Recipes

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

What’s the best thing about mashed potatoes? How fluffy, buttery and delicious they are, right? But there’s a dark side — all that peeling, chopping, boiling and mashing by hand the morning of a big meal, which almost makes you dread having them. Well, not anymore.

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As I mentioned in my Christmas Dinner post, I used a new recipe (new to me, anyway) from the Pioneer Woman, which calls for baking the potatoes the day before (I KNOW) and then popping them in the oven just half an hour before you eat. I had to try it. I love, love, LOVE buttery mashed potatoes, and yet they are such a pain when you’re trying to time the rest of a big meal to be ready all at once. Well, this make-ahead tip 100% worked for me, so I am posting it here in the hopes it’ll save you some time down the line. Enjoy!

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 5-lb. bag of Russet or Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 8-oz. container of plain cream cheese
  • 1 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

Peel and cut the potatoes evenly into halves or quarters. Set a large pot of water on to boil, and when the water is simmering rapidly, add the potatoes. Cook for at least 30 minutes.

Once the potatoes are fork-tender, drain them in a large colander. When they are done draining, place them back into the dry cooking pot on the stove over low heat. Mash by hand with a potato masher over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape.

Turn off the stove and add the softened butter, starting with one stick and adding more to your taste. Then add the cream cheese and half a cup of the half-and-half or heavy cream, again adding more to your taste. Mash until there are no more lumps.

Taste and season with salt and pepper, taking care not to under-salt.

Stir well and add to a medium sized baking dish. Top with a few pats of butter and put it in the fridge, covered, until you’re ready to bake it.

If you’re eating it right away, just bake at 350 until the butter on top is melted and the potatoes are warmed through. If you’re making ahead of time, take it out of the fridge an hour or two before your meal and heat for 25 to 30 minutes at the same temperature.

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Chopping the potatoes into smaller pieces hastens the cooking time. Half or at the most quartered should do it, otherwise they’ll fall apart in the water.

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Using a hand-held potato masher is the only way to go. An electric mixer sometimes makes the potatoes glue-y.

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Make sure you’ve set the butter out to soften for a bit before mixing it into the potatoes. I also like to leave the half-and-half and cream cheese out for a few minutes to come closer to room temperature before using.

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Make sure you taste before putting the potatoes into your baking dish to make sure they’ve been salted enough!

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Yum.

Recipes

Merry Christmas 2012!

With the sincerest apologies for not posting for two weeks — explanation coming later — I’m back with a preview of our Christmas menu, with more recipes coming soon! We are hosting Mark’s parents and my mom again this year, plus my brother, Mark’s grandfather, and our wonderful friend Sue. It’s just what I love about the holidays: a packed house, good food, lots of thoughtful presents and many memories in the making.

Source: organicglory.wordpress.com via Amanda on Pinterest

Last year, I made sweet corn casserole for the first time, and it was a huge hit — both with my family, AND among my followers on Pinterest! I’m making it again this year. Want the recipe? Get it here. And if we aren’t friends on Pinterest yet, add me!

What else I’m making for Christmas

Appetizers

  • Vegetable herb dip with baby carrots
  • Onion dip with Cape Cod Chips
  • Cheddar cheese and multigrain crackers
  • Crabbies (gooey, crab-topped English muffin bites; recipe coming)
  • Mark’s Sausage Crescent Roll Pinwheels (recipe also coming soon)

Dinner

Dessert

  • Peach-apple crunch pie
  • Chocolate cream pie
  • Brigham’s Vanilla ice cream & Brigham’s coffee ice cream

We wash it all down with warm cider, red and white wine, and a selection of craft beers hand-picked by Mark. It’s a lot of food, but we need to refuel often for a long day of unwrapping presents and hanging out!

One final shout-out to the bakery we use: if you’re on the North Shore, or if you’re on the T, visit Cornucopia Foods in Downtown Malden. They have the most amazing pies, and they even do a full Christmas dinner if you order ahead. Oh, and did I mention they deliver?? Definitely check them out, just a block off the Orange Line in Malden Center.

Recipes

German Apple Pancake

Looking for the perfect festive, filling thing to serve your house guests on Christmas morning? Look no further than the German Apple Pancake. 

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This is a recipe my aunt gave me a few years ago, after we had it for breakfast on Christmas morning at her house in Florida. Health food it ain’t — but you can’t do better by your house guests on a holiday morning!

German Apple Pancake

Ingredients

  • 4-5 large apples, cored and sliced
  • 2 stick of butter
  • 1 Cup flour
  • 1 Cup milk
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Cinnamon-Sugar (make it with 1 TBSP sugar & 1 tsp cinnamon)

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Directions

Melt the stick of butter in a small saucepan on the stove top, then pour directly into the bottom of a 9×13 glass pan.

Mix the pancake batter by hand: blend the flour, milk, eggs and salt in a medium sized mixing bowl, and set aside.

Arrange your sliced apples (I find big, tart Granny Smith apples work very well) to cover the melted butter in the bottom of the pan.

Pour the batter over the top of the apples, then sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar, which will create a nice crust.

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Bake at 400 for 25 minutes. Serve with warmed, real maple syrup. Goes great with bacon (real or fake!)

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Tips: This is best served warm, the same day you make it. It just doesn’t reheat as well. You can add more apples along the bottom layer if you like, and of course you can add more cinnamon-sugar on top. It’s also delicious without the maple syrup.

Looking for more brunch food ideas?

I also love these two recipes by Ina Garten for one-pan baked berry blintzesapricot butter. I saw them on her show last year when she did a brunch special, and tried both immediately. I hope you enjoy them!

Tips and Tricks

Tips from Gail Simmons on budget-wise cooking

Check out these great tips from Top Chef’s Gail Simmons on how to “Eat Well and Cook Like a Pro on a Budget,” courtesy of my favorite financial advice site, Learnvest. If you’ve never been there, check it out! And be sure to share YOUR favorite tips for saving money and eating well with me in the comments.