If you recall, I had big plans to get the kids back into the kitchen with me this past summer as we participated in a fun screen-free task officially known as the Tech Timeout Challenge by life insurance provider Foresters. My idea is that we would spend our non-electronic hours improving the boys cooking skills, while doing something non-sporty, non-superhero-y, and a little more calm than their ordinary activities.
We were incredibly successful in our efforts– we committed to taking an hour-long break from technology each day to do something together as a family - but I’m afraid the free time wasn’t always spent in the kitchen. To be honest, cooking as a group of four was far less enjoyable than I expected. We were tripping over each other to get tasks completed, and the kids quickly lost interest in what we were doing. Instead, two of us made dinner and then we enjoyed it al fresco while playing a board game, which was far more fun for everyone involved.
This isn’t to say that the boys aren’t cooking. They are, and it’s been such fun to see them in the kitchen! With school back in session, and their time divided between homework, hockey, music, and other activities, in order to keep them cooking I’ve made dinner prep part of their daily chores. One kid sets the table and helps in the kitchen, while the other is in charge of the post-meal cleanup and floor sweeping. It’s working out really well, and I’m enjoying the one-on-one time with them when we’re cooking.
As for the digital diet part of the challenge, our tech time out was easy and we managed to maintain it for the entire summer. When we were on vacation in North Carolina back in July, we chose to rent a place with no Wi-Fi and for 10 days we were entertained as a family in so many other ways. When home, we walked, watched movies, worked in the garden, played games, and ate without the use of screens a few times a day.
Now that cooking dinner is part of the boys' weekly routine, they certainly have strong opinions about what they want to eat. Aside from copious amounts of food, the request is usually for things that I would classify as "guy food" - meaty, cheesy, and filling. These twice-baked potatoes are no exception and can be served as is, or with a salad on the side.
They also pass well as 'game day' fare, which is important around this time of year when you live with the quarterback of the senior boys school football team and there are fantasy football leagues and suicide pools you're trying to keep track of each week. Also, feel free to make mini versions of these using baby potatoes or fingerlings, but keep in mind that if your group is anything like mine they'll want the full-sized potato, and probably more than one.
Twice-Baked Potatoes with Sausage and Kale
- 4 large baking potatoes
- 1 head of garlic
- 4 chorizo or sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1 bunch kale, stems removed and finely chopped (or 1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained)
- 1/3 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup grated aged cheddar cheese
- 3 tablespoons chopped chives
- Salt and pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 400°F. Wash the potatoes and pierce them a few times with a fork. Slice the top off the head of garlic, drizzle a little olive oil over the exposed cloves, season with salt and pepper, and wrap tightly in aluminum foil. Bake both until tender, about 1 hour for the potatoes and 25-30 minutes for the garlic. Cool for 15 minutes.
While the potatoes are baking, set a skillet over medium high heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil, and cook the sausage meat. When it begins to brown add the kale and cook until the meat is cooked through and the kale is wilted. Set aside.
Slice the cooled potatoes in half lengthwise, and scoop the potato flesh into a medium sized bowl, leaving a thin ½” shell around the potato skin. Set aside ½ cup potato flesh and reserve this for another use. Add the milk, butter, roasted garlic and ¾ cup of cheese. Season with salt and pepper and add the chives. Mix well. Stir in the sausage and spinach mixture.
Scoop the filling back into the potatoes and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup cheese and baked until heated through, about 20 minutes.
This post was generously sponsored by life insurance provider Foresters, but the opinions and images are my own. For more information, visit www.techtimeout.com.