1 Bake the potatoes. Preheat the oven to 400F. Scrub the potatoes clean under running water. Poke each potato in several places with the tines of a fork so that when the potatoes are cooking they don&39;t explode. Rub the potatoes all over with a little olive oil. Place directly on the middle or top rack of the oven. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through. They should give a little when pressed.
If short on time you can bake the potatoes in the microwave, 10 minutes on high heat for 2 potatoes, 15 minutes for 4 potatoes. The skins of microwave baked potatoes aren&39;t nearly as crispy, so you may want to rub a little olive oil on them and finish them in a conventional oven at 400F for 10 minutes.
2 If you are including bacon as one of your mixins, while the potatoes are cooking, cook the bacon strips in a frying pan on medium low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Let cool. Crumble.
3 Allow the potatoes to cool to touch. Slice the top third lengthwise off the potato. Use a spoon to scoop out the insides, forming a potato "canoe", leaving about 1/4 inch of potato on the skin.
Alternatively you can slice the potatoes in half, lengthwise. In this case you may want to bake an extra potato so that you will have more potato filling to mound into the potato boats.
4 Place the scooped out potato insides, sour cream, milk, cream, and butter into a large bowl. Mash with a potato masher. If you want a creamy texture, beat with an electric beater until desired consistency. Note, do not overbeat potatoes, they can turn gluey.
5 Mix in the extras with the potatoes. Reserve some of the extras to sprinkle on the tops of the potatoes. Spoon fillings into the potato shells. Sprinkle with extra toppings.
6 Heat oven to 350F. Place potatoes on a roasting pan and bake 15 to 20 minutes until heated through.
Serves 4 to 6.
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