Sweet potatoes can do just about anything a regular potato or winter squash can do.
They can be mashed, fried, boiled, baked, combined in casseroles and pies and cooked in the microwave. Sweet potatoes offer antioxidant nutrients, are high in vitamin A and beta-carotene and are low on the glycemic index, making them a healthier choice for those on low-carb or low-sugar diets. They are a staple on Southern tables, especially paired with fresh turnip or mustard greens.
For holidays, the sweet "taters" are usually topped with marshmallows and brown sugar, a not-so-healthy casserole.
Aussie Lynette Faul's request for sweet potato pie sent readers to their computers and cookbooks to find their best recipes for her to try. I shared a recipe last week, but readers had sent in more that my computer would not allow me to access. Thankfully, all my files were saved.
I thought Faul also would like a few other ways to cook sweet potatoes, so today I will share some.
"Baked in a casserole dish this is called Sweet Potato Pone," said Ed Walker. "The recipe came from the cook in the fraternity house kitchen that I was helping run as 'steward' back in the early 1960s when we ate whole eggs and real butter and lived through it. The recipe makes two pies."
SWEET POTATO PIE
2 unbaked 9-inch pie crusts
2 cups cooked mashed sweet potatoes (canned are OK, but fresh cooked, either baked or boiled are better)
1- 1/2 cups white sugar
2 tablespoons real vanilla
2 sticks of butter ( 1/2 pound), melted
4 large eggs (or up to 6 if you want more custard for deep-dish pie)
Cream the potatoes, with the sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla and beat for 4 or 5 minutes. Divide into the two unbaked 9-inch pie crusts and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until firm in the center.
Or, put into a buttered casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes until firm in the center. Serve warm or cold with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or whipped topping.
-- Submitted by Ed Walker
From Brenda Plaisance of St. Martin comes a true Southern pie.
SOUTHERN SWEET POTATO PIE
2 cups cooked, mashed, cooked sweet potatoes
1/4 cup margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups milk
1 unbaked deep-dish pie shell
Combine first 10 ingredients in mixer bowl. Beat at medium speed until smooth. Add milk gradually, beating until smooth. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 375 degrees. Bake for 1 hour longer or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Let stand until cool. Yield: 8 servings.
-- Submitted by Brenda Plaisance
Pies and pones are not the only ways to use sweet potatoes as a dessert. Several years ago, June Yates and Cindy Havard shared an easy cake recipe that uses a cake mix and fresh sweet potatoes.
SWEET POTATO CAKE
1 box spice cake mix
1 box (3-3/4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1 cup cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Grease and flour three 8-inch round cake pans. Mix all ingredients and beat well. Pour into pans and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
1 8-ounce cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons vanilla
5 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
Blend cream cheese, milk, vanilla and salt. Gradually add sugar, beating until frosting is smooth and of spreading consistency. If necessary, stir in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time. Stir in pecans. Spread between layers and on top and sides of cake.
For a healthier use of sweet potatoes, Faul can try oven-baked sweet potato fries. A reader named Maryjane from LaPorte, Texas, sent this easy recipe. She said they like to serve the sweet potato fries with barbecue sauce. How Texan is that?
BAKED SWEET POTATO FRIES
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 large sweet potatoes (about 1- 1/2 pounds)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine cumin, salt and pepper. Set aside. Peel potatoes, cut each in half lengthwise and cut each half into six wedges. Combine the cut potatoes, oil and spice mixture. Toss until potatoes are evenly coated.
On a baking sheet, arrange potatoes in a single layer and place on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake until edges are crisp and potatoes are cooked through, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately with barbecue sauce.
-- Submitted by Maryjane
Another reader uses sweet potatoes in a sausage casserole as an entree that also can be placed in a pie shell.
SAUSAGE SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE
1 can (20 ounces) pineapple chunks in juice
1 can (about 18 ounces) sweet potatoes, sliced 1-inch thick
12-16 ounces smoked sausage, links or sliced in serving-size pieces
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
Drain pineapple, reserving juice in a 2-cup measure. Add water to juice to make 1- 1/2 cups. Arrange pineapple chunks, sliced sweet potatoes and sausage in a lightly greased shallow baking dish (or in a prepared pie crust). In a small saucepan over low heat, combine brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually stir in reserved pineapple juice. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly; cook and stir for 1 minute longer. Remove from heat; stir in butter. Pour mixture over sausage and sweet potato mixture. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, until sweet potato casserole is heated through. If a piecrust is used, edges may need to be covered to prevent overbrowning. Serves 4 to 6.
-- Submitted by Cyndi Moncreiff
Best shrimp ever
"In a recent column, Cheryl Mann was looking for a shrimp recipe using beer and Worcestershire sauce," said Pam Dimmett of D'Iberville. "Well, I have a fantastic one. It is simply delish."
5 pounds unpeeled shrimp
1 beer (I use light beer)
Garlic salt (to taste)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 ounces lime juice
1 teaspoon hot sauce (Tabasco)
1 pound butter, melted
1 teaspoon liquid crab boil
Salt and pepper to taste
Place shrimp in pan. Sprinkle generously with garlic, salt and pepper. Boil beer, Worcestershire sauce, lime juice and hot sauce then pour over shrimp. Melt butter and pour over shrimp. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Stir once. Serve with lots of French bread. Yummmmmm!
-- Submitted by Pat Dimmett
Andrea Yeager, a freelance writer, can be reached at email@example.com.