I discovered Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond's, cookbook before I discovered her blog.
I had BooksAMillion gift certificates from Christmas because everyone in my family knows just how much I love books. After a leisurely stroll through the Brookwood Village BAM, I picked up PW's cookbook and was blown away by the photographs...not just because they are good photos...but because of how many photos there are.
I don't judge cookbooks by their covers; I judge them by the photos that show me not just what each step is but what each step is supposed to look like! I'm a very visual person. I need to see it. Don't just tell me to chop up something into small chunks...show me how small those chunks are supposed to be and how best to chop it.
I don't believe I have ever seen a cookbook like Ree's...as I flipped through the pages I realized that not only were there all these photos, but the recipes looked like things my family might even eat! Ree writes about how her husband slipped out of fancy schmancy reception one night to go to McDonald's! That's my husband!!! And, my middle child!! My firstborn is really the only one who is adventuresome when it comes to food. My youngest is 5 so her tastes are just as varied...she leans toward adventurous but if the golden arches are within her sight, that's it. I very seldom cook anything that all 5 members of our family enjoy. Breakfast is one of those meals...but even then, it's really because I fix such a variety of food with breakfast.
I read Ree's cookbook from cover to cover that first night...that's when I realized that this fantastic mother of 4 who lives in the country had a blog as well!! If you haven't explored Ree's Pioneer Woman blog, you should. She's smart, funny, and an incredible cook!
One of the meals I make that all of my family likes is grilled hamburgers...I've been known to grill rain, sleet or shine...(btw, it's very difficult to keep the fire going in the rain)..I swap up the sides though, and one night a few weeks ago I wanted to do something a little different...that's where PW's Potato Skins come in:
First, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees.
Then I took 8 russet potatoes and cleaned them really well...one characteristic of potato skins is that you actually eat the skin so this step may be the most important one :)
I rubbed oil all over the potatoes before putting them on the baking sheet.
I have a tendency to overcook baked potatoes so I made sure to follow Ree's instructions of baking for 45 minutes to 1 hour. You're going to scrape a lot of the insides out anyway so all that stuff in the middle doesn't have to be completely done.
Then, I fried some bacon...(8 slices)
Do you know how I feel about bacon?
I could probably be a vegetarian if it weren't for grilled hamburgers, filet mignon and bacon...
Microwaved bacon aggravates me...it just sticks to the paper towels and that's really annoying.
Nothing can ruin a good breakfast like having to pick little pieces of bacon off paper towels which are smothered in grease from the microwave...which is also smothered in grease...bleh!
I fried this bacon in a skillet, but another way I cook bacon is in the oven...my mom taught me this...it works really well and doesn't get everything so greasy.
Have I mentioned I'm not a fan of grease everywhere?
The bacon turned out a little crispier than I normally like it, but it's going to be crumbled so it really needs to be a little crispy...
Here's PW's cookbook and my blackberry...2 of my favorite things :)
This picture has absolutely nothing to do with the recipe...except if you don't have have PW's cookbook, you need to buy it!! Right now!! Go get it!!
After the potatoes cooked, I cut them in half lengthwise.
Then, I scooped out the insides of the potatoes...not all of it...I left just a small amount of potato on the skins...
See, I'm saying "small amount" and you're thinking, "What the heck does that mean?"In the picture below you can see that I scooped out most of the middles...obviously that's where most of the potato is...Ree's photo is a lot cleaner than mine, but this was my first time...so I'm forgiven. :)
I brushed oil on the back and front of each of the potato skins. (I actually didn't have a brush like Ree used so I just used a crumbled up paper towel and blotted the oil on the potatoes)
Then, I salted both sides of each potato skin.
I turned the potato skins upside down and put them back in the oven for 7 minutes.
After 7 minutes, I turned the skins back over and baked for another 7 minutes.
By this time in the process, I began to attract some attention.
The youngest and the firstborn were hungry, and they could smell something tasty in the oven.
They volunteered to help with some very liberal spreading of shredded cheddar cheese.
Please notice my youngest child's Spongebob Squarepants pajama bottoms...she would be very pleased if you did!
And more cheddar cheese...We are cheese lovers at our house...can you tell??
I would never say it aloud because if I did it would mean that my kids would never enter the kitchen again but I LOVE when they come in the kitchen and help...they don't ever ask to help really...I just say..."Hey, sprinkle that cheese on those taters, will ya'?" They make mistakes sometimes, but hey, so do I!
Have I mentioned that my firstborn (the child on the right in this photo) will be a SENIOR next year?? Have I mentioned that this is beginning to bother me?? It all started the day she came home with a note about senior portraits!!!! I told her, "It's February!!! Bring me back this note in June...or July...or maybe sometime next year!!" I can feel many posts coming on about my oldest child leaving me...
Were you confused about which one of the children in this photo is my firstborn??
I really think you can put as much or as little shredded cheddar cheese as you like - Ree's recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups - I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we used more ;)
Then, I took the bacon, which I crumbled while my cheese sprinklers were sprinkling, and put some on each potato skin right on top of the cheese...you can see the bacon in the clear bowl to the left of my youngest who by this time is simply eating the remainder of the shredded cheddar cheese.
Please also notice that my youngest is on top of the counter...oh, and just to clear things up, she's not in her pajamas because she's ready for bed...it's actually about 5-6 in the evening...she just likes to wear her pajamas! I can see a life of leisure in her future...not sure what that means for me...her mother...who will never get to retire since I'm 41 and have a 5 yr. old.
After I finished putting the bacon on, I put the tray of potato skins back into the oven just so the cheese could melt.
I put sour cream and green onions on some of the potato skins and only cheese and bacon on others. Remember, my family is picky and has varied tastes so I wanted everyone to be able to eat a potato skin.
Ok, let me just tell you that these potato skins are the greatest! There was not one left on this platter!!
My children wake up and call me blessed because of this recipe...not really, but it's certainly a step in the right direction!
Have I mentioned that I'm a Mississippi State University graduate...:)