Mashed Potato Bar

mashed potato bar

What’s a Mashed Potato Bar?

I had never heard of a “Mashed Potato  Bar” until recently   when my daughter came home from a family function with her husband’s family and they had hosted a mashed potato bar. My daughter raved about how delicious and fun the mashed potato bar was.

Of course, I’ve eaten  at lots of baked potato bars and for any years a potato bar was our  go to meal at family gatherings but a mashed potato bar is a fun new twist to that traditional and rather over  done family  reunion  meal.

Here’s how  you  put a Mashed Potato Bar together for your next family reunion or party.

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Of course,  the main ingredient is mashed potatoes.  You can make your own (see recipe below) or  you can use already prepared potatoes such as the ones Costco carries.

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Mashed Potato Bar Toppings Ideas

Serve your  potatoes in large crock pots to keep the potatoes warm and set  out various  toppings.  I’ve listed a few of our favorites but use your imagination to  customize  to your needs:

Sour cream
Chopped green onions
Mushrooms
Olives
Crumbled bacon
Finely shredded cheese
Steamed broccoli
Chopped Ham
Shredded chicken
Whipped butter
Sour cream
Frozen Peas
Ranch salad dressing
Grilled zucchini and summer squash
Caramelized onions and peppers
Freshly grated Parmesan
Tomato salsa
Tomatoes
Jalapenos
Grilled tri-tip sliced thin
Onion crisps
Country Gravy (I like to stay away from gravy, it’s the obvious choice and people aren’t’ as creative if they have gravy as a choice)
Salt and pepper

The Idaho Potato Board has their own list of ingredients for a Mashed Potato Bar which you can find by clicking on the link below.

  https://idahopotato.com/recipes/mashed-potato-bar

Serve on plain plates or bowls or fancy things up a bit by using goblets as your dishes.  You can  always find a miss-matched assortment of goblets and wine glasses at your local DI or Goodwill.

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A good basic mashed potato recipe includes just a few ingredients. Note: Baking and Russet potatoes tend to be heavier and starchier than Yukon Gold potatoes.

Basic Mashed Potatoes Recipe

  • 8 Potatoes
  • 1/2 Cup melted butter
  • 1 can Evaporated Milk ( I melt my butter in a bowl with the milk for creamier potatoes.
  • Salt
  • Fresh Pepper
  1. Peel and dice potatoes and put in pot of boiling salted water. Cover and simmer until potatoes are fork tender (20-30 minutes, depending on quantity of potatoes). Remove from heat and drain.
  2. Mash potatoes with a potato masher or a hand mixer.
  3. Add butter and milk

While doing research for this article I found this cute Mashed Potato Bar sign on Etsy.  The name of the shop that offers it for sale is the TheDoodleCoop.

Potato Bar Sign, Mashed Potatoes Sign, Make Your Own Loaded Potato Printable, Wedding Reception, Sweet Sixteen, Birthday Party, Potato Bar

TheDoodleCoop

Be sure and sign up to receive a copy of familyreunionhelper.com’s FREE reunion cookbook HERE

Tried and True Recipes

 

 

 

 

Piñatas- a Smashing Good Time!

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Piñatas are a fun activity for birthdays, celebrations and family reunions and because they’re made with paper Mache paste and newspaper strips they’re inexpensive to make though can be expensive to fill.  You can make your own piñata or buy one in any shape or design that will add to your party’s theme.

Traditionally, to play the piñata game,you blindfold the first child in line and turn them around three times, and give them a wooden stick so they can swing at and if lucky, hit the  piñata.

Piñata Fun  with Dice

At a recent family reunion we did a fun variation of smashing the piñata by using a large dice made from a square box.  Each child rolled the “dice” to determine how many swings with a stick they would have at the piñata.  If they roll a four they try to hit the piñata 4 times.

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HINT:  When  planning to use a piñata as one of your activities be sure to have a plan  for how you will hang it up- tree, a beam if inside or 2 adults could hold a rope or a pole with the piñata hanging in the middle.  For safety’s sake keep everyone away from the  person  swinging at the piñata.

Pull Piñatas

”Pull” piñatas are perfect for small children or  for times when sticks may not be appropriate. Fill them  with  treats as you would a classic piñata and instead of hitting it with a stick just choose a ribbon and pull to release the trapdoor and the treats.

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Piñata Cakes

One of the most clever ideas I’ve seen on Pinterest recently is a piñata cake.  No smashing involved with  this piñata but you will  find plenty of treats inside.  Below are some quick instructions but for more detailed information click on the photo below- they’re the real experts.

Pinata party cake

A piñata cake is simple to make- just make a 3 layer, round cake.  Leave two of the layers intact for the  top and the bottom.  Frost the bottom layer.

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For the third layer, the middle layer, cut the center out and place the remaining ring on top of the bottom layer. Fill the center of the cake with  small,  unwrapped candies such as M and M’s or Skittles. Make sure you fill  the cavity to the top with candy. Frost this layer then top  with the remaining cake layer. 

Frost and decorate the cake as  desired.

