A few weeks ago, I made this taco shepherd's pie and it was so much better than traditional shepherd's pie! It got me thinking, why aren't there more variations of that classic recipe? This dessert version deviates pretty far from the classic but it's fun and tasty regardless. It's also perfect for the upcoming holidays.
I was trying to decide whether or not I wanted to make my sweet & savory Thanksgiving sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner this year. I always make multiple batches of my cranberry sauce but those sweet potatoes were such a hit last year that I was thinking about making those too. Well, after Lenny tasted this, he informed me that it was a mandatory menu item. I wasn't about to make two sweet potato dishes and luckily, I found out my aunt is making my sweet potatoes for everyone. So now we can have both. So cool!
This shepherd's pie is intended to be a dessert but it's not super sweet. Dare I say healthy??? The only sweetener is ¼ cup of maple syrup in the entire pie plus another ¼ cup if you use all of the candied pecans on top. The rest of the sweetness comes from the sweet potatoes and apples. My thought process is that if people can serve sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows as a side dish, this can be a side dish too. Why serve it as a side? Because then you'll have an excuse to fill up your dessert plate with a little extra and all that
dessert shepherd's pie you ate won't even count! Gotta eat smart around the holidays.
Side note: Don't ever take diet advice from me.
I have to admit, I am dreading the fact that we somehow ended up hosting Thanksgiving. I love sharing my cooking with people but I can't stand hosting. Especially when that means people will be bringing gluten in my kitchen. That's pretty dangerous for me but it's WAY more dangerous while I'm pregnant. (You can read more about how I usually handle food centered gatherings and why here.)
I think we've got it figured out though. Paper plates, borrowed silverware, bring your own serving utensils if you made a dish, food stays in the eating area and doesn't come in the cooking area, and I'll separate out my own food before guests arrive so if the main dish gets cross contaminated with gluten, I won't have to worry about it. Easy to come up with a plan, probably a little harder to implement it but we'll see.
I am trying to figure out what foods to take with me to the birth center. They only keep you there around 8 hours after birth but I need to pack enough to eat in case of a hospital transfer since they'll keep me a lot longer. I thought I could freeze some of the turkey and make cold turkey sandwiches while I'm there since lunchmeat is a pregnancy no-no and they want me to eat something with protein during labor. I think made-ahead sunbutter & jelly sandwiches (stored in the freezer) and maybe some fruit and bagged/pre-washed salad would be good snacks too. I considered canned tuna which would be so easy but I've been advised not to take anything that would be unbearable coming back up. Gross.
Quick note for fellow food bloggers (and wannabe food bloggers) reading this! If you're on my email list, you may have seen that Food Blogger Pro has opened enrollment through November 21st. I've been a member for almost two years now and absolutely love it. It's helped me improve so much and I've learned so much more than I could have on my own in that same amount of time. I highly recommend it.
I tried it out for a month when I first started just to make sure I liked it. That gave me a little extra time beyond open enrollment to decide whether or not I wanted to pay for the whole year. If you're thinking about doing something like this, that's what I'd recommend. You can sign up at this link if you're interested. Hope to see you over there!
It is a paid membership (no contracts) so I also like to tell everyone about their podcast which is, of course, a free resource. I listened to it for quite a while before signing up and it's incredibly helpful.
A twist on shepherd's pie fit for Thanksgiving dessert. Mashed sweet potatoes top a combination of apples and pecans tossed in spiced maple syrup.
- 5 C sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 C cold water, or more if using stovetop
- 3 Tbsp coconut oil, divided
- ¼ C almond milk or milk of choice
- 4 apples, cubed with cores removed
- 2 C pecans, very roughly chopped *see first note below*
- ¼ C maple syrup
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp allspice
- ⅛ tsp ground cloves
- If you have an Instant Pot, add the potatoes and water. Secure the lid, set the valve to "sealing", and use the manual setting to cook for 10 minutes. Allow pressure to release naturally. If you don't have an Instant pot, put the potatoes in a pot on the stove with enough water to cover them and bring to a boil until fork tender.
- Preheat oven to 375ºF.
- Once the potatoes are done cooking and pressure has fully released, drain off the water and transfer back to the pot. Use a fork or potato masher to combine the potatoes with one tablespoon of the coconut oil and the ¼ cup of almond milk. Continue mashing until the potatoes are smooth then set aside.
- In a skillet over medium-low heat, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Add apples and the 2 cups of chopped pecans. Stir to coat everything in the oil and continue to cook until apples are softened, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the maple syrup, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Once the apple/pecan mixture is done cooking, stir this into it and transfer to a pie dish. Top with the mashed sweet potato (I like to use a fork to add patterns to the top of mine) and bake for about 40 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.
- While the pie bakes, if you didn't make your candied pecans ahead of time, now is a good time to do that. They only take 15 minutes and are super easy!
- Once the pie is finished, top with the candied pecans. I did a simple pattern on my pie and decided to save some pecans to snack on but you can add as many as you like. Serve while still warm.
Update: The most recent time I made this, I swapped out the 2 cups of chopped pecans in the filling (not the candied pecan topping) for a few handfuls of frozen cranberries. I actually prefer it this way and will be doing it like this going forward! We served it hot and topped with vanilla ice cream.
If you're making this for Thanksgiving, you can make the filling, sweet potato topping, and candied pecans ahead of time. Store the filling and sweet potato topping in the refrigerator then assemble and bake about 40 minutes before you're ready to serve dessert.