Category Archives: Side Dishes

Side dishes

Roasted Barbecue-Spiced Potato Wedges with Lemon-Herb Cashew Sour Cream Dip

 

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I was trying to squeeze the last bits of daylight into my photos, taking pictures on the back patio.  It was close to sunset, and the dusky blue light sat cool and muted on my (finally) ready to photograph potato wedges.  I briefly glanced up and looked toward the back of the yard, near my garden.  The choir in my mind sang a glorious major chord as I saw honey-colored beams peeking over the fence, bathing the far half of the yard in a deliciously warm glow.  Oh brother.  I knew what I had to do.  One large wooden photo background, a cutting board filled with herbs in progress, bowls, measuring spoons, and the like, all needed to make it, stat, to the other side of the yard.  The neighbors probably question my sanity.  In my twenties, I cared about this a bit, but not so much anymore.  I’m beginning to understand the reason for the sequined hats and carefree attitudes of those twice as old as me–at a certain point, one just can’t take as much time to care about appearing foolish when it is magic is happening on the other side of the yard!  I balanced all my props, food and accoutrements on my photo background and carried them topsy turvy style to the prime location. 

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Liz Gilbert, although I was already well on my way to the deep end, this is partly your fault.  You wrote a little book about creativity and inspiration called Big Magic that has only served to amplify my spontaneous and wild creative urges.  I heard your voice in my head saying,  “If inspiration is calling from the other side of the yard, get thee to the other side of the yard!”  When seduced by inspiration, I create big messes, almost unknowingly and frenetically.  When I wake up from my altered state, I see my creation, and all the creative shrapnel, and almost don’t know what happened.

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In my last post, I shared a recipe for the Lemon-Herb Cashew Sour Cream Dip I’m utterly addicted to.  I love to dollop this dip on everything– breakfast hashes, crackers, veggies, and even eat it by the spoonful (don’t judge me!).  I must make a confession.  I’ve been withholding the recipe that this dip was created for–these Roasted Barbecue potato wedges.  I love this dip so much on its own that I thought it deserved its very own post.  

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These spiced potato wedges come together very easily, and make a great side or party appetizer.  I love the combination garlicky, smoky wedges with the cool herby dip.  Do you have smoked paprika in your spice cabinet?  I love to add it into my spice mixture for anything I want to add a savory smokiness to–veggie crumbles for taco meat, corn on the cob, pan fried tempeh, and many other things.

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It might be inconvenient at times, but I believe it’s infinitely worth it to say yes to the magically golden light on the other side of the yard, yes to the frenetic messes that appear as a side effect of creative reverie, yes to deciding to photograph a recipe at 6 pm when daylight hours are melting away, yes, yes, yes to the cheap little thrills that make life more colorful and exciting, and by all means, yes to roasty potato wedges with dip!

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Roasted Barbecue-Spiced Potato Wedges with Lemon-Herb Cashew Sour Cream Dip

  • 2 pounds medium yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch thick wedges
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Lemon-Herb Cashew Sour Cream Dip for serving (optional), recipe here

Preheat oven to 425˚.

On a baking sheet, toss the potatoes with the olive oil, spices, salt and pepper.  Arrange in a single layer.

Bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until the bottoms of the potatoes are golden and crispy.  Use a stiff spatula to pop the potatoes off the pan using a firm scraping motion.  Serve while hot with the dip.

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Filed under Appetizers, Sauces, Side Dishes, Snacks, vegetarian, Vegetarian and Vegan

Wild Mushroom Wild Rice with Caramelized Onions

 

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Rice, gone wild!  Double wild!  Mushroom madness!  All this Thanksgiving recipe testing and eating has put me into a food-induced euphoria.  Wild two times in one title is two too many wilds for one recipe, young lady!  Bring your torches.  Ban.  This.  Site.  Hide your childrens’ eyes!  With all this fungus among-us, it’s gettin’ crazy up in here.

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I bought a gigantic bag of assorted dried local Colorado mushrooms at the farmers market this summer.  We’re talking two freezer bags worth.  There will not be a mushroom shortage for the foreseeable future in the Spoon With Me house, in case anybody was wondering. What does one do with so many dried mushrooms, you ask?  You know that mouth-coating savory depth that can be hard to achieve in plant-based recipes?  Think of them as a way to boost the umami factor, especially in vegetarian and vegan dishes.  I love to grind them into powder to add savoriness to sauces gravies, and soups.  In this recipe, I used the broth from rehydrating them as part of the cooking liquid for the rice. If you’re a full or part- time vegan or vegetarian, you need dried mushrooms in your arsenal if you want to up the ooooh mommy!

