Baked Sweet Potatoes Stuffed with Cranberries, Pears, and Pecans
8 8-ounce red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), scrubbed
1 cup dried cranberries
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
2 large firm but ripe pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
4 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
4 teaspoons (packed) golden brown sugar
2 teaspoons plus 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line baking sheet with foil. Pierce potatoes in several places with fork; place on prepared baking sheet. Bake until potatoes are tender when pierced with fork, about 55 minutes. Cool slightly.
Meanwhile, place cranberries in small bowl; pour enough hot water over to cover. Let stand 5 minutes to soften. Drain well. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pears and sauté until tender and golden, about 4 minutes. Stir in cranberries, pecans, ginger, and brown sugar; sauté 1 minute. Mix in 2 teaspoons vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Cut off top 1/4 of each potato lengthwise; discard tops. Using fork, gently mash pulp inside each potato. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in small saucepan over low heat. Whisk in remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons vinegar. Drizzle about 1 teaspoon butter-vinegar mixture into each potato; mix with fork to blend.
Mound cranberry mixture in sweet potatoes. (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; let stand at room temperature. Rewarm sweet potatoes uncovered in 350°F oven until heated through, about 20 minutes.)
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