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This is the season I recall fond memories of being in his huge garden with my great-grandfather harvesting the vegetables that needed to be picked before the first hard frost, and my great-grandmother canning (preserving) them in that big, scary, pressure cooker. Some of the even better memories are the dishes she would cook for us, celebrating the bounty of a well tended herb and vegetable garden with all its variety.

Among our favorites was the wonderful potato; Russets for baking, frying and roasting (not suitable for soups); all purpose white potatoes (creamy when baked yet hold their texture when boiled); and waxy varieties like Yukon Gold and red potatoes that are ideal for potato salad, soups and stews, but can also be roasted and baked. Here are a few time-tested side dishes that celebrate the potato.

ROAST PARMESAN BABY POTATOES
Roast Parmesan Baby PotatoesThis is an easy, but elegant, side dish that really pleases the eye and the taste buds. The boiling cooks them through, while the roasting gives them a crunchy skin. The parmesan cheese and mustard are a natural favor combo, and these potatoes are an excellent side to serve with any entree that would be complemented by a hint of mustard. Here’s the recipe.

TWICE BAKED POTATOES
Twice Baked PotatoThe versatile potato can be cut into slices as you see here, or just cut the skin off the top, scoop out the interior, fluff it up, and put it back in! This technique with russet potatoes creates a skin that will hold up to this kind of handling without falling apart. Use the same technique to create some delicious potato skins to serve as appetizers, or serve three or four as a side dish. The recipe is located here. Here is also a version for Twice Baked Potato Skins

ROASTED PURPLE FINGERLING POTATOES
Purple Fingerling PotatoesEye catching purple colored fingerling potatoes add a striking contrast to brighten up any lunch or dinner plate. Sprinkle with grated cheese, dress with a light vinaigrette, or add Italian flavoring to compliment your entree. Serve these as a delightful side dish, or stick a round toothpick in them lengthwise to turn them into baked Hasselback appetizers! Here’s the recipe, which includes the Hasselback appetizer.

MAKE AHEAD MASHED POTATOES
Make Ahead Mashed PotatoesThis recipe uses the restaurant process for preparing light, fluffy, and flavorful mashed potatoes that deliver on that silky texture that we love on our plates. Whether topping with gravy, a sauce, or an entree meat, no one will know that these were made ahead of time. It’s a great time saver when you’re trying to get multiple dishes ready for that special occasion meal. You can find the recipe here.

ORANGE AND GOLD POTATOES AU GRATIN
Orange and Gold Potato CasseroleHere is an eye catching casserole that combines bright orange sweet potatoes with with gold potatoes, ricotta or cottage cheese, and your choice of Romano cheese (creamy), asiago cheese (saltier), or parmesean cheese (salty and nutty). You can layer with same color slices to achieve rows of color, or alternate as we have done here, to create a colorful basketweave pattern in your servings. Here’s the recipe.


FRIED CARROTS, POTATOES AND ONIONS
Fried Potatoes
This is a hearty side dish that can be adapted many ways including being a wonderful campfire dish for campouts. It uses the classic mirepoix base of onions+carrots+celery, so it has all the flavors that blend so well to elevate your dish into yummy goodness. Fry an egg or two to put on top, perhaps even drizzle on some gravy, and now you have an entree! Here’s the recipe.


What are your favorite memories or traditions? What dishes make regular appearances at your family’s gatherings?
Potluck Supper
We’d be happy to try out your recipe, and share it with our followers. Just leave us a recipe or other info in the comment section below.

No one wants to take “just-another-same-same” dish to the pitch in dinner with friends or family. What we want is a dish with lots of visual appeal. Whether it comes from color or texture, we want everyone who passes by our dish to notice it. Here are a few of our favorites.

Sauteed Green Beans with Onions and Bacon
Green Beans with Onions and BaconHere is a green bean dish that certainly stands out from the others, particularly because most green beans turn gray from being overcooked. Boil these for four minutes and then immediately get into a cold water bath to stop the cooking and keep the beans bright green. Add crispy bacon and sauteed cocktail onions, and you have a winner! Get the recipe here.

Whole Sweet Corn with Cream Cheese
creamy-creamed-cornThis recipe comes as close as possible to the flavor of the creamed corn at one of our favorite BBQ joints in Central Texas. Combining heavy cream, cream cheese, butter, sugar, salt and pepper in a slow cooker, it is a delicious blend of flavors that goes very well with every barbecue dish. Get the recipe here.
For a spicy version see Poblano Creamed Corn.

