Friday, November 30, 2012

Port Cranberry Sauce

As I mentioned in an early post, it's not really Thanksgiving dinner without the cranberry sauce.  The roasted beet cranberry sauce didn't' go over so well with Ross a few weeks back, but this one was a hit.

Perhaps is was the alcohol...

adapted from Food & Wine

yields about 2 cups

The Ingredients:
1/2 cup ruby port
Three 1-by-3-inch strips of orange zest, cut into thin matchsticks
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
3 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cup sugar 

The Process:
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the port, orange zest and orange juice and bring to a boil. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.  Stir in the cranberries and reduce heat to low.    Simmer until the cranberries burst and the sauce is jam-like, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve warm or at room temperature.  



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sweet Potato Apple Casserole

For our family, Thanksgiving dinner must include sweet potatoes.  Sadly my earliest introduction to this wonderful yam was a concoction of canned sweet potatoes tossed in a casserole with brown sugar, pecans and marshmallows.  And I absolutely adored it.

It wasn't until college that I tried sweet potato in its simple. roasted form.  I was in love with the mellow sweetness of the tuber from that point on.

I may love mashed sweet potatoes more than regular mashed potatoes.  Blasphemy.  I know...

Our Thanksgiving dinner was dotted with apples throughout, and this side dish is no exception.  The blend of savory and subtle sweet paired perfectly with the apple pecan stuffing.  And because the side wasn't overly sweet, we were well prepared for the wonderful praline pumpkin pie my mom had brought up with her.

adapted from Fitness Magazine

serves 6

The Ingredients:
2 medium sweet potatoes
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground allspice
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch rings
2 Tbsp maple syrup

The Process:
Preheat the oven to 350. Place the sweet potatoes on a piece of aluminum foil and roast until tender, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Trim the ends and pull off the peels; slice into 1/2-inch rounds.

Butter a 9x9 inch baking dish with half of the butter.  In a small bowl, stir together the cinnamon, ginger and allspice. Arrange one third of the apple rings in the bottom of the casserole and layer half oft eh sweet potatoes on top.  Sprinkle with half the spice mixture and half the maple syrup. Repeat the layers, sprinkling with remaining spice and syrup.  Layer the last third of the apples on top.  Dot with the remaining butter.

 Cover and bake until the apples are tender, about 45 minutes.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Honey-Spiced Roast Turkey with Apple Pecan Stuffing


How to prepare the bird is usually the first challenge to any Thanksgiving feast.  If you are even having turkey that is...

A few years back, when the holiday looked as though it was just to included Ross and myself, we opted to try pheasant.  That was an interesting experiment.

This year we were blessed with a visit from my mother and brother, as well as a dear friend of ours from Hawaii who has been spending the last few months in Michigan.  Along with our roommate, we created quite the hodge podge group.  Turkey was a must.  And as word of my cooking enthusiasm has spread, the ante was upped slightly.  All of the classics needed to be present, but a twist was needed.

So back to the bird.  I've brined before with much success.  In fact it may be my favorite way to prep a turkey, but it does require a little more fore thought than simple defrosting the bird usually entails.  So no brine this year.

I love the combination of nuts and fruit in my stuffing.  That is what caused the recipe to first catch my eye.  Once I read through and discovered the sweet and spice glaze on the bird, I was sold.  Most ingredients were staples in my pantry and no fancy culinary tricks or techniques would be needed.

Do keep an eye on the turkey during the last two hours.  The honey causes the skin to brown very quickly, even when loosely covered.  In the end, never uncovered ours and it was still finished nearly an hour earlier than estimated.

It was surprisingly moist and tender, throughout.

adapted from pillsbury.com

serves 12

The Ingredients:
for the turkey
12- to 15-lb turkey, thawed
1/3 cup honey
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1 Tbsp chili powder
3/4 tsp ground allspice
3/4 tsp ground cumin

for the stuffing:
1/4 cup butter
1 small onion, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
2-3 sprigs fresh sage
1/2 cup pecan pieces, toasted
1 medium apple, chopped (1 cup)
4-5 cups dried bread cubes
1 1/3 cups apple juice

The Process:
Heat oven to 325°F. 