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Filed under Side Dishes, Vegetarian and Vegan

Tangerine-Port Cranberry Sauce

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We all have our food quirks.  The Mister likes to figure out the best flavor combination on any given plate, then repeat that experience as many times as possible.  Salads are evenly tossed and big ingredients chopped up so that each bite has the optimized flavor.

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I once ate dinner with a girl who had a phobia of her foods touching each other.  We were at an Asian restaurant.  Plain shrimp, plain vegetables, plain rice.  No sauce, not even soy.  Each part of the meal was eaten by itself, before moving on   I kind of wanted to put a carrot slice on her rice, just to see what would happen, but I figured that was a bit immature.  Phobias ain’t no joke.  I’m the mixing queen.  I like to see how many unique combinations of flavors I can put into each bite.

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Filed under Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Vegetarian and Vegan

Asian Quinoa Salad with Almond-Soy-Ginger Dressing

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Healthy eating can be like mind-twisting voodoo.  If I’m trying to amp up my body’s natural defenses to fight disease, what should I eat?  What shouldn’t I eat?  What if the paleos judge me for not eating meat?  What if the non-paleos judge me for eating meat?     You’re a veggie?  Where do you get your protein?  What?  No dessert?!  You’re too skinny!  Dessert?! You’re too chubby! Don’t know how you do the voodoo that you do, well, it’s a spell, hell, don’t know what to eat, eat, eat! (if you spend any amount of time listening to pop music in the 90s, then you know what I mean!).   

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Should, shouldn’t.  Feed, deprive.  Avoid, indulge.  High carb, low carb, complex carb, no carb.  Trans fats, unsat fats, hydrog-ed fats, no fats…  WHAAAAAT?  Why does every choice feel so loaded?  Why do we eat?  I eat to fight cancer.  I eat to bring my body to optimal health, so that my natural defense mechanisms can thrive.  I eat to feel energetic and vibrant.  I eat to fuel my body and my brain.  I eat to give my body needs, but also what it loves (still leaving room for a genuine straight up treat every now and then!).   The enjoyment of food is one of the best parts of life!  How do you think about what you eat?  

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I’ve got my mind on my healing, and my healing on my mind.  More and more I’m feeling drawn to share recipes for nutrient-dense foods that are still exciting to eat.  It’s easy to find very “pinteresting” recipes for quick and easy cheesy crockpot dip, and a little harder to find tasty healthy foods . Let’s remininsce about our spooning thus far.  Here on Spoon With Me, it’s always been about whole ingredients used to create beautiful food you actually want to eat.  I have occasional dabblings with completely indulgent chocolate truffle cakes, and that’s okay!  The world needs occasional truffle cakes here and there (and no judgement if you get sidetracked, click on the cake link, and decide to spend the 6 hours making it!).

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Right now, my body needs the most fuel to give it the best chance for healing.  So my mission stays the same–well, sort of.  This site isn’t about rabbit food, low fat substitutes, gimmicks, or fad diets.  It never has been.  It’s about being creative in the kitchen.  It’s about flexibility and improvisation, and eating and living well even in the face of challenges.  It’s about riding the waves of life with a sense of humor and grace.  But most of all, it’s about colorful beautiful whole foods you can get excited about cooking and eating!

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In today’s recipe, quinoa serves as the canvas for veggies of all shapes and textures, crunchy toasted almonds and crackly sesame seeds, tied together with a soy-ginger almond butter dressing. Salads are like elementary school art projects; the more colors, shapes, and textures, the better!  This salad also offers your body protein, fiber, complex carbs, healthy fats, and a truckload of veggies! 

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This is not the one night stand cooking that will leave you feeling regretful and empty.  This is the kind of cooking that will keep giving.  Hence, my new slogan, Spoon With Me:  The foods you love, that love you back!  

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Asian Quinoa Salad with Almond-Soy-Ginger Dressing

Serves 8 as a side dish

This is not one of those recipes found in a fancy schmancy molecular gastronomy cookbooks that needs to be followed to a tee. The basic idea is to use vegetables of every color and texture, chop them well, and weave everything together with the dressing.  I have found that blanching the green beans makes them vibrant and easier to eat.  I created this recipe for a dinner party of 8, and we still had leftovers, so keep that in mind and halve the recipe if you’re cooking for a small crowd (or, it makes a great lunch to enjoy throughout the week)!

