Monday, November 21, 2022

Golden sweet potato cheesecake

This is a sponsored post by Challenge butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible! 

If we are what we eat, I yam a sweet potato. I would be perfectly content eating sweet potatoes every single day. In fact, I did that after I graduated while I was trying to save money. And I still love them! I could eat them in any way, shape or form. But I have to say this sweet potato cheesecake tops the list.

For some reason, everything tastes better to me when someone else makes it. I never get as much satisfaction eating something I've created. This cheesecake is the exception. I was blown away the moment I sampled the filling. It's so incredibly flavorful. And the sour cream topping adds the perfect tang to balance out the sweetness. Also, the turmeric gives it a really beautiful golden color.

The crust couldn't be easier to make. The combination of gingersnap cookies, butter, sugar, and salt comes together quickly in the food processor. It's important to use good quality butter in your crust. I use Challenge unsalted butter because it's 100% real cream butter. It doesn't have any artificial or synthetic ingredients. You may wonder why I use unsalted butter since salt is on the ingredients list, but I always use unsalted butter so I have greater control over the flavor.

You can make this cheesecake up to three days in advance/ I recommend making it ASAP so you don't have to worry about trying to fit it in on Thanksgiving. You can also freeze it up to a month ahead of time.

Golden Sweet Potato Cheesecake

Yield: Makes 1, 9" cheesecake
Time: About 1 hour 15 minutes

For the crust
  • 255 grams (9 oz) gingersnap cookies
  • 114 grams (1 stick) Challenge unsalted butter, melted
  • 25 grams (2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the filling
  • 1 (8-ounce) block cream cheese, softened
  • 133 grams (2/3 cup) white sugar
  • 71 grams (1/3 cup) brown sugar
  • 14 grams (1 Tablespoon) fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 16 ounces sweet potato flesh (no skin)
  • 2 large eggs
For the topping
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Optional: Candied pecans, crystallized ginger for topping
For the crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray 9 1/2-inch pie dish with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. Pulse gingersnap cookies in food processor. Add butter, sugar, and salt and pulse until it resembles wet sand.
  3. Dump into pie plate and spread in even layer, making sure to press up sides. Bake until firm to touch, about 12 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and turn heat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
For the filling
  1. Beat cream cheese and both sugars with electric mixer until no lumps remain.
  2. Scrape bowl and add ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth, scraping sides of bowl as needed.
  3. Add sweet potato and beat until smooth.
  4. Add eggs and beat until just combined.
  5. Pour filling into crust and spread in even layer. Bake until edges are set but center is still a bit jiggly, about 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from oven.
For the topping
  1. While cheesecake is baking, mix sour cream, sugar, and turmeric.
  2. Spread topping over baked cheesecake while it's still hot, Return to oven for 5 minutes.
  3. Cool cheesecake on wire rack and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
  4. Top with candied pecan pieces and slices of crystallized ginger before serving.

Friday, November 18, 2022

How to make your Thanksgiving meal more exciting

Thanksgiving is a lot of the same each year, and quite frankly, it’s pretty boring for your palette. There’s a lot of beige food, a lot of soft food, and a lot of salty food. But we derive pleasure from variability, and we can achieve that at Thanksgiving dinner with texture, color, and acid.


Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, corn casserole, and so forth—it's all the same texture. Adding a little crunch goes a long way in jazzing up dinner. We can easily achieve that without changing your family's favorite recipes by adding a crunchy topping. My favorite crunch toppings are nuts and seeds, pomegranate arils, fried shallots, crunchy bread crumbs, and gremolata.

Below, I share recipes for a crunchy fried shallot, herb and bread crumb mixture, which is a recipe adapted from one of my favorite food writers, Samin Nosrat. There isn't a single thing this tasty fried mixture wouldn't improve (sorry for the double negative), and it's 100 times better than the can of fried onions you can buy from the store. Gremolata with toasted walnuts is another great crunchy addition. Gremolata is an italian condiment made from minced fresh parsley, lemon zest, garlic, and in this case, walnuts. Gremolata is also good for adding color to the table.


