, we also had some delicious food to share. E’s Aunt Gail made this amazing pulled pork that I couldn’t stop eating and I brought some potato skins. (They’re shaped like footballs. They remind me of “pigskin.” It seemed like a no brainer for a football party.) I used Pioneer Woman’s recipe from her latest cookbook. You know, she and I are tight. See; check this love letter she wrote me.  

 Ok, actually, my lovely sister Rachel gave me this signed copy of PW’s Cookbook, A Year of Holidays, for Christmas. Ree and her hubby, Marlboro Man, made a book tour stop in the great state of Arkansas where my sister lives, so Rachel gave up an entire Saturday to get me the signed cookbook. I know you’re all mired in grief because you don’t have a sister that amazing. It’s ok; you’ll get through this.

In the meantime, invite some people over and make memories. And, more literally speaking, make potato skins!

 These were easy to make and so customizable! I loved that about them. I went with the classic potato skin and had green onions, cheese, bacon, and sour cream. However, you could’ve made little tex-mex taters or pizza skins or went crazy with the veggies and had olives, peppers, and broccoli in lieu of the bacon. Do what your soul tells you, my friends! Recipe here, from Pioneer Woman.

The clean up was a cinch and although the process took a long time (lots of baking time and waiting for the oven timer to go off!) it was incredibly easy. However, I will say that I had a tough time scraping out enough of the meat of the potato. It’s important that you get most of the innards out – you really want the skins to be the star. However, you don’t want to bust through the skin or for them to lose their form. It’s a tight rope to walk, and I could’ve done a little better. They were still good, but a little starchier than I’d like.

Even so, one of the best things about this recipe is the cast offs. Look at all the delicious potato guts I have to make into mashed potatoes this week. Yayz! 

 (Note: I told E to buy me the smallest yellow potatoes. Apparently our grocery specializes in super-sized potatoes. If you can find them, you should use smaller potatoes though.)

Another thing I was happy with is the ability to travel with these little po-taters. I made them at home – all the way up to the last step of melting the cheese. Then I stacked them (double with a liner of tin foil) and popped them in the oven at the party for just a couple of minutes. It worked out lovely.

I also thought about bringing a few containers of various toppings and making it into a little DIY assembly there, but I kept it simple. I think this would be a super cute idea for a kids party though – you could have a whole table of toppings for kids to customize to their heart’s content. Basically what I’m trying to tell you is that this recipe is versatile, easy, and quickly devoured.

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