December 2014

Sweet Potato Rolls

sweet-potato-rolls

Growing up, our family dinners ALWAYS included one thing: bread. Or carbs, as some call it. Bread, dinner rolls, popovers, etc were a staple in our family since my birth and I’m pretty sure it’s part of our DNA. I looooooove love love it. In fact, I never even started using butter until a few years ago. I like bread so much I prefer to eat it plain.  And if a dinner doesn’t include bread, my stomach shrinks into nothing and I pretty much die of hunger afterwards.

But, the real star amongst all of the dinner rolls/breads/popovers in our family has been my mom’s sweet potato rolls. Every Thanksgiving, we had these. So I had to continue the tradition and include them in my Thanksgiving dinner this year as well.

Now, when I asked my mom if these were hard she replied, ‘No! Really easy!!.’  I was thrilled, it seemed too good to be true. And it was.  Not that these are necessarily super difficult, but when she sent me the recipe the generational difference was glaringly obvious.  To me, ‘really easy’ means 3 ingredients, no mixer, no rising, and under 20 minutes. Maybe even the inclusion of some kind of pre-made mix.  To my mom, I think ‘really easy’ must mean no grinding your own grain and churning your own butter.

These are not ‘really easy!’ .  They’re not hard, either, but they’re not ‘really easy.’  Love this recipe all the same and will make them forever.

Recipe

  • 1 1/4 cups sweet potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • Pinch of sugar for yeast
  • 6-7 tablespoons sugar for dough
  • 1 cup milk, warmed/room temp
  • 1.5 sticks softened butter
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ~5 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter to brush dough with

Cook sweet potatoes. I just microwave them – about 5-8 minutes depending on size (be sure to stab them a few times first). Peel and mash. You can do this a day ahead, then just slightly warm them in the microwave prior to making the bread dough.

Using a standing mixer, whisk together the water, yeast and pinch of sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes (if the yeast doesn’t get foamy, it might be old and the dough will not rise).  Mix in the potatoes, milk, 1.5 sticks butter, sugar, and salt.  Mix in the eggs. Slowly mix in the flour to create a slightly sticky dough. Transfer dough to a large buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until it doubles in size – about 2 hours. Tip here- we usually keep our kitchen at around 70 degrees. I find the dough takes a reeeeally long time to rise at this temp. The dough works best at about 75+ degrees, so I set my bowl near a sunny/warm window which helps a lot.

Preheat the oven to 375.  Punch the dough down, and line several large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Roll dough into 2-3 inch balls and drop on the baking sheets. Brush with remaining melted butter. Cover with plastic wrap or towel and let rise for another 30 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and bake until golden brown, about 17 minutes.

Miniature Pies

miniature-pies

I’m just going to say it. These won’t make it in to any of those ‘working-mother-of-four weeknight dinner’
cookbooks.  They are a bit time consuming, especially when you make 24
(in addition to a bazillion side dishes). Overkill, you say, but I had
10 guests for Thanksgiving and over the course of the weekend we ate
almost all of them.  Also, those 10 guests were my family. They love 1)
dessert, 2) ice cream, 3) mini things.  So these were a hit.

If you divide and conquer, it’s really not that bad. I made Ina Garten’s Crust the Sunday before Thanksgiving, rolled it out and pressed them into the jars (short, half-pint open-mouth jars).  I used the jar covers to cut out circles for the apple pie tops.  I covered everything and put them in the freezer.  Then on Wednesday I took the pies out, prepared the fillings, and baked them.  I mostly used the assembly instructions from here.  I made pumpkin, apple, and key lime for my variations (pumpkin and key lime crusts should pre-bake for 10 minutes at 375).  Total pies should bake for about 45-55 minutes. Enjoy (with ice cream!).

Christmas Dream Bars

christmas-dream-bars

If your Christmas miracle hasn’t happened yet this season, let me get the ball rolling for you. (…make these….)

While this isn’t a totally original recipe (modified from here), I am incredibly joyful with their creation all the same (yes, joyful).  I was slammed in between hosting my family for Thanksgiving and heading out for yet another Far East Asia work trip…and I needed something delicious, incredibly quick, and incredibly easy for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.  So, while I like coming up with recipes that illustrate my lifelong obsession for ooey gooey decadent desserts,  it turns out I also really like finding super easy recipes that lend themselves to my sometimes hectic life.  These can be made in under 30 minutes from start to finish, and eaten in under 30 seconds.  Some real efficiency here.  I added a teaspoon of vanilla into the sweetened condensed milk, omitted the nuts and chocolate chips, and added lots o’ butterscotch chips (KEY) and M&Ms instead.   Happy Holidays!

 

Cauliflower Gratin

cauliflower-gratin

If you are trying to identify the cauliflower gratin, it is the bowl on the lower left-hand corner. In the midst of Thanksgiving madness we just simply didn’t get a picture. I was embarrassed for a second to even share this one, but I’m over it. It looked good and pretty, I promise.

 

I had my whole Thanksgiving menu planned, until John came
home with cauliflower gratin from Central Market. %$#@ it John.

 

Although in the end, it was one of the things I was thankful
for on that day. Soooo delicious (and easy the way I made it!)

 

Recipe

 

  • 2 heads cauliflower, chopped into large florets
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • ¾ cup asiago cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • Fresh ground pepper

 

Steam the cauliflower until tender. Melt the butter in a
saucepan, then whisk in the flour. Add the chicken broth and stir to thicken
over medium heat.  Reduce heat to low,
and mix in the milk, cheese, and nutmeg. Pour over cauliflower and serve.

 

 

PS – if I wasn’t cooking for multiple gluten-free people, I
would have topped with some breadcrumbs as well and then baked until golden!

 

Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes

I wished I had a closer photo of the mashed potatoes, but now that I realize someone put  white slotted plastic ladle in as a serving utensil I am glad I don’t. I’m willing to bet that was my sister’s doing. Or my husband’s. Too late to fingerprint it.

Anyway, this will forever be my only mashed potato recipe. I’m done researching and testing; this is the only one you need.  And really, it’s not rocket science. Good mashed potatoes have one thing in common: fat.


Recipe
  • 5 lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and boiled
  • 1.5-2 cups whole milk
  • 1.5 sticks butter
  • Lots of salt and pepper

After boiling the potatoes until fork tender, drain and keep them over medium-low heat to dry out a bit.  When most of the water/steam has escaped, mash them and mix in all ingredients. Serve immediately, or put in a bowl to serve later (and reserve a bit of stock or potato water to mix in before reheating).  

Herb and Sausage Stuffing

 

Sorry, I have no other photos of my stuffing. It is easy to identify though with my husband helping himself to what will become the first of five servings.  I love this rather traditional take on stuffing, with a little sausage for added flavor.  If I wanted to get wild I think some apples slices or pecans would be a delicious addition.Recipe

  • 16 cups stale bread cubes
  • 1-2 lb ground sausage (depending on how much you love sausage; just plain italian)
  • 2 cups onion, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 stick butter
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh herbs (I did mostly thyme, and a bit of
    rosemary)
  • 2-3 cups stock (from turkey giblets or chicken stock)
Cook the sausage, then transfer to a large bowl. Cook the
vegetables in the same pan. Add the butter, S&P.  Transfer to the sausage bowl, then mix in the
herbs and bread cubes.  Add plenty of
stock to fully drench the bread, but not leave a pool on the bottom of the
bowl.  Transfer to a baking dish, and
bake at 350 for about 25 minutes.
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