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Human Piñata

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to read about “HUMAN” piñatas.  Just follow the link below to read about all the crazy fun!

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What’s Your Leprechaun Name?

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Post a copy of this printout at the entrance to your St Patrick’s Day Party along with name tags and markers.  Party goers figure out their “Leprechaun” name, write it on a name tag and go by that name during the party.

I put my 1st grade aged grand-daughter in charge of this activity at our St Patrick’s Day breakfast.  She really had fun helping everyone’s leprechaun name and carefully wrote it on name tag stickers.

This was a very simple activity that was actually very fun and good for a few laughs. My leprechaun name is Merry McMagic.  What’s your leprechaun name?

An Easter Hunt Twist

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Get Your Plastic Easter Eggs Now!

Now is this the perfect time to purchase plastic Easter eggs- not only for Easter egg hunts but for other themed parties you may have throughout the year.For instance, fill eggs with small  plastic dinosaurs for a prehistoric or dinosaur reunion or fill eggs with small plastic dragons for your medieval reunion  or princess party.

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Moana and HeiHei Fun!

With all the excitement over Moana  you could also fill plastic eggs with HeiHei memorabilia or pictures. (Take a picture or HeiHei and  then cut into puzzle pieces.  Hide one piece in each egg and when all the pieces Are found you can put the puzzle together.) These eggs would be  perfect for a HeiHei egg hunt.  I purchased them at Walmart.

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How to Play

Hide the eggs around your reunion or party location. Tell the kids that they must find all the eggs before they hatch. The person that collects the most dinosaurs or dragons (or Easter themed prize) is  the  winner. This may not be the child that finds the most eggs as not every egg will have a prize in it.

A fun twist is to tell kids that if  they find an egg that is empty, they have to put it back for another player to find. This way, the hunters will have to remember which eggs they’ve already checked…which adds to the mystery and suspense of the hunt.

 

Caveman Reunion     Medieval Reunion

How to Plan a Caroling Party

Tips for a Successful Christmas Caroling Party

Gathering your family or friends together for Christmas caroling or a family sing-a-long can make your family party fun and fairly fuss free. Consider these helpful tips when planning your family caroling party.

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Choosing the Music

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The most important element of your musical caroling  party is the music and you can download a free copy of caroling lyrics at www.familyreunionhelper.com. Caroling will be successful if everyone has the same list of carols.  Provide one song sheet for every 2 carolers. Specify how many verses you will sing of each song.  One verse is usually enough especially if caroling with children.

To build your song list you can type and print your own caroling sheets or make copies of the family reunion helper caroling book by clicking here- caroling song book.  The book is designed so that you only have to print off the music that you will use for your caroling such as- Santa songs, snow songs or spiritual songs etc.

Choose songs that are short, easy to sing, and fun. It’s also best to sing upbeat songs such as “Jingle Bells” and “Up On the Housetop”.You should plan on singing 1 or 2 songs per house and end with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”.

Choose your caroling route.

My family went caroling on Christmas Eve.  Mom would choose 3 or 4 families that she knew would enjoy a caroling visit and she always made a few goodies to give them.  (Perhaps as payment for listening to us sing off key) We would complete our caroling at a local nursing home.  Many of the children were reluctant to sing at the nursing home but as the years have gone by caroling at the nursing home has become one of their most talked about memories of the season.  HINT: If you visit a hospital or a nursing home, ask for permission ahead of time to make sure your visit comes at a good time and that they can accommodate a large group.

Consider Using a Variety of Instruments

Jingle bells, cymbals and drum sticks are an easy way to make your caroling fun.  Carolers that are too shy or just don’t want to sing can participate by keeping the beat with drum sticks or shaking the bells to the beat.

Dress for the WeatherImage result for hand warmers

If caroling outside dress for the weather.  When sending out invitations for your caroling party be sure and let your guests know that you’ll be caroling outdoors so they can bring their hats, gloves and scarves.  A fun party favor for your party could be hand and toe warmers.

You can dress things up by asking everyone to wear a fun Santa hat or reindeer antlers.

Plan Refreshments for Your Carolers

At the end of your caroling party meet back at your house or rec hall and provide your carolers with bowls of chili and mugs of hot chocolate and marshmallows or cider.  You can keep your refreshments warm in slow cookers while you’re caroling.

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Fun Reindeer Party Ideas

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Magic Reindeer Food

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When you sprinkle magic reindeer food on your lawn on Christmas Eve, it leaves a glittering path–and a sweet treat–for Rudolph and Blitzon and their  friends.

Make a bag of Magic Reindeer food for each family that attends your party or as an inexpensive stocking stuffer for each child.

Package this simple recipe in zipper food storage bags, and add a free printable gift tag containing the Magic Reindeer Food poem to make Magic Reindeer Food easy to make–and to give.

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Magic Reindeer Food Recipe

In a large bowl or container, mix:

1/4- 1/2 cup uncooked oats
1/4 cup red or green sugar crystals
Small sealable bag
Magic Reindeer Food poem (You can find a free printable of the poem at Magic Reindeer Food Poem)

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Package Magic Reindeer food in small food storage bags or holiday gift bags.

