These baked potatoes can be the stuff of kids’ delight

By Julie Riven
Globe Correspondent / June 24, 2009

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It’s possible to travel the world and never leave home, all with a baked potato and something stuffed into it. Add zucchini, feta, and oregano for a Greek dinner; spicy black beans with tomatoes for Tex-Mex; and diced pepperoni and marinara sauce for an Italian variation.

For kids, try broccoli trees and lots of grated cheese. Toaster ovens make baking potatoes easy and it’s possible to cook a couple at a time without heating up the kitchen. When the potatoes are tender, cut them in half to make ballet slippers, scoop out the flesh, and pile them high with filling.

To begin, scrub the potatoes with a brush. Prick holes in the skins using the tip of a knife, then bake them until the centers are soft. But they’re hot! Wait 10 minutes and slice the potatoes in half lengthwise - this is where the slipper part comes in. Each piece of potato should resemble a ballet slipper. Scoop out the soft flesh and mash it with cheese.

The microwave speeds up the baking process. Prick the potatoes all over, wrap each one in a paper towel, and microwave at high for 5 to 6 minutes or until they are just soft at the edges. Then transfer them to the oven to finish cooking (they’ll need only half the time).

Cut the broccoli into trees, which are simply small florets, and add grated cheese. We think cheddar is great in the mash and Jack cheese melts nicely on top.

With a spoon, mound the mashed potatoes back into the slippers and top with trees and cheese. Then send them to the oven to heat and melt the topping. Eat with forks and fingers.