Sweet Potato Bread (with Broccoli Cheddar Soup)

This originally started off as soup with a side of bread, but since the bread ended up getting rave reviews, it got moved up in the final billing. Pioneer Woman's broccoli cheese soup sounded comforting and appealing for a fall evening, although I had to reduce her proportions by more than half since the recipe claimed to feed 10. Granted, she has two extra kiddies but her family is also busy herding cattle all day whereas Urban Woman here just has about 30 bags of leaves waiting to be raked and bagged in her back yard so I'm guessing our appetites are more than a little smaller than theirs. Anyway, totally easy recipe, but next time I'd up the ante on the amount of broccoli since although we all loved the milky creaminess of the final bowl, we easily could have crammed in more of the green stuff without any complaints. Oh well.
But as I said, the sweet potato bread on the side was the big hit. Maddie said, "no offence, but this is better than the soup," and the "no offence" part was because she figured I had bought it. Diss. No offence taken since it was made by her mom's own hands and one thing is inevitably going to be better than another in a meal. Q said it was dessert for dinner and I guess he was right. Moist, dense, flavourful and with just a bit of crunchy/chewy with the nuts and dried cranberries. Reminiscent of the zucchini bread from a few weeks earlier but even better in our opinion. Pretty sure I know what the kids will be fighting over for breakfast on Tuesday morning.

makes one loaf

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 1/4 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups mashed sweet potatoes

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs, vanilla, milk and mashed sweet potatoes until well blended. Stir sweet potato mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Toss in some pecans and cranberries. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Top with remaining pecans and dried cranberries. Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into centre of loaf comes out clean. Allow loaf to cool in pan for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack.

serves 4

1/2 onion, diced

splash of olive oil

dab of butter

3 tbsp flour

2 1/2 cups whole milk (or 3 and skip the half-and-half)

1/2 cup half-and-half

3 cups broccoli florets

1 pinch nutmeg

1 1/2 cups grated cheddar

splash of chicken broth or more milk if needed for thinning

Melt butter and oil over medium heat, add onion and cook for 8 minutes until translucent. Add flour and cook for another 2 minutes, then add the milk and half-and-half. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper, and broccoli and allow to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until broccoli is tender. Remove from heat and stir in cheese; allow to melt. If you like it chunky, you can serve it as is or mash it up a bit with a potato masher. I pureed it with the handheld blender and it was totally creamy and slid down our throats like a charm.

Rest of the week

Nov 5 Nobody home and I skipped dinner

Nov 6 Dinner at Pic Nic Wine Bar w friends

Nov 7 Gnocchi with brown butter sauce and roasted garlic

Nov 8 Broccoli cheese soup and sweet potato bread