feeding oliver, and a recipe: mashed sweet potatoes

Last Saturday, after scouring cookbooks and my latest food magazine issues, I decided to cook a meal from Lisa Fain’s The Homesick Texan Cookbook. Normally I plan my time better, but we’d spent longer than we expected at the local arts festival with the kids, so I was late getting started and my timing was off. I chopped and prepped and cooked for about 2 hours before the meal was finished. It didn’t help that my blender decided to misbehave each time I used it – all three times. [I’m kicking myself for not splurging on that Vitamix.]

I was so proud of our meal – starring chicken enchiladas with sour cream sauce and refried beans, all made from scratch – and was looking forward to getting off my feet and enjoying it with my family. And that’s when my 5 year old, Oliver, declared that he HATED the enchiladas (without tasting them, mind you) and pushed his enchilada right off of his plate.

Some time ago, I might have caved, gotten up from the table, and made him a hot dog, but not that night. Not now. After informing him – not so gently – that his rudeness was not going to cut it at my dinner table, and with him in tears afterwards, he had a meal of refried beans alone. He never did try that enchilada, and I’m okay with that. We’re both pretty stubborn, but I can win at the stubborn game. I refused – and still refuse – to make him something else when I’ve worked hard to prepare a meal for the family. He’ll eat what I place before him, or he won’t eat.

We went through a similar phase with Madeline when she was younger. She’s eight now, and she’ll try anything at all that I put in front of her. I never make her eat every bit of food on her plate. My only expectation is that she tries a bite, to see if she likes it. And almost all of the time, she does. She’s become my adventurous eater, and it’s one of the many things I love about my firstborn.

I know that Oliver will eventually move on from this defiant stage. I’m certainly ready for it to happen. It can’t come too soon.

The one food that Oliver has always liked – that both of my kids have loved from the beginning – is sweet potatoes. But, really, who doesn’t like sweet potatoes? After the enchilada incident, I made these mashed sweet potatoes for us the next night. The dish was a treat, and it was one we all deserved after sitting through that awkward meal the night before.

Yield: Serves 4.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

This is an easy side dish and one that makes both children and adults happy. You can even make this up to 2 days in advance and store in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, simply reheat in a 350 degree oven or in the microwave.


2 pounds medium sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon course salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons honey


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

With the tines of a fork, poke a few holes in each sweet potato and wrap in foil. Place on a baking sheet and bake until soft, about 1 hour. Remove from oven, let cool slightly.

Cut each sweet potato in half and carefully scoop out flesh into a large bowl. Mash the sweet potato flesh using a potato masher or by putting it through a food mill or potato ricer. Add orange juice, melted butter, cream, salt, cinnamon, and honey, and stir well to combine. Add additional salt to taste.

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16 Responses to “my sunday sauce: a bolognese sauce”

  1. Kathryn — January 18, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

    This does sound like the absolute perfect way to spend a Sunday.

  2. Mal @ The Chic Geek — January 18, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

    I love bolognese, yours sounds absolutely wonderful!

  3. Paula — January 18, 2012 @ 5:35 pm

    Your Sunday Bolognese sauce may just become my everyday pasta sauce. I love the recipe and I’m going to try it…surprise my husband with it soon and see what he thinks. I not only got a great recipe here today but I also learned about a new pasta. Had to look up Bucatini….I’ve never purchased or seen it before but that’s ’cause I wasn’t looking for it. Now I will.

    Thanks for your recipe:)

  4. Gail — January 18, 2012 @ 6:32 pm

    This is how I make my bolognese, and it’s worth every cotton-pickin’ minute I stand over it, watching, gauging, sniffing, tasting, stirring.

    Love. It.
    And, you, of course.


  5. Carol Sacks — January 18, 2012 @ 6:33 pm

    That looks so comforting, Merry Jennifer. And, a sweet post to complement your gorgeous sauce.

  6. Paula- bell'alimento — January 18, 2012 @ 7:49 pm

    Bolognese is one of my favorites and worth every minute it takes to make it. For me stirring, chopping and checking are oh so therapeutic (and way cheaper than therapy ; ) xoxo

  7. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — January 18, 2012 @ 8:38 pm

    Bolognese is a favorite of mine… Like many recipes, I love the process almost as much as I love the dish. I’ve learned over time that the process of cooking and baking is sometimes my favorite part. Lovely post!

  8. cathy — January 19, 2012 @ 6:30 am

    This is just the technique I use for bolognese. Although I’m the only meat eater in the house, I make a huge pot of it a couple times a year. It makes the house smell so darn good! (PS Next time, try adding a couple of parmesian rinds.)

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — January 19th, 2012 @ 1:27 pm

      I love the idea of parmesan rinds!

  9. Brian @ A Thought For Food — January 19, 2012 @ 9:04 am

    I can only imagine how marvelous this makes your house smell. What a lovely Sunday tradition!

  10. Lana @ Never Enough Thyme — January 19, 2012 @ 5:07 pm

    Love your bolognese. And love a recipe that takes a while to prepare. I do my best thinking standing over the stove stirring and tasting recipes. For me, it’s the most relaxing thing I can do. I love to just let my mind wander and get lost in the recipe 🙂

  11. Winnie — January 22, 2012 @ 7:26 pm

    This looks amazing MJ! I love the idea of an all-afternoon-simmered sauce 🙂

  12. art and lemons — January 27, 2012 @ 8:35 am

    Nothing compares to a Sunday steeped in good sauce! Can smell it now…

  13. Marla — January 31, 2012 @ 8:30 am

    Oh how I love a great bolognese sauce like this 🙂

  14. Beth (OMG! Yummy) — January 31, 2012 @ 11:35 am

    Hi Merry-Jennifer! This type of sauce is a staple in my house – I made one last week and we just kept cooking more pasta until it was all gone. I usually use red wine and omit the milk but I know the milk makes it a traditional bolognese. Don’t you just love the color change from when you first put in the puree and then after it has simmered for hours? The smell and color are the best! Nice post – thanks for sharing your Sunday afternoon with us 🙂

  15. Pingback: Foodie Friday: Bolognese « lollingabout

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