Saturday, April 26, 2014

Week 13 - Potatoes

Week 13 of the 52 week challenge was potatoes week. I decided to make two different dishes for potatoes week: hasselback potatoes and twice baked chili cheese potatoes. Both were new recipes for me (as I hadn't even made a regular twice baked potato before), and I was excited to try them. 


These twice-baked chili cheese potatoes (based on the recipe here) were like making 3 dishes in one: baked potatoes, chili, and mashed potatoes (for the "twice baked" part). The estimated time to make them was two hours, and it took me even longer than that since I am still quite slow in the kitchen (somehow). They were a lot of work, but they were tasty.

Part 1 - baked potatoes

The first step was to bake potatoes. For that step I needed:

- 4 russet potatoes ($1.96)
- olive oil for brushing ($0.20)
- sea salt for sprinkling ($0.05)

Clean the potatoes. Prick them with a fork on all sides. Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake at 425 degrees for 45 minutes. They should be soft and easy to poke holes in with a fork when they're done. This part of the recipe (other than the potato scrubbing since they were so dirty) was easy and relatively quick to prepare.

Part 2 - chili

The second part of the process was to make the chili. For that I needed more ingredients:

- 1 lb ground turkey ($4.17)
- 1 yellow onion, chopped ($0.60)
- 2 small jalapeños, diced ($0.70)
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced ($0.10)
- taco seasoning (see below) ($0.35)
- 1 small can of tomato sauce ($0.33)
- 1 can of kidney beans ($0.70)
- 1 can of diced tomatoes ($0.89)
- salt to taste ($0.05)

Rather than buy taco seasoning, I decided to make my own using a slightly adapted version of this recipe for homemade taco seasoning, which makes about 2 tablespoons of seasoning.

- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1-1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- pinch of crushed red pepper

First, brown the turkey and onions in a skillet.

Add the taco seasoning.

Jalapeños and garlic.

Tomato sauce, beans and diced tomatoes.

Add salt and seasonings to taste. A very quick and simple chili. Set it aside and it'll be ready to go once the potato mashing and mixing is done.

Part 3 - mashed potatoes

The final step prior to assembling the twice baked chili cheese potatoes was to make the mashed potato filling for the potatoes. Once the potatoes are cooked through, you scoop out most of the insides, leaving about 1/4 inch on all sides of the potato. For this step, you also need:

- 2 tbsp butter, thinly sliced ($0.50)
- 1 tsp salt ($0.05)
- 1 tsp pepper ($0.05)
- 3 green onions, chopped ($0.40)
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese + 1 cup cheese for assembly later ($1.25)

Once the potato pulp is in a large bowl, mash the potatoes. Then add the butter, salt, pepper, green onions and cheese. Stir to combine.

Part 4 - assembly

To assemble the final product, stuff each potato half with the mashed potato mixture up to the top of the potato skin.

Top with the chili.

And a generous helping of cheese. (It's completely fine if some of the cheese misses the potatoes. Those baked cheese crispies are always a nice bonus.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted. Top with sour cream if desired when serving.

The potatoes were really good, but a twice baked potato without the chili would probably be just as good. I think we're going to try that next time. The cost of the potatoes (which made plenty of leftovers) with the chili and some sour cream to top them was about $12.50. Without the chili (63% of the cost), the potatoes would have been much more affordable. Substituting a can of chili instead of making it from scratch would also cut costs. This recipe did make a lot of food since we ended up with 8 potato halves and some leftover chili, but it also took a lot of time.

The potatoes were our "main course" for dinner that night with a side of some simply sauteed vegetables. It was a hearty and filling meal.


I had been wanting to make hasselback potatoes for some time, so they were a "must do" for potatoes week. They always look so fancy but didn't sound hard to do. I had no idea they were a Swedish potato preparation until I started researching recipes for them. I decided to use this recipe from What's Cooking America for the potato dish.

To make the hasselback potatoes I needed:

- 2 russet potatoes ($0.98)
- 3 tbsp melted butter ($0.75)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese ($0.75)
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs ($0.60)
- 1 tsp paprika ($0.05)
- salt to taste ($0.05)
- cilantro for garnish ($0.50)

The first step after peeling the potatoes was to cut the slices, which weren't supposed to go all the way to the bottom of the potato. The goal was to leave about 1/4 inch of potato at the bottom. The recipe I followed suggested leveling the potato by cutting off a narrow slice from the bottom, then placing each potato between wooden chopsticks and cutting down to the chopsticks. That worked most of the time, but some slices still almost went all the way through the potato. I didn't make the slice cuts as narrow as I probably should have. Some people suggest 1/4 inch cuts, but the sizes of mine varied. I should have been more precise.

Once you cut the potatoes, rinse under cold water and try to open the potato cuts a little bit. Dry the potatoes, then brush the potatoes with butter. Mix the Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, about 1 tbsp of butter, paprika and salt together in a bowl and then pat the mixture all over the potatoes.

Place in an oiled baking dish and bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes, covered in foil. Then take off the foil and bake another 15 minutes (at least). Garnish with cilantro.

The two hasselback potatoes cost about $3.68. Not that expensive to put together, but we just weren't that impressed with them and they didn't feel as special as we thought they would. Perhaps I needed to make smaller, thinner cuts in order to get the potatoes to really fan out, because they certainly didn't do that on their own. The only reason you can even see the fanned out slices in the picture is because I physically split them to serve them. In the end, they just tasted like potatoes with bread crumbs and cheese.


The potato week challenge was definitely interesting. Potatoes are one of those versatile ingredients that can be used in so many ways, and they're a good food when you're eating on a budget. Between the two, we liked the twice baked chili cheese potatoes better, but probably would just make regular twice baked potatoes next time.

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