don’t think about it too hard

So you know how I really love slow-made home-cooked beans and think that it’s nice to take your time and make your own stock and your own liqueur and your own salsa and everything?

Well. Sometimes you just want to bring a pile of tasty food together and neither work nor think too hard to do it.

Enter the loaded baked sweet potato.

It’s embarrassing how easy and delicious this meal is. And it’s so good, you can even feed it to company. It’s fun to set out all the little fixins in little dishes. I like setting fixins out in little dishes.

Go buy

  • 1 large sweet potato per diner
  • your favorite kind of bacon, buying at least 6 slices for two people (general rule: buy as many slices as you think you’ll need and then buy two more)
  • an avocado
  • sour cream
  • fresh salsa–pico de gallo or another refreshing sort found in the refrigerated aisle, if you don’t have something homemade in your fridge (and if you don’t, it’s really easy to make, but that’s something for another blog post)
  • cilantro
  • chives (it is a baked potato, after all)
  • red onion
  • corn chips
  • cheese of choice for shredding (or, for the ultimate shortcut, shredded cheese)
  • a lime
  • hot sauce of choice
  • 1-2 cans fat free refried beans. CANS. It’s okay. I promise. Nobody else has to know. But we do tend to tell everyone we feed them to–we seem to maintain a full disclosure kitchen policy. Our favorite has become Rosarita Fat Free Traditional. The commercial says they’re authentic, anyway. (Oh man, that commercial is so wrong. Aaaand I can’t stop laughing at it.) This, however, is what happens when you empty the can:

I swear to god.

Laugh. And then stick tortilla chips into the bean monolith and enjoy. Don’t think about this one too hard.

Stick the potatoes in the oven and get that bacon cooking using your favorite method fifteen or twenty minutes later. We like to array the bacon on a cooling rack that fits inside a rimmed baking sheet–the fat that doesn’t render becomes airy and light and smoky, somehow, when it’s baked. Putting the bacon on a rack tends to result in quicker cooking times.

For us, the bacon usually takes about 25-30 minutes in a 400 degree oven. The sweet potatoes take more like 45 minutes to an hour. Definitely get those going the minute you get home. Note that you can’t really bake a sweet potato incorrectly, or for too long. Lately, I stab them a few times with a knife to let steam release, rub a thin film of grapeseed/canola/high heat oil on them (half teaspoon each potato, maybe), and lightly dust them with salt. I bake them uncovered in a glass baking dish. But you can also put them un-lubed in any kind of baking dish you have. Or wrap them in tin foil and throw them directly on the oven rack. Or microwave them. Just make sure you stab them first. Especially if you put them in the microwave–otherwise they light on fire.

My dad did this once when I was 5. I saw flames in the microwave and ran to the basement to find him. The smoke alarm hadn’t gone off yet, but there was fire in my house and that was scary, so I chased him down and asked him if I should stop, drop, and roll. I can imagine his take on the conversation: “Whatever for?” Well, Dad, because there’s a pretty blue flame emanating from your potato in the microwave, and Mrs. Lange said to stop, drop, and roll if there was fire on you.

And that is why you always stab your potatoes.

Pretty much everything else is assembly. Heat up the beans. Chop the chives. Cube the avocado. Coarsely chop the bacon. Put things in pretty little bowls if you want, or just stick a spoon in the damn sour cream container.

Topping the potato is fun. I like to put the beans on my potato first, followed by sour cream and chives and cilantro and then salsa and hot sauce and bacon and avocado on top. Jesse likes a small amount of beans directly on his potato and then a lot of beans on the side, with chips.

loaded goodness

But you see how this is post is more about an idea than an actual recipe or meal plan? Like, basically, if you know how to make bacon and a potato, you could have just stopped reading when I suggested the concept of the loaded baked sweet potato. Which I’m sure is not something I came up with originally, or first, or whatever.

What this post boils down to, pretty much, is that sweet potatoes stuffed with bacon and things are good, and that it’s okay to eat fat free canned refried beans.

But wait–let me just tell you one more thing. You now probably have a few little containers of leftover fixins. Some extra chopped cilantro, some salsa, some onion, and maybe even some bacon and avocodo… BEST OMELET EVER the next morning.

like omg best omelet

But don’t just take my word for it. Go to the store.


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