4 small baking potatoes
2 oz. cream cheese, cubed and softened
2 Tbsp. snipped chives [Optional]
¼ tsp. dried basil, crushed
½ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. salt
⅛ tsp. pepper
3 - 4 Tbsp. milk
Slice of American cheese, cut into 1-inch thin strips
Prick potatoes with a fork. Bake in the oven at 375º for 45 to 50 minutes, until tender. [Tip: Can be baked in the microwave for 3 - 5 minutes, until tender. Stop half-way through and turn potatoes. Check for doneness with a fork.]
Cool potatoes slightly.
Cut potatoes in half lengthwise.
Gently scoop out each potato half, leaving a thin shell. Set the shells aside.
Put the potato pulp into a small mixing bowl. Add cream cheese, chives, basil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and beat until smooth. Add milk a tablespoon at a time and beat until potato mixture is fluffy.
[Tip: If you prefer to have more texture, you can use a manual masher to combine the potato mixture.]
Spoon the potato mixture into the shells.
Sprinkle with paprika and top with a strip or two of the American cheese.
Put shells on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 375º for 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and turned bubbly (be careful not to let it burn).