Mushroom Thyme Twice-Baked Potatoes (Vegan)

If you guys haven’t gotten the hint yet that I really love potatoes, you must not be paying a whole lot of attention. While white and yellow potatoes aren’t Paleo, they’re too important for me to give up… which is why I can’t eat a strict paleo diet. I try though… so, perhaps I can get an honorary mention for that.

The weather took a turn and it’s been super chilly recently — another reason to carb-load like a little hibernating animal (which I wish I could do).  After a long work day, intense lifting at the gym, and battling rush hour traffic, let me come home to my potatoes. I grew up with my mom making these with real milk, butter and cheese — they were a staple of guest dinners and holidays, because they do take a bit longer than a quick throw-together meal.

I think my favorite part about these is how well they freeze and keep — you can totally make these ahead of time. Pull one (or a few) out, brush with olive oil and bake until hot. I’m trying to get into time-saving… I’m sort of tired of rushing around everywhere, but it seems to be the norm. My day starts at 4:30am – I get up, get ready, pack up for my day, feed and let my dog out, run around and figure out what I didn’t pack yet, and rush out the door, rush to work, run around at work, rush home to feed my dog, rush to wherever I’m going after work, rush home and take dog for a rushed walk, rush to cook dinner, rush and get ready for bed, and then pass out. Did reading that exhaust you? Because recapping my weekday exhausted me.

I think that’s a New Year’s intention I’m going to make. Note, I said “intention”, and not “resolution”, because resolutions are absolutes. Here’s why:

in·ten·tion

/in-ten-shuhn/ (noun)

an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result.

While resolutions are done in anticipation, they speak from a place of fixing what’s wrong, rather than just adding to your life to make things better. Things change, your life evolves, and your goals at the beginning of the year may not really align with where you want to be at the end of the year new things happen. Based on the above definition of intention, there’s much more association with cause and effect, and it’s more synonymous with change. Always leave room for change! Always leave room, period.

That’s my intention in and of itself; I need to give myself more time to just… do whatever. I work 60 hours a week, have several pets to care for, a very large family, and love to make time to cook… but unless I’m doing it at 3am, I have to make sacrifices elsewhere in my life, just to make recipes… and that doesn’t feel good when it’s something I love so much. However, I realize that the workweek  hours aren’t changing any time soon, my pets aren’t going anywhere… so I need to learn when to find balance. And that’s my intention. I’m approaching it with optimism, with positive thoughts for a positive outcome, and from the angle that I won’t beat myself up if I fall back into my own ways… I’ll just pick up where I left off, and try again to cut myself some slack.

Starting with thawing out last week’s twice-baked potatoes for a quick dinner that I don’t have to think about… it’s something, right?

Mushroom Thyme Twice-Baked Potatoes (Vegan)

Prep: 30 min

Cook: 1 hr 20 min

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 3 baking potatoes, washed and scrubbed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ cup vegan shredded cheese, such as GoVeggie Vegan Cheddar (available at Whole Foods, Wegmans, Giant)
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ cups cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove of garlic, grated or pressed
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • ½ tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • ½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet. Rub them with the olive oil and bake for 1 hour, making sure they’re sufficiently cooked through (poke with a knife or fork to the  center – it should be quite soft, but the skin should not yet be wrinkly).
  3. Meanwhile, while the potatoes are baking, add 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. Add onion, and sauté until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and mushroom, and continue to  cook, stirring so the garlic does not burn, for another 6-7 minutes until the mushrooms start to brown. Remove from heat.
  4. Remove the potatoes from the oven and set aside to cool a bit. Lower the heat to 350 degrees F.
  5. With a sharp knife, cut each potato in half, lengthwise. Using a spoon, gently scrape out the insides into a large mixing bowl, leaving a small layer of potato left (so it stays intact), being careful not to tear the shell. Lay the hollowed out potato shells on a baking sheet, and brush the skin side with olive oil. Place them back upright on the baking sheet.
  6. With a mixer or potato smasher, mash the potatoes so that the large chunks are all gone. Add the vegan cheese, almond milk, mushrooms, onions, herbs, salt and pepper (to taste) and mix together well.
  7. Fill the potato shells with the filling – they should be “over-filled”, and have a heap of mixture on them.
  8. Place back in the oven for another 20 minutes, until the top starts to brown. Garnish with extra rosemary and serve… though it’s vegan, it does go quite nicely with Paleo Grilled Hawaiian Chicken, Maple Ginger Salmon, or even my all time favorite Garlic Tahini Kale, a.k.a. “No New Friends” Salad.

Enjoy!

-S

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