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This holiday season I was blessed with having both of my kids home for Thanksgiving having survived 20+ Thanksgiving dinners both kids wanted to keep their requests for dinner simple to reduce the potential for a “Mom’s freaking out again” moment. Turkey was a yes, gravy a no, and cranberry sauce from a can just fine since I’m the only one who notices if I make it from scratch. I ordered some side dishes from the cafe at work which left me with little to do besides cook the turkey but make the sweet potato’s.
Sweet potato’s are one our favorite side dishes all the year round, we eat them all sorts of ways with both sweet and savory seasonings and usually on Thanksgiving I do my own variation of a sweet potato pie with a crust, pureed taters and topped with roasted marshmallows. This holiday neither kid wanted a heavy side dish but they did want the flavors of the pie and marshmallows. Here’s what we came up with, and might I say it was incredibly delish and super easy too.
Thanksgiving Sweet Potato
2-3 large sweet potato’s cubed in 1.5 – 2 inch cubes
2 T. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice*
1/2 tsp. chai spice mix*
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
Preheat your oven; I had to cook my sweet potato’s at 325 degrees because that’s how low the turkey needed to be, if you were cooking meat at 350 degrees you can cut your cooking time down by 15 minutes. For easy clean up, prepare a roasting pan with a 2″ lip or more by lining it with foil, the sugar and marshmallows make a yummy mess.
Clean the outside of your sweet potato’s and, leaving the skins on, chop in 1.5 – 2 inch cubes, you want a large bite size, it allows the potato’s to cook fast and still hold together.
Put the cubed potato’s into a large plastic bag and drizzle with just enough olive oil to coat without being super oily – shake to ensure the potato’s are evenly covered. Add the spices to the bag, shaking as you go. Since all potato’s are created equally but in different sizes, the amount of spices and sugar you’ll need will depend upon how big your potato’s are – consider my measurements above approximate, you want the potato’s covered so they caramelize as they cook but not so covered that you can’t see the potato. If you’ve ever made cinnamon sugar toast you can probably safely go with the same amount of coverage you like on your toast.
Spread the contents of the bag into your roasting pan and pop it into your oven. You’ll need to gently stir the potato’s every 15 minutes so they don’t stick and burn.
If you are cooking your potato’s at 350 degrees check the potato’s for doneness with a fork at the 35 minute mark, when the fork goes in with little resistance they’re ready for the next step – don’t wait until they’re completely done or you’ll have mushy potato’s. At 325 degrees check the potato’s at the 45 minute mark.
Once the potato’s are ready, take the pan out of the oven and stir the potato’s so they’re kind of close together – you don’t want gaps where you can lose the marshmallows. Top the taters with as many, or as little, mini marshmallows as you like making sure they aren’t hanging over the edge of the pan (marshmallow mess in the oven is not good!).
Return the potato’s with their marshmallow goodness to the oven and watch closely, because once the marshmallows start to brown (10 to 15 minutes) they’ll go from brown to burnt in a flash – take them out before that happens.
*you can use whatever spices you put in your pumpkin pie, you don’t need to use the spice blends, I just happened to have them in my kitchen.
As always I add the cautionary note: anytime you cook sugar and/or marshmallows at a high temperature it’s going to need some time to go from molten lava hot to edible, whatever you do, resist the urge to sneak a perfectly brown marshmallow off the top of the pile straight from the oven – YOU WILL REGRET IT! Once the sweet potato’s reach a safe temperature you’re safe to enjoy.
It was my pleasure today to find some creative inspiration at my local grocery store in the form of a half of a pound of cod. I’d been recently wondering about my avoidance of the kitchen and was a little bit concerned that I’d lost my kitchen mojo, thankfully those worries were for naught and I’m pleased to share the result of my inspiration.
Cod & Kale Chowder
1 small carrot chopped
1/4 Anaheim chili chopped
1/4 sweet onion chopped
2 big leaves of kale chopped
1/2 lb. cod filet cut into 1.5 inch cubes
1 small gold potato diced
salt & pepper to taste along with the following: garlic salt, onion powder, parsley, bay seasoning
1 1/2c. water
1/3 c. low-fat milk
- Put the carrot, chili and onion into a pot, season with salt and pepper, then saute until onion starts to turn translucent.
- Cut up the cod and add it to the pot for a few minutes to start the cooking.
- Add potato and kale and seasonings to taste, then cover with hot water. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the potato’s are fork tender.
- Add the milk, taste to see if there’s enough seasoning, then turn off the heat and enjoy.
I ate mine with a serving of Special K snack crips in sea salt flavor. Mmmmm!
My take on a recipe from The Captious Vegitarian – updated August 2012
Bring to a boil in a small saucepan:
1 cup rolled oats
just under 2 cups of liquid (milk, soymilk, water, or a combination)
1/4 cup mixed dried cranberries and golden raisins chopped
2/3 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbs. brown sugar
1 tsp. either/or both pumpkin pie spice/chai seasoning blend
Turn the heat down to medium but keep at a steady simmer, stirring occasionally. If the oatmeal starts to splatter, turn the heat down a little more. Cook until liquid starts to turn creamy, and individual flakes are just starting to break down. The original recipe suggested putting a pinch of salt in before the oatmeal started to boil, Alton Brown suggests not putting in the salt until the end because it prohibits the thickening action; When I Alton’s suggestion my oatmeal cooked faster and got creamier so save a pinch of salt for the end of your cook time.
