Potatoes. Make mine sweet.

Aside from the turkey and dressing (we'll get to those in a couple of days), nothing quite says Thanksgiving like sweet potatoes. Don't get me wrong, we eat sweet potatoes at least once a week throughout the year; they just aren't sweet sweet potatoes.

Sweet Potato Casserole is a treat we reserve for Thanksgiving or Christmas. The creamy sweet potatoes are covered with a wonderful, slightly crunchy coconut pecan topping. (In the picture above it's right in the middle next to the green beans; we failed to get an individual shot before it hit the table.) This casserole really should be considered a dessert, and it probably has more calories and sugar per serving than pumpkin pie. Nonetheless, it's a served as a side dish on our table. There are many versions of this recipe, all varying slightly in the amount of sugar or number of eggs. I think this one started out from Southern Living, and we've made a few changes over the years.

Sweet Potato Casserole

3 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 milk
1/3 cup melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract (please use the real stuff, not imitation)
2 eggs, beaten
ground cinnamon

Mix well. Spoon into greased 9"x13" baking dish. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon.

1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 to 1 cup chopped pecans

In medium bowl, mix together until butter is evenly incorporated. Sprinkle over sweet potato mixture.

Bake at 375 for 25 minutes or until topping is golden.

There really is a lot of room to play with this recipe. We use a 9"x13" dish, but if you want a thick layer of sweet potatoes and a really thick layer of the topping, use a smaller dish. Generally, we only use half of the topping if we use a smaller pan because 1) it doesn't fit and 2) it's just too much sweet on top (I really just said that...). The leftover topping is great over ice cream and works well as a kind of streusel topping (Just slice some pears or apples, throw them in a pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and top them with as much of this yummy stuff as desired. Bake in a 350 oven until the fruit is tender, about 20-30 minutes depending on how much you're cooking.).


Thanksgiving Traditions

We spent Thanksgiving at my parent's house for the first time since Cooter was born. It was my 11-month-old son's first trip to see the grandparents, first long car trip, and first Thanksgiving. I call him K-bob for some unknown reason. I just started saying it when he was a month old or so and haven't stopped. (Sorry, kiddo.)

Our Thanksgiving has changed a lot in the past 10 years. When we first started out, there were two Thanksgiving meals, my family and Adam's family. Then we had two away from the family when we lived in Northern Virginia. We moved back to Georgia in 2005 and have had family Thanksgivings since, some hosted here and some hosted in Arkansas. This year we had our little family of 4, my parents and my father-in-law around the table. It was a great meal and a great time for us to focus on the blessings in our lives.

Over the next few days I'll be posting some of our favorite Traditional Thanksgiving recipes. These are the family favorites that are made each year without fail, are requested in advance and cause great angst if they aren't included (ask me later about the year there was no pecan pie).


The Inspiration

I've thought about blogging several times over the past few years, but it never panned out either because of time or not knowing what I'd have to say. Fast forward to October when a meal that I cooked stirred up a lot of interest following a Facebook post and some face-to-face conversations. A friend suggested I start a blog with my recipes because she's always looking for something tasty and different from her normal rotation of meals. "What's We Havin'?" was born.

Now, I normally have a very guttural reaction to improper grammar (not to say that my grammar is always perfect - please don't hold me to that standard!). Misspellings and grammar errors tend to jump off of the page and distract me from the content. Given this information, you may be wondering about the title of the blog. Simply put, I have a 3-year-old, whom I have affectionately called Cooter since he was in utero, who loves food, loves to help me cook, and loves to eat. Our conversation at breakfast often includes him asking, "Hey Mom, what's we havin' for lunch?". At lunch, or maybe after nap, he wonders, "What's we havin' for dinner?" Since my culinary adventures are the result of my desire to feed my family healthy, tasty meals that don't break the bank or take hours to prepare, it only seemed appropriate that I take that simple query as the inspiration for my blog.