Jen’s Sweet Potato Casserole

“To die for!” “Awesome!” “OMG!” “You can bring this every year!”

Those are the comments I hear every time I take this dish to our family holiday dinners. Even Hubby, who does not like sweet potatoes, actually likes this dish! Amazing!

This recipe was inspired by Chef John’s Sweet Potato Casserole which I found by searching for a less-sweet healthier version using maple syrup instead of sugar.  I modified it by eliminating the sugar-based topping and reducing the amount of maple syrup, since sweet potatoes are fairly sweet on their own. I do not use artificial sweeteners, so that option was out. I wanted natural ingredients – real butter, real maple syrup, real sweet potatoes. The search ended here!

So, with many thanks to Chef John for the inspiration, may I present…..

Jen’s Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potatoes:
2-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (I buy the 3# bag of organic potatoes at Trader Joe’s)
2 Tablespoons butter
2 large eggs
2-3 Tablespoons real maple syrup (to taste; see note below)
1/4 cup buttermilk (see note below)
1/3 cup milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
1 pinch ground allspice
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 pinch cinnamon

Topping:
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1-2 tablespoons butter

Grease a 2-1/2-quart baking dish with butter or coconut oil.

Wash sweet potatoes, cut off any stems, poke with a fork, and bake in 350F oven for 90 minutes or until soft. Allow to cool a little for easier handling, then remove peel and scoop out potato into a large bowl.

Mash 2 tablespoons butter into the sweet potatoes and mix well to combine.

Whisk together the eggs, maple syrup, buttermilk, milk, vanilla, and seasonings in a large bowl until the mixture is smooth.

Gradually add the mashed sweet potatoes into the egg mixture, about 2 large spoonfuls at a time, combining the mixture until all the sweet potatoes are incorporated and the mixture is smooth.

Pour the sweet potato mix into the prepared baking dish, spreading it to the edges.

Sprinkle the nuts across the top, and dot with butter.

Bake uncovered in pre-heated 350F oven until set, 25 – 30 minutes. Allow to rest about 10 minutes before serving.

Gobble it up!

NOTES:

  • Adjust the amount of maple syrup to taste. On one occasion, I used the full 1/4 cup and almost everyone agreed it was too sweet. (For reference, our family loves sweets!)
  • An excellent substitute for buttermilk: For each 1 cup of milk, add 1 Tbsp. of apple cider vinegar, stir, and allow to sit several minutes before using. For this recipe, I used about 1 teaspoon vinegar.
  • This dish can be prepared ahead and stored in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to bake. If frozen, allow it to thaw before baking.

 

Sweet Potato Casserole

This recipe is another family favorite among those who prefer a sweeter version of this popular dish.

Source: Bon Appetit, November 1994

4 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces*
2/3 C packed golden brown sugar
5 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground ginger
2 C miniature marshmallows
1/2 C sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 375F. Arrange potatoes in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Combine sugar, butter, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and ginger in heavy small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour over potatoes; toss to coat. Cover dish tightly with foil.

Bake potatoes 50 minutes. Uncover; bake until potatoes are tender and syrup thickens slightly, basting occasionally, about 20 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 500F. Top potatoes with marshmallows and nuts. Return to oven; bake until marshmallows begin to melt and nuts begin to brown, about 3 minutes.

*In recent years I’ve bought the bags of cubed sweet potatoes at Trader Joe’s.  Just empty the bag into the baking dish and proceed with the recipe.

Serves 8.

Pasta e Fagioli with Turkey

There’s nothing like a bowl of piping hot soup on a hot summer day! 🙂 I was hungry for lunch and had nothing ready to eat, so I put this together using ingredients we had on hand.

2-3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced (more or less to taste)
Celery, 3-4 stalks chopped including leaves (I used several inner stalks)
1 to 1-1/2 lbs. ground turkey
Kosher salt
Italian seasoning
1-2 quarts chicken broth (enough to cover; I used 1-1/2 qts., use more if you want)
1 15-oz. can Italian chopped tomatoes
1 15-oz. can Italian stewed tomatoes
1 15-oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3-4 big handfuls coursely chopped greens (I use Trader Joe’s Southern Greens Blend, straight out of the bag)
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1″ chunks
Ground pepper
2-3 Tbsp. salsa (adds a subtle flavor)
Chopped fresh Italian parsley to garnish
Grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Pasta (Fusilli or other small pasta), 1 serving per person

Heat olive oil in large pot. Add chopped onion and cook over medium heat a few minutes until softened; add garlic and celery and continue cooking for a few more minutes, not letting garlic burn. Add turkey and break into pieces; cook until browned. While turkey is cooking, toss in a big pinch of kosher salt and sprinkle with Italian seasoning (eyeball the amount to taste).

Pour in chicken broth, tomatoes (with juice), beans (drained and rinsed), greens, and yellow pepper. Add more broth if necessary to cover the ingredients. Add several turns freshly ground pepper and salsa. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a separate pot cook pasta to al dente.

Spoon a serving of pasta into individual bowls, then ladle soup over pasta. Garnish with Italian parsley and Parmesan cheese. Eat and enjoy!

Chunky Hearty Three-Bean Soup

Hearty Three-Bean Soup

This is our new favorite soup, perfect for these cool autumn days. It’s our adaptation of the original recipe titled “Recipe for Health: Hearty Three-Bean Soup”, printed in a magazine we received from a local hospital. True to its name, it is very hearty, full of flavor, and chunky with lots of the good stuff! We’ve made it many times, adjusting  the seasonings to suit our taste. Most of the seasonings approximately double the original amounts. This is a great comfort-food gift, or what I call “A Hug in a Bowl”. We often make a double batch and freeze half for later. And it seems to taste better each day.
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Rita’s Famous Cheeseball

FOUND!!! Rita’s famous cheeseball recipe. I’ve heard about it… they’ve raved about… and at last, here it is — Rita’s Famous Cheeseball!
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