sweet stuff

Too many sweet potatoes. That’s where I found myself after Trader Joe’s opened up in our neighborhood. My girls and I refer to TJ’s as our “happy place” and while the prices are most definitely right, I always manage to drop large amounts of cash if only because I buy so much. Hence the sweet potatoes.

My plan was to serve them solo baked, mashed, and roasted and also cook them up for chili, shepherd’s pie, biscuits, and the like. Best of intentions. What really happened? I baked a batch one night, and while my husband and I devoured ours, the girls were unimpressed. Same thing happened a few days later when I served sweet potatoes mashed. Apparently naturally sweetened foods do not work for my children.

Their lack of enthusiasm dulled mine, and the potatoes sat. Not wanting to throw them out, I finally roasted and mashed what was left of the five-pound bag and committed to making something fun with sweet potato puree.

First up was sweet potato spoonbread, from Down Home Wholesome, 300 Low-Fat Recipes from a New Soul Kitchen. Quintessentially Southern, spoonbread had never graced my Midwestern table. But this custardy, pudding-like “bread” seemed a good way to pass dessert off as part of the main course. Because the cookbook focused on low-fat fare, this version had only one teaspoon butter and one egg. Cornmeal and sweet potatoes made up the bulk and two whites were folded into the final “batter” for extra lightness.



It baked up lovely and glorious–especially served with (fat-free) half-and-half. I’m calling it a side dish, dessert, AND breakfast. Score one for the sweet potato.

sweet potato spoonbread

sweet potato spoonbread

glory be!

glory be!

A recipe for squash rolls also came to mind; I remembered making them for Thanksgiving years back and that they were a hit. Sweet potatoes were a natural sub for the squash, so I collected ingredients and made me some dough. It rose nicely and in the interest of variety, I divided the dough in half, shaping 12 dinner rolls from one and rolling out cinnamon rolls with the other.wpid-mntsdcardPhoto-Editor2014-02-12-16.36.08.jpg.jpgContaining only whole-wheat flour, the dinner rolls could have been heavy, but weren’t. Honey and oil kept them soft and tender and the 1 cup mashed sweet potatoes added plenty of moisture.

now with butter

now with butter

The cinnamon rolls got a heavy pour of honey-sweetened cream cheese and offered a legit breakfast, dessert, or snack. They weren’t as light as the bakery-style mile-high rolls, but their graininess and sweet, earthy flavor put them in a league of their own.

before frosting

before frosting

after the frost

after the frost

after plating

after plating

Though my girls were nonplussed with the spoonbread (more for texture and unfamiliarity than objecting to flavor), the rolls–dinner and cinnamon–got a big thumbs-up from all. Mission accomplished.

With that, I’m closing my sweet potato chapter for at least a short while. Just the same, I sense another trip to Trader Joe’s, for yet to be discovered bargains, in the near future.

Sweet Potato Spoonbread

  • 3 cups 1% milk (I used soymilk)
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 large egg whites, beaten until stiff

Butter 2-quart casserole. Heat oven to 375°F.

In heavy 2-quart saucepan, whisk together 2 cups milk, the cornmeal and salt. Heat over medium-low heat 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in sweet potatoes, brown sugar, and butter.

Whisk egg into remaining 1 cup milk; stir into saucepan. Remove from heat. Stir in baking powder and baking soda. Fold in egg whites until no white streaks remain. Transfer batter to casserole. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until just set, though custard will still be jiggly.

Sweet Potato Rolls

Instead of making 24 rolls, I rolled half of the dough into a 15×12-inch rectangle, brushed the dough with melted butter and sprinkled generously with cinnamon-sugar. The dough was rolled tightly, seams sealed, and cut into 1-inch slices. Rolls were then placed in a 9-inch pie pan to rise, covered, 20 minutes. They baked at 375°F for 20 minutes or until lightly browned and baked through.

  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (105-115°F)
  • 1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 cups whole wheat flour

In large bowl, combine yeast and water. Let stand 10 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients except flour. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, stirring until dough forms. Turn onto floured surface; knead vigorously 8 minutes or until soft and elastic. Place dough in clean greased bowl, turning dough so all sides are greased. Cover; let rise in warm place until nearly doubled. Shape into 24 rolls; place on greased baking sheet. Let rise 20 minutes or until puffed.

Bake at 375°F until browned and baked through. Transfer rolls to wire rack to cool.

54 thoughts on “sweet stuff

    • Thanks, Alica. Was thinking after I posted this that other blogs feature ONE recipe. Not sure why I always go overboard, but seems to be my thing.

