Lower Sugar Sweet Potato Casserole

Lower Sugar Sweet Potato Casserole
Lower Sugar Sweet Potato Casserole

I grew up on the sort of sweet potato casserole that is topped with marshmallows, and I love the stuff.

One Thanksgiving in California is vividly stamped in my mind — the year we visited my grandparents and I realized for the first time that my grandma cooked almost every dish for Thanksgiving dinner in the microwave. IN THE MICROWAVE! Coming from rather culinary parents, it was a bit of a shock, and I’m not sure why I hadn’t noticed in previous years (I don’t even remember other Thanksgiving dinners at their house; maybe this was a first).

Anyways… this sweet potato casserole is not made in the microwave (do I even need to say that?) and so it’s off to a far superior start already! But it’s also been revised in other ways, calling for less sugar and being topped with crumbly, crispy pecans and oats instead of marshmallows. Because, sugar and marshmallows just don’t leave me feeling my best.

Sweet potatoes are quite sweet as they are, so adding sugar to the filling feels unnecessary (most recipes call for 1/4 to 1/2 cup of added sugar). In this version the filling is “natural,” meaning all the sweetness comes from the sweet potatoes, and the topping is made with maple syrup and cinnamon (which has sweet notes of it’s own!).

As Oliver would say, this dish comes out of the oven “smelling sweeter than a plate of yams with extra syrup.”

Lower Sugar Sweet Potato Casserole
Lower Sugar Sweet Potato Casserole

Tip: Cook the sweet potatoes ahead of time! You can cook the potatoes up to three days before you’re going to make this casserole. Here are a couple of ways to cook them (affiliate links ahead!):

  • In an Instant Pot: Place whole sweet potatoes in your Instant Pot with 1 cup of water (use a steamer basket if you have one). Use manual mode and set to high for 15 minutes (vent in sealed position). Allow pressure to release naturally, then open pot. Allow potatoes to cool, and then remove skins, which should easily pull off at this point.

  • In an oven: Preheat oven to 425°F. Prick sweet potatoes with a fork and rub with oil (such as coconut oil). Place potatoes on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or a sil-pat and bake for 45 minutes.

In both of these methods, the natural sugars in the sweet potatoes will caramelize so that your sweet potato casserole tastes sweet without the added sugar.

Thanksgiving is THIS WEEK. What else are you making? What’s your favorite thing once you sit down at the table?

Lower Sugar Sweet Potato Casserole

Lower Sugar Sweet Potato Casserole

Published November 20, 2018 by
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Serves: 4   |    Active Time: 4 hours



Ingredients:

  • 3-4 cups mashed sweet potato
  • 1/4 cup half and half or canned coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter or coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • For Crumble Topping:
  • 1/4 cup melted butter or coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 heaping cup rolled oats
  • 1 heaping cup pecan halves

  • Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
    2. Combine the first five ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until well incorporated.
    3. Spread sweet potato mixture in an even layer in a 9x9 baking dish.
    4. In a separate bowl, combine ingredients for crumble topping. Spread crumble topping in an even layer over the sweet potatoes.
    5. Place baking dish in the middle rack of the oven and bake 25-30 minutes. Sweet potatoes should be warmed through and pecans on top should be lightly toasted. Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.

    Leftover Turkey Enchiladas

    Leftover Turkey Enchiladas

    It’s not Thanksgiving for another week. I know. But here’s what else I know: when the day comes, and you eat everything delicious (stuffing, pie, turkey, gravy, potatoes, etc etc etc), there are going to be leftovers. (What’s Thanksgiving without leftovers?!)

    And the day after Thanksgiving, maybe you’ll want another round of traditional Thanksgiving fare, but after a few days, you’ll want to mix it up. And you’ll want to be prepared, because going to the store in that moment isn’t the answer (when you are tired from the holiday, and have plenty of turkey in the fridge and just need something to do with it). That’s where this recipe comes in.

    (I’m going to admit right now that I’m more excited about using leftover turkey in enchiladas than I am about actual Thanksgiving Turkey right now. Maybe you’re a turkey purist. But this is true: enchiladas are really hard to beat.)

    Leftover Turkey Enchiladas

    Now, last year when I started making enchiladas more frequently, my dad asked me if I was frying my tortillas. He said, you have to fry your tortillas. It’s far superior. And I remember the days of making enchiladas along side him — him frying the tortillas, and me, stuffing and rolling them and trying to keep up. And they were delicious.

    But this recipe doesn’t ask you to do that. What’s with that? Well, this recipe is a more “get these enchiladas made tonight,” “get dinner on the table,” type of recipe. Frying tortillas definitely takes a bit more commitment (and you must deal with that dreaded pot of hot, used oil when you are done!). And you know what? Even when you skip the frying part, they’re still delicious.

    So if you, like me, are trying to get dinner on the table, or hate slaving over a pot of boiling oil, try the sauce method. The sauce method is just easy enough that suddenly making enchiladas is something I do on a slow afternoon, rather than a production that requires planning and multiple hands and a commitment to the craft. Simplifying that one step makes enchiladas just that much more accessible for me.

