Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Classics--Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Praline Topping

This is not your typical Thanksgiving-day-yams-with-marshmallow-topping sweet potatoes, this dish has a yummy topping made with brown sugar, pecans, and butter that melts together into a praline flavored crust on top of soft and sweet mashed sweet potato souffle.

  • 3 c mashed cooked sweet potatoes
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1/2 c melted butter or margarine
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla
If you're using canned sweet potatoes/yams, drain and mash. If using fresh sweet potatoes, bake these ahead of time, then scoop out the insides. (I used to make these with drained, canned sweet potatoes, and thought they were great--until I has some leftover baked sweet potatoes and used them instead. Now I use canned only in case of emergency!) Add the sugar and melted butter. Beat eggs separately, and add after the butter has cooled a little. Add vanilla, and beat with mixer until ingredients are well blended. You will probably still have some lumps, unless you run it through a food processor. You can also mix by hand, but the batter will not be as smooth. Pour this into a greased or cooking-sprayed 8 x 8 pan or equivalent casserole dish.

In a separate bowl, mix together :
  • 3/4 c chopped pecans
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 2-3 T melted butter or margarine
Mix together the nuts and flour, then add the brown sugar and stir together. Add the melted butter last, and stir until everything is moistened. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the sweet potatoes.

If I use finely chopped pecans, or for special occasions when I want the finished product to look especially pretty, I add extra pecan halves on top. There's something that happens when I add the pecan halves on top that's more than the sum of the separate ingredients--the nuts take on a completely different taste, with a smoky, roasted flavor, which combines with the brown sugar and butter to a make a candied pecan taste that is out of this world.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, (longer if you make this ahead and refrigerate overnight) or until topping is melted together and browning on the edges.

This makes the best sweet potatoes--the perfect side dish that's also good enough to eat for dessert!

Until next time, good cooking, and good eating!

This post is linked to:

In and Out of the Kitchen at Feeding Big
You're Gonna Love It Tuesday at Kathe with an E
PINcentive Blog Hop at Cropped Stories

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

We eat lots of vegetables these days around my house--not a statement I thought I've ever be making! 

For years the vegetable selection in my cupboard and freezer was limited to predominately peas, corn and potatoes, with an occasional green bean thrown in for good measure.  I thought I had really branched out when I started feeding my family frozen mixed vegetables!  Here lately, though, I make lots and lots of oven roasted vegetables--crispy baked kale, brussels sprouts, and root vegetables, along with our tried-and-true favorites, and we've all been a lot more willing to at least try vegetables that we used to scorn.  

And that's what has lead me to try something way outside of our little comfort zone--pizza crust made out of---wait for it---cauliflower. My initial response was "eeeewwww", since cauliflower is one of those veggies that I have disliked since childhood.  However.  Since I've had some success with other eeewww-factor vegetables by cooking them in unusual-for-me methods, I decided to give this a try.

Since my husband and I are meat-eaters, and my son is a semi-vegetarian (another reason for me to widen my vegetable repertoire) I decided to make two crusts, one for a meat pizza and one for a vegetarian version. 

Ingredients: (makes two crusts)
  • 2 bags frozen cauliflower
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups finely grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 t dried minced garlic
  • 1 t salt
The first step was to steam the cauliflower.  All of the recipes I'd read on-line mention that the cauliflower needs to be as dry as possible after cooking, so I just covered mine and put it in the microwave from frozen with no extra water and cooked it until it was softish, about 10-12 minutes or so.  

The tips I read said to use a ricer, which I don't have.  I tried a potato masher, but my cauliflower wasn't really soft enough to mash well, so I broke out my mini food processor and more or less grated it.  Then I added eggs, cheese, salt, and garlic, and mixed well.  I ended up using my hands to be sure the egg was well incorporated.

Next step, I divided the "dough" (sort of a almost-but-not-quite-"mush" really) into two portions, and pressed each out--one onto this lovely well-used pizza pan...

...like so

And one onto this never-used pizza stone, both of which were sprayed with cooking spray first.


Note: Next time I will use parchment paper instead of cooking spray, because mine stuck.

I baked these at 400F for about 25 minutes, until they started to get firm and light brown on top.  

On the meat-eaters pizza, I used basic spaghetti sauce from a jar on half, and pesto (also from a jar) on the other half, topped with cooked ground meat and grated cheese blend.

Bake at 400 degrees for about five minutes, or until toppings are hot and cheese is melted.  When I got this out of the oven, I thought it needed more cheese, so I added another handful of mozzarella and stuck it back in the oven for another couple of minutes.

As noted above, the crust stuck pretty badly, so my plated pictures aren't pretty at all, and I totally failed to get a picture of the vegetarian version, topped with pesto, kale, and cheese, but it was a success, as well.

I have to say--this doesn't taste like regular pizza crust, but it's still good in a different kind of way.  I will definitely try this again, with the tweaks in cooking techniques that I've noted. And get this--it's not only healthier for us because of being made from a vegetable, it's low-carb, and fairly low-fat, also! So it's win-win!

Next time I will use parchment paper, and do the pre-bake slower and longer.  The one on the metal pan stuck worse, I think, but the one on the pizza stone was still damp underneath in the middle.

Until next time, good cooking, and good eating!

This post is linked to:

Slightly Indulgent Tuesday at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free
Homemaking Party at Hope in Every Season
Fantastic Thursday at Five Little Chefs
Frugal Thrusday at A Life in Balance
Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm
Friday Favorites at Simply Sweet Home
Foodtastic Friday at Not Your Ordinary Recipes
The Weekend Re-Treat at The Best Blog Recipes
Sweet N Savory Sunday at Cookin' for the Seven Dwarfs
The Creative Home & Garden Hop at Mumtopia
In and Out of the Kitchen at Feeding Big
Motivation Monday at A Life in Balance