      Love your response to my comment over at your place. Am going to try the bitters! And Cobra Kai is amazing–nothing to be scared of 😉

  1. Wow!! Liz! I love love love sweet potatoes so this ALL sounds so amazing! Those cinnamon rolls look like they are perfect; and now, I am hungry as I close down the evening. Thanks, so much, for that. At least, thank god, they didn’t have marshmallows in, on or near them! thank god for small mercies! 🙂

    • Sounds like food for fun struck a sweet potato chord with you this week, Bonnie 🙂 Must admit I was tempted to stir a handful of ‘mallows into the spoonbread, but didn’t want to go the kitschy casserole route, so managed to stop myself. Lol, yes small mercies.

      Hope your week goes well. Thanks for being here 😀

  2. Sweet potato spoonbread is on the menu for tonight!! Yay – I was looking for a recipe for the sweet potatoes in my fridge. You come through yet again LIz – thank you!!

  3. I’m intrigued by the spoon bread! And liking your caption, Glory be! 🙂
    This sounds like an impressive bit of kitchen rescue. Can’t wait to see what you get from Trader Joe’s next. 😛

    • Saucy 🙂 Just got your response to the ice-cream comment and can’t wait to circle back. Coming at you from multiple angles today 😉

      Ha, yes, all about kitchen rescue. Tend to forget about things then all of a sudden food HAS to be used before it goes bad.

      “Glory be!” was stolen (borrowed?) from these guys. They have a way with words for sure. http://patronsofthepit.wordpress.com/

      Glad you’re here–thanks!

  4. Liz, You and I both love to use of what we have (and enjoy TJ’s, such a happy place). Now, where is the recipe for the cinnamon rolls? They look divine, particularly with the rich frosting. I will definitely try the SP rolls soon – it looks like the recipe can be easily halved for one lacking in freezer space (probably just me!) or make the whole recipe and pull out a roll when the urge comes. And, speaking of freezing, I often dice and roast sweet potatoes – then freeze them in sandwich bags. They can be easily defrosted for soups or green salads with apples, dried fruit and a soft cheese. Or, can purée and freeze cooked SP for a substitute in any recipe calling for mashed pumpkin! Loved your narration and delicious recipes! Best, Shanna

    • cinnamon roll “recipe” is in the introduction to the dinner roll recipe. Same dough, different treatment. Loving your freezing ideas. Good way to put food on hold until I’m ready to deal. Always happy to sub for pumpkin except lol I have oodles of frozen pureed pumpkin from my mother-in-law. So many foods to make, so little time!!! Thanks for coming by and having such kind words 🙂

  5. Wow, you have been busy! If I had too many sweet potatoes, well, we’d be eating a lot of roasted sweet potatoes. I’m so impressed with your creativity, Liz! I wish we were neighbors so I could benefit from your surplus 😉

  6. These recipes look great. I have yet to make spoon bread, and I have lived in the South for over 15 years now! My kids go through phases of liking sweet potatoes, I hate it when they are unpredictable! I, however, enjoy a baked sweet potato any day of the week. Good source of fiber and many more good things! Looking for another use….sweet potato chocolate chip cookies! Yummy!

    • Thank you, Mama 🙂 I’m highly recommending the spoonbread. Sprinkled with soynuts today and called it lunch.

      Funny how kids (or at least mine) seem to have a natural aversion to anything that reeks of “good for you.” Makes me crazy as we’re all about healthy (and sweets, but good ones for sure) at mealtime etc. When will they get there, too?

      Are you saying you have a recipe for sweet potato cc cookies? If so, gimmee! Er, I mean would you please share your recipe as it sounds lovely 😉

      • I will work on the sweet potato cookies sometime. My kids actually like healthy things. Once they started learning about nutrition in school they ask all the time if their food is healthy. Then we get comments like “I like milk. It has protein and calcium. It makes me big”! They crack me up sometimes.

  7. you had me at trader joe’s. i have a great love for the place and always spend more than i intend. there are always so many discoveries that i just ‘have to have’ that i never knew i needed. all of your sweet potato creations sound wonderful, and that there still is some hope for your young, as i only started eating anything made with sweet potatoes as of last year. )

    • Thanks, Beth and you give me hope for my kids’ taste buds. They’re just not big on food that could possibly be good for them. Arrrgh.

      TJ’s rocks, yes. The liquor store has amazed me, too. More than just the beer and wine I remember. Wonder if they sell anything blue? 😉

    • Yes! She had me too, Beth 🙂 Whenever I travel to the US I always want to visit Trader Joe’s. The people I’m with always roll their eyes – really? a grocery store is on your list of sight seeing?! – and then we arrive and then they understand. 😀

  8. I love shopping at Trader Joe’s! Whenever I’m feeling lazy about making food, I just walk to the nearest one and buy some pre-made salads or wraps, flatbreads (love the mushroom & truffle oil one), and other items!
    All these variations with sweet potato look so tasty! The spoonbread sounds interesting–don’t think I’ve had anything like that before! I need to remember to make the dinner rolls and cinnamon rolls the next time I have sweet potatoes 😀

    • I’ve heard good reports on their soups, too. And I like buying their small pizzas (called bambinos 🙂 ) for nights when there’s no time to cook. Going to look for that mushroom and truffle oil flatbread now!