In a small bowl, combine the honey, butter and spices until well blended.  Starting at back opening of turkey, gently separate skin from turkey breast, using fingers. Try not to puncture the skin over the breast.   Brush half of the honey mixture over turkey breast under skin.  Reserve remaining honey mixture for later.

In large heavy bottomed pot , melt 1/4 cup butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and celery, thyme and sage. Saute until onion is tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the apple and pecans, cooking another 2-3 minutes.Add the bread crumbs and stir in the apple juice until the stuffing is just moistened.  Remove from heat.  Remove the sage and thyme sprigs.  Allow the stuffing to cool before stuffing the turkey.
  
Gently stuff the neck area.  Pull the neck skin over the opening and secure with a skewer or toothpick.   Loosely pack the stuffing into the cavity, do not over stuff...the stuffing will expand during cooking.  Twist the wing tip back under the bird and secure the legs, if desired.  Place turkey, breast side up, on rack in shallow roasting pan.  Loosely tent foil over the turkey.

Roast for 4 to 5 hours (or about 20 minutes per pound).   Uncover the turkey and brush with the remaining honey mixture.   Roast for an addition 30 minutes or until a thermometer reads 180°F and juices run clear. Drumsticks should move easily when lifted or twisted.

Place turkey on warm platter; cover with foil to keep warm. Let stand at least 15 minutes for juices to set.  Carve.

Spoon out the stuffing and serve separately.

 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

May your turkeys cook through, and bellies be full.
Surrounded by cheer, and by those near and dear,
On today of all days, we set aside selfish ways.
And raise up a toast to what truly means the most.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Have a very blessed fall!


What's on our table today?

Honey Spice Roast Turkey
Apple Pecan Stuffing
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Green Bean Casserole
Sweet Potato Apple Casserole
Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Corn Casserole
Wild Rice Risotto
Port Cranberry Sauce
Hefeweizen Honey Rolls
Drunken Apple Pie
and Mom's Praline Pumpkin Pie

paired with:
Apple juice
Chardonnay
Boom Island Brewery's Silvius, Brimstone and Yule
New Glarius Brewery's Belgian Red and Serendipity
and coffee

We are a very happy and very, very full group today...



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Creamy Carrot and Potato Soup



Winter=Soup.  Well, that's not quite true.  I'll make soup year round without batting an eye.  But the cold weather does seem to beg for a hot, sustaining bowl of soup.

One of my favorite parts about soup, aside from eating it, of course, is the realiativley simple prep.  After slicing, dicing and a little bit of sauteeing, you walk away to let the conction simmer.  I'm left with anywhere from half an hour to half a day to work, do chores (oh god, the endless dishes....) or more often than not, waste time online.  Whatever did we do before facebook, pinterest and blogger?  Ugh.  No wonder I was far more productive in high school and college...

This soup does not simmer for long, but is the perfect use for the massive quantities of potatoes and carrots we recently received from our CSA...a 45 pound box of storage veggies will go a long way.  I'm eager to try out other veggie combinations using this recipe as a basis.  Parsnips and sweet potatoes?  How about that rutabaga?  Or even those turnips.  Imagine the color of a bit of shredded beet...

The carrots feature in the flavor of the soup, and also help provide a rich golden cream color.  The potatoes cook down a bit to provide a creamy consistency.  The soup is just as wonderful made vegan...use vegetable stock in lieu of chicken stock, omit the milk and cheese, and substitute the Worcestershire for shoyu, miso or any assortment of other herbs to add that earthy funk.  

It's a filling soup without being heavy.  If you care for something richer, switch out the milk for cream and run a bit of the soup through a food processor.  A bit more potato, and a little less broth will also get you closer to a chowder consistency.  For the fall/winter limbo we seem to be in , I found this soup to be the perfect balance of sustaining and light.  Maybe when the snow finally comes, I'll break out the heavy cream...

adapted from MyKitchenAddition

serves 6-8


The Ingredients:
2 Tbsp  olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and shredded
1 lb carrots, peeled and shredded
1-2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups milk
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

The Process:
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed 3-quart pot.  Add the onions, garlic and celery and saute until the onions are tender and slightly translucent. 

