Lighter Artichoke Dip- 1,000 calories and 100 grams of fat lighter! But still delicious!

I adore bubbly, gooey delicious artichoke dip slathered on French bread.

It’s my weakness at any party. And  I make an incredible version but it is so unhealthy- it contains 1 cup of mayonnaise and 3 cups of cheese.

artichoke dip up close

I knew my recipe was unhealthy but had no idea how bad it was until recently when I wrote a food column about it ran the ingredients through a database and my jaw dropped: it contains 2,092 calories and 203 grams of fat.

Ouch. I calculated for the entire dish instead of per serving because you never know how much people will eat.

I’m determined not to gain weight this holiday season and that means that dip is out. I am at an age where weight doesn’t come off like it used to so I am going to be more careful which means revamping some of my favorite recipes.

So I lightened up the dip and the results were AMAZING. AMAZING. I am so proud of it. I can’t believe it saves that many calories and that much fat and still tastes this fantastic. Look how gooey it still is

artichoke cheese

.   Just by switching from artichokes packed in oil to canned ones packed in water, I saved 36 grams of fat. Then, I used light mayonnaise which slashed 39 grams of fat and 460 calories. I cut out 1 ¼ cups of cheese, too. Whenever you remove fat, you have to add extra flavor so I sprinkled it with Italian seasoning, garlic powder and garlic salt. Also, I used Parmesan because that’s a flavorful cheese.  The new dip has 1,130 calories for the entire dish which is made in a pie pan and 84 grams of fat (that’s 119 grams less of fat).



I hope you enjoy it.

Light Artichoke Dip

1 (14.5-ounce) can artichoke hearts in water, thoroughly drained and patted dry

2/3 cup Duke’s light mayonnaise (or your favorite brand)

1 cup part skim mozzarella cheese

¾ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

½ heaping teaspoon Italian seasoning

¼ teaspoon garlic salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix together the first five ingredients until combined. Place in a shallow pie pan. Top with Italian seasoning and garlic salt. Bake for 18-22 minutes. Serve warm with French bread or crackers.

artichoke dip on crackers


Rosemary Almonds- savory gift from the kitchen

A savory gift from the kitchen is a welcome change this time of year.

I adore homemade gifts particularly edible ones, but I get tired of sweets. After a half a dozen cookies, I long for something salty which is why I predominantly dish out savory gifts.

Savory gifts are unique, practical and often healthier.

These almonds are addictive and so easy to make. I gobbled up the leftovers from this photo shoot in 24 hours. A nibble here. A snack there. And they were all gone.

I first tasted Rosemary Almonds at a tapas restaurant and fell in love! They are incredible warm but excellent later, too. I serve them at parties all the time.

This is way better for you than a cookie or plate of divinity.

I found these cute containers at Michael’s. They are adorable but don’t hold much. I will likely use them for spice mixes that I give as gifts. Enjoy!



Rosemary Almonds

Makes 1 gift

1 cup raw almonds (or at least unsalted)

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ tablespoons dried rosemary

Garlic salt to taste (can substitute sea salt)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Toss almonds in olive oil and use your hands to make sure the almonds are coated and place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Sprinkle with rosemary and garlic salt and bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool before packaging and store in an airtight container for best results. These nuts will keep for 2 weeks in an airtight container.


Order Rotisserie Chicken Queen Cookbook

You can order it here:

Here it is! My first cookbook. You can order a copy for $11.95, plus shipping. If it’s a gift, I will gift wrap it for free and send a card in the package, too.

This book features my best 50 rotisserie chicken recipes, plus 7 sensational desserts! I am talking fabulous.


Easy Entertaining Ideas this holiday season

I love entertaining. I don’t like stress.

So when I throw a soiree, I try supplement with what I call “cheater” products.

I am talking about store bought items or super easy recipes. I always have a couple of dishes that are the star of the meal (homemade and decadent), but I also serve five or six items that take no time at all.

For example, I always serve good quality olive oil and vinegar as a dipping sauce with French bread. That takes one minute to assemble, but is another offering on the table.

What impresses people at a party is delicious food, but also variety. Variety is key.  As a host when you offer an array of dips, you ensure everyone will find something they love.