For the Salad:

  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 lb green beans, trimmed
  • 1 large carrot, peeled, julienned, and roughly chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 2 cups thinly sliced and roughly chopped red cabbage (about 1/2 small cabbage)
  • 3/4 cup almond slivers
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (1 small bunch)

For the Dressing:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons peeled and finely grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce (check for gluten-free tamari if needed)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup almond butter

Bring the quinoa to a boil with a scant 3 cups water (quinoa will retain some water when you rinse it, so I always use less water when cooking). Immediately reduce to a simmer, and cook for 12 minutes, or until the quinoa is soft and the germ ring (white outline) is visible around each grain.  If there is excess moisture in the quinoa, set it in a fine sieve to drain.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

Blanch the green beans:  Fill a medium saucepan with water and a couple teaspoons salt, and bring to a boil.  Set a large bowl of ice water to the side of the stove.  Cook the green beans for about a minute, until bright green and still crisp.  Immediately plunge them into the ice water to cool.  Once cool, slice on the bias (diagonally) into 1 inch pieces.

Toast the almonds in a medium frying pan over medium heat until lightly golden brown and fragrant.  Allow to cool. 

Whisk together all dressing ingredients in a bowl or liquid measuring cup.  Combine and toss the cooked quinoa, and all salad ingredients in a large bowl.  Pour the dressing over top and stir until evenly coated.  Chill in the refrigerator or serve as is!

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Filed under Salads, Side Dishes, vegetarian, Vegetarian and Vegan

Lemony Steam-Roasted Artichokes with Garlic and Cherry Tomatoes

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I first saw an artichoke plant while wandering through a botanical garden in Spain.  Have you ever seen one?  Quite a prickly beast, and I do mean beast!  Since then, I’ve become obsessed with the idea of growing my own, even though Colorado isn’t exactly known for artichokes.  I’m cornering off a little–okay–sizable corner of my garden for the beast to expand.  I dream of little shop of horrors style plants, arms reaching out, prickly mouths open wide.

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Eating an artichoke is a religious experience.  Don’t talk to me, and don’t give me a napkin.  Just let me pluck and dip and scrape and savor.  They make me so food-protective that I have to make more than anyone in my household could ever eat in a night.  Here’s your artichoke (if you don’t eat it all, I’ll finish it off), and here are my artichokes.  You may have all the aioli you would like (I made an inhuman amount so that you would not eat my share.

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Back in the day, I started making artichokes the way most do, by boiling them in salted water (play disappointing music here).  Why would I want to infuse my artichoke with nothing?  Then, I steamed them in water with lemons and garlic.  Meh.  The first time I roasted an artichoke, I thought, Now we’re talking!.  

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My newest method involves roasting the artichokes face down with a garlicky olive oil mixture, and then pouring enough white wine or vermouth into the bottom of the pan to steam the artichokes at the same time.  The artichokes become more tender, and in the end, that means more artichoke to eat!  I hope you enjoy luxuriously plucking, dipping, scraping, and savoring as much as I do.

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 White Wine Steam-Roasted Artichokes With Garlic and Cherry Tomatoes

  • 2 large artichokes
  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled and minced
  • 3 lemons
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes (about a cup), halved if large
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white wine (or dry vermouth, or broth)
  • 1/3 cup additional water or broth
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried italian herb mixture
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375˚F.

Prepare the artichokes:

Fill a large bowl with cold water and add the juice of one of the lemons, about 2 tablespoons.  Cut off the top inch of one artichoke, and the bottom of the stem, leaving an inch or so of the stem intact.  Using kitchen scissors, cut off the tips of the leaves.  Cut the artichoke in half lengthwise.  Place one half in the acidulated water while you work with the remaining artichoke.

On a cutting board, smash the garlic and  one teaspoon of the salt into a paste using the side of a chefs knife.  Put the garlic paste into a small bowl.  Juice one of the remaining lemons into the bowl.  Cut off the peel of the remaining lemon (top and bottom first, then cut off the sides in sheets, making sure to remove the white pith).  Chop the peeled lemon, discarding the seeds, and add to the bowl.  Add the olive oil, dried herbs, crushed red pepper, and a few grindings of black pepper.  Whisk everything together.

Rub every surface of each artichoke half with the garlic oil mixture, making sure to push some of it in between the leaves.  Arrange the artichokes face down in a dutch oven (a roasting pan or casserole dish will work too).  Scatter the cherry tomatoes over top, and use your fingers to toss them around, trying to coat them with some of the oil mixture that has settled in the pan.  Pour the white wine or vermouth into the bottom of the pan along with the additional 1/3 cup broth or water.

