Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Book: Sweet Potato Pie; The Bite: Sweet Potato Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling!

(POST 3 OF 3)

The Book!
There is nothing stronger than the bond of family in this children's book, "Sweet Potato Pie" where a family joins together to solve a problem faced when a drought sweeps across their county. Thoughtfully written by author Kathleen Lindsay and published by Lee & Low Books (September 1, 2003).

Sweet Potato Pie: "The summer a great drought sweeps across the county, the only crop Sadie's family is able to save is the sweet potatoes. Money is tight, and if Papa doesn't pay back his loan soon, the bank will take away the farm.
Suddenly Mama comes up with an idea — sweet potato pies! The family can sell her pies at the Harvest Celebration that starts the very next day. There's not much time to get ready, but as Sadie and her brother enlist the cooperation of their old cow, squawking chickens, and half-blind goat, the family rises to the challenge. And in the end it's Sadie who comes up with just the right recipe for success.
Sweet Potato Pie is a delicious affirmation of strong family ties and creative problem solving. This lively story will capture your heart, as well as your taste buds. Loosely based on Lindsey's memories of her great grandmother's stories, the story took shape in Lindsey's mind as she sewed a quilt called "Sweet Potato Pie."

Book Stats:
Genre - Children's, Fiction
Page Count - 32
Target Age Group - 5 to 8
Theme(s) - Family, Food

The Bite
Sweet Potato Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling!
This year for Thanksgiving I was tasked with bringing some of the vegetable side dishes. Besides a couple of savory vegetable sides I will be cooking, I decided to also bring something sweet; but still use vegetables. The sweet potato. I thought about bringing the traditional sweet potato pie, but my niece Jurnee does such a wonderful job at making them, I thought it best not to even try to attempt to steal her thunder...besides I think she would win that challenge hands down! So I thought I would try something different using sweet potatoes--Sweet Potato Whoopie Pies. Moist, flavorful, and delicious; they might not last long enough to make it to Thanksgiving dinner! (Ummmm, yeah, I had to make a second batch the next day because my family wouldn't stop eating them, LOL). Try them, they are sure to be a hit! Here is a pictorial step by step guide to making your own. Enjoy!
Note: Unfortunately, I ran out of time to make the Pecan Cinnamon Crunch Coating (listed below), but I still wanted to keep the ingredients on this post for future reference.  :(

Pictured: Ingredients for the Whoopie Pie Cookie
Ingredients for Sweet Potato Whoopie Pie Cookie:
2-1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour 
3/4 cup White Sugar
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
3 tsps Cinnamon
1 tsp Allspice
1/2 cup Butter (1 stick), softened
15 oz can Sweet Potatoes (drain syrup)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Egg

Pictured: Ingredients for the Maple Cream Cheese Filling
Maple Cream Cheese Filling:
1/2 cup Butter (1 stick)
8 oz Cream Cheese
Approx. 4 cups Powdered Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Tbsps Pure Maple Syrup

Pecan Cinnamon Crunch Coating:
(Note: I unfortunately ran out of time to make the coating)
Graham Crackers (about 5)
1/4 cup Butter (1/2 stick butter), melted
1/4 cup Pecans (chopped)
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1/2 Tbsp White Sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Place flour in a bowl.
Add the cinnamon, allspice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Mix flour mixture well, then set aside.
In a separate bowl, place butter (if still hard/cold, then microwave for about 15 seconds). 
Add sugars.
Mix sugars and butter well.
Drain syrup from sweet potatoes, then mash potatoes with a fork or spoon.
Add mashed sweet potatoes, egg, and vanilla to the sugar/butter mixture.
Mix well.
Incorporate flour into sweet potato mixture.
Continue to incorporate flour.
Your cookie dough should look like the picture above.
Spoon cookie dough onto pan. 
Spray or place oil on back of a spoon and use the spoon to shape dough.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Make sure not to overbake!
Remove from oven and cool completely. Set aside.
Ingredients to make the maple cream cheese filling. 
Soften butter and cream cheese; blend together.
Mix in vanilla and maple syrup.
Then gradually stir in powdered sugar.
Mix icing until you attain the correct consistency.
Spoon icing between two cookies.
Sprinkle tops with powdered sugar.
Sweet Potato Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling!
Sweet Potato Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling!
Sweet Potato Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling!
Sweet Potato Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling!
Sweet Potato Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling!
Sweet Potato Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling!
Sweet Potato Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling!

