Sweet potato dish: a path to cloud nine

Just before Christmas, I got the chance to do some cooking with the daughters of some of our good friends.

Their dad and Joey were busy watching a basketball game, so the girls wandered into the kitchen to help. (I?m going to use that term loosely.)

In addition to learning how to roll peppernuts and how to use a vegetable peeler, they became fascinated by the bright orange sweet potatoes they helped me mash to make a cake. They?d never seen potatoes that looked like that before.

That actually surprised me a little, because it seems like sweet potatoes are appearing in a lot of restaurants and even fast-food chains these days. They?re finally finding their way outside of Thanksgiving dinner.

Which is completely fine with me?I love sweet potatoes, and not just the kind with marshmallows on top.

This week, if my helpers would have been around my kitchen, they would have had more potatoes to mash as I tried a new experiment: sweet potato clouds.

Sweet potato clouds are crispy on the outside but soft and creamy on the inside, and they?re a perfect side dish for a burger or sandwich.

This recipe comes from the ?Real Housemoms? blog. You can see the original at http://realhousemoms.com/sweet-potato-clouds/. I changed some of the ingredient amounts.

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Sweet Potato Clouds

Ingredients

2 large sweet potatoes

4 tablespoons flour, plus 1/2 cup

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups canola oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the whole sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes or until they are fork tender.

Remove from the oven and let them cool so you can handle them.

Remove the skins from the potatoes and either grate them or mash them with a fork.

Mix in the 4 tablespoons flour, salt, garlic powder and cinnamon (I increased the flour, because mine was so sticky. You might start with 2 tablespoons and see if that is enough to be able to work with the potatoes with your hands.)

Form the mixture into about 1-inch balls or logs (they may be a bit sticky).

Place 1/2 cup of flour in a shallow dish.

Coat the potato clouds in flour, shaking off the excess.

Heat the oil in a skillet on medium high heat for about five minutes.

Carefully drop in the coated potato clouds and fry for about one minute on each side (you?ll have to do this in batches).

Remove the clouds and place them on a paper-towel lined plate.

Continue until all of the potatoes are done.

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I really liked these, and they were a nice change from French fries or tater tots.

And I managed to get them all made despite not having my two little helpers in the kitchen, which was too bad, because we did have a good time baking all our Christmas goodies.

As I wiped the stray remnants of mashed potatoes off the countertops that night, the youngest of the two told me, ?Man, Lindsey, it was a good thing we were here. You never would have gotten all this baking done without us.?

She wasn?t completely accurate, but as I told the two of them as we whipped eggs and measured flour, cooking is supposed to be a little messy; that?s what makes it fun.

When not helping husband Joey with newspaper work, Lindsey teaches speech, debate and forensics at Haven High School. She can be reached at lindseyclarion@gmail.com.

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