Sunday dinner.  Merri Ann usually puts a roast in the crock pot where it simmers away for most of the day, through church.  We eat about an hour after church.  There are mashed potatoes and gravy, and a few “sides” as my son calls them.  The meat has cooked so long that it’s almost falling apart and very tender.  The gravy is rich and brown and I pour it generously over both the potatoes and meat.  It’s a very good meal.

My son Ben has recently returned from a mission in Brazil.  I don’t think he had mashed potatoes in two years.   Our daughter Katie is home from college, BYU-Idaho.  Somehow she met George, who served in the same mission with Ben, and she brought him along.  George is tall and bright and from the Seattle area.  It’s easy to picture him in college, absorbing everything.  You can see the light in his eyes, open and inquisitive.  He could be in college a long time. We also invited Nathan, another one of Ben’s fellow missionaries from Brazil.  He’s a cowboy.  He can fix pick-up trucks, saddle horses, and stack hay.  But he’s a student at BYU-Idaho.  It’s easy to see him restless, ready to graduate, and get back to Wyoming.  He’s charismatic and easy to like. 

I think to myself, “What a melting pot a mission is.”

As the meal ends, Merri Ann gets up and tends to the kitchen.  The young guys and gals are immersed in conversation.  It’s young-people talk and mission stories, and I settle back at the end of the table, content to listen.

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The mission stories sound both common and different–at once, sounding like they are across the county and again, very far away.  I think people are the same everywhere–but different. 

At one point, they slip into Portuguese, the three missionaries.  Katie knows enough Spanish that she can barely follow along.  To me it just seems melodic.

I’m full of mashed potatoes but I’m more content with my life and family.  I’m grateful that these three young men–and many others–were willing to leave families and mashed potatoes for two years to serve among strangers and eat unfamiliar food.

Flavored Mashed Potatoes

In the grocery store, you can find flavored mashed potatoes, dry potatoes like roasted garlic, southwestern, and four-cheese Italian.   But you don’t need to rely on dry potatoes to enjoy flavored mashed potatoes.

On a whim—maybe because we’re in Idaho—we made mashed potatoes in our test kitchen, adding and experimenting with batch after batch.  I don’t remember how many batches we made or what we did with them, but some were very good.  It was a fun project.

15 Ways to Make Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes don’t have to be bland, something to pile gravy on.  They can be adventuresome—anything from garlic mashed potatoes to cream cheese mashed potatoes.  Here we will give you two recipes plus directions to make thirteen other kinds of mashed potatoes.  

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

2 pounds potatoes
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup grated Romano cheese
1 tablespoon oregano
4 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper

Wash potatoes and boil until tender and soft. Mash them using the method that you prefer adding the butter, cheese, oregano, and garlic as you mash.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday Dinner Potatoes

1/2 c. chopped onions
2 pounds potatoes
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper

Cook the chopped onions in the microwave until they are translucent and tender.  Set aside.
Wash potatoes and boil until tender and soft. Mash them using the method that you prefer adding the butter, onions, cheese, and sour cream as you mash.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Bacon and Cheese Mashed Potatoes

Fry bacon slices or cook them in the microwave.  Use kitchen shears to snip the bacon into 1/4-inch bits.  Add 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese, five slices of bacon, and 1/2 cup milk or cream for each two pounds of potatoes.  If you like, you can sprinkle additional shredded cheese over the top of the potatoes in the serving dish. 

Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes

Make mashed potatoes as directed above.  Beat in 4 ounces of cream cheese, two tablespoons butter, and 1/4 cup milk for each two pounds of potatoes or to taste. 

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Make mashed potatoes as directed above.  Beat in two cloves garlic, sautéed or roasted plus 1/2 cup milk, 2/3 cup grated cheese, and 2 tablespoons butter for each two pounds of potatoes. 

Skins-on Mashed Potatoes

Make mashed potatoes as directed above but use thin-skinned red potatoes.  Beat in two cloves garlic, sautéed or roasted, plus 1/2 cup milk and 3 tablespoons butter for each two pounds of potatoes. 

Mashed Potatoes with Horseradish

Make mashed potatoes as directed above.  Beat in 1/4 cup horseradish and 3/4 cup cream for every two pounds of potatoes or to taste.  This ratio of horseradish to potatoes will provide some “kick”.    Our son, Nathan, worked at an upscale restaurant and he brought this recipe idea home. 

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

We like the tang of buttermilk in our potatoes married with fresh creamery butter.  Use about 3/4 cup buttermilk and three tablespoons butter for each two pounds of potatoes or to taste.  You will need a balance of butter to buttermilk in this recipe.   

Mashed Potatoes with Shallots

Make mashed potatoes as directed above.  Thinly slice shallots and sauté the onion in butter.  Add two small shallots, 3/4 cup cream or milk, and three tablespoons butter for each two pounds of potatoes. 

Onion Mashed Potatoes

Make mashed potatoes as directed above.  Finely chop a sweet onion such as Vandalia.  Sauté the onion in butter in a skillet or microwave it until tender.  Add about one-half of a medium onion, 3/4 cup cream or milk, and three tablespoons butter for each two pounds of potatoes. 

Mashed Potatoes with Chives

Make mashed potatoes as directed above.  Add 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives or two tablespoons dried chives, 3/4 cup cream or milk, and three tablespoons butter for each two pounds of potatoes. 

French Onion Mashed Potatoes

Make mashed potatoes as directed above.  Add 1/2 cup French onion dip, 1/2 cup milk or cream, and 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese or mozzarella cheese for each two pounds of potatoes. 

Mashed Potatoes with Green Onions

Make mashed potatoes as directed above.  Add 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions, 3/4 cup cream or milk, and three tablespoons butter for each two pounds of potatoes. 

Cheddar Mashed Potatoes

Make mashed potatoes as directed above.  Add 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese, two tablespoons butter, and 1/2 cup milk or cream for each two pounds of potatoes.  If you like, you can sprinkle additional shredded cheese over the top of the potatoes in the serving dish. 

Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes

Make mashed potatoes as directed above.  Beat in 3/4 cup sour cream and two tablespoons butter for each two pounds of raw potatoes or to taste. 

Dennis Weaver is the president of Prepared Pantry at www.preparedpantry.com where you can find baking mixes and supplies that are perfect for your Christmas giving.