Add the potatoes, carrots and herbs, and saute 2-3 minutes more.  Stir in the broth.  Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Slowly add in the milk and Worcestershire sauce and stir until heated through, about 5 minutes.  Remove the pot for the heat and sprinkle the cheese on top.  Stir until the cheese has melted as is evenly incorporated.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Roasted Beet and Cranberry Sauce

Thanksgiving is just around the corner.  Grocery stores are pushing their turkeys and hams.  Pie filling, stuffing, spices, cranberry sauce, yams, and other assorted staples burst off of the end caps.  All around the country households are planning their traditional family dinner.  I suspect most read something like this:

Roast turkey
pan gravy
sage and onion stuffing
mashed potatoes
corn
sweet potato casserole
green bean casserole
dinner rolls
pumpkin pie

and of course, cranberry sauce

There must always be cranberry sauce.  

Ross and I have had a tift or two over the proper sauce to serve at Thanksgiving.  I like mine from scratch.  Chunky and spiked with citrus and cinnamon.  And Ross...his prefers from a can.  Homogenous.  Jellied.  And preferably in the ringed log that slides out of the can with a satisfying plop.  We usually compromise.  I make the sauce.  He gets a can of jellied goo to himself.

So knowing a can of cranberry sauce may be close I had, I don't feel so bad for serving this version up.  He'd turn his nose up at the beets anyway.

This cranberry sauce has a very subtle sweetness.  It is far more tart than many other sauces, but feel free to up the honey if you prefer yours a little sweeter.  The beets add an earthy sweetness to balance the tart berries.  The citrus cuts through a bit.  Pecans lend a wonderful toasted crunch to the texture and a dollop of creme fraiche or a sprinkling of soft goat cheese offers a wonderful smoothness that mellows and blends the other flavors.

adapted from a recipe courtesy of Driftless Organics

serves 4-5

The Ingredients:
5-7 small beets
1 Tbsp oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 orange, juice and zest
3 Tbsp honey
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup toasted pecans
1 oz soft goat cheese or creme fraiche

The Process:
Preheat the oven to 400.  Scrub the beets thoroughly.  Trim the tops and root tips away, do not peel.   Cut the beets into wedges.  Toss with oil, salt and pepper and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Roast 30-40 minutes until the beets are tender and the outsides are beginning to caramelize.  Set aside to cool.

In a small saucepan, combine the cranberries, orange juice, zest, honey and cinnamon.  Stir and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries begin to burst, 1about 10-15 minutes.  For a less chunky sauce, allow to cook about 5 minutes longer and gently mash the berries with the back of a spoon.  Add the roasted beets and stir to combine.  Transfer to a serving bowl and allow to cool slightly.

Sprinkle with pecans and cheese just prior to serving.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Orange and Currant Scones



The perfect scone is a rare thing in the United States.  Nothing I've tried here can compare to the tea time reposes I tried in many a cafe and museum coffeehouse in London.  Soft, slightly crumbly, tender with the slightest richness from the butter.  Barely sweet.  If nothing else, that is what I remember most vividly.  They were never that sweet.  But presented alongside a generous spoonful of coddled cream and lemon curd, or perhaps modestly served up with sweet butter and a tiny pot of jam, that hardly seemed to matter.

My scones don't come close, but to date this is the best recipe I've tried.  My Scottish in-laws may not be that impressed.  But someday, someday I will discover that ideal scone...

adapted from 1001 Recipes edited by Martha Day

yields 8 scones

The Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
10 Tbsp butter, diced
zest of one orange
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup buttermilk

milk to glaze

The Process:
Preheat the oven to 425 and lightly flour a baking sheet or baking stone

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Add the butter.  Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, rub and cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Gentle fold in the zest and currants.  Gradually add in the buttermilk and stir until the flour is just moistened and a soft dough is formed.

