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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Leftover Thanksgiving Meal Turnovers

Happy day after Thanksgiving! I hope each and every one of you had a GREAT Thanksgiving. Do you have a lot of Thanksgiving leftovers!? I was asked by “The Courier-Times” to develop a recipe for something unique using the leftovers of a Thanksgiving meal, and what I created may very well be BETTER than the original meal! (And I am not kidding…)

I made this several times, in testing the recipe, and all of my taste testers FLIPPED! I was asked by several people to make these, INSTEAD of the Thanksgiving meal! I highly recommend you pick up a copy of “The Courier-Times” TODAY, or check out their online e-edition, and let me know what you think! Email me – blaisethebaker@gmail.com

Thanksgiving Leftover Pockets Blaise Doubman

Leftover Thanksgiving Meal Turnovers

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, November 27th 2015 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Savory Thanksgiving turnovers may be better than the main meal…
Blaise Doubman

I used to joke that my family Thanksgiving was like a zoo. Everyone talking loudly over one another, rooms full of people, children playing and knocking over lamps and anything else that wasn’t tied down, timers going off in the kitchen, people leaving in and out of the front and back doors, car horns honking, plates clattering, football games blaring in the background and just when you thought you had heard every possible sound there was to make…the smoke alarm would start going off in the background. Sounds like a zoo to me, doesn’t it you? But memories and times like these are what I remember most from my family Holiday get-togethers. (For the longest time I told anyone and everyone I knew that I needed reality show cameras to follow me around during family functions and Holidays. I’m still waiting for Ryan Seacrest to call me back.)

I wouldn’t trade these times and memories for anything in the world. I look back and fondly remember times like this as it seems the Holidays around here are changing. There’s not many “little kids” running around anymore, and everyone seems to have their respectable table manners down to a science. There’s less talk about babies and school playground problems, and more talks about politics and the job market. The nature of our family get-togethers may be maturing and changing, but one thing that has stayed the same is my love for the day after Thanksgiving.

I love the day after Thanksgiving – and not because of the sales. It’s because the “main meal” of Thanksgiving is over, most usually everyone has returned home and is plotting their sale attacks and plans for the weekend, and everything (in my house anyways) always seem quite and serene. I can relax after spending countless hours in the kitchen feeding countless hungry mouths of family and friends, and I get to enjoy the best part of the meal once everyone is gone…the leftovers! One rule when coming to one of my family food functions? Eat all you want – but don’t take the leftovers. Those are mine!

It sounds selfish, but hear me out on this. After the meal is prepared, and everyone is happy, satisfied and full, your treat (as the cook) is to eat the leftovers the next day, while everyone is away. Experimenting with leftovers is a favorite Holiday tradition of mine. And, honestly, I like the leftovers better than the main meal! The turkey is more moist and tender, the cornbread stuffing has allowed itself to gain maximum flavor and the green bean casserole is always better because the beans are soft and tender.

I’ve tried all kinds of things with the leftovers – and even with the leftover desserts! One popular way of enjoying Thanksgiving leftovers is to make a sandwich! Pile it high with turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce and even some of the green been casserole and enjoy! One year I made a similar sandwich and placed it in a buttered Panini maker. Delicious! It was grilled, buttery, crisp and perfect. One year I literally scrapped everything together in a bowl, added some turkey seasoning that was leftover from the turkey rub, placed it in a 9×13-inch baking pan and placed on top spoonfuls of homemade biscuit dough. When baked in the oven, the biscuits baked and the casserole underneath became bubbly and flavorful and it was so good! There’s so many combinations that I’ve experimented with, and thought about, for day after Thanksgiving food…I could probably write a book on the subject. My mind goes wild thinking of all the combinations I could try.

Even desserts can be remade into day after Thanksgiving treats! Cakes have been cut up and layered into a pretty dish with sweetened whipped cream between each layer, and topped with fresh fruit and the same goes for leftover pies! This year I’m going to see about making a leftover pumpkin pie milkshake! Sounds pretty delicious, don’t you think? We will wait and see what develops on that…

Leftover chocolate chip cookies are always saved, because I like crumbling them up and placing them in fresh chocolate chip cookie dough and baking them off in a “double baked cookie” way. I first read about this method in one of my favorite cookbooks by Elinor Klivans. Talk about a genius way of using up leftover cookies! It sounds a little off putting at first, but once you taste the finished product, you’ll taste how delicious!

Throughout all my years of Thanksgiving-leftover experimentation, I think the recipe I’m sharing here may very well be my very favorite recipe! I have a love for puff pastry and love homemade pizza made with the dough, in place of normal pizza dough, and love homemade apple, cherry and blueberry turnovers. My mind immediately thought “Thanksgiving savory” and filling the puff pastry turnovers with all of the deliciousness that’s left behind! I tried, I ate and I conquered. I loved them, and all of my recipe testers loved them. Some members of my family even said they would rather have these for Thanksgiving this year instead of the day after! Fill them with whatever combination you like, but the taste of turkey, gravy, cornbread stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and peas is just about the perfect combination. The sharp cheddar sprinkled on top really brings the flavors together, and the crunch of the puff pastry is mouthwatering.

