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Let It Out

I have to tell you something about Thunder, lest you think she spends her entire day flying around saving babies:

She whines.  She whines extra on Mondays because she’s not an idiot–she knows Mondays are crap.

So this morning I got to thinking:  maybe you’re whining too.  Maybe you need some moral support.  Maybe you need a soundtrack that you can put on in the background while you let it out.

Well here you go, friends.  Let it all out.


Thunder’s not the only one sulking around here.

I wanted to make something to get us in the fall spirit, you see, but nothing has turned out right.

Last week I experimented with practically every fruit and vegetable in the pantheon of autumn fruits and vegetables.

One of the cranberry tarts was pretty.

But only for the first 20 minutes.  Then it sort of deflated.  It got shiny and weird looking, and it didn’t taste awesome.

I made a cauliflower gratin that was grey.

And I made no less than three sub-par kale and sausage stuffings.

Then on Thursday we had a dinner party.  For some reason, I thought I could make chicken in a mushroom cream sauce without a recipe.  It was bubbling away, looking good, when I sat down to salad with my guests.  But when I returned to the kitchen, everything had changed.  The wheels had come off the chicken bus, as it were.   The cream sauce had turned yellow and thickened. . .big-time.   It looked like the chicken à la king we got at my elementary school cafeteria in the ’80s.

I dumped my glass of wine in the pan, to thin it out a little.

I wanted to ditch the chicken and skip to dessert, but Scott was all, “IT’S OKAY! WE CAN COVER IT UP WITH RAVIOLI!”

So we did.  We served mushroom ravioli on a bed of chicken à la king. 

It was horrifying.

Last night, with much trepidation, I returned to the kitchen with a recipe I know and love.  I made my friend Rebekah’s twice-baked potatoes.  The recipe is tried and true; the potatoes are simple and delicious.  There was no whining–from any corner–over these beauties.

Rebekah’s Twice-Baked Potatoes {Download & Print Recipe}

Ingredients: {makes 6 halves}

3 medium russet potatoes

2 Tbsp. of olive oil (or a little bacon grease, for the true Southern experience)

a few dashes of kosher salt

4 Tbsp. butter (half a stick), cut into a bunch of smaller pats

3 oz.+ whipped cream cheese spread (buy an 8-0z. container)

1/4 c.+ heavy whipping cream (buy a half pint)

salt and pepper

1 1/2 c.  grated cheddar cheese

a dash of cayenne pepper


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Thoroughly scrub and dry the potatoes.  Poke a bunch of holes in each with a fork.  Rub olive oil or bacon grease into the skins, coating them thoroughly.  Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Bake 45 minutes to an hour or more, until they give a little when handled with a potholder or they’re tender when pierced with a fork (it’ll depend on the size of your potatoes).  Remove the potatoes from the oven and let them cool enough to handle (or just proceed, holding them in a towel or something).  Reduce the heat to 350 degrees.

Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and carefully scoop out the insides with a spoon and transfer the insides to a mixing bowl.  Be careful to leave a little potato flesh on the skins so that the potato skin stays up like a canoe.  (If you dig too much out from the side walls, the papery skins will tear or collapse inwards and it’ll be harder to fill.)

Add the butter and the whipped cream cheese to the baked potato and beat in a mixer until smooth.  (If you don’t have a mixer, you could use a potato smasher.)  Beat in the cream and some salt and pepper.  Taste it.  Here’s where I usually add more whipped cream cheese and more cream because, you know, what the heck.  Some people also throw in pieces of bacon, green onions, and some grated cheddar at this point.

Mound the baked potato mixture into the potato skins you hollowed out.  It’s okay if the filling rises above the brim of the skin.  Sprinkle some of the grated cheddar cheese on top of each and then sprinkle with a dash of cayenne if you want.  Place the potatoes back on the baking sheet and return them to the oven until they’re heated through and the cheese is melted.  Serve.

36 Comments Post a comment
  1. I’m sorry your puppy is sad. Maybe she needs some coffee. I usually have extra on Monday… As a food blogger, my suckiest day is the one that produces beautiful food that tastes horrible. Almost as sucky is the day that produces wonderful food that looks gross. (I’m looking at you, curry.) Kudos for posting the tart pictures anyway. They are lovely! 😉

    October 29, 2012
    • Brooke, I feel your pain. And with things like tart or cake, since you might want a picture of the whole thing (intact), you kind of have to take some pictures before you cut into it and find out that doesn’t taste good. Gah!

