Blog - biscuits and such
southern food blog
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Sweet Potato Casserole


A few years ago I got my tonsils out.  And when I say a few years ago, I don’t mean as a child.  I mean as an adult.  It was an awful experience.  On more than one occasion during the two weeks that I was completely incapacitated, a friend would walk into my apartment to find my in the fetal position on my living room floor, completely pathetic.  It’s because having your tonsils out as an adult is torture.  Complete and total torture.


One particularly cruel aspect was my losing my sense of taste.  And since my mom could only stay a few days and I was alone for most of my recovery, I did so much online symptom research that I convinced myself that I was going to be one of the small percentage of patients who lose it permanently.  Thankfully I only lost it for a few weeks.  Still, it was a horrible few weeks.  I didn’t eat for two weeks because when I was actually hungry and could swallow, my food tasted like cardboard mush.


At one of the lower points, I thought that if I just made something I liked, I could make myself eat it.  What I really wanted was a burrito, but I settled for a sweet potato.  I stuck it in the oven, etc etc, sprinkled it with brown sugar and pecans, and sat down on my couch.  Drumroll please…. it tasted like nothing.  Long story short, I cried for hours and sent very sad text messages to my mother.


The river of tears was partially because I was emotionally and physically exhausted, but also because I love sweet potatoes.  Especially when pecans and brown sugar are involved.  Which is why I love sweet potato casserole so much.  And I promise you, this recipe won’t disappoint.  It’s creamy, silky, crunchy, everything that you want in a casserole.  And the topping?  I practically live just for that topping.


Sweet Potato Casserole

For the casserole:

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cup butter

1 cup milk

2 tsp vanilla

6 cups mashed sweet potato

For the topping:

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup flour

4 tbsp butter

1 cup chopped pecans

Peel, chop, and boil your sweet potatoes.  Mash, and set aside.  Beat eggs, sugar, and butter.  Add milk and vanilla, and combine with potatoes.  Spoon into a greased casserole dish.  Combine brown sugar, flour, butter, and pecans.  Mix until crumbly and sprinkle over potato mixture.

Bake at 350* for 45 minutes.

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Fresh Cranberry Sauce


When I was a kid, I was completely horrified by cranberry sauce.  Mostly because I associated all cranberry sauces with what comes out of a can.  Which, is horrifying.  I don’t trust the way jello-like things move.  It weirds me out.  But, in adulthood, I’ve come to appreciate the made fresh cranberry sauce.  It’s tart, flavorful, and the perfect gravy substitute for turkey-topping.


This particular recipe, adapted from the back of the Ocean Spray bag, is sooooo easy.  And, it can be made in advance, so it’s one less thing you have to worry about Thanksgiving morning.  My strategy this year for our Sunday Thanksgiving is to have everything premade by Saturday except the turkey and the stuffing.  That way, I just heat up the casseroles Sunday right before we eat, and voila, Thanksgiving!


I will admit that I made a bit of a mess making this.  For photographic purposes I used a smaller pot, which backfired when the cranberries boiled over.  Now my kitchen smells vaguely of caramelized cranberries.  Which is okay with me.


Cranberry Sauce

1 pack of whole fresh cranberries

1 cup of water

1 cup white sugar (substitute dark brown sugar for a richer, deeper taste)

Orange zest

Fresh squeezed orange juice from one orange

Bring water and sugar to a boil.  Add cranberries and zest, and return to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for fifteen minutes or so, stirring every once in a while, until the cranberries burst.  Squeeze in orange juice.  Remove from heat, cover, and cool completely at room temperature.  Refrigerate before serving.

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Apple Cup Pies


I know, I know, two pie recipes in a row?  What can I say, I love pie (I’m a baker at heart.  I only cook real food to appease my stomach).  Also, thanks to a tornado warning in D.C., I unexpectedly got the day off.  And since Dan had already mentally committed himself to playing video games all day, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to test a new recipe.  That, and it’s pie season.  I have to stay on my game.


I’ve wanted to make cup pies, or miniature pies baked in a cupcake dish, since that fateful episode of Pushing Daisies where Chuck convinces Ned to add cup pies to his menu, with her honey baked into the crust.  Which, by the by, is a show that I could not love more.  And the fact that pie is a central character helps.  It’s all the crime I love from CSI in brilliant colors, with quirky characters, and pie.


Anyway, I’ve made miniature pies before, but in those novelty shaped aluminum dishes, with mediocre results.  And since the holidays are soon approaching and I’d like to show up for Christmas with an assortment of holiday cup pies (chocolate chess, pumpkin, pecan, sweet potato, etc), I thought I’d test the recipe out before hand.


I started with my basic pie dough recipe, to which I added brown sugar, cinnamon, and honey.  I also cut the recipe in half.  Other than a few things, cup pie baking is essentially pie baking, just smaller.  Be sure to cut your apple pieces very small (I would suggest 1/4″ chunks).  Also, lightly grease your cupcake pan.  I use silicon bakeware for cupcakes, pound cakes and bunt cakes because it’s just so much easier to get them out.  Believe me, I ruined a right many cupcakes because half of them stayed behind in tin (Which, incidentally, is where the cupcake cake came from).


When you’re putting the bottom crust into the pie dish, leave a nice lip, so that you can attach the top to the bottom.  The first few I did I failed miserably, but got the hang of it by the last one.  These pies are delightfully adorable, enjoy!

Apple Cup Pies

Pie dough (recipe here)

3 apples, peeled and diced

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup flour


4 tbsp honey

4 tbsp butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

Once your crust is made, melt butter in a saucepan.  Peel, core, and dice apples.  Since these are mini pies, you want them to be smaller pieces of apple.  Toss the apples in sugar (brown and white) and cinnamon, and two tbsp of honey.  Simmer in melted butter until the apple pieces are soft.  Stir in vanilla and flour, and remove from heat to let cool.

Take your dough out of the fridge, and preheat your oven to 425*.  Lightly grease your baking pan.  Now, I know that  you’ll be cursing me for this while you’re applying the dough, but it’ll save you broken-pie heartache down the road.  Press dough into alternating cupcake holes, leaving a 1/4 inch lip over the edge. Fill with apple mixture, and press top on, making sure to pinch together the top and bottom crusts.  This is more important than when you make a regular size pie, because these are leaving the dish, to stand alone.  They can’t be falling apart.

Whisk together egg and remaining honey.  Sprinkle the pies with brown sugar, brush with egg mix, and cut slits into the top.  Bake for 15 minutes at 425*, then reduce the heat to 350* and bake for another 15 minutes.  Keep an eye on them- they’re so small they could easily burn.

Remove from cupcake pan and serve.

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