Creamy Chive Mashed Potatoes

There's so many ways to make mashed potatoes - what's your favorite? For me, I think I've found my favorite. It's the ever popular recipe by The Pioneer Woman and she prepared it for Food Network's Thanksgiving Throwdown last year. That alone told me it had to be good since she prepared for Chef Bobby Flay. And wow - this certainly didn't disappoint. To add my own spin, I made Creamy Chive Mashed Potatoes with fresh snipped chives, a whole lot of butter, cream cheese, half & half and lots of love...

My son loves mashed potatoes. So for Thanksgiving this year, I made them extra special using The Pioneer's recipe. Granted, it's not exactly the healthiest version and one I won't make all the time, but it was a nice treat to indulge just a bit. The key to the recipe is using softened cream cheese. It makes it even creamier with a little bit more depth and richness. You can ease up on the calories and fat by substituting low fat or even fat free cream cheese, 1% or skim milk and if you must, margarine (I'm a real butter kind of gal). The original recipe is a great base to play with so feel free to incorporate other ingredients like cheese, other fresh herbs, or even bacon! For now, this is my favorite mashed potato recipe and I plan on making lighter versions so I can enjoy all the richness without the guilt!

Creamy Chive Mashed Potatoes
recipe adapted from Pioneer Woman

5 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 package (8 Oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (to 3/4 Cups) half & half, warmed
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup minced chives

Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces that are generally the same size. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 to 35 minutes or until soft enough to easily poke with a fork.

Drain the potatoes in a large colander and return to the empty pot. Place over low heat and mash the potatoes until any liquid/water has evaporated.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the pot from stove and add 2 sticks of butter, cream cheese and warmed half & half to the mashed potatoes. Continue mashing until fully incorporated.

Add the seasonings and chives, folding them in. Transfer the mixture to an oven-proof 9x13 serving dish and top with slices of the remaining butter.

Bake uncovered in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until potatoes are warmed through.

To make ahead/freezer meal: Prepare the dish above up until it gets baked in the preheated oven. You can wrap and cover the dish to refrigerate up to 3 days before serving. When ready to bake, preheat the oven, cover the dish and bake per recipe above.