Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What we've Been Eating Lately

I've been revisiting some old favorite recipes while discovering some news as we go full force into the cool weather crops. Here's what we've been eating:

Kale, Bell Peppers, and Tomatoes in Autumn Vegetable Soup
Acorn Squash in Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash
Kohlrabi in Chicken Pot Pie
Eggplant in Beef and Eggplant Shepherd's Pie
Butternut Squash in Thanksgiving Bundt Cake
Sweet Potatoes in Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Roma Tomatoes in Oven Dried Tomato Tart
Mustard Greens in Greens and Smoked Gouda Sandwiches

We've had the salad mix in salads. I didn't bring home the okra or peppers this time (unless it was bell peppers, I brought those home.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cranberry Pecan Rolls

I made this recipe this afternoon on a whim. I had seen it in Bon Appetit's November issue and thought, "Those sound good." While nursing the babe the other day, I was flipping through the magazine again and saw that I had dog-eared the page these were on. I decided why not. If they made too many for us to eat, I'd show up on Thanksgiving at my in-laws with these in hand.

I won't be doing that. I don't thing there will be a single roll left by then. These are not just good, but freakin' good. I think I've eaten three this evening (or maybe four?). Everyone loved them. If you want to play with this recipe and make them more healthy, substitute some whole wheat flour for the bread flour.

Go ahead, make these tomorrow. They'll be perfect to serve on Thanksgiving--either at your table or the table you are going to.

Roasting the pecans

Cranberry Pecan Rolls
adapted from Bon Appetit magazine

1 c coarsely chopped pecans (or walnuts if you are not in the South)
1 1/2 c milk, warmed to 100 - 110 degrees Fahrenheit
1 1/2 t yeast
1 T brown sugar, packed
3 1/2 c (and possibly more) bread flour
1 1/2 t salt
2 T vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 c dried cranberries (use the sweetened ones)

1 lg egg, beaten for glaze
Turbinado sugar (optional)

Stir nuts in dry skillet over medium heat until toasted, about 5 minutes. (The easiest way to tell these are done is to smell them. When they are toasted, they will smell very fragrant, but not burnt.) Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Add yeast to milk and stir in brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. Allow to stand for 5 minutes or until the yeast has dissolved and is bubbly. Add 3 1/2 c bread flour, salt, oil, and egg. Mix with an electric mixer using a dough hook until a coarse ball forms. Add cranberries and cooled pecans. Mix dough until it is smooth and elastic. It should be slightly tacky (but not sticky). If dough is too sticky, add flour by tablespoonfuls. Remove from mixture and knead briefly on a floured surface to bring dough to a ball. Place in an large oiled bowl, turning to coat dough with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise, until dough has doubled in size, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

Transfer dough to an unfloured surface. Divide dough into 12 - 18 equal sized pieces (if you divide it into 12 pieces, the rolls will be HUGE!! Divided into 18 pieces, the rolls are still generous in size). Form each piece into a ball, rolling briefly on unfloured surface (remember making play dough balls? Same idea). Place rolls on a parchment lined baking sheet, spacing them apart to give them a chance to rise (if more than 12 rolls, use two baking sheets). Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise until 1 1/2 times original size. Brush rolls with egg glaze and sprinkle lightly with turbinado sugar. Let rise while oven preheats to 425 degrees.

Place rolls in the oven and reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake 7 minutes. Rotate baking pans. Bake another 8 minutes or until rolls are golden and slightly firm to touch. Cool completely on a rack.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanksgiving Bundt Cake

Here is another option if you are not a pie fan (I am not a huge pie fan, so I know there must be more like me out there) but still want a Thanksgiving type dessert. This baby is loaded--pumpkin, apples, cranberries, pecans, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg--everything that tastes like Thanksgiving but the turkey. Needless to say, this cake didn't last long at our house, between sharing it with preschool teachers, extended family, and eating it for breakfasts and snacks. It maybe made it twenty-four hours. I will make this again, and maybe even at a time other Thanksgiving.

