Before Thanksgiving in 2011 I wrote this post on my creative writing blog. Sweet Potato Casserole is one of my families favorite Holiday dishes and a definite must cook.
My unfocused, scatter blogging is taking another turn into the world of cooking. A fellow blogger, A Bloggy Mom asked followers and friends what they are doing for Thanksgiving and I responded,
“turkey purchased so dinner at my house. Wanna come? I make an awesome gravy and my sweet tater casserole is heaven!”
To which she responded,
“how do you make your sweet potato casserole?”
So, I promised to whip up a new blog post with the recipe included because I’m all about sharing. Especially delicious recipes because what’s the point in being selfish? I’m pretty sure the majority of the people who read my blog can’t come over for Thanksgiving dinner and how else would they get to experience the deliciousness of something I love?
This recipe has it’s roots in one that was gleaned from a newspaper by my Mom years ago. It fast became a family favorite and, thank goodness, because one Thanksgiving tradition I always took a pass on was sweet potatoes with mini marshmallows on top. Gaaag! Oh how I hate that dish. My family really didn’t have a choice since I’m the cook and they don’t get a vote. I made minor changes to make it work better for me and my need to make things my own.
OK time to shut up and put up…. the recipe.
Sweet Dreams Sweet Potato Casserole
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
- 3 medium fresh yams or sweet potatoes cooked
(boil in 2 quarts water with half cup of brown sugar until fork tender & drain)
or 29 oz can of sweet potatoes drained
- 1 Cup brown sugar
- ½ Stick butter or margarine cut into chunks (works best with cold butter)
- 2 Eggs
- 1 teaspoon all spice
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup margarine
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Drain sweet potatoes and cut into *bite size pieces. Put potatoes in bottom of greased casserole dish. (A square glass cake pan or a2-1/2 qt. round French White Corning Ware casserole dish.)
Mix all other ingredients and pour over sweet potatoes.
“Shred” frozen margarine/butter into flour and sugar mixture. ( use large holes on cheese shredder-hat tip to Alton Brown of Good Eats for this tip) Mix with a fork until like coarse crumbs. Add nuts. Then top the casserole with the crumb topping mix. You can get fancy here and arrange some 1/2 pecans on the top to make it pretty. Or not. It still tastes the same.
Bake for 15 minutes at 425 then lower temp to 350 degrees and bake an additional 30-40 minutes, then let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.
* - Some sweet potato casserole recipes mash the potatoes. I loath mashed potatoes so this option of bite size pieces creates a palatable dish for me. If you want one of those recipes, forget about it! Try this one and you will be a conver
For those of you paying attention, I have been in pursuit of the perfect sourdough bread recipe. A weekend stuck inside due to an early huge snowstorm had my mind back on sourdough. My sourdough starter was to the point it needed to be reduced so rather than toss it, I decided to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new sourdough recipe.
The sourdough recipe I have is really tasty. It has the perfect tang, but it takes ALL DAY from the drop of the first ingredient until the loaves are out of the oven. It relies exclusively on the sourdough starter to raise the dough and that takes a long time. My Mom’s bread recipe is the absolute best homemade white bread ever. It’s soft, it rises to heights previously unknown to homemade bread, and it is delicious. The task became, how do I hybrid these two recipes into a fast, delicious sourdough bread recipe.
I’m sure you’ve guessed, since this posts exists, I accomplished this feat. The bread is so tasty, crustier than Mom’s bread (as sourdough should be), and softer, lighter than the sourdough recipe and the most important? It’s a tall, beautiful loaf.
I made my loaves in glass loaf pans, so at this point I’m not sure how free form traditional style loaves will turn out. I’m thinking they should be just fine. I also didn’t score my loaves, but this can be done as well to create your own unique loaves either in pans or free form.
Now, I’m going to get on my soapbox. To achieve a good rise and quality dough and bread, always use good quality flour. In my opinion store brand and Gold Medal flours are subpar. Mad Scientist uses Dakota Mills, Wheat Montana or King Arthur flour.
