Improv Challenge. The premise of this challenge is easy: each month there are two assigned ingredients. The participants must make a recipe using both ingredients and blog about it.
This month's assigned ingredients are very timely: sweet potatoes and honey. My favorite sweet potato recipe of all time falls into this category, Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes, but I couldn't use that for this challenge because it's already on my blog. So I had to try a new recipe involving sweet potatoes and honey, darn! The timing is perfect because there are probably lots of cooks out there looking for a great sweet potato side dish for Thanksgiving.
I've been a huge fan of using the slow cooker on Thanksgiving for years now. Yes, before it was cool! I have done mashed potatoes, two kinds of dressing (here and here), and even the green bean casserole, though I don't have that posted. So the next logical step was to try out a sweet potato recipe for the slow cooker. This will free up oven space on the big day. I found a recipe at Betty Crocker that I amended a bit. Here's my version.
Slow Cooker Honey Pecan Sweet Potatoes
2 lbs. sweet potatoes (2½ large), peeled and cut into ½” cubes
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
⅓ cup honey
2 tbsp butter, melted
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp instant tapioca
¼ tsp salt
½ cup pecans, chopped
Place sweet potatoes in a 3 qt. slow cooker. Combine applesauce, honey, butter, pumpkin pie spice, tapioca, and salt in a small bowl and pour over the sweet potatoes. Stir to combine. Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 3 hours. Stir in half the pecans. Transfer to serving dish and top with remaining pecans.
Makes 4-6 servings.
Betty's recipe called for brown sugar, but I used honey instead. It would be good either way, but personally I loved it with the honey. Even though I reduced the applesauce from her recipe to 1 cup, it was still a little heavy on the apple taste for me, so next time I'll do ½ cup. I used pumpkin pie spice instead of just cinnamon. The other thing I changed was adding the instant tapioca. The only problem I ever have with slow cooker recipes is that the sauce is always thin. I often will remove the sauce to a saucepan and add cornstarch to thicken it up after cooking. You can't use cornstarch in the slow cooker because the liquid has to boil in order for it to work. But I read somewhere that you can put instant tapioca in with all the ingredients at the beginning, and it thickens as it cooks. This was my first time trying it and I was very pleased with the results. I had to guess on how much to use. I did 1 tsp and I think it was maybe a little bit too much, so next time I will use ½ tsp. I can't wait to try this will all of my other slow cooker recipes. You can find instant tapioca in the baking aisle, usually up on the top shelf.
I only cooked my sweet potatoes long enough for them to just cook through. I like them with some definition left on the cubes. If you think your guests would prefer it, you could cook them a little longer, then mash them. They would be good either way.
So if you are stressing about how to get everything cooked in the oven before the turkey gets cold sitting out, throw the sweet potatoes into the slow cooker. It saves a lot of time and headaches!
Be sure to check out all the other great sweet potato and honey recipes below and come back tomorrow for another great non-pie Thanksgiving dessert.