One thing about store bought food is I don’t present it as store bought (of course, I am honest when people ask). But if you open a veggie tray and leave in the container, it’s not as enticing as if you put the vegetables on a platter, place the Ranch dip in a little bowl, and then buy a horseradish dip, maybe some hummus, or even split the Ranch dip in half and add 1 teaspoon of dried dill to the second batch to make it different.

Again, it’s all about variety (and taste and presentation).

Another perk to not serving something in its original container is you can keep the leftovers. If you serve mustard in its jar, then every time someone dips into it they are introducing new bacteria to the mustard which will make leftovers spoil faster if you try to keep them. Also, leaving a dip on the counter for the duration of the party and then refrigerating it for later is not the most sanitary idea.

I only put out half of what I have and then keep the rest in the refrigerator as needed.

I also like to use smaller dishes for serving which enables me to fit more on the table. A Dollar Tree or thrift store is a great place to find inexpensive dishes for a holiday party.

I have some “staples” in terms of entertaining, but I am always trying new products, too. So if you are looking from some excellent products that will impress your guests and keep the stress off you, then here are a few of my recommendations:

Wind & Willow is a company based in Mt. Vernon that sells in 6,000 retail locations nationwide. The products are awesome. The company makes easy dips, cheeseballs, dessert balls, soup mixes etc. The Roasted Red Pepper Dip is one of my absolute favorites.  I serve it with vegetables and crackers. If you are watching your carbs, the dip has less than 1 carb (even after it is assembled). All you have to do is mix it with mayonnaise and sour cream and chill it for a few hours before serving. I make it a day in advance because I think it brings out the flavors and is one less thing I have to do on party day. Another wonderful product from this company is the Tiramisu dessert ball. You can visit to see where the products are sold near you.


Harry & David Charred Pineapple Relish is incredible mixed with a log of chevre. I mix one-third of the jar with a 4 ounce log of chevre and serve with tortilla chips. People always ask for this recipe. The goat cheese just gives it this zing. The relish is slightly spicy.  Another excellent product from Harry & David is the Onion and Pepper Relish, which is served over a block of cream cheese. Find the closest outlet to you or order online:


I discovered Robert Rothschild Raspberry Honey Mustard about 10 years ago and it remains my favorite honey mustard.

Rothschild mustard credit Robert Rothschild company


The mustard is on the pricey side ($6-$8), but I serve it with a $1 bag of pretzels, so it’s not too expensive overall. If you have leftovers of the mustard, spread it on a chicken sandwich with arugula and sharp cheddar cheese (you can also made mini sliders for your party using that same recipe). Another idea for leftovers is to use it as a salad dressing on a salad of spinach, chicken, goat cheese, candied pecans, and strawberries and raspberries. It’s fantastic.

This Christmas tree has four ingredients and takes minutes to assemble.


Green salsa and goat cheese Credit Juliana Goodwin (2)

First, I cut a block of cold cream cheese on a diagonal so it makes two right angle triangles. Then flip one of the triangles over to put the two together to make a tree shape. Generously cover the block of cream cheese with pesto sauce. Add a piece of a pretzel rod to make the base of the tree (just break off a piece). And thinly slice a desired amount of sundried tomatoes to make garland and string those across the tree. This step is optional; you can simply serve the pesto tree.  I use this recipe for different holidays –  a spider web at Halloween or a football field for the super bowl. No matter when I serve it, people love both the flavor and presentation. My favorite store bought pesto sauce Giovanni Rana because of its flavor and vibrant green color. It’s refrigerated so it’s fresher than a jarred variety. Serve this dip with French bread and crackers.

World Table Roasted Salsa Verde is one of the best commercially made green salsas I’ve ever tried.

Green salsa and goat cheese Credit Juliana Goodwin (1)


So many green salsas are too salty, too limey or too thin. This one is perfect. It’s slightly spicy so I mix it with a block of chevre and serve it as a dip (about ½ cup to 2/3 cup of green salsa). An alternative if you don’t like goat cheese is to pour the salsa over a block of cream cheese. I’ve served it both ways and it has been popular. It’s available at Walmart stores.

