Chew This! Aunt Susie’s Sweet Potato Casserole

Happy “Chew This!” Sunday! As many of you know, I write a food column for “The Courier-Times” on the first and third Sundays of each month called “Chew This!” I absolutely love it and love sharing my family recipes, stories and memories. If you are in the Henry County, Indiana area – pick up a copy of the newspaper today and let me know what you think! If you are not, but would still like to take a look, sign up for an online subscription at http://thecouriertimes.com Need help with the online signing up!? Write to me and I will be happy to help! blaisethebaker@gmail.com

My newest column features “Aunt Susie’s Sweet Potato Casserole”. I can not tell you how excited I am to share this recipe with everyone! For years and years my family and I have searched high and low for this recipe – and now, thanks to Carolyn Sue, and our recent reconnection – I have the recipe here to share with everyone! The recipe is warm and familiar – not to mention delicious. Make this fabulous side dish for your Thanksgiving table!

Also my “Ask and Answer” feature is all about your Thanksgiving questions! Send me a message, call or text me – even email – with your questions and I will be happy to help! 765-520-8332 or blaisethebaker@gmail.com

Pick up a copy of “The Courier-Times” TODAY and let me know what you think!

Aunt Susie’s Sweet Potato Casserole

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, November 19th 2017 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

Thanksgiving Traditions and Memories
Blaise Doubman

I have such wonderful memories of Thanksgiving growing up and I wish I could share them all with you here in this column but the column would eventually turn into a book and that book is for a later time. Today I am going to talk about my memories of my Uncle Donald and Aunt Susie. Donald Davis, my Grandma Deloris’ brother, and his wife, Mary, “Susie” were always a staple at the Bolinger Thanksgiving. I remember Donald always wanting to shake my hand and Susie always giving the warmest hugs, the very minute we would step through the front door. Susie is also known for her warm and genuine laugh and caring smile. She is a super smart lady too! Every time we would get out the after Thanksgiving games to play, everyone always fought to be on her team! There would be a buffet table lined with anything and everything a person could possibly want to eat, the Christmas decorations would be up and on and music would be playing softy in the background. Things seemed to be so simple back then, nothing ever changed and everything stayed the same. My Grandpa Max would announce his dislike for the dumpings while all of us doubted him in his decision and bets would be made for the upcoming football game. The star of the show and the star attraction of the Thanksgiving table though was, without a doubt, my Aunt Susie’s sweet potato casserole. Every year it was the dish that was most looked forward to and always the first dish emptied. Nobody could ever get enough!

Years passed, and as time does, things changed and “new normal” traditions were created. People seemed to get busier, sometimes people couldn’t make it due to illness or plans created with other family members or friends. Thanksgiving seemed to change with each year that passed and along the way we lost some very special members of the family. Through difficult times it was times like I had described earlier, of times when I was younger and nothing seemed to change and everything was magical and happy, that I held on to, to get me through. Those times are still close to my heart and every now and then I get them out when I need them. Susie’s sweet potato casserole was always on the minds of my family and I with each Thanksgiving. I tried to duplicate the recipe, using lime juice and marshmallows, but nothing ever even came close. Even when planning my cookbook, this recipe was the “one that got away”. Skip ahead to just a few weeks ago when I stumbled upon Donald and Susie’s daughter, Carolyn Sue, in an address book. I took a leap of faith, sent a text and hoped the number was still active. Within just a few hours, she wrote back! That lead to a wonderful reconnection and a memorable phone conversation that brought forth the recipe I have so many memories tied up in. I made it and I was transported back to when times were simpler, the future was still yet unfolding and I could feel the warmth and remembrance of my childhood. I am so happy to share this recipe with everyone here today and a very special thank you to Carolyn Sue Kellams and her sweet family for allowing me to do so. This sweet potato casserole will always have a special place on the Thanksgiving table and in my heart.

Aunt Susie’s Sweet Potato Casserole

Some recipes are meant to be followed to the exact letter, especially family recipes that bring about a certain memory from days gone by, but feel free to experiment with this casserole and top it with your favorite cereal or nuts. Frosted flakes would be a modern twist for the topping, mixed with some sliced almonds. If you are not a fan of coconut, simply leave it off and replace with extra cornflakes and nuts. This recipe is very versatile and can be made ahead and then warmed up right before serving. This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.

For the casserole…
1 40 oz. can sweet potatoes, drained
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup white granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch

For the topping…
1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter
1 cup crushed corn flakes
1 cup flaked coconut
½ cup chopped pecans

Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees F and by spraying a 9×13-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl mash together the drained sweet potatoes with the soft unsalted butter. Add and beat in the large beaten eggs, white granulated sugar and ground cinnamon.

