Quick Microwaved Stuffed Baked Potatoes for a Cheap Dinner

The scene: My kitchen. The time: Tonight, about 30 minutes before everyone melts down from starvation. The options: Join in the meltdown; scrounge around for enough money to order pizza; or do something special with those innocent-looking potatoes in the pantry. I bought them recently, thinking it would be a good idea to have potatoes in the house, just in case. And in this case, I can turn them into in 30 minutes and turn dinner drama into a satisfying family meal. (At less than $3 per serving, it’s cheaper than pizza too.)

The potatoes are easily cooked in the microwave while you organize the “stuff” to stuff them with: some steamed asparagus (or broccoli or whatever green veg you like), ham and Swiss cheese. A little sour cream makes the mixture, well, creamy and chives add a mild onion flavor and pretty green color. You top the loaded potatoes with a little more cheese and return them briefly to the microwave: who can resist such a tasty package with gooey melted cheese on top?

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Asparagus adds a touch of spring to this overstuffed ham-and-cheese twice-baked potatoes recipe. Use another vegetable, such as broccoli, if you prefer.

Makes: 4 servings, 1 potato each
Active Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 30 minutes

4 medium russet potatoes (about 8 ounces each)
½ bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into ½-inch pieces
1 cup diced ham
½ cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese, divided
½ cup chopped fresh chives, divided
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon white or black pepper

Pierce potatoes all over with a fork. Microwave on Medium, turning once or twice, until soft, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer basket. Add asparagus, cover and steam until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes.

Combine the steamed asparagus with ham, sour cream, ½ cup Swiss cheese, 6 tablespoons chives, salt and pepper in a bowl. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut off the top third, then gently scoop out the flesh; add to the bowl with the ham mixture and gently mash together.

Place the potato shells in a microwave-safe dish and evenly divide the ham mixture among them. (They will be very well stuffed.) Top each stuffed potato with 2 tablespoons of the remaining cheese. Microwave on High until the filling is hot and the cheese is melted, 2 to 4 minutes. Garnish with the remaining chives.

Per serving: 386 calories; 13 g fat (8 g sat, 4 g mono); 56 mg cholesterol; 45 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 23 g protein; 4 g fiber; 689 mg sodium; 1196 mg potassium. Nutrition Bonus: Potassium (34% daily value), Vitamin C (32% dv), Calcium (29% dv), Folate (22% dv), Zinc (21% dv), Magnesium (20% dv), Vitamin A (18% dv), Iron (17% dv).

Tip: No microwave? No problem: Preheat oven to 400°F. Pierce potatoes in several places with a fork. Bake directly on the center rack until tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Fill the potato as directed and bake the stuffed potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet until the filling is hot, about 15 minutes.

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