HINT: You can use craft glitter in your magic reindeer food but colored sugar crystals (as used for cake decorating)are safer for other animals or birds that may ingest it.

Reindeer Noses

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Another fun reindeer games party favor is a bag of reindeer noses.

I wanted the perfect gift for you-
But couldn’t decide just what to do.
I almost sent you a dozen roses-
Instead here’s a bag of…
reindeer noses

Reindeer noses are simply seven brown candies such as “Whoppers” and one red candy (to represent Rudolf). I used sour cherry candies for my red nose.  You may find a free printable of the reindeer nose poem below. Just copy and paste into your document.

reindeer noses-use this

Log Reindeer Centerpieces

Log reindeer are the perfect project for your centerpieces. Simply reuse scraps of wood and timber from your woodpile, drill a few holes, and glue it all together. You’ll need a few thicker logs for the body and head; long, thin sticks for the legs, and pronged branches for your reindeer’s antlers. Add bow, bells or tinsel to complete your project.  After the party you can give away part of your herd as prizes or save them to give as neighbor gifts.

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Reindeer Cupcakes

Bake cupcakes according to package directions and frost generously with chocolate frosting.  Top with pretzels for the antlers, a Nilla Wafer for the face, white frosting dots for the eyes, back pearl sprinkles or black icing for the eyeballs, and brown and red candies for the nose.

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Santa Pancakes

HINT:  We made the pancake base of our Santa pancakes before arriving at the party.  Because they are a little time consuming we began decorating them in advance.  We noticed that the whipped cream started getting soft and didn’t look as cute.  Solution- get more help with the decorating so that you can make them on the spot.

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Reindeer Games Minute To Win It

We used the “Minute to Win It” format for our “reindeer games”.  We divided into four teams- team Rudolf, team Blitzen, team Dasher and team Donner and competed in 8 different challenges. We projected a countdown clock on the wall so that everyone could join in the drama as the seconds counted down.  For more information on Minute the Win It games check out the following link.

http://familyreunionhelper.com/blog/2011/10/minute-to-win-it-party-2/

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Thanksgiving Jeopardy Printable Game

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Just print off this game and you’re ready to go- a fun Jeopardy inspired printable game.

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FREE DOWNLOAD!

Thanksgiving is at my house this year and as I’ve made my plans for food and activities I thought it might be fun to test every ones knowledge with a Thanksgiving Jeopardy inspired game.  The great thing about this game is that you can print it off on 8.5x 11 paper, cut each sheet in half and after hanging on your wall you’re ready to play. (Don’t  forget to write “100”, “200” etc on the back of each card for points.) Not much prep  work involved with  this activity.  Hope you enjoy the fruits of my  labor and that you and your loved ones have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Click on  the link below for your free Thanksgiving Jeopardy game
Thanksgiving Jeopardy

Thanksgiving Gumdrop Turkeys

Thanksgiving gumdrop turkeys for your Thanksgiving table.

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I’ve searched all over the internet for gum drop turkeys as cool as the ones my brothers and I made when we were growing up, but it appears those turkeys were one of a kind creations from my Mom.

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My Mom always put her four children in charge of making the 30- 50 gum drop turkey favors for our Thanksgiving family gathering.  The turkeys were so simple to make that we required no supervision and popping a few raisins or candy corns in our mouth as we were creating them took the edge off our Thanksgiving hunger.  In fact, making gum drop turkeys soon became a tradition at my house when I had children of my own.

Over the years I exchanged the raisins we used to use for Craisens and brown toothpicks for brightly colored ones.  Hint- always use Braches candy corns- they are softer and don’t crumble as easily when you stick a toothpick in them.  Large gum drops can be difficult to find, but after extensive searching, I was able to find some on the bottom shelf, hidden behind a garbage can, (no kidding) on the Wal-mart candy isle.

As I was writing this blog, my 32 year old son walked into the kitchen where I was taking pictures and said, “Gum drop turkeys,  I remember making those!”  Just proves that something doesn’t have to be expensive, complicated or elaborate to make a lasting family memory.

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Gobble, Gobble, Gobble!

Aunt MO

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!

– Author unknown

Our Favorite Halloween Treat

Peanut butter Eyeballs!

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We love peanut butter eyeballs.  My daughter found  the recipe several years ago  and it has  since been a Halloween family favorite.  The saying, “bet you can’t eat just one!” certainly applies to these delicious treats. 

What you will need:

2 cups confectioners’ sugar, divided
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 pound white candy coating (in small pieces) or white chocolate chips
24 milk chocolate M&M’s
1 tablespoon water
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red food coloring

Directions

  1. Mix together 1 cup of the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter and butter. Roll into 1-in. balls; place on a waxed paper-lined pan. Chill for 30 minutes or until firm.
  2. In a microwave, melt white candy coating; stir until smooth. Dip balls in coating; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper. Immediately top of each eyeball with an M and  M to make the pupil.
  3. Make squiggly lines to make the eyeballs look look “bloodshot”. 

    Makes about 2 dozen eyeballs.