Lower Sugar Sweet Potato Casserole with Oatmeal Pecan Topping

Lower Sugar Sweet Potato Casserole with Oatmeal Pecan Topping
Lower Sugar Sweet Potato Casserole with Oatmeal Pecan Topping

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 with Oatmeal Pecan Topping
Lower Sugar Sweet Potato Casserole with Oatmeal Pecan Topping

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 with Oatmeal Pecan Topping

Lower Sugar Sweet Potato Casserole with Oatmeal Pecan Topping

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.

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    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.

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    Grain-Free Butternut Squash Pie with Pecan-Crumble Crust

    Grain-Free Butternut Squash Pie with Pecan-Crumble Crust

    There are too many good recipes to share with you all this month! I usually only post two recipes a week, but this month I just couldn't get everything to fit into that schedule. My options were to ditch a recipe or publish an extra, and well, the answer was clear once we had a bite of this butternut squash pie with pecan crumble crust. 

    My good friend had a butternut squash pie making craze last year, and while he seems to now be over that caramelly, cinnamon-y flavor, I'm still stuck on it. 

    What I needed though, to really make the ultimate butternut squash pie, was an alternate crust. I've always been partial to graham cracker crusts (the kind you find on many cheesecakes) but wanted to keep this recipe from-scratch and grain-free.

    Grain-Free Butternut Squash Pie with Pecan-Crumble Crust

    Pondering this crust dilemma brought me to pecans. It wasn't sure pecans would work in place of graham crackers, but I had a hunch. I was nervous about it, putting the pie into the oven. A few friends stopped by and I explained to them it was just an experiment and could go terribly wrong. 

    Out of the oven it came and I was, even then, a little nervous. I took pictures, serving everyone else, and then grabbed the last piece for myself, topping it with an oversized dollop of whipped cream.

    Grain-Free Butternut Squash Pie with Pecan-Crumble Crust

    It was my butternut-pie-making-friend who said it first: a crust made of pecans is like a butternut pie inside of a pecan pie. A custardy filling nestled inside a crunchy, sweet, nutty shell. 

    He was right: it was a butternut squash pie inside of a pecan pie. The butter and sugar caramelized in the oven while the pecans toasted, making something so delicious it stole the show, even from the pie filling itself. 

    In this pie, crust is no longer just a vehicle for transporting filling. It's a part of the experience, as must as every other ingredient. 

    Grain-Free Butternut Squash Pie with Pecan-Crumble Crust

    Grain-Free Butternut Squash Pie with Pecan-Crumble Crust

    Published December 15, 2017 by
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    Serves: 8   |    Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes



    Ingredients:


      For the crust:
    • 2 cups pecans 
    • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar or coconut sugar
    • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

    • For the filling:
    • 10 ounces frozen cubed butternut squash, thawed
    • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar or coconut sugar
    • 1/4 cup wildflower honey
    • 2/3 cup half-and-half 
    • 1-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 tablespoon butter, melted 
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

    • To serve:
    • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F, and grease an 9-inch ceramic or glass pie pan .
    2. Put pecans in a food processor and pulse to grind them into a fine crumb. Scrape sides frequently to ensure even chopping. Few larger chunks should remain (several are ok but for the most part you are looking for an even, fine crumb). Scrape pecan crumbs into a bowl, and add sugar and melted butter. Use a spatula to stir until everything is combined and crumb should stick together when squeezed between two fingers. Now, press crumb mixture into prepared pie pan, working it up the sides and into an even layer along the bottom to form a crust. Tip: use the flat bottom of a glass to make a smooth bottom. Make sure there are no gaps or cracks, and then set aside.
    3. In a blender, combine: thawed butternut squash, sugar, honey, half-and-half, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. Puree until completely smooth, scraping sides down as needed. Then, allow mixture to rest for 5 minutes so any air bubbles have time to float to the top.
    4. Pour butternut mixture into prepared pie shell, filling it until almost—but not quite- full (shoot for 90-95% full). Place in oven and bake for 45-55 minutes, until custard filling jiggles slightly in the middle but not at the edges. Turn heat off, and allow pie to cook in oven with the door open for 10-15 minutes. This super slow cooling method will prevent the custard filling from cracking.
    5. While the pie cools, make the whipped cream. Add heavy cream to a bowl and whip with an electric mixture until it beings to hold peaks. Add vanilla, and beat 30 more seconds.
    6. Serve pie with dollops of whipped cream (ice cream would be good as well!).

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