      I’ve never photographed curry, but I can totally see how it’d be hard to capture. Well, as they say in France, courage!

      October 29, 2012
      • Brown food is basically the most disgusting thing you can photograph. You have to break it up with garnishes. Which means you have to think of garnishes that taste good with it. Whinewhinewhinewhinewhine. Perhaps Thunder is a food blogger…

        October 29, 2012
  2. ohhhh yum. i’ll trade you some pear/apple crisp for some twice baked potatoes. if you give any more cranberry-based recipes a shot, please post! they are the theme of the month over here.

    October 29, 2012
    • Heck yes, I saw your cranberry extravaganza and that bread looks awesome. I also just watched “The Pleasure Of” on your site, which I somehow missed. It’s so cool!

      October 29, 2012
  3. i have had weeks like your week. they suck. and i feel like failure begets failure, it’s like you can’t get out of it unless you just stop the madness and make something you know will work and be crazy good.
    or otherwise, you start to throw things.
    once, many years ago, i was making something in my tiny apartment kitchen that bit it. i was mad. i heaved my spatula across the room and it sailed, slow-mo, through the air like a dagger and sheared the middle of the glass coffee pot. like, it just collapsed. It made me feel better, because it was like i was in the Matrix, but it wasn’t smart to do.
    these potatoes would have been the much smarter way to go. i can see how this relationship is going to be a problem if i continue to want to make everything you make.

    October 29, 2012
    • Shannon, I can totally see how you had a meltdown in a tiny apartment kitchen. I had one of those in New York. It only had a hot plate thing built into the counter, and a mini-fridge. A MINI fridge. Like the one I had in college. The freezer of the mini-fridge didn’t work, and mice ate anything I put in the pantry–oatmeal, boxes of cereal, granola bars, bread. It was disgusting.

      But it’s good to know that you’re THAT handy with a spatula. Like, self-defense-level handy. Just another thing I’ll have to write in the “Things Shannon Is Awesome At” column.

      October 29, 2012
  4. I feel Thunder’s pain – I am stuck in a DC hotel room with a cabin fevered husband and teenager riding out Hurricane Sandy – whining is appropriate this Monday

    October 29, 2012
    • Ugh–how annoying. I hope it passes soon. But while you’re there, can you watch good movies on demand? Take a bath? I always like taking baths in hotel rooms because they’re always waaaaay nicer (let alone cleaner!) than my tub at home. 🙂

      October 29, 2012
  5. Oh, the meal gone wrong. I once made some kind of salmon pasta for a non-Super-Bowl party. It was so disgusting. The only thing that saved the meal was that dessert was make-your-own hot fudge sundaes with homemade hot fudge sauce.

    October 29, 2012
    • Ah, homemade fudge sauce! Good call. I’ve only made it once but it was freaking delicious. I appreciate your salmon story. Sounds like a tragic salmon, Tragic Sandwich.

      October 29, 2012
  6. Lennick #

    Can you tell me which track that is? I MUST KNOW.

    Also, Thunder is delicious – i especially liked the blink!

    October 29, 2012
    • Yes! It’s “Christmastime is Here” [instrumental version] on the album called “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” I got it as an mp3 download on Amazon.

      October 29, 2012
      • Lennick #

        Thanks so much! I’d never heard of these guys till now – their Moon River is de-lovely…..

        October 29, 2012
        • Woah, it IS lovely. I’m so glad you said so. I’m totally buying it right now, thank you!

          October 29, 2012
          • Lennick #

            My pleasure!

            October 29, 2012
  7. Jen #

    While watching Thunder sulk, my 14 year old just informed me that “we should get a boy dog just like Thunder and name it lightning. Then when people ask we can say that we named our dog after the coolest dog ever.”

    That statement right there should perk up what’s left of Thunder’s sulky Monday.

    October 29, 2012
    • Well it certainly perks up mine! What a cute story, Jen.

      October 29, 2012
  8. juanitascocina #

    Thunder captured my feelings on this day perfectly.

    Also, don’t think of the ravioli on chicken ala king as a mistake…think of it as comfort food x 2.

    October 29, 2012
  9. Excellent choice on the soundtrack. I loaded that song on my iPhone specifically so I could play it when I want to make a dramatic point of my exit from the room after my husband has said he is too busy with his work to get up and make me a chocolate milk. (His really are better.)

    October 29, 2012
  10. Thunder, I feel your pain!

