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Cooking with Sweet Potatoes

Updated on December 31, 2016
J Schatzel profile image

J. Schatzel works in agricultural/occupational medicine in rural upstate NY and has a Masters degree in history.

The wonderful world of Sweet Potatoes!

While the following is by no means a complete list of recipes using sweet potatoes, they are the favorites in our house, with which I’ve had the most success after much experimentation and recipe adjustments. Let me know in the comments below if you have tried a different sweet potato recipe that was an epic success!

Pie: Mix 1 pound of cooked/mashed sweet potato, ½ cup butter (softened), 1 cup white sugar, ½ cup milk, 2 eggs, ½ teaspoon nutmeg, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Grease a pie plate and line with an unbaked pie crust. Pour pie filling into pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes, until a knife comes out clean. (My husband loves this pie, even without the sugar!) I have a miniature leaf-shaped cookie cutter which I use to cut extra pie crust into leaves, which I place around the rim of the pie as a decorative edge. (The more pie crust my husband gets to devour, the happier he is!)

Thanksgiving Twice Baked Potatoes: Bake 6 sweet potatoes at 375 degrees for 1 hour, until tender. Let cool before handling. Slice potatoes and remove flesh, placing in a separate bowl to mash, and reserving skins. Mix sweet potato flesh with 4 tablespoons of butter, 4 ounces of cream cheese (room temperature), ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, and ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger. Spoon back into potato skins. Return to the oven to bake 15 minutes longer until heated through. (You can use yams instead of sweet potatoes also, by adding 2 tbsp brown sugar when adding spices before second baking).

Baked Fries: Peel and slice 2 large sweet potatoes into wedges. Toss wedges with 3 tablespoons canola oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, ¼ teaspoon paprika, and ¼ teaspoon garlic powder. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake at 425 degrees for 20-24 minutes until tender and golden (turning at the 10 minute mark). Let rest 5 minutes before serving. Instead of using the spice mixture listed above, we have also enjoyed these using 1 teaspoon Oyster Bay seasoning, or Bucks seasoning, or Cajun seasoning, or dried onion soup mix! So far every spice mixture we’ve tried has been tasty, but the spices in the recipe above pair well with the most entrees!

Dinner rolls: Whisk .25oz active dry yeast, 4 tablespoons white sugar, and ½ cup warm water. Let stand 5 minutes until foamed at top. Mix in ½ cup sweet potato puree, 3 tablespoons butter (softened), 1 teaspoon salt, 2 eggs, and 3 ½ cups flour. Knead 2-3 minutes, and form into a ball. Place in an oiled bowl (turning to coat) and cover. Let rise in a warm place, about 1 hour. Punch down dough, and let rest 2 minutes. Divide into 20 balls, and place on a greased baking sheet. Let rise until doubled. Bake at 375 degrees for 14-18 minutes until done and golden. You can make these in advance and freeze them in freezer bags, then defrost 1 hour and bake at 300 degrees for 10 minutes for what taste like fresh baked rolls!

Quick Bread: Mix 1 sweet potato (cooked, peeled, and pureed), 1 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup canola oil, ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce, 2 eggs, 1 2/3 cup self-rising flour, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon nutmeg, 1/3 cup orange juice, and ½ cup chopped pecans. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour, until a knife comes out clean.

Pound Cake: Mix 1 /2 cup butter (softened), ½ cup canola oil, 2 cups sugar, 4 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 3 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, and 2 cups mashed sweet potatoes. Beat until just combined, into a stiff batter. Pour into a greased bundt pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes until a knife comes out clean. You can mix confectioners’ sugar and spiced apple cider until the desired amount and consistency is reached for a glaze to drizzle over before serving as I have done when taking this to family parties, but it is moist and delicious on its own too!

Vegetarian Chili: In a crock pot, mix 1 large sweet potato (peeled and diced), 1 large onion (diced), 4 tsp minced garlic, 2 tablespoons chili powder, 4 teaspoons ground cumin, ½ tsp Hot Sauce, ¼ teaspoon salt, 2 ½ cups beef broth, 10oz canned black beans (rinsed/drained), 2 cups diced tomatoes, and 4 teaspoons lime juice. Cook on low heat 6-8 hours until potatoes are tender.

Roasted Vegetables: Toss 1 small butternut squash (peeled and cubed), 2 red bell peppers (diced), 2 sweet potatoes (peeled and cubed), 2 Yukon gold potatoes (cubed), 1 red onion (chopped), 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, ¼ cup olive oil, and 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar. Spread into a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast 35-40 minutes at 475 degrees, stirring every 10 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. This recipe is 10 times better using fresh herbs, instead of dried!

Stuffed Shells: Place 3 cups peeled/cubed sweet potatoes, 2 cups vegetable broth, 1 ½ cup milk, 2 minced garlic cloves in a large pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 20 minutes, until sweet potatoes are tender. Mash sweet potatoes (you can puree in blender if you prefer absolutely no lumps, but I find a manual potato masher works just fine for us!). Reduce heat to low, and add ¼ cup ricotta cheese, ½ teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon fresh sage, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese, and 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese. Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is calling your name. Cover, and remove from heat. Set aside. In another pot, bring 1 pound of sweet potatoes with enough water to cover by 1” to a boil. Boil 20-25 minutes until fork tender. Remove sweet potatoes with tongs, and peel by holding under cold running water (the peels will fall right off!). Set sweet potatoes aside. Add as much water as needed to the sweet potato water, and return to a boil. Boil 18-2- jumbo pasta shells in the water until just barely al-dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside. Mash sweet potatoes with 16oz ricotta cheese, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Once cool enough to handle, fill pasta shells with sweet potato mixture. Pour half of the cheesy sauce in the bottom of a 13x9” baking dish. Place filled shells atop sauce. Top with remaining sauce. Mix ½ cup breadcrumbs (Italian seasoned bread crumbs are great here!) and ½ cup Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over shells. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Recipe Helpers: I like to cook, mash, and freeze sweet potato in ice cube trays, then store in ziplock freezer bags for quick and handy use throughout the year. I add a thawed cube or two to pizza or pasta sauce, to pancake mix, to biscuit dough, oatmeal, and countless other recipes.

Not the right climate!

While I was able to sprout roots of a sweet potato in my kitchen window in upstate NY, once in the ground, the sweet potato just rotted. So much for my attempt to grow our own!
While I was able to sprout roots of a sweet potato in my kitchen window in upstate NY, once in the ground, the sweet potato just rotted. So much for my attempt to grow our own!


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