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Try these healthier mashed potatoes

Recipe: Colcannon with a twist -- chard and kale

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Colcannon with mixed winter greens can be prepared ahead. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

Colcannon is an old Irish side dish: Mashed potatoes mixed with cabbage and onions. It's a favorite for family get-togethers and winter dinners, and can serve as a holiday side dish, too.

The Gaelic name means "white headed cabbage." So taking the cabbage out of colcannon does seem like it can't really be called "colcannon." But for lack of a Gaelic dictionary, this variation is colcannon with a twist.

Before the big cabbage heads are mature, this recipe uses what's in abundance now -- young winter greens. That includes baby chards, kales and, yes, cabbages.

(Stick to the green-hued greens and not red chard or cabbage; the red may bleed into the mashed potatoes. )

Think of this colcannon as healthier mashed potatoes (all those extra antioxidants!) with no gravy necessary.

Another plus: This dish can be made ahead and re-warmed for gatherings.

Colcannon with mixed winter greens
Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

5 russet potatoes
Salt
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
3 cups mixed winter greens, chopped
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup heavy cream

Instructions:
Wash potatoes, cutting off any sprouted eyes or bruised spots.

In a large pot, place potatoes with enough water to cover. Add salt to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon). Bring potatoes to boil; cover and reduce heat to medium. Boil potatoes until tender when pierced with a knife and skins start to split.

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The greens are cooked with onions first.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large deep pan over medium heat. Add chopped onions; sauté until soft.

Add chopped greens. Stir until greens wilt. Add 1/2 cup water and cover. Reduce heat. Cook greens and onions until greens tender and water evaporated from the pan, about 5 minutes. (Check and stir occasionally; the water disappears fast.) Once greens are ready, set aside.

When ready, drain the potatoes and peel. Return potatoes to pot and mash. Add butter and cover. Let the butter melt a little, then mash potatoes some more. Stir in cream. (Add more butter and cream if desired.)

Once mashed potatoes are desired consistency, stir in greens and onions. Serve warm.

Prepare in advance: Combine the mashed potatoes and greens mixture, then transfer into a buttered casserole dish. Refrigerate until ready to warm.

Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before putting in the oven.

To warm: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place covered baking dish in oven and heat through, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove cover during final 10 minutes.

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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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