Mammy’s Sweet Potatoes

just in time for thanksgiving

Sweet Sweet Potato Recipe

My Mammy’s Sweet Potatoes. These are the things legends are made of. She would make these for every holiday. And she picked the apples and pineapples out for my plate because I did not like the sweet potatoes! I would try them every year and have finally grown to really really like them in the past couple of years. Unfortunately she isn’t here for me to tell her how much I like them now. But baking these each Thanksgiving has made our family feel her presence and love. I just love the way food can do that for people. My aunt remembered the way she made them so I wrote it down and now I’m handing it out to the entire virtual world. I want you to know how special this dish is to my family and I before you try them for yourself. I feel a little awkward about giving this away. Its like a piece of my family’s history. I hope you and your family can try them out for the next holiday and you enjoy them as much as we do!

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5 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks
1 can pineapple chunks
2 apples, diced (ok to toss in lemon juice)
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 Tbsp butter, melted
2 tsp cinnamon
mini marshmallows

side dish, holiday, thanksgiving, christmas, easter, family, meal, dinner, sweet potato, yam, cinnamon, marshmallow, sweet, pineapple, apple, brown sugar

Boil the sweet potatoes until they are just beginning to be fork tender. Drain.
Meanwhile, mix the juice from the pineapple, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Add a few chunks of pineapple and puree the mixture with a food processor or immersion blender.
Dump the cooked sweet potatoes into a large casserole dish.
Pour the pineapple juice mixture over the top and gently stir it around, coating the potatoes entirely.
Arrange the remaining pineapple chunks and the apple chunks into the sweet potatoes.
Pour the marshmallows on top.
Bake at 350° until the marshmallows are golden all over and the apples and sweet potatoes are nice and tender. You may have to place an aluminum tent over the dish.
This takes about 30 – 40 minutes, depending on the size of your apples.

side dish, holiday, thanksgiving, christmas, easter, family, meal, dinner, sweet potato, yam, cinnamon, marshmallow, sweet, pineapple, apple, brown sugar

What kinds of fun traditions do you and your family like to share? Do you have any recipes that’ve been passed down from generation to generation?

The County Fair

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The fair came rumbling through town and try as I might to block my kids’ ears from learning about it, they found out. Of course the oldest (being a typical 12 year old) did not want to go with mom and dad. So he went with friends and we saw them there. Talked for just a sec then went about our business. Our younger boys couldn’t think of anyone better to go with than mom and dad, so YAY!

Kansas Summer Carnival

The boys hadn’t gone to the fair in a couple years and I’m not so sure they were even big enough to ride anything the last time we took them. When we got to the fairgrounds we parked across the street at the school and the first thing you can see are a bunch of huge tractors for sale. We tell the boys we’re thinking of buying a tractor – which one should we get?! They are SO excited. They start climbing into them and pointing out cool features on each one. Big diggers, scoopers, twirly diggy things, ladders to get up to the enclosed seats. Then we let them know we’re kidding and we came to see the arts and crafts that the kids made in 4H. Cool! They were stoked. Mr. Middle Child wants to join 4H (he learned that the kids have the opportunity to SELL their crafts and all he heard from that point on was it was a money making venture!).

Kansas Summer Carnival Food

Well, evil as we are we told them that we’re joking again and that we’re going to grab some dinner. CHEERS! They are even happier. We get in line for corn dogs and the biggest basket of curly fries you have ever seen. Like the size of a cinder block. So much for healthy eating – just for one night! Then while we’re waiting in line they finally notice that there is a carnival going on! Yes, RIDES!!!

Kansas Summer Carnival Ferris Wheel

We ate our fair food and watched a local cover band (Sellout!) sing a bunch of songs we knew. Cover bands are the best, aren’t they?! Plus they dress up as different characters. Dorothy (wizard of oz) and Cat Woman were the lead singers. I’m pretty sure some of the other characters were Gene Simmons and a guy from Devo plus a couple other members too. Ok, enough music … time to ride something!! We walk around the rides a couple laps and watch everything go up and down and around until the boys pick out what they want to try. Remy is sure he wants to go upside down but Quinton feels like that might be too much (and we agreed). Remy and Papa Bear team up first.

