Saturday, November 28, 2009

Candied Coconut Sweet Potatoes

This year for Thanksgiving we gathered for a large extended family dinner with my dad's side of the family. I remember when I was young we used to get together with these same relatives but once my uncle became sick and passed away and my grandma as well we didn't gather as often. I really enjoyed this mini reunion and seeing family that I haven't seen in many years.

I have never thought of sweet potato casserole as a must-have for Thanksgiving dinner. A few years ago when Dan and I started making our own dinner for just our little family we made sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top which the kids ate. This year I saw this recipe for sweet potatoes with coconut crumble on top and I just had to make it. With my ridiculous fashion of cooking a brand new and never tested recipe when guests come for dinner, I made this recipe and we all loved it! It will definitely be a staple on our traditional Thanksgiving dinner table.

Candied Coconut Sweet Potatoes
Recipe from Our Best Bites

4 C mashed Sweet potatoes (4 med sweet potatoes or abt 2 large sized cans)
6 Tbs Sugar
6 Tbs butter (no margarine), softened or melted
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 can Sweetened Condensed Milk (eyeball it)
1 t vanilla

1 C brown sugar
1 C sweetened coconut flakes
6 Tbs melted butter

Note: You can make these up to a day or two ahead of time, just keep them well covered in the fridge and don't put the topping on until just before baking.

If using fresh sweet potatoes, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prick each sweet potato with a fork and place on foil in the oven. Cook for 40-60 minutes or until tender. Once they've cooled enough to handle, slice in half and scoop out the insides into a mixing bowl.

To the mixing bowl add in sugar, butter, eggs, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla. Your butter should be soft enough to blend up easily so nuke it in the microwave before you add it to the bowl if you need to. You could mash it all up by hand, but an electric mixer works great. Spread this mixture evenly into a 9 x 13 pan.

For the topping, combine brown sugar and coconut and then pour melted butter over and combine. Sprinkle the potatoes with the topping and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 40-50 minutes.The top should be nice and browned and bubbly so just keep an eye on it.

Jayne's Notes: 
*I highly recommend using fresh sweet potatoes. Their preparation is just like baking a normal potato so it's real easy. Also, the canned potatoes have added sugar so be aware that this recipe already is plenty sweet and you may want to leave out the sugar in the batter if you used canned yams. 
*I increased the crumble topping mixture because we all like a bite of yummy crumblies with our sweet potatoes. I ended up doubling the sweet potato mixture (allowing me to use the entire can of sweetened condensed milk) and making the crumble recipe x 2 1/2. 
*The original recipe said you could leave the sweet potatoes slightly clumpy and not fully beat the mixture smooth. Next time I try this idea and beat the batter ingredients separately to allow them to fully mix and then mix it with the sweet potatoes until just barely mixed yet still lumpy.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Carrot and Red Pepper Soup

"Have you eaten your vegetables today?"  I was very skeptical of this recipe when I first saw it. I do enjoy carrot soups but I've only ever tasted a recipe that included cream. I was also very hesitant about the orange juice (the original recipe included orange zest but I didn't want to go that far with the citrus flavor.) The reasons I did make this recipe is because: I had a lot of carrots in the fridge to eat,  Autumn is here and I love making soups in cooler weather,  I'm trying to eat more healthy, and most importantly I read on Just that Good's site that their toddlers at this soup right up!

Well, my husband and I were pleasantly surprised at the yummy taste. My kids' verdict: they ate it in a blink so I guess they enjoyed it as well.

Carrot and Red Pepper Soup
Altered by me from 'Blogging, it's what's for dinner'

2 T. butter or olive oil
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 medium onion, diced
1 lb. carrots, thinly sliced
1/2 c white rice
Sea salt and freshly milled pepper
2 T. parsley chopped or 1 T dried
3 T. dill chopped or 1 1/2 T. dried dill
Juice of 1 orange
6 cups water, chicken or basic vegetable stock

Melt the butter in a soup pot and add the bell pepper, onion, carrots, rice and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Cook over medium heat, covered until the onion has softened completely, about 10 minutes, stirring several times.*

Add a grind of pepper, the parsley, dill, orange juice and water/broth.*  Bring to a boil, then simmer, partially covered, until the rice is cooked, about 25 minutes. Cool briefly, then puree all but a cup or two of the soup and return it to the pot. Taste for salt, season with pepper, garnish and serve. This soup may be served hot as well as chilled.

