Pumpkin and potato….a perfect pair

I’m guessing that I’ll never write a cookbook–not because I don’t enjoy cooking, but because I’m really quite bad about following a recipe. I like to add “a little of” that and “a bit of” this. That’s rather difficult to write on an index card, though. In honor of our annual Classical Conversations Thanksgiving feast today, I’m posting two of my all-time favorite recipes from fall and winter. One is a recipe to follow as written (baking usually mandates that you add just the right amount of sugar, flour, and baking soda), but the other allows for a bit of wiggle room. I found this winning dessert in a cookbook from 2000, so it’s hard to say how many times I have made it since then. The potatoes usually get rave reviews if I take them to a potluck and of course, the Feast.

The Great Pumpkin Dessert

1 can (15 oz) solid-pack pumpkin

1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk

3 eggs

1 cup sugar (I used about 3/4 c and it comes out just as sweet)

4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (OK, I lied; I don’t measure this. I just sprinkle till it looks good.)

1 package (18 1/4 oz) yellow cake mix

3/4 cup butter, melted

1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream

In a mixing bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Transfer to a greased 13×9 inch baking pan. Sprinkle with dry cake mix and drizzle with butter. Top with walnuts. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream. Yield: 12-16 servings

*Note: I planned to bring this for the feast and bought two disposable pans in preparation. The problem, I realized after shopping, was that I had brought home two 9×11 sized pans instead of 9×13. So, I improvised and made one batch and split it into the two smaller pans. It turned out fine, and only took 45 min. to bake instead of 1 hour. A nice treat when baking begins at 5:30 am.

*Note #2: Because of our nut allergies, I have always made this without them, and have never found it lacking. Of course, since I’ve eaten nuts about three times in my life, I probably wouldn’t know what I’m missing.

photo credit: Taste of Home

Crock Pot Taters

Red potatoes

Sour Cream

Ranch dressing powder


Cut potatoes, skin on, into slightly bigger than bite-size chunks. Boil until very fork tender. Like plastic fork tender. (I like to boil my potatoes in broth–or actually I add soup base to my water. The potatoes take on a bit of flavor that way) Drain well. While potatoes drain, return pot to oven and add butter and ranch powder. (For reference, I cooked about 8 pounds of potatoes last night and added 2 packages of Ranch. This is *definitely* a more or less to taste ingredient!) Return potatoes to pot and begin the process of mashing. I use a hand mixer, but even that takes a while and usually leaves a few lumps. I’m good with that. Once the potatoes begin to have a smoother texture, I add a few large dollops of sour cream. Yep, that’s right. I’m measuring in dollops. Big ones. Again, for reference, last night I don’t think I used more than 16 oz for 8 lbs. Of course, you can use less or more–or write off the whole thing as an unusable mess. Fine with me. Continue mashing until your potatoes reach the desired consistency. I usually have a family member test them for me to see if he or she (OK, OK, who am I kidding? HE) approves. These can be made the night before and warmed up the next day. I recommend checking them as they warm in the crock pot to see if they need any extra moisture. They do better if they’re stirred every so often.

Happy Thanksgiving! May all your dishes be delicious!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. TSH
    Nov 19, 2012 @ 21:40:24

    Promptly printed!


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