A freezer side dish: 24 Twice Baked Potatoes

My chicken braid was lonely in my oven so I decided to throw 24 small russet potatoes alongside and cheer it up. I baked them for 1 hour and my plan initiated two different sides which I’ll post separately. Today, I’m sharing how I make my twice baked potatoes using very few ingredients. It’s basically making mashed potatoes with cheese and placing them back inside the skin. It just looks impressive, like you spent a lot of time on it for guests. hint, hint.

I begin by slicing about 1/2″ off the top off each potato. Since these are small potatoes, they didn’t need to cool long to handle. I allowed mine to cool about 5-10 minutes and then I prepared two piles of potatoes, hollowed and the tops for cheesy potato skins. I use a melon baller for this because it’s got a somewhat sharper edge than a kitchen spoon. However, a small kitchen spoon will work. Hollow each potato leaving about 1/4″ inside.

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Place the potato flesh inside a large mixing bowl and proceed to add hot milk (microwave for a minute), sour cream, butter, cheese, salt and pepper.  Mash with a mixer on low-speed for a minute and proceed to mix on high for about 2 minutes.

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Place potato mixture back into skins using a cookie scoop.  I put all of mine into an aluminum tray for flash freezing (freezing for about 2 hours).

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Once they’re frozen, I place them in labeled quart size bags (gallon works too) and add this side dish to my freezer inventory.

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Don’t forget to save those skins. Allow them to fully cool and put them in quart size bags and freeze. These will make great potato cheese skins on another night. Just don’t throw them away.

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Printable Twice Baked Potatoes recipe and Cheesy potato Skins

I call these toddler spuds. They’re just the right size a side dish.  However, you could dress these potatoes up with cubed ham, convenience chicken, or frozen broccoli. I suggest bigger spuds for more ingredients. Send these to a neighbor or friend in an aluminum pan labeled with the thawing and cooking instructions along with a bag salad. They’ll think you’re the best cook ever and it’s just a spud.

What are your best spud filling ideas? We’d love to be a community of spud lovers.

Fantasy Fudge is freezer friendly

 

Just in case you love fudge or chocolate like my husband does, it’s beneficial to know fudge can be wrapped tightly in foil and frozen for a good while. I secretly saved a third of the fantasy fudge and stowed it away. Tonight, I unwrapped the large chunk of fudge and cut it into bite size portions, like the ones pictured above. It was still frozen while I chopped a small portion with a chef knife and this allowed it  to come to room temperature quicker. We were indulging in homemade fudge within ten minutes. My daughter was indulging within one minute and didn’t care if it was cold.

Items made with milk and butter, marshmallow creme and other goodies do indeed freeze well. Have you checked out the prices for fudge at speciality shops? A whopping $10 to $15 a pound.  Save yourself a bundle and make your own. You could make goodie bags in a flash  for others by having homemade fudge in your freezer. Cut small squares and place in cellophane bags tied with a grosgrain ribbon for any holiday or appreciation gift.  Or you could just save it for yourself and eat it all;)– that’s my husband’s vote right now.

Recipe for Fantasy Fudge

What’s your favorite freezer item to give away?

Healthy homemade Popsicles

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The sound of the icecream truck is a familiar tune to adults and children on a summer day. How many of you recall the astropop when you were a kid? It is a red, white and blue novelty  re-introduced in the grocery store. This mold reminds me of the familar shape of an astropop. I remember the cost was close to a dollar or right under. A popsicle is 90% water with added food dye and high fructose corn syrup. Juice bars are made from concentrated juice and water. Fudgesicles and creamsicles are made from dairy.

Today’s post gives you ideas how to make your own healthy homemade popsicles and frozen treats. For healthy juicesicles, you need one ingredient–100% juice and you pour it into a mold like the one above, which came from the dollar tree or dollar general. Do you prefer a dairy frozen treat? Try freezing your leftover smoothie made with milk or yogurt, like the Tinkerbell or Incredible Hulk, for an easy treat. Oh your love is chocolate? Then make chocolate milk and freeze it. Using a blender is a great way to create new popscicle treats and pour them directly into the molds (so grab a few at the store).  It’s fun for kids to watch you make their popsicle and a few hours later enjoy a healthy treat. You know exactly what went into your treat and it’s low-calorie enough to enjoy two if they are small like mine.

Be creative with your popsicles and have fun. We actually pour the leftover smoothie which contains spinach. I bet you’ve never heard of that. My kids are eating frozen spinach!

TIP: Turn the entire mold upside down and run warm water over them first, and then gently pull down on the sticks to remove them easily. You can also use small bath cups for thicker mixtures, such as smoothies, and insert craft sticks in them prior to freezing.

Tell us your favorite popsicle creation or store-bought popsicle so we can get our wheels turning.

Smoothies with Spinach

Yep, I can get everyone in my family to drink spinach (except the baby–she wouldn’t drink it in her milk–or would she?;) How? I put a handful of spinach in my smoothies. Remember my kids are not the best vegetable eaters in the world, so I counteract by doing more deceptive cooking and pureeing. Thanks to my new blender, which I received for Valentine’s Day, I’m back in the smoothie bar business.

I’ve owned two Cuisinart blenders and they have both burned out. One was new and one was used. The new Cuisinart blender did very well and pureed spinach and ice wonderful. The second used one which had a lower voltage and did not do as well. My hubbie bought a Kitchen Aid this third time around and I used it three times the day after Vday. Now you can see why the Cuisinart might have burned out after several years. I do some serious blending and pureeing around my house with four kiddos. I know a Vitamix would crank out some serious whole food smoothies, but that’s a hopeful purchase one day.

Here’s the easiest recipe in the smoothie business. My three year-old calls thems smovies, so move over regular smovie and get ready for the new healthy one.

I use the basic recipe which consists of sliced frozen bananas, frozen strawberries and orange juice. You can substitute fresh fruit and add crushed ice during summer months when fruit’s in season. I like to use up my brown bananas and slice and freeze them individually for smoothies. This makes the smoothie sweeter without having to add any extra sweetner like raw sugar or honey-but use it if you have to. Use whatever fruit you have on hand-fresh or frozen strawberries-go with the season.  I also add a handful of superfood, spinach. Popeye would agree with me. My kids never complain when I have a super blender that makes it silky. I use the entire leaf, stem and all :)

You can substitute milk in place of oj if you prefer a frosty consistency rather than a slushy. Try it both ways for fun!

I used to call this the Tinkerbell Smoothie when my daughter was very young and then we called it the Incredible Hulk smoothie when my son came along. Smoothies may have a slightly green tinge, depending on the amount of spinach you add. That’s why we called it Tinkerbell for girls and Incredible Hulk for boys. It’s just a fun name if they ask why it looks a little green, plus you can talk about all the wonderful powers of the characters.

I’ll share my peanut butter banana chocolate smovie with spinach, of course, later this week :)

Printable Tinkerbell or Incredible Hulk Smoothie recipe is linked to Frugal Friday

What’s your favorite smoothie? Have you thought about duplicating it at home? Better yet, have you thought about making individual freezer bags with directions to add  liquid ingredients. This is my next freezer to do. No one has to ask you how to make them. They just add the liquid amount on the bag. Pop the bag back into the freezer for the next refill. Smoothie bar is open!