The saying "we eat with our eyes first" is definitely true. Our perception of taste is significantly altered by visual cues. And unfortunately, unfortunately, for the most part, Thanksgiving dinner looks pretty boring. Incorporating color makes a significant difference. My advice is to seek out color. Colorful produce like purple carrots and cauliflower will look beautiful next to your monochrome display of turkey, stuffing, and potatoes. The pop of green that comes from sprinkling fresh parsley on a finished dish makes a big difference and takes zero effort. Also, a few pomegranate arils go a long way.


Acid is VERY important. It brightens and enhances flavors while also balancing sweetness and bitterness. If you sample a dish and it tastes "flat," it probably needs acid. Acid comes in many forms. Some of my favorite acidic ingredients that I use on a weekly basis while cooking are citrus juice, vinegar, and wine.

Cranberry sauce plays a big role in bringing acid to Thanksgiving dinner. I like to put it on one side of my plate and incorporate it in every bite. I'm not a big fan of the super sweet canned version, though, so I'm sharing a recipe with a flavor profile that's a little more complex, with shallots and jalapenos.

Another acidic condiment that would be a delight to each bite is an herby chutney. This recipe is also inspired by Samin Nosrat, and it really brightens up an otherwise heavy spread of food. Mild sweetness is juxtaposed with a little heat from jalapenos and balanced by the acidity of the lime juice. It all blends together well while still making the cilantro and parsley the stars of the show.

And if you want to liven up an otherwise boring plate of roasted vegetables, an agrodolce sauce is the way to go. Agrodolce is an Italian sweet and sour sauce that comes together quickly on the stove.

Fried Shallot Crunch


  • 2 cups canola oil
  • 8 shallots, thinly sliced into rings 
  • 1/3 cup sage leaves
  • 1/4 cup rosemary leaves
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • 1/2 cup parsley, minced


  1. Line 2 cooling racks with paper towels. Set aside.
  2. Pour oil into large wok or saucepan. Add shallots.
  3. Heat on medium-high. Stir shallots until they start to bubble. Reduce heat to medium.
  4. Continue to stir until shallots turn golden, about 8 - 10 minutes.
  5. Remove shallots from oil and place on paper towels.
  6. Test oil temperature by adding one sage leaf to oil. If it bubbles, oil is hot enough. If it doesn’t bubble, turn up heat and test again.
  7. Add sage and rosemary to oil and fry for about 30 seconds. Remove herbs from heat and place on paper towels.
  8. In separate saucepan, add about 2 tablespoons of oil from wok. Toast panko in the oil until it’s golden brown. Remove and place on paper towels.
  9. Once everything is cool, combine in bowl. Herbs should crumble into little pieces. Add thyme and season with salt.
  10. Save in freezer in airtight container for up to 1 month.
  11. Add parsley to mixture when ready to serve.

Crunchy gremolata


  • 1 bunch of parlsey (about 2 loose cups)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt


  1. Finely chop parsley and walnuts.
  2. Combine everything in bowl

Colorful harissa carrots


  • 1 pound petite colorful carrots
  • 1 Tablespoon avocado oil, or other high heat oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 Tablespoons harissa
  • Optional: Parsley, cilantro, and pomegranate arils for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix carrots with oil, cumin, coriander, and salt.
  3. Arrange carrots on rimmed baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove carrots from oven and mix with harissa.
  5. Roast for another 10 minutes or until carrots can be pierced by fork.
  6. Garnish with herbs and pomegranate arils before serving.

