Thursday, April 25, 2013

Broccoli & Pepper Jack Potatoes...Twice Baked

Broccoli & Pepper-Jack Twice Baked Potatoes

I know, it's a mouthful to say. But trust me, it's even more delicious to eat!

A few weeks ago, I was making my Chicken in Apple Cream Sauce (which will be my next post most likely) and I was trying to think of what I wanted to go with it. Usually I'll do rice and a veggie of some sort. However, this time I didn't feel like rice. I wanted potatoes. Then I started thinking, what if I did my twice baked potatoes...but changed it up a bit? I had a head of broccoli in my fridge along with some cheese and green onions...why the hell not? So I started on my merry way and they turned out great! Then last week I made them again...except I made them with a couple differences, which I will explain as we go along. It's always nice to have options right?

Oh and by the way, in case you're interested. I got that job I was hoping for. No more preschool for Kendra! Ahh happy day! Now let's get started on these potatoes!

Here's what you need...

4 Large Russet Potatoes
2 Large heads of Broccoli
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 Large cloves of garlic OR about 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 Tablespoon dried minced onion
1 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
3 green onions, chopped
3/4 cup half-and-half cream
3/4 cup sour cream
About 1 or 1-1/2 cups Pepper-Jack Cheese

I'm going to be honest, those measurements are a total guess. I realize I never wrote down the amounts I used on this one. It's ok though, just start with small amounts and work up to what tastes good to you! Alrighty first things first.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Take the potatoes and clean them off. Stab them with a fork a bunch of times and then place them on a baking sheet. Pop them in the oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Yes, it's a long time. But you want the pulp of the potatoes to be really soft. While the potatoes are baking, and no rush at all, you can get the broccoli going.

First chop up the broccoli into bite-sized pieces, like the picture above. Grab a large skillet and get it warmed up on a medium heat. Drizzle the oil into the pan once it's hot, then add in the broccoli. Now here's where I did things differently. The first time, I seasoned the broccoli with black pepper, garlic powder, and minced white onion. Which works, it totally works.
Then second time I used fresh garlic. I love fresh garlic. So I would recommend the use of fresh garlic over powder. I also added a bit of ground mustard to the broccoli and probably a bit extra black pepper. I love pepper about as much as I love garlic.

Once the broccoli is done, which takes about 7-10 minutes to get it nice and tender. Tender, but still crunchy to the bite. Not mushy, mushy broccoli is just...yuck. So set that aside and play the waiting game for the potatoes to be done...

Yep...still're probably not just making the potatoes so you might be busy doing other things during this time. So you are most likely not just standing around watching the potatoes bake. Or if you are...a watched potato never bakes. Or it does, just takes forever.

Once the potatoes are done let them cool off. Don't be like me and burn the tips of your fingers. Who needs nerves in their fingertips anyways? Oh wait, I do! Are the potatoes cooled off now? Great! Slice off the top third of the potato, if the insides are still really hot or warm let them cool with the tops off for another 5 minutes or so.

Next you're going to scoop out the pulp, from the top third and the other two thirds. Place all the pulp in a large mixing bowl. You want to leave a thin layer of the insides of the potatoes because you need them to have some form when you go to re-stuff them in a little bit.

There you go! Hollowed out potato shells! OK now let's get back to all the pulp and get the next part of this process going!

Mash the pulp, you know like mashed potatoes! I don't add anything else to them yet. Just mash them as they are. They pulp should be soft enough that you can do it by hand and not worry about dirtying you hand mixer. Unless you want to. You're more than welcome to.

Once that's all mashed up I take my half-and-half and my sour cream and add it in. Start with adding about 1/4 cup of each into the potatoes. I start with 1/4 cup of each so I don't accidentally over do it and then have soupy potatoes. Here is also where I begin to add in the white pepper, ground mustard, green onion, parsley flakes, salt, and a bit more black pepper. Add in enough cream and sour cream until the potatoes are a nice smooth, creamy consistency.

Now take the sautéd broccoli and fold it into the potatoes.
Preheat your oven again, but this time to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Now it's time for the cheese. The first time I did this, I stirred the cheese right into the potato mixture. The second time...I started to stuff the potatoes and forgot all about the cheese, I was too excited about how good the broccoli tasted. So I layered the cheese into it. Filled the potatoes about half way, sprinkled a layer of cheese, filled it up to the top of the potato, more cheese, then mounded more filling on top and (yes) topped it with more cheese! It was good. I think I'm torn between which way was better.

They look good enough to eat right now don't they? See how there's not a lot of cheese on top though? Yeah I did too...

So I added more! Now pop these back into the oven for another 30 minutes. The cheese will melt, the top with brown and you'll be staring into your oven with a steady stream of drool going down your chin in no time. I mean that in the best possible way.

OK so these are a bit time-consuming and there is sort of a lot of work that goes into them. But trust me, it's easier than you think and it's completely worth it once you take a bite of the rich, creamy, twice-baked wonderfulness that are these potatoes.

Just to leave you with a couple more pictures in case you needed any more convincing to give these a try.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoy these!
Stay tuned for my Chicken in Apple Cream Sauce, and many more things to come!
'Til Next Time!!

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