Tag Archives: garden
Shhhh...don’t tell the Santa. I’ve been a very naughty blogger.
I’ve been just terrible about taking photos lately, and it’s been an eternity since I’ve passed along a good recipe.
But I’d like to make it up to you with my favorite sweet potato casserole recipe!
As a kid, I love the toasted marshmallow casserole that came loaded with brown sugar. But now, I’m kind of over it. I’ve replaced the candy-fest with a casserole that’s just different enough to pique everyone’s interest at the holiday dinner table, and just traditional enough that everyone will welcome it as a familiar favorite. It has the warmth of autumn’s sweet potato harvest and the bright, sunny taste of orange, nestled under a sweet, tangy topping with just a little crunch.
Those familiar with my blog will know that I couldn’t just leave the recipe as is, untinkered with, so I made a few small changes to suit my tastes. (I cut the salt in half, substituted agave nectar for the honey, left out the eggs and butter, and used coconut oil rather than canola. I also added some dried cranberries for texture and a tangy kick of flavor.)
But I did leave ALL of the freshly grated orange zest. In fact, I may have gone a bit heavy on it. It’s my favorite part of this recipe, and one of my favorite ingredients in general because it adds SO much fresh flavor, eliminating (or cutting down) the need for less healthy ingredients like fat, sugar and salt.
And although I don’t have a recipe photo for you, I do have a photo of the very beginning of the taters we used to make this casserole for Thanksgiving. (A small reminder that colder weather will NOT last forever…the green will come back someday!)
Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe, with a Sunny Twist!
adapted from Eating Well Magazine
Sweet Potato Casserole:
- 2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2″ chunks
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons agave nectar
- 1/2 cup low-fat milk (may substitute coconut milk for a vegan recipe)
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons frozen orange juice concentrate (frozen)
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- Place sweet potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook over medium heat until tender, 10–15 minutes. Drain well and return to the pan. Mash with a potato masher. Measure out 3 cups. (Reserve any extra for another use.)
- Preheat over to 350 degrees. Coat an 8″ square (or similar 2-qt) baking dish with cooking spray.
- Whisk oil and agave nectar in a medium bowl. Add mashed sweet potato and mix well. Stir in milk, orange zest, vanilla and salt. Add cranberries and stir to distribute evenly throughout mixture. Spread the mixture into the prepared baking dish.*
- To prepare topping: Mix flour, brown sugar, orange juice concentrate and oil in a small bowl. Blend with a fork or your fingertips until crumbly. Stir in pecans. Sprinkle over the casserole.
- Bake casserole until heated through and the top is lightly browned, 35–45 minutes.
*A note to those with toddlers: I think this is a great toddler recipe, but there are many differing opinions on when to introduce nuts and/or tree nuts to your child. If you are concerned about reactions with the pecans in this recipe, reserve a small amount of sweet potato mixture for baby before adding the cranberries and pecan topping.
Look out….I’m feeling kinda full of myself right now.
Why? Well, partly because my every color of the rainbow found it’s way into my son’s belly today, and that makes me a happy mom
But I’m also feeling very proud of myself because I used up the vegetables cluttering my counter and fridge.
It’s no big deal, really. I just made dinner. But I didn’t have a clear cut recipe (the classic “nothing to make” syndrome) so my big victory was found in using up the fresh items I had on hand instead of letting my hectic schedule get the best of me until they all found their way into the compost bin.
It happens far too often. I’m not proud.
Not that cooking a few veggies is hard, but sometimes just trying to figure out what to do with them takes more time than I have.
Today, I was determined NOT to let my precious veggies go to waste. I was also determined NOT to go to the store. So I let the kitchen muse take over and started tossing ingredients until they looked like dinner.
You know what? It was GOOOOOODI!
