Because if the mashed potatoes aren't truly wonderful, you're going to have some seriously upset children at the table. Which is to say, this isn't the time to experiment by spiking them with blue cheese or a 50-50 ratio of garlic to potato, or to test whether mashed cauliflower really does taste just like the real thing.
This is the time to make wonderfully fluffy, buttery, salty, peppery, delicious mashed potatoes.
By the same token, if you want those green beans and carrots to go anywhere near the children's mouths, you might consider a bit of enticement. To help you, we've come up with a kid-pleasing but adult-friendly sweet-and-sour glaze. And if that doesn't work, you can always threaten to withhold dessert...
BUTTERY MASHED POTATOES
Start to finish: 45 minutes
4 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and halved
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Ground white pepper
Place the potatoes in a large saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover by about 1 inch. Add 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 20 minutes, or until very tender but not falling apart.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350 F.
When the potatoes are just tender, drain them and spread them in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Return the potatoes to the saucepan. Add the butter, half-and-half, mustard and garlic powder. Mash the potatoes until smooth, then season with salt and white pepper.
Nutrition information per serving: 220 calories; 80 calories from fat (36 per cent of total calories); 8 g fat (5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 25 mg cholesterol; 35 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 3 g protein; 220 mg sodium.
SWEET-AND-SOUR GLAZED CARROTS AND GREEN BEANS
Start to finish: 30 minutes
4 ounces bacon
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds
1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
In a large deep skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-line plate to drain, leaving the drippings in the pan. Once the bacon has cooled, crumble and set aside.
Return the skillet to the heat and add the carrots. Cook for 8 minutes, or until just starting to become tender. Add the green beans, then cook for another 8 to 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Add the brown sugar, molasses and vinegar. Stir until a thick glaze forms. Cook until bubbling all over and slightly thick and sticky. Season with salt and black pepper. Serve topped with the crumbled bacon.
Nutrition information per serving: 160 calories; 80 calories from fat (50 per cent of total calories); 9 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 15 mg cholesterol; 19 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 13 g sugar; 4 g protein; 300 mg sodium.