    If you do want to fry your tortillas (🙌 good work!) you’ll have to change up step 4 in the recipe below. You’ll need to heat up a pan with enough frying oil to dip a tortilla into it, and you’ll want to set up a place to let the fried to tortillas drain. We always used a plat stacked with paper towels, which soak up excess grease. Once the oil is hot, you’ll want to use tongs to place tortillas one at a time in the hot oil. Fry for 5 seconds on each side, and then set on the prepared plate. Many hands make for fast work. The reason why this was practical (and fun!) when I was a kid was that there were two of us: my dad would do the frying while I would do the stuffing. If you don’t have the luxury of a friend or helper in the kitchen, you can fry all the tortillas, placing them in a stack, and then stuff them. Placing them in a stack will help keep them soft. But again, if you just want some enchiladas now, use the sauce method in the recipe below.

    Leftover Turkey Enchiladas

    P.S. The turquoise casserole dish in these images is my newest kitchen toy, and I love a) how well it cooks things, b) it’s rustic style, and c) the color. I got it on Amazon (affiliate link!).

    P.S.S. Enchiladas SCREAM Christmas to me. I guess it’s a family thing. So, you can also use chicken in this recipe if you no longer have leftover turkey around. I use chicken in enchiladas all the time!

    Leftover Turkey Enchiladas

    Published November 13, 2018 by
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    Serves: 6-8   |    Active Time: 60 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 3 cups shredded leftover turkey or chicken breast
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • To assemble:
  • 2 cups enchilada sauce
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded cheese (try Colby Cheese, Monterrey Jack Cheese or a mix of the two)
  • 16-20 six-inch corn tortillas

  • Directions:

    1. In a skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium heat until it sizzles. Sauté onion and garlic in oil until onions are translucent, and then remove from heat.
    2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine: shredded turkey, onion and garlic, cilantro, salt, cumin, oregano, and chili powder. Mix to combine and set aside.
    3. Preheat oven to 350°F. While the oven heats, assemble the enchiladas.
    4. Work with one tortilla at a time. Dip a tortilla into the enchilada sauce and allowing the tortilla to soften for 20-30 seconds. This helps the tortillas from cracking as you roll them (they still might a little bit, though once it's all baked up no one will know). Then, scoop 2-3 tablespoons of the turkey mixture into the middle of the tortilla, and roll it around the filling. Place the rolled enchilada seam-side down in a baking dish.
    5. Repeat step 4 until all of the turkey and tortilla mixture is used. Then, pour remaining enchilada sauce over the enchiladas, and top with shredded cheese.
    6. Bake enchiladas for 20 minutes, until cheese and sauce are bubbling and edges of tortillas are starting to crisp.
    7. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, and then garnish with minced cilantro and serve warm.

    Cranberry-Pinot Noir Chicken Roast

    Cranberry-Pinot Noir Chicken Roast

    This recipe for roasted chicken in a Cranberry-Pinot Noir Sauce is fit for a dinner party, but only takes four steps to make …and one of those steps is preheating the oven. 🙌

    Coq au vin (chicken stewed in wine sauce) is usually made on the stove stop or in a dutch oven, and while it’s not an overly complicated dish, making it on a sheet pan is way easier. Which, sometimes you just need.

    So, while you’re off doing whatever else you need to do — making a side salad, getting house chores done, watching Netflix - the combination of onions, garlic, and wine simmers away in your oven. And that combo, if you are not already familiar with it, is magical. The is alcohol in wine actually helps make the dish feel more flavorful, even though it burns off. As the sauce simmers in the oven, all those flavors become more concentrated.

    The chicken thighs soak up all those juices, and the potatoes get crispy edges. And finally, when you pull the pan out of the oven 30 minutes later, that wine has become herbaceous and if you can imagine it, almost creamy. And the chicken juicy and tender.

    Cranberry-Pinot Noir Chicken Roast
    Cranberry-Pinot Noir Chicken Roast

    There is something about roasting chicken with potatoes that feels fit for cold weather days. We just had our first real snow — snow that actually stuck to the ground. Isn’t funny how after 27 years of Colorado winters snow still gives me this giddy, “It’s snowing!” feeling?

    For me, what’s missing in classic wintertime dishes is a splash of brightness — you know what I mean, a pop of fresh. Herbs can totally help, but in this case cranberries are the star, adding spots of tart and fresh flavor. And add so much beauty, too! Even after being roasted, the cranberries add some beauty to this pan.

    We ate this along side some roasted brussels sprouts (why not take advantage of having the oven on?), but a side salad or steamed veggies would be great, too! Traditional coq au vin is served over pasta, but this is far from traditional, so don’t feel bad about breaking any rules.

    Cranberry-Pinot Noir Chicken Roast

    Cranberry-Pinot Noir Chicken Roast

    Published November 13, 2018 by
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    Serves: 4   |    Active Time: 50 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 yellow onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 cup baby red potatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup fresh or dried cranberries (Fresh will add a touch of bright tartness, while dried will add a bit of sweetness. Both work well in the dish!)
  • 1/2 cup Pinot Noir
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 springs thyme, plus more for garnish
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
    2. Arrange chicken thighs, onion wedges, quartered potatoes, and cranberries in a single layer in the dish.
    3. In a jar, combine remaining 9 ingredients. Place lid on jar, and shake briefly to mix. Then, pour wine mixture over chicken and potatoes.
    4. Place pan in middle rack in oven and bake 30-35 minutes, until the middle of the chicken thighs reach 165°F. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, remove bay leaves and then garnish with additional thyme and serve hot.