I heart baked potatoes. The ones smothered in butter and sour cream and bacon and cheese. In fact, when I once worked (for two whole weeks!) at an un-named fast food restaurant in high school, that’s pretty much the only thing I would eat there. And only after I’d made it with my own two hands.

But what I don’t like about baked potatoes is the time and heat factor. We live in Small Desert Town, USA, where the summer temps can certainly be stifling and there’s no way on God’s green earth that I’m going to heat up an oven for any length of time. Baked potatoes, those packets of perfection, often take at least an hour in the oven. And before anyone tries to tell me that you can reduce your baking time or eliminate it completely by using the microwave, I would ask, “have you actually tasted a potato cooked like that?” They’re disastrous. Soggy and not fluffy. With a skin that speaks more to my experience with shoe leather and less with heaven.

So here is my summer/sanity compromise: Fully loaded potato salad. All the calories and none of the sweat. Wait, that doesn’t sound right…

Fully loaded potato salad. Yes.

Here’s the recipe (adapted from Canadian Living):

3.5 pounds potatoes (I like Yukon Gold and am somewhat ecstatic that I can buy them again after an 8 year hiatus)

1 cup sour cream (you can use light/low-fat if you’re into that…I’m not)

3/4 cup mayo (ditto)

1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper

3/4 cup shredded old cheddar

4 slices thick bacon, cooked and crumbled

3 tablespoons finely chopped green onions (you can use chives, if you prefer)

Wash and dice potatoes. Boil in lightly salted water until tender but not falling apart (12-15 minutes – depending on size). Cool.

In a large bowl, combine sour cream, mayo, salt and pepper. Add cooled potatoes and toss to coat. Sprinkle with cheese, bacon and onions. If you’re feeling really fancy, you can do this individual serving and then set out of the table for your resident hungry people.

The Verdict: Splendiforous. But not an every day or every week meal/side dish. Perfectly satisfies my craving without heating up my kitchen.