I love this recipe because it is all about customization. I first made this when I was looking for something different with potatoes and I saw a recipe for it in a cookbook, but it was so complicated. I decided that it had to be easier.
1Preheat your oven to 425. Baked the potatoes for 1 hour. Your oven might take longer or shorter depending on how it cooks. While baking potatoes, cook your bacon on the stove top according to package directions. Drain on paper towels and let cool.
2When potatoes are soft enough to squeeze slightly and you can feel them give, remove them from the oven. Set aside for 30 minutes to an hour to cool so you can handle them.
3When potatoes are cool, slice them length ways, so you have two halves and they look like boats. Take a spoon and spoon out the middles being careful to leave about 1/2 inch along the sides. Spoon the middles into another bowl.
4Set the potato skins aside and use the potato middles in the bowl. Add the butter and milk to that and using a potato masher or fork make mashed potatoes. You don't want them to be totally smooth.
5Add one package of cheese and all but 4-5 slices of the bacon to the mashed potatoes. When adding the bacon cut or tear the bacon into smaller pieces.When you have all of the cheese and bacon in the potatoes, stir with a spoon. Mix pretty well. * I like to make this up to this point the night before and just put the skins and mixture in the refrigerator to chill. It is easier for me to put these together using my hands when the mixture is cold.*
6Using the mixture in the bowl, you can either spoon it into the skins or use your hands to fill them. You want the skins to be heaping with the mixture, so keep adding it to the skins until the mixture is used up. Turn the oven down to 350 while you do this step.
7When the skins are filled, use the cheese from the other package to sprinkle on top of the potatoes and top with the remaining bacon. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until heated through and the cheese is brown and bubbly on top. Serve right away.