Turn the dough out on to a flour surface and roll out into a 9-inch circle, about 1-inch thick. 

Cut the circle into 8 equal wedges and transfer to the baking sheet or baking stone. Keep the circle intact with the cut edges touching.   Brush the top of the dough with milk.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden.  Serve warm.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bavarian Pretzel Bites with Beer Cheese Dip

Beer and pretzels.  When Ross and I set the date for our homebrew tasting, Bavarian pretzels were high on the list.  Whilet we were not serving any Martzen or lagers, this soft, chewy Oktoberfest staple seemed only fitting as our finger food and palate cleanser offering.  I scoured several recipes and came across many, many variations.  Most were of a quick and easy variety...attempting to replicate the slightly sweet and overly gresased varieties found at many a mall and corner cart.  Not Bavarian pretzels to say the least.

I had visions of soft, chewy, almost bagel-like interiors caramelized into a leathery, blistery brown skin, dotted with salt and full of pungent yeasty flavor.  Most recipes treated pretzel dough like bread dough...only with shorter to no proofing time and usually relying on egg washes to achieve the exterior.  Somehting didn't bode right about these.

Eventually a reoccuring method begin to pop up among recipes claiming to be more traditional or old world.  Lye.  Baking soda.  Alkalies....

It seems the trick to that memorable chwey interior and gorgeous brown skin is to boil the pretzels in an alkil solution for a mere 20 30 seconds.  In that breif moment the high pH breaks down the surface starches in to much more simple sugars which in turn caramelize in mere minutes in the oven.  The lye is food grade and can be purchased commercially...the heat of thee oven burns off any remaining, so fear not.  I found baking soda worked wonderfully.

The pretzel dough does dry out quickly.  I found having a spritzer of water at hand helped immensely when trying to roll out the ropes.  I did not try my hand at twisting traditional knots.  I did have over thirty people to supply...bite-sized bits seemed far more appropriate.  The recipe will make twelve 8-inch pretzels for the more ambitious. 

The baking soda is intimidating, but so much fun as well.  Dropped the bites in about 8 at a time.  They puffed up like magic within moments, supercharging the yeast before their trip into the oven.  The bite of residue alkali left had a cleansing effervescent quality unlike anything I've ever tasted with an American-style pretzel.  I am eager to try these babies again!

DO use parchment paper.  I learned that the hard way after trying to pry the baked morsels off of the first baking sheet.

DO remmeber to salt them before you bake them, using coarse or sea salt, not kosher salt.  Salt will not stick after the pretzels are baked, even with a brushing of oil, butter or beer. 

DO use the full amount of yeast.  2 Tbsp seems like a lot.  It is.  I snipped the tops off three packages and stirred the whole mess in.  You want the yeast. 

DO make these time and time again.  They will be a huge hit.  One guest, recently recovered from a trip to Germany, insisted I send her the recipe.  She found nothing quite as close to traditional Bavarian pretzels since returning state side.  The

pretzels adapted from the New York Times
Beer cheese dip adapted from Girlichef

yields 96 pretzel bites

The Ingredients:
for the pretzels:
1 Tbsp barley malt syrup or dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp lard or softened unsalted butter
2 Tbsp instant yeast
6 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon  kosher salt
5 cups water
10 Tbsp baking soda
Coarse sea salt or pretzel salt, for sprinkling (do not substitute kosher salt)

for the dip
10 oz beer (preferably a hefeweizen)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp  flour
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 clove garlic, minced
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

The Process:
In a large  bowl stir together syrup or brown sugar, lard or butter, yeast, 2 cups warm water and half of the flour. Add kosher salt and remaining flour and stir just until mixture just comes together.

Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Cut into 12 pieces, gently form into balls and loosely cover with cling wrap.  Let rest 5 minutes.

Roll out each piece into a rope about 18 - inches long.  Cut each rope into approximately 8  pieces.  Place on baking sheets and loosely cover with cling wrap. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes, then refrigerate for one hour

Pre-heat oven to 425.

In a large saucepan mix the water with baking soda. Bring to a boil. Working with about a dozen at a time, place pretzel pieces in the boiling solution for 20 seconds. remove with a slotted spoon and spread out the pieces on a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with pretzel salt.