I used frozen winter squash (either kabocha or butternut, not sure which) for this. Because the
liquid in the squash increases with thawing, I ran the squash through a fine sieve to get the excess liquid out. I was expecting to need to increase the cooking time as well, but didn't need to. I've renamed the cake from it's original name (All-in-One Holiday Bundt Cake) because Thanksgiving Cake just seems to sum it up better to me and is less words.

Thanksgiving Cake
from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

2 c flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of salt
1 1/2 t grated fresh ginger (1 t ground ginger)
10 T butter, at room temperature
1 c sugar
1/2 c packed brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 t vanilla
1 1/4 c pumpkin puree
1 lg apple, peeled, cored and finely diced
1 c cranberries, coarsely chopped
1 c pecans, coarsely chopped

6 T confectioners' sugar
2 T maple syrup

Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and ground (if you are using--not the grated ginger). Set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugars together on medium speed (using an electric mixer) until they are light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the pumpkin, apple, and grated ginger (if you are using). The mixture will look curdled. With the mixer still on low speed, add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. Stir in the cranberries and pecans with a rubber spatula. Scrape the batter into a buttered and floured 9 - 10" Bundt pan. Smooth the top with a rubber scraper. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees oven on the center rack for 60 - 70 minutes (mine only took 60 minutes) or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then unmold and cool on rack.

To make icing, sift 6 T of confectioner's sugar into a small bowl. Stir in maple syrup. Drizzle icing over cooled cake with a spoon. Allow icing to set a few minutes before serving.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Roasted Chicken Quarters with Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Let me get this out there first.

Start this recipe the night before (or morning of if you have that option) you plan on eating it. The chicken needs to marinate at least 8 hours before baking.

Ok, now that that's out of the way, I can rave about how much I love this meal. We all loved this meal. Between 2 adults and 2 children under the age of 5, we ate 3 chicken quarters. The recipe said it would serve four. That didn't take into account how much we loved it. M of course, decided she didn't like sweet potatoes this way either, but the rest of us really enjoyed it. I especially loved the mango chutney. I could have eaten that with a spoon from the jar. Because the chicken marinates for a while, most of the prep happens hours before you think about eating supper. That makes it perfect for our craziness right now. The only prep work in the hour before supper when the kids all go nuts simultaneously (it's a conspiracy, I'm sure of it! I think they get together in the middle of the night and decide how they'll act up while I am making supper the following day) is peeling and slicing the sweet potatoes. Couldn't be easier. I know what you are thinking when you read this recipe, "Surely I could fit the sweet potatoes and chicken on the same pan so I have less dishes to wash." Let me save you the trouble. You can't. Put the chicken on the middle oven rack and the sweet potatoes on the next rack down.

I served this with rice. If I was on top of things, I would have a salad or a green vegetable as well. I'm not though and this meal was perfect with what we had.

Roasted Chicken Quarters with Glazed Sweet Potatoes
from Bon Appetit

1/2 c coarsely chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
3 T apple cider vinegar
2 T honey
1/2 t ground allspice
1 T fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 1 /2 t fresh thyme, finely chopped (oops, I forgot this, I even had the time)
1 t salt
1 t ground black pepper
1/2 habanero or milder chile, like poblano, seeded, and coarsely chopped (optional)
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground nutmeg
2 1/4 - 2 1/2 lbs whole chicken leg-thigh pieces (should be 4 pieces, mine were big so we only had 3)

2 T olive oil (I forgot this, too)

Sweet Potatoes
2 T butter, melted
2 T honey
1 T fresh lime juice
1/2 t ground cinnamon
2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/3" rounds

Mango Chutney

Place the onion, garlic, vinegar, honey, allspice, ginger, thyme, salt, pepper, chile, cinnamon and nutmeg in a food processor. Puree marinade until a thick paste forms. Place chicken in a large resealable bag or plastic container and seal. Turn chicken to coat (or if using a plastic container, toss to coat before sealing the container). Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight, turning chicken occasionally.

Arrange chicken pieces, with marinade still clinging to it, on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush chicken with oil. Roast in a preheated 400 degrees oven until cooked through (internal temperature should be 180 degrees), about 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on the size of your chicken.

