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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Chew This! Sharing Recipes

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 celebrating love with recipes and memories! I love celebrating life by doing things for the ones you love, sharing memories with one another, making new memories and by swapping classic family recipes. I have known Theresa Pierce for many years now and over time have gotten to know her family as well. She is an excellent cook and the gene runs in her family. Today I am sharing not one – not two – but THREE recipes from Theresa’s family. Two from Theresa’s Grandma Mary and one from Theresa’s Mom, Grace. All of the recipes I am sharing my family and I love as well – and I hope you and your family will make these, enjoy them and pass them along!

Also my “Ask and Answer” feature is about casseroles and sharing even more recipes!

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

Grandma Mary’s Graham Cracker Treats

Grace’s Cap’n Crunch Treats


Grandma Mary’s Cheesy Chicken Casserole

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, September 17th 2017 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Celebrating Love with Recipes and Memories
Blaise Doubman

I love recipes that have a history of family and memories attached to them. The recipes I am sharing today come to me from a very good friend of mine, Theresa Pierce. We got to know each other by working together a few years ago and have been close ever since. A lot of people know Theresa as a smart, hardworking, caring person who would go out of her way for any of her friends. But guess what? Not that many people know that she is also very talented in the kitchen! Do not let her tell you otherwise, she really is a talented and very creative person in the kitchen! But she is quick to mention that all credit for that would go to her Mom and Grandma. Over the last few years she has gone from not wanting to enter the kitchen much, to baking muffins, cakes and pies! She even made a pumpkin roll a couple years back and ever since I still cannot use cheesecloth without thinking of her. She did, however, say that she would never make another pumpkin roll again… and so far she has kept that promise! Ha!

Over the course of knowing her, I also got to know her family – her husband, Rick; her Mom , Grace and her Grandma Mary. She loves and respects her family and her friends and I really admire that. I’ve admired her for years and even though I have only told her a time or two, I really think she knows how I feel. The recipe I am sharing today comes from her late grandmother, Mary (Matney) George. Even though I never got the chance to meet her, I feel like I knew her very well. She was kind, funny, warm and caring. I loved telling Theresa stories about my latest kitchen adventures, or misadventures, so that she could go and relay them to her Grandma Mary. I think one of Mary’s favorite stories was the one where I was cleaning green beans for the first time and I was using craft scissors to cut them off the vine and to cut the ends and snap their middles. Theresa said her Grandma Mary laughed and laughed over how I got them off the vine! I can only imagine some of the other stories that Theresa told her Grandma over the course of the several years we worked together! Grandma Mary is missed but her recipes, such as the ones I have shared here, will live on. That is what I love about sharing family recipes! Shout out and special thanks to Theresa Pierce for sharing with me her deliciously memorable family recipes for all to share and for all to enjoy.

Grandma Mary’s Graham Cracker Treats
Cover a 17-inch x 11 ½-inch cookie sheet with aluminum foil (Grandma Mary was VERY specific on size). Arrange graham crackers on the baking sheet, filling the sheet fully. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. In a saucepan melt 1 stick of butter, 1 stick of margarine and ½ cup sugar. Bring to rolling boil and stir for 3 minutes. Pour over crackers, being sure to cover evenly. Sprinkle with finely chopped nuts – pecans work well here. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and remove treats from sheet but leave on aluminum foil. Cool completely and break into pieces. Do not try and make these on a humid day – they will not get crispy!

Grace’s Cap’n Crunch Treats
Theresa’s Mom, Grace, adds broken up pretzel sticks to the following mixture. If using the pretzels add them at the same time you add the cereal and nuts.

16 2 oz. blocks white almond bark
1 box Cap’n Crunch peanut butter flavored cereal
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
1 16oz. jar dry-roasted peanuts

Start by lining two large baking sheets with aluminum foil and lightly spray evenly with non-stick cooking spray.

Melt the white almond bark and the smooth peanut butter in a large microwave safe plastic bowl in the microwave on high power for 3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.

Stir in the cereal and dry-roasted peanuts. When well mixed, spread evenly between the two prepared baking pans. Allow the mixture to cool and set up for about 30 minutes.

After it has set, break up into pieces and store in plastic food storage bags at room temperature.

Ask and Answer: I have had questions about quick and easy casseroles so I thought I would share a recipe that Theresa’s Grandma Mary would make her frequently. Theresa said her Grandma’s “Cheesy Chicken Casserole” is delicious and whenever it was made she would polish off most of it! Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees F. Combine 2 cups chopped cooked chicken with 12 oz. shredded cheddar cheese, ½ cup Quaker 100% natural cereal, 1 10 ¾ oz. can cream of chicken soup, 1 cup chopped celery, ½ cup chopped onion, ¼ cup milk and sprinkle of pepper. Spread into greased 8-inch square baking pan. Combine 1 cup Quaker 100% natural cereal with 2 tablespoons melted butter and sprinkle over top of chicken mixture. Bake in preheated oven for 24 minutes. Remove and cool slightly before enjoying.