You may not think of pomegranate and guacamole as going together, but they pair beautifully. A friend of mine made a pomegranate guacamole a few years ago and I fell in love with.

Guacamole Pomegranate tree credit Juliana Goodwin


This is simply store-bought guacamole decorated with pomegranate seeds (also known as arils). It’s pretty and delicious.  I used an open Christmas cookie cutter to make the shape of the tree and filled it with pomegranate seeds. You could use any shapes. You can buy a pomegranate or simply purchase the POM arils which is the easiest way to go. If you decide to buy a pomegranate, leftover pomegranate arils are excellent in sparkling wine or moscato. You can also hallow out the shell of the pomegranate and serve a dip in it. In terms of guacamole, I recommend Holy Guacamole or the Aldi’s variety.

Pomegranate Guacamole Credit Juliana Goodwin

With these dips, you can throw together a party in no time. Happy holidays.

Still have turkey leftovers? Try Buffalo Turkey Dip

My Buffalo Turkey Dip is awesome and great for a party or watching the football game.

I make a Buffalo Chicken dip all the time and basically swapped out the chicken for turkey as a way to use those turkey leftovers.

The wing sauce is strong so it’s a good way to use a mix of white and dark meat if you don’t like dark meat because it helps cover up the taste.

It’s simple, easy and delicious.

Buffalo Turkey Dip

Serves 5 as an appetizer

2 cups chopped leftover turkey

1 to 1 ½ cups Buffalo wing sauce (depends on how spicy you like it and how dry the turkey is)

12 ounces of cream cheese (1 ½ blocks)

½ cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

1 1/4 cups shredded Colby-Jack cheese mix

Celery sticks for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl, toss together the turkey and wing sauce. Stir until all the turkey is coated.

In a pie plate or 8 by 8 inch dish, spread the cream cheese over the bottom. Then top with the turkey. Sprinkle both types of cheese over the turkey and bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese bubbles on top.

Serve with thick slices of celery sticks for a low carb option. If you don’t care about carbs, serve with tortilla chips or toasted French bread.

Vertical wing dip

Use those Thanksgiving leftovers-and a great soup recipe

The day after Thanksgiving brings the same conundrum every year: what to do with all the leftovers.

My family goes overboard and we have enough food to last five or six days. In the past, I have embraced this tradition, but this year I am trying to shy away from the onslaught of calories and carbs that continues after Turkey Day. I’ve shed nearly 15 pounds since July and my goal is not to gain any weight through the holidays. So this soup recipe is a lower carb option- although I have plenty of suggestions on how to use leftovers for people who are not watching their weight.

First, let’s get to the suggestions.

Last year, my good friend and I had a “leftover” party the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  Three friends brought leftovers and dishes we had repurposed using leftovers (like casseroles and soup).  We drank wine, talked and then split up the dishes which was great because we all had new food.  Even though I went home with more dressing, it wasn’t my traditional dressing recipe so it broke up the monotony of the meal. I highly recommend it.

One dish my family always makes too much of is mashed potatoes. If you can’t use all the potatoes now, freeze them. When you warm the potatoes up, you will need to revive them with a little milk and butter. The best way to defrost mashed potatoes is in the refrigerator overnight.

Mashed potatoes are also an excellent thickening agent in soups. You can take a classic soup that calls for sliced potatoes- like potato leek soup, or sausage kale potato soup—and use mashed potatoes instead. The texture is different but the flavor is great.

I’ve used leftover mashed potatoes in dishes that usually use rice. For example, instead of serving gumbo or chili on rice, we’ve served it on mashed potatoes which mellows out any heat.

You can use mashed potatoes to make potato bread or as a binding agent in recipes.

Shepherd’s pie is one of the classic ways to use a lot of mashed potatoes.  I make an incredibly easy version: First, I sauté 1 pound of ground beef and mix it with a can of Manwich Sloppy Joe sauce. Then I layer the meat in a 9- inch by 9-inch baking dish, top it with green beans, peas, mashed potatoes, about 1 cup of shredded cheese and bake it at 400 degrees until the cheese melts (about 20 minutes). This dish is comforting, delicious and a good way to use up leftover green beans and peas, too.

