One of my favorite party appetizers is twice baked potatoes. They always have such a delicious mix of flavors and textures. In addition, they're a starchy equivalent to quiche: You can grab almost any random thing in the fridge or pantry, add it in and it tastes great. Especially bacon.
It's mixing two amazing things into one! Sounds good to me.
Step 1: What You Need:
Technically, all you really need is potatoes and whatever you want to mix in with them. However, some flavor combinations are amazing, and deserve to be repeated. Here's what I used:
2 in. diameter or so potatoes. I think I had a ten or so...
Three or Four strips of bacon
2 tablespoons of cream
2/3rds cup cheddar cheese
Half a small onion
A clove of garlic
A handful of croutons (better yet, the crumbs on in the bottom of the bag. We'll be crushing the croutons later anyway)
1/2 teaspoon EACH ground sage, salt, and pepper
A dash of chili powder
Step 2: Fry the Bacon
Take your lovely bacon and put it in a skillet. Place on medium heat and cook until nicely brown and its crispy golden. Remove from the pan and drain on some paper towels.
Save the bacon fat in the pan! One: It tastes awesome. Two: You will be using it later on.
Step 3: First Potato Bake
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Rinse your potatoes to make sure there is no dirt on them. If you have beautiful, recently bought potatoes, you probably won't need to trim them. However, mine had started to sprout a few little eyes, so I had to cut them out. Not as pretty, but still awesomely flavorful. (If you don't end up having to remove chunks of your potatoes, prick them nicely with a fork so there is a place for the steam to release during cooking.)
Then place on a cookie sheet, and take some of that yummy bacon fat from the skillet and drizzle it over your potatoes to grease them. (This is where the double bacon comes in.) Roll them around with your hands to make sure they are completely coated.
Put in the oven and cook until a fork tender, around 35 to 40 minutes. Halfway through cooking stir them to cook evenly and so they don't get stuck to the bottom of the cooking sheet.
Step 4: Chop, Chop, Chop!
While the potatoes are cooking, you can get ready for your next step.
Finely mince the garlic clove, and dice the onion. Also chop up your bacon into fine pieces.
I didn't have any grated cheese on hand, so I quickly did my own.
Step 5: Potatoes Again!
Once your potatoes are done cooking, allow them a few minutes to cool off so you can handle them without burning yourself. Cut each potato in half, and carefully scoop out the center, leaving at least a quarter of an inch around the edge so it can support the filling. Once done you should have a bowl of potato centers and a sheet of hallow potato halves.
Step 6: Assembling the Filling
Mash up the potatoes a bit. Add the cream, sage, chili powder, cheese, bacon, onion, salt, pepper and garlic to the potatoes. (Or, to put it simply, everything else except the breadcrumbs)
Give it all one final mashing.
Step 7: Stuffing and Breadcrumbs
Evenly distribute your mixture between your potato shells. (And if your guessing at "Evenly" is off and you have extra's of one or the other, there are ways to get rid of such extras: *nom nom nom*)
Put your croutons in a plastic bag and crush them with a heavy object such as a meat pounder or water glass. Or, if you have the extra crumbs from the bottom of the bag, just skip this step and use those. Sprinkle the crumbs on top of the potatoes. This will give them a nice crunch.
Step 8: The Final Bake
Place back in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes, enough time for the cheese to melt and it all to get nice and hot again. It's epic yummyness.
If you want to reheat them later you can place them back in the oven until heated through, but if it's going to be overnight leave the breadcrumbs off so they stay crispy.
So that's it! The more I look at that picture the more I think it would be nice to garnish with just a small dollop of sour cream. It would really put it over the top.