Blue Cheese Cole Slaw
Blue Cheese Cole SlawLea adapted this recipe from a cooking show on television. This combination goes really well with spicy foods such as Southern Fried Chicken, Hot Chicken Wings, Spicy Jamaican Jerk Rib-eye Steaks, etc. It is also a real eye-catcher when completing with all the other dishes at a pitch-in. Get the recipe here.

Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes
Make Ahead Mashed PotatoesMashed potatoes are always a welcome staple, but they are pretty time consuming, and difficult to time just right if you have to travel to that pitch-in. These potatoes come out of the oven light and fluffy, and no one will know that these were made ahead of time. It’s a great time saver. Get the recipe here.

Marjorie’s Corn and Peas
Corn and Peas Side DishThis is another amazingly good recipe from the Thistlethwaite family. I fondly remember a number of delicious Thanksgiving dinners when Marjorie (J.B.’s mother) would bring this delicious vegetable dish. Combining shoe-peg corn and frozen peas with sour cream and spices, it goes together quickly, and certainly stands out on the table. Get the recipe here.

These dishes not only show off your cooking skills, they also stand apart from the other dishes for your pitch in dinner with friends or family. When you present one of these super star dishes, everyone who passes by is sure to notice it, and the flavors always deliver on the promise.

If your family or friends are planning a holiday season pitch-in dinner where the meat is already planned, you need to be able to pull out a few ideas for side dishes that can go together easily, have great eye appeal, and deliver with flavors as good as the dish looks. Celebrate the casserole, hero of overly busy homemakers for centuries! Here are some carry-in ideas to help get you started.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Baked Macaroni and CheeseThis is a recipe by Alton Brown that we adapted to fit our family’s preferences. Alton’s recipe calls for Panko bread crumbs for the topping, which we don’t always have on hand. We usually make coarsely ground bread crumbs from any crusty bread we have around, such as French or Italian bread or baguettes. You can find our recipe here.

Cornbread Casserole
Cornbread CasseroleThis side is a bread accompaniment that fits right in with any meal, whether it is a holiday gathering, a family dinner, or a camp out. The cornbread casserole is likely as time tested as any dish we could name. This simple recipe uses a boxed mix, is quick to assemble and cook, and yet, it is one of the best comfort foods you can add to any meal. You can find our recipe here.

Orange & Gold Potatoes au Gratin
Orange and Gold Potato CasseroleThis is an eye-catching dish that always pleases, with color to provide the visual “pop,” and the lusciousness of the waxy Yukon Gold potato combined with the silkiness of the sweet potato. They are layered with ricotta or cottage cheese, and your preference of Romano cheese (creamy), Asiago cheese (saltier), or Parmesan cheese (salty and nutty). You can find our recipe here.

Sour Cream and Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
Horseradish and sour cream potatoesMashed potatoes are one of the most beloved dishes for pitch-ins, often with two or three versions making an appearance. This variation stands out because of its eye-catching silky finish derived from using red or gold potatoes, and pairs very well with brown gravies and sauces due to a hint of horseradish. You can find our recipe here.

Creamy Four Cheese Macaroni
Four Cheese MacaroniOne of America’s favorite dishes, this recipe is adapted from “The Best of Cooking Light,” and is one of Lea’s favorite recipes. In fact, she said this cheese combination of Fontina, Parmesan, extra-sharp Cheddar, and Velveeta, is one of the best tasting she has ever made. If you like mac ‘n cheese, we think you will really like this recipe! Find it here.

Classic Cranberry Salad
Lea Mixing Cranberry SaladLarry’s mother, Marjorie, always made this for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. It is so delicious with turkey! We enjoy it mostly with the turkey sandwiches the day after the holiday! Give cranberries a ride in the food processor, add sugar and orange, marshmallows and nuts to create a chilled salad that is even better the day after. You can find our recipe here.

Casseroles fit the pitch-in bill because now there are portable carriers that can be heated or cooled, as appropriate, to keep your food in the food safety zone until service. At room temperature, bacteria in food can double every 20 minutes, according to foodsafety.gov. Check it out, to keep your food safer. And, share with us your comments, thoughts, and favorite recipes, to be shared with others. Best regards from our kitchen to yours for the holiday season!

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