Monday, March 21, 2011

Sweet Potato topped with a Cranberry and Apple Compote:

I have a sweet potato and cranberry recipe that will be a hit from young to old and with a few simple modifications can be served to anyone from your little baby to the adults at your holiday table (or any time of year). This is also a great way to trick your picky eater into enjoying vegetables.

When I make this recipe, I generally plan about 1/2 to 1 large sweet potato per person and 1-1/2 cups of the cranberry apple compote. You may end up with some left over, but I have found that people generally go back for seconds on this one. If you do end up with leftovers it is a perfect addition to a turkey sandwich or will easily keep as a side dish for a chicken dinner at another point during the week.

To make 4 servings you will need:
1.)  2 baked (or steamed) Sweet Potato's
2.)  A 1 lb bag of Fresh Cranberries (you can use frozen as well, just make sure that there is no sugar or syrup added)
3.)  1 cup of fruit juice (you can use just about any kind - grape, cranberry, pomegranate, apple, apple cider) or water
4.)  The zest of one orange
5.)  The juice of that orange
6.)  The zest of 1 lemon
7.)  The juice of that lemon
8.)  1 cup sugar (depending on the sugar content in the juice you are adding you can modify this amount)
9.)  1 Apple (you can dice or chunk based on the consistency that you want to achieve)

Note: the cranberry apple compote portion of the recipe will make about 4 cups (of which you will only need about 1 to 1 1/2 cups for this recipe) but make the whole amount, I promise you that it will be eaten and enjoyed. I also like to make the cranberry and apple compote a day in advance so it has time to set up and allows the flavors to come together. However, you can make it that day and it will taste just fine.

What to do:
1.)  Rinse Cranberries and add to a medium saucepan
2.)  Add the 1 cup of the Juice of your choice (you can replace the juice with water, but I like the juice for added flavor)
3.)  Add the juice from the orange and the lemon
4.)  Add Sugar (check out my mommy tips, below, for how to reduce/eliminate the added sugar)
5.)  Cook on low until the the cranberries begin to pop (generally between 5-10 minutes)
6.)  Once the cranberries have begun to pop add:
      a.)  Zest from the orange
      b.)  Zest from the lemon
      c.)  The apple - I like to chunk it so that there are pieces of apple in the sauce, but for young children you can cut into small dices if you would like

7.)  Continue to cook another 5 minutes or so, just until the apples begin to soften a bit. My preference is to leave some of the cranberries in tact as well as still having a little bite to the apples. If you are cooking for baby or young children you may want to cook down a bit further to a "sauce" consistency.

8.)  Bake the sweet potato's (feel free to bake, steam, roast, grill, etc... based on your preference and how you will choose to present the dish)

How to serve:
For baby - you will want to puree the sweet potato:

For baked sweet potato's just let them cool a bit, peel them and chuck them and place them in your food processor or blender with a bit of water if necessary to get the desired consistency for your baby.

If you have steamed them just remove the chunk from the steamer and place them in the food processor or blender to puree. Again, feel free to add a bit of water if necessary to get the desired consistency for your baby.

If you choose to add the cranberry to your baby's dish you can puree the cranberry apple sauce (or plain cranberry puree - eliminate the apples and zest from the recipe and be sure to use 100% fruit juice) with the sweet potato. Also check out my mommy tips (below) for some of the way's that I reduce / eliminate the added sugar when make these cranberries for my little ones.

For your toddler/child - mash the sweet potato and fold together with 1-1/2 cups of cranberry apple sauce. The amount of cranberry will depend on the size of your sweet potato's and the amount of "meat" you get out of them. This will be a much healthier option for your children (and the whole family) than the more traditional gooey marshmallow topping that you may find on a sweet potato casserole.

For your older children and adults - cut the baked sweet potato in half and top with the cranberry apple sauce you can even top with some crushed walnuts if you would like. I promise you won't miss the buttery, brown sugary, cinnamony topping that you may normally add to your baked sweet potato.

The end result is a simple, yummy and healthy festive side dish for the whole family.

**Mommy Tip**

When making for baby's and small children (or even if you are just making it for adults) you may want to check out these tips to reduce the added sugar in the cranberries.

1.) The Juice will act as a sweetener and allow you to reduce the amount of sugar that you add to this dish. I like to add 100% fruit juice (with no added sugar) as a way to add sweetness without adding sugar. Using a sweet apple instead of a tart apple will allow you to reduce the sugar as well. Replace the lemon juice with the juice of another orange or a couple of small tangerines. By using these tips you can basically reduce the added sugar to a very minimal amount.

2.) If you don't want to add any sugar, you can combine with a sweeter fruit puree (think pears or peaches) to cut through some of the tartness of the cranberry.

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