Halloween has come and gone and if you have managed to shake off the sugar-induced coma long enough to venture out, you'd be hard pressed to miss the explosion of holiday decorations. If you live in Florida like I do, this is the only indication that the holiday season has arrived. The average temperature here is still in the 80s!
The holidays are my favorite time of year. Everything seems to slow. The hustle and bustle of everyday life ebbs (I do my shopping online!), if only briefly, allowing us to focus on the things in life that endure. For me, this is the love of my family. There is nothing more important to me, and it's this time of year that really makes me want to not only embrace every second of joy they bring me, but to also show my thanks for their never-ending love and support. It's my personal belief that there is no better way to do this than through food.
Brings a whole new meaning to love handles!
I was lucky enough to be given a wonderful culinary education from a very young age and most of my most cherished memories happened in a kitchen. The family recipes I've collected are much like a diary of my life; every one of them has a story on which I look back fondly. When I make chocolate chip cookies, it's as if my Aunt Patty is in the kitchen with me, helping me work that beautiful culinary magic while trying to keep my fingers out of the cookie dough. Whenever I felt homesick at college, I would try to recreate my dad's amazing pancakes and remember all the weekend mornings he'd wake up early to make breakfast for all of us. I can't even look at sugar cookies without thinking of every Christmas holiday during which my grandmother and I spent hours decorating Christmas trees, angels and reindeer.
With only a few days until Thanksgiving, this post is to honor my mom's sweet potato casserole. After inquiring as to the recipe's origins, she informed me that she really couldn't say, but it was something she adapted from numerous different recipes she came in contact with. It might not be a recipe that has been in my family for generations, but it has been a feature at every Thanksgiving dinner I can remember, and it always fills me with a sense of warmth and peace. It is home and family and everything I love.
And it has streusel. Who doesn't love streusel?
Mom's Sweet Potato Casserole
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 cup white sugar
2 beaten eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1/2 stick butter*
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 stick melted butter*
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Boil sweet potatoes until fork tender. Drain.
2. Using electric mixer, mash sweet potatoes. Gradually add sugar, eggs, vanilla, butter, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mash until smooth. Turn mixture into your favorite baking dish.
3. Combine topping ingredients and mix until crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over potato mixture and bake for 30 minutes or until topping is crusty and brown.
4. Throw your scale out the window and have a moment of silence for your waistline. Elastic waist pants are advised.
The best thing about this casserole is that it can be used as a side dish or even a dessert!
* My mom always uses salted butter in cooking. If you prefer to use unsalted butter, I would suggest adding 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt to the potato mixture.
Photographic evidence of my lack of self-control.
Tell me about your favorite family recipes! Are they generations old or something new you developed? Do they have interesting family stories to go along with them? What are your quintessential holiday dishes?