Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mashed Potato Makeover! A Healthier and Prettier Thanksgiving Side Dish from Cleo Coyle

Beautiful, Nutritious, and Tres Tasty! :)
Cleo Coyle's pretty Autumn Potatoes

BUT FIRST, I HAVE SOME SWEET NEWS - Holiday Grind, which was a Top-9 national mystery bestseller in hardcover last year, is now a Top-4 mystery bestseller in paperback for TWO WEEKS in a row. :) 

I just got the word last night from my wonderful editor Wendy McCurdy. Even more exciting: Holiday Grind has moved up a bigger national list. It is now the 18th bestselling title of all paperbacks sold in the Barnes and Noble stores throughout the country. So I have got to take a moment to send... 

What is your MUST-HAVE
side dish at Thanksgiving?

Join the discussion in the
comments section below... 

Congrats to PAM of Oklahoma
for leaving a comment and
winning my Tuesday
latte cup giveaway!
BIG THANKS to my Coffeehouse Mystery readers (old and new), and the kind reviewers who took the time to read, review, or post a blog about my holiday book.

AND a HUGE thank you shout-out must go to my fellow, very talented crime-writing cooks on this blog for their generous support: Krista, Elizabeth, Avery, Julie, Jenn: You babes are the best! ~ Cleo

...and now back to our regularly scheduled recipe post. :)

For some people, Thanksgiving Dinner simply isn't complete without one or two (or more!) favorite side dishes. 
Cleo Coyle, counting down the
days to cranberry sauce while
writing her next Coffeehouse

My favorite side dish is cranberry sauce. (Okay, so it's technically a condiment, but to me it's a major player.) Baby, without cranberry sauce, it ain't Thanksgiving Dinner.

As for my husband, Marc, he's a mashed potatoes man. Turkey, gravy, and mashed potatoes are what absolutely define his Thanksgiving meal.

Given Marc's feelings, you can imagine the stress one year when we were so crazed and busy that we forgot to buy potatoes for Thanksgiving Dinner. The horror! The horror!

We did have a few potatoes in the kitchen but not enough to serve at table. Marc came up with the solution, garlic-carrot mashed potatoes. They were beautiful, a spectacular golden-orange fall color, and they were delicious in the extreme.

Not carrot-tasting, at all, by the way, just creamy, buttery, and garlicky. These autumnal taters were so darn flavorful that this recipe has become our all-time favorite way to make mashed potatoes.

What I also love about this recipe is its proportions. Can anyone not remember this?

   3 Potatoes - white is best or Yukon gold (not russets!)
+ 3 Carrots
+ 3 Cloves Garlic
+ 3 Tablespoons Butter (or Margarine)

= 3 Cups of Autumn-colored Mashed Potatoes! (Enough to serve 4)

Of course, a great added bonus here are the health benefits from the garlic and the carrots (more fiber and vitamins). No milk or cream, so it can be made Vegan or Kosher by switching the butter for margarine.

Now let's get this side dish
cooking party started!


To get this recipe in a PDF document than you can print, save, or share, click here.


3 medium white potatoes,
scrubbed, skins on
(about one pound)

White potatoes are best for creamy, smooth, delicious tasting mashed potatoes. Yukon gold will work, as well. But do not use russet potatoes, the results will not be as appealing.

3 large carrots,
peeled and diced
(about 8 ounces)

3 Cloves Garlic
3 Tablespoons butter
(or margarine)

1 tsp. salt and
salt and pepper to taste


Step 1: Prepare the vegetables -
Peel and dice the carrots into one-half inch rings. Cut the potatoes into sections about one-half inch thick, halving the sections again if too large. Peel
and chop the garlic. 

Step 2: Start by boiling carrots alone - Carrots take longer to cook than potatoes so you're going to give them a head start. Bring a large saucepan of water to a rolling boil. Add the peeled and diced carrots, return to boil for 8 minutes, uncovered.

Step 3: Add the potatoes and garlic - After adding these ingredients, return the pot to a boil and simmer for approximately 20 minutes, uncovered, or until potatoes and carrots are soft enough to mash. 

Step 4: Drain well - Pour the cooked veggies and garlic into a strainer and make sure water is well drained. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add butter or margarine and mash. We use a traditional hand-masher. Then, for a creamy finish, we whisk briskly with a fork until smooth (about 30 seconds). Salt and pepper to taste. (You can also go techno and use a hand-stick or immersion blender or throw everything into a food processor.)