Meanwhile, whisk butter, honey, lime juice, and ground cinnamon in a large bowl. Add potato slices and toss to coat. Arrange potato slices in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake potatoes on a rack underneath the chicken until tender, about 25 minutes.

Serve chicken with potatoes and topping with mango chutney if desired.

Another reason to make your own "pumpkin" for pies

I saw this article on NPR's website. I am betting canned pumpkin prices are going to spike. This is just another good reason to make your own "pumpkin" (any orange winter squash like kabocha, butternut, etc) for pies and desserts.


Thanksgiving is fast approaching as evidenced in my committing to bring food to my in-laws today and the cranberry relish and mashed sweet potatoes I am taking today to the preschool Thanksgiving feast. Yay for Thanksgiving. It's the only US holiday truly centered around food.

Here are some posts with some good Thanksgiving feast type dishes. Most of these dishes feature ingredients you can find locally in Austin, Texas this time of year.

A Brine and Aromatic for a Turkey (plus a little info about Heritage Turkeys)

Arugula Autumn Salad

Cranberry Salsa

Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake (for those who want something other than Pumpkin Pie)

Apple Pie

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Pumpkin Torte

Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

Whole Wheat Bread (you could easily just shape this into dinner rolls too)

Cranberry Relish

Arugula Bread Pudding (would make a great dressing recipe)

Happy Cooking and Happy Thanksgiving!

Thank your farmer next time you see him/her and remember to celebrate the bounty we have received from the earth.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cranberry Relish

There are two camps of people who eat cranberries for Thanksgiving: those who like it sliced, straight out of a can, and those who like a homemade version made with raw cranberries. I am sure it comes as no surprise that I like homemade cranberry relish for Thanksgiving. I have two versions that I make. One version is more of a cranberry salsa which is wonderful on turkey, in turkey sandwiches, and as a dip for tortillas. That recipe is here. My other version is a normal cranberry relish which can feed a crowd and relies heavily on fruit. I made this for my kids' preschool Thanksgiving today.

All it takes, plus sugar and crushed pineapple

A note about making this. The size of your oranges makes a difference. If you use huge oranges, you will probably need 1 1/2 lbs of cranberries (just an aside--I've seen fresh cranberries in 12 oz bags in the produce aisle of the store. Freeze whatever you don't need). Do what the recipe says for the fruit and then taste before adding any sugar. If it just tastes like citrus, like mine did at first, then add more cranberries. Once you get a tart cranberry taste, then add the sugar. You can make this a couple of days ahead of time, if you would like.

Cranberry Relish
from Recipes to Cherish

1 - 1 1/2 pounds cranberries (raw)
2 apples, unpeeled, cored, and quartered
2 oranges, one peeled and one unpeeled, quartered
1 c crushed pineapple
1 - 1 1/2 c sugar

In a food processor, process the cranberries until they are finely ground. Transfer to a bowl. Then process the apples, and then oranges, doing each fruit separately. Combine apples, oranges, cranberries, and crushed pineapple in bowl. Taste. Add more processed cranberries if necessary. Add 1 c of sugar and mix well. Taste. If the relish is still overly tart, add more sugar until you reach desired sweetness.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Beans and Tomato Casserole

There is a time and place for casseroles. For example, when you are taking food to a family with a new baby or because of an illness or death, casseroles are called for. They freeze well and only need to be popped in the oven. Casseroles also come in handy for evenings that you want to eat supper and be done or make supper ahead of time. While the casserole cooks, all the prep dishes are washed making after dinner chaos less so. With three kids, the casserole has a big draw. However, my husband does not love casseroles. I do. However, he'll tolerate them if it means he doesn't need to clean up the kitchen after supper (and he loves them if someone else makes them for us).

I needed to use up my tomatoes that have been ripening on my window sill (yes, I know it would have been much faster to ripen them in a paper bag, but then I wouldn't have been able to enjoy watching them ripen). I was going to use them for a fish recipe, but it turns out, I didn't have any fish in the freezer. I didn't want a recipe that was a lot of work, so I turned to Bittman, who has no problem at all with easy casseroles.

