Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Man does not live by bread alone; he also lives by potatoes! Lots and lots of mashed potatoes

Some time back when I was at my sister Carrie Shawn’s house for dinner, she said “Taste the potatoes before you season them, I added a lot of salt when I was mashing.”

I said “Speaking of mashed potatoes, Kuhn’s has stopped selling Hungry Jack Potatoes and I am devastated.”   Shawn said “Hungry Jacks what?  I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

I said “HUNGRY JACK INSTANT POTATOES.” She said “Sorry, I don’t buy instant stuff.  My family eats the real thing.”  I said “They ARE the real thing. They’re russet potatoes, flaked & freeze dried.”  Shawn said “Sounds like space food to me!”

I said “For your information, Carrie Nation, astronauts haven’t eaten freeze dried food in decades!”  She said “Well, you still do.  Now pass the REAL butter!”

I considered slamming my fork down and storming out of her dining room, but I was hungry and it’s not everyday single guys like me get the chance to have real mashed potatoes, you know?

For the record, instant mashed potatoes aren’t as simple as you think.  If you don’t add the right combination of water, milk, salt & butter you can wind up with something inedible.  Potatoes too soupy?  Stir in more flakes.  Add too many though, and you get paste—and NO AMOUNT of water or milk is gonna fix that bowl of glue!

When I returned to the city (and Kuhn’s Market), I decided to check out what other potatoes they had in the astronaut aisle:  I saw these and was intrigued, and bought packs of each.

Um… these potatoes are wonderful.  Boil 2 cups of water, empty in a packet, wait a minute or two.  That’s all you have to do.  Here’s a few meals I had with the packs above:

POTATOES:  FOUR CHEESE.  SERVED WITH:  Chicken tenders, buttered corn. 

THOUGHTS:  These potatoes weren’t bad, but there was more tang than cheese.  I don’t think mashed potatoes should be this tangy.  Did I still eat them?  Yes.  Will I buy them again?  I doubt it.POTATOES:  VERMONT WHITE CHEDDAR.  SERVED WITH:  Baked chicken thighs seasoned with Old Bay, green beans.

THOUGHTS:  These potatoes struck the perfect balance of creamy potatoes & mild cheddar.  They were absolutely delicious (and the Old Bay chicken was excellent).  Will I buy them again?  You bet—in fact, I went back the next day and bought a couple more packs.POTATOES:  CLASSIC.  SERVED WITH:  Meatloaf, frozen peas.

THOUGHTS:  These had a mild aftertaste that reminded me they weren’t real.  In fact, they took me back to my high school cafeteria days and the mashed potatoes served with meatloaf or chicken & gravy sandwiches.  You knew they weren’t genuine, but they were hot so you gobbled them down anyway.   

On a tastier note, I make a pretty good meatloaf which you can find here.POTATOES:  BABY REDS.  SERVED WITH:  Ham, roasted broccoli topped with shredded parmesan.

THOUGHTS:  We have a winner, these potatoes were delicious and tasted homemade.  They even have lumps in them, I love that.  They just became my new go-to. 

Also, this is the only way I’ll cook broccoli again.  Take 1 bag of frozen florets, add in 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, 1/2 tsp sugar, pinch of white pepper, shake of red pepper flakes.  Shake bag well, spread on a baking sheet and bake at 450F for 20 minutes.Finally, I wanted to mention that I enjoyed the ‘Roasted Garlic Parmesan Baby Reds’ with a nice piece of baked flounder and brussel sprouts, and they were my third favorite, behind the White Cheddar.  The reason I don’t have a photo is because it was my first potato mix and what inspired me to blog the rest of these. 

Also, Kuhn’s has just added 5-6 more flavors to the Idahoan Mashed lineup (Applewood Bacon, Herbed, Country Style, etc.) so I will be doing a Part Two.