Carnival Ride Remy

There they go – upside down time!

Kansas Summer Carnival Top Gun

That might have been a little much for Remy. Tony said that he looked like he was about to pass out so he kept telling Remy to yell. Afterwards Remy told me that part, about the yelling, but he didn’t understand why Dad kept making him scream. When I told him that he looked like he was fading fast he didn’t really deny it. Ha, good move Papa Bear, having a passed out kid on an upside down carnival ride would’ve been a true buzz-kill for the night!

Now Quinton gets to pick the ride and I get to go with him. After much deliberation he chooses The Tornado. He’s just tall enough so we climb on. Daddy and Remy wait for us and cheer us on. This is Q’s first “big boy” ride. How exciting! It was just the right amount of thrills too, fun and spinny but no barfing side effects.

Kansas Summer Carnival Tornado

We take a walk around again for a while. We pet some farm animals (and some un-farm animals: camel, ostrich…) and we walk over to the arena where the derby is held. The boys pretend to be ticket salesmen and they run and climb all over the stands. We decide to take another walk through the carnival before we leave and the boys ask to go through the House of Mirrors. Its pretty hilarious to watch them bounce around and bump into the walls.

Kansas Summer Carnival Pretend

We had a really good time. Fun food, exciting rides, and lots of laughs.
Maybe we’ll go back next year too.

Kansas Summer Carnival Sunset

Drawing Inspiration on a Special Day

Today is a very special day to me. Today a very special person was born -
my mammy
My Mammy. She would have been 77 years old. We lost her almost seven years ago to a long battle with lung cancer/ emphysema.
But this isn’t going to be a sad post. I do miss her. I do think about her multiple times every single day. I want to remember her laugh and her voice. I want to remember how her soft wrinkles felt on her hands. I played with the rings she wore – twisting them around on her fingers. I memorized them. The gold and the jewels, its hypnotizing to a little girl.Mammy on the farmShe came from a farm in a small community in Southwestern Missouri. Family was so important to her, especially her children and grandchildren. And her sisters (okay, her brothers too!). We were all so close. And due to my grandpa’s job she moved away from her sisters and home in Missouri. Just a few hours away to Kansas though, so going back home to visit was an easy trip. And a trip I was happy to take with them whenever they’d offer!
Mammy and her sistersNow I draw inspiration from her. I want to believe that the way I am raising my own family would make her proud. I want to be influenced by all that she did – she loved to garden, cook new meals for her family, have a cold beer at the end of the day, enjoy the outdoors, and laugh! I try to weave a bit of “what would mammy do/say/think/react” into my consciousness. I think it makes me a better person and keeps her spark alive for my own children (and one day grandchildren!) to be inspired by as well.

Bike Ride

These past couple of weeks have been great, weather-wise! Pretty fluffy clouds, much much milder temperatures, and rain almost every night. Our youngest turned 6 (SIX?!!!) and the boys and I took our bikes up to their school to ride around on the big playground and the track (so long as no one was already on it, that is).antique, wildflowersThe birthday boy loves riding his new big bike WITHOUT training wheels. The only problem is, our driveway is big enough to hold six cars (you know, small-mid sized cars that is) but when you get 3 kids riding their bikes around they get dizzy and kind of run into each other. Not cool. So to the school yard it is!Q bikeR and Dcloudy skiesWe brought our ball along because the boys love to play four square. But its not like it was when I was in school! They have these weird words they say before starting and I guess they’re declaring the rules for the round. All of which the “king” gets to decide. Things like “no gotchas” and some other just words. I don’t even know what it means and for some reason that makes me mad. I just say the only rule we have is to keep the ball going.
bounce, bounce, bounce…
go, go, GO!

