Recipes Archive

Saturday

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December 2012

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The Perfect Sweet Potato Casserole

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This year I was in charge of the Sweet Potatoes for my family’s Thanksgiving extravaganza.  Usually sweet potatoes are my grandma’s territory-for as long as I can remember she’s made the standard sliced, glazed yams that my mom and I love, however not everyone in our family shares the same affinity.  So this year I decided that it was time for me to take over the duty of sweet potatoes!

In the weeks before the holiday I tried a couple different recipes but neither of them were just right.  I kind of felt like Goldilocks-this one is too sweet, this one is too savory, this one is too dense, etc, etc…so I decided I would create my own recipe and incorporate the pieces of each recipe that I liked, hoping that the end result would be a success.  I didn’t test this recipe before the big day which was a bit of a risk, but it ended up turning out great and everyone loved it!  I would highly recommend bookmarking, pinning, or whatever you need to do to save this recipe for next year or anytime you’re in the mood for sweet potatoes!  It’s a keeper 😉

We had 18 people at our Thanksgiving table this year and there were leftovers so this recipe makes a TON of sweet potatoes-but they make excellent leftovers and can be frozen, or you can just cut the recipe in half!

Sweet Potato Casserole by ChiGalLauren

Lauren’s Perfect Sweet Potato Casserole

For the topping:

2 cups pecan pieces

2 cups dark brown sugar

1 stick melted butter

 

For the sweet potato mixture:

7 lbs sweet potatoes

1/2 stick melted butter

2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

5 tbsp maple syrup

1 1/2 tbsp Maker’s Mark whisky  **if desired

~3 tbsp dark brown sugar

3 egg whites

Topping:  Add all ingredients to a large bowl and stir until combined.  Set to the side.

Sweet Potato mixture:  Preheat oven to 400˚.  Rinse sweet potatoes and pat dry.  With a fork, puncture sweet potatoes evenly, 3-4 times.  Bake sweet potatoes in oven for 45 minutes-1 hour, or until a fork can easily glide through and the skin can be easily peeled off.  Remove sweet potatoes from oven and set aside until cool, about 15 minutes.  Once sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel skin from potatoes and place potatoes in a very large bowl.  If you find that the skin is not easy to peel, you can cut the potatoes in half and scoop out the insides from the skins.

Using a potato masher, mash sweet potatoes to desired consistency.  I left mine somewhat chunky so they had a little texture to them.  Add in the melted butter, salt, vanilla, maple syrup, whisky, and dark brown sugar.  Mix well with a spatula or your potato masher, if you still have chunks you need to break up.  At this point everything can basically be to taste.  I highly doubt that the 1 1/2 tbsp of Maker’s Mark really made a difference in the taste of 7 lbs of potatoes, but it was cool to say there was whisky in my casserole :).  Add a little more if you’re adventurous!  If you like them sweeter, add a little more maple syrup or brown sugar.  Like salt?  Add a pinch more of that!

Now comes the fun part.  Beat your egg whites until stiff peaks form.  You can add in a pinch of Cream of Tartar if you have it on hand to make this a little easier.  You can do this by hand if you’ve got some strong arm muscles…otherwise using a mixer is the way to go.  Using a spatula, fold half of the egg whites into the potato mixture until just a few streaks of white are visible.  Repeat with the remaining half of the egg whites.  The egg whites help prop the potato mixture up and make it a little more airy.  We actually only had 3 eggs on hand so that’s what I used, but ideally I probably would have tried it with at least 4 or 5 egg whites.  Try it out, you be the judge!

Once you’ve got your potato mixture to the desired taste and consistency that you want, spread the mixture in a buttered or sprayed baking dish.  Use a spoon or spatula to even out the top, then pull out your pecan topping and sprinkle as much as you want over top!  As you can see in the above picture, I completely covered my mixture with topping and it was everyone’s favorite part of the dish.  I ended up having a little extra topping from the above recipe that I ended up not using because I didn’t want to overdo it.   It really depends on the size of your baking dish as to how much topping you’ll need, I probably could’ve added the extra bit on top and nobody would’ve minded!

I made this the night before Thanksgiving and just covered it with foil and left it in the refrigerator until we were ready to bake it.  When you’re ready to go, preheat your oven to 400˚again and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the mixture is heated through (if you have a deeper baking dish this may be a little longer).  Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Casserole by ChiGalLauren

Wednesday

12

September 2012

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Whiskey + Cola Gummies

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If you’ve been reading for blog for awhile, you might remember my post right around this time last year on “How To Make Vodka Gummy Bears”….or Chicago Drunken Gummy Bears.    Let me just say…I had no idea there were so many people out there in the internet world that were interested in how to do this!  This post has led many visitors to my blog and is by far my most popular post to-date.  So of course I had to do a follow-up!

