Sometimes one big dish will not satisfy everyone in the crowd. One person is not eating meat. One person’s off dairy. And the kids refuse anything green. So, what’s the answer for a Sunday supper that will make everyone happy without having you cooking 10 different things? A baked potato bar! Super easy for you and your whole family can create their own special meal. Win-win!
(photo courtesy of The Fun, Cheap, or Free Queen)
PREPARE THE POTATOES
(from The Yummy Life)
- If possible, purchase potatoes that are a uniform size so they cook evenly. I prefer russets for baking.
- Scrub them under water and dry them off.
- Spray or rub them with oil.
- Use a metal fork to poke a few holes in each potato. (This keeps them from exploding when they cook. Don’t do this too far ahead of baking or the fork holes will oxidize and turn dark.)
- Put them on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake at 400 degrees for 50-60 minutes, until soft.
- If you’re baking potatoes ahead for a party, the hot, baked potatoes can be stored in a cooler for up to 4 hours. Seriously. They keep really well this way. Preheat the cooler with hot water before hand; empty and dry it right before adding the hot potatoes. (Here’s a link to more information about preparing baked potatoes for a crowd.)
- When it’s time to serve, cut potatoes longways across the top of each potato and squeeze the ends together to open the potato.
PILE ON THE TOPPINGS. Here are some to choose from:
- freshly ground pepper
- butter (try whipped, herbed, or garlic butter)
- sour cream or yogurt
- shredded cheddar or jack
- crumbled blue or feta
- grated Parmesan
Fresh herbs and seasonings:
- chopped fresh basil, cilantro, oregano, or dill
- crushed red pepper
- seasoned salt
- chopped chives
- taco meat
- fajita chicken or beef
- pulled pork
- crumbled bacon (use the real thing–so much better than those bits in a jar)
- chopped ham
- smoked salmon
- chopped salami or pepperoni
- chopped scallions or red onions
- steamed broccoli, green beans, or asparagus
- grilled corn
- beans (canned black beans or chili beans)
- chopped fresh tomatoes
- chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- sauteed spinach
- sauteed mushrooms
- grilled onions
- roasted red peppers
- sliced jalapenos (fresh or from a jar)
- thawed frozen peas (no need to cook them)
- chopped avocados or guacamole
Sauces & dressings:
- barbecue sauce
- alfredo sauce
- nacho sauce
- blue cheese or ranch salad dressing
- marinara sauce – or other red Italian sauce