They think I’m lame. Ha!four squareWe finished the day off with a ride around the whole campus – the grade school and the middle school are attached. (No, we don’t live in a tiny town. These were just built at the same time I guess. Its one of four middle schools here. Anyway…) We got around to the front of the school and saw the new marquee sign (YAY)! marqueeThat’ll be nice for the upcoming school year. Then we loaded up our bikes back into the pickup and raced the oldest home! On your mark… get set… GO!bike seat and wildflowers

Bierock | Runza | Nebraska Meat Pie

Call it whatever name you want to – these things are DELISH! I like “Bierocks” because its fun to say — beer-rox!bierocks | cameralinzI had a great time making these. The recipe was really easy to follow and the dough just took some patience and time. Just your typical yeast dough patience – put it in a bowl, wait 10 minutes, add some stuff, wait longer, punch it, roll it, shape it, stuff it, wait again.
I have a little confession though… My husband hates cabbage. But he loved these, like he ate more than the one polite bierock that I put on his plate. So I never told him that it was cabbage. I’m sure he could figure it out, maybe he thought it was lettuce, I don’t know. I don’t think I care. I just want them to get eaten so I can keep making them!Bierock Dinner | cameraLinzI didn’t really know what to serve with these besides french fries, but I didn’t want to go that route since I added potatoes to the filling. So we took advantage of the season and served them with tomato-cucumber-onion vinaigrette salad, cantaloupe slices, and cottage cheese.

Now for the recipe:
1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 packet)
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 pound ground beef
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more if needed
2 cups chopped green cabbage (about 1/3 large head)
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cups chopped potato
1 teaspoon ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, for brushing
Mustard, for serving


Whisk together the warm water, yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar in a bowl. Set aside until the yeast activates and becomes foamy on top, about 10 minutes.

Heat the milk and butter in a small pot until the butter melts. Allow to cool to less than 115 degrees F.

Whisk the flour, salt and remaining sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the foamy yeast mixture and cooled milk and butter. Turn on the mixer to knead the dough for about 5 minutes. The dough should be a smooth uniform ball that no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in a warm area until the dough doubles in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Boil the chopped potatoes til fork-tender (think potato salad), approx 10 – 15 minutes. In the meantime, heat the ground beef and sprinkle with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt over medium heat in a large skillet. Brown the beef, breaking it up into small pieces. Once browned, transfer the beef to a bowl and add 2 tablespoons of oil to the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium, add the cabbage and onions, season with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and cook until soft, about 15 minutes. Add the browned beef back to the skillet and continue cooking an additional 5 minutes with the cabbage and onions. Season with the pepper and additional salt if needed. Take off the heat and set aside to cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 350°. When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and divide it into 10 equal-size balls. Roll out each ball one at a time into a rectangle, roughly 6 by 8 inches. Spread 1/2 cup cooled filling in the center of the rectangle. Bring the two long sides of dough together so the seam is facing up and pinch them together. Pinch the short ends shut as well. You should have a rectangular shape. Put the filled dough seam-side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining 9 balls. You will need 2 baking sheets to fit all 10 meat pies. Cover the meat pies with a dish towel and allow them to rest for about 20 minutes. Bake in the oven until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

Melt the butter. As soon as the meat pies come out of the oven, brush the tops with the melted butter. Serve with mustard.

bierock fillingThe filling as it cools off.
roll it outSeparate dough into 10 balls, rolling out one at a time.
assembly 1Ready to assemble; fill with 1/2 cup filling and pinch edges together (these will be the bottoms)
assembly 2Pinch the ends shut and fold under. Put them on a parchment lined baking sheet – seams down.
ready to bakeRest for 20 minutes then bake.
out of the ovenAll golden brown, almost ready to eat.
butter the topsNow butter the tops and eat them!
ready to eat
I hope you try these and enjoy them as much as we did. For my family reunion this fall I’m going to make them (a double batch) but instead of making 10 I’m going to divide the dough into 20 balls and make them more of a square shape. Better for a potluck, I think!


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