In a glass measuring cup combine the milk with the cornstarch. Add to the mixture and combine well. Pour into the prepared baking pan and place in preheated oven. Bake for 15 minutes.

While the casserole is starting to bake, make the topping by combining the unsalted butter, crushed corn flakes, flaked coconut and chopped pecans in a medium sized skillet over medium low heat. Stir often until everything is combined and warmed. The coconut will be lightly toasted, the butter completely melted and the corn flakes slightly brown and crisp.

Once the casserole is out of the oven, top the casserole evenly with the topping. Some of the topping may sink down, that is desirable, just be sure to spread evenly across the top. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees and place the casserole back in to bake for another 30 minutes.

Remove the casserole, allow to cool slightly before enjoying. Leftovers may be wrapped in plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator. To heat up leftovers, place in oven safe container, uncovered, and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Ask and Answer: So many people write to me this time of year asking about what my Thanksgiving plan is going to be. People often feel overwhelmed, frantic and stressed out leading up to Thanksgiving and have no idea how or where to start with their Thanksgiving meal prep work. Let me give you some tips! Write down everything that you want to make for your Thanksgiving meal and then cross out half. There is always too much food prepared and you do not have to stress yourself out by making too many dishes that only a bite or two will be taken from. Second, start your planning backwards, starting at taking the turkey or ham from the oven, and work backwards. This will give you a better idea of when you need to start different dishes and give you a better frame of mind, time wise. Thirdly, make ahead what you can! Casseroles, macaroni and cheese, green bean casserole, deviled eggs and most desserts can simply be made ahead then warmed and served on Thanksgiving. My website is filled with hundreds of recipes for Thanksgiving and more than half can be made ahead! If you need more tips, suggestions or recipes please email me and I will get back to you right away.

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Carolyn Sue and Aunt Susie

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Pasta Fagioli

We are entering cold weather season here in Indiana and nothing to me says “welcome cold weather” like a big bowl of warm and comforting soup! Pasta Fagioli – which basically means “pasta and beans” – is quickly becoming one of my favorite soups! It is hearty, warm, cooks up in no time and is only 4 ingredients! FOUR! Can you believe that? Print this out, save it, bookmark it, whatever you want to do – just keep this recipe and make it this weekend!

Pasta Fagioli

1 jar “Ragu Chunky” pasta sauce with tomato, basil and garlic
2 cans (19 oz each) white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 package (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed but not drained
16 oz ditalini pasta, cooked and drained
4 cups reserved pasta water
4 cups water

To prepare the spinach: microwave the frozen spinach in a microwave safe container for four minutes. Using a fork, cut up and separate. Do not drain the spinach.

To prepare the pasta: cook in a large amount of salted boiling water with a splash of olive oil added. Cook according to package directions.

In a large soup pot over medium heat, combine the pasta sauce, prepared kidney beans, prepared chopped spinach, pasta and reserved pasta water. Bring to a low boil, stirring occasionally.

Add in four cups of water and simmer, stirring occasionally. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot. Store leftovers, covered, in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Enjoy!

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Knock You Naked Brownies

I found a Facebook video a couple days ago for “Knock You Naked Brownies” and they looked so delicious! I had heard of them before from Ree Drummond, “The Pioneer Woman”, and have had them on my “to try” list for awhile now. I decided that I needed these in my life NOW – so I made them – and oh my! I am so glad that I did! What took me so long to try these? They are fabulous! They are also made with a CAKE mix – not a brownie mix like what you may think – but the finished result tastes just like a brownie and I PROMISE people will never know you started with a boxed mix! Layers of chocolate, caramel, chocolate and more caramel make for a decadent dessert that you will want to make again and again!

Knock You Naked Brownies

1 box Devil’s Food cake mix
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup evaporated milk
11 oz caramel squares, unwrapped
1/3 cup evaporated milk
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray containing flour.

In a large bowl combine the cake mix, melted unsalted butter and cup of evaporated milk. The mixture will be thick and this is desirable.

Spread half of this mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes.

While the base is baking, make the caramel by combining the prepared caramel squares and 1/3 cup of the evaporated milk in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Stir until melted, smooth and glossy.

After the base has baked, remove from the oven and sprinkle with the semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Next, drizzle over the caramel. Take teaspoons full of the remaining cake batter and dollop on top. Do not worry about spreading the batter out because it will spread as it bakes. Plus you want to see a little caramel peaking through, right?

