Although TODAY is actually her birthday, we all celebrated it yesterday. It was just me, my boys and my new daughter-in-law, but it was still all good with presents, birthday cupcakes, and a really good dinner (if I say so myself).

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Frosting these cupcakes was my first attempt at using a piping bag; a homemade piping bag. They turned out o.k.a.y. for a first attempt, but you probably shouldn’t use your mother’s birthday cupcakes as the guinea pigs. Bless her heart! She knows I put love into making them, no matter how much they look like a little orange dog dropped a poo on each cupcake.

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I truly am my own worst critic when it comes to cooking. I will tell anyone the honest to God truth about whether I did a good job or not. And as a matter of fact, aside from the orange poo cupcakes, yesterday’s dinner was excellent. The most outstanding thing was the mashed potatoes.

I know. Everybody on the planet knows how to make mashed potatoes. There’s no secret there. You boil a potato and you mash it. Season to taste and BAM! Mashed potatoes. But that’s not necessarily true. I learned something totally by accident.

Little back story: My boys LOVE my mashed potatoes! Particularly, they like them lumpy and with the skins on. They ALWAYS request them with dinner no matter what I’m making. If I’m making lasagne, they still want mashed potatoes on the side. It doesn’t matter. But I’VE never been crazy about them. I mean. . . they’re good. They’ve just never been knock-my-socks-off good.

I’ve always used red potatoes and I’ve always chopped them up and boiled them, then mashed them. Yesterday, I wanted to make potato skins as an appetizer, so I bought regular white potatoes (for no reason other than they were bigger). I washed and dried them, drizzled them with some olive oil and sprinkled them with kosher salt. I baked them for a little more than an hour.

I let them cool for awhile because I’ve never been fond of playing “hot potato”. Besides, I had plenty of other dishes to prepare that kept me busy. After they were cooled enough for me to handle, I scooped out the insides. At this point, I had my skins and I had my potatoes for mashing. The hard part is over. The rest is a breeze.

Potato Skins

5 lbs baked potato skins
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
Cheddar cheese, shredded
Bacon, crumbled

At this point, just sprinkle the insides of the potato skins with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon. Broil for 5 minutes, or until lightly brown and crispy. Serve with a side of sour cream. Yummm!

Awesome Mashed Potatoes

5 lbs baked potato insides
1 stick butter, softened
1 – 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup milk
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
1 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded

In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, butter, cream cheese, salt and pepper. Mix with hand mixer (or a Kitchen Aid if you have one), adding milk to reach desired consistency, whether you like them lumpy or whipped. Pour into a baking dish and sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

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My mother and my boys LOVED these potatoes so much that I was instructed to write it down before I forgot what I did. They think the BAKED potato makes the difference in the flavor of the potato rather than the boiled. I have no idea, but I do love the two-fer I get out of baking this one little bag of potatoes; a great appetizer (I mean, who doesn’t like potato skins?) and the best mashed potatoes EVER.

I think Mama had a good day! Good dinner, good company, cool presents, and orange poo birthday cupcakes. You can’t beat that! Happy Birthday Mama!