    October 29, 2012
  11. I just moved into a basement in a shared house. The common rooms, kitchen included, are so dreadfully filthy that I (after repeated attempts to fix the situation) have given up and am now cooking on a hot plate and microwave. And it’s miserable! I miss my roasted mushroom soup, my Sunday afternoon chicken, my white chocolate and macadamia cookies.

    That’s my whine. I’m not starving, I’m more protected than most from Sandy (basement of a MD apartment=better than the attic, for sure) but I don’t get to cook. And I want to! *whine*

    October 29, 2012
  12. Thunder is an amazing motivational speaker. I felt like I could climb a mountain after hearing his words of wisdom!!

    October 29, 2012
  13. Poor Thunder; she certainly seemed dissatisfied with her lot in life on a Monday morning! I’m sure her day improved though, if she got a bite of those lovely potatoes. Mmmm, they look so cheesy and good.

    I had to laugh at your kitchen misadventures … I have days like that too, where even familiar recipes turn out, well, wrong. Yesterday, I made a dinner where none of the preparation was going particularly well, I was tired and grumpy and thought it would all be a flop … and all three dishes turned out good! Sometimes you just can’t tell until you’re done.

    October 29, 2012
  14. Amy #

    Haha, I loved the music playing behind Thunder’s whines…it made it seem much more like she was trying to sing along 🙂

    Those twice baked taters look pretty darn good.

    October 29, 2012
  15. Elizabeth #

    Thanks for the post! Always makes my day! I didn’t know Rebekah would allow use of olive oil on the potatoes…….I thought it was bacon grease all the way?! Glad to know the healthy version…….

    October 29, 2012
    • Ha! Well, she probably wouldn’t. I put her recipe in my own words and I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t have any bacon grease saved, hence the modification. Perhaps I’ll get in big trouble with her for this…which would be fine if it means she cooks some more potatoes for me, to show me how it’s done!

      October 29, 2012
  16. Oh.. perhaps Thunder is moping because it’s a Christmas song.. and he’s worried he won’t get the present he wants:D Loved your video! I feel your pain.. I’ve had bad cooking weeks like that, but clearly you’ve snapped out of it!! Those potatoes look great!

    October 29, 2012
  17. I remember having a week like that and it climaxed when I made a bechemal way too thick for a lasagne. Not the worst thing in the world but this is after a week of creating bollocks for meals, and I flipped out and said it wasn’t fit for human consumption and told Vinnie he couldn’t have any and put it on the floor so the cats could eat it (seeing as how it wasn’t fit for humans) and the cats ignored it and I then decided I was the crappest cook in the world and cried on the floor next to my lasagne.

    October 30, 2012
  18. Just remember, you’re bad day in the kitchen would be my gourmet experience.
    I loved the background mood music for Thunder’s film noir. Seemed like there was a bit of cussing and swearing along with the whining. I’m just sayin’…

    October 30, 2012
  19. Sandra Roberts #

    Thunder’s whine was uplifting. But she has a very feminine bark! I had not expected that. And I just spent over 50$ trying to make cranberry sangria (spices were $30) and it is horrid!! I would compost it, but the alcohol probably would not be good for the compost bacteria. I should have known when I was picking through the fresh cranberries I had been so delighted to find in the store, only to determine that most of them were deflated sacs of smoosh. They were a warning I did not heed. I should have stopped there, but no! I spent hours and valuable fridge space, and now I just need to throw it out. But oh well, I think Fall is about to be winter here. I know how to make hot chocolate just fine.But I totally feel your pain.

    October 30, 2012
  20. a #

    Do you have the entire Charlie Brown Christmas album? My sister used to make her (beagle-mix) dogs dance to one of the songs – I can’t remember which one, but it’s the one Snoopy dances to in the Charlie Brown Christmas special. Thunder might like that song; it’s very upbeat.

    This is my favorite fall recipe…

    October 30, 2012
  21. BARK. Bark bark. Thunder is exactly right. I’ve definitely made grey cauliflower cheese before, and grey mac and cheese. Not good. I blame soy milk even though it’s worked every other time. Soy is a fickle mistress. Bark.

    October 30, 2012
  22. KEH #

    Hey there. This is Kristi from Goin To The Dogs!! We are hosting a birthday for Laurel Rose and would like to invite you guys. Saturday evening November 17. If you are planning on coming I send more details.

    Hope you can make it!

    Kristi and Lori

    Sent from my iPhone

    October 31, 2012
  23. Best Video Ever (except Annabella – my pudgy calico – did not think so) LOL

    November 25, 2012

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