Charcuterie boards are quite the rage these days, and I enjoy making unique dishes to take to parties. I made this wreath several years ago for a holiday gathering, featuring rosemary sprigs, olive ornaments (I have seen others with grape tomato ornaments), and a red bell pepper bow. A Christmas tree shaped platter is another idea that can be made in a similar way. As usual, my best advice is to check Pinterest.
The Scoop on Mashed Potatoes
According to some of the best Mennonite cooks…
Not all mashed potatoes are created equal, so I decided to ask some of the cooks I respect most what it takes to achieve the best mashed potatoes – velvety smooth texture and flavored just right.
Amy Rohrer of Singers Glen brought us such a pan of perfection after our last child was born. She pressure cooks the potatoes 10 minutes, then transfers to a Kitchen Aid mixer with the whisk attachment, adds salt, butter, a little bit of dried onion, two dollops of sour cream, half block of cream cheese (4 oz.), as much milk as desired for texture, and whips on high until smooth.
Another seasoned cook is a huge fan of the Instant Pot – no runover, burning dry in the pot, and she says she can work on another task while the potatoes cook on a preset time. She drains off the water in a glass measuring cup (not for measurement, just the right tool for the job – adds the liquid back in lieu of milk for lower calorie potatoes) and uses a manual potato masher to mash the potatoes really well before adding heated milk or potato water, butter, and salt last. This lady also includes sour cream and cream cheese sometimes. The Instant Pot warm setting will keep the potatoes ready until the meal is served.
Stella Showalter, also of Singers Glen, shared that one key factor to smooth texture is well cooked potatoes. She too uses the mixer and advised mashing before adding liquid – butter is ok though. She prefers baked mashed potatoes, as those can be ready ahead of time and warming in the oven while at church or preparing other food, where as regular mashed potatoes can be a frantic last-minute job when there’s plenty of other prep demanding attention before a holiday meal. Stella says she measures by weight – for 3.5-4 lb. of potatoes, she uses 4 oz. (half block) of cream cheese, 1/3 c. sour cream, butter, onion salt, and regular salt. Potatoes can vary so much from variety and/or age, she pointed out, that affects the amount of liquid needed.
Baked Mashed Potatoes
4 ½ – 5 lb. potatoes (peeled around 8 c. cut up)
6 oz. cream cheese
⅓ c. butter
½ c. sour cream
2 c. milk, heated
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. onion salt
½ tsp. pepper
Cook potatoes with 1 tsp. salt until tender. Place in mixer and beat well, scraping sides often. Add cream cheese, sour cream, butter, salt and pepper. Beat well and then add milk, gradually to desired consistency. On the thin side is best for baking. Transfer to greased dish and bake at 350 °F for 25-30 min. until heated thoroughly. Fills a 9×13 dish. Don’t overbake. Can also be frozen for later.
(larger quantity recipe in parenthesis)
1 ½ (3 12 oz. bags) 12 oz. bags cranberries
2 c. (4 c.) water
Cook until soft and sieve. Return to heat and add:
2 c. (4 c.) sugar (I would opt to make it with less)
6 oz. or ¾ c. (12 oz. or 1 ½ c.) raspberry jello
Stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in 4 cups (8 c.) applesauce.
I hope that you are inspired and can benefit from these ideas for your holiday celebrations. May you encounter and experience the greatest gift – the life and work of Jesus Christ – as we enter the Christmas season.