Oh yeah, baby, it's come around to my favorite time of year again: Thanksgiving. I used to be a Christmas kind of gal, but as I get older, I realize that Thanksgiving is really the holiday that gets me in the old heartstrings. I'm not knocking Christmas in the least; I just seem to have a very soft spot for Thanksgiving.
Maybe it's because I like to cook and have my family around me; maybe it's because Rob proposed to me on Thanksgiving, lo these many years ago; maybe it's because there is no expectation of gift giving, instead you honor those things for which you are most grateful. I think the answer may be D. All of the above. And so much more.
This year we are hosting my parents, my brothers, and my sister for the big feast, and that alone is a reason to give thanks. With Rob, my mother, and my sister all working in a hospital, it is nothing short of amazing that no one is working on the holiday. Of course, they all go back to the salt mines the next day, but since we've saved many plates of food over the years it will be nice to have them all around the table at one sitting.
I've had a relapse with my office supply addiction, because this time of year always calls for such huge lists. Color coded. With highlighter. And tiny Post-it's for the cookbooks. It's all about baby steps, my friends. Since I am in the throes of my recipe gathering, and because my sister-in-law made a request for it as well, I'm going to share one of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes with you: The Sweet Potato Puff.
I'm not kidding when I am telling you that this side dish will change your life, even if you don't like sweet potatoes. This is like pie that is masquerading as a legitimate dinner course, and it is so delicious that you will want to put a serious hurt on anyone who tries to move in on your second helping. The Puff has brought people to tears and fisticuffs, so make sure you have enough to go around.
Sweet Potato Puff
3 cups cold mashed sweet potatoes (no butter or milk added)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted (the recipe also mentions margarine, but that is sacrilege in this house)
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup flaked coconut
Topping (the part that I need a straight jacket to stop myself from eating):
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup all purpose flour
Beat sweet potatoes, sugar, butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla until fluffy. Stir in coconut. Spoon into a greased 2.5 quart baking dish. Combine topping ingredients until well blended and sprinkle over potatoes. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 35-40 minutes (or until golden brown) Yield: 8 servings. Or two and a half servings. Whatever floats your boat.
Also, here are two helpful tips gleaned from years of cooking and eating this dish:
- The potato mixture can be made the day before and refrigerated, but the topping tastes best when you add it right before baking.
- It is very easy to sustain third degree burns on your tongue by eating the topping as soon as you pull it out of the oven. Don't say I didn't warn you.
This is obviously not a non-caloric recipe, but all the beta carotene more than makes up for the fat. You will have eyes like a hawk, which will come in handy while you are watching the football games from your treadmill.
And if you are very faithful to your treadmill, then you may be interested in the recipe for Rob's favorite Thanksgiving dessert: Apple Cranberry Crisp with Eggnog Sauce. I'll have to ask Rob if he'll let me share it with you. He gets a little possessive of The Crisp, but I think the spirit of the season may prevail.