Tag Archives: Side dishes

Maple-Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Bourbon-Glazed Pecans

Maple Whipped Sweet Potatoes|Spoonwithme-com (5)

I’m a little behind the Thanksgiving game this year!  Actually, who am I kidding?  I’m always down to the wire on holiday blogging and menu planning.  Mom and I will be sharing the Thanksgiving preparations this year.  She’s a planner.  She keeps me on track.  Mom keeps asking me, Did you figure out what you’re making yet?  Do you know what you’re making yet?  How about the pumpkin pie? In my head, I think, Be cool mama, be cool…I got this.  In reality, when I’m at the grocery store in holiday madness mode the day before Thanksgiving, my mom will be peacefully baking apple pie accompanied by the crooning of Frank Sinatra.  She may be onto something…

Maple Whipped Sweet Potatoes|Spoonwithme-com

For all my fellow menu-procrastinators, a recipe that went over really well last year (and didn’t quite get around to posting in time, surprise, surprise).  It’s inspired by one of my favorite sweet potato casserole recipes shared with my mom and I by a friend of the family.  The problem with most Thanksgiving recipes is that if you are lactose-ally or glutonially challenged (yes, I made up those words), you miss out on the best dishes.

Maple Whipped Sweet Potatoes|Spoonwithme-com (1)

Not anymore!  If you are strategic and resourceful (which of course you are–all my readers are cunning and clever!), you’ll volunteer to bring the dishes that are traditionally dairy or gluten heavy, and you’ll wow everybody with the fact that yes, food can be stupid good, even without loads of milk, flour and sugar!

Maple Whipped Sweet Potatoes|Spoonwithme-com (9)

The sweet potato casserole I used to eat at our Thanksgiving table growing up was sugar-coma sweet with the help of syrupy condensed milk, and topped with a brown sugar walnut crumble topping.  So delicious.  Since I just can’t do it anymore, I’ve enjoyed re-vamping my favorite recipes into less processed, less sweet versions that still satisfy my warm cozy tradition craving.

Maple Whipped Sweet Potatoes|Spoonwithme-com (6)

This version is made of velvety smooth sweet potatoes with just a hint of bourbon and spice, topped with crunchy cinnamon spiced bourbon and toasted pecans.  Its sweetness hints at dessert, doesn’t spoil it, and it goes perfectly with the cranberry sauce that will inevitably make its way over to the sweet potatoes on your plate.  Thanksgiving is not a holiday for the food separatists!

Maple Whipped Sweet Potatoes|Spoonwithme-com (7)

If you’re a procrastinator, here’s your recipe!  If you are a planner like my mom, tuck this one in the file for next year.  I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving, and enjoy some kitchen shenanigans!

 Maple-Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Bourbon-Glazed Pecans

Serves  10-12

For the sweet potatoes:

5 pounds yams or orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, peeled

1 stick (1/2 cup) vegan butter such as Earth Balance (or use real butter)

3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

3/4 cups real maple syrup

big pinch of kosher salt

2 tablespoons bourbon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

For the glazed pecans:

2 cups pecans

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 1/2 tablespoons bourbon

1/3 cup vegan butter

Cut the peeled sweet potatoes into 1 inch pieces and place in a large saucepan.  Fill with water to cover the potatoes by 1 inch, and bring to a boil over high heat.  Once it begins to boil, set the timer and boil for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft but not falling apart.  Drain, then mash with a potato masher or wire whisk in the bowl of a mixer.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, almond milk, maple syrup, salt, and bourbon.  Heat and stir until the butter melts.

Add the melted butter mixture to the potatoes in the mixing bowl.  Using the whisk attachment of an electric mixer, whip the potatoes at medium speed until completely smooth.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Toast the pecans in a nonstick frying pan over medium heat.  Once the pecans are fragrant and appear slightly darkened, remove them from the pan and chop.  Put them back in the pan over medium high heat.  Add the maple syrup, sugar, salt, and cinnamon.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar melts.  Once the sugar melts, add the bourbon, and let it the liquid cook off for about a minute.  Add the butter and stir to coat.

Spread the sweet potato mixture into an 11×8 inch casserole dish.  Spread the nut mixture evenly on top.  Bake at 350˚F for 20-30 minutes, until hot.

Note:  This recipe can be assembled and refrigerated the day before.  The cooking time may need to be increased by 5-10 minutes.


Filed under Holiday Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegetarian and Vegan

Spiced Maple Roasted Yams + Leek and Mushroom Wild Rice + Tangerine Ginger Cranberry Relish

Anyone who has ever had a significant other to share the holidays with knows that the first time away from home for Thanksgiving is a little strange.  The gravy tastes different, and mom’s apple-raisin stuffing is nowhere to be found, but there is something special about being invited to sit around a table with a new family.

Ten-year-old me had pretty straightforward Thanksgiving plans.  Wake up.  Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade with dad.  Eat a little breakfast, but not too much; don’t want to fill up before the main event!  Help mom all day in the kitchen:  Boil cranberries with sugar, and watch them pop. Peel mountains of potatoes.  Set the table “Martha Stewart style”, as per mom’s request.  Observe my brothers play video games and bum around the living room.  Skip lunch, and eat dinner at an odd time.  Watch brothers collapse on the couch exhausted after a “hard day’s work”.

