One of the things I love about entertaining is being able to serve up great food to my favorite people, but I do not love the stress that goes along with entertaining. It took me a long time to learn how to enjoy my own parties because I spent more time in the kitchen than I did with my guests. Eventually, I learned to lighten up and serve foods that my guests could customize to suit their own tastes, which took a lot of stress off of me.
One of my favorite foods to serve guests is mashed potatoes – they economical, easy, and pretty much everyone loves them, plus they’re a great comfort food. When I throw a party, I love to set up a mashed potato bar, where I serve a scoop of mashed potatoes in a martini glass and then set up a buffet of toppings.
I typically make my potatoes from scratch, but when time is not my my side, instant potatoes do just fine. I usually allow one potato per guest and then add an extra potato or two into the mix, in case someone is extra hungry. Also, bear in mind the type of potatoes you use – Baking and Russet potatoes tend to be heavier and starchier than Yukon Gold potatoes.
Sara’s Mashed Potatoes
- 8 Potatoes
- 2T unsalted butter
- Kosher Salt
- Fresh Pepper
- Peel and dice potatoes and put in pot of boiling salted water. Cover and simmer until potatoes are fork tender (20-30 minutes, depending on quantity of potatoes). Remove from heat and drain.
- Add butter and mash (I do not own a potato masher and have had great success with my hand mixer). Add splash of milk until potatoes reach desired texture. Salt and pepper to taste. Allow potatoes to cool slightly before serving.
- Using an ice cream scooper or melon baller (depending on preferred scoop size), scoop potatoes into martini glasses, leaving room for toppings.
What should you top the potatoes with? What do you like? I never include gravy when I have a mashed potato bar because gravy is just too predictable, but that’s just me. The idea is to introduce different flavors and let your guests experiment.
- Basil pesto
- BBQ pulled pork or chicken
- Brie, Stilton, or grated mature Cheddar cheese
- Chopped ham, bacon, or Canadian bacon
- Cracked pepper
- Creamed corn
- Demi glace
- Diced tomatoes
- Feta cheese
- Fried onion straws
- Gorgonzola cheese
- Jumbo shrimp
- Lump crab meat
- Marinara sauce
- Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
- Roasted garlic
- Roasted red peppers
- Sauteed herbed mushrooms
- Shredded beef
- Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- Shredded mild Cheddar cheese
- Steamed vegetables
- Sour cream (or Creme Fraiche)
- Sundried tomatoes
- Toasted bread crumbs
- Tuna and sweetcorn mayonnaise
Photo credit: Beer Budget Bride