If you have leftover dressing use it to make a crust on a casserole; sprinkle it on top of stuffed mushrooms before you bake those; or if the dressing is dry enough, you can put it in the food processor and transform it into breadcrumbs to use in meatloaf or meatballs. You can also use dressing in an overnight sausage breakfast casserole supplementing some of the bread in the recipe. For example, if your recipe calls for 6 cups of sliced bread, use 2 cups of dressing and 4 cups of bread and proceed as usual.

Leftover cranberry sauce makes a great glaze for pork chops. I mix 1 ½ cups of cranberry sauce with ½ cup of orange juice and 2 garlic cloves and then use that as a simmering sauce for pork chops (after first browning the chops).

Other ways to use cranberry sauce is to stir it into plain yogurt or smoothies. Mix cranberry sauce and cream cheese and stuff that into refrigerated crescent rolls before you roll them up and bake them. When the rolls are done, sprinkle them with a little powdered sugar. You can serve a smear of cranberry sauce on a turkey sandwich or a ham sandwich with extra sharp cheddar cheese.

The turkey is the easiest thing to use because you can substitute turkey for chicken in many recipes and then you can always make a variety of turkey soups.  Soups and casseroles are particularly good uses of turkey is the bird has dried out.

Now for my lower carb recipes: I made an incredibly easy Sausage, Artichoke and Turkey Soup in the slow cooker that has tomatoes, artichokes and oregano. It’s delicious .Give it a try.

sausage artichoke turkey soup

Sausage Artichoke and Turkey Soup

Serves 5-6

1 pound hot Italian sausage (or sage if you don’t like spicy things)

1 extra large white onion

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 (15-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained

1 (6-ounce) jar of artichoke hearts in oil, drained

4 cups chicken stock

2 cups water

2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes in its liquid

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 cups chopped leftover turkey

In a skillet, sauté onion and sausage together at the same time. Add the oregano and Italian seasoning when the mixture has cooked about halfway.

When the sausage is done, transfer the meat mixture (and the rendered fat) to a slow cooker and add all the other ingredients except the turkey. Set the slow cooker on the 4 hour setting and after 3 hours, add turkey. Cook one more hour, stir and serve.


sausage artichoke chicken soup


Leftover Turkey Asian-Style Chopped Peanut Wraps (Low Carb)

Happy Thanksgiving! What a wonderful day devoted to gratitude, food, love, family and friends. I hope it’s a lovely day for you.

Tomorrow or tree days from now, when you’re faced with a refrigerator full of leftovers and are tired of Thanksgiving food, make this easy, healthy recipe. It only takes 15 minutes is low carb and full of protein and nutrients.

It is a great way to use leftover turkey and it tastes nothing like a traditional turkey meal so you won’t feel like you’re eating leftovers.

Leftover Turkey Asian-Style Chopped Peanut Wraps (Low Carb)

2 cups chopped leftover turkey breast

4 tablespoons peanut butter powder

1 tablespoon peanut butter

½ teaspoon sesame oil

1/3 cup water (add a little more if sauce is too thick)

2 ½ tablespoons Veri Veri Teriyaki Soy Vay sauce

½ teaspoon lime juice

½ red bell pepper, diced

1/3 cup diced cucumber

2 green onions, diced

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1/3 cup salted peanuts

1 head iceberg lettuce

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, bring peanut butter powder, peanut butter, sesame oil, water and Veri Veri Teriyaki Soy Vay Sauce to the point where the mixture is dissolved and smooth.

While that is going on, chop all the remaining ingredients.

When the sauce is dissolved and smooth, toss in turkey, red bell pepper, cucumber, onion, and cilantro. Toss to coat the ingredients.

Spread in iceberg lettuce leaves and sprinkle with peanuts before serving.


Craft a Thanksgiving Plan & Wild Rice Medley with Apples and Pecans

Over the years, I’ve learned not to stress on Thanksgiving because I get most of my work done in advance. Sure, I’m in the kitchen plenty, but I take time to have a mimosa, circle Black Friday ads, watch the parade on TV, and enjoy myself.