*Jayne's Notes:
When sauteing the onion add more oil or butter if it gets too dry. I ended up adding a little of both for added flavor.) 
I used 4 cups broth and 2 cups water because I liked the slight chicken broth flavor in the soup.) 

Monday, November 9, 2009

Apple Pie Filling

I have been busy with food but not how you would think. We moved to California earlier this year and I have been attempting to learn the art of gardening. In fact, today I planted my fourth round of veggie plants including romaine lettuce, collard greens, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots and celery. I've never grown collards, carrots or celery so we'll see how those turn out. I don't think I've ever eaten collards before but I've been told that they are loaded with even more vitamins than spinach are are great in a shake masked with fruit. My broccoli, peas and green beans that I planted 3 weeks ago are really thriving and I think I'll be harvesting some beans/peas soon. My summer  bell peppers plants are still happily producing and I've taken to eating slices of bell pepper with my favorite homemade hummus for lunch. It's surprisingly filling and of course helps my diet! Two weeks ago I picked 72 bell peppers from my five pepper plants. Seventy-two!!! These are great sliced and then frozen for later use. (See bottom part of picture below.)

I think I could talk about the ups and downs of my gardening efforts forever but here is the even bigger reason for my lack of posts. I have been drying, fruit leathering and saucing apples like it's going out of style! To date I have about 140 quarts of apple sauce, 2 gallon bags of dried apples (more to come of these since hubby likes to take them to work as a snack), 15 pints of apple pie filling and a handful of fruit leather rolls.

In this picture you can see some apple sauce to the left because we ran out of time on sauce day and had to freeze a couple batches. In the center is some of my pie filling and on the lower side of the photo is some of my frozen bell peppers.

I really liked the taste of the pie filling and wanted to share this easy recipe with you. It's loaded with sugar so there isn't much NOT to like. Mmmm!

Apple Pie Filling
Recipe from Ball's Blue Book of Preserving

Yield: about 6 pints

6 lbs apples
2 c sugar
1/4 c flour
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
2 T lemon juice

Wash, peel, core and [thinly] slice apples. Treat to prevent darkening. (Place in large bowl with 2 quarts of water and 2 T Fruit Fresh or I used additional lemon juice in place of the Fruit Fresh. Don't let set in mixture for more than 10 minutes.)

Combine sugar, flour and spices. Rinse and drain apples; stir into sugar mixture. Let stand until juices begin to flow, about 30 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Cook over medium heat until mixture begins to thicken. Ladle pie filling into can-or-freeze jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Cool at room temperature, not to exceed 2 hours. Seal, label and freeze.

My mother-in-law gave this Ball book to me a couple years ago. It is a great resource for food preservation.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Panko-Crusted Pork Chops with Creamy Herb Dressing

I made this yummy dinner last night for my dad's birthday and we all loved it. I really liked how moist the pork turned out and how the bread crumbs were so large and crumbly even after pan-frying them. I love Panko crumbs! The sauce also added great flavor to the meat.

Panko-Crusted Pork Chops with Creamy Herb Dressing
from Cooking Light October 2008

Makes 2 servings

2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 large egg white
1/3 cup panko
2 (4-ounce) boneless center-cut loin pork chops (about 1/2 inch thick)
1 teaspoon canola oil
cooking spray

1 tablespoon chopped green onions
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon reduced-fat mayonaise
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

To prepare pork, preheat oven to 450°.  Combine first 6 ingredients in a shallow dish. Combine soy sauce and egg white in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Place panko in a shallow dish.  Dredge pork in flour mixture; dip in egg mixture. Dredge in panko. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork to pan; cook 1 minute on each side. Place pork on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 6 minutes or until done.

To prepare dressing, combine onions and the remaining ingredients. Serve dressing with pork.
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