Place back into the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool at room temperature. You can cut these after they have cooled slightly and serve or you can do like what I like to do and wrap with aluminum foil and chill in the refrigerator for several hours before cutting.

Enjoy!

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TAKE IT STEP BY STEP…

Sugar Cookie Crust Lemon Bars

I LOVE anything and everything lemon! Lemon bars, lemon cookies, lemon candy, lemon brownies and did I mention lemon bars? If you browse my site you will find dozens of lemon based recipes! Well the recipe I am sharing today is also of the lemon, bar, variety and they are delicious! The base of the lemon bars are made from sugar cookie dough and the filling is foolproof! If you are looking for something new and different, these lemon bars are out of the box, unique, delicious and simple!

Sugar Cookie Crust Lemon Bars

1 roll Pillsbury sugar cookie dough
4 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 white granulated sugar
2 tablespoons white all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray containing flour.

Break up the sugar cookie dough with floured hands and sprinkle evenly into the prepared pan. Again with floured hands, press down and pat evenly to create a crust. 

Bake in preheated oven for 24 minutes. 

While the crust is baking combine the beaten eggs, white granulated sugar, white all-purpose flour, melted unsalted butter, fresh lemon zest and fresh lemon juice. Whisk until combined and frothy. 

Pour over the hot crust and place back into the oven for 30 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and allow to cool until room temperature. Wrap in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. 

When ready to serve, remove from refrigerator and lift bars out of the pan using the foil overhanging handles. 

Sprinkle evenly with powdered sugar. 

Cut, serve and store chilled. 

Enjoy!

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Chew This! Cinnamon Roll Apple Pie

Happy “Chew This!” Sunday! As many of you know, I write a food column for “The Courier-Times” on the first and third Sundays of each month called “Chew This!” I absolutely love it and love sharing my family recipes, stories and memories. If you are in the Henry County, Indiana area – pick up a copy of the newspaper today and let me know what you think! If you are not, but would still like to take a look, sign up for an online subscription at http://thecouriertimes.com Need help with the online signing up!? Write to me and I will be happy to help! blaisethebaker@gmail.com

My newest column is all about “Cinnamon Roll Apple Pie” and it is FABULOUS! It was a joy and nothing short of pure pleasure to develop this recipe! I must have made this countless times and my recipe testers were always happy to try a sample. This pie uses cinnamon rolls straight from the refrigerated section and even utilizes the frosting that comes with each! No need to make a pie crust, the cinnamon rolls are the bottom AND top crust! Fabulous, right!? The cinnamon and maple filled apple mixture pairs perfectly with the cinnamon rolls and warm vanilla frosting. I am highly recommending you serve this at your Thanksgiving table! People will beg for the recipe and countless memories will be made! This is so simple, why not serve two?

Also my “Ask and Answer” feature contains my recipe for “Drop Biscuits”! These are so simple and so easy AND can be quickly transformed into dumplings for chicken and dumplings, beef and dumplings, turkey and dumplings, in NO TIME flat!

Pick up a copy of “The Courier-Times” TODAY and let me know what you think!


Cinnamon Roll Apple Pie

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, November 5th 2017 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

A New Twist on a Classic Pie
Blaise Doubman

It is so hard to believe that Thanksgiving will be here in just a couple of short weeks! 2017 has really flown by for me, how about for you? I love this time of year when there is a cold snap in the air, people start preparing for the Holidays and the long winter months ahead. There is something really comforting and soothing to me about the types of food that is prepared around this time of year too, such as warm bowls of soup, fresh baked breads, roasted vegetables, casserole dishes, homemade pies and cinnamon coffee. The time of year may be cold outside but I also find it warm inside with family and friends, sharing memories, good times and good foods. I love looking back over my childhood Holidays and remembering who brought what to the dinner table and who shared what recipe with me from their kitchens.

One of my favorite late Fall seasonal desserts would have to be apple pie. I have made apple pie in all different forms, sizes, flavors and textures. I have made hand held mini apple pies, apple slab pies, deep dish apple pies, with cornflakes sprinkled along the bottom to prevent a soggy pie and apple pies on a stick! My latest favorite version though would have to be my “Cinnamon Roll Apple Pie”! There is nothing to making the crust to this because the bottom and top crust is refrigerated cinnamon rolls! How easy is that? The filling is packed with flavor and the icing on the cake? Or pie in this case, is the icing or the frosting that comes with the cinnamon rolls! You use the already made frosting to frost the pie! It really is as good as it sounds! Bring this to your Thanksgiving table and people will be begging for more!

