Mommy Made From Scratch

Monday, November 28, 2011

I'm Being Featured!

Check out my Buckeye Pie recipe featured over at Crumbs and Chaos today as part of their Holiday Sweet Swap! Be sure and look at all of the other delicious sweet treats featured as well to get prepared for some yummy holiday baking.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sweet Potatoes or Yams?

I'm a little irritated because I had planned on posting a fall-themed recipe for Thanksgiving breakfast tomorrow but my photo editing software is on the fritz. So instead I thought I'd share with you some things that I have learned about the differences between sweet potatoes and yams.

It seems that whenever I head to the store around this time of year, there are piles and piles of "yams." I say "yams" with the parenthesis because I have since realized that they aren't really yams, they're sweet potatoes. I've been misled most of my life. Despite what the store has told me, my family has always called them sweet potatoes. I'm thankful to have grown up with a teacher for a father and a really smart lady for a mother.

Anywho, I thought I'd share with you a few of the differences between these commonly mislabeled tubers. Sweet potatoes are long and narrow potatoes with a reddishy-orange, smooth skin. Yams have a dark brown, almost black, rough skin and are not as uniform in their shape.

Photo courtesy Bon Appétit

There's quite a bit of difference once you see them side by side! I'm pretty sure I've never actually seen a yam in a grocery store in the U.S. 

A few more facts:
~ Sweet potatoes have a sweet, flavorful taste
~ Yams are a bit bland in flavor
~ Sweet potatoes come in dozens of varieties ranging in color from white to red to orange, although the sweet potatoes shown above are the most common in the U.S.
~ Sweet potatoes originated in South America
~ Yams are popular in South and Central America, the West Indies, many Pacific islands, and parts of Asia and Africa
~ Yams are rarely found in United States grocers
~ Sweet potatoes are a good source of Vitamin A, providing 89% of your recommended daily value in one potato
~ Sweet potatoes are also a good source of fiber, providing 3 grams in each potato

Now that we've all been educated about the differences between yams and sweet potatoes, head to your grocery store in confidence and pick the tuber of your choice.

If you're looking for a good recipe for true sweet potatoes, check out this Sweet Potato and Apple Casserole recipe for tomorrow's Thanksgiving dinner.

I am more than grateful for each and every one of my readers! I'm thankful to have a such a great and supportive family as I have begun this new journey this year into food blogging. It's been much more involved and time-consuming than I had originally thought it would be. I'm thankful to have such a loving, caring and supportive husband to walk along side of me throughout this journey.

May you all see things in your life to be thankful for! Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011


Just a little FYI for those that are on twitter:
I just created a Mommy Made From Scratch twitter account. I originally had my personal twitter account linked to the right of the page. Now you can follow me at MommyMFS on twitter rather than my personal account, heidizapolski. I thought I could just use my personal account for both purposes but have found that I enter too many online giveaways with my personal account that I don't want to annoy you with. So if you followed me before on twitter, please follow my new blog account linked on the right. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sweet Potato and Apple Casserole

Every Thanksgiving dinner there are three dishes I look forward to most: green bean casserole, pumpkin pie and sweet potato casserole. I remember in grade school every year around Thanksgiving the school cafeteria would serve Thanksgiving-like foods for one or two meals. One of the things that was always served was sweet potato casserole. The teachers used to let us leave based on how clean our plate was. I was always one of the only kids to clean up the sweet potato section of my plate AND I would usually get to eat one of my friends' sweet potatoes too even though we weren't supposed to (Shhhhh! Don't tell!). So needless to say, I was one of the first to head out for recess every day or so before Thanksgiving. I could never understand the other kids. Sweet potatoes rule!

So of course this year I'm going to share a sweet potato casserole recipe with you. This is a MMFS original so be gentle and kind in your comments. I'm fragile.

Sweet Potato and Apple Casserole
4 large sweet potatoes
5 small golden delicious apples
lemon juice
6 tablespoons butter
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tablespoons chopped pecans
2 cups marshmallows
2 tablespoons brown sugar (optional)

You can cook the sweet potatoes one of two ways: steam them or boil them. I use my steamer so that more of the nutrients will stay in the potatoes and so I can add some cinnamon to the spice tray in my steamer to add a little more flavor to the potatoes. 

For the steamer method, cut the potatoes in large pieces so that they fit inside of the steamer basket. Steam for 35-40 minutes or until a fork inserts easily into the potatoes. 

