Thursday, November 26, 2015

Cranberry Creations … featuring sweet potatoes

To be honest, sweet potatoes or yams haven't been one of my favorite Thanksgiving foods. I'm not quite sure what it is about them. I remember having been served candied yams (probably the type out of the can) when I was little and that I didn't like those at all. I've never been crazy about having them with marshmallows or even just plain for that matter. I do, however, love cranberries in about any context.
A few years ago, I had some sweet potatoes that had been prepared with cranberries at a church dinner. During the past couple of years, we have done some experimenting with cranberry/sweet potato recipes. Here is one that we like and hope that you will as well. We like the added tart taste of the cranberries along with a little added sweetness of the glaze or sauce we pour over them.

First, a quick word about sweet potatoes and yams. My source is the North Carolina Sweet Potatoes web site
Sweet potato 
Although the terms "sweet potato" and "yam" are often used interchangeably, they are actually distinct from one another and belong to different botanical families.  Yams are native to Africa and grow primarily in tropical climates. Sweet potatoes are believed to have originated in South America where they have been grown for at least 5,000 years. Today they are grown in warm, temperate regions across the world, including the southeastern United States. Sweet potatoes are a great source of Vitamin A and beta-carotene. Although the dark orange-fleshed variety is the best known, sweet potatoes come in a variety of colors
Varieties of sweet potatoes
Now, on to the recipe. This is one that you can prepare ahead of time and then warm through in the oven just before serving.
Ingredients:
5 sweet potatoes
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Steps:
1. Lightly spray a 2-quart casserole dish with non-stick spray.
2. Boil the sweet potatoes until fork tender. If you want, you can stop just before they are fully cooked since they will cook a little more when you bake them.
3. Peel and cube the sweet potatoes and place them in the casserole dish. 
  • You can see from this picture, that I used two different varieties of sweet potatoes. When we went shopping at the commissary Sunday afternoon, there were only 3 of the dark orange ones left. I think that's because they were selling for 59 cents a pound and we were late to arrive. As a result, I picked up 2 of the more expensive ones. I actually like the variety and slight differences in taste, so it's all good by us.

4. Now to prepare the sauce, glaze, topping, or whatever you wish to call it.
  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla until well combined. Stir in the cranberries and bring to a low boil. Allow the cranberries to "pop" open as you would if you were making cranberry sauce. Remove from heat and stir in the pecans. 
5. Pour the mixture over the sweet potatoes.
6. Bake in a 350 degree oven until heated through. If you wish, you can even do the "prep" work the night before, put the sweet potatoes & sauce in the refrigerator overnight and then heat through the next day before dinner time.