It’s that time of year, folks. Time to whip out your holiday décor, to start planning your formal seating chart and to consider which casserole to bring to the table, literally. We can all attest to how easy it is to get caught up in the busyness of the holiday season. But that is why I like Thanksgiving. It sets aside time to pause amidst the craziness of life and to be thankful for all that I have been graciously given. Quite honestly, this should be more of a daily habit rather than a once a year kind of practice, but regardless I appreciate a full day focused on giving thanks among dear family and friends.
There is nothing that tugs on my heart strings more than a holiday tradition that is meaningful to a family. My favorite holiday tradition was making the bread rolls on Thanksgiving morning with my cousins. My sweet aunt had done this with her family, and she incorporated it faithfully every year the cousins gathered for Thanksgiving. There was no age limit for this procedure- if you could successfully roll the prepared dough with flour into 3 little balls to be placed in each muffin tin slot, you were hired included. It was something my cousins, who spanned a wide range of ages, looked forward to regardless of those angsty teenage years.
Even though one family’s holiday tradition might not make sense to the family next door, the rich value of traditions runs deeper than the actual tradition itself. Traditions tie in family heritage, create lasting memories, strengthen the family bond and foster a sense of unity during the holiday season. Just like this roll making tradition was passed down to my generation, I plan to carry on this tradition with my children and their cousins because of the meaning behind it.
You might be asking yourself, “But I don’t have any holiday traditions?” Do not fret. You can incorporate and create your own traditions that are unique to your family. My husband and I did just that by finding a purposeful and personal tradition that was special to us. When we thought of Thanksgiving, two words came to our minds- gather and thanks. We wanted to combine these words in a tangible way by reaching out to international students, who are thousands of miles away from their home and family. By gathering around the table and dining with international students, we saw we had created a meaningful tradition that we want to continue to practice.
I heart Thanksgiving food, and would happily eat it all year round if possible. Making food a part of a tradition is always a plus, because a key to someone’s heart is through their stomach. This recipe is just that. It is one of those recipes that can be prepared in any season, with a touch of Thanksgiving vibes.
Sweet Potato Casserole
3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups mini marshmallows
2 cups chopped pecans
1 tablespoon kosher salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place sweet potatoes in large saucepan, and cover with water; salt generously. Bring to boil; reduce to simmer, and cook until easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 15-20 minutes. Drain and return to pan. Heat over medium, stirring, until liquid has evaporated and thin film covers bottom of pan, about 2 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat; add heavy cream, butter, brown sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon. Mash until smooth; season with salt. Transfer sweet potato mixture to a large baking dish. Sprinkle with brown sugar.
- Top casserole with pecans, then marshmallows. Bake 15-20 minutes, until marshmallows are lightly browned.