November 23, 2010

Two Sides of My Better Half

Two Sides of My Better Half

After begging–lots and lots of begging–on my husband’s part, I am contributing my first official post on The Catholic Foodie! So here it goes.

It’s countdown to Thanksgiving and perhaps there are a couple of you out there who are still trying to figure out what you’d like to cook to go with your turkey. I’d like to share a few dishes that have become our favorites. These are the ones my family looks forward to and begs for at other times of the year as well.

Before I reveal these treasured delights, I must admit to you something! I’m becoming my mother!

Why do I say that, you ask. Well, when I moved from home and started cooking on my own, I’d call Mom and ask her how to make something. She would tell me the ingredients and when I asked her, “How much?’ she would pause and say something like, “I just taste it,” or “about” such-and-such an amount. This would drive me cRaZy! Except now…I’m just like that! In fact, I’m not sure if I ever prepare anything the same way twice! And that’s why I’m all about “savory” cooking. Mom never bakes for the same reason. So as I hopefully continue to make a regular contribution to The Catholic Foodie, that’s what you’ll find from me: “recipes” in which you add a little bit of this and a little bit of that or whatever’s in the pantry or frig!

Creamed Spinach

(A dish so rich it’s only served twice a year at this house.)

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 8 oz. cream cheese (Organic Valley is my favorite)
  • 8 oz. sour cream (Organic Valley is perfection)
  • 1 large bag frozen, chopped spinach
  • Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • Cajun seasoning (like Tony’s or Konriko)
  • nutmeg? granulated garlic?

Saute the onion in the butter. Cook spinach according to directions and squeeze dry using sieve or cheesecloth. Add spinach to the saute pan. Add cream cheese and sour cream and integrate well. Season to taste. I can’t even remember if I add a dash of granulated garlic or a few “passes” of microplaned nutmeg at this point or not, but if it sounds good to you, feel free 😉 Transfer to a baking dish. Sprinkle freely with cheese. I like to stir some in and then add it to the top. Bake at 350° until thoroughly heated. Recipe may be easily doubled.

Sweet Potato Pudding

(Adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s Louisiana Real and Rustic

–tops any other sweet potato dish I’ve tasted.)

  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, baked*
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup pecan pieces
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 T Steen’s 100% Pure Cane Syrup
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 T bourbon
  • 1/2 stick butter, softened

Preheat the over to 350°. Mash the potatoes in a mixing bowl until smooth. Add eggs and milk and mix well. Add the nutmeg, cinnamon, 1/2 cup brown sugar, syrup, salt, vanilla, and bourbon. Mix well. Pour the mixture into a 1-1/2-quart round baking dish. Combine the pecans, remaining brown sugar, and butter and mix well. Dot the top of the potato mixture with the butter mixture. Bake for appoximately 45 minutes, or until bubbly.

*For perfectly baked sweet potato, place washed, unpeeled, unpricked, uncut potatoes 400° oven for 30 minutes. (To avoid a mess, I like to bake mine in old, thin pie plates, in case the sugary sweetness bubbles out.) Reduce the heat to 375° and bake for 45 minutes or until tender.

I’d say it’s the bourbon that makes this dish, but the butter and pecans and Steen’s are all team players! I think you’ll love it! It’s so good, you could skip dessert!