Holiday entertaining with DIY food bars

Published 4:32 pm Saturday, December 7, 2013

Enjoy a new way to eat mash potatoes by incorporating them into a Do-It-Yourself food bar with lots of variety.

Enjoy a new way to eat mash potatoes by incorporating them into a Do-It-Yourself food bar with lots of variety.

We find ourselves in the middle of holiday season and the peak of holiday parties. A big trend this year for holiday entertaining is to serve a Do-It-Yourself Food Bar. These parties are a great option at holiday time because you can make the bar as simple or elaborate as you wish, depending on how busy you are.

Another advantage to serving a DIY Food Bar at your holiday party is that you can customize the menu to provide healthy options for partygoers. Guests are able to customize their own plates to their preferences, making this an ideal option for anyone with food allergies or dietary concerns.

Most DIY food bars can be kid-friendly if your invite list includes people of all ages. They also can be served at any time of day. Host a holiday brunch to free up the rest of your day for shopping, wrapping and other items on your holiday to-do list. A few brunch bar ideas can include a pancake or waffle bar, breakfast burrito bar, yogurt parfait bar or oatmeal bar, with all your favorite toppings.

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Go beyond the usual mealtime build-your-own burger bars and serve an upscale mashed potato bar. Use elegant serving dishes and utensils to make this fun. Try serving the potatoes in martini glasses and let guests top them how they wish with meats, cheeses, vegetables and sauces. Potatoes are an excellent source of potassium, fiber and vitamin C.  Use Yukon Gold potatoes for a natural buttery flavor and look. Use heart-healthy spreads like margarines with the first ingredient as liquid oil to top off the potatoes.  Here are some ideas for toppings and a recipe for those mashed potatoes.

Suggested Mashed Potato Bar Toppings:

•Leftover rotisserie chicken or roast beef mixed with BBQ sauce, warmed

•Smoked salmon, chopped

•Sautéed shrimp

•No-salt-added canned corn, rinsed and drained, warmed

•No-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained, warmed

•Roasted mushrooms (see recipe under crostini bar section), warmed

•Steamed broccoli

•Steamed carrots

•Diced onions

•Cabot Light Cheddar cheese, shredded

•Non-fat plain Greek yogurt


•Caramelized onions



Reduced-fat buttermilk mashed poatoes

Serves 8

All you need

•4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces (peeling is optional but leaving the peel on adds fiber)

•2 cups buttermilk, divided

•4 tablespoons Promise or Smart Balance spread, divided

•¾ cup water

•¼ teaspoon baking soda

•1 bay leaf

•Salt and pepper, to taste

All you do

1.  Stir together potatoes, 1-½ cups buttermilk, 2 tablespoons Promise, water, baking soda and bay leaf in a large Dutch oven.  Bring to a boil in large pot over high heat; cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.  Remove lid and allow to cook over medium heat until liquid has almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes.

2. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in the microwave, covered.  Remove potatoes from heat, remove bay leaf, add melted butter to pot and mash with potato masher until smooth. Using rubber spatula, fold in remaining ½ cup buttermilk until it is absorbed and potatoes are creamy. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.