Pharm Fresh

The foodie alter-ego of a pharmacy student

Sweet Potato Casserole January 6, 2010

Filed under: side dish,vegetable — pharmfresh @ 2:08 pm
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I know, I know – it’s been a while.  I hope everyone’s Christmas and New Years were spectacular and spent with lots of friends and family.  Mine definitely were.  I’ve been home at my parents’ house for the past two and a half weeks and it has been amazing.  Especially after such a stressful and ridiculous exam week.  But I survived and now I’m gearing up for another semester.  We’ll be taking the hardest class in all of pharmacy school this semester, and I’m really hoping that it won’t take out all of my precious free time, but I’m thinking it just might.  I will try my best to keep cooking and posting though!

They say that your taste buds are recycled and replaced with new ones about every 7 years, and with this replacement your tastes can sometimes change as well.  I’m sure we all can think of foods that we once loved but now can’t stand, or vice versa.  One of these for me is sweet potatoes.  I never used to like them – I wouldn’t touch them whenever my parents made them (mainly at Thanksgiving and Christmas), even though I had no problem picking off the gooey toasted marshmallows from the top of them!  This year though, I found a really promising recipe for a sweet potato casserole that I wanted to try.  I figured if I didn’t like it, I was pretty sure that the rest of my family would.  Surprisingly enough though, I couldn’t get enough of it, and not just the marshmallows on top this time!  I think the combination of brown sugar, honey and cinnamon really helped with that.  Those three ingredients are high on my list of favorite things, so they’re bound to make even the lame sweet potato taste good.

I’ve made this a couple of times since then, and I have one word of advice: do NOT microwave the sweet potato to cook it.  I know, it’s so much easier and takes less time than baking it in the oven, but the one time I tried to microwave it, it was a disaster.  Instead of getting the creamy, fragrant sweet potato mixture, I got a sticky, gummy glob of grossness.  It was disgusting.  I’ve always been a little suspicious of the idea of baking a potato in the microwave, and now I’ve been proven correct.  So take the little bit of extra time and bake the sweet potatoes in the oven.  I promise, it’s worth it!

I’ve given a range on most of the amounts in this recipe because it should really be made the suit the tastes of those who are eating it.  For example, I like lots of brown sugar and honey in mine, but my parents like to rely more on the natural sweetness of the sweet potato, and use a lot less.  I would start out at the minimum amount and keep adding more until it tastes right to you.  There are also a lot of other things you could add in to add a nice crunch and some extra flavor.  I like to keep mine plain, but I’ve added toasted pecans, raisins and apples to it before and that’s been pretty tasty, too.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Makes: 4 servings

2 large sweet potatoes

1/4 – 1/2 c. brown sugar

2 tbsp – 1/4 c. honey

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. vanilla

2 c. mini marshmallows

Optional add-ins: toasted pecans, chopped apples, raisins

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a large cookie sheet with foil and spray with nonstick spray.  It would be best if the cookie sheet had sides, like a jelly-roll pan.

2) Place the sweet potatoes on the cookie sheet and prick a few times with a fork.  Bake for 40-50 minutes until very soft (a knife will go easily through the potato when done.)

3) Trim the ends of each potato and peel the skin off.  Mash the potatoes in a large bowl until smooth.  Add in the brown sugar, honey, cinnamon and vanilla, mixing well.  If the mixture is too thick, add a few drops of milk until the desired consistency is reached.

4) Spoon the sweet potato mixture into a greased baking dish and spread evenly.  Top with the marshmallows.

5) Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake until potato mixture is warmed through and marshmallows are browned, about 15-20 minutes.

 

Cheesy Asparagus February 3, 2009

Filed under: side dish,vegetable — pharmfresh @ 7:58 pm
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I know what you’re thinking right now: “ew. What is that weird greenish blob?  Is it food?  Is she really posting this on her food blog?”  Well, the answer is yes, and while it may not be the most photogenic thing I’ve ever cooked, it really is quite delicious!

Necessity was definitely the mother of invention today.  I was really hungry, and after being at school all day, I didn’t feel like taking the time to cook something extravagant. I had some asparagus in the fridge that I needed to eat before it went bad.  My rumbling stomach told me that roasting it was out, as was steaming it and trying to throw together a cheese sauce.  Then I remembered this pasta dish that my old roommate and I used to make quite frequently, which combined asparagus with onion and sour cream.  I have an irrational love for sour cream, and will mix it into or dollop it on top of just about anything.  I’ve even put it in ice cream.

I didn’t really feel like pasta today, so I decided to experiment a little and try to take the same flavors from the pasta dish and turn it into a simple side dish.  I’m really proud of this, because I came up with it myself, and it was actually good!  It’s just too bad that it doesn’t photograph well at all.  But trust me, I’m sure you’ll love this lumpy green stuff just about as much as I do, and it is incredibly quick to make.  Even though there’s only a few ingredients in this, it has a really big and bold flavor. The sour cream and sharp cheddar add a nice tang to the smooth sauce that holds it together, and that smoothness is balanced out really well by the crisp asparagus.

Cheesy Asparagus

Source: me!

Makes: a little over 1 cup

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 c. bite-sized asparagus pieces

1/2 c. white onion, chopped small

2-3 tbsp. sour cream

2 tbsp. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

salt and pepper to taste

1) In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.

2) Once hot, add the onion and asparagus and saute for 3-4 minutes, until the onion is translucent and asparagus has reached the desired amount of done-ness (I like mine crisp, but if you like yours softer, cook for 3-4 more minutes)

3) Turn the heat down to low and add the sour cream and cheese, stirring until cheese has melted and everything is completely combined.  Add salt and pepper to taste.