Colorful agrodolce cauliflower
  • 2 heads cauliflower, cut into florets (combination of purple and orange)
  • 2 Tablespoons avocado oil (or other high heat oil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tablespoons golden raisins, chopped
  • 1 Thai chili pepper, sliced thin
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Combine cauliflower with oil, salt and pepper. Spread on baking sheet and roast 15 to 20 minutes, or until cauliflower caramelizes on edges.
  3. Meanwhile, combine vinegar, maple syrup, raisins and chili pepper in small saucepan. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer. Continue to simmer until sauce becomes syrupy, about 10 minutes.
  4. Combine half of agrodolce syrup with cauliflower. Transfer cauliflower to platter.
  5. Spoon remaining agrodolce syrup over cauliflower just before serving.

Jalapeno cranberry sauce


  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 jalapenos, seeds removed, minced
  • 1 pound fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest


  1. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and jalapenos and cook until they soften, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add cranberries, maple syrup, water and salt to saucepan and increase heat to medium-high.
  3. Stir often and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and cook until cranberries burst and juices thicken, about 10 minutes
  4. Remove from heat. Stir in lime juice and lime zest. Let cool.
  5. Before serving, taste and add more lime juice or zest if necessary.

Herby sweet heat chutney


  • 8 dates, pitted
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cup lime juice, plus more to taste
  • 1 jalapeno, no seeds, chopped
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 4 cups cilantro leaves (2 bunches)
  • 2 cups parsley leaves (1 bunch)


  1. Place dates in bowl. Cover with hot water and set aside.
  2. Toast cumin seeds on medium heat until they become aromatic, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Grind with mortar and pestle.
  3. Remove dates from water (keep water) and place in food processor with cumin, lime juice, jalapeno, ginger, garlic, and salt.
  4. Run food processor until it’s mostly smooth.
  5. Add herbs to food processor and pulse until mostly smooth, scraping sides periodically. Add reserved waster from dates 1 tablespoon at a time if necessary to get blades moving.
  6. Taste and adjust lime juice and salt if necessary.
I got the idea for this blog post from Samin Nosrat's "How to Make Your Thanksgiving Dinner Less Boring"

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Maple Sage Hasselback Sweet Potatoes

This is a sponsored post by Challenge butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible! 

Sweet potatoes spend all year waiting for November, and it’s finally their time to shine. Happy Sweet Potato Awareness Month! This starchy vegetable is a staple on Thanksgiving day, most often prepared in a casserole with marshmallows and pecans. But sweet potatoes are already sweet, and the preparation possibilities are endless. So I'm sharing an alternative recipe that is easily customizable and will look even more elegant on your table.

Hasselback sweet potatoes look impressive, but they are surprisingly easy to make.

This method of preparation involves cutting a sweet potato into thin coins, but not all the way through. Leave the bottom 1/4 inch intact so the coins fan out like an accordion. This creates more surface area for flavors and additional texture.

Then make a flavored melted butter, like the sage maple butter I used in this recipe, and brush it all over the potatoes so it gets in all the nooks and crannies. This method yields sweet potatoes with crispy outsides and creamy, buttery insides.

Maple Sage Hasselback Sweet Potatoes

Yield: 4 servings

Time: About 90 minutes


  • 4 medium-sized orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds), scrubbed and dried
  • 6 tablespoons Challenge salted butter
  • 12 fresh sage leaves, chiffonade
  • 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Fresh ground black pepper and flaky salt to taste
  • Optional: Toasted pecan pieces for topping


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and coat 11x7-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Poke sweet potatoes several times with fork and microwave uncovered on high for 5 minutes. 
  3. Place wooden skewers or chopsticks on either side of each potato and make crosswise cuts into the potatoes about 1/4-inch apart, stopping at the skewer so as not to cut all the way through.
  4. Arrange sweet potatoes in baking dish.
  5. Microwave butter with sage leaves or heat in small saucepan until butter is melted. Stir in maple syrup and seasonings.
  6. Brush butter over sweet potatoes, making sure to get in all the slices. Sprinkle with black pepper and salt.
  7. Bake about 1 hour, or until insides are tender and outsides are crisp. Halfway through baking time, remove from oven and gently separate slices.
  8. Remove from oven. Top with pecans if desired.

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