Bake for 8-10  minutes or until golden brown.

Serve immediately.

for the dip



In a medium saucepan set over medium heat bring the beer to a gentle boil.  Toss the cheddar cheese with the flour. Once beer is simmering, whisk in the cheese,cream cheese, mustard, green onions and garlic.  Continue to stir until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Curried Pumpkin Soup

 Fall!  Pumpkins!  Soup!  Curry!  These are a few of my favorite things...

Light, complex, spicy, smooth and filling.  Deceivingly filling.  You'd be surprised how little soup you need to sate an appetite after an afternoon raking leaves.  And perfect for a gathering when many hungry hands may be idling.  This soup can be made ahead, chilled and re-heated when ready to serve.  Or, transferered into a slow cooker to linger and warm for whenever pepple are ready to eat.

I prefer the slightly sweeter and smokey flavor oven roasted pumpkin lends to recipes, so I opted to replace a portion of the originally recipe's canned pumpkin with my own roasted variety.  The spices are easily modified to accommodate any palate  And the soup does play well with heat...so feel free to add more red pepper or a dash or too of hot pepper sauce to liven up the tongue a bit.

adapted from Epicurious

serves 16-18

The Ingredients:
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 Tbsp oil
3-4  garlic cloves, mince
2-3 -inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
2 tsp salt
1 small pie pumpkin (2-3 lbs)
1 - 15 oz can pumpkin puree
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 - 15oz can  coconut milk

The Process:
Preheat the oven to 450.  Slice the pumpkin, scoop out the seeds and place cut side down on an oiled baking sheet.  Bake for 45-60 minutes,or until soft and beginning to carmelize, flipping cut side up halfway through.  Remove from oven and set aside until cool enough to handle.

Scoop out the softened pumpkin flesh.  Mash slightly for a smoother soup, or leave as scooped for more texture.  

Meanwhile, heat a large heavy bottomed saucepan over medium high heat, and sautee the onions until soft, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the ginger and garlic, sautee 1 minute longer.  Stir in the cumin, coriander, cardamom and cinnamon, mixing until the onions are well coated*.

Add the pepper flakes, salt, canned pumpkin, fresh pumpkin, broth, coconut milk.  Bring to a simmer and let cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.   For a smooth soup, puree in batches with  food process, or process with an immersion blender, or serve as is.  Thin with additional broth, if desired.

* in lieu of the individual spices, you can substitute 1 Tbsp of your favorite garam masala.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

One Pot Bacon Mac and Cheese




Mac and Cheese is comfort food, pure and simple.  Gooey, creamy and loaded with carbs.  I don't often make this cheesy bowl of guilt at home...but it is a rare treat when Ross and I go out to eat.  You can learn a lot about a place based on how they prepare and present a simple bowl of noodles and cheese sauce.

The perfect mac and cheese is a highly debated topic.  One I typically avoid.  Favorite variations run the gamut from classic blue box, thick and creamy breadcrumb topped baked casseroles, straight forward one-cheese-wonders, and complex combinations of exotic dairy.  Some like shells.  Others swear by elbows.  Occasionally a rotini fan jumps in.  And the add ins...or they are endless.  Bacon, chilies, tuna, tomatoes, broccoli, peas, chicken...really, it's whatever strikes your fancy.  One of the most unique combinations I've had was at a restaurant in Madison...smokey with a spicy kick...piled over a generous mound of savory pulled pork and baked with a crumb crust....Ross is bound and determined to replicate the recipe one day.

This mac and cheese is not that mac and cheese.

What I do love about this particular dish is its simplicity.  No boiling and straining the pasta.  No b├ęchamel sauce.  One pot.  Simple ratios to remember...equal parts milk and pasta.  Half as much cheese.  Mustard powder, salt and pepper to taste.  And add in extras to your hearts content.  

