To liven up a basic mashed potatoes recipe, add extra ingredients such as cheese, spices or lemon zest. A recipe can also be altered to use different types of potatoes, or other vegetables such as broccoli or rutabaga.
Food Network's article "50 Mashed Potato Recipes" contains a large selection of options for spicing up mashed potatoes. Many of these recipes are intended for use with Food Network's classic mashed potato recipe. For this recipe, boil 2 pounds of russet or Yukon gold potatoes, then mash the potatoes with 1/2 to 1 whole stick of butter, 1 cup of hot milk, and salt and pepper to taste.
For applesauce mashed potatoes, mix the classic mash with applesauce and nutmeg. For smoky mashed potatoes, make the classic recipe, then add 1/2 pound of grated smoked Gouda cheese and 1/4 cup of sliced scallions.
Another option for livening up a mashed potato recipe is to use different potatoes or keep the mix chunky. To make chunky red mashed potatoes, boil 2 pounds of red potatoes and leave the skin on. Smash the potatoes with 1/2 to 1 whole stick of butter, 3/4 cup hot milk and salt and pepper. This recipe can be turned into Greek mashed potatoes by adding 1/2 pound of feta, 1/4 cup each of dill, parsley and scallions, and 2 teaspoons of oregano.