Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Two Favorite Things About This Christmas

Merry Christmas to us!

1) After years of waiting, we finally got a dog for Christmas. A friend gave us a 4-year-old female chihuahua, very sweet and mild mannered. She is just starting to come out of her crate and follow us around the house, tail wagging. Her favorite thing is to curl up in a ball, nuzzle her face into a blanket, and fall asleep. What a great Christmas present!

2) I found a recipe for Praline Sweet Potato Casserole in the Sacramento Bee and made it to accompany my family’s traditional Christmas dinner of prime rib. Even the avowed sweet potato haters at the table allowed that it "wasn’t bad"; the sweet potato lovers gobbled it up. This dish tastes like pumpkin pie meet pecan pie - more dessert than vegetable or side dish. Not that that’s a bad thing! You might not even need dessert after this one.

Notes: I baked the sweet potatoes the night before and stored them in an air tight container until I needed them. I reduced some of the sugar and butter in the sweet potato layer, but you’ll want to kept the proportions accurate in the praline topping to achieve the proper consistency.

Praline Sweet Potato Casserole
Serves 8 - 10


6 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

Praline topping
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pierce each potato and place in a baking pan or dish. Bake until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

In a sauce pan, heat the milk and butter until the butter has melted and the mixture is hot but not boiling. Cut (or to taste) potatoes in half and scoop out the flesh into a large bowl. Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes.

Stir in the milk-and-butter mixture. Whisk in the eggs, and continue whisking until blended well. Add the brown sugar and stir until thoroughly blended. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or pan, and spread the sweet potato mixture evenly in it. Set aside while making the topping.

Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees.

Making the praline topping

Melt the butter in a 2-quart sauce pan over low heat. Stir in the brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cream and pecans. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is thick, about five minutes. Do not let the mixture come to a boil. Maintain a steady simmer until thick.

Remove the mixture from the heat in stir in the vanilla. Pour the topping evenly over the sweet potatoes and spread it with a rubber spatula.

Bake the casserole until the topping is slightly crusty and set, approximately 30 minutes. Serve while hot.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!