Slow-Cooked Peachy Glazed Sweet Potatoes

For Christmas, we served ham this year and were looking for a side to go along with it that would be a little unexpected, but not too far outside the norm.  This recipe from the Pillsbury Best Loved Holiday 2009 magazine fit the bill.  It was relatively quick-prep, incorporated a new ingredient — peach pie filling! — into sweet potatoes, and let me cook the potatoes in the crockpot.  What could be an easier start to Christmas morning than getting these going?

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Slow-Cooked Peachy Glazed Sweet Potatoes

2 1/4 lb dark-orange sweet potatoes, peeled
1 c peach pie filling
2 Tbsp butter or margarine, melted
1 tsp grated ginger
1/4 tsp salt

Topping

2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp butter or margarine
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 c chopped pecans

Spray a 4-to-6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray.  Halve larger sweet potatoes lengthwise; cut each into 1/2 in slices. Place in slow cooker.  Add pie filling, 2 Tbsp butter, ginger, and salt; mix well to coat potatoes.

Cover; cook on high setting 2 hours 30 minutes to 3 hours 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, line a cookie sheet with foil.  In 8 in skillet, mix topping ingredients.  Cook over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until bubbly and glazed.  Spoon onto the cookie sheet to cool.

Just before serving, gently stir potatoes.  Sprinkle with topping.

Penzey’s Mint Brownies

For a potluck at work before we left for winter break, I decided to bring this recipe I’d seen on the back of my Mint Hot Chocolate mix from Penzey’s.  Have you ever purchased a Penzey’s product?  I’m a big fan of their business, their business philosophy, their products.  So, why wouldn’t I try this Hint of Mint Brownie recipe that seemed relatively easy and a little bit decadent?penzeys-mint-brownies

Penzey’s Hinty Minty Brownies

1 1/2 sticks butter
1 c hot chocolate mix with a hint of mint
`1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
1 c flour
2 tsp vanilla

Melt butter, stir in hot chocolate and sugar until dissolved.  Pour into a large bowl, add eggs, flour, and vanilla.  Stir until combined.  Pour into a greased 8×8 pan, bake at 325 degrees for 40-50 minutes.

Honey Sesame Roasted Brussels Sprouts

We had our division holiday party a month ago and I waited until the last minute to decide what to bring — usually there is a gap of some sort that needs to be filled, but this year, it was a balanced meal based on what everyone else was bringing.  So, instead, I went with my favorite food — Brussels Sprouts!

I found this recipe over on the My Sequined Life blog.  It turned out great and there were no leftover brussels at the point I brought my dishes home.

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Honey Sesame Roasted Brussels Sprouts

1 lb Brussels sprouts
2 Tbsp teriyaki sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sriracha

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Remove any outside yellow leaves and cut off the bottom stem.  Cut the Brussels in half and place in a bowl.

Add the remaining ingredients and toss to coat the sprouts completely.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place the sprouts on the sheet in a single layer.  Bake for 15 minutes, and then remove sheet from oven and flip the sprouts over.  Bake an additional 12-15 minute or so, until the tops have browned and become slightly crisp.

Turkey Soup with Cabbage and Apples

Post-Thanksgiving, I was looking for a way to use up some of the leftover turkey and was looking through the Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2013 cookbook and saw this recipe for chicken soup with cabbage and apple.  Since I had made turkey stock with the turkey carcass, this seemed like a great opportunity to throw together this soup.  I made a few adjustments, based on ingredients I had on hand (I added some additional leek).  I also substituted turkey for chicken throughout the recipe.

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Turkey Soup with Cabbage and Apples

2 tsp caraway seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 chopped onion
1 sliced leek
1/2 c chopped carrot
1/2 c chopped celery
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 oz chicken apple sausage, sliced
5 c turkey stock
8 oz chopped Yukon gold potato
3 c sliced green cabbage
2 c shredded cooked turkey
2 c sliced Granny Smith apple
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add caraway and fennel; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Place in a spice or coffee grinder; process until ground.

Heat a Dutch oven to medium heat.  Add oil; swirl to coat.  Add onion, leek, carrot, celery, and garlic; cook 6 minutes.  Add sausage; cook 1 minute.  Add ground spices, and cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Add turkey stock and potato; bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.  Increase heat to medium-high.  Add cabbage and remaining ingredients; cook 3 minutes.

Maple Cranberries

I really enjoy cranberries…and I really enjoy the Two Peas and Their Pod blog.  When I saw a recipe for Maple Cranberry Sauce on their page, I knew I needed to make it for the holidays.  This could not have been more simple to make.  And, with the ingredients being sugar-free, it’s a nice change from all the sweet flavors of the holiday season to add a little tartness to this time of year.

maple-cranberries

Maple Cranberries

12 oz bag fresh cranberries
1/2 c pure maple syrup
Zest of one orange
Juice of 1 orange
1/4 c water
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Place the cranberries in a colander and rinse.  Discard and shriveled or damaged cranberries.

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients except cinnamon; bring to a boil.  Lower the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have broken down and thickened into a compote, about 20 minutes.

Remove the cranberry sauce from the heat and stir in the cinnamon.  Let cool completely at room temperature, then transfer to a bowl to chill in the refrigerator.

Cauliflower and Caramelized Fennel Soup

Tis the season for soups.  When I had some members of my family driving through a few weeks ago, I knew I wanted to try some new recipes for them.  The grocery store had cauliflower on sale and I had tagged this recipe from The Vegetable Butcher and I knew I wanted to put it together.  It seemed like something I could do after work was over without too much issue and it would be a fun way to get some different vegetables into our meal.

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Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

For the holidays, space in the oven, on the stovetop, and other locations is often at a premium.  When I’ve been hosting, the past few years have resulted in cooking potatoes in the crockpot.  I haven’t done a very good job of tracking the recipe that I’m using, though.  This year I decided to follow the recipe from The Kitchn.  It turned out pretty well, although the potatoes were more liquidy than I would prefer.  Next time, I’ll add the liquid ingredients at the end in smaller batches, until they are the consistency for which I am looking.

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Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

5 lb russet potatoes
3-4 cloves garlic, optional
1 tsp coarse kosher salt, plus more to taste
freshly ground black pepper
3 to 3 1/2 c milk or a mixture of milk and cream
1/2 c unsalted butter

Peel and chop the potatoes.  Lightly grease the slow cooker with butter or cooking spray.  Peel the potatoes and chop into small pieces, about 1 inch to a side.  The smaller the potatoes, the faster they will cook.  Add the seasonings.  Smash the garlic cloves, if using, and drop on top of the potatoes.  Stir in the salt and a generous quantity of black pepper.  Pour in 1 1/2 c milk and stir the potatoes.  Cover the slow cooker and cook 4-5 hours on high or until the potatoes are very tender and soft.  Turn the heat to warm.

When the potatoes are done, melt the butter in a sauce pan over low heat.  Stir in 2 c milk and warm gently over low heat.

If you used the garlic, but don’t want the potatoes super garlicky, remove the garlic cloves and discard.  Use a spoon to scoop out and discard any browned bits on the sides of the pot.  Use a potato masher or ricer to mash the potatoes right in the pot.  When the potatoes are as smooth as you like, slowly stir in the warmed dairy and butter.  The potatoes will look soupy at first, but will soak up the liquid.  Add an additional 1/2 c of milk if you want them to be even creamier.

Taste and season with additional salt or pepper if desired.