We still use a hand masher. But a
hand stick (aka immersion) blender will
work great, too.

Our secret to making roughly mashed potatoes into
smoothly whipped is a vigorous 30-second beating,
in a deep bowl with a simple fork.

Yes. A simple fork.
And now we're ready to...

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries 

A Coffeehouse Mystery

The TOP-9 national
bestseller in hardcover
is now a
TOP-4 national bestseller
in paperback!!!!

To get more of my recipes,
win free coffee, or learn

about me and my Coffeehouse Mysteries, visit my *virtual* coffeehouse at:


“Fun and gripping…” —The Huffington Post

“Some of the most vibrant characters I've ever read. Coyle also is a master of misdirection and red herrings. I challenge any reader to figure out whodunit before Coyle reveals all.”
Mystery Scene

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Krista Davis is celebrating the upcoming release
of her new holiday mystery, The Diva Cooks a Goose.

She's holding a delicious contest!
Send Krista your favorite cookie recipe
Krista at KristaDavis dot com and you might win!

Find out more
clicking here


  1. I would have to agree w cranberry being my favorite guest at the Thanksgiving table... followed closely by a green bean casserole!

  2. Sweet potatoes glazed with brown sugar and butter. NO MARSHMALLOWS!

  3. This looks a lot like Dutch hutspot!

    I agree with Linda... sweet potatoes with NO marshmallows *L*

  4. Congratulations!

    As a happy coincidence, Carin just posted my favorite holiday side on my blog: Waldorf Salad. http://www.momfoodproject.com/2010/11/16/waldorf-salad/

  5. This looks fantastic, Cleo! I just love the autumn color of these potatoes and the idea of combining them with carrots. Yum!

  6. I have to say mine is the cornbread stuffing. Cleo you always have such nice pictures to make us all hungry :). I will have to try this recipe looks good.

  7. Congrats Cleo!

    My must have side dish are baked macaroni and cheese and jellied cranberry sauce.

  8. Green bean casserole, of course!

  9. Woo-hoo!! Congrats, Cleo!! You are rocking it out and I'm so excited for you! Keep that great news coming! Woo-hoo again!
    I can just hear your excitement and joy in your post today - even when you're talking about your delicious and gorgeous potatoes, your energy level is *way* up - as it should be! Congrats, well deserved, and way to go!

    Love the recipe and pics, btw. I will have to try this. Lots of all our favorite ingredients.

  10. I love dressing, with sausage and raisins or dried cranberries. I think the only time my family didn't eat all of the dressing leftovers was when I put fresh cranberries in and it turned out way too sour. So much for that experiment!

  11. Sweet Potato Casserole is what I'm asked to bring time & time again. Here's the recipe, no marshmallows!!:

    3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
    1 cup brown sugar
    2 eggs, lightly beaten
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1/2 cup milk
    1/2 cup melted butter


    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/3 cup flour
    1/2 cup melted butter
    1 cup chopped pecans

    Combine first 6 ingredients. Pour into a buttered 1 1/2 to 2-quart casserole dish. Mix remaining ingredients together and sprinkle over top. Bake at 350° for 30 to 40 minutes, until hot and browned.

    I never come home with leftovers!


    Pam Fulk

  12. Wow - that recipe looks yummy!

    My favorite side is the stuffing. For years my mother made her milk cracker stuffing and everyone loved it. However, Royal Lunch discontinued to make the crackers and we have had to use the seasoned breadcrumb instead. Just isn't the same :( But, stuffing is stuffing and always good.

  13. Cleo - I had the sweet potato casserole comment, forgot to sign in when I posted it.


  14. I have two: pumpkin pie is #1 and green beans with pancetta bits is my #2. It is not Thanksgiving unless I have those 2 side dishes. Angie

  15. We don't celebrate Thanksgiving here, but pumpkin scones in my opinion would be perfect :)

  16. Love the autumn potato recipe and I'm going to try it this Thanksgiving. My husband must have green bean casserole at Thanksgiving (I think it's because he wants the extra fried onions left over after I make the casserole.) For me it has to be some sort of mashed potatoes.

  17. Sausage and cornbread stuffing. My sister makes it and I love it.

  18. Mmm...Five-Cup Salad for me. Easy-peasy: 1 cup each: Drained mandarin oranges, drained crushed pineapple, shredded coconut, mini-marshmallows, folded gently into 1 cup of sour cream. Chill for at least an hour (if you can wait that long) :D

  19. Cornbread and scallion stuffing. Preferably with my friend Terry's gravy recipe.

  20. What fascinating comments.

    Cleo, congratulations on the success of Holiday Grind. Now, there's something to be thrilled and thankful about! : )

    I love this carrot-potato recipe and will definitely be trying it.

