Potatoes are cheap and filling, and they make an excellent and inexpensive addition to any meal. After time, the plain potato gets a little boring, so let’s look at some creative ways to dress up a potato and add variety to the dinner table.
Baked Potato – The baked potato is the old standby for cooking potatoes for dinner. Soup up the plain baked potato by adding the traditional topping, like bacon bits, crumbled bacon, cheese, sour cream, chives, cracked pepper, butter, etc. Ranch dressing, Thousand Island dressing or other flavors of dressing can be a great and low-calorie alternative to sour cream.
Pico de Gallo or fresh salsa are both good baked potato toppers too.
Mashed Potatoes – There’s nothing easier to make than homemade mashed potatoes. Simply boil the cut potatoes (leave the skins on for more nutrition and flavor enhancement) until tender, drain the water, add a little milk and season to taste and mash away. A blender or a hand mixer or aerator can be used to make the potatoes smoother. Add sour cream instead of milk for a tangier taste, then add chopped onion, cheese and bacon bits to the mashed potatoes and mix them in. Yummy twist on an old favorite.
Twice Baked Potatoes – This name is a little bit of a misnomer, since you’re not really going to bake the potato twice. With this potato dish, you simply cut the potato in half and then scoop out the insides while the skin is still firm. Then you mash the inside of the potato, add cheese, spices or other seasonings, and then refill the skins with the newly mashed and flavored potatoes. Add some cheese and/or crumbled bacon on top for added flavor and sprinkle with some parsley for color.
Butter Potatoes – A family favorite, slice potatoes into nearly bite-sized wedges and then place in a frying pan. Cover with butter or margarine and boil/fry the potatoes in the margin until soft. Add rosemary sprinkles to the pan while cooking for rosemary potatoes. Ginger root or fresh ginger added while cooking can make some tasty ginger potatoes. Try other variations of flavors to suit your taste.
Country Potatoes – These are good for breakfast, inside burritos or as a side for a dinner plate. Chop/cut potatoes into small squares. Add a little oil of choice to a frying pan (1-2 tablespoons per four potatoes) and let the oil get hot. Place the potato squares into the pan and season to taste. Cover the pan to have them cook faster and make them tender. Be sure to stir regularly, but cook the potatoes until they are slightly browned.
Cheese and bacon can be added to these country potatoes before served or they can be served as a side dish to any meal.
Homemade French Fried Potatoes – These are a favorite for kids and are a lot cheaper and healthier then store or restaurant bought french fries. Slice the potato or use a french fry potato slicer to cut the potato into long slices. The fries can then be placed into a pan of oil, a fryer, or baked with a slight drizzle of oil over them until golden brown and slightly crispy. Season to taste.
Hash Brown Potatoes – Using a cheese grater or a potato slicer, thinly slice the potato into shredded piles. Press the piles together into a patty type shape and fry on a frying pan with a little bit of your favorite oil. If you’d like to add a little bit of flour to the mix, it will hold the patty together better, but once it start frying, it will stick together just fine. Season to taste and serve with a little homemade ketchup for breakfast or for a snack.
There are many other ways to dress up humdrum potatoes for your dinner, lunch or breakfast. Be creative and try new flavors or styles, and a cheap bag of potatoes can go a long way to stretch a family’s grocery budget with a tasty meal complement.