The fall holidays are my favorite time of the year. Because I love to cook, it gives me the opportunity to make the most of my favorite dishes without feeling guilty about over indulging. To keep my stress level at a minimum, I prepare certain items two to three days ahead of time. Your key to creating a large feast during the hectic holiday season is planning.
The first task is to write down your menu. Afterwards, take inventory of the items you have and those that still need to be purchased. Don’t guess here – you’ll end up regretting it later. Always refer to each recipe you’ll be using to ensure you have the correct ingredient quantities. You may think you know a recipe by heart, but it’s still wise to review the ingredients ahead of time.
When choosing your menu, keep in mind your oven and stove top capacity. Dishes like macaroni and cheese or candied yams can be prepared the night before, but they’ll still require space on either the stove top or oven to be warmed up. In this case, I like to use pans and casserole dishes that provide me with the maximum placement for cooking as well as reheating.
Although the holidays can be a stressful time, don’t overload yourself. You’ll want to enjoy your company as well as provide them with a scrumptious meal. I usually make the most time preparing dishes the day before when I can. Our family favorite is candied yams, and we enjoy it throughout the year. It’s not too syrupy and it’s satisfying.
- 1 stick butter
- 4 or 5 large fresh yams
- ½ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon OR 1 tsp. vanilla
- ¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- ½ tsp. freshly grated ginger root
- ½ tsp. sea salt
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Peel yams or sweet potatoes. Cut into 1-inch cubes or wedges.
- Butter a 9x13-inch baking dish generously.
- Arrange yams in the baking dish.
- In a saucepan, melt butter and stir sugar until dissolved over medium heat.
- Add ¼ cup water and spices. Bring to a boil.
- Add maple syrup; reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes.
- Pour butter mixture over the yams, turning them over to coat well.
- Cover the yams tightly with aluminum foil and bake on center rack in oven, basting the potatoes with the butter syrup once or twice during the baking for about 45 minutes or until tender.
- When the potatoes are done, remove foil. Bake on the upper third of the oven at 475°F until the syrup has thickened and the potatoes are just beginning to caramelize, about 20 minutes. Watch the yams carefully and don't allow them to burn. If you find that they're browning too quickly, reduce oven temperature.
- Baste with butter before serving.
Adapted from Cooks.com
This melt-in-your melt dish will not only bring vibrant color to your dinner table, but it’s the perfect sweet component to savory meals. Some people like to substitute sweet potatoes but I have found that they are not as flavorful as yams. I like to serve my candied yams with string beans, sliced turkey, cabbage or wild rice.
Ann Martin is a contributing writer for Dinnerware Center, which specializes in dinnerware, the Noritake Collecion and flatware sets such as Oneida Juilliard. She is a regular contributor to several cooking websites. You’ll often find Ann socializing with family and friends or exploring new restaurants.
Photo credit: mbrubeck
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