Simply Scrumptious Sourdough
- 1 Cup of sourdough starter
- 1 Lightly beaten egg
- 2 Tablespoons honey
- 1 Cup very warm water
- 1-1/2 Cups AP flour
- 2 Tablespoons gluten
- 2 Tablespoons yeast
- 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
- 5/8 teaspoon sour salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
- 3-4 cups AP flour
Combine the first SEVEN ingredients (starter through yeast) into your mixer bowl, and mix using paddle attachment just until the ingredients come together. It should be a shaggy mixture. Let this starter dough rest for 30 minutes or until the mixture rises approximately double.
After the starter dough has raised, in a small bowl stir together the next FOUR ingredients (salt through vinegar) and add immediately to the starter dough and start your mixer on low-medium speed.
Add flour 1/2 to 1 cup at a time and switch to the dough hook when the dough becomes extra thick and sticky. Continue to slowly add flour until dough is slightly sticky. Knead using your mixer with the dough hook for 5 minutes. Then turn onto a floured surface and knead by hand for another 2 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375° and place a baking pan with 1/2” of water added on the bottom rack.
Move dough to a clean, oiled bowl and cover. Allow the dough to rise 30 minutes, or until doubled. Punch down, cover and rise another 30 minutes, or until doubled.
Divide the dough into two loaves and place into oiled loaf pans. Cover and allow to rise for 30 minutes.
Bake for 10 minutes then remove the pan of water. Bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the loaves are golden brown.
For those interested in homemade sourdough, this is the process I used to get mine going. I used pineapple juice to start mine and the resultant starter is wonderfully tangy. I recommend not using the starter for two weeks after starting. The longer it is fed, the better the quality of taste. I made a batch of bread 8 days after I began. It was good, but the bread I made a month after was even better.
Once I got my starter going, I let it grow in quantity until I have 3-4 cups in my canister. I either bake, give away, or discard 1 cup when it gets to be over this amount. The giveaway option is a wonderful gift to friends who love sourdough because they won’t have to go through the time it takes to get their own batch going. They will simply need to feed one day, 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water to have enough to make a batch of bread the next day.
To maintain my starter, I feed daily, 1/4 to 1/2 cup of flour and 2 Tablespoons to 1/4 cup of water. Honestly, I don’t measure either the flour or the water. I “eyeball” the amounts.
Many of the sourdough people only keep a cup or less on hand. I like to have the larger amount because it’s easier to measure out what I need to use, and I have plenty leftover to keep the starter going.
I found this recipe on “The Fresh Loaf” from Debra Wink’s Sourdough starter. It is below, as I found it on the site.
Basic Procedure for Making Sourdough Starter
If you are the curious, investigative type (or a sourdough purist :-), this can be done with just water in place of the juice throughout. But for many (not all), a vigorous gas-producing bacterium will grow on day 2 and quit growing on day 3 or 4, followed by a few days or more of agonizing stillness. The fruit juice or cider should keep this bacteria (and a few others that are smelly) from growing and delaying the process. Either way, the end result will be the same sourdough starter.
* Mad Scientist note: use good quality flour for your starter and your bread. In my opinion store brand and Gold Medal flours are subpar and your resultant starter and bread do not perform as good. Mad Scientist uses Dakota Mills, Wheat Montana or King Arthur flour
Day 1: mix . . .
2 T. whole grain flour* (rye or wheat)
2 T. unsweetened pineapple juice, apple cider or orange juice
Day 2: add . . .
2 T. whole grain flour*
2 T. juice or cider
Day 3: add . . .
2 T. whole grain flour*
2 T. juice or cider
Day 4: (and once daily until it starts to expand and smell yeasty), mix . . .
2 oz. of the starter (1/4 c. after stirring down–discard the rest)
1 oz. flour** (scant 1/4 cup)
1 oz. water (2 tablespoons)
My mom hosts an occasional Sunday Soup lunch after Mass and yesterday was one of those days. I had promised my daughter I would prepare Italian Wedding Soup and then I remembered I had leftover chicken strips my hubby had fixed a few nights before. I needed to get that chicken used up so I decided to do what I do; Mad Scientist a new soup.
I have been yearning for a soup I had at a local restaurant years ago that is no longer here called Duchess soup. It had chicken and vegetables in a wonderful creamy base, decadent and delicious. I decided I was going to attempt to recreate this soup once and for all. I found recipes for Duchess Soup on the web but none had chicken, so I took what I learned about those soups and spun it my way.
What I ended up with was perfect Duchess Soup. At least the one from my olfactory memories.
