a place at the table

Across the country cookbooks and magazines have been poured through, pages dog-eared and marked with post-it notes of all colors as folks finalize their Thanksgiving menus.  Lists are made, non-perishable foods have been purchased and trips to the grocery for fresh veggies and dairy products have been scheduled.  Sweet potatoes are tucked away in dark pantries, waiting for hands to scrub, peel and cube them to boil, roast, mash or bake on Thursday.

Growing up, sweet potatoes were never an exciting part of our Thanksgiving menu.  They made the occasional appearance and never left much of an impression on me.  Brian and I have hosted Thanksgiving twice now since being married, and only once have they made it on our table after a guest offered to bring them with her to dinner.  Its not that I have anything against the orange-fleshed tuber, in fact I purchase them throughout the year to eat baked and topped with steamed broccoli, kernels of plump corn and a generous sprinkle of sea salt.  Its just that, traditionally, I enjoy them in savory form rather than sweetened as they are in most Thanksgiving recipes.

Not wanting to give up just yet, I decided to give sweet potatoes a try again this year.  Originally I planned to find a savory recipe to test, but elected instead to give a sweet recipe another shot; to stick with tradition for at least one more year before abandoning the concept entirely.  My momma sent me a classic version that she insisted I had liked in the past, one that she assured me was much more enjoyable than the soupy, marshmallow-topped dishes I described from my own memory.

The potatoes are boiled, mashed, whipped and sweetened, then smothered with a crumbly streusel-like topping before being baked until golden brown.  The result is neither soupy nor pasty, is in fact pleasantly fluffy with the contrasting crunch of sugared pecans.  It is quite sweet, so much so that I would probably categorize it as a dessert rather than a side, although my momma tells me that when paired with other savory bites on a Thanksgiving plate it is altogether balanced.  No matter when it is served, this casserole deserves a place at the table.

Sweet Potato Casserole


  • 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes (4 large or one 29-oz can)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick), melted
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick), melted
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped


  1. If using raw sweet potatoes, peel them as best you can and chop them into small chunks.  Boil for 10-15 minutes until potatoes are tender but not falling apart.  Mash until nearly smooth.
  2. Mix in eggs, butter, cinnamon, brown sugar and salt.  Add cream slowly and blend until fluffy (use whisk attachment if using a stand mixer), stopping before potatoes become soupy.
  3. Spoon sweet potato mixture into a greased 9×13 baking dish.  Preheat oven to 350*.
  4. Mix together topping ingredients in a small bowl.  Spread over sweet potato mixture.
  5. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until topping is deep golden brown.

A very Happy Thanksgiving to all!!!

2009 has been a tough year for many.  Even though we’ve hit speed bump after speed bump, I have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving:

  • Our family and very close friends, all of whom are so incredibly supportive of Brian and I.
  • My employers, for pushing through and doing all they can in a difficult time.
  • Brian, my love, who always knows how to make me smile when things get tough.

What, or who, are you thankful for this year?


22 responses to “a place at the table

  1. I am thankful for many things but one is my cat Lucy because she has kept me company when I have been home during the week endlessly job hunting.

    I can’t wait for Thanksgiving!

  2. If you hadn’t told me that was a side, I seriously would’ve treated it as a dessert. Welll… now that I know… there’s no reason to… so I won’t. 😉

    I’m thankful for my family, friends, and everyone who does the tiniest things to help me out. And food 🙂

  3. Sweet potatoes have become one of my favorite side dishes at Thanksgiving, so this casserole is obviously calling my name! It looks gorgeous, and I’m sure it tastes amazing.

    I am most thankful for my family and for my health.

    Have a wonderful holiday!

  4. That looks amazing, love the idea of that sweet crumbly topping on a side. Delish.

  5. This is by far my favorite Thanksgiving food! My sister’s MIL makes the most amazing casserole and it’s all ive been thinking about since I heard she was joining us this year!

    Wishing you and your family and wonderful Thanksgiving. I must say, I would LOVE to be a guest at your table because I am sure its out of this world if you are cooking! 😉

  6. this is a staple at our thanksgiving table, and i’m happy that you’ve discovered it! i think it’s the best thing you can do to sweet potaters. 🙂

  7. Another excuse to have crumb topping! This look so good.

  8. I love sweet potato casserole like this, not with the marshmallows.

    I’m thankful for:
    my family and friends
    a job in this crazy economy
    the ability to travel to see family for the holidays

  9. This does look delicious!! 🙂

  10. This casserole sounds delightful. I’m thankful for being able to lead the life I do, surrounded by those I care for. Happy Thanksgiving, lady.

  11. That casserole looks to die for.

    I am very thankful for my family, my good friends, and that I have job even if its a job I don’t like. I feel very lucky.

  12. Mmmmm, that looks amazing!! 🙂

    I’m thankful I had a lovely first year of marriage, my family and friends, my pups are healthy, my job, and my BLOG!! 🙂

  13. That is a fabulous recipe. I am so thankful for my husband, Josh who makes it possible to stay home with our son even in the poorest of times. He does this by working two jobs and going to school to make more money at these jobs in the future.

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  15. This dish sounds – and looks- delicious! Thanks for the inspiration, it will definitely be gracing my Thanksgiving table tomorrow.

    Guess all the extra marshmallows I’ll now have will be destined for future mugs of hot cocoa!

    Happy Thanksgiving all.

  16. I can in all honesty say that I have never made a casserole. I get a lot of shit for that since they seem to be the ultimate American food and folks for the most part love them. Yours may very well be worth a shot…looks delicious dear.

    Have a lovely holiday.


  17. I’m VERY thankful for my family, especially my parents – can’t live without them.

    Have a fabulous Thanksgiving, dear Andrea!

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  20. Wish I liked sweet potatoes – I may have to give your dish a try though!

    I am thankful to my husband as well, he just gets me! 😀

  21. Growing up we never had sweet potatoes either!! Only within the past few years we’ve found a really great SP casserole that we love and now have at both Thanksgiving & Christmas! 🙂

  22. Made this recipe for Thanksgiving. Not one little crumb left in the dish. I got rave reviews. Thanks for another winner!

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