Recipe Test: Cheese and Bacon Baked Potato Grunties

In our family, any food that cannot be described any other way is called a "Grunty". If it isn't a cookie, a patty, a cake, a pie, a roast something-or-other, a muffin, a ________________ (fill in the blank), then it can only be a grunty. And we here at the Three Cats Ranch know how to spell too. The plural of "grunty" is "grunties". Just sayin'.

But before I tell you about the potato grunties I'll just say I spent most of the day finishing up my "Oh, Christmas Tree" project. It isn't actually finished, but I used up almost all of the half square triangles on the main part of the quilt.

This turned out so pretty! I'm actually quite surprised how much I like it. It still needs borders, and there are still 16 of the green half square triangles left to deal with. Those will be turned into pinwheel corner stones. I dug through my stash and found quite a bit of this leftover brick red from a quilt back on a different project. I think this will be just right for the reddish border. When I add the borders, here's how it will look:

And I have enough of that same brick red for the back and binding as well, so that's what I'll do. For now though, I've spent most of the past week putting it together and I'm quite tired of looking at it. Christmas is quite a ways off, and so I'm going to put this aside for a while now. Next up on the sewing front is to get started on my doll quilt for the March Doll Quilt Swap. I like to get those out of the way first so they aren't hanging over my head.

When I was finished with that, I had a cup of espresso with my little friends.

They're getting along pretty well these days, except when Smitty is possessed by the demon spirit, and he just has to bite Gracie. She doesn't like that.

Now, about those potato grunties: Remember in my post from the other day, I was consulting the Chef of Google requesting assistance with what I should make using the leftover scooped out potato from my potato skins. And a person identified as "Shine" came up with this answer:

Mash the potatoes with butter, milk and cheddar cheese until fairly smooth. Use a potato masher or a whisk. Mix in fried bacon bits (browned but not totally crisp). Form balls about the size of large ice cream scoops, and place them on a greased baking sheet. Scrape the top and sides with a fork to make textured lines over the balls. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese over the top of each one. 
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes in a preheated (350) oven on a greased baking sheet, or until cheese is golden brown.

Okay, I'll bite ... literally. So yesterday, I came up with my own concoction for Cheese and Bacon Potato Grunties. What I'm about to tell you isn't exact, and it is by no means set in mashed potatoes (ha!). If you want to give this a try, use your best judgment about amounts and ingredients. Here's where I started and what I did. When I get finished telling you, I'll tell you what I think might improve them.

When I made my potato skins (I make mine like the Pioneer Woman), I used four good sized Russet potatoes. I put the scooped out potato in a zip-lock bag and then refrigerated it until I was ready. I'm guessing you can freeze the potato too if you want to do it at a later date. First, I fried up two strips of pepper bacon. I used pepper bacon in the potato skins, and so I just used what I had for the potato grunties. When that was fried up, I let it drain on some folded paper towels, and then chopped it up into about 1/2-inch dice.

When I was ready to go, I smashed the potato using my fingers while it was still in the bag, and then dumped it out into a bowl. To that, I added 2 tablespoons of room temperature butter, 1/4 cup of milk, about 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese and some garlic salt to taste. I didn't add any pepper, figuring that the pepper bacon would get the job done. If you're using another kind of bacon, you'll probably want to grind in a few grinds of pepper too. Then I mashed it all together using a potato masher until it was smooth like mashed potatoes. Then, I folded in the bacon. When it was good and mixed up, I used an ice cream scoop to scoop it onto a foil lined baking sheet. My yield from four Russets was 15 potato grunties, thus:

And then I used the tines of a fork to smash them into a little cookie...just like you would do with a peanut butter cookie.

Then, I sprinkled them generously with freshly ground Parmesan cheese.

At that point, I put them in the refrigerator to wait until Mike came home. I just left them uncovered, and they were in the fridge for about three hours before I was ready to bake them.

When Mike called to say he was on his way home, I preheated the oven to 350°F and then baked them for about 25 minutes. I wanted them to be fairly crispy and brown on top.

And let me tell you, these were sooooooo yummy. Mike pronounced them as being "like eating the best part of a baked potato!" And that's exactly right.

So here's what I would do differently next time: I had in mind to serve these up as an appetizer, and you could do that, but they are not a "finger food." You'll need a fork to eat them. I think they make a much better side dish, and as a side dish, these would be good enough to serve company. 