The mimosa tradition started with one of my best friends years ago. Where I live, we have an annual 5K on Thanksgiving called The Turkey Trot. Once year, we registered and were pumped to participate. The race is very early in the morning and this morning it was sleeting. It was bitter. We sat in the car and debated.

What should we do? I suggested we ditch the race and instead go shopping and then wind up at my house for a mimosa.  We did and it was one of the best Thanksgiving mornings ever.

So many people get insanely stressed on Turkey Day and it’s easy. There’s a lot of food on that table.

But with a good plan, you can avoid a lot of headache.

I have an easy side dish, lots of practical tips and step-by-step plans to help you pull off the biggest cooking day of the year with less stress. Plus, I have tips for a succulent turkey.

First, let’s talk recipes.  I have a marvelous Wild Rice Medley with Apples and Pecans that can be made the day before and reheated. It’s an amazing side dish. Fluffy rice comes together with crunchy pecans, sweet and tart cranberries and apples, and flavorful shallots.



Right now, it’s list time.

Write out your dinner menu and complete grocery list. Don’t forget to buy extras like paper towels, cooking oil, napkins, butter, extra toilet paper, candles, and drinks.

Add this to the grocery list-  buy paper plates and bowls for breakfast on Thanksgiving so no additional dishes pile up while you are cooking. This is a good time to decide what the family will eat for breakfast and potentially lunch (depending on when you serve the meal). I like to keep sandwich stuff on hand to keep it simple.

Once you have the menu, craft a plan of when everything goes in and comes out of the oven.  Write down what can be made ahead of time.

Figure out how many burners you will need. This is a great time to decide if you need a slow cooker to keep items warm. If you need extras, you still have time to borrow or buy one.

Also, write down a list of what needs to be done before Thanksgiving (any cleaning tasks).


This is a good time to do the bulk of your grocery shopping.

Buy your turkey and know when to defrost it. A frozen turkey placed in the refrigerator will take 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds of meat to defrost. Plan on 1 pound of turkey per person or 1 ½ pounds if you want plenty leftover.

Assign any tasks you will need that day- such as having one person fill the water glasses; another person carve the turkey; make someone responsible for getting all the cold salads out of the fridge, etc.


Finish your grocery shopping.

Refrigerator space will be limited, so get your coolers out and plan to keep drinks in there.

Make or buy ice if you will have a crowd (or just ask one of your guests to bring a bag of ice).

Chop, chop, chop. One or two days in advance, you can chop most of the ingredients for your recipes. Measure them out, place in baggies and label the baggies. I keep ingredients separate so they don’t flavor each other.  Try not to store your onions next to anything sweet. I place the onions baggies in a larger, sealable container.

If you have a cream pie that calls for a cooked crust, you can go ahead and bake your crust today. Once cool, keep it in a container.

Make your cranberry relish.


If necessary, wash the dishes you will use.

Iron any linens that need ironing (like the fancy tablecloth).

Bake your pies.

Make as many side dishes as possible, especially chilled salads.

Did you know you can make gravy in advance and just reheat it and add the turkey drippings after the turkey is done? It’s a trick I learned from a New York Times article. Here’s a link to the recipe:

I have a couple adaptations to this recipe. The recipe calls for stock and I always add dried mushrooms and a bay leaf which impart excellent depth of flavor. Remove those after 20 minutes and then add stock to the recipe.

Second, it’s worth investing in a fat separator because you don’t want too much fat from the drippings or it will be overly fatty because there’s already butter in this recipe.

Chill the white wine and other drinks.

If you’re using frozen pies or whipped topping, put those in the refrigerator today (read the back of the box to make sure pies can be thawed).

After dinner, go ahead and set the table for tomorrow.


You’re in the homestretch now.  The biggest thing you have to tackle is the bird.  Here are my tips for a moist bird: I stuff the turkey with butter- lots of butter.  I slice about 1 ½ sticks of butter into tablespoons. Then toss the butter in Cajun seasoning (or you can use a dash of salt and pepper instead). The main goal is to season the bird. I put the butter back in the fridge to chill. When it’s cold, I carefully insert the butter under the turkey skin. You want to be sure not to tear the skin because that is the turkey’s natural insulation that helps keep it moist. I place the butter mostly in the breasts, but tuck some under the leg fat, too.