      Thanks, Ada. Will be circling back with a garlic cookie recipe soon.

  9. Wow, great recipes using your surplus sweet potatoes. I found that the kids were not in love with mashed or baked sweet potatoes, Even fries although a little better they didn’t really eat. I love your dinner rolls and cinnamon rolls.

  10. How sad that your kids don’t seem to enjoy sweet potatoes! I bet it will be something that they will grow to like when they’re a little older. However, those sweet potato cinnamon rolls look AMAZING. I can’t believe I haven’t thought up something like that. 😉 I will have to try it next time I have an abundance of sweet potatoes.
    And thanks for the link–I noticed the spike of visitors. It was very nice, especially since I have fallen behind in posting again lately.

  11. That spoonbread sounds just wonderful Liz! I love melty things – I’m still dreaming of your momofuko melted cheesecake – so if your girls don’t come around on this one, I’ll just invite myself over and help myself to the leftovers. Sound good? 😉 I have sweet potatoes in the pantry and may just roast some up over the next couple of days!

    • the spoonbread rocks, yes. Sorry it took me this long to make one! You come on over whether or not my girls are into sweet potatoes–will always have enough for you. Get roasting, girl 😉

  12. All of these sweet potato recipes look so good! TJs is definitely a happy place, though I think they went overboard with the pumpkin products over the fall season. Pumpkin goodies were everywhere! Maybe next fall they might have sweet potato products everywhere, hehe.

    • Thank you, Sam! It all started with those pumpkin spice lattes, I think. Then everyone wanted a piece of the pumpkin, haha. Your idea to swing it over to sweet potatoes is brilliant 😀 I’ll be watching for that 😉

    • haha, very tempted to add marshmallows to that spoonbread, but I held strong. Please tell me you can eat sweet potatoes. And that you’re feeling ok? Is everyone sick at your place?

  13. Wow that sounds like a lot of sweet potatoes. You should be sweet-potatoed out by now. 🙂 I’ve been wanting to go to Trader Joe’s forever now. We have a couple of them but I have yet to go. I keep going to Whole Foods because I never have Trader Joe’s on the mind when I need to grocery shop. Must write it down.

    • lol, you’re right about being sweet potatoed out, though I’m also baked out–haven’t made much at all this week.

      And you MUST GO to Trader Joe’s. Way more affordable than Whole Foods. And they have the coolest products. Please go and report back 🙂

      • That’s what I keep hearing is how much cheaper they are. If they have the same foods as Whole Foods and are cheaper then I may stop going to Whole Foods so much. I’ll have to remember to try them out. Thanks.

    • let me know if you make any of these! Am now nuts about spoonbread myself. It’s good any time of the day 🙂 Do you have any spoonbread recipes to share? Please find me on deLizious facebook if you do.

  14. I always buy sweet potatoes but then I realize I never like them quite as much as I think I do. My husband is also not really big on sweet things. But I think those rolls (and those cinnamon rolls!!) would be a huge hit. I’m also kind of stuck on honey-sweetened cream cheese frosting….drool!

    • not crazy about sweet potatoes are you? I’m a big enough fan, but still don’t eat them often. Thinking it’s because I can’t get my kids enthused so much. Appreciate your kind words 🙂

      How goes the painting?

  15. Geez Liz…better late than never! How’d I miss your sweet potato post? It’s lovely to see such original and creative ways to use sweet potatoes. I love TJ’s and I just returned from there 30 minutes ago. I usually spend too much too, too many interesting things to try and the best place to buy olive oil!

    • Thanks, Seana! Glad you found the sweet potatoes 🙂 I’m almost a week out from writing as I respond and lol, I haven’t made much of anything in the kitchen as there was so much sp action. Fantastic that you made a TJ’s trip so recently. Gotta love. Yes to too much money and too many and haha, I just bought two bottles of olive oil there last night.

  16. Pingback: deLizious leftovers | food for fun

  17. I feel very underachieving now compared to your labor. My hub doesn’t like sweet potatoes (except for the Thanksgiving dish yummy yams, covered in marshmallows and pecans), but I order them baked at restaurants, in lieu of the baked potatoes sometimes. Oddly enough, when I entered the grocery store yesterday, there was a frazzled-looking man, standing there in flip-flops–and Doc from “Back to the Future” hair–and he turned to me and asked, “Miss, are sweet potatoes the same as yams? Can I use them the same way?” Isn’t that weird? Why did he ask me? I’m not Julia Child. I told him as far as I know. All I remember is that video we saw in 6th grade about Aborigines trading yams as currency. Yams are bushfood. Say that out loud. P.S. We have no Trader Joe’s near here, so I’ve never been in one, but my Kansas City cousin goes on and on about it. I’ll have to find one.


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