Sweet Potato Casserole

Let’s talk Thanksgiving sides, shall we?  I like to keep my sides traditional (with the occasional slight update) for the Thanksgiving meal because there is something nostalgic about well loved dishes that bring back memories of time with family and friends.  However, I’ve always felt like that old fashioned marshmallow topped sweet potato casserole needed an overhaul.  Insipidly sweet and corn syrup laden, the marshmallows almost mask the earthy and wonderful taste of the sweet potato.  I think the sugar needs to be dialed back just a few notches!  

  A few years ago, while I was pregnant with my first child, my mother-in-law introduced me to a new-to-me version of sweet potato casserole and I think I ate almost half of it!  It’s now a staple on my Thanksgiving table and I hoard the leftovers for myself.  I’ve reduced the sugar in the original recipe even more over the years and I love the balance of earthy sweet potato with the nut and brown sugar topping.   Pretty sure you should save those marshmallows for hot chocolate.

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   Begin by baking 4-5 large sweet potatoes until soft.  You will need about 3 total cups of mashed sweet potatoes.  Allow the potatoes to cool slightly.

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   Meanwhile assemble the crumb topping by mixing chopped pecans, flour, brown sugar and butter.  Set aside.

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  Mix the cooled sweet potatoes with eggs, vanilla, milk, butter and salt.  Whip until light and fluffy and pour into a greased casserole dish.  Top with the crumble and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

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Sweet Potato Casserole

Ingredients:

4-5 large sweet potatoes

2 tbsp white sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 c milk

1/3 c melted butter

1/4 tsp salt

1 c brown sugar

1/3 cup flour (I used gluten free)

1 c chopped pecans

4 tbsp solid butter

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake potatoes for 1 hour or until soft.  Cut open the tops and allow to cool.  Meanwhile, mix brown sugar, flour, pecans and solid butter until crumbly.  Set aside.  Place potatoes, white sugar, eggs, vanilla, melted butter and salt in a mixing bowl and mix until combined.   Increase mixing speed and whip until light and fluffy.  Pour into a greased baking dish and top with the crumb topping.  Bake for 45 min until topping is browned.

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Fall Cornbread Panzanella Salad

I’m hosting Thanksgiving at my house this year, and I don’t know about you, but I think it’s fun to add a more unique side to the mix of traditional fare usually served at a Thanksgiving feast.  I threw together this salad recently and all I could think while I was eating it is that it pretty much embodies “fall in a bowl.”  The jewel toned colors of the vegetables served warm over a bed of spinach and hearty cornbread is somehow both healthy and comforting at the same time.  I think it would be the perfect addition to your holiday table and could even serve as a stuffing substitute for the more health conscious diner.  Here’s to adding a little variety at your Thanksgiving table this year!

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This salad has three components that need to be made before assembling the salad.  Start by making a simple cornbread.  I’ve included a gluten free version in this recipe, but you could certainly make a regular version if you aren’t sensitive to gluten.   Let the cornbread cool and then cube it and toss it with a few tablespoons of oil.   Toast it in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes or so.

The second component is a mixture of root vegetables, red onions and brussels sprouts that are roasted until caramelized.  Meanwhile, mix the ingredients for the salad’s  vinaigrette.

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Once you have all the components, simply toss everything together with some gorgonzola cheese, sugared pecans and fresh spinach and drizzle with the vinaigrette.

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Fall Cornbread Panzanella Salad (adapted from Naturally Ella)

Ingredients:

CORNBREAD

1 1/4 c flour

3/4 c cornmeal

1/4 c sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 c buttermilk

1/4 c melted butter

1 egg

ROASTED VEGGIES

1 sweet potato

1 1/2 cups quartered brussels sprouts

1/2 medium red onion, diced

1 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

SALAD
1/2 cup sugared pecans chopped
1 oz gorgonzola cheese
3 cups fresh spinach
DRESSING
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
  Preheat oven to 350˚. Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and sea salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, butter and buttermilk. Pour into dry ingredients and stir until batter is just combined. Pour into a greased 9″ square pan and bake until golden, about 20 min.  Allow to cool.  Cut cornbread into ½” cubes.  Toss with 2 tbsp oil and place on a cookie sheet. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees and toast the cornbread for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  To roast vegetables, peel and cut sweet potatoes into ½” cubes. Toss with quartered brussels sprouts, onion, 1 tbsp oil, salt, and pepper. Place in the oven and roast until vegetables are tender and caramelized, about 30 minutes, tossing halfway through.
  Meanwhile, combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, and maple syrup in a dressing carafe. Shake well until vinaigrette is combined.
  Toss roasted vegetables, toasted cornbread, spinach, pecans and gorgonzola cheese in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing on top and toss to coat.