I stuff the cavity with onion, a bay leaf, and make sure to add plenty of salt and pepper to the outside and inside of the bird.

Before placing it in the oven, rub more butter on the outside.

If you don’t have a turkey roaster, you can make a big doughnut out of aluminum foil which will help heat circulate under the poultry and ensure even cooking.

I do not baste because basting allows heat to escape from the oven and can result in uneven baking, which means you’re more likely to overcook the bird.

I cover the breasts with aluminum foil the last 30-45 minutes of baking. Always allow the turkey to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving.

With all that done, you probably only have last minute dishes like dinner rolls. So now, pour yourself a drink and enjoy the moment.


rice in dish

Wild Rice Medley with Apples and Pecans

serves 4-6

1 cup Rice Select Royal Blend (see note)

1 ½ cups of water

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon butter or oil

2 tablespoons canola oil

3 shallots, chopped

1 ½ cups diced Granny Smith apples (do not peel)

½ cup dried cranberries

1 cup pecan halves, roughly chopped

Note: Rice Select Royal Blend is a blend of Texmati white, brown, wild and red rice. It’s available in a plastic container near the regular rice and is sold at Walmart and other stores. If you cannot find it, cook ¾ cup long grain rice according to package directions and ½ cup wild rice according to package directions and then mix the two.

In a medium pot, combine 1 cup uncooked rice, 1 ½ cups of water, ½ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon butter or oil. Bring to a boil and stir once. Then cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and allow rice to rest for 5 minutes. Then uncover and leave uncovered.

While the rice cooks, chop shallots and apples. Break pecan halves in half and set aside.

When rice is done and cooling, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet. First add the shallots and cook 3 minutes. Then add the apples and cook 3 minutes. Add rice, cranberries and pecans and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste.

This can be made a day in advance and warmed in the microwave.  Warming the pecans will make them soft, so if you prefer to keep that crunch, you can omit the pecans until the end (or add half now and half later).

To warm, add 1 tablespoon of water to the rice, cover with plastic wrap and heat 45 seconds. Stir and heat another 45-90 seconds (depend on the microwave). Serve immediately.

Tips for Perfect Mashed Potatoes- and two recipes

My grandma Josephine Gander made the best mashed potatoes.

Intensely thick and rich, I’d have to jerk the spoon to get them off. The recipe includes cream cheese, half and half, lots of butter and a dab of sour cream-which adds incredible depth of flavor. The heavy dose of dairy may have been a reflection on the fact that my mom’s family were dairy farmers for decades.

We still serve grandma’s mashed potatoes every Thanksgiving and that’s just about the only time because they are not healthy, but they are delicious. These potatoes are wonderful with meatloaf or  pot roast.

This time of year, mashed potatoes start to reappear on our dinner menu.

Mashed potatoes are pretty easy to make but there good potatoes and exceptional potatoes. Of course, personal taste matters a lot when making mashed potatoes. Some people like them thin, others like thick potatoes. Regardless, here are some tips to perfecting your potatoes- regardless of the style.

Potatoes absorb moisture, so never let them sit in the cooking water because they will absorb it and become soggy. You want to drain them immediately and start adding the other ingredients.

If you use milk or half and half, warm it slightly on the stove before adding it so it doesn’t cool the potatoes down. Mashed potatoes are best served immediately.

Always use cold butter so that the fat evenly distributes in the dish (fat separates as it melts so if it’s already melted, it doesn’t distribute as evenly). If you’re using a large amount of butter, cut it into tablespoons measurements before adding it to hot potatoes.

If you want to cut some fat from a recipe, try using milk and infusing it with bay leaves and other flavorful mixture. Cooking the potatoes in chicken stock is another way to add flavor without fat.

To cut the carb content, use half potatoes and half cauliflower.

Always wash your potatoes and once they’ve been peeled, rinse them again to be sure you removed all the dirt.

