Category Archives: Holiday Menu Planning

Party Like a Toddler

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His Majesty had a Halloween Party at play school yesterday, which gave me the opportunity to try out two new recipes that I pinned to my Halloween Board.

The first was a twist on our Valentine’s Day success: I call it “Monkey Munch”, but my husband, and the recipe that I used, call it “Puppy Chow”.  The other play school parents just called it “Really Good”.  The source of the recipe is a blog called Your cup of Cake, and it’s written by a college student at BYU.  She has tons of recipes for sweet treats, like this one for hot chocolate truffles.  Betcha Santa would take those over the same old chocolate chip cookies we leave him every year!

The recipe is very easy to follow.  The only thing I did differently was to mix the coated cereal and the powdered sugar in a (clean, unused) kitchen trash bag.  It’s bigger, so it’s easier to spoon the cereal into it, and there is more room to shake the cereal around and coat it evenly in the powdered sugar.  I just used one trash bag for the white chocolate mixture and one for the chocolate chip mixture.  I used about 2/3 of a big bag of Reese’s Pieces, but you could add M&Ms, candy corn, pretzels, whatever you want, to dress it up to your satisfaction.

The second recipe I tried was this pumpkin shaped cheese ball from Family Fresh Meals.  I served it with pretzels, crackers, bell pepper slices, and nacho chips.  It looked so pretty that people will think it takes you a lot of work to create it, but it doesn’t.  Not including the time it spent in the fridge overnight, it took me about 20 minutes, including time to cut up the peppers and set up the crackers on the platter.   It was a hit with the kids, and His Majesty tried to eat some of the leftovers with a spoon.

These two snacks went over very well with both adults and kids.  I still can’t get over how much toddlers eat, those little ones sat down around the table and gorged themselves to their little costumed hearts’ content.  Even so, these recipes make a lot of servings, so if you are watching your waistline, I’d definitely suggest that you have a plan for how to pawn the leftovers off on your friends generously gift the leftovers so that you aren’t tempted to overindulge.  These treats are can be dangerous!

Happy Halloween!

Thanksgiving Test Drive: Sweet Potato Souffle

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What would Thanksgiving be without sweet potatoes?  Seriously, what other dessert do people pass off as a veggie, temptingly fitting it right between the corn and green beans?  None.  Just sweet potatoes.  And pinterest is rich in sweet potato recipes fitting for a Thanksgiving inspired food coma. Want one that can be made in your slow cooker, without tying up valuable oven space?  Or one that has been modified for a somewhat healthier twist? They both look amazing, but something about the name Sweet Potato Souffle made me feel really June Cleaver-like, which was probably the motivating reason behind my decision to take particular this recipe for a test drive.

In checking out the source for the sweet potato souffle, I found not only the easy to follow recipe, but tons of other recipes for how to recreate dishes from restaurants all across the country.  The recipes are very well categorized if you are looking for something in particular. The creator of the blog, copykat.com, Stephanie Manley, is also the author of a book that compiles recipes for how to recreate your favorite restaurant dishes in your own home. Four-and-a-half stars on Amazon, too, that’s pretty promising!  Suffice it to say that if you need some recipe inspiration, or if you fall in love with a dish while dining out, Stephanie’s blog would be a good place to stop by and see if she has found a way for you to create a meal you will love without having to leave your house.

I’m glad that Stephanie’s recipe was so easy to follow, because this test drive was extra important.  You see, this year, my family is hosting Thanksgiving for a large group of friends in our home. You can’t serve a dish to a group of people without knowing how it tastes firsthand, right?  With only 2 weeks until Thanksgiving, the pressure is ON!

So… without further ado, here’s how I made Sweet Potato Souffle, using Stephanie’s recipe.

Start off with sugar, sweet potatoes (I used five), salt, milk, butter, vanilla, and eggs.

Peel and cut up your sweet potatoes for steaming.

I steamed them in two batches for about 15 minutes per batch. I wanted them good and soft to make it easier to mash them up.

While your potatoes are steaming, measure out your eggs, milk, melted butter, salt, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl.

Then add your mashed sweet potato to the waiting ingredients. I mashed my sweet potatoes in a food processor, but they really were soft enough that I could have easily done it by hand. When the ingredients are well combined, pour them into a buttered casserole dish.

Next you'll mix up your topping from brown sugar (I used Splenda blend), flour, butter, and pecans.

Is there any question in your mind as to whether or not this stuff will knock your socks off at this point?!

Add the topping to evenly coat the top of the mashed sweet potato mixture, and bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes.

Behold the finished product.

The house smelled delicious while this was baking.  Christopher was stalking the oven timer waiting for dinner time.  The rest of the meal that I prepared was simple, just ham and salad.  As a general dinner prep rule, I try to only do one thing that requires me to think at a time , at least when it comes to regular week nights. The longest portion of the preparation of this dish was the steaming of the sweet potatoes, which gave me just enough time to measure out the rest of the ingredients, mix up the topping, and make our salads.

My paternal grandfather used to bake sweet potatoes into pie for Thanksgiving, and then serve huge pieces to us kids under the pretense that it was pumpkin pie.  This went on for many years, until one of my aunts let the cat out of the bag, after which point, none of us were as willing to try his Thanksgiving pies again.  Isn’t that awful? I doubt they even tasted bad, we likely were just turned off because we felt that we’d been duped into eating them.  I bet that if Grandpa had just served up a sweet potatoes souffle (or, a sweet potato casserole, as my sweet friend Emily tells me it is called down here in the south), instead of being all incognito with the pies, he’d have needed an extra arm or two to serve up heaping spoonfuls fast enough to satiate us grandchildren.   The stuff is that good.  Suffice it to say that when I eat sweet potatoes now, as an adult, I think of my sweet grandfather, and he surely would have loved this dish.  My three guys did, and even after serving up generous portions, there was more than enough left over for my husband’s lunch the next day and to serve with dinner the following evening (and I’m happy to report that no one complained about eating the leftovers).

If you, like me, don’t have a tried and true sweet potato recipe that has been lovingly handed down to you from your mother, and your mother’s mother, and your mother’s mother’s mother, this one won’t let you down.  But don’t take my word for it.  Take it for your own test drive!