A tip to all who may choose to make this, taste, taste, taste. I can’t tell you exactly how much salt or pepper I used, and honestly, I eyeballed the herbs de provence and chicken base. This to me is they key to ANY good soup or sauce is to constantly taste and adjust according to your own liking.
Second bit of info, this is a huge batch of soup. I didn’t have to worry about leftover since I was taking it to a big family gathering, but it should freeze in single size portions quite nicely and you will have a homemade hearty bowl of soup for the upcoming cold days.
Deb’s Duchess Soup aka Chicken Corn Chowder
1 medium onion diced
4 large carrots diced carrots
4 ribs celery diced
1 small package of mushrooms diced
2 cups diced cooked chicken
3 medium red potatoes, peeled and diced
3 cartons chicken stock (reserve 1 cup for mixing corn starch/arrowroot)
1-1/2 to 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp chicken base
1/3 cup cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1 tsp herbs de provence
3 garlic cloves/crushed chopped fine
salt & pepper to taste
In a large skillet heat 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil. Sauté onions, carrots, celery and mushroom until softened.
Placed chicken, vegetables and stock into large stock pot or crock pot, salt, pepper and herbs. Cook on low for 2-3 hours.
Stir in heavy cream
Stir cornstarch/arrowroot in reserved chicken stock until dissolved and smooth and slowly stir into soup mixture.
Add chicken base and stir well.
Sprinkle 1/2 cup of cheese at a time and still until thoroughly incorporated.
Now taste for seasoning and it’s ready to eat.
I am an obsessed girl. It's true! In October, I become driven to eat or drink anything called "Pumpkin" when the seasonal treats, Lattes, Blizzards and pies, are trotted out. My first love was the Pumpkin Spice Latte's at Starbucks. I crave these when they are out of season and whoop it up (yes I cheer out loud and give a little fist pump) when Starbucks makes the much-anticipated announcement that Pumpkin Spice Latte's are BA - AAA - CK!
Oh! So you want my recipe for cinnamon caramel rolls? OK. I’ve been promising this for a long time. I suppose since I teased on my Facebook page about the recent batch I made the ooey gooey deliciousness of having a cinnamon roll fresh out of the oven it’s high time I posted the recipe so others may partake in their delight.
Most of the time if we are hankering for cinnamon rolls I’ll use half of my bread dough to make 2 loaves of bread and use the other 1/2 to make rolls. You can find the bread recipe HERE.
Now, here is the magic after you have a batch dough mixed together and ready.
Crazy Good Cinnamon Caramel Rolls
1/2 batch of Mama’s Mad Scientist’s T.B.B.E. Bread
1/2 cup melted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/2 cup hot water
1/3 cup peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
1/3 cup shortening, lard or coconut oil
brown sugar (sorry-no exact measure here. This is an eyeball ingredient)
OPTIONAL-nuts – pecans and walnuts are really REALLY good
In the bottom of a 13X18 pan (or divided into a 9X12 & an 8 inch square) stir together the butter, brown sugar and water.
Combine peanut butter and shortening/lard/coconut oil and blend until smooth.
Roll dough into a rectangle 12 inches by 18 inches and 1/2 inch thick. Spread the peanut butter mixture on dough leaving the top 3/4 inch edge clean on the long side. Spread handfuls of brown sugar evenly over the peanut butter then generously sprinkle cinnamon over the brown sugar. Don’t be shy with the cinnamon. It should clearly be covering the brown sugar. You can add the nuts here or you can put them in the caramel mix in the bottom of the pan.
Roll the dough and pinch the top (long) edge to seal the roll. Slice in 3/4 to 1 inch slices and place into pan(s). Be sure the rolls have some separation from each other and from the side of the pan. Cover pan with a towel and let the rolls raise about 15 minutes.
Bake in 365 degree oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Allow the rolls to cool for 7 minutes (yes, seven is perfect) and flip the rolls onto parchment, wax paper or a cookie sheet, caramel side up.
Now, go get a plate and dive in.
Cabbage with Noodles and Bacon
- 1 head of cabbage, chopped
- 1 pound of bacon*
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 bag of egg noodles
- 1/2 cup water
- Black pepper
- 1-2 tsp dried dill
- 2-3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels, then break into bite-sized pieces. Drain all but 2-3 Tbsp bacon fat.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, add noodles and cook 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.
