top of page
  • Writer's picturedeborahreinhardt

Glazed with sherry, sugar, and cinnamon, pecan halves are gently roasted to create an ideal food gift for the holidays.

glazed, roasted pecans in black bowl
Sherried Pecans are a delightful addition to the holidays.

We often mark the holidays with certain foods. Latkes for Hannukah. Cookies for Christmas. Yams for Kwanza. I’ll bet you’re thinking now of that dish that says “it’s the holidays” for you. In our house, cookies heralded the season, and Mom and Grandma started baking right after Thanksgiving. But for one of my great-aunts, pecans were the treat for Christmas.

Not just any pecans! These were Nan Tubbesing’s Sherried Pecans, and it’s the first recipe to start the December series, “Gifts in Good Taste.”

Aunt Nan was my grandma's sister-in-law, and my family celebrated Christmas with Bob (Grandma’s brother), Nan, and their son, Robert. Sometimes we were there for Christmas Eve dinner and then went to church together for worship. Other years, our visit fell between Christmas Day and New Year’s. Nan’s Sherried Pecans were a holiday staple; she always had small bowls of these delicious nuts sitting out for her guests to enjoy.

Sherried Pecans are easy to make—an important factor during the crazy month of December—and have many uses. In addition to a great nibble on their own, add these pecans to a charcuterie board. They’re delicious in a salad. For those who love cocktails at home, include a bag of Sherried Pecans with a bottle of someone’s favorite wine or liquor to make happy hour a joy. These are perfect hostess gifts to take to the many parties that happen this time of year. Let’s get cooking!

To make Nan Tubbesing’s Sherried Pecans recipe, which makes 10 servings, you’ll need these ingredients:

  • 1½ cups sugar

  • ½ cup sherry

  • 3 cups pecan halves

  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Directions to make Sherried Pecans

In a medium pan, add sherry and sugar and cook over low heat while stirring to dissolve sugar. Turn up the heat to medium-high and watch for mixture to start boiling. You want to bring sugar and sherry to the soft-ball stage. This is 235 degrees F.

If you don’t have a candy thermometer, carefully spoon a few drops of the mixture into an ice bath. After waiting several seconds for the hot syrup to cool, it should form a pliable, soft ball when squished between your fingers.

Important tip: hot sugar syrup can cause severe burns! Be careful when working with the sherry and sugar syrup. Keep the ice bath near your stove.

Once soft-ball stage is achieved, remove from heat and stir in pecans and add cinnamon. This mixture will turn cloudy.

Spread nuts evenly on a buttered cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes, stirring nuts every 5 minutes. To cool, transfer onto a clean baking sheet. Package as desired for gift giving.

How to store Sherried Pecans

Store these pecans in an airtight container for up to a month. They can freeze up to three months, but I guarantee they won’t be around that long! Happy Holidays!

  • Writer's picturedeborahreinhardt

Sweet potatoes, celery, and onions are roasted and tossed with grapes, carrots, and pecans to create a delicious autumn or winter side dish.

salad of roasted sweet potatoes, onion, celery with grapes, pecans, carrots and goat cheese on a serving tray sitting on a fall table setting
Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

There’s been a shakeup at our Thanksgiving tables this year. According to the good folks at Campbell’s, sweet potatoes been nudged off the top-three-favorite side dishes list. Displaced by mac and cheese, sweet potatoes, at No. 4, remain a staple at many holiday buffets.

In its State of the Sides report, Campbell’s reported that 67 percent of Americans prefer side dishes over main courses. More than half of us would be happy with just a plate filled with Thanksgiving sides. That’s a lot of casseroles.

Does anyone else struggle to keep side dishes warm prior to serving? Figuring out the oven space is as difficult as a Kansas City Chief’s play on the field. Well, I have a recipe for you that features one of our favorites—sweet potatoes—but it’s served at room temperature. Roasted Sweet Potato Salad that includes roasted celery and onions can be baked early in the morning or the night before. Shredded carrots, sweet red grapes, crunch pecans and tangy goat cheese round out this dish. Garnish with celery leaves and drizzle with a balanced maple and balsamic vinaigrette. So good! Let’s get cooking.

To make my Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette, which yields 6 servings, you’ll need these ingredients:

  • 3 large sweet potatoes

  • 1 white onion

  • 4 stalks celery

  • ¼ cup pecan halves

  • 3 ounces goat cheese

  • 12 red seedless grapes

  • ½ cup shredded carrot

  • 1 teaspoon garam masala

  • 1 teaspoons salt

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • ½ teaspoon maple syrup

  • Salt and pepper to taste

salad of roasted sweet potatoes, celery, onions with grapes, goat cheese, pecans on a serving tray sitting on fall tablecloth

Alright, at first glance, these ingredients may seem weird. “Are you roasting celery?” might be on your lips now. And why garam masala; what even is garam masala? Let’s unpack this for a minute.

Regarding the celery, we’re trading texture for taste. While raw celery has a powerful crunch, it’s void of flavor. Roasting the celery brings flavor to this vegetable and balances the onion. And about the garam masala; this spice blend that’s used in certain Indian cuisine literally translates to “warming spices.” But if you don’t have it in your pantry, you can mix cinnamon, coriander, cumin, and pepper (equal pinches to create 1 teaspoon).