Nowadays, my husband and I come as a package deal, alternating between in-laws each year.  Traditions vary from house to house, but one thing is certain–she (or he) who roasts the turkey rules the roost (at least for a day).  The turkey-roaster holds the job of historian and delegator, deciding which traditions to keep, and which to set aside, dictating what goes where, and who makes what.

The Thanksgiving table reflects its eating audience.  As our family expands, so does our menu; starting with tradition, and branching off into new dishes that fit our vast array of nutritional needs and tastes.

Some may consider this sacrilege, but I have decided to eschew marshmallows this year.  Instead, I’ll roast the yams with a spiced maple glaze.  I don’t think the pilgrims would mind.  For the vegans of the family, I will make my leek and mushroom wild rice (sans the butter and parmesan, of course).  Grandma is making the cranberries–two kinds, but it just doesn’t seem like Thanksgiving unless I whip up a batch on my own.  I think a batch of tangerine-ginger cranberry relish is in order.  This year, the leftovers come before Thanksgiving!

All three side dishes are traditional enough to sit proudly aside mom’s family stuffing recipe or next to grandma’s roasted turkey, but new enough to mix things up a bit.

This year, Vernie (my grandma in-law) will be making the turkey, and grandpa’s favorite giblet stuffing.  This year, traditionalists, turkey-lovers, vegans and vegetarians will unite around our table once again.  Next year? Who knows what will be on the table…

Tangerine-Ginger Cranberry Relish

Makes 8-10 servings

  • 6 cups cranberries (approx 2 12 oz packages)
  • 2 small tangerines (or 1 medium), chopped into half-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 1/3 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cups of sugar, to taste
  • 1 rounded 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice

Toast the Walnuts:

Heat a medium frying pan over medium-high heat.  Cook the walnuts in the pan until aromatic and golden, tossing and stirring often (Be careful…they will burn as soon as you look away!).  Allow to cool slightly before chopping.

Chop, Chop:

Pulse the cranberries in a food processor until finely chopped.  Remove to a bowl.  Pulse the tangerine pieces until finely chopped.  Place in the bowl with the cranberries.  Pulse the toasted walnuts until chopped.  Add to the bowl.  Place  the remaining ingredients in the bowl, stir, and serve.

Spiced Maple Glazed Yams

Makes 6 servings

  • 2 1/2 pounds yams, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, and chopped into 3/4 inch half circles
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons real maple syrup
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a pinch more
  • 3/4 cups raw walnut pieces

Roast the Yams:

Preheat the oven to 400˚F.  In a large bowl, combine the yams, canola oil and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.  Toss to coat.  Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Roast in the oven for 30 minutes.  Flip the pieces, then roast for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until softened and browned in spots.

Make the Glaze:

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add the maple syrup and brown sugar, stirring until the brown sugar is dissolved.  Add the cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and a pinch of salt.  Stir to combine.

Toast the Walnuts:

Heat a medium frying pan over medium-high heat.  Cook the walnuts in the pan until aromatic and golden, tossing and stirring often (Be careful…they will burn as soon as you look away!).  Allow to cool slightly then roughly chop.

Bake the Yams:

Reduce the oven temperature to 375˚F.  Transfer the yams and toasted walnuts to a glass casserole dish.  Pour the maple glaze over the yams and toss to coat.  Bake for 20-30 minutes longer, or until the yams appear lightly carmelized.

Leek and Mushroom Wild Rice

Serves 8-10 as a side dish

  • 1 1/2 cups wild rice (I used a mixture of wild and brown rice)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 6 leeks (white and light green parts only), halved, washed, and thinly sliced
  • 5 cups chopped mushrooms (I used crimini, oyster, and shitake)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • juice of one lemon (add to taste)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano (omit to make vegan)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • kosher salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (to make vegan, use olive oil only)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/3 cup dry sherry

Cook the wild rice:

Put 1 1/2 cups wild rice and 3 cups of water in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 50 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to sit, covered for 10 minutes.  Transfer to a large bowl.

Saute the vegetables and herbs:

Heat the butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until the butter is melted, and the mixture is hot.  Saute the onion and leek until softened, about 6 minutes.  Add the garlic, herbs, and a pinch of kosher salt.  Saute for another minute, stirring constantly.

Push the leek-onion mixture to one side of the pan.  Add one tablespoon olive oil to the empty side of the pan.  Add the mushrooms and salt (to taste) to the empty side of the pan and saute for 2 minutes.  Now, stir the leeks and mushrooms together and saute for an additional 1-2 minutes, or until mushrooms are cooked through, but still firm.

Add the sherry, and scrape all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, 1-2 minutes.

Mix the Rice:

Add the leek-mushroom mixture to the bowl with the wild rice.  Add the parmigiano, pepper, lemon zest and half of the lemon juice.  Stir to combine.  Salt to taste.  Does it need a little extra wake up?  Add more lemon juice and/or salt until the flavors lock in.

And Some More Ideas…

Recipes with asterisks* are recipes I daydream about, but haven’t yet tried




Breads and Rolls:



Filed under Side Dishes