Thursday, October 4, 2012

Wee Bites - Sweet Potato Pie Bread

This is one of those recipes that came about by a fortunate series of events. We like to go to the local farmer's market every Sunday morning. Max loves to run around there and we always find something we just had to have while we're there.

Two weeks ago, while my mom was here, we brought her with us to the market. We wondered around checking everything out. Max became fascinated with the large bins of sweet potatoes at all of the vendors. Finally, we let him pick a few out to take home. He was so excited about his potatoes! But being a toddler with a short attention span, the beloved potatoes were soon forgotten about and thrown into a bin in the fridge.

Fast forward to grocery shopping day last week. I always, always, always, meal plan. This has not only reduced our food budget by half (that's right, I said HALF!), it is also a great way to keep me on track with my Weight Watchers points for the week. In order to meal plan effectively, I go through our pantry cabinets, the freezer and the refrigerator to take stock of what I already have on hand. I then go through my coupon stash and the weekly flyers to check for sale items. Doing this has cut our food budget by at least 1/4. I went from spending close to $800 a month on grocery bills to roughly $300-400 per month. This includes household items like toiletries and cleaning supplies.

Anyway, while looking through the fridge, I found the long lost sweet potatoes. They needed to be used in a hurry. The meals I had planned for the week didn't really go with having sweet potatoes as a side so I had to come up with something else to do with them.

Max has been devouring fruit and veggie muffins lately. The kid is a bottomless pit. I swear he eats all day long. You can tell that he's growing every day, he keeps outgrowing all of his clothes! I'm hoping that I can make it through the rest of the warm weather here without having to buy anything new for him. His obsession with muffins, and my desire to get a variety of food into him, gave me the lightbulb moment of making sweet potato muffins.

At first I thought I could just take a basic pumpkin bread recipe and swap out sweet potato. Then I started thinking about actually making pumpkin bread (I know, I know). So, I couldn't have two breads that were essentially the same thing now could I? The answer here is No, in case you were wondering.

I started brainstorming about what flavors I wanted to go with the sweet potatoes. All I kept coming back to was my famous (within my family circle) sweet potato pie. This pie is requested by everyone at Thanksgiving. I originally got the recipe from my Aunt who was in charge of bringing it to every holiday gathering. Once our families branched off to different parts of the country, it became my responsibility for our part of the family. The pie is basically like eating candy. Not only does it include the super sweet canned sweet potatoes in heavy syrup but also brown sugar and maple syrup! It is diabetes on a plate, but oh so good!

I just had to have that taste in my bread. I needed to find a way to not only get that sweet mapley taste but not have my kid bouncing off the walls after eating it. What I came up with was a homerun! I took a basic recipe and tweaked it to be what I was looking for. It tastes exactly like the famous Thanksgiving Day pie, minus the marshmallow topping. It would have been even better with some chopped pecans thrown in but since Max is not a fan of nuts, I didn't bother with them. This recipe made 24 mini muffins and 4 mini loaves. Honestly the sugar could probably be reduced since these came out super super sweet.

Max has devoured a couple of these a day since I made them. Vince took a mini loaf to work and said that it was gone within 5 minutes. He didn't even get a piece! I plan to make this one again, in fact I'm thinking of making it for Thanksgiving instead of the sugar laden pie that really no one needs to be eating. Maybe it's time to retire Aunt Emma's Famous Sweet Potato Pie.

Sweet Potato Pie Bread
Adapted from Allrecipes


1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
3/4 Cup Unsweetened Applesauce
2 Large Eggs
2 Large Egg Whites
3 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1 teaspoon Maple Extract
2/3 Cup Reduced Fat Milk (I used 2%)
2 Cups Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Optional: 1/2 Cup Pecans, chopped

  1. Lightly grease muffin and/or loaf pans with cooking spray.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F.
  3. Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl.
  4. Mix together just until all of the ingredients are combined.
  5. Pour into prepared pans.
  6. Bake mini muffins for about 25 minutes, mini loaves for 30-35 minutes, and regular loaves for 75 minutes (check for done-ness before removing from oven).
  7. Cool on wire racks and store in an air tight container or freeze.

Yield: 48 mini muffins or 8 mini loaves or 2 regular size loaves

Monday, October 1, 2012

Muffin Tin Monday

Monday, Monday. So good to me. Monday, Monday. It was all I hoped it would be. La la, la la la.

