I love to cook, but I tend to have a one-track mind. I can make a mean baked ziti or a super-cheesy enchilada casserole, but when it comes to preparing a meal composed of more than one dish, it gets complicated.

Because I'm trying to cook more lean meats at home, my side dishes have been pushed, quite literally, to the back burner. I'll get my filet of salmon perfectly flaky then remember that I never even started the green beans or roasted potatoes.

I decided to make my life super easy and try a few of the ready-made side dishes by Simply Potatoes. Now I know mashed potatoes. Give me a sack of Yukon golds, a little milk, and some sour cream and I'm good to go. So I wasn't sure how I'd like the store-bought variety.

My fiance and I were making meatloaf one night and decided to go whole-hog on the comfort food bandwagon. At the super market, we grabbed a package of Simply Potatoes mashed sweet potatoes and threw them in the microwave for about six minutes, pausing occasionally to stir, vent, and, of course, add mini marshmallows and a scoop of brown sugar.

The result? Amazing! The potatoes come perfectly mashed and with a hint of sweetness. We loved adding our own toppings to taste, and thought about throwing a few chopped pecans on next time, for good measure. Keep these in mind during the upcoming holiday season. You can save yourself the time it takes to boil and mash a dozen spuds and instead give your microwave a workout. When the potatoes are ready, spoon them into a pretty casserole dish, top with marshmallows and broil for a few minutes to give it that just-baked glow. Clean up will be a cinch and no one will be the wiser.

Check out Simply Potatoes for a full list of products (including four kinds of mashed potatoes and a half-dozen browns and wedges) and recipes for personalizing your side dish.

By Ashley Kappel and Ashley Kappel