The Book: The Thanksgiving Visitor; The Bite: Broccoli Cheese Casserole

(POST 2 OF 3)

The Book!
The book, "The Thanksgiving Visitor" was written by famed author, screenwriter, and playwright Truman Capote and originally published in a magazine in 1967. It later became a book published by Random House. The book was re-released under publisher Knoph Books for Young Readers in 1996.

The Thanksgiving Visitor: "Another masterpiece by the great American writer Truman Capote is brought to an audience of all ages. Buddy and his closest friend, his eccentric, elderly cousin, Miss Sook - the memorable characters from Capote's A Christmas Memory--love preparing their old country house for Thanksgiving. But there's trouble in the air. Odd Henderson, a scrawny, freckled, red-headed bully makes Buddy the target of his relentless torment. But Miss Sook only counsels patience and understanding, "He can't help acting ugly; he doesn't know any different," she says. Filled with emotions that are universal to both young readers and adults, this poignant story brings to life what we all should cherish and be thankful for--the gifts of friendship and love. Enchanting illustrations by Beth Peck make The Thanksgiving Visitor a perfect companion for the holiday bookshelf. "

Book Stats:
Genre - Children's, Fiction
Page Count - 37
Target Age Group - 6+
Theme(s) - Thanksgiving, Bullying, Friendship

The Bite
Broccoli Cheese Casserole!
The broccoli casserole is one of the side dishes I am bringing for Thanksgiving. This broccoli side dish is wonderful in flavor and can accompany any meat...not just turkey! Note: Because I was cooking for Thanksgiving dinner, this recipe makes 2 (actually 2 1/2) casserole dishes. If this is too much, just cut the recipe in half. Here is a pictorial step by step guide to making your own. Enjoy!

Ingredients for Broccoli Cheese Casserole:
Approx. 13 heads of broccoli (both small and large) 
1-1/2 Onions
3 Green Bell Peppers
4 to 5 Garlic Cloves
Olive Oil

For the Sauce:
1 cup (2 sticks) of butter
4 to 6 Tbsps Seasoned Flour (see recipe below)
4 cups Whipping Cream
2 cups Milk (Note: I had to use milk because I ran out of whipping cream, otherwise it should be 6 cups of whipping cream)
4 oz Cream Cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
3/4 cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese + more for garnish
3 tsps Salt
1 tsp Pepper
2 tsps Garlic Powder
2 tsps Onion Powder

Seasoned Flour:
(I generally make "seasoned flour" ahead of time and store in the refrigerator for later use. Typical uses include my macaroni and cheese, oven fried pork chops, my "magic sauce", panko crusted fish or chicken, etc.)
For seasoned flour; mix all below ingredients together and store in the refrigerator.
2 cups Flour
1 tsp each: Garlic Powder, Smoked Paprika, Black Pepper, Onion Powder, Dried Basil.
2 tsps each: Parmesan Cheese, Salt.

Chop broccoli.

Place in pot about 1/2 to 3/4 full.

Add water enough to cover broccoli.

Salt water. 
Bring water to a boil. Once boiling, let broccoli boil FOR 3 MINUTES.

After 3 minutes of boiling, remove broccoli immediately and rinse under cold water.
Set broccoli aside.

Next, chop the vegetables.

Chop vegetables.

Combine and place in a pot to saute.

Add about 1 to 2 Tbsp of olive oil and cover to cook vegetables, stirring frequently.

Onions should appear translucent and bell peppers soft.

Chop garlic.

Add garlic to onions and peppers. Cook until garlic is fragrant.

Add mixture to cooked broccoli.

Place in a dish and set aside. Next, make sauce.

Melt butter.

Add seasoned flour.
Note: I already had seasoned flour on hand, so I didn't have to add as much seasoning later.

Stir to combine flour and butter.

Add whipping cream (and milk).
Note: I only used 2 additional cups of milk because I ran out of whipping cream.

Add seasoning.

Bring sauce to a boil.

Add all of the cheeses (Parmesan, cheddar, and cream cheese).

Mix well until cheeses are melted.

Pour cheese sauce onto broccoli.

Add more shredded cheddar cheese on top.

Ready to bake.

Place in preheated oven at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes or until sauce is thick and bubbling.


Broccoli Cheese Casserole!

Broccoli Cheese Casserole!

Broccoli Cheese Casserole!