46 comments:

  1. Morning Doug, your meals look incredible! I am glad you take the time to cook nice meals. Shawn’s reaction was great.πŸ˜†I LOVE mashed potatoes! Never tried instant mashed potatoes. As long as we have had a house (since 1987)we have grown potatoes. I must look next time I am grocery shopping and see what varieties are available here.
    Have a good day.❤️
    Robin

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    1. Morning Robin! Thanks so much, I was nervous posting this as it's not exactly cooking from scratch, haha. Well I knew you grew your own veggies but really? You've never had instant? I'd love to know what you thought of 'em. Thanks again for the kind words, hope you & Chuck are great. :^)

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  2. Interesting post. I buy instant mashed potatoes in a large box and use a measuring cup for the water, potato flakes, milk, and measuring spoons for the salt and butter. Cook in a microwave. Humbug! I'll try those packets next time. I like your meatloaf recipe. Might try it some day.

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    1. Thanks Gigi--and yep, I always bought the large box too but now my market only has Betty Crocker (in the big box) and I cannot stand her potatoes. The packets only need water, nothing else. :^)

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  3. Instant mashed potatoes? I've not tried them. On your recommendation, I will look to see what my grocery store offers. My potatoes are usually baked in the oven. Once on the plate, I slice it open and add butter, salt and pepper. For the holidays I make creamy mashed potatoes (cream and butter added) to go with the prime rib roast. (There is nothing better than tender/savory beef with mashed potatoes and gravy.) At a restaurant, I once had "loaded mashed potatoes" and they were very hardy including bacon, butter, onions and cheese. This was like a meal by itself. Your meals always look great.

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    1. Thanks Susan and you've got my mouth watering right now with that prime rib roast. :^) Well, I've tried to make homemade mashed potatoes before, but I'm not that good a cook (plus I'm lazy), I'd be lost without instant. They've improved quite a bit in the last 20 years, you should give 'em a try sometime. You might be surprised :^)

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  4. I am not a mashed potato connoisseur, but my husband sure is so he makes the mashed potatoes here.

    He uses organic russets, cubed and cooked just a certain way, then seasons with a bit of milk, butter, salt, and pepper. I have to admit, they are delicious, but we rarely have them as I never think to buy the potatoes when I'm at Whole Foods every couple of weeks. He has to tell me, specifically, "get some potatoes, I'd like to make mashed potatoes."

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    1. After reading this dkzody, you're making me want to give this a try! I don't know any men who make mashed potatoes, your husband is inspiring me. πŸ™‚

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    2. My sons both make mashed potatoes, almost always with garlic and cheese.

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    3. Terry learned to make mashed potatoes from HIS dad. Terry's mother was a fashion model and didn't eat things like potatoes and butter so if his dad wanted mashed potatoes, he had to make them himself. As the years progressed, his dad admitted that Terry's potatoes were better than his.

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    4. Haha--love these backstories, thank you for sharing. πŸ™‚

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  5. Hmmm...I'm like your sister and prefer the home made mashed potatoes but I do use the boxed scalloped potatoes, either regular or au gratin. I add an extra potato or two and use less milk and water than it calls for and bake it for longer than suggested. Making scalloped potatoes homemade requires a lot of cutting and I'm lazy. I know our grocery store carries the Idahoan brand so I'll have to check out a couple of these packs for myself. I'd be much less likely to end up tossing a few potatoes left in the 5 pound bag because I didn't eat them quickly enough.

    Roasted broccoli sounds delicious. I often roast potatoes, carrots and onion. I may add broccoli to the mix next time. :)

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    1. Maebeme, I make the boxed scalloped and au gratin too! FYI, the Idohan boxes are a lot better than Betty Crocker. Also when I make the scalloped, I add half a chopped onion to the boil. It really makes them taste homemade. And yes, that roasted broccoli was a happy surprise! πŸ™‚

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  6. Tim, as you know, loves mashed potatoes. I used mashed potatoes a lot. We were eating at my sister's. Tim raved about those potatoes. How delicious they were. On and on. Long story short, we are on our second 50 lb bag of russets since October.

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  7. * used instantmashed potatoes

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    1. Haha--well Deb, I'll take the real thing any day, if someone else is making them. πŸ˜‹

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  8. I absolutely love your cooking posts (didn't comment the other day because I detest bananas but I liked the post.) I also like Idahoan, they are far superior to HJ and don't ever buy the Wal-Mart brand, they are the worst! Anyway, a quick tip to make the plain version (or any of the others) taste homemade is to add a scoop of sour cream or Greek yogurt. It really ups the flavor! (This is a trick restaurants use if they serve powdered potatoes.) Your plated meals look absolutely wonderful. I'm looking forward to part 2!

