A baked potato bar is a simple, healthy, and satisfying dinner that can be ready within minutes of walking in the door.
Guest Post by Dena Norton of Back to the Book Nutrition
Need some simple, healthy summer dinner ideas? I’m dishing on my favorites today, starting with this fast and easy Crock Pot Baked Potato Bar!
Speaking of summer…after five years of parenting, I now understand what summer really means.
We had a great first year experience in our University Model school (similar to Erin’s) but, as the spring semester wound down, we were all ready for a break.
On May 14th, it finally came, and we haven’t looked back since! The kids and I have taken full advantage of our freedom, loading up on more games, creative play, visits with friends, fun outings, and plenty of pool time!
Crock Pot Baked Potato Bar: a Simple Summer Dinner
A baked potato bar is a simple, healthy, and satisfying dinner that can be ready within minutes of walking in the door. Here’s how.
First, did you know you can “bake” potatoes in the slow cooker? You totally can! They take virtually zero prep, cook in just a few hours, and turn out perfectly! (Sweet potatoes also work, by the way, and are fabulous with my Maple Cinnamon Butter!)
Second, the toppings can all be prepped in advance and pulled out just before serving. (If you pre-cook your bacon, reheat it in the oven or toaster oven at 350 degrees for a few minutes until the crisp returns)
As a bonus, serving baked potatoes “bar style” allows each person to stuff their potato with just what they like. (My kids have always been good eaters but, the older and pickier they get, the more I appreciate this one!)
The potatoes can be served straight from the slow cooker, or you can place them on plates so they’re ready to stuff. By the way, do you know the “cross cut” trick for opening a baked potato so it holds its form just like those perfect stuffed baked potatoes you get at the restaurant?
- • Large baked potatoes (I cooked 5 potatoes in a 6-quart Crock Pot - you could easily add a few more, but may need to extend the cooking time)
- • Sea salt
- • Toppings of choice (we like butter, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, chives, and pastured bacon crumbles)
- 1. Rinse and scrub potatoes, then prick each potato a few times with a fork.
- 2. Place potatoes directly into the Crock Pot and cook on high for 3-4 hours, or until done. If not serving right away, quickly brush water over each potato using a pastry brush to prevent the skins from cracking, then cover and turn to the "keep warm" setting until ready to serve.
- 3. To serve, make a cross-shaped cut in the top of each potato and press inward on opposite ends to create an opening (use a kitchen towel to protect your hands if potatoes are too hot!).
- 4. Sprinkle generously with sea salt, then add toppings of choice.
- You can add 2-4 Tbsp water to the Crock Pot before cooking if desired - this will keep the skins more moist and soft, but I find that the firmer, drier skins hold up better for stuffed baked potatoes.
More Fast and Easy Summer Dinner Ideas
Want even more great ideas for healthy dinners that are easy to throw together when you’re short on time? Here ya’ go!
- 3 Ingredient Greek Chicken
- Tomato, Bacon, and Corn Salad with Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Easy Pulled Pork in the Crock Pot
- Shrimp Tacos with Mango, Cilantro, and Lime
- Creamy Shrimp, Potatoes, and Kale (a 30-minute, grain free meal)
- 20 Minute Marsala Mushrooms with Perfect Mashed Potatoes (grain free, vegetarian)
- Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwich with Tangy Honey Mustard Dip
- Bacon, Avocado, and Blue Cheese Salad (+ the Best Blue Cheese Dressing!)
What are your go-to quick dinner ideas?
Dena Norton is a registered dietitian turned stay-at-home-mom. She and her husband, Rick, have two precious children, ages 5 and 2. She is the author of Nutrition By The Book: Where Food and Faith Intersect and her latest recipe eBook, 25 Sweet Treats for Summer. Dena blogs at Back To The Book Nutrition, where she inspires others to celebrate God’s gifts of food and health. Subscribe to Dena’s blog or join her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest!