Recipe: Cheesy Mashed Potato Casserole

These cheesy, creamy mashed potatoes from Food Network are exactly the satisfying dish you want to scoop up when it’s chilly outside.

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Comfort food in a big ol’ casserole dish: These cheesy, creamy mashed potatoes are exactly the satisfying dish you want to scoop up when it’s chilly outside. And they’re a must-have for your winter table.

Believe it or not, these spuds are healthy. They are packed with potassium (twice the amount in a banana) and have 8 grams of protein. For more good nutrition plus fiber, leave the skins on half of the potatoes; this trick maintains the fairly smooth texture of classic mashed potatoes. To add extra “buttery” flavor — without a drizzle of real butter — look for Yukon Gold potatoes, which naturally cook up to a creamy texture.

Sharp cheddar and lower-fat cream cheese provide savory richness. Greek yogurt adds just a bit of tang to balance all that cheesiness. The yogurt also helps keep the casserole from drying out in the oven — along with a nifty technique of stirring in a bit of the potato water left over from cooking the potatoes.

And because a crunchy crust defines a respectable casserole, the crowning glory of this dish is composed of more cheddar and homemade whole-grain panko breadcrumbs. Together, these ingredients take a quick trip under the broiler to get all golden and crispy. (Oven-broiling the top quickly, instead of a long oven bake, is another way to keep the casserole moist.)

And not to worry, make-your-own panko breadcrumbs are ridiculously easy and super-fresh, and you can use your personal-favorite whole-grain bread. To make, just whizz a buttered piece of whole-grain toast in the food processor or blender. The result is the same flaky, fluffy panko you can buy packaged. Broiling the buttery crumbs on the potato casserole gives them extra crunch.

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Ladies and gentlemen, start searching for your casserole dish now.

Cheesy Mashed Potato Casserole

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:

2 pounds Yukon Gold or other yellow potatoes

3 cloves garlic, sliced

3 ounces one-third-less-fat cream cheese (neufchatel cheese)

1/4 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt

2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 slice whole-grain bread

1/2 teaspoon butter

1 tablespoon chopped chives

Directions:

Peel 1 pound of potatoes; leave the skins on the other 1 pound of potatoes. Cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

Cover potatoes and garlic with cold water in a large pot and bring to boil. Lower heat to maintain gentle simmer and cook potatoes until tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain potatoes, reserving at least 1/4 cup potato cooking liquid. Return potatoes and garlic to pot; set cooking liquid aside in a small bowl.

Add cream cheese, yogurt and half of cheddar cheese to potatoes. Using a potato masher, mash potatoes with cheese and yogurt. When mashed, stir in salt, pepper and about 3 to 4 tablespoons of potato cooking liquid (do not overmix or potatoes will be gummy).

Scrape potatoes into 1 1/2-quart baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray; gently even out with spatula. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes until heated through.

Meanwhile, toast bread and spread with butter. Place toast in a mini food processor or blender and pulse until consistency of fluffy crumbs — like panko breadcrumbs. Mix 1/4 cup of crumbs with remaining cheese.

Remove potatoes from oven and heat broiler to high setting. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture on top of potatoes and broil 3 to 5 minutes until crumbs are toasted (watch carefully to prevent burning). Top with chives.

Per serving: Calories 195; Fat 6 g (Saturated 4 g); Sodium 430 mg; Carbohydrate 27 g; Fiber 2 g; Sugars 3 g; Protein 8 g

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Serena Ball, M.S., R.D., is a registered dietitian nutritionist. She blogs at TeaspoonOfSpice.com, sharing tips and tricks to help readers find cooking shortcuts for making healthy, homemade meals. Her recipes are created with families in mind.

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