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You are invited to serve up some hip foods

How about offering a Spuds with Buds party?
by: SUBMITTED PHOTO An idea for a hip fall party is a Spuds with Buds party. The hosts bake russet and sweet potatoes for their guests, who bring toppings and side dishes to share. Barb Randall shares ideas for toppings and an appetizer that is sure to wow every guest.

Kara Hansen Murphey, our assistant editor for both the Lake Oswego Review and West Linn Tidings, keeps those of us in the office over the age of 30 hip by sharing tidbits of her younger generation.

With recent happenings, I am just a smidge over 30 and consider myself still very hip, let's just say I enjoy hearing about the many fun ways she and her friends entertain. For instance, she was recently looking forward to attending a Spud with Buds party.

At this Spuds with Buds party the hostess was supplying the spuds, as in baked potatoes, and guests were to bring side dishes or toppings to share with their budies, the other party guests.

That got the conversation in the office going. Are we talking baked russet or sweet potatoes? We hoped both, and for sweet and savory offerings. Here are a few of the combinations we dreamed up:

Of course there are the standards for the ever-popular russet baked potato:

* butter

* sour cream

* green onion

* plain yogurt

* Mexican sour cream

* salsa

* chives

* bacon

* cheese

* steamed or sautéed broccoli

* steamed or sautéed cauliflower

* sautéed mushrooms

* chili

* diced steak

And then we let our imaginations go wild. How about:

* Tomatoes

* Roasted bell pepper

* Spinach, kale

* Roasted beets

* Roasted veggies of all kinds

* Corn

* Olives

* Onions of all kinds

* Gorgonzola

* Gruyere

* Laughling Cow cheese

* Cottage cheese

* Brie

* Caramelized onions

* Beef stew

* Tuna, mushroom soup and peas - a tuna casserole in a potato

* Hearty soups and chowders (Clam chowder in a potato bowl -yum!)

* Baked beans

* Black or pinto beans

* Herbs of all kinds: Rosemary, thyme, marjoram, parsley, dill, oregano, etc.

We weren't actually drooling, but our appetites were certainly piqued as we offered other delectable combinations such as:

* Broccoli, cheddar and tomatoes on a russet potato topped with cilantro-lime vinaigrette and sour cream.

* Apple on a russet potato with citrus vinaigrette.

* Mushroom gravy over wilted greens and caramelized onions on a sweet potato

* Green Thai curry over pineapple and broccoli with a dollop of coconut milk yogurt

* Fresh pineapple, pecans and raisins topped with coconut milk yogurt on a sweet potato

* Russet or sweet potatoes with scrambled eggs, cheese and veggies.

* Tzatziki with diced cucumber and red onion

* Pizza sauce and grated mozzarella

* Corned beef and horseradish

It was even suggested to bake sweet potatoes with marshmallows and drizzle with maple syrup!

You can make a whole meal - and a whole party - out of a potato!

If you want to host your own Spuds with Buds party, start by making perfect baked potatoes. Here's how:

Baking potatoes contain more starch than over varieties and when baked acquire a dry, mealy texture. 'Cook's Illustrated' recommends using a dry, floury potato such as a russet, russet Burbank or Idaho. Bake the potatoes at a relatively low temperature (350ºF), which allows some of the starch in the flesh just inside the skin to break down into sugar and gives the potato a rich flavor. To ensure the flesh does not steam and become dense, open a baked potato as soon as it comes out of the oven.

Bake the potatoes directly on the middle rack until a skewer glides easily through the flesh, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. To open, use the tines of a fork to make a dotted X on top of each potato. Press in at the ends of the potato to push the flesh up and out. Besides releasing the steam quickly, this method helps trap and hold onto bits of butter.

When shopping for potatoes, look for firm specimens that are free of green spots, sprouts, cracks and other blemishes. Buy loose potatoes if possible so you can see what you are getting. Stay away from potatoes in plastic bags, which can act like greenhouses and cause potatoes to sprout, soften and rot.

Green patches on some potatoes are caused by prolonged exposure to light or improper storage. The green is produced by chlorophyll and is usually an indication of increased levels of a toxic alkaloid called solanine. In-gesting solanine can lead to illness, so if you do have potatoes with green spots, just cut the green off.

You can use the same method for baking sweet potatoes.

I hope Kara shares pictures of the different spud concoctions that appear at the party. And if you have a Spuds with Buds party, please show me your hipness and share pictures with me.

If you find yourself in need of a hip new appetizer for fall, you simply must try my friend Lynne Maginnis' invention, Kale Chips. They are simple to create, unusual and totally tantalizing! See the recipe below.

Bon Appetit! Eat something hip!

Lynne's Hip Kale Chips

A head of kale will make about 40 chips.

1 head kale

Olive oil

Kosher or sea salt

Pepper

Parmesan cheese (optional)

Cayenne pepper (optional)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

Wash kale, remove rib and tear kale into 1 inch by 1 ½ inch pieces to make chips. Dry in towel or salad spinner and place on baking sheet. Spray with olive oil on baking sheet and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan and cayenne, if desired.

Bake until chips are crisp, about 22 to 30 minutes. Remove for baking sheet and serve immediately.

Lynne Maginnis

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281, ext. 101, or by email at bran

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