Friday, November 21, 2008

Sweet Potato Casserole for the Virtual Thanksgiving Feast

Cam always comes up with all these wonderful, creative blogging ideas, from interviews, to surveys to this new virtual Thanksgiving dinner. She asked those who'd like to participate first to post a favorite recipe for the virtual meal by Nov. 23rd and then to post on one of the following topics by Thanksgiving day:

1. A favorite family holiday tradition
2. A favorite holiday memory
3. Something for which we are grateful this year

(Depending on how desperate I get for blog ideas before the end of NaBloPoMo, I may be taking all 3 ideas and running with them.)

Today, I'm starting with my favorite sweet potato casserole recipe. This one earns the distinction of "favorite," not only because I happen to think it's delicious, but also because I get so many compliments when I make it. The recipe has definitely evolved over the years, but I've now hit upon what seems to be the perfect version of it. It was originally given to me by one of my roommates when I was a young 20-something, having Thanksgiving with friends instead of family for the first time in my life, because I was stuck working the day after and could not make the long trek from CT to NC. It involved canned yams, canned pineapple, and marshmallows.

It was good, but nothing spectacular. I made it as given for a few Thanksgiving meals (eventually learning to use fresh, rather than canned yams), both those spent with family and those spent with friends. People seemed to like it, so I didn't think much about changing it. My mother doesn't like pineapple, so when I made it for the family, I substituted mandarin oranges, which seemed to work well.

Eventually, though, I met Bob. The first year we were married was the first year I spent Thanksgiving with his family. His father was diabetic. That meant, although if we balanced the other foods we served, he could have a small helping of sweet potatoes with pineapple, he certainly couldn't eat the marshmallows. I had to adapt my recipe, which I did. My adaptation was delicious -- something I decided I'd eat more than once a year. The next year, when we traveled to my parents' house for Thanksgiving, I made this new version, pineapples and all, and even my mother (who claims the pineapples are not "noticeable") loved it.

Bob's father is no longer alive. Since last year, we've lived very close to Bob's uncle (his father's brother), and we spent last Thanksgiving at his house (Bob has to officiate a Thanksgiving Eve service every year, so we can no longer travel for this holiday). I brought my sweet potato casserole to his uncle and aunt's house. This year, Bob's aunt specifically requested that I make it again.

Here's the version I make today:

4-5 sweet potatoes (or yams. It doesn't matter which you use)
1 (or more) can of crushed pineapple and juice from the can (the regular-sized cans, not the little ones)
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 bag of stuffing mix (I'm partial to Pepperidge Farm, but any will do)
5 pats of butter, plus butter for greasing casserole dish

Peel and cut sweet potatoes into chunks. Boil until tender. Mash with crushed pineapple (you may need less than one can or more, depending on how big your potatoes are. Start with half the can and add as needed, keeping in mind that your goal is mashed potatoes, not pineapple and sweet potato soup). Stir in chopped onion. Grease casserole dish and spread mashed potatoes into the casserole. Top with stuffing mix. Distribute the five pats of butter evenly over the stuffing mix. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Enjoy! If anyone decides to make this, I'd love to hear what you think.

And before I end this post, I just have to let everyone know that it's snowing here today! I hope that means we're going to have a nice snowy winter to make up for the nonexistant winter we had last year. Maybe then I'll start believing people when they say to me, "We do get snow in Lancaster County." Over the river and through the woods on our sleighs we go...


Danny said...

I'm having 13 people over for Thanksgiving (help!) and have been contemplating what to do with the sweet potatoes so this is it! Do you put the onions in raw or do you saute them a bit?

Snowing? Oy, it was 86 here today!

litlove said...

I'm so enjoying the recipes - I'll be writing on my attempt at a Thanksgiving dinner later today - and I wish I'd had them sooner. I hunted all over for something to do with sweet potatoes that wasn't too sweet (given I don't eat sugar) and this would have been perfect. I will have to try it one of these days!

Emily Barton said...

Danny, 13? Wow! That should be a movie. I put the onions in raw, but I'm sure you could saute them a little first, if you don't want quite so much of a bite and crunch.

Litlove, looking forward to reading about your own Thanksgiving, and when you do give these a try (they are also very good with ham and pork), please let me know what you think.

stefanie said...

I love yams. My husband does not but I've gotten him to make me spicy yam fries often enough that he admitted recently that they aren't so bad. I wonder what it would take to get him to veganize this and make it for me? Hmmm...

Cam said...

I'm taking this to my sister's on Thursday (I think there will be 23 there). Bought the ingredients today; can't wait to try it.

How is this if you make it ahead and then reheat? I'm not sure that I can get the oven for 30 minutes day of feast.

Emily Barton said...

Stef, it's the sweet potato dish for those who don't like sweet potatoes. A vegan version should be easy enough to make with margarine and stuffing mix (or flavored bread crumbs) that doesn't contain any dried chicken or turkey broth.

Cam, let me know if eveyone likes it. It's fine to make ahead and re-heat.

Eva said...

Oh! I'm totally doing to try this for tomorrow. I love sweet potatoes and hate marshmallows, but everyone seems to expect a sweet casserole on Thanksgiving. :D I'm a veggie, and it was pretty easy to find vegetarian stuffing.