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Caramelized Sweet Potato, Garlic, and Rosemary Macaroni and Cheese

Recipe courtesy of Angie Phillips

Ingredients:

10 cloves garlic

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices on the diagonal

2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

8 ounces cavatappi pasta (or whichever variety you prefer)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 cups half-and-half

2 cups blended, shredded Mozzarella, Parmesan & Smoked Provolone cheese

3/4 cups Asiago cheese, shredded

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped (or if using dried herbs, remember 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary = 1 teaspoon dried)

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs from rustic Italian bread

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 2-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes; remove cloves and place in ice water. When cloves have cooled, use a garlic press to press blanched cloves; set aside.

Bring water back to a boil and add sweet potato slices and cook 5 minutes or until tender; drain. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add sweet potatoes and cook, flipping occasionally, until they develop a caramelized crust (about 5 minutes). Dice sweet potatoes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, bring another large saucepan of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain.

In a large pot over low heat, melt butter. Add flour and stir to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium, add in salt and pepper, and, with a wire whisk, gradually add half-and-half. Bring to a boil while continuously stirring. Reduce heat, and then simmer 1 minute. Stir 1 3/4 cup of the blended cheese and 1/2 cup of the Asiago cheese until melted and smooth. Add blanched pressed garlic, diced sweet potatoes, rosemary, minced garlic, and cooked pasta. Stir to combine. Pour into greased casserole dish.

To make topping, combine remaining tablespoon olive oil, breadcrumbs, and the remaining blended and Asiago cheese in a small mixing bowl. Stir until well combined. Sprinkle on top of pasta.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and topping golden brown. Serve.

Yield: 8 servings

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Sweet Potato-Pecan Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting

Recipe courtesy of myrecipes.com

Ingredients:

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter, softened

4 large eggs

1 (16-oz.) can mashed sweet potatoes

2/3 cup orange juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

Garnish: coarsely chopped pecans

Frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened

1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Place pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan.

Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted, stirring once after 4 minutes.

Beat sugar and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.

Whisk together mashed sweet potatoes, orange juice, and vanilla extract. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with sweet potato mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Fold in toasted pecans. Place foil baking cups in muffin pans, and coat with vegetable cooking spray; spoon batter into cups, filling two-thirds full.

Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended; stir in vanilla.

Bake at 350° for 28 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. Remove immediately from pans, and cool 50 minutes to 1 hour or until completely cool. Spread cupcakes evenly with Cream Cheese Frosting. Garnish, if desired.

Yield:  3 cups of frosting and 2 dozen cupcakes

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