I enjoyed this recipe, Curtis tolerated it and M had nothing to do with it because apparently she doesn't like dishes that have cheese cooked into it or white beans now. J ate about his normal portion for supper. I will make this again and Curtis will enjoy having a clean kitchen the moment the dishes from the table are put away and the leftovers have gone into the fridge. This will make 4 servings as a main dish.

Bean and Tomato Casserole
adapted from How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman

4 c (2 15-oz cans) cooked beans (I used cannellini beans, but you could use whatever you had or a combination), drained and rinsed
4 tomatoes, sliced
1 lg onion, chopped
1 1/2 c cheddar cheese, grated
2 T fresh oregano, chopped
1 t fresh thyme leaves

Saute onions in a little bit of oil in a pan until tender. In the bottom of a greased 2 qt casserole dish, put 1/2 the beans, followed by a layer of tomatoes, onions, and then a sprinkling of the herbs and cheese. Repeat. Bake in preheated 400 degrees oven for 20 - 30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and hot.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Butternut Squash Bisque Reprise

Last year, I thought I had perfected my butternut squash bisque. Upon making that recipe this year, I was slightly disappointed and I think I may have spoken too soon. There are a few changes I would make to my bisque recipe so I am republishing it--with my suggested changes and in recipe (instead of narrative) format. My changes, use between 1 - 1 1/2 t minced fresh ginger, reduce the cream to 1/2 c (as a starting point, add more if you want a creamier, richer soup, or stop there if you think it's creamy enough).

Curtis and I both enjoyed this. M ate it after I told her it Tyranasaurus Rex soup (because it was the color of T-Rex's on M's new favorite PBS show, Dinosaur Train). I'll need to remember that trick for future meals. Maybe she'll eat the food if I don't tell her what's in it. :) This well make 4 moderately sized servings.

Butternut Squash Bisque (Take 2)

1/2 large onion, chopped
1 - 1 1/2 t fresh ginger, minced
1 1/2 lbs butternut squash (or other orange winter squash), peeled and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 1/4 c chicken stock
1 t orange zest (optional)
1/4 c chopped parsley
dash of nutmeg
1/2 t salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 - 1 c heavy cream

Saute onion and garlic in a soup pot for 5 minutes in a little olive oil. Add squash and carrots and saute for 3 more minutes. Ad the chicken stock and orange zest and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer vegetables for 30 minutes, or until squash and carrots are tender. Add parsley, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. (You can do through this point ahead of time). Puree the soup in batches in a food processor or blender until mixture is smooth and creamy. Be sure to take the cap in the center of the lid off to allow the heat to escape without spewing soup everywhere. Return bisque to soup pot and add 1/2 c heavy cream. Stir in cream and taste. If you desire a richer, creamier soup, add remaining heavy cream. Heat until the bisque is hot. Garnish with croutons if you wish.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Risotta with Winter Squash and Collards

I made risotto for the first time last fall and discovered how much I loved it. Curtis and I really liked the dish--it was quite tasty and rather healthy too between the orange winter squash and the sturdy leafy greens. I will definitely make it again, even though the kids didn't eat it. These proportions make enough to serve 3 - 4 adults as a side dish. I roasted the squash and blanched the collards in the afternoon and then just assembled it at dinner time.

Risotto with Winter Squash and Greens
adapted from the New York Times

3/4 lb winter squash (of the orange variety--kabocha, butternut, etc), peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2" dice
1 T extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 lb collard greens or kale, stemmed and washed
1 qt chicken stock
1 small onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3/4 c arborio rice
1/4 c dry white wine
pinch of saffron
1/4 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 - 2 T flat leaf parsley, chopped (optional)

Toss the squash with 1/2 T olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and spread on a well oiled baking sheet. Roast in a preheated 425 degrees oven for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes , or until the squash is tender and caramelized. Set aside. Meanwhile, blanch the collard greens in a large pot of boiling, salted water. Blanch for 4 minutes and then cool immediately by plunging into ice water and rinsing it with cold water. Drain and squeeze out any extra water. Chop coarsely. (You can do to this point ahead of time).

Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan. Heat the remaining oil in a medium saucepan and add the onion. Saute for three minutes or until the onion begins to soften. Add the garlic and a dash of salt. Cook for another minute and add the rice. Cook, stirring, until the grains of rice are separate. Stir in the wine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. When the wine has almost evaporated, add the collard greens, a third of the squash and the saffron. Stir in a ladleful or two of the simmering stock, enough to just cover the rice. Bring to a slow boil. Cook, stirring frequently until stock is just about absorbed, then add another ladleful of stock. Continue in this way, adding more stock when the rice is almost dry, until the rice is tender all the way through, about 20 - 25 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add the remaining roasted squash and another 1/2 c stock to the rice. Stir in Parmesan and parsley and remove from heat. Serve immediately.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sausage and Olive Sandwiches

The best thing about sandwiches for supper is they are easy to adapt for everyone tastes. I won't admit how naked J and M's sandwiches were. However, Curtis and I really enjoyed ours. The only thing I would change about this is adding a smear of goat cheese next time. That would elevate this sandwich to perfect category. These proportions will serve 2 adults easily.

Sausage and Olive Sandwiches
adapted from Gourmet

1/4 c green olives, finely chopped
1/2 T extra-virgin olive oil
4 slices of crusty bread like ciabatta or 2 ciabatta rolls
2 bratwurst, andouille, or other flavorful fully cooked sausages, split (I used Opa's from Fredricksburg)
1/4 c bottled piquillo or roasted red peppers, cut into strips
1 c arugula, stemmed (if not baby arugula)
soft goat cheese (optional)

Combine olives and oil and then spread on bottom slices of bread. Heat a grill pan or heavy skillet over medium high heat until hot, then heat sausages until hot, about 8 minutes. To make sandwich, layer peppers, then sausage and then arugula over olive layer. Spread goat cheese on top piece of bread and cover sandwich.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tarte Tatin or Upside Down Apple Pie

I love apple desserts. Curtis would stick solely to apple pies, but I like a little variety--apple cake, apple brown betty, and now tarte tatin. I found this version of tarte tatin in Baking: From my Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. The recipe itself was pretty easy with not very much hands on time--the most time intensive thing was peeling, coring and quartering the apples. Caramelizing the apples took time, but most of that time, I ignored it. I just checked periodically to make sure the sugar wasn't burning.

Overall, I really liked this recipe for several reasons. 1) I made it in my cast iron skillet. 2) It looks nice when served and it appears I put a lot of time into it. 3) It tastes good. I'll make this again, but next time, I'll caramelize the apples longer and add a little bit of cinnamon to the apples.

Tarte Tatin
from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

1 sheet (8 oz) frozen puff pastry (you can make other dough for this, but who can beat a puff pastry?), thawed
1/2 c unsalted butter
3/4 c sugar
8 - 9 firm apples, such as Gala, Cameo, Crispin, or Granny Smith, peeled, quartered, and cored

Roll out thawed puff pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into a circle that is 1" larger in diameter than the pan you are using (you can estimate this). Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, prick all over with a fork, and refrigerate until you are ready to use it.

Put a 9 - 10" cast iron skillet over medium heat and add the butter. After it has melted, swirl it around in the pan so it coats the side with a thin layer of butter. Sprinkle the sugar over the butter and remove from heat. Cover the butter and sugar with a layer of apples, peeled sides down in concentric circles. Squeeze as many as possible into the first layer because they will shrink with cooking. Cut the remaining apple quarters in half and layer the leftover apples over top. (pictured at top) Put the pan over medium heat and cook until the sugar turns a deep caramel color. Depending on how hot you are cooking it, it will take 15 - 30 minutes. Check occasionally to be sure the sugar isn't burning and turn down heat if necessary. (If deep caramel color isn't achieved, like in my case, it will still be really good).

