Makes 4-1/2 cups

3 pounds (1.3k) small red potatoes, some times called “new” potatoes
4 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup water

1/2 cup Philadelphia “chive and onion” 1/3 less fat (Neufchatel ) cream cheese, room temperature
4 – 8 tablespoons milk
Pepper to taste

Fresh chive, for garnish, optional

COOK POTATOES Cut the potatoes into halves or quarters, rinse under running water. With a spatula, combine the potatoes, garlic, oil, salt and water in a bowl, really turning the potatoes to make sure all the surface area is covered. Transfer the potatoes and all the liquid to a slow cooker (save the bowl, you’ll use it again). Set on HIGH and cook for 3-1/2 hours to 4-1/2 hours until the potatoes are fully cooked.

HEAT In a small saucepan, melt the cream cheese and 4 tablespoons milk. You’ll want this mixture will hot ‘n’ ready as soon as the potatoes are mashed. (If you’re making the potatoes ahead of time, this step can be skipped. But if you’re going to serve them right away, you don’t want the potatoes to get cold!)

MASH THE POTATOES Transfer the potatoes and liquid back into that bowl (see? I told you to save that bowl!) and with a fork or a potato masher, roughly mash the potatoes; don’t mash them all the way, you want some chunks and roughness.

STIR IN CREAM CHEESE Stir in the cream cheese mixture, then any additional milk that’s needed to reach the consistency you prefer. Taste and add freshly ground black pepper.

SERVE RIGHT AWAY Top with fresh chive, serve and savor!

HOLD IN SLOW COOKER Otherwise, return to the slow cooker, reduce the heat to LOW and bring back to temperature, this takes about two hours. Top with fresh chive, serve and savor.

MAKE-AHEAD OPTIONS Cook and mix the potatoes a day or two before, then reheat in the microwave, oven or even a slow cooker. Since they’re starting off cold, allow extra time to heat through.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Half Cup: 171 Calories; 6g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 9mg Cholesterol; 218mg Sodium; 26g Carb; 3g Fiber; 3g Sugar; 4g Protein. CALORIE COUNTERS 100-calorie serving = 1/3 cup (2g protein).

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