Uncommonly Good

One Potato, Two Potato…

I love a good baked potato. Typically I wash the potatoes, prick the skin with a fork, slather with olive oil, wrap in foil, put them in a 400° oven… and wait for an hour until they’re cooked through and tender.

But a recently I had a booth at a local flea market and a couple came up and asked if I had any potato bags. I thought they wanted cotton bags for storing potatoes, but she wanted a bag for cooking potatoes in the microwave. She described it and then I went home and made one.

This is a great way to brown bag your lunch. You can cook the potato at home and warm it in the microwave. Or if you don’t have to share the kitchen you can cook it fresh when you’re ready to eat.

Baked Potato Bag

Who knew this simple cotton envelope could make such fluffy creamy baked potatoes?

And then I baked a couple of potatoes in it.

Baked Potato Bag With Potatoes

Scrub the potatoes and wrap them in a paper towel.

Scrub the potatoes and while they’re still wet wrap them in a paper towel and put them in the bag. You can wet the paper towel if you want, but I didn’t and my potatoes turned out fine. BTW, don’t prick the skin when you cook them like this. You want the skin to seal in the moisture while it cooks.

Baked Potatoes are done

I was surprised at how wet the bag was after the potatoes were done.

I’m not sure how long it took. My microwave is REALLY old… It was my grandmother’s and I think my she got one of the originals. It’s a Sharp Carousel… it has a turntable (thus the Carousel in the name). The timer is an old-fashioned turn dial.  I’m not sure of the accuracy. Suggested cooking times range from 4–6 minutes, up to 10–15 minutes. It all depends on the size and number of the potatoes and the actual wattage of your microwave.

And just like foil-wrapped oven-baked potatoes, you can press on the potatoes see when they’re done. They’ll give a little when they’re tender inside.

A Microbaked Potato

Be careful! The steam that makes the potato moist can also escape and burn when you open the bag.

No knives allowed when you get ready to eat. Just stab it with your fork and twist to break it apart.

Baked Potato

Now, it's ready to dress.

Top it with whatever suits your fancy. My dressings start with butter. Then it depends on what’s in the fridge: cheese, any kind; chives; sour cream…

Baked Potato with all the trimmings

Traditional oven-baked potato with traditional toppings.

I might top it with chili, Sloppy Joe meat, tuna, or grilled chicken or steak. Or… maybe I’ll build a salad on top and drizzle the whole thing in salad dressing. Avocados and crumbled bacon is good on top.

That spare potato that’s still in the bag?  It went into the fridge and made the best potato salad I’ve ever made! Details on that coming soon!

I’ll be selling these at the next flea market June 10, 11 at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds here in Norman.  Instructions and recipes will be included.


May 25, 2011 Posted by | Brown Bag, Potatoes | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Grilled Cheese Month: Tuna

Today I used tuna for my grilled cheese lunch. Pretty darn tasty!

I started with one over-sized slice of bread and cut it in half.

Bread with Honey Mustard and Mozzarella


Next, honey mustard went on both pieces of bread.  This sandwich turned out a bit sweet, so next time I would switch to Dijon or a less sweet variety of honey mustard.



I put mozzarella on one slice of bread and cheddar on the other slice.




Dill Pickle, Cheddar, Chunk Tuna, and More Cheese.



A dill pickle went on one side, and I carefully piled well-drained chunk tuna on the other side.





I topped the tuna with more grated cheese before putting the sandwich together.




The griddle was about “just right” hot, so it was time to add a puddle of olive oil. Both sides of the sandwich were smeared in oil before I left it to cook for a few minutes.





Look at that perfect golden brown toastiness!


The chunk tuna made this a little more fragile, so I had a fork handy for the droppings.



Banana peppers would be a tasty addition but I’m out right now. And it needs something red. A sprinkle of pimento, or roasted red peppers would be just the ticket!

Of course you can make this full-sized for a hearty eater, but I’m trying to behave myself these days.





April 8, 2011 Posted by | Tuna | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Tuna Salad Sandwich

Tuna Sandwich

Tuna, tomatoes, lettuce, ready for the sandwich.

I know fish is good for your heart, and as hard as I try, I don’t get it into my diet as often as I should. But tuna is easy, so I add it to the menu when I think of it.

I make tuna salad with a recipe similar to most, but of course it depends on what I have in the fridge at the time.

