Afternoon Delight Potato Surprise |

Afternoon Delight Potato Surprise

Cal Orey

Closeup of cooking potatoes with meat

I love potatoes. Bring them on. Homemade french fries to shepherd's pie, and twice baked potatoes — like my mom used to make. The extra effort of baking them two times, magically converting them into mashed taters, and stuffing the concoction amazed me—a feel good comfort food. And the yummy taste of the end result was amazing. But times have changed. While I loved her recipe complete with cheese, whole milk, margarine, and paprika, I gave my twice baked potatoes a 21st century spin with more wholesome ingredients.

Talking potatoes takes me back several years ago the South Shore defunct Neighbors Bookstore. I was the first author to perform a lecture and signing. I recall in the afternoon my stomach was growling. Per request, my sibling picked up some treats for me at the grocery store. He brought back potato chips and milk chocolate balls (yes, sometimes I'm human). I was embarrassed. My face turned red. Picture a "health author" sitting at a table behind her self-help healing foods books while she's munching on snacks that aren't super healthy.

Back home for a light, but filling dinner, I whipped up a large twice-stuffed potato for an entrée. This dish is easy to make, budget-friendly, and chock-full of good stuff like low-calorie, potassium-rich potatoes, and calcium-rich broccoli and cheese. But there is no denying it, I felt like a hypocrite earlier in the day while wolfing down chips and candy. My younger brother knows how to push my buttons but his sense of humor keeps me smiling, as will these potatoes for you.

Twice-Baked Potatoes

2 large russet potatoes, washed well and dried

2 tablespoons European style butter

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¼ cup organic milk (organic 2 percent reduced fat)

3 tablespoon sour cream

2 teaspoons herbs (dried or fresh herbs such as basil and chives)

½-3/4 cup broccoli, fresh, chopped

1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

¼ cup parmesan cheese, shredded

Green onion, chopped (optional)

Microwave potatoes and bake for approximately 10 minutes. (If time allows or it's cooler weather, I recommend baking 'em twice instead of nuking your potatoes.) Remove, cool. Slice each potato and scoop out the potato placing it into a mixing bowl. Leave some potato in skin to maintain its shape. Mash potato with 1 tablespoon butter, milk, and sour cream. Place mashed potato mixture back into shells, season with herbs. Set aside. In a skillet, sauté broccoli in 1 tablespoon butter. Top vegetable on potatoes, and sprinkle with cheese. Bake in a 375 degree oven until cheese is bubbly, approximately 15 minutes. Serves two.

Twice baked potatoes are easy on the eyes, especially if plate it on a pretty plate, teamed with a healthful green salad drizzled with vinegar and olive oil. By including fresh herbs and different cheeses (shred it yourself for freshness) it brings out the flavor. The potatoes look great all dressed up and the multiple textures of broccoli, potato, and cheese is tempting for kids or adults. While eating my potato this week, I realized I miss our bookstore and its staff. And, if I could go back in time, I would have asked my brother for dark chocolate and tell people about the already cooked twice baked potatoes (wrapped in foil) waiting for me to warm up at home in the cabin.

Motto: Thinking outside of the potato and stuffing the inside with your creativity — like life — can be unforgettable.

Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include "The Healing Powers" series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. Visit

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