Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Resolution Buster #1 - Twice Baked Potatoes

Nothing like not blogging in weeks and then swooping in with something random like a post about twice baked potatoes! I haven't posted about Christmas, our wonderful post-Christmas trip to visit my family in CT and the almost 40-hour round trip road trip that entailed; the exhilarating trip into New York City the day before New Year's Eve ("New Year's Eve Eve"); the christening of my precious baby niece, Emma, our detour to Charlottesville, VA {my personal happy place} on the way home; or the most well-timed vomit incident in the history of the world (hint: Elizabeth on our driveway after pulling in at the end of a 16 hour drive. Thatta girl!). Nope, I got slammed at work the moment we got back from CT and have pretty much just been limping through the month. But enough about all that -- let's move on to twice baked potatoes!

When Amanda told me before Christmas that she and some other friends were starting a new cooking club, Sweet as Pie, my first reaction was to tell her that it sounded awesome but that I wasn't interested. First, I'm already a flunk out/drop out of multiple cooking clubs. I just can't seem to sustain one hobby for too long. Heck, I've already taken up and gotten bored with a whole other hobby (photography) since I was last participating regularly in online cooking clubs. I loved food blogging probably as much as any other extracurricular I've ever participated in, but in the end I just couldn't keep up the pace.

Also, I had some hesitation about the recipe source for Sweet as Pie, the Pioneer Woman. I love the PW as much as the next person; if I'm looking for an apple cake or a no-holds-barred mac & cheese recipe, she's one of my go-tos, but for regular weeknight cooking, I (fairly or not) tend to think of her as one of the "superfluous butter" cooks (see also, Paula Deen, Ina Garten to a degree {sorry, I still love you Ina!!}, etc.) And that's just not how I cook {although it IS how I bake}. And that's definitely now how I want to cook starting the new year, when I've made all of the usual vows to eat healthier, exercise regularly, get organized, etc. (yawn).

But in the end the prospect of doing this on a small scale with Amanda and other friends was too enticing, and superfluous butter, by definition, can be omitted without any consequence to the recipe (being superfluous and all). So I figured that I would just modify PW's recipes if necessary in the event she got a little too exuberant with her added fats.

The first recipe I made was her twice baked potatoes. Who doesn't love twice baked potatoes? But wait, what's this? Yes, Ree wants us to use two sticks of butter for our 8 potatoes. Ree, Ree, Ree. I was born in 1972 (but very, very late in the year in 1972, very late). You can do the math. I hear the drumbeat of THAT age,and it's getting louder. At my age I probably shouldn't even eat a potato, much less a potato recipe that begins with two sticks of butter. And WHY would that much butter be necessary in a recipe that also calls for a cup of sour cream, bacon and cheese? Answer: it's not. It's. Just. Not.

And now I have the proof! I modified Ree's recipe as follows: instead of 2 sticks of butter, I used 5T of Brummel & Brown (I love the stuff as much as real butter - seriously); instead of 1 C of regular sour cream I used 3/4 cup of light sour cream (that's actually all I had in my fridge); and instead of a full cup each of bacon and cheese I used 1/2 cup of each. With the butter modification alone, I saved 1375 calories and 151 grams of fat in the whole recipe -- that is a week's worth of dessert! And these were completely wonderful and rich and decadent - even with the modifications they still felt like a total indulgence.

Horrid, unedited (because editing would not save this) photo of twice baked potatoes:

I only baked 8 potato halves for the 5 of us and froze the other 8 (which I never would have thought to do if not for a handy PW tip in her blog post), so we'll look forward to enjoying these again sometime soon.