Each year as the holidays approach, I excitedly start ripping recipes out of glossy magazines and pinning image after image of drool-worthy desserts and drinks onto my Pinterest board. My imagination quickly spins out of control as I envision a smorgasbord of bite-sized hors d’oeuvres hot from the oven, elegant cocktails with festive garnishes and intricate desserts that require hours of delicate decorating.
Then reality hits, and I remember that I’m serving a dozen immediate family members and seven nieces and nephews under the age of 8 who care more about playing Legos with their aunt than fine dining. And after spending my first holiday as hostess in the kitchen the whole night with mussed hair and aching feet, I resolved that any future hosting would heavily rely on food that could be prepared the night before.
I’ve now developed an arsenal of recipes that have become family favorites that require little to no work in the kitchen the day of an event. One favorite we make year after year is from my mother-in-law, Mary. The recipe, which my husband Dan has aptly named “Mary’s Crazy Lazy Garlic Mashed Potatoes,” is a foolproof way to make mashed potatoes the night before with no need for homemade gravy hurriedly whipped up twenty minutes before dinner. I’ll be honest- mashed potatoes has always been a small fear of mine when it comes to hosting. It can be a finicky dish and my potatoes always seem to turn gluey and lumpy when the pressure is on.
Even better, there’s no peeling of potatoes required! Simply remove any eyes or bad spots, boil, blend with sour cream, cream cheese, garlic salt and chives, top with paprika and butter and bake. It’s so easy, but tastes so decadent. I like to mix these in my Kitchen-Aid mixer, but a hand mixer would work just as well.
A word of caution on garlic salt – I usually season without measuring until it suits my taste, but three leveled teaspoons (or one tablespoon) is typically a good starting point for us. Remember, you can’t remove the salt once it’s been added, so start conservatively and gradually add more garlic salt as needed. If you want a more pronounced garlic taste without adding more salt, simply add more garlic powder or fresh garlic to the potatoes.
This recipe makes me a happier, less harried host, which in turn makes my guests more relaxed and able to enjoy the festivities. I try to remember that in a few years, they probably won’t remember the food, but they will remember the fun they had. Here’s to a holiday season that is full of family, good cheer and fuss-free cooking!
Mary’s Crazy Lazy Garlic Mashed Potatoes
8-10 red potatoes
1 cup sour cream
1 brick cream cheese, softened
2-3 teaspoons garlic salt, or to taste
No need to peel potatoes, just peel off eyes and bad spots. Boil in salted water until fork tender; drain. Blend sour cream and cream cheese until mixed. While potatoes are still hot, add potatoes to sour cream/cream cheese mixture, a few at a time until blended. Don’t overmix. Add garlic salt and chives to taste.
Spoon into a 2-quart casserole dish. Sprinkle paprika on top. Dot with butter. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour, the first half covered with foil. Remove from oven; garnish with additional chives, if desired. Serve immediately.
Tip: These can made the night before- just bring to room temperature before baking.
Source: Mary Cwach