Roast, covered, in the oven at 375˚F for 35-45 minutes, or until the outside leaves easily pull away from the artichoke.

Serve with lemon-garlic aioli or your other favorite dipping sauce.

Lemon-Garlic (Cheater’s) Aioli

Sometimes (okay, rarely), I go through the extra effort to make real aioli.  Most of the time, I start with a good quality mayo and go from there.  This is just one of my go-to combinations for artichokes.  If you like spicy aioli,  chile-garlic paste.   If you just want a little spice, garnish the top with a sprinkling of cayenne pepper.

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise (use vegan mayo if desired)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced and smashed into a paste (or finely grated, or pushed through a garlic press)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1-3 teaspoons Sambal Oelek (chile garlic paste)*, or 1/8 tsp-1/2 tsp ground cayenne

Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle with cayenne if desired.

*Sambal Oelek can be found in the Asian section of most grocery stores

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Filed under Appetizers, Condiments, Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Vegetarian and Vegan

Butternut Squashadillas with Frizzled Onions and Sage

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Here in the spooniverse, you may have noticed that I like to make up words.  In fact, today’s post contains no less than 4 made up words, including my newest tortilla-enveloped friend, the squashadilla.  Yes, it is a made up word.  No, I didn’t exactly make it up, but I so appreciated the clever lad or lady that first coined the concept that I immediately decided to adopt the term and adapt the recipe. Could roasted butternut squash really take the place of cheese in a quesadilla?  Be still my beating heart.

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I try not to pawn off my hare-brained recipes on dinner guests, unless I am sure that it’s a legitimately tasty recipe and not just filled with healthy things prepared in boring ways.  My lovely readers, I wouldn’t dream of giving you a recipe that hadn’t been fully vetted by a panel of skeptical but open-minded eaters.  I’m happy to say that this recipe has been fully tested and approved by a dinner party full of diverse eaters, and a teachers lounge chock full of hungry colleagues.  I knew I had found some unbiased test subjects when each of them raised an eyebrow upon hearing me say as maniacally as a mad scientist with hair all willy-nilly, “I made squashadillas!!!  Waaaaaaant one?”.  Ummmm, okay…? Sure!    How can you say no to a maniac who’s offering you a food with as fun of a name as this?

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So without further ado, I present you the squashadilla.  Roasted butternut squash, mashed with frizzled onions–now wait a minute!  What are frizzled onions?  I think “frizzled” is a more fitting term than sauteed when we’re talking thinly sliced onions that are cooked at a heat that is just slightly hotter than usual, and stirred slightly less than usual, resulting in some of that browned, roasty caramelized flavor.  If you slice ‘em thin, these little guys help the squash to mimic some of that melted cheese texture you want in a quesadilla.  As a nod to the traditional quesadilla flavor I love, I added an ample amount of chile powder.  In honor of the butternut squash,  I incorporated one of its best buds, flavor-affinity wise, fresh sage. Everything is mashed together and hugged between two tortillas, rubbed down with coconut oil, and baked until the edges are golden and crisp.

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In closing, I thought I’d round off this post with a review of lessons learned:

•squash (sometimes)=cheese

•made up words can be totally legit

•onions can be frizzly

•squashadillas are a perfectly reasonable substitute for quesadillas

•never say no to a maniac offering you a squashadilla

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Butternut “Squashadillas” with Frizzled Onions and Sage

makes 2 10-inch Squashadillas

These are the sort of appetizer or simple dinner that people will curiously try, then polish off in a hot minute.  Guac or a good salsa make good accompaniments.  Serve right out of the oven, crispy and hot.

•1 small butternut squash (halved and seeded)

•1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced

•3 cloves garlic, minced

•2 teaspoons (packed) very thinly sliced sage leaves

•1 1/2 teaspoons chile powder

•salt to taste

•Olive oil (coconut oil works too)

•four 10-inch whole wheat tortillas

Preheat oven to 375˚F.  Rub the cut ends of the butternut squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Put face down on a nonstick baking sheet and roast for about 35 minutes, or until the flesh is tender.  Allow to cool, then scoop out the flesh and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a nonstick frying pan.  When hot, add the onion slices and cook over medium high heat until soft.  Don’t stir too often–you want the edges to be “frizzled” and deeply golden.

Add the garlic and sage, and stir constantly for a minute until garlic softens.  Add the butternut squash flesh and mash it into the onion mixture with a wooden spoon.  Add the chile powder and kosher salt to taste.