While the noodles are cooking, add the onions in the skillet with bacon fat. Sauté until the onions are caramelized. Add the cabbage to the skillet. Season with salt and generous fresh ground black pepper. You may need to add a couple more Tbsp. of bacon fat to prevent sticking. In fact, I would encourage you to do so for the flavor. Cook until tender and lightly caramelized. Stir in the egg noodles , bacon and water. Add dill and parsley and taste test for salt and pepper season. Serve immediately.
DEFINITELY caramelize the onion and the cabbage. This adds a nutty warm flavor that you will miss if you don’t cook to this stage.
This is one of my tried and true soup recipes and frequent request at Sunday family soup lunches. It is so delicious and even better with slices of crusty delicious homemade bread.
Debbie’s Italian Wedding Soup
1-1/2 pounds sweet OR hot Italian sausage (find it w/o casings-much easier!)
1 package sliced fresh mushrooms
1 medium onion, diced
3 clove garlic, pressed
3 Tablespoons butter
3 (three) 32-oz. boxes chicken stock
1/2 large package chopped frozen spinach
1/2 cup ancini de pepi (tiny pasta used n frog eye/ambrosia salad)
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon marjoram
Sale and fresh ground pepper to taste
OPTIONAL: Dash crushed red pepper flakes, to taste if you aren’t using hot Italian sausage
In a microwave safe bowl, break up sausage and cook 3 minutes at a time on high, chopping and stirring meat between cycles until cooked. While cooking the sausage, in a large heavy stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat, or in a slow cooker on high, melt butter and sautee mushrooms until soft. Add onion and garlic and stir to coat. Add stock, spinach, oregano, marjoram and cooked sausage. Stir in pasta and season with salt and pepper to taste and optional red pepper flakes.
Bring soup just to a boil stirring occasionally (to keep pasta from sticking) and reduce heat to low (slow cooker reduce to Low) Stove top, simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Slow cooker for 3 hours.
Serve soup with Romano or Parmesan cheese. Keep the red pepper flakes on hand for those who want it spicier! A good loaf of crusty bread and or a big spinach salad is the perfect addition to this yummy soup!
Almost Mad Sourdough
- 4-6 cups unbleached AP flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon quick/rapid rise yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon sour salt
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 cup warm milk
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, softened
- 1 1/2 cups sourdough starter (see HERE for instructions)
- 2 large eggs (one for dough-one for egg wash)
- Sea salt or Kosher Salt
- In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, salt, and dry yeast. Stir in milk, honey, softened butter and 1 lightly beaten egg. Add starter and sour salt. Mix in flour gradually. Dough should be still be sticky. ((Not glob to your fingers sticky)
- Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and knead for 8 to 10 minutes. Yes, you read that right. Is necessary to obtain the proper texture of your baked bread. Or let your machine do the work for you. 5-10 minutes in a large mixer (Kitchenaid or Cuisinart stand)
- Place in a greased bowl, turn once to oil surface, and cover. Allow to rise until doubled in volume.
- Punch down, and let rest 15 minutes. Shape into two loaves. (Round or oblong for artisan loaves or use greased loaf pans) Place on a greased sheet pan. Allow to rise 30 minutes to an hour or until doubled.
- Score the loaves, diagonal, lengthwise, crosswise, hashtag; whatever you like. Brush egg wash over tops of loaves and sprinkle tops with a little Sea or Kosher Salt.
- Bake at 400 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 25-30 minutes, or till done golden brown. Sift a small amount of flour on loaves for that beautiful sourdough finishing touch.
**NOTE- Sourdough starter takes around two weeks to prepare for use. The link to the blog Yumarama.com is a very concise set of instructions on preparing a starter. I wish I had found this before I started mine. Much easier and More understandable. For family here in town, I can save you the time of starting your own by sharing the starter I ladle off every other day or so to prevent a sourdough starter takeover.
I'm stepping outside of my normal blog posts here to do something I do everyday. I do it well if I might brag on myself a bit. Something I didn't include in the description about me is I'm a pretty darn good cook. I have a knack for re-creating recipes into something different and often better then becoming my own. I'm also good at opening the fridge, freezer and pantry and whipping up something new and delicious when I haven't planned anything for dinner or just feel like something new or different.