Directions to make Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Preheat oven to 410 degrees F. Peel and cut potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Peel and chop onion about the same size as potatoes. Wash and cut celery into 1- to 1½-inch pieces.

Place vegetables on a sheet pan lined with parchment and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with garam masala, salt, and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes. Allow to cool.

While vegetables are in the oven, wash grapes and slice in half vertically. Crumble the goat cheese.

To make the dressing, whisk ingredients together until emulsified.

To assemble the salad, place roasted vegetables in a large bowl and add grapes, pecans, and carrots. Transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle cheese over mixture and drizzle dressing. Garnish with celery leaves.

Sweet potato or yam?

We may hear the names mixed interchangeably but these are separate vegetables. According to food writer Margaret Eby, yams are starchy and have a brown exterior. Sweet potatoes are a “new world” vegetable and have a darker interior with reddish skin. Check here to read Eby's story about the history of yams versus sweet potatoes.

About the blog

Three Women in the Kitchen is an award-winning food blog offering today’s home cooks comforting, hearty recipes with a personal touch. The website also pays tribute to Deborah’s mother, Katie Reinhardt, and paternal grandmother, Dorothy Reinhardt (the “three women” in the kitchen). Whether you’re an experienced or a novice cook, you’ll find inspiration here to feed your families and warm your heart. Subscribe today so you won’t miss a single delicious detail.

10 views0 comments
  • Writer's picturedeborahreinhardt

A familiar side dish of spuds gets a spicy kick from prepared horseradish and sour cream.

mashed potatoes with horseradish sour cream and butter in white bowl sprinkled with parsley
Horseradish Mashed Potatoes

Forget politics. The American people have spoken on a topic of much greater: Thanksgiving side dishes. According to the good folks at Campbell’s, mashed potatoes have toppled stuffing/dressing as the No. 1 holiday side dish.

In its State of the Sides report, Campbell’s breaks down our preferences by state. Missouri, for example, is solidly macaroni and cheese for the best side dish, but our next-door neighbors in Illinois are a cross between mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. What’s your favorite Thanksgiving side dish? Leave a comment below.

Your favorite may soon be these Horseradish Mashed Potatoes, a recipe courtesy of Family Features. I’ve stirred sour cream into mashed taters but never thought of adding prepared horseradish. What a brilliant way to wake up a—dare I say old—holiday staple. These spicy spuds would work well alongside almost any main dish, including my Best Bottom Round Roast. Let’s get cooking.

To make Horseradish Mashed Potatoes, which yields 4 to 6 servings, you’ll need these ingredients:

  • 2 quarts water

  • 1¼ teaspoons salt, divided

  • 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and halved

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, cut into 8 slices, divided

  • 16 ounces sour cream

  • ¼ cup prepared horseradish, squeezed of moisture

  • ½ teaspoon pepper

  • ¼ cup chopped chives, plus additional for topping

Directions to make Horseradish Mashed Potatoes

In a 4-quart pot, bring water and 1 teaspoon salt to boil. Add potatoes and boil 15 to 20 minutes (until fork-tender). Reserve ½ cup liquid.

Drain potatoes and place in bowl. Add six slices of butter and mash potatoes to a chunky consistency.

In medium bowl, whisk together sour cream, horseradish, remaining salt, pepper, and chives. Add mixture to mashed potatoes. Add reserved water. Mash to combine.

Transfer to serving bowl and top with remaining butter pieces and additional chives.

Tips for perfect mashed potatoes

The key is to start with a starchy potato, such as Yukon Gold or russet. Avoid red-skinned potatoes as those are too waxy to mash.

Potatoes need salt at each stage. First, salt the water in which they will boil. Taste after initial mash and salt. I will taste the final product and add salt if necessary.

Don’t cut the potatoes too small prior to boiling as they will absorb too much water while cooking which changes the dish’s texture.

Mashed versus whipped is a common question. Mashed potatoes are chunkier, more rustic, when finished. Often made using a hand masher, you also can quickly mix mashed potatoes with a hand-mixer until they start to get smooth. Be careful not to overwork the potatoes’ starch; this causes a gummy texture.

Whipped potatoes are velvety smooth. This is achieved by running the cooked potatoes through a ricer to create fluffy potatoes and adding warm milk and room-temperature butter to the mixture before whipping with a hand mixer.

How to freeze leftover mashed potatoes

Be sure potatoes have cooled before adding to a freezer-safe container with an air-tight lid. They will stay in the freezer up to two months.

About the blog

Three Women in the Kitchen is an award-winning food blog offering today’s home cooks comforting, hearty recipes with a personal touch. The website also pays tribute to Deborah’s mother, Katie Reinhardt, and paternal grandmother, Dorothy Reinhardt (the “three women” in the kitchen). Whether you’re an experienced or a novice cook, you’ll find inspiration here to feed your families and warm your heart. Subscribe today so you won’t miss a single delicious detail.

30 views0 comments
bottom of page