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    1. Bobi... will you marry me? I loved your feedback here, thank you! I will try that sour cream or Greek yogurt tip on my second pack of the Classic (my least favorite) and I appreciate the Walmart heads up! Thank you again for your kind stuff here. πŸ™‚πŸ‘

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  9. I'm not much of a potato fan, of any sort. But I do remember when I was growing up and my mother discovered instant mashed potatoes. We never had any other kind after that. I didn't like them then, but looking at your plates made me wonder if I've been wrong all these years about them. I'll try your favorite for a treat.

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    1. Thanks DJan. Well, my family grew up with them too but that was when they were inferior, and called Potato Buds. I hope you do try the Idahoan but I'd go with the White Cheddar. I think you'd like their subtle flair. πŸ˜‰

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  10. Dug, I've been known to do both... real mashed potatoes or Instant (and Idahoan 'Butter and Herb' is what we use). When my kids were home they preferred the instant... so I generally went to that. I also add a little more butter and occasionally some sour cream to the mix. Have never tried the White Cheddar, but may have to give it a go.

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    1. Thanks Rian, I appreciate you saying that! I have seen the butter and Herb, now I'll try it for sure. I'm not sure I'd want to add butter or sour cream to these packs as they already seem creamy enough, maybe to the classic flavor. If you try the white cheddar, please let me know! πŸ™‚

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    2. Looked for the white cheddar today at the store... although they had all the others, no white cheddar. But I'll keep looking.

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    3. Rian, so sorry to hear that! Thanks for the update but I hope it's not being discontinued..

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  11. I’ve never bought instant mashed potatoes, and, to the best of my knowledge, never eaten them.
    I like cooking them – it’s not too much of a trial.
    I remember seeing a French chef make them on TV once: he started with “Take an equal amount of potatoes and butter”. Then said, which we were thinking, don’t make these every day, maybe once or twice a year as they will be incredibly rich.

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    1. Wow that's a lot of butter! On the other hand, when I've seen my sister make them she does use a lot of the stuff so maybe that's right, thanks Music Man! I can't believe you've never had instant though, you're making me feel like a hillbilly ☺️

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  12. I’ll have to try your broccoli recipe, it sounds good. You made some good looking meals there! We get “ fake” potatoes at the senior center but I’m sure not as good as those flavors. ( I don’t eat them). 😊. Joyce

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    1. Thanks Joyce and fyi, I know exactly what you mean about senior center potatoes. These are so much better. And yes that roasted broccoli (my first time making it this way) was so good. I plan to make it weekly. :^)

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  13. Interesting potato analysis! My husband has severe food sensitivities and potatoes are something he can eat - he scrubs the skin and pops them in the microwave til fork tender and they have a wonderful taste. He can't eat anything with additives of any kind so these creative approaches wouldn't work!

    Cheers,

    Ceci

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    1. Hi Ceci--I'm sorry your husband has that, I'm sure these flavored potatoes would be too much. Yes I love microwave potatoes too sometimes--but when it comes to mashed, it's a different story :^)

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  14. I love white cheddar and red potatoes although, don't hate me, I don't like mashed potatoes. Otherwise, I would happily come and eat dinner with you every night. Your dinners are gourmet! Could you make me a loaded baked potato please? Or frozen tater tots, I love those!

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    1. Thanks Margaret, you're sweet & funny--I'm hardly a gourmet! But I haven't eaten a single tater tot since the 1970s, maybe I should buy some!

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  15. I will admit to using those instant potatoes that just require 2 cups of boiling water. Sometimes I am just tired and it's getting late and I am trying to make supper as quickly as possible. It isn't that hard to boil 2 potatoes or scrub two potatoes and bake them in the microwave, but it is faster and easier to boil 2 cups of water, LOL. What I didn't know is that they come in all these flavors!!!! My small town store is behind. I have never seen either of your favorites. I will need to check this out the next time I go to the city!

