Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas: What’s on your menu?

Marshmallows, Oranges and Sweet Potatoes: The combination of these sweet ingredients creates a winning side dish for holiday or every day. The first two recipes call for orange halves, filled with a creamy-whipped, spicy potato mixture and topped with an oozing marshmallows. The third recipe is a more traditional sweet potato casserole using sour cream and topped with browned miniature marshmallows which take the place of sugar in the recipe.

A Bit of Yam Confusion. What’s the Difference between a Sweet Potatoes and a Yam?

Actually most yams found in our grocery stores are varieties of sweet potatoes. The yams that do show up in stores come from the Caribbean and are rough and scaly to the touch and fibrous in texture.

There are hundreds of varieties of sweet potatoes which vary in color from white to orange and even purple. The three most common are the Covington, O’Henry and Japanese sweet potato. Fortunately for us, North Carolina sweet potatoes are available all year.

orangecups2Sweet Potatoes in Orange Cups, From Cooking at the Y, Laurel, Mississippi, 1973-1974

  • 2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 3 large oranges
  • 6 marshmallows
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Make orange cups by slicing about one inch off the tops. Remove sections. (Set aside ½ cup orange juice to use in potato mixture.)

Combine cooked drained potatoes, butter, salt, orange juice, sugar and spices. Whip until creamy. Heat in oven until marshmallows are brown.

Additional Notes: Prepare baking dish with a thin layer of oil or oil spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until tops begin browning. Remove from oven. Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Place a marshmallow* on top of each orange cup. Bake for five minutes or until golden brown. Serves 6.

*If using large marshmallows, cut into two pieces and place a half piece on top of each orange cup.

orangecupsSpicy Yam-Orange Cups, C and H recipe flyer, Brown Sugar Treats, 1970s

  • 6 oranges
  • 2 cups cooked mashed sweet potatoes or yams
  • 2/3 cup pure Cane Dark Brown or Golden Brown Sugar
  • ¼ cup butter or margarine
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
  • Marshmallows

Make orange cups by slicing about one inch off the tops. Remove sections. (Set aside ½ cup orange juice to use in potatoes.) With scissors cut notches around rim of orange cup (optional). Arrange in greased baking dish. Mash potatoes well. Add sugar, (if canned yams or sweet potatoes are used, adjust amount according to their sweetness) butter, orange juice and spices. Mix thoroughly. Stir in raisins and pecans. Fill orange cups. Bake in moderate oven, (375 degrees) about 30 minutes. Top with marshmallows. Return to oven and bake until marshmallows are golden brown. Make a few to freeze and bake when needed. Increase baking time to about 1 hour.

Household Hints from Kitchens Past. Getting the house ready for family? Add a tablespoon of salt to your starch water, your clothes will iron easier. Wax candles burn longer if chilled thoroughly in the refrigerator. To keep linens fresh, put them in a closed fruit jar in the refrigerator. An old shaving brush is ideal for dusting pleated silk lamp shades. Bethel Temple’s Jubilee Cook Book, 1914-1964.

Personal favorite: This sweet potato casserole recipe isn’t just a part of our traditional Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a family favorite throughout the year.

Sweet Potato Mallow, Betty Crocker Cookbook, 1969

  • 1 pound sweet potatoes or yams* (about 3 medium)
  • ½ cup dairy sour cream
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon mace, optional
  • ¾ cup miniature marshmallows

Prepare and cook sweet potatoes. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In small mixing bowl, combine sweet potatoes, sour cream, egg yolk, salt and mace. Beat on medium speed until smooth.

Pour sweet potato mixture into buttered 1-quart casserole, top with marshmallows. Bake 30 minutes or until marshmallows are puffed and golden brown. 4 servings.

*Or use 1 can (1 pound, 1 ounce) vacuum-packed sweet potatoes.

I Remember Betty Crocker from Anonymous

“My mother was a wonderful cook. I remember the tantalizing smells in the kitchen when I came home from school. Mama turned out every kind of cake imaginable. I remember the roseate hues in the rows of boxes on her pantry shelf. I remember Pillsbury, Duncan Hines, Dromedary. But most of all I remember Betty Crocker.

To watch Mama bake a Betty Crocker was to watch poetry in motion. There was the exquisitely poignant way she tore off the box top, the quicksilver motions of her hands as she added an egg and some water, the effervescent fillip she gave the knob of the electric mixer. I was the most envied boy in the neighborhood because Mama always made gingerbread for breakfast. Rising at dawn, she would add some water to the dough that Aunt Jemima packaged in a sturdy plastics bag, tie up the bag and squeeze it 20 times (one of my fondest memories is of my sister and me fighting for a turn to squeezed the Aunt Jemima).

The high point of my youth was my birthday dinner. There wasn’t another woman who could defrost Mrs. Paul’s Frozen Fried Eggplant Sticks the way Mama did, or who could drop the yummy plastic bag filled with Stouffer’s Frozen Creamed Spinach into a pot of boiling water with such élan. To make my favorite salad, Mama would snip open a bag of greens and gaily toss with Porky Manero’s Gorgonzola Salad Dressing. The birthday cake was always a Betty Crocker, accompanied by a gurgling glass of freshly mixed Starlac.

I’ve never married. No one could squeeze that bag of gingerbread the way Mama could. But I’m content. I live on the dear memories of my childhood and cupboard full of Mrs. Grass’s Chickey-y-Rich Noodle Soup. It’s keen.”