Remove from heat and top with refrigerated puff pastry dough, tucking excess edges in at the sides. Bake in a preheated 375 degrees oven for 35 - 40 minutes or until the pastry is baked through and puffed. Upon removing from the oven, cover the skillet with a large rimmed serving plate. With confidence and speed, and wearing good oven mitts, turn the tart out onto the platter and remove the pan. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I apologize for the silence for the past week. We've had some unexpected health events turn up in our house and I consequently have done almost no cooking this past week, thanks to meals from friends which miraculously showed up at our house. My CSA box went unused and unfortunately, the highly perishable foods of eggplant and okra didn't make it to see me start cooking again. I am skipping my CSA box this week, in hopes of using some of last week's "leftovers."

Tonight is our last meal of dinner brought to us (and a good one at that--real Puerto Rican Arroz con Pollo!). I went to the grocery store today and made my menu for the coming week. Hopefully, by tomorrow night or Friday, new recipes will be forth coming. I am excited about using my arugula, sweet potatoes, finally ripened tomatoes, and butternut squash.

I am looking forward to being back, friends.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rigatoni with Sausage-Tomato Sauce and Arugula

The hunt for arugula recipes continues. So far, I am not complaining, especially when I get led to recipes like this.

We all loved this dish. This sauce makes twice as much as needed for the amount of pasta. I recommend freezing half of the sauce and getting it out next time you want some quick and delicious pasta and sauce.

Rigatoni with Sausage-Tomato Sauce and Arugula
adapted from Bon Appetit

1 T olive oil
1 lg onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 - 1 1/2 lbs fresh mild sweet Italian sausages, casings removed (can also use hot Italian sausage if you would prefer)
1/2 c dry red wine
1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes in juice
1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes
8 oz rigatoni (a fat penne pasta)
2 c (packed) fresh arugula, stemmed
1/2 c fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
1 T fresh oregano, chopped
Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and stir 1 minute. Add sausage; cook until browned, breaking up with back of spoon, about 5 minutes. Drain drippings from pot. Add wine, diced tomatoes with juice, and crushed tomatoes. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 30 minutes to blend flavors, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Drain. Stir in basil and oregano into sauce. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Put pasta in bottom of large pasta bowl. Top with the arugula. Cover arugula with hot sauce and allow arugula to wilt before serving. Sprinkle with Parmesan

Monday, November 2, 2009

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes are one of those vegetables I don't mind at all if they seem to reproduce in my pantry. They keep much better than those leafy greens and are more versatile than okra or eggplant.

My parents were in town this past weekend, it was a wonderful time. Curtis wanted to smoke some ribs on the Big Green Egg and I was looking for a recipe to using sweet potatoes to go with it. The mashed sweet potatoes from Eastside Cafe came to mind. (aaahh...Eastside Cafe, how I love thee. Why haven't been there since forever? Oh yeah, the infant attached to my hip). This recipe is nothing like Eastside Cafe's version. However, I love them. They are creamy and sweet with a pecan crunch.

If you don't want such a sweet topping, I think you could easily cut the topping in half without sacrificing the dish (in fact, I just may try that next time). I am including a half a recipe---5 lbs of sweet potatoes seemed like too much for 4 adults and 2 occasionally picky kids (M didn't eat it, but J thought it was great). This recipe makes a 9 x 9" pan and I'd say it would easily serve 6 - 8 adults as a side.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes
adapted from Bon Appetit

1/2 c (packed) brown sugar
1/4 c pecans, chopped
2 T chilled butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2" pieces
2 large eggs
1 1/2 T maple syrup
1 T vanilla
1/2 T lemon juice
1 t salt

Mix sugar, pecans, and butter in a small bowl. Cover and chill until ready to use. Meanwhile, cook the sweet potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water until very tender. Drain. Let stand in colander for 15 minutes. Use an electric mixer to mash the sweet potatoes. Blend until sweet potatoes are smooth. In a separate large bowl, beat eggs, syrup, vanilla, lemon juice and salt. Mix in pureed sweet potatoes. Spread sweet potato mixture in a buttered 9 x 9" baking dish. (If you are making this ahead, stop here. Sprinkle pecans on top just before baking). Sprinkle pecan topping evenly over top of mixture. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees oven until sweet potato mixture is set and topping bubbles, about 1 hour. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.