One essential is celery, gotta have the crunch. This time I used bread and butter pickles, a few green onions, and mayonnaise. I had pickled peppers, tomatoes, a few almond slivers and lettuce on the side for building the sandwich.

Tuna Sandwich

Tuna Sandwich

I only used half the tuna today, so tomorrow I’ll make a green salad and add the tuna on top. One of my pet peeves is forgetting it’s in the fridge and having to throw it out, so I try to use it within a day or two.

What’s your favorite way to make tuna salad? Any favorite ingredients you can’t live without?

April 22, 2010 Posted by | Brown Bag, Sandwich | , , , , | Leave a comment

Mad Men Tuna Casserole

I am hooked on Mad Men. This Emmy Award winning AMC original series seems to capture the feel of the early 60s. Before Viet Nam, before the hippies, it was known as the Days of Camelot. I love the styling of the sets, the fashions, the two-martini lunches, not to mention the characters and the stories. The dialog is filled with anecdotal comments that evoke the attitudes of the early 60s. I was just a kid, but it reminds me of Doris Day movies and the fashions of my original Barbie doll.

Much has been made of the cocktails of the 60s, a Manhattan, Gimlet, Old-Fashioned… but not much has been said about the food. A few weeks ago Don Draper came home from work and his wife Betty offered him a late supper. “Hot or cold?” she asked. The options were chicken salad or tuna casserole.

I looked up tuna casseroles in The Joy of Cooking, and The Modern Family Cookbook, as well as a Good Housekeeping cookbook, all with late 50s copyrights. These are cookbooks Betty might have in her kitchen.

It was interesting that all the recipes called for 7 ounce cans of tuna while the cans in my cabinet are only 5 ounces. One simple recipe with only 3 ingredients called for tuna, noodles and white sauce. Simple except the white sauce was homemade, which requires standing over the stove and stirring until the butter, flour and milk are combined to the right consistency. Toppings included corn flakes, potato chips and buttered breadcrumbs. One called for buttered cornflakes. How do you butter a cornflake? Seasonings included Worcestershire, sherry, or curry powder to name a few.

Some recipes layered the ingredients into the casserole dish, others mixed them first. I used a combination of methods, layering and combining, when I came made my casserole this morning.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need.

  • Noodles
  • 2 cans Tuna
  • 2 cans Celery Soup
  • Onion
  • Celery
  • Red Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Frozen Peas
  • Milk
  • Asiago Romano Cheese
  • Seasoned Bread Crumbs
  • Almond Slivers
  • Green Onions
  • Green Olives
  • Tabasco Sauce (optional)
  1. Boil water for noodles and preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Dice equal amounts onion, red pepper and celery—about 1/2 C each—and sauté in a splash of olive oil, preferably in an iron skillet.
  3. Drain noodles/pasta and rinse in cool water. Drain again.
  4. Pour a splash of olive oil into the casserole and brush to cover bottom and sides.
  5. Put the noodles/pasta in a layer on the bottom of the dish.
  6. Spoon the sautéed veggies on top of the noodles.
  7. Sprinkle a layer of frozen peas over the top of the veggies.
  8. Open the soup and tuna and dump them into pasta pan to combine. Don’t drain the tuna and add a splash of milk if the mixture is too thick.
  9. Pour the combined soup/tuna mixture on top of everything in the casserole. Spread to cover all the edges.
  10. Sprinkle a topping of almond slivers/crumbs over the top of the casserole.
  11. Top it all with a layer of dried seasoned breadcrumbs.
  12. Bake about 30 minutes until heated through.
  13. Remove from oven and garnish with grated Asiago Romano cheese, diced green onion, and sliced green olives.
  14. Wait at least 15 minutes before serving,
  15. Top each serving with more cheese, a sprinkle of almonds and fresh grated black pepper.

This casserole can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. Warm to room temperature and add the almonds and breadcrumbs before placing in the preheated oven.

Make individual portions by assembling in mini loaf pans. To freeze, press plastic wrap to the surface of each casserole and seal each tightly with aluminum foil.

If desired, splash each portion with Tabasco Sauce before serving.

Divide leftovers into serving size containers for brown bagging. Heat in the microwave, but don’t over cook or the noodles may end up tough and dry. Top with fresh garnishes and it will look and taste fresh from the oven.

October 10, 2009 Posted by | Brown Bag, Casserole, Tuna | | Leave a comment


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