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Chew This! Cheesy Potatoes with Sausage Casserole

Happy “Chew This!” Sunday!!! I am so excited to share this FOUR generations-old recipe with all of you! It was taught to me by my Mom, Darla Doubman – and it was taught to her by her Mom (my Grandma), Deloris Bolinger – and it was in turn taught to her my her Mom (my Great Grandma), Viola Davis.

FOUR generations…

I love old recipes like this that have history, memories and stories behind them. This can be made ahead, and served when ready. Perfect for entertaining!

Cheesy Potatoes with Sausage Casserole

Cheesy Potatoes with Sausage Casserole

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, October 4th 2015 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Generational Casserole Recipe Wins Approval…
Blaise Doubman

I love recipes that have history around them. Recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation are not only some of the best, but some of my most popular recipes. No matter what food trends come and go (peanut butter flavored pickles, or coconut popcorn sorbet, anyone?) true and trusted “heirloom” recipes, are hard to beat. The recipe I’m sharing today has been in my family for years and years. I remember first learning about this from my Mom, Darla, when I was about five years old. It amazed me how such simple ingredients could come together to make such an incredible dish.

My Mom was taught this recipe from her Mom, my Grandma, Deloris Bolinger – who was in turn taught the recipe from her Mom, my Great Grandma, Viola Davis. Are you adding that up? That means this recipe is a four generations-old recipe! The stories and memories that go along with each recipe handed down to the next generation are some of my favorite growing up. Listening and watching my Mom teach me this recipe will then be shared with future generations and now here with all of you. I hope this recipe brings memories and stories to share with the ones you love – just like it’s done with mine.

Cheesy Potatoes with Sausage Casserole

This casserole can be made ahead and placed in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. When ready to bake, just remove from the refrigerator, place in preheated oven and bake. There really is no substitute for “Velveeta” – brand cheese. If you’re not a fan of using this type of cheese, give it another try. The taste and texture of this cheese has really improved, compared to other types of “processed cheese”, and the delicious “melting” of this type of cheese just can’t be beat…

2 pounds of Idaho baking potatoes
4 tablespoons salted butter
4 tablespoons white all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound (16 oz.) Velveeta-brand cheese
2 small packages (or 1 large) mini sausages (28 oz. total)

Start by preparing the potatoes. Peel the potatoes, cut them into medium-sized cubes, and place in a large pot of salted boiling water over high heat until tender.

In a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, combine the salted butter, white all-purpose flour, whole milk, salt, black pepper and Velveeta-brand cheese until melted, smooth and creamy. If any lumps are present, whisk with a wire whisk to remove them.

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees F and lightly grease a large casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Place the cooked potatoes in the dish, and spread out evenly.

Next, pour the cheese mixture over the potatoes, being sure to distribute evenly.

Before placing in the oven, spread the mini sausages, evenly, over the top of the cheese and potatoes. Place in preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until lightly browned on top.

Remove and allow to cool very slightly before serving.

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Chew This! Eggplant and Tomato Casserole

Happy Sunday! Where are you reading from? Today in Indiana looks like this…

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(thanks to my friend Terri Smith for posting the photo – that way I wouldn’t have to leave the house! Ha!)

Want something that will warm you up!? (No matter where you are) – why not try my newest “CHEW THIS!” column featured in today’s edition of “The Courier-Times”?

This recipe is PERFECT for vegetarians, make-ahead meals, “Meatless Mondays”, Lent…and more! Trust me – you will NEVER know there is eggplant in this dish – and you (or your guests) will not miss the meat…I promise!

When I first served this (to my meat loving family) I did not tell them the “secret” (eggplant) until they were finished eating. They raved and raved about how delicious the meal was…and were flabbergasted when I told them it was actually an EGGPLANT casserole.