Leftover Thanksgiving Meal Turnovers

The measurements for this recipe are really just to give you an idea of how much of each ingredient you really need to have on hand. This recipe is very flexible and can be made with what I used to stuff my turnovers with, or a variety of other things such as leftover corn, green bean casserole or even sweet potato casserole. Use your imagination and taste combinations before stuffing the turnovers. The shredded sharp cheddar cheese that’s sprinkled over the top can be left off, or even substituted with another type of cheese, or lightly sprinkled with course sea salt. Leftover turnovers can be stored in the refrigerator for two days, and warmed up in the oven at 200 degrees F for about 10 minutes.

Package of Puff Pastry sheets, thawed
2 cups turkey meat, sliced
2 cups cornbread stuffing
½ cup cranberry sauce
¼ cup green peas
¼ cup mashed potatoes with gravy

1 large egg mixed with tablespoon milk (egg wash)
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (topping)

Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F and prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine what you have left over and want to add. In this case, add the sliced turkey, cornbread stuffing, cranberry sauce, peas and mashed potatoes and gravy. You need to add more turkey and cornbread stuffing that the other ingredients because the final result you’re looking for, is a thicker mixture.

Cut both sheets of thawed puff pastry into four equal pieces, leaving you with eight total squares. Lay out each square on the prepared baking sheet, and place about two heaping tablespoons of the leftover Thanksgiving mixture in the center of each.

Fold each of them like you would a turnover. Take the top left corner, and pull it over and down to meet the bottom right corner. Press the remaining two corners together firmly, and be sure the turnover is pretty well sealed. If the sides let a little of the filling spill out, that is perfectly fine. You just really want the first fold to hold its shape.

Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the tops of each turnover before sprinkling on the shredded sharp cheddar cheese.

Place in preheated oven for 20 minutes until the turnovers are puffed and golden.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before enjoying.

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Chew This! Old-Fashioned Homemade Dumplings

Today is the official publication of my “CHEW THIS!” column in “The Courier-Times” and I am REALLY excited about this one! I love sharing Thanksgiving recipes and traditions – and this combines them both!

What is the difference between noodles and dumplings!? This recipe is for what my family calls “dumplings” – strips of dough that are boiled in chicken broth. Noodles, to me, are egg based pasta. Right!?

I think it really all depends on tradition – and the recipe.

Old-Fashioned Homemade Dumplings

Old-Fashioned Homemade Dumplings

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, November 16th 2014 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Thanksgiving Traditions…and Dumplings
Blaise Doubman

I love hearing what food traditions people have for the approaching Thanksgiving holiday. I’ve known people who don’t really care for turkey – so they have spaghetti instead. I’ve heard about family pitch-ins, dessert only traditions (I openly invited myself to this meal) and even “healthy tofu turkey” traditions, (which brings to mind a particular episode of a famous comedy show that used to run on CBS.) Tradition around my house centers on family, food, thankfulness and did I already say food!? Thanksgiving is one of my favorite Holidays throughout the year filled with family traditions.

One of my favorite traditions involves my Mom, Darla, my Grandma Deloris and I, all making homemade dumplings from scratch. We have been making the family dumplings for years, still using the same six-generation old recipe – which is considered a “top secret recipe”…until now. It’s a very simple recipe that is old fashioned and very memorable for me. Clear off a large area where you can flour and roll out the dough, bring in your children, spouse and friends, and help create a memory with them like my Mom and Grandma Deloris did with me. I was seven when I first started helping with this recipe, and I still get excited when it’s time to make them. This recipe has been a tradition with my family for years – and I hope they soon will be at yours…

Old-Fashioned Homemade Dumplings

These are delicious with chicken and homemade chicken broth, but just as good with chicken broth in a box that you can buy in the grocery store. This recipe is also perfect to make ahead! My family makes these ahead of time and freezes them and it couldn’t be easier. Do all of the steps below, but when you are finished, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, place the cut dumplings on the parchment paper, place another layer of parchment paper on top of the dumplings, and continue stacking. When you have finished layering and stacking, wrap the entire baking sheet, twice, with aluminum foil. Freeze until ready to serve. When ready to serve, take out and use – no need to unthaw. This recipe can also easily be doubled or tripled for large groups.

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon lard or shortening
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
Pinch of black pepper
¾ cup ice water
4 cups (32 oz.) chicken broth
1 can (10 ¾ oz.) condensed cream of chicken soup
Cooked and diced chicken (optional – about 3 cups)

Start by adding the 4 cups of chicken broth and 1 can of condensed cream of chicken soup to a large heavy bottom pot and place over medium heat.

Mix together the flour, lard or shortening, baking powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl.

Slowly add the ice water to the mixture, stirring until you have formed a dough. (You may need more or less of the ¾ cup water. You don’t want the dough to be sticky or too firm – the dough will be elastic and pale when it’s perfect).

Flour a large work surface and place the dough in the middle.

Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to about the thickness of a nickel.

Using a floured and sharp knife cut the dough into strips vertically and then again horizontally – making each dumpling about 5 inches long. (Don’t worry about measuring – just eyeball it. It doesn’t have to be perfect).

Once the chicken broth is at a medium boil, add the cooked chicken (optional) and then add the strips of dough one at a time, stirring constantly so they won’t stick together.

Continue stirring gently and cook for 15-20 minutes.

Taste for seasoning and add more salt and black pepper if desired.

Serve immediately.

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