A combination of potatoes will often yield a fluffier mix. Most people use Russet, but Yukon Gold has a buttery taste and great texture, so a combination of the two is wonderful.

Do not overmix potatoes because they will become gummy.

Here’s my recipe for Basil Mashed Potatoes and my grandma’s recipe. She didn’t write anything down, so this is my interpretation.

Basil Mashed Potatoes

Serves 6-8

4 cups peeled and sliced Russet potatoes

4 cups peeled and sliced Yukon Gold potatoes

1 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons butter, cut into tablespoons

½ cup half and half (or more)

1 tablespoons basil paste (or more to taste)

Salt and pepper to taste

Wash, peel and slice all the potatoes into 1- inch thick chunks. Place in a large pot with a lid and cover with water. Add salt and turn the burner onto high heat and cover the pot. Boil for 20 minutes, or until tender.

In a small saucepan, warm the half and half.

Slice the butter into tablespoons. When potatoes are done, drain immediately and then return to the pot. Add butter and half and half and basil paste and mash the potatoes. I would start with 1 tablespoon of basil paste and then taste it. If you want more basil flavor, add more.

Adjust seasoning and serve.

Grandma's Mashed Potatoes

Grandma Gander’s Mashed Potatoes

Serves 7-9

8 cups peeled and sliced Russet potatoes

1 teaspoon salt

5 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature cut into tablespoons

1 stick chilled butter, cut into tablespoons

½ cup half and half (more if you like thinner potatoes)

2 tablespoons sour cream

Salt and pepper to taste

It’s important that the cream cheese is at room temperature when you incorporate it into potatoes so it mixes well.

Wash, peel and slice all the potatoes into 1-inch thick slices.

Place in a large pot and cover the potatoes with water and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Boil about 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

When potatoes are almost done, warm the half and half.

When potatoes are ready, drain them and return to the pan immediately. Mix in cream cheese, half and half, butter and sour cream.  Mash until you get the desired consistency. Depending on how thick or thin you like potatoes, you may want to add more half and half.

Add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Garlic Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Caramelized Onions

This recipe was inspired by a trip to Alaska where I stopped in a brewery and ordered salmon over garlic mashed sweet potatoes. I came home and started perfecting that concept. The caramelized onions add another layer of flavor.

I caramelize the onions while the potatoes boil.  Whenever I make caramelized onions, I try to make a double batch because they freeze well and are an incredible addition to meals. I love caramelized onions on pork chops, eggs, chicken tacos, salads, brie etc.

Garlic Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Caramelized Onions

Serve 4-6

7 cups peeled and sliced sweet potatoes (3 big or 4 medium sweet potatoes)

1 Russet potato, peeled and sliced

1 teaspoon salt

2 garlic cloves, divided

2 tablespoons butter

¼ cup butter

½ cup, plus 1 tablespoon half and half

For the onions:

3 cups thinly sliced red onion (2-3 red onions)

2 tablespoons canola oil

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons brown sugar

Start the caramelized onions before the potatoes.

Thinly slice red onion and use the largest frying pan you have. Heat it over medium heat with 2 tablespoons oil and when hot, add the onion. Cook and stir frequently for 25-30 minutes, until it caramelizes. Add a dash of salt while onions cook to enhance their flavor. When onions are almost done, add the brown sugar to finish off the caramelization process (don’t do this until the end or it will burn).

Once the onions begin to cook, make the potatoes.

Wash, peel and slice all the potatoes and make the Russet potatoes thinner than the sweet potato slices because the sweet potato cooks faster so this will help ensure even cooking.

Place all potatoes in a large pot, add 1 teaspoon salt, 1 garlic clove only, and cover with water. Place a lid on and bring to a boil. Boil 20-25 minutes, until fork tender.

While that boils, mince the second garlic clove and set aside. When potatoes are almost done, saute the garlic in 2 tablespoons butter for 1-2 minutes over medium heat.

When potatoes are done, drain immediately and thoroughly. Return mixture to the pan and add the garlic in its butter, ¼ cup butter, half and half and salt and pepper to taste. Mash with a ricer or potato masher. Serve garnished with caramelized onions.

Garlic Mashed Sweet Potatoes