For variety try adding one (or more) of the following:
shredded coconut (unsweetened)
chopped nuts or seeds – whole or sliced almonds, hemp hearts, pecans, walnuts, etc. (I like chopped pecans which I toss in to soften as the oatmeal cooks)
raisins or other dried fruit
fresh fruit (bananas, apples,…)
use almond or other nut extract instead of the vanilla
cocao nibs or chocolate chips
I usually double this recipe and divide it up between a “bowl for now” and 5 small containers to take to work for breakfast. I love this recipe and I’m just as happy to eat it cold as hot.
Every so often I skip off into cooking land with the basic formula’s of a recipe and then I freestyle something new and yummy all on my own, I hope you’re going to like this mornings experiment. Serve these with a lovely cup of tea.
Chocolate and sour cream Bisquick scones
10 to 12 minutes
2 1/2 c. Bisquick
1/2 c. 1% milk
1/4 c. light sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. chopped chocolate (use good stuff, I used some leftover from the chocolate buttercream frosting)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix all ingredients with a fork until a soft dough forms. Dust your work surface with Bisquick to keep the dough from sticking. Move the dough to the work surface and add a little more Bisquick to the top to keep the dough from sticking to your hands.
Smooth into a 9 inch round and using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut it into 8 wedges. Place on a buttered, or parchment lined, cookie sheet. You may choose to brush with an egg wash, I don’t always do this. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
I highly recommend Dickinson’s Lemon Curd to complement your scones, all of their products seem to be incredibly yummy.
One of my favorite recipe sites is allrecipes.com. This no cook peanut sauce recipe is pretty good. It’s actually not all that different than the microwavable recipe I usually use.
Thai Peanut Sauce
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup coconut milk
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
In a bowl, mix the peanut butter, coconut milk, water, lime juice, soy sauce, fish sauce, hot sauce, ginger, and garlic. Mix in the cilantro just before serving.
In honor of Friday afternoon… I like my Mojito’s very sweet and very cold. These are great with fish taco’s and lots of mango salsa.
2-3oz of light rum
simple syrup or granulated sugar
3 sprigs of mint
Put the mint leaves in the bottom of your glass, add sugar and lime juice and muddle to bruise the mint and release the oils. Add rum, fill the glass with ice, then soda water.
One of the most accessed posts on my site is Sandra Lee’s Pulled Pork recipe, and for good reason – that recipe rocks!! This recipe by Sandra Lee is pretty amazing too. I’ve made a few adjustments since I didn’t cook it just the way it was written. I served mine with soup, the recipe makes 4 servings and it microwaves really well so it would make a great work lunch. I’d like to try making it again with the addition of a cooked and sliced italian sausage.
Spinach and Potato Frittata
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 russet potato, thinly sliced
1/2 medium sweet yellow onion, diced
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 package fresh cleaned baby spinach
1 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
Nonstick cooking spray
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Put a baking sheet into the oven to preheat.
In a plastic food storage bag combine 1 tablespoon of the oil with salt and pepper. Add the sliced potatoes and toss to coat. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, remove the potatoes from the bag and spread out in a single layer on the baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and bake for 8 minutes.
In a skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the onion and spinach saute for 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook another 2 minutes.
In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, milk and remaining salt and pepper. Mix in the cheese and the onion and spinach mixture and set aside.
Spray an oven-proof quiche pan with nonstick cooking spray. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees F. Remove the potatoes from the oven and add them to the skillet. Pour in the egg mixture and transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake until the eggs have set, about 30 to 35 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, directly from the skillet.
Last month I created this chocolate orange buttercream frosting to top off some vanilla orange cupcakes, the idea behind this was to create cupcakes with a flavor similar to a Terry’s Chocolate Orange without it being overpoweringly chocolate.
They turned out pretty good for a first attempt, although, the cupcake recipe I adapted was from the Williams Sanoma Desserts cookbook had a lot of butter in it and so the cupcakes were a very heavy texture. If I make this recipe again I’ll start with a lighter cupcake batter.
Chocolate Orange Buttercream Frosting
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp orange extract (adjust to taste I used almost 3 tsp)
4 ounces chocolate melted
(I used 2 oz each of Lindt Milk Chocolate and 2 oz of Lindt Excellence 90% Cocoa Bar)
Using a heavy duty mixer whip the butter on medium-high for 5 minutes, scraping the bowl twice. At a reduced speed gradually add the sugar. Once the sugar is mixed in, increase the speed and add the extracts and ensure these are mixed in well. Add the melted chocolate and whip at medium-high for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. This recipe will frost 12 cupcakes.
Buttercream frosting must be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container; to use let come to room temp and whip with a mixer before using.
When I talk about comfort food Banana Bread has to be on the list. When I was growing up Christmas morning was always highlighted with an amazing breakfast that included many homemade goodies, my favorite of which was banana bread. Because I just can’t make myself cook with shortening anymore I don’t cook my Grandmother’s recipe and I’ve had to find others. My first Winter here in Virginia I was at home when Sarah would get off from school, and every day I’d try to do something special to greet her. Some days I’d make hot chocolate, and others I’d have a freshly baked treat waiting for her when she walked in the door. The Bisquick Banana Bread recipe I found is pretty good and I posted that here in October of 2009.
Bisquick has it’s on special flavor that it adds to recipes so it’s not the only banana bread recipe I use. I’m actually typing this recipe while enjoying a loaf I made from this more traditional recipe. This one, I think would be perfect, if I could figure out how to get the buttermilk or “sour” milk flavor of my favorite childhood recipe. I’ll be sure to update if I find a way.
50 to 60 minutes
2 or 3 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven. In a bowl mash the bananas and stir in the melted butter with a spoon. Add the sugar, egg, vanilla, baking soda and salt stir well. Add flour and stir until blended.
Pour into oiled/floured loaf pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack.