Thursday, February 13, 2014

Home Depot Meal (Fix Your Own): Stuffed Potato Episode

I love having people into my home for a meal.

I love it when I can succeed in having them enjoy the home I've tried to make, feel the sanctuary from the world that I work at creating, and become comfortable enough around my table to let me begin to get to know them.

I search for ways to bring together the joy of eating and the joy of being together. One way is to have what I call a  "Home Depot" meal, a meal where my guests are involved with the food in more ways than just eating it--they fix their own. 

During Christmas break, my younger son's in-laws (all of them!) were in town and we wanted a fun evening together with the whole crowd. I thought and thought about what I should serve and finally settled on having a baked potato bar.

I searched my refrigerator and cupboards for potato "toppings"  that I could sauté, slice, chop, or scoop into bowls to later be heaped onto baked potatoes. Everything was out on the counter that can be reached from three sides in a variety of bowls and we went up in small groups with our plates to fill, pile, and heap!

It turned out to be such a fun evening of talking while making mounds of our potatoes and talking while eating. Reminiscing about going to Wendy's Baked Potato bar (that dates us!) and one topic just leading to another. 

If you've been reading me long, you know that any thing that makes you linger longer at the table is something I'm in favor of--okay, for all you English majors--something of which I'm in favor. (Who made that preposition rule?)

Another thing I want to do is break the ice and start conversations. And there's just something about starting a meal by doing more than passing the food, that gets people talking. Of course, being family, we had no trouble there and all would have had plenty to talk about anyway, but it just made the meal that much more fun!

Potato Topper Ideas (I'm sure you can come up with more ideas)

  • butter
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • black beans
  • chili
  • taco meat
  • sliced olives
  • grated cheeses
  • salsa
  • chopped onions
  • sliced green onions
  • slightly steamed broccoli
  • chopped sweet peppers
  • chopped jalapeño peppers
  • sour cream
  • parmesan cheese

*  *  *  *  *

For More Ideas and Inspiration:
Check out the book Around the Table: Connecting With Your Family at Mealtimes. You can read the first chapter at this site and order a copy of the book.

Get a Conversation Starter question each week night by *liking* the Around the Table Facebook page! 


  1. How fun! We love baked potatoes!

  2. Look beautiful and delicious.
    Thanks for linking up at "My Favorite Things"

  3. that sure sounds so fun and delicious!!

  4. The best conversations occur around a table. I love your potato bar idea. I'll have to borrow that myself soon!

  5. Here from the Grand Social, and I'm loving this idea! Gracias, will try it out soon. BB2U

  6. A Baked Potato Bar is one of my favorite meals to fix when company comes - and I've never met anyone else who does this! :) Yay! No matter who comes to our home, it's always a favorite - we get a lot of 'wow, what a great idea!'. I like your extended list of toppings - I usually keep it to 2-3 choices (chili, roasted veggies, or ham-n-egg scramble).

    ~Lisha :)

  7. That looks like a really yummy way to feed a lot of guests.



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