I am so excited to be sharing this recipe with everyone! Check it out – email me and let me know what you think! (blaisethebaker@gmail.com)

Eggplant and Tomato Casserole

Eggplant and Tomato Casserole

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, March 1st, 2015 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Eggplant Casserole would be perfect dish for “Meatless Mondays”…
Blaise Doubman

I think a lot of vegetables get a bad name without people first having even tried them! Take eggplant for example. The vegetable is not only delicious to look at – a deep, glossy, nightshade of purple – but is actually delicious to eat! Have you tried eggplant? If not – how come? Its taste is very much similar to a squash – very light in texture and absorbs flavors beautifully when cooked alongside tomatoes, butter and garlic for examples. Eggplant is delicious when substituted for the meat in lasagna and even better in casseroles – like this one! Try it once and you’ll be a fan…

Eggplants also have a lot of health benefits! Did you know that eggplants are full of vitamins and minerals and that they also help with cardiovascular health and free radical protection? See – they are a wonderful vegetable! And a lot of people are now participating in a movement called “Meatless Mondays” where on Mondays; all dishes made for the day contain no meat. This movement started online as a way of promoting good health, healthy eating, and more vegetable consumption. A lot of people have started this, and really benefiting from not only the health benefits – but by experimenting in the kitchen with things they would have never tired before, and absolutely loving the results! This casserole will be a hit with your family and friends.

Eggplant and Tomato Casserole

Casseroles are beginning to be a thing of the past – and I want to change that. Casseroles (especially this one) can be made ahead, refrigerated or even frozen until ready to bake off, and can provide leftovers for the next day. This casserole is so flavorful you won’t believe it – and you won’t miss the meat! This recipe is also very versatile. You can use frozen onions instead of fresh, and canned diced tomatoes instead of dicing your own. Panko breadcrumbs are used in place of regular breadcrumbs because of the delicious crunch they provide. Leftovers can be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Also – when picking an eggplant, chose one that is dark purple and heavier feeling – this will ensure freshness.

2 tablespoons salted butter
1 large onion, diced
1 medium sized eggplant
½ green bell pepper, diced
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 large tomatoes, cleaned and diced
1 16 oz. container cottage cheese
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs

Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F and by spraying a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook the diced onion and butter together in a medium sized skillet over moderate heat until the onions are tender and translucent.

Next, peel the eggplant and cut off both ends. Cube the rest of the eggplant into cubes roughly about ½-inch big.

Add the eggplant to the cooked onions and stir in diced green pepper, tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Cover this with a lid and allow to cook for about 20 minutes – or until the eggplant is tender – stirring occasionally.

Next, once the mixture is cooked and the eggplant tender, add in the diced tomatoes, stir and cook for another two minutes.

To assemble the casserole, place a layer of the vegetable mixture on the bottom of the prepared casserole dish and spread evenly, followed by a layer of the cottage cheese and then the bread crumbs. Do layers of this – ending with the vegetables – until you have used all of the ingredients. You should have between 3 and 4 layers of the vegetables.

Place, uncovered, in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest slightly before serving.

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Sour Cream Noodle Bake

I have heard of “Noodle Bakes” for years from my Grandma Barbra and also recently while leafing through some of my old Church cookbooks that I have bought over the years. Each and every one of them are unique to the person making them. Enter Ree Drummond (The “Pioneer Woman”) and her version of the noodle bake, which she calls her “Sour Cream Noodle Bake”. Her recipe is very much similar to one of my favorite recipes for the noodle bake, which I found in an old 1980’s Church cookbook. Is it safe to say that the 80’s was the “Generation of Casseroles”?!

A lot of people do not care for casseroles anymore – but I can not see or understand why. Casseroles can be delicious and easy to make. Let’s bring back the casserole! 

The following recipe is my version of the ever popular dish…

Sour Cream Noodle Bake Blog

Sour Cream Noodle Bake

1 pound ground beef
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
8 oz. egg noodles
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups small curd cottage cheese
1/2 cup sliced green onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 cups grated Sharp Cheddar cheese

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a large baking dish (I used a 9 x 13 baking dish) with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

Brown ground beef in a large skillet and the drain most of the fat.

Add the can of tomato sauce to the browned ground beef along with tablespoon of fresh basil, tablespoon of fresh parsley, teaspoon of salt and teaspoon of pepper. Stir together and simmer mixture on low for about 30 minutes.

Next, cook the egg noodles until al dente. This should take about 8 minutes. Drain the noodles and set aside.

In a bowl, combine sour cream and cottage cheese. Stir together and then add teaspoon of pepper and sliced green onions to the mixture. Add this to the cooked egg noodles and stir.

When you are ready to assemble (and the pasta sauce has simmered about 30 minutes) add half the noodle mixture to the baking dish. Next, top with half the meat mixture – spread out evenly over the noodles. Then sprinkle on half the grated sharp cheddar cheese. Repeat until the final top layer is a layer of the rest of the sharp cheddar cheese.

Bake for 30-40 minutes. The cheese will be melted and the inside middle, hot.

Leftovers (if you have any) are even better the next day…

Enjoy!

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TAKE IT STEP BY STEP…