My niece turned 8 this past weekend and instead of having a birthday party we had a birthday party car parade, complete with two fire trucks from the local police department. It was AMAZING!! Seeing her shocked face as she realized the 20 cars wrapping around the block were for her was something I’ll never forget – and she likely won’t either. My sister in law said it best: it was the best of times, it was the weirdest of times.
Clearly the world is changing and we’re having to get creative. But I also love how we’re being forced to get back to basics in a lot of ways (admittedly, minus the bounce house.) Writing letters, tackling puzzles, taking long walks, and playing with whatever’s in the house. Cam and I played baseball with a balloon and a sword for like 30 minutes yesterday and it was the most fun we’ve had together in days.
I’m not trying to crawl out of the box for dinner, either. Preparing three meals a day for five people is getting tiring so I’ve been turning to meals that are not only made from pantry, fridge, and freezer staples, but also just kind of…brainless. Like the baked potato. (I mean that in the nicest way possible, baked potato!)
Ummm, when’s the last time you had a baked potato?! They are SO good! I used to make them all the time for Ben and myself when we were newlyweds but somehow got out of the habit along the way. Anyway, since we’re trying to stretch out the time between visits to the grocery store these babies have popped back onto the menu because a bag of potatoes keeps well in the refrigerator for weeks, is inexpensive, and all you need to bake them up is oil and salt.
Tips for Making a Baked Potato
- A hand-sized Russet potato (6-8oz) makes for a great side dish that takes 50-60 minutes to bake through at 425 degrees. Truly you can bake your potato anywhere between 350 and 450 degrees, adjusting baking time accordingly. This is good info to know in case you want to bake them alongside something else. For example, I’ll throw in a few baked potatoes when I make my Perfect Roast Chicken which cooks first at 450 degrees, and then finishes at 425 degrees. My point is – it’s really hard to screw up a baked potato!
- I prefer baking potatoes without wrapping in foil first; rubbing them with oil and salt prior to baking instead. We eat the entire baked potato and the oil/salt rub makes for a really tasty skin.
- You can bake your potatoes directly on the oven rack, though if you’re gluten free, be mindful of what might have been previously baked directly on your oven rack, such as a regular pizza. Since we cooked regular pizzas on our oven rack prior to me getting Celiac Disease, I opt for baking the potatoes on a cooling rack set atop a foil lined baking sheet for the same effect.
How to Serve Baked Potatoes
Another reason why I love baked potatoes is because they’re so versatile. Slice then slap with butter and serve with any dinner, or make it the base of your meal by stuffing it with meat, cheese, etc. Here are some ideas:
- Drizzle with homemade cheese sauce and steamed broccoli.
- Stuff with fajita chicken and vegetables plus guacamole.
- Stuff with stew, or chili with shredded cheese.
- Stuff with shredded chicken, BBQ sauce, shredded cheddar, and green onions.
- Stuff with ground taco meat and all your favorite taco toppers.
How to Bake a Potato
First select your potato. I recommend a 6-8oz Russet potato which is the perfect side-dish-sized potato. Additionally, this size of potato will bake through in under an hour, whereas a huge 1lb+ potato will need to bake for quite a bit longer.
Scrub then dry the potato and then choose four “sides” and prick each side three times with a fork to allow steam to escape while baking.
Place the potatoes in a bowl then drizzle with a neutral tasting oil like vegetable or avocado oil, and then add a big pinch of salt for each potato you’re baking. Use your hands to rub the potatoes to coat and then place on a cooling rack set atop a foil lined baking sheet. Alternatively you can bake the potatoes directly on an oven rack set in the center of your oven – be sure to place a baking sheet underneath to catch oil drips.
Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a knife or toothpick can be EASILY inserted into the center of the potato, flipping the potatoes with tongs halfway through. The cooling rack allows air to circulate underneath the potatoes, but I flip them anyway just to ensure even baking.
These babies stay super hot for quite awhile so whenever you’re ready to eat, slice open, add a pat of butter (or five) plus any of your favorite fixin’s, and DIG IN! I hope you love this simple easy side dish – enjoy!
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How to Bake a Potato
A Baked Potato is one of life's most simple pleasures! Here are the perfect time and temperature for how to bake a potato.
- 6-8oz Russet potato, scrubbed and dried
- neutral tasting oil like vegetable or avocado
- sea salt
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees then line a half or quarter sheet pan with foil and place a cooling rack on top. (Alternatively you can bake the potatoes directly on the oven rack - place a sheet pan underneath to catch oil drips.)
- Use a fork to make shallow pricks all over the potato (I usually choose 4 "sides" to the potato then make three pricks in each side) then place in a bowl and drizzle with oil and add a big pinch of salt. Rub to evenly coat then place potatoes on prepared baking sheet.
- Bake the potato for 50-60 minutes, using tongs to flip the potatoes halfway through, or until a toothpick or knife can be easily inserted into the center. Let cool for 5-10 minutes then serve.
- You can make as many baked potatoes at one time as you like! The more you bake, however, the longer it will take. Additionally, if your potatoes are larger than 6-8oz, they will take longer to bake.
- Click here for my easy cheese sauce >
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.