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    1. Thanks for sharing Miss Merry, I'm surprised how few people eat instant mashed potatoes. Well, my own grocery store didn't carry all these flavors until just recently. I'm anxious to sample the next round. πŸ™‚

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  16. "I considered slamming my fork down and storming out of her dining room,"
    WHY??? Because she disagreed with you? Because she thinks real fresh potatoes are better? I agree with her there, what passes for instant mashed potatoes in Australia is something I'll never try again.
    Anyway, I kept reading and saw the flavoured variety you have there and I am wondering are they individual serve sizes? Because that would be a good way to decide your favourite without having the remains of a bulk family sized pack to use up.
    I will continue to peel, cook and mash real potatoes but I never add salt until I serve them on my plate.

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    1. River, you are a funny and dear person and I always enjoy your responses. I'm sorry, the part about slamming my fork down was just a joke! I learned long ago not to argue with my sister, she’ll always be right and I'm fine with that! As for those packs, they don't come any smaller but only make 2 servings, 3 tops. πŸ™‚

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  17. Doug, all of your meals look wonderful! Your meatloaf meal reminds me of mine as I nearly always serve it with mashed potatoes and peas. That is my "comfort food" meal and in fact we just had it a couple of days ago. I do use real potatoes when I maked mashed but I have occasionally tried the instant. I wasn't too impressed by them but I have not tried the baby reds. I'm going to give them a try, thanks for the recommendation! I'm also going to try broccoli the way you prepared it. I buy frozen broccoli but usually just prepare one serving for me in the microwave as Tom won't touch it! Your meals always look like a professional chef made them, are you hiding something from us?

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    1. Thank you Bonnie and I hope you enjoy those Baby Reds like I did, I feel like I owe you as you turned me on to Rice-a-Roni! Seriously, not a week goes by I don't make that, and I have you to thank for it. As for my meals looking professional, you sure fid make my day. πŸ™‚ PS. Bonnie, guess what just broke down this week? My hand mixer. Well, I got 35 years from it.

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    2. Oh no! Well you can't complain with 35 years of use! I meant to tell you that when we have left over meatloaf we make "meatloaf cheeseburgers" out of it and love them! It's a quick, easy and good meal.

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    3. Meatloaf cheeseburgers?? Bonnie I love meatloaf sandwiches, but I always eat them cold!

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  18. Thanks for sharing, Doug. I think we all secretly (or not so secretly) enjoy seeing what other people eat. I'm jotting down your directions for cooking frozen broccoli florets in the oven. If you can find frozen chopped broccoli it is the best form for soups. I'm always looking for healthy ways to cook frozen veggies. Happy eating!

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    1. Thanks Don, that was actually what I was hoping to hear--and good to know when I decide to tackle soups!

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  19. What a fun post! Our older church ladies discovered Idahoan scalloped potatoes at some point to go with the funeral dinner ham and green beans. Days of peeling and slicing were forever over and the reviews were still good re: flavor. My mom went with the Idahoan varieties of mashed in her late 80s, so a side of mashed became more common in her repertoire. Before then, the real deal hand mashed (better than with a mixer) 2 times a year (Christmas and New Year's). This post started me thinking about her and her mostly preservative-free (and physically active) life. She lived to 94. Made it through Covid days - rural PA was a good place to go through that time if you were still in your own home. Thanks for prompting the memories, Doug. Kim in PA

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    1. Hi Kim, thanks so much for sharing! Enjoyed reading about your mom, and yes I do love the Idahoan Scalloped in a box, I add a little more milk, half a chopped onion and let it cook at a lower flame, they taste homemade . I would say church lady approved is as good as it gets. :^)

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  20. I love instant mashed potatoes. I will never peel another potato. Growing up, we had mashed potatoes for EVERY meal except breakfast….when we had potato pancakes made from left over potatoes from the evening before. I was the designated potato person from about the age of 12 until I left home at age 19. I know I peeled about a million potatoes. I was delighted to discover “instant” potatoes. I think they are delicious….and you don’t have to peel them. “Real” mashed potatoes are overrated and inconsistent. Carolyn Green

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    1. Carolyn, I can't tell you how much I enjoyed your comment--thank you, this was great! And I'm very glad you're no longer having to peel all those potatoes, I agree I think instant potatoes are better than ever!

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