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Totsgiving Plans & Sweet Potato Pie Casserole

Fun fact: Tator Tots have Oregon pride. Photo credit: Legendsrevealed.com

The past few years have seen me making one or two dishes for Thanskgiving day vegan potlucks, where reclaiming the holiday with close friends with similar values and cruelty-free cuisine really does make it one of the better days of the year.

This year, my possible hosting of my baby brother and has turned into a definitive visit (he’s here!) from my now early-twentysomething year old sibling, and paired with the company of a few close friends who decided that spending the holiday together was better than any other affair, well, there’s a warm and fuzzy week unfolding, and one hell of a theme. Surely, my friends are attending thanks to the guaranteed creativity and awesomeness of our theme: Totsgiving. If only it could bring one Panda Cookie to town…..

Our tentative menu is set to feature:

  • tator tot, greens & mushroom stuffed seitan roulade
  • tator tot-topped shepherd’s pie
  • three corn casserole [tots exempt due to tradition]
  • dinner rolls [from Sweetpea, so tots exempt]
  • pumpkin pie [ditto, cause my friend will be coming from work]
  • apple tator tot crisp
  • chorizo tot strudel [I don’t know where my friend is going with this one, but I’m freaking intrigued]
  • smokey & spiced cranberry bbq sauce [clearly, for the tots]
  • gravy [ditto]
  • roasted green beans with balsamic & garlic [to mix things up]
  • sweet potato pie casserole [tots exempt due to tradition]
Who needs a mac & cheese & tot casserole when you have this line up?
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Sweet Potato Pie Casserole, circa 2006.

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Now, It’s been a few years since I’ve broken out the most sentimental dish in my holiday repertoire: my mom’s sweet potato pie casserole, and I was nervous my brother wouldn’t really remember, but Rick was smiling and stoked. I’ve been making it and quietly let my tears fall into the sweet filling in her memory since the Thanksgiving after she passed in 2005, but I think it’s likely he hasn’t experienced it since he was oh, 10. It was always my favorite dish, and the smell is pure nostalgia.  The original recipe was cut out of an edition of New York Newsday from the 1980s, faded with time, and called for eggs, milk and heaps of butter. I used to sub in some soy yogurt or cornstarch for the eggy factor, but there’s really no need. What I’m saying is…Earth Balance to the rescue.
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I’ve posted the recipe before in the past, but it’s always a mess (again, I’m probably crying and all that jazz) and it hasn’t been since I relocated this site (and learned how type complete sentences, or so I hope), and follows below.
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Sweet Potato* Pie Casserole
Filling Ingredients:

  • 8 medium sized yams
  • 1/2 cup nondairy milk, such as soy or almond (I’d recommend against coconut, because this is so decadent as is)
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons Earth Balance
  • 1/2 cup organic cane juice
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • optional: 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
  • optional: 1 tablespoon of bourbon
Topping Ingredients:
Note: I’ve been known to double this for extreme sweet potato pie, and always add more pecans.
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups chopped (but not super crumbled) pecans
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1.5 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4-6 tablespoons of melted earth balance
  • optional: 1 cup of additional whole pecans

Directions:

  1. Wash and peel the yams, boil for 25-30 minutes in a large pot of water and drain once incredibly pierceable with a fork.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease a casserole dish.
  3. Add the nondairy milk, Earth Balance, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and maple syrup or bourbon, if using, and incorporate. Continue mashing if needed and spoon into casserole dish.
  4. Stir the topping ingredients together, and distribute over the casserole. Consider making a design with whole pecans first, and then sprinkling on the sweetened topping.
  5. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until golden. If you notice the nuts browning, carefully lay a piece of foil on top for the remainder of baking.
  6. Spoon & enjoy!
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Double Sweet Potato Pie Casserole, circa 2007. Pre-baked.

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I’ve also been throwing out the idea of adding a vegan version of this cocktail into our plans, however, I’m not a fan of vomit. We’ll stick to canned beer, water, and perhaps, cranberry old-fashioneds.

*Yam, baby, yam. The recipe was printed in New York, okay?