Cooking Simply During theHolidays
Cooking simply during the holidays with a potato bar is the way to go. Prepare potatoes as the main holiday food for an event, and ask everyone to bring potato toppings.
Types of Potatoes
Starting with a potato bar, there are options. Go with one or more of these:
1. Russet (or Idaho) potatoes
2. Red potatoes
3. New potatoes
4. Sweet potatoes
5. Fingerling potatoes
Out of the five types of potatoes listed above, russet/Idaho and red potatoes are the highest on the glycemic scale. So for the sake of guests who are diabetics, go for a lower glycemic potato.
Russet is the big brownish kind of potato good for baking, like the plate-size serving you get when you order a baked potato with all the fixin’s.
Red potatoes and new potatoes are smaller than the russet or Idaho kinds.
If you’ll be serving people who enjoy larger portions, cook russet/Idaho or double up on the amount of smaller potatoes.
Planning the Potato Bar
Cooking simply during the holidays is easy to do with a potato bar. Easiest way? Use one kind of potato. Then come up with several topping ideas.
Should you choose to step it up a notch, cook more than one type of potato (see above options). While you boil a pot full of red potatoes, you could be roasting fingerling potatoes in the oven.
Add potato soup to your potato bar. It can be homemade or pre-packaged. Remember to provide crackers and/or garlic bread.
Cooking Russet/Idaho Potatoes
Bake russets in the oven for about an hour, microwave them, or boil them in the stove.
Potatoes can also be “baked” in a slow cooker. Add a couple of ribeyes in the slow cooker with your potatoes. Cut the steaks into bite-size pieces for potato fillers. Top with a mesquite (or other flavor) barbecue sauce. Yum! Check out this Mesquite-Tea Ribeye and Baked Potato slow cooker recipe to add to your holiday food menu.
Simple Cooking in the Microwave
One very simple and fast way to cook new or red potatoes is to microwave them. And they taste just as good as boiled or baked.
Many microwave ovens include a “potato” button (can’t get any more simple than that!). When you press it, a “1” shows on the screen. Start cooking after you enter how many potatoes you’ll be cooking.
Sweet Potatoes and How to Cook Them
Sweet potatoes (or yams) are delicious without any added toppings. They’re also good as dessert and can pack on extra calories if marshmallows are added. Make this Sweet and Tangy Yams as one of your sweet potato/yam desserts.
Boil sweet potatoes, and the skin can be peeled right off. But you don’t have to peel them. Slice them like you would a baked russet potato. Then add the fixin’s.
Sweet potatoes may be preferred plain (for the health-conscious individuals) or with cinnamon and sugar (for those with a sweet tooth). Like it sweeter? Add marshmallows.
Pattycakespantry.com’s Streusel Topped Sweet Potato Casserole will fit right in with the potato dessert part of the potato bar. Check out Patty Cakes’ other potato recipes for additional fillings and fixing’s for your other potatoes. For instance, her pressure cooker baked potatoes are a fantastic idea!
What are Fingerling Potatoes?
Fingerling potatoes are small, narrow, and come in different colors, even purple. Though fingerling potatoes are in season from spring to summer, you may be able to find them early fall. Boil, bake, or microwave them.
The Potato Fixin’s
Now that you’ve decided on what types of potatoes to serve your guests, write down all the toppings you can think of. Writing a list of holiday food choices ahead of time will help you avoid hectic last-minute holiday grocery shopping.
If planning a potluck event, ask guests to bring specific ingredients. I’ve started a list of possible toppings:
1. Grated cheese
2. Chives or chopped green onions
3. Chili – A jar or can of chili will work fine. Double or triple the amount, depending on how many people are invited
4. Sour cream – Choose regular, light, or one of each.
5. Barbecue – Easiest way is to pick up BBQ at your favorite barbecue restaurant. Or you can find already-cooked barbecue in the refrigerated section at the grocery store.
6. Queso – melt 1 lb Velveeta cheese with 1/2 can evaporated milk (or 2 lbs with 1 can evaporated milk)
7. Taco meat (2 lbs for up to 4 people; 3 lbs for 5-6; 4 lbs for 6-7, etc.)
8. Bacon (Store-bought bacon pieces or fry your own)
9. Broccoli (Broccoli and queso or simply broccoli with salt, pepper, and butter are good choices for the vegetable-conscious individual.)
Planning a potato bar for a fall (or any season) holiday event is easy. In addition, it’s inexpensive. Doing a chili bar is great, too. Check out Kitchen Southern Hospitality’s chili bar plan and the simple-to-make chili recipe for an after-Thanksgiving meal.
Making a potato bar as one of your family menus? Include the children on the planning. Ask what they think would taste good on a potato. You could start a new fun family menu tradition.