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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27 Responses to “pumpkin soup with gruyère”

  1. 1
    HeatherChristo — October 28, 2010 @ 4:06 pm

    this looks so good! beautiful pictures 🙂

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — October 28th, 2010 @ 4:31 pm

      Thank you, Heather.

  2. 2
    Liz the Chef — October 28, 2010 @ 4:20 pm

    You are so brave! I have yet to tackle a “real” pumpkin…Your photos are lovely. Where did you learn to take such great shots? I need a class for certain.

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — October 28th, 2010 @ 4:33 pm

      This was actually my first go at a real pumpkin – and it was fun! As for the photos – I’ve been learning as I go. I’ve never taken a course, but I’d love to!

  3. 3
    kateiscooking — October 28, 2010 @ 4:41 pm

    Beautiful photos! I hope I escape work in time to make this tonight. We’re supposed to have the first freeze of the year and this sounds like a perfect antidote!! Kate@kateiscooking

  4. 4
    Kare — October 28, 2010 @ 4:55 pm

    Man, there is nothing like the process of cooking and baking to just put you into that near-nirvana-like zone, eh? I LOVE that. And this soup looks scrumptious – I love a good pumpkin soup, and love the idea of the gruyere (and the hearty splash of white wine).

    Good luck on your two-week work project – ugh, I’d be feeling the blahs too. Hope it goes by quickly for you.

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — October 28th, 2010 @ 8:02 pm

      Kare – Ah, yes – you noticed the wine. Wine and gruyere – what could be better?

  5. 5
    bunkycooks — October 28, 2010 @ 5:44 pm

    I am feeling the funk, too. I think it is the coming of cold weather combined with personal/work stuff. Cooking does make things better and gets the other stuff off your mind.

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — October 28th, 2010 @ 8:02 pm

      Gwen – Cooking is such a blessing. I’m just hoping to squeeze in some time for it in the upcoming weeks. I think I’m going to need it.

  6. 6
    Kristina @ spabettie — October 28, 2010 @ 5:49 pm

    I know exactly what you mean… I get to feeling antsy or upset or frustrated… and I want to be in the kitchen… kneading or chopping or stirring… creating.

    gruyere is one of my favorites… and this looks so good…

    I also love your photos – the sage leaves especially… so pretty!

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — October 28th, 2010 @ 8:01 pm

      Kristina – I just love gruyere too. In fact, it was all I could do to stop myself from eating the wedge of cheese before it went in the soup. 🙂

  7. 7
    Susi — October 28, 2010 @ 6:39 pm

    That looks like a wonderful and comforting bowl of soup! Love the addition of gruyere (one of my favorites) and your pictures are spectacular!

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — October 28th, 2010 @ 8:00 pm

      Susi – Thank you so much for the photography compliment. I was playing with a new lens (my birthday present), so these photos were a lot of fun for me.

  8. 8
    Jennie — October 28, 2010 @ 6:43 pm

    What you said about wanting to make the soup more than wanting to eat it—that’s what I love most about being in the kitchen. The one place where you can control the chaos swirling around. I totally get your October funk, but think about November, right around the corner, and all the fun that follows.

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — October 28th, 2010 @ 7:58 pm

      Controlling the chaos is the key. Being in the kitchen, controlling that ingredient in my hand or in the pot – that is the key for me. And I cannot even begin to describe the excitement I have about November. Well, after November 16th, that is. Until then, it’s nothing but hospital for me.

  9. 9
    Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — October 28, 2010 @ 7:40 pm

    Great post! I know exactly what you mean about craving the cooking process. Sometimes just getting out my big wooden cutting board and chopping some veggies starts to melt away my stress.

    Love this soup, too… Pumpkin and gruyere sounds like a perfect combo.

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — October 28th, 2010 @ 7:59 pm

      Jen – Yes! Chopping board and knife, and the stresses of the day melt away. I just wish I had more time for it. And anything with gruyere is fabulous. 🙂

  10. 10
    Kim - Liv Life — October 28, 2010 @ 11:26 pm

    I DO know what you mean!! I actually skipped our homecoming game too, though I didn’t cook at thing. The soup looks wonderful. Hang in there!

  11. 11
    Liren — October 29, 2010 @ 2:38 am

    “I just wanted to make it.”

    Boy, do I understand what you mean. However, I’m sure it tasted lovely – pumpkin and gruyere make sense together! In our family chaos, we haven’t been to the pumpkin patch yet, but if we make it this weekend, I would love to tackle this soup.

  12. 12
    Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle — October 29, 2010 @ 10:35 am

    I can certainly identify with your state of mind. Eight months into an injury that has limited most aspects of my life; long work days and dealing with a difficult daughter…sometimes the kitchen is my refuge from all of it…even if I’m not hungry!

    Something about soup is so soul satisfying…the results of your efforts look beautiful and sound perfect for that.

  13. 13
    Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite — October 30, 2010 @ 7:37 am

    MJ I absolutely can relate to this post. Sometimes when I have SO MUCH on my plate that I don’t know where to start, I find myself in the kitchen making something that, you know, could wait. Cooking and baking are exactly the release we need from time to time and if it results in this type of delicious soup, well it’s totally worth missing a game for, right?

  14. 14
    Renee (Kudos Kitchen) — October 30, 2010 @ 12:34 pm

    This soup looks great and I totally LOVE the gruyere and pumpkin combo. Don’t you just love that soup is comforting to eat AND make? Sounds like you had a wonderful afternoon in the kitchen!

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  16. 15
    Jennifer — October 30, 2010 @ 2:46 pm

    This sounds awesome. It’s been cold and rainy here and would be perfect. I have those blah days and there’s absolutely nothing better than comfort food.

  17. 16
    Belinda — October 30, 2010 @ 11:57 pm

    We had a blast with your kids and can’t wait to have them again in November. So glad you had a quiet afternoon and evening to do something fun and relaxing for yourself!

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