Traditional Recipes Reconsidered

Article Published: Dec. 22, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

Strong families typically have strong traditions, which often include holiday meals made from recipes handed down for generations.

My Grandma Inez's sweet potato casserole was made up of canned sweet potatoes and apples with added brown sugar and cinnamon, then topped with miniature marshmallows and browned. That recipe now seems way too sweet for me. Sometimes we just have to add our own flair to family favorites. I find this version just right.

Another popular item on grandma's table was canned cranberry sauce. I loved the way it jiggled, and fresh cranberries just weren't around then. This fresh version doesn't jiggle as much, but is a real crowd pleaser.

Sweet Potato Casserole with Praline Topping

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 medium or about 2 1/2 pounds medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces.
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 ounces low-fat milk
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl, stirring to form a streusel. Set aside.

Place sweet potatoes in a large pot or Dutch oven, cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer 30 minutes until very tender. Drain well. Place back in pot and mash. Stir in half the streusel, honey, vanilla extract and milk. Spoon into a 2-quart casserole dish coated with cooking spray; top with remaining streusel. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serves 8-10.

Cranberry-Port Relish

1 medium orange
2 cups port wine
1 bay leaf
3 whole cloves
1/2 cup sugar
1 (12-ounce) bag fresh or frozen cranberries

Use a vegetable peeler to remove the rind from the orange.

Combine the orange rind, bay leaf, wine and cloves in a cooking pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat: Cook 20 minutes or until reduced to 1 cup. Strain mixture through a sieve over a bowl and compost solids.

Return liquid to cooking pot and stir in sugar.Add cranberries and cook over medium heat 10 minutes or until cranberries pop, stirring occasionally. Spoon into a bowl and cool. Serves 8-10.

Margie Mansure, M.S., R.D. is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and extension agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension. She offers personalized classes to improve the health of citizens in Watauga County through worksites, schools and community groups and is the local food coordinator for Watauga County. To contact Margie, e-mail or call (828) 264-3061.

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