Sweet Potato Casserole

Anyone whom I’ve ever told about Thanksgiving in my family never quite seems to believe me. Growing up, Thanksgiving was always held at my dad’s aunt’s house (they still do it, but 18 plus hour car ride to get there from WI doesn’t appeal to me at this time of year). We’d usually have in the neighborhood of a 40 pound turkey and a 20 pound ham. Every side dish imaginable. Every flavor of soda. Every snack you could think of. We’d eat for four days straight. On a light year, there would be around 20 or so of us. On a heavy year, close to 40 or 50. All crammed into my aunt’s house. And I can guarantee you they already have *next* years turkey picked out.

While turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes may be the standard dishes, they weren’t my favorite growing up. I found the turkey flavorless, the stuffing unnecessary, and the mashed potatoes lumpy (my mom made smooth mashed potatoes, which I much preferred). So while I’d have a little of those dishes the first day, I mostly gorged on ham, sweet potato casserole and creamed corn for four days.

I’ve been talked out of doing a ham for Thanksgiving the past 4 years, but no one argues with my sweet potato casserole. I’ve never eaten it anywhere else, so to me, the way I make it is just how it’s supposed to be made. Apparently some people do something with marshmallows and sweet potatoes. We’ll be having none of that here.

The first time I made this, I made it exactly as was written, copied from the recipe card at my parent’s house. I got a good chuckle out of how things have changed in cooking (do I need to tell you that the milk you use should be homogenized?). I couldn’t understand what went wrong. What we ate that first year didn’t taste anything like what my aunt made. It was so sickly sweet. Apparently I was supposed to know to cut the amount of sugar in half! Even at 1/2 cup below, I feel it might be almost too much.

And now I present you with one of my favorite holiday foods:

Sweet Potato Casserole
3 c cooked mashed sweet potato – the flavor will be better if you bake them, but the world will still turn if you nuke them instead
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c melted butter
2 eggs, well beaten
1 t vanilla
1/3 c milk
Combine and mix well.
Spoon into a 2 quart casserole (8″ x 8″ is 2 quarts)

Mix:
1/2 c light brown sugar
1/4 c flour (gluten free in my case)
2.5 t melted butter
1/2 c chopped pecans
Sprinkle the nut mix over the sweet potato mix.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

If you need nut free, you can use *not* fine ground cornmeal in place of the nuts. It changes the taste a bit, but the texture is still good. We do this for my mom since she can’t eat nuts.

When doing this for a large group, I usually double the recipe. I don’t have a four quart casserole, so I usually just buy a large aluminum pan and do it in that. Makes clean up easier too :)

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