Welcome to October! We had a pretty full weekend. Things didn't go exactly as planned, but when do they ever? Friday night Vince and I had an at-home date night. We waited until Max was in bed and then ordered from our favorite Italian place and then vegged out on the couch watching Castle on Netflix. I'm now obsessed with this show. We just finished the first season. For years I was avoiding the show thinking it was similar to those cheesy murder mystery shows in the 80's. Like Hardcastle & McCormick or Remington Steele. My friend Kim convinced me to give it a try. She loves the show (and the hot Mr. Fillion). I'm hooked. I can't wait for the next disc to get here...and WHY is it not available streaming?!

Saturday we were supposed to go to the Claude Moore annual craft fair and maybe hit up the Apple Festival at the Heritage Museum in the afternoon. Instead, we all slept in and didn't have time to get out to the craft fair. Then Max took an extra long nap in the afternoon so we didn't get out of the house until almost 3 o'clock! The festival ended at 4, so it wasn't worth it to trek out there. Instead, we packed ourselves up and headed out to Cox Farms in Chantilly for the opening day of their Fall Festival. This is our third year going to Cox Farms. The first year, I had just found out I was pregnant with Max. We went with a group of people to the haunted corn maze and hayride. It was a blast! Last year we took Max to the festival. He was only 6 months old, so he didn't really have any idea of what was going on. It was cold and windy and it had rained heavily the day before so the whole place was a huge mud pit. Not so much fun last year. But this year. Whoo boy! Max climbed on the giant hay stacks, went down the big pirate ship slide, played in the old west town, crawled through the hay tunnels, danced to a live band, picked fresh apples and pumpkins to take home, rode on a really cool hayride, and saw all kinds of baby animals. While we were looking at a big sow and her piglets, all of the babies ran over to mom to start suckling. A girl next to us, around 14, gasped and asked her mom what they were doing? Why were they fighting over the mother pig like that? Max looked at the girl and told her they were drinking milk! I can't tell you how proud I was of my little guy at that moment.

Saturday night was very quiet. We were all pretty exhausted and went to bed early. Sunday morning we ended up going out to the apple festival. It was much smaller than I thought it was going to be but it was still a lot of fun. We did an apple tasting of different heirloom varieties of apples. Then we went through the little apple museum and watched a girl peel apples using a 100 year old apple peeling machine. Max got to use an antique machine to bag apples, and he got to keep the apples that he bagged. Then we saw an apple cider making demonstration using a 150 year old apple press. Max got to be the helper that threw the apples in the top of the press. We missed story time but we got to do a cute little apple craft, giving an apple a personality. Then we went outside where Max won some prizes playing some games like bean bag toss, tic tac toe (using apples), and apple bobbing. They had face painting but Max freaks out with stuff being painted on him (he did the same thing with those temporary tattoos at the ice cream festival). The last activity was in the pasture where they had set up large wooden animal cutouts along with tons of finger paints and brushes. Max went to town painting animals and amazingly didn't get any paint on himself or me! He took a 3 hour long nap and then went to bed early again. I think the day was a success.

Unfortunately, we took all of the pictures this weekend using Vince's new iPhone. On the way out to the apple festival, Vince put his phone on the roof of the car and forgot about it. We drove off, never to see the phone again. We drove up and down the street for hours looking for any sign of debris but it was gone. I'm assuming someone found it and took it home. Frugal Vince keeps the GPS turned off on his phone to save the battery life. If it was on we could have located it using the Find My Phone app. Lesson learned but it sucks that we don't have any pictures of our awesome weekend.

To celebrate the apple festival, I made today's lunch have an apple theme. I thought it was pretty cute but Max actually didn't like everything. He didn't like the apple yogurt so I switched it out for coconut and he gobbled it up. He didn't want his muffin or the Apple Jacks at lunch but ate them later for a snack. Everything else was gone pretty quickly. And he loved his apple sippy cup, which was a prize he picked out for winning at bean bag toss!

Today's lunch:
Max's apple craft from the festival
Sweet Potato Pie mini muffin
Apple Jacks cereal
Fresh apple, cut into chunks
Cheeseburger, leftover from dinner
Oikos 0% fat apple cinnamon Greek yogurt
Ice water in his apple sippy cup