This post is brought to you in partnership with TODAY and Blogger Babes. As always, all opinions are very obviously my own.
Thanksgiving is coming, people.
Those of you that hang out here on the reg are well aware that Thanksgiving is hands-down my favorite non-present holiday, and I look forward to it with Logan-esque excitement all year. (As a kid, my family actually had a second Thanksgiving dinner in July so that I only had to endure 6 months between feasts. Truth.)
My friend Annie’s family celebrates Thanksgiving potluck style (so progressive!), and it’s become tradition for me to dream up a fancy side for her to bring to dinner. Then I share that recipe with all of you. (Duh.) Annie usually lets me know what she’s in charge of (stuffing, green vegetables, potatoes, etc.) around Halloween, so when I didn’t hear a peep on the subject last week, I emailed to remind her that THANKSGIVING IS COMING!!! And if she expected a showstopping recipe, she’d better give me some parameters, stat.
I was completely unprepared for Annie’s response, which was that her family is splitting up for the holiday this year, and she’s doing dinner with just her dad and brother. Given their small group, they’ve decided to forego the traditional turkey meal and have…wait for it…pasta.
Because my family eats the same gloriously basic and absolutely non-negotiable menu every year (turkey, mashed potatoes, sautéed green beans, stuffing, marshmallow-y sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy), Annie is really the only reason that I experiment with T-Day sides/post them on the blog. So, when I found out she didn’t require my services, I decided to skip the side this year and focus on other potential T-Day needs. Like cocktails. And afternoon finger food.
Then an email from the TODAY Food Club showed up in my inbox, and my plans to make creative pigs in a blanket were momentarily postponed.
They asked if I’d be willing to help spread the word about the launch of their online food community and share one of my family’s recipes. After reading about the club and spending an embarrassing amount of time playing around on the website, I was all kinds of fired up to support TODAY’s efforts. The platform they’ve built is truly inspired (and inspiring), and joining comes with a laundry list of awesome benefits. You get access to tons of great recipes, as well as simple 5-day meal plans, cooking tips, and inside info on special offers and deals—all delivered straight to your inbox. Plus, sharing your own recipes could lead to being featured on the TODAY show, TODAY.com and in their newsletter. (Loose Translation: Share a recipe! Become a star!)
With Thanksgiving looming so deliciously large on the horizon, I thought I’d fulfill TFC’s request by sharing my mom’s Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows, which just so happens to be my only favorite family recipe.
Long story short, this casserole is pure holiday magic. The fluffy mash is sweet, but not overwhelmingly so, warmly spiced, and permeated by a subtle orange flavor. It’s addictive on its own, but the blanket of puffy, golden brown marshmallows trashes things up in the most epic way possible. My mom never followed a recipe while making her masterpiece—she’d just add a little bit of each ingredient until she felt it was right—but somehow the final product always had the same distinctive taste. And it was always perfect.
I’ve recently taken over T-Day cooking duties (my mom brings nice booze and turns my apartment into an autumn-themed wonderland), including making the sweet potatoes. Not gonna lie, my first attempt at recreating our family’s signature side failed pretty miserably. The mash was far too sweet and I set the top on fire (NOTE: do not put marshmallows directly under the broiler to “speed things up”), but my subsequent efforts have been far more successful. I’ve taken to adding some fresh ginger into the mix, but on the whole, I don’t like to tinker with my mom’s formula. Why mess with success?
If you don’t already have a go-to sweet potato side, please consider this one for your Friendsgiving/Thanksgiving/Christmas feasts. You can always make the mash a day or two in advance to save time and precious stovetop space, and then just re-heat it and add the marshmallows right before dinner. Easy.
Have a family recipe that you swear by? Hop on the TODAY Food Club bandwagon with me and enter the Family Favorites Challenge. No family recipe? You should still sign up because a.) I did, b.) you can never have too much recipe inspo, and c.) you’ll be entered to win The Ultimate Cookware and Cutlery Giveaway from ZWILLING J.A. Henckels, which includes an all expenses paid trip to NYC, behind-the-scenes access at a TODAY show cooking segment, and $3,000 worth of Swilling cookware and J.A. Henkels cutlery. Whoop whoooooop.
T-10 days to Thanksgiving, friends. Get your head in the game.
Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows: (Serves 8-10)
4 pounds sweet potatoes
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon crème fraîche
1 packed tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon molasses
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
3-4 cups mini marshmallows (This totally depends on how much you love marshmallows. I always use the full 4 cups…)
Preparing your Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows:
-Rinse the potatoes well and place them in a large pot. Cover with plenty of water. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Simmer for 50 minutes to an hour until the potatoes are completely tender. (They should have zero resistance when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.) Drain the potatoes.
-Using a hand mixer, whip the potatoes until smooth. Add the orange juice, crème fraiche, brown sugar, molasses, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and a pinch of salt, and whip again. You want things verrrry smooth and fluffy, people. Taste and season with a little more salt if necessary. (No hand mixer? You can use a stand mixer OR mash things with a potato masher/fork. The latter won’t yield quite as smooth and fluffy mash, but it will still be bomb.)
This post is brought to you by TODAY, made possible by the Blogger Babes who compensated me for this post. As always, all thoughts are 100% my own.
Ingredients Instructions Notes *Sweet potatoes vary significantly in size. 4 pounds is about 4 large sweet potatoes, but I strongly recommend you weigh them at the grocery store (or in your kitchen) for this recipe. *You can roast your sweet potatoes instead of boiling them if you prefer, but I find that boiling them gives the mash a much better texture. (I don’t recommend peeling, chopping, and boiling the potatoes. Yes, it’s faster, but they tend to lose a lot flavor that way.) *You can substitute plain Greek yogurt for crème fraîche in a pinch.
*Sweet potatoes vary significantly in size. 4 pounds is about 4 large sweet potatoes, but I strongly recommend you weigh them at the grocery store (or in your kitchen) for this recipe.
*You can roast your sweet potatoes instead of boiling them if you prefer, but I find that boiling them gives the mash a much better texture. (I don’t recommend peeling, chopping, and boiling the potatoes. Yes, it’s faster, but they tend to lose a lot flavor that way.)
*You can substitute plain Greek yogurt for crème fraîche in a pinch.