Hurrah, the holidays are here! Apart from decorations and sweet treats of all descriptions, this always means a variety of parties: Church parties, work parties, community parties, and family parties. That almost always means a feast of some kind. You may call it a “dinner” or a “get-together,” but let’s be honest: they are good, old-fashioned feasts. My favorite thing!
Most families have traditional dishes unique to their family culture. When my extended family gets together for Christmas, we like to include twice-baked potatoes on the menu for our feasts. They can be pretty time-consuming to make, though. This particular Christmas, I’ve got a lot going on and so I am extra-motivated to find ways to cut down on holiday stress.
Why not try out this recipe for twice-baked mashed potatoes made from shelf-stable food storage ingredients? The taste is more or less the same and can be accomplished in less than half the time. It can take the better part of an hour to bake potatoes, scoop out the insides, and do everything else to them. Instant mashed potatoes, on the other hand, can be all done in minutes.
Twice Baked Mashed Potatoes
8 servings of mashed potatoes
Small container of sour cream
1 bunch green onion, chopped
1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese, divided
Granulated Garlic to taste
Mix all ingredients except 1/2 c cheese and place in 9×9 in. casserole dish. Top with additional bacon bits and extra cheese.
Bake at 375°F for 30 minutes, or until the cheese melts and starts to bubble.<
And of course, if push comes to shove, as it often does in the month of December, you could always go the “instant side dish” option, using something like broccoli cheesy rice or creamy chicken rice. Just add hot water and voila! You’re done.
Crispy Potato Cakes
It’s quite possible that you may end up with leftover mashed potatoes, or you’re just looking for another option using those potatoes.Pan-fried potato cakes are super easy to make and dehydrated potatoes make these a quick side dish.
2-3 cups prepared mashed potatoes
3 green onions thinly sliced, include the green portion
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
Oil for frying
Add chopped green onion and a half cup or so of shredded cheddar cheese to 2-3 cups prepared mashed potatoes. Divide the potatoes into quarter-cup portions and with slightly wet hands, shape each into a small cake, similar to a hamburger patty.
In a medium size bowl, beat the 2 eggs, and in a second medium size bowl, add the Panko crumbs.
Bread each patty by dipping them first into the beaten eggs and then into the bread crumbs. Chill for an hour in the refrigerator for easier handling. This will help keep the potato cakes from crumbling in the frying pan.
Heat 1/3 to 1/2 cup oil in a skillet over medium heat. Carefully place each potato cake in the hot oil and cook until golden brown — about 5 minutes per side. Remove from the oil and allow to drain on a paper towel.
Serve hot. I like to mix a little sour cream and salsa together and spoon a bit over each potato cake, but they’re just as good plain!
Dehydrated Dutch Apple Pie
And now it’s time for dessert. A proper holiday feast must include at least three different kinds of pie; apple pie is always a safe bet. If you happen to be scrambling at the last minute and have no time to a) peel and core apples or b) run to the grocery store for apple pie filling, I have another alternative for you.
Have you ever had those dehydrated apple chips? My kids like to eat them plain for a snack, but did you know they are excellent for baking, as well? The Little House books make several references to “dried apple pies.”
Fun Fact: Dehydrating apples is one of the best ways to store them; this was true even back in the day before modern technology gave us oxygen absorbers and #10 cans.Here’s a recipe you can try:
Pie crust – either from the recipe of your choice, or pre-made.This is a one-crust pie recipe, so plan accordingly
2 cups dried apples, firmly packed
2 cups boiling water -or- 2 c apple juice/ cider
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp. Flour
½ tsp. Cinnamon
Pour water over the apples and let stand until reconstituted, 5-15 minutes. Transfer apples and liquid to a sauce pan and cook over medium heat; add remaining ingredients and continue cooking until thick.Stir constantly to prevent scorching. Pour mixture into pie shell and dot with 1 tbsp. Butter
Topping (this is in lieu of a second pie crust on top):
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup butter
Cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over the apple mixture and place in 350ºF oven for 55 minutes. Filling should be bubbly.
Of course, this is assuming you have the time and energy necessary to make a whole pie. If you don’t, you can easily show up to your family party with a tray of brownies, because all good things come in super-easy mixes, these days. Even light and fluffy rolls.
What traditional foods do you eat with your family during the holidays?