With that in mind, I would switch the cheeses around. I would put the Parmesan cheese in the potato mixture, and then sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the top. I think the cheddar cheese will give you a better melt, and I think it would make them prettier too. Also, when they come out of the oven, I would add a sprinkling of fresh chives. That would add a nice texture, color, and flavor, and it would make them prettier too. Also, I might consider substituting some sour cream for the milk. You'll need some milk for the moisture, but the sour cream would add another nice flavor.

With all of that said, here's the recipe I typed into my database this morning. Feel free to experiment with your own ideas, but this will get you started.

An updated version of this recipe can be found right here!
Cheese and Bacon Baked Potato Grunties

Recipe adapted from an internet suggestion by "Shine"

2 Strips Pepper Bacon -- fried crisp, drained, and chopped into 1/2-inch dice
   Leftover Scooped out Potato From 4 Russets Used in Potato Skins -- mashed
2 Tablespoons Room Temperature Butter
1/4 Cup Milk -- (consider substituting some sour cream)
1/2 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
Garlic Salt -- to taste
Grated Cheddar Cheese -- (about 1/2 cup)
Chopped Fresh Chives -- (about 1/3 cup)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.

Add mashed potatoes, butter, milk, grated Parmesan cheese, and garlic salt to a large bowl and mash together using a potato masher until well-combined. Fold in pepper bacon bits. 

Using an ice cream scoop or a quarter cup measuring cup, scoop potato mixture into balls and place on baking sheet. Using the tines of a fork, flatten the balls into a "cookie". Sprinkle with grated Cheddar Cheese.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until cheese is melted and they are nicely browned. 

Sprinkle with chopped chives and serve warm.

And the best part? You get to enjoy the potato skins first! It's a win-win!

13 comments from clever and witty friends:

Lynda Halliger Otvos (Lynda M O) said...

Sounds delectable. I love bakers and to have the best part without all that skin !~! Well, sounds like a recipe I may have to try when Iris stops by-she's a potato lover too.

Terry@ a quilting blog said...

Love your Christmas Tree project…look forward to seeing it all finished!!! The recipe sounds yummy :)

Vroomans' Quilts said...

The Tree came out great and like the border fabric - plus in having enough for backing and binding. Oh, thank you for the grunty recipe - yummo!

sophie said...

The tree twinkles from all those scraps. It's fantastic. Your potato grunts sound delicious–I'm saving your recipe even though I have pretty much given up all the ingredients on the list except the potatoes and the chives :-)

Kate said...

Your tree turned out beautifully. It's going to be fun to see how you finish that one off.

Now I'm hungry! Those potato grunties look yummy!

Tami C said...

Your Christmas tree turned out really lovely! I might have to make one of those myself! Your little friends look so comfy. Popeye bites Roxie now and then too. I guess it's a guy thing. I had to scroll past your Yummy food as I swore off potatoes when I started my diet last August.

Lyndsey said...

The Christmas tree is lovely and will be perfect with the led in the star. Now I'm hungry so I'm off to the kitchen to see what I can find. The potato grunties sound delicious and I'll give them a try later.

works4me said...

That tree is fabulous. Great progress.

Very important to take a break with friends, and even better when they are feline friends. :) I'm happy to know your two little buddies are getting along relatively well. Gracie must be one patient kitty. But I also think Smitty may be growing up. Not completely, because where is the fun in that?

quiltzyx said...

Oh! Christmas Tree! All your hard work cutting & marking, etc. has turned out great. :)

I like that name - "Grunties"! And the recipe sounds swell...a keeper to try out, for sure!

Ranch Wife said...

Awesome tree! Adding that to my list to make! And as for your Grunties...never met a potato I didn't like. I make these too... or something pretty similar. It's a yummy version of twice baked potatoes, but I'm renaming mine Barbara's Potato Grunties. Love that name!

Judy1522 said...

Your Christmas tree is looking good. If you are still interested in lighting it up I saw an interesting segment with Cheryl Sleboda on Quilting arts that was on PBS this weekend. She puts LED lights on many of her quilted projects and may have an idea that could help you with yours. The show number was 1302.

Jacque said...

When I stopped drooling over your Christmas tree, I looked down and saw the grunties.....(wiping keyboard) .....yumm!

Brown Family said...

I like the red and white borders. What is it about boy cats that get the demon in them and want to bite the girl cats. One of mine got time out in the garage last night. Well, not all night, but an hour or so!

The grunties look yummy! I may have to try those! Printing recipe now~