As I walked my daughter to the bus stop this morning, the road was covered with packed down snow. The neighborhood kids were donned in their warm snow pants, coats, gloves and hats. And snow stubbornly clung to the trees.
“This is why I love winter here,” I thought.
There’s something so beautiful about the world on the morning after a snowfall — even a small one like yesterday’s. And I love walking through it all, enjoying the prettiness that comes with the blanketing of white.
More importantly though, my kids love it. Their joyful giggles as they play in the snow is a testament to how fun winter days can be. Snowy Maine winters give them so many opportunities to get outside and enjoy the natural world. Whether it’s playing in the neighborhood or downhill skiing or something else, I love their glee as they get outside.
Being active all year round is important. The American Heart Association in August released a science advisory that spoke to the dangers of sedentary lifestyles. “Evidence is accumulating that sedentary behavior might be associated with increased cardiovascular-specific and overall mortality. Insufficient physical activity predicts premature cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality and disease burden,” the advisory introduction read.
In other words, people don’t move enough. We need to live more active lifestyles like our ancestors did. So, when my kids go outside to play in the snow and come inside with red cheeks and noses, they’re on the right lifelong path to an active lifestyle. I hope yours are too.
It only takes little changes — walking to the school bus stop instead of driving, parking farther from the entrances to stores, enjoying a family stroll — to get on the right path.
Speaking of little things … today’s recipe is for a small version of a comfort food favorite.
These Mini Twice Baked Broccoli Cheddar Potatoes are like their full-size brethren, but smaller. Why, you might wonder, would you want to abbreviate the goodness of a well-prepared twice baked potato? These are the appetizer version of that favorite — a smaller, two-bite version that’s perfect for smaller gatherings. Serve these at a dinner or as an appetizer to enjoy with your favorite eggnog while decorating your tree.
For these potatoes, you start by baking the small potatoes to tender perfection — just as you would a full-size twice baked potatoes. You can do this in advance, up to two days ahead of time.
When you’re ready to finish these up, scoop out the insides and mash them (you’re essentially making mashed potatoes) with milk, salt and pepper. Add the broccoli and half the cheddar.
Then stuff that mixture back into the potato halves. Top with the other half of the cheddar cheese. Then bake again.
And when they’re done? Dig in.
- 4 small (about 2½ inch in diameter) potatoes
- 1-2 tbsp milk
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup chopped steamed broccoli
- ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Wash the potatoes, and then prick once with a fork. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 45-50 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, until tender. Remove from the oven and cool.
- Slice the potatoes in half and scoop out the insides into a bowl. Mash with a fork. Add 1 tablespoon of milk and season with salt and pepper. Stir well. Add additional milk, if desired, to reach preferred consistency. Stir in the broccoli and half of the cheese.
- Divide the broccoli potato mixture evenly among the potato halves. Top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes until beginning to brown at the edges. Enjoy.