Blue Bell now selling Mardi Gras-inspired king cake ice cream

Blue Bell's seasonal flavors have been spot-on in the past year. Last summer, we thoroughly enjoyed the key lime mango tart ice cream, and last fall, I went gaga for the Christmas cookie flavor, which my mom was so intrigued to try that she paid $7.50 for the last half gallon of it at her small grocery store in my little Missouri hometown.

Most of us are still putting away our holiday decorations, but Blue Bell has announced its latest limited-release flavor: Mardi Gras King Cake.

Mardi Gras is still two months away, but the flavor will be hitting stores this week. Blue Bell says this flavor was originally available in Louisiana and Alabama, but this year, it decided to expand distribution to all markets where Blue Bell is sold.

It's a cinnamon cake-flavored ice cream with pastry pieces and a green cream cheese swirl, topped off with candy sprinkles, and I tried it in my weekly Facebook livestream last week. It was just as sweet as the Christmas cookie ice cream, thanks to that thick stream of green icing that runs through both flavors. The cinnamon ice cream speckled with sprinkles was a delight, especially the bites that included little bits of the pastry cake. If you like the icing on cake, you'll like this dessert. If you don't, skip it.

— Addie Broyles

It’s officially Girl Scout cookie season, and there’s a new flavor this year

Sorry to anyone whose New Year’s resolution is to eat fewer sweets, because the most wonderful time of the year is here. That’s right, it’s Girl Scout cookie season.

To make it even harder to say no to cute kids in green sashes slinging cookies outside of grocery stores, the Girl Scouts are rolling out a new flavor this year: Caramel Chocolate Chip. The new flavor is made with caramel, sea salt and semi-sweet chocolate chips, and the cookies are gluten-free.

In even better news, traditional favorites aren’t going anywhere, so you can stock up on all your favorites. The full lineup includes S’mores, Thin Mints, Caramel deLites/Samoas, Peanut Butter Patties/Tagalongs, Shortbread/Trefoils, Do-si-dos/Peanut Butter Sandwich, Lemonades, Savannah Smiles, Thanks-A-Lot and Toffee-tastic.

Not sure where to buy your cookies? Check out the cookie finder on the Girl Scouts website.

— Katey Psencik

Don't throw those potato skins away! Make crispy potato skin chips instead

Warmer weather is in the forecast, but it's been a cold, wet and gloomy first week of January. Which means you're probably craving soup.

I've been making all kinds of soups since the first hint of fall arrived in October, and my favorite new trick so far has been making extra crispy potato skins to crumble as a topping for potato-based soups and stews. This discovery isn't exactly as revolutionary as, say, figuring out that the water from soaked chickpeas can be used as a thickener to replace eggs, but I am of the opinion that every culinary discovery is worth celebrating, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant.

Potato skins, especially on russets, are so full of flavor and nutrition that I almost always leave them on, especially on baked potatoes, so I can savor their rough texture and earthy flavor. Twice-baked potatoes capitalize on the hearty structure that a baked potato skin can add to a dish, but what if you isolated the skins all by themselves? That was the idea a few weeks ago when I set out to make a creamy, smooth baked potato soup that didn't contain any skins in the soup itself.

After smothering the russet potatoes in olive oil and salt and baking them at 425 degrees until I could poke them easily with a fork, I scooped out the fleshy insides and added them to a stock pot with sauteed onions, garlic, butter and chicken stock. As I continued to cook the soup, I turned my attention to the scooped-out potato skins sitting on the baking sheet.

I rubbed a little more olive oil on them, added another sprinkle of salt and put them back in the oven for another 10 minutes until they were even crispier. To break the skins into big, flaky pieces that could go on the soup, I used kitchen scissors to keep the potato skins from flying all over the stove and put them in a bowl alongside the other toppings: shredded cheese, scallions and sour cream.

As my family gathered to enjoy the cozy meal together, everyone went straight for the potato skins, which were almost like potato skin chips at this point.

You could take this potato skin chip idea and apply it to all kinds of dishes and potatoes. If you're peeling potatoes for a dish, you could toss them in olive oil and salt and bake by themselves. Sweet potato chips are even hardier than russet potatoes and would make an excellent topping for a casserole or macaroni and cheese. You could even use crispy potato skins on a salad, much like tortilla strips or croutons.

Speaking of potatoes, the national Potato Expo trade show is coming to Austin this week, bringing 1,800 folks in the potato industry to downtown Austin. I'll be livestreaming from the expo around noon on Wednesday on the Austin360 Facebook page with Phil Lempert, aka the Supermarket Guru, and we'll talk about my favorite carb and yours and the latest trends he's tracking in the grocery industry today.

— Addie Broyles