July 17, 2009 – 7:49 am
It’s summertime and not only do you have a houseful of your own kids, but there are usually a few neighbor kids and friends over, right? During the school year you don’t have to worry too much about lunchtime, but now that school’s out, your house is swarming with kids from sunup to sundown. You’ve got to feed your own family, and you don’t want to shoo everyone else home, so how do you feed the masses?
One of the most inexpensive food items we turn to in our house is potatoes. Potatoes in any shape and form are one of the cheapest, most nutritional, and most versatile foods you can find. Here, for your review, are just a couple quick potato dishes that will satisfy a hungry crowd at very little cost.
Simple Stuffed Potato Skins
Take a batch of nice big russet potatoes, scrub them up, and poke a few holes through the skins. Now wrap them in foil, and stick them in a hot oven, about 400 degrees, for about an hour or so, depending on how many potatoes you bake. You can also microwave them, but you can only do a few at a time that way. Another way to bake the potatoes and avoid heating up the kitchen is to use your grill. Prepare your potatoes the same way as you would to bake them in the oven, wrap them up in foil, and set them on your grill. It will also take about an hour, depending on how full your grill is. You can also bake your potatoes ahead of time and put them in the refrigerator to make into stuffed potatoes later that day or the next.
When ready to serve, just slice the potatoes down the middle lengthwise, scoop out the insides, being sure to leave the skin intact and sturdy enough to handle when filling. Put the insides in a bowl, add shredded cheese, cooked bacon, onion, green pepper, sour cream, cottage cheese, leftover veggies, or anything your heart desires and that the kids will eat. Add some seasonings like chili powder, garlic, oregano, or anything that sounds good. Mash everything together, refill the skins, top with a pat of butter, and stick in the oven to reheat a bit. That should satisfy just about anyone who’s been running around outside playing all day.
Pizza Potato Bake
If your kids like pizza, another very simple way to serve potatoes is to create a dish using pizza ingredients. Just start by taking some thin sliced raw potatoes, lay them on a pizza pan or baking sheet that has been covered with a crumbled piece of foil, so the potatoes don’t sit flat on the sheet, drizzle olive oil over then salt and pepper. Bake in a hot oven, about 400 degrees, until potatoes turn golden brown, but not too brown. Pull the pan out of the oven and top with your favorite pizza toppings, first pizza sauce, then some green pepper, onion, black olives, mushrooms, Italian sausage, and pepperoni, then finally covering with mozzarella cheese. Of course, if your kids are strictly cheese only pizza lovers, probably some pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese will be just enough to satisfy them. Then pop the pan back in the hot oven for a few minutes, until the cheese gets all melted.
Quick Time Potato Salad
Potato salad can be a time consuming venture, especially if you’re using an old-time family favorite recipe. That’s great for picnic time, but when kids are milling around at lunchtime, you need something on the table quick like! Begin by scrubbing and dicing some potatoes. I prefer new red potatoes for potato salad, but anything will do at this point. Put the diced potatoes in a pot of cold, salted water, and bring to a boil, turning down just a bit so they cook at a gentle, rolling boil, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until you can get a fork through the potato. Drain well, and throw the potatoes on a cookie sheet or baking pan and put them in the freezer to quickly cool. Meanwhile, chop up whatever kind of veggies your kids like, maybe some radishes, carrots, celery, and cucumber, to throw in the salad. In a real rush? Grab some Ranch Style salad dressing for a real quick dressing for your potato salad. Or, if you have a minute, just take some mayonnaise, yellow mustard, and maybe a little pickle relish, and mix together a simple dressing. Pull your potatoes out of the freezer, throw them in a big bowl, toss in your veggies, mix in your dressing, and you have potato salad ready for the hungry mob. Save your grandmother’s recipe for the next time you have three hours to make potato salad!
My belief has always been, if you’ve got potatoes, you’ve got a meal. These are just a few inexpensive ways to serve a satisfying meal to a houseful of kids. Hope this helps you save maybe a few pennies, and hopefully a lot of mealtime headaches!