Heat tortillas in oven until pliable.  Spread half of the butternut squash mixture onto a tortilla and top with another tortilla.  Repeat with the rest of the mixture.  Brush the tortillas with olive oil or coconut oil and bake at 350˚F on a sheet pan until golden and crispy on the edges, about 6 minutes on each side (flip halfway through).

Serve while hot.

Variations:  

•Substitute different herbs, such as cilantro or rosemary and thyme

•Use the butternut mixture as a filling for vegan enchiladas

•Play around with the spice mixture, adding coriander, cumin, etc…

•Let me know what other variations you come up with!

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Filed under Appetizers, Main Dishes, Side Dishes

Maple-Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Bourbon-Glazed Pecans

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I’m a little behind the Thanksgiving game this year!  Actually, who am I kidding?  I’m always down to the wire on holiday blogging and menu planning.  Mom and I will be sharing the Thanksgiving preparations this year.  She’s a planner.  She keeps me on track.  Mom keeps asking me, Did you figure out what you’re making yet?  Do you know what you’re making yet?  How about the pumpkin pie? In my head, I think, Be cool mama, be cool…I got this.  In reality, when I’m at the grocery store in holiday madness mode the day before Thanksgiving, my mom will be peacefully baking apple pie accompanied by the crooning of Frank Sinatra.  She may be onto something…

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For all my fellow menu-procrastinators, a recipe that went over really well last year (and didn’t quite get around to posting in time, surprise, surprise).  It’s inspired by one of my favorite sweet potato casserole recipes shared with my mom and I by a friend of the family.  The problem with most Thanksgiving recipes is that if you are lactose-ally or glutonially challenged (yes, I made up those words), you miss out on the best dishes.

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Not anymore!  If you are strategic and resourceful (which of course you are–all my readers are cunning and clever!), you’ll volunteer to bring the dishes that are traditionally dairy or gluten heavy, and you’ll wow everybody with the fact that yes, food can be stupid good, even without loads of milk, flour and sugar!

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The sweet potato casserole I used to eat at our Thanksgiving table growing up was sugar-coma sweet with the help of syrupy condensed milk, and topped with a brown sugar walnut crumble topping.  So delicious.  Since I just can’t do it anymore, I’ve enjoyed re-vamping my favorite recipes into less processed, less sweet versions that still satisfy my warm cozy tradition craving.

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This version is made of velvety smooth sweet potatoes with just a hint of bourbon and spice, topped with crunchy cinnamon spiced bourbon and toasted pecans.  Its sweetness hints at dessert, doesn’t spoil it, and it goes perfectly with the cranberry sauce that will inevitably make its way over to the sweet potatoes on your plate.  Thanksgiving is not a holiday for the food separatists!

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If you’re a procrastinator, here’s your recipe!  If you are a planner like my mom, tuck this one in the file for next year.  I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving, and enjoy some kitchen shenanigans!

 Maple-Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Bourbon-Glazed Pecans

Serves  10-12

For the sweet potatoes:

5 pounds yams or orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, peeled

1 stick (1/2 cup) vegan butter such as Earth Balance (or use real butter)

3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

3/4 cups real maple syrup

big pinch of kosher salt

2 tablespoons bourbon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

For the glazed pecans:

2 cups pecans

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 1/2 tablespoons bourbon

1/3 cup vegan butter

Cut the peeled sweet potatoes into 1 inch pieces and place in a large saucepan.  Fill with water to cover the potatoes by 1 inch, and bring to a boil over high heat.  Once it begins to boil, set the timer and boil for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft but not falling apart.  Drain, then mash with a potato masher or wire whisk in the bowl of a mixer.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, almond milk, maple syrup, salt, and bourbon.  Heat and stir until the butter melts.

Add the melted butter mixture to the potatoes in the mixing bowl.  Using the whisk attachment of an electric mixer, whip the potatoes at medium speed until completely smooth.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Toast the pecans in a nonstick frying pan over medium heat.  Once the pecans are fragrant and appear slightly darkened, remove them from the pan and chop.  Put them back in the pan over medium high heat.  Add the maple syrup, sugar, salt, and cinnamon.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar melts.  Once the sugar melts, add the bourbon, and let it the liquid cook off for about a minute.  Add the butter and stir to coat.

Spread the sweet potato mixture into an 11×8 inch casserole dish.  Spread the nut mixture evenly on top.  Bake at 350˚F for 20-30 minutes, until hot.

Note:  This recipe can be assembled and refrigerated the day before.  The cooking time may need to be increased by 5-10 minutes.

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Filed under Holiday Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegetarian and Vegan