Yeah yeah yeah, my kid’s picky. Cry me a river, right?
I’ve figured out exactly one trick that entices Harry to eat what I cook: Customization. My individual pot pies, food cooked in parchment paper packets, salad bars, lettuce wraps, and pizza all score big with the kid because I hand over the reins. I let him choose what elements of the meal go into his portion, and—surprise, surprise—he actually eats it. If only I could figure out a way to do this with every meal…
If that’s not possible (and I’m pretty sure it’s not), I’ll have to keep offering things like these potato skins. The idea here is similar to what I’ve explained before: You make the base item, in this case scooped-out baked potatoes, and present an array of toppings. Each person assembles his or her own creation, and after a quick run under the broiler, you feast.
Harry, of course, chose the olive pizza option: a whisper of marinara, sliced kalamata olives, and mozzarella cheese. Stephen and I went slightly more sophisticated, with combos like mango chutney & cheddar (Kerrygold was kind enough to send me some coupons, which is awesome since it’s my first choice anyway), fig butter & Gruyere, and tomato jam & mozz. A big ol’ salad alongside, and everyone was pleased.
A note about cheese: Whenever possible, I like to shred it myself. The quality of the cheese itself tends to be better (like that Kerrygold, which you won’t find shredded in a bag), and it doesn’t have any anti-clumping additives. My one exception is mozzarella, since Harry makes his own pizzas a couple times a week. I probably could teach him to grate off a hunk, but the thought of further complicating his feeding just makes me cringe.
To cook the potato skins, I adapted the method from Elise’s Simply Recipes, then made my own filling combinations. That’s the beauty of these pups: You can put whatever the heck you want—and as much as you want—in ‘em. They’re a Nap-Friendly Recipe as well, since you can bake the potatoes while baby sleeps then do the rest of the work later.
So here’s your Super Bowl game plan: Make a batch of chili on Saturday; it’ll taste even better on Sunday. (Need a recipe? In eight years of blogging, I’ve come up with a few. Try Hot-Cha-Cha Chili Mix, Slow Cooker Chorizo Chili, Three-Bean Turkey Chili, or maybe Chicken Chili.) Bake the potatoes while the chili simmers or even on Sunday morning, and set out the potato skins bar just before kickoff. Let your Super Bowl guests go to town, and don’t be surprised if at least one genius puts some chili in a potato skin, then tops with cheddar, sour cream, and scallions.
Minimal work for you, lots of good eats for all.
Make-Your-Own Baked Potato Skins
Each combination makes 1 serving (two halves)
Weight Watchers: 9 PointsPlus per serving
1 large baked potato, cool enough to handle
2 tablespoons mango chutney
1 ounce shredded cheddar cheese, like Kerrygold
2 tablespoons fig butter
1 ounce shredded Gruyere cheese
1 strip turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 ounce cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped scallions, green part only
The Harry Special:
2 tablespoons marinara sauce
1 tablespoon chopped black olives
1 ounce shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place a cooling rack inside a rimmed baking sheet.
- Cut the potatoes in half horizontally and carefully scoop out the insides, leaving a wall of potato sturdy enough to support the toppings. Save the insides for another recipe (Cottage Pie, perhaps?). Place skins on the cooling rack, spray both sides with cooking spray (or brush lightly with oil), and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 15 minutes, until edges are beginning to brown. Remove, and turn up the heat to Broil.
- Divide the fillings of your choice between the two halves of each potato—if you’re making the Old-School version, don’t use the sour cream and scallions just yet. Broil for 3 to 8 minutes, depending on how fierce your broiler is, until cheese is bubbling and browned.
- Let them cool a bit before eating, or you’ll risk scalding off the roof of your mouth. Now’s the time to top the Old-School potatoes with sour cream and scallions.
MAKE BABY FOOD: With the exception of the potato skin itself and the turkey, which may be too firm/tough for early eaters, the elements here are great for tots, especially once they’re on finger food. In fact, take those potato innards and mash them with butter and milk plus a bit of the filling, and watch your wee’un gobble it up.