Cinnamon Roll Apple Pie

I have made this pie using Granny Smith apples as well as McIntosh. I find that the type of apple used in this pie is up to the person who will be eating it. Most all apple pie recipes call for Granny Smith apples but I have found during my experimentation that several diverse types of apples can be used in baking perfectly fine and the results are delicious. I do find that the McIntosh apples bring out more sweetness to the pie, while Granny Smith brings out a certain tartness that pairs nicely with the ground cinnamon. Experiment and even use a combination of apples!

6 Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and sliced thin
2 refrigerated cans regular size cinnamon rolls
¼ cup white granulated sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray your pie dish with non-stick cooking spray. This recipe was developed using a 9-inch pie dish but will work with an 8-inch. This recipe will also work using a deep-dish pie dish, just adjust the cinnamon roll slices accordingly.

In a large bowl combine the prepared apples with the white granulated sugar, light brown sugar, corn starch, maple syrup, ground cinnamon and salt. Stir to combine.

Open both cans of refrigerated cinnamon rolls and cut each roll in half.

On a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out each cinnamon roll half until slightly thicker than a sheet of paper. Place a layer of the flattened cinnamon roll halves along the inside of the prepared pie dish, flattening them together to create a bottom crust.

Pour in the apple mixture and spread evenly.

Place the remainder of the flattened cinnamon roll halves along the top, crimping and closing off any holes that may appear, to create a top crust.

Cover with aluminum foil and place in preheated oven for 40 minutes.

Carefully remove the aluminum foil and baking another 7 minutes.

Remove the pie from the oven and while still warm, frost the top with the frosting containers that come with each refrigerated cinnamon roll tube. Spread evenly.

Serve warm and alongside vanilla bean ice cream.

Ask and Answer: Janet Ward, a member of my Blaise the Baker Facebook community, wanted to know where she could find my recipe for “Drop Biscuits”. I am sharing that recipe here for her and for all of you. Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. In a bowl combine 1 ½ cups white all-purpose flour with 2 teaspoons baking powder, pinch of salt and 1 stick (4 oz) cubed unsalted butter until the mixture resembles coarse pebbles. Add in ¾ cup whole milk and stir gently until combined. Drop the dough in ¼ cup measurements all along the prepared baking sheets. Bake, one sheet at a time, in preheated oven for 18 minutes or until golden brown. This recipe can also be used in making “Drop Dumplings” – just drop the dough by tablespoon size amounts into boiling chicken stock and cook until dumplings are floating and still tender in the middle.

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Coca-Cola Cake 

For years I have enjoyed the Coca-Cola Cake from “Cracker Barrel”. It is served warm and with a side of vanilla ice cream if you like, and I always do, and it is fabulous! It got me thinking that perhaps I could make my own? I have been playing around with recipes for awhile with this cake and I just could not get the taste I was looking for. Until I figured out the appropriate ratio of sugar, Coca-Cola, buttermilk and the secret to frosting the cake while still hot! This cake may very well be BETTER than Cracker Barrel’s version PLUS it makes a whole 9×13-inch pan full! That is dangerous for me! Most of this will be sent to my taste testers – I mean, what is left – I will not share how many pieces I have already eaten but let me say, I HIGHLY recommend you make this cake! Serve warm and with vanilla ice cream. What I do, is cut a piece, plate it, microwave it and immediately scoop some vanilla bean ice cream alongside. Fabulous!


Coca-Cola Cake

For the cake…
2 cups white granulated sugar
2 cups white all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups mini-marshmallows
1 cup Coca-Cola
1 (4 oz.) stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup buttermilk with 1 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the frosting…
1 (4 oz.) stick unsalted butter
6 tablespoons Coca-Cola
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray containing flour. 

In a large bowl whisk together the white granulated sugar and white all-purpose flour. Add in the marshmallows. 

In a saucepan mix the Coca-Cola, unsalted butter and vegetable oil. Bring to a boil over medium heat and pour over marshmallows and dry ingredients. Beat well and continue to beat until marshmallows have melted. 

Combine the baking soda with the buttermilk. Add to the mixture and beat. Add in the large eggs and pure vanilla extract. Beat well. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes. 

With about 10 minutes of bake time left on the cake, start the frosting. In a saucepan combine the stick of unsalted butter with the Coca-Cola and unsweetened cocoa powder. Bring to a boil over medium heat. 

Pour this mixture into a bowl containing the powdered sugar. Beat. Add in the milk. Beat again. Add in the pure vanilla extract and beat until creamy. Add more powdered sugar to get desired consistency. 

Frost the cake while the cake is still hot from the oven. Allow to cool before serving. 

Enjoy! 

TAKE IT STEP BY STEP…
















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