Someone recently summed up summer for me and I have to say it makes a lot of sense. Memorial Day weekend is the “Friday” of Summer with what seems at the time to mean endless days of sun and fun until Fall arrives. It kicks off the season of no school, beach days, vacations, and relaxation. Fourth of July is like the “Saturday” of Summer and everyone loves Saturday. It’s placed safely in the middle and means we Americans celebrate freedom and independence. Labor Day ends up being the “Sunday” Summer bummer which means it’s come to an end with a new season starting. Sunday usually signals there is work or school on the horizon and it’s time to jump back into routines and responsibility.
Beginnings and endings can be so difficult. Sometimes we flounder at the beginning of something because it’s new and scary and outside of our comfort zone. Starting a new job, new way of eating, or new exercise routine means we jump into the land of the unknown. Yikes! Endings can be even more difficult as we often have no choice or control over if or when they occur. Sunday evening will come to end the weekend just like Labor Day will come to end the Summer whether we like it or not.
For me, comfort comes from things that do stay consist. Food and our need for it stays consistent no matter what season it is. Holidays are a smorgasbord for the senses including taste. Memorial Day tastes like corn on the cob, potato salad, grilled chicken, and strawberry shortcake to me. I’m not a fan of mayo so I needed to come up with a good mayo free potato salad to pull out every Memorial Day. I think this year will be the beginning of a new yearly Memorial Day tradition.
Artichoke Vinaigrette Potato Salad
- 1 1/2 – 2 pounds small yellow potatoes
- 1 cup chopped oil marinated artichokes
- 1/4 cup chopped green onions, green tops included
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
- 1 teaspoon 21 seasoning blend, I use Trader Joe’s
- 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
Directions: Rinse potatoes, cut in half or quarters for bite sized pieces, and place in a large pot with water covering the top of the potatoes. Bring to a gentle boil for 15 mins, remove for heat, drain and place in a mixing bowl to cool. While the potatoes are cooling chop the artichokes, green onions, and parsley and add to potatoes. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients, combine with the potatoes, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. Garnish with more chopped green onions and parsley.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and it’s only four days away! This holiday is a perfect combination of comfort food, good friends, and family with freedom from the gift giving frenzy. The main attraction of this glorious holiday is usually the turkey. This year could be different with Cooking Light’s Streuseled Sweet Potato Casserole. Could sweet potatoes really steal the limelight? You bet they could! Especially when you combine them with yummy ingredients like real maple syrup, vanilla, and pecans.
My childhood Thanksgiving feast did not have sweet potatoes present. I do have very fond memories of making dressing over the years with my Dad. One year we completely ruined the dressing by adding too much dried sage. We both thought the other had not added it and we both thought it needed a little more than the “recipe” (a loose word for our creations) called for. We laugh about that today and have not repeated that particular error since. That is the joy of cooking and creating wonderful memories around food and holidays.
I am so thankful for so many things during this holiday season. One of the things I am thankful for is knowing I will create wonderful memories for my own children around food and the holidays. I wish for all children to have the benefit of having people in their lives that show them how much they love them by providing healthy food. It not only nourishes the body, it also feeds the soul.
Streuseled Sweet Potato Casserole
Sprinkle a buttery, brown sugar and pecan mixture over the top of the creamy potatoes in this sweet potato casserole
that’s sweet enough to be dessert.
- Yield: 18 servings (serving size: about 1/2 cup)
- 14 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled sweet potato (about 5 pounds)
- 1/2 cup half-and-half
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- Cooking spray
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 375°.
Place potato in a Dutch oven, and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 12 minutes or until tender. Drain.
Combine the half-and-half and next 4 ingredients (half-and-half through egg) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add potato to egg mixture; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Spoon potato mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Combine flour and sugar in a food processor; pulse to combine. Add chilled butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in pecans; sprinkle over potato mixture.
Cover and bake at 375° for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 25 minutes or until the topping is browned and the potatoes are thoroughly heated.
Amount per serving
- Calories 250
- Caloriesfromfat 23 %
- Fat 6.3 g
- Satfat 2.4 g
- Monofat 2.5 g
- Polyfat 1 g
- Protein 3.3 g
- Carbohydrate 46.1 g
- Fiber 2.7 g
- Cholesterol 22 mg
- Iron 1.2 mg
- Sodium 149 mg
- Calcium 49 mg