A few things I've learned making this...rontini pasta works fine, as do elbows, but I adored the way the shells cooked up the best.  Your preference may vary.  But stick with regular pasta...not whole wheat, not protein-enriched or extra-fiber or whatever other clever marketing gimmick is out there to sell 'healthy' pasta right now.  This dish is all carbs and fat.  Embrace it.  The other pastas will not cook up as tender or plump.

Any combinations of cheeses will work.  I love to mix it up with at least three.  Cheddar, jack and gouda are sort of my stand by.   Cheddar/Romano/asiago is grand.  Cheddar/fontina/Gruyere yields and extra creamy sauce.  Pepper jack, Parmesan, blue cheese, Gorgonzola or anything aged or smoked will lend a wonderful depth and a bit of bite.  Of course, the whatever-is-in-the-fridge method works wonderfully too!

One cheesy caveat, though...do not use pre-packaged shredded cheese.  These contain additives to keep the cheese from clumping and will create a grainy texture in your otherwise wonderful dish.  Hand grated is much, much better...

adapted from the White on Rice Couple

serves 3-4 (but only if you know how to share)

The Ingredients:
4 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 cups elbow or shell pasta
2 cups milk (whole yields the creamiest result, skim will work)
1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, jack, fontina, Gruyere, Romano, Parmesan,Gouda, etc, etc)
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp mustard powder
pepper to taste
cayenne pepper to taste.

The Process:
In medium saucepan, stir together the milk, pasta butter, mustard powder and salt.

Bring to a gentle simmer over medium low heat, stirring constantly.  Stir, stir, stir!  Allow to simmer until most of the milk has been absorbed and the pasta is tender, about 20 minutes.  Add additional milk in 1/4 cup increments as necessary if the pasta has not cooked fully.

Season with pepper and cayenne to taste.  Sprinkle in the shredded cheese and fold in until the cheese has melted and blended.

Add the bacon.  Cover and rest for 5 minutes off of the heat.  Stir and thin with additional milk, if desired. 

Enjoy!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sweet Potato Blondies


Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.  The smell of fall.  The perfume of the holidays.  These days it seems as though all one need to do to quantify any thing as a holiday treat is to add these spices in one combination or another.

You know what?  It works.

Something about that combination conjures up all the cozy, warm memories of autumns gone by.  The warmth of ginger and cinnamon certainly help me mentally prep for that first snow fall!  (We did see our first flakes already, as the East Coast braced for Sandy and Hawaii headed inland for the tsunami warning.  I'll glad take a little snow over those events any day.)

The earthy sweetness of pumpkins and sweet potatoes meld so well with these spices;  try as you might I doubt we'll ever pull away from the combination.

This bar recipe conjurse up memories of the sweet potatoes my family always made for the holidays.  I was well into college before I learned you could eat sweet potatoes other ways besides slathered in brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkled with marshmellows, pecons and the occasional raisins.  It was truly dessert parading as a vegetable.  But it was the holidays.  These bars make no attempt to be something they are not.  Sweet, cinnamon-y and chewy.  Here sweet potatoes are allowed to be the full fledged dessert they always dreamed of being.

adapted from Susan at OurTableEats

yeilds 18-20 bars

The Ingredients:
2 large sweet potatoes
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 cup butter, melted (1 stick)
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla

Maple drizzle:
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/3 powdered sugar 

The Process:
Wrap the sweet potatoes in foil and bake in a 350 oven for 60-75 minutes or until soft.  Or, pierce the potatoes all over and microwave on high at 3 minute intervals until soft.  Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Oil one 9x13 baking dish for thicker bars, or two 9x9 pans for thinner bars.

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, bkaing soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.  Mix unitl combined.

In a second bowl, whisk together butter, eggs, sugar and vanilla.  Remove about 2 cups of flesh from the cooked sweet potatoes and add to the egg mixture.  Whisk until smooth.

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, stirring until just incorporated.  

 Spread the batter evenly into the prepared baking pans.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the edged are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  ALoow to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes.  Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile prepare the glaze by adding the syrup and powdered sugar to a zip top bag and massaging until well combined.  Once the blondies are cool, cut into bars.  Snip the corner off of the glaze bag and drizzle the glaze over the tops of the bars.