For the boiling method, put the potatoes in a large pot, then cover with cold water. Add a little bit of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer until a fork can pierce the sweet potatoes easily, about 30 to 35 minutes.

While potatoes are steaming, peel and core apples and chop into bite sized pieces. Fill a large bowl with cold water and add a tablespoon or two of lemon juice. Place the apples pieces in the water.

After steaming or boiling, drain the potatoes and run under cold water until they're cold enough to touch. The skins should separate easily from the potato as shown in the potato to the left in the picture below. This should make them easy to peel by hand.

Cut sweet potatoes into 1/2 inch thick slices.

Preheat oven to 350º F. Coat a 2.5 quart baking dish with cooking spray. 

In a small bowl, melt butter in microwave then stir in cinnamon. Set aside.

Remove the apples from the water. Place apples on a towel and blot water off with a paper towel to soak up any excess liquid.

Layer half of the sweet potato slices, then top with half of the apples, half of the pecans and one tablespoon brown sugar, if desired. Drizzle half of butter mixture on top. Repeat layers.

Cover the baking dish with foil and bake until sweet potatoes and apples are tender, about 55-60 minutes.

Preheat broiler then sprinkle marshmallows over the top of the casserole. Broil casserole uncovered for 1-2 minutes or until the marshmallows begin to toast.

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy!

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Treats

Every day from December 5th through December 16th, I will be featuring a new holiday treat recipe either from myself or from another blog. If you would like to be featured in the 12 Days of Christmas Treats, please contact me at hzapolski (at) gmail (dot) com. Please enter "12 Days" in the subject line. Also include in your email what treat or treats you would like to make so that we don't have any duplicates.

I can't wait for this delicious start to the holiday season!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Overnight Baked French Toast Casserole

A few months back I was looking for a breakfast recipe to bring to my community group at church on a Sunday morning. I hate waking up early, period. I especially hate waking up early to rush around the kitchen to make something and still have it look and taste good by the time I get it to it's final destination.

I was so excited to come across this recipe over at Frugal Upstate. I've had a few different versions of this recipe but this was the most simple, inexpensive and time-saving recipe that I have found for french toast casserole. I had so many people come to me and ask for this recipe that I just ended up sending out a mass email to my whole community group with the link.

I hope you enjoy it as much as all of us do!

Overnight Baked French Toast Casserole

1/2 cup butter
12 slices bread
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk

Melt butter and pour into 9x13 inch casserole dish.

Blend brown sugar & cinnamon together in a bowl. Whisk eggs, milk & vanilla together in a separate bowl. Layer bottom of dish with half of the bread.

Sprinkle half of the brown sugar mix over the bread. I used brown sugar that had clumped without breaking it up much and it still worked just fine. The brown sugar will melt and spread so it didn't really matter much for me.

Layer the second half of the bread over the brown sugar mixture.

Pour the egg mixture evenly over the whole casserole. 

Sprinkle with remaining brown sugar mixture.

Don't forget to feed the animals...

Cover with aluminum foil and stick in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, put the covered dish in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the dish is browned and no longer wiggly. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or drizzle some maple syrup over the toast if you wish. It really doesn't need anything added to it but those are just a few ideas to mix it up. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Farmhouse Ham and Vegetable Chowder

Over the weekend I was at some friends' house for a bonfire for our church group. It's probably been years since I've had a s'more so I was pretty much in heaven. Then one of the friends hosting the party reminded me of something that I had made for them shortly after they had had babies #4 and #5 about a year ago. For some reason I had completely forgotten about this recipe until he mentioned it. I usually make this several times throughout the fall and winter. Now is the perfect time of year to make this dish to warm you up from the inside out. I guess it's a tie now between the s'mores and the reminder of the ham chowder. Both are unbelievably delicious! Enjoy!

Farmhouse Ham and Vegetable Chowder

2 - 10 1/2 oz cans condensed cream of celery soup
2 cups diced cooked ham
12 oz package frozen corn
large baking potato
medium red bell pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
2 cups frozen or fresh chopped broccoli
1/2 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
extra shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Dice the red bell pepper and cut the potato into 1/2 inch pieces.

Combine all ingredients except for the broccoli, milk and cheese in a 3 or 4 quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours. Wait patiently just as Pickles is waiting...

If on low, turn to high and stir in broccoli, milk and cheese. The higher fat milk will add more taste but the skim is still delicious. We use skim in our household, except for our 1 year old, so that's what I usually use in this recipe. 

Cover and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Sprinkle some extra cheese on top, if desired. We usually serve this with rolls. Bon appétit!