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October 23, 2013
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Colorful Cooking column: Skeleton skins and fry fingers

Potatoes are the most consumed vegetables in the United States and have been a staple food for me since college when eggs and spuds were on the menu daily. Not only are they both healthy and inexpensive, but hearty as well. Twenty years later, when cooking for my family and friends, I find potatoes a pantry ingredient. They last for months in the cool, dark closet and they are the number one crop harvest in the world. They used to be farmed here the Vail Valley, so if they grow here, you can bet they are hearty.

Hearty and healthy, but unfortunately, the potato has gotten a bad wrap due to the popularity of French fries and potato chips. Chips and fries cook are cooked by deep frying and exposing a lot of surface area to oil. Chips average about 33 percent oil, and French fries about 15 percent, from cooking. French fries that are baked have less fat than their fried brethren, but if you really want health benefits from a potato, bake them and be careful what topping you choose.

Potatoes are tubers that grow in the dirt, so buying organic is a good idea. The skins contain most of their nutrients, so you don’t want to peel them to get all the good stuff. That stuff is vitamin C, B6, fiber, copper, potassium and manganese. Plus, they have antioxidants and fight free radicals.

Sometimes, a green color takes over the potato skin and this is not a Halloween, mummy fashion statement, it is an abnormally high amount of alkaloid, which will make the spud taste bitter. When you see that green, peel the potato or toss it because it will not have a nice flavor.

These flavorful skeleton skins are filled with healthy red peppers, green onions, tomato sauce and some cheese. They taste great and are a healthy, hearty snack for anyone getting ready to head off for a night of haunting. Mix in a simple bloody French fry finger and you have a nice base for the belly before candy or cocktails.

Skeleton Skins

  • 5 large russet potatoes
  • 1 cup red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup green onion, diced
  • 10 string cheese sticks
  • 2 cups mozzarella or fontina cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups pizza sauce
  • Olive Oil
  • Mini Chocolate Chips
  • Guacamole and/or sour cream for dipping

Scrub potatoes and heat oven to 350 degrees. Pierce potatoes and cook for 60 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

Cut the potatoes in half and scoop out meat in the middle, keeping a quarter inche of potato inside the skin.

Brush the olive oil all over the potato skin. Place on baking sheet, cut side up and cook 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Mix red pepper and green onion together.

Layer the skins, starting with 1 heaping tablespoon red pepper mixture, 2 Tablespoons shredded cheese.

Cover the cheese and pepper with pizza sauce and smooth the sauce to make a bed for the skeleton.

To make the skeleton: cut 1/2-inch of the cheese from the top and cut triangles into each side of the 1/2-inch cheese to make a skull. Poke in 2 mini chocolate chips for the eyes.

Cut the remainder of the string cheese into a large and small piece for the legs and ribs.

Pull the cheese apart and lay the legs at the bottom of the skin.

Pull the smaller sting cheese apart and trim some to make smaller pieces for the ribs. Layer the ribs above the legs and add the head to the top to make the skeleton.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Bloody French fries

  • French fries, packaged, frozen, your brand of choice
  • Ketchup
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Grapes
  • Cream Cheese
  • Chipotles in Adobo (optional)

Bake French fries according to package directions.

Slice tomatoes and grapes in half to make the fingernail.

When the fries are cooked, place a small amount of cream cheese on the tip of the fry and stick on half of the grape or tomato. Squeeze out some of the juice from the fruit so it dries out a bit and sticks.

Place the fries in a small bowl of ketchup right before serving (otherwise they will get soft).

If making an adult version, blend a small can of chipotles in adobo and mix 1/4 cup chipotles with 1 cup ketchup.

Tracy Miller is TV8’s in-house cook, shares recipes Saturdays on “Good Morning Vail,” teaches cooking classes at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards and hosts private cooking parties. Contact Miller at tracy@colorfulcooking.net.


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The VailDaily Updated Feb 28, 2014 02:06PM Published Oct 24, 2013 03:04PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.