    I'm with you on the cranberry sauce. Of course, what's cranberry sauce without turkey? And what's turkey without mashed potatoes? And . . . oops, think I moved out of the side dish area. Cranberries and mashed potatoes!

    ~ Krista

  21. My grandfather's stuffing (adapted to be celiac friendly since my diagnosis):

    1 head of celery and 1 small to medium or 1/2 large onion, chopped and sauteed in olive oil until translucent.

    Cook 4 cups wild rice, cooked with olive oil, salt, black pepper until done.

    Chop a good handful of sage. Mix sage, rice, onion/celery mixture, sea salt, black or white pepper, and some savory (to taste).

    Use hot to stuff a bird or heat in a casserole to serve as a side.

    And cranberry sauce: 1 lb cranberries, well rinsed and picked over, juice and zest of one orange (or blood orange, tangerine, mandarin, etc), just enough water to cover the berries. Simmer until the berries burst, then sweeten to taste and cook until it thickens.


  22. #1 sweet potatoes with marshmallows (only at Thanksgiving & Christmas)
    #2 stuffing with mushrooms and gravy made by my dad
    #3.not a side dish, but dessert! pumpkin pie with real homemade whipped cream :)

    BTW going to try the potato recipe. Sounds tasty.

  23. That recipe looks great--Thanks.

    My favorite is dressing. Ours is a dirty-rice dressing with giblets. I also love cornbread-sausage dressing. Like you, I've got to have the cranberry sauce!

  24. My favorite is dressing also.LOVE IT!!!

  25. Congrats, Cleo! And I love the idea of a potato-carrot combo. Looks yummy in the pictures.

    My favorite sides are cornbread dressing and cranberry sauce. DH loves my chicken & sausage gumbo best.

  26. This looks SO GOOD!! I will show it to DH and see if he would like me to try it. I may try it anyway....just for myself.

    I finally had a chance to try green bean casserole when I met DH. In all my years before meeting him, I had never had it, go figure. Now I can't imagine Thanksgiving without it. O..M..G!!!!
    And we always buy an extra bag or two of potatoes as we can't have dinner without mashed potatoes...the horror..the horror! Indeed.

  27. I am under orders this year... beans, nothing fancy... Mashed potatoes, nothing fancy... Sweet potatoes, little marshmallows only.

    But I am going to sneak some molasses into my dinner rolls.

  28. Cleo! I just had to write and say congratulations! And, I just sent my review of Roast Mortem to Janet Rudolph today, for inclusion in the next edition of Mystery Lovers Journal, devoted to "special interests."

    Stuffing, hands down. I was the official stuffing taster in the family when I was young. When I was sick one Thanksgiving, and didn't make it to my aunt's, she said it wasn't the same, since I wasn't there to do the testing.

  29. Um, sweet potatoes, wait, no, cranberry-orange relish, wait, green bean casserole with lots of french fried onions on top, no, wait, creamy mashed potatoes made with real butter and cream. No, hands down, cornbread dressing with plenty of sage. Yep, that's it, cornbread dressing! Nurse JudyMac

  30. Congrats on the great best selling news!
    My absolute, favorite side dish for Thanksgiving is my mother-in-law's stuffing. It could be a meal in itself. I can't wait!

  31. Mashed potatoes are a must for me.

  32. Okay, Cleo, I have to admit, I too love cranberry sauce. Homemade. I make a batch every Thanksgiving and Christmas and eat it by itself. Well, now I eat it lathered on toast with cheese. A sharp cheddar. LOL I'm so the "Cheese Shop Lady" it's getting scary. :)

    Love all your pictures! And I'm going to try this Autumn potatoes. Looks yummy.

    Happy T day!


  33. A very hearty congratulations on the BEST SELLING Holiday Grind!!!!!
    My mother was a cook who never wrote anything down...she cooked by taste. Since her passing we have tried with no success to recreate her bread pudding sauce, her meatloaf, her dill bread...and the list oges on. The first Thanksgiving after her death I flew to Philadelphia to join my late husband who was doing his radiology fellowship. I was of course sad and way frazzled...but that Thanksgiving morning my mom "touched" my hands and helped me make her bread, bacon, onion and sage dressing...it was sublime! So every year Mom "comes to visit" through the dressing...
    After I saw this lovely recipe I made it tonight for supper...WOW! Then our dear son Connor who eats about 13 times a day took the leftovers and made pancakes with the leftovers...they were awesome! So...thank you and Marc for this wonderful addition to our Thanksgiving table...