Here’s the list of what I happened to have on hand, and what I did with it:
- one pound of grass-fed beef from North Mountain Pastures
- 2 shallots (sliced thin)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 fresh tomatoes (1 cut into chunks, 3 put through food processor until liquidy)
- one cup frozen black eyed peas
- 1/2 cup frozen peas from our garden
- 2 large handfuls fresh spinach, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp fresh basil
- 1 bay leaf
- whole wheat couscous
- Parmesan cheese, to taste
Brown beef, shallots and garlic (I used an electric skillet.) Add all other ingredients except couscous and cheese. Cook on low for 30 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Serve over couscous; top with cheese, if desired.
(It almost sounds like a real recipe!)
I said it was good, I never said it was pretty.
…but I have to admit, I’m pretty proud of myself for making something out of nothing.
(Next time, this recipe gets morphed into a casserole with crunchy crumbs on top.)
The only problem: What do I call it?
Do you ever have a problem using up your fresh ingredients? What’s your favorite way to use things up when you have a variety on hand?
Lately, my life is all about sharing. I share just about everything with my baby boy: my body, my bed, every waking moment…but I wouldn’t have it any other way
One of my favorite things to share with him is food. As a family, we grow it together, we go to farms to buy it together (Ok, so we don’t exactly cook it together, but that’s OK) and, now that he’s 10 months old, we can eat some of it together, too!
Eating the same foods also makes it easier to multitask with meal preparation with what I like to call “Mommy and Me” recipes (and that’s a good thing, because spare time is a seriously hot commodity around here, lately, and I do not want to give in to the temptation of more prepared foods.)
Today’s Mommy and Me was inspired by our butternut squash crop and the hint of fall that’s crept into the Central PA air…
Apple crisp is an autumn classic, so I thought, Why not put two fall favorites together and put an apple crisp inside a butternut!?
I knew what I wanted to make, but I did a little looking around the blogosphere anyway. I found inspiration in a post by The Hungry Housewife. (Go ahead and check out the recipe–you won’t be sorry! )
I changed the recipe a bit to suit our tastes (a little less sugar) and what I had on hand (Oops…no pumpkin pie spice.)
Here are the my steps (I’m not much of a measurer, so they aren’t overly specific):
- Cut butternut squash in half and scoop out seeds.
- Chop apple (I used 5 small organic Granny Smith apples) and mix with cinnamon to taste.
- Fill hollow of squash with apples, then top the rest of squash with any remaining apples. (I chose to cover the whole squash so I could slice it and each piece would have a nice, crisp topping.) Drizzle with a touch of pure maple syrup.
- In a small bowl, cut together 1/2 stick softened butter and 1/2 cup flour until mixture forms a coarse crumble. Mix in 1 1/2 T sugar, 3 T old fashioned rolled oats, cinnamon and nutmeg to taste.
- Mound topping over apple mixture, covering as much of squash as possible. Top with toasted pecans.
- Bake at 375 degrees until soft when pierced with a knife. If topping starts to brown too quickly, tent with aluminum foil.
- Serve squash while warm with an extra drizzle of pure maple syrup.
Since this was a huge squash, I decided to make one half for me and Daddy, and use the other half to make a roasted butternut squash and cinnamon apple puree for baby. (I just topped one half of the squash with apples and cinnamon and roasted both halves together. No butter or sugar for baby! You could add soaked oats, however, if you wanted to make it a little heartier.)
Once cooked, I just gave it a quick buzz in the food processor with enough water to thin.
The crisp itself was a little more decadent than I had intended (I got a little out of control with the topping, but I felt good about every ingredient, so I didn’t sweat it too much.) There was very little added sugar and only a little drizzle of maple syrup, and most of the sweetness came from the squash itself. This recipe is definitely going into the ‘Favorites’ file! A little sticky and syrupy on top with pillowy soft butternut underneath, served with a fresh pot of Canterbury Naturals Organic Split Pea Soup – it was a heavenly way to fill the house with the first aromas of fall!
One squash yielded enough for us to have it again tomorrow night (and ten servings of baby food!) I’ve been gardening most of my life, and I still find it pretty darned amazing that we can actually grow food ourselves. I just think it’s really cool, and I probably always will. And, judging by the response I got at dinner this evening, someone else thinks it’s pretty neat, too…