Fall is here (yay!)-which means football season has arrived-which means Chicago Bears Football is back in action-  which means it’s time to TAILGATE!!  Fall is far an away my favorite season, for all the reasons previously listed, and what better way to kick it off than with some gummies infused with a little alcohol?!

I started with a 5 lb bag of Haribo Cola gummies, 2 1/4 cups of Jack Daniels, 1 3/4 cups of Maker’s Mark, and a giant plastic container with a lid.

There is no rhyme or reason as to the amounts of the different alcohol-that was basically what we had in our liquor cabinet and I didn’t feel like going to the store, and luckily I had the perfect amount!  In my drunken gummy makings, I’ve found that you really just need enough liquor to cover the gummies in whatever container you choose-so just go with that.

All I did was dump in the liquor, stir my gummies around a bit, cover the container, and stick it in the fridge where it sat for the next 5 days until Gameday.  I was tempted to add a little Coca-Cola around day 3, but decided it would probably end in my gummies being completely melted away, so I left it as is.

The above is a picture of the gummies right before I stuck them in the refrigerator-pretty much entirely covered, but with a few sticking out here and there.

The first most important things to do while “curing” your gummies is frequent STIRRING!  I put mixed these babies up at night and the next morning when I went to stir them it was like one giant gummy blob-the liquor kind of melts the gummies and then they all stick together.  On the first day after the mixing I had to put some time into separating the gummies and mixing them.  After the first couple days I would just take the container out, shake it up a bit, then stick it back in.  They were still somewhat stuck together at the end, but there isn’t a whole lot you can do about it unless you want to get in there and separate every one.

So day 5…gameday…I pulled the gummies out and like the bears I made last year, the bottles definitely increased in size.  Notice they are also a lot slimier as well!  To deal with the sliminess when serving, I brought small dixie cups and toothpicks so nobody had to get their fingers all sticky!

In our haste to get to the South Lot at 8am when it opens, I forgot to take a good picture of the gummy container with all the whiskey soaked up-it was probably completely soaked up after 2-3 days, so if you’re crunched for time that is probably all you would need.  These were pretty strong-Mike is a whiskey fan and he enjoyed them, but I’m not-so I didn’t.  If you want to tame them down a bit, just add less whiskey.  So…here is a picture of the final Whiskey + Cola gummy product, amongst our other tailgating goodies…

Remember above when I said the first most important thing is stirring your gummies?  Well the second, and arguably equally, most important thing is to KEEP THEM COOL!  While soaking your delicious little bottles in liquor, make sure to refrigerate, and if you’re taking them somewhere-make sure to keep them cool or eat them fast unless you want to see this….

…a giant, melted blob of gelatin and whiskey…I suppose I could have divvied this up and served it as jello shots, but it really wasn’t very pretty.  So lesson learned…Keep ’em Cool or Eat ’em Fast!  Hmmm…wonder what gummy concoction I can come up with next?!

Friday

1

June 2012

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Four Bean Salad

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Happy Friday!  I’m here with another new recipe that I made last weekend and absolutely loved.  This cold bean “salad” can be eaten as a side dish or as a dip-I used it as both for our BBQ Sunday and I really loved it.  Besides a little chopping, this recipe is super simple and it makes quite a bit (I used the leftovers over a baked sweet potato and it was excellent!).  Again, I found this recipe in the Food Network Magazine (June 2012 issue) and only made a few minor tweaks to the original recipe.  You really can use any kind of beans you want, but I think the ones they suggest bring a great variety to the dish!

Four Bean Salad

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Sea salt and pepper to taste

1/3 cup sliced scallions

3/4 cup finely diced red onion

1/2 cup diced roasted bell peppers (I got mine in a jar from Trader Joe’s)

4 tbsp honey

1 12oz can white beans, drained and rinsed

1 12oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 12oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 12oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

1.  Whisk the red wine vinegar, olive oil, balsamic vinegar with a fork in a large bowl, add salt and pepper to taste

2.  Throw in your scallions, red onion, red pepper , honey, and all your beans and toss gently to coat.  Cover and let these sit in the refrigerator at least a couple hours so they soak up all the flavor.  I left mine in overnight for maximum flavor and so there was one less thing I had to do on Sunday!

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