Broccoli & Cheddar Twice-Baked Potatoes

Twice baked potatoes 2 Broccoli & Cheddar Twice Baked Potatoes

People often ask why we spend so much time in Tofino. It’s a good question – besides the fact that it’s stunningly beautiful, and totally zen, and has some of the best food (and drinks!) and beaches and rainforests in Canada, my parents were nice enough to build a house there. So really it’s like a second home – with a kitchen that’s far nicer than mine and looks out over the ocean. So far I haven’t managed to figure out how to live there – except maybe to just go out and not come back, and claim that possession is nine tenths of the law?

Tofino collage 1 Broccoli & Cheddar Twice Baked Potatoes

So it’s easy(ish) to settle in and stay for a few extra days when the rest of Canada is being pummeled with snow. And when it’s time to pack up and go, I rummage through the kitchen and use up whatever’s left – this time it meant finally doing something with that broccoli that seemed like a good idea when I saw it on sale on the day we were driving in, and a couple wrinkled potatoes that appeared to be forgotten about at the bottom of a drawer.

surfboard potato Collage Broccoli & Cheddar Twice Baked Potatoes

It’s hard not to just go for more fish & chips or burritos.

Tofino collage 2 Broccoli & Cheddar Twice Baked Potatoes

This not a recipe post so much as a reminder of what you can do if you have a couple wrinkled potatoes and some cheese. Beyond that, there’s most likely something in your kitchen that tastes good with potatoes. Bacon? Cold roasted veg? Mushrooms? Sausage? Onions to caramelize? Brussels sprout slaw? A half a container of leftover butter chicken? Chop it + mash it + stuff it.

Twice baked potatoes 71 Broccoli & Cheddar Twice Baked Potatoes

What I love – and keep forgetting – about twice baked potatoes is that they can take on bits of anything, and are particularly good at rejuvenating those bits that otherwise wouldn’t amount to much of a meal. But a stuffed potato is a meal in itself; when I was in high school, my mom went to art college. My dad worked long hours, and with three teenagers with homework and boyfriends and drama (and only one phone!), my mom’s go-to meal was a round of baked potatoes picked up at the Wendy’s drive-thru on the way home. Remember when they were a thing? You could get them plain, doused in chili or with broccoli and neon cheese sauce, which when you’re a teenager is practically required eating.

Twice baked potatoes 6 Broccoli & Cheddar Twice Baked Potatoes

I don’t think I’ve had the broccoli-cheese potato combo since – until this week. So what you do is you bake your potato (I always give them a head start for 5 minutes in the microwave first, to get them going on the insides while the oven heats up) and then scoop out the innards and mash them with all the things that make mashed potatoes delicious – butter, salt, pepper, cream. And then whatever else you like – the previous day I roasted my bunch of broccoli with olive oil and Parmesan, but we didn’t eat it all, so I hacked a bunch up and grated in some cheese. No measuring. This is a good, inexpensive thing to teach kids (teenagers!) how to make, I think. They can experiment and use their intuition rather than follow a recipe – and a twice-baked potato makes a fine meal whether you live alone or with roommates, especially when you don’t have a massive grocery budget. (Who does?)

Twice baked potatoes 5 Broccoli & Cheddar Twice Baked Potatoes

Scoop your embellished potatoes back into their shells, add some extra cheese for good measure and slide them back into the oven, cranking it up a bit (to 400F or so) until the cheese melts and the potatoes heat through. No particular timing required.

Twice baked potatoes 1 Broccoli & Cheddar Twice Baked Potatoes

Curl up on the couch with a stuffed potato and a fork and dream of spring.

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March 31 2014 | veg and vegetarian | 7 Comments »

Peanut Butter Food Bars

food bars 1 Peanut Butter Food Bars

A friend relayed a great analogy from Facebook yesterday – it’s as if Canada is in a snow globe and someone keeps shaking it. We’re hiding out on the westernmost side of Vancouver Island, keeping tabs on the continuous dumping from what sounds like the only place in the country where green and colourful things are growing OUT OF THE GROUND.

With no TV, W had essentially no choice but to watch Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 on iPad approximately elevenhundred times, and yesterday wanted to go into the kitchen and make food bars (as per the movie). He decided that here on in he would exclusively eat food bars for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and we would no longer have to worry about feeding him. More fish tacos for us.

His plan was to pulverize soup ingredients and shape them into bar form, producing a Willy Wonka-esque mash-up that replicated breakfast, lunch and dinner all in one. But I convinced him that we should instead make something that we’d actually eat – peanut butter bars with oats, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and chocolate. Pilfering the cupboards we came up with pumpkin and sesame seeds, raisins and chocolate chips, so that’s what went in. You can use what you like, or what you’ve got.

mixing bowl Peanut Butter Food Bars
food bar batter Peanut Butter Food Bars

We made ours in the ceramic bowl with the slug on the rim that’s usually reserved for popcorn.

(Apologies for the photos – my camera and laptop are being temperamental, and have possibly reverted to island time, which makes me want to unplug them both and go get me some fish tacos to eat in the forest. Think I will.)

Peanut Butter Food Bars

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp. canola or olive oil
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose or whole wheat flour
3/4 cup oats
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
Pinch salt
1/2 cup raisins, dried cranberries or chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or sliced almonds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate
1/4 cup shredded coconut (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, stir together the brown sugar, peanut butter, milk, maple syrup, oil and vanilla. Add the flour, oats, baking soda and salt and stir until almost combined; add all the additions you want to add and stir just until blended.

Spread the batter into a 9×13-inch pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

Makes 12-18 bars.

pixel Peanut Butter Food Bars
button print gry20 Peanut Butter Food Bars

March 29 2014 | snacks | 11 Comments »

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