  34. These comments are wonderful! I have been reading them all day and thoroughly enjoying them. You've inspired me, amused me, and made me hungry! I love the recipe sharing going on here (will definitely try some of them out) and I'm also touched by all of the kind congratulations on my good publishing news. (Thanks, everyone, from the heart!)

    I wish I could give each of you an adorable gimme coffee latte cup. What I AM going to do is have that random number generator select one winner among the comments here -- and one winner among those who commented on my facebook page. There were so many comments left in both places that I'm happy to double the prize fun. I'll be back soon to announce both winners. Good luck, everyone!

    ~ Cleo
    Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  35. my favorite thanksgiving side is stuffing.

  36. (Thanks Ann Marie!)

    And the winner is (by random number generator...)PAM of OKLAHOMA! Congratulations, Pam, you won my Tuesday giveaway. I'll drop you an e-mail to get your address and send out the prize.

    Thanks again to everyone for commenting on Tuesday! Follow this blog so you don't miss your next chance to win one of our giveaways.

    And feel free to keep leaving comments (and even recipes or web links). This is one great roundup of Thanksgiving side dish favorites and we'll be keeping it archived for the life of this site!

    Until tomorrow!
    ~ Cleo
    Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  37. Thanks for getting me thinking about "must-haves" for Thanksgiving. I'm currently living in Scotland and have to cobble together my own Thanksgiving with my husband as best I can with what they have here. Last year was the first time my husband had ever tasted pumpkin pie (he did like it). Can you imagine? I have one can of pumpkin left I've been hanging on to for this year. It's unheard of here. Turkey we can get and I had a wonderful friend who sent me some American groceries from the Commissary in Italy (round about way to get Crisco!) so I have a few things. But because of your question I thought about the wonderful apple salad my grandma used to always make and just got the recipe from my mother today. I plan to add that to the menu this year. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

  38. I guessed the carrots, but not the garlic!
    Cranberry sauce is a staple, isn't it?

  39. Cleo, what a fabulous double-shot of good news! Joyful congratulations--we knew it was good! And yes, Julie's right--your bubbly joy is evident in your post today; it has even infused me--just what I needed.

    I can almost taste those sunny mashed potatoes--yumm! I'll have to wait to make them when hubby Amos is out of town; he has this unaccountable dislike of cooked carrots. But the skins-on potatoes with lots of garlic--that's just how we like them around here, and they can't have all the texture beaten out of them.

    I love all of the Thanksgiving side dishes, but the one I can't live without is cranberry sauce. It just lights up everything else on the plate, and the leftovers, too. Everything else, I can (and do) make all year, but cranberry sauce is uniquely autumn. It's even my favorite color!

  40. Looks wonderful. Love the color.

  41. booklover, janet, karin, Laine, and briarrose - just popping back to say thank you for your wonderful comments. :)

  42. Janet, a very Happy Thanksgiving to you, there in Scotland. Your experience with cobbling together your Thanksgiving dinner reminds me of my London brother doing the same a few years ago for his homesick American assistant. He listened when she talked about the foods, then he scrounged and scrambled to gather them. He learned to cook them (called me for recipes), and surprised her with as American a Thanksgiving as he could manage in London. Well, of course, she cried! It was a very successful day. I know yours will be too.

  43. The must have dish at our family holiday dinners is Oyster Casserole. It's a simple dish of layers of oyster crackers, oysters and butter with half & half and oyster juice poured over the top seasoned with a little salt & pepper. Obviously it's not a "lite" dish but oh so yummy!

  44. Hi Cleo,
    It's impossible for me to choose just one favorite side dish! I always HAVE TO HAVE, my candied sweet potatoes, & my turkey stuffing with chopped walnuts, then at the end a couple (don't tell on me though) pieces of pumpkin pie with whipped cream & a glass of egg nog! I would just DIE without any of those side dishes! LOL!!!

  45. Hi Cleo,
    Crystal and I agree, our favorite side dish is Mustard Potato Salad. However, when eating at relatives' houses they usually take more effort for us. Because Crystal is allergic to onions, they set some aside before adding it to the rest. Whatever we cook at home has no onions. Also no form of lemon, which she is allergic to as well. She makes cheese pie (another must)using lime instead.