Start by preheating your conventional oven to at least 425 degrees Fahrenheit. While warming, take the potatoes from the store bag and wash them under a faucet. Scrub lightly so any dirt is removed. Then poke the potato with a fork to allow it to release steam when cooking. When the oven is ready, put the potatoes on a baking pan, and cook them for 60 to 90 minutes until ready.
Always make sure to check that the oven door is down. You don’t want it to pop back up when you’re pulling the pan out and then you get burned. Remove the potatoes and allow them to cool for up to 20 minutes or so. They should be easy to handle with bare hands.
With the first-baked potato ready, open up a slit in the side and scoop out the innards into a bowl. Leave enough so that the shell keep form. You will use this part of the potato to create a bucket where all your additions get put in for added flavor and food. Each shell, when ready, gets placed on a new pan that is lightly greased. A couple of extra potatoes is a good idea in case something goes wrong with one of them in the process.
With the innards of the potatoes in a bowl, mash them up so that there is a slight bit of chunk left but not a smooth mash completely. Mix in the cheese, add sour cream, butter, and any spices or garlic if desired. This material when ready then gets scooped up again and put back into the potato shells you have ready on a second baking pan.
When the potato shells filled up, throw on the last topping which will typically be meats, onion bits, vegetables chopped up, or even mushrooms. Whatever your taste, these ingredients go on last.
Set the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit if the batch is going to be served right away. Cook it for about 20 to 25 minutes total. Keep an eye on them as the cheese will cook faster and if it gets bubbly then it’s time to take the potatoes out before the cheese burns. If, on the other hand, you’re serving them later, cook for about 30 to 35 minutes. Let them cool, and then store in the refrigerator in foil. They will last good for two days maximum.