Ours is a 2 person household. My roomie is my Pops (since Mom's passed) and he putters around all day til I get home from work, then we have dinner together. To keep him active and involved, I try to make things that he can pull from the freezer and put in the oven, thereby "cooking dinner" for me, which makes us both feel great. This is a standby side dish we both love, and one large potato feeds us both, with a protein and a veg. Hope you like them!
•Sweet Potatoes (you can make one or six or more, but try to get firm, blemish-free spuds)
• Butter or margarine, in stick form, straight from the freezer (or at least really, really cold, so it slices better)
•Sugar (allow about 1/8 cup per potato)
•Cinnamon (maybe 1 teaspoon per potato)
•Baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper (or waxed paper or foil or whatever you have handy to make cleanup easy!)
•Aluminum foil pan(s) for freezing, if you’re making more than one potato. Plan on one pan per potato per meal
•Lids or foil to cover pans with, for freezing
•Non-stick cooking spray
•Permanent marker to mark the pans with the date & contents (and reheating instructions, if you like)
•Sharp knife(s) (I always have 2 knives—a longer one for slicing, and a paring knife for peeling)
2What to do…
•Pick a day that you have a few hours of free time
•Wash your potatoes and pat dry
•Turn the oven on to 400 degrees
•Arrange your potatoes on the baking sheet. Leave enough room between them, if you’re doing more than one, for good airflow. I find as long as they’re not touching, they do best.
•Slide them into the oven and bake until each one has juices oozing out (see why we cover our baking sheet?? :)) This should take a good hour, maybe more, depending on how many you’re baking.
•Take a nice glass of something to drink outside and enjoy some you-time. The potatoes will take care of themselves for a while. If you’re a Type A person, run some errands or mow the lawn. You've got some time to kill here.
•When they’re all good and done (yes, if you must, you can stick a fork in them to check..lol), pull them out and let them sit on a heat-proof trivet or something (I leave mine on top of my stove) until they cool. You want them cool enough so that they don’t melt your butter pats.
3•Go do laundry. Or garden. Or read a book…it’s going to take awhile for these babies to cool properly. Now for the "candy" part. (and the messy part, too!)
•Pull a bowl out of the cupboard for mixing sugar & cinnamon in, one that you can hold in one hand comfortably and still fit the other inside it to mix the ingredients. My go-to bowl is a Corelle cereal bowl.
•Add sugar & cinnamon to it, in the above ratios for however many potatoes you’re doing (or do what I do: dump some sugar in the bowl until it looks like enough and sprinkle cinnamon over that “sugar mountain” until the top is covered). Stick your hand in the bowl and give it a good mix, making sure that you work the bottom of the bowl because the cinnamon tends to “hide” under the sugar and you won’t know that it’s unmixed until you start using it. You know it’s all good when you can no longer tell where the sugar stops and the cinnamon starts. Set aside. (PS: I call this stuff "candy sand", but I'm weird that way. Call it whatever you like, but make sure you have enough!)
•Lay out your pans and spray each one with non-stick spray.
•Bring your cooled potatoes to your working area. Gather your knives and cutting board.
4•Working with one tater at a time, use your longer knife and slice enough off each end to remove the root and pointy parts. You shouldn’t ever need to lop off more than an inch here.
•Eyeball your victim and decide how many equal sized slices you can get out of it (between 1/2” and 1” thick is best--more or less than that and you have issues later, trust me). Shoot for ¾” thick slices and start cutting. You want the long knife so that you don’t have to “saw” the short blade through the thicker part of the potato, which will destroy your slices.
•Pick up each slice, carefully so it doesn’t break on you, and slide your “peeling” knife under the skin of the potato. Rotate as you peel (kind of like peeling an apple) and when you’ve gotten the whole ring of peel removed, discard it, and lay the potato slice in your foil pan.
•Do this with each slice you’ve made. You might run out of real estate in your pan if you’re using small pans—no worries, the slices are stackable. Just try to keep them “offset” so that you can get butter and “candy sand” on some portion of each slice.
• After all your potatoes are peeled and panned, wash up! You do not want to be handling sugar & cinnamon with tater juice/mush on your hands. Your fingers will stick together like they’ve been super-glued!
5•Ok, now that our hands are clean and dry again, haul out the butter from the freezer or fridge, and using your slicing knife, carve it up. You want thin slices here-no more than 1/8” thick. Seriously. It’s enough.
•Place a slice of butter on each potato slice. I can get enough slices from one stick of butter to do 6 or 7 pans of potatoes. Yes, really.
•Wash up again. Butter and sugar are great together, just not stuck to your fingers while you’re trying to work.
•Remember back to your childhood and playing in the sandbox. I hope you played in the sandbox or this part of the explanation’s not going to make much sense to you.
•Grab your sugar bowl and hold it close to the pan you want to start with. Take a fistful of sand—I mean sugar/cinnamon—and let it run from the bottom of your fist over the potatoes, right over the butter pats, trying for a nice even layer. It’ll feel just like the sandbox days, trust me! Any that gets down between the slices is going to make the best “sauce” later, so don’t fret when it doesn’t stay where you put it.
•Repeat for each pan.
6•This is a good point to mention: A) I usually make 6 potatoes at a time, which gives me at least 6 foil pans of potatoes for the freezer (sometimes 7, depending on how the slices come out), which is 6 side dishes I don’t have to “fix” later. For ALL this I use maybe 1 cup of sugar and probably a tablespoon of cinnamon, and one stick of butter, as mentioned before, so it's not as sweet as you may first think.
And B) if you’re worried the first time out about having enough sugar to go around, use a measuring cup to scoop out even amounts, and sprinkle those over your potatoes. If you have sugar left over, go around again. I’m pretty sure you can’t get too much of this stuff on there ...sidebar complete...now back to the directions:
•Wash the sugar off your hands and lid up your pans (or cover with foil if that’s what you prefer). Mark each one with the date and contents.
•Stack them in the freezer and when you need an easy, tasty side dish, pull one out.
•Remove the lid or foil.
•Slide it into the oven alongside whatever protein you’re serving that night and leave it alone for an hour. The potatoes will be hot and the “candy” will be set, and there will be a nice syrup in the bottom of the pan that you can drizzle back over the potatoes once they’re on the plate.
•Enjoy! (and remember to accept all the compliments gracefully)
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